Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Man on flight to Delhi turns violent after woman complains

A Mumbai-based passenger on board an IndiGo Airlines flight to Delhi allegedly turned violent and assaulted passengers after an argument with a woman co-traveller turned ugly on Wednesday. According to airline sources, the altercation broke out when a woman passenger complained that Murshalin Shiekh, 40, was staring at her reflection in the aircraft window.

When the airline crew addressed the complaint, Shiekh, a car dealer in Mumbai, allegedly turned violent, began screaming and even tried to manhandle her.

Confirming the incident, an airline spokesperson said,  “The passenger got violent with other passengers on flight and tried to enter the cockpit. The airline crew made appropriate announcements and deployed security measure to block access to the front of the aircraft and the front galley was secured.”

Sources also claimed that the passenger began banging his head and there was a threat that he could attempt to open one of the aircraft doors.

The spokesperson added that the airline would lodge a first information report (FIR) with the local police in Delhi.

Meanwhile, the pilot in command informed security agencies at Delhi’s IGI airport to provide security deployment at the tarmac. Minutes after the flight landed, Shiekh was handed over to the police.

“We have taken the passenger in our custody. We will book him under a criminal offence based on a formal complaint from the airline,” said JS Deswal, deputy general of police, IGI airport.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) mooted a policy demanding severe punishment against unruly fliers in 2010, but the proposal is still pending with the civil aviation ministry.

According to the DGCA’s proposal. such offenders should be fined for Rs. 5 lakh and get a jail term up to one year. Currently, they are booked under bailable offence or let off with a fine of Rs. 1,200.

Obituary: Verne Madison

Verne Madison, 1923-2012

Verne Charles Madison, 88, died Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Fort Myers, Fla., after complications from heart surgery.

Services are pending.

Verne was born Dec. 22, 1923, in Connecticut and had a life full of love and happiness.

Verne was retired from Cal-Tex Citrus Juice Co., where his career took him from California to Houston and Columbia. He loved his toys! He was a twin engine instrument rated private pilot. For several years he and his wife Anne traveled the country by RV. The Lake of the Ozarks and Columbia were his homes before coming to Cape Coral, Fla. A boat was as important to him as his car, and he had several over the years. Most recently he traveled to the Bahamas twice on his boat with friends from Cape Coral Cruise Club.

Verne is survived by his children, George Madison and his wife Diana of Columbia, Chuck Madison, and Fran Rigell, both of Houston, Texas; grandchildren, Jamie Rigell and Debbie Ivey and her husband Rick; great-grandchildren, Blake Ivey, Kelley Ivey Sandlin and her husband Michael Sandlin; and soon-to-be-born great-great-grandson Nicholas James Sandlin. He is also survived by his wonderful friend, Rita Couch.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Anne Thomas Madison; mother, Greta Beaney of New York; father, Charles W.A. Madison of Los Angeles; and son-in-law James F. Rigell.


Cirrus SR22, N6839R: Accident occurred October 21, 2012 in Pahokee, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA048 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 21, 2012 in Pahokee, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/07/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N6839R
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 pilot stated that, as he was taxiing the airplane, it felt as if the brakes were "not working properly" and "dragging." He chose to return to the ramp to have the airplane inspected. After parking the airplane and while he was shutting down the engine, a lineman approached and told the pilot that the airplane’s wheels were on fire. The pilot and passenger subsequently egressed the airplane without injury. Postaccident examinations revealed fire damage to the left and right main landing gear, both wings, and the underside of the fuselage but no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A main landing gear wheel fire for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examinations did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operations. 

On October 21, 2012, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N6839R, registered to and operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged during a brake fire while taxiing at Palm Beach County Glades Airport (PHK), Pahokee, Florida. The private pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

According to the pilot, after refueling the airplane at PHK on a multi-leg flight from Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport, Indianapolis, Indiana (UMP) to Lantana Airport (LNA), Lantana, Florida, he began taxiing to the runway for departure. During the taxi, he felt that the brakes were "not working properly" and "dragging", so he elected to return to the ramp in order to have the airplane inspected. After parking the airplane, and while he was shutting down the engine, a lineman approached and advised the pilot of the fire. The pilot and passenger subsequently egressed without injury and the fire was extinguished. 

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that both the left and right landing gear were fire damaged, and that the underside of the fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged. Further examination, by a FAA inspector, did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or anomlies that would have precluded normal operations. 

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot reported 1,030 total hours of flight experience; of which, 600 of those hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. 

The four-seat, low-wing, tricycle-gear airplane, was manufactured in 2002. It was powered by one Continental Motors IO-550, 310-horsepower engine, equipped with a Hartzell controllable-pitch propeller. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on October 2, 2012. At that time the brake system was disassembled and inspected in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. According to the pilot, the brake system fluid and brake pads were changed. At the time of the accident, the airplane and the engine had accumulated 603 total hours of time in service. 

The 1553 recorded weather observation at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), 35 miles east of the accident site included wind from 010 degrees at 9 knots, 10 miles visibility, few clouds at 5,000, temperature 28 degrees C, dew point 16 degree C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury.


NTSB Identification: ERA13LA048
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 21, 2012 in Pahokee, FL
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N6839R
Injuries: 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 not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 21, 2012, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N6839R, was substantially damaged during a ground fire while taxiing at Palm Beach County Glades Airport (PHK), Pahokee, Florida. The certificated private pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flights.

According to the pilot, after refueling the airplane at PHK on a multi-leg flight from Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport, Indianapolis, Indiana (UMP) to Lantana Airport (LNA), Lantana, Florida, he began taxiing to the runway for departure. During the taxi, he felt that the brakes were “not working properly” and “dragging”, so he elected to return to the ramp in order to have the airplane inspected. After parking the airplane, and while he was shutting down the engine, a lineman approached and advised the pilot of the fire. The pilot and passenger subsequently egressed without injury and the fire was extinguished.

The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed about 3 weeks prior to the accident, and at that time the brake system was disassembled and inspected in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. According to the pilot, the brake system fluid and brake pads were changed.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that both the left and right landing gear were fire damaged, and that the underside of the fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot had 1,100 total flight hours of which 605 of those hours were in the accident aircraft.

Air Evac Lifeteam visits Houston County Career Academy

Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter.

The Houston County Career Academy Healthcare Science class got close-up and hands on with the Air Evac EMS Lifeteam. The Air Evac crew, including a pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic, recently flew to the Career Academy from their base in Dublin.

Healthcare Science students got inside of the helicopter, looked at emergency medical equipment and discussed possible careers in Emergency Medicine with the Air Evac staff.
Air Evac EMS is the largest independently owned and operated membership-supported air medical service in the United States, conducting its operations through 108 mutually-supporting air medical bases across 15 states. The company has established itself as the preeminent provider of air ambulance services to rural markets, serving over 1,700 diverse referral sources, including over 1,000 hospitals and 700 EMS agencies, and attracting more than one million members in support of its presence in their local communities.

Krista Lowe serves as the Houston County Career Academy Healthcare Science Technology Education Instructor. The Academy is located at 1311 Corder Road in Warner Robins. Sabrina Phelps serves as principal. For more information, contact Phelps at 478-322-3280.

Air Evac's Jackson helicopter crew celebrates more than 5,000 safe flights

 The crew at Air Evac Lifeteam Base 7 in Jackson was presented with a special tail rotor to honor 5,000 safe flights completed. The base was established in Jackson in 1998.

