Sunday, November 25, 2012

‘Why Federal Government cancelled agreement with Lufthansa’

LAGOS — Reasons emerged, weekend, why the Federal Government cancelled its agreement with the German airline, Lufthansa, under which the airline enjoyed free royalty payments for flights into the country.

Sources in the Ministry of Aviation disclosed that the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, instigated the cancellation of the four-year agreement upon revelations that the German airline failed to fulfill its side of the agreement signed in November 2008.

Oduah, it was learnt, moved to cancel the agreement following the advice from the Attorney General of the Federation that the country had sufficient reasons to cancel the agreement upon the confirmation that the airline had not fulfilled its pledges.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft (LH)Germany, the German airline was expected to provide technical assistance to the country besides creating a hub in Abujain partnership with other international airlines. The German airline was on its part expected to benefit through additional traffic rights on concessionary basis.

Though the airline got its additional flight rights into the country it, however, was unable to actualize its own part of the agreement.

Remarkably, the Senate Committee on Aviation had recently ordered the Ministry of Aviation to recover N2.198bn ($14.8 million) from Lufthansa being amount not paid by the airline since 2009 when the agreement came into being.

What finally moved the Ministry of Aviation to terminate the agreement, it was learnt, was a memo from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to the minister which detailed the failures of Lufthansa.

The memo read in part: “Having carefully analyzed the submission, it was clear that Lufthansa appeared to be the only beneficiary of the MoU as the implementation of the agreement which was planned in phases was yet to progress beyond the traffic rights granted to Lufthansa to operate daily flights from Frankfurt to Abuja.There is no evidence to show any serious commitment on the part of Lufthansa airlines to the realization of the agreement.”

Besides NCAA, theNigerianCollegeof Aviation Technology,Zariawhich was to benefit from the agreement also made known to the minister that only one of its personnel got the opportunity to benefit from Lufthansa’s training program.

Under the MOU domiciled in theUnited Kingdomit was learnt that both parties agreed to waive off claims that may arise upon a mutual agreement to cancel the agreement.

Stray dogs on runway delay Jet flight

BHOPAL: A major accident was averted at the Bhopal airport after stray dogs were spotted on the runway when the Lucknow-bound flight of Jet Airways carrying 60 passengers was about to take off at Raja Bhoj International Airport on Sunday afternoon.

The flight was delayed for more than an hour, officials added, pleading anonymity.

The Bhopal-Lucknow-Delhi flight- 2655 was scheduled to depart at 2.05 in the afternoon. It was late by around 15 minutes till that time and the aircraft started taxing on the runaway at 2.20 PM.

However, when the aircraft began moving on the runway, the pilots spotted dogs on the runway and subsequently it had to be turned back.

The passengers were still inside the aircraft when the ground staff operated hurriedly to remove the dogs. The staff ensured that there were no dogs before the take-off. And by the time it was done, the flight was delayed, airport sources said. However, no Jet airways official was available for official version.

The flight was delayed for more than an hour due to the negligence of airport authorities and it finally took off at 3.20, Jet Airways sources claimed pleading anonymity.

This flight on this air route was introduced last month only, the officials added.

Earlier, before the operation from the newly-constructed international terminal began, jackals would be a menace at the old airport. A large number of jackals causing threat to flights had been trapped by the forest department officials of Van Vihar National Park.

Christmas flight reschedule angers Jetstar passengers

The travel plans of scores of New Zealanders in Melbourne are in turmoil after Jetstar told them it was cancelling their pre-Christmas flight home and offered them a Boxing Day flight instead.

The airline is now promising to get the 80 or so passengers home before 25 December, but the move was too late for some who had already paid hundreds of dollars more to rebook on other airlines.

Jetstar has refused to say why it cancelled the 23 December flight from Melbourne other than to say rescheduling happens from time to time.

Many customers have vented their frustrations on Jetstar's Facebook page.

One, Aucklander Duncan Robinson, says he was offered two alternative flights - one after Christmas and one a week before.

He says he was forced to ask for a refund and had to spend an extra $500 to rebook with Air New Zealand. Mr Robinson says he will never fly with the budget airline again.

Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin says Jetstar is within its rights to make schedule changes, but the move is not a good look.

She thinks Jetstar is scrambling now to avoid a public relations disaster.

Vintage plane's popularity soaring

Laurie Neilsen (left) prepares for his Tiger Moth flight with pilot Greg Christensen. 
 Peter Holt

If you want to experience a flight with a difference, booking a seat on Mackay's Tiger Moth is your best choice. 

 Flying in the 70-year-old plane is an experience like no other.

Mackay Tiger Moth Museum president Stewart Garnham said the organization had been particularly busy as Christmas approached.

"Around Christmas we get busy selling a lot of vouchers (for flights)," Mr Garnham said.

"A lot of the time we do about seven or eight flights a day.

"If we have the room in our schedule to fit them in we will take them up.

"But it also depends on the weather."

Mr Garnham said flights varied in time from 20, to 30 and 60 minutes.

"We'll go wherever you want to go," he said. "If we can get there, we'll go.

"We'll even fly over your house if you want."

Mr Garnham said residents could view the plane at the hangar free of charge.

"People can look at the airplane and we'll explain a bit about the airplane to them," he said.

"We had Scouts in the other night, a group of about 40 who were able to take a look at the plane."

Airports Authority of India suspends landings on secondary runway

KOLKATA: The Airports Authority of India has decided to suspend all landings on the secondary runway following persistent pilot complaints of a malfunction in a critical visual landing guidance system. Consequently, repair work on the primary runway will have to be done in the dead of the night when there are no touchdowns scheduled.

The problem in the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) was first reported by a cargo flight on November 2 when readings on the distance measuring equipment (DME) failed to match the indicators on PAPI and he pulled out of the landing sequence.

PAPI consists of four equally spaced light units next to the runway that are colour coded to provide visual indication. The pilot knows he is on the right glide path when he spots two white lights on the inside and two red lights on the outside. Four red lights mean the aircraft is lower than the desired altitude and will fall short of the runway while four white lights mean the plane is high and will overshoot the runway.

Though the apron control and technicians checked the lights before directing other planes to use the landing strip when the primary runway was under maintenance, 26 of the 40 pilots that approached the secondary runway said they had a problem with the PAPI. Following this, landings on the secondary runway were suspended. Sources, however, said Kolkata airport authorities continued to put pressure on the use of the runway for landing so that the primary runway could be free for maintenance.

On Friday, four flights were officially brought in to land to test the system. While three pilots said they did not have a problem, one did. According to airport sources, officials from AAI headquarters in Delhi have now asked Kolkata airport to stop using the secondary runway for landing till the problem is identified and solved.

Sources said the alignment of PAPI could have gone haywire during the runway extension work. "There is some problem that needs to be rectified because PAPI is such a crucial system. Unless a pilot is confident about the system, how can he risk landing with a plane full of passengers?" questioned an airline official.

What is mystifying is why AAI has not got its aircraft requisitioned till now to do a calibration of PAPI. Since it is a test aircraft, it can do multiple landings on the secondary runway and check if the lights are in position or not. Sources said Kolkata airport officials may now be forced to finally get the aircraft as primary runway repair work is currently being hampered due to restrictions. This runway can now be shut down only between 1.30am and 5am when no scheduled fights arrive in Kolkata.

