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.

Pilot remembers Cuban missile crisis

Published on Oct 28, 2012 by CNN 

Former Air Force Brig. Gen. Gerald Mcilmoyle discusses his role in the Cuban missile crisis 50 years later. 

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. 


Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance, N4478F: Accident occurred October 28, 2012 in Sevierville, Tennessee


NTSB Identification: ERA13LA042  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 28, 2012 in Sevierville, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N4478F
Injuries: 3 Minor,2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Before departure, the pilot had contacted the air traffic control (ATC) facility and received his instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance, which entailed flying direct to a navigational facility about 22 miles west of the departure airport. Shortly after departure, the pilot contacted ATC, and was given radar vectors toward that navigational facility and toward rising terrain. Because the airplane was in instrument conditions, the pilot was unable to see the surrounding terrain. When the airplane’s global position system's terrain feature alerted the pilot of a possible terrain issue, the pilot queried the air traffic controller. However, before the controller responded, the airplane impacted a pole and trees; a postimpact fire ensued and consumed the airplane.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines minimum vectoring altitude (MVA) as the lowest altitude at which an IFR aircraft will be vectored by a radar controller to ensure obstacle clearance. The FAA further states that air traffic controllers are to give first priority to separating aircraft, issuing safety alerts, and providing safety alerts regarding terrain or obstructions.

Despite FAA requirements, a review of accident-related ATC radar and voice data revealed that ATC personnel issued a radar vector without first identifying the accident airplane on radar, provided radar vectors when the airplane was below the MVA, and did not provide safety alerts to the accident airplane or another airplane that had departed just before the accident flight. Interviews with the accident ATC personnel indicated that a facility-wide culture of providing vectors to aircraft below minimum altitudes existed, air traffic controllers supervised other controllers while performing operational duties, and the facility was non-compliant with safety alert requirements. The accident air traffic controller failed to adhere to the required procedures for vectoring and providing appropriate safety alerts, which negated the safety margins afforded by those procedures. This culture of disregard for standard operating procedures among the controller workforce at the ATC facility was indicative of a continuous failure of management at the facility.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The air traffic controller’s failure to comply with the required vectoring and safety alert procedures, which resulted in the airplane’s flight into rising terrain. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Aviation Administration’s continued practice of using air traffic controllers who were performing required radar operational duties to supervise other controllers and the air traffic control facility’s culture of non-compliance with required procedures.


On October 28, 2012, about 1434 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N4478F, impacted a pole and trees after departure from Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The private pilot and one passenger were not injured, and three passengers received minor injuries. The airplane, forward of the empennage, was consumed by postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to Space Coast Aviation Sales LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions were present at the departure airport; however, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight destined for the Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX), Titusville, Florida.

The pilot filed an IFR flight plan at 1328, utilizing the Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS). The flight plan filed anticipated departing from GKT to TIX via the Volunteer (VXV) very high frequency omni-directional radio range tactical air navigation aid (VORTAC), direct to the DUBBS intersection, direct to the NELLO intersection, direct to the Craig (CRG) VORTAC, Ormond (OMN) VORTAC, and then direct to the destination airport with a cruise altitude of 6,000 feet msl.

The flight was provided radar vectors by an air traffic controller at a nearby approach control facility. The pilot had received a terrain warning on his global positioning system (GPS) and queried the controller; however, he received no reply. Subsequently the GPS provided an obstacle warning, and the pilot observed a rooftop and trees through the clouds. He pitched up and banked the airplane in order to clear the obstacles, however, the underside of the airplane impacted several trees, and the airplane came to rest inverted in a tree, about 15 feet above ground level. A postimpact fire began and the occupants exited the airplane.


The pilot, age 48, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane, and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical issued June 23, 2011. The pilot reported 502 total flight hours, with 242 hours in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot estimated that he had approximately 80 hours of instrument flight experience; however, since his pilot logbook was consumed by the post impact fire, his exact instrument flight experience could not be accurately determined.


The seven-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane was manufactured in 1976. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1GSD 300 horsepower engine, and equipped with a Hartzell model HC-C2YK-1BF controllable pitch propeller. The airplane was equipped with a Garmin GNS430 GPS navigation system with an integrated terrain database. According to the pilot, the airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on July 31, 2012, at a recorded airframe total time of 3,051 hours, and the engine time since overhaul was 1,271 hours. Thermal damage precluded determination of the current values from the instruments. According to the pilot, the gross weight at the time of the accident was 3,461 pounds.


