Sunday, October 28, 2012

The good life ... what is the best way to charter a private jet?

Should high-flyers charter a private jet on an ad hoc basis, tie their money up in a jet card, or buy shares in a fractional scheme?

On a jet card's pros list is convenience: Users don't have to exchange contracts or make payments each time they arrange a flight. One call and they can be off on an impulse flight in a matter of hours, the cost debited from their card.

But mark-ups can be considerable on some cards, with clients effectively underwriting suppliers' businesses. Customers can also be tied in for a given period.

Air Charter Services recently launched a jet card called the Lindbergh Card, which is different, it says, because there is no small print, though it does require at least £50,000 in upfront payment.

ACS does not own a fleet and is therefore free from aircraft mortgages. Jet cards from fleet-based operators, says its founder and chairman Chris Leach, "tend to be full of restrictions, covering every variable - taking into account empty legs... so by and large their hourly rate is forty per cent above cost."

Leach added in an interview that his company had always been the antithesis of the jet card idea, but things changed when some regular customers gave him an ultimatum to create one. ACS eventually did this in association with Erik Lindbergh, an aviation enthusiast whose grandfather Charles was the first man to fly solo from New York to Paris.

Plane crashes near Huntly - VIC, Australia

One man has been killed and two men have been seriously injured in a plane crash north-east of Bendigo. 

EMERGENCY services are on scene at a plane crash near Huntly. 

 An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said they had been told one man had died while two others were injured.

Three fire trucks, air ambulance and SES units are all in attendance.

Smoke is billowing from the wreckage which has been doused in foam.

The plane is believed to have come down on a private airstrip just after 1pm on the Epsom-Barnadown Road.

Police will hold a press conference at the scene shortly.

Dedicated Crew Chief Graduation Ceremony

WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader 

It was graduation day for some personnel at Tyndall Air Force Base. Crew chiefs are officially recognized during induction ceremonies. The 43rd Aircraft Maintenance unit Honored twenty seven crew chief sat the completion of their three day class. 

 The Dedicated Crew Chief goes where ever the plane goes and that of course means on deployments. The Dedicated Crew Chiefs demonstrated a high level of skill in categories such as technical knowledge, leadership, initiative and management.

Man arrested for landing helicopter near concert goers at Nassau Coliseum - New York

UNIONDALE – A Monticello man has been charged by Nassau County Police with landing a helicopter in a grassy area full of pedestrians near the Nassau Coliseum minutes before midnight on Saturday night.

 Michael Croissant, 44, of Mongaup Road in Monticello, was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment.

Police were called to the Coliseum after receiving several 911 calls of intoxicated youths at a rave concert there. While they were at the scene of as many as 100 intoxicated youths between the ages of 14 and 18, police said Croissant attempted to land a Bell 407 on a grassy area on the side of the Coliseum.

The landing had to be aborted due to pedestrians walking in the area. He returned and landed on the grassy area where at least 20 pedestrians were walking. No one was hurt when the helicopter landed, police said, but the intoxicated youths in the area were transported to several hospitals for treatment.

Croissant was arrested and his helicopter was seized following the 11:45 p.m. incident.

 LinkedIn lists a Michael Croissant as the owner of Shamrock Helicopters in White Lake, New York

Hernando County (KBKV), Brooksville, Florida: Airport faces money pits

A sinkhole opened under a runway at the Hernando County Airport in June after Tropical Storm Debby doused the area

 BROOKSVILLE --  Repairing the sinkholes that opened up on the Hernando County Airport taxiway will cost more and take longer to repair than originally anticipated.

Economic Development Manager Mike McHugh said the final cost of the repairs is now estimated to be $566,140.

The original estimate was about $280,000.

McHugh said airport officials expect to be reimbursed some 87.5 percent, or $495,373, from Federal Emergency Management Agency and state emergency management funds.

Airport Manager Don Silvernell said the price tag increased after an engineering firm recommended pressure grouting the sinkholes, which will stabilize the area and firm up the foundation.

Silvernell said the completion date is now moved back to around Christmas.

Until they are fixed, pilots are forced to back taxi to reach the main runway before taking off.

The airport manager said he is upset at the extra cost and delay but he wants the repairs to be done right the first time to avoid repeat sinkholes.

"We want to fix it right," he said.

Silvernell said an engineering company has already filled in the holes with clay and sand, so there are no open voids on the property.

The sinkholes opened in June after Tropical Storm Debby sloshed through Hernando County. The airport voids were among the biggest in the area.

The holes recently have been filled with grout and dirt.

Three of them at the airport are huge and extend from one of the entrances to the Army Air National Guard facility, running southwest and crossing the taxiway and into an infield area.

The taxiway serves as a kind of frontage road that parallels the runway and is used by pilots to access the latter.

One of the biggest sinkholes measured about 12 feet deep and 40 feet across.

Story, photo and comments:

Skydiver dies after 'hard landing' at Chester Catawba Regional Airport (KDCM), Chester, South Carolina

CHESTER — An experienced skydiver who officials said took a "hard landing" at the Chester Catawba Regional Airport Sunday morning died in a Charlotte hospital some hours later.

Emergency crews and first responders were called to the airport around 10:17 a.m. after receiving a call about a skydiver jumping with Skydive Carolina hitting the ground after a "hard landing," said Eddie Murphy, director of county emergency management.

Officials transported the man to Chester Regional Medical Center, where he received treatment, Murphy said. He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center, where he later died. His time of death was not available.

Murphy said that the accident had nothing to do with the plane itself. He was unsure how many other people may have been joining the skydive group Sunday.

James LaBarrie, general manager for Skydive Carolina, said the man "had a perfectly good parachute." He stressed that there was no equipment malfunction and the diver was very experienced.

He would not give more details, or release the man's name pending family notification.

Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker did not have the man's name, age or residence immediately available.

Planes from Massachusetts Air Reserve base sent to Florida ahead of storm

CHICOPEE, Mass. — The Westover Air Reserve Base in western Massachusetts is sending most of its fleet of C-5 aircraft to Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.

Officials say two aircraft will remain on the base in Chicopee, Mass., while more than dozen others are evacuated to MacDill Air Force Base.

The decision was made after base meteorologists forecast gusts of up to 57 mph in the area on Monday night.

The base is also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support any search and rescue operations.

A 30-person FEMA staging team arrived at the base on Saturday. Dozens of tractor-trailers were expected at the base by Sunday night with meals, cots, bottled water and other emergency supplies for New England.

Dover Air Force Base activates Emergency Operations Center

Dover, Del. -- The Emergency Operations Center has been activated at the Dover Air Force Base for the potential arrival and duration of Hurricane Sandy.

Base officials held their first EOC meeting Friday and have continued hosting meetings to review plans and preparatory measures to ensure the base populace is safe and Air Force resources are protected during the storm.

