Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hellish week for Indian aviation: No fuel, no food and fuming flyers. Financial crises engulf two major carriers, leaving passengers all at sea.

Everywhere you turn, one of India's fastest growing sectors -- aviation -- is in a mess.

And that's despite global aviation body IATA saying recently that India’s aviation market expansion was the strongest in the world. Except for low-cost carrier IndiGo, Air India, Kingfisher, Jet Airways and Spicejet are all expected to post losses for the quarter ending September.

On November 9 a government panel agreed to provide sovereign guarantee to national carrier Air India’s debt obligation -- which totals Rs 19,000 crore -- towards aircraft loan repayments till 2020.

Earlier in the week it emerged that Air India couldn't even pay for its aloo paratha, let alone its aircraft.

Tajsats, India's largest flight caterer, claims dues of Rs 45 crore and is threatening to put Air India on cash-and-carry mode.

Meanwhile Kingfisher Airlines, a private carrier owned by tycoon Vijay Mallya, recently shut down its budget wing; Kingfisher has not posted profits since the airline's inception in 2005, and is now capital-starved.

State-run oil firm Hindustan Petroleum, the largest fuel supplier to Kingfisher, temporarily suspended fuel supply for the second time in four months because the airline has outstanding fuel bills of Rs 130 crore.

This week thousands of would-be passengers across the country found their travel plans in disarray when Kingfisher canceled 50 flights a day, up from the 34 announced earlier in the week. 

The canceled sectors are on main domestic and a few international routes.

What does this mean for passengers?

Only the worst. It means that travelers with confirmed seats are unlikely to find their aircraft leaving on time. They might even find there's no food on board. And with a shortage of seats now, competitors ticket prices are going up.

Customers feel like they're playing a blind game of chance on flight booking websites. Experts like Rajesh Pratap Rudy -- pilot, former Union minister for civil aviation and a BJP member of Parliament -- believe India's aviation sector needs a major policy rethink, reforms and initiatives to level the playing field between competing private and public players.

All of which is cold comfort for the crowd at the departure gate.

Frontier Airlines Announces Layoffs. General Mitchell International Airport (KMKE), Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

MILWAUKEE-The Department of Workforce Development released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

Frontier Airlines / Republic Airways, 5300 South Howell Ave., and 555 West Air Cargo Way, General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee:

Approximately 120 employees affected with dislocations to occur between January 6, 2012, and January 13, 2012.

Note: DWD has contacted the employer and confirmed, the number of affected employees is 120.

The 213 figure in the notice is in error. DWD and its Milwaukee HIRE Center partners are providing Rapid Response Services.

John Dipko
Communications Director

Etihad Airways celebrates 8th anniversary

Karachi: Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, marked its eighth anniversary of the inaugural Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain in 2003 on 5th November 2011.

Etihad Airways has come a long way in a short space of time. It has become a successful, multicultural, global business and one of the fastest growing brands in the world.

Mr. James Hogan, CEO Etihad Airways, remarked, “We have grown to become a family of more than 8,300 people, drawn from more than 120 nationalities across the world. We have proudly built our airline on a foundation of safety and quality, which will always be our priority, and backed that up with the highest standards of customer care and service. It is this approach that has built our reputation for excellence and innovation, as well as recognition as the World’s Leading Airline for the last two years.”

This year the company will fly just under nine million customers, across a global network that spans 86 passenger and cargo destinations. In the first week of November, Etihad Airways has launched flights to the Maldives and the Seychelles. Flights to Chengdu in China (December 15), Dusseldorf

(December 16), Shanghai (March 1, 2012) and Nairobi (April 1, 2012) will follow. And the company has already announced its intention of operating to Tripoli when it is able to do so.

The company has a fleet of 63 Airbus and Boeing aircrafts, and 100 aircraft on order. Next year it will take delivery of another seven passenger aircrafts – four B777-300ER aircrafts and three A320-200’s – for strategic expansion of its global network.

Mr. Amer Khan, Country Manager Etihad Airways was delighted on this occasion and he said, “This is proof of how well Etihad Airways has operated, not only in Pakistan but across the globe. We have achieved global recognition in such a short span of time.

High Cost Makes Aviation Biofuel Slow to Take Off

Biofuel-powered airliners shuttled passengers across the United States for the first time this week, carrying with them the dream of more sustainable aviation fuel. But so far the promise of greener aviation remains elusive, and the industry concedes it is years away from making a significant dent in the billions of gallons airlines consume each year.

It is perhaps no accident that Alaska Airlines chose Washington D.C. as the destination for Wednesday’s flight from Seattle, the first of what the airline promises will be 75 flights made using a 20-percent blend of biofuel. The flight was largely symbolic, as biofuel remains far too expensive to be practical — which is why many are looking to Uncle Sam for help.

The good news, for the industry, anyway, is just about every corner of the country has, or is developing, a sustainable source of biofuel feedstock. That makes could ensure greater political will to support the alternative fuel.

“The economics is going to drive it,” says Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. ” I think the capacity of each individual region in the country to economically produce the feedstock is what’s going to drive this.”

There have been many biofuel demonstration flights in recent years, with everything from fighter jets to 747s burning the stuff. But they’ve typically been demonstration flights without passengers. That’s changing as airlines begin regularly scheduled flights. Lufthansa has flown several flights in Europe using a biofuel blend, and United Airlines made a biofuel passenger flight Monday, a first for a domestic carrier.

But Alaska is going further with a plan to make 75 biofuel-powered flights this month. The biofuel is produced by Dynamic Fuels in Louisiana using feedstock derived from used cooking oil and the byproducts from meat production. 

The biofuel meets the same standards as normal jet fuel, and it can be used without any modifications to the airplane. The problem is it’s frightfully expensive. Alaska Airlines paid $16 a gallon for the biofuel, compared to about $3.15 a gallon for Jet A. The airline readily admits the high price means biofuels won’t replace jet fuel anytime soon.

Vilseck says a collaborative effort between the departments of Agriculture and Energy and the Navy to invest in advanced biofuels will help bring costs down. The funding is going toward the development of a “drop in fuel” the Navy can use in place of both diesel and jet fuel (the two are close chemical cousins).

Under the initiative, announced in August, the three agencies will invest as much as $510 million over three years to help the private sector create homegrown alternative fuels for the military and, eventually, commercial transportation. Vilseck notes the investment is aimed at providing fuel security for the Navy, but also will help commercial carriers in the long run.

“It will allow commercial aviation to be competitive with international flights as regions of the world begin to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from air traffic,” he said.

Vilseck is referring to the upcoming carbon tax the European Union will levy on airlines, charging them for a percentage of the carbon they emit flying in and out of the continent. Airlines from outside the EU oppose the idea in part because they will be charged according to the total length of the flight, not just the portion within Europe. A flight from New York to London would be charged more than a flight from Rome to London, even though the European flight emits more carbon over the continent.

