Thursday, December 6, 2012

Northumberland, New Brunswick, Canada: Pilot flies patients to medical appointments

Clifford Skarstedt QMI Agency 
Bob Hunter with his Dakota Piper at Peterborough Municipal Airport.

NORTHUMBERLAND - Way up in the sky there’s a small team of pilots shuttling around some pretty important cargo. 

 They chauffeur medical patients – men, women and children – who need to travel great distances for treatment and don’t have the funds to pay for travel expenses.

One of those pilots is Baltimore resident Bob Hunter, a pilot since 1976.

He’s always loved flying, he said, even as a kid growing up near an airport.

“All I ever did was stand at the chain link fence and stare at the airplanes,” he said. “All I ever wanted was to be a commercial pilot.”

But it was a career path Hunter couldn’t pursue. Back then, he said, pilots were required to have uncorrected 20/20 vision and his eyesight fell short.

He pursued a career in the airline industry nonetheless, working in management and flying planes as a hobby.

About three or four years ago he heard about Hope Air and has been volunteering for the company ever since.

“It’s a chance to help out and do what I love doing,” he explained over a cup of coffee at the Peterborough Airport where he keeps his four-seater Dakota Piper.

Hope Air provides flights to help people access the health care they need.

Most of the time, the organization pays for seats for patients on commercial flights. But that doesn’t work in small communities, where residents don’t have easy access to an airport large enough to host a commercial airline.

That’s where pilots like Hunter step in. They fly to small, remote communities to either meet a patient heading to a hospital or to give someone a lift home.

Sharon, a 51-year-old Manitoulin Island resident who didn’t wish to give her full name, said she wouldn’t have any other way to attend her doctor’s appointment in Toronto without pilots like Hunter and the Hope Air service.

Sharon has severe rheumatoid arthritis that makes travelling difficult and has relied on Hope Air in the past.

“They are volunteer pilots. They are great. If it wasn’t for them, people wouldn’t be getting to these appointments,” Sharon said from her home in Gore Bay. “They are courteous. They are selfless. They go out of their way to help others which is great.”

Hunter transported Sharon from Gore Bay to Toronto Monday.

Hunter loves seeing the expression on a family’s face when they know they’ve been saved a costly, multi-hour bus trip across the province or the joy on a child’s face as they soar through the sky.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” Hunter said, a smile crossing his face. “It is so neat.”

Hope Air covers 50% of Hunter’s fuel costs and the organization puts him in touch with patients. It’s up to Hunter and the patient to set up the date, time and location of the pickup.

Most are heading to Toronto, he said, to cancer treatment centres or The Hospital for Sick Children. Some like to talk about their treatments, while others don’t say a word. That’s up to them, Hunter said, and he makes a point not to ask.

Airports throughout the province accommodate pilots flying under the Hope Air call sign by waiving landing fees.

There’s no age limit for patients. Hope Air screens each applicant to make sure they meet medical and financial qualifications.

Peterborough resident Janet Feim credits Hope Air with the safe and quick reunification of her daughter’s family following the premature birth of her twin grandchildren in May.

Feim’s daughter Cheryl lives in Red Lake, a small community 570 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay with a population of about 5,000.

Cheryl was pregnant with twins. The community doctor told her she should relocate to a larger community as her due date neared. If anything were to go wrong, Red Lake’s small medical centre would be unable to handle the complication.

Cheryl chose to go to Toronto for care because family were close by in Peterborough. She began seeing a specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital and delivered the twins six weeks early.

Both babies — boys Keith Lee and Austin Kenneth — were healthy, though underweight. Feim said the Peterborough Regional Health Centre was able to accept the newborns as patients in their Special Care Nursery.

By June the family was able to return to Red Lake.

But it wasn’t going to be easy. Travelling with one healthy newborn can be challenging at the best of times. The Feims had a set of twins who weighed about five pounds each. They could take a 24-hour bus ride or endure 12 hours of travelling on a commercial flight.

Feim said Cheryl’s future mother-in-law suggested the couple apply to Hope Air. Their application was successful, and one month after the twins were born the two met their pilot at the Peterborough Airport.

Their trip home took only about five hours and Hope Air covered their expenses.

“I am amazed that we could reunite the family so quickly,” Feim said.

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PIA losses: Management didn’t reveal complete facts in Supreme Court

LAHORE – The reasons behind losses of PIA during past 20 years are more than its management stated in a report submitted to the Supreme Court, sources in national flag carrier said on Thursday.

Pilferage of millions of rupees in procurement of components of aircraft, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), Foreign postings, heavy salaries of top management, political interference in administrative issues and out of merit appointments are pushing national carrier at the brink of disaster day by day.

Sources claimed that PIA management has termed the national aviation policy of providing excessive grants of traffic rights to Gulf airlines and low-cost carriers, the geo-political situation of the country, depreciation of rupee, fluctuating fuel prices and competitive regional markets as external challenges to the airline. One can imagine procurement blunders of PIA management from a recent deal wherein National Carrier is going to acquire five A320 V2500 engine aircraft instead of B-737/800 although the latter is not only clearly suitable for its operations but also has in-house repair and overhaul facility with PIA. PIA is about to finalize its choice for the dry lease of five narrow body and two wide body aircraft for which it opened bids on 31st October 2012. Sources claimed that PIA Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) department has no technological capacity to overhaul A320 Rolls Royce V2500, but management was standing firm to purchase the same due to unknown reasons. PIA management would have to send the engine of aircraft to either Germany or New Zealand for MRO which would cost almost $100,000 in engine transportation only, apart from other cost of MRO. A PIA senior officer seeking anonymity said that other than engines overhaul there was mega pilferage in procurement of other components of aircraft and purchase of aircraft. Kickbacks and commissions are received at high level.

As per The Nation research, out of total 17,000 officials, PIA’s human resource department has started re-verification of educational degrees of 2000 officials about whom former MD Rao Qamar was doubtful that their degrees were fake. These fake degree holders were so influential that they were getting promotions more speedily than that of original degree holders. This discrimination has not only stopped the promotions of bonafide officials but also has demoralized them to play their role for the development of airline. In the current year four such officers were promoted third time to next grades from Lahore station whose degrees were challenged in Lahore High Court by their colleagues having original degrees and more service than them. LHC had issued notice to MD PIA in this regard but management paid no heed towards court notice and promoted said four officers.

At present, PIA has 17,227 employees and the total monthly salary of its staff amounts to Rs1.16 billion, which on an annual basis works out to be 12pc of revenue earned in 2011. PIA has a total number of 38 aircraft in its fleet and the ratio of employees with respect to each aircraft is 453 which was far more than that of international ratio of about 150 employees per aircraft.

Foreign posting was another source of corruption in PIA wherein PIA employees commit irregularities during their postings aboard. A senior officer of PIA on the condition of not to be named said that they have asked Chairman PIA to investigate the assets of those PIA employees who were posted at foreign stations.

