Monday, December 31, 2012

Why A German Pilot Escorted An American Bomber To Safety During World War II

Once in a while, you hear an old war story that restores your faith in humanity. Usually it involves a moment of quiet in the midst of chaos; some singing or the sharing of a few condiments. But how many of them take place in mid air?

This is the remarkable story of a crippled American bomber spared by a German fighter pilot. After the two planes' pilots had a mid-air moment of understanding, it didn't seem likely that they'd ever see one another again. Only they did, and became closer than brothers.

Here's how it all went down.

It was a few days before Christmas in 1943, and the Allied bombing campaign in Germany was going at full tilt. Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown was a freshly minted bomber pilot, and he and his crew were about to embark upon their first mission — to hit an aircraft factory in northern Germany.

Brown's B-17F Flying Fortress, dubbed Ye Olde Pub, was typical of American heavy bombers of the time. Along with an 8,000-pound bomb capacity, the four-engine plane was armed with 11 machine guns and strategically placed armor plating. B-17s cruised at about 27,000 feet, but weren't pressurized. At that altitude, the air is thin and cold — 60 degrees below zero. Pilots and crew relied upon an on board oxygen system and really warm flight suits with heated shoes.

As Ye Old Pub approached Bremen, Germany, German anti-aircraft batteries opened up on the formation. Unfortunately for the pilots and crew of Ye Olde Pub, one of the anti-aircraft rounds exploded right in front of their plane, destroying the number two engine and damaging number four. Missing one engine and with another throttled back due to damage, Ye Olde Pub could no longer keep up with the formation.

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High-flying inventor: South Bend teen wins national award for design of helicopter

SOUTH BEND -- While some teens were relaxing or visiting the beach last summer, Ethan Chu was busy designing a helicopter.

And his research and hard work paid off.

Ethan recently won the top national spot in a helicopter design competition for youths ages 9 to 16. He earned the Igor Sikorsky Youth Innovator Award, the grand prize for the Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Challenge, which encourages young people to envision and design an environmentally friendly helicopter.

"I really like researching military stuff and reading about new technology," said Ethan, a 16-year-old home-schooled student.

The contest is sponsored by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and By Kids for Kids Co., an organization that encourages children to become inventors. Ethan received a trophy and a $1,000 cash prize, which he plans to use toward his education.

Ethan is the son of William and Joann Chu.

The competition sought designs that were original and environmentally efficient.

Ethan designed a compact, circular-shaped twin-engine helicopter he named the AH-9 Diamondback. "AH" is short for "Attack Helicopter," and "9" because it was the ninth variant he designed. Diamondback comes from the fact the vehicle has a diamond-like shape from above, the teen said.

His design calls for lightweight carbon nanotubes covered with titanium panels for the helicopter's structure, an approach that would reduce the aircraft's weight and fuel consumption, and improve its carrying capacity. "The nanotubes would make it 10 times lighter and much stronger than steel," Ethan said.

His design would channel engine exhaust along the rotor blades and around the helicopter's body to provide a cushion of gas to provide additional lift, a principle known as the Coanda effect.

Ethan's design doesn't feature a tail, which is a standard feature on helicopters to prevent the body from spinning around because of the rotor. Because the design features a counter rotating fan, a tail wouldn't be needed, Ethan said.

Differing versions of the design could be used for military attacks, transporting materials or a medical version to transport up to two front-line soldiers out of a battle zone, he said.

Ethan has always enjoyed drawing airplanes and learning about aviation. A friend at the family's church, Fellowship Baptist Church in South Bend, told Ethan about the helicopter competition last spring.

"I did a little research on helicopter design. I enjoy anything having to do with aerospace," he said.

The teen estimates he spent three months on his design, working about 90 minutes per day.

He did the design drawings using a computer program at his father's workplace, Curtiss-Wright Controls in South Bend. The company lets Ethan spend one day per week at work with his father, who is a mechanical engineer.

Ethan submitted his design in September, and was notified later in the fall that he was the top winner. "I was kind of surprised. It didn't really sink in," he said.

