Saturday, January 07, 2012

FLORIDA: Tampa International Airport (KTPA) plans $27.6 million expansion to accommodate international flights, fix bottlenecks

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport plans to spend $27.6 million to expand its oldest airside terminal to accommodate increased international flights and eliminate bottlenecks at security gates and baggage claim areas.

Nearly all of TIA's international flights arrive and depart from Airside F, which was built in 1987. The expansion would allow the airport to handle three wide-body international flights, such as 767s, simultaneously, said airport CEO Joe Lopano, who has made expanded international travel a top priority since he was hired a year ago.

Lopano recently landed TIA's first new flights to Europe in 15 years. In May, Edelweiss begins flying between Tampa and Zurich, Switzerland, twice weekly.

The airport already has nonstop flights to Canada and London and four flights a week to Cuba — and is hungry for more.

By fall, the Edelweiss and British Airways flights will arrive within an hour of each other at Airside F — which also handles domestic carriers such as American Airlines and US Airways, along with Cayman Airways, SkyKing and WestJet.

The renovations, subject to approval by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board, would expand the international baggage claim area at Airside F and the security area upstairs.

The airside was built long before the heightened security requirements imposed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The result is a frequent bottleneck at the shuttle to take passengers to and from the landside terminal.

At peak times, arriving passengers must work their way past a long line of departing passengers awaiting security clearance that snakes all the way to the shuttle entrance. It's a confusing, chaotic situation that can stress out passengers worried about missing flights — people such as Bob Simon of Hartford, Conn.

Simon arrived Thursday morning an hour early for his flight, but a problem with his bag at check-in delayed him 20 minutes. When he stepped off the shuttle at Airside F, "I lost a heartbeat,'' he said.

A horde of weary passengers snaked past him to the end of the shuttle. And that was just the first line. Once he got through that, he would be directed to yet another line before clearing security and boarding his plane. With only 20 minutes before departure, he asked a TIA official what to do. She escorted him to the front of the line.

But he might have made it without the help. Don Shackell and his wife, Deb, were in the same line, waiting to fly home to Toronto, and were concerned when they saw the crowd. "We thought we might be long through this, but it's moving quickly,'' she said.

Still, it's not the TIA way. The airport has earned an international reputation for its ease of use. Lopano wants to make sure international travelers get the same experience.

He knows he has work to do. Most international passengers arriving at TIA must handle their luggage at two different baggage claim belts — one at the airside terminal to get through customs and a second at the main landside terminal. They also must jostle past airline and concession employees through a narrow hallway before making their way up an escalator or aboard a cramped elevator.

The nearly $28 million project is intended to solve all those problems.

Two baggage claim carousels and two passport booths would be added to the international arrival area. That would add room to accommodate up to 900 passengers arriving at the same time. It also would allow international passengers to handle their bags just once, just as domestic passengers do. Security clearance on the main level would be expanded so lines would move more quickly and not run all the way to the shuttles. To do that, concession areas will be moved to expand the security area.

The expansion also would position the airport for future growth in international flights. "An airport should always have capacity in reserve,'' Lopano said Thursday. You need to be ready whenever new business opportunities come along "and we are continuing to aggressively market, especially to Europe,'' he said. European flights tend to arrive and depart about the same time: late afternoon or early evening.

The airport once had bigger plans: Move all international flights to a new $1 billion North Terminal by 2015. But those plans were shelved until at least 2023 because the economic downturn has decreased passenger counts over the past four years.

The aviation authority board will consider the renovation plan on Thursday. If approved, design would begin in March and construction of the first phase could be finished by year's end, with the airside operating throughout the renovation. The project would be finished by September 2013. It would be paid for with revenue from passenger facility charges, state transit grants and a $3 million loan.


FLORIDA: First year for Tampa airport chief: Praise, promise, pressure

TAMPA --  Joe Lopano was on vacation in the final days of his first year as Tampa International Airport chief executive but showed up at his office anyway.

"I wanted to review some financial presentations in the morning and spend some time walking through the terminals," Lopano said two days before New Year's. "Then our family will spend the weekend watching football and if it's warm enough, we will get on the water to kayak."

Lopano, 57, has lived up to the energetic reputation he brought to Tampa from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where he oversaw the marketing, customer service and real estate departments.

"High motor guy – always on the go," Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board member Joe Diaco wrote in Lopano's performance review. The five board members rated Lopano a combined average of 4.8 on a five point scale in their fiscal-year ending reviews on Sept. 30.

"Exceeds expectations," said board member Steve Burton, managing partner of Broad and Cassel's Tampa law office. "He should be given a pay increase per his contract based on superior job performance."

That sparked one of the few public hiccups in Lopano's first year in Tampa.

When the board proposed a $50,000 pay raise atop Lopano's annual $305,000 pay package, Lopano rejected it, avoiding a public relations brouhaha during the poor economy. The board deferred consideration of pay issues until 2012.

Lopano also restructured top management – a dicey task for any new leader – with little apparent turbulence.

"Basically, we laid the framework and foundation for success in 2011, whether it was creating an air service incentive program or investing in our airlines (lowering airport user fees), or pumping $30 million into projects to improve our terminal facilities," Lopano said.

Lopano's first major proposal of 2012 is a $27.6 million upgrade to the international airside terminal.

"This year it's all about teamwork, collaborating not only within our ranks but continuing to do so within the community."

Lopano's title as "chief executive" rather than "airport director" reflects the aviation authority's mission statement to be a major driver in the Tampa Bay region's economic growth.

Downtown business interests, including the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, have intensified their economic development focus. Chamber president and chief executive, Bob Rohrlack, is a close associate of Burton, the aviation authority chairman.

"We are continuing the work to support the airport and Port of Tampa," Rohrlack said. "We are focused on supporting the flights to Cuba and the upcoming flights to Zurich, Switzerland, that start in May."