A review of recorded data from the GKT automated weather observation station revealed the 1420 conditions included wind 330 at 7 knots, visibility 3 miles, scattered clouds at 1,000 feet above ground level (agl), overcast at 1,700 feet agl, temperature 8 degrees C, dew point 7 degrees C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 29.89 inches of mercury.


According to voice and radar data provided by the FAA air traffic control facility in Knoxville, Tennessee (TYS), located about 22 nautical miles west of the departure airport, the pilot first contacted TYS at 1419. He requested and received his IFR clearance as filed, and was assigned an initial altitude of 5,000 feet msl.

At 1428:01, the pilot reported that he was number one for departure from runway 28 and, was subsequently released for departure by the controller. The pilot was told to contact the same controller when the flight was airborne.

At 1430:28, the pilot reported climbing through 1,500 feet. About one minute later he was asked to "ident" and subsequently received clearance to continue the climb to 6,000 feet.

At 1430:36, the first recorded radar data target indicated that the airplane was at 1,400 feet msl.

At 1431:52, the controller stated "seven eight foxtrot did you want to go all the way to volunteer or do you want some vectors for departure and then direct dubbs in about fifty miles or so". The pilot acknowledged with "vectors will be fine."

At 1432:02, the controller instructed the pilot to "fly heading two six zero climb and maintain six thousand." Radar data indicated that about the same time, the airplane's ground track indicated a left turn towards the assigned heading.

The last recorded transmission from the accident pilot occurred at 1434:05, in which he stated "and uh knoxville seven eight fox uh we getting a uh terrain advisory are we still in the clear." The associated radar data indicated that the airplane altitude was 2,400 feet msl.

At 1435:19, the controller stated "say uh traffic I mean not traffic uh a obstruction thirty four hundred feet fly heading uh two niner zero for now"

On November 5, 2012, the NTSB convened an Air Traffic Control (ATC) Group at TYS to review radar and voice data, as well as interview facility managers and controllers. On November 7, 2012, the accident flight's controller was interviewed. After review of the radar playback, the controller acknowledged that he had not radar identified the accident airplane, and that he issued a radar vector without the required radar identification. He further acknowledged that he had not issued the pilot a safety alert, even though the airplane was maneuvering below the FAA charted minimum vectoring altitude (MVA). The controller also reported that just prior to the accident, he was obtaining flight strips from the unmanned flight data position. Several other controllers and managers were interviewed by the ATC Group, and the consensus among those interviewed was that deviation from the approved departure procedure occurred on a "regular basis," and the controllers would normally query the pilot to confirm that the terrain was in sight and also give a suggested heading. It was noted that prior to the accident flight, another airplane had departed from GKT, and was given the same turn below MVA and was not issued a safety alert. Refer to the accident docket for detailed information about the ATC Group's investigation.


GKT was a publically-owned airport and at the time of the accident, did not have an operating control tower. The airport was equipped with a single runway designated as runway 10/28. The runway was 5,506 feet long by 75 feet wide. The airport elevation was 1,014 feet above mean sea level. The local topography consisted of rising mountain terrain primarily to the west, south, and east of the airport. The airport was situated about 6 nautical miles to the northeast of the accident site. A receipt provided by the fixed base operator at GKT indicated that on the day of the accident, the accident airplane was fueled with 44 gallons of 100LL Avgas.

In a review of the FAA MVA chart for the surrounding areas, the minimum altitudes varied from 3,200 feet msl to 8,000 feet msl, with the highest MVA elevations located south and southeast of the airport. In the area of the accident site, the MVA was charted as 4,400 feet msl.


Examination of the airplane by a FAA inspector revealed that the airplane initially impacted a pole and some trees located on a mountain about 2,600 feet above mean sea level. The airplane was consumed by post-impact fire, except for approximately 6 feet of the empennage. Control cable continuity was confirmed throughout the airplane. Several tree limbs exhibited marks consistent with being cut by the airplane's propeller during the impact sequence. One of the two propeller blades exhibited curling on its tip, and the other exhibited slight bowing in the forward direction.

According to the pilot, there were no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane

According to a topographical chart provided by the Sheriff's Department, the area around the flight track, leading to the accident site, consisted of tightly-spaced contour lines, indicative of rapidly rising terrain. The accident location was located near a contour line of 2,520 feet, with the highest contour line indicating 2,600 feet.


