Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Few passengers fly out of Jackson, Tennessee - Local officials, airline execs concerned about low numbers on SeaPort flights

SeaPort Airlines pilot Cpt. Rodney Beeler opens the cockpit door of a Cessna 208 Caravan before a flight to Nashville on May 1.

Alan Sallee used two hours before his flight from Jackson to Nashville on May 1 to answer e-mails instead of driving. 

 Sallee, who is the president of Mid-South Aluminum, chose to start his business trip from McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport in Jackson rather than the Nashville airport. He paid $39 for his one-way flight to Nashville. The decision to fly to the Music City’s airport saved Sallee time and money, but it also made him more productive throughout his work day.

Sallee was one of two people aboard SeaPort Airlines’ 6:55 a.m. commuter flight to Nashville on May 1. The airline is the latest to win a contract from the federal government to provide commercial passenger flights from Jackson to surrounding airports.

The airline started flights to Memphis and Nashville in January. It has until Dec. 31 to prove there is a need for airline service in West Tennessee, or it will lose the contract. If the federal government does not renew SeaPort Airlines’ contract, it could be decades before the city has commercial airline service again.

That’s because last year Congress changed the rules that fund commuter airlines that fly out of regional airports such as Jackson. The rules now say if a regional airport is within 90 miles of a major airport, it does not qualify for federal support to offset the cost of providing airline service.

McKellar-Sipes is about 85 miles from Memphis International Airport. The local airport was granted an exception this year by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which gave SeaPort Airlines the opportunity to serve the area this year.

On May 2, SeaPort Airlines President Rob McKinney said the number of passengers using the airline is not enough to satisfy the federal government. He said each flight needs have an average of six to seven people on board to make it cost effective. So far, the airline has averaged about two people per flight.

“We are getting to the point where we are concerned that the numbers are not increasing to where we need to get them,” he said.

A total of 266 people have used SeaPort Airlines to fly to either Memphis or Nashville from McKellar-Sipes, as of March 31, according to airport authority records. Another 143 have used the airline to fly into Jackson from one of those two cities. Those numbers show the airline has flown at 54 percent passenger capacity since Jan. 1, records state.

Anna Mastin was the only other passenger on SeaPort’s May 1 flight. Mastin, who lives in Greeley, Colo., flew into Nashville to meet her two sisters on April 27, then drove to Jackson. On May 1, she flew out of Jackson to avoid the two-hour drive back to Nashville International Airport.

“It’s not a bad drive to Nashville,” she said, sipping a complimentary cup of coffee, “but this is like 10 minutes away from my sister’s, and I didn’t have to get up at a ridiculous hour.”

Mastin said she paid $29.95 for her one-way ticket to Nashville, a price she said was cheaper than driving more than 140 miles across Interstate 40.

McKinney, SeaPort’s president, said people apparently don’t realize prices for his airline are substantially lower than what the previous airline charged. On May 3, one-way tickets from Jackson to Nashville sold for $39, while tickets to Memphis sold were $29.95 for travel on April 30. Parking at McKellar-Sipes is free.

“My concern is that the previous carrier did such a bad job serving the people of Jackson that people do not realize we have affordable prices and a good flight record,” McKinney said, “and they have not come out to check on their hometown airline.”

If West Tennessee residents don’t know about SeaPort’s low fares, it may be because of a lack of promotion. While members of the Jackson City Council, the mayor’s office and the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce have stated the importance of the airport and commercial air service to industrial development in the past, none of those groups have allotted funds for advertising SeaPort’s service. The airport authority did promote the previous airlines, but the money for that came from a community block grant.

SeaPort has not advertised in the newspaper or on television in Jackson since January.

City Councilman David Cisco said he would talk to other members of the council and Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist about whether the city’s funding of the chamber of commerce should come with the stipulation that some of the money be spent on advertising SeaPort Airlines and the airport. Cisco is the City Council’s liaison to the airport.

“We need to keep that airline operating out of McKellar-Sipes,” he said. “It is as big to industrial development as Pringles Park and Double-A baseball and the Jackson Symphony.”

The city of Jackson is in the middle of meetings to write next fiscal year’s budget. Councilman Charles Rahm said he did not know if the city had enough revenues to advertise the airline.

