Friday, October 14, 2011

'I never in my dreams thought I'd be running an airline like British Airways'

WILLIE WALSH turns 50 in 10 days, but there’ll be no big celebration. It will be just another working day in the life of the high-flying London-based airline executive.

“I’ve nothing organised. I’ve been too busy,” he says from the boardroom of the business school at Dublin City University where he gave a talk to students on Thursday.

This is not false modesty. Walsh turned 40 just six days after taking over as chief executive of Aer Lingus, in October 2001. He started work that day at 6.30am. At 10pm a friend rang and said it was time to go for a pint.

“A party had been planned in my house, and everybody had been there since seven o’clock that evening. I arrived in to a big ‘surrrpriiise’ ,” he says. He had two pints of Guinness, went to bed and left for work at 6am the next day, which was a Saturday. The party was still going on.

“I’m not going through that again,” he says with a sigh. “So I’ve told everybody that I don’t want anything this time around. I’m hoping my 50th will be just another day of the week.”

To many people Willie Walsh runs British Airways. In fact he’s chief executive of International Airline Group (IAG), a holding company formed from the merger of British Airways and the Spanish carrier Iberia in January. It is one of the world’s biggest airlines, carrying 55 million passengers a year. BA and Iberia both have their own chief executives. Walsh’s overarching role involves strategy, co-ordination and finding acquisition opportunities.

He is effectively Mr Consolidator within the global airline industry, and is prepared to open his cheque book if the right deal comes along. “IAG is about facilitating consolidation in the industry,” he says. “That’s why we created it.”

Last week, as he attended the Global Economic Forum at Dublin Castle, Walsh was quizzed persistently about IAG’s interest in buying Aer Lingus now that the Government has indicated its willingness to sell its 25 per cent shareholding, and even Ryanair has said it would be prepared to offload its 29.8 per cent stake.

“I spent two days fending off questions about my interest in Aer Lingus – the last time I did that I had to leave the country,” he jokes.

In 2004 Walsh, who was then Aer Lingus chief executive, and two other executives, Seamus Kearney and Brian Dunne, expressed an interest in putting together a buyout of the then State-owned airline. Walsh had rescued Aer Lingus from near collapse post-9/11 by changing it into a low-cost carrier. Their proposal was very publicly slapped down by the taoiseach of the day, Bertie Ahern.

“I never met him while I was at Aer Lingus, never spoke to him while I was at Aer Lingus. He had a few things to say about me, but I’d never actually met the guy.”

So does he want to buy Aer Lingus now? “We’ve made no secret that there are airlines we’re interested in at the moment, but Aer Lingus is not one of them. There are other things that are more important,” he says, citing IAG’s interest in the Portuguese airline Tap, which is slated for privatisation, and the Heathrow-based BMI, which its German owner, Lufthansa, is keen to offload.

“Those two are alive at the moment, where Aer Lingus is all rumour.”

He says Aer Lingus must resolve the uncertainty about whether it will help to plug a €500 million deficit in a pension fund – operated jointly with Dublin Airport Authority and SR Technics – before a suitor will emerge. “Nobody is going to have any interest in Aer Lingus if there’s that uncertainty.”

As it happens, he is a deferred pensioner of the scheme and has a passing interest in the matter.

WALSH, PRESIDENT of London Chamber of Commerce – the first Irishman to hold the prestigious role – is one of the highest-profile business leaders in Britain.

Earlier this week he was invited to New Scotland Yard to address 70 senior officers. “You can’t imagine what it’s like for an Irishman to walk in there.”

He even spent two days with the RAF, doing some manoeuvres over the North Sea in its new Eurofighter Typhoon jet. “I had a smile on my face for weeks after that,” says the former pilot.

But he has not forgotten his roots, either. His appearance at the forum last weekend was followed by an address to Dublin Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night, which brought out a bumper attendance of 1,600.

He jumped up on stage and grabbed the Sam Maguire trophy, which was on display. “I’m Willie Walsh and I’m a Dub,” he said with a beam.

He’s impressed with Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. “I think the difference between Enda Kenny and Brian Cowen is that Kenny looks like he’s enjoying the job and he’s portraying confidence. At a time like this, that’s absolutely important.”

Walsh’s advice to the Government is to drive on with reform of the economy. “The real risk is that most people think we’re almost through it now or we’re doing okay and we can start relaxing. My own experience of going through these sorts of programmes in business is that as you relax you get yourself back into trouble. You can’t afford to slow down. In fact, if you’re making good progress you’ve really got to accelerate.”

He still has a house in Donabate, Co Dublin, and intends to settle back here eventually. “I’ve always felt Dublin was home. My view has always been that I would be back in Ireland at some stage.”

Walsh has long stated his intention to retire at 55. “I’d always had that as a target for myself. I don’t know why. I was 17 when I started in Aer Lingus. I’ve worked quite hard over the years.”

He’s a self-confessed workaholic. He hasn’t taken a holiday in years and hates being “idle”.

This approach to life might be softening, though. “I’m going to look at taking a cruise on the Shannon ,” he says.

Earlier this year, Walsh bought a cabin cruiser that he moors on the Thames in London. “I bought it with a view to ultimately putting it on the Shannon. That to me is a great holiday.”

Does he have any regrets that life – particularly with his wife and 16-year-old daughter, Hannah – might have passed him by while he was working so hard?

“Quite honestly, I’ve no regrets. I’ve loved working, and I’ve had great opportunities that I never expected to have. I never thought I would get the opportunity to run an airline. I ran Futura at 36. It was a fantastic experience. I was CEO of Aer Lingus at 39.

“I never in my dreams thought I would be running an airline like BA. You can’t look back and say, ‘I wish I’d played more football,’ or, ‘I wish I’d bought that bike.’ I’ve loved every minute of it, and I don’t believe in looking back.”

Will IAG be his last full-time executive job? “I’m not looking for anything else, and I’ve no plans to. If I retire from IAG at the age of 55 I’d be really, really happy.”

