Saturday, November 10, 2012

Faulty landing lights in airport baffle pilots

KOLKATA: Over the past fortnight, over a dozen incoming flights to Kolkata have abandoned approach and pulled out at the last minute. In each instance, the pilot complained of malfunction in a critical visual landing guidance system installed at the southern end of the secondary runway. But with airport authorities insisting all is well despite a flurry of complaints, directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) has asked Airports Authority of India (AAI) to get the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) recalibrated.
 

According to sources, the problem surfaced around two weeks ago when the primary runway was shut down for routine maintenance work. The pilot of a private airline, who was directed to approach the secondary runway from the south, veered away after the readings on the distance measuring equipment (DME) failed to match the indicators on PAPI. While DME tells pilot the distance between the aircraft and the runway, PAPI is a visual reference for the pilot to know the position of the aircraft relative to the guideslope or descent coordinate of the runway.

"Initially, all seemed normal when the pilot aligned the aircraft to the runway and began making a descent. A controller was in constant touch with him over VHF radio as the secondary landing strip does not have instrument landing system that allows pilots flying modern aircraft to simply lock on to the fly-by-wire system during the final approach and sit back while the plane lands automatically. When he was a minute away from touchdown, the pilot said exclaimed the PAPI showed he was flying lower than the desired altitude in the guideslope and would fall short of the runway if he continued the descent. He then pulled away from the landing procedure. When the controller asked him to go around and make a fresh approach in case there was a mistake, the pilot refused, saying the problem was either in the DME or PAPI alignment and that he did not feel confident to land on the secondary runway. We had no option but to stop repair work on the primary runway and clear it for the plane to land," a source said.

When other pilots also reported similar aberration in PAPI, the ATC shifted operations to the primary runway, shutting the secondary landing strip. While all landing strips have PAPI, the instrument becomes even more critical when there is no ILS.

A glitch in PAPI can lead to a faulty approach that can be a big risk and even cause an aircraft to crash. The PAPI itself consists of a light array positioned beside the runway. Comprising four equi-spaced light units colour coded to provide visual indication, the pilot knows he is on the right path when he spots two white lights on the inside and two red lights on the outside. When he sees four red lights, it indicates that the aircraft is lower than the desired altitude and will fall short of the runway . Four white lights indicate he is higher than the desired altitude.

When he views four white lights, it indicates that he is higher than the desired altitude and will overshoot the runway.

Though the pilots have had no problem approaching the secondary runway from north, a strong northerly wind during winter months forces operations to move to the south to avoid a strong tailwind.

Realizing the alignment of PAPI had gone haywire, perhaps during the runway's extension work, ATC officials asked AAI to check the lights and rectify the problem. The latter claims it got PAPI checked by airfield management and communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) staff but found nothing wrong with the crucial instrument. Yet, the problem recurred when the primary runway was shut down the next time. It happened on November 7 and again on November 9.

"We know there is a problem but the airport will not acknowledge it. Unless PAPI is recalibrated, we will not use the secondary runway," a pilot said. Pilots of other airlines, too, said they would not risk landing on the secondary runway at present.

Sensing that operations at Kolkata airport may have to be shut down if the primary runway is not available, DGCA had asked AAI to get its aircraft to calibrate PAPI and fix the situation. Sources said the aircraft had been requisitioned and could arrive anytime next week.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Flying a remote control plane

 
 Published on Nov 10, 2012 by WTNH 

(WTNH) -- Flying model airplanes goes back to the 1930's and 40's. Now, fast forward to 2004 when a group of model airplane flyers got together and founded the "White Hills Eagles RC Club". 

www.whitehillseaglesrc.org

How will the legalization of marijuana affect business like Boeing and Microsoft in Washington state?

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, November 10, 2012, 1:41 PM
 


DR. DAVE: Boarding a sleek new Boeing jet for my monthly hop from Seattle to Alaska, another passenger was listening intently to his friend Denny pontificate the morning after the election. With both Microsoft and Boeing centered in Washington State, they were talking about the local voters’ intelligence, or lack thereof, in deciding to legalize recreational use of pot, to the tune of an estimated $500 million for the state treasury through a 25% sales tax!

BILL: I have to tell you Doc, I’m sick of this never-ending war on drugs. But what’s Denny’s point about Boeing and Microsoft except both are indeed centered in Washington State ?

DR. DAVE: Denny’s next sentence answered that for me too. “If I was Saudia Arabia or Taiwan,” he was saying, “with one of those fancy new Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order, I would want to be sure the sales sticker said, ‘Made in Charleston South Carolina’ and not ‘Everett Washington’!” Another listener chimed in that she wouldn’t be surprised to see the Boeing employees in Charleston starting to put “Made in Drug Free South Carolina” on their engine parts!

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com

Spruce Creek Fly-In: Mansions in high demand in Volusia County, Florida

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. —

WFTV has learned that million-dollar mansions are in high demand in Volusia County.


On Thursday, Channel 9's Blaine Tolison toured a 6,000-square-foot home that's for sale in the lucrative Spruce Creek Fly-In community in Port Orange.

Nearly two dozen people are on a list looking to buy high-priced homes, but those lavish properties are becoming harder to find in Volusia County.

Inside one Spruce Creek Fly-In mansion, the ceilings were 20- feet high and the home was filled with exquisite d├ęcor, Tolison said.

One staircase was made of solid mahogany, while others were made of exotic tropical hardwood.