Gist said the city’s next fiscal year budget will be at least 2.5 percent less than this fiscal year. Still, Gist felt City Council and airport authority members might consider reallocating some funds to promote SeaPort. Then, he said, the city would know whether people want a commercial passenger airline in Jackson.

“If it means we need to use money from one or all agencies to get the word out that those flights are available, and if people still don’t use it, then we know what the problem is,” he said, “and that is we may not need a regional airline.”

Having an airline at McKellar-Sipes helps reduce the airport’s dependence on city-county funding, said Steve Smith, executive director of the airport. SeaPort pays fees for the use of the airport. The airport collects a service fee from each ticket sold and a surcharge for gasoline.

Since Jan. 1, SeaPort has purchased about 30,000 gallons of jet fuel from the airport, Smith said. Money from the airline has allowed airport officials to hire three additional people. He said the airline has about a 95 percent on-time rating.

McKinney will be in Jackson this month, visiting civic groups and businesses to try and increase ridership on his airline. SeaPort has 150 daily flights in seven states. Its sister company, Wings of Alaska, has daily flights from five Alaskan cities, its website states.

McKinney is not ready to abandon his company’s expansion into Tennessee. Still, he understands the realities of running an airline and the need for federal funding to cut his costs.

“The bottom line is that everyone needs to understand that we are committed to Jackson,” he said, “but if we don’t get the numbers up, the DOT will end the service, and it will go away.”

Source:  http://www.jacksonsun.com

Plane makes hard landing in Arkansas bean field; no serious injuries reported

A small plane made a hard landing in an Arkansas bean field this afternoon, but neither of the two people in the plane were seriously hurt, officials said.

The incident happened about 2:30 p.m., after the plane took off from the Gen. DeWitt Spain Airport in North Memphis.

The plane had engine trouble, said Chief Mike Callender with the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department.

The pilot tried to land in the bean field just west of the levee off Gammon Road, but didn’t quite pull it off, Callender said.

“They almost successfully put it down, but the wing dipped down and they spun around,” Callender said.

Callender said neither person in the plane was hospitalized.


ORNGE air ambulance service under fire again after woman dies following delay

 TORONTO - A son devastated by the death of his 69-year-old mother last Friday said he's concerned that it took over four hours for an air ambulance to transport her to an Ottawa hospital.

It's still unclear whether his mother would have survived had the air ambulance arrived sooner, said Scott Dearman.

"I just don't want another family to have to go through this if a prompt Air Evac would have saved a family member," an audibly upset Dearman said in an interview. "It's too late for my mom."

Last Wednesday, the hospital in Barry's Bay asked Ornge to transport his mother to Ottawa — about 150 kilometres east — for treatment, but were told that no air ambulance was available, he said.

The hospital arranged for a land ambulance, so Dearman's father Clyde went home to pick up an overnight bag before making his way to Ottawa. When he got there, he was told his wife Judy hadn't arrived, so he drove back to Barry's Bay, Dearman said.

An Ornge air ambulance finally arrived — more than four hours after it was first called — and took his mother to another Ottawa hospital, he said. His upset father drove back in the rain to Ottawa to be with her.

"My understanding is that at the point that Mom made it to the hospital, it was too late for her," he said.

Dearman, who lives in Victoria, said he rushed to Ottawa with his wife and three-year-old daughter on the earliest flight. But they arrived at the hospital just a half-hour before his mother died. His grieving father filled him in on what had happened, he said.

"When we finally saw her, she was on a ventilator and dialysis," an upset Dearman said. "They were basically keeping her alive until we arrived from Victoria."

His mother, a colon cancer survivor, had an operation in April that allowed waste from her bowels to be collected in an external pouch, Dearman said. Doctors believe that something went wrong and the waste leaked inside her body, creating an infection that irreparably damaged her internal organs.

It's the second time in less than a week that Ornge has failed to respond on time to an emergency call, charged Progressive Conservative Frank Klees.

On the same day that Judy Dearman was waiting for an air ambulance, Ornge also failed to respond to a fatal collision north of Toronto.

The emergency call came in early last Wednesday, but Ornge said it couldn't send a helicopter because the incoming crew — who had worked overtime the day before — wasn't available for another half-hour due to federal rules requiring time off between flights.