First Malaysian woman pilot soars even higher

KUALA LUMPUR: As the first woman in Malaysia to receive an airline transport pilot license, AirAsia's Captain Norashikin Onn is used to being a “high” achiever.

Yesterday, she earned another distinction when she was honored with the Anugerah Kesatria Puteri at the National Young Women's Gathering organized by Puteri Umno and Sekretariat I.D.E.A.

Twelve awards were given out to those who have excelled in their fields such as medicine, arts, sports and business.

“I'm very happy that the Government is recognizing women's achievement,” Capt Norashikin said.

The 44-year-old is the first female flight commander at AirAsia. She is also the first female flight commander for wide body aircraft for commercial airlines in Malaysia.

Asked for her advice to young women, she said they should be courageous in pursuing their dreams.

“Nothing is impossible. Reach for the skies,” she said.

Other award recipients included TV personality Jay Menon, diver Pandalela Rinong, singer Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Norlina Alawi (who set up a place to care for children with HIV and AIDS) and Dr Helen Lasimbang.

The highest award, known as Nusa Mahsuri, was given to Tan Sri Tunku Intan Safinaz Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah for her contributions to community and humanity works.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who addressed the gathering, urged young women to be at the forefront and improve themselves further.

Noting that a country's development was closely tied with the advancement of its women, she stressed that they should be actively involved as agents of change.

The Prime Minister's wife said they should work hard to get into high level decision-making positions.

“What is important is for young women to have the courage to become involved in fields such as medicine, engineering, the aerospace industry, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

“Only then can they stand on par with their male counterparts as young professionals.”

Rosmah also stressed on the importance of perseverance when facing difficulties.

“Occasionally, young women tend to look down on their own contributions, possibly due to societal norms that men were the main breadwinners,” she said, urging them to expand their horizon and set high benchmarks to compete with women from developed nations.

New equipment to improve coordination between Juhu airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport

The air traffic control tower at the Juhu airport will get new equipment next year, which will help in improving coordination between the aerodrome and the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) and enhance the safety in operations at both airports. The equipment — situation data display — will make available flight movements, flight plans and details about air traffic such as location of an aircraft, altitude and air speed, at the Juhu airport to the CSIA and vice versa.

“It will ensure that these details are digitally available and reduce manual coordination. The equipment will make the current system more perfect,” said M Yadagiri, director at the Juhu airport. The equipment, being procured by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), is expected to be commissioned in the next six months. The Juhu airport caters to roughly 100 movements per day, the details of which are not readily available at the Air Traffic Control (ATC) of CSIA.

An official at Juhu airport said at present, if the ATC at CSIA wants to know more about a particular situation, officials have to call the ATC authorities at Juhu airport.

“It is time consuming and leads to confusion. Sometimes, paths intersect depending on the runway being used and flight plans. By improving coordination, the equipment will make operations safer at both the airports,” the official said.

The distance between CSIA and Juhu airport is barely two kilometres. The layout of runways at both airports is also identical.

Hence, the operations at the two airports are not independent of each other and coordination between the ATC at the aerodrome and CSIA becomes inevitable.

“Mumbai airport already has situation data display, but as a new tower for air traffic monitoring is being built, authorities will have to purchase this equipment. They have decided to purchase the equipment and fit it at the Juhu airport as well,” the official said.

Forced landing for flying training at government aviation training institute

BHUBANESWAR: Flying training at the government aviation training institute (GATI) in the city has been stopped since January after the state civil aviation department failed to pay up the project allocation fee to the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The airport authorities had stopped flying operations demanding 50 per cent project allocation fee, a license fee for training at Biju Patnaik airport. The state civil aviation directorate, which runs GATI, said it had been paying a token money of Re 1 per year for training till January 2012.

"After the AAI charged the fee, the state government could not pay the amount till July. We deposited about Rs 46 lakh with the airport authorities in August seeking permission to continue with the training but are yet to receive any correspondence from them," said Muralidhar Palai, additional secretary, general administration, who is in additional charge of director civil aviation. Although flying activities have been stopped, theory classes are on, he added. ' Already burdened with the license fee demand, the civil aviation department has outsourced the training to a private company. Global Avianautics LTD (GAL) is running the training with four senior pilots and four engineers.

The state civil aviation department receives Rs 60 lakh per year for providing space and two training flights.

"We have two flights for training - one owned by the state government and the other donated by Aero Club India. About 50 students have enrolled for the training but practical classes are not being held due to the restrictions. The students have already paid the flying fee of Rs 9000 per hour," said Sudhir Dey, officer on special duty, civil aviation. Airport director Sarat Kumar admitted to the restrictions on flying training. "We had demanded 50 per cent of the revenue being generated by the state civil aviation department from training. The government had not paid the amount till July despite repeated reminders. We received it in August," he said.

Kumar said he has written to the higher authorities for renewal of permission. "We may get the approval in a week for allowing flying training. However, we can't extend it beyond seven years. The state government is demanding operations for another 17 years," he added.

Riverton Regional (KRIW), Wyoming: Airport count solid; bigger plane returns for a flight per day

Changes in both the daily flight schedule and the equipment are set for Riverton Regional Airport.

Great Lakes Airlines is returning the 30-passenger Embraer-120 Brasilia aircraft for one flight per day to and from the airport, while the remaining two flights will continue to use the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900.

The Brasilia had been discontinued at Riverton Regional last year after a couple of years when the bigger plane was used for the majority of the local flights. The Brasilia can fly higher and faster than the Beech 1900, which is expected to allow passengers to make up lost time brought about by the later departure time for some flights (see below).

Meanwhile, new passenger numbers show boardings and arrivals down about 8 percent from 2011 through 10 months of the year. But the airport already has surpassed the desired 10,000 annual boardings by a comfortable margin (see chart).

The 10,000 level is required for the airport to receive a substantial federal grant each year.

The passenger decline is due largely to a decrease in the number of daily flights to three this year. Last year saw four flights per day for part of the week. In October, for example, Great Lakes scheduled 16 fewer flights to Riverton than it flew in October 2011. The passenger "load factor" on a flight-by-flight basis this year actually is higher than 2011 levels.

While boardings are down by about 8 percent, scheduled flights have decreased by more than 14 percent.


Starting in December, two Great Lakes Airlines flights will leave 15 minutes later than previously scheduled, and two are set to arrive or leave 51 minutes later.

The new departure times:

- Flight 7291 will depart to Denver at 7:36 a.m., and flight 7293 departs at 12:12 p.m.

- New arrival times from Denver are 7:25 a.m. from Wor-land for flight 7291, and 11:57 a.m. from Denver for flight 7292.

Flights 7293 and 7292 are Monday through Friday flights. The changes made for flights 7291 are for Sundays only.

One flight arrives from Worland Municipal Airport and continues on to Denver a few minutes later after boarding River-ton passengers.

Flight tracker

Riverton Regional is considering upgrades to it "flight tracker" service on the airport's website. Airport division manager Paul Griffin said the airport was contacted recently by Flight View, which offered a quote of $4,680 for a customized flight-tracking service. Griffin said that price is more than the cost of the entire website, and he is negotiating for a better price before committing to the full program.