It’s regulation like this that will push the industry to embrace biofuel, says Richard Gritta, an expert on aviation finance at the University of Portland in Oregon.

“I think the pressure is going to come from the EU carbon taxes and from the public,” Gritta says. “On the other side you’re going to see the price, when they start producing it large quantities, drop dramatically.”

But the price will have to come down significantly before biofuels make a meaningful dent in the amount of fuel the airline industry uses. A recent story in Aviation Week & Space Technology notes it is far cheaper for airlines to buy carbon credits than buy alternative fuels that may or may not ultimately reduce their carbon footprint.

“[T]he air transport industry may be deluding itself if it believes biofuels are the panacea for carbon footprint reduction, at least for this decade and possibly beyond,” the publication writes. “High fuel costs as well as competing demand make it unlikely that biojet will deliver the promised carbon dioxide reductions within a desired timeframe.”

Some in the industry believe that’s the wrong attitude for the long term. Billy Glover, Boeing’s managing director of environmental strategy, says buying carbon credits doesn’t address the issue of reducing an airline’s carbon emissions.

“It has to be a longer term business decision rather than some policy that may go away in a year or five years,” Glover says. “The business decisions are being made on a longer term than a lot of the policy decisions.”

Glover adds the industry believes there is money to be made with renewable fuels, and that will be the ultimate reason production grows. The fuel also can be made with a wide range of feedstocks that can come from throughout the country, providing greater incentive for investment and helping achieve greater energy independence.

“It’s an opportunity for us to use natural resources,” Vilseck says. “Whether its woody biomass in the northwest part of the country or perennial grasses that are grown in great abundance in the southeast part of the country or agricultural waste that is available from crop production in the midwest.”

Gritta believes the industry is eight to 10 years away from widespread use of biofuels, but others in the industry say it will be far longer. But with the airlines willing to spend the money now, even those with a longer view believe broader use of sustainable fuels will happen eventually.

Boise Airport Director resigns. Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (KBOI), Idaho

Richard McConnell, who has been the Boise Airport Director for the past four years, has announced he is leaving his position effective November 11.

“Richard’s tenure will be remembered as a time of significant advancement for the Boise Airport,” Mayor Bieter said. “The passage of the recent constitutional amendment improving airport financing (HJR5), the retention of the TRACON landing system, the installation of the new customs office, the beautiful new airport entranceway and the upcoming parking expansion -- all were successfully managed under Richard’s leadership.”

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my four plus years in Boise,” Director McConnell said. “I’m proud to say I leave the airport in better position than when I came in 2007. I have complete faith that the wonderful staff I leave behind will keep the airport on its same positive trajectory.”

Garry Beaty, the City’s current Director of Information Technology, will serve as interim airport director while the City conducts a search for new director.

A specific reason for McConnell’s resignation was not announced.

American Airlines Pitches For Essential Air Service


A new airline could be landing at Sioux Gateway Airport.

American Airlines presented its plan to bring service to the area.

The current carrier, Delta Airlines, has said it will leave if it doesn't get an essential air service grant, but American has now thrown its hat in the ring.

Sioux Gateway Airport will be getting an Essential Air Service Grant from the federal government; Now the only question is, which air carrier's going get the job?

"The decision that they make is going to impact me and my little business," says Christopher Rants, who frequently flies with Delta Airlines.

Thursday morning American Airlines gave a pitch for taking over air duties at Sioux Gateway Airport. It's bidding for a federally funded essential air service grant, money the airport's current carrier, Delta Airlines, says it can't do without.

"On one hand we have Delta which has been flying with Northwest before them for twenty some years and still feel the need for a subsidy, then on the other hand you have American saying look, we want to use that subsidy as a springboard, to get service up and running," says Daniel Kaplan, President of the Sioux City Airport Board of Trustees.

If American Airlines is awarded the bid it plans on offering two flights a day to one hub, from Sioux City to Chicago.

"If they get good support it is certainly within the realm of possibility they might add a second hub, in our case that would be Dallas Forth Worth," says Kaplan.

American's bid is for around a quarter of a million dollars more than Delta's, it says because of longer flights, Delta's hub is in Minneapolis.

A potential hub change is a situation some Delta frequent fliers aren't happy with.

"I'm flying every week for the last six weeks and it works for me," says Rants. "I don't know if that's going to work for me in the future or not, so I don't want to change what I know works for me and my business."

Delta Airlines will also have a turn to make a pitch. Delta will make a presentation to the Sioux City Board of Trustees next week.

The final decision on which air carrier will take over is going to be made by the Department of Transportation in Washington.

Both the city council and the airport board of trustees will be making recommendations on which carrier each would like to take over.

It's expected the DOT will make it's decision before the first of the year.

Queenstown in sights of charter jet service (New Zealand)

A new jet charter service can whisk travellers from Hawke's Bay to Queenstown for breakfast and a round of golf - and have them back in time for lunch.

The $4 million Cessna Citation can take up to five passengers from the Bridge Pa or Napier aerodromes.

The plane can fly at 630km/h but its range is limited to New Zealand skies only.

To hire, it costs $2200 plus GST an hour. A return trip to Queenstown would cost $7700 or $1540 a person for a party of five.

It is owned by GESL Aviation, a company owned by Graeme Lowe of Lowe Corporation.

Mr Lowe is unable to use the plane himself because of a health condition.

Chief pilot Gerald Grocott said the new service had a lot of advantages.

"The time flexibility of private charter means passengers can fly when it suits them,'' he said.

"If a meeting or other crucial engagement runs over time or is delayed the plane can leave when you are ready.

"The jet can fly from Hawke's Bay directly to Kerikeri, New Plymouth, Wanaka or Invercargill, which in travel time and expense is a dramatic saving when compared with a scheduled airline.

"For example, Hawke's Bay to New Plymouth is about 30 minutes' flight time.''

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Murray Douglas welcomed the new travel option.

"With the company's new charter rate, fast comfortable travel is extremely economic, and now within the reach of many who would have previously dismissed the idea out of hand.''

The service is operating under the banner of Air Hawke's Bay which is based at Bridge Pa. The Bridge Pa airfield is equipped with runway lighting and for bad weather approaches.

- Patrick O'Sullivan, Hawke's Bay Today 

RAW VIDEO: Pima County Sheriff's Department plane helps locate home invasion suspects

TUCSON - The Pima County Sheriff's Department says they get to used to having a lot of different tools to catch bad guys - some of them include airplanes and dogs. News 4 Tucson's Sam Salzwedel got a rare view of those tools at work.

"As that property ends he's gonna be inside there," says the pilot of Survey Two as he tracks a home invasion suspect from a sheriff's plane equipped with an infrared camera.

