Monday, March 05, 2012

NORAD conducting overnight flights in Washington D.C. area

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is conducting calibration flights over the Washington area early Tuesday morning.  

The flights will take place from about 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. and will involve a Beechcraft King Air aircraft flying patterns at 1,000 to 16,000 feet above ground level.  The flights will test and calibrate systems and equipment. If the exercise is canceled for any reason, it will be rescheduled for early Wednesday or Thursday.

PA46 Meridian Cockpit Flow - Master Instructor Dick Rochfort

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

Up, Up and Back to Anchorage

The best laid plans often come to naught when confronted with Alaskan weather!!

Doug and I (Aliy's dad and mom) met our good friend and experienced Alaskan pilot, Mike Litzen at 0930 today. Mike had flown his 1953 Cessna 150 from his home on the Kenai Peninsula to gather us in Anchorage and make the hour and a half flight to Rainy Pass. We had all been watching Aliy on the Iditarod GPS tracker and planned to catch her shortly after she arrived at that checkpoint. We packed food, drink and extra layers in hopes of staying until 4 this afternoon to see Ryne too.

We were flying over the Cook Inlet at about 1500 feet when Mike got the Rainy Pass/Puntilla Lake weather report. At 1000 the ceiling was 16000 feet, broken with a visibility of 25 miles. Cool! Good flight conditions ahead.

Congressman Mike Turner fights to keep National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - By Tom Crosson

Congressman Mike Turner sent a letter to US Airways Chairman & CEO Doug Parker, expressing his grave disappointment in attempts by the airline to relocate the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) Enshrinement Ceremony from Dayton, Ohio to Charlotte, North Carolina. This year would mark the fiftieth anniversary of the ceremony.

Dayton is also home to the headquarters of PSA Airlines, one of US Airways Express’ operators. With 422 employees, the Dayton region is dedicated to the success of the company, including economic assistance. Recently, the State of Ohio, Montgomery County, and the City of Dayton have approved grant assistance to PSA totaling an additional $1.2 million to assist with the expansion and renovation of their training center.

“Despite this substantial financial investment and support, US Airways is nevertheless taking strides to deprive the Dayton community of the fiftieth NAHF Enshrinement Ceremony with generous contributions to move the ceremony to Charlotte,” wrote Turner.

The NAHF was founded in 1962 as an Ohio non-profit corporation in Dayton; recognized as the “birthplace of aviation.” On July 14, 1964 the NAHF was officially chartered by the 88th U. S. Congress. The organization is a public foundation reporting annually to Congress.

“It is deeply disturbing to me that US Airways would openly defy the commitment of so many dedicated individuals in the Dayton community. As the home of the NAHF, Dayton has provided so much to both the celebration of aviation and US Airways, while the latter is now taking great strides to relocate this hallmark event from the region. I am also troubled by the fact that you fail to grasp the great magnitude of this event and would not speak to me in advance of the NAHF’s decision on the matter,” added Turner.

North Dakota hunters

Two North Dakota hunters from Fargo hired a pilot to fly them to Canada to hunt moose. They bagged four.

As they started loading the plane for the return trip home, the pilot tells them the plane can take only two moose.

The two North Dakotans objected strongly, stating, “Last year we shot four moose, and the pilot let us put them all on board, and he had the same plane as yours.”

Reluctantly, the pilot gave in and all four were loaded.

Unfortunately, even at full power, the little plane couldn’t handle the load and crashed a few minutes after takeoff.

Climbing out of the plane, Sven said to Ole, “Any idea where we are?”

Ole replied, “I think we’re pretty close to where we crashed last year.”

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Warns Of Loud Exercises This Week

The noise level will be cranked up near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro this week because the 4th fighter wing started an operational readiness exercise Monday.

The exercise will run through Thursday. Base officials say residents can expect increased jet noise, low-level flying and loudspeaker announcements throughout the day and possibly until 1:00 a.m.

SkyView speaks about fatal crash: Tracy Municipal Airport (KTCY), California

The chief operations officer for SkyView Aviation is facing vehicular manslaughter charges after a passenger in his car drowned in the Delta-Mendota Canal on Feb. 23.

According to police, Eric Rode-Olsen, 30, of Tracy, was driving an older-model BMW 328i when the car crashed through a chain-link fence, launched off a levy and flipped into the canal at about 11:40 p.m.

Rode-Olsen was reportedly traveling down one of the Tracy Municipal Airport runways before the crash with three Swedish pilots.

Authorities said three of the men escaped the swift waters of the canal, including Rode-Olsen. As of press time Thursday, March 1, the body of the last man, a 23-year-old from Sweden, had yet to be recovered.

The three pilots were part of a group of five Swedish men who came to Tracy a few weeks ago to increase their flight hours by renting aircraft from SkyView, said Craig Vincent, SkyView’s sales manager.

Late Wednesday, Vincent said that during  their time here, the men had grown close to a couple of SkyView employees, particularly Rode-Olsen, with whom they shared a common bond as Swedish countrymen.

Vincent said Rode-Olsen showed the pilots around Tracy during their visit, and they attended a SkyView employee’s birthday party at 6 p.m. the day of the crash. The pilots were all scheduled to fly back to Sweden on Monday, Feb. 27, he said.

“It’s important people understand this was something that had nothing to do with SkyView Aviation,” Vincent said Wednesday, breaking silence after SkyView initially declined several requests for comment. “He happens to be an employee here. They happened to be customers of SkyView. Happened well after hours. Not related to his employment or anything we were doing here at SkyView.”

Without disclosing details of the accident, Vincent said everyone at SkyView was distraught and supportive of Rode-Olsen, an employee at the company for more than four years.

“It’s a tragic accident,” Vincent said. “We feel for the family of those in the vehicle, including Eric and his family. I can’t imagine what the (victim’s) family is going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved.”