The EOC is the command and control section for the base. The center is responsible for coordinating activities and efforts for this crisis and educating our planners on the hurricane's potential to impact the base.

“The safety of our people and the surrounding communities is one of our foremost concerns and we are taking all the preliminary precautions to ensure our people stay safe and our resources remain unharmed,” said Col. Richard G. Moore, Jr., 436th Airlift Wing  Commander. 


Honeywell forecasts growth in corporate jet sales

(Reuters) - Demand for corporate jets has begun to recover from a post-recession low and is likely to rise over the next decade, with $250 billion worth of new aircraft delivered by 2022, according to a forecast by Honeywell International Inc.

The forecast projects that companies will increasingly choose larger aircraft capable of traveling longer distances, driven by the desire to use private jets in international travel and to transport larger teams of people, Honeywell said in its forecast, released on Sunday.

The total value of corporate jets delivered worldwide in 2012 will rise 9 percent from 2011, said the diversified U.S. manufacturer, which makes engines used in the aircraft. Major makers of business aircraft include Textron Inc's Cessna, General Dynamics Corp's Gulfstream, Canada's Bombardier Inc., and Brazil's Embraer SA.

Honeywell expects similar growth levels and demand patterns in 2013.

"It's all about range. To have more range you have more fuel, more fuel requires bigger wings, bigger wings mean bigger fuselage," said Rob Wilson, president of Honeywell's business and general aviation operation. "So you will get a larger cabin with the higher range requirements. In addition, when you're going to be on an airplane for 12, 14 hours, you need a certain amount of volume to prevent you from going a little stir-crazy."

A Honeywell survey found that 69 percent of spending on new aircraft in 2012 was for large-cabin jets.

Morris Township, New Jersey-based Honeywell based its forecast on interviews with 1,500 operators of corporate jets, as well as other economic data sources.


Sales of corporate jets have traditionally closely tracked growth in corporate profits -- when times were good, companies invested in aircraft; when conditions worsened, they pulled back. That cycle played out in the last recession, with orders falling sharply in 2008 and 2009, then steadying.

The current wave of third-quarter corporate earnings reports has largely showed a decline in profit among companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index .SPX, with analysts expecting the group's collective earnings to fall 1.9 percent in the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Wilson, however, argued that with North America representing just 53 percent of expected corporate jet demand over the next five years, the correlation between U.S. corporate profits and jet sales may not be as strong as in prior cycles.

"The linkage to corporate profits may have been more of a hangover from when we saw the market being much more dominated by North American companies," he said. "With that now being half the market, we don't see the linkage being as strong, we see other facets globally that drive it."

Honeywell's survey found growing demand for corporate jets in Asia and Latin America.

Corporate jet makers have suggested in recent weeks that demand could pick up after the November 6 U.S. presidential elections and Congress's year-end "fiscal cliff" deadline passes, as jet buyers will then have a clearer sense of the economy's heading.

"Our primary customers are small, mid-sized businesses. There's no question that a lot of these guys are looking at a very uncertain next few months, right?" Textron Chief Executive Scott Donnelly told investors on an October 17 conference call. "People will wake up the morning after the election, they may be happy, they may be unhappy. But to some degree people are going to have to dust themselves off and say, 'You know what? I've got to get on with my life.' ... It takes some uncertainty off the table and that is probably good for the market."

VIDEO: C-FJIM DHC-2 De Havilland - Beaver out

Published on October 28, 2012 by Thomas Milo

 Return flight with Tofino Air's 1953 DHC-2 De Havilland Beaver floatplane C-FJIM in British Columbia 

Kenya Airways Renews Search for Expatriate Pilots

Kenya Airways has begun the search for expatriate pilots to support its expansion amid tough conditions from the fliers’ union opposed to the plan.

The national carrier said that lack of experienced pilots, especially for long-haul trips, had forced it to look for foreigners to support its expansion plan, which will see it grow its fleet from 34 to 62 aeroplanes by 2016 and require an estimated 60 expatriate pilots.

But the Kenya Airlines Pilots Association (Kalpa) said they had agreed with KQ to hire a maximum of 13 pilots and warned of industrial action should the national carrier fail to stick to the deal.

“It is our hope that they respect the agreement even though we have already heard rumours that they intend to hire more than the agreed upon number,” said Kalpa secretary-general Ronald Karauri. “If they fail to do this we will surely end up in the Labour ministry’s office again.”

KQ maintains that it does not have enough captains — pilots who have flown for a minimum of 4,000 hours in specific planes like Boeing and Embraer — prompting it to widen its search beyond Kenya.

“As part of our ambitious growth plan, we seek to employ direct entry pilots… successful expatriates will be employed on a three-year renewable contract,” said Kenya Airways in a notice.

This means that the airline will turn to the talent base of international carriers such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways since its local rivals, Fly540 and Jetlink, operate smaller planes.

Increased demand for pilots globally has seen their compensation nearly double over the past three years, industry analysts and executives say, putting pressure on margins as airlines spend millions of shillings yearly on training and retaining them.

A Wall Street Journal report in March indicated that captains earn an annual average salaryof $165,278 (Sh13.7 million or Sh1.1 million per month).
The high cost of training pilots has discouraged most people from taking the course.

Kenya Airways, for example, spends about Sh8.5 million to train a pilot.

Mr Karauri said that lack of certification by the Kenya Civil Aviation (KCA) had denied 65 Kenyan pilots, who have experience in flying bigger jets like Boeing, an opportunity to be employed by KQ.

“By April next year, we are sure that many of our pilots will have both the experience andlicences and KQ will not be justified in hiring experts at the expense of locals,” he said.

Over the past two years, KQ’s management seems to have been lurching from one labour crisis to the next.

Currently, the carrier is locked in a legal battle with its workers’ union after the carrier shed 578 jobs last month in a bid to cut its wage bill that has doubled from Sh6 billion in 2007 to Sh13.4 billion.

The battle has sucked in Parliament, which has launched a probe on whether KQ followed the right channels in cutting the jobs.

In July, the pilots’ association warned that it would call for a strike over the expatriates’ mater and last early this month the fliers went on a go-slow that caused flight delays and cancellations over three days.

The airline’s profit dropped 51 per cent to Sh1.7 billion in the year to March as its costs led by labour and fuel expenses rose faster than revenues and its worst performing counter at the Nairobi bourse over the past year.

KQ’s share price has fallen by 45 per cent in the past year to the current price of Sh12.50.

Air Arabia marks 9th year with 2 new A320s

Air Arabia marked the ninth anniversary of its first flight by taking delivery of two new A320 aircraft, and said on Sunday it would add another 31 Airbus aeroplanes to boost its fleet size to 50 by 2016.

“As we continue to unlock opportunities for the low-cost model in the wider Arab region, we look forward to the delivery of more new aircraft in the near future,” said Adel Ali, Air Arabia’s group chief executive officer.

