Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant: Selling Citation Ultra Jet, Unveils 2013 budget. (With Video)


JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Governor Phil Bryant is asking all state agencies to tighten their belts and cut their budgets in the coming year. Tuesday, the governor presented his budget recommendations for the upcoming year at the state capitol. 

The governor said it's the most challenging budget he's seen since 1992. The cuts are about half of what was initially anticipated, and state revenues are looking up. 

The 2013 state budget amounts to $5.49 billion.  Bryant's plan calls for state agencies to cut their budgets by 5.53 percent. The budget cuts spending by $26 million from the previous year. 

The governor also plans to spend about $101 million on education. He's also asking for school districts to consolidate their administrative offices to save money, and become more aggressive in recruiting the best teachers to our state. 

The governor is also selling one of his state planes to boost the budget. He said about $2 million can be made in the sale of the 1996 Citation Ultra Jet. 

"We have a King Air that will get you anywhere in the state safely," Governor Bryant said. "I think it's just a good move. The other thing not only $2 million, but the upkeep, the pilot, mechanics, housing of the airplane we can save a great deal on that."

The good news is that revenues for the state are much higher than expected. Right now the January revenues are $23 million above what was projected.

Click here to read Governor Bryant's Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2013.

Florida: Clearwater man saw his 1946 Piper Cub fly just before he died

Walter Crosby worked seven years to restore his Piper Cub before being stopped by cancer

CLEARWATER — On Saturday, the Clearwater & North Pinellas Times ran a story about four local men who worked feverishly through January to help finish the seven-year-long restoration of a 1946 plane for their friend Walter Crosby, who was dying from cancer.

Crosby had bought a dilapidated Piper Cub in 1962 with plans to refurbish it completely, then fly it.

At 10:45 p.m. the day the article appeared, Crosby, 74, of Clearwater died. He never flew the plane, but he saw it take off twice from his bedroom window overlooking Clearwater Airpark. The first was a test flight; the second flight carried his wife, Geri.

As the story made its way across the Internet, several emails came in from people who knew the couple. One was from Linda Vintro, a real estate broker in Massachusetts who had sold at least one of the Crosbys' homes when they lived in Lakeville, Mass.

Work and family commitments had consumed the time that Walter Crosby needed to restore the plane. So in the meantime, parts of it were stored all over the house, even under the beds and in the dining room .

The Realtor wrote that this caused "many a fun comment" from prospective buyers.

She also remembered Crosby as a good citizen, a "man of substance who put off his own fun for years to take care of business."

Greenville Municipal Airport (6D6) theft suspect pleads.

Tyler Rivera pleaded guilty; faces 10 years.

Tyler Rivera

 GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - One of three people charged in the burglaries of the Greenville Airport in May 2011 has pleaded guilty.

Tyler Rivera of Holt -- who was 19 at the time of his arraignment in October 2011 -- pleaded guilty to breaking and entering with intent. He faces up to 10 years in prison for the crime.

The thieves -- police believe there is likely more than one -- broke in on the night of May 27, Mark Bellinger, the Montcalm County undersheriff, said at the time of the incident. Once inside, they took an undisclosed amount of cash and tipped over some furniture, he added.

The bandits also stopped in 12 hangars, said Bellinger , and also stole an all-terrain vehicle belonging to a Rockford pilot. The ATV was later recovered by authorities on Aug. 19 in Sidney Township.

An 18-year-old Sidney male and an 18-year-old female from Greenville were also arrested in August 2011 in connection with the burglaries. They pleaded guilty to receiving and concealing stolen property.

No sentencing date for Rivera has yet been set.

Source:  http://www.woodtv.com

Taking Flight - Building an Experimental Airplane. N116BW, Van's Aircraft RV-6A.


Video by retiredman2 on January 30, 2012

"I am one of 30,000 individuals who have built and flown their own experimental aircraft. It took 5 years and 2,360 hours of building time. It was a journey of discovery - how to build an aluminum airplane - and a search for the will to labor for so long on an uncertain and expensive goal. It is one of the major accomplishments in my life. I hope this video conveys my quest to build and fly by own aircraft. I was my quest to take flight and it came true."

Pennsylvania: National Guard pilot returns home to his career as a police officer

A Cumberland County man has spent the last six years as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the National Guard. Now, he has traded his camo uniform for police blues.

Gary Shullenberger joined the Carlisle Police Department in April 1993. The next six years he patrolled the Borough and was recognized as the department's go-to-guy for teaching students the evils of drug and alcohol use.

But in February of 2006 he was activated by the National Guard. As a helicopter pilot he trained other pilots at Fort Indiantown Gap to prepare to be deployed to Iraq.

In three years, he got the call to go to Iraq where he served as a Blackhawk Medivac pilot.

"My mission in Iraq was to find those were injured and get that back to safety within an hour," Shullenberger told CBS 21.

Shullenberger returned to the ranks of the Carlisle PD Monday following six years of Army life. Tuesday, he found himself undergoing re-training.

That training includes being instructed on the use of a taser. All department members will need to be trained in how to properly use it.

The taser wasn't a tool of law enforcement when Shullenberger was activated by the Guard. So Tuesday, he joined fellow officers in becoming certified in the use of the less-lethal weapon.

Shullenberger says he looks forward to getting back on the street, whether in a patrol car or on foot patrol. To him, most importantly, is that he will continue to serve people who need it.

Plane crashes in Congo, death toll unknown

A provincial official in the Congolese province of South Kivu says a plane has crashed after takeoff and there is no news of the passengers on board.

KINSHASA, Congo — A provincial official in the Congolese province of South Kivu says a plane has crashed after takeoff and there is no news of the passengers on board.

Laban Kyalangalilwa, the minister in charge of transportation in South Kivu province, said Tuesday the plane took off from the city of Bukavu at 7:45 a.m. on Monday and was due to land at an airport in the town of Namoya an hour later. The plane never arrived.

He said a second plane was sent to survey the route, and they found what looked like the debris of the Antonov about 6 miles (10 kilometers) away from the Namoya runway.

Kyalangalilwa said that there were at least five people on board. He could not confirm whether any had survived, but said that it was unlikely given the degree of debris at the crash site.

