Monday, April 16, 2012

India: Patna zoo may lose 2000 trees for airport expansion

PATNA: The Airport Authority of India (AAI) is surveying and marking over 2,000 trees on the premises of Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park under its expansion plan for the Jaya Prakash Narayan airport here. The AAI will send a proposal to the state government for cutting the identified trees creating problems in taking-off and landing of the aircrafts at the airport.

If the AAI got its proposal forwarded by the state government and approved by the Union ministry of forest and environment, the 2,000 trees above 25 feet of height would be uprooted. There are many precious and rare species of trees on the 15 acre land of the zoo.

"The trees are being identified and marked only. The zoo is governed under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. It is a protected forest. The airport authorities will need the permission from the Union ministry of forest and environment for even scratching the trees," zoo director Abhay Kumar told TOI on Monday.

He, however, said the process would take. "Earlier the airport authorities had identified 3,700 trees to cut down for the safety of airplanes landing at the Patna airport," he said.

Director of Patna airport Arvind Dubey said, "Aircrafts taking off and landing at the airport face disturbances due to the thick vegetation around the airport area. The proposal for removal of trees has been pending for a long time and we want this change for the safe movement of flights. The survey is on to list the trees creating disturbances in the area."

The zoo has about 10,000 trees. Some of them, like patali, putranjiva, hijjal, terminaliya myriocarpa, heterophragma, kigalia pinnata, ficus and cassia javanica, are of rare varieties.

Passenger numbers from Indonesia are expected to take off thanks to direct flights between Jakarta and Auckland

Auckland Airport's signed a memorandum of understanding with Garuda Indonesia, which is planning to fly direct between the countries as soon as market conditions allow.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says currently fewer than 12 thousand people arrive every year from Indonesia.

He's expecting that number to jump quickly with Garuda.

"They've got a lot of orders for new aircraft and they have big plans to revitalise the airline. They said New Zealand has been part of that so we think it could turn into something quite serious. It could strengthen New Zealand ties with Europe as well."

Mr Thomas says Indonesia is a growing market and New Zealand's ready to take full advantage.

"Business travel will grow, and secondly the holiday market will grow, simply because of availability and scheduling."

Kevin Bowler expects we'll see big marketing campaigns from Garuda.

The flight path is also likely to do wonders for diplomatic relations.

Mr Bowler says the Government has recognised Indonesia is fast growing.

"We do think the introduction of a direct service would be a great convenience for visitors from Indonesia. It will also be great for building the relationship between the two countries."

Kevin Bowler says currently all flights to New Zealand from Indonesia go via Singapore.

Brent Thomas says Garuda's confident it has the numbers to keep afloat.

Internet scam involving a nonexistent airplane - Ventura County, California

Suspect arrested on suspicion of defrauding Santa Rosa Valley resident

A 22-year-old woman was recently arrested on suspicion of targeting a Santa Rosa Valley resident with an Internet scam involving a nonexistent airplane, Ventura County Sheriff's Office officials said.

Kelly Bryant of Los Angeles was arrested Thursday in connection with the incident, which was reported in January, sheriff's  officials said.

The ruse involved the sale of a fictitious airplane and a fake escrow-holding account controlled by a group of suspects, officials said.

The report of the incident led to a three-month investigation of the group and Bryant's arrest in April, officials said. She was booked into Ventura County jail and released the same day on bail, officials said.

The investigation is ongoing.


Aviation discipline brings business rewards

BALANCE: Volcanic Air Safaris' Phill Barclay is all about balance - in business and in life more generally. 

HIGH ACHIEVER: Phill Barclay, managing director of Volcanic Air Safaris 

 To be a good pilot, you need to be disciplined and Volcanic Air Safaris managing director Phill Barclay says the same is true in business.

"If you have a good year, don't go out and have a good spend up. A good year usually means the next bad year is getting closer."

Whether it's the bad weather, an economic downturn or a combination of both, Phill says good discipline and good planning can enable business owners to still be successful.