Speaking to Khaleej Times recently, Ali said Air Arabia would be adding eight to 10 aircraft per year until 2016. With the addition of the two aircraft, the fleet size of the region’s first low-cost carrier has risen to 31. The budget carrier has been recording steady growth in profit, passenger traffic and fleet size since its inception despite several challenges, including fuel price hikes and the Arab Spring, both of which the region’s aviation sector had been facing.

Asked whether Air Arabia would consider offering a full suite of services to cater to a different segment of customers, Ali said Air Arabia would stick to its current business model as there is a big growth potential to be tapped for low-cost carriers in the region.

Ali said Air Arabia continued to report sustained profitability and achieve solid growth margins across its network. He attributed the success to the strong business model and its robust management team.

For the six months ending June 30, 2012, it reported a net profit of Dh115 million, an increase of 22 per cent compared to Dh94 million in the corresponding period in 2011. The carrier’s turnover for the first half of 2012 stood at Dh1.3 billion, an increase of 22 per cent compared to Dh1.1 billion reported in the same period of 2011. The airline welcomed onboard 2.5 million passengers in the first half of 2012, an increase of 11 per cent compared to the same period last year.

In nine years, from serving five regional destinations with just two aircraft, Air Arabia has grown to become a leading regional airline with a strong network of destinations. Today, it serves 80 destinations spread across Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia and North Africa from three hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.

“The delivery of two new aircraft is a great way to celebrate our anniversary this year,” said Ali. “Our modern and reliable aircraft enable us to combine superb value for money fares for our customers.”

Air Arabia has now taken delivery of 13 out of 44 A320 aircraft ordered back in 2007 and the low-cost pioneer expects another aircraft to be delivered before year-end 2012. The delivery of the 44 new aircraft will be completed by 2016, which will take the carrier’s fleet up to over 50 aircraft.

Ali said Air Arabia has been witnessing strong customer demand for its services. “We are pleased to see that more and more customers take full advantage of our value-for-money fares. Moving ahead, we look forward to providing our customers with even more value-for-money options, as well as an even wider range of services and destinations. Since the beginning of this year, Air Arabia introduced 10 new routes to its network.

Lionair Antonov An-24RV: Sri Lanka Navy to begin salvaging underwater wreckage

Colombo, 28 October, (   Sri Lanka Navy to begin on 31st of this month, the salvaging operation of the underwater wreckage of Lionair flight, that was found near the Iranativu island, north of Mannar.

The Navy Spokesman Comm. Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) officials investigating the plane crash, have requested Sri Lanka Navy to salvage the underwater wreckage of the Lionair flight.

Comm. Kosala Warnakulasuriya speaking to Asian Tribune said that to begin the salvage operation on 31st October, it solely depends on the sea condition. He said at present the sea is very rough and diving operation cannot be done if the sea conditions remain the same.

The Lionair 602 which took off with 48 passengers, six crew members and two Ukranian pilots, from the Palali airport to Ratmalana, on September 29, 1998, went missing from the radar screen after 10 minutes.

Until April this year, when the TID officers apprehended a LTTE suspect who confessed to shooting down the airplane with a shoulder held missile, the disappearance of the plane remained a mystery.

Sivasubramaniam Thillaraj of the LTTE, confessed that an LTTE leader had ordered the shooting down, even though they were aware that it was carrying Tamil civilian passengers to Colombo.

The suspect in custody had identified the person who ordered the aircraft shooting down as one Gadafi, a close associate of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. Gadafi was killed during the final phase of fighting on the Vanni east front in early 2009.

Earlier, in the beginning of October, according to reports, security sources said that based on information provided by an LTTE cadre, a Navy diving team located the wreckage on the sea bed off Iranativu Island.

The Navy team located two aircraft wings, three tyres, air craft engine and the front part of fuselage.

WhenAsian Tribune asked whether they were able to find any remains of passengers or crew members, Navy spokesman replied in the negative and said they can clearly say only after the commence the salvage operation.

Lionair Flight 602 was a Lionair Antonov An-24RV and the aircraft departed from Palali airport with several high-ranking military officials of the Sri Lankan Army on a flight to Colombo and disappeared from radar screens just after the pilot had reported depressurization.

Initial reports indicated that the plane had been shot down by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels using Manpads. All 7 crew and 48 passengers were killed.

The Antonov AN-24 was leased from Gomelavia to operate flight 602, captained by highly experienced Ukranian pilot Matochko Anatoli and the aircraft went missing exactly ten minutes after take off.

The Ukranian crew consisted of Lysaivanov Siarhei (co-pilot), Kozlov Sergei (navigator) and Anapryienka Siarhei (flight engineer). The two Lion Air cabin crew were Dharshini Gunasekera (chief stewardess) and Chrishan Nelson (steward) and Vijitha (labourer).

- Asian Tribune -

St. Johns, Antigua - Air Traffic Controllers say industrial action a possibility over a malfunctioning radar

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Air Traffic Controllers Association says the continued absence of a functioning radar at the airport could result in industrial action.

Ken Richards reports.


Dashain, tourist season boost airlines business

 KATHMANDU, Oct 28: Domestic airlines have reported around 30 to35 percent more business during Dashain festival, which coincided with the onset of the main tourist season in the country, compared to normal times.

The operators, who were not so hopeful of good business because of smooth land transport and increased airfares, informed Republica that the overall sales volume also increased with the addition of flight targeting Dashain and tourist season.

Operators said domestic and foreign passengers account for around 75 percent and 25 percent of the total air passengers in domestic airlines. However, foreingers accounted for around 50 percent of the total passengers during this period, according to airlines officials.

Airlines stated that they increased the frequency of the flight from 30 percent to 100 percent targeting foreigners and domestic travelers.
According to them, movement of Chinese and Korean tourists was impressive during the 15-day Dashain festival, which is ending on Monday.

Parashar Jung Pandey, sales and marketing manager of Buddha Air said sales volume during the Dashain was better than last years although the exact rise in the revenue was still to be calculated.

“We have operated more flights than our expectation as the demands for seats increased on the last moment,” said Pandey.

The Budda Air, the largest carrier, operated 8 flights to Pokhara whereas it had operated only 5 flights last Dashain. Similarly, the movement in Kathmandu-Bharatpur-Kathmandu also saw almost full occupancy because of a rise in the movement of foreign tourists in addition to those traveling to celebrate the Dashain.

The private carriers of rural area with limited number of aircraft were also in the pressure because of overwhelming enquiries.

Another private operator Goma Air which operates flights to Bajura, Jumla, Humla and Dolpa added additional flights with majority of passengers traveling for Dashain in all the destinations. The airlines had added at least one flight on its operating routes. “To meet the demand we cut down our cargo flights during this period to carry more passengers,” Manoj Karki, Managing Director of the airlines said.