High cost of medical helicopter transportation

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Transferring some patients from one hospital to another by helicopter is expensive and may not get patients the care they need--or any faster--than an ambulance would.

Harvard researchers analyzed the transfer times of neurosurgical patients to a trauma center for one year.

They found more than half of the patients sent by chopper did not need immediate surgery, and could have been stabilized before being sent to the trauma specialists in an ambulance.

Transporting patients by helicopter can cost as much as $25,000. An ambulance ride often costs about $1,000.

Plane crashes in Switzerland: Police

GENEVA  - A small plane crashed on Friday in Switzerland's western canton of Vaud, police said, without indicating how many people were on board.

'There was indeed an accident,' a local police official told AFP.

The mountainous country's air rescue service said the plane was small but did not elaborate, and investigators said they would not provide any more details before Saturday morning.

Virgin Atlantic, Aviation Low Carbon Fuel

by UnravelTravelTV on Oct 11, 2011

Virgin Atlantic is working on development of a world-first low carbon aviation fuel with just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.

The ground breaking partnership with LanzaTech represents a breakthrough in aviation fuel technology that will see waste gases from industrial steel production being captured, fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology for use as a jet fuel. The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

By 2012/2013 Virgin Atlantic plans flights with the new fuel on its routes from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow as LanzaTech and partners develop facilities in China and India. The technology is currently being piloted in New Zealand, a larger demonstration facility will be commissioned in Shanghai this year, and the first commercial operation will be in place in China by 2014. Following successful implementation, a wider roll-out could include operations in the UK and the rest of the world.

LanzaTech estimates that its process can apply to 65 % of the world's steel mills, allowing the fuel to be rolled out for worldwide commercial use. The energy company believes that this process can also apply to metals processing and chemical industries, growing its potential considerably further.

Speaking as he announced the partnership (11 October 2011), the President of Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson, said: "We were the first commercial airline to test a bio-fuel flight and we continue to lead the airline industry as the pioneer of sustainable aviation. This partnership to produce a next generation, low-carbon aviation fuel is a major step towards radically reducing our carbon footprint, and we are excited about the savings that this technology could help us achieve. "With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable, and with the steel industry alone able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting. This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel."

Sir. Richard Branson, President, Virgin Atlantic
Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive, Virgin Atlantic
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive, Lanzatech

For more information about Change is in the Air -- Virgin Atlantic's sustainability programme:

New Aircraft Flight Patterns Out Of JFK Scheduled For October 20th Implementation

The FAA has targeted October 20th for implementation of its new westbound routes out of JFK airport. The routes will, in part, shift traffic that now overflies Monmouth County, NJ to overfly Nassau County, NY. According to comments at an FAA/industry user meeting, the current RBV JFK departure route will remain in place for partial use. In addition, the FAA apparently will implement a swap of the southbound departure routes out of LaGuardia and JFK. This swap will introduce a new southbound route from JFK to overfly Monmouth County, NJ. This route now is out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Net net, the new westbound routes out of JFK are a positive for New Jersey and a negative for New York. The new southbound routes are a negative for New Jersey.

Below are Internet links to graphical drawings that illustrate the new and current patterns. Please note that the new JFK westbound routes have been modified and the patterns on the graph will not be implemented. These new routes will head more to the north over Nassau out of JFK before turning west and now apparently will overfly Westchester County.

Robert Belzer
President, NJCAAN

NJCAAN Media Contact
Jerome Feder
908 654 5274

Georgia: Retiring Air Force general tapped to be president of The Augusta Chronicle. Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in fighter aircraft.

Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins has been named president of The Augusta Chronicle, the paper’s publisher announced Friday.

Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, commander of Alaskan Command, speaks about exercise Northern Edge - June 2009.

Atkins will assume his new duties Jan. 3, after his retirement as commander of Alaskan Command, Alaska NORAD Region, Joint Task Force Alaska, and 11th Air Force at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

“We are honored to have a man of such accomplishment, reputation and skill to become president of the Chronicle,” said William S. Morris III, the chairman and CEO of Morris Communications and publisher of The Chronicle. “He will bring to our newspaper team the superior leadership and management abilities that have distinguished his military career, and we are happy to welcome him and his family to our community.”

City can no longer afford to manage Augusta State Airport (KAUG), Augusta, Maine.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Augusta City Council says the city can no longer afford to run the state airport in the Maine capital for the amount of money the state is willing to pay.

The state pays the city $550,000 a year and the city is operating under a one-year extension of a five-year deal with the state. The city has been paid the same amount since 2008 and the state says it can’t afford to increase the payment.

The Kennebec Journal said the city can’t afford to pay for airport operations from the general fund.

Airport Manager John Guimond, a city employee, said the state official who oversees airports didn’t have an answer when he asked what would happen if the city stopped managing the airport.

Noisy Boeing 727 cargo plane rattles residents - prompts calls to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (KAVP), Pennsylvania.

SCRANTON - A noisy cargo plane that flew over downtown Scranton at about 3 a.m. Wednesday woke up residents and prompted many calls to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

A Boeing 727, which is larger than most planes that fly from the airport, took off and flew over Scranton, said Bill Wallick, a contractor with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The older plane was much louder than newer models, and 15 years ago, people may not have thought anything of the noise, Mr. Wallick said.

Prosecutors: drunk passenger yelled "I will beat you all down and kill you". Varoujan Khodjamirian accused of forcing emergency landing in Denver

Read the full criminal complaint.
DENVER -- An American Airlines passenger accused of forcing an emergency landing in Denver appeared in federal court Friday to be advised of the charges against him.

Varoujan Khodjamirian faces charges of interfering with flight crew members and attendants, which carries a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Khodjamirian was taken into custody at Denver International Airport late Friday after, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office, he became unruly, struck a flight attendant and then yelled various threats on a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Los Angeles.