A link to a more generic website exists to allow passengers to check the status of their flights.

The website also lets people book a flight on the website, and the city earns a small income from that. This year, about 16,000 flights have been booked through this service, earning $396 for the city.

Airport survey

If you've flown in or out of the airport lately, Great Lakes may have handed you a survey. The airline is giving commercial passengers chance to complete a survey with every flight. The Wyoming Aeronautics Division is conducting a Wyoming Aviation Economic Impact Study to determine the economic contributions associated with the airport throughout the state.

After the year-long survey project is complete, the packets will be handed over to the aeronautics division for analysis, and results will be provided to the city.

Griffin said there has been a positive response from passengers, and many are giving the airport a high importance ranking regarding the need for scheduled commercial airline service in Fremont County.

New facility planning

By 2023 the proposed Wyoming Aviation Capital Improvement Plan for the airport has included the construction of a building to house snow removal equipment, police and fire department equipment, a meeting room, offices, and an emergency or disaster room.

The plan also envisions structural and runway improvements in several other areas within the next 14 years.

Riverton Regional is Fremont County's only commercial airport.

Iran Air Lifts Foreign Fares 90% as Sanctions Push Up Fuel Costs

Iran Air increased the expense of tickets for travel outside the country by as much as 90 percent after a government decision to stop subsidizing jet-fuel prices sent costs at the state-owned carrier soaring.

Prices rose on Nov. 22, the state run Iranian Students News Agency said, citing guidelines issued to local travel agents. An economy seat from Tehran to London now costs 17.6 million rials ($1,430), versus 9 million previously, with a ticket to Dubai priced at 6.1 million rials, up from 3.8 million rials, it said.

Iran Air is lifting fares after the rial slumped 40 percent versus the dollar since August, with the cost of kerosene jumping 83 percent to 22,000 rials a liter, ISNA said. While the government shields importers of some goods from exchange rates by granting access to dollars at a central bank level of 12,260 rials, the Association of Iranian Airlines said in September that members would no longer benefit.

The price increases come as Iran’s economy is pressured by financial, trade and energy sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union to curb the country’s nuclear program.

Faced with soaring costs that include the expense of buying jetliner parts as the sanctions prevent purchases from Boeing Co. (BA), Airbus SAS and their suppliers, Iranian airlines had to be allowed to increase fares, Mehrdad Lahouti, a spokesman for the parliament’s development commission, said on Sept. 12.

Domestic Increase

Iran Air serves 17 European cities, including London, Paris, Amsterdam and three locations in Germany, and has a fleet of 51 aircraft, according to its website.

Iran increased jet-fuel prices for domestic services from 2,000 rials to 7,000 rials. While the country produces kerosene at the Bandar Abbas refinery, airlines worldwide usually refuel abroad following the outbound legs of international services to minimize the weight carried, exposing them to market rates.

“Given that the cost of jet fuel in various countries is high, it has been decided that its price will also increase,” Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi was cited as saying by the state-run Fars news agency in a report published Oct. 14.

Outside carriers including Qatar Airways Ltd. have increased services to Iran to fill gaps where the Islamic republic’s own operators are struggling to operate.

JetBlue flight attendant arrested after boyfriend steals traveler’s iPhone: police

She’s supposed to serve fliers, not steal from them.

A uniformed JetBlue flight attendant catching an off-duty free ride to Puerto Rico was arrested at JFK Airport over an iPhone her boyfriend swiped from another traveler, police said.

Stacy-Ann Smith, 27, and her beau, Jason McCaulay, 23, both of Hollis, Queens, were waiting to go through security for a jaunt to Aguadilla, PR, at about 11 p.m. Friday when McCaulay allegedly snatched an iPhone 4S left in a bin by a traveler.

It was another embarrassment for the Queens-based airline, eight months after one of its pilots infamously suffered a midair meltdown.

See Full Article:

4 yrs on, Coast Guard Ratnagiri air station yet to take off

By now, Coast Guard (CG) Chetaks and Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) should have been taking off from Ratnagiri for surveillance of the 700-km Maharashtra coastline.

Proposed in 2006 and hastily sanctioned by the Maharashtra government after 26/11, the CG Ratnagiri airfield is yet to take off. With two of the three plots for which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) made full payment being transferred only this year, and the third yet to be handed over, CG officials say commissioning of the air station before 2014 is doubtful.

The CG has a fixed and a rotary wing squadron at Daman, to the north of Mumbai, and a rotary wing squadron in Mumbai. Ratnagiri being the only air station south of Mumbai before Goa, is crucial.

The Defence Estates Office (DEO), Pune Circle, is pursuing the land transfer.

On May 17, 2006, Mumbai-based Western Naval Command requested the Maharashtra government to hand over the airstrip at Ratnagiri for naval operations. On December 1, 2006, the decision to hand over 41,000 square metres of the airstrip plot and two plots, H-1 and H-2, measuring 1.58 lakh square metres was taken by the state government.

It remained in cold storage until 26/11 made security of the western coast a crucial issue.

On January 19, 2009, within two months of 26/11, the state government issued a GR to urgently transfer the airstrip and the adjacent Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) plots to the MoD.

The GR was followed by land measurement that determined its cost to be Rs 20.47 crore, Rs 12.52 crore for the airstrip plot and Rs 7.95 crore for MIDC plots H-1 and H-2.

On August 4, 2010, T C Sharma, under secretary, GoI in a letter sanctioned payment of the Rs 20.47 crore. The payments were made on September 29, 2010. On October 28, 2010, the Ratnagiri collector ordered the transfer to CG.

“The order came with conditions the original GR did not have. It made CG secondary holder of the plot. Further, MIDC imposed a token rent of Re 1 per annum. We fail to understand why CG should pay rent for land for which they have paid in full. Additional charges of Rs 39.87 lakh were sought for road widening. All this is unacceptable. MIDC is delaying the process without thinking about national security,” said an official of the DEO, Pune Circle. These issues were mentioned in a letter to MIDC by DEO, Pune Circle G S Rajeswaran in October last year.

On January 12 this year, airstrip land was handed over to commander B H Kumbhare, CO, Indian Coast Guard Station, Ratnagiri. H-1 was acquired only last month but H-2 is yet to be transferred.

“The airfield requires the entire land. A state highway runs between the two plots. We have approached the state government to divert the highway. Negotiations are on. The plans are ready and the airfield is expected to have the ATC, hangars, officers’ accommodation, equipment and machinery. All this has not come up because MIDC has not handed over the land. Chartered, corporate flights land but without an ATC communication is done through mobile phones. If a military aircraft, either rotary wing or fixed wing (CG has Dorniers, Chetaks and Dhruvs) is to land, we are supposed to carry out runway carpeting, extension and repair. We have not yet been able to as land acquisition is stuck. Constructing a hangar itself takes about a year. Given that, the air station won’t be ready before 2014,” said a CG spokesperson.

A R Kale, Ratnagiri MIDC Regional Officer said, “MIDC is a Government of Maharashtra undertaking. MIDC land belongs to Industry, Energy and Labour departments of the state government. MIDC lands are not sold, but leased on an annual rent of Re 1 for 99 years. The DEO was aware of this and it was made clear right at the start. Their issues have been presented to MIDC Board of Directors and the remaining land should be handed over within a month.”

