Monday, March 26, 2012

Embattled tenant seeks injunction against Immokalee airport officials

Stephen Fletcher has complained about conditions at the Immokalee Regional Airport to the Airport Authority Board. He has complained to the Board of County Commissioners.

And now he's taking his complaints to court.

The Immokalee airport tenant filed suit in Collier County Circuit Court last week seeking a permanent injunction against Collier County Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Curry and Immokalee Airport Director Thomas Vergo.

The suit "seeks to restrain" Vergo and Curry from "harassing, abusing, injuring or otherwise violating" Fletcher's rights.

Curry said Monday afternoon that he had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit. Still, he said Fletcher's complaints are not new.

Fletcher, who owns Fletcher's Flying Services and rents a bulk hangar, storage unit and staging area at the airport, asserts in the suit that he and his business are "treated as second class citizens" despite the valuable services and revenue they provide.

The complaint further alleges that Curry and Vergo have undertaken "an unjustified campaign of harassment" against Fletcher and his business; that Fletcher and his business are subjected to "unfair and excessive fuel flow charges;" that Fletcher's driving privileges were improperly revoked on the airport property by Curry; that Fletcher was wrongly accused of an unsafe landing; that Curry has disparaged Fletcher in the media; and that Vergo "wastes airport resources videotaping and improperly surveilling" Fletcher.

Attempts to reach Vergo was unsuccessful Monday afternoon.

Fletcher declined to comment Monday afternoon, saying he would like to speak to his attorney before making a statement.

The bad blood between Fletcher and airport officials has been well-documented in recent months.

On Oct. 3, the Airport Authority suspended Fletcher's driving privileges after they said he took Commissioner Georgia Hiller and Commission candidate Tim Nance around the airport property without authorization. Curry stripped Fletcher of his driving privileges at the airport for one year, but they were reinstated by Collier Commissioners by a 4 -1 vote.

In January, Curry filed a report with the FAA after the airport documented on video Fletcher leaving his aircraft running unattended on the airport grounds and video of one of Fletcher's planes taking off from the runway while another plane, also owned by Fletcher, lands at the same time.

While Fletcher acknowledges that he did those things, he said they were not unsafe maneuvers. Further, he said he would stop and there was no need to complain to the FAA. Curry said at the time he had an obligation to report safety violations.

Bellanca 7GCBC Citabria, N5542K: Accident occurred March 05, 2012 in Brockton, Montana

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA123
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 05, 2012 in Brockton, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/02/2013
Aircraft: BELLANCA 7GCBC, registration: N5542K
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

Witnesses reported that the airplane made two low-altitude, 360-degree turns and then ascended rapidly followed by a descent into the ground, consistent with an aerodynamic stall. The airplane “belly flopped” on the edge of an elevated drive likely because there was insufficient altitude for the pilot to recover from the stall. The witnesses further reported that the engine sounded normal throughout the accident sequence. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. A GPS receiver was recovered from the accident; however, no data was recovered for the accident flight. Data from previous flights revealed flight maneuvers at low altitudes similar to the one described by witnesses during the accident sequence.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed and airplane control while maneuvering at a low altitude, which resulted in a stall and subsequent impact with terrain.


On March 5, 2012, about 1556 mountain standard time, a Bellanca 7GCBC, N5542K, impacted terrain about 12 miles southeast of Brockton, Montana. The private pilot was fatally injured and the one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight. The pilot departed Sidney-Richland Municipal Airport (SDY), Sidney, Montana at an unknown time.

Witnesses reported that it was a clear day with no wind; the airplane approached from the north and flew over them before conducting a 360 degree turn at a low altitude. The airplane flew over the witnesses a second time and appeared to depart to the west when it ascended and made a left turn followed by a descent into the ground. The airplane appeared to “belly flop” onto the edge of the elevated drive and came to rest on the other side of the drive. Witnesses further reported that the engine sounded normal throughout the accident sequence.


The wreckage was located in a field planted with trees in the yard of a residence. The first identified point of impact was an 8 by 13 foot crater located on the southern edge of an elevated east/west driveway. The debris path continued approximately 211 feet in length from the impact crater to the main wreckage.

A topped tree, approximately 100 feet northeast, followed the initial impact point. Approximately 50 feet beyond the topped tree was approximately 2 feet of the airplane’s left wing tip at the base of another tree. The airplane came to rest in thick dirt approximately 205 feet beyond the initial impact point; the airplane’s approximate heading was 240 degrees. The forward fuselage sustained extensive aft crushing and deformation throughout. The cabin area sustained side crushing. The inboard portion of the left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The left fuel tank and fuel cap were intact. The fuel cap was secured to the filler housing, although torn from the fabric around it. The right wing was partially attached to the fuselage; the wing root sustained crush damage. The right fuel tank cap was still secured to the filler housing. The aft fuselage was mostly intact although sustained lateral deformation. The empennage was mostly intact and undamaged; the left elevator outboard most section was bent upward.

