Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Authorities: 2 rare whooping cranes shot in Louisiana

Two whooping cranes - some of the world's rarest and largest birds - have been killed near the Louisiana community of Jennings, and a witness reported that two boys shot them from a truck, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said.

The cranes were among 10 released in February at White Lake in southwest Louisiana, where the state's last wild flock lived in 1939. Only about 400 live in the wild, and about 250 in captivity - all descended from 15 birds that were the world's entire population of whooping cranes in the early 1940s.

"Losing two cranes, especially in such a thoughtless manner, is a huge setback in the department's efforts to re-establish a whooping crane population in Louisiana," department secretary Robert Barham said Tuesday. "We take this careless crime very seriously."

The witness told authorities that the birds were shot Sunday, said Adam Einck, spokesman for the department's enforcement division. He said a 16-year-old and a 13-year-old boy have been told they are suspects based on witness's description of their truck and other information provided to investigators.

"They haven't been arrested," he said, adding no charges have been filed at this point. They weren't identified by name.

He said investigators didn't know whether one or both actually shot at the birds, whether a rifle or shotgun was used and whether the birds were flying or standing in a field. The carcasses were retrieved Monday.

Only five of the cranes released in Louisiana remain alive. One disappeared in June around St. Martinville and is presumed dead. Another flew about 80 miles to Morganza, where evidence indicates a predator ate it, and one had to be euthanized because of a lung infection, department spokesman Bo Boehringer said in an email.

Satellite transmitters have located four recently and one is currently unaccounted for, Boehringer added.

Whooping cranes, which can grow to 5 feet tall and boast a 7-foot wingspan at maturity, are named for a call that can be heard a half-mile away. The ones released in Louisiana were raised at the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.

Sunday's shootings came the same day that three young whooping cranes, guided by ultralight pilots, left a refuge in Wisconsin on their first migration to Florida.

Biologists hope to replicate success they've had nurturing a flock that migrates between Texas and Canada and creating a flock that migrates between Florida and Wisconsin. The three that left Wisconsin are part of the 11th hand-raised generation to be taught how to migrate with help from ultralight planes.

Airport board taking hard look at vision, goals for facility. Evansville Regional Airport

EVANSVILLE — Leaders at Evansville Regional Airport are taking a hard look at their vision and goals for the facility.

The airport's board and managers met Monday for the second of three long-range planning sessions at Innovation Pointe in Downtown Evansville. The University of Southern Indiana's Center for Applied Research is facilitating the process.

The airport's leaders have done long-range planning before, said Airport Marketing Director Dianna Kissel, but those plans have tended to focus on specific projects. This effort, she said, is more all-encompassing.

"Because the (airline) industry and the region and everything has changed so dramatically in the past couple of years, it makes sense to do this now," Kissel said.

"All aspects of the airport are on the table."

Since the planning process isn't yet complete, Kissel said, it's too early to say exactly what the end result will be. But at Monday's session, discussion included topics such as:

Comparing Evansville Regional Airport to peer facilities based on certain performance metrics;

Determining what rate of passenger growth is realistic to expect; and

How to get regional and statewide partners to embrace and financially support the facility.

    The board's next scheduled meeting is Oct. 24. By the end of that meeting, Kissel said, the airport's leaders expect to have some long-term goals in place.

    The planning session was preceded by a business meetingwhere Cynthiana, Ind.-based contractor Blankenberger Brothers was awarded two contracts related to a federally-mandated runway project that will shift the airport's main runway toward the northeast and away from U.S. 41.

    Blankenberger was the lowest bidder on both projects. The contractor bid $1.7 million to realign Indiana 57. It also bid $5.6 million to realign Oak Hill and Millersburg roads and to reconfigure the intersection of Kansas Road and Indiana 57.

    The runway project's engineer, R.W. Armstrong & Assoc., said both of Blankenberger's bids came in below the engineering estimates for the work.

    The entire cost of the runway project is estimated at $60 million, 95 percent of which will be covered by Federal Aviation Administration grants.


    Connecticut: Ridgefield, Danbury residents concerned about air traffic

    RIDGEFIELD -- Bhupen Patel was worried that a bigger plane could have crashed onto his neighbors' lawn.

    He is concerned about the amount of air traffic and the size of the planes that have been flying over his neighborhood.

    On Oct. 1, about 10 minutes after taking off from Danbury Municipal Airport, pilot Richard Baldwin crashed his plane onto the front lawn of Michael and Stacey Lockard's home -- about six-tenths of a mile from the end of the airport runway -- according to Ridgefield Fire Chief Heather Burford.

    Baldwin, a Ridgefield resident, was released from the hospital last week, Burford said.

    Burford said Monday the cause of the accident is still undetermined. Federal Aviation Administration officials told her that an investigation would take at least two weeks from the time of the crash, she said. The National Transportation Safety Board would report the final results, Burford said.

    Patel was one of many neighbors from Ridgefield and Danbury who stood around the yellow caution tape that surrounded the Lockards' property on Briar Ridge Road after the plane crashed. He watched as emergency crews inspected the plane, which was covered in leaves and debris.

    Patel and the Lockards live in a residential neighborhood with lots of trees and large homes. More than half of the homes in the area were built between 1950 and 1990, and have estimated values from $200,000 to $400,000, according to Homes.com.

    Patel said the airplane could have fallen in his yard instead of his neighbors'.

    "It missed my house by about 200 feet," he said.

    Patel has lived in his home for 25 years, and there have been several plane crashes in the mile-and-a half radius area in that time, he said.

    Jaclyn Giovannone, a Cel Bret Drive resident, said she believes the plane crash was a freak accident.

    "I just think that was an isolated event," she said.

    Before Giovannone moved to her house about a year-and-a-half ago, she lived near the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y.

    "She follows airports," said her father, Michael Castaldo, of Staten Island, N.Y.

    Burford said she's worked for the fire department for five years, and has not seen a plane crash in the area.

    "This is the first incident like this that I've been involved with," she said. "It's fairly infrequent."

    Danbury Airport administrator Paul Estefan also said after the Oct. 1 crash that such accidents are a rare occurrence.

    But the neighbors said crashes happen about every five years.

    "I've lived here 28 years and about five planes went down," said Mario Diacri, who lives three doors down from the Lockards.

    Some of the crashes have been on Backus Avenue and Pine Mountain Road, he said.

    The NTSB listed seven nonfatal airplane accidents dating back to 1992 on its website, not including the Oct. 1 accident.

    Patel said there seems to have been an increase in the number of planes going over his home. The planes have also gotten bigger and their loud engines bother him, he said.

    A report from Danbury Municipal Airport, however, indicate that the number of flights has decreased in recent years.

    In 2008, the total number of planes departing from and arriving to Danbury Airport was 83,419. The following year the total decreased by about 10,000. In 2010, there were 77,541 and in 20011, though July there were 38,415 flights, according to Danbury Municipal Airport officials.

    From 1976 through 2002, more than 110,000 planes a year took off from or landed in Danbury, the airport reported.

    The airport is about a mile from the neighborhood of the latest crash, said Kevin McCarthy, a neighbor who lives on Cel Bret Drive in Danbury. He lives across the street from where the plane crashed and helped Baldwin get out of the plane.

    "They go over all the time," McCarthy said, nonchalantly. "You don't even pay attention to them, because you hear them."

