Friday, August 31, 2012

Aircraft expo to feature latest private planes

Some of Arizona’s leading aircraft dealers will show off their latest planes next week at the 4th Annual Arizona Aircraft Expo in Tucson.

The event, aimed at business aircraft owners and prospective owners, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Friday (Sept. 7) and Saturday (Sept. 8) at the Million Air private-plane facility at Tucson International Airport, 1840 E. Valencia Road.

The free expo, one of three held annually in Arizona, will feature the latest models of general-aviation aircraft from Cessna, Cirrus, Beechcraft, Pilatus, Piper, Lancair, Quest, CubCrafters, Aviat, and more. A similar expo was held near Lake Havasu City in May, and another one is slated for Scottsdale in November.

The event also will highlight ownership services needed in acquiring aircraft, including representatives from Aviation Tax Consultants, AirFleet Capital, Pinnacle Aviation Insurance and Airport Property Specialists.

An ownership seminar will be held on the Friday of the event at 11 a.m., focusing on subjects including insurance, financing and tax implications for ownership.

For more information and to register online, go to

Toronto, Canada: For aviation devotees at Pearson, it’s all about the airplanes

 It’s warm, it’s sunny and it’s Wednesday — perfect conditions for plane spotting in Toronto.

Warm is good because, well, warm is good.

Sunny is good because that means you can see a long way.

And Wednesday is good because Emirates airline flight EK-241 will be sailing in from Dubai at about 3:45 p.m. — which is excellent.

“It should be here in about two hours,” says Ben Rotem, 15, who is what you might call a plane-spotter’s plane spotter.

The Thornhill high school student is a purist, even by the exacting standards of a rare and unusual breed — aviation zealots who like nothing better than to gather at airports and watch flying machines as they take off and, especially, as they land.

“Most people, they see a machine,” says Rotem, who will enter Grade 10 this fall at Stephen Lewis Secondary School in Thornhill. “For us, we see the power behind it. For my age, I have a rather deep understanding of aircraft.”

Dressed in a grey T-shirt, plaid shorts and dark sneakers, Rotem intends to be an airline pilot. Just now, however, he seems to be every mother’s idea of an ideal son — clean-cut, courteous, a bit precocious maybe and, above all, passionate about what he loves to do.

It’s just that what he loves to do might strike some people as being a wee bit compulsive.

“My parents, they do sort of think it’s a bit weird,” he admits. “I’m the weird one in the family.”

Opinion » Editorial: Eagle cam stars need a new home - Norfolk, Virginia


Opinion » Editorial: Eagle cam stars need a new home

None of the outcomes Norfolk faces to reduce the likelihood of another collision between plane and eagle holds much appeal.

Moving the eagles from their nests at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, adjacent to the airport, slams a hammer on the heartstrings of thousands who have watched eaglets hatch and followed episodes of the male eagle's efforts to court a new mate via the eagle cam.

Leaving the eagles at the garden could bring a fresh round of mourning if another of the endangered birds - a female eagle died after hitting a plane last year - meets its demise near a runway. And the potential for a more catastrophic result - a fatal plane crash, rather than $150,000 in damage - looms with every takeoff and landing.

That's by far the worst possible scenario. That risk means Norfolk must bear the sadness and make the effort to move the birds.

The danger is not far-fetched. Last week, an audit from the U.S. Inspector General criticized the Federal Aviation Administration's paltry efforts to monitor bird strikes at airports. Such incidents have soared in the past two decades, from 1,770 reported in 1990 to 9,840 reported last year.

But reporting is voluntary, which means the FAA has no idea of the real magnitude of the problem. An assistant inspector general said the office examined 40 of 209 airports and found that 21 of those did not know whether the FAA had reviewed their bird strike assessments and plans, or even whether they were required to conduct assessments or develop plans.

That's lackadaisical oversight of an issue that challenges safety at every airport in the country.

Twenty-four people have died as a result of birds colliding with planes since 1988, according to the report, and 235 have been injured. The toll on planes has been catastrophic: According to the FAA, 54 planes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The FAA puts the annual cost of losses due to wildlife strikes at $600 million in the United States.