Top heavy management was another crucial factor in PIA losses which could be reflected from the bold decisions of outgoing MD PIA, Rao Qamar Suleman who terminated the services of a former Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Saleem Syani who was drawing about $40,000 as monthly salary apart from other perks and privileges. It is worth mentioning here that some other consultants were also on the pay role of PIA also drawing heavy salaries. Well placed sources in PIA were of the view that main reason behind leaving Rao Qamar was his bold decisions like kicking out of DMD Salim Syani, verification of fake degrees of influential employees of PIA and others. Though current MD was making tall claims of bold decisions but no such decision was witnessed by him so far.

The PIA management informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance that reasons behind the losses to the national carrier were aging fleet, volatile oil prices, exchange rate losses, interest on non-fleet loans, geo-political situation, delay in aviation policy, inconsistent policies and services on commercially unviable routes.


North Carolina airmen who survived plane crash promoted


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One of the survivors of a plane crash that killed four North Carolina airmen was promoted Thursday. 

Joshua Marlow was promoted from tech sergeant to master sergeant. Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Huneycutt placed stripes signifying the promotion on Marlow. 

Huneycutt and Marlow were the only survivors when their plane crashed while fighting wildfires in South Dakota in July. 

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Airport security, border patrol might see budget cuts if fiscal talks fail

WASHINGTON — The U.S. border might become harder to protect should lawmakers fail to avert the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

Among the many agencies that would be affected by the automatic spending cuts scheduled for early January are those that guard the borders with Mexico and Canada, inspect ports of entry and monitor airport security. Officials and policy analysts have warned that drug smugglers and human traffickers might be able to exploit a weaker border as patrol agents would be fired by the thousands and tens of millions of dollars for the border fence would be cut.

The $1.2 trillion in spending reductions also would mean fewer customs agents to operate X-ray machines and fewer security guards at airports, leading to longer waits at checkpoints, according to a congressional analysis of the prospective cuts.

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Police to spend $3.5 million on replacing helicopters

The Calgary Police Service is planning to replace its two helicopters over the next four years. The city has budgeted $3.5 million for aircraft replacement. 
Photograph by: Lorraine Hjalte, Calgary Herald 

CALGARY — Aiming to cut costly helicopter repair bills, Calgary police are putting out a tender call to trade and replace its 1999 HAWC helicopter.

The city has budgeted $3.5 million from capital reserves for aircraft replacement.

Police say the plan is to spend $1.6 million to replace each chopper over the next four years.

In 2013, police are looking to replace HAWC2, which has been used for seven years. The chopper has 8,114 hours of airtime.

By 2016, it will be HAWC1’s turn, as it is coming into its fourth year of service.

Police say by selling them early, they will save on repairs in the long run.

“With the first initial sale we waited too long. There was very little value to trade it in. It’s like a car: if you hold on too long, you have it for its life,” said Insp. Blair White of the support section.

“With the amount of airtime they get, like any vehicle, over time as your vehicle gets older and the more miles you get on it, the more repairs you’re faced with.”

Police said they’re trying to develop a replacement schedule, so come budget time they can make sure funding requests are kept low.

“We’re trying to forecast to make it easier on us and essentially easier on the city, so they know it’s coming,” White said.

The police helicopter program provides a swift response to life-threatening incidents, air support for ground units, and aims to increase efficiency to detect, prevent and reduce crime through aerial patrols.

From 2008 to May 2012, the police helicopters responded to 12,137 calls for service, directly resulting in 1,840 arrests. Those arrests resulted in 2,845 criminal charges.

HAWC also took to the skies for 192 motor vehicle pursuits, as police have a policy prohibiting ground chases for public safety.

With HAWC being first on the scene in more than half the calls for help, it provides a “huge tactical advantage,” White said.

The Calgary Police Service’s earlier request for $2.25 million for upgrades and maintenance to its HAWC helicopters was questioned by Mayor Naheed Nenshi in May.

Calgary’s police helicopter program — Helicopter Air Watch for Community Safety, or HAWCS — was created following the death of Const. Rick Sonnenberg. On Oct. 8, 1993, Sonnenberg was run down and killed trying to stop a stolen vehicle fleeing from police.

HAWC1 took flight in 1995 and was purchased for $1.5 million. The Calgary Police Service became the first municipal police agency in Canada to establish an air services unit with a full-time patrol helicopter. The first chopper was purchased through a fundraiser.

HAWC2 was added in 2006, but the original HAWC1 was sold to an Ontario company for $515,000 after the police service determined it would need a costly and time-consuming overhaul.

Its replacement was purchased for $1.7 million, using proceeds from the HAWC1 sale, funds from the Rick Sonnenberg Memorial Society and reserve funds.

At the time, selling HAWC1 before owning a replacement was criticized, but police said they needed to sell the machine quickly to get the best price.

City police also want to install 200 digital cameras in its patrol vehicles and two helicopters through next year, and install the remaining 150 cameras in cruisers through 2014.

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Sixteen (16) helicopters land at Children's hospital in massive toy drop-off event

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Santa choppered in. 

Dressed in familiar garb, Mr. Claus exited the blue Alabama State Trooper helicopter after it landed this afternoon on the old Children's Hospital helipad. Across the way, at the new Children's of Alabama hospital dozens of young patients were watching through their hospital room windows as the scene unfolded.

Two big red bags of what looked like toys were then taken off the chopper as Santa waved at the kids.

It was just the beginning of a carefully orchestrated 16-helicopter parade featuring law enforcement agencies across the state, taking turns, one-by-one, landing, and dropping off bags -- all for the benefit of the children.

In all, the law enforcement agencies collected more than 2,000 toys for sick children.

"This is not about us, it's about those children looking out the windows," said Coffee County Sheriff Dave Sutton, looking on from the rooftop helipad.

 The idea for law enforcement to collect toys and chopper them into Children's came from Dale County Chief Deputy Tim McDonald, who was one of the pilots this afternoon, said Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson.

For logistical reasons, the toys were actually brought in earlier - thousands of them - using ground transportation. The helicopters were actually simulating the toy delivery for the sake of the onlooking children. The toys will be distributed through the hospital's Sugar Plum Shop to patients as Christmas approaches.

Olson said he was amazed at the response of the community in donating the toys. For example, he said a small rural Neighborhood Watch group in his county brought in about 75 toys. In all he said his county probably contributed a thousand toys.

"We can't thank law enforcement enough for being the catalyst for this first-ever event," said Wynne Speir, a Children's community action coordinator.

Santa's been busy at Children's this week. Tuesday, he was visiting bed-ridden children via video-chat technology.

"Times are hard for everybody," said Coffee County Sheriff Sutton. "But when it comes to a child, people open their hearts."

