Sunday, December 04, 2011

Airlines’ flight license revoked; monopoly possible

The flight license of Indochina Airlines (ICA) has officially been revoked by the Ministry of Transport, said a state official from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV).

The license withdrawal was executed because the private carrier has not operated for 12 months, said Dinh Thang, deputy head of the CAAV.

ICA, the first Vietnamese private carrier to obtain a license, in May 2008, was established by composer Ha Dung, who also acted as the airline’s general manager.

ICA began flying on November 25, 2008 with two leased Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

But it hasn’t flown since November 2009, thanks to financial problems stemming from the fact that ICA was asked by the local government to repay over $1.3 million in debt to the Ho Chi Minh City-based Viet A bank.

Potential Jetstar-VNA merger

In other airline news, the Ministry of Finance has proposed a plan to transfer the entire state capital in low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific (JP) for its business restructuring, said the CAAV.

Accordingly, the budget airline may be forced to merge with the Vietnam Airlines Corp (VNA).

If this plan is adopted, VNA will become by far the largest Vietnamese carrier, with more than 90 percent of domestic market share.

The major stakes in Jetstar are held by the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC), with 69.93 percent; other foreign partners with 27 percent; and the Saigontourist Holding Co and Luong Hoai Nam, former general manager of JP, who hold the remainder of the shares..

Jetstar Pacific began in 2004 as Pacific Airlines Co, a carrier in which VNA held an 86 percent state, and was founded by Saigontourist.

After VNA's capital contribution in Pacific Airlines was transferred to SCIC, Pacific Airlines chose the low-cost airline model and became a rival of VNA in the domestic aviation market.

The turning-point for Pacific Airlines came in 2007, when Australia’s Qantas aviation group acquired a 27 percent stake in Pacific Airlines and changed the carrier’s name to Jetstar Pacific.

The remaining majority stake in Jetstar Pacific was then held by SCIC and Saigontourist.

Currently, together with VNA and JPA, the local aviation market has two other small carriers, namely Air Mekong, with four aircraft; and VietJet Air, which will start flights with its three airplanes in December.

So far, VNA still holds about 80 percent of the local market share while JPA holds over 17 percent, with the very small remaining market share belonging to newly-established carriers.

Both Air Mekong and VietJet Air are recent additions to the national airline scene and operate on a very small scale.

Ceiling airfares blamed for increasing losses

All Vietnamese airlines providing domestic flights, including Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific Airlines (JPA) and AirMekong, have reported financial losses, while placing the blame on the ceiling airfares set by the Ministry of Finance, according to Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper.

Fuel prices have increased by 40 percent so far this year, while the ceiling airfares have been adjusted very slowly.

Managers of the national flag air carrier VNA have said many times that the airline has been incurring losses with domestic flights, and that the losses can be only offset by profits made from international flights.

It has been reported to the CAAV that VNA forecasts a loss of around VND1.8 trillion for domestic flights this year.

JPA incurred a loss of $10 million, or some VND200 billion, in 2010.

The CAAV has recently submitted to the Ministry of Transport two new airfare solutions.

If the proposals are approved by the ministry, the ceiling level would increase by at least 50 percent from the currently applied level.

With an aim to protect consumers, Vietnam is still applying the ceiling airfare mechanism.
Meanwhile, airlines can offer different airfares after considering their business plans so as to obtain reasonable profits.

Experts argue that, while the low ceiling airfare is certainly a factor in the airline’s losses, the companys also need to reconsider their management skills.

Under current circumstances, the airlines which have better management methods would have bigger advantages than those with inferior operations.

For example Air Asia, a Malaysian budget airline, still makes profits while maintaining competitive airfares in comparison with other airlines.

Experts believe that the minimizing of services on flights, plus good expense management skills, have helped make the airline profitable.

A report released in October 2010 showed that the revenue per seat of Air Asia was $4.87, while the expenses were $3.52. Meanwhile, the figures for JPA were $4.84 and $5.07, respectively, according to the Centre For Aviation.

'Lima has benefited our defence industry'. Significant business deals will be signed during this year’s exhibition, defence minister tells critics.

A worker putting the finishing touches to an Airbus model at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre in Langkawi.

THE Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) exhibition is an asset to the country and its people.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Lima has benefited the local defence industry since its first show on the island in 1991.

"In 1991, only three of the exhibitors were local companies. Today, 44 per cent of the exhibitors are local defence companies.

"This shows the relevance of Lima. The critics should come here and see for themselves," he said after his visit to the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre.

Zahid said there would be a number of significant business deals that would be signed during Lima 2011.

He added that there was a huge number of representatives coming from Asean countries.

"The interest is due to the collaboration in the Asean defence industry, and Malaysia has also positioned itself as a hub for the export of defence equipment manufactured here to companies in Asean countries," he said. Zahid spent about an hour visiting the MIEC yesterday afternoon.

"This is my third visit here... I am satisfied that 95 percent of the work is done."

Zahid added that 17 defence ministers from Asean and other countries have confirmed their attendance to Lima 2011.

"Today, the Indonesian defence minister arrived and others will be arriving tomorrow."

Zahid called on Malaysians from all walks of life to visit Lima 2011.

He added that for the first time, visitors would also get the chance to go aboard the numerous ships on display.

Worker fired after refusing to load dog on plane. Nevada air cargo worker loses job after reporting animal abuse

Lynn Jones was a baggage handler at Reno-Tahoe International Airport when she saw an emaciated hunting dog, its paws bloody, its body covered with sores.

The listless pointer was lying in a pet carrier in the cargo area of the airport on Nov. 15, waiting to be shipped to Texas.

"The Transportation Safety Authority officers couldn't even get the dog to stand up to be X-rayed," said Jones, who was then an employee of Airport Terminal Services, the facility's contractor.

"Everyone who saw it, the TSA people, the Airport Police officers, the girls at the ticket counter, was concerned. The dog was so weak and torn up. It didn't look like it could survive the flight."

Jones said her supervisor told her to load the dog on the plane because the animal's paperwork was in order and its condition wasn't her concern. She said she was warned she would lose her job if she kept carrying on about the dog.