Realtor Carlos Bravo said there aren't many homes like it in Volusia County.

Bravo said the home has a $120,000 kitchen, and he believes it will be sold in a month or so for $1.2 million.

"We have, right now, a waiting list of about 23 million-plus buyers that are actively looking for a cash purchase," Bravo said.

Bravo said he believes the demand is high because builders are less willing to build big. He said he waited years to buy, fix and sell the 20-year-old home.

"When customers come to me, which we have a lot of them that come from all over the world, and looking for brand new products and often, there's not such a thing unless we make it," said Bravo.


Read more and video:  http://www.wftv.com

Hainan Airlines eyes more overseas investment

BEIJING -- Hainan Airlines Group, owner of China's fourth largest carrier by fleet size, plans to buy stakes in more overseas airline companies, the company's board chairman Chen Feng said Friday.
 

The group has plans for more overseas acquisitions and is just at the beginning of its internationalization process, Chen told reporters at a news conference on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

He refused to disclose whether some investment talks are under way.

The parent company of Hainan Airlines, the HNA Group announced last month it had acquired a 48-percent stake in French airline Aigle Azur, becoming the French carrier's second-largest shareholder following the GoFast Group.

"There are a lot of Chinese people visiting Europe, and Paris is a big transportation hub there," Chen said. "We want to enter the market and the only way is through mergers."

The HNA Group is estimated to see revenues exceed 100 billion yuan ($15.9 billion) this year and aims to boost the revenues to between 600 billion yuan and 1 trillion yuan as China's economy continues to grow, Chen said, without revealing the planned date to achieve the goal.

However, the group won't place too many orders for planes next year while its subsidiary Hong Kong Airlines is negotiating with Airbus on canceling a previous order of ten A380 aircraft due to the flagging global aviation market, said the chairman.

"The world economic downturn may last for a long time and we have to be prepared to tackle it," he said.

He also implied that Hong Kong Airlines is unlikely to go public in Hong Kong in the near future, citing weak investment sentiment in aviation stocks.

The HNA Group's revenues were nearly 100 billion yuan last year, with about 300 billion yuan in assets at the end of last year, according to the company's financial statements.

Chen said the group is in good shape in terms of cash flow and debt solvency, though its shipping business has been hit by weak demand as a result of the global economic downturn.

The group has canceled some ship leasing contracts as the international shipping market is "upside down and too miserable to look at", he said.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn

Chinese Airline Judges Pilot Candidates by Armpit Odor

A Chinese airline has sparked controversy after it was reported it included a zero-body-odor requirement in its pilot recruitment tests. Applicants had their armpits sniffed by company staff, to check for any bad smells.
You think requirements stink in your line of work?   Think again. Chinese company Hainan Airlines demanded to smell under the arms of students interviewing as trainee aircrew.  


Obviously, there were other requirements as well, including 20/20 vision, a maximum height of 1.87 meters and a very good knowledge of the English language, but meeting them and failing the bad odor test meant instant elimination for candidates. 

“I passed everything, but I was doomed by my armpits, which are always a bit whiffy”, said one of the applicants. 

Asked about the purpose of this unusual requirement, one of the Hainan Airlines testers said “our staff works very closely with the public, and no passenger wants to smell a pilot’s armpits. 

And if they can keep their cool min this test, they aren’t going to sweat in the cockpit.”

Read more at http://www.odditycentral.com

Lockheed's business is going on the road with vehicle programs

GRAND PRAIRIE -- The Lockheed Martin name evokes images of America's aviation and space heritage: iconic Constellation and TriStar airliners, F-16 fighter jets, and rockets and missiles for space and the military.

Now the defense giant is trying to build a growing role producing machines with wheels, not wings.

The company's Missiles and Fire Control division in Grand Prairie is aiming to be a major supplier of ground combat vehicles designed for future use by the Army and Marines, as well as foreign buyers.

The new vehicles, known in military vernacular as joint light tactical vehicles, are supposed to be faster and safer for troops, as well as more fuel-efficient and affordable, than the Humvees and other vehicles now used by the Army and Marines.

"In the past, there was a clear line of demarcation between where the bad guys were and where the good guys are. That has changed," said Scott Greene, Lockheed's vice president for ground vehicles.

Lockheed will demonstrate the capability to produce a highly capable family of combat vehicles, Greene said.

"We are extremely comfortable ... that this vehicle is going to do what we say it will," Greene said of the Lockheed-BAE Systems joint entry into a competition to make the vehicles.

In August, the Army awarded a $65 million contract to Lockheed Martin-BAE and two other teams, AM General and Oshkosh Corp., to build and deliver 22 prototype vehicles, including 20 before June 30.

The Army will put the vehicles through 14 months of testing and evaluation before making a final selection and awarding a production contract.

The vehicles are designed to replace Humvees and many of the heavy, less mobile mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks that were produced to counter the roadside bombs and guerrilla tactics encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As usual, the military's requests were daunting. The vehicles have to be fast, off-road capable, able to withstand mines and roadside bombs, and preferably be more fuel-efficient and affordable.

But the requirements are not insurmountable, Greene said. "This is a clear systems engineering dilemma."

Everyday parts


The Lockheed-BAE vehicles -- three early prototypes were built and operated more than 60,000 miles to win the contract -- were designed around key, everyday commercial automotive industry components: Cummins diesel engines, Allison transmission and Meritor suspension systems.

