Sunday, March 04, 2012

Fly in India to prove competency: Directorate General of Civil Aviation

Aviation watchdog wants pilots with international licenses to give flying test before getting authorization in India; move comes in the wake of recent pilot scam, which involved Directorate General of Civil Aviation officials

According to the latest circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), any pilot license obtained from abroad, will require a compulsory competency test in India for endorsement into an Indian license.

Sources close to the DGCA said that changes have been incorporated to put an end to discrepancies that were exposed during the recent pilot scam. DGCA circular number 8/2/2008-LII dated February 21, 2012 (copy with MiD DAY), issued by Joint Director General (JDG), DGCA, J S Rawat, reads, "The current Guidelines for Conversion of Professional Pilot's Licenses issued in International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Contracting States into Indian Professional Pilot's License (Commercial Pilot's License) allow for acceptance of skill test done abroad provided the test reports are duly authenticated by a representative of the Regulatory Authority of the State where the tests have been performed. It is seen that most state authorities do not authenticate the skill reports to meet the procedure laid down in the guidelines. In case Instrument Rating (IR) is not issued by the Contracting State, the skill test carried out in the Contracting State shall not be recognized. For the issue of IR, the applicant shall be required to carry out IR skill test in India."

The circular further recommends, "It has now been decided by the Competent Authority that all applications for issue of Indian, Commercial Pilot License (CPL) will be accompanied with skill test reports on at least one aircraft type required to be endorsed on the Indian license. All applications received on or after April 1, 2012 shall be accompanied with skill test report carried out in India."

Test of skills

J S Rawat, JDG, DGCA, said, "Earlier we were considering IR skills tests done abroad, but from now, it will be a must for every candidate to undergo the competency test in India for any endorsement in Indian license. Earlier we were only conducting written tests. Now, we will also conduct IR skill tests." A source from within the DGCA, disclosed that changes are being made to ensure that only capable candidates get endorsement.

Fake pilot expose

The DGCA faced charges of corruption in April 2011, after several pilots flying for various airlines were found to have forged their licenses. Flying schools in Rajasthan and Haryana were found tampering with flying-hours logbook. Later, the Rajasthan police and the Delhi police, arrested over two-dozen people in connection with the fraud. During the course of investigation, names of several DGCA officials also appeared, following which they were suspended.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation audit puts Air India in dock

An audit conducted by the DGCA on national carrier Air India has shown that Air India did not authenticate the records of foreign pilots hired by it — to check for accident-free records — from the requisite “competent authority”. 

These foreign pilots were hired by Air India and deputed to its low-cost arm Air India Express. Instead these records were only checked by the recruitment agency through whom the recruitment took place. The DGCA audit also found that Air India did not authenticate the logging of flying hours of its pilots which are taken from pilot reports. It also found that for cockpit crew (pilots), no flight duty time limitation (FDTL) monitoring is carried out as per operations manual for executive and other pilots.

In a recent audit of Air India’s surveillance of operations, the DGCA (audit) observed, “The expat pilots are recruited by Air India and deputed to AICL (which operates Air India Express). Those files were cross-checked by the recruitment agencies. However, no checks are initiated by Air India for the authenticity of the recorded documents which includes accident/incident free record from competent authority, and not by the recruitment agency.”

When contacted, an Air India spokesperson said he will have to check specifically on the audit findings but added that Air India takes action on any audit findings of the DGCA.

In fact, the DGCA audit on Air India’s surveillance of operations further noted, “There is no authenticity of logging of flying hours of pilot(s). The flying hours are taken from pilot reports. There is no signature/date of pilot to authenticate the document on the form... There is no tracking/control/supervision/ check of flying hours logged by the pilot.” The DGCA also found other anomalies in Air India. For instance, it found that “for (Air India) cockpit crew, no flight duty time limitation (FDTL) monitoring is carried out as per operations manual for executive and other pilots”. It further noted, “As per operations manual of Air India, for executive pilots, the time spent in office is to be monitored. When it was cross-checked, no monitoring is carried out.”

Looking Back 1920: Plane makes emergency landing in Elk Garden

This Ansaldo SVA 5 is the same model Italian aircraft that made an emergency landing in Elk Garden, W.Va., in 1920 to the amazement of the coal-mining community playing a baseball game there.

Cumberland Times-News

James Rada Jr., Cumberland Times-News

Nowadays, the sight of a plane flying overhead is no big deal, but it wasn’t always that way.

The Wright Brothers made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903, and Charles Lindbergh flew non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. In between, planes and their pilots were a rarity.

Coal miner Kenny Bray wrote in his unpublished memoirs that whenever a plane did fly overhead, “it was a big attraction. Very few people had ever seen a plane up close.”

One day, in September 1920, that changed for the people of Elk Garden, W.Va., and many of the surrounding coal towns. On Sept. 14, a crowd had gathered in Elk Garden to watch a baseball game between two coal town teams when a plane flew in from the northeast.

“It was flying low, apparently in trouble,” Bray wrote. “It tried to land on the ball field, but the crowd scattered out all over the field and it could not land.”

It stayed in the air and continued flying until it landed in a field owned by Saul Stullenberger in Elk Garden. “In landing, the plane turned over but neither occupant was injured. The machine was much damaged,” the Cumberland Evening Times reported.

The crowd from the ball field followed the plane’s flight and surrounded it when it crash-landed.

Two men, whose last names were Burdo and Seagraves, had been flying from Mineola, N.Y., to Pittsburgh. They had landed in Cumberland to refuel. However, after they left, they lost their way in a dense fog and developed engine trouble. Their predicament in Elk Garden was the result.

The men made repairs to the plane and tried to get it started again. Bray said that the plane had “what appeared to be a radiator on the front with the propeller on a shaft that came through below or near the bottom of the radiator.” To start the engine, one of the men turned the propeller by hand. The newspaper identified the plane as an Italian S.V.A.

“Then the two men stood in front of and to one side of the plane,” Bray wrote. “The man nearest the plane grasped the right hand of the man with his left hand. They then ran by the plane and (the) man nearest the plane gave the propeller a twist as they ran by. They did this a few times until the engine started.”

The men climbed back into the plane and took off. The plane got off the ground, but it still wouldn’t fly properly. The plane landed a second time, though this time it was done right side up.

The plane was dismantled and Howell Keplinger used his team of horses to carry the parts into town. From there, the plane parts were packed up and shipped away on the Western Maryland Railroad for replacement or repair. Burdo accompanied the shipment to New York to get replacement parts.

When he returned after a few days, he and Seagraves made repairs to the plane, which took another day or two. Once done, the men started the engine, got in and flew off into the sunset.