In video provided by PCSD, a home invasion suspect is trying to hide from deputies, but he probably doesn't realize he's being watched with infrared from above.

"The plane is just another tool for our deputies to be able to find bad guys on the ground and take them into custody and keep themselves safe as well," says Deputy Dawn Barkman.

Around 2 a.m. on November 8, deputies say somebody called 9-1-1 to report two people with handguns inside their house.

"For something like that to happen that close yeah its real concerning," says southwest-side resident Robert Ochoa.

Residents nearby are surprised this could happen in their neighborhood. But this invasion has a happy ending for homeowners. If you watch the white figures on the screen, you can actually see the sheriff's department dog attacking the suspect.

"He actually bit the guy a couple times and had to go to the hospital before he went to jail," Deputy Barkman says.

Because of advanced technology and a primitive bite, deputies say a couple of men won't be breaking into any more homes any time soon.

Ochoa says incidents like these show "taxpayer money at work, so it makes me feel better."

The two men that deputies caught, Miguel Sierra and Jorge Perez, each face counts of armed robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and kidnapping.

Sierra is the one who refused to go quietly, and got to meet the sheriff's K-9 unit.

FAA, local officials tout plan to revamp runway at Lewis University Airport (KLOT), Chicago/Romeoville, Illinois.

Local and federal officials met Thursday morning to discuss funding options for revamping one of two runways at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville.

Congressman Dan Lipinski and Romeoville Mayor John Noak, were joined by FAA Associate Administrator for Airports Christa Fornarotto. All agreed the runway is old and cracking and that fixing it would allow larger airplanes and more corporate jets to land at the airport, which is operated by the Joliet Regional Port District .

“This [airport] is a fantastic asset to northeastern Will County, but this airport can be even more,” said Lipinki. “This airport could be the executive airport for the Chicagoland region.”

Repairing the runway would also spur economic development and create jobs in the area, officials said.

The runway was constructed in the 1960s, according to an airport engineering official, and was not built with the best construction techniques to handle the weight of larger aircraft.

The total cost for the runway repair would be about $4.8 million, officials said. With airplane activity increasing at the site, officials are also considering the construction of an air traffic control tower and a new runway ramp. However, those are secondary projects, and the cost for the new control tower and ramp is unclear, officials said.

Lipinski, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee, is working to help pass a long-term FAA reauthorization bill that provides more funding for the FAA’s airport improvement program. He said program funding would allow for the planned reconstruction of the runway.

Lipinki said he invited Fornarotto, who also oversees airport grants, to see the airport firsthand. Fornarotto and officials also took a tour of the runway, which showed cracks and minor bumps on the pavement in places.

“[The meeting] has helped give me a better understanding of what’s going on here,” said Fornarotto. “We are going to see what we can get done to advance these types of projects forward.”

Fornarotto said she is hoping money will be available in 2012, but added that the FAA needs the money to be released from the appropriation committee along with authority from the transportation infrastructure committee.

Noak, a board member of the Joliet Regional Port District, pointed out that revamping the airport would be an economic boom for the area.

“This would be an economic development tool to attract an even greater number of…companies to the area,” said Noak.

The airport accommodates 105,000 arrivals and departures annually and has attracted numerous Fortune 500 companies to the area, according to officials.

Airline analyst: Hampton Roads airports strong players in weakened industry

NORFOLK — Airline passengers — already stung by drastic changes in the industry — should expect more of the same (or worse) in coming years.

That was the not-so-happy picture painted Thursday morning by Michael Boyd, a long-time airline industry consultant and commentator who spoke to about 50 people gathered at the Norfolk Airport Hilton for a seminar sponsored by the Hampton Roads Norfolk Airport Task Force.

But Boyd's statements weren't all doom and gloom. He had high remarks regarding the Newport News-Williamsburg and Norfolk international airports as well.

Boyd indicated the airline industry has already reached a plateau and is expected to further decline in coming years as carrier consolidation into a handful of global conglomerates continues and fuel costs continue to pose a persistent challenge. Passengers can expect fewer available flights, less competition and higher fares going forward. At one point, Boyd even compared the industry to the ill-fated Titanic.

"The physical realities have changed," Boyd said, while standing in front of a PowerPoint slide depicting the sinking ship. "No amount of voodoo can change that."

Of the customer experience, Boyd predicted, in three years, it will be "your worst nightmare — just like it is today.

"Going through an airport is like a minimum security prison — you better not make a mistake or you will be punished," he continued.

Even with fewer flights on the horizon, Boyd said passengers shouldn't expect reliability to increase due to an antiquated air traffic control system. On average, only about 60 percent of flights currently arrive on time at their destinations, he said.

But in regards to Norfolk International, Boyd said there is "an enormous amount of quality service here" and he projected the south side airport could pick up as many as 50,000 passengers when AirTran ceases its Newport News operation as part of a merger with Southwest Airlines.

"Newport News still has good service to New York — it's called Norfolk," he said. "Norfolk will be the dominant carrier in the region, the airlines have made the decision."

Despite that, Boyd also suggested Newport News "is not going away" and Allegiant Air's decision to start Peninsula service was indicative of "a white glove financial audit of the airport."

"If you have Allegiant, it means you have one of the most efficient airports in America," he said.

Another problem for Newport News may be the sale of Frontier Airlines that currently operates popular non-stop, seasonal flights to Denver. Boyd didn't offer specifics, but he suggested purchase proposals currently being floated are less than realistic.

"I've seen plans that contained some fruitcake stuff," he said. "But they're coming out of the woodwork here."

After the meeting, Ken Spirito, executive director of the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, said much of Boyd's presentation was not a surprise and the Peninsula Airport Commission understands the need to find a new carrier to serve the New York and Boston markets.

"We're certainly going to be a lot better off moving forward with airlines like Allegiant, and Frontier, and Delta/US Air in our market when AirTran leaves in March," Spirito said. "We know New York and Boston are top markets in both the Newport News area and the south side and having the potential loss of those markets when AirTran leaves certainly is a priority of the Peninsula Airport Commission to find an airline that will effectively replace that service. Connectivity through the hubs — Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Denver — will continue to grow as there are fewer options to connect."

Wayne Shank, executive director of Norfolk International Airport, said most of what is going on in the airline industry is out of the control of airport operators who have no say regarding carrier consolidations, departure volume, seating capacity, ticket prices or air traffic control policies.

"Airport operators in this environment have their hands full," Shank said. Those who complain, "need to be realistic in their expectations.

"We (Norfolk's airport) competes with Newport News, but the region in general has benefited from having two airports in the area… because when you compete, the end product is great for everybody."

California: Orange County Sheriff's Department Investigating Helicopter Joyride

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has opened an internal investigation into an anonymous complaint that a helicopter supervisor took his girlfriend on a joy ride Oct. 10.

