Friday, December 14, 2012

Southwest Owes 5.8 Million Free Beers To Passengers

Southwest Airlines has settled a class-action lawsuit filed by a Chicago attorney over the discount carrier's decision to stop honoring vouchers for free alcoholic drinks, which it had given to travelers who bought a premium ticket. The settlement could be worth $29 million or more.

Adam Levitt, an attorney and the original plaintiff, said Southwest had for years awarded customers like him, who bought tickets through its premium-priced "Business Select" program, vouchers for drinks that otherwise cost $5 each. Vouchers did not include expiration dates.

On Aug. 1, 2010, Southwest, the third-largest airline in the Chicago market, changed its policy. It said Business Select passengers may use their vouchers only on the day of travel printed on them, essentially voiding all previously issued vouchers.

Levitt contended the policy change was a breach of contract. He filed suit on Nov. 16, 2011, on behalf of himself and all Southwest customers who earned eligible drink vouchers before Aug. 1, 2010, through their ticket purchase but didn't redeem them. The settlement does not include passengers who earned drink vouchers through Southwest's frequent-flier program, Rapid Rewards.

The settlement, approved this week by a federal-court judge in Chicago, entitles eligible fliers, even if they no longer possess the original paper vouchers, to new drink vouchers for each one they say they earned but didn't redeem. Those vouchers will be good for one year. Eligible consumers will be notified, starting in a couple of weeks. Southwest is required to set up a website about the settlement, publish newspaper advertisements about the settlement and attempt to contact eligible customers via e-mail.

"This settlement is a grand-slam result for the class, as consumers are recovering 100 cents on the dollar," said Chicago attorney Joseph Siprut, who represented the class against Southwest.

Siprut said his firm fought for a claims process in which physical possession of the old drink voucher was not required. "Class members just have to submit a form saying they had a certain number of vouchers that were never redeemed, and they can get replacement vouchers in equal number," he said.

The settlement estimates that 5.8 million eligible vouchers, issued between October 2007 and August 2010, were not redeemed. Valued at $5 each, that makes the settlement worth $29 million. Separately, Southwest is on the hook for attorney fees that could range from $1.75 million to $7 million. The court will decide that later, Siprut said.

Southwest, known for being consumer friendly, did not respond to a request for comment.

"Airline customers are very savvy," Siprut said. "They are sophisticated travelers and they don't take kindly when airlines break their promises to consumers, or pull a bait-and-switch on people."

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Qatar Airways boss: why Boeing 787 Dreamliner has no first class

Exclusive: Peter Hughes caught up with Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, on the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight to London Heathrow. 

By Peter Hughes 

2:49PM GMT 14 Dec 2012

The world’s most advanced airliner touched down in London on Thursday, marking the start of the first long-haul commercial service into the capital using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The plane has been in operation for just over a year, but the seven airlines that have so far taken delivery have used it on short-haul routes.

Qatar Airways used one of its three 787s to make the seven-hour journey from Doha, Qatar’s capital, to Heathrow. In doing so it gave passengers their first chance to test the biggest claims Boeing makes for the way it has improved passenger comfort. I was aboard the 787 on its inaugural commercial flight last year from Tokyo to Hong Kong, but in a four-hour flight one couldn’t be sure whether the lower cabin pressurisation and higher humidity had really made a difference.

On the flight to London, I was aware of the improvement. After an uncivilised 5am check-in in the Middle East I arrived in an icy London considerably less frazzled than usual after that length of time in the air. Undoubtedly the cabin atmosphere was a factor, but the general airiness also helped. A high ceiling – despite appreciably larger overhead lockers – subtle lighting and windows 30 per cent larger than on the 767 make the Dreamliner feel positively cavernous.

All this is made possible by Boeing’s use of composite materials. Fifty per cent of the airframe, including the wings, is made of what has been patronisingly and inaccurately called plastic. Lighter and stronger, it is cheaper to maintain and, thanks in large measure to a new generation of engines developed by Rolls-Royce and General Electric, contributes to 20 per cent better fuel consumption and less CO2 emissions than older aircraft of similar size.

Qatar eventually expects to have 60 Dreamliners in its fleet. It has firm orders for 30 and options on a further 30, but it was the airline’s bad luck to launch its 787 service exactly a month after a serious teething problem came to light. In November Boeing issued an alert about a possible leak from a fuel line caused by “improper assembly”. In the United States, where so far only United has a 787 in its fleet, the Federal Aviation Authority ordered a mandatory check. The fault, it said, could potentially lead to fire, engine failure or the aircraft’s running out of fuel. Boeing responded rather huffily that there were “multiple layers of systems to ensure none of those things happens”.