"I was crying," she said. "I kept saying that dog could not be put on a plane."

The Airport Police called Washoe County Regional Animal Services, which took custody of the pointer and provided it with veterinary care. Jones said animal control officers also were appalled at the dog's condition.

Jones said she was fired from her job on the spot.

"(My supervisor) kept yelling, 'That's it, you're done, you are out of here, go home,'" Jones said. "I left."

Officials of Airport Terminal Services, which is based in St. Louis, did not return calls for comment. Jones said when she called the company after the incident, she was told she was no longer an employee because she had "abandoned" her job.

"I didn't abandon anything; I was told to leave," she said.

When Jones went to animal services last week to get a copy of the incident report, officials said the document is confidential. They also declined to provide the Reno Gazette-Journal with any information about the incident or other recent animal abuse cases because "Cooney's Law," passed this year by the Legislature, keeps cases' details secret.

"The animal control people were wonderful at the airport, and right after they took the dog, they said it was in very bad shape, but it would probably pull through," Jones said. "After that, they could tell me nothing."

She said shipping documents indicated that the dog was owned by a hunter in Texas who keeps it in a kennel and has it shipped to the places he hunts.

"I hope he didn't get the dog back," Jones said.

The dog was shipped back to Texas after being nursed back to health and examined by a veterinarian, airport officials said. Under Cooney's Law, officials said, they can't release the incident report or the photos of the animal, but said they were sickened by its condition.

"In all my years here, this is the first time I'm thoroughly disgusted over what I understand to be the situation this animal was put in," said Krys Bart, CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, who also is on the board of the Nevada Humane Society. "... I'm proud of (airport police) officers. They had an affirmative responsibility to deal with this, and that's what they did."

She said she is frustrated that, under the new law, she can't share the report or the photos with the public. She said she was out of town when the incident occurred but determined later that the dog had been abused prior to arriving at the airport.

Bart said Jones was not an Airport Authority employee and noted that Jones said she was fired, but the contractor said she abandoned her job.

"I'd like to know the truth," she said, "but I don't want to get in the middle of a personnel matter."

Jones said she is looking for another job.

She lives in Lockwood with three dogs, three cats and a bird, all animals she rescued throughout the years. She is a former blackjack dealer and once owned a dog grooming service. She worked as a baggage handler at the airport for about five and a half years and copies of her employee evaluations describe her as an exemplary employee, dedicated and hard-working.

She said her job loss has been a hardship, but she has no regrets.

"I loved my job at the airport," she said last week. "Getting the bags to the right flights was challenging, the work is very physical and the people were great. I wouldn't have traded that job for anything. I wouldn't have risked it for anything.

"But I just couldn't turn my back on that dog ... My supervisor said it wasn't my concern, but animal abuse is everyone's concern who sees it."

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal,

Dayton International Airport: Financing a hurdle for airport hotel. City asks for a new round of proposals by December 30.

DAYTON — Dayton International Airport officials face a stiff challenge in their latest attempt to find a developer that can obtain financing to build a hotel at the airport, commercial real estate executives said.

“The economy has slightly improved for hotel financing, but I still think it’s going to be very difficult,” said Terry Baltes, president of Baltes Commercial Realty in Washington Twp.

The Dayton airport’s first try lagged for more than a year and fizzled in October when three banks that were evaluating the project decided not to loan the money to a Cincinnati-area developer. The airport has asked for a new round of proposals that developers must submit by 4 p.m. Dec. 30.

Terrence G. Slaybaugh, Dayton’s director of aviation, wants a developer to build on the two-acre site that was cleared when the city demolished the 40-year-old Dayton Airport Hotel this year. It would be convenient to PSA Airlines Inc.’s corporate headquarters and its crew training facility at the airport, he said.

Slaybaugh said he has received calls expressing interest from several developers, whom he declined to identify.

“I am optimistic that we’ll be able to put something together,” he said.

Half a dozen representatives of developers or construction subcontractors showed up this week for a non-mandatory meeting to discuss the project with airport officials.

Construction loans are hard to come by, and hotel construction financing is even tougher because businesses and leisure travelers tend to cut back on travel in lean times, commercial real estate brokers said. It is critical that the city-owned airport attract a developer who can inspire confidence in potential lenders, brokers said.

“I think that has more to do with the quality of the developer, than the timing in the financial market,” said Mark Fornes, a partner in Mark Fornes Realty Inc. “The key to getting that deal done is finding a good, reputable hotel developer with the track record necessary to do the development.”

“The stars must align for the right developer, right brand, right sponsor, feasibility and financing availability,” said Eric Belfrage, vice president of CBRE Group Inc.’s hotels and investment properties unit in Columbus.

Volcanic Eruption Closes Indonesian Airport

TERNATE, Indonesia December 5, 2011 (AP)

A volcano has erupted in eastern Indonesia, forcing the closure of a nearby airport and blanketing villages with thick ash. No injuries have been reported.

State volcanologist Surono says Mount Gamalama spewed clouds of thick gray ash into the air late Sunday. Slow moving red lava was also visible at its peak.

Surono, who uses only one name, says an airport in Ternate, around 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the volcano, was closed Monday.

Gamalama's last major eruption was in 2003. No deaths were reported then.

Indonesia has about 500 volcanoes. Of these, 128 are active and 65 are listed as dangerous.

Charges in copter crash shock victims' families

The co-pilot and sole survivor in a fatal U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crash off Washington state more than a year ago faces charges of negligent homicide and other alleged violations of the code of military justice, which will be heard at a hearing beginning Wednesday in Juneau.

JUNEAU, Alaska — More than a year had passed since a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crash off Washington state killed three of Lt. Lance Leone's colleagues.

The sole survivor and co-pilot, Leone had recovered from his injuries and been cleared for flight retraining, his father said,

But that never happened. Instead, Leone was charged with negligent homicide and other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in the July 2010 accident.

The decision stunned Leone's family and friends as well as the parents of one of the victims, Brett Banks.