The investigation, confirmed by sheriff’s spokesman John McDonald, was sparked by a typed letter that alleges the helicopter supervisor flew his girlfriend around Orange County.

The letter was sent to some members of the Board of Supervisors, and then forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department. It did not name the helicopter supervisor.
If true, the accusation hearkens back to a darker time in the department’s history, when then-Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo had a helicopter retrieve his wife’s purse, and when rumors swirled that now-jailed Sheriff Mike Carona used the helicopters for romantic trysts.

Besides the political ramifications, there are the costs – nearly $1,000 an hour to operate the copter.

Spiraling costs forced Newport Beach and Costa Mesa to mothball their police helicopters, and other cities are keeping tabs on their air patrols.

“We should not be funding joy rides in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter!” says the anonymous letter, signed “Concerned Orange County Citizen.”

Tupelo, Mississippi: City has nixed 2 proposals for airport service

TUPELO, Miss. —   Delta Airlines is set to pull out of Tupelo next month after saying the airport doesn't have a large enough passenger base to support Delta's 50-passenger jets.

Air Choice One wants to provide more service with smaller planes.

Airline CEO Shane Storz told the Tupelo Airport Authority on Wednesday that his company can provide shuttle service to Memphis, five round trips a day at a flat rate of $59. The airline flies a nine passenger Cessna Caravan.

Air Choice One is seeking $2.3 million in federal subsidies to fly in and out of Tupelo. Delta Airlines currently gets about $900,000 a year.

The city has already notified the U.S. Department of Transportation that it had rejected proposals from Air Choice One, based in St. Louis, and SeaPort Airlines of Portland, Ore.

Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said the smaller planes and their inability to connect with larger airlines like Delta and American prompted the decision.

"The ability for passengers to flow through the airport system, check in once, screening, one set of tickets and fly through to a destination. We sell convenience here," said Josh Abramson, executive director of the Tupelo Regional Airport.

Reed said in the city's letter that neither Air Choice nor SeaPort have code-sharing deals with any major airline. So, passengers would still be required to purchase airline tickets for their eventual destinations.

New Zealand: Auckland business taking off restoring warplanes

Men in blue overalls bustle about among the skeletons of old war planes, in a South Auckland workshop that restores some of the most rare planes in the world.

The workshop is a hive of industry - it's a multi-million dollar business in Ardmore that's little known to most.

For almost a decade this South Auckland business - AvSpecs - has been the restoration site for old planes sent from all over the world because of the expertise found here. Right now it is the recovery room of, among others, a de Havilland Mosquito, an all-wood World War II plane found in a swamp in Russia and shipped to Ardmore to be restored for a client in Virginia Beach in the United States.

"Yep, she's super rare," says AvSpecs owner Warren Denholm taking a look under the plane's bomb-bay.

"There are none flying in the world, this'll be the first," he says of the plan for her take-off next year, seven years since restoration began.

Denholm's AvSpecs has become the go-to site for wealthy vintage aircraft enthusiasts. Its praises are sung by warplane collectors and fliers worldwide.

In the October issue of Flypast magazine Matt Nightingale, leader of a team reassembling a Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk at California's Planes of Fames Museum, described the restoration work done on the plane by AvSpecs as  "glorious, and one of the best I have seen on any aircraft."

Although restoring old planes may seem a strange speciality for a country better known for its boatbuilding, Mr Denholm and his staff of 14 have cemented themselves as an international award-winning team.

"During World War II there were lots of left-over parts here in New Zealand which meant a lot of people were coming here for parts. Through the favourable exchange rate, especially in the 90s, we were able to convince them to rebuild here too. Many of them have multiple aeroplanes.

"Those first few jobs established our reputation. It's a lot of word of mouth," says Mr Denholm who, like most of his staff, has a background in aircraft engineering.

He joined the Air Force from school, starting at the Woodbourne base in Blenheim, but lasted only a year because the job didn't suit him.

"I left and got a job looking after scenic flight planes. Then I came to Auckland from Rotorua and started working on what was the first warbird, the first major plane owned by an Auckland syndicate.

"It's a very small group who are mostly fascinated by World War II planes. Even today those planes provide performance that you can't get anywhere else," he says.

So how much would it cost to bring a warbird back to its former glory?

"Oh, we're very reasonable," says Mr Denholm, grinning before divulging that it's between US$1.5 million ($1.9 million) to US$3 million.

And the global recession doesn't have much of an impact on his clients.

"Everybody should have an oil baron on their books. It helps when your best clients are oil tycoons and oil is selling at more than $50 a barrel."

While planes find their way into the AvSpecs hanger from some odd places - like a Spitfire from an English museum that had its wings sawn off because it wouldn't fit the space - Mr Denholm says finding the parts and original plans for the planes can be a challenge, too.

"They can be hard to track down. We'll find them in old libraries and museums around the world. We had a guy in Thailand get in touch recently because he had an old engine and wanted to sell it."

But the work isn't limited to rich overseas warplane collectors. Celebrity chef Simon Gault had his 51 Thunder Mustang - a replica warplane - built at AvSpecs six years ago as well, with a $1m price tag.

Mr Denholm says the public are always interested in the projects undertaken at his business and the site gets plenty of visitors.

"We try to discourage guys from getting in and making engine noises and spitting all over the cockpit, though," he says.

But they always welcome families with a connection to someone who may have flown a particular plane, or the original pilots themselves.

"I try to get videos of them telling me what it was like. Some of them can be very quiet about it because they were affected by it. Others are more like petrolheads.

"But we do try to get the story of what it was like for these guys. Many of them were only 18 or 19 years old when they flew."

The restored planes are often taken to shows and have been used in films for the likes of Sir Peter Jackson, who is a vintage plane enthusiast. "But he's a World War I guy, whereas we tend to concentrate on World War II," Mr Denholm says.

He shows a photo of himself and Jackson in the director's Wellington hangar. "He has all these amazing old photos of guys with their handlebar moustaches, a cigar, a dog and their plane crashed in the field behind them."

Wrecks that might, one day, find their way to a workshop in Ardmore.

For more information see AvSpecs' website,

Delta to Close Memphis Base For Some Pilots in 2012

The Memphis base for Delta Air Lines pilots flying McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and Airbus A320 aircraft will be closed in December 2012, according to an announcement from the airline’s flight operations department.

The closing of the two pilot categories with a Memphis base affects 200 Delta pilots, according to Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin.

They were notified with in an advanced entitlement bid the airline issued Thursday, Nov. 10. The bids are issued a few times each year and describe vacancies for pilots to either change their base or change the aircraft they fly.

The pilots could continue to live in the Memphis area but commute to New York or Atlanta as their base.

The Airbuses will continue to fly into and out of Memphis International Airport, but they won’t be based at the airport – a hub for Delta Air Lines, which is headquartered in Atlanta.