Ornge has been under fire for months over questionable business deals and sky-high executive salaries that were hidden from public view.

The agency, which is now under a criminal probe for "financial irregularities," is in such disarray that it can't do its job, Klees said.

"This should never happen," he said.

"The fact that the hospital was willing to make the land transfer — Ornge insists, no, this is now our patient and you have to wait until an Ornge ambulance shows up — I can tell you, serious, serious problems here."

Klees said he also questions whether Health Minister Deb Matthews really has any sense of how deeply those problems run.

Matthews fired back, saying it's "a big mistake" for a politician to point fingers without having all the facts.

Her ministry, which installed new leadership at Ornge in January, is looking into the incident, she added.

It's unrealistic to expect that Ornge will be able to answer every call it receives, Matthews said. While patient safety is the top priority, sometimes staff just can't send a helicopter due to bad weather or other factors beyond their control.

"So, does Ornge respond to every call? No, it cannot. It cannot respond to every call," Matthews said.

"Do they do their very best to get there whenever they possibly can? Absolutely, and the front-line staff deserve our gratitude."

James MacDonald, a spokesman for Ornge, said the organization is conducting an internal investigation, but can't provide any further comment due to patient privacy.


Pilot was 'high risk-taker'

 One of the crash victims, Josef Hainaut.

THE CASINO Aero Club president has told the coronial inquest into the death of two men in an ultralight crash at Tatham in 2010 the pilot was "an accident waiting to happen".

Russell Kennedy was one of five witnesses to give evidence at Lismore Coroner's Court yesterday about the flying habits of pilot Michael O'Keefe.

In a statement made to police, Mr Kennedy also said Mr O'Keefe was "a high risk-taker".

"His airmanship was questionable at times around the airfield," he said.

Mr Kennedy said he spoke to Mr O'Keefe a number of times over an 18-month period about being reckless.

When asked what improvements could be made to prevent this sort of tragedy happening again, Mr Kennedy said Mr O'Keefe may have not complied to regulations against flying as "he did what he wanted to".

Jodi McDonald, who flew with Mr O'Keefe from Lismore to Byron Bay on April 14, 2008, told the court Mr O'Keefe performed illegal aerobatics during the flight.

"I knew we went upside down and the nose went down first," she said. When asked if Mr O'Keefe was doing these manoeuvres over residential areas, Ms McDonald replied "yes".

The court heard that Mr O'Keefe had his license suspended by Recreational Aviation Australia in February 2009 for 12 months after being reported for doing illegal manoeuvres.

Fellow pilot Andrew Dunning told of knowing Mr O'Keefe by his reputation as a pilot.

Mr Dunning told the court he witnessed Mr O'Keefe perform a dangerous spin rotating five times at 2000 feet at the 2010 Inglewood fly-in.

"I wouldn't have completed that spin in a plane like Michael's at that height," he said.

Casino Aero Club member Ian Ellis said suspending O'Keefe's license for illegal manoeuvres wouldn't have stopped him flying.

"It didn't matter whether you took his license away he would still fly; that was the sort of person Mr O'Keefe was," he said.

One of Mr O'Keefe's flying instructors, Wayne Fisher, told police his student was "way over-confident and appeared to be a risk-taker".

He said because of Mr O'Keefe's attitude and their difficult relationship he ceased lessons.

He said he had heard of Mr O'Keefe performing manoeuvres and was told of his YouTube video but he didn't see him performing any illegal manoeuvres.

Source:   http://www.northernstar.com.au

British Columbia, Canada: Pitt Meadows Airport community mourns loss of pilot (de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, C-GCZA)

Colin Moyes.

The tightly-knit community of pilots at Pitt Meadows airport is mourning the loss of a respected peer who was killed along with his future in-laws Sunday when his float plane crashed near Peachland. 

 Colin Moyes’ single-engine de Havilland Beaver went went down in a wooded embankment off Highway 91, near Peachland and burst into flames around 6:45 p.m.

Witnesses to the crash said it appeared as though the pilot was trying to land on the highway, but came just short of that goal.

“The distance from the road was 500 to 750 feet,” said Troy Russell, a West Kelowna fire captain who co-ordinated the fire response on Sunday.

“You could see the direction of flight – and as bystanders have said – it looked like they made an attempt to do a landing on the highway, but efforts were hindered by the topography.”