Control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to their respective cockpit controls.


The nearest weather reporting station was approximately 27 nautical miles southeast of the accident site. At 1535, the weather was reported as wind from 280 at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 16 degrees Celsius (C), dewpoint -1 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.59 inches of Mercury.


At the time of the accident, the pilot, age 54, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land privileges that was issued on January 17, 1981. His most recent FAA third class medical was issued on January 11, 2011, with the restriction of required corrective lenses for near and far. Examination of the pilot’s logbook revealed that, as of the last entry on December 20, 1992, he had accumulated approximately 72 hours of flight experience, 5 of which were in the accident airplane.


An autopsy was not completed on the pilot; the cause of death was reported as blunt force injuries. Toxicology testing was completed by the Richland County Coroner. The results were negative for ethanol; caffeine was detected in the blood.


The airplane was recovered from the accident site to a storage facility and later examined by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator-in-charge (IIC).


Visual inspection of the recovered engine revealed no visual anomalies. The cylinder rocker covers and spark plugs were removed; the spark plug electrode areas were consistent with, ‘worn out – normal’, when compared to the Champion AV-27 chart. The valves were undamaged and contained no abnormal thermal discoloration. Cylinder compression and valve continuity was obtained from all cylinders. Both magnetos were removed from the engine; when manually rotated, both impulse couplings fired appropriately and spark was obtained from all ignition lead ends. The carburetor was removed from the engine and disassembled. Carburetor screen was clear of debris, no fuel was found within the carburetor bowl and crushing deformation was noted on one of the carburetor floats.


Examination of the cabin area revealed that the throttle was in the full forward/full throttle position. The fuel selector valve was removed and examined; it was found in the “closed” position. The gascolator was removed and found to be clear of debris. It was noted that there was no stall warning system installed on the airplane.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operations.


A GPS receiver was recovered in the wreckage and retained for further examination by the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC. Data was successfully downloaded; however, there was no data for the accident flight. Data recovered from previous flights revealed flight maneuvers at low altitudes similar to the one described during the accident sequence.

The NTSB IIC calculated the approximate weight and balance at the time of the accident. It was revealed that the airplane weighed approximately 1,834 pounds with a center of gravity of 16.38 inches. Maximum gross weight of the airplane is 1,650 pounds, and the Center of gravity range for normal operations at maximum gross weight is between 14.2 and 19.2 inches.

 NTSB Identification: WPR12FA123
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 05, 2012 in Brockton, MT
Aircraft: BELLANCA 7GCBC, registration: N5542K
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 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.

On March 5, 2012, about 1556 mountain standard time, a Bellanca 7GCBC, N5542K, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain about 12 miles southeast of Brockton, Montana. The private pilot was fatally injured and the one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Sidney-Richland Municipal Airport (SDY), Sidney, Montana, at an unknown time.

Witnesses located outside and near the accident site, reported that the accident airplane flew over their location from the north and made a 360 degree left turn, followed by a 180 degree left turn. The airplane then departed to the west and ascended. Shortly thereafter, the witnesses observed the airplane in a left turn and descending to ground impact. The airplane “belly flopped” and then continued through a series of trees before it came to rest about 70 yards from the initial impact point.

CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff

Kayla and Verlin Steppler hold their son, Easton, at St. Vincent Healthcare on Saturday.

On a Monday afternoon three weeks ago, Kayla Steppler watched as a plane carrying her husband fell from the sky in the northeastern corner of Montana. She was 38 weeks pregnant and knew that life had just taken a very dramatic turn.

"When I saw the plane in the air, I knew it was Verlin," Kayla said. "But I didn't want to believe it. I kept looking back toward our ranch looking for another plane."

Verlin Steppler, 31, and his father's cousin, James "Jim" Steppler, both of the Brockton area, took off into clear blue skies that afternoon. Flying planes was a longtime family affair that had been passed down from Verlin's grandfather.

"We'd flown hundreds of times before," Verlin said. "We were just taking in the sights."

Vast open space of ranchland is the last thing Verlin remembers from that day and from the following week.

On a flyover the house, the Bellanca fixed-wing, single-engine plane stalled for unknown reasons, crashing in the Steppler's front yard shortly before 4 p.m. Neighbors and ranch hands from every direction ran as fast as they could to the accident site. Emergency crews immediately responded.

Kayla was still a few miles from the house. When she arrived to her family's crashed plane 10 minutes later, everyone there tried keeping Kayla at a distance.

