Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mokulele temporarily grounds fleet of 9-seat Cessna Caravans

Pictured here is one of go!Mokulele's Cessna Grand Caravan 208-B aircraft. The plane arrived for service in 2007.

The new owner of Mokulele Airlines has temporarily grounded its fleet of four Cessna Grand Caravans while waiting for replacement parts following an internal record-keeping audit.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Transpac Aviation, which purchased the nine-seat turboprops last month from Mesa Air Group Inc., stopped flying today but expects to have at least one of its aircraft in the air by late Saturday.

Ron Hansen, chairman and CEO of parent company Mokulele Flight Services Inc., said the voluntary shutdown was to give the company additional time to thoroughly research parts records and take any necessary corrective action. He said the parts involved were bolts, nuts and bushings.

He said that 46 flights were canceled today with an undetermined number of cancellations planned for Saturday. He said about 300 passengers fly daily on the routes that go from Honolulu to both Molokai and Lanai, as well as between Kona, Maui and Molokai. Hansen said the record-keeping error was discovered during a routine audit and is not a safety-of-flight issue.

Hansen said Mokulele is working with go!Mokulele, which operates 50-seat CRJ-200s jets, to re-accommodate passengers on other flights when possible. When not possible, Hansen said passengers have been given refunds and voucher for a future flight.

Missouri: Plane Makes Emergency Landing on Highway 13 Near Greene County/Polk County Line; No One Hurt

GREENE COUNTY, Mo.—  Officials with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and FAA are investigating after an emergency landing on Highway 13 near the Greene County/Polk County line. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon. A pilot from the South Bend, Indiana area told authorities the plane ran out of gas and he had to land in the southbound lanes of highway 13. The pilot made a successful landing and he and his three passengers were not hurt, and drivers on southbound 13 were able to escape injury as well.

Sgt. Jason Pace of the Missouri Highway Patrol says the plane was on its way from Osceola, IN to Springfield, MO.

Authorities stop search for downed helicopter

An overheard distress call spurred a multi-agency search for a crashed helicopter along the Savannah River that came up empty Saturday.

Aiken County Sheriff’s Capt. Troy Elwell said the agency received an alert from South Carolina Highway Patrol, who had been alerted by the Federal Aviation Administration that there was a crashed helicopter in the area.

Personnel from Aiken and Richmond County, along with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, hunted hours for the helicopter, but turned up nothing.

Around 2:50 p.m., a pilot contacted the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center, located in Hampton, Ga., about an overheard conversation, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said. The pilot heard two other pilots talking about a possible distressed helicopter.

As of Saturday evening, Peters said there were no missing or overdue aircraft or helicopters anywhere in the area.

Elwell said there was a low-flying Chinook helicopter over North Augusta around 4:30 p.m., but it had left the area unharmed.

“We don’t know what happened at this point,” Elwell said. “We would need more information to continue the search.”

WJBF News Channel 6 has learned that multiple agencies are searching for a possible downed helicopter.

We're told that a mayday call went out and was reported by the FAA.

Now, Aiken County Deputies, DNR and Richmond County Deputies are searching for the possible downed helicopter along the Savannah River.

Suffolk Closeup: East Hampton’s airport

East Hampton Airport is the biggest noisemaker on eastern Long Island.

It gets the lion’s share of the helicopters that ferry some very privileged people between Manhattan and the Hamptons — flying low and loud over Suffolk County. The machines roar over Brookhaven Town, then western Southampton and Riverhead, then the North and the South forks and Shelter Island.

The chopper traffic is a relatively new phenomenon that has gotten completely out of hand.

They also fly to and from Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and Southampton Village’s helipad but the main destination from the city is the East Hampton Airport, with some trips as well to Crescent Beach on Shelter Island.

The East Hampton community, as chopper ground zero, is at a crossroads. “Our peaceful quality of life is threatened by airport noise,” declared Joan Osborne, vice president of the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, at a public hearing held by the East Hampton Town Board last week.

The hearing was ostensibly about a new deer fence at the airport. But a far broader issue was involved: whether the town should take money from the Federal Aviation Administration to buy the fence, which would kick in continuing FAA authority over the field.

Like many a federal regulatory agency, the FAA is a lapdog, not a watchdog, of what it’s supposed to regulate. It’s in a conflict of interest — being both a booster of aviation and, somehow, at the same time, regulating it. As for handling aviation noise, the FAA does “a poor job,” says the national Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, and should “turn that responsibility over to the EPA.”

Whether East Hampton should keep accepting money from the FAA and allow the FAA to remain in control of the town-owned airport was a main issue in the recent town election. Organizations including the Quiet Skies Coalition, along with the Democratic candidates for town office, called for East Hampton to cut it off with the FAA and gain control of the field — and then limit the number of airport operations, impose a curfew and exclude aircraft deemed too noisy (that would be, mostly, helicopters).

The incumbent Republican supervisor, Bill Wilkinson, survived by only by 15 votes in November. But from its cocky stance at last Thursday’s hearing, you wouldn’t know the GOP-run board came within a political inch of an ouster.

There was an overflow crowd at East Hampton Town Hall, and that was expected, but the hearing wasn’t switched to a larger meeting hall as is common when there’s a public meeting on a red-hot controversy. There was no loudspeaker letting people who couldn’t get into the room hear what was happening. And Mr. Wilkinson and allies on the board were especially sensitive when Jeff Bragman, attorney for the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, charged that the board sought to rush its decision. He was then emphatically told his time was up although other speakers went past their allotted three minutes without such a fiery reaction.

Before that, Mr. Bragman talked about “the ultra-luxury travelers in helicopters.” The choppers coming into East Hampton “sound like the [helicopter] attack scene in “Apocalypse Now.’” As for the FAA, “Do you think they care a hoot about controlling noise?” he asked.

And he spoke against “just shuffling around” flights by varying routes when, he said, what’s needed is “fundamental change.” The town should stop taking money from the FAA and be able to exercise independent control. “You have the power to do it!”

But one of Mr. Bragman’s main points — that in 2014 East Hampton’s current obligations to the FAA from taking previous grants will expire and the town could control the field — was contested by a town legal consultant. Attorney Peter Hirsch of Denver said “the town is grant-obligated to the FAA” to “2021 or later,” indeed some of the obligations “are permanent” and “never expire.”