Speaking to me on the flight to London, Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, acknowledged that airlines took a risk buying a new aircraft type so early in its life, particularly one as technically innovative as the Dreamliner. He admitted Qatar had experienced several problems. “To a certain extent an airline can digest those problems, but of course we cannot accept it if those problems are persisting and are major. Qatar Airways has had a couple of major problems but we are going to overcome them.”

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Jetblue Embraer ERJ-190, N281JB, Flight B6-1327: Electrical Smell In Cockpit

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BALTIMORE —  A Jet Blue flight from Boston made an emergency landing in Baltimore Friday evening, forcing the evacuation of 84 passengers.

Flight 1327 experienced what the airline called a "mechanical issue on board." The captain elected to declare an emergency and was met by emergency vehicles, Jet Blue said in a statement.

The husband of one passenger told NewsCenter 5 that the passengers were forced to use the plane's emergency slides.

The passengers and a crew of four got out safely. The airline said no one was injured.

LINTHICUM, Md. (WMAR) - Officials at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshal Airport are trying to figure out what caused a JetBlue plane to make a quick emergency landing. 

 According to JetBlue, there were 84 customers and 4 crew members on flight 1327 from Boston to Baltimore when it experienced a mechanical issue. The captain then elected to declare an emergency landing at BWI, where it they landed safely.

After the plane landed safely, it was met be emergency personnel and taxied off of the runway where passengers were removed and taken to the terminal.

There were no reported injuries.

There is no word on what the potential mechanical problem was.

Boeing Investigates 787 Dreamliners for Electrical Issues

December 14, 2012, 7:12 p.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal 

Boeing Co. is continuing to investigate electrical issues on its new 787 Dreamliner after the replacement of electrical-system parts on at least four aircraft, which followed last week's emergency landing of a United Continental Holdings Inc. jet and the grounding of a Qatar Airways jet.

A third jet, a 787 first delivered to United Airlines in September, is currently out of service as crews are replacing a suspect power panel and generator. A fourth aircraft, an undelivered 787—destined for Qatar Airways—had a power panel replaced following a test flight at Boeing's Everett, Wash., factory, according to people familiar with the matter.

A failed generator was initially identified by United as the source of the electrical issue that caused a 787 flight from Houston to Newark to divert to New Orleans International Airport last week, but indications now point to a different electrical issue, prompting an examination of panels and other components that distribute electricity to the aircraft systems.

Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive Jim McNerney on Friday told CNBC that the electrical issues were considered to be normal for a new jetliner and on par with the plane maker's experience with the 777.

An FAA spokeswoman said the agency "is working closely with Boeing to identify the root cause of recent generator issues with Boeing 787 aircraft," adding that afterward, "we will work with Boeing to develop appropriate safety actions."

New airplanes, including Boeing's 777 in the mid-1990s and Airbus's A380 late last decade, have faced well-publicized teething problems. But the Dreamliner's electrical system is more critical to the operation of the aircraft than any of Boeing's previous designs.

Boeing's design eliminates a hot and hard to maintain system that bled hot air from the engines to power many of the jet's systems, in favor of a more-electric design that powers everything from the starting of the jet's engines and de-icing the wings to the cabin environmental system.

Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said the plane maker continues to work with United, Qatar and United Technologies Corp.'s Aerospace Systems unit—which supplies the 787's electrical system—to "make a final determination" of the cause of the issues.

Both the Dreamliner involved in the New Orleans emergency and recently delivered Qatar 787, were delivered in late-November, within days of each other to each airline.

The incidents haven't slowed the deployment of the aircraft as both United and Qatar inaugurated two new long-range routes with jet, connecting Houston to Amsterdam and Doha to London this week, respectively, and United spokeswoman Christen David said the 787 involved in the New Orleans landing is now back in service.

Boeing flew the 787 with two Japanese customers until late August, 11 months after its first delivery in September 2011 and has added six airlines in the past five months, rapidly accelerating deliveries, now having handed over 39 jets.

By contrast, Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. delivered 41 double-deck A380 jets from 2007 through 2010.

—Andy Pasztor contributed to this article.


Tax funds fuel boom: Greenwood Municipal Airport (KHFY), Indianapolis, Indiana

The Greenwood Municipal Airport has gotten an infusion of tax dollars this year to pay for projects that it would have taken five years to complete on its own.

Those projects have helped bring in about $40,000 more in fuel sales and hangar rental fees during the past few months. The purchase and renovation of a hangar is expected to generate another $56,000 in rental income next year, about a 20 percent increase.

The added income will help the city-run airport near County Line Road and Emerson Avenue fund its $831,800 yearly budget and should leave money left for future projects, airport manager Ralph Hill said. The airport no longer needs property tax dollars to pay its bills and should soon be able to contribute money to support other city government services.