The 16 helicopters flying into Children's today in order of appearance were: Alabama State Troopers; Children's of Alabama Care Flight; Lifesaver; Hoover Police Department; Chilton County Sheriff's Office; Coffee County Sheriff's Office; Limestone County Sheriff's Office; Etowah County Sheriff's Office; Dale County Sheriff's Office; Morgan County Sheriff's Office; Cullman Police Department; Dale County Sheriff's Office (second helicopter); Marshall County Sheriff's Office; Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office; Tuscaloosa Police Department; and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

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Coast Guard Rescue Turns Out to be Training Exercise

CORPUS CHRISTI - Folks walking along Shoreline this afternoon stopped to watch what looked like a Coast Guard rescue out in the water. 

The chopper was seen dropping a basket several times and even popping of some smoke signals, but as it turns out, it was just a training procedure. 

No one was in any danger.


Study: Clark Regional Airport (KJVY) generates $235M in economic impact

Clark Regional director says it’s the third busiest regional airport in Indiana

JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County Regional Airport contributes more than $234 million in economic output to the region and sustains the existence of 1,121 jobs in Clark County, according to a study published by the Aviation Association of Indiana and Conexus Indiana in November in partnership with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“According to INDOT records, Clark Regional Airport is the third-busiest [regional] airport in the state,” Airport Manager Melodee McNames said. “Only Valparaiso and Indianapolis Regional have more based aircraft than us, so the $235-million impact doesn’t surprise me.”

Clark County Regional Airport has 131 full-time employees with a payroll of about $7 million, while an additional 714 jobs with a payroll of $44.8 million exist as a direct result of the airport’s existence, according to the report. Additionally, the report figures in “multiplier” affects to both jobs and payroll.

“These multiplier impacts are the result of either the business itself or the business employee spending money in the local economy,” according to the report. “For example, if a flight instructor takes his or her paycheck and buys lunch at a local restaurant, that money supports the payroll for the waiter, cook and busboy at the restaurant who, in turn, may spend their paychecks on childcare, groceries or other items, continuing the cycle until those dollars may eventually leave the community.”

The report’s multiplier impact for jobs stemming from Clark County Regional Airport is 275 with a payroll of $10.4 million, for an average salary of $37,880. The multiplier effect for economic output is $32.5 million, according to the report.

Operators at each of Indiana’s 69 airports were surveyed between 2011-12. The respondents provided data about their businesses, employees and what percentage of sales or output was directly attributable to their use of their local airport. After all key information was gathered, Conexus Indiana input the information into IMPLAN, an economic-impact analysis software recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration, which combines employment data with location- and industry-specific economic data to calculate each airport’s economic impact, according to the report.

“We’re helping the economy grow and prosper one flight at a time,” said Tom Galligan, president of the Clark County Board of Aviation Commissioners. “Most people don’t realize that we have inbound flights from practically every state in the country. Business moves through this airport every day. Whether it’s transporting products, customers, sales staff or company executives, Clark Regional keeps this county in pace with the global economy.”

Statewide, airports serve the transportation needs of more than 6.5 million Hoosiers, according to the report, and account for 69,149 jobs and a total payroll of $4.1 billion.

“These study results paint a clear picture of the value of Indiana’s airports, not only to residents who rely on air travel for business and pleasure, but to the thousands of businesses that rely on airport services to move people and products,” said Bart Geisler, executive director of the Aviation Association of Indiana. “This backs our continued assertion that aviation investment by the state creates jobs in the private sector. Airports connect Hoosier businesses to their customers, and this connection means jobs.”

The Aviation Association of Indiana lobbies the Indiana General Assembly and other state and local units of government on behalf of public-use airports across the state. Conexus Indiana is the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative.


Cleveland, Ohio: Golf course owner near Cuyahoga County Airport (KCGF) is looking for 'mercy' from officials on lease dispute

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Gary LaConte says he just wants some “mercy” from Cuyahoga County so that he can continue to operate the golf course he and his family built next to Cuyahoga County Airport more than 20 years ago.

LaConte is embroiled in a dispute over what he should pay the county in the future under their lease agreement and what he is late paying for Airport Greens Golf Course. LaConte says he is willing to pay but needs officials to be reasonable at a time when the golf business remains in a prolonged slump.

“We’re just asking to pay something that’s fair and so it will work,” LaConte said.

Airport Greens Golf Course is a modest 18-hole track at White and Richmond roads. Most of the property is in Willoughby Hills and the rest in Highland Heights.

The negotiations about the future of the golf course are in the hands of LaConte’s attorneys and the county prosecutor’s office.

Assistant Prosecutor David Lambert said Wednesday that the county wants the golf course and the LaConte family to succeed but that the two sides are too far apart at the moment.

“We’d like to see it continue to operate,” Lambert said. “If the operators are not willing to continue, we’ll make a decision when that happens. I don’t think anyone is attempting to shut the operation down. We’re attempting to work with the operator.”

LaConte owes the county $110,000. He said he is willing to pay that back over 10 years. Lambert said LaConte wanted 30 years to make payments. LaConte said he wants to pay the county either 5 percent of gross revenue or $40,000 a year. Lambert says the current lease calls for $62,500 annually.

LaConte said it was the brainchild of his father, Richard, and former airport manager Robert Shea to turn 130 acres of weed-strewn fields into a golf course and driving range. Richard LaConte had the experience, having owned Parkview Golf Course on SOM Center Road in Mayfield, Briarwood Golf Course in North Royalton and courses in Dayton and Florida.

The LaContes and the county received Federal Aviation Administration approval to proceed. The LaContes borrowed $2.7 million and designed and built the course themselves. It opened for play in April 1991.

They signed a 25-year-lease that called for payments of either a percentage of the gross proceeds or a set fee, whichever was higher. Gary LaConte said they always had to pay the set fee. The original deal called for turning ownership of the course over to the county after 25 years, although that was later stretched to 60 years. That deal also called for fee increases every five years, which LaConte said is no longer manageable.

Gary LaConte said that since the golf course business went into a deep dive in 2006 along with the local economy, he has been “begging” the county to rework the terms of the deal. He said he hasn’t paid himself since 2009 and has been operating the course using a home equity line of credit. He sued the county in Common Pleas Court this year, he said, to get officials to the negotiating table.

“It’s been a struggle, and we’re just trying to ask them for mercy and put this in a position where it’s realistic,” LaConte said.

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Headland airport manager accepts job with Blackwell Field Airport (71J), Ozark, Alabama

A woman with a decade of experience in airport management and economic development has been hired in a newly-developed position for the Blackwell Airport in Ozark.

The Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corporation (ODEC) appointed Stephanie Blankenship as the corporation’s executive vice president and director of aviation in Ozark.

According to ODEC Executive Director Eric Basinger, Blankenship will assume the position Jan. 1.