FAA Publication JO7110-65U "Air Traffic Organization Policy"

Minimum Vectoring Altitude (MVA) is defined as "The lowest MSL altitude at which an IFR aircraft will be vectored by a radar controller, except as otherwise authorized for radar approaches, departures, and missed approaches. The altitude meets IFR obstacle clearance criteria…It may be utilized for radar vectoring only upon the controller's determination that an adequate radar return is being received from the aircraft being controlled…"

Section 2-1-2 "Duty Priority" states in part "give first priority to separating aircraft and issuing safety alerts as required…good judgment must be used in prioritizing all other provision…"

Section 2-1-29 "Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) Alerts" states in part "…provide safety alerts regarding terrain or obstructions…"

According to Section 5-6-3 "Vectors Below Minimum Altitude" an aircraft may be vectored below minimum altitude "if the flight path is 3 miles or more from the obstacle."

GKT Departure Procedure

According to the Terminal Procedures Publication current at the time of the accident, the obstacle departure procedure for runway 28 was to climb direct to VXV VORTAC to 5,000 feet before turning on course.

Air Traffic Controller Duties

At the time of the accident, the radar room was manned by two controllers, the accident controller and one other controller. Each controller had the assigned operational responsibility of the radar for specific airspace sectors. The other controller was also the controller in charge (CIC) and was tasked with oversight and supervision of the radar room and facility. His duties included overseeing the accident controller at the time of the accident while performing required operational duties. A frontline manager was also present in the facility; however, at the time of the accident he was in an office, which was not located in the radar room, performing administrative duties. Neither the CIC nor the Frontline Manager observed the controller's interaction with the accident airplane.

FAA Advisory Circular 61-134

FAA Advisory Circular 61-134 Section 9 "GA [General Aviation] IFR Operations in IMC Conditions on an IFR Flight" states in part "Techniques or suggestions for avoiding some of these IFR risk factors include:… d. Knowing the planned procedure well enough to know if air traffic is issuing an unsafe clearance… k. knowledge of minimum safe or sector altitude and of the highest terrain in the area…"

NTSB Recommendations

The NTSB issued a safety recommendation A-11-17 to the FAA on March 21, 2011, recommending that the FAA prohibit air traffic controllers from providing supervisory oversight while performing operational air traffic duties. At the time of this writing, this recommendation remains open with a status of "open – unacceptable response."

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA042 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 28, 2012 in Sevierville, TN
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N4478F

Injuries: 3 Minor,2 Uninjured.

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 have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 28, 2012, about 1434 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N4478F, impacted a pole and trees after departure from Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The certificated private pilot and one passenger were not injured and three passengers received minor injuries. The airplane, forward of the empennage, was consumed by postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to Space Coast Aviation Sales LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions were present at the departure airport; however, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight destined for the Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX), Titusville, Florida.

According to the pilot the flight was being provided radar vectors by an air traffic controller at a nearby approach control facility. He had received a terrain warning on his global position system (GPS) and queried the controller; however, he received no reply. Subsequently the GPS provided an obstacle warning and then a rooftop was observed in the clouds. He pitched up and banked the airplane, in order to clear the rooftop and the now visible trees. However, the underside of the airplane impacted several trees prior to the airplane coming to rest inverted in a tree about 15 feet above ground level. A postimpact fire began and the occupants exited the airplane.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the airplane impacted a pole and some trees located on a mountain about 2,600 feet above mean sea level, prior to coming to rest. The airplane was consumed by postimpact fire, except for approximately 6 feet of the empennage. Cable continuity was confirmed throughout the airplane. Several tree limbs exhibited marks consistent with being cut by the airplane's propeller during the accident sequence. One of the two propeller blades exhibited curling on the tip and the other exhibited slight bowing in the forward direction.

  Regis#: 4478F        Make/Model: PA32      Description: PA-32 Cherokee Six, Six, Saratoga, Turbo
  Date: 10/28/2012     Time: 1835

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Minor     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

  City: SEVIERVILLE   State: TN   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   5     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   3     Unk:   2
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: NASHVILLE, TN  (CE19)                 Entry date: 10/31/2012 

 A family headed for Florida on Sunday didn't make it far from the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge airport before their plane got tangled in power lines that helped lower the craft to the ground outside Sevierville.  

The five occupants of the single-engine Piper Lance survived the 2:40 p.m. Sunday incident, with three sustaining minor injuries, according to Sevier County Sheriff's Office Capt. Jeff McCarter. McCarter did not have the names of the occupants.