DPS Makes Dramatic Rescue Off Side of Mountain

DPS Pilot Hunter French of Guidance Aviation Makes Dramatic Long Line Helicopter Rescue off Mountainside

White Tank Mountains, Arizona - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012: Hunter French, the Designated Pilot Examiner and Chief Pilot for Guidance Aviation and a Department of Public Safety (DPS) Air Rescue Pilot, made a dramatic rescue Tuesday after a boulder rolled off a mountainside and struck five teenagers as they were hiking in the White Tank mountains.

French hovered the helicopter on the side of the mountain to pick up the teenagers who could walk. The teenager in critical condition was long lined off the side of the mountain in a stretcher to ambulances waiting below.

The five teenagers were from Aqua Fria High School and were struck by the boulder while on a morning hike Wednesday, February 29, 2012. It is reported that the teenagers decided to go for a hike that morning since classes were starting later due to scheduled testing.

At the 2:13 mark, as reported by, you can hear French's account of the incident in the video.

A special thanks to DPS Air Rescue for all the work you do and all the lives you save!

Monroe Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey: Jackass Shooting Laser Pointer at State Police Helicopter

Monroe Township, Gloucester County: 
"Dispatch sending cars to look for the person or persons with red laser. Helicopter transporting and could not circle back..."

Greater disclosure of air traffic controller's role defended

Luanda - The need for a greater disclosure of the role of air traffic controllers was defended this Sunday in Luanda.

This stand was advocated by the regional air and route controller Luzia Mazingo during an interview to ANGOP in light of the commemorations of the month of March, which is dedicated to women nationwide and continentally.

The source, who works for the National Airports Exploration and Air Navigation Firm (ENANA) since 1976, explained that the society knows little about the role of an air traffic controller and his responsibilities.

The expert also said that, generally, attention is only paid to the figure of the controller on October 20, date celebrating the International Day of the Air Traffic Controller.

Sikorsky S-55B, N5663, Golden Wings Aviation (owner: David C. Smith): Fatal accident occurred July 25, 2011 in Chelan, Washington

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA350 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 25, 2011 in Chelan, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2013
Aircraft: SIKORSKY S-55B, registration: N5663
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

The helicopter was contracted to overfly the rural cherry orchard in order to dry the cherries following rain showers. A witness reported that the helicopter was flying over the cherry orchard from south to north, and it had just completed a left turn when it collided with power lines that bordered the orchard. The helicopter impacted terrain, in a nose low attitude, about 45 feet south of the power lines. Power line wires were found wrapped 3 to 4 times around the main rotor mast and striation marks on the leading edge of the main rotor blades were indicative of a wire strike.

Examination of the accident site revealed that four wires were strung between poles with the top three wires about 50 feet agl and the lower wire about 40 feet agl. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from power lines while maneuvering at a low altitude.


On July 25, 2011, about 1438 Pacific daylight time, a Sikorsky S-55B Helicopter, N5663, sustained substantial damage after colliding with powerlines and impacting terrain near Chelan, Washington. The helicopter was registered to Golden Wings Aviation and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant of the helicopter sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The local flight originated from a staging area near the accident site about 10 minutes prior to the accident.

A witness reported that the helicopter was flying over the cherry orchard from south to north, and just completed a left turn when it collided with the powerline. The witness reported the helicopter then descended out of view after the collision; however, seconds later, he observed a large cloud of black smoke near the area where the helicopter was maneuvering.

The helicopter was contracted to overfly the rural cherry orchard in order to dry the cherries following a rain shower, and was engaged in cherry drying operations when the accident occurred.


The pilot, age 22, held a commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument ratings. Additionally, he held a flight instructor certificate, with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating. His most recent first-class airman medical certificate was issued May 5, 2011, with a restriction that he is required to wear corrective lenses. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination. The operator reported that the pilot’s total rotorcraft-helicopter flight time was 1,192 hours, with 50 hours in accident make and model.


The accident helicopter, a Sikorsky S-55B, was manufactured in 1959 and powered by a Wright R-1300 radial engine rated at 800 HP. The helicopter was configured with a three blade main rotor system, and conventional tail rotor. The maximum gross takeoff weight for the restricted category helicopter was 7,200 pounds. 

The helicopter’s most recent inspection, an annual inspection, was completed June 1, 2011, at a total airframe time of 7,397 hours; the engine total time since overhaul at the inspection was 13 hours. 


At 1455, the reported weather conditions at Pangborn Memorial Airport, Wenatchee, WA, located about 35 miles south of the accident site, at an elevation of 1,229 feet, were winds from 300 degrees at 8 knots, clear skies, visibility 10 miles, temperature 23 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 14 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.91 inches of mercury.


Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter impacted terrain, in a nose low attitude, approximately 45 feet south of the powerlines. A postcrash fire ensued.

The initial point of impact was a series of power delivery lines that ran northwest to southeast along the northern perimeter of the orchard. The wire span between the two nearest support poles was approximately 800 feet. Four wires were strung between the two poles, with each of the four wires consisting of a bundled complex of six individual wires. Three wires were situated coplanar to each other while the third was located vertically beneath. The height of the top three wires was approximately 50 feet, while the bottom wire was approximately 40 feet.

The main wreckage was located in the confines of a burn area approximately 45 feet south of the powerlines. The cockpit, instrument panel, pedestal and cabin area sustained extensive impact and thermal related damage.

The helicopter rotor system consisted, in part, of three blades; each blade was found attached to the helicopter rotor hub assembly. The powerline wires were wrapped 3-4 times around the main rotor swash plate and rotor mast. All dampeners were detached from the rotor blades; two of the pitch change (PC) links were completely detached from the main rotor hub, while the third PC link was bent. All fracture surfaces associated with the mast assembly appeared to be the result of overstress separation. 

Striation marks, indicative of a wire strike, were noted on the leading edge (full span) of blades A and C. Numerous strands of powerline wire were located in the general area of the main wreckage. The wires showed a tension-like failure mode.

A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a preimpact mechanical failure that would have precluded normal operations. 


The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot. Fluid and tissue specimens tested negative for cyanide, ethanol, and tested drugs.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on July 26, 2011, at Central Washington Hospital. The postmortem report attributed the pilot’s cause of death to asphyxia due to inhalation of products of combustion. 


A review of the pilot’s cellular telephone phone records revealed that his phone was active on the day of the accident; however, no outgoing text messages or telephone calls were documented between 1430 and the time of the accident.

CHELAN, Wash. -- A pilot who died last summer when his helicopter crashed in a Chelan orchard while he was drying cherries from rain may have been text messaging or talking on his cell phone at the time of the crash, a lawsuit alleges.

"Apparently, he was either talking on the phone or texting on the phone while he was flying and unfortunately caught part of his helicopter on a powerline," said Dale Foreman, a Wenatchee attorney representing Chelan View Orchard Inc.