A new airport initiative is a five-year, $2 million marketing and branding campaign by Paradise Advertising of St. Petersburg to help bring in more flights and markets, the airport's first such marketing agency in seven years.

"Lopano is doing a great job," Hillsborough County commissioner Mark Sharpe said. "He's charging ahead to make the airport a key driver for business and economic development in Florida."

But to keep the high praise coming, performance must match promise. Pressure will mount to recruit direct flights to Central and South America, long a goal for the business travelers and residents who must trek to Orlando or Miami for that service.

Sharpe would like to see new direct flights to the West Coast, along with new aircraft maintenance and repair facilities to create jobs in Tampa. But recruitment sometimes lies beyond what local interests can control.

For example, Tampa in part owes its Zurich flight to a change in Edelweiss Air's original plans to fly a new Airbus 330 between Switzerland and Japan. Following the nuclear plant disaster, Edelweiss shifted the airliner to Orlando. Then Tampa stepped in with Lopano's incentive package, which will provide Edelweiss $700,000 worth of subsidies.

"We can't tell airlines where to put their new airplane, but we need to control the message," Lopano said.


Body Found Near Orlando International Airport (KMCO), Florida.

Orlando Police Detectives are investigating a body found Saturday afternoon in woods near the Orlando International Airport.

According to a news release, a 27 year-old white male is the victim. The body was found near the 5100 block of south Semoran Blvd. in Orlando.

Member of the homicide unit, crime scene unit and medical examiners responded to the scene.

Orlando police are investigating after a man was found dead Saturday afternoon in woods a few miles north of Orlando International Airport.

A police spokesman said the 27-year-old victim was found near the 5100 block of south Semoran Blvd., between Gatlin and Hoffner avenues.

Members of the homicide unit, crime scene unit and medical examiners were called to the scene. The victim's name was not released.

Police have not released any details of the man's death.


FLORIDA: Helicopter makes emergency landing on Alligator Alley

A helicopter made an emergency landing on Alligator Alley Saturday night, authorities said.

No one was injured and the helicopter was quickly cleared from the roadway, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.

The helicopter was experiencing mechanical problems when it safely landed near mile marker 41 at about 6:40 p.m.

Traffic was minimally impacted.


John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA) looks to hire private gate guards. Santa Ana, California.

Armed but private security guards would watch over the airfield gates at John Wayne Airport under a proposed contract that would free more than a dozen sheriff's officers to patrol the terminals.

The Orange County board of supervisors is scheduled to vote on the contract Tuesday. It would pay a San Diego-based security firm about $750,000 a year to station guards at three vehicle checkpoints.

Those checkpoints are where aircraft owners, freight deliveries and other authorized visitors get onto the airfield itself. The traveling public does not use them.

Until now, the Orange County Sheriff's Department has staffed those checkpoints with special officers, at a current cost of around $1.8 million a year, airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said. She attributed the far higher cost to the officers' higher pay, their benefits and the expense of equipping them.

The airport wants to move those 16 special officers into its new Terminal C, and bring in four additional officers to help with patrols there.

The private guards who would replace them at the vehicle gates would carry guns but would operate under strict limits of their authority, according to the proposed contract. They would check credentials, inspect vehicles coming through the gates and, if needed, could make citizen's arrests.

The contract requires them to report any security problems or suspicious activity to the Sheriff's Department. It forbids them from attempting to "force or enforce corrective action (other than escort individuals from the premises)."

The company chosen to supply the guards, Heritage Security Services, has provided security to such high-profile events as the Super Bowl, World Series and a presidential visit, according to its website. That website does not list any other airport clients; a company spokesman did not return a call for comment.

Heritage Security beat out five other companies whose bids the airport considered. The proposed contract, worth $746,641, would last for one year and could be renewed for four additional years.

The Sheriff's Department and the Transportation Security Administration have been briefed on the proposed gate-security plan, according to a staff report to county supervisors.


Beech Baron: Hard Landing Shuts Down Runway. John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA) Santa Ana, California.

Airport runway closed after plane's hard landing

The runway used by private aircraft is expected to reopen in the next hour, officials said.

One John Wayne Airport runway is temporarily closed after a plane had a hard landing Saturday afternoon.

The general-aviation runway has been shut down because a private plane landed with its nose gear up, meaning its front wheel was not extended.

The five people who were on board the Beechcraft Baron are safe, airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said.

The main runway that handles commercial airlines has not been affected, Wedge said.

The general-aviation runway is expected to reopen by 6 p.m., she said, after the plane is towed from the runway.

This is the second time this week that a private plane has had problems with its nose gear at John Wayne's short runway. On Thursday afternoon, the nose gear of a Cessna 172 collapsed as the plane landed. Two people were on board but were not injured.
A private plane hit the ground hard today, closing a runway.

Everyone was safe on the ground at John Wayne Airport Saturday afternoon after a private plane's nose gear failed to descend upon landing.

Airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said the Federal Aviation Administration will likely investigate the cause of the malfunction.

The accident, which happened at about 4:30 p.m., is not affecting commercial flights, which take off from the main runway that is unaffected by closure.

Wedge said at about 5:30 p.m. Orange County Firefighters from the airport's on-site OCFA station were preparing to haul the plane away.


Police arrest three car robbers who tried to steal at the Las Americas International Airport

Santo Domingo.– Two men and a woman were arrested last night at the Las Americas International Airport (AILA), while trying to break into a vehicle by smashing a window, the National Police reported today.

The detainees are Domingo Matos Cuevas (26), Eduardo Perez Perdomo (23) and Marina Fortuna (21), who reside in La Cienaga, in the capital, and have a criminal record for stealing vehicles from parking lots and avenues.

Matos Cuevas had gone to trial three times for vehicle theft, whereas Eduardo Perez Perdomo been been brought to trial twice for robbery.