More than 300 youths participated this year, which was the second year the competition was held.

Ethan was invited to visit Sikorsky's headquarters in Stratford, Conn. He was accompanied by his father, and they were able to tour the assembly line of Sikorsky's Black Hawk and Seahawk military helicopters.

Ethan has never ridden in a helicopter -- yet. "I would like to sometime," he said.

His favorite subjects are math and science. After completing his high school education next year, he plans to go to college -- perhaps to Purdue University -- to study aerospace or mechanical engineering.

His dream job? "I'd like to do something in the military. And I'd like to learn to fly," he said.

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A blow at 30,000 feet saves dying doctor on flight

CHENNAI: A 46-year-old surgeon got a fresh lease of life, literally, on board a Kolkata-Chennai flight that was cruising at 30,000 feet on Saturday night. He fell unconscious and lost all pulse but was revived miraculously after a doctor who was on board gave a strong blow to the rib cage close to the heart. He sat up as if woken up from a deep slumber.

About 30 minutes after the IndiGo flight took off from Kolkata, the passenger fell unconscious. Thankfully, the flight had around half a dozen doctors returning to Chennai after an annual conference. Dr J S Rajkumar, chairman of Lifeline Hospitals, who was one of the first to rush to his help, said it was a shocking experience which taught several others a valuable lesson about the importance of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

"Assessing him rapidly, we saw to our horror that he had no pulse, even in his neck, and was ice cold and unresponsive. He was dead for all practical purposes," said Dr Raj Kumar. "I have never felt such cold skin in my life. I gave a strong pericardial thump (a strong blow to the rib cage in front of the heart) and he jumped back to life! His pulse and blood pressure returned to normal," he said. The revived passenger is a surgeon at Vijaya Hospital.

The doctors had told the crew that the plane would have to land in Bhubaneswar if the passenger's condition didn't improve. But once he was revived, the doctors told them he was doing fine and there was no need to make the unscheduled landing. "He did not know what happened to him when he was without pulse for less than four minutes. It is a heart condition and needed monitoring for 24 hours. We sat beside him throughout the flight," said Raj Kumar. The passenger was driven to Vijaya Hospital for further monitoring as soon as the flight landed in Chennai. An IndiGo official said the incident was not reported to airport authorities as the passenger was in good condition.

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Key Field Airport (KMEI), Meridian, Mississippi: Local Air Travel Down

The holidays are generally busy travel periods, however, ridership is down at Meridian Regional Airport. Overall, MRA President, Tom Williams says ridership is down by about half. He says this is due to a circumstance that was virtually unknown prior to the airport's new carrier taking over operation. Efforts are now being made to resolve the problem. 

"Our numbers since October 1st are terrible, but it's because half of our passengers are military and they can't use Silver," says Williams.

One week prior to kicking off service in Meridian, Williams says officials with Silver Airways realized that they did not have clearance to transport military personnel. Immediately, he says company officials took action to rectify the situation. However, because that process can be lengthy, he says it's possible that the clearance will not be granted until late March.

Another major problem has been ticket sales. At $100 one way, tickets for the one hour flight from Meridian to Atlanta are far cheaper than the $450 to $1,000 tickets for the same flight on Delta Airlines. However, passengers such as Carol White of New York have had problems retrieving some discounts.

"I use Delta to Atlanta. When I get to Atlanta. I'm with a whole new airlines that doesn't recognize it, not as of yet they say. So, I have to pay the difference," says White.

That was the case when Carol White bought her ticket. Just prior to Christmas, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi was instrumental in helping to fix some of the on-line ticket sale problems with Silver Airways.

"I think overall we're probably doing a little better financially," says Williams. "However, Silver is having a hard time catching on and I think a lot of it had to do initially with the complexity of buying the tickets, I think all of that is solved now; not being on was also a problem, which I know is solved now; another problem is people strangely holding them to a higher standard than they did Delta."

Optimistic that clearance to transport military personnel will be granted, Williams says once that happens and when locals become more familiar with Silver Airways schedule, things will get much better for the airline and the airport as a whole.

