Monday, November 14, 2011

San Antonio-Mexico flights will grow again

Dallas-based AirTran Airways, a Southwest Airlines Co. subsidiary, and Mexico City-based Interjet have announced new San Antonio routes to Mexico.

AirTran has applied to begin San Antonio nonstop routes to Mexico City and CancĂșn in May. The carrier will announce frequencies for those flights later, said San Antonio International Airport spokesman Rich Johnson.

Interjet, which begins previously announced non-stop service from San Antonio to Mexico City on Dec. 1, has applied to add a new route Dec. 6: San Antonio-Toluca-Guadalajara three times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

AirTran will fly Boeing 717s, which seat 117 passengers. It presently serves San Antonio on a route to Atlanta.

Interjet uses Airbus A320s seating 150 passengers.

AirTran was acquired by Dallas-based Southwest last year. AirTran was based in Orlando, Fla., then.

“We have been very encouraged by the success of AirTran's existing international service, and we look forward to building that success,” said Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines executive vice president and chief commercial officer and AirTran president, in announcing AirTran's San Antonio flights.

“AirTran's new domestic service and planned international service in several markets offers customers even more options when traveling both in the U.S. and abroad and is a terrific demonstration of the benefits Southwest's acquisition of AirTran brings customers.”

Southwest selected San Antonio as a “focus city” for service to Mexico, along with Orange County in California, the airport's Johnson said. Southwest intends to funnel passengers to Mexico with AirTran's connections through San Antonio and Orange County, he said.

“This is great news for San Antonio's economy. The timing of this new airline service to and from Mexico City could not be better,” said Marco Barros, president and CEO of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.

“The shopping season is right around the corner, and the economic impact for our city is tremendous with an increase of visitors who will come shopping to The Shops at La Cantera, North Star Mall, the Quarry (Market) and many retailers in the area.”

Southwest plans to convert AirTran to the Southwest brand by 2014. Any AirTran international flights at that time will be among Southwest's first flights outside the United States. AirTran already operates routes to the Caribbean and Canada.

Southwest is scheduled to begin connections and code-sharing with AirTran early next year. In code-sharing, an airline places its flight number and airline code onto another airline's flight.

Southwest already has a code-sharing agreement with Mexico City-based Volaris, which does not operate in San Antonio.

Another Mexican carrier, Monterrey-based VivaAerobus, started San Antonio-to-Monterrey service Nov. 8, with flights three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, using 148-seat Boeing 737s.

Interjet's return route on the San Antonio-Toluca-Guadalajara route is not direct service between Guadalajara and San Antonio. Guadalajara is Mexico's second-largest city. Toluca, the capital of Mexico state, is a large industrial city about 40 miles west of Mexico City.

Current nonstop service between San Antonio and Mexico City is limited to Aeromexico. Under an international agreement, two Mexican airlines and two U.S.-based airlines are allowed to serve that route.

Once Interjet and AirTran begin their San Antonio-Mexico City service, only one route slot, for a U.S. carrier, will be open.

Delta flight diverted to John F Kennedy International Airport ( KJFK) after engine trouble.

ATLANTA -- A Delta flight bound for Atlanta was diverted to JFK after the plane had an engine malfunction, officials for the airline and FAA confirm.

Flight 847 with service from LaGuardia to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport made an emergency landing at JFK just after 6 p.m., according to FAA officials.

A Delta spokesman said the flight crew detected an issue with the engine and rerouted.

Passengers changed planes at JFK and are on the way back to Atlanta.

FAA officials said the plane's right engine malfunctioned and the pilot shut it down but Delta officials would not confirm the cause.

Photo: Naked man wandering. Dulles International Airport (KIAD), Washington, D.C.

(Photo courtesy Steve Shur)

WASHINGTON - A naked man was wandering around Dulles International Airport Monday morning, an eyewitness tells WTOP.

Transportation sources confirm the incident occurred mid-morning. A photo of the man obtained by WTOP shows him wearing nothing more than shoes, socks and his glasses.

Airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs says the man was walking around the main terminal and was not wearing clothing or underwear. Airport police took him into custody without incident and determined that he needed medical attention. He was taken to a local hospital.

Gibbs says police have no plans to pursue charges against the man. She says there was no security risk or disruption to passengers or air traffic.

The man was not deemed a security threat.

Bombardier Sells CRJ900 NextGen Airliner to Petroleum Air Services of Egypt

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES--(Marketwire - November 15, 2011) - Bombardier Aerospace announced today that Petroleum Air Services of Cairo, Egypt has signed a contract to acquire one CRJ900 NextGen regional jet. The transaction also includes an option for another CRJ900 NextGen airliner. PAS's CRJ900 NextGen aircraft will be the first CRJ Series aircraft to operate in Egypt.

Based on the list price for the CRJ900 NextGen airliner, the contract is valued at approximately $42 million US and could increase to $85 million US if the option is converted to a firm order.

"We require a proven jet aircraft to enhance services to our oil company customers and for our touristic destinations," said General Gamil Morad Ismail, Chairman and Managing Director, Petroleum Air Services. "The Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen aircraft has the performance we require in our harsh Middle Eastern operating environment; it has a comparatively low fuel burn; and based on our experience with our de Havilland and Bombardier turboprops, it will have the technical reliability we require."

"Petroleum Air Services' selection of the CRJ900 NextGen regional jet is a strong testimonial for the aircraft since the company is well respected and has a rigorous aircraft evaluation process," said Chet Fuller, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Asset Management, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "We look forward to the entry into service of the first CRJ900 NextGen aircraft in Egypt."

Established in 1982, PAS operates helicopter and fixed wing charter and air-taxi services primarily for the petroleum industry. Surplus hours are used by tour operators within Egypt and to international destinations within the region. Its current fleet includes four de Havilland Dash 7 aircraft and five Bombardier Q300 turboprops.