The pilots, flight nurses and paramedics who work at Tennessee’s first Air Evac station celebrated a major milestone today — more than 5,000 missions flown safely.

Stacey Wilson, the program director for Air Evac Lifeteam’s base, in Jackson said that is an impressive achievement.

“Maybe five to eight percent of bases have reached 5,000 flights,” he said. “The most impressive thing is ‘safely.’ We’ve done 5,000 ‘safely.’”

Air Evac EMS Inc., which operates Air Evac Lifeteam, is the largest independently owned and operated, membership-supported air medical service in the United States, according to the company’s website.

Wilson presented the crew with a special tail rotor that included the details of the crew’s flight record: “Jackson, Tennessee AE 7, Estb. July 1, 1998.” On the rotor is the motto “Semper Salus,” Latin for “Always Safe.”

The milestone was met in 2007. The recognition today was when the company made it official with the tail rotor, Wilson said.

“We’re probably way over 5,000 now,” he said. “But this is still a big accomplishment.”

Hawker Beechcraft announces plans to close Little Rock facility

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Hawker Beechcraft announced plans to close their Little Rock facility in a letter issued to employees Wednesday.

Other locations being closed include the Mesa, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas facilities.

FOX16 will have more information on this story as it becomes available.

Nigeria: More Than 1,000 Fire-Fighters Needed In Nation’s Airports

The President, Nigerian Aviation Fire Safety Association (NAFSA), Mr Lewis Ojeifo, said on Wednesday that 1,000 additional fire-fighters would be needed in all the airports across the country.  

Ojeifo said this while speaking with airport correspondents at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMA), Ikeja, Lagos.

He said that presently, only 800 firemen were manning the airports, saying that this might lead to fatigue.

`` We do not need anything less than 1,000 men to add to what we have now, and that is when we will say that we have enough hands to support those on ground, `` he said. 

He commended Mr George UrIesi, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), for providing 40 new fire trucks.

``When the rein of affairs in FAAN changed hands to the present boss, the whole thing changed and we have been collaborating and as of today, we have 40 brand new fire trucks in our airports for our operations, `` he said. 

Ojeifo also commended the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, for her transformation agenda and for equipping airports across the country with new fire-trucks and training of fire personnel.

He assured that members of his association were combat ready in the case of any emergency in any of the airports across the country.

Sky's the limit for new flight instructor: Flying Start Aero at Minden-Tahoe Airport (KMEV), Minden, Nevada

Flying Start Aero flight instructor Patrick Padilla and student pilot Mike Booher stand in front of a Cessna 172 at the Minden-Tahoe Airport on Friday. 
 Scott Neuffer

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 

by Scott Neuffer, The Record Courier

Bridgeport resident Patrick Padilla can sum up his love of flying in one word — freedom.

“That whole three-dimensional feeling of going not only left and right, but up and down,” he said. “To me, worries seem to disappear when you take off.”

The 34-year-old is the newest flight instructor at Flying Start Aero at the Minden-Tahoe Airport. He had been a student at the flight school ever since deciding to get back in the air in 2008.

“I started flying when I was 22, and then, like everyone else, I quit halfway through,” he said. “About four years ago, I decided to get my private license. I flew a little bit, and then I couldn't get enough. I had a smile on my face every time I went up in the air.”

Padilla grew up in Bridgeport, where his father, Terry Padilla, retired as Mono County Undersheriff about a decade ago. His wife, Stephanie, grew up in Smith Valley. The couple has two children.

“My son is three and loves everything about airplanes,” he said. “Wait, I take that back. He loves everything about helicopters, which are a lot more expensive.”

Eight years ago, Padilla and his wife purchased Rhino's Bar and Grill in downtown Bridgeport.

“Having a restaurant in a small town is risky business,” he said. “Ultimately, my goal is to fly for commercial airlines.”

The family still owns and operates the restaurant, but Padilla has recently been commuting to Minden to work as a flight instructor.

In 2008, when he decided to return to the skies, he earned his private license in four months. He earned his commercial license shortly after that, and then worked with an instructor out of Stead to achieve his multiple-engine commercial aircraft license.

By the fall of 2011, Padilla had logged 250 flight hours. To put that number in perspective, the Federal Aviation Administration requires at least 40 hours for a private pilot license.

“I became a flight instructor at the end of September,” he said. “I now have just over 600 hours.”

Many of those hours were logged in Padilla's plane, a four-seat Piper Arrow that he owns with his father. They keep the aircraft in the only hangar at the landing strip in Bridgeport.

Once every few months, Padilla flies his family two and a half hours south to visit relatives in Oceanside, Calif. He's flown as far away as Salmon, Idaho.

“It's a neat way to travel,” he said. “It opens up so many avenues.”

Padilla currently has three students. He said there are three stages of instruction including both ground lessons and actual flying. First, logically, students must learn how to control an aircraft to the extent they can fly solo. Second, students must learn cross-country navigation. The third stage, without which there is no license, students must pass an FAA written exam and an oral and practical exam as well.

The timeline from beginner to licensed pilot varies with participation. Some students complete flight school in six weeks. Others, like Padilla, log time over the course of many years.

“Being an instructor is re-teaching me how to fly. It's interesting to see students struggling with something I've mastered, but then remember I struggled with the same thing,” he said. “Every student learns differently. It starts out the same way with five lessons that are identical. After that, it's more random, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each student.”

On Friday, Padilla was on the tarmac checking up on Mike Booher, one of his students who happens to be chief of the Bridgeport Fire Protection District. Booher was preparing to solo a Cessna 172.

“I'm testing next week,” he said. “I've already passed the written exam. Hopefully, I do well.”

Flying Start Aero is a Cessna Flight Center, which means it offers a standardized pilot program using Cessna planes. A Redbird full-motion flight simulator in the company's upstairs office is used in conjunction with real flight time.

“Cessnas are easy to fly and safe,” states the company's website.

Gardnerville residents Keith and Rhonda Jorgenson purchased Flying Start Aero in January. The previous owner, John Brown, opened another school by the same name in Reno, and the two operations share resources and work together.

The Minden school currently enrolls a dozen students, part- and full-time, and employs two instructors, Padilla and Bill Schroeder.

“My husband is a pilot of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft,” Rhonda Jorgenson said. “His passion is flying.”

Keith Jorgenson also works as an independent security contractor in Afghanistan.

“He'll be returning in the middle of 2013,” Rhonda Jorgenson said. “Myself, I like being a passenger. This is an expensive career and hobby. But once you're in, you're definitely hooked.”

As for Padilla's airline prospects, he said it's a tough industry. New FAA regulations will require commercial pilots to have 1,500 logged hours before flying the friendly skies.

“Especially to start, they pay you peanuts,” he said. “But who wouldn't want a couple thousand pounds of thrust under their hand?”

Whether he joins the airlines or stays put in Minden, Padilla is happy just flying.

“I love flying. I really do,” he said. “If being a flight instructor does it for me, then I'll be satisfied being a flight instructor and running a business in Bridgeport.”

Flying Start Aero is located at 1151 Airport Road in Minden.

Zambia’s plans for national airline intensify

Zambia has intensified its push to re-establish a national airline to help boost the tourism industry in line with the new government’s plan to re-align tourism as one of the frontline economic sectors.

And London has opened discussions with prospecting investors who are proposing to lease out aircraft to Zambia for the establishment of a national carrier.