Air Choice One coming to Northeast Arkansas

Officials of Air Choice One, the St. Louis-based air carrier that has been approved to provide essential air service for Jonesboro, told members of the Jonesboro Municipal Airport Commission and city officials Wednesday that it wants to be more than simply a provider of air service between Jonesboro and St. Louis International Airport.

“We want to be a part of your community,” said Air Choice One Chief Executive Officer Shane Storz.

Air Choice One (ACO) representatives, including Storz, Chief Pilot Murphy Ownbey and Katie West, sales and promotions representative, along with Brian Kinsey, assistant director of marketing and business development for St. Louis International, attended the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce “Power Breakfast” Wednesday morning and followed that up with a meeting with airport and city officials at the terminal building at the airport.

The airline will begin essential air service on Feb. 13 with a weekly 16-flight schedule it announced earlier, with multiple flights on Sundays and weekdays and a single flight into and out of Jonesboro on Saturdays.

Air Choice One is also offering $25 one-way rates on a temporary basis to introduce local residents and business officials to the air service, airline officials said. While the $25 flights are being offered on a temporary basis, officials said a termination date for the reduced rates has not been set.

A 10-day flight schedule is available at the airline’s Web site,, and bookings can be made now, the officials said Wednesday.

Storz said the airline currently has three Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, with 8- or 9-passenger capability and one Piper Navajo.

“We hope to add a fourth Caravan soon,” the CEO said.

He said ACO has been talking with officials at Branson, Mo., about future service there which could provide air connection to the resort and entertainment community from Jonesboro and other areas served by the airline.

He also said ACO is considering the purchase of a larger aircraft in order to be able to offer special events packages, such as Red Wolves sporting events.

Kinsey said the St. Louis airport is happy to be able to work with ACO and others to provide additional travel services.

“It’s important for us to be able to tie in with communities such as Jonesboro,” Kinsey said. He noted that the airport can provide grants and other funding as well as promotions for additional travel opportunities.

One member of the Airport Commission noted that there has never before been an offer of that or any other kind of support from under previous essential air service arrangements.

Kinsey said the St. Louis airport wants to partner with the community, and one of the ways is through the grants that can help promote the air travel services that are available.

He said the airport also provides grants to the air carriers to be able to do some things that it may not have a budget for.

The airport also has special travel promotions, including free trips, that can help to remind people of the services and travel opportunities available through the St. Louis airport.

Currently, SeaPort Airlines is providing EAS service between Jonesboro and Memphis. While the meeting was going on Wednesday, a SeaPort airplane landed and a passenger disembarked.

Officials said they are not sure when SeaPort would discontinue flights to and from Memphis International but added that there may be a gap in air service as one service ends and Air Choice One begins.


Horry County, South Carolina: County leaders want more details about companies receiving incentives

AvCraft mechanic Kevin Dorsey works on an airplane propeller in the AvCraft hangar in Myrtle Beach 
(Charles D. Perry | The Herald).

By Charles D. Perry
The Herald

When some Horry County Council members found out AvCraft Technical Services would be getting $200,000 in incentives to expand, they were frustrated.

Now, those council members say they will handle incentives negotiations differently.

“There were quite a few council members that were shocked when the announcement came down, given our history with AvCraft,” said councilman Marion Foxworth. “When we first started talking about incentives, the example that a few of us gave of things to look out for was AvCraft.”

Licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, AvCraft specializes repairing and maintaining planes that carry 32-75 passengers. The Myrtle Beach company has 50 employees now, but last week AvCraft officials announced that they plan to expand their operation and add 150 workers during the next five years.

As part of the arrangement, AvCraft is getting $100,000 from the county and $100,00 from the state.

For some county council members, the problem is that the company’s predecessor, which was also called AvCraft, failed to deliver on some of its job creation promises. The new ownership has been in place since 2010.

Foxworth said he didn’t know who was getting the $100,000 when he voted to award it. However, he said, he won’t be voting blindly again and plans ask more questions about companies looking for incentives to expand or relocate here.

He also wants the county to structure incentives in a way that rewards benefits for job growth.

“I’m concerned about providing the incentives up front and hoping that they produce,” Foxworth said.

Councilman Harold Worley asked about setting up those kind of benchmarks at last month’s council meeting. Although Worley couldn’t be reached for comment this week, councilman Carl Schwartzkopf said he, too, wants to provide incentives to companies that reach specific goals.

“I’m a firm believer in paying on performance,” Schwartzkopf said, adding that offering incentives should be like rewarding a child for raking a lawn. “If you look at Hershey bar without nuts in it, it’s got all these little squares. OK, well, you rake the front lawn, you get two squares. You rake the side lawn, you get two more squares. You rake the other side, you get two squares. You rake the back lawn … and then you’ve got the whole candy bar.

“But I’m not going to give the kid the candy bar and then go ahead and [ask him to] rake the lawn because I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen. The kid’s going to take the candy bar, go down the street, eat it and then the next time you see him [he’ll say] ‘I haven’t gotten around to it yet.’”

Along with Foxworth, Schwartzkopf plans to take a more active role in researching companies that request incentives. He wants the council to meet with economic development officials in closed sessions to talk about prospective companies before any votes are cast. There, he said, he plans to ask about everything from the company’s history to its management philosophy.

“You can rest assured that Carl’s going to ask a whole lot more questions in the future,” he said. “When people stand in front of us again and ask for money, they probably better feel that they’re in court and they’re under cross examination.”

EDC leader stresses caution

AvCraft’s jobs are the first announced since local leaders restructured the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and hired CEO Brad Lofton. After years of dismal job growth, officials decided it was time to overhaul the EDC and bring in new leadership.

When asked about council members’ AvCraft concerns, Lofton defended the project, saying the state spent a year vetting it.

“It’s a new company, new ownership,” he said, adding that the state chipped in $100,000. “They don’t just do that for anybody.”