Rode-Olsen was booked into San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp the day after the accident on charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

The owner of SkyView, Richard Ortenheim, bailed Rode-Olsen out of jail following his arraignment on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Vincent said Ortenheim also hired a private attorney, Albert Ellis, to handle Rode-Olsen’s criminal proceedings.

“We’re all standing by him,” Vincent said. “He likes everybody, and everybody likes him. We’re all a family here. Just how this company is.”

Word spread quickly through the airport community in the days following the accident, according to John Favors, president of Tracy Airport Association.

“Everyone is in denial and shock and, like, wow,” Favors said. “SkyView trains a lot of Swedish pilots. They have these Swedish students come over here all the time.”

“Everyone is somber,” he added. “We’re all looking at it as a real tragedy. Eric’s life may well be destroyed over this, and someone else’s life was destroyed. Everyone is quite sad.”

Favors and other members of the airport community said the charges facing Rode-Olsen were out of character for the 30-year-old.

“The driver of the car is an extremely nice guy,” said one man, who asked that his name not be used. “When I heard about it, I said I can’t see him loaning his car. I can’t believe it. One of normally safe and sane friends. I felt they got it wrong. The whole thing is kind of strange and unbelievable. (You) don’t expect this — to have an auto accident on an airport and death by drowning.”

Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Western-Pacific Region office, said Monday that Tracy airport officials did not report the crash to the FAA. However, he said that would not be necessary, because there were no regulatory violations.

“They didn’t break any federal regulations, so from our perspective, we can only talk to them about safety at the airport, but we can’t enforce anything at this time,” he said.

Rode-Olsen is scheduled to return to Manteca Superior Court on March 21 for further arraignment.

Rode-Olsen’s attorney had asked the judge at his arraignment on Tuesday if he would delay the next court appearance a few weeks to allow him time to gather additional evidence, including the results of Rode-Olsen’s toxicology tests. The results will determine whether there were any drugs or alcohol in Rode-Olsen’s system at the time of the accident.

Rode-Olsen remains free on $100,000 bail, which was lowered by Judge Ron Northup from $150,000. The bail reduction came after the defense attorney promised to keep his client’s Swedish passport locked in his office safe.

Vincent said it was his belief that drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the accident, and he didn’t understand the reasoning behind Rode-Olsen’s prosecution.

“In my mind, I don’t understand why they are pursuing this as a crime,” he said. “Someone died in a crash, and that’s a terrible thing. … I don’t understand why it’s not more than a tragic accident.”

Police officials said they planned to release the name of the drowning victim after his body was recovered from the canal.

Detective Tim Bauer said the Tracy Police Department issued a bulletin to other law enforcement agencies along the canal route to keep an eye out for the body.

Piper PA-22-150, N6849B: Accident occurred March 05, 2012 in East Troy, Wisconsin

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA182
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 05, 2012 in East Troy, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-22-150, registration: N6849B
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot was en route to his destination airport after having made an intermediary stop at another airport when the engine experienced a total loss of engine power, and the pilot performed a forced landing. Examination of the airplane revealed that there was no usable fuel present and there were no fuel system leaks.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadequate fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

On March 5, 2012, about 1430 central standard time, a Piper PA-22-150, N6849B, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight. The pilot subsequently made an off airport forced landing to a field near East Troy, Wisconsin. The certificated private pilot was uninjured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the flight that departed from Ephraim-Gibraltar Airport (3D2), Ephraim, Wisconsin, destined to Burlington Municipal Airport (BUU), Burlington, Wisconsin.

The pilot stated that the airplane was fueled at BUU and had 44 gallons aboard prior to departure. After about 1:40 hours of flight time, he landed at 3D2. He then departed for BUU and after about 1:15 hours of flight time, the engine quit. He positioned the fuel selector to the left fuel tank and the engine restarted and then ran for about 30 second and quit. During the descent for a forced landing, the engine was able to be restarted using "short bursts" by hand pumping the accelerator pump and the primer pump. The airplane landed short of the field that the pilot planned to land on.

Examination of the airplane by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that none of the airplane fuel tanks contained usable fuel, and there was no evidence of fuel leak.

The pilot's flight review was expired at the time of the accident.

 NTSB Identification: CEN12LA182 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 05, 2012 in East Troy, WI
Aircraft: PIPER PA-22-150, registration: N6849B
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

On March 5, 2012, about 1430 central standard time, a Piper PA-22-140, N6849B, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight. The pilot subsequently made an off airport forced landing to a field near East Troy, Wisconsin. The certificated private pilot was uninjured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the flight destined to Burlington Municipal Airport (BUU), Burlington, Wisconsin.

59-year-old pilot okay after small plane goes down near Mukwonago

MUKWONAGO — A 55-year-old single-engine plane went down near I-43 into the river near Mukwonago. The pilot is okay. Officials say the plane was flying south along I-43 just before 2:30 Monday afternoon, and a propeller on the plane was not spinning.

Mukwonago Fire Chief Jeffrey Stien tells FOX6 News the pilot, a 59-year-old man from Racine, suffered “just a couple of cuts and bruises.”

The chief says the pilot did a nice job of putting the plane down so it did not flip. “When we got on the scene, police had reported the pilot got himself out, and was standing on the shoreline, and when the plane went down, it didn’t flip or anything. We brought the pilot back here and he’s doing fine,” Stien said. The pilot was treated at the scene for minor injuries. “He’s very lucky because of the water being shallow that he didn’t flip the plane over,” Stien said.

The pilot said he was attempting to reach the East Troy airport, but the plane’s engine shut down. The pilot chose to put the plane in the river, rather than land on I-43, as traffic was heavy. Officials reported receiving a number of 911 calls from drivers on I-43, reporting a low-flying plane near the freeway.

The plane went down approximately 400 feet off of I-43, one mile east of State Highway 83.