Moyes, a West Vancouver resident, and two passenger, who are believed to be his in-laws, were confirmed dead at the scene.

According to the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, Moyes purchased the 1966 Beaver last June.

He stored it, along with another amphibious plane in hangars at the Pitt Meadows Airpark.

Friends of the pilot said Moyes leaves behind an 11-year-old son. The 52-year-old lost his wife a few years ago and was engaged to be married to his fiancée, Alex, next month.

Chris Georgas, who owns Pacific Rim Aviation at Pitt Meadows airport, was a close friend of Moyes.

“Mere words cannot express the incredible sense of loss that the aviation community here at Pitt Meadows and across the nation is feeling at this very moment,” he wrote in a statement.

“The tragic loss of a loved one and those closest to him came in the spiritual form of a great man, father, partner, husband, relative, colleague and a gift to the world. All of us have been affected and are truly devastated.”

The Transportation Safety Board dispatched two investigators to the site to assess the wreckage and ascertain the cause of the crash.

The Beaver was involved in two accidents several years before Moyes purchased it, but Transportation Safety Board spokesperson Bill Yearwood said the previous accidents have no bearing on the crash.

“If you’ve owned a car for 50 years, I’m sure there would be some fender benders and there would be a history of repair. That’s the case here,” said Yearwood.

Four people died in the same area in 2010 when an overloaded small single-engine airplane crashed while trying to fly out of Kelowna.

“There is not much left off the plane. There is the tail, the engine and the wing tips,” added Yearwood.

“The witness information is helpful, but we will have to look at the scars on the trees and the damage to corroborate their statements.”

It will take several months to complete a report on the crash.

Source:  http://www.mapleridgenews.com

A lack of training possible cause of plane crash: Grumman American AA-5 Traveler, CF-RRO, Ganaraska Forest, Canada

Investigators look through the wreckage of a plane that crashed in the Ganaraska Forest last week. 
Submitted photo

Lack of training might have played a role in last week’s fatal plane crash in the Ganaraska Forest. Peter Rowntree, a senior regional investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, said the pilot, a 61-year-old man from Quebec, had a valid pilot’s license and his night rating, an accreditation that permitted him to fly at night.

But he didn’t have his instrument rating, an accreditation given to those who can pilot a plane using only the plane’s instruments.

All pilots are trained on instruments when they get their license, Rowntree said. But learning how to fly using only those instruments in zero-visibility is something else.

“It’s a whole different skill set,” he said.

The pilot was flying at night, and the increasingly bad weather and worsening visibility would have required him to use those skills, Rowntree said.

“He needed to rely on his instruments, and he wasn’t trained on those instruments,” he said.

But, Rowntree cautioned, it’s likely no one will ever know for sure what brought the plane down. No recording devices were on board and investigators couldn’t find any mechanical issues with the plane.

The plane was reported missing after it failed to arrive at Markham’s Buttonville Airport at its scheduled 11 p.m. arrival time on May 7.

The four-seater, low wing plane was traveling from St-Mathieu De Beloeil in Quebec. When it didn't arrive the Buttonville airport notified the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton.

The wreck was discovered in the Ganaraska Forest south-west of Millbrook on May 11 following an extensive four-day search.

The plane likely had an emergency locator transmitter on board. but a post-crash fire destroyed much of the plane, Rowntree said, including that device.

The Transportation Safety Board won’t be investigating the crash any further after it hands its information to the coroner’s office. The incident isn’t considered a public safety issue. 

Source:  http://www.durhamregion.com

IFR in a Piper Malibu Mirage


 May 14, 2012 by jlbryan2088 
Navigating around some developing thunderstorms in a Piper Malibu Mirage.

Why Do Terrorists So Often Go For Planes?

Ever since the Sept. 11 attacks, airports have probably been the most heavily guarded sites when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks.

And yet the most recent terrorism plot in Yemen involved an attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner with a bomber wearing a difficult-to-detect explosive bomb in his underwear, according to U.S. officials.

Why do terrorist groups keep trying to defeat the multiple layers of security at airports when there are so many soft targets?

For one, a plane heading into the U.S. represents the first available target to strike against a large number of Americans. It doesn't require reaching the U.S. first, and then acquiring a weapon and launching an attack from U.S. soil.