Deputy Minister of Tourism and Arts, David Phiri, who is leading the Zambian delegation at the 2012 World Tourism Market (WTM) in London, says it has become evidently clear that the country’s tourism sector will not get to its desired position without a national airline.

This is contained in a media statement issued by the Press Secretary to the Zambian High Commission in London, Amos Chanda.

“The question of connectivity is a central factor in the development of Zambia’s tourism sector. This can only come about where there is a viable national airline.

“There is consensus in both government and industry that Zambia needs a viable national airline and I know that President Sata is keen on this,’ Mr Phiri said.

The Deputy Minister said the PF administration has allocated unprecedented amounts of money to the tourism industry and provided generous tax incentives for the next five years for Zambians wishing to develop tourism infrastructure in national parks.

“What the new government has done is unprecedented in the history of our country and we are determined as a ministry not to fail the President in his bold and broad vision to rejuvenate this important sector of the economy,” he said.

Mr Phiri noted that the efforts to rejuvenate the tourism industry will bear much fruit once the problem of connectivity is resolved through the establishment of a national carrier.

The minister’s delegation includes the Permanet Secretary, Charity Mwansa, Zambia Tourism Board Managing Director, Felix Chaila and senior staff from the ministry.

The deputy minister was expected later this afternoon to host cocktail for tour operators and leading media outlets in London at the Zambia Stand at Excel Centre, UK premier exhibition arena.

The World Travel Market is a global networking exhibition staged annually in London as the leading Global Event for the travel industry providing a vibrant business event with a diverse range of destinations and industry sector to the UK and international travel professionals.

'US Airlines' Ticket Offers May Take Consumers Nowhere

 Arkansas residents promised free airline tickets on "US Airlines" shouldn't start packing their bags just yet.

That's because US Airlines doesn't exist. And, the tickets offered, if they exist at all, are not free as promised by a direct mail offer that has landed in Arkansas consumers' mailboxes in recent weeks.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's Consumer Protection Division has received a large number of inquiries about this suspicious solicitation. So, today McDaniel issued this Consumer Alert to warn Arkansans not to share their sensitive personal and financial information in hopes of winning airline tickets, and to be wary of offers of free products that might end up costing them more than the product is worth.

The mailers receive by Arkansas consumers purport to be from US Airlines and state that the recipient has "qualified for an award of two roundtrip airline tickets." Though it has a similar name to US Airways, the supposed company is in no way affiliated with that or other major airlines.

The mailer states that consumers must call a toll-free number as soon as possible in order to claim their prize. If consumers call the number, they are asked schedule a "tour" of the company's local travel agency showroom, where they can pick up the promised free tickets. To get the tickets, the consumer must agree to be subjected to a sales pitch for the company's travel products and agree to pay undisclosed "taxes and fees" for the tickets. The "taxes and fees" can run to more than $100 per ticket.

The company is not local and does not have a showroom. It is a temporary setup operating  out of a local hotel.

The Attorney General's Office has no reports thus far of Arkansas consumers falling for the scheme.

"We are encouraged by the fact that consumers see this clearly for what it is and refuse to believe that airline tickets await them from an airline that doesn't exist," McDaniel said. "Even if the company does provide ticket vouchers, any prize that requires a consumer to subject himself to a high-pressure sales promotion and pay taxes and 'fees' is anything but free."

As with any sweepstakes or contest, McDaniel reminded consumers to avoid disclosing their credit card or checking account numbers over the phone to callers who claim they are offering a prize. Also, be wary of sharing information without first knowing a contact number or address by which to request removal from a mailing list.

For more information, or to learn more ways to avoid scams, visit the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division website at

Consumers who have received the solicitation from "US Airlines" are encouraged to call the Consumer Protection Division's hotline at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2341.

Aircraft emergency exercise to be held at Malta Airport

A full scale aircraft emergency exercise will be held next Monday evening at Malta Airport in collaboration with other entities.

In a statement Malta Airport explained that even though this is an exercise on a national scale the public should not be alarmed with any unusual movements or the presence of emergency vehicles. This exercise is aimed at assessing the level of preparedness of all entities involved and is being held according to strict standards stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

MIA is urging the public to collaborate by not hindering emergency vehicles or in any way, obstruct the roads in the vicinity.

Future Air Traffic Controllers Could Work In Virtual Towers Nowhere Near The Airport

Air traffic controllers have long worked far above the ground, in towers built to give them a clear view of the airport around them. Like so much of the aviation industry, that setup may fundamentally change, thanks to new technology.

Saab Sensis, an air defense and air traffic control corporation, wants to separate the controllers from the airports.

The Remote Tower premise is straightforward: Cameras and sensors relay images and information from the airport to an off-site controller in just .3 seconds.

It is cost-effective. Tall structures supporting offices and human beings are replaced by what look like water towers, loaded with cameras and sensors. A single controller could efficiently manage multiple small airports, reducing the need for personnel at each one.

Read more:

Qatar Airways' Business Class Terminal In Doha Is Incredibly Cushy

Julie Zeveloff | November 7, 2012  

For most travelers, a seven-hour layover between connecting flights sounds like a nightmare. But for Qatar Airways' first- and business-class passengers at Doha International Airport, the experience is downright cushy.

I recently spent that long at the airline's Premium Terminal on the way to Tanzania, and between the snacks, massage chairs, and duty-free shopping, the time passed quickly.

The 10,000-square-foot terminal is completely separate from the rest of the airport, and feels more like a bustling hotel lobby than an airport waiting room. The two-story structure, which cost nearly $100 million to build, was completed in 2006.

Read more:

Kodiak's air cargo business falling off, more cargo arriving by sea

KODIAK, Alaska — Kodiak's air cargo business has been declining for years.

With the departure of Northern Air Cargo last week, the situation does not appear to be changing anytime soon.

Since 2005, airport cargo traffic has plummeted from 16.6 million pounds to 9.8 million pounds — a drop of over 40 percent, according to the Kodiak Daily Mirror ( ).

Instead of using air cargo, more cargo is being sent by sea. The change is likely due to the rising cost of aviation fuel.

Northern Economics senior economist Jonathan King said Kodiak is unusual among Alaska locations because it ships out much more cargo than it receives. Most of that cargo is fish.

NAC was one of agent Doug Theis' biggest customers. The departure of the Fairbanks company meant he had to lay off an employee, one of the hardest things he's had to do in 13 years of business.

To keep paying the loan on his two-year-old freight terminal, he also had to raise the rates with Alaska Central Express, the smaller carrier that delivers Kodiak's mail.

"It took me down," he said of NAC, "but I'm not out by any means."

Alaska Airlines hauls the bulk of Kodiak's air cargo — estimates range between 70 to 80 percent — which means agents like Theis operate on the margins, vulnerable to the whims of freight companies, new taxes and regulations.

Kodiak air cargo traffic peaked in 2005 when Kodiak State Airport shipped out 12.9 million pounds and received 3.8 million pounds, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation statistics.

In 2011, the airport shipped out just 7 million pounds and received only 2.8 million pounds — a drop of 41 percent from the 2005 figure.

In 2008, when air cargo bottomed out, state-owned ferries shipped 256 container vans from Kodiak. The following year, container traffic surged to 341. Through 10 months this year, 363 containers have traveled out of Kodiak aboard the ferries Tustumena and Kennicott.

A single 40-foot refrigerated container has a maximum capacity of 56,000 pounds — the equivalent of one and a half Boeing 737-400 airplane freighters.