Like other members of the CRJ Series family of aircraft, the light weight and advanced aerodynamics of the 88-seat CRJ900 NextGen regional jet combine to deliver improved efficiency and reduced operating costs compared to other aircraft in its class. The combination of a larger winglet and other optimizations since the launch of the CRJ900 aircraft program, give the CRJ900 NextGen regional jet excellent airfield performance and enroute fuel consumption. All CRJ NextGen aircraft feature new interiors with larger overhead luggage bins, larger windows, improved lighting and redesigned ceiling panels.

Including the order from PAS, the CRJ Series family of aircraft has attracted 1,709 firm orders (including 266 orders for CRJ900 and CRJ900 NextGen aircraft), with 1,647 delivered as of July 31, 2011. CRJ Series aircraft are in service with more than 60 airlines. In addition, corporate variants of CRJ Series aircraft are in service with another 30 operators. The worldwide fleet of CRJ Series aircraft has amassed more than 31 million flight hours and 26 million take-off and landing cycles.

About Bombardier Commercial Aircraft

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, a business unit of Bombardier Inc., is a world leader in the design and production of aircraft that seat up to 145 passengers. Its mission is to provide a complete range of commercial aircraft optimized for best-in-class efficiency with the highest level of customer service. The product portfolio is comprised of the Q400 NextGen airliner, the CRJ NextGen family of regional jets, and the CSeries jetliners, which are the world's newest and most advanced single-aisle, mainline aircraft for the 100- to 149-seat market segment.

About Bombardier

A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2011, were $17.7 billion, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.

Bell 206B JetRanger III, Applebee Aviation Inc., N16HA: Accident occurred November 14, 2011 in Woodburn, Oregon

NTSB Identification: WPR12LA036
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Monday, November 14, 2011 in Woodburn, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2012
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N16HA
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was using the helicopter to lift bundles of Christmas trees from a field to a loading zone with a 25-foot-long steel line. Shortly after one of the bundles was picked up, it came apart and fell from the line. As the pilot repositioned the helicopter to reattach the bundle, the line became snagged on an obstacle on the ground. He immediately reached for the line release switch, but the line did not detach, likely because he did not make positive contact with the switch. Before he could activate the manual backup release switch, the helicopter pitched down, descended, and collided with terrain. Postaccident examination of the primary and backup release systems revealed no mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. Because the helicopter was no more than 25 feet above ground level when the line snagged, even a successful activation of the line release switch may not have prevented the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain ground clearance while maneuvering with an external load line.

On November 14, 2011, about 1430 Pacific standard time a Bell 206B, N16HA, collided with terrain during an external load operation near Woodburn, Oregon. Applebee Aviation was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 133. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the forward fuselage and tail boom during the accident sequence. The local flight departed from a road in Oregon City, Oregon, about 2 hours prior to the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that he was lifting bundles of Christmas trees from a field to a loading zone, utilizing a 25-foot-long steel line. Shortly after lifting a load, the bundle came apart and fell from the line. The pilot then lowered the helicopter so ground personable could reattach the bundle, but they had already moved to the next bundle of trees. The pilot then raised the helicopter, and as he did, the line became snagged on an obstacle on the ground. The pilot immediately reached for the line release switch, but the line did not detach. The helicopter pitched down, descended, and collided with terrain. The pilot could not definitively confirm that the release system failed, stating it was possible that he did not make positive contact with the release switch. He further stated that he did not have enough time to engage the manual backup release system.

An inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) examined the helicopter at the accident site. He inspected both the electrically operated release mechanism, and the manual backup release system. No anomalies were found that would have precluded normal operation.

Photo courtesy Marion County Sheriff's Office

Photo courtesy Marion County Sheriff's Office

Photo courtesy Marion County Sheriff's Office

Photo courtesy Marion County Sheriff's Office

A helicopter crashed at a Christmas tree farm north of Woodburn this afternoon, sending the pilot to a Portland hospital.

Marion County deputies received a call reporting the crash at 2:42 p.m. at the farm, located in the 10000 block of Crosby Road N.E., said Don Thomson, a sheriff's office spokesman.

Emergency workers found the 1981 Bell 206 helicopter lying on its side in a field of trees, Thomson said. The 39-year-old Seattle pilot was the only occupant, and was transported via LifeFlight helicopter to OHSU Hospital in Portland.

The pilot's condition was not known. Witnesses told investigators he was hauling trees when the helicopter crashed to the ground, Thomson said. The pilot was able to climb from the wreckage.

No other injuries were reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration arrived on the scene at 4:30 p.m. and is heading the investigation. The pilot's name will be released at the end of the FFA investigation, Thomson said.

WOODBURN, Ore. - A helicopter pilot was injured when his aircraft crashed in a Christmas tree field north of Woodburn on Monday afternoon.

The 39-year-old Seattle man was piloting a helicopter that was shuttling Christmas trees.

The crash happened in an area that is difficult to access. Medics from the Woodburn Fire Department had to park and hike into the area.

The call reporting the crash at 10789 Crosby Road NE came in around 2:40 p.m. Deputies first arrived to find the Bell 206 helicopter lying on its side.

There is no word yet on the identity of the man. He was flown by LifeFlight to a Portland hospital. It's not known how badly he was hurt, although witnesses said he was able to climb out of the helicopter under his own power.

They said the aircraft was hauling trees when it suddenly came crashing down.

There was nobody else in the helicopter and people on the ground were not hurt.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. Federal Aviation Administration investigators are working to figure out what went wrong.

Dubai firm flies in for Diamond Aircraft: The cash-strapped London company is snapped up.

Norman De Bono goes one-on-one with Peter Maurer, chief executive of Diamond Aircraft

Q: Medrar Financial Group has bought Diamond Aircraft. Will the founding family retain any ownership?

A: "Yes. It has not been sold lock, stock and barrel. We see it more as a partnership. They are talking a majority interest in it, and Diamond's current shareholders still have a large share."

Q: Why sell?

A: "It is able to put together financing for the D-Jet but they have ambitions to do a lot more, to grow products here and bring capital. They have a long-term vision, a long-term investment, and that works well for us."

Q: When will you start hiring back workers?