He also lists a reasonable mechanical understanding as a key skill for a pilot.

"You can tell when something is not quite right and can get it seen to before it becomes a major breakdown."

This, too, applies well to business - you don't need to know all the technical details about every aspect of your business, but the more you know, the easier it is to spot problems in their early stages.

Having grown up around aviation, it was inevitable Phill's career would be up in the air. He came to Rotorua in 1989 as a pilot for Geyserland Airways before becoming operations manager at Volcanic Air Safaris in 1992. He and his wife Dorien Vroom bought the business in 2002.

These days he spends less time flying and is focusing more on the business side of aviation.

"I spend more time thinking about business growth and expanding. I'm always looking for new opportunities."

Safety is obviously key in aviation and Phill is proud of Volcanic Air Safaris' platinum rating - being the only company in New Zealand to achieve this by operating for 25 years without an incident, while averaging 22,000 flights a year in the past five years.

In terms of tourism, he says it is important for Rotorua to pursue new markets such as China and India, but he strongly believes in continuing to invest in traditional markets such as the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. Visitors from these regions tend to stay longer and spend more than the shorter-stay visitors from Asia.

"The challenge is to continue to get good numbers out of those traditional markets, while entering different markets to keep up the growth. We need to have a good balance."

Balance is also something Phill strives for in his personal life. While he has spent his entire career in aviation and tourism, Phill makes a concerted effort to socialise with people outside those industries.

"It is important that you have balance in your social life and you won't get that if you work in tourism and only socialise with tourism people."

As well as avoiding the temptation to talk about work all the time, he says mixing with business owners from other sectors often gives him a new perspective on his own sector.

Making time for two rounds of golf a week and the odd beer also help him achieve that balance!


How has the poor summer weather affected Volcanic Air Safaris and the tourism sector in general?
Our records on days lost to weather go back to the 1990s. For March the average is two days, but this year it was eight.

From Boxing Day through to January 7 is usually the best two weeks of the year and ... well, you remember what it was like. We were probably about 15 per cent down on the same period last year.

The problem with our type of business is that it is so weather dependent. Even if it is safe to fly, you cannot take people up to show them something on a day when they won't see anything.

We had a good Easter, but we had so many visitors asking why everything was shut. When it comes to Easter trading laws, it is time Rotorua stood up and said "Enough! We are going to open regardless."

The whole country needs to do that to highlight the issue. Let people have the choice.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

I was a labourer at a batten mill owned by former Maori All Black Mac McCallion in Waiuku. He was a hardest boss I ever worked for, but he put in just as much work as everybody else.

Geothermal Airways was my first full-time flying job, with John and Raewyn Burns. I still regard John as being ahead of his time in terms of looking after and maintaining aircraft.

How would you like to see Rotorua's Lakefront developed from an operator's perspective?

The last thing I want to see is a 200m jetty into the lake. Every pier like that in the world has ended up being a financial disaster. Why would we copy that?

I also don't want one big building for all the operators. We need to individualise a bit more and spread things out a bit more.

We could make the Lakefront a lot nicer without spending excessive amounts of money. We need a range of quality restaurants and cafes and good public facilities.

What is the difference between being a good pilot and being a good pilot instructor?

The best trainers are not always the smoothest pilots. A person who is a good instructor has the ability not just to say "that was a rubbish landing", but to be able to track the landing back to the approach and help the person understand where it started going wrong.

You need to be constructive about it. You also have to be able to put the person you are teaching at ease so they are not too nervous to focus on learning.

Great Falls International Airport gets hi-tech fire truck

The Great Falls International Airport has a new addition to help them better combat aircraft fires - a state-of-the-art fire engine unlike any other in Montana.  Darnell Stucker, assistant fire chief with the Montana Air National Guard, noted,  "The engine on it that is has is a Caterpillar engine, is 680 horsepower. It goes zero to 50 in 23 seconds with a top speed of 74 miles per hour."