He claimed federal law pre-empts localities on aviation. And “because of the federal law, the only way” the town could totally control its field, he said, would be by “closing the airport.”

If that’s the only thing that can be done, it should be: the noisemaker should be shut down. The East Hampton Airport is in no way a vital public transportation center. It services a very select few — inflicting much noise on everyone else in the process. It constitutes, like a raucous racetrack, a public nuisance, not only for people in East Hampton, but for folks throughout eastern Long Island.

Cleveland Municipal: Airport Authority seeks donors

The Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority presented designs of the new airport terminal building to a select number of potentially large donors Thursday evening at the Museum Center at Five Points.

Airport Design Committee Chair Lou Patten said the purpose of the reception was to inform some of the business community about the new terminal, and interest them in making contributions and donations.

The terminal building is equally funded by the state and the city up to $700,000, which is about $1.5 million less than the estimated $2.2 million price tag for the building, paving, parking, fence, landscaping, engineering, architectural design and the furnishings.

“We’ve got to raise at least $1.5 million,” he said. “We’re inviting some people we think will be corporate users and businesses that might want to promote themselves through one of the several naming opportunities.”

A million dollars will buy the naming rights to the 8,000-square-foot state-of-the-art terminal building that includes a stone-and-glass water feature — which can be named for $250,000; lobby and lounge area with a stone fireplace and Mission style furnishings, $250,000; pilot’s lounge, $100,000; and a small conference room, $50,000.

Other opportunities include wall plaques for $3,000 for three years and any of the 24 4-foot wide digital displays for publicizing company logos or other information can be had for $25,000 for five years. Payments on the displays may be maid over a period of three years.

“These are options we are presenting to the folks,” he said. “Right now, we’re just trying to get some of the higher dollar amounts.”

Among the 50 invited guests were representatives from heritage business and industry, as well as newcomers to the area.

Tim Sloan, senior director EHSS and Regulatory Affairs, Wacker Polysilicon North America, said company officials support activities in the community and very much support airport expansion and how it benefits them during the construction phase of the company’s new plant, and in future operations.

Sloan said most of Wacker’s corporate travel is on commercial airlines, but Wacker Chemie AG, the German-based parent company, has a corporate jet.

“I imagine if the airport was open, it would be something considered,” he said. “When we had groundbreaking, I know our corporate executives flew in on the corporate jet, but I’m not sure where.”

Jim Williams, chairman of First Tennessee Bank in Cleveland, said he liked the appearance of the new airport and that it would make a very nice first impression on first-time visitors. He said it will also be a big help to service banking customers.

Construction on the third and final phase of the new airport is expected to begin in the spring with paving the runway, apron and terminal area. The 5,500-foot runway will be 11 inches of concrete over 4 inches of stone.

The new airport near Tasso Community alongside Michigan Avenue Road and Dry Valley Road should be open for business sometime between August and November 2012.

Patten said the design committee thinks the terminal building is going to be exciting to folks as they enter the community and also to residents who will use the new airport.

“When folks come into Cleveland for the first time, you want it to be something that’s special, that will have an impact on those people when they come in to visit,” Patten said.

Airport Authority Chair Lynn DeVault said recently Steve Carroll with Rardin & Carroll Architects, of Chattanooga, captured the uniqueness of East Tennessee exactly as asked.

“It is beautiful and unique and it looks like this part of the world,” DeVault said recently.

Winnipeg Airport Authority sued for cost overruns

Steve Smith says that he is proud of the work that his company, Ellis-Don Corp. did in constructing the new $585 million James A. Richardson International Airport terminal building.

“The new terminal is a first-class building,” said the Ellis-Don spokesperson.

“It is a real landmark for Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada as a whole.”

Barry Rempel, the Winnipeg Airport Authority’s CEO, is also pleased with how the new terminal building – which officially opened on Oct. 31 - has turned out.

“We are really proud of our team,” he said. “This is among the most energy-efficient buildings in the world for its size. The opening was flawless. All systems are working.”<0x000A> Despite Rempel’s and Smith’s positive comments about the new terminal building, there remains the little matter of who is going to be footing the bill for the design flaws and cost overruns that delayed the terminal building’s completion by almost two years.

That is a matter that is about to be decided by the courts.

In mid-November, Ellis-Don, the general contractor on the project, filed a civil suit against the Winnipeg Airport Authority (WWA) in Court of Queen’s Bench alleging “negligent misrepresentation” in some of the tendering.

The contractor is seeking $10.8 million in specified damages, as well as unspecified special damages and payment of court costs.

The breakdown consists of $4,992,170 for additional costs incurred by delays, allegedly caused by changes to the WAA’s design plans after work began; $4,699,682 for changes to underfloor stormwater and sewer drains after they were installed; $872,000 incurred in building an elevated roadway, an aspect of the project which, Ellis-Don alleges, was “negligently misrepresented” during the bidding phase; $198,254 for design changes to fire extinguishers and fire-extinguisher cabinets after they were installed; and $121,874 for changes to the soffits that were originally scheduled to be installed on the building.

An earlier dispute over payment responsibility for cost overruns to do with the excavation phase of the building went to mediation.

The mediator sided with the contractor. Discussions are now ongoing over how much money the WAA will be paying Ellis-Don in that case.

Rempel doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about the lawsuit.

He said that disagreements such as this, in cases of design or construction problems, are quite common in the industry.

He added that this case made the headlines only because the terminal building is such a high profile project.

“In some instances, the contractor sues the client in order to get at the architect,” Rempel said. “That’s because the contractor does not have a contract with the architect. Even though Ellis-Don may feel that the delays were caused by design problems, the company has to sue us.”

The WAA will be filing a statement of defense and a countersuit against Ellis-Don early in the new year.

Steve Smith expects that this matter will take quite a while to sort out.

LIAT Pilots Unhappy With Cabin Crew

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) has reportedly planned to take aim at LIAT’s cabin crew staff for lack of support.

According to reports, LIALPA is offended that the Leeward Islands Flight Attendants Association (LIFAA) has not voiced its support for the pilots and the position they took following the dismissal of Captain Michael Blackburn.

A source told The Daily OBSERVER that flight attendants may be paying for not siding with the pilots and will allegedly be denied privileges to super crew.