A: "It will be difficult. We have to recruit people with the right skill set so we will not be in a position to ramp up as quickly as we would like," after many of its 200 laid off workers found work elsewhere.

Q: It has been a difficult time recently for Diamond, you must be relieved.

A: "I am very relieved, we have had a difficult couple of years, it is still a down market, but compared to our competitors, we are doing OK."

Q: You are showing off the D-Jet this week at the Dubai Air Show, how has it been received?

A: "It has been received very well, the response is terrific. We now have orders for about 200, worth $350 million.

Q&A: With Aircraft industry observers:

Q: Is there a chance Diamond Aircraft could shut down here, and move production?

A: There is a chance, but it's unlikely, says industry analysts. There are very few cases of manufacturers being uprooted and shifted to the Middle East nation. Instead, they will embrace the technology and expertise in aviation to help develop the industry there, and integrate the London plant into a global supply chain.

Q: Why would a Dubai business want to buy a London aircraft manufacturer?

A: It is all about diversifying its economy away from oil and into other areas, including transportation. They want to become an aviation, aerospace centre and will use Diamond technology to get there. The London location also offers access to the U.S. market.

Q: What would happen to Diamond was not purchased?

A: They may have been able to line up financing elsewhere, but if not, they may have not had enough capital to keep the D-Jet program alive, and the plant's future could have been in jeopardy.

Q: Is it true Dubai does not have the infrastructure and workforce to move an aircraft manufacturing plant there.

A: Yes, that is true today. But it also has a track record of attracting workers and building infrastructure for whatever it needs, so who knows that the future may hold. It is said that 90 % of Dubai's residents are foreign workers.

Q: Is there any aviation and aerospace industry now in Dubai.

A: Yes, but it is small. They have manufacturers making parts for some of the major aircraft manufacturers.

Uganda: Citizens Need a National Airline


Ugandans are calling upon their government to re-establish a national airline as a matter of national interest, earning foreign currency and pride.

As a Ugandan who is very much interested in the formation of the national airline and who understands its economic importance to Uganda, I have spoken to so many people and they support the idea.

An airline is an important national asset. Any nation worth its salt must support a national carrier. It can wholly own the airline or it can partially run a carrier with well defined shareholding of 60 per cent government and 40 per cent the private sector.

The experience of life right now is that the world is making money; therefore the people of Uganda must make money out of the aviation industry and tourism. Since the unfortunate collapse of Uganda Airlines our country has lost a lot of money to foreign carriers.

As the Ugandan economy continues to grow since 1986, foreign airlines and companies seem to enjoy more of it than the citizens of the country.

Right now there are 15 foreign airlines operating in and out of Entebbe. Nine of them have daily flights and others have four or five flights a week. Business is good for these airlines because all of them take full load on their days of operation, especially during the time we know as "peak season". One of these airlines is Air Uganda which is wholly owned by His Highness the Aga Khan and it has no Ugandan shareholding.

All these airlines repatriate their earnings out of Uganda monthly. Let us suppose that each airline repatriates $2 million that means $30 million a month, and in a year $360 million. We would be sharing this money if we had our own national carrier.

The economy will expand tremendously and Ugandans will get employment. We shall have more cargo space for the horticultural products, which we export, plus other products.

The tourism industry will prosper because the airline will work with world tourism coordinators and operators to bring in tourists. You cannot develop tourism conveniently and effectively if you do not own a national airline.

Today, if you walked into the offices of the airlines which fly into Entebbe and ask for any literature that promotes tourism in Uganda, you will be lucky even to get a simple black and white brochure.

The economy of Kenya has grown tremendously in the last thirty years because of Kenya Airways and tourism. Lets borrow a leaf from them.

J.m. Kavuma-Kaggwa 

US carriers slam $3.4 bn American loan guarantees to Air India

New York: A powerful trade body for America’s biggest carriers, Air Transport Association (ATA), called on the US Export-Import Bank to reverse its approval of some $3.4 billion in guarantees for loans to debt-laden Air India for its purchase of new Boeing aircraft.

The ATA has written to Fred Hochberg, chairman of the US Export-Import Bank, asking him to slash all “subsidies” to foreign buyers of Boeing jets saying the bank’s support for Air India hurt US carriers.

“The Bank should deny Air India’s loan guarantee application and others like it, because such guarantees put US carriers at a competitive disadvantage and cost US jobs,” said ATA legal counsel Michael K Kellogg in the letter, which was reviewed by Firstpost.

The ATA said that solely on account of the US Export-Import Bank’s guarantee, Air India would pay significantly less for a new Boeing than its US competitors.

“Solely on account of the Bank’s guarantee, US carriers pay approximately $5 million more every year to finance a Boeing 777 than a bank-backed foreign airline,” said Kellogg.

It is a Catch-22 situation for the Americans. The US Ex-Im Bank’s mandate is to support US jobs by boosting exports and in the Air India case it will be helping Boeing lock in an export order for 50 long-range Boeing aircraft by providing loan guarantees. Of course, it may unintentionally make the going tougher for American carriers which don’t enjoy the same loan guarantees from Washington.

“The practices of Ex-Im Bank put US carriers at a commercial disadvantage to foreign carriers. Specifically, the US loan guarantees enable foreign carriers to attain financing for aircraft at rates up to 50 percent lower than can be attained by US airlines, which are prohibited from securing Ex-Im financing,” ATA spokesperson Steve Lott, told Firstpost.

US airlines aren’t eligible to receive Ex-Im Bank backing since domestic purchases aren’t exports. The Ex-Im Bank mainly guarantees bank loans that overseas buyers take to finance purchases. If a foreign buyer fails to repay a loan, it covers the payment and seeks to recover the balance. “Thanks to the security of Washington’s guarantees, buyers of American products as diverse as dental equipment and jet planes can significantly reduce their financing costs. Customers rarely default on loans backed by Ex-Im Bank,” said “The Wall Street Journal.”