Chelan View, a neighboring orchard to the crash site, is suing Golden Wings Aviation of Brewster and its owners, Dave Smith, Sr., and Dave Smith, Jr. The suit in Chelan County Superior Court alleges breach of contract for not drying cherries and seeks $466,323 in crop loss, plus attorney fees and court costs. Chelan View is owned by John Marker.

"Our client talked to two neighbors, also cherry growers who also were waiting for their cherries to be dried, who received text messages from the pilot just before the crash," Foreman said.

Calling and text messaging while flying is against Federal Aviation Administration regulations and amount to negligence, the lawsuit states.

"That's unfounded and ridiculous. He wouldn't do that. It's physically impossible," said Dave Smith, Sr. A helicopter pilot constantly uses both hands when airborne.

Dennis Hogenson, the investigator of the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board, said he's aware of the texting allegation but can't comment. He said he hopes to issue a report in a month.

Preliminary NTSB findings shortly after the crash found that it was caused by striking power lines and that no mechanical failure was involved.

The crash occurred July 25. The helicopter banked at the end of the orchard to turn back over the orchard when it struck two of four power lines about 50 feet above the cherry trees, Detective Sgt. Jerry Moore, of the Chelan County Sheriff's Office, said at the time.

"The rotors came to a complete stop and the helicopter came straight down. That's what a witness told us," Moore said.

The helicopter's fuel tank exploded and the helicopter burst into flames upon impact. The pilot, Stephen W. Nelson, 22, Indianapolis, Ind., was badly burned. An autopsy showed he died of smoke inhalation.

The lawsuit alleges that a second helicopter did not arrive to dry Chelan View's cherries for several hours, by which time the fruit was split and ruined.

Smith's attorney, West Campbell, Yakima, declined comment other than to say the allegations in the lawsuit are only allegations.

"It was devastating to lose a pilot. In my 40 years of flying we'd never had that happen," Smith said.

He said the flying service is still operating and plans to work this year's cherry season.

Foreman said Golden Wings' insurance company, John Jaeger Co., Elkgrove, Calif., ordered a partial picking of the damaged crop to establish the loss. That was done, he said, but Jaeger did not pay the claim.

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA350
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 25, 2011 in Chelan, WA
Aircraft: SIKORSKY S-55B, registration: N5663
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On July 25, 2011, about 1438 Pacific daylight time, a Sikorsky S-55B Helicopter, N5663, sustained substantial damage after colliding with power lines and impacting terrain near Chelan, Washington. The helicopter was registered to Golden Wings Aviation and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant of the helicopter sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The local flight originated from a staging area near the accident site about 10 minutes prior to the accident.

A witness reported that the helicopter was traveling from south to north. He reported that the helicopter was in a left turn when it collided with the power line. The witness reported the helicopter descended out of view after striking the power lines; however, seconds later, he observed a large cloud of black smoke near the area where the helicopter was maneuvering.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter impacted terrain, in a nose low attitude, approximately 45 feet south of the power lines. A post crash fire ensued.

Witnesses to tell of 'terrifying' take-off at Queenstown

The Civil Aviation Authority says witnesses will describe a terrifying take-off procedure performed by a pilot as he attempted to fly out of Queenstown.

The Pacific Blue pilot, who has name suppression, is charged with recklessly flying the Boeing 737, endangering the lives of 70 passengers and crew in June 2010.

The lawyer acting for the CAA told the Queenstown District Court on Monday that Pacific Blue has a policy that planes taking off from the resort town's airport must do so before what is known as 'civil twilight' - when the centre of the setting sun is at a certain point below the horizon.

The lawyer says the pilot took off, disregarding minimum safe daylight level in crosswinds which exceeded the airports safety requirements.

The pilot was then forced to pitch the plane to a very low altitude to avoid cloud, essentially skimming over the top of the Kelvin Heights Golf course. Warning alarms were sounding on the flight deck.

The hearing is expected to last two weeks. The pilot has been suspended on full pay since the incident.

Grounded by Rick Scott, Cabinet members learn how to travel Florida without a state plane

By Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
In Print: Monday, March 5, 2012

STRANDED-IN-TALLAHASSEE — After logging 220,000 miles, Florida's chief financial officer said it was finally time to say goodbye to his Honda minivan "Blue Steele."

"Need some ideas on what to get next," Jeff Atwater tweeted recently to his followers. "Any suggestions?"

In Gov. Rick Scott's Florida, Cabinet members are a long way from the days when they hopped across the state in a Cessna jet. Scott made the state's two planes a symbol of government excess when he defeated a pair of rivals who used them.

But while taxpayers are saving because the planes have been sold and shipped out of state, real questions remain on whether the smaller travel bills are worth the costs — which are measured mainly in time. While Scott can move about the state in his personal private jet, Cabinet members are forced to drive or rely on Tallahassee's limited commercial air service.

Asked about the sale of the state planes, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam smiled and said, "It is what it is."

Scott fulfilled a campaign promise on his first full day as governor when he ordered the sale of the state's two airplanes: a 2000 King Air 350 and a 2003 Cessna Citation Bravo.

The decision was not without controversy. Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, argued that the sale required legislative approval. Atwater said it at least needed the blessing of the state's three Cabinet members: himself, Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The planes were not without controversy, either. Former Attorney General Bill McCollum, former CFO Alex Sink and former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp all were accused of using the planes for nonofficial business.

In the end, Kottkamp reimbursed the state $12,974 for flights his wife and son took, and the state Commission on Ethics did not pursue a case.

Still, Scott — a wealthy former health care executive — pounded both McCollum and later Sink for their air travel during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Scott sold the King Air for $1.77 million and the Cessna for $1.9 million, which netted the state $560,000 because the state still owed money on one of the planes. The sale also eliminated future operating and leasing costs of about $2.4 million a year.

Changes in travel

The decision to sell was easy for Scott, who can and often does use his own personal jet to do his job.

But what about the three other Cabinet members who travel? Do the savings offset making it more difficult for them to travel a state as big as Florida?

Bondi and Atwater say they fully support the sale and don't think the travel restrictions interfere with their job.

Bondi "prefers to cover the majority of her in-state transportation costs herself," said spokeswoman Jennifer Meale. Bondi has incurred $4,272 in travel-related expenses since taking office, Meale said.

That's in contrast to the air travel of McCollum. In his four years as attorney general, McCollum flew 181 times at a cost of $151,881 — an estimate based on a per-passenger basis.

McCollum said the value of having the planes has been overlooked.

"The bottom line is, without a state plane, when you have real state business to do, it takes time, and time is a valuable thing," he said. "Without the planes, it's less efficient government. Or, it means you're not reaching the people of the state, especially the ones in remote areas."

The Tallahassee airport has direct flights to Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa. But no direct flights to Orlando, West Palm Beach, Naples or Fort Myers. Getting to these cities requires flying first to Atlanta or Charlotte, or landing in one of the Florida cities that the airport does serve and then driving.