Silver Airways is based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It operates more than 100 flights daily in the U.S. When Delta Airlines decided to cease operation in Meridian, Silver Airways was the only airline to bid on locating in the Queen City. On October 1st, Silver Airways also took over air service at the airports in Tupelo and Greenville and the Laurel/Hattiesburg Airport.

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Homeland Security recognizes Indianapolis International’s Emergency Response Team

The Emergency Response Team at Indianapolis International Airport has received federal recognition for their work.

The Department of Homeland Security has certified them as a Community Emergency Response Team. The recognition means members are able to assist in several different ways during an emergency, including medical operations, search and rescue, firefighting and even providing psychological help to survivors.

The airport’s Emergency Response Team was formed in the 1990s to help assist the airport’s fire and police departments.


Fairhope officials eye return of Festival of Flight in spring

FAIRHOPE, Alabama -- With hopes of using leftover BP oil spill response funds and keying into Airbus’ future presence in the Mobile Bay area, Fairhope officials are discussing the return of the city’s Festival of Flight.

“The Airport Authority met a week or so ago and one of things that we discussed is having another Festival of Flight,” Fairhope City Council President Jack Burrell said during last week’s work session. “And that would be held in May, if possible. We are waiting to see if we can get some BP money that has to be used on advertising.”

Mayor Tim Kant said he hopes to hear from Gov. Robert Bentley’s office soon on whether the city can use some of the nearly $500,000 of unused BP oil response funding in the city’s bank account for the festival, which was last held in 2008 at the city’s H.L. "Sonny" Callahan Airport on Baldwin 32.

“You know back when we had the spill we were given monies for protection,” Kant said. “Gulf Shores and Orange Beach were able to use some of that money for advertising and so I’ve asked -- since we don’t have a spill anymore, we can’t protect anything anymore ... (and) we really haven’t done any advertising along the Eastern Shore -- can we use the $400,000, almost $500,000, sitting in our bank account. It’s not helping anybody. BP would be a part of the scenario and be a part of helping to promote it.”

Burrell said he was pretty confident that the funding would be approved but unsure of a timetable. “I think we probably are but then we have to decide whether or not we want to spend it,” said Burrell, who is the council's liaison to the Airport Authority. “We’re envisioning not just an airshow but an air show slash trade show and possibly inviting Airbus. We’d really like them to say they’d be a title sponsor if we could. We could start inviting their suppliers and people who want to be suppliers of Airbus. If we get that name we feel like we can attract a lot of vendors to this and go a long way toward paying for it.”

Earlier in the year, Airbus announced plans to build a $600 million commercial jet assembly plant at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex.

Burrell said if for some reason BP denies the city’s request then the question would be whether the city could foot the $60,000-$80,000 bill to hold the show. “It’s very expensive,” he said.

Councilman Kevin Boone said the event would be a “win-win-win situation” for the city, Airbus and vendors, and the community.

“To me this is a good, a very good, situation to get people with Airbus, or whoever, affiliated with this town and with this airport facility and the industrial park that’s out there,” Boone said. “Where they can see what we’ve got, what we offer and plus have a venue for people to get out there for everybody to meet.”

The Festival of Flight was first held in 2006, drawing a crowd of about 6,000, and in each of the following 2 years it drew more than 15,000 people, according to event coverage at that time. In 2009, due to uncertain sponsorship the event was canceled by the Fairhope Airport Authority. Past events have featured dozens of aircraft -- military and vintage -- and helicopters as well as food vendors, exhibits and booths about aviation and a free motion simulator. Bi-plane rides were also available for a fee.

Burrell said a festival organizational meeting is set for Friday, Jan. 4, where the group will meet with members of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance. “I’ll be able to report back after the first of the year on how that’s coming along,” he said, “and hopefully we’ll hear back from the governor soon on that money.”

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Ryanair to issue defamation proceedings against The Sun: The airline said that they had decided to take legal action over what they termed as “false and inaccurate claims”

Low cost airline Ryanair have today announced that they have instructed their lawyers to issue defamation proceedings against The Sun newspaper.