He noted that said some clawback provisions will protect the county’s investment. For example, AvCraft will be required to hire a third of the 150 workers within 18 months.

“We’re not going to give them a five-year blank check,” he said.

AvCraft needed the incentives money up front to improve infrastructure and buy equipment so it could begin hiring, Lofton said.

Going forward, the county has the flexibility to structure its incentives any way it chooses to, he said. However, he stressed that leaders not be rigid. Other counties are competing for the same industry.

“Every one of those counties is just as hungry as we are,” Lofton said. “You’ve got a delicate line that you’ve got to balance. You’ve got to make sure you’re protecting the taxpayer, but at the end of the day you’ve got to do what it takes to win the project. And that’s a challenge.”

The only major change Lofton expects in the incentives discussions will be that he’ll talk about the companies with the council in a closed session before leaders vote on what to offer.

He hopes those conversations will take place near the end of the negotiating process to decrease the chance that critical details are leaked.

As for the AvCraft deal, he said it was a learning experience and communication between his office and county leaders will improve.

“I felt like everybody was briefed on it,” he said. “But if not, then we’ll just figure out a way to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I think it’s more of a procedural issue than anything. We’re a young economic development group, just beginning. And we’re working through those things.”

One benefit of helping a company like AvCraft, Lofton said, is that the business can be an ambassador for the county.

“I sure as heck hope that AvCraft can say, ‘Yes, these guys helped us expand and it’s a good community to locate in,’” he said. “I think $100,000 is not a lot to ask for somebody that can be a good testimony for you.”

Lofton’s contract stipulates that me must bring 500 jobs to the county within 18 months of his first day at work. He was hired in March.

Last month — at the same meeting where council members approved the AvCraft incentives — Lofton said he’s working with five local companies on expansions that would generate 285 jobs.


REDjet sets its sights on Suriname

Low cost airline REDjet has set its sights on another destination, Suriname.

According to reports coming out of that South American country, the airline is to obtain a license to add the destination to its ever growing schedule.

Suriname’s Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Lackin, outlined to ‘de Ware Tijd’, that the national airline SLM had been requested to study possibilities for flights to Barbados. The company was not interested, so when the Barbadian government submitted an official request for landing rights for REDjet, the opportunity was seized with both hands.

“My Barbadian counterpart wrote to me about this issue, and we invited REDjet to talk,” he stated.

Lackin pointed out that no airline had requested permission for regular scheduled flights between the two countries, in spite of the fact that Suriname and Barbados have had a mutual aviation agreement for years.

While the contract is currently being fully examined, it is expected that REDjet could have its license as soon as next month.

The Surinamese paper also outlined that co-founder of the airline Robbie Burns, was interested in flights to Suriname, but no official request had been submitted then.

A survey was conducted on the feasibility of entering the Surinamese market. REDjet abstained from investments, though, because there is a national carrier in Suriname. The company was focusing on 16 destinations, after several governments in the region were open to welcome a low-tariff airline.

Except for the airport tax, a one way ticket to any REDjet destination can be as low as US$ 10.


CityJet takes on British Airways with Scots flights

A BATTLE for Anglo-Scottish business air passengers is looming as CityJet prepares to announce new flights and consolidate operations in Edinburgh.

The Air France-KLM-owned airline is expected to unveil extra services between the Scottish capital and London City airport, which has become a favourite among business travellers.

A new route from Aberdeen to the Docklands airport is also in the offing, along with more flights from Dundee. Aberdeen was chosen because several oil firms have Docklands offices, and flights to Heathrow are expected to be reduced if BA takes over BMI.

CityJet chief executive Christine Ourmieres told Scotland on Sunday that the new base at Edinburgh Airport, with 42 staff, signalled the start of a new battle to win passengers from rival British Airways. The base will also serve Air France’s feeder route between Edinburgh and its Paris hub.

The moves will further increase the presence of the airline group – Europe’s third-biggest after Lufthansa and Ryanair – in Scotland.

KLM already claims to be the country’s favourite long-haul carrier, flying more passengers via its Amsterdam hub than BA through Heathrow.

However, BA carries some two-thirds of passengers on the Edinburgh-London City route, on which ScotAirways – CityJet’s predecessor – was once pre-eminent. BA operates six return flights a day, compared with CityJet’s three.

However, aviation experts said Dublin-based CityJet faced a tough task because BA operated larger and more efficient aircraft on the route.

Ourmieres said: “The new base shows our commitment for the future – it is the next step of our development in Scotland. We will try our best against BA and are confident of winning market share.

“We are working with airport authorities and finalising our plans, which include improving the frequency of flights.”

Ourmieres said she was optimistic about passenger growth. “We do not see the economy coming back in a huge way in 2012, but we expect some improvement and more business travellers,” she said.

“Even when restructuring, businesses will still need to travel, and hopefully the worst is now past.”

Despite stressing that London City would remain a “niche business airport”, she also saw scope in attracting more Scottish passengers, such as second-home owners, to transfer there to the airline’s 15 mainland Europe routes. A route to Brest has just been added.

She said CityJet expects to have broken even last year after losses were more than halved from ¤51 million to ¤23m in 2010.

Ourmieres attributed this to increased aircraft flying hours and crew productivity, while staff numbers have been cut by 6 per cent to fewer than 1,000 since she joined in 2010.

Aviation analyst John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, said CityJet could benefit from passengers keen for a choice of airline, especially with BA’s impending takeover of rival BMI on the Scotland- Heathrow routes.

However, he said their less fuel-efficient aircraft put them at a disadvantage, and it was too early to tell whether business confidence would improve.

Laurie Price, director of aviation strategy at consultancy Mott MacDonald, said: “It’s going to be quite a challenge for CityJet. BA has the right aircraft and are really focused on the premium market at London City.”