This story appears in the print edition of Daily Journal:

Etihad Airways’ Lahore-bound flights escape mid-air collision in Pakistani airspace: report

Islamabad: Two international flights fortunately escaped mid-air collision in Pakistani airspace as the Radar Control System in Pakistan’s Pisni area is shut for maintenance, a report said on Friday 

According to a report, the fortunate incident occurred between Thursday and Friday night, when two Lahore-bound International airlines flights’ internal Airbourne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) alarmed the pilots about the situation.

The Etihad Airways’ flights 241 and 622 were flying over 34,000 feet altitude in Pakistani airspace, sources told a private news television. They added that the incident occurred because the radar system in Pasni area was turned down for maintenance purpose while audio frequency system was unreachable because of bad weather.


Two passenger aircraft flying from UAE to Pakistan escape mid-air collision  

Reports say both aircraft were flying at same altitude when aircraft collision avoidance system alerted pilots about imminent collision 

Two passenger aircraft flying from the UAE to Pakistan escaped a mid-air collision disaster in Pakistan airspace on Friday morning, report said.

One flight was flying from Abu Dhabi to Lahore while the other flight was on its way from Dubai to Lahore on Friday early morning when disaster was avoided after aircraft collision avoidance system activated and alerted the pilots about imminent disaster.

Without identifying the airlines, Pakistan media reports said both were foreign carriers.

The flights were flying over the Pakistani city of Pasni at 1am local time on Friday morning when both the aircraft had come closer to a collision but aircraft collision avoidance system activated and alerted the pilots. Both the aircraft were flying at 34,000-feet altitude.

Reports said audio frequency was not functioning properly because Pasni radar had malfunctioned and communication between the pilot and air-controller was not taking place at the regular intervals.

The report didn’t how many passengers were flying in the two aircraft.


Why I Fly! Video by Aspen Avionics


Published on December 14, 2012

By Aspen Avionics

 AOPA Summit attendees Anthony Lowenstein (Private Pilot), Jeff Turcotte (ATP Pilot and Instructor), and Nancy Auvil (Student Pilot), and Chris Peterson (Commercial Pilot and Instructor) talk to Aspen about their inspiration for flying and their experience with glass panel technology.

Air India Express to get its own wings

Air India Express, the low-cost arm of Air India Charters, will become an independent company in five years after cutting the umbilical cord with the parent company, top officials of Air India Express said here on Thursday.

Addressing the media after the 187th board meeting of the company, Air India Express deputy chief operating officer Captain Pushpinder Singh also said that the airline’s headquarters in Kochi would become fully functional from January 2013.

“AI Express will have its own crew and aviators in the next five years. Commanders and pilots who are on deputation with us from Air India will return to the parent company gradually and these posts will be filled through fresh recruitment,” he said.

Steps were being taken to recruit more pilots. “We have 180 pilots against the actual requirement of 250. Of these, 166 are on deputation from Air India. We are planning to recruit 60 commanders and 50 pilots,’’ he said.

He added that the salary for pilots would be revised to make it the best in the industry. However,   they were focusing on optimum utilisation of its aviators to provide better service. “It has been decided at the meeting to hire pilot instructors from abroad. These foreign instructors will enhance the strength of the existing commanders and will also ensure that trainee pilots are getting ready to join service at the earliest.

“Instructions have also been given to upgrade senior commanders as instructor pilots,” he said.

In the next three years, AI Express  will acquire 14 aircraft taking the total number of flights to 35. “Though we have 21 aircraft at present, we are able to use only 17 due to shortage of pilots,’’ he said.

Regarding the AI Express headquarters in Kochi, Capt Singh said senior officers from operations, flight safety, commercial, finance and flight coordination would be deputed to  the Kochi office. “A call centre for Kerala will be set up in the first quarter of 2013,’’ he said.

Ministry of Civil Aviation Joint Secretary Rajashekera Reddy, Retired Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major, Air India finance director S Venkat, Air India engineering director K M Unni, commercial director Deepak Brara and Air India Express chief operating officer Ansbert D’Souza were present at the board meeting.


New T-hangar unveiled at Holly Springs-Marshall County Airport (M41), Holly Springs, Mississippi

Photo by Sue Watson
 Pictured in front of the Holly Springs-Marshall County Airport addition are (from left) Mike Tagert, Al Beck, Bill Dawson and Tony Roberts.

The Holly Springs-Marshall County Airport recently opened a new T-hangar that has space for six airplanes.

The facility is built to maintain environmental control and already has a list of pilots who want to store their planes in the new hangar, according to Justin Hall, airport manager.

In the dedication ceremony, airport board chairman Russell Johnson harkened back to the late airport director, Bill York, who he said was the person with the vision for airport expansion.

“Bill York several years ago had some dreams,” Johnson said. “He had vision that a young man, Justin Hall, is carrying out.”

In prayer dedicating the hangar, pastor Tony Roberts thanked the Father for the gifts of the community.