Not surprisingly, ATA pounced on Air India’s financial and management troubles, warning that the Ex-Im Bank was disregarding the obligations to “protect the public coffers” by providing loan guarantees to a “credit-risky” company.

India’s once-highflying airline industry is encountering serious financial turbulence. Kingfisher Airlines has grounded dozens of flights to cut costs and Air India has been censured by the federal auditor for incurring unnecessary costs. It has a debt burden of $9.5 billion.

“India’s own government has described Air India’s expansion plans as a “recipe for disaster” but the Bank is promoting it with American taxpayer’s money,” charged the ATA.

India’s Comptroller and Auditor General criticised Air India’s fleet acquisition exercise financed almost entirely through debt, saying; “This was a recipe for disaster ab initio (from the beginning) and should have raised alarm signals in the Civil Aviation Ministry, Public Investment Board and the Planning Commission.” Air India had ordered up to 50 long-range Boeing aircraft worth about $6 billion in 2005.

The Empowered Group of Ministers and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is currently formulating a financial restructuring plan for ailing Air India. Rising global oil prices have hit it hard. Tit-for-tat price cuts have also left most Indian carriers bleeding revenue.

At this point, the US Ex-IM Bank appears to be standing by its decision, although it says it will investigate some of ATA’s assertions about its procedures.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW) Contractor Accused of Stealing iPad. American Airlines, Airport police arrested worker.

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Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport police have arrested an airport employee on suspicion of stealing an iPad worth $600.

American Airlines said the person was a contractor inside the terminal in a baggage service area near its carousels.

"There were strong suspicions about the suspect, and our security personnel and airport police acted on it," the airline said in a statement.

DFW Airport would not detail particulars of the investigation or the theft. American Airline's security and airport police arrested the person after a covert operation.

"We are aware that there are allegations of theft activity," Prospect Airport Services said in a statement. "We are fully cooperating with American Airlines corporate security and the DFW Airport police."

An airport spokesman said police will release portions of the report on the investigation Tuesday.

DFW airport officials say travelers should keep valuables with them at all times.

Three other people who worked at DFW Airport have been arrested on suspicion of theft in the past 16 months.

Henry Ibarra, a former member of an American Airlines clean-up crew, was arrested in August 2010.

Police seized 171 items from his house valued at $7,500. He is accused of stealing items such as iPods, DVD players and cameras off planes and from luggage.

Ibarra worked for American for 41 years.

In September 2010, police arrested Denmark Masumoto, an 11-year employee of American Airlines, on suspicion of stealing a passenger's laptop.

Police said they found numerous items commonly stolen from travelers' luggage and from planes inside his Euless home.

An American Eagle baggage handler was arrested on suspicion of stealing jewelry from travelers' luggage in August 2011.

Judge: Ousted Detroit airport CEO Turkia Awada Mullin must testify in lawsuit

A judge today ordered ousted Metro Airport CEO Turkia Awada Mullin to testify in a lawsuit that accuses Wayne County of operating in secret when it hired her.

Wayne Circuit Judge Robert Colombo signed a subpoena ordering Mullin to appear Wednesday for the deposition. Robert Davis, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said Mullin was served with the subpoena at her Birmingham home this afternoon.

Davis, a Highland Park school board member and a frequent litigant over open meetings issues, sued the Wayne County Airport Authority last Thursday, claiming it violated the state Open Meetings Act several times during the hiring of Mullin.

He said the authority illegally formed a search committee, which operated behind closed doors and posted no minutes.

Mullin was fired Oct. 31 from the airport post amid a scandal prompted by the revelation that she received a $200,000 severance payment when she voluntarily left her county job for the airport. That and other business dealings in Wayne County prompted an ongoing FBI investigation.

Airport spokesman Mike Conway has said he couldn't comment on pending litigation.

Larry Dubin, a law professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy, said it “would be highly irregular” for the deposition to happen so quickly after the suit was just filed and the Airport Authority hasn’t even answered the complaint.

“If you’re going to take someone’s deposition, then the other side has the right to be notified and have his or her attorney present,” Dubin said. “Until there’s a response, there’s no way to know if the person has even retained a lawyer.”

Samuel Nouhan, an airport board member who led the search, said Monday night, he had not been served with a subpoena.

“I’m not aware of what he’s trying to do,” Nouhan said.

National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers grounds Air Nigeria flights nationwide

LAGOS — National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, yesterday, grounded all flights of Air Nigeria nationwide for sacking its Head of Maintenance Department, Mr. James Erigba.

Speaking to newsmen on the development, President of NAAPE, Mr. Balami David, said Erigba was sacked because he insisted that a particular aircraft was due for maintenance and should, therefore, go for maintenance. The management of the airline, however, tried to cut corners by insisting that the said aircraft should still carry out flight operations.

According to him, “Mr. James Erigba insisted that the aircraft must be in the hangar but the CEO, Mr. Kinfe Kahssaye or management was trying to look for a way to cut corner which is not acceptable to us. He insisted that the aircraft must go for maintenance but the CEO or management are trying to look for a way to cut corner which is not allowed.”

Balami said the management of Air Nigeria was toying with safety of passengers which was not acceptable in the aviation industry, noting that if safety was compromised many lives could be lost as accident was bound to happen in such situation.

He said: “They have 11 aircraft in all but only seven are air worthy but they want to fly 10 aircraft to include three aircraft that are not serviceable. So the engineers were against it and because of that they fired the Head of Maintenance, Mr. James Erigba.”

Mgt reacts
 Air Nigeria confirmed last night that there had been disruptions to its flight operations due to a trade dispute with some aircraft engineers in its employment.

Spokesman for the airline, Mr. Sam Ogbogoro, said: “This dispute came about today as a result of a management change within the airline’s maintenance department, which did not result in anyone losing his job.”

“We have been informed that the Nigerian Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, had reacted to this change and raised other issues regarding the welfare of the engineers in the airline’s employment. All these have culminated in the airline’s engineers embarking on strike, causing significant disruptions of operations.