The new addition to the airport is part of an FAA mandate for Cat 3 runways, requiring airports to be equipped with a fire engine that can get to the midpoint of a runway in three minutes or less.

Stucker explained, "It takes 90 seconds for a fire to go through a fuselage in an aircraft. So the first truck has to be there in three minutes and all the other fire trucks need to be there in four minutes."

The $750,000 truck was 95% paid for by the FAA.

Last week crews spent 10 hours a day training on the new machine.

Stucker said, "We are very fortunate here not to have very large frame aircraft catch on fire, but we have had numerous aircrafts that have unfortunately crashed and we have had some fatalities up here."

The truck holds 1,500 gallons of water, 210 gallons of foam and weighs about 62,000 pounds.

It also has something very unique - an infared camera.

Stucker explained, "We are actually able to go out on the runway in basically zero visibility...and this FLIR camera will actually guide us through the roads and we can see everything through this FLIR camera. It's going to be an interesting concept for us to be able to have that capability."

Read more, photos and video:

LifeFlight raising money to add airplane to its fleet of helicopters

 LifeFlight of Maine is raising money to add an airplane to its fleet of two helicopters in response to growing demand for air ambulance services.

Adding a third aircraft is expected to allow the statewide service to treat up to 300 more patients a year by freeing up the maxed-out helicopters.

“As more and more physicians ask us to transport their most critical patients, our medical crews and helicopters are reaching their capacity,” LifeFlight of Maine Executive Director Tom Judge said in an email. “Last year, on average, we transported a patient every six hours. Adding a fixed-wing aircraft to our current resources will mean more patients have access to the care they need, when they need it.”

In 2009, LifeFlight was unable to care for 236 patients who needed air ambulance services because the helicopters already were occupied or unable to fly in bad weather.

The airplane LifeFlight is eyeing, a Beech King Air 200 twin-engine turboprop, could transport patients over longer distances more quickly and fly in weather conditions such as freezing rain and fog that the helicopters can’t handle, Judge wrote.

The helicopters are clocking 900 flight hours a year, far more than LifeFlight anticipated, according to Melissa Arndt, marketing and educational outreach manager for the LifeFlight Foundation, which raises money for the service.

“We’ve almost doubled the number of hours we expected to put on them,” Arndt said.

LifeFlight has raised about a third of the airplane’s $3.5 million price tag, which includes costs to retrofit the interior and purchase medical equipment, Arndt said. The foundation hopes to collect the full amount within the next year.

Established in 1998, LifeFlight is a nonprofit agency run by Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems in Bangor and Central Maine Healthcare Corp. of Lewiston.

In the last year, LifeFlight transported more than 1,400 patients from all over the state. Many of them suffered severe injuries in crashes.

While LifeFlight helicopters sometimes land at crash scenes, the bulk of the flights transfer critically ill or injured patients from rural hospitals to trauma centers in Bangor, Portland and Lewiston.

About 5 percent of LifeFlight’s patients wind up in Boston for treatment, Arndt said. Even with the addition of an airplane better suited to longer flights, “we don’t expect to see significantly more patients leaving the state,” she said.

The new airplane could be modified to land on the shorter runways typical of Maine’s rural airports but still have the range to accommodate a wider flight ring including Montreal, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Richmond, Va., for patients needing specialized services unavailable in Maine.

Adding the new aircraft also is expected to improve LifeFlight’s coverage in southern Maine by cutting down on long flights by the Lewiston-based helicopter.

“The same crew and the same equipment are going to be aboard either aircraft, so the care the patient receives will be the same,” Arndt said.

Airplanes are ideal for trips topping 175 miles, she explained. While fixed-wing aircraft require ambulances to transfer patients from the hospital to the airport and vice versa — the helicopters land on hospital helipads — their speed over longer flights makes up for the extra time, she said.

“In Maine, our typical helicopter flight is much longer than the national average,” Judge wrote in the email. “A fixed-wing aircraft is faster and more efficient over these longer distances, helping the patient get to the care they need sooner.”