“This community recognizes our labors and ingenuity have a small outcome, but it comes from Your blessing and Your favor,” he said, in asking God for economic blessings to the community from the airport improvements.

Al Beck, with the airport commission, led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hall recognized the City of Holly Springs and Marshall County Board of Supervisors for structuring the airport commission through the Industrial Development Authority. The governments fund the airport on a 50:50 basis.

He also cited Charlotte Saunders and John Jewell Aircraft for their long-standing contributions to the airport as fixed-base operators.

The cost of construction of the hangar – $400,000 –  is paid for through a $228,000 multimodal program grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The remainder of the cost came from a loan from Bank of Holly Springs.

“For years, the airport has been here, but was not visible from Highway 78, but now it is,” Hall said. “IDA sees the airport as an economic tool to attract business.”

Mike Tagert, MDOT commissioner for the Northern District, was present at the grand opening. 

“It is a true celebration,” he said. “We like to work with communities that invest in themselves. The T-hangar will be seed for future airport development.”

Those large industries seeking sites in Mississippi always ask where is the local airport, Tagert said.

“We have a long-term commitment though these are tough times,” he said. “In these days, any amount of money dedicated to multimodal is really important. This is an investment that has a definite return, and not so far away.”

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Cyndy Hollman finds Greenville great fit for job as flight instructor

Cyndy Hollman is chief flight instructor at Airwolf Aviation. 
/ Donna Isbell Walker/Staff

Cyndy Hollman grew up thinking she would become a dentist, and she majored in biology at College of Charleston. 

 But then, says Hollman, “aviation really found me.”

Hollman, who moved to Greenville five months ago, is chief flight instructor for Airwolf Aviation, teaching students from age 10 to 80-plus.

She’s flown as a commercial pilot, too, but it all started at the fast-food restaurant where she worked during college. Instructors from the flight school on Johns Island were regular customers at the restaurant, and Hollman got to know them.

“One guy asked me if I wanted to go flying, and I said, ‘Sure,’ ” Hollman recalls. “I had no idea what type of airplane we were going in or anything, and he took me in a little two-seater Cessna, and I loved it. I thought it was the coolest thing. And he came back a couple days later with a log book, with my first lesson in there, and he said, ‘I think you should pursue this.’ ”

Hollman got a job at the Charleston airport, and that same pilot continued to give her flying lessons in his spare time. Eventually, she got her certification as a private-plane pilot, “but I still never thought that I would do anything with it.”

As much as she loved flying, Hollman worked as a paramedic, restaurant manager and veterinary technician before deciding on a career in the friendly skies. She just never really thought that aviation was the right fit for her.

“I thought it was for people who were really smart and had a lot of money,” says Hollman, who grew up in a working class family with a single mother who struggled to make ends meet after the deaths of Hollman’s father and brother in a house fire.

Hollman taught at the flight school on Charleston’s Air Force Base, and she spent three years flying for commercial airlines.

Pilots have to be well-rounded, says Hollman, mastering aerodynamics, physics, maintenance and meteorology, and being able to think on their feet in sometimes-stressful situations.

But most aviation students find, like Hollman, that they love the feeling of flying above the clouds.

“You see so many things that most people never ever get to see. The sunsets look different when you’re at 5,000 feet. I think it’s very rewarding, especially for young people,” Hollman says, explaining that flying lessons can inspire a newfound interest in math and science among kids who’ve never shown a previous aptitude or interest in the subjects.

Hollman has become a big fan of Greenville since she moved here.

“I flew in the airlines, and we overnighted in a lot of cities. I’ve always liked Greenville. It’s very lively, it’s friendly, people are happy. There’s a lot of greenery around. Downtown is great, it’s safe, you can walk around at nearly all hours.”

And the Upstate has plenty of folks who are eager to learn aviation, which suits Hollman just fine.

“I do love flying, but I actually love teaching more. ... It keeps your mind very active, you’re always learning new things. But when you teach, it keeps aviation new and fresh because you always see the students the first time they solo, and they’re so happy.”

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Shake up at Cayman Islands Airports Authority: Chief Financial Officer dismissed, chief executive on leave

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority board of directors has, within the past week, dismissed the authority’s chief financial officer and placed the authority’s chief executive officer on paid leave. 

In an interview Thursday, the board’s deputy chairman Steve McField confirmed that authority chief executive officer Jeremy Jackson had been placed on “required leave” as of Monday. Meanwhile, authority chief financial officer Shelly Ware was dismissed by the board last Friday afternoon, Mr. McField said. “The board is conducting an audit of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and until those matters are concluded and the board comes to a final decision on those matters, Mr. Jackson has been asked to take leave,” Mr. McField said. 