"I was told he was alive, but that was all that they would tell me," said Kayla, 25. "They didn't want me close to the accident — I guess afraid of what I would see. But I was persistent to get there and see him. I found comfort seeing he was breathing and seeing his eyes open. But it was the worst day of my life."

Jim Steppler, 54, died on impact during the crash. He is survived by his wife, their four children and three grandchildren.

Verlin was taken by helicopter to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings. Nine months pregnant, Kayla could not fly with her husband and had to make the 300-mile drive.

"I had no idea if he was going to make it," Kayla said. "It was a very hard drive to the hospital. But I had faith and a great support system with me."

For the next three weeks, they lived in the hospital, the first week of which was spent in intensive care. Verlin had broken ribs, a broken femur, and two broken vertebrae in his neck and two in his back. Doctors were not certain that Verlin would survive, and if he did, paralysis was likely.

"I was preparing myself for the fact that my husband would most likely be in wheelchair for the rest of his life," Kayla said. "But, that didn't matter so much — I just wanted my husband alive."

After just three weeks, doctors said Verlin was only months away from full recovery.

Verlin was released from St. Vincent Healthcare on Friday, just in time for the delivery of his first child at the same hospital, a few wards away.

Easton Arnold Steppler came into the world Friday at 7:38 p.m., weighing a healthy 9 pounds, 5 ounces. And Verlin was able to be with his wife throughout the delivery.

"The timing was perfect," Verlin said. "He is everyone's silver lining and will be a big part of everyone's healing process."

Jim's wife and family were the first family members to meet Easton.

"This is an extremely emotional time for all of us," Verlin said. "But we have a lot to be thankful for —family, friends and an amazing support system.

"And now there is this little guy."

Friends of pilot who survived crash say she's 'as good as it gets' - N10468 Cessna 172 and N9325C Cessna 180. Longmont, Colorado

ERIE - With retirement comes choices and decisions on where to live and how to spend your time. Lynn and his wife Pat Miller have a runway in their back yard. They live at the Erie Air Park Subdivision because they love to fly.

It's their passion that brought them to their tight knit community and the reason they met Beverly Cameron. The Miller's say Beverly is an experienced and professional pilot who has been flying for more than 45 years.

"She's a vital part of our community out here. She's tough on people and that's what makes her such a good FAA examiner," Lynn said.

When Lynn got his instrument rating, Bev was sitting beside him.

"You would think that a neighbor might give you a little bit of a break," Lynn said.

But, even with more than four decades of flight time things can still go wrong.

"There are some blind spots in an air plane just like a car," Lynn said.

On Friday afternoon, Bev was flying towards the Vance Brand Airport in Longmont. Investigators believe she and another plane collided in the air. One plane went down killing the two inside. Bev managed to glide 4 miles before she crashed just outside of the airport.

"It ended up in a few pieces, but she got out and walked away from it. Absolutely amazing," Lynn said.

Lynn and Pat say Bev is thinking of the families whose loved ones were not that fortunate. When it comes to flight, experience cannot eliminate risk. But risk, they say, won't keep Bev from flight.

"She'll go up again, there's no doubt in my mind," Lynn said.

Investigators say the planes have been taken to a hangar in Greeley. The National Transportation Security Board along with the FAA will complete their investigation on the planes. They are trying to determine exactly what caused the crash, but examiners say all indications point to a mid-air collision.

Regis#: 10468        Make/Model: C172      Description: 172, P172, R172, Skyhawk, Hawk XP, Cutla
  Date: 03/23/2012     Time: 1741

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: Y    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

  City: LONGMONT   State: CO   Country: US


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

  Activity: Training      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: DENVER, CO  (NM03)                    Entry date: 03/26/2012 

Citing near-zero demand, airline grounds High Arctic service: Canadian North sells only three passenger bookings

After selling only three passenger bookings, the Canadian North airline will cancel a trial run through the High Arctic that would have operated April 6 to April 14 in competition with First Air. 

“We are very sorry to report that due to an underwhelming response to our offering, we have decided not to operate these flights,” Tracy Medve, president of Canadian North, said March 22 in an email to Tununiq MLA Joe Enook, Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk and Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliot.

Until the 1990s, Resolute Bay enjoyed a jet service leveraged by the Polaris lead-zinc mine at Little Cornwallis Island. Arctic Bay benefited from a jet service used to fly workers and supplies in and out of the Nanisivik mine.

But when those mines closed, the High Arctic’s air transportation system suffered a major shock from which they have never recovered. All communities are now served by smaller and more expensive prop aircraft.

Canadian North announced the trial run this past December, in response to longstanding complaints from MLAs, community leaders and numerous High Arctic and north Baffin residents who said they want airline competition to lower rising air fares.

Under the experimental service, the airline would have operated a route through Igloolik, Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet.