Likewise, Deependra Shahi, sales and marketing manager of Sita Air said the airlines had to increase the flight frequency throughout the week in Dashain. The airlines operates flights to Simikot, Lukla and Jumla with its two aircrafts. “We were able to sell the tickets at better rates with overwhelming enquiries from travelers,” Shahi added.

Yeti Airlines has also operated additional flights to Biratnagar, Tumlingtar and Bhadrapur.

According to the statistics of Tribhuvan International Airport, domestic airlines carried about 1.59 million passengers in 2011, a nominal 1.85 percent growth compared to 2010. Despite a set back in airlines business immediately after the rise in surcharge, the operators, however, are hopeful of satisfactory growth with the rise in the arrivals of foreigners. 


Judge: Boeing violated National Labor Relations Act - North Charleston, South Carolina plant

Brendan Kearney 
Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Boeing Co. violated the National Labor Relations Act in April when a human resources manager at its North Charleston complex told a mechanic there not to talk about unionizing during working time, an administrative law judge has found.

Boeing Co. cannot prohibit employees from discussing the union while allowing discussion of nonwork-related matters during working time, explained Judge William Nelson Cates.

Cates, who conducted a trial in the case last month, ordered Boeing to stop that prohibition and required the airframer to post a notice at the facility that notifies employees of their right to organize.

A spokeswoman for the Boeing Co. said the company is “disappointed” with the decision and disputed the findings.

“Boeing does not — and has not — told any employee that he or she can’t talk about the union (or any other subject) during work time, as long as the discussions don’t impact production,” Candy Eslinger, the spokeswoman, wrote in an emailed statement.

“To the contrary, we encourage our South Carolina teammates to carefully consider the impact that a union would have on their relationship with management, and talking about the IAM’s attempt to organize Charleston is an important aspect of their decision-making.”

Representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers brought the unfair labor practice charge on behalf of the mechanic this spring and, did not respond to messages Saturday.

According to the allegations in the case, Ronald Bourrillion, a pro-union construction mechanic in the mid-body factory, was chastised for promoting the union during working hours.

Bourrillion said he only talked about the union during break time.

The National Labor Relations Board had accepted the charge in April, issued a complaint in late June and argued the case on behalf of the union and Bourillion last month.

The decision comes amid an intensifying International Association of Machinists organizing drive at Boeing South Carolina.

The local International Association of Machinists representative said this month that “greater than 50” Boeing workers had signed up and that an NLRB election could happen within a year.


What the Bombardier strike is costing taxpayers

By Michael Schwanke KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
October 25, 2012

(WICHITA, Kan.)—  A viewer asked FactFinder 12 who’s paying for police officers to monitor the on-going strike at Bombardier Learjet.

“We're looking at safety of strikers and those going to work,” says Wichita Police Captain Rusty Leeds.

Leeds says there are two officers and a supervisor at Bombardier at all times.  Two more officers are added during the busy morning hours.

He says the patrols cost about $2,300 a day, but points out that it’s already budgeted money.  No overtime is paid and the officers would be working otherwise.

He says the officers are pulled from normal duties which include community policing and the drug and gang unit.

“There's a cost to everything. We're taking them away from the possibility of another type of service,” says Leeds.

He says police are there primarily to keep traffic moving and to provide traffic control.  The strike has reduced turning options on Tyler and has slowed traffic in the area.  Union members have to cross Tyler to get to the strike line and drivers have to cross the line to get into the plant.

Leeds says there are also other businesses affected.

Union workers and others who use the road mostly support the police presence.

“They just want safety on the line,” says union member Donna Johnson.

Police say while emotions can run high during strikes, officers have only dealt with minor traffic issues so far.

“That's not what we're all about,” says Johnson.

"Things have been civil, but we're there to know what's going on and we can resolve it quickly rather than reacting quickly," says Leeds.

Story and video:

Rota welcomes additional Cape Air flight

Continental Connection partner, Cape Air, will be adding a fourth weekly flight to Rota beginning on Nov. 24 as a result of increased demand, bringing renewed hope for island residents and the local tourism industry.

Cape Air made the announcement last week to Rota officials, including Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota).

It said this addition is on the heels of their adding a third Rota flight in April of this year.

The fourth flight will be Cape Air's first daylight-timed Rota stop.

“The increase in demand, which we registered after the April schedule enhancement, is encouraging. The support for Rota service from you and the community is greatly appreciated, and we are optimistic that frequencies may be further augmented going forward should demand continue,” Cape Air told Manglona.

Manglona said on Friday that “the people of Rota are so grateful to Cape Air for their service and assistance.”

“Our small businesses have been hurting from the lack of air transportation to our island, affecting our tourism industry. Our traveling public also has been greatly inconvenienced. So with this additional daytime flight, we are so thankful for Cape Air’s responsiveness to our people’s need for more air transportation frequency,” Manglona added.

Saipan Island, Northern Mariana Islands: Airline employee allegedly stole $22K from company

Police arrested Wednesday an airline employee who allegedly stole $22,723.69 from the company's daily sales.

Rayburn Dolmers C. Espangel, 29, a pax service agent of Unlimited Service Group who is facing theft charges, was taken to the Superior Court Friday afternoon for a bail hearing. His bail was set at $10,000 cash.

Police detective Vincent S. Salas stated in his report that a police officer responded Wednesday afternoon to the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport after receiving a report of a theft incident.

Salas said investigation showed that a recent audit conducted by Unlimited Service Group revealed several discrepancies in the sales reports, leading to the identification of Espangel as the suspect.

Unlimited Service Group cleans aircraft and is in charge of the operations of the former Cape Air.

Salas said that when the officer asked Espangel how he stole the money, the suspect allegedly explained that, as an employee of United Service Group, he and a co-worker have access to a safe box. The co-worker would first open the outer lock, then he would open the inner lock. Once the day's sales are accounted for, the co-worker would leave, trusting that Espangel would secure the sales back in the box.

When he's alone, Espangel would allegedly pocket a portion of the sales before securing the remainder in the safe box.

Salas said that in an interview with another detective, Espangel allegedly provided a full statement detailing how he stole the money.

Espangel explained that he began working for the company in 2011 and that in a short period of time he became a supervisor and was placed in charge of sales.

Espangel allegedly admitted that sometime in August 2012 he began taking a portion of the money from the daily sales and would use the sales from the next day to replenish the amount he took. The amount, however, gradually became too big for the suspect to cover up.

Hurricane Sandy grounds thousands of flights, Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR) suffers most cancellations

NEW YORK — Airlines cancelled more than 3,000 flights as a result of Hurricane Sandy as of Sunday morning, with hubs along the East Coast bearing the brunt of the disruptions.

According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, 707 flights have been cancelled Sunday, with more than 265 cancellations at Newark Airport.

For Monday, 2,499 flights are cancelled, with 774 cancellations at Newark, followed by 428 at Dulles in Washington and 355 cancellations at Philadelphia.