Kerith McCoy has been named acting chief executive officer for the meantime, Mr. McField said. Robert Harris will fill in for Mr. McCoy as chief operating officer. The position of the chief financial officer was not immediately replaced, 
Mr. McField said. 

With regard to Ms Ware’s dismissal, Mr. McField said: “Ms Ware was dismissed from her position by the board, as the board had the right to do pursuant to her contract of employment and the Labour Law. At this time it would be prejudicial, probably, and irresponsible for me if I would say anymore about the ongoing situation until the audit is completed and the board has made a final decision on the report.”

Attempts to reach Mr. Jackson regarding the staff shake up were not successful by press time. Ms Ware also could not be reached 
for comment. 

Asked about the nature of the audit, Mr. McField responded: “It is a complete audit of the CIAA. That has been conducted by the board for the last month or more.” 

Mr. McField said that no “criminal authorities” had been contacted in the course of the audit. 

Questions have been raised as to whether the airports authority board had the legal authority to terminate the organisation’s chief financial officer. Mr. McField, who is an attorney, responded on behalf of the board Thursday. 

“All employees in the Cayman Islands Airports Authority are employed by the board and work for the board and are responsible to the board and the board has the responsibility for the administration of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority,” Mr. McField said. 

Asked whether the staff shake up had any relation to the recent investment proposal made by a Canadian government-owned company for Owen Roberts International Airport, Mr. McField simply replied: “No.” 

The Canadian government-owned company’s proposal for Owen Roberts International Airport involves a capital investment of US$200 million from private sources in order to double the capacity of the Grand Cayman airport and extend the runway, in exchange for a 30 to 40 year concession contract. 

In October, representatives from Canada and the Cayman Islands-based Paramount Group held three days of talks with officials from the Cayman government and business sector. 

The proposal by the Canadian Commercial Corporation – the Canadian government’s international contracting and procurement agency – follows the same concession structure it used in an ongoing US$700 million Quito International Airport project in Ecuador, according to a copy of the presentation the Canadians made to the 
Cayman Islands Airports Authority.

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Missouri: New Helicopters at Mercy Unfazed by Harsh Weather

Mercy Springfield Communities is now sporting three brand new EC135 helicopters, after the hospital invested $12 million to upgrade the existing aircraft. The advanced helicopters allow pilots to fly in weather conditions they previously could not have endured. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.

The three new aircraft make it easier for pilots to navigate in weather that causes reduced visibility and low clouds, according to DJ Satterfield, the director of Mercy’s Life Line Air Medical Service. Each helicopter holds updated technology that allows them to operate under the FAA’s Instrument Flight Rules, just like commercial airlines.

“It does give us new technology that really gives us a huge layer of safety and some technology in the avionics that lends us to fly in the clouds. It will take a few months to get us up to speed to that, but that alone, with the autopilot and radar and some of those technologies, we feel adds a huge layer of safety.”

The hospital has been using helicopter air medical services since 1984, when the center invested in its first aircraft. Since then, they’ve added two more vehicles to the fleet, which are routinely used as part of the emergency response team at the hospital. Satterfield says the medical service goes on about four emergency flights a day. He says that they’ve never had an accident since they bought the first helicopter back in the 80s.

He says to think of the Life Line unit as an ambulance in the air.

“The medicines that we carry and the supplies, along with the monitors, equipment, is really a mini emergency room. So in any given day, certainly the high profile stuff with accidents on the road, but really what we see as much of would be heart attacks, strokes and then just general surgical and medical emergencies.”

Next Tuesday Dec. 18, Mercy is hosting a blessing and celebration of the new helicopters at 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot just south of Mercy Clinic-Smith Glynn Callaway at the intersection of E. Walnut Lawn and S. Maryland Avenue.

The event will allow people to come and get a closer look at the new aircraft.

“It’ll be short and sweet, but we’ll get these commissioned and in service that day, and we’re excited.”

In case of bad weather, the event will be postponed.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark

Judge sends Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent to jail for Norfolk airport theft: Norfolk International Airport (KORF), Virginia

NORFOLK -   A judge today sentenced a former TSA agent to six months in jail for stealing $500 cash from a passenger at Norfolk international Airport.

 Circuit Court Judge Charles Poston sent TSA supervisor John Irwin to jail for taking money from a screening tray while the passenger was being searched. Irwin, 60, had pleaded guilty to grand larceny.

The theft occurred during a passenger screening at Norfolk International Airport, according to stipulation of facts filed with the court.

The victim, a passenger from New York, was flying from Norfolk on Nov. 16, 2011. The passenger told a TSA agent that he had a medical condition and needed to be patted down, the report says.

The man emptied his pockets, setting an ink pen and $520 cash in the gray bin. An agent told the passenger he needed additional screening. The passenger objected but followed the agent to a private area, the report states.