Cost savings were big factors in Lockheed's work, Greene said. The company has focused on reducing the longer-term, "total ownership cost" of the vehicles. They will share 90 percent of the same parts.

The Lockheed vehicles have been shown to achieve 11 miles per gallon fuel economy, compared with 3-4 miles per gallon for the Humvee. That's an important consideration given that it costs the military services roughly $400 a gallon to transport gasoline and diesel fuel into combat zones in the Middle East.

A trip in the Lockheed prototype is something to experience. The passenger is strapped in a seat with a four-point, aircraftlike safety harness, handed a bicycle helmet and taken for a ride at speeds up to 70 mph.

With an air-bag suspension system that travels 17 inches up and down, the vehicle rolls over hills and obstacles and through gullies with amazing agility. The ride doesn't damage the spine, although you don't want to try to drink hot coffee off-road.

If the Lockheed team wins the contract, the vehicles would be built by BAE in Sealy, where prototypes are now being assembled. Grand Prairie's role is largely in engineering and development, with about 100 workers involved in all the company's vehicle programs.

Washington defense analyst Loren Thompson, who is also a consultant to Lockheed, said the tactical vehicle program is one of the few that is almost assured of being funded by the Pentagon and Congress amid likely defense budget cuts.

"It looks fairly secure because the Army badly needs a more capable, survivable vehicle," Thompson said.

Lockheed's entry is probably the leading contender unless, Thompson said, the decision comes down purely to price. "If this becomes a story about just low price, Oshkosh will be hard to beat," he said.

Other vehicles
The light tactical vehicle isn't the only one Lockheed is focused on.

Working with Finland's Patria, Lockheed is working to re-engineer that company's eight-wheel armored infantry vehicle and modify it to Marine Corps requirements.

Called the Havoc for the Marines, the Finnish vehicle is in use with several nations including Polish troops fighting with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The mobility, speed and armor of the Polish vehicle have reportedly earned it the nickname "Green Devil" among the Taliban and other insurgents.

Several have taken blasts from improvised explosive devices without being disabled or troops suffering serious injuries, said Patrick Shepherd, Lockheed manager for the Havoc.

The Havoc can travel at more than 65 mph on the road or, operated as an amphibious vehicle, swim ashore at 5 knots. It can carry a crew of three plus nine troops.

"I've personally driven this vehicle into 6-foot-high surf at full combat weight" about 60,000 pounds, Shepherd said.

Shepherd knows something about operating armored vehicles in modern combat zones. He served 17 months in Iraq in 2005-06 with the Army's 172nd Stryker Brigade, fighting insurgents with the Army's armored vehicle.

Lockheed has other vehicle designs and systems in the works, including one that would allow a single driver to operate a convoy of trucks remotely, lessening the dangers and freeing up other troops to be ready to fight.

But perhaps the most intriguing project is what Lockheed calls the "Squad Mission Support System." It's also known around Lockheed and the Army as the Ox because, Greene said, it's "a slow but powerful beast of burden."

Developed with company funds, the Ox is a six-wheel unmanned vehicle designed to carry troops, gear and supplies over rough terrain and in tight spaces.

Four were produced and sent to Afghanistan this year and got rave reviews, Greene said.

The Ox can be operated remotely with an Xboxlike controller. It can be programmed to follow a predetermined course and leaves GPS "bread crumbs" -- digital way points stored on computer -- to drive itself back over the same route.

There's also is a "follow me" mode in which the vehicle's digital controller follows a soldier, speeding up or slowing down as need be over all but totally impassable terrain.

The diesel-engine powered vehicle's rated capacity is 1,500 pounds of cargo, but Lockheed officials say they've seen videos of troops using it in Afghanistan that suggests it's even more capable.

"We counted the number of sandbags they put on it and we're absolutely convinced they put 4,000 pounds on it," Greene said.

The Ox is small enough to be transported to remote locations slung under an Army H-60 Blackhawk helicopter or carried aboard the bigger CH-47 Chinook.

Lockheed expects the Army to officially request proposals for a vehicle like the Ox in 2014.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com

Burley Municipal Airport (KBYI), Idaho: Opinion/Sound Offs

Dear Editor,

I am a pilot who owns an airplane and a hangar at the Burley Municipal Airport.  In my 25 years owning two businesses in Burley my airplane has been an invaluable tool to meet the needs of my family, friends and customers.  When I owned Payne Mortuary I flew to many locations in Idaho and throughout the West to bring back home those who had passed away. I am also a professional aerial photographer having taken pictures for clients like Pacific Ethanol, Exergy, General Electric, Pentad Properties, many farmers and ranchers, and others.  In addition to my personal use of the airport, 17 years ago Lifeflight flew my son, born with health complications, from Burley to Salt Lake City.  The airport has been an integral part of my life and my livelihood in Burley.  Hundreds of thousands of private and complex prop-driven and jet aircraft have come and gone from our Burley airport without incident. It truly has an impeccable safety record and having flown into many of the airports throughout Idaho, ours ranks among the best in the state.

Continued ...  Read more here:  http://www.minicassia.com/opinion/sound_offs/article_431d6a26-276d-11e2-8b53-0019bb30f31a.html

Fitchburg Flight School Bringing Supplies To Hurricane Sandy Victims


FITCHBURG (CBS) – Charley Valera owns FCA Flight Center in town and he used that connection to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Valera organized a clothing drive and then along with volunteers, flew the supplies to Long Island’s Republic Airport.