Trends raise concerns for Tri-State Airport/Milton J. Ferguson Field (KHTS), Huntington, West Virginia.

HUNTINGTON -- The Tri-State Airport Authority has heard plenty of good news lately. Revenue has been above budget, with expenses below budget.

Times have been good. But Jerry Brienza, the airport's executive director, gave the board a heads-up Thursday about the future, and, "It's not a very rosy outlook for the airline industry in upcoming years," he said.

The information he shared with the board was gathered at an air service conference late last year, hosted by the air service consulting company Ailevon.

Brienza said small-market airports might be in a particularly bad position because airlines will be reducing the number of smaller jets they use -- such as the ones used at Tri-State Airport -- and replacing them with larger planes.

The industry is still digging itself out of a financial hole, driven by rising fuel costs and lower consumption over the past decade, Brienza said.

Brienza cited an Associated Press article published in November that said, "The little planes that connect America's small cities to the rest of the world are slowly being phased out.

"Airlines are getting rid of these planes - their least-efficient - in response to the high cost of fuel," the AP reported. "Delta, United Continental, and other big airlines are expected to park, scrap or sell hundreds of jets with 50 seats or fewer in coming years. Small propeller planes are meeting the same fate."

Some little cities will have with fewer flights or no flights at all, the report said.

For airlines, it all comes down to spreading fuel costs among passengers, the AP reported. A Delta 50-seat CRJ-200 made by Bombardier takes 19 gallons (72 liters) of fuel to fly each passenger 500 miles (805 kilometers). Fuel usage drops to just 7.5 gallons (28 liters) per passenger on Delta's 160-seat MD-90s over the same distance, the AP said.

So while the bigger jet burns more fuel overall, it's more efficient.

Delta is moving away from small jets more aggressively than other airlines and is expected to eliminate 121 50-seat jets from October 2008 through the end of this year, leaving it with 324.

In the face of this trend, Tri-State Airport must aggressively fight for the carriers that it has -- which are Allegiant Airlines, U.S. Airways and Delta -- and it must seek new carriers, Brienza said. The historic growth that Tri-State Airport has seen in irrelevant at this point, he said.

Some good news for Tri-State is that it has the No. 1 low-cost carrier, which is Allegiant. No. 2 is Spirit Airlines.

"We think we're OK and doing all right, but the fact is the industry is going downhill," he said.

There will be fewer commercial airports in the future -- fewer hubs, fewer routes and fewer flights.

"Someday, we'll have to talk about larger planes and a larger service area," said Bill Dingus, a member of the airport authority and executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation.

In other business, the airport has appealed an order from the Department of Environmental Protection to corrective action on a land slip that occurred on the south side of the airport campus after construction from the runway extension project, which was completed last year.

Airport officials believe they have fulfilled the airport's obligations under its permit, and that another party was primarily responsible for the slip. The airport has hired Huddleston Bolen to represent it in the case.

Airport board members also got a report on passenger activity. Marketing Director Beckie McKinkely said that Delta saw a 15 percent increase in enplanements in 2011 over 2010, and U.S. Airways saw an 11 percent increase in 2011 over 2010. Allegiant made a nationwide decision last year to reduce the number of flights offered at its airports, and thus saw a 13 percent decrease in enplanements from 2010, making for an overall decline of 2.5 percent in enplanements for the airlines at Tri-State in 2011 from 2010.

The Airport Authority also approved lease agreements, including increased ramp space for FedEx to accommodate its new B-757 aircraft, and a hangar for Professional Aeronautics Academy, for the purpose of flight training and aircraft rental.

Lawmakers agree on a $63 billion, four-year FAA bill that boosts air traffic modernization

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers say they’ve reached an agreement on a $63 billion, four-year bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s operating authority and the agency’s air traffic modernization effort.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said in a statement that the bill provides the long-term stable funding the FAA needs as it transitions from an air traffic control system that’s based on World War II-era technology to one based on GPS technology.

Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the committee, said the negotiated agreement will also help the 8 percent of the economy that’s impacted by the aviation industry.

FAA’s operating authority expired in 2007. It has continued to limp along under a series of 23 short-term extensions. The most recent extension expires Feb. 17.

Source:  http://www.washingtonpost.com

CFB Trenton's plane, chopper doctors

CFB TRENTON - The country's largest air base benefits from Cpl. Brittany Purchon's painstaking paint work.

And the volume of that workload for Purchon and her co-workers just went through the roof now that aircraft are coming home from a war zone.

With the recent conclusion of the Canadian Forces' 10-year mission in Afghanistan, came busy times for Royal Canadian Air Forces' aircraft structures technicians (ACS) like Purchon at Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron's (ATESS) refinishing shop.

From cleaning, refinishing, and entirely re-painting Griffon CH-416 helicopters to refurbishing pieces of equipment that were first manufactured in-house for military operations in Afghanistan, almost everything gets a second life at the wing's refinishing shop.

For the last eight weeks, Purchon — along with Cpl. Dean Lord, an ACS tech with the 424 Transport Search and Rescue Sqn., and six others out of the 48 posted with ATESS — has been working meticulously on refinishing a Griffon CH-416 helicopter that was used by the army in Afghanistan.

The helicopter, which was kitted out in army green until a couple months ago, is being turned into a red, yellow, and black search and rescue aircraft that will soon be flown by 424 Sqn. — replacing one of the squadron's fleet of four.

“Here at the shop, we do complete refurbishing of any aircraft, from cleaning, stripping, and paint work on specific aircraft, so they look good again and can be flown for different purposes,” said Purchon, a Borden native who was posted with the Trenton refinishing shop in September, 2007.

“We are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the aircraft structures and related components. Over the last four years I have worked on two other Griffons, as well as on one CF-18 Hornet and did a little bit of work on the Harvard for the museum (National Air Force Museum of Canada).”

All this refinishing work is done in order to get the most air-frame hours as possible out of the aircraft. Warrant Officer Robert Pomeroy, also an ACS tech at ATESS, said the Canadian Forces centralize their aircraft that have been used in several different locations over a certain period of time and reconfigure their “jobs”, in order to make them last longer.