Delta had already announced its intent to retire all DC-9s in its fleet by the end of 2012.

Laughlin said the move should have “little to no impact” on flights into and out of Memphis. It will not affect other Delta employees.

Regional air service by Delta at Memphis International was cut substantially starting in late August as part of a system-wide reduction for Delta aimed at making permanent cuts in the airline’s capacity.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson has said the overall strategy for the Memphis hub is to make Memphis a destination for spillover traffic from its Atlanta hub.

Pakistan International Airlines aircraft grounded

This is apropos reports on grounding of nine PIA aircrafts for lack of spares. The award of exclusive procurement of technical spares to Transworld Aviation FZE, based in Dubai may prove to be the undoing of PIA. Unfortunately, the crisis that afflicts PIA is not lack of passengers nor skilled human resources, but it’s mismanagement and massive pilferage by a corrupt and incompetent management dominated by unqualified cronies, all with a controversial political patronage and visible conflict of interest.

Be it leasing of aircraft, procurement of technical stores, or choice of appointing GSA and GHA, violation of transparent laid down procedures are a common factor. Irregularities in RBDs for Umra or Hajj and other peak load seasonal sales of tickets have led to pilferage of billions in revenues for the airline, when marketing officers in connivance with select travel agents released bulk seats at low fares to them, causing financial losses to PIA, with a bonanza for this nexus of the corrupt.

While airlines all over the world prefer to acquire technical spares from a range of varied approved vendors, PIA has decided to appoint an unknown sole vendor. This will deny PIA not just competitive prices, but cause prolonged technical delays and grounding. Almost every vendor supplying aviation spares offers a credit line. The factors that dictate the choice of a supplier for aircraft parts depend on the location of the vendor and his proximity to the site of the aircraft grounded and availability of part at the most affordable cost to an airline.

In case an airplane is in a critical state, such as Aircraft On Ground status, airlines tend to pay higher price to expedite their operation and earn valuable revenues. It seems PIA by default will be resorting to buy expensive spares because every technical delay will lead to an AOG status since the airline has made a suicidal mistake of denying itself a range of vendors by limiting their supply line to one vendor with a first right of refusal. Those responsible for this criminal decision have done immense damage to this vital national asset.



Piper PA-44-180 Seminole, FIT Aviation LLC, N883FT. Fatal accident occurred November 11, 2010 in West Palm Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items   -   National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA054 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 11, 2010 in West Palm Beach, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/2012
Aircraft: PIPER AIRCRAFT INC PA-44-180, registration: N883FT
Injuries: 4 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 commercial pilot’s most recent flight in a multi-engine airplane was about 1 year before the accident. During initial climb after takeoff, the certified flight instructor (CFI) reported to the tower controller that the airplane had experienced an engine failure and that they needed to return to the runway. The controller cleared the flight to land on any runway, but the airplane subsequently banked left and impacted the ground in a nose-down attitude. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the propeller for the engine that lost power (the left engine) was not in the feathered position and that the landing gear was in the extended position, which is contrary to the published emergency procedure for an engine failure during takeoff. Postaccident download of avionics data revealed that the left engine lost fuel flow and rpm less than 1 minute after takeoff power was applied, and examination of the wreckage revealed that the left fuel selector lever and fuel selector valve were found in the off position. The taxiing checklist for the airplane specified that the fuel selectors were to be switched from the on position to the crossfeed position to ensure that the crossfeeds were working properly; the before takeoff checklist specified that the fuel selectors should be set to the on position. Postaccident ground testing performed in an airplane of the same model as the accident airplane revealed that, when the fuel selectors are moved from the crossfeed position to the on position (or from the on position to the crossfeed position), the fuel selector passes through the off position. The ground testing also showed that, when the test airplane’s left fuel selector was placed in the off position and then takeoff power was applied to both engines, the left engine lost power completely after 36 seconds. Therefore, the loss of engine power during the accident flight is consistent with the takeoff having been performed with left fuel selector in the off position.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The failure of both the pilot and the certified flight instructor to ensure that the left fuel selector was in the on position for takeoff and their failure to follow the proper procedures when the left engine lost power shortly after takeoff, resulting in an in-flight loss of control.

On November 11, 2010, at 1805 eastern standard time, a Piper PA44-180, N883FT, registered to and operated by the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) Aviation LLC, collided with the ground after an engine failure, shortly after takeoff from runway 10R at the Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), West Palm Beach, Florida. The instructional flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, with a night visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan filed. The certificated flight instructor (CFI), a certificated commercial pilot and two passengers were killed, and the airplane was substantially damaged. There was a postcrash fire. The airplane was departing at the time of the accident, enroute to Melbourne, Florida (MLB).

According to information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control tower at PBI, a female voice, later determined to be the CFI, transmitted during initial climb that they had an engine failure and "needed to turn-around and land." The controller cleared the flight to land "any runway" and there was no further communications with the flight.
A security video, provided by Galaxy Aviation located at PBI, showed the accident airplane taking off from runway 10R. The video was of poor quality due to the lights glaring into the camera from the main terminal. All that was viewable was the airplane's rotating beacon as it climbed and then started a slow turn to the left. The accident airplane continued to turn left until a large explosion was observed.

According to the FIT flight training department, this flight was being conducted as a supervised solo cross-country training flight for familiarization on international operations.


The pilot, age 22, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane, which was last issued on December 16, 2009, and a first-class airman medical certificate issued on August 14, 2007, with a restriction that he must wear corrective lenses. A review of the pilot's logbook indicated that he had accumulated a total time in all aircraft of 298.2 hours. The pilot's total multiengine time prior to the accident flight was 46.7 hours. The pilot's most recent flight in a multiengine airplane was November 15, 2009.
The CFI, age 26, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane, which was last issued on September 16, 2010, and a first-class airman medical certificate issued on May 22, 2008, with a restriction that she must wear corrective lenses. The CFI held a certificated flight instructor certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and instrument airplane. A review of the CFI's flight records indicated that she had accumulated a total flight time in all aircraft of 2,278 hours, and 492 hours in multiengine airplanes.


The airplane was a four-seat, low-wing, retractable gear, twin engine airplane, serial number (S/N) 4496249, manufactured on July 2, 2008. It was powered by two Lycoming O/LO-360-A1 H6 (counter rotating), 180-horsepower engines. A review of the aircraft's most recent 100-hour inspection record found that the inspection had been performed on October 25, 2010, at an airframe/engines total time of 1,638.3 hours.


A review of recorded weather data from the PBI automated weather observation station, elevation 19 feet, revealed at 1753, conditions were winds 200 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clouds scattered 6,000 feet above ground lever (agl), temperature 24 degrees Celsius, dew-point temperature 13 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.12 inches of mercury.