Sixteen pilots showed up to bring the donations to those in need.

It’s the spirit of giving that lets folks in the New York/New Jersey area that they are not being forgotten.

Valera is organizing another trip this weekend.

 To help, check out the FCA Flight Center Facebook page.

http://boston.cbslocal.com

At 80-something, these South Florida aviators are still soaring

A group of local aviators are honored for not letting their age keep them grounded 

 
Don Newman, left, and Charles Lopez both flew into Fort Lauderdale for the "Turning Back Time' award given to them by the Forest Trace retirement community.  Newman and Lopez are UFOs -- members of United Flying Octogenarians
. MARICE COHN BAND / MIAMI HERALD STAFF


 Aboard  his four-passenger Cessna — the “Papa Charlie’’ — it was only a 20-minute commute from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, where pilot Charles Lopez was about to attend a pre-Veteran’s Day ceremony. 

 “If I have the choice between flying and driving, I’ll always fly,” said Lopez, 85, and a member of a national aviators group called the United Flying Octogenarians (UFOs). Nationally, there are more than 600 members, with its oldest age 101.

Lopez said he had been preparing for the event all week. “I even washed the plane for the photographers, the ladies and the pretty girls,” he said.

On Friday, Lopez and 11 other UFO members were recognized for their ability to keep flying, regardless of their age. Forest Trace, a senior community in Lauderhill, frequently recognizes seniors in South Florida who continue to work or engage in out-of-the-ordinary hobbies.

During the ceremony, the UFOs were given trophies in the shape of an airplane with a built-in clock to symbolize that they were turning back the time.

In addition to the UFOs, 70 other veterans were honored at the Forest Trace ceremony. Each was called by name and thanked for their service to the country and participation in the various wars.

The majority of the UFO members started flying during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.

During the ceremony, Marine pilot Herbert Gelhardt and Navy pilot Wade Porter realized that they had served on the same carrier during the Korean War.

“We will get together again, and I’ll give him a ride in my plane,” said Gelhardt, 84, from Deerfield Beach who has been flying since he was 17.

There are only about 15 UFOs in Miami-Dade and Broward County, but Lopez, who was drafted to serve in World War II while he was a college student at Rutgers, has made it his job to continue recruiting members. He even put together a survey to prove the common factors that have allowed them to reach 80 and still be flying.

“We are an elite group with only two requisites to join,” said Lopez. “You must be 80 and still flying.”

James Eddy, 81, of Fort Lauderdale promised that he will remain flying until he can’t any more.

“I will only quit when I know that I’ll be a danger to myself or others,” he said. “When you fly it gets you away from all the mundane problems of the earth, it’s a real freedom.”

Charles “Maddy’’ Schnepp, 84 and of Delray Beach, started flying during World War II and has continued to do it for another 70 years. As each of the veterans was honored, Schnepp pondered the necessity of war.

Said Schnepp, who joined the U.S. Navy at age 15 with a doctored birth certificate: “I prefer flying to the Bahamas.’’

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com

Analysis: Delay on Bombardier's new jet heightens price pressure

By Susan Taylor and Nicole Mordant

TORONTO/VANCOUVER | Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:53am EST


(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc's  decision this week to delay the maiden flight of its new C-Series jetliner raised questions about the company's ability to deliver the jet on time - and the amount it may have to discount the price to boost sales.

Tripped up by supplier delays, Bombardier pushed back the inaugural flight by six months, a blow that adds to a host of challenges the world's No. 3 planemaker faces in cracking the narrow body jetliner market dominated by Boeing Co  and Airbus.

The C-Series promised market-beating performance when it was launched a few years ago, due to new engine technology and a lighter airframe. But Boeing and Airbus have since launched similarly advanced planes based on their best-selling 737 and A320 models, eclipsing much of Bombardier's advantage.

The Montreal-based plane and train maker had hoped the C-Series would spark sales growth at its commercial plane unit, compensating for sputtering demand for its small regional jets and corporate Learjets.

Bombardier is very confident in its revised timetable, company spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said.

But with delay concerns hanging over its biggest jet yet, Bombardier faces an even tougher sales job, analysts say.

To overcome airlines' reluctance to place firm orders for an unproven aircraft that could be delivered late, Bombardier will have to offer bigger discounts, financing, residual value guarantees and walk-away rights, said aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, of Virginia-based Teal Group.

"The cost of developing a jet is just the start," Aboulafia said. "Now that they're in, they need to put an awful lot more on the table."

Without those incentives, "They brought a creme brulee torch to a flame thrower fight," he said.

WON'T "GIVE AWAY" PLANES


Bombardier's jet already is significantly less expensive than comparable Boeing and Airbus planes. At list prices, the 110-seat CS100 costs $62 million. The 130-seat CS300 costs $71 million. In contrast, the Boeing 737 MAX 7 costs $82 million and Airbus's A319 NEO costs $88.8 at list prices.

Bombardier Chief Executive Pierre Beaudoin has been adamant that he will not "give away" the plane to ensure a fat order book, and says the company has a "good level of orders." In addition to the 138 firm orders, Bombardier also has options or letters of intent for another 214 jets.

By comparison, Boeing's 737 MAX has 938 firm orders, and Airbus' NEO family has 1449, though only a small fraction of those orders are for the smaller models that compete directly with the C-Series.

"What I said before, and I remain firm, is we don't need to go and give prices that we will regret when we deliver the airplane," Beaudoin said on a conference call this week.