“Refinishing an aircraft is a big job,” said Pomeroy. “It takes us between eight to 10 weeks just for one Griffon. Our work is a bit like being a scientist in a way that every kind of paint has a weight and everything has to be measured. For instance, in order to get off the ground and fly properly, the Griffon cannot have more than 300 pounds of paint on its structure.”

Purchon, Lord, and Pomeroy's occupation encompasses a variety of skills and abilities relating to tasks such as metal and composite repair, painting, machining and welding.

The trio is currently working out of the squadron's 62-year-old service building. On March 3, the 48 ACS technicians at CFB Trenton will move into their new home — a brand new, state-of-the-art $30.9-million facility that will allow them to paint aircraft and parts up to the size of a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet.

Once fully operational and settled into their new home, one of the ACS techs' first tasks will be to refinish 15 more Griffons as well as refurbishing the original Golden Hawk F-86 Sabre Jet that has been on display at Zwicks Park in Belleville since 1967, the year it was presented to the city by the Lions Club in commemoration of Canada's Centennial.

Before it gets re-installed on its pedestal at Zwicks Park, the aircraft — which was lifted off by Warrant Officer Jeff Levesque and his staff from ATESS' Recovery and Salvage Support unit last November — will require a considerable amount of work.

“The Sabre is in such disarray that its main aluminum structure is in poor shape and its canopy has to be completely redone because it's destroyed, so we will have to make one from scratch, which will take at least two to three months,” said Pomeroy.

“And with the refinishing work, which will take four to six months, and the manpower required for this aircraft to get finished and ready to be re-installed in the park it will take at least two years.”

Source:  http://www.intelligencer.ca

Credit Union Centre staff fired after trip: Arizona trip was for CFL fact-finding, ex-staff say

Two senior Credit Union Centre managers have been fired over a trip to Arizona where there was more than $7,000 of "inappropriate" spending, the chair of the organization's board says.

The former employees - Brian Swidrovich, director of business development, and Will Antonishyn, director of finance and ticketing - have filed lawsuits in which they claim an October trip to Phoenix was one of several trips that included looking into sponsorship, event production, relationship building and the possibility of a Canadian Football League franchise and stadium for Saskatoon.

In separate statements of claim filed Monday, Swidrovich and Antonishyn say the trip was approved by the executive director at the time, Ken Wood, who retired before he went on the Arizona trip.

The trip, which was taken with two others not identified in the statements of claim, was also to "provide recognition" and "solidify the relationship with these individuals," says Swidrovich's statement of claim against defendants Credit Union Centre and board chair Rich Gabruch.

"The trip taken was consistent with past trips with the same individuals," the statement of claims say.

The trip was used to "deal with issues that were of direct value and importance" to the Credit Union Centre, the plaintiffs say.

The Credit Union Centre, formerly Saskatchewan Place, is owned by the City of Saskatoon.

The centre is overseen by a board of directors that includes the mayor, two city councillors and members of the community.

The October trip included flights, meals and "club seats" to a National Football League game, says Gabruch, chair of the CUC board of directors, in an interview Monday morning before the suits were filed. There was more than $7,000 spent, he says.

"There was some inappropriate spending that had occurred," Gabruch says. "Once (a review) was completed, it was determined that termination was reasonable."

The review showed the expenses, charged to a CUC credit card, "were not for Credit Union Centre business or City of Saskatoon business," Gabruch says.

Larry Seiferling, the lawyer for Antonishyn and Swidrovich, said the trip was approved by the executive director at the time, Wood, who retired in September and was replaced by Will Lofdahl.

"They were just following all the past practices," Seiferling says. "The approval came from the executive director (who) had been approving this exact same trip for two years.

"This was not a trip that was first taken this year. The court will decide whether the trip was appropriate or not, and I have no doubt they will find that these guys, the guys that went on the trip, were just doing what they've always done. So why were they let go for it? I understand that a new guy can change rules, but you have to tell these people. You can't fire them for it. That's really the issue."

In the claim, the plaintiffs say Gabruch knew about the trip and there were "at least two occasions" to tell the employees it was "inappropriate" prior their leaving.

Gabruch said he was not aware of the trip until afterwards.

Antonishyn and Swidrovich, employees of the Credit Union Centre since 1988 and 1994, respectively, were never disciplined during their tenure with the organization, the statements of claim say.

The trip was planned in 2010, one of the statements of claim says. It "carried many of the same business objectives as the approved client appreciation trips taken in prior years and was based on previously approved sponsorship objectives and plans."

Investigating the possibility of a CFL team and stadium for Saskatoon was a "secondary objective" of the trip, the claims say. In Antonishyn's statement of claim, he says he still believed looking into a CFL franchise for Saskatoon was viable because he was asked about it when he interviewed for the CUC executive director position in September.

"(Venue) observations pertained to the possibility of a CFL franchise and stadium project," for Saskatoon, the plaintiffs say.

Wood, the former executive director, declined to comment when reached Monday morning. Antonishyn could not be reached for comment. In his statement of claim, Antonishyn says he was convinced to go on the trip by the executive director at the time and was only in Phoenix for two days.

Swidrovich directed all questions to his lawyer.

He released a statement via email to The StarPhoenix.

"After close to 18 years representing Credit Union Centre and this community with pride and respect, I am deeply concerned as to the manner in which I have been relieved of my position," Swidrovich says in the statement. "This situation has caused a great deal of hurt and anguish for me and my family."

In the suits, the two former employees seek damages including wages, benefits and other unspecified damages.

The City of Saskatoon and the CUC board is looking at a review of previous trips, Gabruch says.

"It would be imprudent for a corporation not to analyze the books after something like this comes to light," Gabruch says. "It certainly raises a whole bunch of interesting questions and certainly all those questions contributed to the decision to terminate."

Swidrovich organized the Cameco Canada Remembers International Air Show, which was restarted last year after a hiatus.

The board and Credit Union Centre management is "looking at the issue as we speak" and will determine if the air show will run this summer, Gabruch says.

Canada Remembers International Airshow: Credit Union Centre airshow threatened after director fired.