    Bernadette Reilly, another Cel Bret Drive resident, said living near the airport has not created any problems for her.

    "I'm happy with the airport," Reilly said.

    Airlines get nod to fly into Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

    SOLOMON Airlines will operate its newly acquired Airbus aircraft into Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea as of next month.

    This follows the approval from the Papua New Guinea (Civil Aviation Safety Authority-PNG).

    Solomon Airlines in a statement yesterday announced that CASA-Papua New Guinea (Civil Aviation Safety Authority-PNG) has approved their FAOC (Foreign Air Operators Certificate) application which now gives an operating license to commence scheduled flights to and from Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby) from Honiara in Solomon Islands.

    A spokesperson for the airline indicated that it will now plan to commence services to Port Moresby from 14th November, some 5 weeks away and the team has been instructed to make things happen.

    Solomon Airlines also indicated that some adjustments had to be made to its Monday service from Brisbane to Honiara as follows:

    Mondays – BNE-HIR 0700-1115 each Monday only from 14th November onwards whilst the return service will now depart Honiara on Tuesday at 1330 arriving into Brisbane at 1545 local time.

    Wednesday; Fridays and Sundays will operate to times maintaining the current scheduled operations as follows:


    BNE-HIR 0930-1345

    HIR-BNE 1500-1715

    “All the above adjustments are being made as this release goes to the press and passengers affected will be contacted to review their travel plans especially on the Monday services.

    “The changes each Monday then allows for the PNG flights to operate each Monday with an overnight in Port Moresby and returning on Tuesdays,” the statement said.

    Timings are meant to see direct connections to Singapore and Hong Kong but only connecting with the Singapore flights every Tuesday morning to Honiara from Port Moresby as the Air Niugini aircraft remains for Maintenance in Hong Kong thus negating connections from Hong Kong.

    The additional benefit will be connections from Port Moresby-PNG through to Port Vila in Vanuatu and Nadi on the same day wherein there have been no flights connecting Port Moresby to Port Vila for many years and this now will be possible by changing aircraft to a connecting Air Pacific aircraft under a Solomon Airlines flight from Honiara to Vila in a seamless immediate connection at Honiara on the same day.

    The airline indicated it is mindful of its codeshare agreements with Air Niugini to Fiji but recent talks last weekend indicated that ICCC in PNG has not approved other code-share applications of Air Niugini and the Moresby to Honiara route is not in sight of ICCC approval for code-share to/from Honiara and Port Moresby and this has necessitated entry of its own services to the PNG market.

    Furthermore, the spokesman indicated, any plans to operate scheduled services to Fiji and or Vanuatu using its own Airbus A320 have been deferred until further evaluation on these routes are finalized in 2012.


    Fire breaks out in Delta Air Lines engine shop at Atlanta's airport; no injuries reported

    ATLANTA — A Delta Air Lines spokesman says a hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was evacuated after a small fire started in an engine shop.

    Delta spokesman Anthony Black says the fire broke out Tuesday afternoon at Delta's Technical Operation Center 1 on Aviation Boulevard. Black says the fire started in a ventilation duct and was contained and extinguished by airport fire crews.

    Black says no injuries were reported, and employees later returned to the building. He says no flights were delayed, and the airline's operations were not affected by the fire.

    Sun Air Jets to lease hangar space in Van Nuys Airport (KVNY), California

    Sun Air Jets soon will begin leasing hangar space at Van Nuys Airport, a move that expands the company’s presence beyond its Ventura County base.

    Sun Air initially will occupy the 21,000-square-foot hangar with a Gulfstream V aircraft, which the company has under management. The aviation firm also has an option to lease an additional hangar.

    “We are doing well in Camarillo, but clearly Van Nuys is really the business airport for Southern California,” said Sun Air President Steve Lassetter.

    The multi-year lease between Sun Air and hangar owner Aerolease Associates was signed Oct. 10 at the National Business Aviation Association conference in Las Vegas.

    Sun Air makes for a good fit for the hangar, and the company sees opportunities for more business by being located at Van Nuys, said Aerolease President and CEO Curt Castagna.

    “There is enough business for them to be successful,” Castagna said.

    Sun Air has been interested in staking a presence at Van Nuys for some time. The catalyst for the lease was having an aircraft owner who preferred being at the Valley airfield, Lassetter said.

    “Having the plane to base there pushed us off the fence to make a commitment,” Lassetter said.

    Privately-owned Sun Air has operated out of the Camarillo Airport since 2000. It provides air charter, aircraft management services, hangar space, and aircraft maintenance.

    Earlier this year, Sun Air opened a new 21,000-square-foot hangar with 3,000 square feet of office space at Camarillo.

    Another loaded gun confiscated at Salt Lake City International Airport.

    SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A spokesperson for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration says another loaded handgun has been confiscated at one of its checkpoints in the Salt Lake City International Airport.

    The TSA spokesperson said that officers detected a loaded 9 mm Ruger LC9 handgun on Monday morning.

    It is the second loaded handgun detected at the SLC Airport in the past week during routine carry-on baggage screening.

    TSA officials say the gun was loaded with seven rounds of ammunition and one round in the chamber, and was found in the carry-on bag of a male passenger headed to the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. TSA officers also found a separate 9 mm ammo magazine in the passenger's bag.

    On Tuesday, Oct. 4, a .380 caliber Kel-Tec pistol loaded with five rounds of ammunition was discovered in the carry-on bag of a passenger headed to Atlanta. Both men were arrested by the Salt Lake City Airport Police on state charges.

    Nationwide, TSA officials say officers have found more than 800 firearms in carry-on bags this year.

    Depending on local laws, passengers are allowed to store weapons with their checked baggage.

    ----Information from: TSA.


    Fellow pilots, coworkers remember Travis Berry. Mountain Empire Airport (KMKJ), Marion/Wytheville, Virginia

    Mountain Empire Airport itself seemed in no mood for flying Monday afternoon.

    The sky overhead was gray, the planes still. In Hangar 7, the maintenance shop, the big sliding door was closed, the lights off, silence replacing the usual echoes of talk and laughter at a joke or something goofy a politician had done.

    For a long time Monday afternoon, only a starling flew over the airport before a plane hummed over on approach for a fuel stop.

    It had only been four days since a pilot left the field in his new home-built airplane, eager to soar into a brilliant October sky. Travis Berry’s dream ended tragically a few seconds later in a pasture northwest of the airport.

    Charlie Hoofnagle, himself a pilot, handles the day-to-day operations at the airport – fueling planes, moving them in and out of the hangar, talking to pilots on the radio. On Monday, the tragedy of the crash and subsequent sleeplessness showed in his eyes. A pilot’s loss is felt by all pilots.

    Berry sometimes came to the airfield after work in his Department of Corrections uniform and talked with the other pilots, the airport staff and plane mechanic Curt Pennington at Hangar 7, staying until closing time, Hoofnagle said.
    “He was happy, smiled a lot, and was always kind of chipper,” Hoofnagle said.

    Pennington helped Berry assemble his plane, a Rand Robinson KR-2, bolting the wings in place, making it airworthy. He and Hoofnagle coached Berry to be careful.

    Hoofnagle remembered Berry as a by-the-book, meticulous flier. He said after lunch Thursday, although Berry had been away from his plane less than an hour, he ran a preflight check before taking off.