Super crew refers to airline crew members who, on their days off, can travel to destinations within the company’s network by requesting the jump seat from the captain in command of that flight.

The inside source said that the pilots’ planned retaliation can come into effect immediately with requests being denied without explanation.

Reports are LIALPA on Monday approached LIFAA to join them in taking industrial action against Captain Michael Blackburn’s dismissal. But the flight attendants’ union, which has been quiet since the sickout began on Tuesday, reportedly decided they needed to be properly briefed on the matter.

Further reports are they are yet to receive any of information that was requested.

Now, Haj flights land before time in Indore

Indore: The confusion regarding the flights carrying Haj passengers continued on Saturday as both the flights landed at Indore an hour before their scheduled arrival. Airline officers attributed the early landing to advance departure clearance at Madinah airport.

The first flight scheduled to land at Indore airport at 10.40 am actually reached here at 9.30 am. Besides the regular 246 passengers, the flight had an additional passenger, a baby boy born to a woman at Madinah on December 1. The boy was named Md Ali Qasim. The second flight that was scheduled to reach Indore at 11.40 am landed at around 10.40am. It carried a total 245 passengers.

Families and friends of pilgrims had arrived in large numbers at the airport to receive their dear ones. Emotional scenes were witnessed as the pilgrims hugged and blessed their near and dear ones with moist eyes. The flights bringing in Haj pilgrims would continue to arrive in city till December 12.

Earlier in the week, flights carrying Haj pilgrims that were to reach Indore on Thursday were cancelled and only landed in the city on Friday. This change in schedule had left the passengers high and dry at Madinah airport, while their families here were a worried lot owing to the last minute change in schedule .

Pacific Sun flights to be disrupted due to maintenance

Flight schedule disruption for Pacific Sun is expected to occur over the next two weeks.

This is due to on-going maintenance and checks on two of its aircraft.

Pacific Sun said it will continue to consolidate or cancel some flights to various destinations, and will use the services of chartered aircraft to clear passenger backlog.

Million a month use Abu Dhabi airport

Abu Dhabi International Airport expects to handle 12 million travellers this year and says 1 million passengers a month will become the norm.

James Bennett, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac), made the prediction as the hub recorded the fourth consecutive month of more than 1 million passengers.

"Going forward, we'll see more and more months of over a million," Mr Bennett said. "Perhaps next year we'll even be into that phase where we never really drop below a million passengers a month."

Abu Dhabi airport reported a total of 1.06 million travellers in October, a 17.2 per cent increase on the same month last year.

The airport first crossed the 1 million passenger mark in July last year, but achieving this number for four months in a row was "a new traffic record", Adac said.

The increase was attributed to the arrival of airlines such as Cathay Pacific, V Australia, and Czech Airlines, along with increased frequencies and new destinations launched by existing carriers.

Mr Bennett said Etihad Airways had "continued to receive aircraft and add frequencies in certain markets".

While passenger numbers were up by 17 per cent in October, aircraft movements increased by only 1 per cent. This was because more seats were filled on planes, Mr Bennett said.

"What we're seeing is an increase in the load factors on the flights, which is the number of seats occupied," he said. "The airlines have the opportunity to make more profit."

He added that the airport expects to handle a total of 12 million passengers this year.

"We haven't seen the numbers yet for November, but we think it was equally strong. And so far in December we've seen some fairly strong numbers," said Mr Bennett.

"We will probably see at least 13 million next year," he added.

Adac last month announced work on the long-delayed Midfield Terminal building would go ahead next year. The building is planned to be capable of handling up to 30 million passengers a year when it opens in 2017.

"By the time the new terminal is operational, we anticipate our passenger numbers would be in the upper teens, like 16 to 17 or so million passengers - maybe a little higher than that," said Mr Bennett.

Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at the consultancy StrategicAero Research, said that Abu Dhabi's traffic figures had "exceeded many people's expectations".

"It's likely that this trend … is going to continue for a very long time indeed," said Mr Ahmad.

He added that the growth of Etihad as well as congestion at Dubai airport - were factors behind the boom in passengers at Abu Dhabi International.

"There are those passengers that want to travel to and through the UAE without going to Dubai International, which is an awful lot busier and often has delays given the amount of traffic present there," said Mr Ahmad.

Traffic is also set to rise at Dubai International Airport, where the annual capacity is being raised from 60 million passengers to 90 million by 2018. Passenger services are also expected to commence at Dubai's new facility, Al Maktoum International Airport.

Four killed in Sioux Falls plane crash driven by passions. Cessna 421C Golden Eagle, N421SY

Four men killed in Friday’s plane crash all were pursuing their passions.

In this May 21 photo, Dan Swets, professor of computer science at Augustana, teaches students to program robots. 
Emily Spartz / Argus Leader

Three were flying from Sioux Falls to Rapid City for FIRST Lego League practice competition. The fourth, pilot Brian Blake of Sioux Falls, loved to fly.

Alan Swanson, a retired engineer who know the three involved in the Lego League, said the men shared a love of family, a love of students, a dedication to seeing young people get higher education and a desire to make science and technology fun and available to kids across South Dakota.

Their deaths are a big loss for the community, the state and the South Dakota Lego League.

“They never said ‘No.’ They were always gung-ho about this and really intent on getting the message out to all of the kids,” he said.

The league is a program for 9- to 14-year-olds to help them get excited about science, technology, engineering and math.

Two of the three men had ties to Augustana College and Sioux Falls students. Dr. Daniel Swets, 47, was associate professor of computer science at the college. Augustana alum Kevin Anderson, 50, also worked for the Sioux Fall School District.

“Dan was an incredibly talented scientist and respected teacher who touched the lives of thousands of students during his 16 years at Augustana,” said Rob Oliver, Augustana president. “He will be deeply missed.”

Joshua Lambrecht, 30, of Brandon, worked at Dakota Fluid Power in Sioux Falls and was head referee for the LEGO League. He trained other league officials.

Swets was serving as president of the South Dakota Robotics Association. At Augustana, Swets taught the hardware sequence for computer science majors and was responsible for many of the upper-level electives in the department. They included graphics, networks and parallel processing. His current research interests included algorithm development for remote sensing, computer vision, content-based image retrieval, computer graphics, virtual reality and robotics.