Hurricane Sandy is heading north from the Caribbean, where it has left nearly five dozen dead, to meet a winter storm and a cold front, plus high tides from a full moon, and experts say the rare hybrid storm that results will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.


Flying the Fall colors of Chicago: Diamond DA40 XLS G1000 - Skill Aviation - Waukegan Regional (KUGN) and Chicago Executive (KPWK)


Published by joshr783 

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OPINION: Place Pearson Field (KVUO) under Portland International (KPDX) authority

Letter:  Place Pearson under PDX authority

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I am astounded by the ridiculous proposal the Federal Aviation Administration has come up with for the imagined safety issue at Pearson Field. I have flown out of Pearson for 40 years and have never seen a significant safety conflict with PDX traffic. The FAA's proposed solution to create a huge control box around the airport would be a disaster for Pearson, drastically limiting access and the community around it that would have to put up with the noise of aircraft waiting to enter the "box." There is an astoundingly simple solution to this issue: bring Pearson under the control of PDX, making it their "fourth runway." Pearson pilots already are used to interacting with PDX. If visibility to the Portland tower is an issue, add a camera. Pearson is an important asset to the community, especially with two other Clark County airports having closed in the last decade. I am amazed by the grenade solution being proposed when a fly swatter would suffice.

— Craig Walker, Camas


San Bernardino International (KSBD), California: Airport finalizing dealings with Scot Spencer

Developer Scot Spencer's affiliation with San Bernardino International Airport should be a thing of the past within the next two weeks, the airport's interim executive director said Friday.

Spencer, who first sparked controversy in San Bernardino in 2005 when it was revealed the airport hired him knowing he was a convicted felon who served time in federal prison, was ordered by a federal judge on Oct. 19 to vacate the airport and his business interests associated with it.

On Monday, the airport's interim director, A.J. Wilson, met with Spencer to discuss surrendering his business dealings to the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, or SBIAA.

During the Oct. 19 hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Judge Deborah J. Saltzman dismissed the two bankruptcy cases filed on behalf of Norton Property Management Services LLC and SBD Airport Services LLC, both of which were managed by Spencer and former airport executive director T. Milford Harrison.

Saltzman's order required Spencer and Harrison to immediately surrender to the SBIAA more than a half-dozen buildings and hangars leased by their companies.

Those buildings include a four-bay hangar at 225 N. Leland Norton Way and a fixed-base operator terminal at 295 N. Leland Norton Way that formerly housed the private jet refueling company Million Air, a chain of fixed-base operators in the U.S. and Canada.

Million Air terminated its franchise agreement with SBD Properties LLC, another company co-managed by Spencer and Harrison, in February after the company failed to renew the agreement.

"We have total possession of all of those facilities. He's (Spencer) not conducting any business activity there at the airport at all," Wilson said.

Wilson said he will be meeting with Spencer again on Tuesday to discuss closing out Spencer's agreements with contractors on the airport terminal renovation project and construction of a new customs building, which is nearly complete.

The projects have been temporarily suspended until their oversight is turned over to the SBIAA, Wilson said.

Spencer has yet to clean out his offices and turn his keys over to the Airport Authority. That should happen within the next two weeks, Wilson said.

"(Spencer) will not be able to access any of the buildings without the presence of a security officer," Wilson said. "He'll be treated as a member of the public."

The Grand Jury sharply criticized Spencer and airport operations in its annual report released on July 1, 2011. Less than two months later, FBI agents raided the airport, carting out boxes of documents that filled a 20-foot-long U-Haul truck from floor to ceiling.

Donald Rogers, who was the airport's interim executive director at the time, subsequently resigned.

Federal investigators are looking into allegations of bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and fraudulent use of federal funds, as well as Spencer's ties to various individuals currently and formerly associated with the airport, including Rogers.

The SBIAA hired Spencer in 2005 and gave him full control of airport development, despite knowing he was a convicted felon who spent more than four years in federal prison for taking kickbacks and illegally operating a Florida airline that was in bankruptcy protection.

Spencer's voice mail was full and couldn't take incoming messages. His spokesman did not return a telephone call Friday seeking comment.


Countdown on for Allegiant's final flight: Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL), Colorado


LOVELAND — — Darby Hoggatt and his son, Jett, stood in line Thursday, ready to board their second flight to Las Vegas in the last 30 days. It’s the last time in the foreseeable future they’ll be able to get on that plane here. 

 Allegiant Air, the only commercial airline serving the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport, will cease flights from Northern Colorado on Monday, nine years after it set up operations in Loveland and two years after it added flights to the Phoenix area.

“It just sucks. Las Vegas has a lot of baseball tournaments this time of year,” said Darby Hoggatt, a Fort Collins resident. His son plays outfield, catcher and pitches for Team Colorado and was en route to another tournament.

Allegiant announced, without explanation, in August it was pulling its planes from Fort Collins-Loveland. Weeks later airline officials said it was ceasing flights due to safety concerns because the airport does not have a control tower. But, airport officials said in all of their dealings with Allegiant, the Las Vegas-based destination airline had never expressed concerns about the lack of a control tower.

Airport officials are conducting an investigation with the Federal Aviation Administration to see if any safety concerns have been documented with the agency, Airport Director Jason Licon said Thursday.

“There haven’t been any changes at our airport since 2003 when Allegiant first started operation. I don’t see (the tower) argument as being valid,” he said. “However, we just have to wait and see what the data shows.”

Because the airport doesn’t have a control tower, “we don’t talk to the pilots. The FAA would be the ones that would have any indication whether there have been any near-miss occurrences or something like that that you look for when safety becomes an issue.”

Licon said the airport does everything it takes to run efficiently, effectively and safely. “If we knew there was a problem we would fix it. Allegiant is very important to our airport and serving the people that utilize that within the region.”

Full planes

On Thursday, passengers bemoaned the loss of Fort Collins-Loveland’s only regularly scheduled air service.

“It seems like they are 97 percent full — they have to be making money,” said Hoggatt, who was spot-on regarding the airline’s local passenger load.

Through August, Allegiant flights were on average 97 percent full, the highest passenger load in the company’s nine years here. As passenger loads and the number of flights increased, so, too, did the aspirations of airport officials who hoped Allegiant would add more destinations and flights.

Instead, Allegiant blindsided local officials with its decision to suspend operations at Fort Collins-Loveland.

Still, Allegiant’s success gives airport leadership reason to be optimistic about landing another commercial airline, Licon said. “We are treating this as a temporary issue.”

The airport has put in $30 million in improvements since 2003 when Allegiant first started flying out of Loveland, thanks to grants and other funding it was able to get by having Allegiant here, Licon said. “That puts us in an even better position than we were in in 2001. We are confident we will be able to find someone to serve this area.”