A statement from Basinger said Blankenship has been instrumental in securing more than $2.6 million in federal airport improvement grants in Headland and that she previously served as executive director of the Henry County Economic Development Authority and as economic development assistant for the City of Headland.

The statement said Blankenship’s duties in Dale County involve managing the airport and planning for future improvements, as well as assisting with economic development initiatives coordinated by ODEC.

Blankenship will continue as executive director of the Aviation Council of Alabama, an industry organization she has led since 2004, according to Basinger.

Blankenship said she was excited about the new opportunity.

“In Ozark, with Bell Helicopter on one side of the airport and the aviation college on the side, there’s just a world of opportunity there,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to getting started at the first of the year and exploring all the potential that there is at the airport.”


Sofia Airport New ATC Tower Able to Serve 2nd Runway

The new air traffic control tower at Sofia airport was put into operation right after its official inauguration on Wednesday.

The new air traffic control tower is located at Terminal 2 and will be taking over the duties of the airport older tower at Terminal 1.

It also has the potential to serve the incoming and departing flights from one more runway, which paves the way for the future development and expansion of the airport, the transport minister Moskovski explained.

The new tower is 50m high and according to plans it should be kept functional for the next 40 years.

The cost of its construction totaled BGN 15 M.

An Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System, A-SMGCS, is about to be implemented in the short term to ensure the safe and fast airline traffic at Sofia airport, regardless of weather conditions.

Construction company Glavbolgarstroy secured a contract from the Bulgarian Air Traffic Services Authority (BULATSA) for the preliminary design and construction of a new control tower at Sofia Airport in the summer last year.


Caribbean Airlines – non-stop Georgetown, Toronto Flights

With the busy holiday season touching down, Caribbean Airlines will on Tuesday December 4, 2012, begin its non-stop service between Georgetown and Toronto. The airline has announced that it will be flying twice weekly non-stop between the two destinations. Previously Caribbean Airlines stopped over in Trinidad before going on over to Canada. There have been calls for a more direct flight. 

 EZJet had started that service just months before it collapsed, leaving Caribbean Airlines as the only carrier plying the market.   Caribbean airlines also now offers non-stop service to New York.


Spirit Airlines Host Job Fair This Weekend

Spirit Airlines will hold a job fair for flight attendants Friday through Sunday in Irving.   The positions will fill a crew base at DFW that will include approximately 170 flight attendants and 80 pilots before next summer.  The job fair will take place at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Marriott at 8440 Freeport Parkway in Irving on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Here is more on the job fair from Spirit Airlines:


  • Sign-in begins approximately one hour prior to each session and doors will close promptly at the following scheduled times.
  • Friday, December 7, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. OR 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. OR 2:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. OR 2:30 p.m.

Interested applicants should bring the following documents to gain entrance:

  • Resume
  • Two forms of identification
  • A current and valid Passport or receipt of passport
  • Names must be EXACT on Passport and Social Security Card
  • Must make copies of Social Security Card, Driver's License and Passport and bring originals
  • Proof of eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • A copy of your High School Diploma or GED


Glider crash claims a life - Narromine, New South Wales, Australia

 The gliding accident that claimed the life of a 51-year-old man in Narromine on Wednesday.

A report is being prepared for the Coroner following the death of a 51-year-old Queensland man in a glider crash in Narromine on Wednesday.

Emergency services were called to the Warren Road, near the Narromine Aerodrome, at about 4.50pm after a glider, which had been attempting to land, came down on the roadway.

Inspector Brad Johnston from Orana Local Area Command said the man was flying as part of the glider championships being held in the town.

"All incidents (like this) are serious, but when we received the initial reports we weren't aware a fatality was going to result," Inspector Johnston said.

"The circumstances (of the crash) are being investigated and a report is being prepared for the Coroner.

"Detectives from Dubbo are conducting the investigation and will get specialist assistance where required."

Inspector Johnston said the pilot's name could not be released at the time of going to press.

"He has family in Queensland and his family has been notified and arrangements are being made to conduct a formal identification. Once that is done we'll be able to release his name," Inspector Johnston said.

Police, Fire and Rescue NSW, Ambulance and VRA attended the incident.

"The wreckage has been cleaned up and it's been taken away for examination," Inspector Johnston said.

It is understood the pilot died at Narromine Hospital after being taken out of the aircraft.

Inspector Johnston said he had not heard any reactions from people at the aerodrome but imagined they would be very upset.

This incident comes as a huge shock to the community after what had, up until then, been a successful event.

Story and photo:

A pilot has died after his glider crash landed at Narromine. Emergency services were called to Warren Rd, near Narromine Airport, north of the town, about 4:50pm on Wednesday after the pilot attempted to land on the roadway.  

The dead pilot reportedly is 51-year-old Queensland man, Errol Spletter, who was taking part in glider championships being held in the town. He died in Narromine Hospital after being removed from the aircraft, reports say. 

The wreckage has been taken away for examination and a report is being prepared for the Coroner. 


Artwork of wartime pilots goes on show at Royal Air Force (RAF) Cosford

The brave airmen of World War One and Two went into battle not knowing whether they would return, but many carried memories of home along with them painted on the side of their aircrafts.

An exhibition displaying some of the works of art on planes which flew over Britain during the war has now been opened at RAF Cosford Museum.

The free entry exhibition contains examples of the artwork created by pilots to adorn the noses, tails and fuselage of their aircraft.

The most historic artwork is the love heart motif taken from the Sopwith Camel of Lieutenant Colonel William Barker, a Canadian World War One ace who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918.

Lt Col Barker was awarded the medal for single-handedly fighting more than 15 German aircraft in one combat, a fight which left him critically wounded.

Although not from his Victoria Cross combat aircraft, the motif on display featured on Lt Col Barker’s previous aircraft and was given as a gift to his engine mechanic, who later donated it to the RAF Museum.

Other artwork featured includes a Donald Duck taken from a Mosquito, little skunks taken from a Halifax, and a Red Indian brave once on the nose of a Wellington.

A collection of excerpts from the documentary film Nose Art and Pin Ups by Gail Downey will also be shown.

Clare Carr, assistant curator at RAF Museum Cosford, said: “Many of the aircraft on display in the museum feature some form of artwork.

“This exhibition gives us the chance to bring from storage some of the historic examples held in the museum collection.

“It’s really interesting to see the children’s interpretations of nose art brought up to date and the clips from the film Nose Art and Pin Ups really helps to place the pieces in context.”

Some of the pieces exhibited date back to early fabric covered aircraft such as the Sopwith Camel and the Hawker Demon as well as more modern aluminium aircraft like the Handley Page Halifax.

Nose art featured on aircraft all over the world and ranged from cartoon characters to stylised portraits of the aircrew’s sweethearts.