"This is a good airplane, with a huge competitive advantage and we can get the value for it, so I remain firm on that."

Still, the plane's order flow has slowed. In 2009, the jetliner drew 50 orders, followed by 40 in 2010 and 43 in 2011. This year, just five orders have come in.

The industry has been watching Bombardier pricing closely since it snatched a provisional order for 20 planes for AirBaltic in June. That order had been widely seen as all but certain to go to Airbus. Industry experts say Bombardier has been more aggressive with pricing since the summer.

Earlier this year, Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp (AL.N), said Bombardier needed to make "some sacrifices short term for the long-term benefit of the program."

"I think they really need to be aggressive. ... Without that, the program is not going to get the momentum it needs to be competitive with Boeing and Airbus."

Some say all the C-Series needs is one order from a big airline, and that it should go for it at any cost.

"I think they need to identify a blue-chip customer, like a Delta (DAL.N), and really go ahead and cut an aggressive deal," said Scott Hamilton, managing director of aviation consulting company Leeham Co.

DELIVERY SCHEDULE IN QUESTION

 
The next test for Bombardier's pricing will come between the first flight, now set for the end of June 2013, and the start of commercial service a year later, said Robert Kokonis, managing director of Toronto-based airline consultancy AirTrav Inc.

The company has said it wants to have 300 firm orders when the jet enters service.

"If not much happens between (first flight) and the first customer delivery, the sales force would have to get more aggressive," he said.

Some also question whether Bombardier has the financial strength to offer the kind of incentives needed to book more sales. And if the first flight is delayed again, analysts are concerned that Bombardier may lack the resources to keep shouldering the large, expensive project.

"At that point in time, I think people will start having major considerations about cash flow issues. People will look at what's going to happen to Bombardier. How will they sustain $2 billion of spend year after year after year?" said Stonecap Securities analyst Scott Rattee.

Blaming a sluggish economic recovery, Bombardier said this week that cash flow from its aerospace operations won't be enough to fund its $2 billion worth spending, and it will dip into company cash resources for $500 million. The company has about $3.5 billion in short-term capital available.

SURVEY SHOWS BUYERS LIMITED

The C-Series aims to deliver 20 percent fuel-burn savings and 15 percent lower operating costs than current jets, savings that airlines appreciate amid rising fuel costs.

Yet even if the jet performs as promised, arrives on time and carries a bargain price tag it faces other hurdles in taking on Boeing and Airbus that are based on well-known planes.

Airlines are keen to maintain a common fleet to keep a cap on parts and maintenance costs and have pilots certify for and fly the same type of aircraft, said Byron Capital analyst Tom Astle.

A survey of 26 airlines last year found that most were keen on the plane's savings, but just 7 percent said they were likely to place an order in the next five years, said Walter Spracklin, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets who conducted the poll.

"The No. 1 factor holding people back was not price: it was the fleet commonality. There is an expense to an airline introducing a new aircraft in their fleet," Spracklin said.

With its deadline extended, Bombardier is working seven days a week to get the jet finished.

The schedule is extremely ambitious, with little room for error. If the CS100 jet flies in June 2013, as planned, with entry into service by mid-2014, that will be record time.

"I've never seen another company do it in much less than two years," said Astle.

(Reporting by Susan Taylor and Nicole Mordant; Editing by Alwyn Scott and Richard Chang)

Flight center ordered to reinstate whistle-blower pilot

Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints. 

  Trade News Release Banner Image

Region 5 News Release: 12-2134-CHI
Nov. 7, 2012
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone:         312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov    burke.rhonda@dol.gov


Northern Illinois Flight Center ordered by US Labor Department's
OSHA to reinstate, pay more than $500,000 to illegally terminated pilot
Whistleblower investigation found violations of the federal
Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century


CHICAGO – An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Northern Illinois Flight Center violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21, by illegally terminating an employee. The whistleblower, a pilot from Illinois, was dismissed after contacting the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss violations of the pilot certification process. As a result, OSHA has ordered the company to immediately reinstate the employee and pay more than $500,000 in back wages, benefits and damages.

"Firing pilots for reporting inaccurate procedures to the FAA endangers other pilots, their passengers and the public at large," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "The Labor Department has a responsibility to protect all employees, including those in the aviation industry, from retaliation for raising safety concerns and exercising these basic worker rights."

The pilot alleges that he was asked to falsify an FAA Form 61.55 pilot certification for a training flight he performed with another pilot. He maintained that all required elements were not completed during the training flight conducted Feb. 16, 2009, so he could not certify the form. He also alleges that, on March 23, Northern Illinois Flight Center supervisors attempted to coerce him into signing a backdated and incorrect form. During a subsequent conversation, the pilot informed his supervisors that he wanted to contact the FAA directly to get clarification on the issue, and between March 25 and 27, the pilot contacted the FAA Flight Standards District. The pilot was terminated April 7, with no reason stated. The investigation, conducted by OSHA's Chicago office, upheld the pilot's allegations and found that he would not have been terminated if he had not requested to meet with the FAA for the purpose of discussing the pilot certification process and forms.

Northern Illinois Flight Center is based in Lake in the Hills and employs pilots to fly aircraft for the transportation of passengers and property.

OSHA conducted the investigation under the whistleblower provisions of AIR21, which protects employees who report alleged violations of any order, regulation, or standard of the FAA or any other provision of federal law relating to air carrier safety under this subtitle or any other law of the United States, or who engage in other protected activities.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the AIR21 and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various railroad, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.