"You'd end up consuming a huge amount of time to go to those places," McCollum said.

Without the planes, Atwater relied on his minivan and saved taxpayers about $39,000. That's how much Sink cost taxpayers by flying on the state plane during her first year in office.

Atwater said that he doesn't mind the inconvenience, and that he has become accustomed to traveling by car.

He didn't always feel this way. Before he became Senate president in 2008, Atwater relied heavily on the taxpayer-financed friendly skies.

According to records with the Florida Department of Management Services, Atwater flew 95 times on trips that cost $88,000 in 2007. Because other passengers were on board, Atwater's portion of the bill was estimated at $14,965.

"In 2007 many senators used the state plane collectively in an effort to minimize individual trips and keep costs down," Atwater's spokeswoman, Anna Alexopoulos, said in an email. "After 2007, CFO Atwater assessed the associated expenses and determined that it was more practical and cost efficient to drive. For the past four years, he has traveled predominantly by car whenever possible."

Not as welcoming

Agriculture Commissioner Putnam hasn't been as welcoming of Scott's grounding.

Putnam has received $4,378 in travel reimbursements since taking office last year. His predecessor, Charles Bronson, dwarfed that expense with his use of the state plane. Records show that between July 2004 and the end of 2010, Bronson used the plane 578 times on trips. The estimated expense for flying Bronson: $310,000.

Yet not being mobile comes with its own cost. Putnam drives throughout Florida in either a state vehicle, where he doesn't receive a reimbursement, or his own vehicle.

Putnam said he's more limited in meeting with groups from across the state and has to be more selective in participating in events. His office in particular deals with issues and groups that are in faraway places not served by commercial air travel.

During the legislative session and during the weeks that Cabinet meetings are held, he lives in Tallahassee. But most of the year he's based closer to home in Winter Haven.

"It's more of a central location," Putnam said.

Dollars saved, not time
YearAircraft Hourly Charge Rate
2010$1.06 million
2009$1.85 million
2008$4.29 million
2007$3.88 million
2006$2.70 million
2005$3.26 million

During the campaign, Rick Scott made the use of state planes by public officials a symbol of government excess. In his first full day as governor in 2011, he ordered their sale. Below are the flight costs every year for the planes. What's harder to measure, say those who opposed the sale, is what's lost by not having them available for public officials.

YearAircraft Hourly Charge Rate
2010$1.06 million
2009$1.85 million
2008$4.29 million
2007$3.88 million
2006$2.70 million
2005$3.26 million

Source: Florida Department of Management Services

[Last modified: Mar 04, 2012 09:28 PM]

Lion rules market share despite pilot cases

Despite several cases of alleged narcotics use by its pilots, privately owned airline Lion Air was able to grab the largest market share of airline passengers throughout 2011.

Based on recent Transportation Ministry data, Lion Air’s domestic passengers reached 24.97 million, or equal to 41.59 percent of the total domestic market, while its inter-national passengers totaled 961,800, taking 11.8 percent of the international market for Indonesian airlines.

A Lion Air pilot was arrested last month in his hotel room in Surabaya, East Java, with 0.04 grams of crystal meth in his possession. He allegedly tested positive to the drug in a urine test. The Transportation Ministry has revoked Syaiful’s pilot’s license. The arrest followed another arrest of a Lion Air pilot in Makassar, South Sulawesi in January and a cabin crew member in April last year, both for the possesion of methamphetamine.

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia came in second place by carrying 18.76 million passengers on its domestic routes last year; 22.82 percent of the total-market share. Garuda’s international passengers amounted to 3.2 million; 38.03 percent of the international-market share.

Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said that Indonesia saw a 16.78 percent increase of airline passengers last year, up from 58.39 million in 2010 to 68.19 million in 2011.

The number of domestic passengers was 60.04 million, a 15.92 percent increase compared to 2010’s 51.77 million. International passengers reached 8.15 million, a 23.24 percent increase from 2010’s 6.61 million.

“Better economic conditions increased Indonesians’ purchasing power last year, thus, they prefer to travel by air rather than other means of transportation,” Bambang told The Jakarta Post over the wee end.

He also said that airlines were able to increase fleet capacity, enabling them to add more flight frequency to their existing schedules as well as open new routes.

According to ministry data, last year there were 26 new domestic routes and five international routes opened that connected different cities across the archipelago, among which were Bandung–Semarang, Denpasar–Malang, Medan–Surabaya, Jakarta–Shenzen, Jakarta–Nanning and Semarang–Kuala Lumpur.

Privately owned Sriwijaya Air took third place by carrying 7.38 million domestic passengers, or equal to 13.2 percent of the domestic-market share. For international routes, Sriwijaya took only 2.25 percent of the total share with 183,838 passengers.

In addition, ministry data said that Batavia Air passengers reached almost 7 million; 6.75 million domestic passengers, 11.25 percent of the domestic share, and 292,280 international passengers, a 3.59 percent of the 2011 international share.

The ailing Merpati Nusantara Airlines ranked fifth by carrying 2.18 million passengers, or 3.64 percent of the domestic-market share. Merpati did not carry any international travelers, as the airline is only a domestic player.

AirAsia Indonesia (AAI) only became an international carrier in Indonesia last year. AAI was able to carry 3.38 million passengers, or 41.58 percent of the international market, making them the strongest international player throughout 2011.

However, this year, AAI is trying to win the hearts of domestic passengers by opening three domestic routes; Bandung – Surabaya, Bali – Surabaya, and Jakarta – Semarang.

Lion Air’s feeder, Wings Air, came in at the bottom with 1.98 million domestic passengers, or equal to 3.37 percent of the total domestic share.

Bambang said that the ministry was still sticking to their target of a 15 percent increase of airline passengers this year, despite rising oil prices and global political unrest.

Plane used as Air Force One lands at Lewis-McChord

A Boeing 747 VC-25A commonly known as Air Force One landed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this afternoon as part of a year-long maintenance cycle, officials said.

Several people spotted the plane about 2:30 p.m. and may see it again since it is scheduled to be in the area for the next few days.

“It’s just a maintenance cycle,” said Adamarie Lewis, a spokeswoman for the 62nd Airlift Wing. “It’s getting ready to be certified to return to the presidential rotation.”

She said there were no passengers aboard.

The plane is assigned to the 89th airlift wing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Problems with new Caribbean Airlines planes

Airline waiting on parts from France…

REPORTS are that the two ATR72-600 aircraft, which went into operation more than two months ago, are spending more time on the ground that in the air because of mechanical problems.

A source at Caribbean Airlines Ltd said that the French manufacturer has two representatives in Trinidad to help in the maintenance of the aircraft but they are experiencing problems in getting the repairs done.

“The ATR representatives reportedly do not have full experience because it is a new aircraft,” the source said.
“When parts are needed they have to be flown from France and that takes a number of days. In the meantime the planes have to remain grounded,” the source said.