FOX6 News spoke with the pilot, who didn’t want to go on camera after his ordeal Monday afternoon.

The Mukwonago Police Department and the FAA are investigating this incident. “What we’re doing is, we are going to put some booms up, just to make sure if there is any leakage. We did use a boat to make sure the fuel was shut off.

American Airlines flight makes emergency landing at Little Rock National Airport/Adams Field

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — An American Airlines flight that originated at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport made an unexpected landing in Little Rock Monday evening.

Officials at Little Rock National Airport told KARK that Flight 1366 landed around 5:30 after being diverted from its original destination of Memphis, Tennessee and 47 minutes after taking off from D/FW.

Pilots made the decision to change the flight plan after a cockpit instrument indicated a problem with the oil level in one of the aircraft's two engines.

Airport officials said all 130 people on board the MD-80 jet were safe, and that American was dispatching another plane to take the passengers on to Memphis.

Bad planning, hard landing

CHENNAI: The extended secondary runway is proving to be a white elephant for the airport authorities. 

After spending 430 crore to extend the runway from 6,676 feet to 11,269 feet, only 2,000 feet more than the original length can be used.  Sources say the runway has become a casualty of bad planning and that it cannot augment the airport's aircraft handling capacity due to lack of space.

Constraints like a metro rail line and more space for installing instrument landing system and runway lights are the main reasons behind not been able to use the full length of the secondary runway. As air traffic grew, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) wanted to build a runway parallel to the main runway to handle more traffic. But, AAI had to shelve the plan as land acquisition was becoming difficult and decided instead to extend the 6,676-feet secondary runway into a full-fledged one. Officials decided to convert the secondary runway, which was used to handle small 7-seater ATR aircraft, into a taxiway linking the two runways, but did not factor in the need for extra land at the Manapakkam-end of the secondary runway.

"AAI did not factor in the need for additional land when airport expansion work was planned in 2006. The demand for more land, apparently to create a safety buffer zone, was made only after the runway was extended and a new boundary wall was constructed in August 2010. Officials also decided to have a simple lighting system on the extended end of the runway because AAI was not sure whether they will get the 15.5 acres they sought from the state government," said an airport official.

AAI chairman V P Agrawal recently announced that only 8,000 feet of the runway would be opened for service in April. The length of the runway will remain shortened until trees and tall buildings that lie on the flight approach path are reduced and more land is acquired to install landing lights and other landing aids.

Another feature that didn't help the airport authorities was the Chennai metro rail's decision to build an elevated line from the Officer's Training Academy to the airport. The secondary runway already has a displacement of 1,082 feet at the Trident-end. This is expected to go up because of metro rail's alignment even though it is underground.

A senior AAI official said discussions were being held to fix the displacement of the runway from the Manapakkamend. "We are looking at 1,640 feet of displacement. It is yet to be finalized. Discussions are on with different departments and the airlines," he said.

Airlines are pessimistic about the utility of the runway. "Bigger planes will not be able to use the second runway if the whole length is not usable and there are too many restrictions," said an airline official.

State Police pilot claims his supervisors ordered him to fly a helicopter after it was grounded by the FAA: Louisiana State Police supervisors sued

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -  A lawsuit filed Monday claims a pattern of retaliation and safety issues within the Louisiana State Police Department. A State Police pilot claims his supervisors ordered him to fly a helicopter after it was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, and that the Commander of all State Police took no disciplinary action.

The lawsuit claims two Louisiana State Police Pilot Supervisors committed malfeasance in office, wasted tax payer's money, and abused their power to get back at two pilots: Ryan Roberts and Lynn Calamia.

The pilots' attorney, Walter Smith III, has listed more than 25 examples of what he claims are clear cut cases of illegal actions by supervisors Brett McCloud and Eric Frazier.

One being an allegation that Frazier ordered Lynn Calamia to fly the State Police Helicopter after the FAA grounded the chopper for having cracked rotor blades. According to the suit, the supervisors knew it and let Calamia fly the aircraft, which put his life in danger, and on later flights with Governor Jindal, put the Governor and his wife in danger.

The lawsuit also states McCloud used the state helicopter to fly to Abbeville, LA to do what his attorney refers to as a "racially motivated" shakedown.

"McCloud was on duty and in uniform when he took a State Police helicopter without authorization, flew to Abbeville, La., misled Abbeville Police and lied to them to confront a young black man who was dating his daughter," said Smith.

"My client wasn't even at work," said McCloud's attorney, Jill Craft. "He was on administrative leave until the 7th or 8th. He was not there."

State Police Commander Colonel Mike Edmunson says records show a flight was scheduled on the date of the alleged shakedown. Edmunson says former Colonel Henry Whitehorn did take disciplinary action.

He tells 9 News an internal investigation is, and has been, underway. He says it involves reviewing all flight logs going back to 2005. He says so far he sees no evidence that the pilots flew an unsafe aircraft.

"At no time was anyone flown in an unsafe manner and at no time was any aircraft flown that we knew about had anything wrong with them that would've caused any harm or any unsafe flying conditions," Col. Edmunson said.

The Colonel says he has already made some changes, including removing McCloud and Frazier from their role of supervisor over the pilots.

Ornge: Helicopters’ tail rotors could fall off, says Frank Klees

TORONTO — Pilots, paramedics and patients should be worried about the safety of helicopters used by Ornge, Ontario's air ambulance system, Progressive Conservative transport critic Frank Klees said Monday.

The 12 AugustaWestland 139 helicopters Ontario purchased for $144 million -- only 10 were ever put into service -- have problems with tail rotors falling off, Klees told the legislature.

The former transport minister pointed to an air-worthiness directive he said was issued "just days ago" by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Klees said it warns the owners of the AW139 that they are required to conduct "repetitive inspections" and maintenance of the tail rotors every 25 flight hours, and orders to replace them every 600 hours.