Any party to this case can file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days of receipt of the findings.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
 
 
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints. 
 
LAKE IN THE HILLS – A pilot fired more than three years ago will be reinstated and paid more than $500,000 after investigators determined he was illegally terminated from the Lake in the Hills-based Northern Illinois Flight Center, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that officials at the flight center broke the law in spring 2009 when they dismissed an Illinois pilot because he contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss violations of the pilot certification process, according to a news release.

The violations revolve around whistle-blower protection provisions in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, the news release said.

OSHA has ordered the company to immediately reinstate the employee and pay more than $500,000 in back wages, benefits and damages.

The employee alleged that he was asked to falsify a pilot certification form for a training flight he performed with another pilot in February 2009, according to the Labor Department.

He also stated that in March 2009, supervisors tried to sway him into signing a back-dated and incorrect form.

The pilot informed his supervisors that he was going to contact the FAA Flight Standards District, the news release said.

He contacted the FAA in late March and was terminated in April, with no reason given.

Howard Seedorf, the president and CEO of Northern Illinois Flight Center, said the company plans to appeal the decision. Seedorf said he has been in business for 30 years and such a thing has never happened. He said that the safety allegations were from a disgruntled employee and called the claims “totally incorrect.”

Seedorf would not comment further because of the pending appeal.

The investigation by OSHA’s Chicago office concluded that employee would not have been terminated had he not requested to meet with the FAA about the pilot certification process and forms.

The labor department does not release the names of employees involved in whistle-blower complaints.

An appeal can be filed within 30 days.


http://www.nwherald.com

A Lake in the Hills aircraft management company was found by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to have illegally terminated an employee in 2009, and was ordered by to reinstate him and pay him back more than $500,000. 

 An OSHA investigation found that Northern Illinois Flight Center, also known as N-Jet, violated the whistle-blower protection provisions of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21, when it dismissed the whistle-blower, a pilot from Illinois, after he contacting the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss violations of the pilot certification process, according to a news release from OSHA’s Chicago office.

Howard Seedorf, president and CEO of Northern Illinois Flight Center, also known as N-Jet, said the company plans to appeal the “completely erroneous” finding. “It’s a classic disgruntled employee situation. We’ll see where it goes,” he said, declining to say more.

The pilot alleged that he was asked to falsify an FAA pilot certification form after the required elements were not completed during a training flight in February 2009, OSHA said. The pilot said his supervisors attempted to coerce him into signing a backdated and incorrect form in March 2009. Later, the pilot informed his supervisors that he wanted to contact the FAA to get clarification on the issue, and did so in late March 2009. The pilot was terminated April 7, 2009.

Northern Illinois Flight Center was founded in 1979 and moved to Lake in the Hills in the late 1980s, Seedorf said. The company has about 70 employees and provides comprehensive aircraft services including maintenance, storage, fuel service, flight crews and more.

OSHA Chicago office spokeswoman Rhonda Burke said she didn’t know if the FAA investigated the pilot’s claims. “He made an appointment to go meet with the FAA, and he was dismissed prior to the date of that meeting,” she said. “He was dismissed without cause given.”

The FAA Great Lakes Region office did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

http://www.dailyherald.com

'Full-fledged integration of Air India, Indian Airlines in 4 months'

Kozhikode: The full-fledged integration of Air India and Indian Airlines would be completed within three to four months, minister of state for Civil Aviation K C Venugopal said here today.

"There are certain issues like salary discrepancy and service ranks to be looked into before completing integration of the airlines in three to four months," he said, speaking at a meet-the-press program at Calicut Press Club here.

On the proposed Air Kerala project, the state government's budget airline, he said, "it is the state Government project. The civil aviation ministry has not yet received the full project report on Air Kerala".

"However Air Kerala officials met me and said they are in the process of submitting the report", he said.

To a query on increasing incidence of complaints of Air India's services, he said, the government's approach was to reduce the problems and make passengers' travel comfortable.

"Air India is a public sector undertaking and killing Air India and Air India Express (AIE) is not a solution. Our responsibility is to strengthen Air India and solve the problems', he said.

The minister pointed out that the aviation sector has several complex issues and the services rendered by Air India cannot be forgotten.

"During the Kuwait-Iraq war years ago, Air India flew lakhs of NRIs and NRKs back home. This service by the airline was appreciated by all."

He said a high-level meeting of ministers, MPs, MLAs and officials would be convened soon to discuss future development of Karipur International Airport in Malappuram district.

Work for the International arrival block, modification of international passenger terminal building and construction of a apron at an estimated expense of Rs 120 crore would be undertaken at Karippur airport, he said.

Acquisition of 137 acres for development of the airport was not moving along as desired, he said.

He said AIE has started operating 48 winter services per week from the Airport to Middle East destinations.

In addition, three flights per week to Mumbai, seven to Kochi and one a week to Thiruvananthapuram had begun operating taking the total services to 59 per week, he said.

