Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pennsylvania: Flying is freedom for Raccoon Township native

Pilot Clayton Smeltz 
Despite not having use of his legs Clayton Smeltz, formally of Raccoon Township, recently learned to fly using a plane with modified hand controls.

Six months ago, 32-year-old Clayton Smeltz learned to fly.

 “To be able to race down the runway, shoot yourself off into the sky and suddenly you’re free to go anywhere you want and do anything you want,” Smeltz said. “It’s a feeling of freedom and liberation that I don’t think I’d be able to experience otherwise.”

The Raccoon Township native hasn’t walked since he was 16 months old, when a pickup ran him over. The accident damaged his spine, and he has used a wheelchair ever since.

“Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean your will and want and drive to go out and do active things is changed at all,” Smeltz said.

From the time Smeltz was young, building remote-control planes with his father, Harry “Bud” Smeltz III, and grandfather, Harry “Bud” Smeltz Jr., he has dreamed of flying.

Last fall, the Mansfield, Ohio, resident set out to earn his pilot’s license and said he never thought that it would be impossible.

His life, after all, has been about what is possible.

When Smeltz was a teenager, he wanted to ride a dirt bike like his younger brother, Buddy. So, he designed a shifting mechanism and mounted it on the handle bars.

“I’d ride around for hours because it was like the first time you ever rode a bike, you know? It was awesome,” he said. “Until it came time to stop, which was always a complication.”

As a freshman mechanical engineering major at Geneva College, the 1997 Hopewell High School graduate decided that he wanted to make products for people with disabilities. He found a career designing assistive technologies and now is general manager at Mansfield-based Forbes Rehab Services Inc., which manufactures communication software and other devices for individuals with disabilities.

“There’s a verse in the Bible that says you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you, and that’s really how I live my life and where I believe that strength comes from,” Smeltz said.

Smeltz always was a daredevil, said his older sister, April Smeltz Martella of Hopewell Township.
“Clayton doesn’t live life in that wheelchair,” she said. “Everything everybody else was doing, he was right there doing it the same or figuring out his own way.”

Smeltz also had to find his own way to learn to fly because most small planes have foot pedals that control the rudders and brakes.

Research turned up an adaptive device that would allow Smeltz to control a plane with his hands. He soon found a friend with a Piper Cherokee 140 — one of the few planes compatible with the hardware and already equipped with a hand brake.

Smeltz bought his blue-striped “Rusty Bird,” and a certified mechanic installed the hand control, which the serial number indicates was only the 52nd such part that had been produced.

“I was pretty well vested into it before I knew if it was even going to be something that was doable,” Smeltz said.

A short time later, Smeltz received a call from Mansfield flight instructor Dave Storm.

“He said, ‘Hey, are we gonna do some flying?’” Smeltz recalled. “That was great because I didn’t know if any flight instructor was really going to be crazy enough to get in a plane with someone that had a disability and a plane that had been adapted.”

Storm, a former high school teacher, said he knew from the start that Smeltz was a high achiever and was very driven.

“He said to me, if there was ever a time that I felt uncomfortable, he would understand,” Storm said. “He was kind of giving me a door to go through if I didn’t like what was happening, but I never felt like that.”

Storm said Smeltz flew as often as he could and quickly reached the 40 hours of flight training required to take the Federal Aviation Administration certification test.

After a grueling 10-hour exam — consisting of a standard oral test and check flight, as well as an additional medical check flight to ensure that Smeltz could operate the plane safely with the modifications — Smeltz received his pilot’s certificate March 30.

“It was an unbelievable marathon for him,” Storm said. “Lesser people might not have thought it was worth the effort.”

Smeltz, who often makes the 1 1/2 hour flight home to Beaver County, said learning to fly was a blessing.

“I’m really praying that it’s a part of my life to stay,” he said.

Ever the innovator, Smeltz now is on the lookout for ways to help others with disabilities reach the sky.

“For an engineer to get into an airplane as a paraplegic, ideas start like spilling into your mind, because no one has designed a plane for somebody who’s paraplegic,” Smeltz said.

“I’ve been praying about it, and I’ll have my eyes open for ways to bring this to other people.”

Read more, photos and video:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

'Too Fat To Fly' Passenger Sues Southwest Airlines For 'Discriminatory Actions'

Kenlie Tiggeman, the overweight passenger who garnered national attention last May after she claimed a Southwest gate agent told her she was "too fat to fly," is now suing the airline. 

Tiggeman, who lives in New Orleans and blogs about weight loss on her website,, filed an injunction against Southwest in district court on April 20, alleging that the Southwest agents "did not follow their company policy and chose to discriminate, humiliate and embarrass" her in front of "airport onlookers," and that the airline uses "discriminatory actions ... toward obese customers." 

Southwest currently has a Customers of Size policy, which requires passengers to buy a second seat if they can't fit between the armrests. Southwest's seats measure 17 inches across. 

Tiggeman said she is not seeking monetary damages from the airline and filed the injunction application pro se, without legal representation. She said she wants an industry standard to be put in place for flyers who have to buy a second seat, including rules so that it is no longer up to gate attendants to decide whether or not an obese passenger has to purchase a second seat. 

"If you're telling me I have to buy two seats, you should tell me at the point of purchase, not the day I'm flying when I check in at the terminal," she said.

Tiggeman said she was horrified last May when a Southwest Airlines gate agent told her to buy a second seat. 

"The gate agent came up to me and he asked me how much I weighed, what size clothes I wore," Tiggeman said. "He said that I was too fat to fly, that I would need an additional seat, and he was really sort of crass about the whole thing." 

At the time, Tiggeman said she weighed between "240 and 300 pounds." 

"There was no privacy," she continued. "He didn't know what the policy was. So he actually brought in a supervisor as well who didn't know." 

After the incident, Tiggeman said a Southwest executive contacted her to apologize, refunded her ticket and offered her flight vouchers, which she accepted. But last November, Tiggeman said she was again told by a Southwest agent that she was too fat too fly. 

In a statement to "Nightline," Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said she was aware of Tiggeman's blog post describing the suit, but hadn't confirmed the filing with the airline's legal department. 

"We realize that it's a sensitive conversation and we train our Employees to approach the situation as discreetly as possible," King said in the statement. "The ... best case scenario is for the Customer to notify us of any special needs ahead of time. If providing the additional seat does not result in our having to deny another Customer boarding, we will refund the ticket to the Customer at no charge, which happens more than 90 percent of the time." 