    “We were impressed by that,” Hoofnagle said.

    Berry had also waited, unlike some, for receipt of Federal Aviation Administration paperwork required to legally take his new plane up, Hoofnagle said.

    “He was a good kid, good background. He worked hard,” Hoofnagle said.

    Hoofnagle and Pennington were the last to talk with Berry, who had gotten the feel of his plane on the ground that morning, gone to lunch with Hoofnagle and Pennington, then took his plane down the runway and into the air.

    “Curt and I stood here and watched him leave,” Hoofnagle said.

    In moments Hoofnagle and Pennington sped up Highway 11 then down Interstate 81 to the place just across the Wythe County line where Berry’s KR-2 disappeared behind a stand of trees.

    “I was hoping to find him standing there, dusting himself off, and saying, ‘I tore up my plane,’” Hoofnagle recalled.

    There was nothing Hoofnagle could do. And a sense of deep respect for a fellow pilot anchored him stoically by Berry’s body until others came who would care for it and begin learning why a flight so full of hope ended so absent of it.

    Berry taxied one last time down Mountain Empire runway Monday morning. Hoofnagle said the hearse, followed by his family, drove down the tarmac as others in the funeral procession watched from the ramp.

    Hoofnagle said arrayed in uniform were Berry’s colleagues from Marion Correctional Treatment Center. Berry’s boss, warden David Boehm said Tuesday Berry started with MCTC in April 2011 after a history of being in the construction business.

    “Officer Berry came from a correctional background with his father, Ron Berry, a retired training sergeant, and his brother Adam Berry a state trooper,” Boehm said. “Travis quickly demonstrated his commitment to making corrections a career by joining the honor guard and demonstrating the spirit of team work. He had completed all training and was ready for his certification as a Correctional Officer Senior. In his demeanor he was quiet, but compassionate and professional. He will be missed by our staff.”

    It was a fitting tribute to a passion of 22 years that apparently was in full flight in a 16-year-old Travis Berry when, his mother, Felicia, told The Roanoke Times, he asked her to drive past the airport so he could see the planes. He went inside to sign up for flying lessons from which his mother thought his age would disqualify him. He was accepted, and she paid for his lessons.

    Berry’s obituary said he was born June 16, 1973, graduated in 1992 from Chilhowie High School and “proudly received his pilot’s license on February 6, 1992.”

    The obituary said he “worked diligently in life and achieved ownership of a construction company and cabinet shop; he became a master at craftsmanship in woodworking. He was an avid golfer and loved snow skiing, but his consuming passion was being a pilot. Travis truly cherished the time he spent flying his own airplane. He was also employed at Marion Correctional Treatment Center, which helped enable him to live his life’s dream.”

    He is survived by his wife, Gina Berry; one daughter, Algiemy, and one son, Vall; his mother, Felicia Robbins Berry Mann and husband, Don; his father, Ron Berry and wife, Janet; one brother, Adam Berry and wife, Chasity; his grandmother, Della Robbins; his grandfather, Ralph Berry and wife, Doris; niece, Hannah Berry and nephews, Stone, Jaedian and Ty Berry; stepbrother, D.J. Mann; stepsisters, Candy Mizer and Cheryl Cathcart; best friends, loved like brothers, Shawn Selecman and Larry Thomas; his aunt, Wanda Robbins Pickle; cousins Jennifer Patterson and Charlie Pickle; and numerous other great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins, his obituary said.

    His funeral was held Monday at Elizabeth United Methodist Church in Teas with the Rev. Charles Leonard, the Rev. Jerry Eggers and the Rev. Bobby Dunn officiating. Burial followed in Pugh Cemetery, Teas. The Marion Correctional Treatment Center Honor Guard served as pallbearers. Donations may be made to the Travis Berry Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 427, Marion, VA 24354.

    A condolence message to Berry’s family posted on Seaver-Brown Funeral Service’s website showed Berry’s loss being acknowledged by distant colleagues. “On behalf of KR-2 pilots and builders around the world, may we express our condolences and love to each of you in your recent loss. Few of us knew Travis personally, but all who share his passion for flying are grieving for each of you. He will be remembered,” read a note posted over “Rev. Art Bruce Oct 9, 2011 Bainbridge, GA.”

    Federal investigators arrived Friday to comb through the wreckage. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board would conduct a joint investigation. It could be several days before investigators release any preliminary findings on the crash, the spokesman said.

    Chance in India for Gulf airlines

    MUMBAI // The Indian carrier Kingfisher's termination of its low-cost service, along with multilateral aviation talks set for next week, could clear the way for Gulf carriers to raise their profile in India's airspace.

    Kingfisher says it plans to shut down its low-cost brand, Red, in four months because of intense competition in that market segment.

    "While competition certainly exists in [the] full-service segment, such competition is tempered because of the frequent-flyer loyalty programmes that are offered by each one," Sanjay Aggarwal, Kingfisher's chief executive, said in a statement. "In short, we believe that the competition will be far more intense in the low-fare space than in the full-service space."

    Kingfisher says it has decided to focus on premium services because business travel is not as price-sensitive as travel in the low-fare sector.

    Industry observers said Kingfisher's exit from the budget end of the market could create an opportunity for other carriers to grab market share.

    "This is a vast, untapped market," said Vivek Negi, an analyst at the stock broker WellIndia. "India has a fast-growing commercial aviation market, and potential for Gulf carriers exists. The competition is fierce in the low-fares sector, but if the government loosens up its regulations, overseas operators could succeed."

    The Gulf carriers Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and Gulf Air already fly to Indian metropolises such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. Qatar Airways' most recent expansion in India includes its Kolkata service, launched in August.

    Etihad announced daily flights to Bangalore in March this year in addition to already existing Indian destinations including New Delhi; Chennai; Mumbai; Kozhikode, formerly Calicut; Thiruvananthapuram, formerly Trivandrum; Hyderabad and Kochi, formerly Cochin. The Gulf budget carriers Air Arabia and flydubai have also extended their networks to include Hyderabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, Delhi and Chennai. Indian officials have long objected to the expansion of Gulf-based airlines in India. The country's national auditor said recently that Middle Eastern carriers should be made to reduce, not increase, their services to India as a means of protecting the state-owned Air India.

    But foreign carriers could get a further boost ahead of the next week's meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The meeting is to focus on relaxing India's bilateral flight allocation agreements.

    India froze its bilateral rights on additional seats last year in an attempt to boost the financial performance of Air India. Representatives of more than 40 countries are to meet, which means the opening of new routes could be a step closer. One analyst thinks that even existing routes could be allowed to expand.

    "Many of the countries attending already have agreements," said the analyst who asked not to be named. "Now it may be a question of extending them."

    Kingfisher currently has several daily flights to the Gulf, and it, too, might be able increase its flights to the region, said Kapil Kaul, the chief executive for South Asia at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa), a research institute. "The airline will continue to operate to the Gulf and increase frequency subject to availability of traffic rights," Mr Kaul said. "I expect Kingfisher to expand its international operations, especially to Gulf from various points of call in India by increasing utilisation of the existing fleet."

    India is potentially a lucrative market for overseas carriers. It is the world's ninth-largest - and currently the fastest-growing - commercial aviation market. Only 2 per cent of Indians fly today, according to data from Capa.