"The reason? They fall off," he said.

Ornge issued a statement Monday saying the Feb. 17 air worthiness directive from the EASA did not apply to the Ornge fleet of helicopters, but an earlier one last August from the agency did place a limit of 600 hours on the tail rotors of the Ornge air ambulances.

"(New) procedures include daily inspections of the tail rotor blades areas if the aircraft had flown," said Ornge spokesman James MacDonald in an email. "These procedures were carried out from August 2011 to February 2012, and no defects were found during this time."

However, Klees said he wouldn't take a ride in an Ornge air ambulance chopper, even in an emergency.

"I would not want to be a pilot, I would not want to be a paramedic and I would not want to be a patient," Klees told reporters.

"Knowing the track record of these helicopters, I would take my chances getting from point A to point B with some other means."

Health Minister Deb Matthews was unaware of the air worthiness directive concerning the Ornge air ambulance helicopters, but said patient safety was a top priority for the new board of directors.

"Patient safety is their No. 1 consideration and they are taking appropriate steps," Matthews told the legislature.

"There is an OPP investigation underway right now, as it relates to irregular financial arrangements at Ornge. It's vitally important that those of us in this house, if we have information, share that information with the OPP."

The government called in police to investigate various for-profit companies set up by Ornge and fired the previous board of directors and founder Dr. Chris Mazza, who was making $1.4 million a year.

The New Democrats said the Liberal government apparently did little to provide proper oversight of Ornge, despite repeated warnings from the opposition parties.

"Whether it's the detail of the helicopters and their safety, or whether it's the fact that all of this information was available to the premier and he did nothing about it, it's all very disturbing," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

"Ontarians should not accept the government's excuses."

The Tories and NDP, both of which have been calling for Matthews' resignation, also want a special committee of the legislature with powers to subpoena witnesses to investigate Ornge, which gets about $150 million a year in provincial funding.

They say an all-party committee would have a broader mandate than the police and could probe lingering issues around quality of care and crew safety and also protect whistleblowers who are afraid to talk about ongoing problems at Ornge.

Jet engine icing research at Cleveland's NASA Glenn will tackle dangerous flight problem

On a stormy July evening in 2004, more than five miles above the South China Sea, the engines powering a large passenger jet en route to Taiwan suddenly failed.

A simultaneous engine shutdown on a large, modern aircraft is almost unheard of. After a harrowing 75 seconds, the pilots managed to restart them, and the jet landed at the Taipei airport without further problems. But the incident set off alarms in the aviation community.

Minutes before its engines quit, the jet had been skirting thunderstorms spawned by a distant typhoon. Investigators first thought the storms' powerful updrafts had pulled rain high into the atmosphere, temporarily smothering the engines when they sucked in gouts of water instead of air. The jet's pilots had seen and heard droplets hitting the windshield, bolstering the rain theory.

But the jet's radar sweeps were clear, with no echoes from rain. And the temperature at the altitude where the trouble began was a frigid minus-44 degrees, far too cold for liquid water. Researchers eventually concluded the engines must have been choked by tiny ice crystals as small as flour grains – a dangerous, unexpected phenomenon that aviation officials urgently want to learn more about so they can lessen its risk.

Much of that work will take place at Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center, where engineers are readying a unique test chamber capable of mimicking the odd weather conditions that threatened the Taipei-bound jet, and have caused more than 150 other in-flight incidents. 

"These things are happening pretty frequently, like one incident every month or so," said Glenn project manager Ron Colantonio. "NASA is working with the aviation community to understand what's causing the problem and how to mitigate it." 

Glenn officials recently unveiled the silvery, boxcar-sized engine icing tunnel during a visit by NASA administrator Charles Bolden. Glenn engineers previously had used the tunnel for other types of jet engine tests. With $15 million in Recovery Act and NASA money, they've retrofitted it with water sprayers that will produce the minute ice crystals believed to be causing the engine problems. Sensors will track the performance of jet engines mounted on a frame in the icy air stream. 

Aviation safety experts have long recognized the danger from ice buildup on wings and other external aircraft surfaces. The hazard is caused by super-cooled liquid water freezing on contact, disrupting smooth airflow and hampering lift. For decades engineers in Glenn's Icing Branch have led international efforts to develop better ice forecasting methods, icing sensors, anti-icing aircraft designs, and improved pilot training. 

But the idea that ice could cause a problem deep inside a jet engine, and at altitudes much higher than where liquid water can exist, didn't seem to make sense. Above 22,000 feet, ice crystals in the atmosphere bounce harmlessly off cold aircraft surfaces and exterior icing ceases to be a problem.

Aviation officials struggled to understand why, beginning in the 1990s, commuter and large transport jet pilots were reporting engine flameouts or partial loss of power. There have been no crashes to date attributed to engine icing. Pilots usually are able to restart or regain full engine power after dropping to lower, warmer altitudes, although the pilot of a small business jet had to make an emergency "dead-stick" landing at the Jacksonville, Fla., airport in November 2005 when neither stalled engine would re-light.

The clues from these incidents were sparse:

The engine failures occurred at high altitudes and cold temperatures, averaging 26,800 feet and minus-17 degrees. They mostly happened as jets were descending, although the problems also cropped up during ascent and level cruising. The most common site was the Asian Pacific region, though incidents were reported throughout the world. Flight paths were near or above convective clouds, with lots of rain down below but nothing on weather radar at flight level.

Researchers know that storm updrafts can shoot lots of moisture to high altitudes, where the drops fast-freeze into ice crystals. The Asian Pacific is a cauldron for such fierce convective storms because of its warm ocean surface temperatures.

Large ice particles show up on aircraft radar and remain in the core of the storm cloud, which pilots already know to avoid. But tiny ice crystals – invisible except on sophisticated satellite scans – accumulate at the cloud's periphery. They're only evident when they strike and melt on a jet's heated windshield, masquerading as raindrops.