“The aircraft is flying but with a lot of deferred items restrictions, Minimum Equipment Listing (MEL),” the source said.

“The aircraft is not completely cleared of the defects, which pose no danger,” it said.

The first aircraft arrived in Trinidad and Tobago last November and has been flying the Barbados, Grenada and Tobago routes.

CAL said the two aircraft are on wet-lease until the delivery of the nine planes.

CAL became the first airline to operate the new “600” series. Trinidad was used as a launching pad by the manufacturer for the ATR72-600.

When CAL announced that it was buying nine ATR72-600 aircraft at a cost of $1.2 billion (US$200 million) questions were raised about its suitability for short-hauled routes and maintenance.

“Trinidad should not have been the launch ground for this aircraft,” the source said.

CAL said it plans to use the ATRs to replace its fleet of five 50-seat Q-300s with most technologically advanced turboprops into its domestic routes.

The Government had given CAL the green light to spend US$200 million on purchasing nine aircraft from the French manufacturer after weeks of disagreement between the former Transport Minister Jack Warner and the airline’s board. Warner had threatened to resign if the deal was not approved.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had referred the matter to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who gave Warner the all clear to go ahead with the purchase of the planes.

When TnT Mirror contacted Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, he referred Mirror to CAL chairman George Nicholas III. Efforts to reach Nicholas III proved futile.

The dispute between Warner and Nicholas III over the aircraft purchase and other procurement issues figured prominently in the no-confidence motion moved by Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in Parliament on Friday.

Stewardess sues airline after pilot 'raped her in a Hong Kong hotel'

A flight stewardess is suing one of the world’s leading airlines after claiming that she was raped by a pilot during a stopover in Hong Kong.

No legal action has been taken against the man, who was allowed back to work.

The stewardess, known only as Miss D, claims she was told if they found themselves on the same flight she should be the one to leave.

The stewardess, who lives in the south of England, is now suing for sex discrimination, claiming that the pilot was treated more favorably than her.

For legal reasons, neither she nor the pilot can be named, nor can the airline they work for.

Miss D alleges her colleague assaulted her in a room at a five-star Hong Kong hotel in February last year after a flight from London.

She told an employment tribunal she flew back to the UK the next day without reporting it to police in Hong Kong, but made a complaint to officers as soon as she arrived back in England.

She also reported the alleged incident to airline bosses, who initially suspended the pilot.

But she did not make an official statement to her employers because Sussex police told her it could jeopardize their criminal investigation.

The Crown Prosecution Service has refused to take any action over the case, saying it did not have jurisdiction and referred it back to police in Hong Kong.

But six months after Miss D flew back to Hong Kong to give a statement, detectives in the former British colony have yet to make any arrests.

In a pre-hearing review at a South London employment tribunal, Miss D told a judge she felt she had been treated ‘unjustly’ by her employers.

She said: ‘I first reported the crime to Sussex Police when I arrived back from Hong Kong on February 27.

‘I was extremely unhappy about the prospect of that man returning to work after what he did to me and about the safety of myself and others in the workforce.

‘I informed my employer as soon as I could of what had happened to me, what that man did to me. I was the female victim of rape.

‘I asked how it would be fair or just to allow him back to work if I could not contribute to the investigation with a statement. Nevertheless the airline decided to proceed with that action.’

Asked why she did not report the alleged assault in Hong Kong, she replied: ‘I just wanted to get out of there.’

Miss D said when the pilot returned to work on September 15 she was told if they turned up on the same flight she should be the one to leave.

Sobbing as she gave evidence, she added: ‘He was allowed to return to work with no restrictions.

‘I was told I was not allowed access to his rosters to make sure I would not be on the same flight as him and was advised if we were on the same flight I should leave as that would be the best course of action.

‘I felt he was treated more favourably because he’s a male pilot and I’m a female cabin crew member.’

She said she was in ‘constant fear’ of the man.

Since Miss D, who still works for the airline, lodged her claim in October the pilot has been suspended again, but so far no further action has been taken against him.

James Bickford-Smith, representing the pilot, denied that Miss D was raped in the early hours of February 26 last year.

He said the pilot and Miss D had been kissing in a taxi and went to his hotel room together.

‘Whatever occurred inside that room was outside the course of both of their employment,’ he said.

‘It was in Hong Kong, out of duty, in a hotel room which they had gone to consensually.’

Miss D’s claim of sex discrimination was upheld and a full hearing will start in September. The tribunal dismissed a claim of sexual harassment on a legal technicality.

A Hong Kong police spokesman said: ‘The case is still being investigated and legal advice is being sought. So far no arrest has been made.’

Pilot's trial begins

A trial has started in Queenstown for a commercial airline pilot charged with operating an aircraft in a careless manner while on a Sydney-bound flight.

The pilot, 52, was flying a Pacific Blue aircraft from Queenstown to Sydney on June 22, 2010 when he allegedly breached civil aviation rules.

The defended hearing before Judge Kevin Phillips started this morning in the Queenstown District Court.

Last June, a lawyer entered not guilty pleas to charges of operating a Boeing 737 in a careless manner that caused unnecessary danger to persons, passengers and crew and operating an aircraft in a careless manner.

The Civil Aviation Authority laid the charges after the aircraft left Queenstown at dusk in midwinter, allegedly outside a takeoff window.

Queenstown Airport is surrounded by mountains and regulations stipulate planes must take off with at least 30 minutes of twilight remaining.

The trial is set down for one week. 

A Pacific Blue pilot accused of breaching aviation regulations during a late takeoff from Queenstown Airport is appearing in court.

The pilot, who has name suppression, is accused of operating a Boeing 737 in a careless manner, after taking off at dusk and in bad weather in June 2010.

Planes must depart Queenstown Airport no later than 30 minutes before twilight, as the airport has no radar or runway lights.

The pilot has denied the charge, brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

A second charge, of operating an aircraft in a careless manner that caused unnecessary danger to people, passengers and crew, was withdrawn by the CAA.

The hearing, which began in Queenstown District Court today, is set down for two weeks, a CAA spokeswoman told NZ Newswire.

The charge carries a maximum fine of $7000.

Unpaid Air India pilots to fly 'cash & carry’

NEW DELHI: Unpaid for months and fed up with hollow promises of getting their dues, pilots of Air India-domestic have decided to put the airline on "cash-and-carry " from April 1. 

After a meeting of their union on Sunday, it has been left to individual pilots to tell the management that they will fly from next month only if their dues - five months' performance-linked incentive (PLI) and three months' salary - are paid fully or at least substantially.

While many agitated members wanted some immediate action, the union, Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA), decided against giving a strike call as such protests have only led to promises from the government in the past, which were never kept. "The top people in the ministry and management (read minister Ajit Singh, secretary Nasim Zaidi and chairman Rohit Nandan) want to pay us but the money has to come from the government which is not happening.