Theis said he can sympathize with people who ship cargo on the ferries because, "After all, everybody wants a good deal, right?"
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror,

Kingfisher crisis affects holidayers as air fares soar

CHENNAI: The crisis in Kingfisher Airlines has hit holidayers this festive season. A getaway to Port Blair or Colombo is expected to burn a hole in the pockets of passengers as air fares have soared for travel for Diwali, Christmas-New Year and Pongal.

Fares have increased by 20-25% for one-way travel to these spots for the next three months. A Chennai-Port Blair one-way ticket ranges between 11,700 and 22,000 on the eve of Diwali and 14,000 to 22,000 on the eve of Christmas. Return fares have already crossed the 11,000 mark for travel in January.

Airline sources attribute the hike to the increased demand for seats and the absence of Kingfisher Airlines on several routes.

"As Kingfisher flights are grounded, the number of seats that would have been available to different destinations, including Port Blair and Colombo, has come down. There is a 14% reduction in overall capacity in the coming three months. If Kingfisher is not revived, fares will go up further," said a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official.

Go Air and Spicejet have started flying to Port Blair after Kingfisher ran into rough weather but this has not helped much because demand for seats has increased when compared to last year. The presence of Kingfisher services may have stabilized fares.

Fares to domestic destinations like Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities have already soared.

"Holiday travel has become expensive this season when compared to last year. Fares would have been much cheaper and more seats would have been available if Kingfisher was operating," said Prema Radhakrishnan of Emerald Airways.

Air fares ranged from 8,400 to 9,500 for Port Blair, 4,200 to 8,900 for Colombo, 5,500 to 6,200 for Mumbai, 6,500 to 7,500 and 3,300 for Bangalore in November and December last year. The ninimum fare for Delhi has touched 8,000 this year.

"Flying will remain expensive unless airlines announce more frequencies for the winter schedule in the coming months," said an airport official. Hike in domestic air fares has also hit holiday packages because air fares form more than 30% of the total package cost.

"The new trend is to announce holiday packages without air fare because economy fares have shot up several fold, making domestic destinations expensive. An economy ticket on the Delhi-Goa route now costs 11,000 on low cost carriers. Earlier it was 5,000. Domestic and foreign tourists will have to spend more for holidays in popular tourist destinations this season," said M K Ajith Kumar of Asia Pacific Tours.

State Bank of India wants ailing Kingfisher to pump $1 billion by month-end

The State Bank of India (SBI), the largest lender to ailing Kingfisher Airlines, wants the airline's promoters to bring in a minimum of $1 billion (about Rs5,400 crore) from any source by month-end so that the airlines can be revived.

"...we do not put a gun on their head but the more comes in the better because airlines are a very capital intensive business. I think about $1 billion would be a good starting point," SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told reporters on the sidelines of World World Economic Forum on India summit here.

"We have said please attend to the capital needs urgently and we would like to see some tangible progress at least by November 30," said Chaudhuri, adding that, "If a company has to be well leveraged financially and not over leveraged, looking at the company's financial position, $1 billion equity could be starting point," he added.

Asked what happens after November 30 deadline, Chaudhuri said "there can be no, yes, or no answer." SBI, the consortium leader of 17 banks, has about Rs1,200-crore of exposure to Kingfisher. He said loans given to the debt-ridden airline, promoted by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has been non-performing and SBI has already made provision for the debt as per RBI's norms.

Emphasising that fresh fund infusion is imminent, Chaudhuri said "we are not interested where the capital is coming from—whether it is coming from Mallya, his group company, outside Indian, overseas, airlines whatever be the source we are agnostic about the source but we would like to see capital be infused."

The consortium, led by SBI, has made available a total Rs7,000 crore to Kingfisher to help it keep flying.

Kingfisher is burdened with a loss of Rs8,000 crore and a debt burden of another over Rs7,524 crore, a large part of that has not been serviced since January.

Boeing announces defense division restructuring

 In a move to further cut costs, aerospace giant Boeing today announced restructuring in its Defense, Space & Security division (BDS).   Boeing outlined a number of shifting executive assignments that will take effect January 1 and announced in a press release that BDS is reducing its facilities by more than 10% and plans by the end of this year to have 30% fewer executive positions than it had in 2010.

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Boeing Co announced a major restructuring of its defense division on Wednesday that will cut 30 percent of management jobs from 2010 levels, close facilities in California and consolidate several business units to cut costs.

The company told employees about the changes on Wednesday, in a memo obtained by Reuters and confirmed by Boeing.

Boeing, the Pentagon's second-largest supplier, said the changes were the latest step in an affordability drive that has already reduced the company's costs by $2.2 billion since 2010, according to the memo.

The measures come as U.S. weapons makers are under pressure to cut costs and preserve profit margins amid dwindling defense spending in the U.S.

In a message to employees, Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said the company aimed to cut costs by an additional $1.6 billion from 2013 through 2015.

"We are raising the bar higher because our market challenges and opportunities require it, and our customers' needs demand it," Muilenburg said.

He said the total savings would reach $4 billion, making the company healthier and better able to deal with a tougher marketplace.

He said Boeing would cut the number of executive jobs an additional 10 percent by the end of 2012, bringing overall cuts in its executive team to 30 percent for the past two years, a move that would result in a 10 percent cut in management costs.

Boeing said the changes were not a response to the threat of additional, across-the-board U.S. budget cuts due to take effect on Jan. 2, or the outcome of U.S. elections, but represented another step in its continuing drive to "be more competitive while investing in technologies and people."

Boeing said it could not project exactly how workers would lose their jobs because it would try to place people in its growing commercial business.

A company spokesman declined to say how many jobs had already been cut from the 2010 level.

Rival Lockheed Martin Corp has reduced its management ranks by about 25 percent in recent years after announcing a voluntary buyout.

Boeing said it would also expand its efforts to cut supply-chain costs by working closely with its suppliers, but did not provide details.

Defense consultant Loren Thompson said the changes were needed to ensure Boeing's continued profitability.

"Many investors focus on Boeing's commercial operations," Thompson said, referring to the jet-making business.

"But defense provides 40 percent of the company's revenues and returns, so controlling costs there is crucial to maintaining the company's overall profitability."

Boeing and other top weapons makers like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Corp and Raytheon Co have focused heavily on cutting costs and drumming up foreign sales to maintain profits as they prepare for a sustained period of weaker defense budgets.


Row jeopardizes purchase of new military jets

The government and the Swiss armed forces want to buy a new fighter jet: the Swedish Saab Gripen. However, diverging opinions on the mission of the air force, the type and number of crafts needed, threaten to bring a possible deal down.

Experts agree on one thing: It would only be required in order for the Swiss Air Force to carry out its mission of protecting national air space in the event of a terrorist attack. Even the pacifist Switzerland without an Army group, which opposes the purchase of new planes, is not totally averse to the idea.

Defence expert Peter Felstead from the IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly publication says air combat fighters are best to conduct this kind of mission. A surface-to-air defence system surely offers protection, but it’s not optimal.

“Surface-to-air missiles are an efficient way to defend an air space, particularly within limited areas, but you can’t really fire off a warning shot with it, as you can do with an aircraft gun,” Felstead says.

Switzerland could also cooperate with other countries to accomplish this sky policing mission. But in addition to problems of sovereignty there are some technical issues as Yvan Perrin, a senior member of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party explains.