    Kingfisher's ascent into turbulence

    Airport's Mullin had 2nd agreement with Wayne County for unused sick, leave days

    Nine days after signing a controversial separation agreement with Wayne County that paid her $200,000, Turkia Awada Mullin signed a second agreement that paid her thousands more for her unused sick and leave days.

    The man who signed it on behalf of the county, former director of human resources Tim Taylor, has been hired by Mullin at the airport to work on labor relations.

    “I believe it’s a short-term contract,” said Airport spokesman Tim Johnson. “The airport has some contracts that are expiring and they needed some help with negotiations.”

    Johnson didn’t know the terms of the contract or when it began. Mullin could not be immediately reached for comment.

    The second agreement, titled a “severance agreement” and dated Sept. 3, came despite a paragraph in the first agreement that noted: “Ms. Mullin acknowledges that the consideration set forth in this agreement is sufficient consideration, and is in excess of any earned wages or benefits to which she is entitled, and that no other wages, benefits or perquisites are due her.”

    Assistant Wayne County Executive Alan Helmkamp disclosed the second agreement this morning to county commissioners. He said he didn’t know what the actual figure of the second payment was, but he it would be included in the internal review he is leading on behalf of County Executive Robert Ficano.

    The second agreement was signed by Mullin and Taylor. Taylor retired in April from Wayne County and has been working part-time for the county since May 1, to help transition his successor, Georgetta Kelly.

    Helmkamp didn’t know why Taylor signed the agreement instead of Kelly, but said that he would review the matter.

    Mullin initially defended the $200,000 payout, saying she’d earned it. But she and Ficano later agreed that it would be best for her to return it.

    It’s unclear when the county will get its money back because the county withheld taxes on it and will have to recover that money from the taxing entities.


    Cocaine found hidden in bed posts at Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD) Washington, District of Columbia

    Bed posts being transported through Dulles Airport from El Salvador were being used for more than a good night’s sleep.

    When authorities examined the bedposts, they found more than 200 grams of cocaine stored inside, authorities said.

    The bed posts were part of a shipment of goods carried by a Taca Airlines flight that arrived to Dulles on Thursday night.

    Authorities discovered an anomaly during an X-ray of the bed posts. Officials dug into the bed posts and discovered 245 grams of cocaine valued at about $17,000.


    Cockroaches cause havoc at Chennai Airport - India.

    After a sudden downpour on Tuesday, hundreds of cockroaches invaded the domestic terminal at the Chennai Airport much to the dismay of passengers.

    Many fled the premises and airport officials attempted to stop the menace by using various means - including spraying water.

    The nuisance created havoc for over an hour and eyewitnesses maintain authorities were clearly to blame for bad maintenance of the airport.

    "If this incident had happened at the international terminal, when passengers are scheduled to arrive at Chennai, then what kind of impression would it have left them with," said an eyewitness.

    Chennai airport director E.P. Hareendranathan blamed the ongoing construction work for the incident.

    "The drain level went up due to sudden downpours and so the cockroaches came out," he said, adding construction activities are also hampering the regular maintenance at airport premises.


    Expect 'thunder' during Tucson recovery and rescue exercise

    TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tucson is surrounded by thousands of square miles of desolate, inaccessible desert. People frequently find themselves stranded and need to be rescued.

    Starting Tuesday, Operation Angel Thunder kicks off to make sure emergency crews are prepared.

    But preparedness doesn't come without practice.

    Get ready for the sound of helicopters. Tuesday, residents will be hearing a lot of it as Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the University of Arizona Medical Center team up for the Angel Thunder Recovery and Rescue Exercise.

    "After a disaster happens, that's not the time to start figuring out how we're going integrate with the hospital and local authorities," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Creed Napier.

    The exercise will simulate an emergency response after an earthquake.

    "Our job is to basically get notified of the disaster, plan and respond as soon as possible and get out there and start treatment on people in the field," said Capt. Napier.

    After that crews will begin loading patients onto helicopters, then transport them to the hospital.

    "What we're going to be working on is paging it out and communicating, everybody assuming a command position," said UAMC Director of Trauma and Emergency Services Michelle Ziemba.

    This year's training is a little different from previous years. It comes nine months after the January 8 mass shooting in Tucson.

    "We're actually integrating a little bit with Giffords' staff and they're on board and they're going to be going through a lot of this stuff with us," said Napier.

    "Practice makes perfect. And it's important for us to be prepared for any type of natural disaster or any type of mass casualty incident," said Ziemba.

    The more people who are prepared, the less panic and the faster victims can get the immediate help they need.

    The Angel Thunder exercise will get underway at 8:00 A.M. Tuesday and wrap up at around 2:00 P.M.

    Passenger sues over turbulent flight

    A passenger is suing Continental Airlines and three other airlines over mental trauma she said she experienced during a turbulent flight.

    Lubbock resident Colleen O'Neal flew from College Station to Houston on Oct. 29, 2009 on a day when tornados and thunderstorms were reported in the region, the lawsuit Tuesday filed in Harris County district court said.

    Within five to 10 minutes of takeoff for this flight scheduled for 20 minutes, it hit turbulence. The flight took more than two hours "and fell repeatedly, and felt as if it had lost power and was falling out of the sky," the lawsuit filed Tuesday stated.

    Pilots aborted an attempted emergency landing in Victoria, the lawsuit alleges.

    O'Neal believed she was going to die and has experienced post traumatic stress disorder and fears flying, the lawsuit stated. A Texas Department of Public Safety employee, she had hoped to work for FEMA in a job that would require air travel. She alleges that since she no longer travels by air, she has lost out on economic benefits.

    O'Neal purchased the ticket from Continental. She is also suing Chicago-based United Airlines, which merged with Continental last year. Colgan Air, which is owned by Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines, was operating the aircraft. She is suing all four of those airlines for physical and mental anguish, medical bills and the cost of the suit.

    Officials from Continental and Pinnacle could not be reached immediately for comment.


    Carlsbad, California: Sky’s the limit for 17-year-old pilot. Grey Eagle Flight Academy at Mc Clellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ)

    Carlsbad resident Waverly Giannotti, a 17-year-old senior at Santa Fe Christian High School, earned her private pilot license in June through Grey Eagle Flight Academy at McClellan-Palomar Airport.
    Courtesy photo

    CARLSBAD — For most girls turning Sweet 16, the perfect present might include a gift card for a shopping spree, spa day or beauty makeover.

    For Carlsbad resident Waverly Giannotti, it was a certificate for five lessons at McClellan-Palomar Airport’s Grey Eagle Flight Academy.

    “Ever since then I’ve been flying,” she said. “I was just hooked immediately. It’s been fun and a blessing.”

    Giannotti has been a “space junkie,” according to her mother, ever since she was about 12. In middle school, she wanted to be an astronaut.

    But those plans changed during her freshman year of high school after a family friend took her up in a single-engine Cessna 172.

    “We weren’t even 50 feet off the runway and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Giannotti said. “I remember texting my mom when we landed telling her this is something I really want to do.”

    At the time she was 15 and old enough to begin lessons. But her parents, Ron and Gayle, decided to let the desire play out.