Airports Authority of India yet to set new deadline for Patna runway

PATNA: The authorities of Jaiprakash Narayan International Airport here are yet to receive the new deadline to use the existing runway beyond November 30.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had last month extended its decision to re-notify the runway length of Patna airport to November 30. This was the fourth time in three months that the AAI had decided to extend the implementation date of its notice to airmen (NOTAM), initially issued on August 4.

Given the obstructions in the vicinity of the airport, the AAI had, on August 4, issued a NOTAM reducing from August 16 the landing distance available (LDA) which would have made the airport unfit for operation of wide-bodied jets like Airbus-320 and Boeing 737.

According to the revised length of runway (from Phulwarisharif end) will be 1,141 metres instead of the earlier 1,677 metre. Similarly, the runway from the Patna zoo end will now be 1,289 metres instead of earlier 1,820 metres. Aviation sources said the minimum runway length required for Airbus-320 and Boeing 737 aircraft to land is 1,540 metres and 1,790 metres respectively. The AAI found that Patna airport, which already had a short runway length, had 101 obstructions on either side of the tarmac which were dangerous for aircraft landing.

Patna airport director Arvind Dubey said, "Considering the progress of work on removal of obstacles, earlier higher authorities have decided to extend implementation of restriction plan from October 31 to November 30. But we have not received any communication till now regarding any extension of the deadline."

According to another airport official, "Though the 600-odd identified trees in the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park had been pruned according to the need, some more remain to be trimmed along the Phulwari railway track and in the graveyard. Besides, light posts at the graveyard, some water tanks atop residential buildings and two mobile towers must be also removed."

"The state government wants the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue orders for the removal of obstructions on private land under the provisions of the aircraft (demolition of obstruction caused by building and trees, etc) rules, 1994," he said.

Now, the only option is either to re-notify the revised runway length prescribed by AAI or ask the airlines to fly Airbus and Boeing aircrafts to the nearest airport in Gaya or Ranchi and transfer the Patna-bound passengers by smaller aircraft.

Investor plans take-off for ailing PC Air

Talks are in an advanced stage for a new investor to take over PC Air, the troubled Thai charter airline that left hundreds of passengers stranded in South Korea's biggest airport last month.

PC Air’s A310-222 jet at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport before it was impounded at Inchon.

The investor, described by an industry source as a well-heeled Thai family keen to engage in the airline business, would acquire a stake of more than 80% in the carrier, provide a sorely needed capital injection and formulate a revival plan.

Due diligence is under way and a feasibility study being completed to support the takeover of the airline, which is predominantly owned by Piyo Chantraporn, the airline's Thai chief executive who prefers to go by Peter Chan.

PC Air, billed as the world's first to employ the third gender as cabin attendants, had its sole aircraft, an Airbus 310-222 with 200 seats, refused permission for take-off from Inchon airport.

The refusal, which left some 400 Thai passengers stranded, was triggered by a row between PC Air and its South Korean sales agent, Skyjet, over unpaid bills for airport charges and jet fuel, reportedly amounting to more than 10 million baht.

The source, who is close to the negotiations between the investor and PC Air management, told the Bangkok Post that a deal, which includes a major investment for buying aircraft, could be finalised by mid-December.

The time frame was set to allow the grounded airline to get into the skies again and capitalise on the peak season for travel.

A key element in the revival plan for PC Air is the purchase of two B767-300ER jets, medium-sized, wide-bodied, twin-engine aircraft for long-range operations made by the US giant Boeing.

Even 10-year-old models command a price tag of US$45 million, meaning PC Air's new investor must first raise at least $90 million for buying the aircraft.

The source said advisers of the new investor are suggesting PC Air phase out its A310-222 so the airline would operate only one type of aircraft to achieve cost and operating efficiency.

The B767-300ER is seen as ideal for allowing PC Air to continue with its business objective _ running charter flights from Thailand to three East Asian countries with high growth potential _ China, South Korea and Japan.

Until it was grounded, PC Air was operating daily charter flights between Bangkok and Inchon, primarily ferrying groups of Thai tourists.

The new investor reportedly prefers to retain the name PC Air so it can continue operations unabated.

Any change in registration of the Civil Aviation Department's permit would take one year, resulting in a lengthy disruption.

PC Air also has in place the systems needed to revive operations quickly _ cockpit and cabin staff, sales and marketing, and others, said the source.

Despite the bad press following the Inchon episode, PC Air is still seen as offering some brand value, generated mostly by major publicity when it launched a demonstration flight last December featuring four ladyboys including Thanyarat Chirapatpakorn, who was crowned Miss Tiffany Universe 2007, as part of the crew.

Solving the financial problems _ clearing unpaid bills with South Korean entities and paying back money collected from travel agents who purchased air tickets _ forms part of the deal with the new investor, said the source.

Mr Piyo said he has been in South Korea to pursue legal proceedings against the South Korean entities and no longer acts as chief executive of PC Air.

PC Air's troubles have prompted the Civil Aviation Department to ponder toughening regulations for Thai charter airlines including requiring them to place a money guarantee as a surety and submitting a contingency plan in case they are unable to operate flights.

Mishawaka Pilots Club continues for 55 years • Mishawaka Pilots Club Airport (3C1), Elkhart, Indiana

South Bend Tribune/JAMES BROSHER / November 25, 2012 
After a flight, Dee Davis cleans a few bugs off the windshield of his plane at Mishawaka Pilots Club Airport. Davis is the club president.

As municipal budget cuts close or curtail activity at small airports around the country, the private general aviation Mishawaka Pilots Club keeps flying from the airport it established 55 years ago on Mishawaka Road in Elkhart County. 

 “Small airports are going away at an alarming rate all over the country,” says Dee Davis, who joined the club in 1993 and has been president for 15 years. “Ours seems to be thriving very well. We’ve made money every year, even though we’re not for profit.”

The club, which has about 70 planes and 165 members who pay dues of $15 per month, settled on the land in 1957 after having to leave three earlier sites.

“They decided they needed to own the property and control the property,” Davis says. The group formed the Airport Realty Corp., which now has 65 shareholders and owns more than 100 acres, including 13 bought recently.

“We own the property, we mow it, we plow the snow, we paint all the buildings,” Davis says. “We have a common interest, but that’s not all we have in common. We have the same ideas of how we like to see things done.

“It’s a very independent group. Almost all my best friends are there at the airport now, even though some of them are in their 90s.”

Members use their hangars for motorcycle storage and workshops as well as planes and visit each other’s space for camaraderie. Every weekend, a group of five to 20 people gather to fly somewhere within 100 miles — a version of the “hundred-dollar hamburger” that pilots use as an excuse for an excursion.

“Over there, that’s my lodge,” Davis says. “That’s our fraternity, I guess.”

In the heyday of the club, in the 1970s, members started Mishawaka Air Activities with donated planes to offer instruction and boost membership. That club now has some 60 members and five planes.

In the wake of 9/11, aviation suffered from flight restrictions and insurers leaving the market, and the economic downturn has exacerbated the problem with fuel and insurance costs and reduced discretionary income.

“It’s a lot harder for people to get started now,” Davis says, who once flew 50 hours per month and now flies about 50 hours each year. He grew up next to Mishawaka Pilots Club and remembers watching planes fly in and out from his backyard.