One of two directors fired for inappropriate spending was in charge of the show

The future is uncertain for the Canada Remembers International Airshow in Saskatoon, after the firing of Brian Swidrovich who organized the event for over a decade.

CUC executive director Will Lofdahk said they're constantly analyzing every event held at the centre.

"We're taking a look at the show for this coming year, and whether or not we will be going forward with it," he said.

"We will be making that decision fairly quickly."

Swidrovich was let go along with fellow employee Will Antonishyn over alleged inappropriate spending during a work trip to Arizona.

The Star Phoenix reported the trip included flights, meals, and prime seats for an NFL game.

After they were let go they filed lawsuits claiming their trip was approved by the previous executive director of CUC.

The lawsuit also claimed several trips besides the one to Phoenix were organized to look into sponsorship, event production and the possibility of a CFL franchise and stadium for Saskatoon.

Board Chair Rich Gabrauch told the newspaper more than $7,000 was spent, some of it was inappropriate. He added that once a review was completed it was determined that termination was reasonable.

Source:   http://cjme.com

Casper/Natrona County International Airport ( KCPR) to get additional United flight for summer

United Airlines will be adding a fifth regional jet flight between the Casper/Natrona County International Airport and Denver this summer, adding another 50 seats, which brings the total number available each day to 250, airport officials announced today.

From July 1 through Aug. 27, a mid-evening flight will be added, arriving in Casper at 7:01 and departing at 7:57, according to airport Manager Glenn Januska, who noted that the other arrival and departure times change to accommodate the added flights.

Travelers wanting to get from Casper to Denver will have a choice of five departing flights, beginning at 6:15 a.m. with the last one at 7:57 p.m. The first arriving flight will land at 9:50 a.m., and the last flight from Denver will arrive at 10:32 p.m.

“We’re very happy to see the added capacity. The United flights have been averaging between 85 percent and 90 percent full the past few months, so demand is certainly moving past capacity,” Januska said. “Since demand peaks in the summer, the timing of this additional flight is perfect.”

The nearly full flights are because of an increasing population, traveling required for jobs, energy industry representatives visiting Wyoming, among others, Januska explained. And with the consistency of the flight load, he said the airport is “almost to the point of looking for additional flights.”

Januska said the two later arrival flights allow business people to conduct meetings in Denver later in the day and still be able to connect to a flight back to Casper.

“We’ll see what the bookings are and the overall level of service and demand” after Aug. 27, he said. “There’s always a possibility that United might add a few more months of the extra flights.”

http://www.wyomingbusinessreport.com

Outagamie County Regional Airport (KATW) retires debt early. Appleton, Wisconsin.

$4 million in debt paid off five years early

Airport and county leaders hold a bond burning ceremony at the Outagamie County Regional Airport, Jan. 31, 2012.

GREENVILLE - Instead of burning money, Outagamie County is burning bonds.

A ceremony was held Tuesday morning at the Outagamie County Regional Airport to celebrate paying off $4 million in debt five years early.

In 2001, the airport underwent a $10.7 million terminal expansion project. To help pay for the project, the bonds were issued with a 15 year term.

By paying off the bonds early, airport director Marty Lenss says $234,000 in interest will be saved.

“Paying off this debt early assists us in keeping our rates and charges for our terminal tenants, including airlines, competitive,” said Lenss in a release.

The 30,000 square foot airport expansion added more seating and space for customers, as well as five aircraft boarding bridges.

Piper PA-22-135, N2677A: Accident occurred January 31, 2012 in Sheridan, Arkansas

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA146 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 31, 2012 in Sheridan, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/14/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-22-135, registration: N2677A
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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

The pilot reported that the takeoff was normal until the airplane was climbing through about 200 feet above the ground, at which time he observed that the passenger suddenly tensed up. The pilot said he was then unable to move the rudder pedals because the passenger was stepping on the passenger-side rudder controls. The airplane skewed to the left, descended, and impacted terrain on the left side of the runway. A postaccident examination confirmed flight control continuity and revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The passenger reported this was his first flight ever in any aircraft. He also reported that he was not pressing on the rudder pedals. However, given the pilot’s experience in the accident airplane and the lack of evidence of a preimpact anomaly, it is likely that the passenger did inadvertently interfere with the rudder pedals.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The passenger’s interference with the flight controls during the initial climb, which resulted in a loss of control and impact with terrain.

On January 31, 2012, at 1142 central standard time, a Piper Aircraft, Inc., PA-22-135 single engine airplane, N2677A, impacted terrain and obstructions during initial climb at Sheridan Municipal Airport (9M8), Sheridan, Arkansas. The airplane was registered to and operated by an individual as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger suffered minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. At the time of the accident the flight was originating from 9M8 for a local flight.

During climbout the nose of the airplane started to skid sharply to the left and the pilot lowered the nose to avoid stalling. The airplane descended and impacted terrain on the left side of the runway coming to rest upright in the edge of a tree line. The impact completely separated the engine and propeller from the fuselage and there was substantial damage to both wings, the forward fuselage, and the empennage.

The pilot reported that during the initial climb the passenger had suddenly tensed up and the pilot was unable to move the rudder pedals to correct the nose-left skidding because of interference from the passenger who was stepping on the passenger side rudder controls.

The passenger reported this was his first flight ever in any aircraft and added that he was certain that his feet were clear and he was not pressing on the rudder pedals.

A postaccident examination confirmed flight control continuity and revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.




SHERIDAN, Ark. — Authorities say a small airplane has crashed while landing at an airport in central Arkansas.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer went down about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday while landing at Sheridan Municipal Airport. Lunsford says two people on board the aircraft suffered serious injuries and were transported to a hospital for treatment.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer went down about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday while landing at Sheridan Municipal Airport.

No names were immediately released.

Lunsford says authorities don't know why the plane crashed. FAA investigators are headed to the scene.

According to FAA records, the single-engine plane is registered to a Sheridan resident.

Conditions below acceptable threshold in crash: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Use of visual flight rules in adverse weather conditions was among the factors contributing to a deadly plane crash in Quebec more than a year ago.