A common draft has been prepared which pilots (who wish to do so) will start sending from Monday to the management about not being available for duty from April 1 without clearance of dues," said sources.

Atop aviation ministry official admits that the "ball is not in their court" as the equity has to come from the government . But the employees are running out of patience, which is evident from the text of the letter prepared on Sunday : "It is very demoralizing not to have been paid my long pending dues inspite of repeated assurances from the highest authority, the last one being on January 1, 2012... The continuing instability and non-payment of salaries for several months has caused me immense financial stress... A combination of these factors makes it impossible for me to continue my flying duties. Therefore, I request you to kindly ensure that either all my dues are cleared by March 31 or consider me unavailable for work starting April 1."

While the equity infusion has to come from the government , pilots of both AI and Kingfisher are now pointing fingers at aviation authorities . "When a pilot, who has not been paid for months, is in the cockpit and his mind is elsewhere due to financial stress, he does not fly the plane. The plane flies him. It is indeed a serious safety hazard . But neither the DGCA nor the ministry are looking at this aspect," said a senior commander.

AI and Kingfisher together account for nearly one-third of the domestic market share. And, with question marks hanging on their schedules with unpaid pilots threatening to stop work, along with safety issues with Kingfisher, air travelers face an uncertain future.


Pilots' union has left it to individual members to take a call on flying from April 1 only after their dues are paid fully or at least substantially Dues include five months' performance linked incentive and three months' salary Union refrains from giving a strike call as such protests have only led to unfulfilled promises in the past.

Spring is in the air for pilots who lost jobs at Spanair

BEIJING - A month after Spanish carrier Spanair SA filed for voluntary bankruptcy, Shen Wei, deputy general manager of Spring Airlines, hopped on a plane to Spain last week, hoping to recruit experienced pilots who had lost their jobs.

After holding interviews, he made offers to 30 foreign captains at once. He expects that some might start working as early as the second half of this year.

"The company will add seven to eight new planes to its fleet by next year, but our own pilots won't be qualified to become captains until 2015," he said. "Foreign pilots are a good supplement."

The Shanghai-based airline, with a fleet of 30 planes, already has 32 foreign captains among its 300 pilots.

As carriers in the United States and Europe struggle with sluggish economic conditions, downsizing staff or filing for bankruptcy, it's getting easier for Chinese airlines to find foreign pilots.

While Shen was in Spain, nine other Chinese airlines were recruiting pilots in the US. From Feb 20 to 28, two job fairs were held in Miami and a third one in Las Vegas, hosted by Wasinc International, a pilot recruiting company, and Pan Am International Flight Academy.

The fairs drew some 850 pilots from the US, Mexico, Europe and South America. More than 80 received provisional offers from Chinese carriers, said Robin Li, general manager of Wasinc International's branch in China.

"Many of the pilots who came to the job fairs are not unemployed. Some came because they are attracted by Chinese culture, but most came because they were worried about their current jobs," he said.

"It has happened to many pilots who lost a job in a downsizing and landed a second job, only to find the second employer soon filed for bankruptcy. They want a stable job, and China, with a surging economy, can provide such jobs," he said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has forecast that nationwide, the number of pilots will rise to 40,000 from 24,000 in the five years ending 2015, as the civil aviation fleet expands by 11 percent annually.

China Southern Airlines alone, which has China's biggest fleet of planes, is looking to hire 725 pilots this year, including 100 from overseas. It employs 4,400 pilots.

In contrast to the large demand, media reports said that only 2,000 people graduate from all kinds of pilot training colleges and programs.

Chinese airlines have been seeking foreign pilots to make up the gap since the early 2000s. Some 1,700 foreign pilots were working in the country as of November, accounting for more than 6 percent of all licensed pilots, according to CAAC.

At some airlines, the percentage of foreign captains among all pilots has reached 20 percent, Shen said.

He added, however, that hiring foreign pilots was only "a transitional solution" and airlines had to train more pilots in China.

China Lures US Pilots Tired of Waiting for the Captain’s Seat

Miami -  Kent John Krizman has spent 13 years as a co-pilot at American Airlines. For a chance to move across the cockpit, he’s ready to take a job in China.

“I should be flying as a captain,” said Krizman, 52, of San Francisco, who has 20,000 hours’ experience in jet planes. Promotion won’t happen for at least five more years at American, while in China it could occur straightaway, he said.

Krizman was one of about 550 pi lots who attended a China job fair in Miami last week, as first officers find fewer chances for promotion in the United States because of slower airline growth and captains retiring later. Jobs are available in China, where a surging economy and a fleet expected to grow 11 percent a year through 2015, according to government forecasts, is creating a need for experienced crewmembers.

“Everyone is facing a pilot shortage,” said Shen Wei, head of pilot recruitment at Shanghai-based budget carrier Spring Airlines. “Foreign pilots are the quickest option.”

To help lure overseas crew members, Spring Air pays foreign pilots 30 percent more than domestic staff, Shen said, without elaboration.

Air China, the nation’s largest international carrier, was offering $198,000 a year net plus bonuses for Airbus SAS A330 pilots, according to an advertisement on the Web site of Wasinc International, the recruitment company that helped run the job fair. During the two-day Miami event, featuring about a dozen Chinese airlines, about 70 pilots got provisional job offers, said Scott Snow, a spokesman.

Roger Grant, an American Airlines co-pilot, said he may be able to double his salary by becoming a captain in China. He also said a move may offer better long-term prospects.

“I’ve been worried about the direction that the pilot career has been taking,” said Grant, 45, of Boynton Beach, Florida. Workers industrywide are “getting punished” for mistakes made by major airlines, he said.

It’s easier for first officers to become captains in China than in the United States because of demand, rather than lower requirements, said Li Yanhua, an associate professor at Tianjin-based Civil Aviation University of China. Air-traffic controllers in China are required to speak English, in line with global standards.

The number of pilots in China must rise to 40,000 from 24,000 in the five years ending 2015, the Civil Aviation Administration of China says on its Web site. About 1,700 foreign pilots are working in the country, according to Spring Air’s Shen. Calls to the CAAC went unanswered.

China Southern Airlines, the nation’s biggest carrier, said it wants to hire 725 pilots this year, including 100 from overseas. It employs 4,400 pilots. Air China said it intends to recruit 600 pilots this year, including as many foreigners as possible. The Beijing-based airline has 46 foreign pilots, or less than 2 percent of its roster.

In the United States, an increase in captains’ mandatory retirement age to 65 from 60 creates a logjam at the top of chain, said Kit Darby, who runs a pilot-hiring and compensation consulting firm in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Pilots who have been promoted at major US carriers are unlikely to leave as even junior captains earn $12,700 per month on average, plus benefits such as pensions that can boost the package by 40 percent, he said. Moving to China may appeal to the 4 percent of the country’s 90,000 pilots who are on furloughs, he said.