“I was always fascinated with aviation,” says Davis, who took aviation projects to regional science fairs when he was in high school and took his first flying lessons while at Tri-State (now Trine University) in Angola.

That was in the days when five hours of work at the airport could buy an hour’s lessons.

Roy Marchant, of Michiana Air Activities, who started flying when his children graduated from high school, says costs and time commitments prevent many middle-aged people from participating.

“Being a flight instructor, I’m getting some guys that were in high school and are going into aviation,” he says. “You go from that young age group to the people who get themselves financially stable where they can afford to do it.

“Flight training and flight time, unless you’re making a pretty good income, it’s discretionary. It comes down to family — do you have time?”

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Dreamliner glitch: Air India summons Boeing team

Stung by persistent snags in its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, Air India (AI) has summoned a team of Boeing engineers to India ahead of the state-of-the-art aircraft’s planned maiden flight in AI’s Delhi-London route on December 2.  “A team of engineers from Boeing are expected to come to India shortly to sort out the snags.  We are in regular correspondence with Boeing on this matter,” said an Air India spokesperson from Mumbai.

The first of AI’s Dreamliners arrived on September 8 and since then two more of these next generation flying machines have joined AI’s fleet.

But the futuristic aircraft, which came after a delay of almost four years, have been plagued by what sources have described as “teething problems”.

In one of its first flights from New Delhi to Bangalore in September, the cooling system of the Dreamliner failed. The plane, which was taxiing for take-off was forced to return back to the bay following the glitch, resulting in a delay by about two hours.

At any given point in time, at least one of the three Dreamliners in AI’s fleet currently, is reported to be grounded due to some technical snag. This has affected

AI’s 787 scheduling for the domestic sector with delays becoming a routine in most sectors where the aircraft has been deployed.

Boeing did not respond to HT's email and text messages.

AI operated its first long haul flight with the new Dreamliner aircraft from Delhi to Frankfurt in October. Till now these aircraft, configured to accommodate 256 seats —18 Business Class and 238 Economy Class seats — were being deployed on the domestic sectors apart from operations between Delhi and Dubai.

According to the original schedule, the first 27 Dreamliners that AI had ordered, was to be delivered in September 2008 followed by one each in each of the subsequent months.

Sources said the Dreamliners are overweight by around 7.5 tonnes, from its initial design. The extra weight is also likely to reduce the fuel efficiency than what was originally perceived, sources said.

AI had demanded a compensation of around $850 million (about Rs. 4,600 crore) from Boeing. The final amount, negotiated by the two sides, has not been disclosed.

Russian military inspectors to fly over United States as part of Open Skies pact

Russian Defense Ministry has announced that the country’s military inspectors will begin a survey flight this week above the United States under the international Treaty on Open Skies.

The experts will conduct the flight over the US territory in a Tupolev Tu-154 M/LK-1 aircraft between November 25 and December 3, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The surveillance flight will start from the Travis Air Force Base in California, and its maximum range will be 4,250 kilometers (2,600 miles).

During the flight, Russian and US specialists will operate surveillance equipment on board of the aircraft as stated in the Treaty on Open Skies.

The Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 member states.

It establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants.

The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.


Olumhense: Private Jets For Jesus

Should a pastor own a private jet?  That this is even a debate issue in Nigeria reflects just how wayward some of our Christianity has traveled, particularly since the end of the civil war and the arrival of large piles of oil money.

We are good adopters, and in the past 20 or 30 years, these Christian strands in Nigeria have “grown” side by side with the monies flowing in the streets and the technologies produced by others. Christianity has moved from the pews into the realm of business, and from the pulpits to American-style television.

In the process, some of the emerging Christian leadership, adopting the culture of American television and stage, became celebrities and rock stars. Christianity became marketable, and marketability became mistaken for commercialization.

These pastors also became instant television producers, concerned about their looks and make-up as they prepared for worship services tailored for broadcasting. They worked on scripts and colous and lighting, and arrived in stardom wearing expensive suits and jewelry.

They became stars as their Ministry became a business. And since there is no business without politics, business took politics in its arms and kissed her.  Increasingly, pastors prayed not for right over wrong, nor simply for the mercy of God or the wisdom of Solomon, but for specific individuals or political parties.

Increasingly, pastors enshrined and preached the immediacy and centrality of prosperity, often praying for prosperity answers before nightfall.

Prosperity is good. In a way, our entire journey as homo sapiens is about prosperity: health, education, longevity; heaven is prosperity over earth, and if we make heaven, we triumph—that is, prosper—over humanity.

The problem is that some of our Christian leaders often neglected the fact that prosperity is not always about materialism. From their glittering thousand-dollar suits, some of them prospered into the best cars, alligator-skin shoes, suites in five-star hotels.

All of this often happened alongside barbaric businessmen, guzzling governors and looting legislators many of whom, in moments of guilt or periods of sickness or sadness, sought the comfort of a pastor.

As you know by now, many pastors pray with their eyes closed. It helps focus on the celestial, but also conveys the impression of holiness.

Evidently, it also helps block out the obvious: that some of the powerful people appearing for prayers in the dead of night, or conveniently arranging to meet with the pastor in faraway lands, are thieves who have robbed the people blind.

Now, forgiveness is normal in Christianity.  It is the foundation of the Christian Church, as the entire mission of Jesus Christ, in the Christian faith, was to take away sin and effect reconciliation with the Father.  It is the place of a Christian leader to help with that process, so when he engages a sinner, it is to be expected.

The only problem is that in Nigeria, some pastors have often seemed to close their eyes a little too much and too long: allowing celebrity thieves to impoverish the people longer or escape justice.  The pastor thereby becomes an accomplice, accepting vast “contributions” they had reason to know could not have come from a legitimate income.

In 2007, Archbishop Peter Akinola, the leader of the Anglican Church, showed up at a “glorious homecoming” celebration for one Olusegun Obasanjo, who had recently, reluctantly, and vindictively, given up the job of President of the Federal Republic.

“You have got the best in the world and your eyes have seen the worst in the world.  All that is left now is to make heaven,” he told Obasanjo.

He assured the former president that while he had finished his “horizontal fights,” his spiritual journey had just begun, and urged him to fight the battle of his conscience, and seek forgiveness from those he has wronged.

The people Obasanjo had wronged, for eight long years, were the people of Nigeria, and the good bishop knew it as did all of the pastors who followed Obasanjo around and prayed with him routinely.

Akinola told Obasanjo God had blessed him with everything.   “You have enough money, you have enough houses, you have enough land, enough (cars), enough properties, even enough children and all should be enough…God has given you far too many houses.  What to eat is not your problem.  Paying children’s school fees is no longer your problem…”

He did not tell Obasanjo that all those riches were at the expense of his deeply disappointed people.

Indeed, many of the Christian leaders who interpret Christianity as a tool for personal prosperity pretend to see no link between bad governance and the manna from heaven they preach to their exhausted congregations.  For them, their access to the corridors of power is merely part of their own prosperity.  They do not see their blindness to bad governance to be collusion, or their silence to be support.

This is really a double rape, because on the other side, the pastors collect relentlessly from the poor to fund an affluent lifestyle.  It is the collections that are now said to be lucrative enough for pastors to bank hundreds of millions of Naira in personal wealth, and purchase jets by which to rule the sky.