Tiggeman's crusade is just a small part in what feels like a war that has erupted between the airlines and their passengers. Many charge for everything from onboard snacks, to blankets and pillows, to excess baggage and body weight. Just today, Spirit Airlines announced that passengers may have to pay up to $100 for a carry-on, meaning bags that have to go in the overhead compartment and are checked in at the gate. Bags that can fit under the seat are still free. 

But if you weigh more, should you pay more? Peter Singer, a bio-ethics professor at Princeton University, raised this simple, but inflammatory question. 

NEW ORLEANS -- The road to weight loss for Kenlie Tiggeman hasn't been easy, and now she's in a different battle. "I understand Southwest wants everyone to be a certain size, but no one knows, including Southwest, no one knows what that size is," said Tiggeman.

Tiggeman is taking on Southwest Airlines and its controversial "Customers of Size" policy, which requires passengers to buy a second seat if they can't fit between the armrests, which measure 17 inches across.

 "I don't want to encroach on anyone, and I think it's safe to say no obese person wants to encroach on anyone next to them," Tiggeman said. In a petition and application for injunctive relief, she alleges Southwest violated her "constitutional rights" and engages in a practice of "discriminatory actions toward obese customers."

 As a consumer, Tiggeman said she has a right to know the rules at the point of purchase. "We need to know what the rules are," Tiggeman said. "We need to know if we need one seat or two, because this eyeballing happening at the gate is incredibly discriminatory, and it's so unnecessary."

Low fare airline bmibaby to close

Low fare carrier bmibaby is set to close later this year, threatening the loss of hundreds of jobs and the ending of its flights.

The carrier transferred to International Airlines Group, the owners of British Airways, last month, but consultations have now started with unions about its closure in September.

The GMB union said it was "devastating" news, especially for the East Midlands, where hundreds of jobs are now threatened with the axe.

With bmi Regional, bmibaby transferred to International Airlines Group ownership on completion of the purchase from Lufthansa. IAG has consistently said that bmibaby and bmi Regional are not part of its long-term plans.

A statement said: "Progress has been made with a potential buyer for bmi Regional, but so far this has not been possible for bmibaby, despite attempts over many months by both Lufthansa and IAG. Bmibaby has therefore started consultation to look at future options including, subject to that consultation, a proposal to close in September this year."

Peter Simpson, bmi interim managing director, said: "We recognise that these are unsettling times for bmibaby employees, who have worked tirelessly during a long period of uncertainty. Bmibaby has delivered high levels of operational performance and customer service, but has continued to struggle financially, losing more than £100 million in the last four years. In the consultation process, we will need to be realistic about our options.

"To help stem losses as quickly as possible and as a preliminary measure, we will be making reductions to bmibaby's flying programme from June. We sincerely apologise to all customers affected and will be providing full refunds and doing all we can with other airlines to mitigate the impact of these changes."

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the pilots' union Balpa, said: "This is bad news for jobs. Bmibaby pilots are disappointed and frustrated that, even though there appears to be potential buyers, we are prevented from speaking with them to explore how we can contribute to developing a successful business plan.

"The frustration has now turned to anger following the news that Flybe (which is part owned by BA) has moved onto many of these bmibaby routes without any opportunity for staff to look at options and alternatives. Balpa's priority is to protect jobs; and we will use whatever means we can to do so."

The changes mean that all bmibaby flights to and from Belfast will cease from June 11, although this will not affect bmi mainline's services to London Heathrow. Bmibaby services from East Midlands to Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newquay, and from Birmingham to Knock and Amsterdam, will end on the same date.

Georgetown Municipal (KGTU), Texas: Airport Tree-Clearing For Safety Zone

A contractor will be removing trees on Georgetown Municipal Airport property in order to increase the clear zone at the end of runway 36, which is north of Lakeway Drive.

The tree removal work is a safety project to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements for runway safety areas adjacent to runways. This phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by June 7.

Due to the tree-clearing activity, a 1,500-foot section of the north-south 18-36 runway will be closed, which may alter some air traffic patterns.

The Texas Department of Transportation is providing funding for the purchase of additional property at the end of runway 11-29, which is the shorter east-west runway at the Airport. Future phases of the safety project will involve tree-clearing on Airport property at both ends of runway 11-29.

For details about the project, contact the Georgetown Municipal Airport at (512) 930-3666, or by email at

Emirates holding recruitment drive in five Irish locations

Dubai-based airline Emirates is holding a recruitment campaign in five locations in Ireland in May and June to help fulfil its cabin crew requirements which are growing in line with the continued expansion of the company.

Currently serving 123 destinations around the globe, Emirates is seeking to hire 3,800 new cabin crew members globally this financial year. It now has over 12,000 flight attendants, from more than 120 countries, speaking over 50 languages.

The cabin crew open days will take place in Dublin on 5 May at Hilton Dublin City, Charlemont Place; Galway on 11 May at the Harbour Hotel, New Dock Road; Limerick on 14 May at the Limerick Strand Hotel, Ennis Road; Waterford on 28 May at the Granville Hotel on the Quays and Cork’s Gresham Metropole Hotel on MacCurtain Street will host Emirates’ open day on 4 June.

Emirates already employs over 280 Irish nationals and  more than 180 cabin crew were appointed to the airline, following the last two rounds of recruitment days in Ireland, in February this year and October last.

The crew will be based in Dubai, home of Emirates, which employs over 56,000 people of all nationalities, across the world.

“Emirates is keen to grow its Irish cabin crew numbers and build on the success of earlier recruitment campaigns in the market.  We know our customers enjoy speaking to fellow nationals during a flight, which is why we have cabin crew from all over the world,” Margaret Shannon, Emirates country manager Ireland.

More information can be found here.

Fertilizing on the fly

Nitrogen losses due to excessive rainfall have cost Midwest corn growers millions of dollars in yield losses over the past four years.

As fields dried out enough to support ground equipment during those years, many farmers applied rescue nitrogen with conventional sidedressing equipment or high-clearance applicators. But many fields never dried out in time for farmers to make those applications.

Fortunately for farmers in some areas, aerial application equipment was available to fly on dry urea (46-0-0).

In central Iowa, three bright yellow Air Tractors owned by Agri-Tech Aviation of Indianola were a familiar sight last summer as they applied nitrogen to approximately 24,000 acres of nitrogen-depleted corn. Some of the fields they treated had received 15 inches of rain in two weeks in mid-June.