On July 16, 2010, a float-equipped de Havilland Beaver operated by Air Saguenay (1980) Inc crashed into a mountain not far from Lake PĂ©ribonka, Quebec, notes a recent investigation report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

Travelling from Lac des Quatre to Lac Margane, the plane was carrying one pilot and five passengers. Just a few minutes into the flight, the pilot reported his intentions to make a precautionary landing because of adverse weather conditions. The aircraft hit the wooded mountainside about 30 metres below its peak while flying straight and level.

The crash claimed the lives of the pilot and three passengers; the remaining passengers were injured, one seriously.

Federal investigators point to a number of contributing factors, including the following:

- the pilot took off in weather conditions that were below the minimum for visual flight rules (VFR) and continued the flight in those conditions;

- the pilot wound up in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) after a late decision to make a precautionary landing, resulting in visual references being greatly reduced; and,

- the passenger at the rear of the aircraft was seated on a plastic chair and secured using anchors located on the floor of the aircraft (he was ejected from the plane on impact, diminishing his chances of survival).

The plane was equipped with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), but its antenna located on the fuselage was torn off and the device itself was eventually consumed by fire. No ELT signal was received.

Asked if there is a need to change requirements around ELT positioning on aircraft, Maryse Durette, senior media relations advisor for Transport Canada, says that there are already obligations around installation and mounting.

"There will always exist the possibility of damage occurring that will render the unit inoperative, but steps are taken to minimize the chances," she adds.

Although low clouds were expected in the area, conditions on departure from Lac Margane at approximately 7:40 am were above the VFR minimum, notes the TSB report. The pilot intended to assess conditions en route and make a precautionary landing if unable to continue under VFR.

But between departing Lac Margane and the crash, there were a number of delays.

Within minutes of taking off, the pilot informed the base and the passengers that adverse weather conditions meant they would need to land. "The visibility at the front of the aircraft was nil. The ground could only be seen by looking directly downwards through the side windows, and it was frequently obstructed by the clouds," the TSB report notes. The crash occurred at 11:17 am.

Prolonged flying times "indicate considerable detours had to be made before the flight arrived at its destination," the report states. "It is quite likely that the weather conditions were below the thresholds prescribed by the Canadian Aviation Regulations," it adds.

"TSB data show that continuing a VFR flight in bad weather presents a serious safety threat," the report states.

Upon arriving at Lac des Quatre, there were no pressures of an operational nature forcing the pilot to expedite the return to the base on Lac Margane, the TSB reports. "Consequently, it is reasonable to believe that the pilot was convinced of being able to return to his base in the existing weather conditions, since the pilot had just flown over the area."

While the TSB report makes no recommendations for Transport Canada, Durette says the department will seek feedback from industry stakeholders around pilot decision-making (PDM) to determine what more may need to be done in this area.

As well, Transport Canada's website provides a PDM educational package that teaches concepts, principles and good practices, she adds.

The TSB also points to the value in educating passengers on the risks of flying in adverse weather conditions, as is done through the Circle of Safety Consumer Education Program south of the border. "It is better to ask questions about a flight and avoid a potential tragedy. This is good ‘risk management,' in which the passenger has a key role."

Transport Canada's "Weather to Fly" educational series seeks to create weather awareness as part of the flying environment. "Though primarily intended for members of the industry, it has useful information for passengers too," Durette says.

Cut pilots’ pay, link it to Air India profits: govt panel

New Delhi The government-appointed panel to resolve pay-related issues of employees belonging to Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines has recommended pruning pilots’ salaries and benchmarking them to the private sector. 

Around 1,800 pilots of the state-owned carrier — who are paid 10-15 per cent more than private sector rivals Jet and Indigo — account for almost four-fifth of the total wage bill, with some getting over Rs 1 crore a year.

According to a source involved in writing the report, incentives for the 28,500-odd staff, would now be linked to the airline’s profitability. “If the airline makes profit, employees get these allowances,” said the source. These will be different from the productivity-linked incentives, which are linked to the traffic carried, and presently make up almost 80 per cent of a pilot’s total pay package. The panel called for doing away with the PLI, which it said, can be factored in while redrawing the new basic pay structure. It also sought to restrict the number of free tickets employees and their extended families are eligible for on Air India as well as partner global airlines.

In an attempt to end the turf war between the two state-owned carriers which were merged in 2007, the report advocated a cadre-based graded system for the merged entity, Air India. As career progression, it has recommended erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to be allowed to train on bigger aircraft flown on the long-haul international sector. Air India pilots had recently threatened to strike when management approved training program for Indian Airlines pilots on much-awaited Boeing’s Dreamliners. The recommendations, if accepted by the government, will be effective from April 1, 2007.

“The report is a bitter pill,” said the source, adding, “Nobody can satisfy every segment. But they have to understand it’s the matter of airline’s survival. Some sacrifices have to be made,” said the source. While the overall recommendations of the report remain cost neutral, which means the beleaguered airline will not have to incur any additional outgo on account of HR costs, the segment which will be impacted the most will be the pilots. “Remaining 90 per cent will be getting the same salary or in certain cases even more,” said a source. Employees’ salaries will be aligned with the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines. Allowances have been capped at 50 per cent of basic, and in case of pilots, flying allowances provision has been retained. This means all sundry allowances unique to Air India including entertainment and laundry would be abolished.

Set up in March 2011, the committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice DN Dharmadhikari, submitted its report to the civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Tuesday in presence of civil aviation secretary Nasim Zaidi and Air India CMD Rohit Nandan. “The government will examine the report, in consultation with the Air India management to ascertain if the company is in a position to pay as recommended,” said a ministry official.

In 1997, both Air India and Indian Airlines, which were separate entities, instead of enforcing a new payscale, hiked incentives. As of now, employees get almost 25 per cent total pay packet as basic salary and rest as PLI. Highest-paid pilots, some of whom get over a crore per year, and engineers account for 20 per cent of workforce but get nearly 80 per cent of the total wage bill of almost Rs 3,200 crore.

Source:  http://www.expressindia.com

Oodles of recognition for Harbour Air, Comox rep

HARBOUR AIR REPRESENTATIVE Andrew MacMillan earned one award Saturday, while the company he works for received another one last week.