“Approximately one and a half hours into the flight, after consuming several alcoholic drinks, Khodjamirian became loud and disruptive,” US Attorney John Walsh said. “Following passenger complaints, the flight attendants reseated the two passengers sitting next to Khodjamirian. Shortly thereafter, the defendant began kicking the seats in front of him. “

Attempts by the flight attendants to calm him down were unsuccessful, so they moved him to the last row of seats, Walsh said.

“He continued to be loud, struck one of the flight attendants in the face, and began yelling threats, including “I kill you children, I kill your mother. I will beat you all down and kill you.”

The flight attendant wasn’t injured in the assault, According to American Airline spokesman Jim Faulkner.

At that point, crew members restrained Khodjamirian with flexible cuffs and two flight attendants sat next to him as the aircraft was diverted to Denver.

Read the full criminal complaint.

Detroit: Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano suspends 2, fires a 3rd in wake of $200K Turkia Mullin severance scandal. 2 Staff Members Are Suspended, 1 Contracted Employee Is Fired (With Video)

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano

DETROIT --  Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced Friday that he has suspended two county staff members and fired a contracted employee.

Deputy County Executive Azzam Elder and and Director of Corporation Council Maryann Tallen were suspended. County Personnel Director Tim Taylor was fired.

Ficano was investigating a severance pay scandal involving former Chief Development Officer Turkia Mullin, who is the new CEO at Detroit Metro Airport.

Mullin voluntarily left the county position to work for the airport. She received a severance paycheck of more than $200,000.

Ficano says employees who quit no longer will receive severance packages. He requested that Mullin return the money, something she said she would do.

"This should have never happened," Ficano said. "I accept full responsibility for that mistake and I am putting in place these procedures to make sure that nothing like that happens again."

Officials had said the deal was in Mullin's old contract. She now makes $250,000 annually as chief executive of the county-owned airport in Romulus.

Ficano says protocol was not followed in crafting Mullin's severance package.

He said he suspended Elder and Tallen, and fired Taylor, because they had roles in Mullin's severance deal.

Watch Video:

Detroit-Bound Flight's Engine Dies, Makes Emergency Landing at Jacksonville International Airport

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Delta Airlines flight with 142 people onboard has landed safely after an engine problem forced it to divert to Jacksonville.

Jacksonville International Airport spokesman Michael Stewart said an engine became non-operational.

Delta spokesperson Paul Skrbec said Flight 2092 left from Tampa and was heading to Detroit.

The captain, flying an MD 80 aircraft, diverted following normal procedures due to an indicator light that appeared.

Once ground maintenance at JIA inspects the plane, it will head back out to Detroit, said Skrbec.

Atlantic Southeast, briefly SureJet, now will be ExpressJet

When Atlantic Southeast Airlines announced it was buying Houston-based ExpressJet Holdings last year, the combined carrier went looking for a catchy new name.

Three months ago, the Atlanta-headquartered company revealed its selection: SureJet.

The swift and hostile response from the airline's employees: Surely you jest.

Reaction was so negative, a spokesman acknowledged, that the SureJet name was dumped the very next day.

Friday, the company returned with a familiar-sounding replacement: ExpressJet.

Brad Holt, president and chief operating officer, explained, "... we sought suggestions and feedback from our entire workforce, of 10,000 team members ... Our company-wide vote clearly established the ExpressJet name with the legacy Atlantic Southeast branding as the winner and a brand identity our people can be proud of going forward."

That would mark a departure from reaction to the SureJet name, which featured satirical takes posted on airline message boards.

Atlantic Southeast completed its acquisition of ExpressJet last November and they will continue operating as separate airlines with their current names until an expected Dec. 31 transition.

Atlantic Southeast is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SkyWest Inc. The merger will create the world's largest regional airline with 2,400 daily flights and 400 aircraft flying to 190 airports in 41 states, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. Atlantic Southeast operates as Delta Connection and United Express. ExpressJet operates as Continental Express and United Express.

Syracuse Regional Airport Authority moves to cut police overtime by hiring private security. Syracuse Hancock International Airport (KSYR) Syracuse, New York.

The new Syracuse Regional Airport Authority voted 10-0 Friday to hire private security at Hancock Airport.

The move starts the process to cut back the airport's reliance on overtime paid to Syracuse police officers. The city would continue to provide four officers to the airport for each shift.

The change needs the approval of the Common Council and the federal Transportation Security Administration.

The authority held its second meeting after its creation in August. It is charged with running the airport owned by the city.

Bill Fisher, deputy Onondaga County executive and chairman of the authority's board of directors, said the change to private guards could save as much as $2 million out of $4 million in security costs each year.

Civil Air Patrol will continue in Myrtle Beach

Area residents will continue to receive support from the S.C. Civil Air Patrol despite the Myrtle Beach commander saying Thursday it would no longer provide aeriel support for Horry County after he was charged in an incident that involved his taking a laser from a 12-year-old boy who aimed it at motorists.

“That’s our charge, by Congress, to serve everyone,” said Emerson Smith, public information officer for CAP’s main office in Columbia. “No squadron commander can say that and follow through on that. It just can’t be done.”

Smith added that there are 10 aircraft across S.C. all gased up and ready to provide assistance in the event of an emergency, as well as an additional 500 aircraft at their disposal in case of a hurricane.

Stephen Teachout was charged Wednesday with third-degree assault and petty larceny, said Sgt. Robert Kegler with the Horry County Police Department, after the boy’s parents pressed the charges.

Smith said the regional CAP commander will investigate the incident, and then make a recommendation to the wing commander in Columbia.

Previous story:
The commander of the Myrtle Beach unit of the Civil Air Patrol said Thursday that it will no longer provide certain aerial support for Horry County after he was charged in an incident that involved his taking a laser from a 12-year-old boy who aimed it at motorists.