Also, terrorist groups have learned from previous attacks on planes.

"Terrorists like to do what they know how to do," says terrorism analyst Jessica Stern.

But the difficulty of breaching airport security does appear to be generating other approaches.

Two Different Types Of Plots 

Stern says she sees two trends. One involves developing new and more sophisticated techniques for evading security measures and attacking airplanes.

The other involves "looking for low-tech ways to attack softer targets," she says. This is a way of encouraging "leaderless resistance," says Stern, the author of Terror in the Name of God.

For example, the latest issue of Inspire, the jihadi magazine produced by the Yemen-based group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, includes an eight-page feature that encourages readers to start wildfires in Australia and the United States.

It recommends that would-be saboteurs in the U.S. study weather patterns in order to determine when vegetation will be dry and winds favorable for a wildfire.

It specifically suggests Montana as a good site for practicing pyro-terrorism, because of the residential housing that is in wooded areas.

Stern says the aim of terrorism is to frighten the public and push governments into over-reacting — so spectacular, random-seeming attacks like airplane bombings work well.

"Terrorists do really aim for what we call symbolic targets," she says. "Terrorism is a form of theater, so they're going to hit targets that will make us maximally afraid, and inflict the maximum amount of humiliation."
In that sense, she says, arson in populated forest areas could be "a good second best" for a target.

A Range Of Vulnerabilities

Security analysts have pointed to dozens of potential terrorist targets and vulnerabilities, from military bases to passenger trains, chemical plants to storage for liquefied natural gas.

Former CIA agent Charles Faddis says he expects that there will be more attacks on targets that, by their nature, are hard to defend.

Faddis, the author of Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion of Homeland Security, says he particularly fears situations where suicide gunmen might attack people at a public event.

"There are an infinite number of targets where you can find large numbers of people — college campuses, pro sports events," he says.

Even where such events have security screening, Faddis adds, they often don't have armed guards, so a determined, suicidal shooter would be hard to stop.

A Focus On Resiliency

That problem is causing analysts to rethink the balance between guarding against an attack and recovering from one.

"We've got to recognize that we're never going to be able to answer the question, 'Are we safe?' with a definitive 'Yes,' " says Juliette Kayyem, a lecturer on public policy at Harvard's Belfer Center. "So how do we prioritize risks?"

Kayyem says the government still needs to keep attention on "high consequence" targets, such as nuclear power plants or toxic chemical storage facilities.

Army National Guard officers patrol Grand Central Station in New York on Sept. 10, 2011, the day before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But she says the country also needs to focus on resiliency — the ability to recover from destruction ranging from terrorist attacks to natural disasters.

"When you prepare society to deal with destruction, you reduce the incentive for terrorist attacks," says Steve Flynn, co-director of the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern University.

Flynn cites the example of forest fires. "If you can respond capably to someone who sets a fire, there isn't a lot of incentive for someone to set them," he says. "And we should be ready to deal with them anyway, because Mother Nature is the ultimate arsonist."

Flynn has his own list of critical targets that need strong security measures, beginning with refineries and petrochemical plants. "Why import a weapon," he asks, "when we already have them pre-positioned around urban areas?"

Government also needs to take steps to protect the power grid, he says, because if assets such as power substations are destroyed, they can take from one to two years to rebuild.

Limits Of Security

But Flynn warns against overstating what government can do to protect against attacks.

"People have been fed this paternalistic thing about fears," he says. "We need to tell the public, 'Here's the limit of what we can do. Here's what you need to live with.' "

Juliette Kayyem says experience shows that the American people are up to it. "Studies show that when bad things happen, people don't panic, they don't run for the hills. They help the people around them."

Source:  http://www.npr.org

How To Preflight a Cessna 172

 May 6, 2012 by TheRoyce2012
 How I do a pre-flight walk-around on a Cessna 172 SP.

Saskatchewan air crash 'non-survivable,' Transportation Safety Board says. Lake LA-4-200 Buccaneer, C-GFCH and Piper PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow II, C-GLAJ

RAW Plane crash update

There was no hope of survival for the five people in the two planes that crashed over Saskatchewan skies on the weekend, a Transportation Safety Board spokesman says.