This would have allowed travelers to fly between the three communities without having to first fly through Iqaluit.

And the route was set up so that travelers from Grise Fiord and Resolute could connect to the service by way of a First Air flight from Resolute to Arctic Bay.

In February, First Air, which has served the affected communities for years, dropped its prices on those routes and then added more flights of its own on the days when Canadian North proposed to operate.
So despite years of incessant complaints, most High Arctic and north Baffin residents shunned the new service and Canadian North sold only three tickets for it.

“With only three passenger bookings we could not operate the trial schedule as we had planned, as it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to do so,” Medve said.

She said in her email that Canadian North promoted the service through advertisements, announcements and emails to mayors, community leaders and travel agents.

Passengers, however, stayed away in droves.

“We were pleased to partner with you and your community in offering this service and are disappointed it was not successful,” Medve said to the MLAs in her letter.

Quttiktuq MLA Elliot, an aggressive proponent of better and cheaper air service for the High Arctic, communicated his displeasure with Canadian North in an email to constituents that he shared with Nunatsiaq News.

“The cancellation of the trail [sic] flight is disappointing as this would have provided some competition.” Elliot said in the email.

And Elliot asked why it’s possible for Canadian North to hold 52 per cent of the Government of Nunavut’s medical travel contract for Arctic Bay and Resolute Bay, when they don’t offer scheduled service to those communities.

Elliot also urged his constituents to book flights through the First Air website, since they now offer a service similar to what Canadian North had been planning.

“It is nice to know that there is one airline that is willing to listen to our community concerns and needs,” he said in his email.

“It is also obvious from First Air’s response that competition does push prices down and affect scheduling,” Elliot said.

First Air’s heavily discounted Easter air fares for the region advertised a one-way ticket between Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet for only $139, including all taxes and surcharges.

The same low fare applies also to Arctic Bay-Resolute Bay and Igloolik-Pond Inlet.


Namibia: Court Postpones Helicopter Hearing

Windhoek — The matter in which Rainier Arangies, the owner of the helicopter grounded last month by the Ministry of Works and Transport and by the Directorate of Civil Aviation, was last week postponed to 19 April by the High Court in Windhoek.

The postponement follows an agreement by lawyers representing Arangies and the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Directorate of Civil Aviation.

The matter was heard briefly earlier this month and it was agreed that it would continue on 22 March. Early this month, it was agreed that the grounded helicopter could be flown for recreational purposes only and not for commercial flights.

In the meantime, it was agreed that the helicopter could be flown, not only for recreational purposes, but also for any other purpose.

It was further agreed that the agreements made early this month will remain in force until 19 April and the agreements will not have any prejudice on any of the parties.

Earlier this month it was agreed that a mark that had the words 'United States Army' on the side of the helicopter's fuselage must be covered up, as well as a number and horse's head logo on the aircraft's tail, plus a yellow circle which was painted on the helicopter's cabin door. It was agreed that they should be temporarily covered before the grounding will be lifted.

The Bell Textron Helicopter with US army markings had ruff­led authorities and President Hifikepunye Pohamba was allegedly disturbed when he saw a helicopter with US Army markings on Namibian soil early last month.

Arangies informed New Era last month that the US Army markings were removed on 6 February when he received a call about the president being disturbed about seeing a helicopter with US Army markings.

He said he removed the markings out of respect for the President.

The helicopter owner added that what remains on the helicopter is a cavalry shield at the back of the helicopter, on the helicopter's tail, as well as a cavalry cross, "which are not associated with an army, hence there cannot be any misunderstandings and it does not pose any threat," he added.

The helicopter owner said the US Cavalry became defunct 25 years ago.

He said furthermore that after he agreed to remove the US markings, the ministry grounded his helicopter without justification.

Arangies stated that the only reason that a helicopter could be grounded is when it is not registered or when not air-worthy. He said his helicopter was registered and is air-worthy.

The helicopter was used in the Vietnam War 40 years ago, he said.

The helicopter fiasco also resulted in Erkki Nghimtina, the Minister of Works and Transport, suspending the Director of Civil Aviation, Bethuel Mujetenga.

A committee has been set up to establish whether there was negligence involved in Director of Civil Aviation Bethuel Mujetenga's handling of the helicopter debacle.

The investigations in the matter were expected to be completed last week Friday.


Air crew can be blinded

AIRLINE pilots are being targeted with potentially deadly laser beams from the ground – and most of the incidents centre on Cape Town International Airport.

The Tygerberg area is particularly dangerous for pilots flying over the city.

A permit is needed to purchase the specific hand-held laser devices, which emit strong green or blue beams that can be up to 3 000 times more powerful than a car’s lights and which are commonly used by stargazers.

But authorities say these are being sold on the sly.