    “We wanted to make sure this wasn’t some new thing she wanted to do that would make her different from everybody else,” said Gayle Giannotti, a former flight attendant who was just shy of earning her pilot license as a teenager.

    “But she was fascinated and wanted to learn more,” she said. “I think she almost got worn out bugging us about it.”

    After receiving the first five lessons from her parents, Giannotti spent the next 18 months juggling school, extracurricular activities and college-test practice sessions so she could log the 70 hours required for a license.

    She also worked two part-time jobs to cover the $15,000 price tag. In exchange for some flight time, Giannotti washed planes, cleaned offices and performed other odd jobs at Grey Eagle. She also took up modeling and has appeared in local publications such as San Diego Magazine and last winter’s Sports Authority catalog.

    “I ended up flying two to three times a week,” she said. “It was crazy but I managed to prioritize and get organized.”

    This past June 28, Giannotti became a licensed private pilot. She tries to get flight time at least once a week.

    While she believes it’s natural to feel somewhat afraid while flying, Giannotti said her experiences have taught her to be alert and “situationally aware” to avoid panicking.

    “When you’re flying, you never really know what’s going to happen,” she said. “The control tower could tell you to do something different or something you’re not used to.”

    Her most anxious moment so far was during her first solo “cross-country” flight, a 150-mile round trip from Palomar to Thermal Airport near Palm Springs.

    “When I was flying over the desert I lost communications with the tower, and I couldn’t find the airport either,” she said. “I was a little bit afraid but I put myself in an orbit to make sure I didn’t get lost. I called an emergency facility and asked them for vectors to the airport, and I was able to work through that situation.

    “It turned from being a really scary situation to learning a lot of skills and a lot of things about myself,” she said. “It’s really important to confess that you’re vulnerable, that you’re lost and not think that you know everything.”

    In addition to school, work and flying, Giannotti is affiliated with Girls with Wings, a nonprofit, Internet-based organization that encourages young women to pursue careers in aviation.

    “I really want to use my license as a way to encourage kids to go after their dreams,” she said. “They can pursue their passions regardless of their age.

    “It was hard for me, as a 17-year-old girl, to become a pilot because of my gender and my age,” she said, adding that she was occasionally put down, mostly by her male peers.

    “They doubted me,” she said. “They said I couldn’t do it. But I used that as a boost to prove to myself that I can fly a plane.

    “Girls have an equal opportunity to go after a career in a male-dominated field,” she said. “You can fly an airplane wearing pink nail polish. Airplanes are not just for boys.”

    Currently a senior at Santa Fe Christian, Giannotti is president of the high school’s French Club and a member of its Philosophy, Apologetics, Sailing and Camping clubs.

    She is also busy submitting college applications. She hopes to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., after graduation.

    Although Giannotti would eventually like to become a commercial pilot, she said she doesn’t have a set career path right now.

    “As long as I’m in a cockpit as a job, that’s what I would love to do,” she said.

    Cessna 310R, N5225J: Accident occurred February 17, 2010 in Palo Alto, California

    NTSB Identification: WPR10FA136 
     14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Wednesday, February 17, 2010 in Palo Alto, CA
    Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/22/2011
    Aircraft: CESSNA 310R, registration: N5225J
    Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

    The pilot departed the airport in near-zero visibility instrument meteorological conditions, and shortly after takeoff, struck a power pole and power lines before impacting terrain. Review of recorded air traffic control tower (ATCT) transmissions revealed that the pilot was initially given his instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance to turn right to a heading of 060 degrees and climb to 3,000 feet. Shortly after verifying his IFR clearance, the pilot received his IFR release from the ATCT controller and was informed that the runway was not visible to the controller. The controller further informed the pilot that takeoff was at his own risk. Shortly after, the controller notified the pilot that he had two minutes for his IFR release, before it expired. The pilot stated that he did not hear a "cleared for takeoff" instruction from the controller. The controller responded that he could not clear the pilot for takeoff, due to not having the runway environment in sight and that "the release is all yours and it's at your own risk sir." The pilot acknowledged the transmission and proceeded to take off. One witness, who was adjacent to the accident site, reported that she observed an airplane “suddenly appear from the fog” left of her position. The witness stated that she continued to watch the airplane fly in a level or slightly nose up attitude until it impacted power lines.

    Accident site evidence was indicative of a level impact with a power pole about 50 feet above ground level (agl) and at a high airspeed. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the wreckage debris path. Examination of the airframe, engines and propellers disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomaly. Weather conditions reported five minutes prior to the accident were wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 1/8th mile, fog, and vertical visibility of 100 feet agl. Weather conditions recorded by the ATCT 11 minutes after the time of the accident were visibility 1/16th mile, fog, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl.

    Local law enforcement provided recordings from a sound recording system, which captured the accident sequence. The recordings were coupled with airport surveillance radar to interpolate a flightpath for the airplane. The interpolated flightpath indicated an approximate 45-degree left turn shortly after departure to the area of initial impact with the power pole and power lines. A sound spectrum study determined both engines were operating near full power.

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
    The pilot’s failure follow the standard instrument departure as instructed, and his failure to attain a sufficient altitude to maintain clearance from power lines during takeoff in instrument meteorological conditions.


    On February 17, 2010, about 0754 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 310R airplane, N5225J, was substantially damaged when it impacted multiple residential structures and terrain following an in-flight collision with power lines and a power line tower shortly after takeoff from the Palo Alto Airport (PAO), East Palo Alto, California. The commercial pilot and his two passengers were killed. There were no reported ground injuries. The airplane was registered to Air Unique Inc., Santa Clara, California, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Hawthorne, California.

    Review of recorded air traffic control tower communications between the pilot and controller revealed that the pilot was issued his IFR clearance at 0741, which cleared the pilot to Hawthorne Airport via a right turn to a heading of 060 degrees within one mile of Palo Alto, vectors San Jose, Salinas as filed, climb and maintain 3,000 feet, expect 9,000 feet five minutes after departure. The pilot acknowledged the IFR clearance by reading it back to the controller. At 0746, the pilot contacted the air traffic control tower controller, stating he was "ready three one, IFR to Hawthorne." The controller responded, telling the pilot to hold for IFR release.

    At 0749, the controller transmitted that information November was current, wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 1/8th mile, fog, vertical visibility of 100 feet above ground level (agl). At 0751, the controller transmitted to the pilot that he had his IFR release and stated "the runway is not visible, so it's at your own risk." The pilot responded shortly thereafter, "[I] understand." At 0752, the controller informed the pilot that he had two minutes for his IFR release. The pilot responded that he did not hear a "cleared for takeoff." The controller responded that "I cannot clear you for takeoff because I don't have visibility on the runway, so ah, the release is all yours and it's at your own risk sir." The pilot responded "ok, 25 Juliet, rolling." No further radio communications were heard from the pilot.

    Multiple witnesses located adjacent to the accident site reported observing portions of the accident sequence. One witness, who was walking on a levee near the accident site, reported that she observed an airplane “suddenly” emerge from the fog to the left of her position. The witness stated that she continued to watch the airplane fly in a level or slightly nose up attitude from her left to her right at a low altitude until it impacted power lines shortly thereafter.