"This accident was non-survivable," TSB regional manager Peter Hildebrand told reporters in Winnipeg on Tuesday in an update on the Saturday morning collision.

The planes crashed about 12 kilometres west of St. Brieux, Sask. at around 8:45 a.m. CST.

One was a northbound Lake Buccaneer, which Reginans Joy and Eric Jackson were taking from Regina to La Ronge.

The other plane was an eastbound Piper PA-28 Cherokee, which was going from Calgary to St. Brieux. The three who died on that plane include:

    Eric Donovan, 38, a grain truck driver, and his son Wade, 11, of Mossleigh, Alta.
    Pilot Denny Loree, a farmer in his 50s from Nanton, Alta.

Hildebrand said it may be several months before the investigation is complete. The probe has been difficult because much of the wreckage is underwater and some of it is strewn over a 800-metre-wide area.

Remains of all the victims have been recovered, the TSB has previously reported.

The flight paths of the two place were at 90 degree angles, which might make it difficult to see each other approaching. Investigators will continue to talk to witnesses and review radio calls. They'll also look at the licensing and experience of the pilots involved, he said.


Cessna 182D Skylane, N9098X: Chatham, Massachusetts

CHATHAM — The plane that crashed into Lovers Lake on Saturday was towed from the water Sunday and now rests in temporary storage at Chatham Municipal Airport awaiting National Transportation Safety Board investigators. 

Neither the pilot, Peter Brenner, 24, of New Hyde Park, N.Y., nor his passenger, James Holler, 58, of Marstons Mills, was injured when the single-engine Cessna 182D landed in the water Saturday afternoon. 

The NTSB could release a preliminary report as early as the end of the week but could take months for the final report or issue a finding with no conclusion, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Monday. 

The Cessna was approaching the Chatham airport when it crashed, Peters said. The plane sank after impact but the two men were able to get out and make it to shore. The two suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. According to the FAA database, the Cessna is corporately owned, with an address of 1000 Race Lane, Marstons Mills. 

According to the police investigation, the plane is sometimes used by Skydive Cape Cod, based at the Chatham airport, but it was not believed to be in use for that purpose at the time of the crash.

  Regis#: 9098X        Make/Model: C182      Description: 182, Skylane
  Date: 05/12/2012     Time: 1856

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

  City: CHATHAM   State: MA   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Approach      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: BOSTON, MA  (EA61)                    Entry date: 05/14/2012 

Buttonville Municipal Airport, Ontario, Canada

Markham emergency services got a call at approximately 7:45 a.m. about a plane inbound for Buttonville Municipal Airport in Markham having issues with its landing gears. The plane has landed safely and the situation is cleared. 

Piper Arrow PA28R-200: Landing gear malfunction, Lubbock Texas


"Upon rotating the aircraft off the runway, the landing gear raised itself with the gear handle in the down position. The transit light remained on and I did not have any green lights illuminated. After climbing to some altitude I let departure know I wanted to return to land. The hydraulic circuit breaker popped, and I was able to manually drop the gear by releasing the hydraulic pressure in the lines holding the gear up. After that I had three green lights and I also felt the gear fall down and lock. I did one low approach and then a full stop landing. Air traffic control was a great help. I'm glad we have great controllers to help us when we're in trouble."  By jlbryan2088

Tramel Raggs continues as Gary/Chicago International Airport (KGYY) authority member

By Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent 

 GARY | A member of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority under investigation for an alleged weapon violation was on hand for the authority's monthly meeting on Monday.

Tramel Raggs, 32, of Gary was appointed to the airport authority by the Lake County Commissioners earlier this year. He also works as a special assistant to the commissioners.

Commissioner Gerry Scheub has said he wants Commissioner Roosevelt Allen to take over Raggs' position on the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority. However, at Monday's meeting, there was no mention of replacing Raggs.

A special prosecutor will decide if Raggs will be charged with pointing a gun at a motorist during a May 1 confrontation in downtown Gary.

During Monday's meeting, the commissioners heard Project Manager Scott Wheeler present information on the work being done. They also approved a number of contract changes and expenditures associated relocating utilities within the airport runway expansion project.

Wheeler said the airport and Majestic Star Casino have signed a letter of agreement to move a sanitary sewer line in the way of rail line relocation. Eventually the airport authority will pay for that relocation.