"We're very upset about it," Banks' mother, Sandra, said by telephone from her home in Green River, Wyo. "We don't think it should be happening. Another family's being destroyed and it's breaking our hearts."

The charges against Leone, which the Coast Guard hasn't publicly specified in detail, will be heard beginning Wednesday in Juneau.

Both sides will be allowed to make arguments during the Article 32 hearing with an investigating officer making eventual recommendations to the Coast Guard's commanding officer in Alaska, Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, for the next course of action.

Possibilities include dismissal of the charges, administrative action or court-martial, Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow said.

Leone faces a possible maximum penalty that includes 7 ½ years in prison if convicted on all courts at a court-martial.

The 31-year-old Leone, who has earned a long list of Coast Guard awards and accolades, including commendation medals, was the co-pilot of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flying from Astoria, Ore., to the crew's base in Sitka, Alaska, when it crashed off La Push, Clallam County, last year.

Witnesses told media outlets the helicopter was flying low and hit power cables strung 1,900 feet from La Push to James Island. Leone was pulled from the water by good Samaritans.

Leone, who is serving in an administrative position, wasn't available for comment. But his father, George, said his son wasn't at the controls and did everything he was supposed to be doing as navigator that day.

George Leone claimed the helicopter hit unmarked wires, which had orange warning balls near the poles instead of dotting the span.

"And the sole survivor, they're trying to blame him," said George Leone, who is from Palm Bay, Fla., but has been at his son's Sitka home lately. "It's just unbelievable."

The lines were maintained by the Coast Guard, and it wasn't the first accident involving them, according to court records: There was a fatal accident in 1961 and another collision in the late-1950s, according to a 1965 federal appeals decision.

That decision, in the 1961 case, found the Coast Guard failed to exercise reasonable care by not having warning devices installed but said the probability of resulting harm wasn't great enough to find this constituted "wanton misconduct."

Wadlow said he couldn't answer questions about whether or how the lines were marked at the time of the 2010 crash, citing the investigation. He said that issue will be discussed at the hearing.

Leone faces charges of negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and destruction of government property. The charge sheet alleges Leone failed to properly navigate the helicopter to avoid charted hazards and that he negligently failed to ensure it was flying at a higher altitude. It also alleges that he did "without proper authority, through neglect, destroy by causing the crash of CG-6017," an aircraft valued at $18.3 million.

The negligent-homicide charges are related to the deaths of Banks, 33, of Rock Springs, Wyo., and Adam C. Hoke, 40, of Great Falls, Mont. There is no charge related to the third victim, the pilot, Lt. Sean Krueger, 33, of Seymour, Conn.

Leone's civilian attorney, John Smith, who is part of his defense team, said the government hasn't explained why that is. Wadlow said the charges were based upon the evidence collected. Ostebo, the commanding officer in Alaska, said he couldn't discuss the circumstances surrounding the case.

Sandra Banks said she was told by someone with the Coast Guard in early October that it was a two-pilot helicopter, so both Leone and Krueger were considered pilots. She couldn't recall who that person was but said she told him she considered the accident a circumstance of improperly marked lines. He told her there was new evidence.

Banks said she saw Leone this summer, and that she and her husband felt like they had closure after visiting the crash site and attending a memorial in Sitka in August. She said they consider the Leones — Leone has a wife and two young children — family.

"We just felt good about it after that, like we could go on," she said. Now, "we're hoping and praying he will be absolved, exonerated, that nothing will come of this."

Cathay Pacific Airways Expects ‘Busy’ Christmas Travel

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Asia’s largest international carrier, expects a “very busy” Christmas travel season that will help offset a continued cargo slowdown.

“The Christmas season is looking quite ok,” Chief Executive Officer John Slosar said today in a Bloomberg TV interview in Hong Kong. “All flights are very busy.”

The carrier, based in Hong Kong, boosted passenger numbers 3.8 percent from a year earlier in October, as economic growth in China and the rest of Asia spurs demand for business and leisure travel. That helped the carrier withstand an 18 percent plunge in cargo tonnage caused by U.S. and European retailers ordering fewer goods ahead of the holidays shopping season.

“Somebody canceled Christmas as really the cargo volume hasn’t been there,” Slosar said. Demand will continue to be “soft” into the first few months of next year, he said.

Freight volumes surged in 2010 as U.S. and European retailers rushed to rebuild inventories following the end of the global recession.

The carrier, which gets about a third of sales from cargo, will boost freight capacity as much as 20 percent next year as it adds new Boeing Co. 747-8 freighters following production delays. Passenger capacity will increase 13 percent, the airline told analysts last month.

Cathay was unchanged at HK$13.56 in early Hong Kong trading. The stock has dropped 37 percent this year, compared with a 17 percent decline for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

The carrier also last week agreed to give Hong Kong-based staff a 5 percent pay increase next year, along with a one-month bonus. The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union, which represents more than 5,800 cabin crew, accepted the offer.

Air freight security system is government conspiracy: Activist

The implementation of a new air freight security management system for both domestic and international cargo was a conspiracy between the government and the private sector, an activist said on Sunday.

Uchok Sky Khadafi, the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency’s (Fitra) coordinator for investigation and advocacy, said that the conspiracy could be seen from tariff that had been set by the private sector.

“The government is ‘selling’ a security policy to the private sector, which is the sole benefactor. Increasing security is the task of the government and it [the new air freight management system] should have been free of charge such as in Thailand,” Uchok said.

He predicted that regulated agents were going to charge between Rp 440 (4.8 US cents) and Rp 1,150 per kilogram in the near future.

“The country would suffer financial losses in the region of Rp 368 billion [$40.8 million] per year if the tariff was Rp 1,150,” he said.

He said that the government should invest in X-ray machines to inspect cargo, using the state budget instead of asking the private sector to provide it.

In addition, he said that such a management system was not in line with the 2009 Aviation Law. Thus, the government needed to amend the law before implementing the system.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said that the new cargo security management was already in line with the aviation law to ensure and improve aviation security.

