Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nevada court rules in favor of fired state pilot

The Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the firing of a former state pilot who claimed he was terminated after raising safety concerns about another pilot who allowed his son to fly the state plane.

Justices reversed a 2009 ruling by a lower court judge, who said the Nevada Department of Transportation was justified in terminating James Richardson.

District Judge James Todd Russell earlier said Richardson violated safety standards by not immediately reporting that an intern had over-revved the state's Cessna Citation.

Richardson was fired from NDOT in 2008 over the incident, but he was reinstated when a hearing officer overturned the termination. Richardson was fired a second time after Russell's ruling, which was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Justices reversed the district court and referred the case back to Russell.

NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said the agency is not pleased with the high court decision. "We are going to evaluate some of our options with the attorney general's office," he said.

Gary Phillips, the former chief pilot, was demoted and has since retired.

Besides allowing his son to fly the plane, Phillips was criticized by a hearing officer for flying the aircraft with dangerously low fuel reserves, including once in 2007 with Gov. Jim Gibbons on board.

5 ways to survive a float plane accident

Orientation: Before takeoff , carefully note your surroundings in the aircraft. Identify the nearest door, as well as an alternative, in case your door becomes jammed. Note how the door handle operates. Make a mental road map of how you are going to reach the door handle. One way is to put your hand on your knee with your knee against the interior of the aircraft. Then use familiar references such as the armrest and door seam to guide your hand to the door handle. Try it now with your eyes closed. Listen to crew safety briefings.

Life Vest: If you have time before the crash, remove the life vest from its pouch and put it on. Be careful not to inflate the vest until you are clear of the aircraft to prevent it trapping you inside. If you don't have time, familiarize yourself with where the life vest is stored in hopes you can take it with you upon escape. Consider buying your own life vest, especially if you fly frequently on float planes on the B.C. coast.

Resist Panic: Brace yourself for impact. After the plane hits the water, wait for the movement to stop. Use these few seconds to think about your actions. Re-orient yourself with your surroundings. It might be possible to open a door immediately; if water pressure from outside is too great, you might have to wait until much of the cabin fills.

Escape: If you are immersed in water, revert to your mental road map. Find the door handle and open it. Only then -while keeping one hand on a reference point -unbuckle your seat belt and pull yourself out. Unbuckling your seat belt earlier could prove fatal should either the crash or the flood of water propel you to an area of the aircraft with which you are unfamiliar.

Hypothermia: You may not have grabbed your life vest. The plane may have sunk with the floats. Rescue may not be imminent. Reduce loss of body heat by holding the inner side of the arms tight against the sides of the chest while thighs are pressed together and raised to close off the groin area. Huddling with other survivors may be an option.

Airport board approves lease agreement for Frontier

Despite concerns about low-fare airlines pulling out of Knoxville or reducing service, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority approved a five-year lease agreement Wednesday for space to accommodate ground-handling operations for low-fare carrier Frontier Airlines at McGhee Tyson Airport.

Also Thursday, the Airport Authority approved a $15.5 million contract with Knoxville general contractor Denark Construction to build a vehicle maintenance, equipment storage and office building at McGhee Tyson.

After a week in which AirTran Airways announced it will end its Knoxville-to-Orlando service June 3, and in which a Frontier Airlines official said that airline, which began flights from McGhee Tyson in June, might scale back operations to seasonal service only, the Airport Authority wasted no time in approving the long-term lease agreement for Frontier.

Bill Marrison, Airport Authority president, told the board that American Eagle Airlines wants to lease an additional 189-square-foot space in the ticket office area of McGhee Tyson to accommodate the ground-handling operations for Frontier. This would be done as part of the standard five-year lease agreement and the additional rent would be $631.53 per month or $7,578.31 per year, he said. The board approved the lease unanimously.

The Airport Authority board also gave unanimous approval for the contract with Denark. The project would replace a maintenance facility built in 1982 with one that would provide for vehicle maintenance, electrical repair equipment, equipment maintenance, administrative offices and for snow removal equipment storage. The current facility is nearing the end of its useful life, Marrison said.

Mexican helicopter crash may have been caused by contaminated fuel

An Austin-based global intelligence company contends aircraft fuel may have been purposely contaminated to cause the Mexican government helicopter crash that killed a top cabinet member.