The Civil Air Patrol has existed in the Myrtle Beach area more than 30 years and has provided Horry County assistance in instances involving offshore missing persons, forest fire, and searches for downed aircraft.

But Stephen Teachout said that because the charges have been filed against him the Myrtle Beach wing of the Civil Air Patrol, which he said currently has three pilots, will no longer take calls, indefinitely, from Horry County for help with such things as offshore missing person, forest fire, etc.

He said a commander can choose whether to provide such services for an area; he said federal needs include assisting with a search and rescue of a down aircraft.

The decision comes after Teachout was charged Wednesday with third-degree assault and petty larceny, said Sgt. Robert Kegler with the Horry County Police Department.

He was charged after the 12-year-old boy’s parents wanted charges pursued.

The boy was issued a juvenile summons for public disorderly conduct for his role in the incident.

“This is ridiculous,” said Teachout. “There can’t be two victims in a victimless crime. I support Horry County, but if they don’t have [the pilots’] backs than no thanks. We don’t need to be here.”

According to a police report, the boy told an Horry County officer that he was standing in his yard in Garden City Sunday night when he pointed a laser toward people on a motorcycle, moped, and a stand up scooter at the corner of Cypress Avenue and Elizabeth Drive.

The boy said Teachout got off the scooter, went into the boy’s yard, grabbed him by his arm and took the green laser away from him.

Teachout then jumped back on the scooter and drove down Elizabeth Avenue, the boy told police.

The officer, who later recovered the laser from someone who witnessed the incident and who Teachout had given the laser to, contacted Teachout by telephone about the incident.

Teachout told the officer that the boy had shined the laser into his eyes and that he was taking it from the boy “just like he would take a baseball bat from someone if they was [sic] assaulting him.”

The officer, who said Teachout told him several times that he was a pilot for the Civil Air Patrol of Horry County, stopped Teachout because the phone call had gone from an interview to where Miranda Rights became an issue.

Officials with the S.C. Wing of the Civil Air Patrol could not be reached for comments. And Horry County Emergency Management officials said they could not really say what affect ceasing services could have on Horry County.

The Civil Air Patrol is a non-profit, humanitarian organization with 60,000 members nationwide, according to the website of the Myrtle Beach Composite Squadron, which is a unit of the South Carolina Wing, Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol is the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

“The biggest thing with pilots is safety,” said Teachout, who has been the local Civil Air Patrol commander for 1 1/2 years.

The lasers, on the other hand, have been an issue that several area municipalities – including Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach - have been addressing following complaints.

Area officials have been expressed about the lasers being pointed at airplanes and tourists have complained about them being a nuisance.

Dash 8 grounded

AN accident involving a dash 8 aircraft of the PNG airlines is affecting the Dash 8 operations here.

Solomon Airlines commercials Manager Gus Krause said the service of dash8 is affected and is grounded until further notice.

The accident in PNG involving an Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft near Madang late Thursday afternoon has resulted in a number of passengers missing.

A statement from the PNG airline said there were 28 passengers and 4 crew members on board.

“There appear to be some survivors while a number of people remain unaccounted for.

“Airlines PNG is working with the emergency service authorities to confirm this information in more detail.

“A full investigation is underway by authorities and Airlines PNG as to the possible cause of the accident.

“Airlines PNG fully supports the action of local authorities at Lae who have quarantined aviation fuel at Lae airport from where the aircraft originated.”

Airlines PNG has grounded its Dash 8 fleet of 12 aircraft until further notice.

Victim identified in fatal glider crash. DG Flugzeugbau DG-1000S, N7760A. Cle Elum, Washington.

A Tukwila man was killed Thursday when a glider he was piloting crashed at Cle Elum Municipal Airport during a film shoot, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office.

The glider's only occupant, 53-year-old pilot William Weller of Tukwila, died shortly after the accident.

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According to a news release issued by the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office, the glider was being towed down a runway by another vehicle in preparation for takeoff when the accident occurred shortly before 4 p.m.

The aircraft was being used to shoot a Cadillac television commercial, according to investigators on scene and FAA spokesman Mike Fergus, and a helicopter filmed the accident from overhead. A Los Angeles-based production company had been working on the commercial in the Cle Elum area for a couple of days, according to reports from the sheriff's office. A glider could be seen flying low over Cle Elum earlier Thursday afternoon.

The glider was registered to Northwest Eagle Soaring LLC based in Tukwila, according to the FAA registry.

Airport closed

The airport is closed until further notice, said Kittitas County Sheriff's Commander Bob Gubser. Investigators with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were there this morning conducting their investigation.

Gubser said the cause of the crash and the cause of death are unknown at this point.

Emergency crews responded from multiple local agencies, and investigators from the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office remained on scene until after 7 p.m. Thursday.

HondaJet not coming to Albany International Airport

ALBANY - Plans to bring HondaJet to the Capital Region are now on hold.

A spokesman for the Albany International Airport confirms the jet plane maker has pulled out of the deal.

The North Carolina-based company announced in 2008 that it planned to build a sales and service center at Albany's Million Air Terminal.

The Business Review reports that HondaJet scrapped the $5 million project due to a bad economy and rising construction costs.

Cardiff Uni lab researches aircraft lightning strikes

A laboratory to investigate the effects of lightning strikes on aircraft has opened at Cardiff university.

Scientists will be able to generate up to 200,000 amps, six times the current of a lightning strike.

Key research will be lightning strikes on aircraft, especially jets made of composite materials, such as the new Airbus A350.

On average airliners in western Europe can expect to be hit by a lightning at least once a year.

The £1.6m lab is a joint initiative with aerospace company Eads, with European funding through the Welsh Government.

A key research area will be lightning strikes on aircraft, especially jets made of composite materials, such as the new Airbus A350.

Understanding how the materials behave when struck by lightning is vitally important for safety.

The Morgan-Botti laboratory has been named in honour of former First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Dr Jean Botti, EADS chief technical officer, both instrumental in establishing the facility.