Examination of the crash site revealed the airplane impacted taxiway hotel (H) in a nose-down, right wing low attitude. The airplane impacted the taxiway on a heading of 340 degrees magnetic and slid 80 feet before coming to rest upright on a 060-degree heading.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The inboard side of the engine nacelle received fire damage. The outboard side of the engine nacelle had no major damage. The main gear was down and locked and had impact and fire damage. The fuel cap was in place and fuel, blue in color, remained in the fuel tank. The left fuel system fuel lines were all free from blockage. No fuel was found from the fuel selector valve forward to the engine driven fuel pump. The fuel selector lever and fuel selector valve were found in the off position. The electric fuel pump was removed and inspected. The screen was free from blockage and no fuel was observed. The pump was field tested by applying battery power and water in the inlet. The pump operated and the water placed in the inlet was observed pumping out of the outlet.

The left aileron remained attached to the wing and had no major damage. Control continuity was established from the left aileron to the main cabin area. The outboard section of the left flap remained attached to the outboard hinge. The inboard section of the flap was destroyed by fire.
The right wing was destroyed by impact and postimpact fire. The outboard fiberglass wing tip was separated and found along the debris path. The fuel cap was in place and the fuel tank was destroyed by fire. The main gear was down and locked and had impact and fire damage. The electric fuel pump was removed. The outlet fitting was separated from the pump. Damage was noted in this area. The screen was free from blockage and residual fuel was observed on the bottom of the fuel pump. The pump was field tested by applying battery power and water in the inlet. The pump operated and the water placed in the inlet was observed pumping out of the outlet.

The right aileron and flap were destroyed and consumed in the postimpact fire. The aileron bell crank was separated from the wing. Both aileron cables remained attached to the bell crank. Aileron control continuity was established from the bell crank to the main cabin area.
The empennage was destroyed in the postimpact fire. The stabilator and rudder cables were strung over the right wing. Both rudder cables remained attached to the rudder. The rudder trim drum was separated and destroyed. The top section of the empennage, including the stabilator, was separated from the aircraft and located along the debris path. The stabilator trim drum displayed 3.5 threads, which is constant with a neutral trim position.
The fuselage received impact damage and was consumed in the postimpact fire. The cabin roof was separated and destroyed. Forward of the instrument panel was crushed aft and to the left. Aft of the rear seats, the fuselage was destroyed and consumed in the postimpact fire. The interior cabin furnishings were consumed in the fire. All seats were found in place.

The landing gear lever was in the down position. The left fuel selector was found in the off position, 1 inch aft of the forward stop, and the right fuel selector was found in the on position. The fuel selector valves remained attached. The left fuel selector valve was found in the off position and the right fuel selector valve was found in the on position. Both valves were field tested by applying low pressure air and were operational in all positions. Both fuel gascolator filters were free from blockage. Fuel control continuity was established from the fuel levers in the cockpit to the fuel selector valves.

All engine control levers were forward and found approximately 1 inch aft of the forward quadrant stop, except the right throttle lever, which was found approximately 2 inches aft of the forward quadrant stop. Throttle quadrant continuity was established from the throttle quadrant to the respective engine controls. The flap handle was bent over to the side. The left engine magnetos were on. The overhead panel and electrical switches were destroyed. The left carburetor heat lever was in the off position and the right was in the on position. The rudder trim indicator was in the neutral position. The pilot's primary flight display (PFD) and the multi function display (MFD) and all radios had impact and fire damage. The standby instruments, airspeed, altimeter, and attitude, were all damaged. No airframe anomalies were found during the on-site examination.

Both propellers separated from each engine, consistent with impact. The crankshafts were broken aft of the propeller flange. The right propeller spinner was crushed and the propeller hub, piston dome, piston, spring, and counterweights were separated and displaced. Both blades of the right propeller exhibited torsion twisting damage and chordwise scoring.

The left propeller spinner was partially crushed on one side. Both propeller blades remained attached to the hub. One blade had rotated from the normal pitch position; the internal pitch change mechanism was broken. The other blade remained in normal pitch position. Both blades were only slightly damaged. Neither propeller was in the feathered position.

The right engine remained attached to the airframe firewall assembly and was displaced aft and to the left, heavy fire damage was noted; the wing nacelle was essentially destroyed. The engine mount assembly was buckled. Impact damage was noted on the outboard side and the exhaust pipes were crushed. The engine accessories remained attached and secured to the engine and were scorched by fire. Except for the propeller control which was melted, the engine control cables remained attached to each respective control arm. The throttle was in full open position. The mixture control was full rich. The carburetor heat control was in the cold or off position. Initial examination of the engine revealed no outward indication of any mechanical malfunction. The spark plugs were removed and exhibited tan color combustion deposits. Electrode wear was moderate and gap settings were normal. Borescope examination of the top end components was unremarkable. The carburetor bowl drain plug was removed and clean blue fuel was observed.
The right engine was removed from the airframe and the valve covers, governor, rear mounted components and carburetor were removed. The engine was rotated using a drive tool adapter inserted into the governor spline. Rotation of the crankshaft established internal gear and valve train continuity. All four cylinders produced compression. Internal gear timing was confirmed. The magnetos were fire damaged, which precluded field testing. The fuel pump was intact and scorched by fire. The pump contained clean blue fuel and pumping action was noted when the pump was actuated by hand. The pump was opened, which revealed no internal anomalies. The accelerator pump was checked and found to operate normally and expelled fuel. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was removed and found clean. The carburetor bowl screws were found secured with safety tabs. The safety tabs were opened and the screws were found to be tight. The carburetor bowl was opened. A residual amount of blue fuel was found remaining in the carburetor bowl. The carburetor venturi was intact. The needle valve was checked and found to operate normally when low pressure air was applied to the unit, the float height measured approximately .187 inch. The carburetor float was composite type. The mixture control valve operated normally and was removed; the valve components were intact and secure. The governor oil screen was found clean. The engine oil filter element and oil suction screen were both found clean. At the conclusion of the engine examination, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction was found.

The left engine remained attached to the airframe firewall and was displaced aft, upward, and to the left. Slight fire damage was noted and the wing nacelle was not heavily damaged. The engine mount assembly was buckled. Impact damage was noted on the inboard side. The engine accessories remained attached and secured to the engine and were slightly scorched by fire. The engine control cables remained attached to each respective control arm. The governor arm was approximately .250 inch from the high rpm stop. The throttle was in full open position. The mixture control was full rich. The carburetor heat control was in off or cold position.
Initial examination of the left engine revealed no outward indication of any mechanical malfunction. The spark plugs were removed and exhibited light gray color combustion deposits. Electrode wear was moderate and gap settings were normal. Borescope examination of the top end components was unremarkable. The carburetor bowl drain plug was removed and was found to be void of fuel.