Interior Minister Jose Francisco Blake Mora, considered second in command in a country with no vice president, died as did all seven other people aboard the flight that went down last week outside Mexico City.

Fred Burton, vice president for intelligence at Stratfor, stressed to the Houston Chronicle that it is too soon to know for sure what caused the crash, and that faulty maintenance or bad weather could have played roles.

A company report published Wednesday claims that a confidential law-enforcement source in Mexico has said fuel contamination is among the leading concerns being checked out by investigators.

“It has been my experience that the facts will speak for themselves, if the investigators are allowed access to all of the data and the crime scene,” Burton said.

“Internal politics may come into play in this case due to the politics of the Mexican military aircraft carrying the interior minister, complicated by the fact that due to rampant corruption, trust in the Mexican government by the public is in short supply,” he continued.

Furthering conspiracy theories that run rampant in Mexico, the crash marked the second time that an aviation crash has taken the life of a member of President Felipe Calderón's cabinet. Reportedly, Calderon was to fly in the very same helicopter later that day, Burton said.

“If in fact that is true, that Calderón was slated to be on the helo that day, it does raise a lot of interesting questions and helps you focus your investigation in on certain things,” he said. “You'll want to rule out sabotage or foul play as soon as possible.”

The Mexican government did not have immediate comment on Stratfor's contention or the ongoing probe.

As part of the investigation, Mexico has asked for American help from the National Transportation Safety Board, which has had a team there since Saturday, said Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman.

Video of the crash site shows the helicopter broke into many pieces, but does not appear to have been extensively charred.

“With the helicopter going down in Mexico carrying the interior minister, it is easy to jump to conclusions and suspect foul play,” Burton said. “However, the investigator needs to keep an open mind and proceed methodically through the investigation.”

Juan Camilo Mourino, who held the same post as Blake Mora, died in a plane crash three years ago.

Ramon Martin Huerta, who was the top law enforcement officer under Calderón's predecessor, Vicente Fox, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005.

Rayvon Williams got the job: New Manager to Pilot the Watsonville Municipal Airport (KWVI), California

A new era has taken flight at the Watsonville Municipal Airport.

Rayvon Williams, a commercial-rated pilot and flight instructor who has served as the Watsonville Airport Safety Officer and FAA Safety Team Lead Representative for the past five years, was named Airport Manager, city officials announced Wednesday.

Williams has been project manager at the airport for the past several months, assisting with operations and special projects. He replaces longtime airport manager Don French, who had the job for 14 years and worked for the city for nearly 40.

Williams beat out four other applicants for the job.

He's well-educated. Williams holds a master of science degree in aviation aerospace systems safety, a master of arts degree in business administration and is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives.

Williams also has a background in business. He has more than 20 years experience working with Compaq, Hewlett Packard and Consera.

Williams takes control of the airport at a challenging time. The city's long-debated General Plan is back to the drawing board and one of the hottest topics is how to plan for growth—or not—in the Buena Vista area near the airport.

She said, "that was my last plane ride". Woman survives crash of C401, N531MH. Gladewater Municipal Airport (07F). Gladewater, Texas.

Courtland—  A woman in Lawrence County is nursing a bump on her head and a nasty bruise on her arm from the first vehicle crash of her life. The vehicle involved? A Cessna plane.

Karen Hitt and four others were in the process of landing in Texas, when something went terribly wrong.

Hitt looks at video and pictures of the pile of twisted metal she crawled out of. On Wednesday, authorities moved the wreckage of the plane that crashed Saturday near Gladewater Municipal Airport in Texas.

"That was my last plane ride," said Hitt.

At 50 years old, she says she's never been involved in a crash of any kind until November 12th around 5 pm..

"We just started bouncing a lot more than should have been," she recalled. "I knew something was happening, but I didn't know what. I just went to hollaring 'What's wrong? What's wrong?.. And of course nobody had the time to say, you know no one could tell me anything and it was just over. It just stopped."

Hitt, who asked not to be on camera, described it all, sitting in her boss's office.

Her boss, Tim Taylor, who owns Taylor Construction in Courtland, was the pilot. He's been flying for at least 10 years.