Authorities first were alerted to the crash by air controllers at McGhee Tyson Airport, which noticed the aircraft had disappeared from radar. McCarter said residents near the crash site on Bluff Mountain then reported seeing the plane go down.

McCarter said the plane first struck a utility pole atop Bluff Mountain and then got tangled in the power lines.

"Another 50 feet and he would have cleared it," McCarter said.

While the utility pole snagged the plane, the wires may have helped save the lives of the occupants, McCarter said. The power lines actually served to lower the plane to the ground "like a bungee cord," the captain said.

The five occupants were able to walk away from the crash site. Because the crash scene was near a road, rescuers had no trouble reaching the site, McCarter said.

The plane burst into flames after the occupants exited the craft.

McCarter said the airplane was bound for Titusville, Fla.

The tail of at plane that crashed Sunday on Bluff Mountain is all that remains after it caught fire after wrecking into trees and power lines. The five passengers in the plane escaped serious injury.
 (Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press) 

A submitted photo shows the scene at Sunday's plane crass on Bluff Mountain. 

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A plane crash on Bluff Mountain sent two people to the hospital Sunday, but only with minor injuries. 

 The crash occurred Sunday afternoon just after 2 p.m. The small aircraft, holding a family of five from Florida, crashed shortly after it took off from Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.

Walden Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Baker said the plane clipped power lines while on its ascent, about three nautical miles from the airport. The plane inverted, and became lodged in the trees of a wooded area on the mountain.

Officials believe the plane became engulfed in flames while lodged in trees. The unidentified mother of the family fell from the aircraft while it was suspended above the forest floor, approximately 20 feet.

The plane then fell to the ground, and the other four members of the family escaped.

The mother and youngest son were transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for their injuries. The mother suffered burns to her upper back, neck and head, while the youngest son is believed to have suffered a broken nose.

The other members of the family suffered cuts and bruises, and rode with the other family members to the hospital.


BLUFF MOUNTAIN — Five people escaped serious injury Sunday when their plane crashed around 2:45 p.m., on Bluff Mountain in the western portion of the county. Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals confirmed the crash and said while four of the five were transported to area hospitals, they received only minor injuries.

Seals said they received information about the crash from McGhee-Tyson Airport. Area residents also called for help when the passengers of the plane — who were all from Florida, Seals said — were able to walk to a nearby home on East End Road and Top Road. Two of the injured were minors.

The airplane reportedly took off from Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Ariport en route to Titusville, Fla. It apparently lost contact with McGhee-Tyson — the monitoring airport — and then received terrain warning signals just before passengers saw the tops of homes and trees, according to reports from the scene. The plane struck trees and electrical wires, landing upside down and catching fire. The passengers escaped the wreckage and walked first to one home where no one answered and then to another where the residents called for help.

Waldens Creek and Wears Valley volunteer fire departments fought the blaze resulting from the crash. Seals said members of the Sevier County Civil Air Patrol would watch over the scene until officials with the Federal Aviation Administration arrived to take over, most likely today.

A plane carrying five people, including two minors, crashed into Bluff Mountain near the eastern end shortly before 2:45 on Sunday afternoon.  According to Sevier County Sheriff Sgt. Robert Stoffle, a family was traveling back home to Florida after a trip to Gatlinburg when their plane crashed in Sevier County.

 Sgt. Stoffle says he believes the plane struck the top of a light pole, got tangled in its wires and crashed to the ground. He said the pilot may have not seen the light pole because of the fog and rain. Emergency responders transported the parents and their three kids, an 18-year-old female, 15-year-old male and 10-year-old boy, to UT Medical Center as a precaution. Sgt. Stoffle says some of the passengers may have suffered minor injuries. 

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.

Gulfstream to showcase its jet fleet

Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace will showcase its full fleet of aircraft, including the recently certified Gulfstream G650 and G280, at the 65th Annual National Business Aviation Association Meeting & Convention in Orlando from Tuesday through Thursday.

In addition to Gulstream’s aircraft, a 7,200-square-foot convention center exhibit will focus on the company’s wide-ranging product support initiatives.

On Tuesday, the company will announce the winner of the Gulfstream Outstanding Flight Award Program, which commemorates 53 years of superlative worldwide flight by Gulfstream aircraft. The winner will receive the Alber-Rowley Trophy, named for the first two pilots of the original Gulfstream I.

Several members of the company’s senior leadership team will be on hand for the three-day industry event.

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.

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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.


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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.