Irwin took the pen and money from the bin and put it into a drawer, the report says. When the passenger returned and asked about his money, Irwin said he hadn’t seen or heard anything about it. The passenger reported the incident to Norfolk airport police, the report says.

When the passenger returned, Irwin noticed it was the man who gave his fellow employees a “hard time,” the report says. “I just didn’t let on that I had the money,” Irwin told police.

In court, defense attorney Michael Davis argued that Irwin was stressed by family and financial problems and had a rare lapse of judgment. Davis said his client worked at TSA for 13 years and had no criminal record. Irwin apologized in court.

But prosecutor Suzanne Richmond told the judge that Irwin was in uniform when he stole the money. She said that Irwin told investigators that he was mad at the passenger for complaining about the additional screening. “This is not a normal case,” she said.  

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More minor turbulence for Sun Air's plans: Hagerstown Regional Airport-Richard A Henson Field (KHGR), Hagerstown, Maryland

Sun Air is delaying its plan to expand commercial service at Hagerstown Regional Airport until early 2013, according to Phil Ridenour, the airport’s director.

The company started flying between Hagerstown and Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia on Nov. 5, four days later than the carrier first expected. The delay was attributed, in part, to delays caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Only one passenger from the public flew any of the legs on the first two round-trips between Hagerstown and Dulles. Someone from the Federal Aviation Administration also was a passenger on opening day.

The company’s plan was to start with 14 flights a week, then increase to 24 flights a week after about a month.

However, the company has postponed that expansion, Ridenour said.

He said Tuesday that Sun Air hasn’t been able to get all of the planes and to train all of the pilots it needs.

“We hope to go with the increased flight schedule starting January 3rd,” Ridenour said.

Reached by email, David Hackett of Sun Air responded that he was on the road and didn’t have time to comment.

Ridenour said Tuesday that some passengers have used the Sun Air service to Dulles. He wasn’t able to provide exact numbers by Thursday afternoon.

“It’s been fairly low,” he said, “but on the other hand, we haven’t done a lot of marketing for that service yet, just simply because there’s only two flights a day.”

In August, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved Sun Air to serve both Hagerstown and Lancaster Airport in Lititz, Pa., through Sept. 30, 2015.

Sun Air is receiving a federal Essential Air Service subsidy for serving a community that is not close to a major market.

The company is using nine-passenger planes.

Sun Air replaced Cape Air, which ended its service between Hagerstown and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Oct. 31.

Thailand: Blimp repairs to cost B30m

The army will spend at least 30 million baht to repair its troubled blimp which crash-landed in Pattani province on Thursday while on duty.

The army inspected the surveillance blimp after the accident and estimated the damage at around 30 million baht.

Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday ordered the repair and said the army had no plan to ground the aircraft.

The 350-million baht surveillance blimp has been used to patrol the skies in the southern border provinces to aid security authorities to fight insurgents. It was used during Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to the region on Thursday, when it crash-landed at 4pm at the Bor Thong air base in Nong Chik district of Pattani.

Earlier reports said two military pilots and two technicians who were on board when the airship crashed escaped with minor injuries.

But an army source confirmed on Friday that three pilots were on board during the accident and all were safe.

The inspection revealed that the blimp's propeller, motor, and gondola (passenger cabin area) would have to be repaired at the cost between 20 milliona and 30 million baht, the source said. The envelope fabric has to be replaced at the cost of 15 million baht, the source said.

The blimp's insurance was said to have expired, said the source, adding that the accident damaged more than 50% of the airship.

The source said many military officials have argued that the airship should no longer be used because of high maintenance and repair costs.

The army will have to pay at least 50 million baht a year for its maintenance, according to the maintenance contract with Aeros, a US blimp manufacture and repair company. The airship also requires helium fuel that costs an estimated 2.52 million baht per flight.

The army tried to downplay the accident, insisting the blimp did not crash-land.

Deputy army spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree said that the airship was forced to perform an emergency landing because the crew noticed turbulence after the airship rose to around 20 metres.

"We confirmed that the airship did not crash-land because of an accident during a mission. The blimp had to perform an emergency landing because of turbulence," he said.

The army purchased the surveillance airship in 2010 when Gen Anupong Paojinda was the army chief, amid criticism it was yet another waste of taxpayers' money.

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177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing hold simulation at Naval Air Station Wildwood: Cape May County Airport (KWWD), New Jersey

LOWER TOWNSHIP – Crash recovery technicians from the 177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing arrived in force last week for a training exercise hosted by the World War II-era facility.

“It all went pretty well,” said Naval Air Station Wildwood Museum deputy director Bruce Fournier. “So much so, they have asked to return later this month for another drill.

“They were great to watch. It was a good training situation for them because the airplane isn’t operational,” he added. “Without engines, it is much lighter to work with and, of course, not as costly if something were to go wrong.”