“Imagine a hijacking like on September 11, 2001 in the United States… A firing order must be given to shoot down a hostile aircraft; the authorities of the concerned country do so and the order may then transit through army staff in another country.”

“This would be very delicate, and I think by the time the pilot receives the order, it’s too late,” says Perrin, who sits on a parliamentary security policy committee.


The tasks of the air force also include air combat and the destruction of objects on the ground. But while sky police missions are not much disputed, quite the opposite applies to purely military missions.

There is a divide between the political left and the right. The Social Democrats and the Greens tend to think that a renewal of the air force is not justified as there is no real threat against Switzerland.

“The risk of a foreign military plane threatening Switzerland is very small,” says Social Democrat senator GĂ©raldine Savary.

“Considering that the army must become leaner and more modern, this purchase will weigh on necessary investments,” she adds.

Perrin’s reasoning is different. “We certainly don’t have a foreign army setting up camp at our borders. But a purchase today is an investment for the next 30 years. It is a gamble on the future. You can’t risk going without an air force.”

Policing the skies

For those who advocate that the Swiss Air Force must above all carry out a sky police mission, the currently available means – a fleet of 33 F/A-18 – are for the moment sufficient and adequate.

“For the Social Democrats air space surveillance is sufficient,” says Savary. “We already have the necessary means at our disposal, and Switzerland also possesses some drones.”

“We really have pretty much everything we need to control the sky,” adds Christophe Barbey of the pacifist Switzerland without an Army group.

“Switzerland does not need any new planes to defend itself. Buying new planes still is and would always be considered as excessive. It’s a waste of money to satisfy the logic of war.”

It’s an opinion shared by Savary: “Are those planes really indispensable when we have to invest into health, transport and education?”

Increasing doubts

A majority in both parliamentary committees backs a renewal of the air force. They say the Tiger fleet has to be replaced, and the F/A-18 is starting to become dated.

At the end of a complex evaluation procedure, the cabinet and the armed forces picked the Swedish Gripen over the French Rafale and the European Eurofighter, notably for financial reasons.

“Fighter jets are indeed very expensive. That’s why it was expected that Switzerland would buy the Gripen. As other European states such as Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary are using the same planes, the costs for support and maintenance may be reduced through an international cooperation,” the British specialist Felstead says.

However, critics say the Gripen fighter jet is less effective than its competitors. All of a sudden, even some advocates of the fighter jet have become skeptical.

“There is the saying ‘Buy in haste, repent at leisure’,” says Perrin. “It’s worrying to think that we will now buy an aircraft for the next 30 years, that’s already today largely obsolete.”

Crash in sight?

The acquisition of the new plane has yet to be discussed in parliament, and voters will most likely have the final say.

Observers say the plan got off to a bad start nearly three years ago. And it is widely expected that the left will reject the funding bill in parliament in 2013, but opposition could also come from the right.

“On the right, there is a real divide over the type of plane. I feel a lack of enthusiasm, even a real resistance, towards the Gripen,” says Savary.

A nationwide vote could very well reject the Swedish plane.

“Citizens are not really convinced about the necessity of buying a new plane,” says Perrin. He fears for the worst if they are told that parliament and the government chose an aircraft that does not really fulfill the criteria.

Pilots body moves Delhi High Court against revised flight duty hours

NEW DELHI: Accusing civil aviation minister Ajit Singh of undue interference, the Association of Indian Commercial Pilots has moved the Delhi High Court against the new flight duty hours.

The petition, which is likely to be taken up for hearing on Thursday, blames Singh for tinkering with the duty hours of pilots without consulting them or the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as is mandatory.

Arguing that it was the sole prerogative of the DGCA to lay down maximum daily hours to be flown by pilots, the maximum daily duty hours as well as the daily landings permitted by a pilot, the pilots alleged that the minister had stepped beyond his jurisdiction.

The petition said even private airlines couldn't set their own flight and duty time limitations (FDTL), yet the minister went ahead in September and decided that the FDTL for Air India pilots will be revised upwards. The pilots claimed the minister also directed AI to implement the revised duty hours along with revised route allocations in gross violation of statutory laws.

"Bilateral agreements that protect pilots have been interfered with and revised by a third party which violates constitutional rights," the pilots said in their petition, urging the court to intervene and quash the revised duty hours.

The pilots claimed Singh had failed to discharge the function as a "neutral nodal minister" for the airline industry but had taken a decision to influence Air India on FDTL that posed a threat to safety of the aircraft apart from violating Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) rules.

The petition also said that since 1965, any change in FDTL was made after negotiation with pilots followed by approval of the DGCA. Yet, this time, in blatant disregard of established practices and conventions, the minister had issued new duty hours, the pilots complained.

Fog: Directorate General of Civil Aviation asks airlines to ensure adequate trained pilots

NEW DELHI: With fog likely to affect flights in and out of Delhi and other cities in North India for a longer period this year, aviation regulator DGCA today asked all airlines to deploy sufficient number of pilots trained to operate air service in such a condition.

At a meeting convened by DGCA, met department officials said the anticipated period of fog during 2012-13 at the Delhi airport would be from December 10 to February 10. In the past few years, foggy conditions have subsided by the third week of January.

The meeting, which reviewed fog preparedness at the Delhi and other north Indian airports, was attended by officials of Airports Authority of India, domestic and foreign carriers, Delhi International Airport Ltd, CISF and the Indian Meteorological Department, an official spokesperson said.

DGCA directed airlines to ensure that adequate numbers of Category-III trained pilots were available to operate flights to and from Delhi during fog.

The airlines were also told that the operations of planes like ATR turboprops, regional jets and Bombardier Q400s, which are not CAT-III compliant, should be rescheduled during the fog period.

The regulator also asked airlines to provide advance information to passengers and provide them with basic amenities along with food at alternate airports in case of diverted flights.

While DIAL representative made a presentation on the preparations and contingency plans during the fog period, AAI officials said they have issued instructions to alternate airports near Delhi to prepare for fog situation.

Construction work, which could affect aircraft operations, should be stopped near the operational area at the IGI airport as well as the alternate airports like Jaipur, Lucknow, Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Varanasi during the fog period, the aviation regulator instructed.

Amaechi and Akpabio’s controversial new jets

November 7, 2012 by Editorial Board

The recent acquisition of private jets by the governments of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states is as reckless as it is highly insensitive. The massive waste of money is coming at a time when the rate of poverty and deprivation is worsening in the country. It is indefensible for state governors to add acquisition of jets to the life of luxury they are already known for. State Houses of Assembly should check such executive excesses.

The Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was reported to have taken delivery of a brand new Bombardier Global 5000 (N565RS) on October 7, 2012. Earlier in June this year, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State also reportedly acquired a new $45m Gulfstream jet. Initial media reports indicated that the Rivers State government purchased the jet for $45.7m from Bombardier Inc of Canada for Amaechi’s personal use. But the state government later denied buying any new jet, claiming that the reported jet had been bought two years ago at a cost of $45m after trading off two older state-owned aircraft – Dash 8 and the Embraer jet.  It said the jet was not for Amaechi’s exclusive use.

The justification offers scant comfort.  It is difficult to defend this strange sense of priorities and the arrogant attitude on display.  In 2006, the United Nations Development Programme described the Niger Delta region, to which Rivers and Akwa Ibom states belong, as “a region suffering from administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth and squalor, and endemic conflict.” The 2012 Niger Delta Development Forum report says, “There is empirical evidence to show that traditional approaches to poverty reduction have not resulted into sustained improvements, income and employment for the people of the region”.