Read more:

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: 3 Delta Air Lines employees indicted on drug charges

Three Delta Air Lines employees have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges they tried to smuggle more than $600,000 worth of drugs through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Luis Marroquin, 35, of Atlanta, Carlos R. Springer, 41, of Hampton and Kelvin Rondon, 27, of Atlanta were indicted this week on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. Springer and Rondon were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday, while Marroquin remains at large, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta.

The three men are accused of trying to smuggle the drugs into the country via a commercial airline flight from Mexico.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said a Delta agent found a piece of unclaimed luggage on a baggage carousel on Jan. 13 with a tag corresponding to Flight 364 from Mexico City.

Customs and Border Protection agents inspected the luggage and found multiple packages of meth and heroin, Yates said.

Springer, the supervisor of the ramp employees who unloaded the luggage from Flight 364, was interviewed by federal agents, who searched his cellphone and found incriminating text messages between him and Marroquin, Yates said.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Delta Air Lines Security.

“Delta takes these matters very seriously and will continue to work with law enforcement agencies in their investigation,” the Atlanta-based airline said in a statement Thursday.

Anyone with information about Marroquin's whereabouts is asked to contact the Homeland Security tip line at 1-866-347-2423.

African airlines agree joint fuel purchases

STRATEGY: KQ was among nine airlines that participated in the first joint fuel purchase

THE Association of African Airlines has resolved to continue with the joint fuel purchase agreement for interested members albeit with some changes to the tender process. AFRAA joint fuel purchase steering committee which met in Addis Ababa last week reported that participating airlines had all reported benefits thereby validating the project. “Five new (airlines) expressed their intention to join the project at the next tender and the committee agreed to vet the members to access their admissibility in accordance with the guidelines formulated during the meeting,” said AFRAA in its latest newsletter.

Burdened with the ever increasing cost of fuel on the cost of operations, nine airlines teamed up in January to buy fuel jointly so as to benefit from better bargains through increased negotiating power. Fuel alone accounts for between 40 to 50 per cent of an airline's direct cost whereas the direct costs for regional airlines are at an average of 70 per cent of all expenses incurred according to AFRAA. “A detailed action plan for the next tender was developed and is scheduled to start in July 2012. The plan would ensure that the tendering process would be complete by the end of the year,” noted AFRAA.

In the first agreement only nine airlines out of the then 32 member airlines of the association were part of the deal. The nine were: Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, LAM Mozambique airlines, Air Malawi, Rwandair, Precision Air, Air Namibia, Air Seychelles and TAAG Angola Airlines. The nine airlines started enjoying the joint purchase at different times due to inconsistent financial year periods. However the committee resolved to synchronise the tender periods so that all contracts run from January to December 2013.

Joint fuel purchase project is part of AFRAA’s three year business plan unveiled in February 2011 to give fresh impetus to the association’s efforts to lobby for a favourable business climate amid high costs of operations. Aside from the problem of airlines having different financial year periods, the project has also faced a challenge in making payment in areas with foreign exchange constraints which was becoming a major problem with some fuel suppliers.

Meanwhile the association's membership has now risen to 36 after new airlines namely Camair-Co from Cameroon, Starbow Airlines from Ghana and Congo Brazzaville based ECAir's applications to join were approved last week.

Coast airport goes animal crackers

Shaun Cousins (Airport Safety Officer) clearing animals, while Martin Diviani and Joe the Labrador keep the birds away.
 Pic: Scott Fletcher 

 A COMMERCIAL airliner had to delay its take-off as an echidna waddled past the runway and a turtle turned up in the middle of Gold Coast Airport's taxiway but miraculously avoided being squashed.

These two quirky incidents illustrate why Gold Coast Airport runs a 24/7 operation to keep the airspace and runways clear of animals.

Bird strikes are the main concern and keeping the airspace and airfield free of avian missiles is the job of wonder dog Joe and his team.

But threats from rabbits, hares, foxes, snakes, goannas and even the odd turtle and echidna must also be considered.

Martin Ziviani, of Avisure, keeps the airspace clear of birds with the help of dispersal dog Joe, pyrotechnics, stock whips, sirens and cap guns.

"Bird strikes are one of the highest risks to planes," said Mr Ziviani.

"There are probably minor bird strikes on a weekly basis. Serious strikes are a rare event but can be catastrophic when power to all engines is lost.

"We've found a turtle on the runway, I've relocated an echidna from the taxi-way and we get foxes, rabbits, hares and goannas in the airfield.

"There are times when an echidna will dig its way to where it wants to be.

"Quite often you'll hear sirens out there or us firing caps to shoo away the birds ... we are trying to reduce the attractiveness of the airport as a habitat."

Last year Gold Coast Airport reported 130 minor incidents, including bird strikes, to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Mr Ziviani said he worked closely with the air traffic control tower to inform pilots of any potential animal hazards in the area.

Sometimes it will cause a plane to delay take-off or landing.

"If there's a chance of one in a million of something happening, then that's a risk to us," said a Gold Coast Airport spokesman.

"Our safety officers are out there inspecting the runways 24/7. They are the eyes and ears for the tower."

The airport even uses DNA testing to identify the species of bird involved in a strike if the carcass is not found.

The last serious bird strike at Gold Coast Airport happened about eight years ago when a commercial airliner received significant engine damage when it hit an ibis. It landed safely.

Microsoft Signs Patent Licensing Agreement With Aspen Avionics

press release 
May 3, 2012, 12:00 p.m. EDT

exFAT file technology helps avionics industry leader provide cutting-edge capabilities to customers.

REDMOND, Wash. and ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Microsoft Corp. and Aspen Avionics Inc. have signed a patent licensing agreement that gives Aspen broad access to the latest Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT). exFAT is a modern file system from Microsoft that facilitates large files for audiovisual media and enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and other electronic devices. The agreement is the latest forged by Microsoft for exFAT and the first in the avionics and commercial sector.

exFAT is a modern file system improving on its predecessor, the FAT file system, and greatly expands the size of files that flash memory devices can handle by more than five times over the previous technology. It also greatly increases the speed with which those files can be accessed. The exFAT file system not only facilitates large files for use of audiovisual media, it enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and a variety of electronic devices.

Aspen specializes in bringing advanced technology and capability into general aviation cockpits. Its products increase situational awareness and reduce pilot workload, helping to make it easier and safer to fly. Aspen's flagship product line is the Evolution Flight Display system, a glass cockpit system certified for general aviation aircraft.