The skunks from the Halifax have the nicknames of the aircraft crew written alongside each skunk. The large schoolmaster skunk is Goldie, the skunk in the car is Tommy and the five small skunks are named Shag, Ray, Gos, Metty and Wally.

Some of the bomb mission symbols have place names written on, including Berlin, Stettin and Essen.

There is a motto on the art which says ‘We Are Offensive’, which it is believed may refer to the unpleasant scent skunks release when scared.

On the side of the Sopwith is a piece of art called Fums Up! which was a good luck term popular in the 1900s and up to World War Two. The image shows a baby with its thumbs up.

Small lucky charms in the shape of a baby with outstretched thumbs were commonly given to loved ones serving in the armed forces. Often they had wooden heads so the recipient could also touch wood for luck.

The Fums Up! motifs shown in the exhibition were used by Second Lieutenant John Raymond Chisman of 204 Squadron RAF.

The Fums Up! baby was painted onto the spine of his aircraft. Second Lt Chisman’s sister would always end her letters to him with the words “Fums Up!”

The red Indian on display is from the nose of a Vickers Wellington II of 158 Squadron RAF.

The 158 Squadron was equipped with Wellingtons for only five months before moving onto the Handley Page Halifax in June 1942.

Some of the most famous aircraft nose art designs of World War Two were from a Halifax of 158 Squadron.

Other famous nose art includes pieces such as Friday the 13th, which was the name given to Halifax LV907, which had completed 128 bombing operations when the war ended. The nose panels from this aircraft are displayed at the RAF Museum in London.

The exhibition also includes a display of the winning entries from Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire’s nose art competition, which was held in 2011.

This competition invited children and young adults aged between six and 20 to design their own nose art or recreate a classic World War Two image.

There are 21 imaginative and vibrant examples on display as part of the exhibition.

This features the artwork of Don Allen, a ground crew member of the US Army Air Force, whose paintings decorated the noses of fighter aircraft based at Debden in Essex during World War Two.

The exhibition is housed in the temporary exhibition gallery located in the Museum’s Hangar One, and will be open until March 31. Admission is free of charge.

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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to bring down age of its old fleet, improve reliability

KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) management’s immediate goal is to bring down the average age of PIA’s fleet and improve reliability and punctuality by on time departures and arrivals along with providing world-class customer service to the valuable passengers.

PIA spokesman said on Thursday PIA under the present management has barely had few weeks in office however it has started a process of fleet modernization and revamping its entire service to turn around in shortest time period the ailing airline with its new business model.

The tender has been floated for five narrow body aircraft with delivery of at least four aircraft in first and one in second quarter of 2013 to meet the capacity shortfall. However the airline has not finalized acquiring any particular type of aircraft.

PIA received offers for both Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800. However A320 offers are larger in number as compared to Boeing 737-800. Presently these offers are being evaluated and no final decision regarding induction of either narrow-body aircraft has been finalized.

Tender for these aircraft has not been awarded and the evaluation process is still not complete. It is therefore premature to assume which aircraft or engine type will be inducted.

Managing Director PIA Muhammad Junaid Yunus invited Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) to monitor the bidding process.

Representative of the Ministry of Defense, Employees’ Unions including SAEP were also present in the financial and technical bid opening process. The PIA has taken TIP on board the evaluation process of not just this tender but in fact all future tenders would be forwarded to TIP for scrutiny.

Furthermore, fuel costs are taking a 55 percent toll on the airlines revenue. Newer aircraft provide fuel savings up to 50 percent for a route flown as well as lower maintenance costs. PIA’s sixty three percent operation is on short haul routes, within four hours of flight time. PIA is following a clear point-based system where points are awarded based on fleet commonality and availability of present apparatus for overhaul of engines.

PIA cannot afford to wait years on end to suit the schedule of a particular vendor or manufacturer. Any further delay in the induction of new aircraft will result in the delay of the turn around of the airline, which was noted by the Board of Directors and government.


Six Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots sacked for holding fake credentials

ISLAMABAD: Six pilots of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been sacked for holding fake degrees, while five hundreds (?) others airline staffers are also found to have bogus credentials.

Captain Fahim and Captain Arshad, who have flown the airplanes of various prime ministers and presidents, are also among the sacked pilots.

The academic qualification for cadet pilot in PIA is Inter. The sacked pilots had submitted their fake certificates of Matric and Inter.

Captain Fahim and Captain Arshad had been discharging their duties in PIA for 18 year. The other sacked pilots included Captain Zaib, Captain Shayan, Captain Asmat and Captain Shahid Mannan.

According to the airline sources, more than 500 staffers are also found to have fake credentials. The sources said that no action have been taken against them on the pressure of CBA workers union Peoples Unity.


ISLAMABAD: Defence Secretary Lt. Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik has said that three pilots of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were sacked for holding fake certificates, Geo News reported.

Speaking to media outside the Parliament House, he said that steps were being taken to prevent the national airlines from further decline.

The Secretary says 54 percent of PIA’s total income is spent on fuel purchasing while 12 percent goes in debt servicing. “PIA affairs are being run with rest of 34 percent,” he added.

Asif Yasin Malik noted that consumption of more fuel was due to use of 26-year old aircraft.

He said that Pakistan-US dialogue on Coalition Support Fund remained positive.


Air India Express passengers to be served Kerala food

MALAPPURAM: As a New Year gift to Malayali passengers, all Air India Express flights from three international airports in the state will serve Kerala delicacies on board, from January onwards.
The plan, aimed at wooing more passengers, is to serve sadya with sambar and three or four vegetarian dishes, idli and dosa with sambar, puttu with kadala curry, local varieties of appams such as vellayappam, kallappam, noolappam, idiyappam, different varieties of thattu dosas, different local varieties of biriyani etc. More items would be added to the menu in the coming days.

The local delicacies that are to be served in the flights were selected after a long procedure. A Delhi based catering firm, which decides menu in Air India flights, presented local varieties of Indian food in Kochi weeks ago and the representatives of Air India selected Kerala dishes from them.

"Food has an important role in creating strong bond between guest and host, so we decided to introduce more localized menu in flights," said a senior Air India source at Kochi. "At present, majority of airlines including Air India Express serve continental and western menu in flights and those who would like to have Malabar or Thiruvananthapuram varieties of food items have no option," he said.

The move to introduce the Kerala menu in international flights from state is the result of an informal suggestion by Union minister of civil aviation K C Venugopal. Now the move has gained momentum after the warm response to the Kerala menu which was introduced in domestic flights of the airlines recently.

"We have introduced the menu, which is almost similar to be introduced in our Express flights, in our domestic flights from December 2 onwards and the response from the passengers is very positive and also encouraging," said source.

Malappuram: As a New Year gift to Malayali passengers, all the Air India Express flights will serve Kerala's favourite local food items including Sadya, Puttu and Kadala curry(chick peas), Iddali and Sambar, Thattu Dosa etc to its passengers, January 2013 onwards.