Pilots at US regional carriers, which fly smaller planes on short-haul routes, have also been caught by the retirement slowdown as they lose opportunities to move to better-paid positions flying larger models at a major airline.

Tony Giraldo, 51, said he has spent 15 years flying “numerous hours on the same equipment with no chance for an upgrade” at American Eagle, which ferries passengers from smaller cities to American Airlines’ airport hubs. He was considering a move to China as it offers “bigger aircraft and new possibilities,” he said.

Some American Airlines pilots recently were promoted to captain, 14 years after being hired, the carrier said. The wait for advancement was five years in the growth period of the 1980s and as long as two decades a few years ago, said Sam Mayer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association union.

The November bankruptcy filing by AMR, the Fort Worth, Texas-based parent of American Airlines and American Eagle, also spurred Giraldo to consider opportunities elsewhere, he said.

American, which has a hub in Miami, wants to cut 400 pilot jobs as part of bankruptcy restructuring, as well as terminating pensions and outsourcing more flying to other carriers.

Pilots “will remain highly compensated” even after the proposed changes, said Bruce Hicks, a company spokesman.

China is stepping up pilot training. The Civil Aviation Flight University of China, the country’s biggest training provider, said it plans to accept 2,400 cadets this year, 33 percent more than last year.

Using domestic pilots is simpler for Chinese airlines as there are some restrictions on foreigners flying domestic services, largely because the military controls much of the airspace, Spring Air’s Shen said.

“The boom in foreign pilots coming to China may only last a few years,” he said. “When we have more choice in the future, I will prefer our own pilots.”

Genesee County (KGVQ), Batavia, New York: Small airport, major player

A sign welcomes visitors to the Genesee County Airport in the town of Batavia.
(Rocco Laurienzo/Daily News) 

Posted: Sunday, March 4, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 12:05 pm, Sat Mar 3, 2012.

By Ben Beagle

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story originally appeared in Business Outlook 2012, a special section of The Daily News published on Feb. 25.)

A Cessna airplane in the center of the hangar at Boshart Enterprises has been stripped inside and out to its silver aluminum skin as it waits to be refurbished for the Civil Air Patrol. The interior has been gutted so that only seat rails remain, and empty holes look out from the console that would normally be busy with gauges, switches and dials.

Behind that plane are several others. Two technicians work on either side of the Beechcraft Bonanza’s engine replacing cylinders as part of an annual inspection. A large, double-engine Widgeon seaplane is having restoration work done on its nearly 70-year-old fuselage. And in a back corner, a technician works diligently threading several feet of wires through a metal harness to be installed on another Cessna undergoing an overhaul.

The 100-by-100-foot hangar adjacent to the main terminal at Genesee County Airport is as full as it can be and still allow the Boshart crew room to inspect, repair and retrofit the aircraft.

“It’s a really good airport for a small airport,” says Carol Boshart, who with her husband Jeff has operated their business at the airport for 31 years. “We’ve seen different times where we’ve been extremely busy, then times when we worry. But the last couple of years have been very busy.”

The growth of Boshart Enterprises is emblematic of a decade that has seen increased development and profitability at Genesee County Airport, which sits on several hundred acres in the town of Batavia, north of the city. A study released last summer by the state Department of Transportation indicates the facility — which has recorded a profit for the county in eight of the last nine years — is among the top general airports in the state for economic development.

The New York Statewide Airport Economics Impacts Study surveyed 90 public-use airports in the state Airport System Plan, including 72 airports that, like Genesee County’s, are classified as “General Aviation” facilities. GA airports do not have scheduled airline service, though they may serve as reliever airports for larger commercial service airports nearby. There are 18 commercial service airports in New York, including Rochester and Buffalo international.

The study, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and DOT, examined the economic activity, jobs and taxes generated by the aviation sector in New York for 2009, and said the state’s aviation sector could have positive effects on New York’s economy.

“Continued strategic investment in New York State’s aviation industry will help rebuild the economy by attracting and retaining businesses that depend on aviation for shipping and receiving goods, while also providing business and recreational travelers with safe, fast and reliable service,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement.

The Genesee County Airport on East Saile Drive was the 11th highest-earning general aviation airport in New York, and also ranked No. 11 in total economic activity, according to the study. Among a dozen general aviation airports in Western New York, Genesee County ranked second only to Niagara Falls International.

Genesee County Airport was credited with supporting 90 jobs, more than $7.5 million in annual earnings and a total economic activity of $18.1 million, which includes sponsor and indirect expenditures and visitor spending at the airport, according to the study. Direct impacts come from providers and users of services at the airport, and include payroll, capital expenditures, operating and maintenance costs, taxes and fees, such as hangar rentals, land-lease and fuel charges, and off-site economic activities that are attributable to the airport. Indirect impacts result from the recirculation of direct impacts.

On-airport business, the study said, directly contributed 52 full- and part-time jobs and $13.8 million in economic activity to the overall economic impact.

The study noted that an expansion of the runway at Genesee County Airport to accommodate jet traffic has increased the airport’s role as a corporate aviation facility. The runway was increased by 1,100 feet to 5,500 feet as part of a $2.9 million project completed in August 2005 that also saw the re-routing of 3,500 feet of State Street Road. The longer runway allows the airport to accommodate medium-sized jets and, in an emergency, even a 737.

“The significance of the airport to area commerce is in many ways defined by its business clientele,” the state study said.

The airfield’s presence across the road from Milton Caterpillar’s facility was a factor in the company — which also has a corporate jet — choosing Genesee County for a $20 million sales, services and parts facility that opened in December 2007, local officials have said. The facility consolidated the company’s Buffalo and Rochester operations in Batavia.

“The Genesee County Airport is an integral piece to the sales and attraction process that the Genesee County Economic Development Center utilizes to attract companies and investment to our county,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of GCEDC.

The longer runway, Hyde said, gives the county an advantage when negotiating with potential investors.

Local companies can land a jet at the airport and be at their business within minutes instead of flying in to Rochester and Buffalo where they will be faced with a longer commute, and may also experience delays from commercial travel and schedules.

“The airport makes travel easy and efficient for executives and personnel,” said Chris Suozzi, vice president of development for GCEDC. “I believe that the airport is crucial to the GCEDC’s efforts in attracting companies to Genesee County.”

The FAA, in its National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (2011-2015), said the demand for business aircraft has grown over the past several years and that “business usage of general aviation aircraft will expand at a faster pace than that for personal/recreation use.” Reasons, according to the report, include new offerings, new jets, increasing foreign demand and corporate safety and security concerns for staff. Increasing flight delays at some U.S. airports have also made corporate and charter flights practical alternatives to business travel on commercial flights.