Hitt says when the trouble started, Taylor shut off the engines midair, keeping the plane from flipping over.

"He was that good of a pilot," said Hitt. "He knew to shut it down and that's what saved all of us."

Taylor, his wife Cathy, her parents and Hitt all survived, although Taylor's mother-in-law is in critical condition.

It was the end of a day trip to Louisiana. Hitt drove back to Alabama the next day and says she'll never board another plane again.

"My feet's gotta be on the ground. No more chances," she said.

The NTSB is collecting information and plans to release a report in a few weeks. Hitt says it was very windy at the time and believes that's what caused Taylor to lose control. The Taylors say they'll stay in Texas until Taylor's mother-in-law improves.
  Regis#: 531MH        Make/Model: C402      Description: 401, 402, UTILILINER, BUSINESSLINER
  Date: 11/12/2011     Time: 2230

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Minor     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: GLADEWATER   State: TX   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   1     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   4     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   4     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

WEATHER: 2253Z 18011 10 CLR 22/13 A2991

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Landing      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: DALLAS, TX  (SW05)                    Entry date: 11/14/2011 

Philippine aircraft makes emergency landing

NAGPUR: Just three days after a JetLite flight made an emergency landing at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport here, an aircraft of Philippines-based Zest Airways made a similar landing at the city airport after it developed a major problem in its pressurization system.

The commercial aeroplane was on its way to Bangkok from Abu Dhabi after an overhaul. Only six crew members were on board.

The pressurization system pumps compressed air into the cabin to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for crew and passengers when flying at high altitude.

Pressurization is essential over 10,000 feet (3,000m) above sea level to protect crew and passengers from the risk of a number of physiological problems caused by the low air pressure outside. It also serves to generally increase passenger comfort.

A source said, "After detecting the snag over Nagpur airspace, the pilot of Zest Airways immediately contacted Nagpur ATC and sought permission to execute an emergency landing." As per standard operating procedure, MIL and airport authorities prepared the airfield along with emergency vehicles, including fire fighting personnel, ambulances and security staff. The plane safely made it to the airport and executed a normal landing at 12.38pm.

On Sunday morning, 137 air passengers and six crew members, including team Anna Hazare core committee member Kiran Bedi had a providential escape when the left engine of the plane developed a technical snag.

U.S. airlines seek to block Air India jet purchases

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - U.S. airlines sought on Wednesday to block $3.4 billion in pending taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for Air India to buy Boeing Co jetliners.

The Air Transport Association, the leading U.S. trade group for major carriers, sought an injunction in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop financing arranged by the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The Ex-Im bank is an independent agency that finances sales of American exports to international purchasers.

Airlines contend low-interest credit assistance to foreign carriers violates federal law. They also say that such financing puts them at a competitive disadvantage and that Air India's losses and management troubles should disqualify it from financing.

Air India ordered up to 50 long-range Boeing jets worth about $6 billion in 2005.

Foreign carriers, the U.S. airlines also contend, have added capacity and gained market share on international routes to and from the United States.

"We believe that it is time for Ex-Im Bank to revise its practices and consider the impact on the U.S. airline industry and its employees," said ATA Chief Executive Nick Calio.

"We repeatedly have sought additional information about the timing and details of the Air India delivery, but the Ex-Im Bank has refused to provide it. ATA has no choice but to seek judicial intervention in order to prevent our members from suffering irreparable injury," Calio said.

The Ex-Im Bank said it believes the ATA lawsuit is without merit.

"Export credit financing ensures American companies and American workers have a level playing field in the increasingly competitive and challenging global markets," Ex-Im Bank spokeswoman Maura Policelli said.

Boeing had no immediate comment.

The case is the Air Transport Association of America Inc v. Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Rescue crews investigating 'suspicious powder' aboard Southwest flight at Palm Beach International Airport; plane evacuated

WEST PALM BEACH — Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews are investigating reports of a "suspicious chemical powder" on a Southwest Airlines 737 jet this afternoon.

A flight crew member noticed the powder inside a tissue box on the plane, which was bound for Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Fire-rescue crews were dispatched to Palm Beach International Airport at 4:21 p.m.

The plane is on the tarmac and has been evacuated, said Capt. Don DeLucia, Fire-Rescue spokesman. A staging area has been set up at Gate B3.