How those near-microscopic ice crystals manage to foul a jet engine is mostly speculative, at least until engine testing in Glenn's ice crystal tunnel begins early next year. Here's what scientists think happens:

A jet's forward motion and its engines' mighty air intake draw ice crystals deep inside. At some point, probably in the compressor section, the temperature is above freezing and some of the crystals melt. A thin film of water forms on engine surfaces, trapping more incoming ice crystals and melting them, too. 

As some of the water vaporizes, the engine metal loses heat in a process called evaporative cooling, like sweat cooling the skin. Eventually the metal's temperature drops to the freezing point and ice accumulates. When ice shards slough off, they can choke airflow into the compressor, causing the engine to surge or stall. They also may quench the engine's combustor, causing a flameout, or complete failure. Vibration and mechanical damage may occur if breakaway ice fragments slam into the engine's rapidly spinning blades. 

"Test facilities capable of simulating this [ice crystal] weather condition for turbine engines are not readily available to the industry," a trio of propulsion experts wrote in a 2006 study that outlined the ice particle threat. Previous test rig attempts have had trouble getting the right air temperature and the range of ice crystal sizes and shapes that duplicate what happens in flight. The Glenn chamber should fill that void. 

"This is a one-of-a-kind facility," Colantonio said. "There's no other facility in the world that can generate ice crystals at altitude. We can take [a test engine] from sea level to 40,000 feet. Engine icing can come about in minutes." 

To make certain its icing tunnel is accurately simulating the weather conditions jets experience at high altitude, the Glenn center has outfitted a Gulfstream jet with more than 20 meteorological sensors. Next January, the jet will begin data-gathering flights from Darwin, Australia, where seasonal monsoons should provide plenty of ice crystal-generating storms. 

Glenn engineers will use the results to fine-tune their simulations in the icing tunnel. The tests should help jet engine manufacturers find ways of preventing ice buildup, and help the Federal Aviation Administration develop safety certification standards for future engines. 

For now, aviation officials advise pilots to reduce the risk of engine icing by steering a path at least 20 nautical miles around a storm cell, and avoiding flying over them, where the icy updrafts occur.

Aviation set for staff audit

To eliminate ghost workers in its agencies, the Ministry of Aviation is to begin a biometric audit of staff and pensioners in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA),Accident Investigation Bureau(AIB) and the Nigerian Metrological Agency(NIMET).

The move, which is part of government’s desire to reduce personnel cost and enhance efficiency of operations, is to take effect from next week. The measure is contained in a circular issued by the supervising ministry

Sequel to the commencement of the exercise, the staff of these agencies have been mandated by the ministry to bring along their staff identity cards, birth certificate, letter of appointment, letter of last promotion, one government issued identity card, which should be either; international passsport, national identity card, driver’s licence and a passport photograph.

On pensioners, the circular directed that those affected to come with the original documents of their retirement or pension identity cards, and same requirements as existing staff. The circular, according to the ministry, will start on March 12 and end in March 20.

It advised both staff and pensioners to ensure that they present themselves physically for the exercise, as failure to do so will lead to stoppage of further payment of salaries and pension beginning from May 2012.

It further disclosed that staff will be captured at the location of primary assignment, while pensioners wouldl be captured at agencies nearest to them.

The Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Joe Obi, said the essence of the exercise is to establish the exact number of staff in the various agencies, adding that the audit would further help to fish out ghost workers in the agency, identify areas where there are vacancies, to enable the government to deploy the related personnel in areas where there are gaps.

"The bio-metric exercise will establish the staff strength, the actual number of staff and pensioners and where vacancies exist in the agencies under the aviation ministry," he said.

Ex-Cessna mechanic sentenced to 18 months

WICHITA — A former Cessna mechanic who fled to Ecuador after he was charged with stealing aircraft parts was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Monday, said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.

Former Cessna Aircraft Co. mechanic Diego Alejandro Paz-Teran had asked for leniency at his sentencing for selling stolen parts on eBay.

Teran was on the lam for two years before returning to the United States to face the charges.

Besides the 18-month sentence, Paz-Teran, 35, of Wichita, also was ordered to pay $130,000 restitution.

His sentencing came a week after U.S. District Judge Monti Belot angrily postponed a hearing over the testimony of a government witness.

The judge at the time berated the prosecutor over a Cessna employee who was unable to answer questions on the stand about the value of the stolen parts.

Paz-Teran pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property.

In his plea, Paz-Teran said he stole aircraft parts from Cessna and sold them on Ebay.

According to court documents, the investigation began in November 2008 when an employee of a Rockwell Collins Company distributor saw a Collins AHC-3000 Attitude Reference Computer offered for sale on eBay for $9,000.

Knowing that the part was valued at more than $45,000, the distributor contacted the seller and asked for serial numbers. Cessna tracked the serial numbers to a part that was removed from an XLS Plus aircraft while it was being painted.

Investigators found other stolen aircraft parts being sold on the same eBay account and followed records on the account to Paz-Teran at his home in Wichita.

Grissom commended the U.S. Department of Transportation — Office of Inspector General, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster for their work on the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Louis Armstrong Airport rain runoff is taxing Kenner's aging drainage system

The rain that hits the pavement at Louis Armstrong International Airport is overtaxing Kenner's aging drainage system, Jefferson Parish officials said. And the airport's expansion plans have added exigency to finding a solution sooner rather than later.

"We want to get ahead of the game because they plan to expand," Jefferson Parish Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani said.

The airport's concrete expanse has long funneled runoff into drainage pipes beneath nearby residential areas. Alikhani said the drainage system must move about 1,000 cubic feet of water per second more than it currently does to keep flooding to a minimum.

To that end, he said airport and parish officials have bandied about different plans that range from building a new pump station at the airport to expanding the station that straddles the parish line canal between St. Charles and Jefferson.