While most of the 15 nominated Comox Valley businesses fell short of receiving honours at the Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards, it was quite a weekend for Andrew MacMillan.

The Harbour Air community relations person in Comox was named Saturday night as the recipient of the George Muir Memorial President's Merit Award during the Comox Valley annual community Awards presentations. The award was presented during a gala event at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay.

Also last week, Harbour Air was named business of the year during the presentation evening for the 12th annual Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort near Victoria.

With more than 50 aircraft, Harbour Air and its affiliate Westcoast Air operate the largest all-seaplane fleet in the world.

Single and twin Otters service regular flights between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. DHC-2 Beavers service the Gulf Islands and Cessna 185s are available for charter.

MacMillan was the face of the company in Comox when it announced last year it was adding a 14-seat, single-engine Otter connecting the Comox Marina and downtown Vancouver. MacMillan explained it was an upgrade over the smaller six-passenger DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver.

The company was exploring longer-term use of the larger aircraft, the idea being to increase capacity on a year-round basis, MacMillan said at the time.

Later in the year, he was featured in a Vancouver Province article by writer Michael McCarthy, who was impressed and appreciative when MacMillan whisked him on a whirlwind tour of the Comox Valley en route to McCarthy's Campbell river destination.

In full Comox Valley ambassador mode, MacMillan filled McCarthy's head with information about the area and its many visitor-friendly events.

In an e-mail to Comox Business in Action, McCarthy prophetically wrote, "Somebody give Andrew an award. I think he just made the Comox Valley a lot of money.”

Source:   http://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood defends airline price rules in speech to aviation industry

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood defended the Department of Transportation's rules for airline price advertisements Tuesday in the face of what could have been a turbulent audience of aviation industry officials.

By Keith Laing

Airline companies have argued that the new rules, which require advertisements for airline tickets include all taxes and fees in the prices that are listed for flights, forces them to "hide" government fees in fares they quote to customers.

But in a speech to the Aero Club of Washington Tuesday, LaHood said the new rules were fair.

"I know they may be a source of aggravation to some of you, but our consumer rules have gotten rave reviews from people who fly," LaHood said during his speech.

The lobbying group for airlines, Airlines for America, has argued that the rules create an unfair business environment that does not apply to other industries. A trio of airlines, Spirit, Southwest and Allegiant, have filed a lawsuit challenging the DOT rules, and A4A filed a brief with the D.C. Court of Appeals in the case,

"ATA members share DOT’s stated objective of ensuring that customers are treated fairly and consistently, receiving the products and services for which they have paid on the basis advertised to them," the organization's filing said. "But ATA members do not share DOT’s unstated but apparent goal of holding airlines to much higher standards of conduct than prevail in other deregulated industries."

LaHood said Tuesday that the new rules ensured airline passengers were treated with "dignity and respect."

He also defended the DOT's new rules for pilot fatigue, which were crafted by the Federal Aviation Administration in the wake of the crash of Continental Airlines Flight 3407 as it approached the airport in Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009.

"I think we put out a very good rule," LaHood told the Aero Club Tuesday.

Under the new rules, pilots would be required to get at least 10 hours of off-duty time between flight schedules, which transportation officials said would give them at least the opportunity to get eight hours of sleep before they get to the cockpit.

Pilots would also be limited to no more than nine hours of "flight time," which is considered by the FAA to be any time an airplane is moving on its own power, even if it is on the ground at airport. Pilots would also be limited to 28 working days in a month.

Source:  http://thehill.com

acogdoches County authorities recover stolen plane, arrest 1. Cessna TR182, N5141S. Athens Municipal Airport (F44), Athens, Texas

Terry Boozer mug shot courtesy of Nacogdoches County Jail.




NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Deputies with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office have recovered an airplane reported stolen from a hangar at the Athens Municipal Airport.

Sheriff Thomas Kerss said the Cessna 182 was recovered at a private airstrip on County Road 536. At 6 p.m., it was being flown to the Nacogdoches County airport, where it will stay until the owners come to claim it.

Kerss said deputies have arrested Terry Lynn Boozer, 56, where he will be charged with felony theft, as well as evading arrest, as he tried to run away from deputies during the arrest.
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The plane was reported stolen in late January.

Kerss opted not to comment for now on how investigators traced the plane to Boozer.

"In my 30 years of law enforcement, this is the first time we recovered a stolen airplane," Kerss said.

Boozer was also arrested in November in connection to a seizure of a meth lab in Nacogdoches County.



Athens police say this plane was stolen from a hangar at the Athens Municipal Airport.
(Photo credit Athens Police Department)

Police in the East Texas town of Athens are looking for a stolen airplane.

The plane, a Cessna, disappeared from a hangar at the Athens Municipal Airport sometime between January 26 and 28.

Police say there were no signs that anyone had broken into the hangar – the plane just vanished.

The propeller-driven plane, seen above, is worth $110,000.

Police say they don’t know if somebody flew the plane away or took it some other way.

Lawmakers Seek Answers on Essex Skypark's (W48) Future. Baltimore, Maryland.

A bipartisan group of state legislators that represent the Essex-Middle River community are concerned about the county's push to close the 70-year-old airport.

Tom Katzenberger is among the pilots at the Essex Skypark who are concerned about the future of the 70-year-old airport.
Credit Courtesy of Tom Katzenberger

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is demanding answers from Baltimore County officials about its decision to force the Essex Skypark to move.

District 7 Dels. Pat McDonough and Rick Impallaria have filed legislation that would prohibit Baltimore County from taking control of the skypark and would guarantee the facility would continue to operate.

McDonough, a Middle River Republican, said the legislation was intended to get the attention of Baltimore County, as many residents have expressed concern over losing the 70-year-old Essex Skypark.

“Things are moving way too fast with this issue over something as historic as the Essex Skypark,” McDonough said. “Sometimes the only way to get people to listen in cases like this is by filing legislation.”
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Vince Gardina, director of the county’s department of environmental protection and sustainability, said the county wants to clear the 40 acres of the skypark in order to meet federal pollutant mandates for the area, plant trees, protect birds, improve water quality along Back River, replace forests destroyed by other development in the county and help to mitigate other pollution issues along the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
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Baltimore County has owned the property since 2000 when it purchased 500 acres from the Shapiro family for $2.1 million through the Maryland Environmental Trust, Gardina said. The Essex Skypark Association has signed a series of five-year leases with the county since then.