Augustana is planning a memorial service for Swets. Details on the service were expected to be available soon. The college also will make counselors available for students.

Anderson, 50, Sioux Falls, was a programmer and systems analyst in the Sioux Falls School District’s assessment, technology and information services department.

Sharon Schueler, coordinator of assessment, said she worked with him for 12 years and last spoke with him Friday morning.

“He was a person who absolutely loved his job. If you asked Kevin Anderson for help, he was always, ‘Yep, we can do that,’ ” she said. “He will leave such a hole in the district.”

The Sioux Falls School District issued a statement:

“The Sioux Falls School District family is devastated by the tragic news of today’s plane crash. Kevin Anderson loved his work as a computer programmer, but he loved his family even more. His love for his son is what drove Kevin to become involved in the FIRST Lego League — an academic enrichment experience that teaches middle school students how to build and program robots for competition. Kevin served the district for 23 years with a friendly, can-do attitude at every turn. His family, his student team, and his district colleagues lost an incredible champion for kids.”

Blake, 54, of Sioux Falls, was a charter pilot and manager for Quest Aviation.

Jerry Foy, commander of the Sioux Falls Civil Air Patrol, said he and Blake both served in the Air National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol. He called Blake a “soft-spoken gentleman.”

“He was an exceptional leader, and he was truly loved and appreciated by those in the aviation community in the Tea and Sioux Falls,” Foy said.

Tourists avoid helicopter tours in Vegas after deadly crash; passengers consider safety

Mechanics work on a Sundance tour helicopter on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, in Las Vegas. A Sundance tour helicopter crashed killing the pilot and four passengers on Dec. 7. 
(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

LAS VEGAS — During a normal eight-hour shift on the Las Vegas Strip, Michael Denicoli usually sells enough helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon and Sin City to fill two or three choppers. But since a crash killed five people this week and made international headlines, tourists who walk by his booth are skipping the splurge of a few hundred bucks for a bird’s eye view of the Hoover Dam and other sites.

“I have advertisements of helicopters, and they look at it like as if it says: ‘The plague,’” Denicoli said as he worked an Adventures International stand on the Strip across from the CityCenter casino complex at the start of a busy tourist weekend. “It went from being slow to being beyond slow.”

Denicoli said he removed countertop brochures for Sundance Helicopters — the company that operated the helicopter that crashed Wednesday evening in a remote canyon some 12 miles east Las Vegas — not wanting potential customers to link the operator to the stand. But few, if any, among hundreds of tourists who pass the stand during any given hour are stopping.

Sundance and other helicopter operators have tried to move forward from the crash with normal flight schedules as passengers with tickets have called to ask about safety. Meanwhile, those who’ve taken rides before have been openly thinking about whether they’d do so again as they post pictures of their excursions on Facebook and Twitter.

“It was beautiful, but it was pretty frightening at some points,” said Liz Beltran, 23, of Norwalk, Conn., who posed for a picture at the bottom of the Grand Canyon after taking a $500 helicopter tour nearly a year ago.

“I really loved it and I told all my friends to do it, but definitely now after this, I don’t think I’m going to be recommending it too much anymore,” she said.

Federal investigators were still piecing together what happened in the crash that killed 31-year-old pilot Landon Nield, a Kansas couple celebrating their wedding anniversary and another couple from New Delhi. The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to issue a preliminary report on the crash in two weeks, and the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t kept Sundance from flying again.

Sundance resumed normal operations on Friday after voluntarily suspending them on Thursday, and planned to give refunds if customers asked for them, spokeswoman Sabrina LiPiccolo said in an email.

LoPiccolo said it was too early to tell whether Sundance has had cancellations or slower bookings since the accident. She said Sundance employees, if asked about the crash, say that it was a Sundance helicopter but share few details because of the investigation.

Aerial sightseeing is big business in Las Vegas, with four operators at McCarran International Airport averaging more than 1,500 passengers per day combined so far this year at ticket prices often starting above $200 each. The flights let tourists see some of the region’s most iconic sites from vantage points they couldn’t get from the ground.

Many tourists, especially international visitors, aren’t necessarily in Las Vegas because they want to glue themselves to a blackjack table or a slot machine. Couples often board the flights for romantic excursions, as do tourists looking to fulfill a bucket list of America’s top destinations.

Nigel Turner, owner of Heli USA Airways, which runs tours out of McCarran, said he’s had no cancellations but has spent lots of time since the crash reassuring customers that his flights are safe.

“I was on the phone at 3 o’clock this morning talking to my big accounts in Europe, just reassuring them about safety,” Turner said, noting that 60 percent of his business comes from international travelers. “They’re our partners, and they’ve got to trust us, and they do.”

Turner said companies offering helicopter tours — a $120 million-a-year business at McCarran alone — have to understand that safety is the key to their reputation, and individual mishaps are almost certain to be amplified more than fatal car crashes or other deadly accidents.

There are hundreds of similar companies nationwide, offering aerial tours of places like Mount Rushmore, New York and the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s a very big industry and a very professional industry,” said Turner, who said he was in the process of investing $28 million in seven new helicopters to add to his fleet.

“Fifteen, 20 years ago we did have cowboys then,” Turner said. “That’s when the crashes happened. Now, it’s a very regulated industry by the owners. These people who own these companies are not playing chump change here.”

Mike Brennan, a 22-year-old New Yorker who took a Grand Canyon helicopter tour with his brother three years ago, said the crash wouldn’t make him hesitate to fly in helicopters again, because he thinks people who fly understand there are inherent risks before taking off.

“It’s sort of similar to going to an amusement park,” Brennan said. “There’s always like a danger where things happen on those rides occasionally. But it’s like you hear about it but you don’t ever think it’ll happen to you.”

Beltran said she thinks operators and those selling tours need to do a better job explaining to customers that riding in a helicopter isn’t like flying aboard a typical airline.

“You definitely have to have a strong stomach, and the thing is they don’t really tell you that,” she said. “They tell you it’s going to be a really cool experience — it might be a little scary — but they don’t really tell you exactly what it feels like to ride in a helicopter with these winds and the type of environment that you’re going to experience up in the air.”

Denicoli said he thinks business will bounce back in a few weeks as people forget about the crash, new sets of tourists arrive in Las Vegas and thousands of helicopter flights run in and out of Sin City without incident. If the crash doesn’t unearth evidence of more widespread problems in the industry, he thinks many observers will treat it like a bad car accident.