Stating that a major problem in Kozhikode was flight diversion, he said, all flight arrivals in Karipur airport would be before 5 AM or after 11 AM. 


 http://www.financialexpress.com

Teterboro Airport (KTEB), New Jersey: Behind the scenes GAJR Photography

Published on Nov 9, 2012 by GAJR Photography 
"Behind the scenes video of my shoot a couple of weeks ago at Teterboro Airport,  New Jersey. Special thanks to everyone that helped me put this shoot together. Follow my youtube channel and LIKE my Facebook page www.facebook.com/gajrphotography" 

Airplane Chase Operation Pumpkin Drop

Aircraft chase over lakes in Maine.  Three ship formation flight as part of Operation Pumpkin Drop in Sanford, Maine.  Part of extended trail... 

International Airlines Group Iberia to axe 4,500 jobs in 'fight for survival'

(Reuters) - Spanish airline Iberia is to axe almost a quarter of its workforce and rationalize its network under a restructuring plan launched on Friday by its parent International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways.

Iberia, Europe's biggest carrier to Latin America, has been battling competition from low-cost airlines and high-speed trains, labor disputes and Spain's deep economic crisis and bleeding cash as revenue fails to cover high operating costs.

"Iberia is in a fight for survival and we will transform it to reduce its cost base so it can grow profitably in the future," IAG's chief executive Willie Walsh said.

IAG's plans got an angry response in Spain, where pilots' union SEPLA and the two biggest general unions, the UGT and CCOO, immediately threatened strike action.

IAG, which was formed by the 2011 merger of BA and Iberia, said it hopes the restructuring plan will improve profits by at least 600 million euros in the next three years.

The group posted a 96 percent fall in nine-month operating profits on Friday, to 17 million euros, pulled lower by high fuel costs and a 262 million-euro operating loss at Iberia.

British Airways, meanwhile, posted a nine-month operating profit of 286 million euros.

DOWNSIZING FLEET

In addition to the job losses, IAG said it will cut capacity in the airline's network by 15 percent in 2013, focusing on profitable routes and downsizing its fleet by 25 aircraft.

"Although radical changes are proposed at Iberia, this reflects the scale and extent of the problems there," Espirito Santo analyst Gerald Khoo said.

"The problems are systemic and pre-date the current economic crisis, and we continue to believe the market has underestimated the scale and nature of the challenge faced by Iberia."

IAG said it expects to make an operating loss of about 120 million euros in 2012, after trading losses related to its bmi subsidiary, which it bought this year, and exceptional items.

The group's share price, which has dropped 40 percent since the merger, was up 2.4 percent for the day on Friday at 172 pence.

IAG held simultaneous meetings on Friday to present its new viability plan: one with investors in London and another with unions in Madrid, where Friday was a bank holiday.

Unions attacked the plan to cut Iberia's 21,000-strong workforce by 4,500 and discontinue parts of its maintenance and handling business.

"This plan completely depletes Iberia. If this is a consolidated group, why are all the sacrifices being made in Spain?," SEPLA representative Justo Peral said.

STRIKE THREAT

SEPLA, along with the UGT and CCOO unions, issued a statement threatening to strike, though Peral said that any action would be weighed carefully because of the ongoing arbitration process between IAG and the pilots' union.

IAG has been in conflict with SEPLA over pay and conditions for the past year. Tensions heightened after Iberia created low-cost carrier Iberia Express in March to compete with budget rivals such as Ryanair and easyJet on shorter routes.

The Spanish government appointed an arbitrator but the situation has yet to be resolved.

This has resulted in uncertainty over IAG's ability to continue to grow Iberia Express and may have prompted IAG's decision on Thursday to launch a bid to buy the rest of low-cost airline Vueling.

IAG said it would present information on the takeover at the end of November, and that it did not intend to merge Vueling with Iberia Express.

IAG also plans to cut pay for Iberia's remaining 15,000 workers by between 25 and 35 percent, the company confirmed in a conference call with Spanish reporters.

Unemployment in Spain has reached a record high of 25 percent as large companies such as Telefonica make drastic job cuts as they grapple with the country's prolonged recession.

IAG has set a January 31 deadline to reach an agreement with the unions over the Iberia job cuts, aiming to finish the process by the summer 2013 tourist season.

"We are trying to give Iberia a future. We have the cash to make these changes now and cannot delay this any further," Iberia chief executive Rafael Sanchez-Lozano told investors.

 http://www.reuters.com

Kenya Airways signs deal for Vietnam flights

KENYA Airways has partnered with Vietnam Airlines to to boost its services in the Far East region after its market share in Europe greatly dropped.
 

KQ passengers on the Europe route dropped to 134,214 between July and September 2012 compared to 158,247 over the period last year.

This is in contrast to passenger traffic to East Asia which stood at 155,940 an improvement of 16.5 per cent from the same period last year. On Tuesday KQ announced a Sh4.8 billion net loss attributing it to low passenger numbers, cost of operations and a strong shilling.

The KQ code sharing deal with Vietnam Airlines will see both airlines market seats on each others flights. “Under the agreement with Vietnam Airlines, Kenya Airways passengers will be able to travel via Bangkok on to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam and vice versa daily,” KQ said in a statement issued yesterday.

“Vietnam Airlines will code share on daily Kenya Airways service between Bangkok and Nairobi,” said the statement. KQ CEO Titus Naikuni said the partnership would enable its customers to access more destinations in Asia, while also giving an opportunity to Vietnamese passengers to access the 47 destinations flown by the airline in Africa.

Airlines that are members of the SkyTeam Alliance sometimes enter into such code share agreements to facilitate route network expansion without having to actually set up base or commit all its equipment and aircrafts to all destinations.


http://www.the-star.co.ke

Agra Airport gets system facilitating low visibility ops

New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) With foggy conditions approaching in north India, a system which aids landing and take-off of airplanes was today installed at the airport in Agra, which is a major tourist destination.