The funds could have been better spent elsewhere. In addition, maintaining a jet will definitely be a constant drain on the public purse. The money, for instance, can repair a number of roads that have been washed away by floods in recent times. It can put smiles on the faces of the indigenes of over 100 communities ravaged by flood recently in different parts of Rivers State. It will rejuvenate many health and educational institutions begging for attention in the two states. It will go a long way in bringing about potable water and power supply, which the citizens desperately need. It will also provide decent and affordable housing to a good number of the citizens. Even if all the roads in the capital cities, Port Harcourt and Uyo, are paved with gold, (and this is not the case) what of roads in the rural areas?

What about further developing marine transport, which will benefit a good number of the people? It is said that water-related diseases and waste disposal practices constitute serious problems throughout the area. It is painful to note that the same Amaechi, earlier in the year, signed into law the controversial Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions and Fringe Benefits Bill 2012. The law stipulates that an elected former governor or deputy governor is entitled to a house each in Rivers and Abuja and a pension for life as part of their retirement benefits.

The profligacy is so sickeningly familiar. Is a Nigerian governor’s job schedule more challenging than that of the United Kingdom’s prime minister? What is the per capita income of Rivers compared with the UK’s? It is a tale of hubris and mismanagement that echoes in most of our states. In the North, fiscally irresponsible states are relying on the Federal Government to take about 10 million almajiri children off the streets. Despite the poverty and underdevelopment in the northern part of the country for instance, some of the governors in that region would rather spend their state resources buying sallah rams for some citizens, building worship centres and providing limousines and palaces for traditional rulers. These governors have not realised that they hold the resources of their states in trust for the people and should not in any way fritter them away.

Our profligate governors have only succeeded in exposing their poor governance performance to the outside world. A former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, wondered why Amaechi and others were obsessed with private jets when the King of Norway and the prime minister fly commercial airlines when they travel. Even Britain’s Prime Minister does not have official jets. He flies in chartered aircraft, sometimes privately chartered, but often he flies British Airways.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has sometimes, travelled in commercial airlines. It saves taxpayers at least $300,000 each time Cameron takes a commercial flight. Incidentally, while Norway, which produces about the same amount of crude oil as Nigeria, is among the richest countries in the world with one of the highest standards of living, Nigeria is among the poorest.

In Africa, Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda, earlier in the year, announced that she would sell her country’s sole Presidential jet and a fleet of 60 Mercedes Benz limousines. She said she would henceforth use private airlines instead. In the past, Nigeria has produced some selfless leaders who had the interest of the country at heart.  Such leaders as Murtala Mohammed, Aminu Kano, Tafawa Balewa and Michael Adekunle Ajasin, never engaged in lavish lifestyles at the expense of the citizens. These are leaders our wasteful governors should emulate. Our land is again hungry for them.

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Cessna 421, HC-CIK: Commission of Inquiry to probe Ecuadorean aircraft's activities in Guyana

The repainted Cessna 421

Brazilian pilot Goncola Ferreira Lima Neto

The Guyana government is to hold a presidential Commission of Inquiry into the presence and activities of the Ecuadorean-registered aircraft that was seized in the interior late last month, a senior official here said Wednesday. 

 Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon said the five member probe team would be drawn from the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defence Force Customs Anti Narcotics Unit, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority and the private sector.

"In the wake of the Ecuadorean-registered aircraft seizure Cabinet has decided to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the aircraft's presence here in Guyana and the subsequent related and unfolding events," he told the weekly post-cabinet news conference.

He said it was likely that either the GCAA or the Foreign Ministry had already contacted Ecuadorean authorities about the aircraft that had originally bore registration number HC-CIK.

When the plane was found at Pirara one day after departing the Ogle International Airport, the aircraft was repainted, fitted with extra fuel tanks and hoses to facilitate long flying hours and the registration number changed to Venezuelan.

The Cessna 421 plane departed the Ogle International Airport on Sunday October 28 at 19:40 (GMT) ostensibly destined for Boa Vista but the pilot eventually discontinued contact with Guyana’s Air Traffic Control.

A search was launched and the aircraft was found on Monday October 29 at Pirara minus the Brazilian pilot, Goncola Ferreira Lima Neto, who was the lone occupant.

He had arrived on October 26 to fly the plane that had been brought here by another pilot two months earlier from Trinidad on what local authorities said they were led to believe was a technical stop.

Pilot Marc Gilbert pleads guilty in child-sex case

Lake Tapps pilot - sentenced for molestation.

Marc Gilbert, accused of raping young boys at his Lake Tapps home and videotaping the crimes, has been sentenced to 10 more years in prison.

Published: November 6, 2012

 A wealthy Lake Tapps pilot – who turned his child-sex case into a circus by representing himself and convincing a judge he had the right to watch sexual videos in jail – pleaded guilty Tuesday as his trial was about to begin.

Weldon Marc Gilbert’s plea to multiple counts of second- and third-degree child molestation allowed him to avoid a potential life prison sentence.

But his pretrial legal wranglings so incensed Pierce County Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz that she sentenced him to serve his nearly 10-year state prison term consecutively to the 25-year sentence his received in federal court for similar crimes about three years ago.

That means Gilbert, 52, will face 10 years in state prison once his federal term expires.

Pierce County prosecutors Tim Lewis and Patrick Hammond encouraged Stolz to order Gilbert’s state sentence to toll at the same time as his federal sentence, saying that condition was part of a so-called “global plea agreement” reached among federal prosecutors, state prosecutors and Gilbert.

Stolz wasn’t having it.

“You have just played games with us from the get-go,” the judge told Gilbert once he’d pleaded guilty. “There are consequences for playing the criminal justice system, Mr. Gilbert.”

He sat quietly at the defense table as Stolz reprimanded him.

Gilbert, then a commercial airline pilot with business interests across the region, was arrested in November 2007 after a teenage boy reported to authorities that Gilbert had allegedly been molesting him at his Lake Tapps home.

Federal and Pierce County investigators later tracked down more teenagers and young men who said Gilbert had ingratiated himself with them.

He used rides in his boat and helicopter and sometimes plied them with alcohol before convincing them to participate in sexual activities, including fondling and paddling.

Gilbert was charged in state and federal courts with numerous sex crimes. He pleaded guilty in both courts but withdrew his state plea when he learned at sentencing he might be confined to life in prison under Washington’s indeterminate sentencing laws for certain sex crimes.

Gilbert then decided to go to trial and to serve as his own lawyer.

He filed voluminous pretrial motions, including a demand to review in jail some of the videotapes seized from his home that allegedly showed him engaging in sexual activity with some of the young men.

A Pierce County judge allowed him to do so, saying he had a right to view the evidence against him.

Gilbert said today he decided to plead guilty to save his victims the pain of a trial where they’d be expected to testify.

He entered a special plea where he maintained his innocence but said he’d probably be convicted at trial.

“I think it’s time for this to end,” he said. “I apologize.”

Stolz said Gilbert’s apology rang hollow.

She said he’s minimized his behavior from the beginning and dragged out the case for nearly three years even though he knew that once jurors saw the videotapes he’d be convicted.

“This court does not feel you are remorseful,” said Stolz, who went on to call Gilbert a pedophile and sexual deviant. “Maybe you don’t want to hear the blunt Anglo-Saxon, but there it is.”