Yesterday the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) Company of SA said that between January 1, 2010 and February 29 this year, 181 incidents of laser beams being used on aircraft at major airports in the country had been reported.

More than half of these incidents, 106 out of the 181, were reported at Cape Town International Airport.

Strong laser beams directed at an aircraft could temporarily or permanently blind a pilot, Allan van der Heiden, an investigation and standards specialist with the ATNS, said yesterday.

“A pilot can also be startled and lose night vision, which can actually lead to an aircraft crash,” he said.

Van der Heiden recalled two recent incidents involving laser beams, at OR Tambo International Airport, where a plane had gone off course, and at Lanseria Airport.

He said several reports had been received about laser beams being used from the vicinity of Tygerberg, which he described as a “final approach” area for pilots heading to Cape Town International Airport.

“It’s the most critical time for a pilot,” he said.

A laser beam did not have to be used at or near the airport to distract pilots and, Van der Heiden said:
  • A blue laser could be used over an 80km distance.
  •  A green one could be used over 40kms.
He said the number of reported laser beam incidents was increasing annually and pranksters could be behind most of these.

Yesterday Margaret Viljoen, an executive committee member of the Airline Pilots Association of SA and an aircraft captain, said she had been a victim of laser beam “attacks”.

“It’s quite startling. It’s like being in a dark room and all of a sudden someone shines a bright light … it distracts,” she said. In six months, 56 laser beam incidents had been reported in Cape Town, and she had been a victim three times.

“If you’re going to get attacked, it’s likely going to be in Cape Town,” she said.

“Unfortunately it happens in a critical phase of flight, so it’s not like you can wear special glasses.”

Viljoen said pilots sometimes switched off the exterior lights of an aircraft so that people on land with laser beams would have difficulty spotting the plane.

“But according to the law, you have to have the lights on. So in avoiding these people, you’re contravening the law. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” she said.

Viljoen said aircraft crew were trained on what to do in the event of being lasered.

She said reports of lasers being used on aircraft had surfaced in the US about a decade ago and in SA about five years ago. After the US attacks, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of SA had warned in a circular that the beams could result in temporary loss of vision and spatial disorientation and recommended that those exposed to the beam go for an eye examination afterwards.

Yesterday a Cape Town-based senior airline captain, who declined to be identified, named a wine estate in Durbanville as one of the points a laser beam was used from and a point along Voortrekker Road near Plattekloof as another point from where someone had repeatedly used a laser.

Airports Company of SA (Acsa) communications manager Deidre Davids referred queries about laser beams to the ATNS and various airlines.

She said once an incident was reported to police, it became a policing matter.

Yesterday an ATNS press release said an aviation security committee was addressing the laser beam problem.


Tracy Municipal (KTCY), California: Police Speed a factor in airport car crash

Debris marks the spot where a car plunged into the Delta-Mendota Canal after a car accident on February 23rd.
Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

Speed played a factor in a crash, police said Thursday, March 22, that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old Swedish pilot on Feb. 23 outside Tracy Municipal Airport.

The driver of the car, Eric Rode-Olsen, 30, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter after the car he was allegedly driving down an airport runway crashed into the Delta-Mendota Canal, killing passenger Mikael Strid.

Rode-Olsen was driving his BMW in excess of 100 mph when he ran out of runway, said Tracy Police Department traffic officer Vince Weyant. He said Rode-Olsen apparently lost focus on where he was on the runway and ran off the tarmac, going too fast to stop.

Weyant said once Rode-Olsen left the asphalt, he entered the dirt and gravel of the perimeter fence. He said on the west side of the fence there is a slight incline prior to the canal — based on angle, Weyant said, the BMW launched into the air, traveling 115 feet. The car landed on its nose and flipped over the road just east of the canal, ending up in the water, Weyant concluded.

Riding in the car with Rode-Olsen were Strid and fellow Swedish pilots Andreas Johansson and Andreas Olsen. The men were part of a group of five Swedish pilots renting aircraft from SkyView to expand their flight hours. The group had attended a birthday party at SkyView with Rode-Olsen, who is SkyView’s chief operating officer, a few hours prior to the incident.

Three of the men escaped the swift-moving waters of the canal, including Rode-Olsen. But since Strid never emerged, authorities ruled him as a drowning victim. His body was recovered from the canal March 10.

On Wednesday, March 21, Rode-Olsen was back in Manteca Superior Court for further arraignment, but his hearing was continued to April 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Manteca. Outside the court house, his attorney, Albert Ellis said the delay was due to numerous police reports still coming into his office regarding the case.


Pilot jumps from burning plane in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatian Times

A pilot of a Cessna Sports aircraft is in hospital after jumping from his burning plane when it crash landed near Konavle in the city of Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian coast last night (Sunday), reported Croatian radio television.