There were 137 passengers aboard the plane, which seats about 140. The passengers are being kept on the tarmac while crews conduct their tests.

It was unclear what time it was to depart from PBIA.

Two crew members appear to have been exposed to the powder, Chase Scott, a spokesman for the city of West Palm Beach, told WPTV-5. They are being detained on the plane until hazardous-material workers can examine them.

The B Gate remains open for other flights.

Airplane parts business takes flight

When Scott Tinker hears that someone's got an airplane to sell him, the Tempe business owner takes it seriously.

And when the managing partner of ITS Infinity Trading looks out at his 20,000-square-foot facility that houses large commercial airplanes and thousands of aircraft parts worth millions of dollars, he still chuckles remembering when he and college buddy Ryan Kohnke started the company nine years ago, in a 10-foot by 10-foot spare bedroom in Tinker's home.

At the time, the friends and business partners were selling airplane parts to carriers needing anything from seats to key engine components. Stepping around and reaching over one another became part of the everyday routine.

"We shared one big desk that took up the whole bedroom. A dresser was our shipping table, and it was in the closet, so that was our shipping department," Tinker said.

Tinker had previously run the sales division of a company that sold and purchased airplane parts. When the company's owner decided to focus on the purchasing side, Tinker reached an agreement with him to strike out on his own and sell what was left in the inventory.

Tinker called Kohnke, who was working for a computer and technology company and who shared his aspiration of being a business owner.

"If we started the business, it had to be no-holds-barred. We took a big risk, a gamble, with failure not being an option," Tinker said.

When Tinker and Kohnke launched ITS in May 2002, the airline industry was reeling from the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

They sold their entire inventory, starting with an initial customer base of about 20. Today, ITS has 6,400 worldwide customers in its database.

"If we can start a company in one of the worst times in this industry, we can make it through anything," Tinker said.

For the first five years, ITS purchased surplus and obsolete parts from manufacturers, airlines and other brokers. Parts were overhauled after being removed from planes that were near the end of their lifecycle.

In 2007, a decision to purchase a complete airplane expanded their business model and allowed them to better understand the mechanics of an airplane's components. It also proved fortuitous, given the economic downturn that was right around the corner.

Tinker called that first purchase, a MD80 from Spirit Airlines, the launching point of ITS. Recently, the company purchased its 17th aircraft, a Boeing 737.

Having access to overhauled parts is valued by airline companies in a time when they do not have the financial resources to purchase new planes or parts directly from manufacturers. Being able to dismantle large commercial planes and sell everything from an upright tray table to entire engines to airlines is a service ITS has embraced and thrives in. The company has since secured consignment agreements with some carriers, Tinker said.

Airlines are less willing to pay the sticker cost for a brand-new brake from the manufacturer when they can get //one used that works just as well from ITS for half that.

"Guys like us are in business because the cost of operating an airline is really expensive," he said. "It's always been a way for airlines to lower their costs."

Tinker credited the company's success to a hard-working and ambitious staff. Over the years, Tinker and Kohnke have had opportunities to rapidly expand their business and explore more facets of the industry.

Being selective about how they choose to grow and implementing strategies that balance logic and risk has been a conscious effort, one that has contributed to the company's success, marketing manager Mark Colletti said.

"Not going too fast or going to slow. It's been critical to balance our future with where you are now, what you want to do and taking the road that gets you there," he said.

Tinker added, "It's being good at what we know and not trying to take on everything. Some of our competitors sell military planes or helicopters and it's too much. We stay close to our mission."

Competitive pricing and great customer service are among the reasons Ann Justiz, vice president for Safe Fuel Systems, a Florida company that overhauls aircraft fuel components, has worked with ITS for eight years.

"They are innovative and always trying to do something different. They adapt and are very proactive," she said. "Some people in this industry are not sincere. They are sincere and ethical."

Air Transport Components President/CEO Roy Hyde has bought from, sold to and overhauled parts for ITS since 2002. Hyde, whose business is also in Tempe, said that if Tinker and Kohnke continue to make the good business decisions that got them here, they will maintain success.