Councilman Ben Zahn, whose 4th District includes most of Kenner, said the situation has a place in the forefront of his agenda.

"That's an issue that should have been resolved in the last four to eight years, that hasn't been resolved," he said. Zahn took office in January, succeeding Louis Congemi after he served two four-year terms.

Alikhani said the parish line pump station can move about 900 cubic feet of water per second, and that the first phase of improvements would expand that capacity by 300 more cubic feet. It's in the design stages now, he said.

A full expansion of the pump station to increase its capacity by 1,200 cubic feet per second will cost between $16 million and $20 million, Alikhani said. The parish hopes to partner with the airport and Kenner to lobby the Federal Aviation Administration to help pay for such upgrades.

The Army Corps of Engineers' major improvements to the West Return Floodwall and the earthen levee along the parish line canal have added to Kenner's drainage woes, but only minimally so, said Carl Anderson, a senior project manager for the corps. When the wall was moved 35 feet to the west to accommodate the corps' 100-year storm protection plan, it increased the acreage in Kenner that needed to be drained during storms.

However, the corps built a drainage system to funnel the excess water into the parish line canal, he said. The corps also accounted for an expansion of the parish line pump station by leaving access pipes big enough to accommodate larger capacity pumps, Anderson said.

Piper PA-28-180, N4824L: Crashed Plane Hit Trees, Terrain. Accident occurred February 14, 2012 in Osborn, Missouri

A preliminary federal report about a small plane crash near Osborn, Mo., last month said the plane hit "trees and terrain" while maneuvering at low altitude.

A pilot and a passenger died when the plane crashed in a field on Feb. 14. No one on the ground was injured.

Witnesses said the pilot had circled a nearby home and had been waving to people on the ground.

The plane, a Piper PA-28-180 had left from the airport in Grain Valley, Mo., shortly before the crash. Weather was not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said there was substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings after the crash. A final report on the crash is pending.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA158
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 14, 2012 in Osborn, MO
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N4824L
Injuries: 2 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 February 14, 2012, about 1630 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-180, N4824L, impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering near Osborn, Missouri. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The flight originated from the East Kansas City Airport (3GV), Grain Valley, Missouri, at an undetermined time.

Witnesses reported that the airplane struck trees and terrain while maneuvering at low altitude.

Keep off the grass

GREAT GRASS: Grounds and wildlife planner Peter Robinson among the grass that keeps birds away from the airport runway.

High-tech grass at Auckland Airport could help solve the billion-dollar worldwide problem of wayward birds crashing into passenger planes.

The grass contains high levels of a symbiotic fungus that's unpleasant for birds and insects.

It's been developed by AgResearch and marketed under the brand name Avanex by PGG Wrightsons Turf.

"When the grass gets mown it starts to stimulate it more and more which makes it more and more repellent to insects and birds," airport grounds and wildlife planner Peter Robinson says.

It repels birds that eat insects since there's no food for them and those that eat grass or seeds because it's unpalatable.

The development is exciting for airports across the globe, he says.

"The damage to the industry is in the billions of dollars worldwide. If one of the big jet engines gets a medium-sized bird in it, there's the potential to do damage up to $50 million."

The drought-resistant grass is making big impact at the airport with the finch population down from an average of 300 birds on one day in 2011 to 185 this year. And that number could have been up to 100 birds lower had the grass been mown earlier, Mr Robinson says.

"It makes everything safer. It means we don't have to go and dump insecticide on everything. It's winning in so many ways, including costs."

The grass now covers 270,000 of the airport's 1.9 million square metres.

The airport plans to expand its coverage in certain areas, like the ends of the runway, with completion due in about five years.

But it isn't appropriate for all areas, like the airport's Wiroa Island bird sanctuary in the south or Renton Rd site to the north, Mr Robinson says.

Both are already effective in keeping large numbers of birds away from the runway.

"The birds need somewhere to stay. They are areas for the birds to sit and be safe.

"We own the land so can do a lot of things other airports would love to do. It's about keeping people safe."

There are between 1.9 to 3.1 bird strikes for every 10,000 aircraft movements each quarter at the airport.

Mr Robinson hopes the introduction of initiatives like Avanex will bring that down further.

"The grass is a little piece of a whole management strategy.

"We've got to the point where, without high-tech things, we're down as far as we can go. Now we can take it to a new level."

Finches, starlings and skylarks are the three main species airport staff keep an eye on – that gives them an idea of what's going on with the entire bird population, Mr Robinson says

PGG Wrightsons turf sales and marketing manager George Tothill says Avanex was initially bred with low levels of fungus for cattle and sheep.

"But they also found some were very, very toxic. It was put on a shelf and they thought: `Whatever are we going to do with this'?"

That was until AgResearch scientist Chris Pennell, who is also a pilot, figured out it would be effective at places like airports.

"It's innovative thinking, that's for sure," Mr Tothill says. 

Fantastic first year for Redjet says CEO

Redjet the Barbados based low cost airline had a fantastic first year of operations, despite tough challenges getting of the ground.

Chief Executive Officer Ian Burns told Trakker News Redjet capture 20 percent of the market and is growing.

"I think what we have seen in our first year of Redjet is that the model works. We have brought competition, we have overcome some serious obstacles across the region and also some serious operational challenges", Burns said.

He revealed that Redjet is scheduled to start a new service to St Maarten on May 19. Burns said the airline plans to launch six additional routes this year.

Business aviation flying high

While some commercial airlines such as Kingfisher are struggling to stem their financial hemorrhage, the country's business aviation market, involving charter of private jets or helicopters by corporate houses, is flying high.

Charter business

This sector, with some 130 operators, a fleet size of 142 jets and a market size of about $250 million, has lined up fresh investments to increase fleet, even as the operators are coming out with new business models and offerings.