“The law’s Article 217 on aviation security stipulates an obligation to check cargo. This system has a fundamental base,” Bambang told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

He also said that the system was in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Annex 17 titled “Security: Safeguarding International Civil Aviation Acts of Unlawful Interference”. For state signatories to this, the primary objective is the safety of passengers, ground personnel and crew as well as protecting the general public against any acts of unlawful interference.

“Contracted states will apply standards required and recommended practices that are contained in Annex 17 to all civil aviation operations,” he said.

He also said that a tariff as high as Rp 1,150 was not going to be implemented for international cargo.

“The small team has recently been able to formulate the structure of new tariff that will be implemented immediately and the tariff fits the facilities given by the agents,” he said.

The team includes officials from the transportation, trade and finance ministries, the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), business associations and regulated agents.

The current agents are PT Angkasa Pura II, Birotika Semesta, Pajajaran Global Service, PT Ghita Avia Trans, PT Duta Angkasa Prima Kargo and PT Fajar Anugerah Semesta.

Pandu Siwi Sentosa and TNT are going to join the current six regulated agents as soon as they are able to provide X-ray machines, Bambang said.

The cargo-security system has been implemented for domestic destinations since Sept. 3, with charges of between Rp 250 to Rp 350 per kilogram.

For international destinations, the implementation started on Oct. 16 with the old tariff, Rp 61, but a month later it rose to Rp 450 to Rp 600 per kilogram. (nfo)

RAW VIDEO: Somali pirates arrested after Royal Navy helicopter chase

The Royal Navy arrest seven suspected pirates after a helicopter-led chase in
the Indian Ocean.

US starts pulling drones from Shamsi Airbase

QUETTA - A senior official in Balochistan government on Sunday has confirmed that two US special aircraft arrived at Shamsi Airbase located in Balochistan’s Washuk district in connection with measures to vacate the base after deadline given to US by the Pakistani government. Shamsi airbase is located some 400 kilometers, southwest of the provincial capital and it is at a distance of around 150 kilometres from Afghan border.

This base was being utilized by rulers of UAE for hunting of Houbara Bustard but after US attack on Afghanistan the base was handed over to Washington. This base is being used US Army and CIA for military purposes in Afghanistan and some quarters had alleged that it was also being used for US drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan. Pakistan had asked the US authorities for vacating the base after NATO fighter jets and helicopters bombed two border posts in Mohmand agency near the Afghan border and killed 24 soldiers on November 26. When TheNation contacted a senior official of Balochistan government, he confirmed arrival of two US airplanes on this base. ‘Two US airplanes had landed at Shamsi Airbase on Sunday and both aircraft after remaining there for some hours flew back,’ he said, adding ‘indications suggest that this base is being vacated’. On the other hand, a local journalist in Kharan told this scribe that two US aircraft were seen landing at the base. He said that security of the area had also been beefed up in the wake of reports of evacuation of Shamsi Airbase.

Agencies add: US military personnel stationed at Shamsi Airbase have started to leave after the country’s government told them to go. “Two US cargo planes reached Shamsi Airport and the loading of the equipment and other cargo items has also started,” an official privy to developments at Shamsi base told NBC News.

Security personnel have taken measures outside the airbase and all roads in the area have been closed.

More than 70 US Marines and CIA operatives who were present at Shamsi Base are due to leave.

Naval Air Museum Needs Help

It looks like a military antique store where nothing is for sale. But it's a museum trying to tell us a story. And quite a story it has to tell — from before the Navy arrived in Alameda to when it left, and the wars and military missions the Naval Air Station was a part of. But after a decade and a half of all-volunteer efforts, a recent open house attracted only a trickle of interested patrons.

A change of strategy is necessary, and attracting corporate, philanthropic, or individual benefactors could help. The addition of archiving, exhibition, technology, and grant writing skills could transform the museum into a must-see stop for visitors to Alameda Point.

Board Chairman Kin Robles sees the museum's potential storytelling experience, attractiveness as a student field trip destination, and success as a self-sustaining museum as all integrally linked. "What we really need is direct linkage to the school system. We've got to build the educational program that meets the state curriculum needs that are currently in place. Once we can do that, our mission here is really going to, I think, hit full stride. It's a critical need right now, and it's difficult to plug yourself into that system."

The museum is located next to the Seaplane Lagoon in Building 77, one of four former command centers at the base. The building and its contents, along with the nostalgic music playing in the background, capture the feel of an era.

The museum showcases artifacts and exhibits, such as model airplanes and famous ships, uniforms, weapons, automobiles, etc. It displays fascinating framed photos of the city of Alameda's development, illustrating that the base was once a bustling area. Newspaper clippings and magazines covering the current events of the day are sure to pique one's interest. The museum also continues to accept additional donated memorabilia.

The most remarkable donation to arrive recently is a three-foot long, radio-controlled scale model of the Pan Am China Clipper, capable of flying with its own engines. The China Clipper, classified as a flying boat, departed from Alameda Point on its maiden voyage to Manila in November 1935, inaugurating the fi rst commercial transpacific air service delivering passengers and mail.

The museum wants to one day tell a professional cohesive story of the former base's history, including the role the Coast Guard and Marines played there. It has made headway in organizing its collection, but many artifacts are not yet in any particular order. "You can't organize it until you know exactly what you have," said board member Cmdr. Alan Tubbs.

The museum's board has recently enlisted a librarian and an archivist to catalog items. But managing the inventory is a huge undertaking and, as of now, the museum has no access to databases and no equipment to scan materials. They need interns from accredited library or museum science programs, those who can do historical research, and grant writers. More volunteers, visitors and new members are welcome.

The museum is currently open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5, but it's free for children under 12, for active military personnel and organized youth groups (by appointment). All donations are tax deductible.

Couple on Jetstar flight arrested

WHAT was a couple doing in the toilet on board a Mackay-bound Jetstar flight on Saturday morning?

Well, nobody is entirely sure but the man inside the lavatory allegedly became aggressive towards cabin staff when they tried to find out.

The incident prompted Jetstar security to request police assistance at 8.30am, about half an hour before the plane was scheduled to land in Mackay.