Investigator: Drop charges in Coast Guard crash

JUNEAU, Alaska - Negligent homicide and other charges against the sole survivor of a deadly 2010 Coast Guard helicopter crash should be dismissed, an investigating officer has determined.

Capt. Andrew Norris, in recommendations obtained by The Associated Press, said he doesn't conclude that Lt. Lance Leone was faultless during the flight. But Norris said the charges against him - negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and destroying military property - focus on alleged navigational failures by Leone and tie those to the destruction of a helicopter and death of two crew members.

"It is in this focus, and in making this tie, that I believe the charged offenses fail," he wrote.

Norris' recommendations will be reviewed by the Coast Guard commander in Alaska, Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo. He is not bound by them.

Leone, who has earned a long list of Coast Guard awards and accolades, including commendation medals, was co-pilot of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flying from Astoria, Ore., to the crew's base in Sitka, Alaska, when it hit an unmarked span of low-hanging wires and crashed off LaPush, Wash., in July 2010, killing three.

The negligent homicide charges were related to the deaths of crew members Brett Banks and Adam C. Hoke. Leone did not face a charge related to the death of the pilot, Lt. Sean Krueger.

Prosecutors, during a military hearing last month, argued that Leone did not fulfill his duties, which included acting as a navigator and safety officer, and should face court martial. Leone's civilian defense attorney, John Smith, countered that the Coast Guard had "set a trap" by not marking the power lines that the aircraft hit.

The crash's lead investigator called the lines a contributing factor but also said there was no reason for the aircraft to be flying so low. The prosecution maintained there was no requirement that the lines be marked because they were below 200 feet.

The wires, the site of at least two other accidents, were the responsibility of the Coast Guard. They sloped from 190 feet to about 36 feet. At the time of the 2010 crash, marking balls were pooled near a pole, above land, at the low point, not along the span. The helicopter hit at about 114 feet, according to testimony and the court record.

Smith said Leone had programmed the helicopter on a track that would have missed the wires, but Krueger deviated from that, dropping in altitude as he flew over a Coast Guard vessel in the channel. Seconds later, the aircraft struck the wires.

Norris said he doesn't believe that a reasonable navigator would have identified, through study of charts, hazards reasonably close by that would have posed no threat to the helicopter along its planned route.

Norris said Leone and Krueger discussed navigational aspects of a feature about 10 minutes before the crash, making clear, he said, that Leone was consulting a navigational chart or charts at the time. Referencing the hearing transcript, Norris said Krueger's plan to deviate from the flight plan was unexpected and unannounced. Leone didn't provide verbal navigational information at that point.

"As it is inconceivable that the accused would have failed to have provided such warnings had he known of the hazard, it is reasonable to conclude that the accused did not know of, or discover the presence of, the wires before the helicopter flew into them," Norris said.

Norris also investigated whether Leone was derelict in his duty for not advising Krueger that they were flying too low at certain points in the flight and recommending a rise in altitude. This arose during the hearing, and prosecutors said they did not seek the new charge.

Norris, in his report, said he believes "reasonable grounds do exist" to believe Leone "committed the crime of negligent dereliction of duty" for not questioning or speaking up about the altitude.

It could be argued, he said, that had Leone advised Krueger that he was flying too low for the circumstances at one or several points in the flight that it may have helped dissuade Krueger from making "the snap, fatal decision" to fly over the Coast Guard vessel at low altitude. This in, turn, may have prevented the crash, he said. "Proceeding in accordance with this theory is the only way I can see to causally link the accused's derelictions with the crash and deaths," Norris wrote.

"However," he said, "I do not believe that the government could prove this link to a reasonable fact-finder, as it requires speculations and suppositions as to what Lt. Krueger may or may not have done in response to such advisements, if given, that are simply unknowable."

He said he doesn't believe that disciplinary action is warranted in that instance but said it could be addressed through training and other "non-punitive measures."

In testimony, the commanding officer of Air Station Sitka, Cmdr. William Cameron, said that if anything would have stopped the crash, it would have been stronger cockpit communication skills. But Cameron also said he didn't think Krueger would have listened had Leone spoken up about the drop in altitude, saying he believed Krueger, who also had a list of military service awards, was comfortable in what he was doing.

Cameron also said he was prepared to recommend that allegations against Leone be dropped, but said that decision was "somewhat overrun by events." In meeting with the new Coast Guard commander in Alaska, he said Ostebo suggested he may have "gotten too close emotionally to Lt. Leone or something like that,'" and lost objectivity. Cameron then outlined his reasoning in a memo.

FLORIDA: Sunken aircraft discovery off Jupiter brings back memories for WW II veteran

The discovery by a diver of a World War II-era plane in the waters off Jupiter last week brought back memories for Palm Beach resident Jack Grabowsky.

When he saw the reports, he knew right away: “That’s an SB2C, a Curtiss Hellcat. I know because I spent 3,000 hours in one during World War II,” said the former Navy Air pilot. “We flew up and down the coast, from Maine to Key West.”

Grabowsky also remembers “doing convoy duty for the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth, keeping the submarines away. Each ship had thousands of soldiers on board,” making it a desirable target for the German U-boats.

The plane has yet to be salvaged and examined, but Grabowsky said he is pretty sure he knows what happened, seeing as how hundreds of pilots were trained at nearby Witham Field during the war.

“The engine gave out and the pilot had to ditch, simple as that,” he said.

“I hope the guy got out ... I hope he was one of the lucky ones. “

Canberrans defend their sport's safety

ACT balloon pilots have defended the safety of hot-air ballooning, more than a decade on from the last accident in Canberra.

Balloons Aloft managing director Ewan Roberts said hot-air ballooning was a very safe form of transport.

''We've had no deaths from ballooning in Canberra,'' he said.

''Some private operators have gotten into trouble and produced some minor injuries, but commercially there have been no incidents.''