Their decision comes after a Dutch TV program said that the airline was running its planes with low fuel reserves.

These claims were then repeated in a newspaper article in The Sun newspaper.

A statement from Ryanair today said:

    "These claims have no validity and originate from a Dutch TV program which featured anonymous contributors in darkened rooms. The reason these anonymous contributors did not want their identities revealed is because there was no truth to their claims.

    "Ryanair today confirmed that its fuel policy allows all its pilots to take as much fuel as they wish to take, which in all cases is more than minimum reserve fuel. A recent joint statement by the Irish and Spanish safety agencies independently confirmed that Ryanair’s safety is ‘on a par with the safest airlines in Europe.’

    "Ryanair has this morning instructed its lawyers to issue defamation proceedings against The Sun newspaper for republishing these false and inaccurate claims.



Friedman Memorial (KSUN), Hailey, Idaho: Burke resigns from airport board... Mayor says he might take city seat

City and county leaders said this week that the resignation of Hailey City Councilwoman Martha Burke from the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board will no doubt shake up the board’s leadership.

Burke’s resignation letter, dated Dec. 17, was given to the City Council and Mayor Fritz Haemmerle on Monday. The council voted to accept the resignation during its meeting Monday night, which Burke did not attend.

Burke’s letter said she was tendering her resignation due to “my recent comments made during the Dec, 4, 2012, FMAA meeting and the subsequent fallout they caused.”

Burke went on to say that she felt her “credibility and effectiveness” had been compromised as a result of her comments.

Haemmerle said he believes Burke was referring to her comments regarding the city of Hailey’s position on alternatives for the current airport site. Burke said during the meeting that the City Council had given her and other authority members Susan McBryant and Don Keirn strict guidance regarding which options they could and could not support.

“Unfortunately, we agree with you,” she told the board at that meeting. “We are not being allowed to compromise. We are being given direct guidance by our mayor and council members.”

Haemmerle said Burke had previously voted in favor of his letter that outlined which alternatives the city of Hailey would support—that is, that the city would only support very modest changes that would not move the runway or expand the airport outside its current boundaries.

“Martha supported that letter,” he said. “She gave an appearance that she didn’t support the letter [during the FMAA meeting], but she voted for it. The City Council members probably weren’t too happy with the fact that we all unanimously agreed to a letter that one of our representatives took to the FMAA and then didn’t agree with.”

McBryant, Hailey’s new senior representative, said Burke’s experience would be missed, but that the board likely would not suffer.

“It’s like any other board of directors,” she said. “People come and go all the time. You lose one set of assets and gain another.”

The City Council is set to appoint a new representative at its meeting on Jan. 7—and Haemmerle said he is interested in the position.

“It’s been far too long since the mayor of the town sat on the authority,” he said.

But Airport Authority member and County Commissioner Angenie McCleary said Burke’s resignation could impact the positions of vice chair and chair of the board. Burke was vice chair, and McCleary said Burke would have been a “natural” fit for the position of chair when new officers are elected on Jan. 9, as current Chair Tom Bowman also plans to step down from the board in the near future.

Bowman said he is sorry that the Hailey airport delegation would lose Burke’s “many years of valuable experience,” but added that her resignation does not affect his plans to step down after the January board meeting.

Ryanair says Dutch TV program was 'factually incorrect'

Irish budget airline Ryanair has issued a press release denying claims made by a Dutch television show that pilots are pressured to fly with less fuel in order to save costs.

Current affairs program Reporter on Friday carried interviews with four anonymous Ryanair pilots who said they regularly fly with less fuel than they would like on company orders. 

The airline said the program was factually incorrect. ‘The only pressure put on Ryanair pilots is to make safety a priority,’ the statement said. ‘That is the reason why Ryanair has a 28-year excellent safety record. 

Ryanair also criticized the show for failing to contact it for a reaction.

The program led the Dutch government to ask the Irish authorities for an explanation. Ryanair operates flights from three Dutch airports. 