Police went to Mackay Airport and when the plane, which had flown Brisbane, landed they went on board and arrested the Gold Coast couple.

Officers escorted the man and woman, without incident, from the plane before the other passengers on board disembarked.

A police spokesman said what the couple was doing in the toilet was a mystery.

What is known is that the couple's time in the aircraft lavatory caused problems for other travellers.

"Flights from Mackay Airport were delayed 30 minutes," the police spokesman said.

Police later charged a 44-year-old Gold Coast man with being disorderly on an aircraft.

A 39-year-old woman was released without charge, police said.

Note referencing bomb found in lav on London-to-Boston flight, but threat deemed not credible

BOSTON — Officials say a suspicious note was found in the bathroom of a Virgin Atlantic flight to Boston.

Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for Logan International Airport, says the note was found Saturday in Flight 11 from London’s Heathrow Airport to Boston. He says the note referenced a bomb and was found by a flight attendant.

The flight carrying 200 passengers and 16 crew members landed at Logan at around 6 p.m.

After passengers got off the plane, state police troopers with K-9 units and FBI agents searched the plane. The passengers and their bags were screened. Nothing was found.

Authorities say they do not believe the threat is credible because the note was dated more than a month ago. The investigation continues.

Airshow kicks off tomorrow

Workers unloading a model of the Saab RBS15 F-ER missile for the annual airshow which starts tomorrow. In the background is a full-scale mockup of the Eurofighter Typhoon. 
Pic by Shahrizal Md Noor

LANGKAWI: The 11th edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima) 2011 takes off tomorrow.

The exhibition is the premier destination for aerospace and maritime manufacturers targeting the Asia Pacific growth markets.

For nearly 22 years, the exhibition has been serving exhibitor needs by assembling key decision makers from the defence, enforcement and civil sectors.

Since its inception in 1991, Lima has gone from strength to strength.

From 150 companies in 1991, it attracted more than 450 companies from 25 countries with almost RM5 billion worth of business generated in the last exhibition held in 2009.

It has now become one of the world's premier aerospace exhibitions.

Lima 2009 attracted nearly 400 leading defence companies representing 60 countries, with 38,000 trade visitors, 400 trade journalists and 210 delegations attending.

This year, major aircraft and shipbuilders that have already confirmed their participation at Lima include Airbus Industrie, Boeing, Dassault, Gulfstream, Embraer, Saab, Sukhoi, Eurocopter, Agusta Westland, Sikorsky, Bell Helicopters, Fincantieri, Daewoo Shipbuilding, Navantia, Damen Shipyard, Blohm and Voss, Lurssen, Goa Shipyard and DCNS.

Among the highlights are the Gulfstream G45 Business Jet, Bombardier, Cessna Caravan, Airbus A400M, Sukhoi Su-30MKM, F/A-18D Hornet, F/A-18 F Super Hornet, MiG-29N, Super Lynx, Augusta A109, Mi-17 search and rescue helicopter, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing AH-64 attack helicopter and many more.

British Airways pilot collapses unconscious in cockpit after landing packed jet at Heathrow

A BRITISH Airways pilot collapsed unconscious in the cockpit minutes after landing a packed jumbo jet.

The captain, in his 50s, suffered a suspected ruptured ulcer after his Boeing 747 from New York touched down at Heathrow with 300 passengers on board.

An air hostess, who had trained as a nurse, went to his aid before an ­ambulance crew took him to hospital.

A source said of Thursday’s incident: “He collapsed with blood coming out of his mouth and was ­unconscious. He came round as the paramedics arrived and was very apologetic about it all.”

A BA spokesman said: “The flight landed absolutely safely. It was on landing that this happened.”

He added the pilot was recovering.

China Eastern Airlines to improve pilots' English

China Eastern Airlines has vowed to improve its pilots' English amid claims a plane took off without clearance from air traffic controllers in Japan.

On Monday the Shangai-bound plane took to the skies after apparently being told to stay on the runway and then to abort take-off at Osaka airport.

The plane landed safely in Shanghai later. The airline says it is co-operating with Japan's investigation.

It says it will also "regulate our flight crews' English communications".

Flight MU516, with 245 people on board, was due to fly from Osaka's Kansai International Airport to Shanghai.

As air traffic controllers were talking to an approaching helicopter they told the plane to halt on the runway, Kyodo news agency reports. But the Airbus A330 began to take off instead and disobeyed further instructions to abort, Kyodo reported.

Japan's Transport Ministry says that although the plane had enough room between itself and other aircraft nearby, the pilot might have broken the country's aviation laws.

In response to the incident, an officer at China's Civil Aviation Administration told China Daily: "We've written to our Japanese counterparts asking for materials to help us look into the case."

On its accredited Sina Weibo page - China's equivalent of microblogging site Twitter - the airline says it will "operate according to laws and regulations, and further regulate our flight crews' English communications", to ensure flight safety.

English has been the default communication language for international air traffic control, where pilots and air traffic controllers have to meet a certain standard set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation

To fly, to service: British Airways pilot gets teen stewardess pregnant

A TEENAGE stewardess is having a married captain's baby after they took British Airways' Hug A Pilot scheme a bit too far.

Bosses at the airline — motto To Fly, To Serve — had ordered cabin crew to socialise with cockpit colleagues to boost morale. It is understood the hostess slept with the £100,000-a-year-plus captain during a boozy stop-over between flights.

A BA insider said last night: "The Hug A Pilot edict was not supposed to lead to this.

"It is an example of a night out which got out of hand."

The randy pilot is believed to have initially denied having sex, but later confessed to pals to a "moment of madness". His wife, who also works for BA, is said to be devastated but is thought to have decided to stand by her husband.

The stewardess has been grounded due to her condition.

She has also been moved from BA's base at Heathrow's Terminal 5 to a regional engineering centre to keep her out of the wife's way.

The insider added: "The girl's pregnancy and move to engineering is the talk of the airline. She was stunned to find she was expecting, but wants to keep the baby. She will be looked after financially because of the captain's pay."