“I see more car accidents in front of my business,” he said.

Copenhagen Kastrup in HD (Takeoffs and Landings)

by Pilot Dynan on Dec 10, 2011
Here is another video from Kastrup (EKCH)
I hope you like it = )

Amateur Fliers Build a Little Bit of History at French Valley Airport (F70), Murrieta/Temecula, California.

EAA members (from left): Steve Williamson, Jerry Trapp, Art Froehlich, Frankie Garcia.

A few miles north of here at March Air Reserve Base, crews work on C-17 military transport planes that are 174 feet long and capable of carrying multiple military vehicles.

Just south of here, at French Valley Airport, a small group of amateur aircraft enthusiasts spends every Saturday building a two-seat, single-wing plane out of wood and other common materials.

Members of the Murrieta chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, these local residents have spent the last six years building a 1928 model Pietenpol Air Camper from scratch. That's right. No kits, no factory-manufactured assemblies -- just a copy of the mechanical plans and good old-fashioned ingenuity.

And a 91-year-old former U.S. Air Force pilot as the technical counselor.

Art Froehlich, a Sun City resident who flew C-47 planes in Europe during World War II, is a member of the local chapter of the EAA and the organization's representative in overseeing construction of the aircraft. Froehlich designed some of the plane's custom parts and hopes to fly in the seat behind one of the other amateur pilots after the plane is certified by the FAA sometime next year.

"Everything they do, they show it to me," Froehlich said about his role as inspector during the building process. "I say either put it in the junk pile or put it on the airplane. It's always a work in progress."

French Valley Airport is located in a quiet, spacious valley just east of Murrieta. Its modest surroundings include two runways, hangars housing about 200 small planes, and a small terminal where locals eat at the French Valley Cafe.

Drivers passing by on Highway 79 probably have no idea that in addition to the many modern planes using the airport, there is in the development stages the replica of a vintage aircraft first designed just a few years after Art Froehlich was born.

The Pietenpol Air Camper was designed in 1928 by Bernard Pietenpol as a plane that would be affordable and easy to construct for home builders. In the decades since then, it has become popular among amateur plane builders.

"It's a very strong, safe, reliable and inexpensive plane," said Steve Williamson, president of Chapter 1279 of the EAA.

"The primary focus of the EAA is to allow pilots to pursue their dreams of aviation and flight, no matter what their economic status. Art was the first to suggest we do something like this to demonstrate our skills."

Most of the parts have been completed and the plane has been assembled previously. Recently, EAA members have taken off the wings -- which span about 29 feet -- and other parts in order to paint the body of the aircraft. Once it is ready for inspection, FAA officials will check out the plane and it will be test flown before being certified for use by local EAA members who are licensed pilots.

When that happens, it will be another realization of a dream in the life of Froehlich, who moved to Sun City from Florida 11 years ago.

"When (Charles) Lindbergh flew across the ocean, I became aware of aviation," Froehlich recalled. "Ever since I was old enough to hold a knife and use it, I made model airplanes."

After flying C-47s in World War II, Froehlich returned home to fly private aircraft and work as a maintenance foreman for American Airlines. He has been associated with the EAA since its early days in the 1950s, said Williamson. Froehlich remains a licensed pilot and has been up in a small plane as recently as two months ago, he said.

"My job is to keep us focused on the end product," Froehlich said. "A lot of builders start on a project like this and get sidetracked along the way. You have to be dedicated to do something like this."

Read more and photos:

North Carolina Civil Air Patrol Takes Part In Nationwide "Wreaths Across America"

Winston-Salem, NC -- The NC Civil Air Patrol took part in a special nationwide wreath-laying ceremony to honor the men and women that lost their lives while serving in our Armed Forces, at noon on Saturday.

The event, Wreaths Across America, is an annual nationwide service held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the same day at exactly the same time.

Saturday's ceremony, although short with regard to time, meant a great deal for the community, and for family members who remembered their loved ones who died fighting for our country.

The ceremony was conducted by the Winston-Salem Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.

Two of the notable wreath-laying ceremonies were held at Arlington National Cemetery and the World War II memorial.

A convoy in the northeast region carried wreaths to community events in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.

Pakistani forces take control of Shamsi airbase

Pakistani security forces today took control of a strategically important airbase in the country's southwest after US military personnel vacated the facility in line with a demand from the Pakistan government.

Pakistan had asked the US to vacate Shamsi airbase in Balochistan province after a cross-border NATO attack on two border posts killed 24 soldiers on November 26.

The US had been using the airbase since late 2001 for military operations in Afghanistan and drone strikes in Pakistan¿s tribal belt, according to American and Pakistani media reports.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had said last week that the US had been asked to vacate the airbase by December 11.

Troops from the Frontier Corps took control of the airbase late this evening after most of the US personnel left the airfield.

Only one US transport plane was parked at the airbase to transfer remaining personnel and equipment, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying.

Long Island man,David Smith, arrested after pointing laser at plane, cops. Man charged with obstructing government administration and could face more charges

A Long Island man was under arrest Saturday after he allegedly pointed a laser at a plane — and then at cops in a helicopter who were investigating the incident.   The Federal Aviation Administration informed Suffolk County Police late Friday that the aircraft was targeted by a green laser pointer on the ground.

As two officers in a police helicopter entered the airspace, they were also targeted by the laser, cops said.  Officers on the ground figured out where the light was coming from and arrested David Smith, 21, of Saint James, L.I.

He was charged with obstructing government administration and could face more charges since the case was referred to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Terrorism Task Force.   It’s unclear why Smith was using the laser, but the light can temporarily blind a pilot.

Police did not identify the plane was that originally targeted.

Airport Talk Dominates City Meeting. St Clair Regional Airport (K39), Missouri.

Even though only two related issues were on the board of aldermen's agenda on Monday, the St. Clair Regional Airport became a topic of discussion several different times throughout the evening when the group gathered for its regular meeting.

A pair of local airport proponents - Jim DeVries of Pacific and Gilbert Hoffman of rural St. Clair - questioned the aldermen, Mayor Ron Blum and City Administrator Rick Childers at various times during what was otherwise a quiet meeting.