Prominent corporate and institutional organizations that used Genesee County Airport in 2009, the study said, included Thunderun Aviation Corporation, Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, Sierra Alpha Aviation, Mercy Flight Western New York, Boshart Enterprises, New York State Police and Fifth Third Leasing Co. The airport also houses numerous crop-dusting planes and is used for training by the Army National Guard.

Genesee County has operated the airport since the mid-1970s after purchasing what was then a private airfield. The county staffs the airport and rents or leases property, hangers and tie-down spaces to private individuals and businesses. The county also sells fuel to airport-based and transient aircraft.

The past decade or so has been one of growth and development for the airport. Since 1998, more than $13 million has been invested, mostly through FAA funds, toward improving and expanding services at Genesee County Airport.

“The FAA got serious about improving small airports and said you need to be serious if you wanted help to improve your airport. They wanted to see a commitment,” Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said.

The turning point may have come in 2002 when the airport broke even financially. The next year, it turned a profit of about $6,000.

“It was a very conscious decision by the highway superintendent and county Legislature to get the airport to be self-sufficient,”Gsell said.

That goal has been largely achieved, he said.

Since 2003, the airport has recorded profits in seven of eight years. A loss of $15,008 in 2008 was paid back with 2009 earnings of $34,117, that still left the airport with a small profit for 2009. The past two years, revenues have exceeded expenses by $96,000, according Gsell.

The airport budget for 2012 is $724,000, Gsell said.

Revenue increases have been driven by rentals of consistently-full hangars and fuel sales, according to annual reports.

There are 38 multi-bay hangars for lease at the airport. All are full, and there is a waiting list for openings. About 70 airplanes are regularly based at the airport. A hangar built in 2010 will contribute about $28,000 a year in rents.

Full hangars bring more aircraft activity, and more fuel sales, which were up 5.5 percent in 2010 from 2009. Jet fuel sales increased even more, a 19 percent rise in 2010 as the airport continues to attract more corporate and business air traffic. Total jet fuel sales represented nearly 57 percent of all sales in 2010, compared to 22.6 percent in 2002 and 17.2 percent in 2001, according to the airport’s 2010 annual report.

Also contributing to the airport’s economic impact has been increasing private investments. Two large, privately-owned corporate-style hangars were constructed in 2010. The facilities contribute to both the airport and local tax base.

The airport has also hosted fly-in pancake breakfasts, meetings, educational tours and other promotional events.

Keys to boosting an airport’s economic impact, the state report said, include airport branding, marketing and promotion, improvements in air service, partnerships with public and private agencies and institutions, retaining existing tenants and transient clients, developing non-aeronautical real estate and attracting aviation businesses and manufacturers.

“This study confirms that aviation is not only a significant economic driver for the state, but also one that is growing, which is extraordinary considering how many business sectors have struggled during a time of economic slowdown,” Carl R. Beardsley Jr., past president of the New York Aviation Management Association, said in a statement. The Albany-based group is a non-profit association of airport managers and government officials that advocates for sustaining the viability of the state’s airports.

The study, Beardsley said, will be useful in marketing the state’s aviation assets and attracting private sector investment to the state’s airports.

The study said that airports produce a greater economic benefit than the level of public investment required to maintain the system. More than $610 million was invested in airports by federal, state and local sources for capital improvements in 2009, the study said.

Genesee County, using money from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program was able to leverage $73,219 in county money into $3 million in infrastructure improvements between2005 and 2009. The AIP program provides grants for essential functions, such as safety improvements and restoration of runways and airfield aprons.

The county has one more big project it wants to undertake: replacing its aging airport terminal and main hangar that the FAA has said is also too close to the runway.

“It’s the next priority, but it needs funding,” Gsell said.

Very preliminary planning has started, but development of the project is likely dependent on the availability of funding from FAA and state programs, Gsell said.

Those sources have been seeing reductions in recent years, according to Chad Nixon, current president of the New York Aviation Management Association.

Nixon, in testimony submitted Jan. 26 to a joint legislative hearing on New York’s 2012-13 executive budget for transportation, said that while “tremendous gains” have been made in addressing critical airport improvement needs, the proposed budget “continues the disturbing trend of providing reduced state support for airports.”

“The lack of a permanent and dedicated source of state funding for aviation in the budget in the face of growing infrastructure needs of airports is frustrating,” Nixon testified. “Much of the airport infrastructure remains or is becoming ill-suited to help spur economic activity.”

The improvements at Genesee County Airport have been noticed by the Bosharts who draw customers from an increasingly greater geographic area. A market that used to be primarily Rochester, now includes Buffalo, Syracuse, Oswego, Pennsylvania and Canada, in addition to an increasing number of corporate planes, Carol Boshart said.

“Thirty years ago this was a recreational business. Now, it’s not just recreational, it’s corporate, too,” said Jeff Boshart.

A lot of the change, he said, arrived with the longer runway.

“That changed a lot. It made our airport accessible to a lot of aircraft,” he said. “And I think it’s become more of a tool, too, for small and medium-sized businesses to gain access to our region. I see the airport as part of our infrastructure, an important part.”


Airport developments

Between 1998 and 2010, Genesee County Airport on East Saile Drive has undergone $13 million in capital improvements, mostly funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. Some recent airport projects:

2011: The airport received nearly $1.3 million in funding to rehabilitate and expand airport aprons, which will provide greater and safer aircraft movement and aircraft parking. The Genesee County Legislature also approved two long-term land leases for new private hangars that will generate about $8,750 per year in revenue for a 20-year period.

2010: Bob Miler Flight Training of Buffalo opened a flight school in September. Two large corporate-style hangars were constructed by private owners. The hangars contribute to both the airport business and local tax base.

2009: Genesee County constructed and leased an eight-bay T-hangar, bringing the total number of multi-bay hangars for lease at the airport to 38. The hangar cost $474,500 to build, with $300,000 provided in state aid. The hangar produced about $28,000 in annual revenue while also adding to the based aircraft purchasing fuel at the airport. Mercy Flight opens a base of operations at the airport in August.

2008: The FAA provides a grant of $655,500 for improvements at the east end of the runway, including regarding and removing obstructions, and demolition of an old hangar. The project is estimated at $690,000. A 10-bay T-hangar is constructed for Mercy Flight, and an eight-bay T-hangar is built, both receiving $300,000 in grants from New York State.

2006: The FAA provided $669,750 to rehabilitate the east end of the old runway and two taxiways.

2005: As part of a $5 million multi-year expansion of the airport, the runway is extended to 5,500 feet from 4,400. The $2.9 million extension project allows the airport to handle medium-sized business jets and, in an emergency, even a 737.

2004: To accommodate the runway expansion, a 3,500-foot section of State Street Road is rerouted. The project costs $457,000.


Source: Daily News archives, airport annual reports.