The pilot, who was alone in the plane, was lucky to survive after his light plane caught fire after experiencing engine problems. Shortly after taking off from Dubrovnik airport, the man got in contact with airport flight control after noticing problems with his aircraft, and then made his way for an emergency landing at an old runway which he was familiar with. Upon landing, his Cessna caught fire and the 63-year-old pilot had to jump to his safety. He was rushed to Dubrovnik hospital as firefighters came to the scene to extinguish the burning plane.

The exact cause of the accident will be known after the completion of investigations by professional air accident investigators.

Paying more for air travel, getting less: Pressured by soaring costs — mostly for fuel — airlines cut back on the number of flights and seats they offer while raising prices

COLONIE — Albany loses its daily flight to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Sunday because the airline that operates it, Delta, said most international travelers from Albany connect through its other hubs in Detroit, Atlanta and Minneapolis.

Delta will shift the flight to LaGuardia, where it's expected to attract Albany travelers heading no farther than New York City.

Albany International Airport officials are sensitive to such changes. Over the past four years, the number of available seats from Albany has fallen by 15 percent, according to data from Airlines for America, the airlines' trade organization.

The number of flights from Albany fell by 4.3 percent over the same period.

So airport officials have been looking for a replacement carrier on the route — but so far without success.

Airlines are reluctant to add flights unless they think they can fill the plane. Most are considering further cutbacks as they struggle to stay profitable in the face of rising fuel prices. A gallon of jet fuel cost 268 percent more in 2011's third quarter than it did in 2000, said Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America.

Cutting capacity and costs accelerated in 2008, when fuel costs jumped just as the economy tanked.

"Airlines reduced a lot of capacity," said Debby McElroy, a spokeswoman for Airports Council International — North America. "They took a hard look at their schedules."

With fewer seats to sell, airlines could raise prices, which they did. Fares have taken off in Albany and elsewhere, and fees for things that used to be free — checked baggage, an aisle seat, snacks — have further boosted the cost of flying.

A federal survey last year showed Albany with the highest average air fare of any major airport in the state.

For Albany airport officials, maintaining current flights is challenge enough. Adding new service, which local business and technology sector leaders want, is even tougher.

"Airlines are in the driver's seat when it comes to air service," McElroy said.

Airport costs — landing fees, terminal rentals — make up 4.5 percent of the cost of an airline's operations, said McElroy. Fuel, by comparison, can be a third of total costs, she said. Other estimates have put it as high as 40 percent.

Albany, classified as a small hub airport, isn't alone in experiencing cutbacks.

Airports Council International found that small hub airports nationwide lost 5.7 percent of their flights and 1.7 percent of their seats over the year ending in March. About the only airports holding their own are major hubs like Chicago O'Hare or Atlanta. On average, they're losing just 1.7 percent of flights and 0.6 percent of seats, according to the Council's figures.

Airlines have been reducing flights and using smaller planes, which are often operated by regional air carriers, on the flights they operate.

A 37-seat Dash 8 turboprop may fly a route once served by a 50-seat Embraer regional jet.

And that leads to other prowblems.

"When things get tight, airlines will cancel that Dash 8 instead of a 737," said Mike Boyd, an airline consultant and former airline executive.

He heads Evergreen, Colo.-based Boyd Group International. He also spent two years in the early 1980s as station manager for Braniff International at Albany, and is familiar with the market.

Boyd says Albany has fared relatively well, pointing to the number of available choices in terms of connecting hub cities, and the large share of seats provided by low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines.

"Albany is enormously well-served," Boyd said Thursday. "You've got really good air service."

Boyd says Albany has access to nine different airline hubs — Newark, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Washington Dulles, Detroit, Minneapolis and Atlanta. Low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines offers frequent service to Baltimore, in what passes for a hub in its route system. Nearly four in 10 Albany passengers fly on Southwest.

"Albany is not a hurting airport," he said.

Airport officials are seeking to entice new nonstop service to such cities as Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston or Denver with subsidies, marketing assistance and other enticements.

Business and technology sector leaders say these flights would make connections to their ultimate destinations easier.

Boyd, however, thinks it would be a tough sell to the airlines.

"You don't have enough demand to support service to Denver," he said. Both Denver and Dallas "would need about 70,000 passengers a year with one flight a day," he said. "The current market is half of that."

And the new routes might cannibalize existing service to connecting hubs such as Chicago or Detroit.

On the other hand, they might help reduce what airport officials call "leakage," in which Capital Region residents now drive to Hartford or New York City to catch their flights.

And William O'Reilly, the Albany County Airport Authority's chief financial officer, said the relatively higher fares at Albany make it more appealing to airlines looking to start service here because they'll have more wiggle room with pricing.