“We regret the inconveniences this recent dispute has caused our passengers and wish to assure that efforts are ongoing to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. In order to minimise the inconveniences, we have set up a refund process for passengers wishing to seek alternative arrangements for their travels.

“We would also like to assure our valued customers and the general public that at no point is the safety of passengers and crew compromised in the execution of the airline’s operations. The airline’s management has, however, expressed its willingness to discuss the issues raised by NAAPE, and it is expected that operations will resume soon. “

Efforts to get reaction from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, failed as its spokesman, Mr Sam Adurogboye, promised to issue a statement on it by failed to do so.

New system to make flying fun - Airports Authority of India.

A few months ago flights took off one after another to Delhi from Chennai airport as it usually happens during peak hour. Everything hinted at a perfect and uneventful flight for the pilots - the weather in the national capital was clear, there was no congestion near the airport and the airport was functioning well.

But, as the flights started their descend to Delhi, air traffic control informed that the airport is closed for a VIP movement and they have to divert. It was mayhem on air as many did not have enough fuel to circle around or to divert. Some managed to find space in Chandigarh, others went all the way to Jaipur while a few others frantically asked for a priority landing in Delhi itself.

Such scenes can be a thing of the past as Airports Authority of India (AAI) is planning to introduce a new system by which planes will not be allowed to take off if there is congestion at destination airports. And there will be several pre-determined alternatives , including timely warning if an emergency develops midway.

Air Traffic Flow Management is looked upon as the next big thing in an array of modernization programmes AAI is implementing at Chennai airport in a bid to make flying hassle-free for passengers and airlines.

The new system allows all major airports and airlines to share data on weather and flight movements across the country in real time so that air traffic controllers and pilots can plan journey efficiently.

"Flow management is going to be the next thing that we are going to take up at Chennai. This will avoid delays on air. Flights will be delayed on the ground if there is any problem at the destination airport. Interfaces of airlines, air traffic control centres and others will be networked across the country so that air traffic flow can be managed smoothly," said regional executive director southern region D Devaraj.

Flow management comes close on the heels of two other upgradations -- the performance-based navigation system that sets routes for landing and take-offs , and the air traffic control automation integrated radar that eliminates blind spots. These have made flying above 2,500 feet hassle-free across southern skies.

Now, air traffic flow management would bring together communication channels and interface of airports, radar, airlines and met department so that collaborative decisions could be taken to make flying safer and efficient, said Devaraj .

Air traffic control automation and networking of radar are a pre-requisite for flow management. Chennai flight information region covering the whole of south and oceanic space have implemented it recently. Delhi and Mumbai are going to integrate their radar very soon.

Once this is completed next year, the flow management systems installed at regions - Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata - will be connected to a flow management control centre most probably in Delhi. This centre will be networked with all interfaces of airlines, airports, air traffic control , meteorological departments across the country.

"The desired flight path and flight level and their availability would be easily known to the airline and the air traffic controllers on a particular air route when flow management is activated. If a particular level is not available , the system will prompt an alternative. This will help the pilot save fuel by avoiding air traffic congestion, weather turbulence and other problems," said a senior official of AAI.

It is estimated that flow management at six metro airports is expected to reduce air and ground delays by 2,387 hours in a year and a fuel saving of dollar nine million for airlines, says a preliminary study conducted by AAI.

In the initial stages the flow management will mostly benefit international flights that use EMARSH (Europe, Middle East, Asia and Himalayan Structure) routes. Soon it will be opened up for domestic flights also.

"It will be easy to include domestic flights into the ambit of the flow management when the system starts functioning," said an official. Majority of the international routes are aligned in the west east direction of the country and flights often face problems in maintaining vertical separation because of traffic congestion when they fly over Indian air space. When flow management is ready it will also help AAI provide same vertical separation throughout the same flight route.

New Jersey school being soundproofed from Teterboro (KTEB) airplane noise

Millions of dollars in funding allocated today for a high school in New Jersey but the money isn't for teachers or school supplies instead it's for sound proofing.

Becton High School is one mile away from Teterboro Airport and ten miles away from Newark Liberty. That adds up to dozens of planes passing overhead every school day.

Congressman Steve Rothman can't even explain the noise problem at Becton High School without being drowned out by the sound of a plane passing by.

"The local school boards decided they wanted to reduce the noise," he said.

Becton High School, which serves students from East Rutherford and Carlsdadt, will get $18 million to soundproof the school.

Adding new windows and air conditioning is expected to muffle the roar of the planes.

"It breaks the concentration of the class, the teachers can't talk and it happens at least once every class," says Kyle Torres.

Experts measured the decibel level when a plane passes by, and it's 90 decibels which is about the same as standing next to a lawn mower.

Fixing the school should bring the level down to 50 decibels, about the same as a normal conversation.

The work is expected to take two or three years. Backers of the plan say the money for the project is from airport improvement fees, which are included in the cost of a plane ticket.

The project will also create 100-150 new jobs.

Becton Regional to be soundproofed against air traffic noise

EAST RUTHERFORD — The familiar and distracting roar of aircraft passing close over Henry P. Becton Regional High School soon will be muted by an $18-million federally funded project to install soundproofing doors and windows.

U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9th) on Monday assured students will no longer face potential educational disadvantage from putting up with the constant noise as he delivered an $18-million check to the school district to install the needed improvements.

The federal money comes from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. And the two-year project to decrease noise levels will begin in a couple of weeks, officials said.

“The noise level inside the building got louder and louder as more and more planes started to land at Newark and Teterboro [airports],” Rothman said during the press conference held at the school.

“Kids couldn’t hear their teachers [and] teachers couldn’t communicate with their kids with the sounds of planes roaring overhead.”

Another $12 million — largely in state money — will go into the renovation, including a state-of-the art central air conditioning and a heating and ventilation system.

The construction project will create 100 to 200 jobs, Rothman said.

“Sometimes it’s really good to be a congressman,” he said. “It’s practically [going to be] a brand new school.”

The federal government pledged the federal money in June, several years after allocating the funds.