The Sun revealed two months ago how BA had told its 13,500 cabin crew to link up with its 3,000 pilots on foreign trips.

Dubbed Hug A Pilot by staff, it was meant to restore relations after recent divisive industrial disputes. It was also designed to blend in younger cabin crew, who had been brought in on lower money and less perks than established older workers.

The source said: "The new crews are young and want to have fun. They joined BA to travel the world and enjoy the perks of the job on nights out between flights.

"Landing at exotic far-flung destinations, all the crews go out and get smashed." BA would not comment.

Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy - Preferred African Aviation Training Center

MASwings to begin flying within BIMP-EAGA in February

KUCHING: MASwings has been given the green light to fly within the BIMP-EAGA region early next year.

Transport Deputy Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said the Cabinet had approved MASwings’ application to expand its service to Brunei, Pontianak in Kalimantan, Indonesia and Davao in Southern Philippines.

“The flights will start in February. I was told that they are planning to fly from Kuching to Pontianak, Kuching to Brunei, and Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Davao,” he told a press conference at Kuching International Airport yesterday.

Following the latest greenlight, MASwings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), is expected to fly the Bandar Seri Begawan-Davao City-Tarakan-Balikpapan (both in Kalimantan) sector from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

Abdul Rahim believed MASwings’ flights within BIMP-EAGA region would enhance commerce, trade and tourism for Sabah and Sarawak.

“MASwings ATR 72-500, which can accommodate about 70 passengers, are more suitable and efficient to serve this (BIMP-EAGA) region than if the sector is operated by bigger aircraft,” he added.

He said the Federal Government was fully committed to Sabah and Sarawak, especially in providing air connectivity.

He noted that the Government was paying RM150mil to MASwings in subsidy for the airline to operate the rural air services in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We subsidise MASwings’ flights to remote areas even if there is no passenger,” he said.

The recent share swap between MAS and AirAsia had created a lot uncertainty and anxiety among the state’s tourism players.

With the termination of Firefly flights to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur (seven times daily) and Johor (twice daily), accessibility to Sarawak has been adversely affected despite the favourable load factor of at least 90% .

The Sarawak Government had asked its federal counterpart to consider positioning MASwings as a regional airline after budget airline Firefly ceased operations between Peninsular Malaysia and Kuching in October.

All four countries in the BIMP-EAGA grouping had agreed to discuss ways to improve air connectivity in the region after the conclusion of the BIMP-EAGA ministerial meeting in Cagayan De Oro in the Philippines recently.

On aircraft movements at the Kuching International Airport between January and September, Abdul Rahim said flight landings and departures increased by 19.28 per cent to 39,984 from 31,844 last year.

Till September, flights to domestic destinations rose by 19.46 per cent while international flights by 17.71 per cent, he said.

Global 'Civil Aviation Day' on December 7

Business Recorder Logo International Civil Aviation Day will be observed December 7 across the world including Pakistan to raise awareness of the importance of international civil aviation and the role that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) plays in international air transport.

The organisation is a United Nations body responsible for developing international standards for aviation safety.

ICAO, with the support from governments, organisations, businesses and individuals, actively promotes international civil aviation day through various activities and events.

This day is celebrated globally, especially in countries such as South Africa, through various activities such as seminars, published material, educational lectures, classroom activities, and news announcements on international civil aviation topics related to the day.

ICAO was established on December 7, 1944, to secure international co-operation and uniformity in civil aviation matters.

The International Services Transit Agreement and the International Air Transport Agreement were also signed.

In 1994 ICAO established International Civil Aviation Day by to mark the organisation's 50th anniversary.

This observance aims to generate and reinforce global awareness of the importance of international civil aviation in the social and economic development.

The day also commemorates the ICAO role in promoting the safety, efficiency and regularity of international air transport.

In 1996 the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 7 as international civil aviation day, in accordance with an ICAO initiative and with the Canadian Government's assistance.

The assembly urged governments and organisations to observe the day.

ICAO is a UN body that works closely with other United Nations members including the World Meteorological Organisation, the International Telecommunication Union, the Universal Postal Union, the World Health Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation.

Plane Crash Lands In Hyde County, North Carolina

A pilot crash landed in Hyde County Sunday afternoon after his single-engine plane suffered engine problems while in the air.

According to crews they were called out to the scene around 4:20 p.m. in the Ponds area near NC 45.

Officials say the pilot was the only person inside the plane at the time and he was not injured. They say the pilot had taken off from the Ponzer area from a private airstrip. He was flying at a low level and his engine quit.

The pilot was able to get back over the marsh to dry land. While he attempted to land, the planes landing gear fell off, the plane spun, and it crash landed.

Officials say luckily there was no fire.

The FAA is now investigating.

Sikorsky S-92® "Legacy of Heroes" Demo Helicopter on Display in Malaysia

LANGKAWI, Malaysia, Dec. 4, 2011 -- /PRNewswire/ -- LIMA AIR SHOW – Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.'s S-92® "Legacy of Heroes" demonstration helicopter will be shown on static display at the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition beginning Dec. 6. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The aircraft recently launched the second leg of its worldwide tour with its arrival in Singapore on Nov. 21. The helicopter will visit multiple countries to recognize first responders to natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies around the globe while promoting the company's family of products including the H-92™ helicopter, the military version of the company's commercial S-92 helicopter.

The tour commenced in the United States in September and continued through late October. From its current location in Malaysia, the aircraft will next visit Brunei, Thailand and Hong Kong, and then travel to India. A six-member crew is conducting cockpit briefings and aircraft tours at designated stops, and participating in first responder recognition ceremonies and other special events to provide community support along the way.

"Sikorsky Aircraft was built on Igor Sikorsky's vision of the helicopter as a life-saving device," said Carey Bond, President of Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "Since Sikorsky's earliest days, our helicopters have been the first to arrive on the scene of natural disasters and other emergency, life-threatening situations. The Legacy of Heroes demo tour gives us the opportunity to share the success stories of the extraordinary people who use our products and to introduce the aircraft capabilities and product solutions to those who may be unfamiliar with them."