In the case of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), he did not even have to work at buying the jet himself: his congregation presented it to him as a “gift.”  It is impressive when a congregation can raise $40 or $50 million to buy a jet.

According to a recent newspaper story, in Nigeria private jet ownership has grown by 650 per cent in the past five years, with those wealthy enough to afford it, including our pastors, spending about $7.5 billion

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah has described this trend on the part of Christian leaders as an embarrassment because it diminishes the moral voice of the church in the fight against corruption.

It is not surprising that he immediately came under attack.  Sunday Oibe, a spokesman for CAN, said: “If there is any clergyman in the country whose constituency is government, it is Bishop Kukah, who served every government in power in the last decade.”

Kukah, he accused, served in the Obasanjo government, only to later attack the former president.  Kukah, he accused, fraternized with former Governors James Ibori and Peter Odili.

Kukah never served in the Obasanjo government.  “Fraternized” with corrupt governors?  Does that mean he knew them, accepted contracts from them, used them as his route to riches and glamor?

Which explains the very point: corruption fights back.  Corruption not only defends itself; in Nigeria, it advertises in Eagle Square.  Corruption blackmails; on the offensive, it paints everything in its own colors.

The obvious is that it is those pastors who buy jets remind one less of a Christian leader and more of a playboy or a corrupt former governor.  A pastor who buys a jet, even from “legitimate” resources, cannot avoid being perceived as being corrupt or compromised

The reason is that a private jet is not just a mode of transportation.  It symbolizes a lifestyle of opulence and challenges the Christian values of humility.  It suggests matching riches and possessions, affluent luxury homes, exotic cars, expansive hotel suites and immense bank accounts.

A private jet, for a Christian leader, suggests the corruption of the Christian spirit and contradicts the life of Christ and the ability to live a life of humility and compassion, or to serve the poor.

A private jet may be transportation to a businessman, and a Christian leader can argue eloquently that he needs it to simplify his mission.  In a country as desperate as Nigeria, the only destination to which a luxury private jet transports a pastor is away: from his ability to confront power, and from the mission.

CHINA: General aircraft hit low-altitude turbulence -- Private operators and flight schools await the opening up of airspace controlled by the military

Buying general aircraft, as displayed at the recent 9th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, is easy. Getting into the air is hard. 
Photo Credite: Charlotte So

Buying a general aircraft - planes not used by commercial airlines - is easy on the mainland, but getting it into the air is a huge task. 

 That's because a long-awaited liberalization of low-altitude airspace, where general aircraft usually fly, has yet to take place.

"The low-altitude airspace is totally controlled by the air force, so our helicopters can't operate wherever there is a military operation," said Ji Wenhua, operations manager of Zhuhai Helicopter, a subsidiary of China Southern Airlines which operates the largest helicopter fleet in the nation.

A three-seat Enstrom helicopter can be bought for as low as US$541,200, while a Glasair sea-land aircraft costs US$279,000 - much cheaper than a private jet.

With more than 10 helicopters based in six mainland cities, there were conflicts between military and civil aviation daily, Ji said. One of the firm's major activities is transporting workers and resources to and from offshore oil rigs on the Bohai Economic Rim and across the South China Sea.

"Our operations to the South China Sea are disturbed by military operations more often these days," he said. The tension between China and Japan over the disputed islands in the region has made military operations more frequent in the region.

For Guangxi and the Bohai Economic Rim, the restrictions on low-altitude flying would be more stringent, as air force bases were in those areas, an industry veteran said.

"China is a defended country, which means all civil aviation activity is subject to the approval of the military," said Zhao Guoqing, head of flight operations at the central and southern regional office of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). "The United States, on the contrary, is a defenceless country."

General aviation on the mainland is still in its infancy. There are about 130 such companies, including flight training schools and commercial operators.

"However, the flight time for individual or commercial activities in China is next to nothing if you exclude flight training," said Wang Yin, director of flight standards at the Henan safety oversight office of CAAC. Total flying hours for general aviation amounted to 248,000 last year.

"The demand for general aviation could be enormous," Ji said. "It could be used to fly banners for property projects or in a charter service to bring people home and visit friends and relatives."

Two years ago, Beijing set up pilot schemes in the Changchun (Jilin), Guangzhou and Hainan reporting regions under the management of the Air Traffic Control Bureau.

The airspace falls under three categories: restricted, monitored and reported. In reported districts, flight plans are required by 4pm the day before flying for approval. In practice, approval in these districts is automatic.

However, pilots, even in Zhuhai, in the Guangzhou reporting region, still have to go through a lengthy application. A flying club member said he had to file a flight plan a week in advance and was given only a few hours in the air.

The support facilities to ensure the safety of general aircraft also lag behind demand.

The first flying service station, which provides flying information to general aircraft, has just been established in Zhuhai. Zhao said four to five flying service stations would be set up in the six provinces in his region by the end of the year.

In the next five years, 100 stations would be built nationwide, said Ma Xin, deputy director of the National Air Traffic Management Committee. Based on the number of stations that are set up, the lead time for flight plan applications will decrease from 15 hours to four hours.

"Within 10 years, we will see the liberalization of low-altitude airspace nationwide," Ma said.

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Women are increasingly ascending to top posts at aerospace firms: Industry that until recently had few female executives is catching up with other sectors in removing the glass ceiling

At a time when federal budget cuts are reshaping the nation’s aerospace industry, a far different makeover is under way in the executive suites of some of the country’s biggest defense contractors.

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense firm, announced this month that electronics whiz Marillyn A. Hewson would become chief executive — the first woman to take on that role at the company.

It was an announcement that might have drawn much greater attention from the nation’s defense establishment in Washington if it hadn’t come the same day CIA Director David Petraeus suddenly resigned amid headline-rich reports of an extramarital affair.

After all, no aerospace firm so large — or influential — had ever been run by a woman. Hewson’s promotion followed the summer announcement that Phebe Novakovic would take over as chief executive at General Dynamics, the nation’s fifth-largest defense firm, in Fairfax, Va.

Both take over the top posts Jan. 1, as female engineers, scientists and managers who joined the industry during the Cold War are rising to prominence in a staid industry long dominated by men. Although women have climbed to the top of other industries for decades, aerospace has gone without women at the top until recent years.

“The ascension of women like Marillyn Hewson and Phebe Novakovic to the top of the corporate ladder suggests that while the glass ceiling in aerospace and defense may not have been entirely shattered, it’s certainly become more transparent,” said Marion Blakey, chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association trade group.

Come Jan. 1, there will be a record 21 women who serve as chief executives of firms on the Fortune 500 list of the nation’s largest public companies, including Hewson and Novakovic.

Deborah Soon, senior vice president of strategy at Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that tracks the progress of women in the business world, said there is still a long way from parity. “We look forward to the day when a woman leading an aerospace company is no longer news,” she said.

Other women in the industry are rocketing to the top as well. By next year, six women will sit on aerospace giant Northrop Grumman’s 14-member senior management team. This month, Boeing shook up its executive ranks and named seven people to leadership roles — five of whom were women.