The launch of the lab coincided with the opening of the new Airbus A350 wing factory at Broughton in Flintshire.

The facility in the Splott area of Cardiff will test the materials used in the wings to ensure they conform with the demanding safety standards.

Panels from wings or other components will be subjected to the same forces expected from natural lightning.
Lightning effects

Mr Morgan said that hi-tech science and research was key to growth in the Welsh economy.

"We have to be a technology-based economy. It's all about the R&D [research and development]", he said.

Lightning research The facility can generate up to 200,000 amps, six times the power of a typical lightning strike

"You could have a lightning strike which could damage an aircraft so this is a preventative form of technology," he added.

Project manager Philip Leichauer said: "Our new laboratory will generate controlled lightning, which will be used with advanced test and measurement methods to further understand lightning effects on materials, and ensure future aircraft remain safe."

Most lightning strikes on aircraft occur when they fly into an area where a high charge has built up and the jet initiates, or triggers the bolt.

The new lab, which was officially opened on Thursday by First Minister Carwyn Jones, has complex systems that ensure the safety of researchers, with the control area separated securely from the live equipment.

Switches are operated by compressed air and fibre optics are used to carry signals from instruments so no cables or other conductors run between the two sections.

The experiments themselves are carried out within a double steel-lined cage which also provides an acoustic shield for the loud blast when the lightning bolts are fired.

Lightning research A huge bank of capacitors store the charge before every 'lightning bolt' is released

As well as research for the aviation sector, the lab will also be available for a wide variety of studies into the effects of lightning.

'Facility is crucial'

Eads, formally the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, is the parent company of Airbus.

It also has a military division, a space division Astrium, and owns Eurocopter, the world's largest helicopter manufacturer.

"This kind of facility is crucial," said Dr Botti who stressed the importance of the research for the new Airbus aircraft. "The A350 is coming out, built with 52% of composites.

"This kind of test will prevent any kind of issues that are related to lightning strikes. I cannot emphasise just how important it is that we get the safety right for any new materials," added Dr Botti.

Concepts to be rendered for new general aviation terminal at Pellston Regional Airport of Emmet County (KPLN), Pellston, Michigan

PELLSTON -- Plans will be drawn for two future construction projects at Pellston Regional Airport after the Emmet County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved their funding Thursday night.

Engineering firm Mead and Hunt has been hired to conceptualize and design a new general aviation terminal for private aircraft for about $90,000, which could replace the current structure in about three years. A second contract for $60,000 was also awarded Tuesday for the airfield electrical vault to provide backup power.

Both will be paid 100 percent by surcharge funds collected from traffic coming in and out of the Emmet County-owned airport.

The terminal conceptualization forecasts the next large-scale construction project at the Pellston airport. Construction remains ongoing at an $8 million building to house snow removal fire fighting and airport rescue equipment paid largely with an FAA grant and $189,000 of local taxpayer funds. The county also built an $8.1 million main commercial terminal in 2003.

"The (terminal) that is out there is fairly old and small," said Mead and Hunt representative Ron Engel, speaking with the commissioners earlier in the week. "What this project will do is just the design to look at concepts, floor plans and renderings to try to get an idea and figure out what it is (the county) wants on paper."

The terminal is currently used as both the main operations building at the airport including offices and conference areas, as well as a living room-size waiting area for private pilots and passengers.

The terminal began seeing added use in July when Lakeshore Express launched a 30-seat charter jet service flying three times weekly round-trip to Midway International Airport in Chicago.

Kelley Atkins, Pellston Regional Airport manager, told the board that between pilots that have up to eight hour layovers and the addition of the charter jet passengers, the terminal needs to be upgraded to accommodate peak-travel crowds. The county would also like to build a new terminal with improved amenities to maximize its attraction of private pilots and generate fuel sales at the airport.

"These corporate pilots with the layovers are the ones with the credit cards. They decide where they want to fuel up," Atkins said.

"I think I understand we are doing anything we can to attract more private planes in here," said Emmet County Commissioner Les Atchison, District 7.

Lakeshore Express owner Greg Stallkamp told the News-Review by phone Thursday his company is planning to add a fourth trip each week from Pellston to Chicago, but believes the terminal is adequate for his company's needs for 35 people with passenger and crew.

"At first we thought it would be way too small, but it has never been a problem for us," Stallkamp said. "I think it is a great facility, very well designed. It could be a little bit larger, but for our needs -- since we're about the largest group that is ever going to fly out of there -- the space itself has never posed a problem."

Stallkamp did however say it can be "somewhat" congested during a full flight when everyone has their luggage for the 15-20 minutes of waiting prior to takeoff.

"If they have unlimited funds -- maybe at most they should double the size of the area. Aside from that it is a great facility and nothing is absolutely necessary," he said.

Yamal Airlines Tupolev Tu-134 has engine fire, lands at Novy Urengoy Airport - Siberia

YEKATERINBURG, Russia, October 14  -- A Yamal Airlines plane made an emergency landing Friday morning in Siberia after one of its engines caught fire, the Emergencies Ministry said.

No injuries were reported.

RIA Novosti reported 67 passengers and seven crew members were aboard the TU-134 airliner.

The plane, which was bound for Salekhard, landed at Novy Urengoy Airport in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area.

A spokesman for the Urals regional emergencies center told ITAR-Tass the engine caught fire as the plane was gaining speed on the runway, preparing for takeoff. The passengers and crew were evacuated.

The fire was reported at 11:58 a.m. local time.

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New York: Civic Concerned Jet Noise Jitters Spreading Through Nassau. Members of the Inwood Civic Association fear that other communities' complaints may result in more planes flying over area.

It’s an all too familiar fear for Inwood’s residents: Increasing air traffic over neighboring areas may give rise to an altered jet pattern with more planes flying through already crowded skies over the area.