The left engine was removed from the airframe and the valve covers, governor, rear mounted components and carburetor were removed. The engine was rotated using a drive tool adapter inserted into the governor spline. Rotation of the crankshaft established internal gear and valve train continuity. All four cylinders produced compression. Internal gear timing was confirmed. The magnetos were field tested and produced spark from all towers. The fuel pump was intact and contained a residual amount of clean blue fuel and pumping action was noted when the pump was actuated by hand. The pump was opened, which revealed no internal anomalies. The accelerator pump was checked and found to operate normally; however, no fuel was expelled. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was removed and found clean. The carburetor bowl screws were found secured with safety tabs. The safety tabs were opened and the screws were found to be tight. The carburetor bowl was opened. No fuel was found remaining in the carburetor bowl. Blue stains were observed at the low point of the bowl. The carburetor venturi was intact. The needle valve was checked and found to operate normally when low-pressure air was applied to the unit. The float height measured approximately .187 inch. The carburetor float was metal type. The mixture control valve operated normally and was removed for inspection. The valve components were intact and secure. The governor oil screen was found clean. The engine oil filter element and oil suction screen were both found clean. At the conclusion of the engine examination, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction was found.


An autopsy was performed on the commercial pilot on November 11, 2010, by the Office of the District Medical Examiner, District 15-State of Florida, Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Florida. The autopsy findings included "Thermal injuries." Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the commercial pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report indicated that there was no carbon monoxide or cyanide detected in blood, no ethanol detected in vitreous, and no drugs detected in urine.
An autopsy was performed on the CFI on November 11, 2010, by the Office of the District Medical Examiner, District 15-State of Florida, Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Florida. The autopsy findings included "multiple blunt force injuries." Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the CFI by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report indicated that there was no carbon monoxide or cyanide detected in blood, no ethanol detected in vitreous, however, 25.43 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen and Salicylamide was detected in urine.


The MFD and PFD received fire damage. The NTSB retained the PFD and MFD flash cards for further examination. Examination and data download revealed that at 18:00:50, Eng1 rpm and Eng 2 rpm began to increase. At 18:01:08, Eng1 rpm and Eng2 rpm both reached 2,650 rpm. At 18:01:08, the recorded Eng1 fuel flow began to decrease, followed by a drop in Eng1 rpm. At 18:01:38, the recorded Eng1 fuel flow was approximately 1 gph and Eng1 rpm was approximately 1,270 rpm. The last recorded engine data was at 18:01:50, when the Eng1 fuel flow was approximately 4 gph and Eng1 rpm was 1,480 rpm. From approximately 18:01:08 to the end of the recorded engine data, Eng 2 rpm remained at 2,650 rpm and Eng2 fuel flow remained between 15 and 16 gph.
POH Checklists

A review of the pilot operating handbook (POH) found that during the taxi checklist (paragraph 4.5e), the fuel selector was to be switched from the on position to the cross feed position, to ensure that the crossfeeds were working properly. Once the airplane was in the run-up area and prior to takeoff (paragraph 4.5g), the pilot was to move the fuel selector from the crossfeed position to the on position. During both of these procedures, the fuel selector must pass through the off position before reaching on/crossfeed position.

4.5e Taxiing Checklist (4.17)

TAXING (4.17)

Taxi Area..............................................................................CLEAR
Throttles.......................................................................APPLY SLOWLY
Flight Instruments.....................................................................CHECK
Electric Fuel Pumps..............................................................AS REQUIRED
Fuel Selectors............................................................ON/CHECK CROSSFEED

4.5g Before Takeoff Checklist (4.21)


Flight Controls........................................................................CHECK
Flight Instruments.....................................................................CHECK
Engine Instruments.....................................................................CHECK
Fuel Quantity/Imbalance...................................................................ON
Battery Master Switch.....................................................................ON
Electric Fuel Pumps.......................................................................ON
Pitot Heat.......................................................................AS REQUIRED
Radio Master Switch.......................................................................ON
Mixtures...........................................................................FULL RICH
Carburetor Heat..........................................................................OFF
Cowl Flaps..............................................................................OPEN
Flaps............................................................................CHECK & SET
Stabilator and Rudder Trims..............................................................SET
Fuel Selectors............................................................................ON

Ground Run Tests

The NTSB, FIT Aviation and Piper Aircraft performed an aircraft ground tests on a 2008 PA-44-180 Seminole, N884FT at FIT Aviation (MLB).

First Test:

Performed a normal engine ground run per FIT Checklist.
Time 6 minutes.

Second Test:

Imitate a normal takeoff on the ground following FIT Checklist.
Placed the right fuel selector valve to the on position.
Placed the left fuel selector valve to the off position.
Set engine throttles to takeoff power.
Left engine sputter 30 seconds.
Left engine quit 36 seconds.

Third Test:

Prior to taxi placed the left fuel selector valve to the off position.
Taxied on airport property at engine rpm 1000 -1100.
Left engine quit after five minutes and 50 seconds.

Forth Test:

Imitate taxi in the ground run up area, placed the left fuel selector valve to the off position.
Throttle engines at approximately 1000-1100 rpm.
After five minutes applied full takeoff power.
Left engine quit 10 seconds later.

Pilot Operating Handbook

Section 3, Emergency Procedures for the PA-44-180, Seminole, Part 3.5a Engine Inoperative Procedures.

Engine failure during takeoff (speed above 75 KIAS).

Mixture Controls...............................................................FULL FORWARD
Propeller controls.............................................................FULL FORWARD
Throttle Controls..............................................................FULL FORWARD
Directional Control................................................................MAINTAIN
Flaps...............................................................................FULL UP
Landing Gear Selector...............................................................CHEK UP
Inoperative Engine......................................................IDENTIFY and VERIFY
Throttle (Inop. Engine)...............................................................CLOSE
Propeller (Inop. Engine) ...........................................................FEATHER
Mixture (Inop. Engine).........................................................IDLE CUT-OFF
Establish Bank........................................2 to 3 degrees INTO OPERATIVE ENGINE
Climb Speed..............................................................................88 KIAS
Trim..........................................................ADJUST TO 2 TO 3 DEGREES BANK TOWARD OPERATIVE ENGINE WITH APPROXIMATELY

Cowl Flap (Inop. Engine)..............................................................CLOSE
Alternator Switch (Inop. Engine)........................................................OFF
Magneto Switches (Inop. Engine).........................................................OFF
Electric Fuel Pump (Inop. Engine).......................................................OFF
Fuel Selector (Inop. Engine).................................................................................OFF
Land as soon as practical at the nearest suitable airport.