    The pilot, age 56, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot also possessed a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine and multi-engine ratings. A second-class airman medical certificate was issued on November 12, 2009, with the limitation “Must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision." The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 2,900 total flight hours. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that from May, 2009 to September 23, 2009, only dates were recorded with no flight time or aircraft information. No entries were recorded from September 23, 2009 to the most recent entry, dated January 27, 2010. The most recent logbook entry noted 1.8 hours of flight time, of which 1 hour was simulated instrument flight time and 0.2 hours in actual instrument conditions, flight time that was part of the pilot's most recent instrument competency-check. The pilot's most recent flight review was completed on November 11, 2009.


    The six-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number (S/N) 310R0807, was manufactured in 1977. It was powered by two Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) IO-550-A (8) engines, rated at 300 horse power and equipped with McCauley variable-pitch propellers.

    Review of copies of the aircraft maintenance logbook records recovered from the wreckage revealed that an annual inspection was completed on April 27, 2009, at a recorded tachometer reading of 743 hours, airframe total time of 6,350 hours, left engine total time since new of 150 hours, and right engine total time since new of 150 hours. The factory new left and right engines were installed on the airframe on August 25, 2004, at an airframe total time of 6,191 hours.


    A review of recorded data from the automated weather observation station located at PAO revealed that at 0654, wind was variable at 4 knots, visibility (M)1/4 mile, fog, vertical visibility of 100 feet agl, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of Mercury. At 0742, the ATCT controller at PAO reported wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 1/8th mile, fog, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl. Review of a weather log for the Palo Alto Air Traffic Control Tower revealed that at 0805, visibility was 1/16th mile, fog, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl.

    At 0853, the weather observation station at PAO reported wind variable at 4 knots, visibility 1/8th mile, fog, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl.


    Examination of the accident site by representatives from Cessna Aircraft Company and Teledyne Continental Motors under the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the First Identified Point of Contact (FIPC) was an electrical tower located about 0.41 nautical miles northwest of the departure end of runway 31. Examination of the tower revealed that the airplane struck the tower and power lines about 40 to 50 feet agl. Wreckage debris from the aircraft was spread throughout the approximate 897-foot long wreckage energy path, which was oriented on a magnetic heading of about 237 degrees.

    Two left propeller blade tips were located adjacent to the FIPC. Remains of the left engine cowling, nose cowling, left main gear door, and left gear door hinge were located near the FIPC. The outboard portion of the left wing (left fuel tank, left aileron, and a portion of the left flap) was located adjacent to a residential structure about 462 feet southwest of the FIPC and exhibited thermal damage. The inboard portion of the left wing (top left engine cowling, left engine nacelle, inboard portion of the left flap, left main gear) was located 560 feet from the FIPC and in a partially inverted position. The left main gear was observed secured within the wheel well. Forty-five degree striations were observed on the top middle area of the nacelle baggage door.

    Three impact marks were observed on the street curb about 686 feet from the FIPC. The impact marks observed were consistent with propeller blade strikes. An impact mark on the adjacent sidewalk was consistent with engine impact. Additional scoring was observed on the sidewalk within the area of the propeller strike marks and was consistent with the main fuel tank impact.

    About 15 feet beyond the strike marks on the curb, a portion of a landscaping retaining wall was displaced and extended towards the main wreckage. The main wreckage was observed adjacent to a residential structure, remaining partially on the residence driveway, yard, sidewalk, and street. Within the main wreckage, three vehicles and a light standard were observed. The main wreckage consisted of remains of the fuselage, cockpit structure, empennage, horizontal stabilizer, elevators, vertical stabilizer, rudder, right wing, and right engine. The main wreckage, vehicles, and light standard exhibited severe thermal damage.

    The left and right engine and left and right propellers were shipped to their respective manufacturers for further examination.


    The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the pilot on February 18, 2010. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was “...Multiple Blunt Injuries.”

    The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested. The report noted the following positive results: "0.011 (ug/ml, ug/g) Diphenhydramine detected in Blood, Diphenhydramine detected in Urine, Metoprolol detected in Urine, Metoprolol detected in Blood."


    The left and right engines were examined at the facilities of Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) under the supervision of the Safety Board IIC on March 1, 2, and 3, 2010. The examination of the left and right engines revealed no preimpact mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

    A handheld Garmin GPS was located within the wreckage debris path. The GPS was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC for further examination. The recovered recorded data revealed that on the day of the accident, a data track was observed from the parking area of PAO to runway 31. No further data was recovered from the GPS unit.

    Examination of both recovered propellers was conducted at the facilities of McCauley Propeller Systems, Wichita, Kansas, on February 23, 2011, under the supervision of an NTSB investigator. The McCauley Propeller Systems representative reported that the examination found that propeller damage was a result of impact forces and no indications of propeller failure prior to impact were found. Both propellers were rotating at the time of impact and that neither propeller was at or near the feathered position at the time of impact. The representative further reported that both propellers were being operated under conditions of power at the time of impact, of which the exact amount of power was not determined.

    Local law enforcement provided recordings from a Shotspotter recording system. The Shotspotter system is an array of acoustic sensors deployed in high-crime areas that are triggered by impulsive events such as explosions or gunshots in order to alert and provide information to law enforcement. Review of the audio recording system revealed that multiple recording sites recorded the accident sequence. The captured recordings were sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for further examination.

    According to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory specialist's report, the accident triggered five Shotspotter sensors. A sound spectrum study was performed to determine if any engine operating parameters such as RPM could be established. Five audio files approximately 2 minutes in length were provided to the Safety Board for analysis. The recordings, coupled with Airfield Surveillance Radar at Moffett Field, southeast of Palo Alto, which briefly tracked N5225J after departure, captured four radar targets, each approximately 4.5 seconds apart. When plotted, the first target appeared to the right of the runway. The radar data was corrected to place the aircraft on the runway during the takeoff roll. Using the initial impact point in addition to the four radar targets, a flight path was interpolated in one second intervals. The interpolated flight path showed an approximate 45-degree left turn shortly after departure to the FPIC.

    A sound spectrum study was performed to determine the engine speed from recorded audio from 4 sensors on the ground at the time of the accident. Because the aircraft was moving at over 200 knots over the ground at the time of the accident, the Doppler frequency shift had to be calculated. The study determined that both engines were operating near full power. See the Sound Spectrum Study within the public docket for more details.

    The Cessna 310R engines were operating near full power when it crashed last year in an East Palo Alto neighborhood, killing all three people on board, according to federal investigators.

    The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report on about the Feb. 17, 2010 crash. The cause may take at least several more months to determine.

    But the NTSB says the engines were running at near full power and the propellers were rotating when the plane slammed into an electric tower and power lines. Investigators were able to determine the engine power with help from a police gunfire detection system.

    The pilot and two passengers, all employees of Tesla Motors, were killed. No one on the ground was injured. 

    NTSB Identification: WPR10FA136
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Wednesday, February 17, 2010 in Palo Alto, CA
    Aircraft: CESSNA 310R, registration: N5225J
    Injuries: 3 Fatal.

    On February 17, 2010, about 0754 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 310R airplane, N5225J, was substantially damaged when it impacted multiple residential structures and terrain following an in-flight collision with power lines and a power line tower shortly after takeoff from the Palo Alto Airport (PAO), East Palo Alto, California. The commercial pilot and his two passengers were killed. There were no reported ground injuries. The airplane was registered to Air Unique Inc., Santa Clara, California, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Hawthorne, California.