But when the association failed to renew its lease last year on time, Gardina said, that gave the county the opportunity to move forward with its plans for the skypark land. The county’s current plan is to allow the skypark association five years to find a place to relocate before taking over the property.

That plan is unacceptable to District 6 Del. Michael Weir Jr. The Essex Democrat said calls to close the skypark are “ridiculous” and that the county's move goes against the wishes of an easement signed between the Shapiro family and the county, which calls for the airport to remain on the site unless there is no activity there for a year.

Weir, along with fellow District 6 representatives Sen. Norman Stone and Dels. John Olszewski Jr. and Joseph “Sonny” Minnick, wrote to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz seeking additional information on the county’s stance on this issue.

“Because the Essex Skypark is an important part of local aviation history and a valuable commercial, recreational and safety asset, we urge you to halt the closure of the airport,” the letter read. “We acknowledge the need for a forest mitigation bank and pledge to work with you to find other alternatives other than the skypark site.”

Weir said he is also working on legislation, which would designate the Essex Skypark a state historical site. He also anticipates there eventually being a hearing in Annapolis on the future of the skypark where all solutions to the issue could be discussed.

“The Essex Skypark is a vital part of the history of eastern Baltimore County,” Weir said. “It’s also utilized by the fire department, police department and National Guard for training purposes in case it’s needed during an emergency or natural disaster. There has to be other answers to address forest mitigation needs.”

Tom Katzenberger, a Perry Hall pilot and member of the Essex Skypark Association, has been overwhelmed by the show of support from state lawmakers and the community, which includes people signing an online petition to save it. He said he hopes Baltimore County will now be more willing to work with the community in order to save the airport.

“This has been amazing to see how many people care about the future of the Essex Skypark,” Katzenberger said. “It’s a valuable resource not just for those in Essex, but for everyone in Baltimore County.

Source:  http://essex.patch.com

Miles above in unsafe hands: As demand rises, cases surface of fake licenses and pilots being hired despite their trainers finding them unfit to fly

New Delhi: Helped by easy recruitment rules and mushrooming growth in air traffic, the number of pilots employed with India’s airlines has more than doubled in the past five years.

The problem is that lax scrutiny may be letting in pilots who aren’t qualified or may even lack the aptitude for the job, putting both lives of passengers and expensive aircraft at risk. Such exceptions may be as few as five in 1,000, but still too many, according to experts who call for stricter oversight of the pilot licensing and hiring process.

All a pilot needs for an airline job is a Class XII certificate and 250 hours of flying, which qualifies him for a license to be an aviator. Nearly 2,500 pilots have been hired by Indian carriers in the past five years, taking the total to 4,500. They include 600 foreigners inducted to overcome a severe shortage of pilots in a country where domestic passenger traffic has more than tripled from 13 million passengers in 2002 to 44 million in 2009. International traffic has gone up from 12 million to 30 million in the same period.

Fifteen pilots have died in 16 accidents involving registered civilian aircraft in the past three years, civil aviation minister Praful Patel told Parliament in April. With the 22 May Mangalore crash, the total has increased to 17.

In the aftermath of the crash that left at least 158 people dead, an investigation by Mint found cases of pilots who had been caught with fake licenses, and of pilots who had been hired although their trainers had found them unfit to fly.

Take for instance New Delhi-based Garima Passi, 21, who went to a pilot training institute called Sabena Flight Academy in Arizona, US, to get her commercial flying licence in 2008.

Passi was expelled after she damaged an aircraft while on a flight and also had a prop strike—an incident in which the propeller of the aircraft hit the runway.

Jim Fendley, a Sabena instructor who flew with her, commented in a 2008 report that Passi was “inconsistent in almost everything” and recommended that she stop training.

“She is not developing flying skills and is afraid she will damage another airplane or hurt herself,” Fendley said in an email to the institute, reviewed by Mint.

Passi joined Sabena through Gurgaon-based United Aviation Consultants Pvt. Ltd. She displayed a “fear of aircraft”, her evaluation report and log book of flying hours show.

“During the evaluation flight, I observed a young pilot who lacks the confidence of a PIC (pilot in command) and a fear of the aircraft,” her second instructor Eliza Wade said in an evaluation report seeking her termination.

At three hearings, Passi defended herself saying, “I am trying” and “I need one more chance” before she was removed from the academy. Passi came back to India and started training in Uttarakhand-based Amber Aviation (India) Pvt. Ltd from where she passed. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) records show she was granted a commercial pilot’s licence (CPL) within five days of her application on 18 May 2009.

Safety first

Soon after, she was inducted into low-cost airline SpiceJet Ltd and flies a Boeing 737-800 as a co-pilot. There has been no reported incident involving the pilot during her employment with the airline.

An emailed questionnaire sent to SpiceJet spokeswoman Priti Dey on 21 June did not elicit any response. The airline did not comment despite repeated reminders. The airline’s acting chief executive officer Kishore Gupta said on 27 July that he wasn’t aware of the issue and would revert after inquiring into the matter with a reply by 28 July. He didn’t.

Passi didn’t reply to text messages and calls made to her cellphone. Her father R.S. Passi, director (air safety) at DGCA, said she had to return from the US academy because she hadn’t been keeping good health.

“They said that she had the option to continue in another scheme, but since she was not keeping well, we called her back,” said Passi, who added that his daughter had been selected for the course by Sabena after she went through several tests, including aptitude tests.

He said the pilot wasn’t required to disclose to DGCA the prop strike, which he denied was an accident, while confirming that “something” had taken place. He also denied any conflict of interest in her being employed with SpiceJet, the operations of which he screens in his role with DGCA.

CAE Global Academy, which runs Sabena, said it cannot comment on a specific case. “We have a strict curriculum, we want our students to have the best training to become best pilots, great pilots. Our No. 1 priority is always safety,” Pascale Alpha, director of global communications at CAE, said in a phone interview.