Arik Air To Build Super Hangar, Expands Operation

As Arik Air celebrates its sixth year in operation, the airline has revealed plans to further expand its operations to destinations in the United States, Asia and Africa even as it has disclosed plans to construct what it described as a Super Aircraft Maintenance and Overhaul Hangar at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, for the maintenance of wide-body aircraft.

This, according to the Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Chris Ndulue, would be in partnership with the Lufthansa Technik and would be available for use by other airlines.

Talking to journalists during the sixth year anniversary celebration of the airline, Ndulue, who also unveiled other projects which the airline would embark on in the future, said the airline has made its mark in the industry as it has successfully provided connectivity to major cities across the country and beyond, but stressed it was time for the airline to also build structures around its operations.

While counting the airline’s achievements, Ndulue said that when it started operations six years ago, it could only carry an insignificant number of passengers, but that with its six years in operation, the airline now controls more than 65 per cent of the market share as far as passenger operations was concerned in the domestic market.

 “We have made it possible to connect from many key cities in the country direct to Lagos and Abuja. This network has stimulated the Nigerian economy as Nigerians can now travel safely and comfortably on brand new aircraft. We are not just building an airline or the aviation sector- we are contributing to the growth of the Nation.

“The Airline has an extremely strong market position in terms of the scale of operations, number of destinations served, fleet age and size, and choice of schedules and frequencies – and has earned its position of being a true Nigerian carrier,” Ndulue said,

In the nearest future, Ndulue said the airline planned to expand its African operations to include: Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Conakry (Guinea), Kinshasa (Congo), Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), Libreville (Gabon). Also there are plans to expand long-haul destinations to include Lagos-Houston (USA), Abuja-Kano-Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Accra-London, Freetown-London.

Now firmly established as West and Central Africa’s largest airline and  Africa’s fastest growing airline, Arik Air has received several awards during the short period of its existence. Some of them include USA’s African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) recognition as aviation leader in the transport sector in West and Central Africa;  Business and Professional Women in Nigeria (BPW) Award for Excellence; International Quality Summit Award, Platinum Category, Paris, France, October 2010; and  Best Security Conscious Airline in West Africa Award 2011, 2012.

Ndulue also disclosed that the airline has made tremendous input in the training of manpower in the industry, even as it has provided employment for thousands of Nigerians. Specifically, Arik Air has provided employment opportunities about 2,500 Nigerians since coming into operations in 2006. This is in addition to the training of cadet pilots by the airline at the cost of $2million.

Crash Drill At Lynden Pindling International Airport - Bahamas

The need for better communication between agencies at the Lynden Pindling International Airport was revealed yesterday after officials staged a simulated plane crash.

Yesterday morning, LPIA’s emergency response was put to the test with a “full-scale drill” of a simulated plane crash complete with the role-playing of passengers, airline crew, family members of crash victims, emergency response agencies, and airport employees.

The exercise is done every two years in an effort to evaluate emergency response and make any necessary improvements. Yesterday’s scenario was the third time the exercise was done.

The scene included a 84-seater plane that “crash landed” at LPIA after a landing gear problem forced the plane to turn back, shortly after take-off.

First to respond was the airport’s own fire services, followed by ambulances, fire services, and police.

The Airport Authority’s chief fire officer, Samuel Clarke told the press: “These exercises are extremely important. They test our contingency plans on what our procedure ought to be and based on our test of our plan today, it will tell us where we need to strengthen or improve or actually change our response procedure.”

He praised the response time of the emergency services to the scene, noting although the scenario was delayed by an hour, the relevant agencies were still able to respond.

“Our actual plan time from the beginning – it was delayed but it didn’t alter our response to the situation when the final alarm was made,” Mr Clarke said. “I think that’s a plus in the sense that although something was planned for a specific time, it happened later but everybody responded accordingly.”

He admitted communication remains a long-standing obstacle when it comes to emergency response, but explained communications has been steadily improving as the tests continue.

“Always on these exercises, there’s always a plan to improve communication and cooperation and I can basically see that playing out again – communication and coordination,” he said.

“These drills test our plans and wherever there are weaknesses, we seek to make improvements. From our past, always we had a problem with improvement in communications. We’re going to evaluate this year to see if our communication aspects have been improved.”

Following the stimulation, Mr Clarke said, LPIA will evaluate the entire scenario with the help of “observers” – airline experts who watched the scene and made notes based on the response of the emergency services.

“We’ll do our debrief, we’ll have our report from our evaluators and once that is done we’ll make a determination on the best way forward for improving our response,” Mr Clarke said.

Civil Aviation director, Patrick Rolle was one observer on site watching the scene play out.

“My role here is to observed (and) to critique,” he said. “The critique is beneficial because we’re looking at all the mistakes, we’re looking at those areas that we can improve on and we improve them.”

Mr Rolle took note of the importance of the exercises, explaining the airport’s emergency response has drastically improved as the exercises continue. He also agreed communication plays a key role in the execution of emergency response.

“The first one, to be honest, was a mess. We did it (and) we found that there were a lot of errors. We found that in certain areas we were not prepared,” he said.

“In most areas, incidents like this – the major problem is communication, so we had to correct those. We have to ensure that everyone who was involved was notified in proper time. So every time we do this, it improves. Every time we do this, we find we have to change things.”

He emphasized any mistakes that may happen during the exercise are viewed by observers as “avenues to improve upon.”

He said: “What we’re practicing and looking for is proficiency and making sure everyone understands their role.”

Members from the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Civil Aviation Department, National Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Medical Services, Airport Authority, MED Evac, JetBlue, Bahamas Red Cross Society, Princess Margaret Hospital, Doctors Hospital, New Providence Community Church, and the Nassau Airport Development Company participated in the drill.

Woman pilot of Air India Express complains of threats

Thiruvananthapuram: Assistant Commissioner of Police K.S. Vimal, who heads the Kerala Police team probing the October 19 incident when a woman pilot of Air India Express sounded a "hijack" alert, said that the pilot has said she is being threatened over email.

Vimal said the police, after speaking for two hours with the pilot, W. Rupali, had got her version of what happened on that day.

"Yes, in a complaint to her employer in Mumbai and also to us, the pilot said that she was receiving threatening emails from the Middle East," Vimal said.

The police team that is probing the incident recorded a statement from the pilot last month, in which she said that the hijack alert was sent out as she received threats from passengers.

Following the arrival of an Air India Express flight at Thiruvananthapuram from Abu Dhabi on October 19, after being diverted from Kochi on account of bad weather, matters got out of hand as passengers refused to alight in Thiruvananthapuram, claiming that the distance by road to Kochi was nearly 220 kilometres.

Some passengers reportedly rushed to the cockpit, and the woman pilot alleged that she was threatened by them. She sounded the hijack alert, sending air traffic control across the country into a tizzy.

The police earlier identified six passengers as "trouble-makers". Their statements were recorded and they were let off.

The charge sheet to be filed by the police in this connection has become a matter of great curiosity.

The Kerala government, meanwhile, has assured passengers of that flight that they need not fear any harassment.

FastJet ticket sale starts next week ahead of launch

The first regional low cost carrier FastJet will start selling tickets from next week, ahead of its planned launch later in the month.

The debut flights will be operated from Tanzania, which approved the use of the airline's Airbus A319 planes ahead of Kenya which has just recently done so.