"Innovative avionics requires a modern file system, such as exFAT, that can handle significantly larger file sizes to display richer data than legacy file systems could handle," said David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property (IP) Licensing at Microsoft. "This agreement with Aspen Avionics highlights how exFAT can help directly address the specific needs of customers in the aviation industry, and we're delighted to make exFAT available to the company through our intellectual property licensing program."

Microsoft's Commitment to Intellectual Property Collaboration

Microsoft offers flexible IP licensing programs that give companies access to many of the foundational technologies in its own products, allowing those companies to build devices, applications and services that work seamlessly with one another.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 1,100 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio. The program was developed to open access to Microsoft's significant R&D investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio.

Microsoft has entered into similar exFAT patent licensing agreements with several leading consumer electronics manufacturers through its IP licensing program, including Panasonic Corp., SANYO Electric Company Ltd., Sony Corp. and Canon Inc.

More information on Microsoft's IP licensing program is available at , and information specifically related to Microsoft's exFAT licensing program is available at .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft MSFT -0.09% is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

Bloomberg: EADS, Finmeccanica Encourage ATR to Work on Larger Turboprop

By Andrea Rothman and Frederic Tomesco

European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co. (EAD) and Finmeccanica SpA (FNC), the owners of Avions de Transport Regional, are encouraging the turboprop planemaker to work on plans for a larger model to capture demand for aircraft that guzzle less fuel than jets.

ATR’s 42- and 72-seat turboprops have been in service since the mid 1980s and ATR’s only remaining competitor in that market is Bombardier’s Q-Series capable of carrying 74 passengers. Both Bombardier and ATR have been eyeing a 90-seat version as rising oil prices drive demand for more fuel-efficient turboprops.

After rapid sales in the late 1980s and early 1990s, orders for turbopropeller planes petered as airlines chose faster-and quieter jets. Demand is now surging as higher fuel costs make turboprops much cheaper to operate on short routes.

“We want to encourage ATR to work on plans for developing its future,” EADS Chief Executive Officer Louis Gallois said today at a ceremony to mark the 1,000th delivery of an ATR plane. “Shareholders will take a decision based on priorities of financial and technical resources, and will consider a partnership.”

Air Nostrum, a franchise partner of Iberia, received today’s landmark delivery.

Saab and BAE Systems Plc (BA/)’s predecessor British Aerospace exited the turboprop market. Jet fuel, which is derived from crude oil, today comprises on average between 30 and 40 percent of airlines’ operating costs. A decade ago, jet fuel represented only between 10 percent and 12 percent.

Engine Talks

ATR has fared far better than Bombardier since the resurgence of demand, partly because the Q Series is better adapted for longer routes. ATR’s backlog at the end of last year was 224 aircraft worth $5 billion, boosted by a record order tally in 2011 when the manufacturer won orders for 157 planes, with another 79 options, which ATR CEO Filippo Bagnato today said was an 80 percent market share.

Bagnato, in an interview, said he is currently talking with General Electric Co. (GE) and Pratt & Whitney about developing an engine for a larger turboprop. A future plane may be somewhat larger than 90 seats, he added, without being specific.

Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica, also said he would encourage ATR to move forward.

“Turboprops are no longer considered a niche market; the regional turboprop is expanding and in this aeronautical business, nobody can rest,” Orsi said. “We are listening to customers and closely examining the business case for a new project. We’ll take a decision at the right time.

Bombardier, as of Dec. 31, had 24 firm orders and 118 options for turboprops. The company won just seven turboprop orders in the 11-month period ended Dec. 31.

‘‘ATR is eating Bombardier’s lunch,” said Nick Cunningham, managing partner at Agency Partners in London. “Funny thing is, everyone wrote the market off a decade ago and now people love turboprops and can’t make them fast enough.”

ATR in 2011 delivered 54 planes and had total revenue of $1.3 billion.

Wall Street Journal: Boeing Supplier's Profit Jumps


Spirit AeroSystems Inc. said its first-quarter profit more than doubled, though the aerospace supplier was mum on the cost of the storms that ripped through its main Wichita plant last month, forcing it to halt production for nine days.

The Kansas-based company said it wouldn't provide guidance on the financial impact of the storms that caused "significant" damage to its facilities until it reports second-quarter earnings.

Spirit is the largest supplier to Boeing Co. and makes parts for Airbus, Bombardier Inc. and other manufacturers that are riding an unprecedented boom in aircraft orders.

The company reported a forecast-beating profit of $73.6 million, up from $34.6 million in the year-earlier first quarter. Per-share earnings rose to 52 cents from 24 cents. Revenue rose 21% to $1.27 billion, and its backlog climbed 4% to end the quarter at $33 billion.

The latest quarter included another $14 million in special charges for development work on the Boeing 747-8 jumbo and the Gulfstream G250 business jet. Operating income rose 76% to $122 million.

Excluding the storm impact, full-year earnings' guidance was left unchanged at $2 to $2.15 a share.

REDjet customers asked to submit refund requests

In a notice in today’s Guyana Chronicle, the Ministry of Public Works is advising REDjet customers who were unable to travel because of the suspension of service by the airline to submit requests for refunds.

It is a further sign that the low cost carrier may not be back in the air anytime soon following its shock March suspension of flights.  The notice says that requests for refunds should be submitted to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Works, Wight’s Lane, Kingston.

The notice under the name of Permanent Secretary Balraj Balram said that all requests for refunds must  include evidence of payment and must be submitted on or before May 31st 2012.


Johnson County Airport (KBYG), Buffalo, Wyoming: Johnson County Terminates Lease On Airport Hangar

During their meeting Tuesday, the Johnson County Commissioners voted to terminate the lease agreement for the “White Hangar” at the Johnson County Airport.

The lease was renegotiated last year with Amy Gerlock, and during that time, she was given specific terms for the lease that included performing work on the hangar itself in exchange for cheaper rent and to get the work completed before the end of March, 2012.

Although she had completed other work on the building before the renegotiation last year, conditions were not met with the new contract, according to the discussions. She was to pay $100 cash to the county and put $400 per month into renovations on the hangar.

In addition, the commissioners had been informed that Gerlock was essentially sub-leasing the building to a number of individuals to store planes, cars and other items in the hangar, which is against the lease agreement with the county.

Commission Chair Smokey Wildeman explained the commission's concerns. 
The commission voted to terminate the lease, but will give Gerlock until the end of June to vacate the hangar or return with a new proposal for a new lease.