Corporate honchos are opting to charter business jets owing to time flexibility and grounding of flights by some commercial airlines.

The private jets in the country accounts for 12 per cent of the global market and is bigger than the Chinese and Japan markets. Together with helicopters, turboprops and piston engines, the fleet of business aviation is estimated at 680.

Fleet expansion

The Business Aviation Association of India has projected the fleet to bloat up to 2,000 by 2020, while PwC estimates that 300 business jets, 300 smaller aircraft and 250 helicopters will be added by 2017.

Bombardier forecasts 1,330 deliveries by 2020, while Brazilian aircraft maker, Embraer, pegs the market at $9 billion by that year, translating into 360 additional jets.

Other manufacturers such as Hawker Beechcraft, Dornier Seaplanes and Pacific Aerospace are also eying India.

Embraer has on order 18 phenom 4-seaters and five 8-seaters, including 12 to Mumbai-based Invision Air.

“We have two aircraft at present and plan to induct 12 more, including six 8-seaters, at the rate of one every three months. We plan six bases across the country,” Mr Vinit Phatak, Invision Managing Director, told Business Line.

New packages

Operators are also coming out with new packages to attract clients. For instance, Invision has introduced a pre-paid package. “Our spot charter prices are Rs 1.50 lakh for the 4-seaters and Rs 2.50 lakh for 8-seaters,” Mr Phatak said.

Operators are also offering corporates to buy a share in a fractional membership scheme.

Gene Autry's love of planes leads widow to Boca Raton firm

All that was missing was the singing cowboy himself.

Aerospace Technologies Group opened its new headquarters in Boca Raton on Monday with fanfare that included a fighter jet fly-over and a color guard. But the star of the show was Jackie Autry, widow of Gene Autry, billed as "American's Favorite Singing Cowboy."

Employees dubbed their new building "Autry House," saluting the woman who has funded the company's decade-long climb to 130 employees and $22 million in sales. The company makes window shades for commercial airliners and business jets.

Autry, who was married to the Hollywood star of film, TV and radio for 17 years, owns 96 percent of the company, an investment that executives say is in the "tens of millions." She cited both her late husband's love of aviation and the company's product potential as reasons for her interest.
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"My husband would be very proud," said Autry, 70. During an interview, she sang a bit of her late husband's cowpoke tunes and pointed to office wall photos of her husband's days as a fighter pilot.

She beams as the building's "Autry House" sign is unveiled on the new $2 million headquarters.

The 65,000-square-foot building, located at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, also houses manufacturing. Employees finish assembly of shade systems for airlines including Emirates, Lufthansa and Qantas. New orders are being readied for delivery to British Airways, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways.

Aerospace Technologies Group has grown from $11 million in sales in 2010 to nearly $22 million in 2011, said Simon Kay, chief executive.

Autry was brought into the business by Chairman Raymond Caldiero, a former Northwest Airlines executive who also attracted Emirates Airline, now the company's top customer.

While her husband was a World War II fighter pilot and also got his commercial license, Autry said she invested in the company primarily for its market potential. Eventually, she hopes the investment will help her generate more personal donations to charity.

Autry is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the company but she is active on the board.

In her early 30s, before she married Autry, she was a bank vice president. Today, she is president of the Gene Autry Music Group, The Autry Foundation, serves on museum and hospital boards, and is the honorary president of the American League of Major League Baseball -- her husband owned the California Angels baseball team from 1961 to 1997.

Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum and president Tim Clark also attended Monday's event. Clark said the Dubai airline bought Aerospace Technologies Group's shade system because it fits the upscale amenities Emirates offers passengers, giving them 100 percent blackout for sleep or laptop use.

More business is on the way for the Boca Raton manufacturer: Clark said 234 widebody aircraft now on order by Emirates will be equipped with shade systems from Aerospace Technologies Group.

7 turn up at Air India office with fake job letters, police probe on

New Delhi  - The Indira Gandhi International Airport police is investigating an alleged job racket after it came across seven “fake appointment letters” to the post of safai karamacharis and cabin crew with various airlines. 

Sources said seven persons approached the authorities concerned with the letters they got after responding to advertisements kept in the form of leaflets at local book stores in Moradabad and Bhim Nagar in Uttar Pradesh.

According to police, the accused had floated a website to target their victims and also reportedly asked them to deposit a certain amount in a bank account.

The matter came to light after the airport police was approached with a complaint from Air India’s General Manager stating that seven persons had approached the security gate at the Air India office at GSD complex, Terminal 2, with appointment letters last week. While five were from Bhim Nagar in UP, two were from Moradabad.

Police, on the basis of the complaint, said the persons had come across an advertisement in the form of leaflets at local book stores in UP wherein one ‘Mittal News Agency’ had advertised vacancies at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata for the post of Flight Steward (Cabin Crew), loader/ flight safai karamchari for Air India, Spice Jet, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Malaysia and Singapore Airlines.

“One of the persons informed us they had deposited Rs 26,000 in an account in Lajpat Nagar,” said the complainant.

He further stated, “The appointment letters had Air India’s name and logo and also a round seal and signatures. We wish to confirm that none of these documents were published/issued/dispatched by any Authority/Officer of Air India, Delhi, and, hence, all these documents are fake”.

However, sources said as soon as the General Manager went to check the letters, the seven persons who were asked to wait at the security gate, left quietly, leaving behind the letters.

Police are in the process of tracking the seven persons and ascertaining how the persons fell into the trap of the racketeers.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Airport) RA Sanjeev said, “A case of cheating and forgery under Sections 420, 468,471 of the IPC and 63 of the Copyright Act has been registered”.

Potomac Highlands Airport Authority meets, does not address legality of firing

WILEY FORD – Calling the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority “a house divided,” chairperson Cindy Pyles said this week that the April 23 vote to terminate Terry Malone as manager of the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport in Wiley Ford was not done properly.