Mr Roberts, a pilot of 16 years, credited the clean slate to a focus on safety with well trained and experienced pilots who erred on the side of caution when dealing with poor weather.

''We'll obviously be watching for all the reports that come out of this accident and see if there's anything we can learn,'' he said.

Three people were hospitalised in 2001 after jumping from a hot air balloon that had caught alight shortly after take-off in Canberra.

The 50-year-old pilot, 45-year-old male passenger and his 15-year-old daughter jumped from the craft after the basket caught alight while in Evatt.

The hot air balloon exploded shortly after and the trio was taken to the Canberra Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Professional Ballooning Association of Australia and the Australian Ballooning Federation say a report on the New Zealand disaster that killed 11 people will help boost safety across the industry. ''The incident is currently being investigated by the New Zealand authorities. We will await their findings,'' the groups said.

''We will scrutinise their report to see if any further improvements can be made to enhance the safety of Australian operations.''

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also passed on her sympathies to the victims' families.

ANGLE OF ATTACK - Author Lee Baldwin Launches Flying-oriented Adventure Mystery Title on Amazon for Kindle - Download Free January 7 and 8

ANGLE OF ATTACK - Author Lee Baldwin Launches Flying-oriented Adventure Mystery Title on Amazon for Kindle - Download Free January 7 and 8

Mystery adventure novel, Angle of Attack, now available on Amazon Books for Kindle.

REVIEWS WELCOME. This title is FREE for download
this weekend January 7 & 8

Lee Baldwin announced today the release of his flying-oriented adventure mystery novel, ANGLE OF ATTACK, on for Kindle e-Readers. Vintage warplanes, extreme flying, quirky women, and diamonds diamonds diamonds blend in a fast-moving tricky plot.

San Jose, CA (PRWEB) January 07, 2012

Angle of Attack brings the reader to adventure and intrigue in a world of extreme flying, quirky women, and the power they covet.

Pilot Cicero Clay is a researcher of vintage WWII warbirds, a glider flight instructor, and an accidental convict. First, someone tries to kill him. That same day a former girlfriend becomes his shiny new Parole Officer.

This story is not about exploding cars and guys chasing about shooting at each other. These are more skillful and adventurous scenes of piloting gliders, flying WWII warplanes such as the P-51 Mustang, about an ordinary guy trying to get out from under the parole system. It's about an unsolved historical diamond theft, and pieces of a past Clay thought was gone forever.

While Clay pursues proof that he was framed and tries to stay alive, he struggles to complete his mission: piloting a stolen vintage fighter across three states to a secretive buyer. Added challenge: Clay has never flown powered aircraft.

To survive, Clay must deduce the motivations of shadowy characters, and face challenges that push him beyond his comfort zone. In action typical of the story’s unique action scenes, Clay finds out the hard way that a glider can become a murder weapon. And how to fix it before he hits the ground.

Amid the action, a charming personal story emerges, as Clay discovers a love he never imagined.

When asked how he conceived Angle of Attack, Baldwin said, "The core ideas came while studying to be a glider pilot. I found everyday flights in powerless gliders to be thrilling high adventure, so what would it be like to push that experience to extremes, such as using a seemingly passive aircraft as a murder weapon? This event became a key plot departure from the get go."


During the weekend of January 7 and 8, Angle of Attack will be available as a free Kindle download, a promotion of Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program.


Qantas engineers demand 'Check aircraft cracks now'

The engineers union has warned a band-aid solution to the discovery of A380 cracks could turn serious unless the issue is fixed immediately.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association today called on Airbus and airlines which use the A380, such as Qantas, to inspect their fleets now after cracks were discovered on some aircraft.

However, Qantas has assured passengers that their safety has not been compromised and that the discovery of cracks on the wings of five A380s is nothing to cause alarm.

The maker of the A380s, Airbus, said the problems are not sufficient to ground the aircraft and the aircraft fleet is safe to fly.

The European plane maker has instead issued a service bulletin requesting airlines check for the issue when their superjumbos are serviced in the next four years.

The union is outraged over the news, calling for airlines to conduct inspections for wing damage as a matter of urgency.Paul Cousins, the federal president of the engineers' union, told Fairfax he was concerned that the pressure cracks in rib attachments would put stress on others in the wing.

"There is no way on God's earth that I would be waiting four years to inspect them," he said.

"At the moment it seems that a Band-Aid fix has been applied too quickly to a situation that could become very serious.

"This is a large aircraft carrying 520 people across the fleets in the world - we need to be absolutely sure it is flying safely," he said.

Cracks just under a centimetre long have been found in a Qantas A380 that was being repaired in Singapore.

Qantas said the cracks do not pose a threat to safety and it would wait on advice from Airbus.

"They are the experts and we will take their advice," a Qantas spokesman said.

Qantas is now checking the rest of its fleet and repairing any damage found.

Airlines worldwide have been informed about the issue, and ordered to check their aircraft regularly for cracking and other maintenance issues.

Singapore Airlines confirmed that a number of small cracks had been found in its A380s during an investigation in the second half of 2011, Fairfax reported.


Dynamic WT9, Rotax 912 ULS, N247DY: Accident occurred January 06, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona

NTSB Identification: WPR12LA074 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 06, 2012 in Glendale, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/28/2012
Aircraft: CZECH SPORTPLANES SRO DYNAMIC WT9, registration: N247DY
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, he performed a brake check and used the brakes numerous times while taxiing to the run-up area; however, as he approached the run-up area, the brakes failed, and the airplane continued to roll forward. He decided to steer the airplane off the taxiway surface and not risk an excursion onto the active runway. The airplane veered off the paved surface onto unprepared desert terrain, and the airplane continued to accelerate. The pilot attempted to shut down the engine with the ignition switch, but was unable to. He said that normal engine shut down is accomplished using two magneto switches on the instrument panel and not the ignition switch. The airplane then struck a boundary fence.