Two bills relating to the airport unanimously were passed by the four-member board. One dealt with retaining the services of QED Airport & Aviation Consultants for another year to help in the pursuit of closing the facility on the city's north side, and the other concerned raising hangar space rental fees at the airport for 2012 by $20 per month.

Ron Price of QED has been working closely with city officials through the process of trying to close the local aviation facility to make way for proposed retail development. The Dec. 5 ordinance is "simply a continuation of the existing agreement with QED," Childers said. "Basically, everything stays the same."

The ordinance states that Mayor Ron Blum will enter into a professional services agreement with QED for "the provision of services to obtain a release of obligations for the St. Clair Regional Airport from the Federal Aviation Administration."

Price's fee is $150,000 but only payable if the city is successful in closing the facility.

The hangar fee ordinance raises current rent to $175 per month from $155. Tie-down fees remain at $25 per month. The ordinance also changes the vacancy notification period from 60 days to 30.

Before the ordinance was passed, Hoffman asked the board why there will be a rental fee increase.

"We've run this fund in a deficit for years," Blum said in response. "And it's still running a deficit. It's not fair to our citizens to not make everyone pay their fair share."

Hoffman also questioned the increase when no improvements have been made to the facility.

Ward 1 Alderman Connie Marrocco then suggested to Blum that the vote be taken on the hangar fee hike. He called for that vote immediately.

Before the regular meeting, during a public hearing about the 2012 proposed budget, DeVries - who rents hangar space locally - requested answers from Childers about the amount of money budgeted to pay insurance costs for the airport.

According to budget figures, Childers said the proposed figure is $6,900. DeVries questioned that amount, saying it should only be $1,500 according to information he had.

The city administrator responded that the amount has been discussed with MIRMA, the city's insurance carrier, and it's been determined to be "adequate."

Blum then chimed in.

"We've received no complaints about this from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)," he said. "Until we receive complaints, we will proceed as scheduled."

At the end of the meeting during the public comment period, Hoffman walked to the podium to ask more airport-related questions.

He first questioned the amount QED would receive for its services, and Blum reminded him that it would be $150,000 only if closure was successful. Hoffman then said he also wanted to bring up "several things," among them stating that the city will be "giving that money away" if the airport closes, the land it sits on is sold and the proceeds are given to the FAA to disperse among other airports in the area for improvement projects.

It's been estimated the airport land could be sold for about $2.5 million.

"I feel you're taking away from our city," Hoffman said.

Hoffman also said he wanted to be placed on a future board agenda so he could discuss the airport situation further.

"I'd like to bring out some clarifications on what's happened at our airport," he said.

When Blum asked what those were, Hoffman responded by saying he didn't want to reveal them "because you'll defend them."

Marrocco and Ward 2 Alderman Travis Dierker then got involved in the discussion.

"You bet we'll defend them," Marrocco said. "That's what we're supposed to do."

"We're here for our citizens," Dierker said, adding that he, too, will defend the city's decisions.

Blum also responded.

"We're on a course people want us to be on," he said. "That's the direction we're going to take."

The mayor then told Hoffman he can talk to Childers about future agendas, which the city sets to discuss and conduct business that officials believe need to be discussed.

Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee D, B & H Construction LLC, N999RR: Accident occurred December 09, 2011 in Chickasha, Oklahoma

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA101 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 09, 2011 in Chickasha, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-235D, registration: N999RR
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The non-instrument-rated private pilot obtained an outlook weather briefing and was told that instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along his route of flight, with ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities less than 3 miles in mist and fog. Weather at the time of departure was 600 feet overcast and 10 miles visibility. Weather at the time of the accident was 900 feet overcast and 7 miles visibility. Residents heard an engine at high power, followed by the ground shaking and the sound of impact. The airplane impacted the ground between two buildings in a near-vertical attitude. The buildings and an overhead power line were not struck. The engine and propeller were buried in the crater. All cables were on their respective pulleys and all cable breaks bore overload signatures. Based on the high speed impact at which the airplane struck the ground and the instrument conditions that existed in the vicinity, it is likely that the pilot became disoriented and lost control of the airplane. A postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

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

The non-instrument-rated pilot's decision to continue flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot’s spatial disorientation and loss of control of the airplane. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of instrument certification.


On December 9, 2011, about 2000 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-235D, N999RR, impacted terrain 5 miles west of Chickasha, Oklahoma. The pilot and a passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by B&H Construction, LLC, of Norman, Oklahoma, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions (MVMC) prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from Guymon (GUY) Oklahoma, about 1830, and was en route to Goldsby (K1K4), Oklahoma.

According to family members, the two men were returning home from a hunting trip in Guymon. The pilot telephoned the Fort Worth Automated Flight Service Station (FCFSS) at 1545, and requested an outlook briefing for a VFR (visual flight rules) flight from KGUY to Norman (KOUN), Oklahoma, about 5 miles north of Goldsby. He told the briefer that instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) currently prevailed at KGUY, and he wanted to depart KGUY in about two hours. The briefer told the pilot IMC would prevail along the first three-quarters of his route, with ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities less than 3 miles in mist and fog. These conditions were expected to continue until 0300 the next morning. The briefer said the forecast for KGUY until 2000 was for wind to be from 040 degrees at 8 knots, unlimited visibility, and 600 feet overcast. After 2000, conditions were expected to improve slightly with the wind from 190 degrees at 5 knots, unlimited visibility, with scattered clouds at 1,000 feet. At 2300, the wind would be from 210 at 5 knots, visibility 3 miles in mist, and a 1,000 foot overcast ceiling. The briefing ended at 1548.

The pilot departed KGUY approximately 1830. There were no radio communications with the pilot. Approximately 2030, residents near the accident site heard an engine at high power, followed by the ground shaking and the sound of impact. They searched the area and located the wreckage shortly thereafter.


The pilot, age 47, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, dated August 6, 2011. He was not instrument rated. He also held a third class airman medical certificate, dated March 10, 2011, containing no restrictions or limitations.