Meanwhile, travel agents are coping with the delays that affect regional flights more frequently than mainline flights aboard full-size jets.

Jean Gagnon, manager of Plaza Travel in Latham, says she avoids routing international passengers through Newark, where congested air space can cause delays, especially for the turboprops serving the route, sending them instead through Chicago O'Hare or Washington Dulles.

She said she also avoids sending travelers through JFK.

And she allows extra time for connections in Philadelphia, again because the on-time flight performance is dismal.

As a result, travelers are also getting more vigilant about their flights, what kind of aircraft they're on, and who the operator is.

"We consistently experience delays (luckily there have been few outright cancellations) on the smaller RJs, ATR-42 or Dash 8 aircraft operated on the 'feeder routes' to bigger airports," Art Harvey of Niskayuna wrote following an earlier story on aircraft delays. "While we love Albany International Airport as our airport of departure/arrival, the size of the aircraft (737s or Airbus 320s for instance) will from now on play a much larger role in our vacation planning."

A Nassau resident, Kurt Vincent, said he'd missed European connections three times over the past 10 years because of local connecting flight delays. With flights filled to capacity, he said he's had to wait as long as seven days for the next available flight.

"You can imagine the issues with car rentals, hotel reservations, etc., with a delay like that," Vincent said. "I've given up on Albany and now drive down to Newark or JFK. Haven't had a problem since."

LTTE linked to 2000 Antonov crash

The police said that the AN-26 aircraft crash, which killed 40 security forces personnel in 2000 in Wilpattu, was due to an LTTE missile attack, although at the time it was believed that the reason for the crash was a technical failure.

They said that the Terrorist Investigations Department (TID) is to re open the case of the crash after two suspects arrested by the TID had confessed to shooting down the plane which caused the crash.

The two suspects are to be produced in Anuradhapura court soon.

The aircraft was chartered by the Air Force to transport troops including soldiers wounded in the fighting. The aircraft crashed within ten minutes of take off after the crew reported engine trouble while flying from Palaly to Anuradhapura.

The suspects had admitted to firing the missile using a shoulder mounted ‘manpad’ from a hideout inside the Wilpattu National Park.

Among those killed were four crew members and 36 security forces personnel. The plane crashed into the Weerawewa area in Anuradhapura.

Police said the two suspects were arrested two weeks ago in Kilinochchi. The capsule from the manpad launcher was recovered by the Army during the last stages of the war.

The two spent capsules of the missiles were found with the markings 2000/03/30 and AN26 written on them. (Supun Dias)


Foley Municipal (5R4), Alabama: Airport regulations could close Foley's Fern Avenue

FOLEY, Alabama -- Four feet of elevation could shut down a section of Fern Avenue south of the municipal airport and require a $1 million bypass, city officials said.

The road extends along a rise south of the runway that is too high to be in the runway approach path under state and federal aviation regulations, said Brett Morrow of Volkert Engineering .

"The grade increases as you come east, and it’s about a 4-foot violation of the approach surface, so you’d have to lower Fern by about 4 feet or raise the end of the runway by 4 feet," Morrow said.

Lowering the road would also require moving utility lines and culverts, Michael Thompson, city administrator, said. Raising the runway could be even more expensive than lowering the road or building a new route, he said.

Either alternative could also require closing the airport until construction is complete.

If nothing is done, however, the city could lose federal funding for the airport or its license to operate the facility, Morrow said.

Fern Avenue runs east and west, extending from just east of Ala. 59 to Baldwin County 65. The road is used by area residents and employees of plants such as the Goodrich Aerostructures facility near the airport.

City Council members told Volkert officials and City Engineer Wendell "Butch" Stokes to design plans to extend Airport Road south from Fern Avenue about 2,000 feet to Cater Lee Way near the city’s baseball and soccer park complex. That would allow the city to close Fern Avenue before it encroaches on the runway approach zone.

The new route could provide a link between Cater Lee Way and Baldwin County 24. Joe Bouzan, airport manager, said such a road could help with traffic leaving events at the ball park complex, which hosts, among other events Foley’s annual Hot Air Balloon Festival.

One problem would be that trucks going to industrial sites near the airport might also go south to get to U.S. 98, putting tractor trailer rigs on the road with cars carrying children to games, Councilman Wayne Trawick said.

Before 2010, trucks bringing supplies to the plant also used Fern Avenue. That year, city officials extended Airport Road north to Baldwin County 24, another east-west route. Foley officials built the extension to relieve truck traffic through local neighborhoods between the plant and Ala. 59.

The County Commission also added turn lanes to Baldwin 24 to accommodate truck traffic at the Airport Road intersection.

Trawick said this week that officials do not want a new southern extension of Airport Road to create new problems with heavy traffic around children and parents.