Maine’s emergency medical services network already includes airplanes operating out of airports in Rockland and Caribou, though LifeFlight’s crew receives a higher level of critical care training, Arndt said.

Alva native pilots B-25 for special show

Executive Sweet, shown with Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle at an earlier reunion of the Doolittle's Raiders, will arrive at the Alva Regional Airport about 10 a.m. on May 21. Bob Baker will provide a fighter escort with his P-51 Warbird. 
Photo courtesy of 

Look to the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a formation of War Birds headed for the Alva Regional Airport on April 21. Alva native Lt. Col. John 'Weebs' Wiebener will pilot the B- 25 'Executive Sweet' on its journey back to California from Urbana, Ohio and the 70th Reunion of Doolittle's Raiders. Two dozen B-25s and the five surviving crewmen from the legendary raid met for what was billed as the final reunion. On April 18, 1942, 80 men achieved the unimaginable when they took off from an aircraft carrier on a top secret mission to bomb Japan. 

These men, led by Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. The fully restored warbird will be given a fighter escort to the Alva airport by local pilot Bob Baker's P-51s positioned at the B-25's wingtips. 

Static Display 

The warbirds will do a fly-over before landing at the airport at approximately 10 a.m. Once they land, the B-25 will be on static display for anyone who wants to see it until 5:30 p.m. The pilot and crew will be available for photos during this time. A minimum $5 donation will be asked to tour the plane. T- shirts and hats will also be for sale. "It's extremely expensive to keep these old planes flying," Wiebener said. Wiebener said the airport board and Plane Plastics have been extremely helpful in planning this event. 

The special visit will coincide with the monthly EAA pilots' meeting. Rides lasting approximately 30 minutes will be available for $425 per person, a minimum of four persons, and a maximum of six passengers. A one-on-one instructional ride can be purchased for $2,500. On this ride, the purchaser will pretty much fly the plane from takeoff to touchdown. 

World War II veterans are invited to a barbecue dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Bob Baker's hangars. Veterans planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Plane Plastics at 580-327-1565 so enough food can be prepared. Veterans will get to meet the crew and get a close look at the plane. If a veteran wants to purchase a flight, they need to be at the airport around noon.

The Pilot 

This journey marks 'Weebs' first flight at the controls of the legendary plane. The Alva native flew F-16 fighter jets during his career with the U.S. Air Force. Lt. Co. Wiebener flew 27 missions over Iraq during Desert Storm. Wiebener started flying in 1978 while attending college in Florida. "I grew up on a farm west of the Alva airport watching planes take off and land all my life," he said. 

At one point in time, his grandpa had a T6 and a Birdog stored in the barn on the farm. While other kids pretended to drive tractors or cars, Weebs pretended to fly those planes. "I must have flown around the world 100 times," he said of those imaginary trips.

Since retiring from the Air Force, Wiebener returned to his home in Albuquerque, N.M., where he began a second career as a pilot for FedEx. "This has been a wonderful second career for me," he said. "I'm flying the newest and largest airplane in the FedEx fleet. This last week I flew one that had only 40 hours on it. It still had the 'new car' smell." When asked about his selection as pilot for this mission, Wiebener answered saying, "It was mostly persistence." 

Two of Wiebener's fellow FedEx pilots fly B-25s periodically and knew of his desire to fly this airplane. "I think they realized they needed an additional pilot," Wiebener said. "I've been wanting into the war bird world for quite a while." Wiebener said the entire war bird world is about networking. "Once you're flying for one person, they'll see you and like what you are doing," he said. "My ultimate motive is to fly a variety of war birds." 

Small-Jet Makers Flock to China - As Sector Shrinks Elsewhere, Growing Market Outweighs Competitive Risks for United States Manufacturers

SHANGHAI—U.S. makers of small aircraft increasingly are teaming up with Chinese companies, deciding that the need to ply the growing market outweighs the risk that their partners will become rivals.