Part of the delay occurred years ago when several large schools were eligible and simultaneously applied for limited noise abatement grants. At the time, the FAA also questioned whether low-flying aircrafts truly posed a problem, according to school officials.

“No longer will staff and students fight the noise,” said Becton Principal David Mango at the conference.

This year, the FAA required schools that had already qualified for funding to undergo testing to determine if noise levels exceeded 65 decibels — a volume loud enough to distract students, federal officials said. Microphones on the roof of Becton and inside a second-floor biology classroom recorded levels which exceeded the federal threshold and topped previous levels captured in 2003. Noise levels reached 80 decibels at the school. FAA reports list that level — equal to the noise on a busy street — as damaging to the learning process including in comprehension and communication, according to findings of the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise.

Becton was founded in 1971 and is near bustling Newark Liberty International and Teterboro airports. Federal officials estimate more than 1.6 million flights have flown over it since 2007.

“We got used to it,” said Brielle Felten, a 16-year-old junior, as the second plane in as many minutes flew over.

But Amina Hoti, a16-year-old junior, says the planes didn’t bother her and referred to disruptions that the construction will bring: “I’m not looking forward to having class in a trailer,” she said.

Katie Scalera, student council adviser, said students in different wings will have class in trailers as construction crews revamp separate wings.

Several municipal officials attended the event.

“It took a few years, but we got there, and no one lost sight of that,” said Mayor James Cassella.


Boeing lured to set up parts hub in Philippines

The Philippines is luring aircraft giant Boeing to set up in the country its Southeast Asian hub for the manufacture of parts and components, according to Trade Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio.

This was one of the results of Panlilio’s recent trip to the United States covering Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Panlilio said other areas of interest generated during his US trip are in electronics, business process outsourcing, oil trading and agriculture.

"We met Boeing (in Seattle) because we want to get their parts suppliers to invest here. We are tapping manufacturers and assemblers of aircraft components," Panlilio said.

The Philippines already hosts three major aircraft component manufacturers, one of which is Moog Controls Corp., manufacturer and integrator of precision motion control products and system for aircraft.

"Many of our electronic products are for aviation. We have the capability. We are helping to grow that business for more exports to America. We are talking to those who are expanding their business here and the new suppliers such as for the manufacture of electronics instrumentation parts of airplanes," Panlilio said.

He added: "We want to get a shortlist of their Asian parts and components suppliers. It’s the suppliers that we are inviting to come over to set up shop here in the hope that they will be able to reduce their costs and in the end Boeing benefits."

Panlilio said Boeing was thinking of Southeast Asian locations that also include Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore and the Philippines for its suppliers.

A British company is manufacturing is galley fixtures also in the Philippines.

Panlilio said as 60 percent of the Philippines’ exports are electronics, many of which are for the instrumentation of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

Panlilio said the government is also talking to Airbus for it to organize inbound missions for its Asian suppliers.

"We are working on that (Airbus) now and we are working on Boeing too. There are probably 100,000 parts in a Boeing plane, from switches, wire harness motors," Panlilio said.

As for the other interests, Panlilio said two big companies in the electronics sector are eyeing to locate their facilities in Luzon and Cebu.

While in the US, Panlilio also met with officials of medical healthcare and insurance services firms some of which are operating here.

Panlilio also met up with a trading company which is very interested in importing several products used for the oil drilling industry. The firm is also into the trading of non-metallic minerals, lubricants and oleo-lubricants coming from plants.

In agriculture, Panlilio said, Washington State University is interested to improve the production of La Trinidad and Benguet province farms.

"They are working on growing strawberries all year round, which is seasonal, only five to six months. They are trying to study even in rainy season we are trying to tie them up with commercial corporations that are into fruits processing like Del Monte and Dole and transform that academic effort into a profit-oriented venture so that it becomes sustainable as a business endeavor or activity," he said.

The other project, he said, involves the improvement of the country’s marshlands and mangroves to make marine production even more bountiful.

UK border checks were waived for travellers in private jets, emails reveal

Leaked documents show extent that checks on European visitors were relaxed under 'pilot scheme' authorized by Theresa May

Thousands of passengers from all over the world arriving on private jets were allowed into Britain this summer without any passport checks as a matter of official policy, according to leaked UK Border Agency emails.

The internal UKBA documents show that immigration and customs staff were instructed not to meet passengers arriving on private charter flights, including executive jets, as part of the "light-touch" targeted approach to border checks secretly adopted this summer.

The emails also reveal the extent that full passport checks on European passengers were scaled back under the "limited pilot scheme" that was authorized by the home secretary, Theresa May, on 28 July.

The home secretary confirmed that the "limited" pilot scheme had in fact applied to all ports and airports in Britain.

The level 2 checks, which suspended the checks on biometric passports of EU travellers, were used hundreds of times each week during the summer.

May said on Monday night, in reply to 14 questions posed last week by Keith Vaz, the Commons home affairs committee chairman, that the 'lighter touch' checks were used at the following ports: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol airport, Calais, Cardiff, Coquelles, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Gatwick, Harwich, Heathrow, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, London City, Luton, Manchester Airport, Newcastle, Newhaven, Norwich, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Prestwick and Stansted.

In the first week of the pilot scheme the checks were relaxed on 100 occasions across the country. This rose to 260 occasions in week six of the pilot and 165 occasions in week nine, which ended on 9 October.

The emails show that the "lighter touch" checks were being used by UKBA local managers in "sharp bursts" to redeploy staff to higher-priority targets such as suspected drug smugglers and clandestine entrants and to "mitigate pressure of excessive queues".

The disclosures come as the departed head of the UK border force, Brodie Clark, prepares to fight to clear his name and retain his pension when he appears before the Commons home affairs committee on Tuesday. He is expected to challenge the home secretary's claims to the Commons that he is to blame for the passport check scandal by going beyond ministerial instructions.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the leaked UKBA emails contained startling new information.

"Last week the home secretary told us that no one had been waved through without checks this summer. But these documents show passengers on private flights weren't even seen," she said.