Postaccident examination revealed that the left wheel brake assembly was damaged by impact forces consistent with the airplane’s collision with the fence. The examination of the brake system for fluid leaks and functionality did not disclose any evidence of a preexisting mechanical malfunction that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that, if the pilot had shut down the engine before the airplane departed the taxiway surface, he would have been able to stop in time to avoid colliding with the airport boundary fence.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot did not shut down the engine upon recognizing a brake malfunction. Contributing to the accident was the airplane's brake malfunction for undetermined reasons.

On January 6, 2012, at 0800 mountain standard time, a Czech Sportplanes Dynamic WT-9, N247DY, collided with a fence following an excursion off the taxiway at the Glendale, Arizona, airport. The aircraft was operated by the pilot for a local area personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The airplane sustained substantial damage and the pilot was not injured.

While taxing to the run-up area the pilot performed a brake check and used the brakes numerous times while taxing. The pilot said that the brakes failed as he approached the run-up area and the airplane continued to roll forward. He decided to steer the airplane off the taxiway surface, and not risk an excursion onto the active runway. Once off the paved surface and onto unprepared desert terrain, the airplane continued to accelerate. The pilot attempted to shut down the engine with the ignition switch but the engine remained operating. The airplane veered to the left, continued to proceed over the unprepared terrain, and impacted the airport boundary chain link fence.

The pilot said that normal engine shut down is accomplished using two magneto switches on the instrument panel and that the ignition switch does not shut down the engine.

NTSB investigators examined the airplane and found the left wheel brake assembly damaged by impact forces consistent with the airplane’s collision with the chain link fence. The brake system was inspected for fluid leaks and functionality. No preexisting condition was identified that would have precluded the normal operation of the brake system.

  Regis#: 247DY        Make/Model: LSA       Description: DYMAMIC WT9 LSA
  Date: 01/06/2012     Time: 1452

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: GLENDALE   State: AZ   Country: US


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

WEATHER: 1455 CALM VIX20 FEW250 06/00 A3005

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Taxi      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SCOTTSDALE, AZ  (WP07)                Entry date: 01/09/2012 

A single-engine plane taxied into a fence Friday morning at the Glendale Municipal Airport after the plane’s brakes failed as it prepared to take off.

The pilot was not injured but there was significant damage to the Czech Sport plane, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The FAA will investigate the crash further, Gregor said.

Pilot escapes injury in rough landing at New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport (KEVB), New Smyrna Beach, Florida

A pilot was uninjured after crash landing at New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport on Friday afternoon, a fire spokesman said.

The pilot, who was not immediately identified, walked away from the rough landing about 4:30 p.m. after the aircraft's nose gear collapsed, said New Smyrna Beach fire spokesman Randy Wright.

The single-engine plane was manufactured in 1973 and was last sold to an owner in Sidney, Mont., according to the aircraft's registry with the Federal Aviation Administration. Wright said the plane was an experimental aircraft and Friday was its first flight.

"It didn't end well," he said.

New Smyrna Beach and Volusia County Fire Services were on scene as the plane skidded to a halt.

Crews cleaned up a fuel leak and later turned the investigation over to the airport, Wright said.

A pilot's worst nightmare: Crash of the Cameron A-210 hot air balloon in Wairarapa, New Zealand

The hot air balloon that crashed in flames, killing 11 people on New Zealand's North Island, was flown by an experienced pilot.

NEW ZEALAND'S hot air balloon pilots were in shock last night as they struggled to come to terms with the loss of one of the characters of their close-knit community.

''I had just landed when someone rang me. It hit me like a sledgehammer,'' Mark Brown of the Kiwi Balloon Company said.

Mr Brown said power lines were every balloonist's worst nightmare.

''You don't want to go anywhere near them because that'll kill you.

If power lines hit together they'll spark and there's a big flash of light, it can ignite any fuel that's leaking.''

Fellow balloonist Dennis Hall said the community was ''gobsmacked'' by the disaster.

''I've seen him [Lance Hopping] flying that great big balloon in competitions and he's been hard to beat, a very skilful pilot.''

Tony Wall

North American Navion, N91601: Pilot injured when plane strikes hangar at Farmers Pride Airport (9N7), Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania

Pilot Injured After Crashing Plane Into A Building In Lebanon County

BETHEL TOWNSHIP, Lebanon County—  An elderly pilot is injured after the plane he was operating bumped into a building in Lebanon County as it was taxiing on the runway. It happened just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the Farmer's Pride Airport in Bethel Township. The 80-year-old male pilot sustained a laceration to his right eye brow. He was taken to Hershey Medical Center for treatment.

The building sustained minor damage in the crash.

The FAA has been notified and the incident is under investigation.

It is unclear at this time how the crash happened.

Pilot hurt when plane strikes hangar

An 80-year-old pilot was injured when his plane struck a hangar at Farmers Pride Airport, 141 Airport Road, Bethel Township, at 10:29 a.m. Saturday.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker said the pilot was repositioning the aircraft, a Navion, when it suddenly lurched forward and struck the hangar.

According to FAA records, the plane was registered to John Gardner of Harrisburg. Gardner was treated and released at Hershey Medical Center, a center spokeswoman said.

State police said the pilot suffered a laceration to his right eyebrow. He was transported to HMC by First Aid and Safety Patrol.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

Fredericksburg and Jonestown Perseverance fire companies assisted.

Surprise, Arizona: Juvenile arrested in copter laser flashing

Surprise police arrested a juvenile after a sheriff's helicopter was repeatedly flashed by a laser on Friday.

A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office helicopter was flashed four times while on a rescue mission.

"My dedicated Sheriff's employees are risking their lives," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement. "It upsets me that the actions by this person could have seriously injured my employees and put more lives at risk. I hope that the public understands the danger in these actions."