Inwood Civic Association members said at their meeting last Thursday that although the same problem has lingered over the community for the last 30 years, nearby towns and villages in Nassau County are getting some first-hand experience of the jet noise dilemma — and they don’t like it. The FAA has recently altered air traffic routes around JFK Airport, which have led to more planes flying low over communities that are in the path of current landing and take off patterns, members said.

“The people of East Williston, New Hyde Park, Mineola and others towns are all coming to the meetings due to the noise they never had before,” said board member Roy Meserole, referring to the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee, or TVASNAC, which meets monthly at Lawrence Village Hall. “We’re lucky our residents have a representative at those meetings, because the other places don’t."

Association Chairman Tony LaFerrara is also aware of the nearby grumblings. “The other areas have complaints about landing, not taking off," he said. "When the planes reverse their engines, it’s much worse.”

As far as noise from JFK, residents can barely put up with the current levels and they don’t want another change in air traffic that could result in more jets over Inwood.

“We’ve gotten less in recent times because they fanned out, but the take offs are still loud," Meserole said.

Association members plan to monitor the TVASNAC meetings for any changes at JFK.

Thursday night’s agenda also included the annual Citizen of the Year Award Dinner, scheduled for March 24, 2012. Since 1962, the Inwood Civic Association has selected a resident or organization for outstanding service to the community. Contact the association for further details about nominations.

The Inwood Civic Association next meets on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.

Bad fuel suspected in air tragedy. Airlines PNG, de Havilland Dash 8-100, P2-MCJ, Flight CG-1600. Papua New Guinea.

CONTAMINATED fuel is suspected of causing Papua New Guinea's worst post-war plane crash, which killed 28 passengers and left four survivors including the Australian pilot and his New Zealand co-pilot.

The twin-turbo-prop Dash-8 operated by Airlines PNG crashed on Thursday evening at the mouth of the Gogol River, 20km south of Madang, its destination, 30 minutes after leaving Lae.

Three of the survivors were yesterday flown from a local hospital to Port Moresby. They include the Australian pilot, Bill Spencer, 64, and his New Zealander co-pilot, Campbell Wagstaff.

A Chinese man in his 50s who escaped through a crack in the burning fuselage remains at Madang's Madilon General Hospital with burns to his back and arms.

The hospital's director of medical services, Billy Selve, said the man was suffering mental trauma: "He's in a stable condition, but there is mental strain."

The fourth survivor is believed to be a cabin crew member. It is understood there were no other Australians onboard.

Most of those who died were parents of students graduating from Divine Word University in Madang, flying up to attend the university's Thanksgiving Day.

A Lae-based Australian businessman, who had left the aircraft just hours before the crash, said bad fuel was the likely cause.

The businessman - a long-time resident of PNG - played down strong rain in the area as a cause, saying sudden changes in weather were a fact of life for PNG pilots.

Captain Spencer is being hailed as a hero after helping the other survivors escape the wreck.

Trevor Hattersley, the Australian high commission's warden in Madang, said last night that Captain Spencer was in a stable condition and had been flown to Port Moresby yesterday in the care of Australian consular staff.

"The pilot's leg is fairly bad, he can't walk, and the co-pilot is shaken up but I don't think he has any injuries," Mr Hattersley said.

Because of heavy rains swelling the Guabe River and cutting off road access, rescuers - health workers, police, firemen and disaster officials - could reach the accident site only by boat.

Staff at the Madilon hospital laid out tarpaulins for the dead near the main gate to the hospital.

However, treacherous terrain has hampered efforts to recover the bodies of the crash victims.

In a statement, the airline, which has grounded its fleet of 12 Dash-8s, said PNG authorities had "quarantined" the aviation fuel supply at Lae airport.

Veronica Gase said her aunt, Christine Matlam, had died aboard the plane with her three daughters and a grandchild.

"She notified her brother from (Lae) airport as she took off," Ms Gase said. "That was the last contact we had with her."

Ms Matlam and her family had travelled from Port Moresby to watch her 26-year-old son take part in the thanksgiving ceremony.

The new PNG government led by Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, who visited Canberra this week, had announced only recently that Airlines PNG would be merged with - effectively taken over by - the government-owned national carrier, Air Niugini.

Public Enterprise Minister Mekere Morauta said yesterday in the wake of the crash, the merger plan would be put on ice.

Australian high commissioner Ian Kemish spoke with Mr O'Neill on Friday to pass on condolences to the families and friends of the crash victims, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

Four investigators from Australia's Air Transport Safety Bureau arrived in Port Moresby on Friday to assist the PNG Air Investigation Commission.

The Australian Federal Police will send a team of six specialists to provide medical and forensic support to assist the identification process.

Papua New Guinea crash pilot has 30 years' experience. Airlines PNG, de Havilland Dash 8-100, P2-MCJ, Flight CG-1600.

PNG crash pilot has 30 years' experience
Benjamin Preiss

THE Australian pilot who survived a plane crash that killed 28 people in Papua New Guinea had 30 years' experience flying in the country.

William Spencer, 64, of the Sunshine Coast, was being treated for a leg injury at a hospital in Port Moresby last night. He was among four people who survived the crash.

Mr Spencer's son-in-law, Conal Hanna, said the pilot loved flying planes in PNG.

''He's fluent in Pidgin and has a great fondness for the New Guinean people,'' Mr Hanna said. ''While I haven't spoken to him I know how distraught he will be at this loss of life.''

The family was trying to contact Mr Spencer last night.

Mr Hanna said Mr Spencer had been working with Airlines PNG for about a year. He had also worked in Australia, including a job as an instructor for Singapore Airlines.

A New Zealand pilot also survived. The two others are believed to be a cabin crew member and a passenger.

The plane took off from Lae but crashed about 20 kilometres south-east of Madang on Thursday afternoon. Local media reported the Dash 8 plane flew into bad weather.

At Madang's Modilon General Hospital staff laid out tarpaulins for the dead near the main gate. Last night family members of the crash victims gathered on the hospital lawns.