Of Captain Ben Hyatt

Ben Hyatt

Tomorrow’s flight into Newquay Airport on the newly-established Glasgow route will be piloted by the son of the part owners of Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay.

At 27 years old,  Newquay-born captain Ben Hyatt is one of the youngest pilots to become a captain within Loganair and this is the first time he has had the opportunity to fly into his home town airport.

He is the son of Hendra Holiday Park part owners Bob and Janine Hyatt, while his twin brother Jonathon is a director.

He said: “When the new route was established into Newquay I was keen to get the opportunity to pilot a flight down. It will be great to fly over my home county and land at Newquay, even though I’ll only be on the ground long enough for quick cup of coffee with my parents before taking the flight back to Glasgow!”

Al Titterington, MD of Newquay Cornwall Airport, added: “Introducing this new Glasgow route with Loganair and franchise partner Flybe is proving to be very popular and we are proud to hear that Captain Ben Hyatt will be flying into Newquay Cornwall Airport for the first time in his commercial career this week. We look forward to welcoming his flight.”

Cape May County Airport (KWWD), Wildwood, New Jersey: Projects - Delaware River & Bay Authority

Completed Projects 

64. Airport Layout Plan Update/RSA Study (FAA) – Asset Preservation:

This project programs updating the airports Airport Layout Plan. The work consists of reviewing the comprehensive strategy to enhance, maintain and market the airport as appropriate to maximize the airport’s potential in accordance with FAA guidance. This effort also includes a comprehensive GIS survey of the airfield in accordance with FAA standards. This is a continuing capital improvement line with a DRBA cost of $10,000 scheduled for completion in 2012.

Continuing Projects

65. Obstruction Removal Phases I&II (FAA) - Safety:

This project programs two phases of obstructions removal on airport property and properties immediately surrounding the airport. The project brings the airport into compliance with federal airspace safety standards. Phase I is a continuing construction project with a DRBA cost of $35,000 scheduled for completion in 2012. Phase II continues the construction project once permitting and approvals are complete with an estimated DRBA cost of $50,000 in the out years.

66. Capital Equipment (DRBA) – Asset Preservation:

This project programs the periodic purchase of capital equipment generally consisting of; mowers, trailers, and other miscellaneous small equipment. The project provides for periodic equipment upgrade or replacement as needed to support airport operations. This is a continuing annual capital improvement line with an estimated DRBA cost of $50,000 in 2012 plus an estimated cost of $200,000 in the out years.

67. Capital Maintenance (DRBA) – Asset Preservation:

This project programs repairs, renovations, and improvements to Authority owned and occupied facilities and infrastructure to include site grading, lighting, signage, utility upgrades, storm water, fire suppression, pavement, airfield security/safety, planning, permitting and record document updates. The project is necessary to protect the facilities, maintain good repair, and provide for public safety. This is a continuing annual capital improvement line with an estimated DRBA cost of $215,000 in 2012 plus an estimated cost of $465,000 in the out years.

68. Building Maintenance (DRBA) – Economic Development:

This project programs assessments, repairs and renovations to airport facilities for which the Authority is responsible. Work generally includes condition assessments, weather proofing, finishes, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, structural, and security improvements necessary to protect the facilities, maintain good repair, and provide for public safety. This is a continuing annual capital improvement line with an estimated DRBA cost of $160,000 in 2012 plus an estimated cost of $500,000 in the out years.

69. Corporate Hangar Infrastructure (DRBA) – Efficient and Sustainable:
This project programs improvements in the vicinity of Apron B to include grading, paving, storm water, and utility infrastructure. There is significant private interest in corporate hangar development in this area and improvements are necessary to facilitate efficient use of the available land. This is a continuing pre-construction project with a DRBA cost of $10,000 scheduled for completion in 2012.

New Projects

70. Land Acquisition (FAA) – Efficient and Sustainable:

This project programs the acquisition of airport property at the Runway 1 approach to protect the current airport functions and prevent incompatible development. Property acquisition is supported by the FAA when the purchase provides for safety enhancements, runway expansion, and to protect runway clear zones. This is a new capital improvement line with an estimated DRBA cost of $100,000 in 2012.

71. Drainage Improvements (FAA) – Asset Preservation:

This project programs a preliminary environmental effort to determine treatment alternatives for the soils in the drainage ditches around the perimeter of the airport. Once environmental concerns are fully understood, improvements to these conveyances will be designed and constructed such that they perform as originally intended. This is a continuing preconstruction project with a DRBA cost of $5,000 in 2012 plus $10,000 in the out years and a new construction project with an estimated DRBA cost of $100,000 in the out years.

72. Deer/Perimeter Fencing (FAA) - Safety:

This project programs the construction of wildlife control fence at the approach to Runway 10. The project completes the airport’s perimeter control fencing and provides for improved airport safety. This is a new construction project with an estimated DRBA cost of $80,000 in the out years.

Cessna Summer Intern, Teresa Guillemot

Not your typical soccer mom, expect the unexpected in the Cessna 162 Skycatcher!

Cessna Pilot Intern Audition - Trent Wiens

by Trent Wiens  
"A description of why I should be selected for the Cessna Pilot Internship this summer."

Bombardier CEO on Business Jet, Turboprop Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Pierre Beaudoin, chief executive officer of Bombardier Inc., talks about the airline industry, sales of the company's business jets and demand for planes powered by turbo-propellers. He speaks with special correspondent Willow Bay at the Milken Institute 2012 Global Conference on Bloomberg Television's "Milken: Ideas and Actions." (Source: Bloomberg)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Partners of pilots launch lawsuit - Bond Offshore Helicopters, Eurocopter EC225 LP Super Puma, G-REDU near the Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) Central Production Facility Platform in the North Sea


THE partners of the two pilots who were killed in the Super Puma helicopter disaster two years ago have raised a multi-million-pound legal action against the aviation company which employed the two men, it was revealed yesterday.

Paul Burnham, 31, the captain of the Super Puma, and co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24, were amongst the 16 men who died.

The aircraft, operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters, plunged into the North Sea on its way back to Aberdeen from BP’s Miller oil platform.

All 14 oil workers on the helicopter also died when it crashed 14 miles from the Buchan coast, leading to the biggest loss of life in a helicopter accident in the North Sea for 20 years.

Joanne McKenzie, Mr Burnham’s partner, and Katherine Botham, Mr Menzies’ partner, have now raised a legal action against Bond Offshore Helicopters at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

It is understood the compensation figure being sought, calculated on the basis of the pilots’ salaries until retirement age, may total more than £2 million in each case.