The helicopter crew located where the flash came from before directing police to the back porch of a house in Surprise, where the juvenile was arrested.

The Fox 4 helicopter was completing a rescue operation near the White Tank Mountains at about 7 p.m. Friday when it was flashed. The crew was rescuing a man and woman who had been hiking with two small children before they got lost. The man reported that he took a wrong turn and was afraid of the elements.

The pilot located the family before flying them out of the mountain back to their vehicle.

Air Station Miami: Coast Guard Crew Medically Evacuates Cruise Ship Passenger

MIAMI — A Coast Guard helicopter and fixed-wing aircrew medically evacuated a 55-year-old women from a cruise ship Friday, approximately 57 miles north east of Nassau, Bahamas.

Search-and-rescue coordinators at the Seventh Coast Guard District command center in Miami received notification at approximately 1:30 p.m. of a passenger on board the cruise ship, Emerald Princess suffering from severe spinal compression.

After consultation between a Coast Guard flight surgeon and medical personnel aboard Emerald Princess, it was determined that a was necessary. Two Coast Guard rescue aircrews from Air Station Miami were launched.

An HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft crew arrived on scene prior to the helicopter crew and coordinated with the cruise ship their course, speed and preparation of the deck for a safe hoist. The fixed-wing aircraft crew remained overhead as an immediate rescue asset should an emergency arise from the rescue helicopter.

The helicopter crew arrived on scene at approximately 7 p.m. and hoisted the patient onto the aircraft and transported her to Nassau International Airport, Bahamas for further medical care.

“Night evolutions are always dangerous, add a 16 story high vessel moving at 20 mph to it and hoisting becomes very risky business,” said LT. Bill Dunbar, Air Station Miami MH-65 helicopter Aircraft Commander.

The condition of the patient is unknown at this time.


RI should apologize to PNG, expert says

Poor coordination between the Foreign Ministry and the Indonesian Military (TNI) was likely the main cause of a November incident in which two TNI aircraft intercepted a Papua New Guinea jet, an expert says.

“It seems that there was faulty coordination between the Foreign Ministry and the TNI over a VVIP flight path the PNG [falcon jet was taking],” University of Indonesia defense expert Andi Widjajanto told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

The incident took place on Nov. 29 when PNG’s deputy prime minister and several senior government officials passed through Indonesian airspace on their way home from Kuala Lumpur.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil threatened on Friday to expel Indonesian Ambassador to PNG Andreas Sitepu from Port Moresby if the Indonesian government failed to provide an explanation for the incident within 48 hours, as reported by

The ministry said later that day that the National Air Defense Command (Kohanudnas) had identified the aircraft on radar and had scrambled fighter jets to make visual contact with the aircraft, all according to standard procedure, and that no harm occurred.

But the Defense Ministry refused to acknowledge the incident, with ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Hartind Asrin saying no aircraft had ever tried to intercept PNG’s VVIP aircraft as claimed by the PNG government.

Andi said that the Foreign Ministry and the TNI now had to work together to “limit the damage”.

“The TNI should say that their Sukhoi jets did not try to intercept [the PNG aircraft] and were conducting standard procedures, while the Foreign Ministry shouldn’t have mentioned the root and the type of the problem,” he said.

“The Foreign Ministry should instead ask [the PNG government] for an apology, without blaming the TNI.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene could not be reached for comment.

Reward offered in whooping crane death

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s Turn In a Poacher program has established a special reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the killing of a federally endangered whooping crane found dead last weekend in Jackson County.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, TIP launched the Whooping Crane Fund with a $2,500 commitment, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service immediately matched it with a $2,500 donation. The Humane Society of the United States and its Humane Society Wildlife Trust Fund also added $2,500.

“Whether the shooting was accidental or not, responsible sportsmen and women of Indiana will not tolerate the thoughtless killing of a protected species,” said Doug Featherston, a TIP board member and representative of Indiana Quail Unlimited. “The TIP Citizens Advisory Board has unanimously decided to offer a reward 10 times the normal amount to motivate citizens to come forward with any information that will lead to the quick arrest and expeditious prosecution of the perpetrator."

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of Southern Indiana has offered its full support in the prosecution of the individuals responsible for killing the crane.

The reward fund has been established with Indiana Members Credit Union. Contributions can be made by sending a check payable to Indiana Whooping Crane Fund, c/o Lt. William Browne, DNR Law Enforcement, 402 W. Washington St., Room W255-D, Indianapolis, IN, 46204.

TIP is a joint effort between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, sportsmen and sportswomen of Indiana, and concerned citizens. Through this program, any citizen can anonymously report violations of fishing, hunting and environmental laws by calling 1-800-TIP-IDNR (800-847-4367), and can be eligible for cash rewards.

A reward fund helped solve a similar case two years ago when a whooping crane was shot and killed in Vermillion County. A citizen’s tip led to the arrest and conviction of two individuals who were responsible.

Wildlife law enforcement agents with the Indiana DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the most recent shooting in which a whooping crane – known as “Bird 605” – was found Dec. 30 in southeastern Jackson County near Crothersville.

Whooping cranes are protected by the Endangered Species Act, the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws. The legal protections have helped the bird’s population recover from a few dozen in the 1940s to about 500 in the wild today, but its status remains fragile. The whooping crane killed in Jackson County was part of an effort to establish an eastern continental flock on a migratory path between Wisconsin and Florida that takes them through Indiana.

“The loss of whooping crane No. 605 is another blow to the reintroduction program in that this individual bird was an adult with more than five years of life experience flying the same migration path,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wetland bird biologist Bob Russell. “We have lost, in essence, a teacher and mentor for young fledglings.”

Russell added: “Wildlife crimes such as this undo years of time, energy, and private fund-raising efforts on the part of many partners. Our law enforcement agents will work in conjunction with our state counterparts to fully investigate this case."