The airline now has three Airbus A319s as part of its fleet that are currently being painted with the FastJet colors and logo in preparation for the launch.

FastJet Plc is the holding company for regional airline Fly540, which operates from four bases in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola. “We are excited that the launch is now imminent and that FastJet will be turning from a concept into a reality,” said FastJet chairman Chairman David Lenigas.

National carrier Kenya Airways is also planning to launch a budget airline which will be known as Jambo Jet to counter anticipated competition from FastJet.

KQ has obtained license for the low cost carrier but debut date is yet to be established as it is still in negotiations with other regional governments to secure flying rights, said CEO Titus Naikuni yesterday.

Expert urges transparency before purchase of new LIAT planes

MONTREAL, Canada, Wednesday November 7, 2012 – Outspoken Canadian-based airline expert John Gilmore has written to the leader of the main opposition Barbados Labor Party (BLP) and former prime minister, Owen Arthur, urging him “to insist on a full, open and transparent debate” of the options available to Barbados and other shareholders regarding the purchase of a new fleet of aircraft by the Antigua-based airline LIAT.

Barbados, along with St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda are the main shareholders of the financially strapped regional carrier that has already signaled its intention to replace its aging fleet of 18 Dash-8 aircraft. The airline is reported to be paying an average of US$1.2 million in maintenance costs per plane annually.

In the letter to Arthur, Gilmore said that media reports indicate that LIAT has confirmed that it is in late stage negotiations with a French aircraft manufacturer for six new 50 seat ATR 42-600 aircraft at a list price of US$19.5 million per aircraft exclusive of spares and integration costs.

He said the airline has made it clear that the final cost and financing terms will not be made public until a definitive purchase agreement has been signed with the manufacturer - after a contractual commitment has been made.

Gilmore said that LIAT is also indicating that it intends to replace the balance of its fleet of   DASH 8-300 aircraft with new 70 seat aircraft and will make a decision prior to the end of 2012, “which at a comparable cost per seat to the ATR 42-600 would represent a further US$245.7 million – again exclusive of spares and integration”.

He said as a result, the total fleet replacement cost on that basis will be US$362.7 million at list prices.

Gilmore said that it is “self evident that the current 18 aircraft fleet with an average age of over 20 years is in need of replacement on a priority basis”.

But he said what is less evident “is whether LIAT, as presently constituted, represents a viable economic model to deliver what is clearly an essential intra-regional service through the Eastern Caribbean and beyond”.

Gilmore, who last year had publicly advocated for the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines to take over LIAT similar to the agreement it reached with Air Jamaica, recalled that Arthur in 2007 had been “largely responsible for negotiating the acquisition of Caribbean Star ...and the re-financing of LIAT with new equity of US$60 million” via a loan from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) that was “subscribed to by its shareholder governments pro rata”.

Gilmore said that LIAT, with an effective monopoly increased prices and apparently was profitable in 2008 and 2009, but has lost money every year since and recently it has been experiencing what “appears to be serious cash constraints suggesting that it has gone through the US$60 million and now needs further direct subsidies”.

Gilmore in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), said that LIAT's traffic in the years since 2007 “has been in serious decline” particularly within the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“What the foregoing suggests is that prior to making further significant capital investments or providing further financial assistance by way of subsidies the shareholder governments should undertake a fundamental review of whether the airline as presently constituted represents the optimum and most cost effective way of delivering the intra regional air transportation system that is generally acknowledged as being an essential service.”

He said LIAT itself has complicated any analysis “as it has historically and on a continuing basis adopted a cloak of secrecy about its operational and financial affairs that precludes both informed analysis and comparison of its efficiency with other similar airlines”.

Gilmore said that he has debated “this issue” with LIAT senior management for several years and urged that the airline “publish ongoing operational and financial data as most airlines do to permit the public, who are its ultimate shareholders, to assess its performance”.

He said now the airline needs a huge amount of new capital to cover its fleet replacement and replenish, “such a debate is more essential than ever”.

“Is LIAT, as presently structured, the best way to deliver the essential intra-regional air transport services in the region and who should bear the burden of financing whatever is concluded to be the optimum delivery mechanism?

“I urge you, before the current opaque and secret process becomes too far advanced, to insist on a full, open and transparent debate of the options based on the full disclosure of LIAT's financial and operating data for the past five years which would enable informed analysis and comparison of how well it has been doing and how it might be done better in the future.”

Gilmore said that as a “long term observer of the Caribbean aviation scene” his objective  has always been to support “an integrated, efficient, affordable and self sustaining profitable intra- and extra-regional Caribbean owned air transportation network”.(CMC)

Kingfisher Air Should Raise $1 Billion of Capital, Lender Says

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. largest lender said the cash-strapped Indian carrier should raise at least $1 billion of fresh capital, stepping up pressure on Chairman Vijay Mallya to deliver on promises of new investment.

“We are slightly disappointed at the pace at which the capital-raising plan is going,” State Bank of India Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told reporters in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, today. “The company has been assuring us that they have been working hard for it, but we would like to see some tangible evidence.”

Kingfisher, which halted flights about five weeks ago, needs to raise new funds this month, Chaudhuri said, without saying how much. He declined to give a timeframe for when the Bangalore-based company needs the full $1 billion. Kingfisher owed 14 billion rupees ($259 million) to the bank as of February.

Liquor tycoon Mallya has spent about a year trying to sell a stake in Kingfisher as he seeks funds to ease an 86 billion- rupee debt pile. The carrier, whose market value has slumped to $191 million, is also working on a turnaround plan as it seeks to resume operations and to persuade regulators to re-activate its suspended license.

“Until they restructure, nobody will be interested in Kingfisher,” said Jasdeep Walia, an analyst at Kotak Securities Ltd. in Mumbai. “Everything the airline owns is locked away as collaterals for loans.”

Diageo Talks

The carrier’s founders have contributed 11.5 billion rupees to the company since April 1, Mallya told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Sept. 26. Mallya is also in talks to sell a stake in liquor business United Spirits Ltd. (UNSP) to Diageo Plc as he seeks cash.

Kingfisher employees resumed work Oct. 25 after the airline agreed to pay four months’ of unpaid wages by Dec. 24. A walkout sparked by overdue salaries prompted the flight shutdown last month. The regulator subsequently suspended the carrier’s operating license and rejected its request for flight slots during the country’s winter.

The airline is preparing a “comprehensive” revival plan, Prakash Mirpuri, a spokesman, said in a statement yesterday. The company doesn’t comment on banking relationships, he said today.

Kingfisher has 10 airworthy planes, down from 66 in the year ended March 31, 2011, according to Arun Mishra, the director general of civil aviation.

The airline has tumbled 39 percent this year in Mumbai trading. It rose 2 percent to 12.80 rupees today. State Bank owns 3.5 percent of the carrier after converting debt to equity in the year ended March 2011.
Jet, SpiceJet

Jet Airways (India) Ltd., the nation’s biggest listed carrier, and budget airline SpiceJet Ltd. have both more than doubled in Mumbai trading this year, partly because of Kingfisher’s flight cuts paring competition. Jet’s domestic revenue jumped 35 percent in the quarter ended September.

Mallya’s UB Group will invest in Kingfisher to help revive operations, an Indian government official said Oct. 26, after a meeting between the regulator and the airline’s chief executive officer. The carrier must prove it has adequate funds to pay airports, fuel suppliers and other vendors before the license suspension can be lifted, said the official, who declined to be identified citing rules.