Ms McKenzie lived with her fiancé Mr Burnham in the Aberdeenshire village of Methlick before the crash.

She said: “There is no amount of money that could bring Paul back. However, my life was turned upside down after his death.

“We moved to Aberdeenshire because of Paul’s job. When he died, I went to London. I had to rethink my whole life.”

Ms Botham, 26, whose partner was from Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, said: “Losing Richard has affected my whole life and not a day goes by without me thinking of him.

“Some days it can feel like I am back at square one, but I have had wonderful support from my family and friends and from Richard’s family.”


Ontario International Airport (KONT) looks awfully lonely


Published: 02 May 2012 06:24 PM

When my plane landed at Ontario International Airport on Monday afternoon, the twin terminals were a picture of desolation.

A single United Airlines jet was pulled up to a gate at the far west end of the terminals; a single US Airways jet, at the far east end.

Between them: eerily, gate after empty gate.

I stared from the window of my Southwest flight as we bumped along the taxiway and pulled up to a gate in the lonely middle.

Every time I fly out of or into ONT, I am struck anew by the airport’s decline. As Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner says, if something doesn’t change soon, there won’t be an Ontario airport.

It’s hard to say whether the city’s efforts to regain control from Los Angeles can succeed. The harder local-control proponents push, the more Los Angeles World Airports digs in its heels.

Last week, a candidate for Los Angeles mayor — former federal prosecutor Kevin James — issued a strongly worded opinion piece in favor of transferring control of ONT to a regional authority.

He’s considered a long-shot candidate. But maybe the frontrunners — LA Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti — will take the hint. As James points out, it’s in LA’s interests for Inland residents to use ONT: 1.3 million fewer cars on LA freeways if people aren’t driving to LAX.

The Inland airport doesn’t seem to be on the radar of the current mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. He’s got bigger fish to fry in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, apparently.

On Monday, LAWA put out a cryptic news release saying ONT’s general manager, Jess Romo, will “effective immediately” report to LAWA’s chief operating officer to “align (his) expanded duties.” Meaning what? LAWA officials didn’t respond to my calls on Monday.

Roma used to manage ONT. Then LAWA added Van Nuys Airport to his duties. He now divides his time between the two airports.

That was a big clue that LAWA considers ONT unimportant. For decades, ONT had its own manager. Now it shares one with another secondary LAWA airport where the locals are also unhappy with LAWA’s stewardship.

I caught up with Romo recently when he was in San Bernardino, and asked him about efforts to bring airlines back to ONT. He mentioned cost-cutting steps such as reducing the frequency of parking shuttles and closing a remote parking lot for a savings of $2 million a year.

That hasn’t stemmed the bleeding of passengers and flights, which have been in a steady nosedive since 2007, now down to 1987 numbers.

When I departed ONT five days earlier, I noticed all three exit-lane booths for the on-site parking were staffed, even though no cars were exiting. With so few customers, why not save two salaries by staffing only one booth? I wanted to ask Romo. But I couldn’t reach him Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, James pointed out that LA could focus its attention on improving LAX if it gave up control of ONT. It has an offer from Ontario on the table: $50 million for LA’s general fund. Why wait for the situation to get even worse?


Le personnel de Tunisair s'attaque aux passagers de la Syphax - Tunisair staff tackles the passengers Syphax

Aprés ce matin à Djerba Tunisair handling rebloque syphax airlines ce soir à Tunis:  Suite à l'incident entre Tunisair Handling et Syphax Airlines survenu aujourd'hui à l'aéroport de Djerba, la nouvelle compagnie vient de subir un deuxième incident à l'aéroport Tunis-Carthage.

En effet, Syphax airlines, se voit à cet instant même refuser l'enregistrement de ses quelque 140 passagers (tunisiens et étrangers) à destination de Paris par Tunisair Handling, sachant que le vol devrait s'effectuer à 17h40. Les agents de cette dernière ont estimé que Syphax n'avait pas les autorisations nécessaires, et de ce fait lui refusent même l'ouverture d'un box d'enregistrement.   L'affaire Syphax-Tunisair Handling serait loin d'être résolue, puisque le bras de fer continue. Nous y reviendrons incessamment.

After this morning to re-lock handling Djerba Tunisair Syphax airlines to Tunis tonight:
  Following the incident between Syphax Airlines Tunisair Handling and occurred today at the airport of Djerba, the new company has just undergone a second incident at the airport Tunis-Carthage. Airline Syphax is seen at this very moment refuse to register any of its 140 passengers (Tunisian and foreign) to Paris by Tunisair Handling, knowing that the flight would take place at 17:40. Agents of the latter felt that Syphax had not the necessary permits.

Estonian Air Embraer ERJ-170LR Takeoff from Tallinn

Video by Flightspotting 

Estonian Air (ELL) [OV] Embraer ERJ-170LR (E170), ES-AEA, Built in 2005, leased from Finnair, takeoff from runway 26, from Lennart Meri airport (EETN) [TLL] in Tallinn, Estonia, to Gardermoen airport (ENGM) [OSL] in Oslo, Norway, as flight OV 137/ SK 8417, on 24th of april 2012 18:37 LT. METAR: EETN 241550Z 27010KT 9999 SCT016 07/04 Q1009 NOSIG

Plane damages two others on ground at John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA), Santa Ana, California

Orange County Sheriff deputies and others investigate near a damage Beechcraft airplane that was involved in a minor collision at John Wayne Airport on Wednesday afternoon. The pilot was doing a pre-flight check of the Beechcraft Baron when it started moving and struck a single-engine Cessna and a single-engine Bonanza, damaging both aircraft, according to airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge.



SANTA ANA – A twin-engine plane struck two single-engine planes in a ground collision at John Wayne Airport on Wednesday afternoon, but no injuries were reported.

The pilot of a Beechcraft Baron was performing a pre-flight check of the aircraft about 4:30 p.m. when it moved forward on its own, said Jenny Wedge, an airport spokeswoman.

The plane struck two other aircraft – a Cessna and a Bonanza – damaging both, Wedge said.

No one was injured in the collision, which authorities say had no effect on the airport's operations.

Hang glider breaks ankles in crash on Vancouver Island

A Search and Rescue helicopter has air lifted an injured hang glider off a Vancouver Island Mountain.

Just before 1 p.m. emergency crews responded to calls a hang glider carrying one man had crashed a short time after take off from Mount Prevost – a popular take off spot north of Duncan.