“It was done in executive session. It should not have been done that way,” Pyles told the Mineral Daily News Tribune.

According to the West Virginia Sunshine Law, no decisions or votes may be made during an executive session. If a governing body goes behind closed doors to discuss a personnel issue, they must either take the vote or make the decision after they go back into open session.

Pyles, who does not have a vote because of serving as chair of the authority, said the vote was 5-2 to terminate Malone.

“I did not have a vote, and of course, Terry didn't have a vote.”

According to Mona Ridder, executive director of the Mineral County Development Authority who was present for the meeting, “there was no notion and there was no second” when the authority members came out of the executive session.

The bi-state Airport Authority is composed of nine members – five from Maryland and four from West Virginia. With two of those members being Pyles and Malone, that reduced the number of members eligible to vote on the termination to seven.

Ridder expressed her concern about the operation of the airport and its future, saying “the airport is the most important regional economic development asset we have.”

During today’s meeting, the committee met to discuss how to advertise for the position and what their next move would be.

There was no attorney present nor was the question of legality brought to attention according to Pyles.
The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans to go ahead and advertise the position in papers around the area beginning next week.

“Some have already called about the position, but we told them to wait until its advertised,” said Pyles.

Arizona Helicopter crash caught on tape

(Hat tip to Frank at 160Knots) 

  Regis#: 197LE        Make/Model: AH-1      Description: BELL HELICOPTER
  Date: 03/01/2012     Time: 1811

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

  City: COOLIDGE   State: AZ   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Business      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SCOTTSDALE, AZ  (WP07)                Entry date: 03/02/2012 

Author discusses 8th Air Force and the 'Flying Fortress' (video)

Photo by JOHN HAEGER ( 
Author and historian Cheryl Pula talks about her book "The Children's Crusade," that details the history of the 8th Air Force in World War II and the B-17 bomber, during a talk at the Sherrill-Kenwood Free Library on Saturday, March 3, 2012.

SHERRILL — Despite the most common depictions of U.S. airmen in World War II, author Cheryl Pula says members of the 8th Air Force were much younger than most think.

In fact, many say they were just children.

In an hour-and-a-half presentation Saturday morning at the Sherrill-Kenwood Library, Pula presented an illustrated talk of historical facts about airmen in World War II, particularly those who were stationed in Britain and flew B-17s in the bombing raids over Germany.

Many of those facts formed the basis for her historical fiction novel, “The Children’s Crusade,” which she based on information gathered from interviews with 8th Air Force veterans. The second book in the series is expected to be released in April.

The B-17 planes the airmen flew were notorious for sustaining extensive damage but still able to get them back to their base, she said. The U.S. government commissioned the design of the plane in 1934, the year Adolf Hitler took power. The U.S. wanted a long-ranger bomber, knowing that war was likely inevitable.

Three companies submitted designs and Boeing, which sank all its money into the prototype, was awarded the bid. Pula noted that had the company been passed over for the job, it likely would have discontinued. The plane was nicknamed the “flying fortress” and took its first official flight on Aug. 20, 1935 from Seattle to Dayton, Ohio. When it returned, however, it crashed. The accident was blamed on a pilot error before takeoff and as a result, the pre-flight checklist was created, a measure that has been used in all other flights since.

Nearly 400 changes were subsequently made to the aircraft before it was mass produced for the Air Force’s mission overseas. It quickly gained other nicknames, like “Queen of the Skies” and “Big A—Bird.”

With a crew of 10, the aircraft was 75 feet long, had a wingspan of 103 feet, was 19 feet tall at the tip of the tail and had four engines. Eleven Browning machine guns were stationed throughout the plane.

The crew required extensive training and each had a specific and efficiency-demanding role. The average age of the pilot, co-pilot, navigator and bombardier was just 22 while the engineer, radio operator and gunners were usually not older than 19 years old.

The average plane lasted about six bombing missions before it was shot down, making it a 1 in 3 chance for airmen to return back to base. 8 out of 10 planes were destroyed and 8 out of 10 crewmen were killed. The 8th Air Force had the highest casualty rate of any of the other military branches with the exception of the infantry.

Pula described the typical routine of a B-17 crew before and during a mission. The men would be fed high calorie meals to prepare for the next seven to 14 hour mission without food. They attended a one-hour briefing followed by another hour-long meeting for the navigators and bombardiers.

Airmen were dressed in flax vests and helmets. Their flight suits were intertwined with electrical components that could be plugged into the plane to keep them from freezing. The planes were not pressurized, so temperatures fell to as low as minus 50 degrees.

The bombardiers, whose complicated responsibility it was to pinpoint the bombing target, were sworn to keep the location of targets safe, even from other crew members and were given orders to shoot and kill anyone who tried to figure out the location. Their maps were made out of rice paper so if they were captured, they could eat them to prevent the enemy from seeing them.

On bombing missions, the trip back to base was more dangerous than the trip there because by then, the Germans knew the plane’s location. It wasn’t until long-range fighter planes were built to accompany bombers the whole way that flights become safer.

For their survival, airmen were awarded several distinctions. For meeting their flight quota of 25 mission, they were inducted into the “Lucky Bastard Club.” If they had to bail out of their plane and use their parachute, they became members of the “Caterpillar Club.” If their plane was ditched into the English Channel and they had to use their dingy to get to safety, they became members of the “Goldfish Club.”

In all, 12,000 B-17s were built. The 8th Air Force was made up of 350,000 personnel who flew 10,631 missions, lost 4,145 planes, 47,000 men were killed, 7,000 Purple Hearts were awarded, 46,000 air medals were given out and 17 Medals of Honor were received.

Famous alumni of the 8th Air Force include Clark Gable (actor), Tom Landry (a Dallas Cowboys coach), Andy Rooney (60 Minutes), Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) and Jimmy Stewart (actor).