Earlier stories
Dutch ask Irish government for answers on Ryanair safety standards



Helicopter forced to make emergency landing in Nashville, Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -   A medical helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning off Harding Pike in Nashville.

The pilot told Nashville's News 2 a gust of wind blew him off course during his final approach to St. Thomas Hospital.

The pilot was able to land the helicopter safely on the property of nearby Aquinas College just before 11 a.m.

There was one patient on board at the time.

An ambulance took the patient the short block to the hospital.

No one was injured and the helicopter was not damaged.

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Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV) Sends Plane of Fans to Sugar Bowl (With Video)

GAINESVILLE- Delta sponsored a flight earlier this afternoon for the die hard fans willing to make the trip to the Bayou.

And sitting by anyone on this direct flight means that you bypassed an 8 to 9 hour drive or a connecting flight to New Orleans.

Passengers typically pay 3 to 4 hundred dollars on the 90 minute non-stop flight to NOLA.

This lucky group weren’t the only gators scheduled to arrive in style.

Gainesville Regional Airport Spokesperson, Laura Aguiar explains, “The sports team also brings in increased traffic, there were actually two large American American Jets that left Friday filled with the players support staff and family members.”

The CRJ-200 jet used for the flight this afternoon seats 50 passengers...only seven of those were unoccupied this morning.

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Nigeria: The chaos in our airports

The competitiveness of any economic base is inextricably linked to the quality and quantity of the infrastructure available to it. There exists an inseparable link between the state of the nation’s infrastructure and the height attained in its pursuit of economic emancipation. Hence, no modern economic growth model designed for implementation would be worth its salt if basic and necessary infrastructure are not put in place.

It is in the light of this that one finds the article, “The chaos in our airports”, written by Uche Igwe which appeared on page 20 of your widely read publication on December 26, 2012 rather intriguing. The author sees the inconvenience experienced by passengers at our airports as a result of government’s concerted effort to modernize the nation’s airports as a sign that “this is either a country that is dysfunctional or a government that is clueless”. The obvious motive for this unkind cut is not the subject of this discourse, but rather the desire to address the facts of the matter.

It is common knowledge that most Nigerian airports and terminals were built in the 70’s and by 2011, they were decayed and in a state of utter disrepair. Airport users attest to the fact that our infrastructure was a disgrace and embarrassment to our national pride and standing in the comity of nations. It sent the wrong signals and scared investors away.

It has been estimated that the country will need to invest about $100bn over the next 10 years in just four basic infrastructure areas: power, rail track, road, and aviation. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, N300bn will be required to bring the aviation sector, in particular, to a satisfactory condition.

On resumption of office, however, the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has left no one in doubt that she will “walk her talk”. Ostensibly worried by the scale of infrastructure deficit at the nation’s airports, she initiated the reconstruction of 22 airports across the country. Within two months of being in office, 11 airports earmarked in the first phase were undergoing reconstruction simultaneously in an unprecedented scale!

This is without interrupting operations at these airports. The Lagos Terminal 1, popularly known as GAT, was opened within 300 days from the commencement of work and at a cost of N648m naira only. Not far from this edifice lies a similar terminal said to be built by a concessionaire at a whopping cost of N38bn. The remaining 10 airports are at different stages of completion and the world class facilities at Abuja, Kano, Benin and Owerri are already being enjoyed by air travelers.

Agencies in the Ministry of Aviation are being transformed and appropriate laws initiated to make them more accountable. Questionable concession agreements skewed against the interest of the sector and the Nigerian public were being vigorously reviewed to send the right signals; it’s no longer business as usual for crooked minds.

In the area of safety and security, modern security equipment has been procured following a comprehensive security threat and vulnerability assessment.

Deliberate strategies are being deployed to change the orientation of the aviation employees through capacity development. For instance, the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. George Uriesi, a world class aviation professional, has embarked on a campaign to change the orientation of all employees of FAAN towards service delivery, accountability, and self-sustenance of the agency.