The aircraft on display was customized by employees at Sikorsky Global Helicopters' main facility in Coatesville, Pa., U.S.A. It is a utility-configured S-92 aircraft bearing a unique gray and black paint scheme with a silhouette of first responders depicted on each side. The aircraft is fitted with side-facing seats, a triple-litter kit, cargo hook, Search-and-Rescue Automatic Flight Control System, and night sun capabilities.

During the tour, the crew will showcase the multi-mission capability of the aircraft.

The S-92 Legacy of Heroes helicopter will be located at booth OD 7 at the LIMA air show. There will be a limited supply of Legacy of Heroes promotional items for visitors to the aircraft.

The company has created a microsite on the Internet to provide regular updates on the tour's activities. The microsite will offer blog reports from crew members and other highlights of the tour. It can be accessed at

S-92 helicopters perform search and rescue (SAR) missions as well as a variety of transportation missions for VIPs including Heads of State, offshore oil and gas crews, utility and airline passengers. The worldwide fleet of 151 S-92 helicopters has accumulated more than 365,000 flight hours since deliveries began in 2004. The S-92 helicopter was certified to FAA/EASA harmonized Part 29 requirements, as amended through Amendment 47. The S-92 helicopter remains the only aircraft to have been certified to this rigorous airworthiness standard without exception or waiver.

Sikorsky Global Helicopters, a Sikorsky company, develops and produces civil certified helicopters and their derivatives. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., U.S.A., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., U.S.A., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

Will AirAsia X fly into Sydney before Singapore's Scoot?

PETALING JAYA: Singapore's new long-haul no-frills carrier Scoot has chosen Sydney as its first city to fly into in mid-2012, a city that rival AirAsia X (AAX) has failed to gain entry into despite fighting for the rights for more than two years.

Scoot has also laid a direct challenge to Qantas and its unit Jetstar on its home ground by adding 400 seats a day to the route and it would appear that Scoot is capitalising on Qantas' weakness to get market share on the route.

Qantas is still facing union issues and has yet to pick between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as its Asian hub.

But Brendan Sobie, an analyst with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, expects AirAsia X to launch the Kuala Lumpur-Sydney route before Scoot launches the Singapore-Sydney route.

“Scoot rival AAX is already preparing to launch the Sydney route in the first half of 2012,'' Sobie said in his research note.

His argument is based on the fact that AirAsia group boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes is now on the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) board and that could have changed things for AAX.

The low-cost long-haul airline AAX now flies to three cities in Australia Perth, Gold Coast and Melbourne.

He said AAX had long wanted to serve Sydney but for years did not receive approval from the government as MAS lobbied against AAX that was forcing MAS to lower its fares.

AAX in June this year had all the restrictions which also limited its footprint in China lifted, but was told it still could not yet serve Sydney.

However, the August equity swap between AirAsia and MAS, which led to Fernandes gaining a seat on the MAS board, has alleviated the tension.

MAS and AAX have been having meetings on route planning and when asked on the outcome over route allocation and whether Sydney was on the cards, AAX chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said “It depends on the Government/Transport Ministry.''

He added: “We have done a lot to pioneer a new innovative business model that gives Malaysia a rare global industry leadership position. Are we going to let the Singaporeans overtake us because we are slow and unresponsive?''

Scoot is seen by many as a serious rival to AAX and it should shake up the low-cost travel market in this region.

It is also using bigger planes that can carry more passengers and has a parent, Singapore Airlines, that has deep pockets.

Sobie said the Singapore-Sydney route presently had no seats from low-cost carriers and this effectively gave Scoot for now a monopoly on the lower end of the market.

“In comparison, the competition is much more diverse in the Singapore-Melbourne market with SIA, Qantas, Jetstar and Emirates all operating,'' he said.

Scoot is Singapore Airlines long-haul low-cost carrier and to begin operations, it would use four B777-200 which it purchased from its parent. Scoot plans to have 14 planes by 2016, with long term plans to fly to India, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Qantas has yet to decide where to locate its Asian operations, either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Although recent reports suggest they are leaning towards KL, it is really hard to say what the final decision would be.

Search and rescue contractors face night goggle issue

Contractors taking over search and rescue duties will need to get permission to use a specialist piece of equipment, BBC Scotland has learned.

Under UK government plans, the RAF and Royal Navy are expected give up providing the helicopter cover by 2016.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed the new civilian operators would have to apply for permission to use night vision goggles (NVG).

Mountain rescuers said NVG were an essential tool in night-time incidents.

They said the goggles were used to good effect by the military crews on mountain rescues.

A civilian contractor already operates helicopters for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and has permission to fly at night, but is not permitted to use NVG.

Police helicopter crews do have the necessary permission for the gear.

Mountain rescuers have told the BBC News Scotland website that, while saddened by the withdrawal of the military, they had full confidence in the skills of civilian pilots and crews.

Plans to replace an ageing fleet of Sea King helicopters with modern machines as part of the UK government's plans was also welcomed.

However, the rescuers said it was essential the civilian crews were given access to all the equipment they would need - particularly NVG - and time to train in their use before RAF and Royal Navy crews were stood down.

They said NVG - dubbed "Gucci gear" by military personnel in reference to their high quality - were crucial during mountain rescues made during short winter days, or that dragged on into hours of darkness.

David "Heavy" Whalley, a former RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team leader, said training in the use of the goggles would take time.

He said: "The coastguards do not have an NVG capability and I pray that the contract covers this aspect as civilian helicopters have to apply to CAA rules.

"I was involved in the night vision work with the Sea Kings and it was a hard process. It will take a lot of training for the new crews."

Mr Whalley said modern helicopters were badly needed, but he added that he would be sad to see an end to the military's involvement in search and rescue.

The CAA said permission for use of NVG was unconnected to the contracts being offered by the UK government.

However, a spokesman added that an operator could apply at any time to use the equipment.

He said: "At the moment only police air support units use NVG.
Sea King helicopter. Pic: David "Heavy" Whalley Military Sea Kings are to be withdrawn from service in 2016

"The coastguard agency's civilian contractors can operate over land at night but they will be doing so without NVG.