The Instrument Landing System (ILS), which facilitates low visibility aircraft operations, was made operational at Agra. It would make landing and take-off possible even when the visibility is as low as 800 metres.

The system is already in place at several airports across North India, including Delhi.

Naresh Goyal has no account in HSBC Bank Geneva: Jet Airways

New Delhi: Rejecting allegations of stashing away unaccounted money in Swiss accounts, Jet Airways on Friday said there is no account in the name of its Chairman Naresh Goyal in HSBC Bank, Geneva though he is entitled to have bank accounts outside India as he is an NRI. "...There is no account in the name Mr Naresh Goyal in the Swiss bank as has been alleged. Besides, Mr Naresh Goyal has been an NRI since January 1991. He is entitled to have bank accounts outside India.
 

"The suggestion that there has been any unaccounted money stashed away in Swiss accounts is entirely false," a statement issued by Jet Airways said. The carrier said Goyal is an NRI and had received a routine enquiry letter from the Income Tax Department regarding a bank account at HSBC Geneva of M/S Tailwinds Ltd, a company based in the Isle of Man.

"The existence of the company M/S Tailwinds is fully disclosed to various departments of the government of India. All questions have been satisfactorily replied to the Income Tax Department," it said.
 

Jet Airways in its statement said that as Naresh Goyal is an NRI since 1991, he is entitled to have bank accounts outside India.

http://ibnlive.in.com

Airline shake-up ‘no danger to Carlisle airport’

Stobart Group says that plans for scheduled flights from Carlisle Airport will be unaffected by a shake-up at airline Aer Arann.  

The Irish operator, which trades as Aer Lingus Regional, had announced plans to launch Carlisle to London Southend and Carlisle to Dublin services once Stobart’s redevelopment of Carlisle Airport allowed.

However, it has just announced a retrenchment, axing three routes and withdrawing from Waterford Airport in Ireland completely from early January.

Stobart Group, a major shareholder in Aer Arann, says the route closures have no bearing on the proposals for Carlisle Airport.

A Stobart spokesman said: “Aer Arann has an exciting business plan for growth and is concentrating its resources on services that offer sustainable returns. It continues to see the potential for new routes, such as Carlisle.”

Aer Arann withdrew its only non-Irish route, Isle of Man to London City Airport, in April. But it has also launched new services this year; from Dublin to London Southend, Knock to Birmingham and from Shannon to Rennes in Brittany.

The company said previously that it would station a 48-seater ATR42 aircraft at Carlisle which would provide twice-daily flights to and from London Southend with fares starting from £25.99 including taxes.

There would also be a daily flight to Dublin, offering onward connections to Europe and the U.S. from £24.99.

Aer Arann expects to carry 40,000 passengers on the London route and 20,000 to Dublin in the first year.

City councillors approved Stobart’s £25m redevelopment scheme in August.

The company wants to build a 394,000sq ft freight distribution centre and to resurface the runway.

But planning consent has still not be confirmed.

The council is taking legal advice on an objector’s claim that allowing the development would amount to “illegal state aid” under European law.

And Stobart has yet to sign a binding agreement to keep the airport open unless it can show it is not viable.


http://www.nwemail.co.uk

1Time criticizes Airports Company of South Africa ‘negative attitude’

Johannesburg - The Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) has said it is not in its interests to see an airline fail.

This comes after 1Time airline, which was put under provisional liquidation by the North Gauteng High Court this week, blamed the company for its woes.

Earlier, 1Time’s business rescue practitioner criticized Acsa’s “overall negative attitude”.

“Acsa was only interested in recovering debts, without considering the ripple effect on the airline’s operations,” said Gerhard Holtzhauzen, 1Time’s business rescue practitioner.

But Acsa spokesman Solomon Makgale said: “1Time is our client it is in not our interest to see airlines fail. But we have to strike a balance. Acsa is a business and we can’t just allow debt to grow and grow.”

Acsa was the airline’s largest creditor, claiming R147 million. The company forced 1Time to pay for current services in cash the day after service was rendered, and in advance over weekends and public holidays.

“The aforementioned payment terms constrained 1time’s cash flow,” Holtzhauzen said. “To make matters worse, the reconciliation done by Acsa set off payments received to historic debts, despite the historic claims being ring-fenced.”

As a result, shareholders were reluctant to take up a rights issue in 1Time Holdings, which would have boosted the struggling airline by about R80m. A major international airline company had expressed interest in acquiring the airline, but the timing and transfer of the business, as well as its short-term cash requirements caused it to back out.

“We were very supportive throughout,” said Makgale.

“When they applied for business rescue, we approached them and said: ‘Let’s sit down and see if we can work something out’.”

But when 1Time announced last Friday that it was halting all operations, even Acsa was surprised.

“It came as a surprise. Acsa’s wish for the airline was for it to find a way out of its financial difficulties”, he said.

Meanwhile Susan van der Ryst, the strategic communications manager for Comair, said the company had extended an invitation to unemployed 1Time staff to submit their CVs. “Comair would like to give 1Time employees the opportunity to be considered for available positions relevant to their experience, but unfortunately cannot guarantee any employment.

“Comair follows a rigorous recruitment and selection process and any vacancies will be filled in accordance with its Recruitment and Employment Equity policy,” she said. - Saturday Star