CAE runs 10 flying schools and has been awarded the mandate to operate India’s oldest flying institute, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi, and also run a new flying school, the Rajiv Gandhi National Flying Institute, in Gondia, Maharashtra.

“I liked the fact that they (Sabena) changed the instructor because there can be an argument sometimes that the (first) instructor is biased,” said a former DGCA official, who did not want to be named and had reviewed Passi’s evaluation report. “Despite that, after 50 hours of flying, it is very poor progress. If this has come to light now, the licence should be terminated.”

DGCA mandates that a student applying for a commercial pilot’s licence disclose if he or she was “involved in aircraft accident/incident in the preceding five years” with “details thereof, with the disciplinary action taken, if any”. It is unclear on what grounds DGCA cleared the licence.

The regulator refused to comment on the matter.

DGCA puts the onus on the airline to check the pilot’s credentials, said Shakti Lumba, who retired recently as vice-president of flight operations at low-fare carrier IndiGo, run by InterGlobe General Aviation Pvt. Ltd, and has 40 years of experience in aviation. But it is very difficult to check the credentials of new pilots, unlike experienced pilots whose previous employer can be contacted for verification.

“CPL is not like a driving licence. You have to be trained and rated for every aircraft. You have various selection processes. There are knowledge psychometric tests, basic eye and hand coordination tests that are conducted. Once these are done, you know the pilot, then you are satisfied (the pilot) has the basic attributes,” he said.

There are other instances where airlines have hired pilots with flying skills that may not have been up to the mark and gave them numerous chances to continue.

Falling short

Air India Express chief of operations Jagmohan Singh, in a letter reviewed by Mint, wrote in mid-2009 that captain K.K. Vijay Kumar, 59, and captain N.K. Jain, 58, were found to be “below standard” through several training checks since 2008. They had exhausted all their chances and should be terminated immediately, he wrote.

Records show Kumar was found below standard six out of nine times during various training checks on Boeing 737-800 aircraft starting 1 October 2008, and was repeatedly being sent for “corrective training” until he “exhausted the permitted number of failures” in Air India’s operations manual.

Air India, in replies to queries from Mint, said “captain K.K.V. Kumar and captain N.K. Jain were assessed as ‘below standard’ during their initial co-pilot training and in fact they were not cleared to operate any flight”. Both have now been removed from service, said the carrier.

A DGCA official, who did not wang to be named, said forged licences and log books were an area of concern.

In the first half of this year, DGCA found pilots applying with papers showing they had experience in flying aircraft from academies abroad without even having gone to that country. In some cases, the academies didn’t even have the aircraft the pilots were supposed to be proficient in flying.

Nidhi Vashistha of Bahadurgarh, Haryana, claimed she did her ground and flying training from South Wind Aviation Center in the Philippines under Michael John P. Reeyes and Eddy Mangalindam on PA-34-200 and SKA-350 aircraft. When DGCA checked with the office of civil aviation in the Philippines, they were told the training was “fictitious, absurd and delusional as they don’t have any records nor any invitation letter issued to captain Nidhi Vashistha”.

The academy did not have the authority to train on PA-34-200 aircraft, the Philippine aviation authority said. It never had an SKA-350 aircraft.

“It is therefore concluded that captain Nidhi Vashistha has submitted false documents and made fraudulent entries in log book for the purpose of obtaining extension of aircraft rating on PA-34-200 and SKA 350 aircraft,” DGCA director (operations) Arvind Sardana wrote in a letter reviewed by Mint, suspending her licence for two years.

Reeyes didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking his comment. Vashistha couldn’t be reached for comment for lack of contact details.

Mumbai-based Vakaria Kartik Nitin sought a commercial pilot’s licence with the claim that he had trained at South Wind Aviation Center, which is certified by the Philippines aviation authority and started operating in late 2008. An enquiry later found the claim to be false, and he was barred from obtaining an Indian licence, according to a letter written by Sardana. Nitin couldn’t be contacted.

“These are the tip of the iceberg as many licences were issued when there was the pilot boom,” the DGCA official quoted above said.

As accelerating economic growth, higher incomes and falling ticket prices triggered an air travel boom in the middle of the decade, pilots became a scarce resource. This led airlines to poach from rivals and hire foreigners while young men and women chose to take up flying as a career.

The former DGCA official quoted above said the regulator gives licences to most pilots within seven days of applying. In most flying academies, there is at least one DGCA-certified official to vouch for the credentials of the student. That raises a question: How can the regulator check the veracity of the log books of pilots trained by foreign academies given that licences are cleared so quickly?

Lumba said there must be more checks to avoid an aviation nightmare. “CPL training institutes in India and abroad must be DGCA-approved and audited regularly for quality and standards,” he said. “CPL pilots should start their careers as third pilots, and only after adequate exposure and experience be permitted to act as co-pilots.”

Chennai-based air safety expert Mohan Ranganathan said a quality training institute can figure out if a student has the ability to be a pilot or not.

“Unfortunately, we are flooded with pilots who have come out of dubious flying training institutes with their connections. If a proper assessment is done of all training institutes, only a small number will clear the bar,” he said.

Even pilot associations have sought stricter checks after the crash of the Mangalore-bound Air India Express jet, which was piloted by Serbian-born Zlatko Glusica, 55, and first officer H.S. Ahluwalia, 41.

Air Line Pilots Association India president Siddharth Marwah, in a letter to DGCA and the civil aviation ministry on 4 June, asked for stringent checks on expat pilots too. This should include, he wrote, verification of the expat pilot’s background and state of health, competency, skills, history of failures, and remedial and corrective training records.

Source:  http://www.livemint.com

Swedish combat jets grounded by high pressure

About a dozen Gripen fighter jets were barred from taking part in a Nordic air exercise Tuesday because of an abnormally strong high pressure system.

It's not that it's unsafe to fly, base commander Mats Hakkarainen said, but the pressure is so extreme the planes' instruments are getting confused and issuing error signals.

The atmospheric pressure in northern Sweden reached a 40-year high on Sunday, the national weather agency said.

The Gripen can fly in all kinds of weather, but "the value is so extreme" that flight instruments treat it as an error, said Peter Liander, a spokesman for Gripen maker Saab.