Another agreement, with Indiana American Water Co., will relocate six water lines. Four of those water lines are not in the runway's path, which will save more than $51,000. Originally, that part of the project was estimated to cost $632,000. However, the water line relocation will now cost $570,250. The airport authority will reimburse the water company for the work.

The airport will pay $126,493 to relocate a pedestal for a NIPSCO electric line. Wheeler said the electrical service was relocated in 2008 based on the original curve design realigning the EJ&E tracks to make way for the new runway. The curve's newest design would now hit the top of the pedestal.

"I would hope that wouldn't happen again," Commissioner Rev. Marion J. Johnson said.

Another expense of $7,098 resulted from the earth compaction being done near the CN Railroad tracks.

Railroad officials had concerns about how the vibrations being created by the compaction equipment that drops a 30–ton weight affected the tracks.

"The engineering company had to come out to recalibrate the machine and lowered the weight to 16 tons," Wheeler said. That created the extra costs.

Environmental concerns were also part of the agenda. Crews working in a wooded area of the airport found asbestos. Cleaning up the asbestos will cost another $130,133. Still to be determined is how petroleum–tainted soil will be remediated.

The airport recently received a wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will allow crews to drain the water there. The airport authority has purchased other wetland areas in exchange for dewatering the area within the airport's footprint, Wheeler said.

In other business, Johnson and Commissioner Silas Wilkerson III asked how many local residents are working on the airport runway expansion project.

"In my travels around the area, people ask me how many local people are working on this," Johnson said. "I'd like to answer those questions."

Interim Director Steve Landry said more than 70 percent of the contractors and sub–contractors working on the project have Northwest Indiana business addresses. The exact number of local workers hasn't been available. However, Landry said he would ask for that information and forward it to commissioners.

Illegal Immigrant Allegedly Assumes Identity Of Dead Man To Get Top Security Post At Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR), New Jersey. Officials: Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole Went Undetected For Nearly 20 Years

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A security breach of the highest order was uncovered at Newark Liberty Airport on Monday. 

 An illegal immigrant allegedly assumed the identity of a dead man to get a top security job at the airport, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is calling this “dead man walking,” but it’s really dead man guarding and it has many wondering how anything like this could happen.

The man was identified as Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole, but he was known at Newark Airport to his co-workers as Jerry Thomas, and for nearly 20 years he has guarded some of the most secure areas of one of the nation’s busiest airports.

He was arrested Monday after authorities discovered he is really an illegal Nigerian immigrant with four other aliases who entered the country in 1989, officials said.

“In this case, the defendant utilized an elaborate and complex scheme of identity theft to defraud his employer, the State of New Jersey, the federal government and the Port Authority,” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Inspector General Robert Van Etten said.

Somehow the Nigerian obtained the birth certificate and Social Security number of a man murdered in Queens in 1992. He used them to get a New Jersey driver’s license, a state security guard license, airport identification and even credit cards, officials said.

Amazingly he worked security at Newark, including access to the tarmac and passenger planes without ever being detected, officials said.

At the time of his arrest he supervised 30 other guards.

Passengers were stunned.

“Oh my God! That’s all I can say. Where was the breakdown? You can’t believe this type of thing happens, particularly at a major metropolitan airport like this,” one woman said.

“It’s unbelievable. They need to use fingerprints. They need to use eye retinas. We need to get into the space age and update our programs because these things aren’t working,” Greenwood Lake, N.Y.’s Christine Phillips told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez on Monday night.

“You can’t trust anybody anymore,” another woman said. “I don’t understand it. Maybe we should use DNA for identification.”

“If the people that are so-called the gatekeepers are not really having being checked out properly, what’s the point of having so much checks in place if the system is flawed?” added Raymond Chua of Newark.

Authorities want to know how he got the ID made and whether he was involved in the man’s death. The NYPD is checking his fingerprints to see if they match those at the scene of the still unsolved murder.

Authorities are also investigating if the Nigerian, who used the alias “Bimbo” among others, was involved in criminal activity at the airport.

Highly placed sources told Kramer that their biggest concern is the ID scam itself. They fear there could be thousands who could have used it and some they say may be sleeper terror agents working at critical locations throughout the country.

Story and video:   http://newyork.cbslocal.com