It’s a big shift from the boy’s club culture that once pervaded the aerospace business after World War II, said industry pioneer Simon Ramo, now 99. “At the time, for all practical purposes, prejudice against women was supreme,” said Ramo, co-founder of former aerospace giant TRW, now part of Northrop. “Things have definitely changed.”

A main reason for the male predominance and evolving shift, experts say, is that most aerospace leaders have risen through the science and engineering ranks, which has been populated mostly by men. According to the National Science Foundation’s most recent data, women make up about 27 percent of the 4.9 million people working in science and engineering. In 1993, women made up 22 percent of the 3.2 million people in those fields.

Industry experts do not expect a dramatic change in the way the companies are run. Especially at a time when U.S. military spending — which grew at double-digit percentage rates after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — is expected to decline $487 billion in the next decade.

“Although the demographics are shifting, the basic behavior of the industry will largely remain the same,” said Loren Thompson, a defense-policy analyst with the Lexington Institute. “The metrics by which the modern defense industry is judged are sales numbers. That’s not going to change whether the chief executive is a man or a woman.”

The promotions of these new top executives have been greeted with enthusiasm and a bit of curiosity. But no group seems more pleased than other female executives who now see one of their own running the place.

“I do believe women’s roles have shifted significantly in the more than three decades that I have been in aerospace,” said Lillian Ryals, vice president of the Mitre Corp., a nonprofit government contractor. “It is not just our numbers that have grown, but also our reach and influence across the sector, from the civil aerospace industry to our ranks on the military side, from aviation to space.”

Lockheed’s Hewson, 58, built her reputation in a variety of business sectors. In her most recent assignment, she made the company’s sprawling electronic systems business the most profitable unit for Lockheed, better known for building fighter jets, Navy warships and spy satellites.

Soon, she will take charge of a company that employs 120,000 people worldwide, about 25 percent of whom are women. “Regardless of gender, each of us brings our unique perspective and collection of experiences to our roles and contributes to the success of the organization,” she said.

General Dynamics’ Novakovic, 55, previously oversaw the company’s marine systems group, which includes the sprawling ship building operations Bath Iron Works in Maine and NASSCO in San Diego.

Until now, Linda Hudson, 62, has been the most powerful woman in the global defense industry. Dubbed the “first lady of defense” by Washingtonian magazine, she was named to head the U.S. unit of British military contractor BAE Systems Inc. in 2009.

“I grew up in Central Florida in the middle of the ‘space race,’ watching the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches from my yard, literally,” Hudson said. “At the time, there were no women in the space program. Thankfully, one of my junior high teachers introduced me to engineering. Fortunate for me, I was very good at math and science. That was when I decided if I couldn’t fly jet airplanes, I could design them.”

Hudson welcomed the newcomers to the top ranks. But there is still work to be done, she said.

“As more women rise through the ranks, I believe the path will become less intimidating for others,” Hudson said. “I hope my success in this once male-dominated field and role, and the success of my counterparts, will influence women to pursue their dreams of a career in this field.”

Although women have played a major role in aerospace since Amelia Earhart in 1930s — and later in the World War II effort, building aircraft — there was little advancement into management.

Amid the Cold War buildup, Southern California’s aerospace industry was sharply criticized by a congressional committee for failing to hire and promote more women and minorities. A 1989 U.S. Government Accountability Office report found “men predominated in the aerospace industry in most job categories.”

Nan Bouchard, 53, vice president and general manager of Boeing Defense Systems Program Management, remembers working at Boeing’s Santa Susana Mountains test facilities in Simi Valley, Calif., around that time.

The shop “only had men’s rooms so you had to go to a different building,” she said. “I also remember having customers in the late ’80s who remarked they had never encountered a female engineering manager before. Of course, they would have encountered many since then.”


Aerospace meet calls for roadmap for aircraft engine manufacture

The 26th National Convention of Aerospace Engineers, which concluded here on Sunday, gave a call to industries and the Government to start mapping out a roadmap for aircraft engine production in India.

In a resolution, the convention underscored the need to start building a platform for aircraft engine manufacture at the earliest.

In another resolution, it wanted identification of some key critical technology in aerospace products, backed by a realistic time and investment framework.

It also noted with concern the inadequacy of training manpower in this field, calling for immediate action for building human capital for aerospace projects.

As part of this, the convention suggested that the syllabus for aerospace engineering needed to be periodically reviewed, especially in the field of use of information technology in simulation models. It gave a call for the industry to be prepared against cyber warfare threat.

The Indian aerospace engineering sector achieved a string of successes in the last ten years, including Agni, Prithvi and Dhanush.

It is set to further take off with projects such as hypersonic flight vehicle design and advanced aircraft projects.

The challenges before the sector include development of advanced auto pilot to handle critical manoeuvres of the aerospace vehicle, design of advanced propulsion systems like cryogenic engines and pulse detonation engine for futuristic flight vehicle design.

Air India woos passengers to Terminal 3 with a visit to Taj

Bolstered by a sequential rise in its market share in the past six months and a significant improvement in on-time performance, the state-owned Air India is now wooing passengers with several attractive offers, including a trip to the iconic Taj Mahal from its T3 terminal, to further enhance the market pie.

The latest in the series is "stopover packages" at competitive prices, including a visit to the Taj.

Besides drawing more passengers, the latest effort also aims at promoting its T3 hub in the capital, which is being used by about 3,000 AI's transit passengers daily.

"The stopover package will enable passengers transfer-connecting on AI flights over Delhi to experience the city, with a range of accommodation on offer to fit all budgets," Air India said in a statement.

The domestic passenger data for the last six months show consistent increase in the national carrier's market share with the airline gaining 4.6 per cent between May and October, pushing the till recently No 1 operator Jet Airways to the third slot with 20.8 per cent market share in October, after no-frills carrier IndiGo's 27.8 per cent.

Air India has established Delhi as its hub and it has designed its flight schedule in a manner that facilitates easy transfer connections at the T3, particularly from domestic to international flights and vice versa.

The packages offer the facility of web-based hotel booking, airport/hotel transfers and sightseeing options in and around Delhi, Air India said.

A range of hotels, from budget to 5-star category, located in and around the airport having made available under various packages, including the hotel located inside T3 itself, it added.

Besides, the stopover packages also offer 'day rates', which allows 'wash-and-change' facilities to the passenger at select hotels.

In addition, it also offers overnight stay rates inclusive of airport pick-up, breakfast & taxes with option to upgrade room, extended stay, day-use rates for 'wash-and-change' facility (4/6 hrs as per hotel rules), departure transfers, sightseeing as well as a day trip to the Taj Mahal, the release said.

Indian Air Force to replace Avro aircraft soon

Nagpur: The Indian Air Force will soon be phasing out the old Avro aircraft and have sought a request for proposal, a senior IAF official said on Sunday.

The Avro aircraft will be replaced with modern ones.

A request for proposal (RFP) has been sought by the authorities, Air Marshal Jagdish Chandra, Air Officer in-Commanding in-Chief of IAF Maintenance Command here, told reporters on the sidelines of an air show at Sonegaon Airbase today.

Similarly, the Sukhoi-30 aircraft, which is overhauled by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) exclusively, will be joined by the IAF's Base Repair Depot (BRD), Nashik in the work, the Air Marshal said.

Henceforth, the life extension overhaul will be carried out jointly the public sector company HAL and IAF's own BRD, Nashik, he said.