    Full narrative available

    NORAD fighters intercept general aviation aircraft. Civilian pilot strays into restricted air space over Washington. Air Force jets intercept and escort plane back to Baltimore.

    The U.S. Air Force sent two F-16 jet fighters to intercept a civilian plane that had strayed into restricted air space over Washington, D.C., at about 8:30 p.m. Monday. The military planes, based at Andrews Air Force Base, escorted the smaller craft until the pilot landed at the Thurgood Marshall International Airport in Baltimore.

    The Federal Aviation Administration was unable to communicate with the pilot and alerted the North American Aerospace Defense Command, officials said.

    "We had a pilot out of communication who wandered into the National Capitol Region over the D.C. area, which is continually restricted," said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis, spokesman for NORAD. "When that happens, we send up the fighters."

    The Department of Homeland Security monitored the situation along with other federal agencies.

    "Out of an abundance of caution, the aircraft was escorted back to BWI by fighter jets and landed safely without incident," according to a Homeland Security release.

    Law enforcement officials met with the pilot of the errant plane, who informed police that he had overflown BWI by mistake, Homeland Security officials said.

    No further investigation is planned, officials said.


    Do you support shutting down Santa Monica Airport (KSMO)? Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-Marina del Rey

    Patch: Do you support shutting down Santa Monica Airport?

    Butler: I definitely think that the [flight] school is fairly dangerous and [something] that the residents didn't really bargain for. The dynamics of the airport have changed so drastically with the flight school and the number of jets coming in, it's definitely having an impact on the residents. I feel for those residents: It's loud and bad for the environment as well. I'd love to be a part of that reconsideration of who's going to the airport and how often.

    Santo Domingo: Cronies on payroll snarl Civil Aviation, Telecom agencies

    Santo Domingo.- The corrupt practice of ballooning government payrolls with the cronies of senior officials has now affected the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC), whose director, Alexander Herrera, ordered a freeze in designations of “employees” known popularly as “botellas” (bottles), so named for being empty and just taking space in a rack.

    A few months ago the same occurred in the Dominican Telecom Institute (Indotel), after former director Jose Rafael Vargas left the post and was elected to a Senate seat. The number of “botellas” grew to such a point that the streets around the entity have become full of vehicles that now don’t fit in its large parking lot.

    Local media also report a similar situation in the Environment Ministry, where after Ernesto Reyna was designated the new chief, the number of people swelled and its parking lots packed, with many vehicles now using the median in the dangerously busy Luperon avenue.

    Herrera said the measure will be in effect until January and attributes it to audits conducted in IDAC, aimed at establishing the functions of the different departments and the number of people for each

    Herrera’s memo to departmental heads asks them to abstain from designating personnel, including the airports, and adds that the measure also seeks to save money, to be used to meet IDAC’s other needs.


    SALVAGE BID: Beechcraft F33A, N3058S: Painted Post, New York

    DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT: Aircraft in flood waters with water up to wings and seats

    DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES: Flood damage, engine and avionics may be serviceable but with no guarantee  -  **PHOTOS**
    Read more:

    Accused Underwear Bomber Sought Martyrdom, United States Tells Jurors

    Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The man accused of the Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane with explosives hidden in his underwear wanted “to be a martyr,” a prosecutor told jurors today as his terrorism trial began.

    Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, is accused of trying to detonate explosives in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253, with 279 passengers and 11 crew members, approached Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009. He set fire to his clothing and a wall before passengers subdued him, prosecutors said. Northwest is a unit of Delta Air Lines Inc.

    The flight from the Netherlands was carrying children, military personnel and other passengers, many coming to the U.S. for the holidays, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel told the jury.

    “All the passengers had plans to be there, except for one,” Tukel said, referring to the defendant. “His mission, his goal, his sole reason for being on Flight 253 was to blow it up, to kill all the other passengers.”

    Abdulmutallab, who wore a bluish-gray tunic adorned with white and gold running below his waist in Detroit federal court today, faces eight terrorism-related counts in, including attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Abdulmutallab, a native of Nigeria, traveled to Yemen to become involved in a “violent jihad on behalf of al- Qaeda” and practiced detonating explosives before the failed attack, the U.S. claims.

    2010 Indictment

    There were more than two dozen interested parties sitting in an overflow area outside the courtroom.

    “Abdulmutallab boarded Flight 253 wearing the bomb concealed in his underwear,” prosecutors said in a January 2010 indictment. “Abdulmutallab’s purpose in taking the bomb on board Flight 253 was to detonate it during flight, causing the plane to crash and thereby kill all passengers on board.”

    The attempted bombing set off heightened security measures at U.S. airports. In January 2010 President Barack Obama ordered U.S. agencies to set clearer lines of responsibility for pursuing terrorism threats and to streamline criteria for adding names to government watch lists.

    Watch List

    Abdulmutallab was on the government’s Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which names about 550,000 individuals with possible terrorist links. He hadn’t been moved from this database to narrower terrorism watch lists including a “selectee” list of about 14,000 names that triggers additional screening at airports or to the “No Fly” list of about 4,000 names, U.S. officials said last year.

    Government officials say the attack on the Northwest flight was masterminded by Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Islamic cleric who was killed last month in an American missile attack in Yemen.

    The defendant, who will represent himself at the trial, faces a life sentence if convicted. Abdulmutallab, who has pleaded not guilty, hasn’t yet revealed his defense. His arguments may include a claim that the explosives were insufficient to blow up the plane, a lawyer assigned to help Abdulmutallab at the trial has said.

    A jury of three men and nine women was selected last week for the trial before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds.

    According to prosecutors, Abdulmutallab smuggled chemicals in his underwear onto the Northwest jet in the Netherlands, intending to combine them into a bomb.


    As the plane approached Detroit, he went into the bathroom for 20 minutes, covered himself with a blanket as he came out, and then tried to set off the explosive, FBI Agent Theodore Peissig said in court papers.

    Passengers, hearing noises similar to firecrackers, noticed flames on Abdulmutallab’s pants leg and an airplane wall, Peissig said. They subdued Abdulmutallab and put out the blaze, he said.

    After the flight landed, Abdulmutallab told authorities “that he had been acting on behalf of al-Qaeda,” prosecutors said in Aug. 26 court papers.

    Abdulmutallab’s decision to represent himself makes this trial different from other terrorism cases, said Marcellus McRae, an attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles and a former federal prosecutor. Detroit lawyer Anthony Chambers will serve as “standby counsel” to assist Abdulmutallab during the trial.

    ‘Osama is Alive’

    “One of the challenges here is making sure that the defendant does not use this trial as a means to vet his political views.” McRae said in an interview. “This is not an intellectual debate or an opportunity for him to make a stump speech.”

    The judge will need to balance Abdulmutallab’s right to represent himself against the integrity of the judicial process, McRae said. Before jury selection began last week, Edmunds told Abdulmutallab to don a dress shirt instead of the long white T- shirt he wore to court.

    Abdulmutallab muttered at a hearing last month, “Osama is alive,” a reference to Osama Bin Laden, who was killed in May. He made a similar reference at jury selection to another now- dead al-Qaeda leader.

    Such “outbursts” won’t aid Abdulmutallab at the trial, McRae said. “If his objective is to defend himself, he’ll alienate the jury,” he said. “If he’s trying to send a message, they’re not going to hear it.”