And the FAA ranks eagles as the sixth most damaging species in strikes to aircraft in an assessment that tallies the damage caused and its effect on flight.

Geese also pose problems - they rank third on the list, after deer and vultures, and caused one of the most famous examples of the terrible potential for calamity when birds and planes meet. U.S. Airways Flight 1549 lost both engines when it struck geese shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport in January 2009; the pilot famously landed the plane safely in the Hudson River.

Techniques to scare birds away - loud propane cannon blasts, recordings of predators' calls - must be used in conjunction with other methods, including making the area around airports less inviting to birds. And they must include another threat - in some cases, actual killing of birds like geese or ducks to avoid habituating wildlife to irritating sounds.

That's not an option with eagles, nor should it be. Eagles have been endangered for many years but have rebounded. Even in greater numbers, their symbolic importance to our nation means killing them is a crime.

Find the eagles a nice new neighborhood away from the airport's runways. Move the camera, too.



Why Planes Crash: An insider’s take on the aviation industry

David Soucie, former FAA investigator and author of the bestselling memoir, ‘Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator Fights for Safe Skies,’ is currently at work on his next book. 
Summit Daily/Erica Marciniec

Friday, August 31, 2012

By Karina Wetherbee
Summit Daily

Anyone who has ever been in an airplane, high over farmland tapestries or turbulent ashen gray waters, knows that unique feeling of surrender, when one gives over one’s fate to another, trusting in the skills of a well-trained pilot and the safety of a masterfully-built aircraft. At the same time, given this same scenario, a frequent flier knows the occasional feeling of doubt about whether or not all the pertinent mechanical systems have been checked and all airline employees well rested.

Some say that ignorance is bliss, that too much information can lead to increased anxiety, but others are firm believers that information and transparency are what keep systems running smoothly.

They’re goals that David Soucie, former aviation industry executive and author of “Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator Fights for Safe Skies,” spent a career fighting for, in an effort to ensure aviation safety.

A Colorado native and current resident of Summit County, David Soucie knows a bit about things that fly and even more about things that should fly, but fail to. In his memoir, the author documents his own trajectory from cocky and youthful airplane and helicopter mechanic to an airline safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration, an organization that, according to Soucie, has often been its own worst enemy when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness.

“Airplane safety — what people don’t know could kill them,” Soucie determined after 30 years in the industry, an opinion supported in his book by numerous stories of outdated decisions, cut corners and overlooked errors that led to dramatic accidents with tragic outcomes.

After watching several colleagues perish due to preventable hazards, Soucie made the conscious decision that what the aviation industry needed was more inter-agency collaboration. In “Why Planes Crash,” he claims that the Federal Aviation Administration suffers from the age-old problem that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and often doesn’t care.

Soucie documents the steps he took to increase safety, which too often is pushed aside for profit. While struggling to maintain a normal family life with a new wife and a young child, Soucie’s career took him far afield from Colorado to Oklahoma, Washington D.C. and Hawaii. Through a series of tragedies and his efforts to determine their root causes, he ultimately came to develop a technology-based information-sharing network to help airlines, mechanics and regulating bodies utilize data for informed decision-making.

Despite the heavy use of mind-numbing acronyms so rampant in government agencies, the book makes for a good layperson’s read, with important messages hung on Soucie’s captivating life stories.

In a world where air travel is cheaper and more commonplace than ever before, Soucie’s “Why Planes Crash” reminds us that our watchdog agencies often walk a fine line between operational tools benefiting society’s needs and bloated departments bent on justifying their own existences.

As Soucie states, “I came to believe that the willingness of airlines and manufacturers to sacrifice safety for profit was the root cause of accidents. There was a nonprofit version of this insight as well, as practiced by the FAA. The FAA routinely sacrificed aviation safety in favor of promoting aviation.” Think on that the next time you head to airport — or not. After all, ignorance is bliss.

A Denver Post bestseller, “Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator Fights for Safe Skies” was authored by Soucie with Ozzie Cheek and released in October, 2011. Soucie lectures on the topic of choice in corporate and organizational decision-making. He is currently at work on a new book. For more info, visit

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