The aim of the fresh initiative of Air India providing local delicacies in its international flights from three international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode is nothing but to woo more passengers.

Air India planning to serve Sadya with Sambar curry and three or four vegetarian items with it, Iddali and Dosa with Sambar curry, Puttu which goes well with Kadala Curry, local varieties of Appams such as Vellayappam, Kallappam, Noolappam, Idiyappam, different varieties of Thattudosas, different local varieties of Biriyani etc to the passengers. More items would be added to the menu in the coming days.

The local delicacies that are to be served in the flights were selected after a long procedure. A Delhi based catering firm which already deciding menu in Air Indian flights presented their local varieties of Indian food in Kochi weeks ago and the representatives of Air India selected favourite food items of Malayalis among them.

Food has important role in creating strong bond in-between guest and host, so we decided to introduce more localized menu in flights, said a senior Air India source at Kochi. 'At present, majority of Air Lines including Air India Express serving continental and western food items in flights and those who would like to have Malabar or Thiruvananthapuram varieties of food items have no option ', he said adding that some of the Air India Express flights are currently offering menu with Ghee Rice, but it cannot be considered as a Kerala menu.

The move to introduce the Kerala menu in international flights from state was started with an informal suggestion of Union Minister of Civil Aviation K C Venugopal. Now the move has gained momentum after the warm response to the Kerala menu which was introduced in domestic flights of the airlines days ago. 'We have introduced the menu which is almost similar to be introduced in our Express flights, in our domestic flights from December 2 onwards and the response from the passengers is very positive and also surprising', said source.


Robinson joins elite group of pilots honored by Federal Aviation Administration

John Robinson, left, is presented the Wrights Brothers Master Pilot Award Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the Halliburton Field Airport by Steve Norred with the Federal Aviation Administration.

DUNCAN — In December 1957, John and Ann Robinson of Duncan both had news for each other. Ann announced that their family of two would soon become three and John told her he would be taking to the skies. 

 That next year brought them their first of three sons and John’s first solo airplane flight. Fifty-five years have passed since they shared their news with each other. In the presence of his family and many friends Wednesday at Halliburton Field Airport, John was presented with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Your name will join about 2,000 other recipients,” said Stephen Norred, FAA safety team program manager. “There are about 750,000 certified pilots, so less than one percent of them have received this.”

The Master Pilot Award recognizes the dedicated service, technical expertise, professionalism and many outstanding contributions to further the cause of aviation safety of a United States citizen pilot who has more than 50 years of safe flying since their first solo flight.

Robinson took his first solo flight April 13, 1958, and was presented a blue ribbon packet that holds every interaction with the FAA since then including his first student pilot certification. He was also given a plaque recognizing the accomplishment and pins for both he and his wife were presented.

“I’m real pleased and since I started flying, it’s been a wonderful experience that I have enjoyed,” said Robinson. “I can’t buy the friendships that I’ve generated, the knowledge or experiences and places I’ve visited.”

All three of Robinson’s sons were in attendance with their families as well as several friends from the community. After the presentation, a few stories were shared in honor of the occasion.

“I can remember when I was just five or six and after church, we’d come to the Duncan airport, which is where I got the love of flying, and we’d go on a flight,” said John Robinson Jr., Robinson’s eldest son. “Dad was instrumental in my learning to fly and I’m proud of my father for receiving this prestigious award.”

Among those in the crowd were former and current pilots both in general and commercial aviation. Many shared their feelings for the award recipient.

“John is the type of person who always offered encouragement, which is so important for new young pilots,” said Floyd Wininger. “You always have a smile and a handshake for anyone and I appreciate that.”

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Smooth landing waiting in wings

CHANDIGARH: With upgradation of the runway on the cards,you won't feel any jerks as your flight lands at the Chandigarh airport. In a move that would help civilian aircraft operating from the local airport in smooth landing during poor visibility, the air force authorities, which control the runway, and the air traffic control (ATC) of the local airport, have decided to improve the existing runway.

The upgradation would help civilian aircraft only from next winter. Though, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had installed a new instrument landing system (ILS) in January 2011, the ILS is category I type, which is not helpful for pilots to land the aircraft in case the visibility goes down to below 1200 meters.

Air Commodore S C Chafekar, air officer commanding (AOC), 12 Wing Air Force Station, Chandigarh, informed that they are going to upgrade the existing runway as per their plan. He further informed that the upgradation would be started in the beginning of next year but did not share the exact details.

Terming it as a good move for civilian flights, director, Chandigarh airport, Captain H S Toor said that they had installed the instrument landing system last year, which enables pilots to land up to the visibility of 1200 meters.

However the upgradation of the runway would also strengthen the lighting system, besides enhancing its length and would help pilots in landing even if the visibility becomes less than 1200 meters.

There are around 22 regular flights from Chandigarh airport to Delhi, Mumbai, Jammu, Amritsar, Srinagar, Leh, Jaipur, besides there are Air India and various other connecting flights for major domestic destinations. Air India, Go Air, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spicejet and Kingfisher are major players operating from the local airport.

With the cancellation of flights due to poor visibility at the local airport during last winter session, even after the installation of modern device for landing, around 2,000 passengers faced problems for several days. However, the daily footfall of passengers at the local airport has now reached around 2,500 passengers daily. 


Another Transportation Security Administration Agent Accused of iPad Theft

A TSA agent was arrested this week and charged with stealing from passengers traveling through New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, adding to the long list of TSA officers accused of theft of passenger belongings. 

TSA baggage screener Sean Henry, 32, was arrested on Tuesday after a sting operation conducted jointly by the TSA and the Port Authority Police Department caught Henry leaving the airport with two iPads that had been planted as part of the sting, as well as numerous other electronics devices he had allegedly stolen from passengers. Just as in a recent ABC News investigation of thefts by TSA agents, the sting used the iPads' own tracking capabilities to follow the stolen tablets' movements. 

READ and WATCH our full investigation, 'Tracking TSA Thefts'
Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter told ABC News that the TSA has "taken the steps to begin processing [Henry] for termination." 

"TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace," said Castelveter in a statement. 

In September, an ABC News investigation revealed that 381 TSA officers had been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 up to that point this year. 

As part of the investigation, ABC News purposefully left behind an iPad at an airport security checkpoint in Orlando, Florida, and using the iPad's GPS tracking app, recovered it at the home of a TSA agent who was later fired for the alleged theft. 

WATCH: ABC News Tracks Missing iPad to Florida Home of TSA Officer
The ABC News investigation prompted Senator Charles Schumer, D.-New York, to urge the TSA to conduct random sting operations on its employees "to test whether TSA agents are acting in a trustworthy manner to protect passenger property." 

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told ABC News that authorities have recently stepped up their sting investigations, in part in response to these reports, and in part because they've received more claims from passengers about lost and possibly stolen items. 