"I’d like to see all the options. I hate to close that street, but we may not have a choice," Trawick said."Bringing the street through to Cater Lee Way is great in a lot of ways, but it’s bad in that you’re going to get truck traffic through there to the park. Trucks through the middle of a park is not good."

Bouzan said officials with the Alabama Aeronautics Bureau notified Foley around 2010 that the road violated the federal Runway Protection Zone. The city has not been given a deadline to fix the violation.

"The state and FAA are aware that we’re working to resolve it," Bouzan said Friday. "They’ve been fine with that. Of course, if we waited too long, they could come back with an ultimatum."

The FAA would pay 90 percent of the cost to extend Airport Road south and close Fern Avenue, Morrow said.

The current estimate is that extending the road about 2,000 feet would cost $1 million. City officials could apply to the state for half of the $100,000 local costs, leaving Foley to pay about $50,000, Morrow said. 

Opinion/Letter: Lead emissions from Laurence G Hanscom Field Airport (KBED) Bedford, Massachusetts

Concord —

According to the EPA, Hanscom Field is in the top 1 percent of airport emitters of lead, emitting 544kg per year into the air. This data comes from the 2008 EPA report “Lead Emissions from the use of Leaded Aviation Gasoline in the United States.”

The EPA says: “While lead concentrations in the air have declined, scientific studies have demonstrated that children’s neurological development is harmed by much lower levels of lead exposure than previously understood. Low-level lead exposure has been clearly linked to loss of IQ in performance testing. Even an average IQ loss of 1-2 points in children has a meaningful impact for the nation as a whole, as it would result in an increase in children classified as mentally challenged, as well as a decrease in the number of children considered gifted.”

The EPA regulatory standard for atmospheric lead is 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter, but the EPA’s own studies have shown that to prevent a measurable decrease in IQ for children deemed most vulnerable, the standard needs to be set much lower, to 0.02 micrograms per cubic meter. Other airports similar to Hanscom have been measured at many times this level.

Hanscom supplies leaded fuel, so-called “Avgas 100LL” to propeller aircraft. This fuel is called “low lead” but actually has more lead per gallon than leaded automotive gasoline from the 1960s. Leaded automotive gas was phased out of automobiles in the 1980s and is now illegal.

Leaded aviation fuel has been eliminated in much of Europe, but special interest lobbying has successfully fought its elimination in the USA. Recent announcements by Massport that hangar space at Hanscom Airport will be doubled are alarming, and we must demand that lead levels be measured and mitigated before any expansion occurs. 

— Timothy Ehrlich, Monument Street

Source: LETTER: Lead emissions from Hanscom Airport - Concord, MA - The Concord Journal

Manx2 crash landing was caused by mechanical failure

Video by ronaldswayspotter10 on Mar 9, 2012

Flight NM309 inbound from Leeds Bradford airport on the 8th of march 2012 sufferd from a right main-gear failure on landing. The aircraft , a Jetstream 31 G-CCPW operated by Linksair on behalf of veered of the runway just before 6pm and ended up in the grass along side the runway. Ronaldsway airport re-opened around 50 minutes after the accident. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured at the time.

The Fire crew, the pilots and all the other people involved acted very professionally in the situation.

© Ronaldswayspotter10 2011-2012

Published on Monday 26 March 2012 06:55

AIR accident investigators have confirmed that mechanical failure caused an aircraft to crash land at Ronaldsway.

The UK-based Air Accident Investigation Branch has issued a safety recommendation to the European Aviation Safety Agency following the accident.

Emergency services were called into action at just before 6pm on Thursday, March 8, when the Manx2 service from Leeds Bradford Airport got into difficulties after landing at Ronaldsway.

Twelve passengers were escorted shaken but unharmed from the aircraft which was operated by Lincolnshire-based Links Air, on behalf of Manx2. The two crew members also escaped unscathed.

Now a preliminary investigation by the AAIB has concluded that a corrosion crack in a metal component caused the right hand landing gear of the Jetstream to collapse, resulting in the plane skidding along the runway on its wingtip and coming to rest in the grass at the side.

The AAIB found that the accident was caused by stress corrosion cracking in a metal component at the top of the right main landing gear leg.

Its report describes how almost immediately after the aircraft touched down it leaned to the right and there was an unusual noise.

Investigators say that the corrosion was not detected by a visual inspection carried out 11 days before the incident nor during a test of the landing gear completed 10 months before – although the amount of corrosion in the crack and on the steel spigots suggest it was present then.

As these inspection requirements didn’t detect the crack, the AAIB has issued a safety recommendation to the European Aviation Safety Agency that it review the effectiveness of an airworthiness directive in identifying cracks in the yoke pintle housing on landing gears fitted to Jetstream 31 aircraft.