"Using NVG obviously enhances the safe operation of helicopters at night and so the operator may decide not to fly over land without NVG."

The Department for Transport has sought bids to run MCA helicopter search and rescue services and to take over cover provided by the military.

A spokeswoman said the process of choosing an operator, or operators, would be rigorous.

She said: "The new service provider will be required to demonstrate how they will meet key search and rescue requirements during the procurement process.

"As part of this process, negotiations with bidders will take place which will cover a wide range of technical capabilities, as well as training provision."

The spokeswoman added: "We expect to sign contracts with the new provider, or providers, in early 2013, enabling the winning bidder to commence operations during 2015 and ensure the Ministry of Defence can withdraw from search and rescue and retire the Sea Kings by March 2016, as planned.

"The bidder will assume responsibility for the current MCA capability during 2017."

Missing aircraft located Peru, status of victims unknown

After three days of intense searching through the mountains of San Martin, the plane company stricken Palma de Espino was located by an Air Force helicopter Peru (FAP) in a rugged mountain area of ​​the ladder, near the city Tarapoto. Although it is unknown about the health of the four crew members, only now rescue crews in the area would be descending the hill ladder, to come to the rescue of survivors and probable victims of this new plane crash. 

They locate distressed aircraft in Tarapoto

Después de tres días de intensa búsqueda por las montañas de San Martín, la avioneta siniestrada de la empresa Palma de Espino fue ubicada por un helicóptero de la Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP) en una agreste zona del cerro Escalera, muy cerca de la ciudad de Tarapoto. After three days of intense searching through the mountains of San Martin, the plane company stricken Palma de Espino was located by an Air Force helicopter Peru (FAP) in a rugged mountain area of ​​the ladder, near the city Tarapoto.

Aunque se desconoce sobre la salud de los cuatro tripulantes, recién hoy las brigadas de auxilio estarían descendiendo en el área del cerro Escalera, a fin de proceder al rescate de los problables sobrevivientes y las víctimas de este nuevo accidente aéreo. Although it is unknown about the health of the four crew members, only now rescue crews in the area would be descending the hill ladder, to come to the rescue of survivors and probable victims of this new plane crash.

Según un comunicado difundido en Tarapoto, ya se fijaron las coordenadas del lugar donde se localiza la avioneta Cessna de matrícula OB-1299 de propiedad del grupo Romero. According to a statement released in Tarapoto, already set the coordinates of where is located the Cessna OB-1299 registration of ownership of the Romero group.

La aeronave era pilotada por Jorge Iberico Vela y tenía como mecánico de vuelo a Edwin Sánchez Del Aguila. The aircraft was piloted by Jorge Iberico Vela and had the flight engineer Edwin Sanchez Del Aguila. También viajaban otras dos personas, pero la empresa Palma de Espino ha preferido mantener los nombres en reserva. Two others also traveled, but the company Palma de Espino has preferred to keep the names confidential.

Warning: This video may not be suitable for all readers. Moment a skydiver plummeted thousands of feet to the ground… and survived. Mid-Air Collision And Impact With Ground

A 34-year-oldskydiver fell more than 2,500 feet after his parachute got tangled with another jumper’s, and lived to tell the tale.

The skydiver, identified as Tim, jumped out of a plane in Wisconsin with two of his friends at about 11,000 feet. His friend Razz had brought a biplane kite and wanted to tow it behind him.

Tim recorded the entire jump – including the impact with his jump partner that tangled Tim’s parachute. He wrote on his YouTube page: ‘It’s taken me four and a half years to be able to watch this video.’

 All of the skydivers , he said, were highly experienced, and had each landed between 150 and a thousand jumps.

Tim’s jump partner Razz flared his canopy at around 2,500 feet, ensnaring Tim and his own parachute. His partner then cut away and used an emergency chute to land.

Tim was left with a balled-up parachute that barely slowed him down.

He focused the camera both at the parachute, and at the fast-approaching ground below.

He impacted in a nearby cornfield south of Columbus, Wisconsin, breaking his pelvis, back, and neck. He was instantly paralysed.

Razz had landed in a nearby reserve after cutting away from Tim, and rushed to his side. ‘Can you feel your feet?’ he asked as Tim lay gasping and sputtering in pain.

‘No,’ Tim answered. But he said his hands felt tingly.

‘That’s just the shock,’ a friend told him. Razz called an ambulance and kept telling Tim to remain calm and breath.

At one point, Tim sputtered: ‘I’m having trouble breathing, ya’al.’

A friend performed rescue breathing on him as his diaphragm stopped working. He was flown to University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison for emergency surgery.

Tim said on his YouTube page that the accident left him paralysed for life; he is now living as a quadriplegic.

The video is called Stupid Hurts, and explains the particulars of the jump with the wildly popular scrolling introduction from the Star Wars franchise.

Medical Emergency: Plane diverts to Bermuda for sick passenger

At approximately 4.15pm today [Dec.4] a Virgin Atlantic Airways plane landed at Bermuda’s LF Wade International airport, after diverting due to a sick passenger.

The Virgin Atlantic VS069 flight was on its way from London’s Heathrow Airport to Kingston, Jamaica. The plane was approximately two hours and twenty minutes out of Bermuda when it diverted.

A female passenger was taken off the plane and transferred to an awaiting ambulance, and transported to King Edward Memorial Hospital for treatment. The woman’s young son, who was travelling with her, accompanied her in the ambulance.

The plane took on some fuel and continued on its flight to Jamaica at approximately 6:30pm.

SUNDAY, DEC. 4: A Virgin jumbo jet diverted into Bermuda today so a female passenger could receive medical attention

The 747 arrived at LF Wade International at 4.15pm this evening on its way from London to Jamaica.

The female passenger was lifted off the aircraft and given first aid at the scene.

She was then taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital with her 12-year-old son, who had been travelling with her on the plane.

The Virgin Atlantic VS069 flight, which had 353 passengers on board, is expected to leave later this evening bound for Kingston in Jamaica.