According to Fournier, some 20 Air National Guardsmen participated in the drill, which simulated removal of a damaged aircraft from a runway.

Fournier said the road to NAS Wildwood from the fighter wing’s home at the Atlantic City International Airport in Pomona came by way of Texas.

“We received the F-16 as surplus property from Sheppard Air Force Base and it was shipped up here in pieces on a flatbed truck,” said Fournier. “We reached out to the 177th for help re-assembling the aircraft last summer and this is our way of paying that good work back.”

The two-seat F-16 arrived from Sheppard AFB on June 1. Sheppard AFB, home of the U.S. Air Force 82nd Training Wing, is located in Wichita Falls, Texas.

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum boasts over 26 aircraft displays as well as exhibits of military memorabilia, engines, photographs, and interactive exhibits that allow visitors to discover the science of flight and more.

“We’re very pleased with this reciprocal arrangement with the 177th,” said Fournier. “We’re not just a museum, we are part of the community here. We’ve hosted the events ranging from Governor Christie’s town hall meeting to high school proms. We couldn’t be happier about sharing our facilities with the Air National Guard.”

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is located in Historic Hangar #1 at the Cape May Airport, New Jersey. Cape May Airport was formerly Naval Air Station Wildwood, which served as a World War II dive-bomber training center.

The museum is dedicated to the 42 airmen who perished while training at Naval Air Station Wildwood between 1943 and 1945.

During the winter months, the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, call 886-8787.

New air cargo security measure to hit Nunavut, Nunavik December 31: Shippers could pay extra security costs, require more time

If you’re shipping cargo from an airport in the North in the new year, and you’re not a “registered shipper,” expect longer waits and a more thorough search of your goods.

That’s because the federal Air Cargo Security Program is kicking into gear starting Dec. 31, in an effort to “help our economy and position Canada as a strong partner in global efforts against terrorism,”  Transport Canada’s website declares.

The program affects all airports designated by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

That takes in all larger Canadian airports, and includes Iqaluit, Kuujjuaq and Yellowknife, as well as most large southern airports.

From now on, all cargo may be screened and searched if you’re not a “registered shipper” with Transport Canada.

To become a registered shipper, a company will need a business number issued by Revenue Canada, a Canadian business address, and a referral from an airline confirming you are a regular cargo shipper.

It’s free to sign up as a registered shipper, but additional costs might be added if you’re not and your cargo is screened.

That cost is up to the air carrier to decide.

Representatives from Canadian North and First Air did not get back to Nunatsiaq News about how much this could cost unregistered shippers. 

First Air does give a warning about possible delays on fact sheet about the new changes

It warns customers to “allow extra time” for dropping off cargo for screening and processing.

Canadian North’s fact sheet says any shipments not from a registered shipper will incur “additional security costs to you” and this might “potentially delay your shipments for screening processing.”

Lack Of Radar No Big Deal - Civil Aviation Minister John Maginley

Antigua st. John's - No country regulated by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) is mandated to have a working radar system in place, according to Civil Aviation Minister  John Maginley.

Speaking with Caribarena on Thursday, Minister Maginley sought to quell concerns about the damaged radar system in the Air Traffic Control (ATC) department of the VC Bird International Airport.

The Minister said all commotion about the subject is unwarranted since Antigua and Barbuda continues to use a recognized and well-regulated system.

“There is no country governed by ECCAA that has a radar,” Maginley said. “All the countries governed by ECCAA use what is called a procedural approach and that has been ongoing for a while.”

The aviation minister noted that the radar is used to assist ATCs in directing air traffic but it is not a mandatory device and its absence, he said, does not make the airport any less safe.

Nonetheless, he pointed out that government has for some time been trying to “upgrade” the country’s aviation system to bring it in line with other destinations like St. Maarten, the French islands, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

“We are working on it. This year, if I recall correctly, they brought in a consultant who has made some upgrades. I know it is down. Consultants have made recommendations and the mechanical parts have been fixed. I think the issue now is the size of the UPS and they are working with ECCA on what is the right size of the thing,” Maginley said about the current situation.

That notwithstanding, he maintains that the country’s aviation system operates quite effectively with the procedural approach, and says this has been confirmed with ECCA.

Whenever the radar does come on stream, Maginley says this would only be the beginning of the process, as training of staff and other mechanical upgrades within the ATC department would also need to accompany the activation.

“It requires training and an upgrade. Its not just simply about putting it in. It is an ongoing progress and the technical people are working with ECCAA to see how soon we could get to that,” the minister said.

The consultant, Dr. Vincent Richards, recently proposed to Cabinet the upgrade process that will bring bring Antigua and Barbuda in line with Trinidad the regional leader for air traffic control, and the place where many of the region’s air traffic controllers are trained.