But how long that might take is uncertain. “It takes a lot of convincing to make an airline make a multimillion-dollar decision to add a stop,” Licon said. “There are a lot of technical changes and additions and ticketing and adding other destinations. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scene to make that happen.”

So, on Monday morning, about 20 minutes before noon, Licon will watch, at least temporarily, commercial air service at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport disappear into the sky with Allegiant’s last flight.

Convenient, close

Dane Wygmans of Fort Collins was heading to Vegas on Thursday for an annual get-together with friends. “I am super bummed ... I love the prices. I love the convenience.”

Wygmans booked his flight before Allegiant pulled the plug and was a bit worried the airline might be gone before he got his trip in. Like most other passengers on Thursday’s flight, he’ll be back Sunday, a day before Allegiant’s final takeoff.

Ruth and Roger Beitel of Scottsbluff, Neb., were headed to Vegas for the Professional Bull Riders World Finals. With granddaughters, Isabelle, 20 months, and Addilyn, 3, in tow, Ruth Beitel said traveling out of Loveland offered a shorter drive, convenient parking and short security lines.

“It’s quicker and closer to Scottsbluff,” she said. “It only takes two hours to get here.”

Passengers aren’t the only ones affected by Allegiant’s departure. The airline’s ground support crew of about seven will lose their jobs and TSA agents will be rotated back to Denver, Licon said.

And the owners of The Other Side and The Peaks cafe aren’t sure what they’ll do next.

Rose Iversen runs The Other Side and Rose’s Beer Garden at the Allegiant gate, a secure area. Her husband, Zane, runs The Peaks cafe in the unsecured terminal building.

Until another commercial airline comes they will likely have to mothball the restaurant, Rose Iversen said after Allegiant’s Thursday morning departure. Once Allegiant and TSA pull out, the building will no longer be a secured area so they could open the restaurant to the general public but aren’t sure there will be enough business.

“We are trying to decide if it would be worthwhile,” she said. “Even if we could get some of the surrounding businesses and general aviation out here to back us up and eat, have a few beers, we could probably keep this above ground.”

For now, they haven’t made a decision. “It’s a big hit for us to lose this. It was our livelihood,” she said.

Story and video:

OPINION: Trees are not the problem -- Mountain Empire Airport (KMKJ), Marion/Wytheville, Virginia


With the experience of working at an international airport for 10 years, refueling every craft able to use a 6,201-foot runway, I’m writing in protest of claims by the Commission of the Mountain Empire Airports (in Smyth County) that trees belonging to property owners adjacent to Interstate 81 are a safety hazard and must be removed.

The FAA is funding the commission’s efforts to acquire easements from the property owners. I and the majority of property owners are opposed to the plan, and have declined the offers due to the property damage and devaluation of our property. With all due respect to the FAA, they are never in the vicinity to observe the activities that I have for over nine years.

The airport and its base pilots have made the surrounding area a personal playground, putting the lives of interstate drivers and neighboring residents in danger. The only safety hazard is of their own doing.

I have witnessed the use of firearms beside the taxiway and runway.

Pilots perform stunts and loops over Interstate 81 and fly upside down along the runway when there is no air show in progress. Base pilots also buzz residents’ rooftops, activity that has been unchecked for the years I have lived here.

The minimum safe altitude above congested areas is 1,000 feet above or 2,000 feet horizontally from the area. The requirements are in USA (FAR) Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 91.

The trees are not a safety hazard. For as long as the airport has existed so have they.

In closing I ask, with the ongoing reckless flight activity and total disregard for public safety, why would the FAA fund the commission for the safety hazards that the base pilots and airport affiliates are causing?

Christopher P. Fisher
Rural Retreat, Va.


Lake in the Hills (3CK) Chicago/Lake In The Hills, Illinois: Airport wish list

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The village has approved its wish list of proposed airport improvement projects valued at $11.5 million, according to village documents.

The municipality hopes it will be awarded federal dollars for the projects.

Next month, the list will be presented to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics, which will make the ultimate funding determination, most likely in January. IDOT decides how it will disburse the federal transportation dollars given to the state.

“They know these projects are important,” said Manny Gomez, the village deputy public works director and airport manager. “We’ll be trying our best to secure funding to make these projects move forward.”

Gomez said the village is willing to make adjustments to the projects if it will help secure money.

“If possible, we’ll try to match their needs as well to make things move forward,” Gomez said.

Village officials proposed $11.5 million worth of projects. If all were all approved, the projects would take place between 2014 and 2018.

Projects are proposed annually, but aren’t always approved, depending on available funding and the needs of other airports, Gomez said.

Some of the proposals include constructing a creating a new area for airplanes to park, relocating an entrance road, building new hangars, constructing a new automobile parking lot, and building a new terminal.

“The concept has been on the drawing board for a while,” Gomez said.

The projects are part of the village’s airport safety improvement program, which is “being done to bring the airport in compliance with current [Federal Aviation Administration] standards,” Gomez said.

If the projects are approved, 90 percent of the funding would be federal dollars, 5 percent will be from the state, and 5 percent will be local money. The local contribution would come from revenue generated by the airport, said Fred Mullard, the village public works director.

The airport was built in the 1950s but didn’t become a public airport until 1984, when it was acquired by the village.


Boeing Sees Challenges After 2012

(Bloomberg) – Boeing Co., which has boosted its 2012 profit forecast three times as commercial and military aircraft sales rose, said it expects challenges next year that include a tougher defense market and higher pension expense.

The projected $3.5 billion in pension expense next year will be about $1 billion more than this year’s, the planemaker said. The defense unit, source of more than 40 percent of total sales last year, is bracing for cuts in Pentagon spending, according to Boeing, which won’t forecast 2013 performance until January.

Those obstacles may temper sales growth from commercial plane deliveries as Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney takes advantage of a $307-billion backlog, bolstered by airlines seeking to trim fuel expenses with more efficient aircraft. Boeing is increasing the division’s output by 60 percent in the four years through 2014.

The non-cash pension expense is about $500 million higher than Barclays Plc. had projected and “will weigh on consensus estimates more than we originally expected,” Carter Copeland, a New York-based analyst, said in a note to clients after the company’s third-quarter earnings report. “We expect this to be the central push-back point on an otherwise strong quarter.”

The expense may prompt a reset of 2013 earnings projections, said JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Joe Nadol, who called it “a whopper.” Higher pension costs have also weighed on earnings this year, lowering third-quarter profit by $194 million.

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said the company plans to make voluntary cash pension contributions next year “to proactively manage our liability and expense.” He said his top priority is to return cash to shareholders, and he will give an update on share repurchase plans by the end of the year.