Meanwhile, an air show was organised on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of IAF here.

The para-jumpers from Agra performed at the event while three Sukhoi-30 aircraft flew past while jumpers and air warriors drilling team displayed a combination of accuracy.

The para-dropping team was led by JWO A K Singh and S Sherawat led the drill team.

Cebu Air to Fly to Bali: Philippine Carrier Cebu Air to Commence Twice-Weekly Flights Manila to Bali in March 2013

Philippine carried Cebu Air, the largest airline of that country, will commence scheduled air service between Bali and Manila on March 26, 2013.
The schedule announced for the new service will see the route flown twice each week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The flight will leave Bali at 4:00 am landing in Bali at 7:50 am. The return leg leaves Bali at 8:35 am landing in Manila at 12:25 pm.

Cebu Air will be offer year-round fares for Bali starting at Peso 3,499 (US$85).

Bali becomes Cebu Air's 20th international destination and its second Indonesian destination, after Jakarta. Cebu Air flies to Jakarta four times each week.

Cebu Air operates a fleet of 40 aircraft – the largest aircraft operator in The Philippines. It has another 19 airplanes on order for deliver between 2012 and 2021.

Al Ain Aerobatic Show postponed for a year

When asked about the reason for the delay a spokesperson for the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the air show's organizing body, said "the authority has embarked on a review of the annual event aimed at its further enhancement and development".

The 10th annual aerial display was originally scheduled to take place over the National Day weekend from Friday November 30 to Sunday December 2 at the Al Ain International Airport.

The scheduling of the event around the holiday was intended to, "give UAE residents and international visitors the chance to travel to Al Ain for a long weekend break," said Faisal Al Sheikh, Events Manager at the Authority.

The 2013 dates have yet to be announced.

Passenger plane avoids landing with other aircraft on runway: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (KCVG), Covington, Kentucky

HEBRON, Ky. –  The Federal Aviation Administration says a Cincinnati-bound passenger plane that was trying to land had to pull up suddenly from the runway because another plane hadn't cleared the landing strip. The plane landed safely on a second attempt.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker said there was no safety risk to passengers Saturday.

Patrick Steitz says he was a passenger on the Pinnacle Airlines flight from St. Louis. He says the plane was within about 10 feet of the runway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport when the engines roared and the plane turned back up.

He says passengers realized what was happening and were relieved the plane didn't try to land. Steitz says the pilot later told them over a loudspeaker what happened.

The Laurel, Md., resident says the pilots handled the situation well.

Vista Field: Count shows how many planes land at Kennewick airport

KENNEWICK -- A recent count of takeoffs and landings at Kennewick's Vista Field Airport suggests that activity at the airport may be a fifth of the estimates used by the state Department of Transportation to determine economic impact.

Prior to this count, no one has been able to say for sure how much the towerless airport near the Three Rivers Convention Center is used.

The exact activity at Vista Field has become a central question in the debate over the airport's future. Tri-City pilots have argued that the airport is a piece of infrastructure that brings a benefit to the community as a whole, while others have questioned what value the 90-acre airport represents in a community that has three other public airports.

Port consulant Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. of Portland is in the midst of a study to determine the best options for keeping the airport open and developing it and closing the airport and redeveloping the property. The results will include the possible costs and benefits of either action.

Having the operational counts is part of answering the question the community has asked about what Vista Field currently means to the economy, said Larry Peterson, the Port of Kennewick's director of planning and development. And operations appear to be connected to the estimates of economic benefit.

It's important information to have no matter the outcome of the current study. Peterson said if the decision is to keep the airport open, the count will give the port a baseline to measure improvement in activity.

Counting takeoffs and landings

On average, 11.13 operations were observed on a daily basis on 31 days between May 16 and Oct. 22, according to the count. A takeoff is one operation, and a landing is another.

That would mean an annual average of about 4,062 operations a year, if the numbers are not seasonally adjusted to reflect decreased activity during winter months.

The days of the week varied, and on three of the days, no activity was observed, according to port documents.

The count was for 24 hours on the first three days of the count, Peterson said. When no activity was observed between midnight and 6 a.m., the time for the remaining counts was from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Since operations appear to be a key factor linked to jobs and economic benefit, Peterson said officials thought it critical to get a count.

A WSDOT aviation study released earlier this year attributed about 25,000 operations to the airport. That same report tied 12 jobs to Vista Field and $1.2 million in visitor spending.

If there were 25,000 operations a year at Vista Field, Peterson said it would mean that every 21 minutes, there would be a takeoff or a landing. That includes night and day, weekend, holidays and during bad weather.

Peterson said the differences in what was observed and what was estimated call into question the estimates of activity at nontowered airports and the economic benefits attached to them.

The port hired Anchor QEA for up to about $15,000 to collect airport usage information, said Tammy Fine, the Port of Kennewick's finance director and auditor. The company has been paid nearly $9,000.

Wake-up call

Differences in the estimates of activity and economic benefit used in WSDOT's 2001 and 2012 aviation reports was part of what Peterson call's the port's "wake-up call" with Vista Field.

In 2001, Vista Field's activity was estimated at 45,000 operations. The airport generated about 137 jobs and $8.9 million in visitor spending to the airport.

The estimates in the 2012 report reflected up to a 91 percent drop for some of the figures, according to port documents.

Port officials have asked the consultants to take a look at the data from the counts as part of the study. More work will be done with the preliminary numbers.

Century West Engineering, an aviation consultant involved in the study, has indicated that there tend to be 450 operations per based aircraft per year for airports, Peterson said.

With 22 based aircraft, that would put Vista Field at about 9,900 operations, he said.

The port plans to present the study to the public and let the public decide the future of Vista Field through an advisory vote.

Least-busy airport

The new estimate of Vista Field's activity would make the airport less busy than the Port of Benton's Prosser Airport.

The Prosser Airport has about 12,000 takeoffs and landings a year, with about 25 to 30 planes based there, said John Haakenson, the Port of Benton's director of airports and operations. The state estimates takeoffs and landings at 6,000 annually.

The Port of Kennewick also paid for activity at the Port of Benton's Richland Airport to be counted on five days in May and June as a comparison. In total, 240 operations were observed on those days, an average of 48 per day.

Without seasonal adjustments, that would mean about 17,520 operations per year, according to port documents.

However, since the count was only on five days, Haakenson said that wouldn't be a large enough sample to reflect the annual activity of the airport.

WSDOT estimates the Richland Airport's activity at about 70,000 operations a year. But Port of Benton officials say that is high. Haakenson estimates activity at the airport, which has about 160 aircraft based there, is closer to 35,200 operations.

That's what was included in a 2010 precision approach study for the Federal Aviation Administration done with the help of J-U-B Engineers and was based on surveys, information from MedStar and counting airplanes on the ground, he said.

The only Tri-City area airport where officials can say for sure how much the airport is used is the Port of Pasco's Tri-Cities Airport.

From November 2011 through October, there were nearly 52,000 operations at the Tri-Cities Airport, according to Port of Pasco documents.

Of that, a little more than 36,600 was from general aviation, according to the documents. The airport has commercial flights, two fixed-based operators including Bergstrom Aircraft, a flight school and about 134 based aircraft.