Cessna, which displayed jets at the Singapore Airshow in February, plans to build jets in Chengdu, China.

In the last few months, business-plane makers Cessna Aircraft Co. and Hawker Beechcraft Corp. have discussed joint ventures in the country. Industry supplier Honeywell International Inc. HON -0.12% signed several initial agreements last year. Non-U.S. companies are moving in, too: Brazil's Embraer SA ERJ +0.61% last month said it would consider transforming a Chinese joint-venture plant for small commercial jets to turn out executive planes.

China has grown more attractive as the industry otherwise has shrunk. Honeywell in October estimated that 600 to 650 new business jets would be delivered industrywide last year, down from 732 in 2010 because of global economic weakness. Cessna, a unit of Textron Inc., TXT +0.60% expects China to become the world's No. 2 business-aircraft market, after the U.S., within roughly 15 years.

"Everyone's jockeying for position now, trying to figure out…'Who do I partner with? How do I get the right access?' " says Briand Greer, Asian-Pacific president of Honeywell Aerospace.

Cessna last month signed an agreement with a unit of state-controlled Aviation Industry Corp. of China to establish a joint venture in the western city of Chengdu, where Cessna plans to build midsize business jets and codevelop a larger jet. The Wichita, Kan., company also reached an agreement with AVIC, as the Chinese company is known, for broader cooperation on general aviation, a category that excludes military and commercial aircraft.

"If you have the ability to produce local content in the market, it gives you the ability to understand your customers better, to react quicker," says Cessna Chief Executive Scott Ernest.

Shawn Vick, an executive vice president at Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft, said at a recent news briefing in Shanghai that his company had "entertained discussions with four separate entities for joint-venture activities inside China."

Labor costs also are part of China's lure. "Our competitors in Brazil or in Switzerland can charge lower labor rates than we can in the U.S. and labor is a big component of building the airplane," says Sean McGeough, Hawker Beechcraft's president for Europe, the Mideast, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The aircraft maker, suffering from a long slump in demand for business jets and uncertainty over military spending, recently hired a turnaround specialist and bankruptcy counsel.

Honeywell, based in Morristown, N.J., reached five agreements last year with Chinese aerospace companies, including one for the development of a general-aviation cockpit. Honeywell also makes aircraft engines and other aerospace products.

China's business and general-aviation sector is in its infancy. Honeywell's Mr. Greer estimates that the country has about 1,000 business and general-aviation aircraft, compared with roughly 225,000 in the U.S.

But industry experts expect China's number to rise with the country's wealth and as Beijing relaxes aviation regulations.

Setting up joint ventures, which generally are required by Beijing for foreign companies establishing significant operations in the country, can be troublesome. Such partnerships have given a technological lift to Chinese companies in other industries, such as automobiles.

Aerospace executives say they need to keep up the pace of technological development to stay ahead of would-be Chinese rivals. "The only way you can really stay away ahead of the [intellectual-property] curve here is you continue to innovate faster than the things you're bringing to market," Mr. Greer says.

Cessna's Mr. Ernest says Volkswagen AG's VOW.XE +0.68% Audi unit and General Motors Co. GM -1.60% have succeeded in navigating such shoals."It's not any different from what Audi's done or what GM's done," he says, referring to his company's joint-venture plans.

The competitive threat from China also is rising as the country builds its own ability to take on global aerospace rivals. Last June, an AVIC unit acquired Minnesota-based private-aircraft maker Cirrus Industries Inc., giving the Chinese company access to a line of light propeller aircraft and a small jet under development. Outside of business and general aviation, state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China is developing a regional jet to compete with planes made by Embraer and Canada's Bombardier Inc. BBD.B.T -0.75% Comac, as the Chinese company is known, also is developing a single-aisle commercial jetliner that could compete with Boeing Co.'s BA -0.33% 737 line and the A320 family from the Airbus unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. EAD.FR +1.49%

Despite such challenges, foreign companies still are looking at deals.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. President Larry Flynn says his company has "not in the least ruled out China for manufacturing capabilities." Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp., GD +0.46% currently focuses its investment in China on building up maintenance, repair and overhaul capacity.