Treacherous terrain hampered efforts to recover the bodies of the victims, many of whom were on their way to a graduation ceremony at Divine Word University.

Poor radio communication with staff who were sent to collect the bodies and a lack of helicopters made it difficult to reach the crash site.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said there was no indication that any Australians died.

Tampa International Airport (KTPA), Florida: New CEO wants to turn Tampa Bay into a brand to attract international tourists.

Joe Lopano started as CEO of Tampa International Airport in January. He has already added two new international flights estimated to bring a combined $50.6 million into the Tampa economy.
Photo by Mark Wemple.

Most aviation officials spend years dreaming of planes before joining the business. Joe Lopano just needed a job out of college.

That was shortly after his dream of becoming a professional photographer was put in check by a friend. “I had a friend who worked for National Geographic and he told me the money wasn’t good,” Lopano recalls.

So he took his training in finance and accounting from New York’s Pace University to the Pan Am mailroom with the goal of not staying there long.

His ambitious nature was highlighted by his taste for wearing suits to work, even though his job entailed sorting packages and letters. The suit, and his work ethic, paid off. “In six months I was in management,” he says. “I wanted to be a CEO.”

That dream came to fruition on New Year’s Day, when he officially took the seat as CEO of Tampa International Airport.

Since then, Lopano has created his share of changes, most of which follow his philosophy that to increase revenues, the airport has to be treated like a business.

“An airport is a huge commercial business,” Lopano says, “and it has to be run like one.”

That message resonated with members of the airport’s governing board at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

Lopano’s interview for the job in 2010 was something like a reality television show. Members of the Aviation Authority shuffled Lopano from one hotel room to another to talk with board members. Between meetings he ran a press gauntlet.

After following former executive director Louis Miller’s direction for 14 years, the Aviation Authority board sought someone to implement a logical and well thought-out plan, says Lopano. “And so I said: ‘Here’s what we need to do.’”

Driving a vision

Lopano’s plan of action for TIA includes attracting more international flights, securing new nonstop routes to the West Coast, rebranding the airport to reflect the unique Tampa area and bringing a culture of accountability to the organization’s employees.

On the latter point, Lopano made a point to meet each of the airport’s 574 employees during his first nine months. That’s about two per day. “It’s to make sure every employee is marching in the right direction,” he says. “I tell them to get better by 5% at something — whether it be work, family, or faith-related.”

Of course, Lopano has also seen some of the challenges of running a public-sector entity with a private-sector mentality.

Since coming to Tampa, Lopano has taken some licks in the local media. From getting backlash from his proposal that TIA executives fly business class instead of coach on flights longer than two hours to having to defend an expensive dinner while trying to woo AirTran Airways executives, Lopano has received his share of criticism.

Yet Lopano maintains support from the board that hired him for his big ideas, and he received top scores on his recent evaluation. “He is not afraid to risk his neck on controversial issues,” says Victor Crist, assistant secretary and treasurer of the Aviation Authority and former state senator.

‘Stimulus Package’
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Lopano’s plan includes giving big incentives to bring in big flights. It’s a tool Lopano has used with good results in the past.

After working in marketing for British West Indies Airlines, Lufthansa and Continental, Lopano served as vice president of marketing for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for 14 years before his coming to Tampa International.

He says he used aggressive marketing techniques, like the large incentive packages he is offering to airlines at TIA, to push DFW to the third busiest airport in the world in terms of operations.

Bold moves characterized Lopano’s tenure at DFW, says Francisco Hernandez Jr., chairman of DFW’s board who worked with Lopano for six years. He recalls Lopano’s marketing savvy when he explains the story behind attempts to bring Southwest Airlines to DFW: “He tried to make peace with Southwest,” says Hernandez, “it was his idea to put up billboards that said ‘Southwest, we would love to have you.’”

Although the Southwest stunt proved unsuccessful, Lopano has had some success in luring new nonstop international flights to Tampa.

So far under Lopano, Tampa has secured flights to Havana, Cuba, and Zurich, Switzerland.

He points to new international flights as a key in boosting Tampa International’s numbers and bringing money to the Tampa Bay economy from foreign travelers.

“We’re an hour from Disney and right on the beach — who wouldn’t want to fly in here?” Lopano says.

Lopano’s model uses incentive deals to court wary flight carriers, but after that, fiscal risk is shifted to the airline. “We offer waived landing fees to the airlines in exchange for their business,” Lopano says.

Lopano says he sees the strategy as a sort of stimulus package for the area. Although how large a stimulus is not so clear.

His backing for adding more international routes comes from three economic impact studies conducted in the first half of this year. The studies are aimed at showcasing new money that can be hauled in to the Tampa Bay area. The numbers touted are $154 million for European flights, $67 million for Central and South America and $145 million for Asia annually.

But these numbers are calculated under the assumption that flights will depart seven days a week. The newly added Zurich connection, which was attracted with $350,000 in cash and $350,000 in waived landing fees, only takes off on Tuesdays and Fridays, generating an expected impact of $31.6 million and 265 new jobs.

The recently launched Havana route is expected to provide about $19 million in economic impact each year, according to a study conducted by SH & E, an ICF International Company, an economic consulting group.

Community support

Despite the gap between projections and the economic impact achieved so far, Lopano’s progress on the new routes have helped boost his support.

Bob Rohrlack, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, says he supports Lopano’s mission and is enthusiastic about the changes being made by the airport. “People say this was happening anyway under [Louis Miller] but that’s not true,” he says, “it’s happened under Joe.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn shares a similar view of Lopano. “I think he has been wonderful,” he says. “He brought in fresh air and fresh eyes.” He says that the community is behind Lopano because “his enthusiasm is contagious.”

Indeed, Lopano’s approach even won over one-time naysayer, and member of the board that appointed Lopano, Al Austin. Austin, who recently stepped down from his position as chairman of the Aviation Authority, says his time working in real estate has shown him the payoff from taking risks.