But, as with most things in the twin-island state lately, the Minister said the issue at this moment is one of funding. Government has simply not been able to disburse the budgeted $714,407 required for the ‘Restoration of the Airport Radar’ initiative proposed in the 2012 Estimates.


Caribarena continued its investigations into the matter on Thursday, speaking with more experts in the field, and in the process coming up with further revelations about the country’s airspace.

One senior air traffic control officer (ATCO) here said the airspace controlled from the V.C. Bird International Airport surrounds the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Redonda, St Kitts and Nevis, and basically covers an area of 10,000 square miles and a vertical height of 24,500 feet.

This number, he said, was recently reduced due to airspace lost as a result of the control area not being equipped with radar.

According to the ATCO, all other countries within the region that have control over the airspace of other territories (such as Antigua does) are equipped with radar.

“The airspace extends about 80 miles to the east, 70 miles to the west, 26 miles to the south and 53 miles to the north. Within the airspace, St. Kitts and Nevis controls a block of airspace, which is about 625 square miles and extends to a height of 6,500 feet,” this newspaper’s source explained.

Antigua’s airspace is bordered by Guadeloupe’s airspace to the south, Puerto Rico’s airspace to the west and north (above 15,000 ft), Saint Maarten airspace to the north (below 15,000 feet) and Trinidad and Tobago Oceanic Airspace to the east.

 The source went further to point out that the unique characteristic of Antigua’s airspace is that it is the only ECCAA-regulated OECS territory airspace of that size with an accompanying volume of air traffic.

“In other words the airspace is very busy when compared to St.Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada and Dominican airspace.

Dominica only has a vertical height of 7,000 feet, above which Guadeloupe and Martinique airspace takes effect. St Lucia also has a limited area of space that it occupies and its vertical height only goes up to 13,000 feet when compared to Antigua’s 24,500 feet height. St .Vincent and Grenada also go up to 13,000 ft in height,” the source said.

Antigua and Barbuda was the first OECS territory to invest in a radar system. This was back in the year 2000. The country is sandwiched by neighbouring territories that are all radar environments.

And according to this source, a challenge exists for aircraft flying from Puerto Rican airspace into Antiguan airspace of having to adjust to “an antiquated means of air traffic control”.

He added: “Saint Maarten has less airspace than Antigua but had to invest in radar because of the (sheer) volume of traffic which goes through there on a daily basis.”

Concerning Antigua’s situation, he said: “It was so important that the former chief of ATC and now an ECCAA Director along with his deputy at the time who is now an ECCAA employee successfully articulated to the Government the need to get the radar. If the need was there in 1997/1998 it has to be even more relevant in 2012,” the source said.

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Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN), Trenton, New Jersey: Roof repair adds to hurricane's cost

TRENTON — County officials increased their estimate of how much Hurricane Sandy cost the county, adding the cost to repair a roof at Trenton-Mercer Airport to the costs of overtime and other damages.

The freeholder board approved the additional $45,000 and the estimated $1 million bill that was presented to them at a meeting earlier this week with no opposition.

David Miller, chief financial officer for the county, told the board that the airport roof sustained substantial damage and repairs are ongoing.

The total expenses associated with the storm that tore through in late October come in the form of unexpected costs and salaries and wages.

Salaries and wages, including regular pay and overtime totaling more than $40,000 were expended for the Sheriff’s Department and the Highway Department alone. In total $166,900 of the $1 million price tag went to payroll.

The remainder of the cost, estimated at $844,500, was incurred in storm-related repairs and supplies for county-owned properties and buildings.

Miller added that it is likely the county will receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the expenses. It had not yet been determined how much will be given in public assistance to local governments in the state.

The total storm expenses will be spread out over the next three budgets, with approximately $337,000 added each year.

Also at their meeting, the final one of the year, the freeholders approved salary increases for themselves and top-ranking county officials.

The ordinance, which was passed unanimously, grants a 2 percent raise in their salaries, which would be retroactive for 2012.

County Executive Brian Hughes will see a raise of nearly $3,000 — increasing his pay to $151,652. County Administrator Andrew Mair’s salary will rise to $147,881 and Sheriff John Kilmer will make $136,966 this year. The raise increases the salary for County Surrogate Diane Gerofsky and County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello to $121,014. Human services director Marygrace Billek and director of transportation and infrastructure Aaron T. Watson will make $128,535.

The freeholders voted to increase their own salaries to $27,507. Board chairwoman Lucylle Walter will make $28,609.

At the first meeting of the new year, scheduled to be held on Jan. 4, the board will choose a new chairman and vice chairman. Re-elected Freeholders Ann Cannon, Pasquale “Pat” Colavita and Sam Frisby will be sworn in at that meeting as well.