Flying doctor's personal mission

Richmond Hill dentist Dr Peter Martin with his Cessna XP Hawk. 
Jacklyn Wagner

Dentist and pilot Dr Peter Martin goes to extreme lengths to help people with serious illnesses in remote regional areas.

For seven years, he has flown his light plane to distant parts of Australia, picked up isolated ill people, usually children, and transported them to medical care.

"It's good to be able to share the privilege that I've got to be able to fly in the first place," Dr Martin said.

The Richmond Hill resident said he was inspired by patients he transported.

"It has never ceased to amaze me, particularly these little children who have so many things wrong with them, at the end of the day they've still got this big smile on their face," he said.

Dr Martin has conducted about one to two patient transfers each week and paid for the associated costs. 

However, national patient transfer organization, Angel Flight, has reimbursed Dr Martin for fuel.

Dr Martin said the implementation of a positron emission tomography scan machine, which takes dynamic pictures of cancer patients' organs, at Lismore Base Hospital will soon require him to fly a large number of patients to Lismore.

"This is the only regional area that has been provided with this facility. Once it's established, there will be a lot of patients brought into Lismore for that purpose alone," he said.

Northern Rivers Aero Club vice president Allan Fry said Dr Martin's dedication to helping other people was a rarity.

"You go through life and meet a lot of people, but then you meet someone like this and you remember what it's all about," Mr Fry said.

Dr Martin said he would find it difficult to continue transporting patients without Angel Flight subsidizing his fuel. 

In June, a fundraiser will be held for Angel Flight at Northern Rivers Aero Club and you can also donate via

Morris Riggin takes over Madison Municipal Airport (KMDS), South Dakota

Morris Riggin

He hasn't entirely moved into his new establishment at the Madison Municipal Airport, but Morris Riggin already has plenty of business to take care of as its manager.

City officials hired Riggin in March to take over the operation of the city airport and serve as its fixed-base operator. Riggin judged on Monday (today) that he could finish moving his tools into the main hangar at the airport with another weekend's work.

As the new FBO, Riggin will provide services such as aircraft hangaring, flight instruction and aircraft maintenance. He'll also stay busy by performing other flight-related work, including aerial crop spraying, which has provided a major part of his income for years.

Riggin teaches pilot instruction, saying that he's busy with "a growing flight school."

"I've been a flight instructor since I was 18," Riggin said.

Riggin can help students earn their private and commercial pilot's license. He can also help them obtain certification for instrument, seaplane and multi-engined piloting.

According to Riggin, he started teaching students while living in Ipswich, providing ground classes at his home. His students would start flying from a grass strip near Mina. Riggin also taught float-plane piloting from a spot on Mina Lake.

He has some familiarity in managing a rural airport. Riggin's father managed the Milbank airport for about 20 years, and Riggin managed the same airport for nine years.

In 2003, he moved to the Aberdeen area and worked as a pilot and flight instructor in the north-central part of South Dakota.

Riggin fielded a couple of phone calls during his interview -- one from a Sioux Falls aircraft owner who was interested in finding hangar space at the Madison airport. Riggin pitched the idea of the pilot building a new hangar in Madison instead of leasing space.

After finishing the call, Riggin said the Madison airport offered lower construction costs when compared to the same hangar space at the larger Sioux Falls airport. He said not having to negotiate through airport security concerns was a major factor to Madison offering lower costs to pilots.

According to Riggin, Madison also offers benefits to corporations that own and operate their own aircraft.

"That's something that I would like to work on -- getting more corporate airplanes coming into Madison," Riggin said.

He said larger retail companies often base and fly light or twin-engine airplanes from cities such as Sioux Falls. In addition, the larger corporations fly executives across the country using turboprops such as Citations.