"These sting operations have been growing out there to try to curb this level of luggage theft, especially as the Christmas holidays are approaching," Coleman said. 

In the sting that resulted in Henry's arrest, officers used GPS technology in the planted iPads to follow the tablets as they left JFK on the airport's AirTrain system. Officers allegedly found Henry on the train with the devices, according to Coleman. 

After arresting Henry, Coleman said, investigators found more devices in his backpack that they have identified as stolen property, including a MacBook Pro and a pair of new Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones still in the box. They also found another set of Beats Headphones, an Apple iPad Mini, an Apple iPod and an iPhone, which were taken for further investigation. 

A subsequent search of his house also turned up a black Apple Macbook that was identified as stolen property, Coleman said. 

Henry was charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property. He was released on his own recognizance on Wednesday night and is due back in court in January. He has not yet entered a plea. According to Coleman, police are attempting to locate owners of the items they found, and more charges will be added when owners are located. 

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Boeing, 2 more firms promise jobs for Utah tax credits

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development on Thursday said it has approved tax incentives for Boeing and two other companies that have promised to create a total of 819 new jobs in Utah.

• Boeing will receive a $1.4 million post-performance tax credit if it creates 104 manufacturing jobs at its Salt Lake City plant over the next 20 years.

The jobs will pay at least 125 percent of Salt Lake County’s average yearly wage. Wages over the life of the incentive will exceed $146 million. Boeing will pay close to $5.5 million in new state taxes over the period, GOED said.

In March Boeing said it would assemble horizontal stabilizers for its 787-9 passenger jets in Utah. Boeing currently makes the stabilizers overseas, and needs a second manufacturing location, GOED spokesman Michael Sullivan said.

• Instructure, a Sandy-based education software maker, will receive a $1.9 million post-performance tax credit if it creates 655 new jobs in Utah over seven years.

Like Boeing, Infrastructure will pay average annual wages that are 125 percent of Salt Lake County’s yearly annual wage. The wages will total about $235 million.

Infrastructure will pay more than $9.4 million in sales taxes over the period.

• Orbit Irrigation Products has agreed to move 60 jobs to Utah from Asia to their North Salt Lake manufacturing site in the next decade. In return, the Bountiful-based company will receive a $2.4 million tax credit.

Wages over the lifetime of the agreement will total more than $68 million. The employees will earn 125 percent of the average Davis County annual yearly wage.

Orbit also will pay $22.2 million in new state taxes.


Boeing’s 747-8 freighter improves performance but loses orders

A Dubai lessor canceled orders for five 747-8s, though Boeing won two new orders. Boeing says the airplane’s performance is now improved and is close to the original specification.

The troubled airplane leasing unit of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) , based in the United Arab Emirates, has canceled orders for five 747-8 freighter jets, Boeing said Thursday.

Partially offsetting that, Boeing in the past week also added a single order for two 747-8 freighters from an unidentified customer. The cancelations come as Boeing has significantly improved the performance of the most recently delivered models of the jet.

The net loss of three orders for the jumbo jets is valued at just over $1 billion at list prices. However, allowing for standard industry discounts, based on market pricing data from aircraft valuation firm Avitas, the estimated actual net loss to Boeing is about $560 million.

Separately, Boeing said an order for one 767 was canceled. The company order Web site shows that this was a 767-300ER canceled by Air Astana, flag carrier of Kazakhstan. Air Astana retains orders for three 767s and three 787 Dreamliners.

DAE’s move reflects its shriveled ambitions.

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Garden City Regional (KGCK), Kansas: Number of passengers at airport soars

Passenger boardings at the Garden City Regional Airport have soared since it began offering new routes to Dallas-Fort Worth this year.

Airport officials recorded 16,051 boardings in the last eight months, surpassing the 11,690 for all of last year.

Airport director of aviation Rachelle Powell says the increase started after American Eagle began offering round trips to Dallas-Fort Worth in April. Previously, Great Lakes Aviation offered flights to Denver.

The Garden City Telegram reports the increased business will allow the city access to more federal funding for the airport. Powell says because the airport exceeded 10,000 boardings this year, it will receive $1 million in federal funding for airport improvements. The money will be used for snow removal equipment and taxiway improvements in 2014.

Cathay Pacific flight attendant loses her job after writing on Facebook that she wanted to throw coffee in a passenger's face, reports say

Keep all this in mind if you're planning on ranting about a hated customer or patron on Facebook. (Probably also if you order a coffee on a commercial airline.)

A Cathay Pacific flight attendant reportedly lost her job after posting on Facebook that she wanted to throw coffee in a passenger's face because she was the daughter of a hated politician. The flight attendant, only known as Honey Lochanachai on Facebook, said she wanted to throw coffee in the face of the youngest daughter of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to the Associated Press. She also posted a picture of the daughter's seating number of the Bangkok-Hong Kong flight where she was working on Nov. 25. 
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said Monday the posting of a passenger's personal information was against the airline's privacy policy, and that the flight attendant responsible is "no longer an employee." The flight attendant said on her Facebook page that she resigned.

In her post she wrote, "I didn't throw coffee in her face today but she had no clue that I will keep on fighting until your clan can no longer live like fleas on the Thai soil."  Shinawatra was ousted in a coup in 2006 and was convicted of corruption in 2008.


Santa to Fly Into Santa Monica Airport on Vintage Plane: Kris Kringle will pilot a World War II bi-plane carrying lots of candy canes and spend Sunday afternoon at the Museum of Flying

The Santa Monica Museum of Flying has confirmed the filing of a flight plan for this Sunday, Dec. 9 by a pilot named Kris Kringle, otherwise known as Santa Claus, flying a vintage World War II bi-plane.

The estimated time of arrival is 1:30 p.m. depending on weather. The pilot has requested to land at the Santa Monica Airport and taxi to the aircraft ramp across the street from the Museum of Flying.

Guests wishing to witness the arrival Santa Claus are encouraged to arrive early.

It is recommended that visitors stand along Airport Avenue across from the Museum for the arrival.

The aircraft has been described as a Boeing Stearman with a US Navy paint scheme.

The pilot will be wearing a red flight suit.

He will exit the aircraft and walk across the street and enter the Museum.

He will be available during the afternoon for photos and we are told that his cargo is a large volume of candy canes.

Admission to the Museum is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors/students, $6 for children aged 6 to 12, children 5 and under are free.

As always, this event is free for members.

The Museum of Flying is open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Museum of Flying is located on the Santa Monica Airport at 3100 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405. For more information please call the Museum at 310.398.2500.


India's domestic air traffic growth to be world's second highest

NEW DELHI: India's domestic air travel market would be among the top five globally, experiencing the second highest growth rate in domestic passenger traffic after Kazakhstan but before China, IATA said today.