The pilot’s logbook was recovered at the accident site. It contained entries from January 15 to November 24, 2011, only. The logbook indicated that the pilot began taking flying lessons on January 15, started flying N999RR exclusively on March 21, and obtained his private pilot’s license on August 6, 2011. As of November 24, 2011 the pilot had accrued the following flight times:

Total time, 191.2
Pilot-in-command, 128.0
Solo, 98.8
Dual instruction, 62.8
Cross-country, 150.4
Simulated instruments, 3.1
Night, 16.3
PA-28-235, 182.5

A notebook containing tachometer readings was found in the wreckage. The last complete entry was dated November 24 for 30 minutes. The next entry, dated December 8, the day before the accident, had not been completed. The pilot had not flown bvetween November 24 and December 8.


N999RR (serial number 28-11339) was manufactured by the Piper Aircraft Corporation in 1969. It was powered by a Lycoming O-540-B4B5 (serial number L-13558-40), rated at 235 horsepower, driving a Hartzell 2-blade, all-metal, constant speed propeller (model number HC-C2YK-1B F). It was a four place, low wing airplane with a fixed landing gear and a gross weight of 2,900 pounds.

According to the aircraft’s maintenance records, the last annual and 100-hour inspections of the airframe, engine, and propeller were performed on March 2, 2011, at a tachometer time of 1,593.2 and a total airframe time of 3,983.6 hours, respectively. At that time, a 0-time overhauled engine was installed. The propeller was last overhauled on November 12, 2000.


The on-scene investigation revealed the airplane impacted the ground between two buildings in a near-vertical attitude. The buildings and an overhead power line were not struck. The engine and propeller were buried in the crater. All cables were on their respective pulleys and all cable breaks bore overload signatures. Two shotguns were found in the wreckage.


The weather at KGUY the time of departure was 600 feet overcast and 10 miles visibility. Chickasha’s weather at the time of the accident varied between 900 and 1,100 feet overcast and 7 miles visibility. Norman’s weather was 900 feet overcast and 7 miles visibility, and Oklahoma City was reporting a ceiling of 900 feet overcast and 6 miles visibility in haze.


Oklahoma’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the pilot. Death was attributed to multiple blunt force trauma. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) performed the toxicology screen. Carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed. No drugs were detected in muscle tissue, but 12 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol was detected in muscle tissue. According to CAMI, the circumstances of the accident rendered this reading as meaningless.


A Garmin GTN-650 Nav/Com/GPS and a Garmin GDL-69A Weather Data Receiver were recovered from the wreckage and sent to NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Laboratory. According to the specialist who examined the units, the GTN-650 is used in navigation. Its non-volatile memory only retains such things as flight plan catalogue, user settings, and recent frequencies; it does not retain flight data or track history. The GDL-69A is a data source to other Garmin units; it has no data storage of it’s own.


FAA's AC (Advisory Circular) 60-4A, entitled “Pilot’s Spatial Disorientation,” states that disorientation is caused by a lack of visual reference to the natural horizon, and can be brought about by low visibility, night conditions, and reflected light from the anticollision rotating beacon. Disorientation can cause the pilot to inadvertently place the airplane in a dangerous attitude. To avoid becoming disoriented, the Advisory recommends that pilots obtain training and maintain proficiency in aircraft control by reference to instruments, to rely solely on those instrument indications, and to avoid flying in poor or deteriorating weather conditions.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Two men were killed in a small plane crash in Grady County late Friday night. Pilot Rocky Joe Beller, 47, of Goldsby, and his passenger, Calvin Scott Beller, 50, of Purcell, were killed in the crash at about 11 p.m., according to an alert from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the crash.

A small plane owned by an Oklahoma construction company crashed, killing at least one person, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Saturday.
Citizens reported hearing a crash about 9:30 p.m. Friday, and deputies later confirmed the Piper PA-28 had crashed about five miles south of Chickasha, FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said. Chickasha is about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Herwig said at least one person died in the crash, but authorities weren't sure how many people were on board.

Tom Dodson, of B&H Construction LLC in Norman, said the company owned the plane and two people were on board. He identified them as company co-owner Rocky Beller and his cousin, Calvin Scott Beller.

Beller, 47, owned B&H Construction with his two brothers and was a pilot, Dodson said.

"He's flown quite a bit of hours, I think, but only finished getting his license over the summer," he said. "Studied a whole lot with it."

Dodson wasn't sure where Beller may have been flying.

Herwig said there is an airport in Chickasha, but authorities weren't sure where the plane took off from or was headed.

The medical examiner is on the scene of a plane crash two-and-a-half miles west of Grand Ave. and 29th St., said Grady County Sheriff Art Kell.

He said a witness reporting hearing a "boom" when the plane hit the ground around 8 p.m. Friday evening. The witness called dispatch, Kell said, and members of the Pioneer Fire Department found the wreckage at about 10 p.m.

No information was available on the type of aircraft or how many victims may be involved.

"It's in pieces," Kell said. "You can't even tell it was a plane. There are pieces of corpse."

The sheriff was able to dispell speculation that the plane might have been a Festival of Light tour plane.

"We think it might have been a hunting trip. We found shotgun shells and hunting vests," he said.

Kell said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is working the scene, but the sheriff's office will provide security through the night until the FAA arrives Saturday morning to continue the investigation.

"I talked to a trooper who has been around here 12 years and he said this is the first crash he knows of around here," Kell said. He also said more information would not be available until Monday.
A small plane has crashed southwest of Oklahoma City, killing at least one person.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig says citizens reported hearing a crash about 9:30 p.m. Friday, and deputies later confirmed the crash about five miles south of Chickasha.

Chickasha is about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Herwig said Saturday the plane was a Piper PA-28 and its wreckage has been found. He says at least one person was killed, but authorities aren't sure how many people were on board.

The plane was registered to B&H Construction LLC in Norman, and employee Tom Dodson says two people were on board. Dodson says one was company co-owner Rocky Beller and the other was his cousin, Calvin Scott Beller.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A small plane has crashed southwest of Oklahoma City, killing at least one person.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig says citizens reported hearing a crash about 9:30 p.m. Friday, and deputies later confirmed the crash about five miles south of Chickasha.

Chickasha is about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Herwig said Saturday the plane was a Piper PA-28 and its wreckage has been found. He says at least one person was killed, but authorities aren't sure how many people were on board.

The plane was registered to B&H Construction LLC in Norman, and employee Tom Dodson says two people were on board. Dodson says one was company co-owner Rocky Beller and the other was his cousin, Calvin Scott Beller.