    Chambers, the standby counsel, was appointed to the case after Abdulmutallab fired his court-appointed lawyers last year. Chambers filed pretrial legal motions on Abdulmutallab’s behalf, questioned witnesses at a pretrial hearing and advised Abdulmutallab on law and procedures.

    The case is U.S. v. Abdulmutallab, 10-cr-20005, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).


    Hindustan Aeronautics Limited top executive ends life

    At a time when the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is going through a turmoil in its higher echelons, a senior executive of India’s biggest aircraft manufacturer was on Tuesday found hanging from a tree branch near Nandi Hills, about 52 km from here.

    Sqn Ldr (retd) Baldev Singh, HAL’s Corporate Planning and Marketing Director, used his turban to make a noose with which he hanged himself. It was clear that he had travelled the distance from his residence, HAL Officers’ Quarters, to end his life.
    The mysterious death comes in the backdrop of Singh, 58, collapsing in a recent HAL board meeting, though subsequent medical tests revealed he was normal.

    Shocked colleagues and batchmates of Singh told Deccan Herald “he could not have taken this step unless he was forced into a situation that could be related to HAL”. Singh took this extreme step just weeks after he was appointed Director, Corporate Planning and Marketing, on August 16.

    Wg Cdr (retd) Rajiv Kothiyal, who had worked with Singh for several years on the light combat aircraft programme in the mid-1990s, said: “It is impossible for me to digest that he has committed suicide. Baldev was not the type with a weak heart. He was a happy, full of energy kind of guy, taking things by the stride.”

    Sources close to the family said: “He was to travel to Delhi on Tuesday to the Defence Secretary’s (Defence Production) meeting but he had told the family he would not go.”
    His death has come as a shock to everyone who had worked with him on the various projects that he was involved in his illustrious career that had seen him don different roles, beginning from his Indian Air Force days.

    Just in his last assignment as a test pilot, he has a total flight test experience of over 6,000 hours on over 55 different types of aircraft, including India’s indigenous Intermediate Jet Trainer.

    The police suspect depression to be the cause of his death. Chikkaballapur Rural Deputy Superintendent of Police S Chelvaraj said: “He had come determined to kill himself. Initial investigation points fingers at a ‘typical suicide’ case.”

    The police, who found Singh’s body near Mirza Circle on the way to Nandi Hills, said they identified the body based on his HAL uniform, and after verifying his debit and credit cards. Chikkaballapur Rural Sub-Inspector Aiyanna Reddy said: “We have found out that he was depressed for sometime now and it is evident from the way the incident was pre-determined.”

    Rumours about work pressure having pushed him to the extent of killing himself are rife in HAL. A staffer said: “Everybody is just talking about that (work pressure) here, because we have never known him to be the kind who would do this.”

    Reacting to this, HAL Chairman Ashok Nayak said: “I am just coming back from Delhi, I am not aware of anything. I can only say that it is a huge loss for HAL.” There was no official response from HAL till late Tuesday evening.

    With the Baldev Singh’s ailing wife Vibhu in a state of shock, his brother Harjinder Singh filed a complaint with the police and has said that the family did not suspect anybody.

    The police, quoting the first information report (FIR), said Singh left home around 9 am in the official car (Maruti Suzuki SX-4) and had directed his driver Rajesh to go to Bangalore international airport at Devanahalli.

    However, he asked Rajesh to alight from the car near a flyover, took his phone from him on the excuse that his own phone had no battery charge, and asked him to wait there until he returned. “He had said he had to pick a friend up from a place nearby and that he would be back. Despite the driver insisting that he would travel with him, Singh had ordered him to stay back.”

    Following a long wait, Rajesh, the police said, reported the matter to the HAL Corporate Office on Cubbon Road, as he was worried about Singh. A message from the corporate office that a director of theirs was missing led to the police to send out wireless messages and eventually find the body when some passersby informed them about the same.

    “Going by the incident, it appears to be a pre-meditated move. Why would he take away the driver’s mobile otherwise,” Chelvaraj remarked.

    Singh is survived by his wife Vibhu and two sons Mohit Singh and Nimit Singh, both married. Nimit lives in the US and Mohit is in Singapore.


    Squadron Leader (retd) Baldev Singh, director for corporate planning and marketing at state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) committed suicide at Nandi Hills, about 50 km from Bangalore, police said Tuesday.

    The 58-year-old Baldev Singh "was found hanging by a tree around noon by passersby near Mirza Circle on way to Nandi Hills and alerted us," Chickballapur Rural Deputy Superintendent of Police S. Chelvaraj told IANS.

    "We lowered the body from the tree and identified him to be Baldev Singh of HAL from the credit and debit cards he was carrying in pocket," he said.

    Confirming the tragic death of the company’s former chief test pilot and executive director of flight operations, HAL chairman Ashok Nayak said it was too early to say what forced him to take such an extreme step.

    “I have no details on what led him to do this, as I am in Delhi. He has been very good at work and I have known him for long as he was our chief test pilot and executive director of flight operations. It is very unfortunate and a great loss to us as he was recently appointed director,” Nayak told IANS.

    According to the first information report (FIR) filed by police, Baldev Singh left home around 9 a.m. in the official car and told his driver Rajesh to go to the Bangalore international airport at Devanahalli.

    “At a flyover, he told the driver to alight and wait for him and drove the car himself towards Nandi hills saying he had to pick up a friend on the way. When there was no sign of Baldev Singh or response from him till noon, a worried driver reported the matter to the corporate office,” Chelvaraj said, quoting from the FIR.

    What appeared to be a pre-meditate move, Baldev Singh took away the driver’s mobile handset saying his phone was not working and asked him to wait near the flyover till he returned.

    “On receiving a call from HAL office about one of their directors (Baldev Singh) missing in the area, we sent a wireless message to all the police stations in our jurisdiction and rushed a search party to Nandi hills,” Chelvarj said.

    Baldev Singh leaves behind his wife Vibhu and two sons Mohit Singh and Nimit Singh. Mohit lives in Singapore and Nimit in the US. His wife has been ailing for some time.


    Ace fighter pilot, ex-IAF man and a director of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Sqn Leader (retd) Baldev Singh, was found dead at Nandi Hills, some 60 km from Bangalore, on Tuesday morning.

    The Chikballapur police said it looked like suicide and that he was found hanging from a tree on the hills.

    Senior HAL officials said they would not know the motive for the suicide. Mr Ashok Nayak, Chairman, who flew down to Bangalore for a few hours from an IAF commanders' meeting, said he was sad to lose Sqn Leader Singh.

    The latter was also holding the additional post of Director Design.

    Sqn Ldr Singh, who was around 55, was appointed Director Corporate Planning & Marketing of the defence PSU only on August 16 this year. He was Executive Director Flight Operations prior to that.
    Flying record

    With a distinguished flying record of 6,000 hours on 55 types of aircraft, he was a qualified flying instructor and joined HAL after he retired from IAF in 1989.

    As the Chief Test Pilot (fixed wing), he flew many aircraft under development for HAL. An earlier release said he was involved with the LCA (light combat aircraft) programme from 1990 onwards and was deputed to the DRDO's Aeronautical Development Agency.

    He leaves behind wife and two sons.