Paramedics and search crews found the man in bushes below the take off spot.

He was stabilized and a Search and Rescue Cormorant Helicopter was used to lift him from the area.

Witnesses say he suffered broken ankles in the crash and has been taken to a Victoria hospital for treatment.

Read it on Global News: Global BC | Hang glider breaks ankles in crash on Vancouver Island

Schleicher ASW 24, G-CGDU, Robert James Brimfield (regd. owner): Accident occurred April 30, 2012 on Harling Road, in Eaton Bray, Near Dunstable, Bedfordshire

The pilot was carrying out his second flight of the day from a winch launch. He turned downwind and was seen to make an orbit to the right before continuing downwind. The glider made a brief, steep, wings-level climb before levelling off at a height of about 300 ft. It then banked to the left, before entering what was described as a spiral dive to the right. After turning through approximately 270°, the glider impacted the ground in a steep nose-down attitude. The pilot was fatally injured. The most likely cause of the accident was a stall leading to a loss of control, with insufficient height available to recover.

The scene of the crash near Harling Road, Eaton Bray on Monday afternoon (April 30) 

AN investigation has been launched after a man was killed when the glider he was flying crashed in Eaton Bray on Monday afternoon.

Emergency services attended the scene, close to Harling Road, after a call from a member of the public was made shortly after 2.30pm.

The victim was a member of the London Gliding Club, based in Tring Road at the foot of Dunstable Downs.

The last fatal glider accident in the area was more than seven years ago.

East of England Ambulance Service spokesman Gary Sanderson told the Gazette: “First and foremost our thoughts are firmly with the man’s family at this tragic time.

“It was evident that nothing could be done on our arrival and the man was pronounced dead shortly after.”

Police assisted the ambulance services and set up a roadblock. An air accident investigation is under way.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, the UK’s aviation regulator, said yesterday: “The investigation could take months, but when it is released the report will be thorough.

“It’s not good to speculate what went wrong at this stage.”

The identity of the man had not yet been released by the Bedfordshire coroner’s office when the Gazette went to press.

A spokesman for London Gliding Club said: “We can confirm that this crash involved one of our members.”

Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, voiced his hope that the pilot’s death would not be in vain.

He said: “I want to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the man who was killed when his glider crashed. I will be looking to see that all lessons are learnt from this sad incident so that we can avoid any tragedy in future.”

Engineless gliders are towed by a plane to a height of between 2,000ft and 4,000ft to get them off the ground, before travelling at speeds of up to 70mph.

Typically it takes between 50 and 80 flights with a qualified instructor before a gliding enthusiast is allowed to fly solo.

As the pilot was flying on his own, it would indicate that he was an experienced flyer.

No one else was hurt in the accident.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch, which is conducting the investigation, said that the last fatal glider accident in Dunstable was in August 2004.

Club member Peter O’Donovan died in the Luton & Dunstable Hospital from injuries he received in the incident.

Mr O’Donovan, a construction manager from Lewsey Farm, had just left the ground after a winch launch when his glider began an unusually steep climb. The craft was at an altitude of 100 feet when it plummeted nose-first into the ground.

A 52-year-old club member was killed when his glider crashed near Dunstable in 1998.

The London Gliding Club was founded in 1930. In 1939, member Geoffrey Stephenson became the first person to glide across the English Channel, flying from Dunstable to France.

Could the memory card survive?

If, as police allege, William Orders swallowed a memory card, there's a good chance any video will survive intact if the card is recovered. Flash memory cards are "solid state," meaning that unlike a relatively delicate hard drive, they have no mechanical parts and so are notoriously durable.

In tests, they've been dunked in coffee and Gatorade, put through a washing machine, frozen in a block of ice, boiled, run over by a skateboard and smothered in peanut butter — with no effect on the data. At the extreme end, files on several camera cards that were smashed with a sledgehammer or nailed to a tree were still recoverable. Compact flash cards have endured the explosive demolition of a Missouri bridge and even the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Read more:

Opinion: Study airport needs on Long Island

Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan 
Planes at their tiedown and hangars at Brookhaven Calabro Airport (April 23, 2012). 

 A severe fiscal drought has dried up some key revenue streams for the Town of Brookhaven, leaving officials little choice but to shed costs. Now Supervisor Mark Lesko wants a private firm to run Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley, which has been losing the town roughly a half-million dollars a year. He's right, but there are some questions about Calabro that need to be asked first.

One is: Do we still need it? There's a long list of facilities for private planes:  Suffolk County's Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, the state-run Republic Airport in Farmingdale, and town-run airports such as East Hampton Airport and Islip's Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, to name just a few.

We'd like to see the impending change of management at Calabro lead to an examination not only of this one airport's niche but of the need for small-aircraft services throughout Suffolk County. A town couldn't afford a study like that. So Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo could help by having the state's Department of Transportation do it.

Town officials say closing Calabro would be complex. For one thing, the town would likely have to repay back Federal Aviation Administration grants. Also, in a closing, the land would revert to the state.

There may be other valid reasons to keep it flying. Dowling College uses its 100-acre campus there to teach about 250 aviation students courses including pilot training (through private operators), aviation management and air traffic control, among other uses. But Calabro's total general aviation takeoffs, landings, and touch-and-go flights fell from 59,115 in 2010 to 47,246 in 2011. So far, this year's totals look like last year's depleted ones.

The wild card: If the Shinnecock Indian Nation builds a casino in Brookhaven, it's possible that could bring more flights to Calabro.

But it will take a real study to get answers. Lesko is doing the right thing for the town, saving taxpayer money and maybe getting a better-run airport. But for the region, a look at the total need for small-plane facilities is in order. Even with many points in Calabro's favor, it's worth at least asking the question.

Columbiana Boy Becomes Pilot for A Day


The 910th Airlift Wing got a new honorary pilot on Wednesday. 

 Mark Sidor, 11, of Columbiana, was sworn in as an honorary Air Force Reserve 2nd Lieutenant and Pilot for a Day at the 910th Airlift Wing at the U.S. Air Force Reserve Station in Vienna.

Mark is receiving treatment for a bleeding and autism disorder at Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley, and his family said he has wanted to visit the air base most of his life.

The purpose of the "Pilot for a Day" program is to reach out to the community by providing a fun-filled day of activities to children who live with a chronic or life-threatening disease or illness.

"It is a great program at the base. They get a chance to see what we have to offer and get to take a high speed taxi on the airplane," said Capt. Brian Hodor of the 910th Airlift Wing.