Victims in a fatal Florida Institute of Technology plane crash

A plaque will be unveiled today for the four people killed in last year's plane crash in West Palm Beach. / Florida Tech

Friday marks one year since the deadly crash, and the school has planned two separate memorials to remember two students, their instructor and an alumnus:
  • Jordyn Agostini, 21, of Melbourne -- student
  • Dheni "Jenny" Frembling, 26, of Melbourne -- instructor
  • Kristopher Joy Henegar, 22, of Memphis, Tenn. -- student
  • Kyle Henegar, 26, of Palm Bay -- alumnus
Since Friday is Veterans Day, two memorials have been planned for today.  First is a private ceremony this morning, during which FIT will unveil a plaque dedicated to the four victims.  Then, on tonight, a public ceremony will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. at FIT's Panther Plaza. Friends of the victims are scheduled to speak during this ceremony.

Two memorial events will be conducted today to honor four people killed when an FIT Aviation plane crashed nearly one year ago.

At the first event, which is closed to the public, a plaque will be unveiled at FIT Aviation and a tree dedicated to the victims.

Florida Tech’s student government has organized a second memorial open to all for 6 p.m. at Panther Plaza. Friends of the victims will speak, and four sky lanterns will be launched, one for each victim.

Students Jordyn Agostini, 21, Kristopher Henegar, 22, Henegar’s 26-year-old brother Kyle and FIT Aviation flight instructor Dheni “Jenny” Frembling, also 26, died when their plane crashed on takeoff from Palm Beach International Airport on Nov. 11, 2010. The foursome was headed back to Melbourne after a training flight to the Bahamas.

“We decided to take it upon ourselves to do something because it was a big event. It did impact a lot of students,” said Joseph Noel, president of student government. “We want to remember them and be reminded that you never know what will happen.”

A moment of silence will be observed during a home volleyball game Friday, the anniversary of the crash.

Friends of the victims also are collecting money that will be donated to the Philadelphia Eagles Youth Partnership, an organization connected with the NFL team that provides low-income children in the Philadelphia area with health and educational programming.

“Those of you that know Jordyn know she would be so honored to be part of this,” Jordyn’s mom, Suellen Agostini, wrote on Facebook.

The final crash report from the National Transportation Safety Board has not been released. A preliminary NTSB report found a cockpit fuel lever was turned to the off position, preventing gas from reaching the left engine of the four-seat Piper. The report did not state why the left fuel lever was off, but concluded, “no evidence of pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction was found.”

Both fuel valves were tested and were found to be operational and free from blockage, the report said.

Following the crash, the director of FIT Aviation was “relieved of his duties” and a new director was brought in.

Officials at the private university have not said whether passenger policy changed after the crash, but several students confirmed a new, tighter policy was implemented. The new policy limits passengers to students enrolled in flying courses and flight instructors.

Kyle Henegar was a Florida Tech graduate and university employee, and would not have been eligible to be on the plane under the new guidelines.

Kingfisher mess: 100 pilots quit, flights cancelled

New Delhi: Kingfisher Airlines is going through troubled times as over 100 pilots have quit after they were not paid their salaries even as the company cancelled over 80 flights in the last two days. The cancellation of 80 flights in the past couple of days left thousands of passengers in the lurch prompting the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to demand an explanation from Kingfisher.

The mass resignation by the pilots took place because they are yet to get their salary for the month of October. The cash-strapped airline claimed that it had to drop flights as the company were trying to reconfigure its aircraft.

There was chaos at several airports after passengers complained that they were not intimated about the Kingfisher cancellations. Many inconvenienced passengers had to rebook themselves on other airlines paying a premium of up to 20 per cent.
The mass resignation by the pilots took place because they are yet to get their salary for the month of October.

As a result of the cancellations, most domestic flights and some international ones will now remain cancelled till November 19.

The DGCA issued a notice to Kingfisher under rule 140 (a) of the aircraft rules for not taking prior approval before cancelling flights. In the notice, the DGCA asked the airline to show cause why it had not taken the regulator's prior approval to curtail its flight schedules as is required by this rule.

Under it, an airline has to obtain DGCA's concurrence before starting a new route or discontinuing a flight at least a week before taking such a step.

The DGCA also asked the Vijay Mallya-owned carrier on what steps it has taken so far to take care of the passengers booked in the flights cancelled in terms of returning their airfares, accommodating them in their alternate flights or providing them alternate modes of transportation.

Aviation sources said the airline has grounded eight of its leased turboprop ATR aircraft. Airport operators, too, are putting pressure on the airline to clear their dues relating to airport and other charges.

Three oil companies -- HPCL, IOC and BPCL, have stopped granting credit to Kingfisher for lifting jet fuel and put it on a cash-and-carry payment mode even as Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Agarwal said that the situation was much better now.

The oil companies allege that Kingfisher owes them almost Rs 200 crore in dues.

Kingfisher has suffered a loss of Rs 1027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of over Rs 7057 crore.

Airline passengers watched in horror as wheel fell off their plane... but didn't alert cabin crew

Shocked passengers saw a wheel fall off the plane they were travelling on shortly after take off, an accident report has revealed.

The terrified flyers watched as the large wheel became detached and plummeted to the ground on the journey from Exeter to Newcastle.

But cabin crew were not immediately aware of the potentially deadly mechanical error. Passenger did not inform staff on the plane either, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said.

Air traffic control told the flight crew a wheel might have been lost and the senior stewardess who were asked to inspect the right landing gear area by the captain were told by passengers about the wheel falling off.

As the pilots of the Dash 8 aircraft attempted to get the Flybe operated aircraft down, passengers were moved so they were evenly distributed, the report said. The pilots decided to return to Exeter using the ‘alternate landing gear extension’ procedure.

With the 58-year-old captain having issued a Mayday to air traffic controllers, the 39 passengers adopted the brace position as it returned to Exeter.

The co-pilot contacted the airline's chief pilot by radio and it was agreed that the crew would use a left-wingdown technique ensuring the left mainwheels touched down on the runway first, with the remaining right mainwheel then being lowered onto the runway as gently as possible.

As it touched down, it veered to the left and the captain had to apply ‘significant amounts of right rudder’ to hold the aircraft steady. He then used the emergency brake to bring the aircraft to a halt and the passengers were able to disembark through the front left door.

The plane had taken off from Exeter airport bound for Newcastle before the wheel came loose

The AAIB said the wheel's outer bearing had seized and ‘consequential damage had allowed the wheel to detach’.

The report added that the captain had inspected the right main landing gear before the flight and had not noticed any abnormalities and ‘given the nature of the bearing failure, it is unlikely that any (abnormalities) would have been visible.’

It stated: ‘Having an engineer on board, licensed on the aircraft type, was beneficial and his knowledge was used to good advantage.’

The AAIB said several safety actions had been initiated following the incident.

In 2009, a Cardiff-bound Dash 8 aircraft, also operated by Flybe, was forced to make an emergency landing at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

The aircraft, which was flying in from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, with 46 passengers on board, had to put down early following a suspected smoke problem.