"Last week the Home Office wouldn't admit to having figures about how often checks were downgraded. Now we know those figures exist, and that checks were downgraded 260 times in one week alone – potentially for hours at a time." Cooper said the facts should be released immediately: "As long as she refuses to do so, and keeps running away from media interviews, people will think she has something to hide."

The emails detail UKBA staff at Durham Tees Valley airport raising concerns about a new policy of not being "allowed physically to see the passengers" arriving on private charter flights.

Although passenger details had been filed in advance, no passport checks were to be done on arrival nor checks against watchlists.

"We have no way of checking whether the handling agent information is correct or even if the number of people on the plane matches the number we have been advised," says the concerned official.

He says that airport staff continued to feel uneasy about an instruction "that is at odds with national policy and is creating an unnecessary gap in border security which if exploited by the unscrupulous, could bring the agency into disrepute".

In reply, the UKBA management tell him that the instruction was not against national policy but was actually part of a new national general aviation strategy covering private flights which meant that arrivals did not have to be met.

He was also told the policy was being implemented at many airports across the country. The instruction to abandon the checks was dated 2 March 2011.

The UKBA staff protest that the "no checks" policy was "creating a situation where we are not able to secure the border as robustly as we would like to, for no justifiable reason".

The official response said it was appreciated that the move to the pre-clearance of private flights could "be perceived as a step down from meeting 100% of GA [general aviation] arrivals in Durham Tees Valley, but we are confident that through application of robust risk assessment and risk testing ... we are responding proportionately to the risk posed by general aviation".

The UKBA response also assured the staff there "will be no accusation of dereliction of duty as long as the procedures have been followed".

The reply adds that the term general aviation covers all flights other than military, scheduled and regular cargo flights.

The Treasury estimates there are 80,000-90,000 private flights a year arriving in Britain.

New Jersey: Cooper's medical helicopter can continue to fly in South Jersey - Court.

Evesham-based health system Virtua lost its bid to keep another, competing medical helicopter out of the skies over South Jersey in an appellate decision released Monday.

The Appellate Division of state Superior Court upheld the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services' decision to allow Atlantic Health to operate emergency medical flights in South Jersey.

It also affirmed the state's right to revise its dispatch protocol without undergoing a formal "rule-making" process, including public hearings and comments on the changes.

Atlantic Health's Air Two began flights last December under a new contract with Cooper University Hospital in Camden and is stationed out of Millville Airport. Atlantic Health owns Overlook and Morristown hospitals in North Jersey and had an existing license for emergency medical flights there.

Virtua, through its SouthStar air medical services helicopter, had been the sole provider of emergency medical flights in South Jersey for more than 20 years, taking patients to Cooper, its own hospitals and other facilities.

SouthStar crews include two Virtua staffers and New Jersey State Police pilots, and are part of the state's JEMSTAR Helicopter Response Program. NorthStar handles responses north of I-95 in the state. Both are funded through grants.

In January, Virtua filed a complaint arguing that the state broke its own policy and rules when it licensed Air Two to fly in South Jersey by not requiring the private company to apply for and acquire a "certificate of need." That process would have examined the plan's impact and its changes to the region's emergency medical services. It also challenged the state's 2010 revision to its dispatch protocol for the flights.

The appeals court concluded that the state "did not exceed its authority nor did it act arbitrarily."

Instead, the licensing of Air Two in South Jersey was in keeping with the "agency's long-standing practice in not requiring a certificate of need," the opinion read. It also rejected an argument that Atlantic Health's license was restricted to flights in Essex, Morris and Union counties only.

Virtua claimed, in part, that with other medical helicopters in the air, the quality of patient care in the region would suffer and costs would dramatically increase. Virtua has seen a decrease in calls for response as a result of the addition of Air Two and the revised protocol, the opinion read.

"Virtua maintains that permitting such providers to, in essence, compete with Virtua ... diminishes the quality of the services being provided. In particular, Virtua argues that the revision of the dispatch protocol decreases the preparedness and expertise of each helicopter unit, and diminishes the frequency with which each unit is called to respond," the opinion read.

However, the court noted testimony from a state public health representative that although "a decrease in the frequency and number of patient contacts may contribute to a decrease in skill competencies (of crew members), many other agencies successfully manage this issue by rotating their staff to higher-volume ground units to maintain their skills."

The representative said skills also can be maintained through obtaining national certifications and using simulators, the opinion read.

"We also recognize Virtua's claim that the department's expansion of eligible responders could have adverse collateral effects upon the overall quality and preparedness of the helicopter units in the JEMSTAR program," the court opinion read, but noted that Virtua has no legal basis for relief "stemming from that policy disagreement."

Gary Lesneski, senior executive vice president and general counsel for Cooper, said he was pleased with the court's decision. In its first year, Air Two has made more than 400 flights, officials said.

"This allows Air Two to continue its vital role of inter-facility transfers of patients needing the tertiary care services available at Cooper and respond to traumatic accidents in accordance with the department's dispatch protocol," Lesneski said. "Our goal has always been to help our patients receive the intensive care that only a level-one trauma center can provide as quickly as possible."

Virtua, in a statement released after Monday's decision, said it is in the process of "thoroughly reviewing the court's ruling and will carefully evaluate our options." Virtua has five hospitals in South Jersey, including Mount Holly and Evesham.

"We took legal action because we believed that the uncertainty created by the state's action in regard to its own regulations could lead to a continual proliferation in the number of emergency air medical helicopters operating in the state, which could negatively impact the air medical system's overall quality and cost," the statement said. "Virtua remains committed to providing the highest quality care to those who require SouthStar's services, which are available around the clock every day of the year."

Patients in Burlington County could be served by either SouthStar or Air Two depending on location and other dispatch protocol, officials said. The county is served by three trauma centers, including Cooper and Atlantic City Medical Center's City Division in Atlantic City in the south and Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton to the north.