"We're not that far away from Sioux Falls, so there's a possibility that we could lure some business aircraft to Madison," Riggin said. "This airport can offer a great facility with the improvements that we'll make during the next two years, and we also have jet fuel."

Engineers are still busy completing the design and environmental work needed before construction of the airport's new parallel taxiway can start.

However, Riggin said the Madison airport should have a new ground communication outlet available for pilots. During days with bad weather, pilots on the Madison runway need to call air-traffic control in Sioux Falls on their cell phones to get flight clearance. With a new GCO system, pilots can connect with air-traffic control on their aircraft's radio. 

Long lunch? Just get a seaplane home

  • Sydney restaurant offers sea plane rides
  • One-hour drive takes 10 minutes by plane
  • Costs $505 per person
Who needs to catch a cab home after a long lunch? Introducing transport for winners: the seaplane. 
A restaurant on Sydney's northern beaches is offering flights home via seaplane.

Jonah's at Whale Beach is one of a handful of restaurants in Sydney that you can get to on a luxurious day trip by plane.

A journey which would take about an hour to drive is only a ten-minute flight in a seaplane.

And everything looks different from above.

When we round the craggy cliffs of the Harbour at North Head near Manly, I'm surprised at how rugged and unwelcoming it looks.

The grass at Long Reef Golf Club, on the headland at Collaroy, looks a magnificent lime green.

We see the white dome of the Ba Hai temple at St Ives jutting out of the greenery in the distance.

A slim strip of white sand stretches out in front of us.

Narrabeen Beach, our pilot tells us, is the largest on the Northern Beaches.

The houses below look like Lego buildings.

We hit the area where the Hawkesbury River meets Pittwater and round Barrenjoey Head, flying over the lighthouse made famous by the television soap Home and Away.

Soon we are soaring above Pittwater, looking down on the hundreds of small white boats which dot the water along its bushy coastline.

We pass over Scotland Island, where we can make out just a few houses on the coast with jettys pointing outwards like fingers.

We land in a quiet bay with a beach lined with seaweed, a jetty at the end and bobbing white boats.

The take off and flight are smooth and we barely even feel we have landed, except for the huge splash of white foam and water.

A boat takes us to the jetty, where we are greeted by two small, fluffy, white dogs who quietly lap up our pats before we board the mini-bus to Jonah's for lunch.

Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Mick Jagger have dined at the iconic restaurant, which has 180-degree views over the Pacific Ocean.

There we soak up the vista from the tiled terrace looking down Whale Beach and see the many clifftop houses cascading down towards the sand.

White curtains blow in the breeze and sea-coloured artworks decorate the walls as we dine on a three-course meal from an a la carte menu.

Before landing back at Rose Bay on the return journey we do a quick bonus loop over the Harbour, soaring close to the Harbour Bridge and the white sails of the Opera House, shady in the afternoon light.

A Manly ferry pushes through the water beneath us, with its whitewash streaming from its sides and behind in a rough line.

Seaplanes land and depart from the Seaplane Base at Lyne Park in Rose Bay, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.  The base is a small departure building to the right hand side of Catalina Restaurant.

Four-hour fly and dine trips cost $505 per person, with a minimum of two adults, including seaplane flights and a three-course a la carte lunch. There are also fly and dine trips available to the Peats Bite on the Hawkesbury River and Berowra Waters Inn and Cottage Point Inn in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

More: Ph 1300 732 752


Press Release: Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. Sustains Weather Related Damage to Wichita, Kansas Facility

Press Release
April 16, 2012, 7:30 a.m. EDT

WICHITA, Kan., April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. SPR -1.37% announced today that its Wichita, Kan., facility sustained structural damage during severe weather on April 14, 2012. All personnel were safely accounted for, and the emergency management plan was immediately implemented. Initial assessments indicate that damage is primarily limited to infrastructure, including buildings and utilities, and that production equipment appears to be largely unaffected.