The Minister of Aviation has pursued deliberate strategies to grow the domestic airlines. She successfully championed a campaign for the removal of taxes and tariffs on commercial airline spare parts which was a major cost component in the overall cost of domestic airlines operations. Arrangements have also been concluded to facilitate the acquisition of 30 airplanes to boost the operations of domestic airlines.

Some airports have been designated as agro-allied and cargo terminals to promote investment and make them self-sustaining. This will lead to reduction in rural-urban immigration, massive rural development, provision of employment and reduction in crime rate. The Port Harcourt International airport for instance has been designated as a Free Trade Zone and Export Processing Zone to maximize its strategic location, with special incentives to stimulate economy development and foreign direct investments.

At the twilight of 2012, the aviation sector received a Christmas bouquet with the restoration of airfield lighting on Runway 18L at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport on December 25, 2012. With the commencement of night landing on the domestic runway, pressure will be eased on Runway 18R, the international runway that accommodated all domestic flights operating into Lagos after 6pm.

Again, the expanded “E” Arrival Wing of the international terminal of the MMA commenced operations on Christmas Eve to handle the unprecedented passenger flow that reached its zenith that fateful day.

The year 2013 will witness the construction of brand new airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt, and the commencement of the Aerotropolis project; a concept that involves building cities around airports, and thus connecting businesses, suppliers, executives and goods to the aviation global world.

This may seem far-fetched for the fainthearted, but critics of the aviation minister have learnt to take her by her words. So, what Igwe called “chaos in our airports” are, ironically, evidence of determined efforts to remodel and rehabilitate the airports after many years of neglect.

- Dati, General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN


Man dies as toy plane flies into his head

A toy plane has killed a 53-year-old man in a freak accident in the German city of Stuttgart.

A tiny remote-controlled model aircraft collided at full speed with the man's head on Sunday, police said. He died in hospital the same day.

The model was being piloted by a 45-year-old man on the Gruener Heiner, a hill on the north-west outskirts of the city popular with paraglider flyers and model-plane enthusiasts.

Police blamed the accident on strong gusts of wind as stormy weather crossed Germany.

UK aviation on runway to ridicule

By David Black

 Qatar Holding's decision to invest further in the United Kingdom's airport infrastructure comes at a time when the country's aviation policy is in disarray.

While it, and other sovereign investment funds, might be pouring money in, the world's airlines are becoming more vociferous in their condemnation of what is on offer.

Lack of landing slots, airport congestion and a total lack of vision when it comes to what to do to fix it, is what they allege. "The UK aviation scene is riddled with confusion, lethargy and incompetence," notes one of the world's leading aviation consultancies, The Centre for Aviation.

"Already stifled by the world's highest passenger taxes, at one stage there were no less than four inquiries in progress or planned to examine what the country should do about its [perceived] lack of airport infrastructure. Now there is only one - the Davies Commission, which will not report until 2015."

Boris Johnson, the London mayor, is arguing for a new £39 billion (Dh231.08bn) airport in the Thames Estuary, capable of handling 150 million passengers a year, but this latest deal over Heathrow tends to suggest the big investors have lost faith in that happening. The obvious solution, to build a third runway at Heathrow, is a non-starter because of feared electoral fallout, while the option of adding a second runway at Gatwick Airport is banned until 2019.


Pines mayor remembers Eastern 401 flight crew before Everglades crash


Eastern Airlines Flight 401 conjures up haunted memories for Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis.

On Dec. 29, 1972, Ortis, then 29, was an aircraft technician at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when the packed flight took off for Miami.

But the flight never made it.

Just before it was expected to land, the aircraft smashed into the Everglades; 101 people died in the wreckage.

Ortis said his signature was the last name listed on the airport's log book.

"It was devastating," said Ortis. "I know exactly what happened … they were ready to land, while they were fixing the light, they hit the 'yoke' and started a progressive downward slant."

Earlier that night, Ortis was assigned to perform the routine inspection on that aircraft flying to Miami. He checked the gears, tire pressure and checked for leaks and worn tires. He gave the official OK.