Free cash flow in the quarter was $1.17 billion, up from $69 million a year earlier, Chicago-based Boeing said in a statement. The company increased its outlook for operating cash flow this year by $500 million, to more than $5.5 billion. Earnings in 2012 will be $4.80 to $4.95 a share, Boeing said, a projection that exceeds the $4.70 average estimate of 29 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Third-quarter sales rose 13 percent to $20 billion as shipments of aircraft and equipment to customers climbed 28 percent.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes, which accounted for more than half of 2011 sales, is responding to what McNerney termed a “dramatic” replacement cycle, with airlines trying to reduce fuel costs by investing in new planes.

Commercial Backlog

The commercial-jet backlog rose 2.5 percent last quarter and now stands at 4,100 airplanes valued at more than eight times the unit’s revenue last year.

In the defense business, McNerney warned on an earnings call that 2013 would be a challenge because of this year’s “unusual strength” in sales to foreign militaries and because of the threat of sequestration, the $500 billion in automatic U.S. defense cuts slated to go into effect unless lawmakers agree on an alternative deficit-reduction plan.

Boeing fell 0.2 percent to $72.68 at 3:03 p.m. in New York. The shares previously dropped less than 1 percent this year, trailing a 12 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

The company delivered 149 commercial jets and 50 military aircraft, helicopters and satellites in the three months through September.

Third-quarter net income at Chicago-based Boeing fell 6 percent to $1.03 billion, or $1.35 a share, from $1.1 billion, or $1.46, a year earlier. That beat the average of 25 analysts’ forecasts for $1.12 a share.

Higher Margins

“With no major execution issues this quarter, operating margins came in comfortably ahead of our expectations,” Rob Stallard, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in London, wrote in a note, keeping his neutral rating on the shares. Operating margin in the commercial-planes business fell 1.9 points to 9.5 percent in that period, while remaining steady at 9.9 percent for the year through September.

Boeing said it still expects total airliner deliveries to rise to 585 to 600 this year after 436 in the first nine months. The company plans to deliver more 777s, 787s and 737s next year. Carriers pay about 60 percent of the price of a plane in installments leading up to delivery, and the rest when they pick up the jet.

Airbus SAS, which had delivered more planes than Boeing every year since 2003, handed over just 405 through September and has forecast 570 for the full year.

Jetliner Deliveries

Boeing reiterated that it will deliver 70 to 85 of the new wide-body 787s and 747-8s this year, split about evenly between them. The company expects more orders by year-end for both the passenger and freighter versions of the 747-8, which entered service a year ago, McNerney said.

The higher deliveries last quarter pushed the commercial unit’s sales up 28 percent to $12.2 billion. Earnings rose 6 percent to $1.15 billion, reflecting dilution from the lower- margin 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner, which was delivered to its initial customer in 2011 after more than three years of delays.

Boeing’s defense business tripled the number of Chinook transport helicopters it delivered to 18, and handed over 10 Apache attack helicopters in the period compared with none a year earlier. Deliveries for other programs declined, and shipments of F-15 fighter jets dropped to zero.

Defense revenue fell 4 percent to $7.84 billion as deliveries of less-costly aircraft increased, and operating profit grew less than 1 percent to $827 million. The defense unit’s margin rose by half a point to 10.5 percent.

The margin growth is consistent with companies across the industry as contractors including Boeing focus on cost reduction ahead of the Pentagon’s expected budget cuts, wrote Douglas Harned, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York who rates the stock outperform.

Boeing is repositioning its military business and focusing on getting 30 percent of revenue from abroad in the near future, McNerney said. That would be up from 24 percent last year.

High Hopes: She wants to work on planes -- and boats

Brie Baerg, 21
City: Oak Harbor
Program: Skagit Valley College Marine Technology program (Anacortes)

Q: Why did you enroll in this program? Are you interested in aerospace or simply looking for steady work?

A: I am taking all the courses available here at Marine Tech, but my focus is on composites. My goal is a job in the aerospace industry and especially a job at Boeing. But I also want to buy and maintain my own boat. I believe there are a lot of job opportunities in aerospace and I am able to do the physical labor. It had been a while since I had been in school, but this is a great, affordable program and by next summer I should be able to apply for a job at Boeing.

Q: What would be your ideal first job after this training? What would you like to be doing in five or 10 years?

A: I would like a position as a composites technician. However, I am picking up the skill sets necessary for many jobs in various industries. If I can get in as a technician, then my goal would be to work my way up the job ladder at Boeing.

Q: So you feel good about job prospects at Boeing? Would you be willing to relocate?

A: Boeing is the top company and is recognized as such. I would be willing to relocate. I moved here to go to Skagit Valley College. Moving is not a problem. A friend's dad worked for Boeing. He made good money and enjoyed his job.

Read more here:

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec B, Island Birds, N5553Y: Accident occurred October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands 

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA019 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, VI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N5553Y
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The accident airplane departed over water on a dark night and flew toward its destination airport at an altitude of about 1,700 feet above the water. Radar data showed that the airplane began a gradual descent on about the same heading before it leveled off at 200 feet above the water. The airplane continued at 200 feet above the water for another 18 seconds before its radar target disappeared about 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger stated that she had flown with the pilot on this flight many times before. She stated that during the en route portion of the accident flight, the pilot flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence and observed the pilot make his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall," and the airplane filled with water. She said that the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the other occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, the passenger said no, and indicated that everything was normal.

Examination of the wreckage revealed damage consistent with a high-speed, shallow-angle impact with water, and no evidence of preimpact mechanical anomalies.

Weather data and imagery were consistent with the passenger’s account of flying beneath outer rain bands associated with a developing tropical storm southeast of the accident site. There was little to no illumination from the moon. Based on a search of flight service and commercial vendor records, the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing or file a flight plan before the accident flight.

The destination airport was tower-controlled, but the tower was closed at the time of the accident. The runway was located along the shore, with the approach end surrounded by water on three sides. Multiple instrument approach procedures were available for the airport; however, those instrument approaches were not authorized while the tower was closed. A caution printed in the plan view of the approach charts stated, "CAUTION: Pilots may encounter false illusory indications during night approaches to Runway 10 when using outside visual cues for vertical guidance."

It is likely that the pilot descended the airplane to remain clear of the lowering clouds and descended into the water due to the lack of visual cues.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's attempted visual flight rules (VFR) flight into marginal VFR conditions on a dark night over water and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude, which resulted in the airplane’s controlled flight into water. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate preflight weather planning.


On October 13, 2012, about 0458 Atlantic Standard Time (AST), a Piper PA-23-250, N5553Y, was substantially damaged during a collision with water in cruise flight near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.). The airline transport pilot was not found after the accident and is presumed fatally injured. Two passengers were fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident, and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the business flight carrying newspapers which was operated by Rainbow International Airlines under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (TISX), Christiansted, U.S.V.I. about 0445 and was destined for Cyril E. King Airport (TIST), Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I.

Review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that a target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from TISX, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about 2 minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar contact was lost, approximately 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger was interviewed by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She stated that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on the newspaper carrying flights "many" times before. During the en route portion, the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence, and observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."