Mark said he enjoyed being a co-pilot and sitting next to the captain, but he thought the lunch was the best part. 

Small plane veers off runway at airport; no one is injured. Columbus Metropolitan Airport (KCSG), Georgia

Flights were halted early Wednesday morning at the Columbus Airport after a small plane ran off the runway.

The pilot say the plane was leaving the runway, about to take off for air, when something went wrong.

Columbus' runway sits right in front of many residents' backyards. Don Lindsey says, "I don't see how it happened as far as safety rules the folks have over there. As far as I'm concerned from what I see and what I hear that's the first thing on their mind, safety."

Lindsey says he did not hear a peep but he's not afraid of the constant coming and going of planes right in his backyard.

"After 6 years in Vietnam these little airplanes don't bother me a bit. If a plane ran off the runway over there it's either a wind gust or a pilot error."

There were no injuries in the incident. News Leader 9 tried several times to get a hold of airport officials but our calls were not returned.

St. Cloud State rues end of aviation program

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Supporters of an aviation program at St. Cloud State University say its closure is poorly timed as the industry expects to see more demand for pilots and aviation workers.

The St. Cloud program trains students for jobs as air traffic controllers, airport managers and pilots. Minnesota Public Radio reports the university will close it by 2014 as part of its new focus on broad learning over career training.

The school also faces a $20 million budget gap. Ending the program will save nearly half a million dollars.

But government retirement guidelines and stricter regulations are increasing the call for new aviation workers. Industry officials say military-trained pilots who filled positions in the past are now retiring.


New Zealand: Pilot's Queenstown night flight fears

 A senior pilot is casting a black cloud over night flights, saying Queenstown Airport is dicey enough in daylight – let alone in darkness.

The veteran jet captain – who can’t be named because his airline contract bans media comment – warned last week that a Queenstown aviation disaster is inevitable unless major changes are made.

His chilling prediction coincided with Mountain Scene revelations of a Transport Accident Investigation Commission report citing “system drift” and rising risk levels at Queenstown’s increasingly busy airport.

In an extensive interview this week, the airline captain – we’ll call him ‘Peter’ – says he’s very concerned about Queenstown Airport’s push for potentially lucrative night flights.

“There are a lot of issues presenting during daylight operations, let alone at night.

 “Queenstown is by far the most hazardous airport in New Zealand,” Peter says.

“Some pilots have been spooked so much by the challenge of operating into ZQN they simply try and avoid it.”

The TAIC report heavily criticises the Civil Aviation Authority and tower operator Airways Corporation, urging “a review of [Queenstown’s] entire air traffic management system and operational procedures”.

Peter’s stunned at TAIC’s indictments of CAA and Airways – the report was an official inquiry on how Qantas and Pacific Blue jets came to be on a potential collision course in June 2010.

“Terrain, weather and runway difficulties make piloting a passenger jet into and out of Queenstown tough enough,” he says.

Peter adds that having extra layers of risk from what he claims are “air traffic control inadequacies and a slack regulatory regime” is absolutely intolerable.

There’s “a disconnect between airlines, Airways and CAA”, Peter believes.

“[TAIC’s report] is a sad indictment on CAA who’ve had their blinkers on when assessing the various airlines operating into ZQN and the general operating environment there.”

As an example, the veteran pilot flays CAA for allowing airlines – if they chose – to restrict Queenstown-specific simulator and other training to captains only, leaving co-pilots unprepared for ZQN’s trickier landings and take-offs.

“If the captain becomes incapacitated, the first officer takes over,” Peter points out, adding co-pilots also monitor captains to ensure correct flight procedures are followed.

“How can a first officer do this if he or she isn’t trained for the particular operation?”

Air NZ, Jetstar and Qantas were training first officers for Queenstown flights – Pacific Blue wasn’t until CAA made it mandatory last November during TAIC’s investigation.

All jet pilots now undergo “a comprehensive briefing, a simulator exercise and a minimum of two familiarisation flights” before flying into Queenstown, TAIC says.

“This was an incredible omission on the part of CAA and a reflection of CAA’s airline-friendly officials,” Peter alleges.
Queenstown Airport chief executive Scott Paterson told Mountain Scene last week he’s keen on night flights – as was his predecessor Steve Sanderson – and he sees TAIC’s report as “providing more clarity”.

CAA has recently conducted a “risk review” of Queenstown operations and CAA spokesperson Emma Peel has said Airways, airlines and the airport are being consulted.

Airways is working on improving Queenstown Air–port lighting, surveillance systems and radar cover – and will eventually have some of the most modern air traffic services equipment in the world, Airways navigation services chief Lew Jenkins told Mountain Scene last week.

Meanwhile, Paterson, CAA chief executive Graeme Harris and Airways chief executive Ed Sims have collectively written to Mountain Scene to say last week’s coverage was “alarmist” – and reassure travellers Queenstown skies are safe.
Queenstown is the country’s diciest airport – official

The Civil Aviation Authority is now admitting what jet jockeys have been whispering for years – that Queenstown is home to this country’s most white-knuckle airport.

“Aviation operations at Queenstown carry higher risk than those at other aerodromes in New Zealand,” CAA spokesperson Emma Peel tells Mountain Scene.

“Terrain, runway dimensions, lighting and environmental conditions” create the high risk, she says.

A veteran pilot – who we’re calling ‘Peter’ – knows Queenstown Airport like the back of his hand so Mountain Scene asked him to explain why it’s so difficult.

Queenstown skies pose “a multiple high-risk environment”, Peter says, ticking off the main dangers:
  • Narrow runway – standard width is 45 metres, the resort runway is 30m
  • Short runway – Queenstown’s “available landing distance” is 1777m, excluding what’s known as runway end safety areas, compared with Dunedin’s 1900m and Invercargill’s 2200m. With a wet runway and five-knot swirling tailwind – quite common here, Peter says – Airbus and Boeing manuals require A320 and B737 jets at 2000kgs below maximum weight to have landing distances of 1840m and 1690m respectively
  • The shorter runway also means “significant risk” if engine failure aborts a takeoff, Peter says – inadequate overrun areas mean the jet may plummet into the Shotover River at one end or over the highway into houses at the other
  • Frequent turbulence, cross winds and marginal weather also force pilots to “very quickly assess and correct for conditions to make a safe landing”, he says.
  • Finally, there’s that ring of mountains at close quarters all round the Wakatipu Basin.