England-based commercial pilot assaults traffic cop. (India)

NEW DELHI: A 27-year-old England-based commercial pilot was sent to judicial custody after he allegedly assaulted a traffic police constable near Tivoli Gardens. The accused, identified as Siddharth Kasana -working with a private airlines - was arrested late on Friday night at his Tivoli farmhouse for criminal charges of obstructing a public servant, assault and voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant on duty. He was produced in court on Saturday following which he was sent to judicial custody.

Kasana had parked his Toyota Landcruiser on a narrow lane, parallel to Chhattarpur Road, when he went to buy cigarettes around 11pm. The car was blocking the path of other vehicles which compounded the congestion on the stretch, said cops.

"We had deployed two platoons from CP's reserve force to assist traffic cops in extensive arrangements for Friday as heavy rush due was expected due to a large number of marriages. The constable was beaten up while on duty. A criminal case has been registered," said joint commissioner of police (traffic) Satyendra Garg.

The constable, Dinesh, had asked Kasana to remove his vehicle. Taking offense, Kasana verbally abused the constable and even broke a soda bottle to assault the constable, said cops. "Soon, a police force rushed to the spot but the accused managed to flee. Chase and challan cops followed him to his residence in Tivoli from where he was arrested," said a senior police officer.

Kasana has to furnish a bail bond of Rs 20,000 for his release. He lives in a DLF farmhouse in Chhattarpur, said cops.

On the same night, a Malaysian diplomat's Ford Endeavour car was issued a challan for improper parking. The diplomat's Indian driver had reportedly parked the car improperly outside Tivoli farm and had not moved the vehicle even after being asked to. Around 9.35pm, the car was towed away to traffic lines and a challan of improper parking was issued. "He was found without a driver's license and a court challan was issued for both the offences," said a senior traffic police officer.

Airport Authority to present changes. Pitt-Greenville Airport (KPGV), Greenville, North Carolina

The Pitt-Greenville Airport Authority will present the changes made in the wake of a state audit to the Greenville City Council tonight.

State Auditor Beth Wood released a report in August detailing insufficient oversight of the former manager’s salary during his final years on the job. Jim Turcotte’s income swelled and, based partially on those earnings, he draws a $14,471 state pension check each month — one of the highest in the state.

Jerry Vickers, who replaced Turcotte as executive director, will present the update on airport operations to council members.

Also tonight, the City Council may alter the city’s concealed handgun policy to accommodate a rollback of restrictions enacted by the state effective Dec. 1. The law declares that concealed handguns cannot be prohibited in parks but can be banned in certain recreational facilities.

City staff proposes banning concealed handguns from as many facilities as the law permits.

Several modifications to the city’s sign ordinance also are scheduled for consideration tonight. Developed based on council input following a presentation in August, they include:

Eliminating the use of temporary signs.

Allowing “wind blades” but limiting the number permitted per lot or business.

Limiting or eliminating the number of flags with commercial messages.

Developing a “sign regulations brochure” and distributing information to all business license holders during annual renewal process.

Requiring all businesses producing signs to confirm in writing they have received and reviewed a copy of the city’s sign regulations.

Input gathered by staff from four local sign companies also is provided to the City Council.

Also on tonight’s agenda:

An application asking for a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant to pay for improvements to Dream Park in west Greenville.

An agreement with the county to participate in its 700 MHZ radio system — as required by the Federal Communications Commission — and the transfer of $680,000 from the New Technology for Public Safety capital project fund.

A report on standards for portable temporary storage units, the use of which increased beginning in 2005.

Selection of a company to evaluate and implement a project to reduce energy usage and expenditures, as well as update inefficient or outdated equipment. Staff recommends Morrisville firm Schneider Electric.

A presentation on the design for the Evans Street gateway project, to be paid for by 2004 general obligation bonds for the center city.

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. on the third floor of City Hall.

Airport Authority "cleaning house" in light of state audit findings. Pitt-Greenville Airport (KPGV), Greenville, North Carolina.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)- A local airport director says his agency is cleaning house after a state audit revealed board members weren't doing their job. We first told you about former Pitt-Greenville Airport Director Jim Turcotte's hefty pension paycheck last February. Public outcry brought on a state audit that found he was giving himself unauthorized pay raises. Now, the Airport Authority is changing the way it does business from the inside out.

State Auditor Beth Wood says Jim Turcotte got away with giving himself pay raises because the board wasn't doing its job of overseeing him. Monday, the Airport Authority is presenting policy changes it's made since the audit to the city council.

When Jerry Vickers came in as director of Pitt-Greenville Airport in 2009, the state was wrapping up its audit of the agency. "I think it was fair in many respects and picky in many respects,” he said.

He says the audit spent too much time picking apart the board's policies and procedures. But State Auditor Beth Wood told us back in August that's where former Director Jim Turcotte was taking advantage of the system. "You've got this executive director who's just taking these liberties and nobody is questioning anything that he does and he's doing stuff that's never been approved by the board,” she said.

The audit found personnel policies had not been updated since the mid 1980s- allowing Turcotte to make his own employment contract. Through unauthorized cost-of-living adjustments, Turcotte was making more than $283,000, topping the salaries of top administrators at Charlotte-Douglas and Raleigh-Durham International Airports. "We agree that how would a board member in 2010 know that policy was passed in 1985 if you didn't have a set of standard board policies,” said Vickers. “So you can kind of see the disconnect there."

Following the auditor's recommendations, the board has established new personnel policies and revised its performance appraisal system. For the first time in the airport's history the board has a policy manual outlining its duties.

"We're cleaning house,” said Vickers. “So we should be the model."

Vickers says the organization didn't just survive the audit; it's better because of it. "We had preferred not to go through this but you think about all of our policies and system processes that have been rung out,” he said. “We've tweaked changes in our office handling of different kinds of records and things so we tried to learn something from the audit as well as respond to it."

The state audit found that in his last four years as director Jim Turcotte made nearly $72,000 in selling back vacation days. Now, for the first time in the airport's history the board has a policy manual outlining its duties. The manual makes it clear- the executive director has to report any and all un-used vacation days for the Authority to review.