The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued June 1, 2012. He reported 17,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The pilot's most recent FAR Part 135 flight review was completed 12/30/2011.


The airplane was manufactured in 1963 and was registered to Cardair, Inc. It's most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.

The accident airplane was not listed in the operations specifications of the Rainbow International Airlines 14 CFR Part 135 operating certificate.


An NTSB Senior Meteorologist provided a study of the weather surrounding the route of flight and the accident site at the time of the accident. A tropical storm advisory (Rafael) was in effect.

At 0453, the weather reported at TIST included few clouds at 3,300 feet, a broken ceiling at 4,600 feet, with 10 miles of visibility in light rain. The winds were from 070 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots.

The terminal area forecast for TISX in effect at the time of the accident expected northeast wind at 4 knots, visibility better than 6 statute miles with thunderstorms in the vicinity and a broken ceiling at 3,000 feet agl in cumulonimbus type clouds.

The terminal area forecast for TIST in effect at the time of the accident expected wind from the east at 8 knots with visibility better than 6 miles, showers in the vicinity of the airport, scattered clouds at 4,000 feet, and a broken ceiling at 10,000 feet.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite number 14 (GOES-14) infrared image at 0445 depicted an area of enhanced clouds associated with the developing Tropical Storm Rafael to the southeast of the accident site. In the vicinity of the accident site several towering cumulus type clouds were evident, and were associated with rain showers immediately east of the accident site, and over the route between TISX and TIST.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.

The weather data and imagery were consistent with the passenger’s account of flying beneath outer rain bands associated with the developing tropical storm southeast of the accident site.

According to a search of Lockheed-Martin flight service and commercial vendor records, the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing nor file a flight plan prior to the accident flight.


Cyril E. King Airport (TIST) was located about 2 miles west of Charlotte Amalie, USVI, at an elevation of 23 feet. The airport was tower-controlled, but the tower was closed at the time of the accident. Runway 10/28 was 7,000 feet long and 150 feet wide, and was located along the shore, with the approach end of runway 10 surrounded by water on three sides. Instrument landing system and area navigation approaches were published for Runway 10, and a very high frequency omni-directional range approach was also published for the airport.

The instrument approach procedures were not authorized while the tower was closed. A caution printed in the plan view of the approach charts stated, "CAUTION: Pilots may encounter false illusory indications during night approaches to Runway 10 when using outside visual cues for vertical guidance."


Examination of photographs taken by divers revealed the airplane came to rest inverted on the ocean floor. The right wing was partially separated but remained attached to the airframe. Both engines were in their respective nacelles, and the landing gear appeared extended and locked, or in transit. The photographs revealed that no landing gear doors remained attached to the airplane.

Hydraulic deformation and tearing of the left wing and the belly skin of the airplane was consistent with a high-speed, shallow-angle impact.

The airplane was recovered on October 20, 2012, and examined by a representative of the Piper Aircraft Company as well as FAA aviation safety inspectors. The examination revealed control continuity from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces, and no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical anomalies.


The pilot was not recovered, and therefore no medical or pathological testing was conducted.

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA019
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, VI
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N5553Y
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 13, 2012, about 0458 Atlantic standard time, a Piper PA-23-250, N5553Y, was substantially damaged during a collision with water in cruise flight near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.). The certificated airline transport pilot and two passengers were lost, and presumed fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident, and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the cargo flight operated by Rainbow International Airlines under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The flight departed Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (TISX), Christiansted, U.S.V.I. about 0445 and was destined for Cyril E. King Airport (TIST), Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I.

Preliminary radar data revealed that the target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from TISX, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about 2 minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar target disappeared, approximately 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger was interviewed by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She stated that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on this flight "many" times before. During the en route portion, the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence, and observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued June 1, 2012. He reported 18,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The airplane was manufactured in 1963, and its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.

The airplane was recovered on October 20, 2012 and examination of the wreckage was scheduled for a later date.

At 0453, the weather reported at TIST included few clouds at 3,300, a broken ceiling at 4,600 with light rain. The winds were from 070 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.

  Regis#: 5553Y        Make/Model: PA23      Description: PA-23-150/160 Apache
  Date: 10/15/2012     Time: 1200

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: ST CROIX   State:      Country: US


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

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER
FAA FSDO: SOUTH FLORIDA, FL  (SO19)             Entry date: 10/18/2012 

Captain Kirby Hodge

There are many persons in this world who defy the norm. They use their time on this Earth to selflessly give of themselves without a thought. They put others first at every given opportunity because they believe that a fulfilled life is all about caring, sharing and loving. This is the kind of person Captain Kirby Hodge is. 

 To know Kirby Hodge is to love Kirby Hodge. He has dedicated his life to serving others, and defines the essence of a gentleman. He is a man of integrity, humility, great personal and professional pride, and maintains an aura of serenity in any situation. As a businessman, his combined skill and talent makes him one of the most reputable and respected individuals in the Caribbean.

A renowned pilot from a young age, he was one of the first persons, selected by his then employer, to captain a jet - for the U.S. military -into Panama during the Noriega crisis. As a father, husband, brother, uncle, cousin or friend, Kirby is one to never miss an opportunity to attend a family gathering or lend a helping hand.

As everyone may know by now, Kirby was in command of a private Piper Aztec plane that crashed into the sea less than 10 miles away from St. Thomas during the early morning hours on Oct. 13, 2012. On board were three persons whom he was graciously giving a ride to St. Thomas, as was his custom when making runs between the Islands. The one survivor from this crash tells a tale of Kirby's heroism in the crucial moments after the plane landed in the open sea. He did what anyone who knows him would expect him to do: help others at any cost. After skillfully bringing the plane down, his first instinct was to attempt to save the lives of his three friends. This is not hearsay; this is a factual account from the survivor.

We reflect on the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. In layman's terms, a "Good Samaritan" is one who helps others in need, for compassionate motives only and with no thought of reward. This is an accurate depiction of what Kirby Hodge did on the morning of Oct. 13. He enjoyed giving of himself, of his time and of his talents. He was offering his friends a ride, with no thought of reward or payment. The Bible tells us in John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." We have no reservations in saying that we know Kirby would have done all possible to ensure the safety of his friends, first and foremost, even if it cost him his life.

At this time, our family is extremely grateful for the vast outpouring of love and support, both at home and from around the world. We remain hopeful and faithful that a miracle is still out there for Kirby and his friends, as no bodies have been found.

It is truly in times of crisis that we realize the irreplaceable value of relationships and friendships. For this, our family says thank you. The final outcome is still in God's hands, but regardless of that outcome, my brother, Captain Kirby Hodge, is a man of heroic courage and one of the best pilots to ever grace the Caribbean skies over the last 40 years.

Continue to keep him and his friends in your prayers.

- The Family of Captain Kirby Hodge