Appeal halts publication of Connemara plane crash report

The publication of a report into a plane crash in Connemara has been halted after an appeal was lodged.

Airs Corps personnel, 32 year old Captain Derek Furniss from Dublin and 22 year old Cadet, David Jenins from Wexford were killed in the crash near Cornamona in October 2009.

According to the Irish Independent, the final report's publication has now been halted by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

The technical report which examines the probable cause of the crash was completed two months ago by the Air Accident Investigation Unit.

The setback in its publication follows the activation of a clause that was never before used in Irish air crash legislation.

It was invoked by an appeal lodged by someone who, to date, remains unidentified.

A Missed Approach in the Meggitt Equipped PA46 Meridian. Master Instructor Dick Rochfort

By RWR Pilot Training on Nov 26, 2011

Ride along with Master Instructor Dick Rochfort on an in-flight demonstration of a missed approach in the Meggitt equipped Piper PA46 Meridian. Dick uses proper callouts and well documented, disciplined procedures to ensure the safety of this challenging flight.

Dick Rochfort is a full-time pilot trainer specializing in the PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage and Meridian aircraft. He provides pre-purchase valuation, training, corporate service and expert witness services worldwide.

A former corporate pilot and primary flight instructor, Dick is a full-time Master Certified Flight Instructor providing insurance approved initial and recurrent pilot training exclusively in the Piper PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage, and Meridian aircraft. He is currently flying over 450 hours per year and trains 60-80 pilots every year exclusively in these aircraft.

He holds multi-engine ATP and Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificates with CFII, MEI and CE-525S ratings. He has been actively involved in flight training since 1991 and has trained pilots all over the US, Canada and Europe.

Dick is an Aviation Safety Counselor for the FAA Baltimore Flight Standards District Office, a National Industry Member of the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) and has conducted hundreds of programs for the pilot community. The National Association of Flight Instructors has designated him Master CFI. Less than 1% of all flight instructors have earned this designation.

Austrian Airlines highlights five years in Erbil

Erbil's best choice for flight has big plans for the future

Austrian Airlines, the first European carrier to fly to Erbil, celebrates five years of friendly flight over Kurdistan's airways.

Five years ago, on December 11, 2006, Austrian Airlines' first civilian aircraft, an Airbus A319, landed at Erbil International Airport. Today, five years later, Austrian Airlines is still a leading carrier operating between Erbil and the world, and the favorite choice for Kurdish and international politicians and business people.

When Austrian Airlines launched its flights to Erbil in 2006, there were not many choices for Kurdistan passengers to reach various destinations around the globe or fly from around the world to Kurdistan, and a fast-growing, emerging economy had started at a fast pace with the Iraq rebuilding process.

The decision by Austrian Airlines to launch flights to Kurdistan Region's capital city at that time encouraged international investors and businessmen to look for opportunities within the new market.

With more than 130 destinations worldwide, Austrian Airlines is operated through the Vienna International Airport and is the No. 1 choice for passengers flying to virtually any destination in Europe and other destinations from Erbil.

The quality of service, comfort and punctuality of schedules are among numerous competitive advantages Austrian Airlines has over other carriers flying to and from Erbil. The airline won two "First Awards" at the World Airlines Awards: "Best Business Class Catering" and "Staff Service Excellence Europe." By bringing this worldwide quality of service to Kurdistan, Austrian Airlinescan claim to be a pioneer in Kurdistan's market.

KrekarGardi, Austrian Airlines' Erbil branch sales manager, stated in an exclusive interview with "The Kurdish Globe" that during its five years of operation in Kurdistan, the airline has been able to connect Kurdistan's economy to the international market, channel international expertise into the Kurdish market, and help the Kurdish Diaspora in Europe visit families back in Kurdistan to spend holidays and share the happiness of national and social events among their families, relatives, and friends.

"We have sponsored many concerts, Kurdish film festivals, and other traditional and cultural events both in Kurdistan and Europe," said Gardi, thumbing a USB flash memory in the shape of an Austrian aircraft in his office on Shoresh Street in Erbil. "We have assisted students and academic staff from Kurdistan in visiting Europe for educational and academic purposes."

Gardi explained how Austrian Airlines has helped patients seeking treatment abroad by providing special seating, in-flight medical services and discounted flight tickets as well as other airport formalities.

As part of its corporate social responsibility in Kurdistan Region, the airline has distributed tons of toys and stationery to poor students in a number of schools in villages around the city of Erbil. "We were thinking of doing something for Kurdistan children, and the idea came to our minds to ask all our staff around the world to send a toy to Kurdistan," said Gardi. "After awhile, we received a few tons of toys from around the globe in Vienna, and we distributed them among children in some villages."

Austrian Airlines also claims to have facilitated and accelerated the region's rebuilding and infrastructure development by transporting a majority of experts and investors to help the country; they flew out locals from the private and public sectors to share experiences and get training abroad.

The airline was also the world's first to make its on board announcements in Kurdish and offer electronic tickets, web check-in and other online facilities for Erbil passengers. And though the number of carriers and flights continuously increases in Kurdistan and more airlines compete, Austrian Airlines is still among the favorite carriers for passengers.

Gardi argues that one of his company's sources of pride in Kurdistan and an indication or its unique service and quality is that the airline has been and is still the only preferred carrier by Kurdistan Region's President Massoud Barzani, and it is his exclusive airline choice to have the honor to have His Excellency on board for his international meetings and tours.

"Austrian AIrlines is preferred also by many other government officials, businessmen, investors and other VIP passengers, something that makes us try our best to maintain and improve our service quality."

Austrian management plans to further its services and work harder to satisfyits customers. The airline's slogan is "We fly for your smile!"Now, with the help of Lufthansa, the airline has six flights scheduled per week, except Sundays, from and to Erbil.

Furthermore, customers of Austrian Airlines can benefit from its Miles & More program and use the best lounges in the world, thanks to the airline's membership in the Star Alliance. The airline has plans to improve several aspects of its services, including customer service staff who speak six different languages and are accessible 24 hours a day/seven days a week.

"Our well-trained, motivated and multilingual staff are always there to make our clients smile," noted Gardi. "We are determined to keep the emphasis on our competitive advantages, including best network, highest standards of quality and utmost hospitality."