Global airlines' body International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its Airline Industry Forecast 2012-2016, saying only Kazakhstan, India and China would experience double-digit growth in domestic passenger traffic during the period, recording 22.5, 13.1 and 10.1 per cent growth respectively, adding a total of 49.3 million new passengers.

"No other country is expected to experience double-digit growth rates over the forecast period," the IATA study said.

By 2016, the five largest markets for domestic passengers would be the United States (710.2 million), China (415 million), Brazil (118.9 million), India (107.2 million) and Japan (93.2 million).

Globally, the IATA industry traffic forecast showed that the airlines were expected to fly some 3.6 billion passengers in 2016, which is about 800 million more than the 2.8 billion carried by them in 2011.

In terms of air cargo carriage too, India would be among five fastest growing international freight markets over the 2011-2016 period.

The compound annual growth rate of the air cargo sector would be the highest for Sri Lanka at 8.7 per cent, followed by Vietnam (7.4 per cent), Brazil (6.3), India (6.0) and Egypt (5.9), the IATA said.

Maintaining that aviation globally supported some 57 million jobs and USD 2.2 trillion in economic activity, IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler said governments would have to "recognize aviation's value with policies that do not stifle innovation, tax regimes that do not punish success and investments to enable infrastructure to keep up with growth."


Black Hawk helicopter flies itself over mountain range in test


In the blue skies above the Diablo Range, just east of San Jose, a Black Hawk helicopter flew a two-hour test mission controlled entirely by a computer -- without a pilot’s hand.

There were pilots aboard the aircraft, but all maneuvers during the flight were conducted autonomously, Army officials said. Through its sensors and onboard computers, the Black Hawk was able to sense surrounding terrain, assess risk and avoid possible threats.

The Black Hawk, made by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., maintained a low-flying altitude of 200 and 400 feet throughout the flight. During the final phase, the chopper identified a safe landing spot within a forest clearing and commanded the aircraft to approach and hover at 60 feet.

PHOTOS: A new breed of drones

The final hover was accurate within a foot, the Army said.

The Army said the demonstration is critical to the next generation of technological advances in military rotorcraft: obstacle field navigation and safe landing area determination.

"This was the first time terrain-aware autonomy has been achieved on a Black Hawk," said Lt. Col. Carl Ott, chief of the Flight Projects Office at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Aviation and Missile Center.

VIDEO: Navy catapults experimental bat-winged drone into flight 

The Army’s Nov. 5 flight marks the latest attempt by the military to roboticize its aircraft. The Pentagon has an ever-expanding fleet of drones, which include high-flying spy jets, cargo-carrying helicopters and missile-firing hunter aircraft.

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Man trapped under body of pilot in plane crash settles €1.7m case

A man who sued for at least €1.7m over a plane crash in which he was trapped under the body of a dead pilot for two hours has settled his High Court action.

Businessman Kevin Barry Jnr, who suffered extensive fractures including a brain injury, told the court rescuers did not even notice he was in the cockpit until he called out.

He feared the plane would explode, had difficulty breathing and felt his strength going before he "turned to God" and a half an hour later he knew he was going to be cut out by rescuers.

The court heard Mr Barry jun, of Clifden, Galway, was among a group of businessmen who arranged to take a demonstration flight aboard a Cessna Caravan single engine plane and were returning from lunch on the Aran islands when the crash occurred on July 5, 2007 as the plane was approaching to land at Connemara airstrip.

The pilot, Matt Masterson (59) from Terenure, Dublin and accountant Paul McNamee (7) from Loughrea, Co Galway died in the accident.

Today, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told the case had been settled on undisclosed terms following four days at hearing.

The settlement was against the legal representative of the pilot; Lancton Taverns Ltd, SCD House, Waterloo Road, Dublin, and its director David Courtney.

The court was told that on approaching to land, the plane struck a small outcrop , bounced 100 feet in to the air, cart wheeled and and crashed.

The left wing severed coming to rest on the right hand side of the fuselage. The engine also detached.

Mr Barry Jnr, a father of three, sought general damages for pain and suffering as well as a further €1.7million for past and future loss of earnings in relation to several businesses and investments along with  expenses.

It was claimed Mr Barry Jnr suffered serious personal injuries including a fractured skull as well as fractures to his ribs and injuries to his chest and hand.

Prior to the accident, he was a highly motivated and active businessman and accountant but now has poor short term memory. He had to learn to walk again and now suffers from claustrophobia and struggles to find words when speaking.


Flight schools expect demand to take off

After his first solo, Broward College student pilot Edward Weisenberger, left, receives congratulations from his flight instructor Ivan Popov.

Within the next few years, U.S. airlines are expected to see a severe pilot shortage as thousands of older captains and copilots retire and jetliner fleets swell.

While local flight schools have seen only a slight uptick in student enrollments, they expect interest to surge and are gearing up their programs to meet the need.

Among them: the aviation programs at Broward College and Lynn University and private flight schools such as American Flyers in Pompano Beach and Pelican Flight Training in Pembroke Pines.

As part of its curriculum, Lynn's School of Aeronautics in Boca Raton teaches student pilots to use electronic iPads rather than paper maps and charts.

"More airlines are starting to go with iPads as a means to save paper and reduce weight," said Jeffrey Johnson, the school's dean.

Lynn's advanced flight students also are taught in a sophisticated twin-engine aircraft with a "glass" cockpit that features computer screens, much like those in airliners, he said.

American Flyers, at Pompano Beach Air Park, has created an academy geared specifically for airline careers. "We tell students on the first day that this is their first day at an airline," said director Andrew Henley. "It's good preparation for them."

Broward College's Aviation Institute in Pembroke Pines offers flight training on computer simulators and a "jet transition program" that familiarizes students with airline procedures, said Jan Shakespeare, the institute's associate dean of aviation operations.

The school offers scholarships on a limited basis and the opportunity for graduates to return as flight instructors, a job that enables them to build flying time quickly and meet airline requirements.

"There's no doubt a pilot shortage is coming," said Terry Fensome, owner of Pelican Flight Training at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, adding that if an airline is unable to hire enough qualified pilots, it would have to park some of its planes.

Some airlines expect see 500 pilots per month retire within the next year, because many were Vietnam-era military pilots.

And airlines worldwide are projected to need 34,000 new planes to replace older, less efficient ones over the next two decades. Those planes will create a need to hire more than 531,000 pilots, with 69,000 of those in North America, according to a Boeing study.

Almost all 102 students at the Aviation Institute aim to be airline pilots. Among them is Edward Weisenberger, 18, of Oakland Park, who recently soloed in a Cessna 172.

Weisenberger said he knows airlines don't pay as much as they used to and that the work environment can be stressful. But he said becoming an airline pilot has been "a lifelong goal."

"It's not always about the pay," he said. "I have a lot of friends who are airline pilots, and they love it."

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