Operations are suspended at least through Tuesday, April 17, 2012, to ensure the safety of our people, complete our damage evaluation, and finalize plans for systematically bringing production online. The company expects near-term production disruptions, including delivery impacts as recovery plans are executed.

"We are thankful that none of our employees were injured in this event, and we continue to remain focused on safety as we assess damage and execute our recovery plans," said Jeff Turner, President and CEO. "We are also working closely with our customers to minimize the expected delivery impacts."

About Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.
Spirit AeroSystems, with headquarters in Wichita, Kan., USA, is one of the world's largest non-OEM designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial aircraft. In addition to its Wichita and Chanute facilities in Kansas, Spirit has locations in Tulsa and McAlester, Okla.; Kinston, N.C.; Prestwick, Scotland; Preston, England; Subang, Malaysia; and Saint-Nazaire, France. In the U.S., Spirit's core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components. Additionally, Spirit provides aftermarket customer support services, including spare parts, maintenance/repair/overhaul, and fleet support services in North America, Europe and Asia. Spirit Europe produces wing components for a host of customers, including Airbus.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future business operations. Actual results or circumstances may vary materially from those indicated or implied in this press release as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including the accuracy or completeness of our initial assessment of damages; the availability of insurance to cover losses as expected; and our efforts to restore operations at our Wichita, Kan. facility in a timely manner; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed in Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

SOURCE Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

Pilot's degree eyed by University of Windsor - $22,500 given to develop new program

By Ilana Belfer, The Windsor Star 
April 16, 2012 4:05 AM
A program that - if approved - would grant aspiring pilots a license to fly and a university degree is one of 30 new initiatives being funded by the University of Windsor's Strategic Priority Fund.

By combining flight training with university courses, the Commercial Aviation and Aerospace Leadership program would respond to a growing demand in the aviation and aerospace industry due to an aging workforce and technological advancements, said Cecil Houston, dean of the arts and social sciences faculty.

"Because of the demographics of current pilots ... there will be a lot of them who are going to be leaving the industry in the next few years and there is enormous expansion in the use of aircraft across the world, so this is really a global demand," Houston said. He also pointed to a 2010 report by the Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council, which called for pilot training to adopt a more diverse curriculum, rather than focusing solely on hours spent inflight.

While Western University, the University of Waterloo and Seneca College offer similar programs, Houston said there are more applicants than there are spots available.

Students in the program would study engineering, social sciences, arts, and business - but that's just on the ground. Simulation training would speed up the process of getting the prospective pilots in the air, with flight lessons likely taking place at Windsor Airport, Houston said.

"One of the things we're aiming for here is to tie what we do to some of the developments that are happening in the community like the development of the airport, and the development of the airlines industry here," said Leo Groarke, the university's provost and vice president academic.

Until now, Windsor area residents could get flight training at the Windsor Flying Club, but it has never been tied with a university degree. Graduates of the University of Windsor's program would receive a bachelor of arts in liberal and professional studies with a specialty in aeronautics leadership.

The $22,500 from the Strategic Priority Fund will be used as seed money to develop the new program, Houston said. It's currently being considered by the university's program development committee and Houston said he expects a final decision by summer. Ideally, the program would start in fall of 2013, Groarke said.

The fund, which was established in 2009-10, allocates about $1.5 million of the university's operating budget to new programs and initiatives each year.

Other recipients of funding include the Faculty of Science, which will be getting a community outreach co-coordinator, and 4Winds, a summer camp that aims to engage aboriginal youth in science, math, engineering and technology because aboriginal people are presently under-represented in those fields.

The fund will provide $80,000 for a "live building portal" at the $112-million Centre for Engineering Innovation being built at Wyandotte Street and California Avenue. The portal will use sensors to track data about the performance of the building, which is set to open in the fall. Things like wind distribution, the transmission of sound, and air flow for the heating and cooling systems will be monitored and then used as a teaching tool for the engineering students.