Austin says that the strategy to bring in international flights, which was eschewed by former executive director Miller, is worth the risk. “I saw a specific and well thought out plan that I could get behind,” he says.

Approval for Lopano was recently solidified when he turned down the offer for a 3% raise from his current salary of $305,000 annually.

This comes after he already took a pay cut to come to Tampa. “I see that times are tough in the area,” he says of the economic climate, “and it didn’t feel right.”

Looking ahead

Lopano is a busy man these days. Changing the direction of a $180 million operation is not easy, but he has implemented tried and true business strategies to do so — even if controversial.

The rapid changes coming from the new airport official have earned Lopano a nickname: “Hurricane Joe.”

He also manages to squeeze in interviews, board meetings and the occasional black and white photo shoot — he practices photography on the side.

Another change Lopano has under way is what Robert Watkins, vice chair of the Aviation Authority, refers to as branding Tampa Bay. To create repeat customers out of visitors, Lopano is remodeling the terminal to reflect the arts and culture of Tampa to hook out-of-town passengers on Tampa.

Lopano also continues to work on the possibility of more international flights, and West Coast nonstops that include Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego.

Although the outcome of these new flights can’t be predicted, they are a step that could make Lopano’s job of persuading air carriers to call Tampa International home easier.

“Dallas/Fort Worth is our competition right now,” Lopano says of his former employer, “and Tampa Bay deserves nothing less than to win.”

Lopano’s character is reflected in the relatinoships he maintains from his time at DFW. In fact, Hernandez wouldn’t mind his friend returning. Says Hernandez: “If you don’t want him, we’ll take him back.”

Pilot ejects as jet nosedives (Video)

Thank you, Frank at 160 Knots!

RAW VIDEO: Xian JH-7 Chinese fighter jet nose-dives into field at air show

A Chinese air force jet crashed at an air show on Friday, leaving one of the pilots missing and presumed dead.

Footage aired by China Central Television showed the jet sputtering and then nose-diving into a field outside the northern city of Xi'an as one of the pilots ejected from the cockpit and landed beneath an open parachute.

Only one parachute was seen opening, and the plane, a two-seater JH-7 "Flying Leopard" fighter-bomber, burst into flames upon crashing. The other pilot's seat appeared not to have ejected.

The pilot who ejected suffered only minor injuries, but his comrade appeared to have been trapped in the doomed plane, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing eyewitnesses and air show organizer, He Liang.

The plane crashed more than 1 mile (2 kilometers) from the nearest onlookers and there were no deaths or injuries on the ground.

The crash is being investigated and it wasn't clear if mechanical problems or pilot error was to blame. The plane is powered by two highly reliable license-built Spey Mk202 engines and it was considered unlikely that both would have stalled at the same time.

The Chinese-made JH-7 entered service in 2004 and is a mainstay of the country's air force and naval aviation, with more than 100 built.

At least one of the planes crashed previously _ during a China-Russian joint exercise in 2009, killing both pilots.

China rarely released information about military accidents, but the public nature of the crash and the rapid spread of images of it happening on the Internet made it impossible to keep secret.

Piper Aerostar 600: Safe landing in marsh. Golfers surprised by emergency touchdown near Mt. Pleasant course; 2 in plane OK. South Carolina.

Two men brought a sputtering plane down beside a Mount Pleasant golf course Thursday, and won accolades from golfers for avoiding the rough.

The men climbed safely out of the twin-engine Piper Aerostar six-seater after it crash-landed at 2:06 p.m. in a marsh, about 500 yards from RiverTowne Country Club's 9th hole. A number of golfers called 911, and some took time to watch as rescue workers reached the plane in all-terrain vehicles and an airboat.

The plane's occupants suffered no serious injuries, said Bob Brummer, director of communications for the Charleston County Aviation Authority. The names of the travelers were not released.

He said the flight originated at the North Myrtle Beach Airport and was en route to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the pilot reported engine trouble.

The pilot radioed he was going to make an emergency landing at Charleston International Airport, but then said he wasn't going to be able to make it. He tried to make the much closer Mount Pleasant Regional Airport, near S.C. Highway 41.

"Evidently he didn't make it, and ended up in the marsh for some reason," Brummer said. He said FAA investigators will see the plane today.

Several golfers said they heard nothing unusual before sighting the plane in the marsh, although one golfer said he thought he heard an engine sputtering.

"He was a good pilot. He did a hell of a job landing that plane," said Frank Jordan of West Ashley, who was enjoying a golf outing when the plane came down. Jordan said the marsh was the best place the plane could have come down, considering the circumstances.

"He had to be traveling at 100 to 150 mph when he headed in there. They were very fortunate not to land in the trees," he added.

"I think he did the right thing," Tracy Schooler, a golf pro, said about the marsh landing.

Bucky Dudley, director of golf at the country club, said he was on his way to give a lesson when told the plane was down. "I saw two guys standing on the fuselage, not waving frantically, they were just kind of sitting there," he said.

Helicopters and large numbers of law-enforcement officers, firefighters and rescue squad volunteers responded.

Greg Murphy of RiverTowne Country Club, a retired assistant superintendent of schools in Long Island, N.Y., said he was teeing off on the 7th hole when he heard "an unusual sound," like a sputtering engine. "I got to the 8th tee box and could see helicopters circling," and after moving to the 8th hole, sighted the wreckage. He joined a friend in watching the rescue through binoculars.

"We were able to get a very clear view of what was taking place, and could see the passengers exit the plane. They looked OK," he added. He said the men perched atop the plane's fuselage and wings while waiting for rescue. "We have a lot of hazards here but nothing that would cause a plane to come down," he joked. "But it was different from what you see every day on the golf course."

FAA records show the plane is a 1981 Piper Aerostar 600. FAA registration records state the plane's registration is "in question."

Information obtained late Thursday indicates an effort was under way to repossess the plane.