With a few minutes to spare before the flight taxied out of the terminal, Ortis said a quick word to the pilot and wished the crew a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Two hours later, he was riding a bus out of the JFK terminal when he heard someone shout, "Hold the bus!" The airport's staff had just heard news of the crash.

Ortis wasn't involved with the mechanical and management errors aboard flight 401 that night that led to the crash, but he recalls the feeling of "horror that went on forever."

The flight was ordered to hold over the pitch black Everglades to fix an electrical light problem before landing. But at the same time, a crew member accidentally flicked off the autopilot.

Hovering over the vast and dark Everglades, the crew didn't notice the plane's gradual descent into the swamp until it was too late.

Since the crash 40 years ago, new technology and training regimens have been implemented.

Flight staff now are required to receive intensive crew resource management training and each plane has an emergency switch that sounds off once the plane drops below a certain altitude.


Ethiopian Airlines Graduates 20 Pilots, 72 Cabin Crew

The Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy graduated 20 pilots and 72 cabin crew who completed theoretical and practical training last week.

"In line with its 15 years strategic road map Vision 2025, the Ethiopian Aviation Academy is undertaking massive facility expansion projects, which will enable it to be the most competitive and leading aviation training center in Africa, said Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian at the graduation ceremony.

The graduation was held at the Ethiopian headquarters, where Tewolde presented diplomas as well as awards. The Academy is planning to increase its admission capacity by four ford by the end of 2025, from the current intake capacity of 1,000 annually. The Ethiopian Aviation Academy consists of faculties of Pilot Training School (PTS), Aviation Maintenance School (AMS),School of Marketing(SoM), and School for Cabin Crews.

'Southwest effect' having big impact on Iowa (With Video)

DES MOINES, Iowa —"We're up 14.1 percent just for November over November. For the year to date, we're up 9 percent," said Don Smithey, aviation director at the Des Moines International Airport.

Smithey said the Southwest effect is working.

"The effect of that competition has driven the fares down, and the public is taking advantage of it," said Smithey.

Southwest Airlines announce in January it planned to enter the Des Moines market. The airline is taking over AirTran, which already served the Des Moines market.

The first Southwest flight flew out of Des Moines on Sept. 30.

Smithey said airports across the country are seeing declines, but not in Des Moines.

"Frankly, it's that effect of having Southwest in the market is starting to make the difference. It makes the other air carriers actually compete," said Smithey.

Southwest only offers a Des Moines-to-Chicago flight, but officials said other routes are expected to be added.

"What I'm really wanting to see is, for example, Southwest to go Las Vegas," said Smithey.

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Aircraft Raffle Drawing will be held Saturday at Laconia Municipal Airport (KLCI), New Hampshire

GILFORD — The non-profit group, WinnAero, has scheduled its raffle drawing with the grand prize being a 1966 Cessna 172 four place aircraft plus $ 1,200 in cash at the Laconia Airport Terminal on Saturday, January 5.  The ceremony will start at noon with the actual drawing at 1 p.m.

Retired Air Force Colonel Bob Fortnam of Pembroke, NH will have the honor of drawing the winning ticket. Col. Fortnam was a bomber pilot during World War II and his story is inspirational.

Still actively flying today on a weekly basis at age 89, Col. Fortnam was the World War II co-pilot of a bomber which sustained major battle damage. With the aircraft commander incapacitated with a stomach wound, Col. Fortnam took command and attempted to bring the crippled bomber home to its base in England. Unable to make it due to damage, the Colonel successfully brought the aircraft down in a crash landing in then occupied Holland.

Captured by the Germans, he and his crew, including the wounded aircraft commander, survived 19 months as POWs before returning to the States.

The Board of WinnAero is most pleased that this aviation combat hero has consented to drawing the winning ticket.

WinnAero believes that this raffle prize, with a dollar value of $ 27,500 plus the $ 1,200 cash, may be the single highest value raffle ever held in the Lakes Region.

WinnAero's mission is to provide aviation and aerospace career education to youth in a hands-on manner. All its educational outreach reinforces the academic STEM Principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Proceeds from the raffle, less expenses, will be used to fund educational programming.