"In the airplane-parts industry, you always think about your family being on those planes," Hyde said. "Those guys always make the right decisions. It's not all about the dollar with them, and if they keep doing that, they'll be around for a long time."

ITS Infinity Trading

Where: 1310 Drivers Way, Tempe.

Employees: 21.

Interesting fact: The global aircraft, engines, parts and equipment market is projected to reach $122 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts Inc.

More details: 480-940-1037,

Bombardier says North American workers have nothing to fear by Morocco plant

MONTREAL - Bombardier Aerospace says its North American workforce has nothing to fear by plans to spend about US$200 million to add a low-cost manufacturing plant in Morocco.

The world's third-largest aerospace manufacturer signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday with the North African country to build the plant in stages over eight years.

Under study for a couple of years, Bombardier hasn't finalized what it will manufacture in Morocco. It is looking at small simple structure assemblies like floor sections, panels and flight control services.

"This is more actually looking at reducing our reliance on third-party facilities. It's a good way for us to bring a lot of manufacturing capacity back to our organization," spokeswoman Haley Dunne said from the Moroccan capital of Rabat.

Dunne said the company continues to invest in its current facilities as it looks to expand its product line in civil and business aircraft.

"It's important for us to keep investing in those facilities too and investing in those workforces," she said in an interview.

Aerospace president Guy Hachey, who led a delegation of 10 company executives to Morocco, said globalization of the industry has opened up new markets and new opportunities.

Morocco provides lower manufacturing, shipping and transportation costs, proximity to Europe and a commitment from the government to develop the country's aerospace industry.

The Montreal-based company has extended it presence around the world by adding customer service centres and opening its first low-cost centre five years ago in Mexico.

"By establishing its own fully integrated manufacturing facility in Morocco, Bombardier Aerospace will serve as a catalyst for the aerospace industry in the country and will look for opportunities to share some of its knowledge and complex manufacturing processes," Hachey said in a news release.

The exact location for the plant has not been announced.

Manufacturing is scheduled to start in 2013. By the end of 2020, employment in Morocco is expected to reach 850 skilled and trained workers.

Bombardier also considered Turkey but selected Morocco because it has a thriving aerospace industry that has attracted many of the world's top players.

Morocco's aerospace sector employs about 8,000 people, mainly in the Casablanca region.

"After our evaluation, Morocco checks all the right boxes, it met the most of our criteria and it was the most favourable choice for us," Dunne said.

Details of the government support are confidential.

The project was announced at the Dubai Air Show, but reports of the venture surfaced in May when Hachey spoke to an industrial conference attended by Morocco's king.

Bombardier Aerospace has manufacturing facilities in Montreal, Toronto, Wichita, Kan., Belfast Northern Ireland and Mexico.

About half of Bombardier Aerospace's 30,000 workforce is based in the Montreal area.

Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial said the Moroccan venture will likely follow the model established in Mexico by starting small and moving labour intensive work to the lower-cost jurisdiction.

He doesn't believe there will be any impact on employment at Bombardier's North American facilities, which has grown since it opened the operations in Mexico

"Bombardier's got some ambitious growth plans here with the CSeries and the new Learjet and Globals, there's going to be lots of work," he said in an interview.

"They're not going to move aircraft assembly operations to Morocco. That's not happening any time soon and it's not happening in Mexico any time soon."

Doerksen said Bombardier's investment is small and will take awhile before there's any impact on its results.

Although Bombardier sees big sales opportunities in Asia, Dunne said the company has no "definite plans" to add another manufacturing site in this part of the world.

Bombardier is a plane and trainmaker with US$17.7 billion of annual revenues.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier's shares lost six cents at $4.25 in Wednesday trading.

Aircraft slams into motorcyclist on interior airstrip. Imbaimadai Airport, Guyana

A motorcyclist late Wednesday afternoon lost one of his arms when a plane slammed into him on landing at the Imbaimadai Airstrip.

Well-placed sources say that preliminary information is that the privately owned Piper aircraft struck the man as he rode across the runway in front of the aircraft.

The man's condition is listed as critical.

He is being air-dashed to the city in a Air Services Limited aircraft.

The pilot and owner of the eight-seater Piper Cherokee is Bernard Singh. The registration of the aircraft is N61549

The pilot and the passengers are said to be badly shaken.