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27-year-old vomits blood at airport, dies

MUMBAI: A passenger died at Mumbai airport in the wee hours of Monday, a short while after he had landed.

Around 1.41am, the airport medical officer received a call from the airport manager to examine Sushant Sundar Shetty (27), who had reportedly vomited blood near one of the conveyor belts at the international arrival terminal. "Five minutes later, he was taken to the washroom and examined by the doctor," an airport official said.

According to Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) officials, the doctor found Shetty unconscious with blood oozing from his mouth. He had landed from the United States by a British Airways flight, BA 139.

The doctor found Shetty's blood pressure "unrecordable" and his pupils dilated. "He was given an injection of atropine and adrenaline. The doctor tried to revive him for 20 minutes. The same injections were given again," said an MIAL official.

Shetty was declared dead around 2.10am. His body was handed over to Sahar police. Cops said Shetty worked for JP Morgan. He was in the United States for the last three months for a training and was returning with his colleagues. The cause of death is yet to be ascertained, said officials.


Piper PA-24-250, N8053P: Accident occurred December 31, 2012 in McAllen, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA118 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 31, 2012 in Mc Allen, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/12/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N8053P
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After taking off and climbing to about 1,200 feet above the ground, the airplane’s engine began to run rough and lost power. The pilot turned back toward the airport, but the airplane impacted terrain 200 feet short of the runway. The left main and nose landing gears separated from the airplane, the right wing was crushed, and the fuselage was buckled. Postaccident examination of the engine and related systems revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. According to a Federal Aviation Administration carburetor icing chart, conditions were conducive to carburetor icing at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of engine power due to carburetor icing.

On December 31, 2012, about 0940 central standard time, a Piper PA-24-250, N8053P, impacted terrain short of runway 31 at Mc Allen Miller International Airport (KMFE), Mc Allen, Texas. The pilot, the sole occupant on board, was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from KMFE approximately 0935, and was destined for Weslaco, Texas (5T6).

According to the pilot’s accident report, after taking off and climbing to 1,200 feet, the engine began running rough and losing power. He initiated a turn back towards the airport, but the airplane impacted terrain 200 feet short of runway 31. The left main and nose landing gears separated from the airplane, and the right wing was crushed and the fuselage was buckled.

The engine was later examined by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. According to the inspector’s report, no anomalies were noted with the ignition system. All spark plugs were dry, consistent with a lean mixture, and the intake system appeared normal. All pistons and valves moved with crankshaft movement. There was ample fuel (100LL) in all four tanks. Using the electric fuel pump, fuel pressure was at the top of the green arc on the fuel pressure gauge at any tank position selected. Fuel flow was observed to the carburetor and intake from all four tank positions. Operation of the engine driven fuel pump could not be verified. The carburetor finger screen was clean. It took about 3 to 4 seconds to restore fuel flow to the carburetor when the fuel selector was switched from "off" to a tank position (using the electric pump).

A Carburetor Icing Probability Chart was examined. Using the temperature (21 degrees C.) and dew point (16 degrees C.) that prevailed, the chart indicated moderate icing at cruise power and serious icing at descent power. Dew point compression was 5 degrees C., which equates to a relative humidity of about 69 percent.

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA118 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 31, 2012 in Mc Allen, TX
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-250, registration: N8053P
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 31, 2012, about 0940 central standard time, a Piper PA-24-250, N8053P, impacted terrain short of runway 31 at Mc Allen Miller International Airport KMFE), Mc Allen, Texas. The pilot, the sole occupant on board, was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from 5T6 approximately 1035.

Shortly after departure, pilot notified the control tower that the engine was running rough and losing power. He initiated a turn back towards the airport, but the airplane impacted terrain 200 feet short of the runway.

A small plane sits along the end of the runway Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, at the McAllen-Miller International Airport. The pilot was not hurt in the incident that prompted airport officials to delay some flights as the small plane was moved off onto a grassy area. 

McALLEN — A single-engine plane was forced to make a crash landing short of the runway at McAllen-Miller International Airport on Monday just after taking off. 

A pilot, the aircraft’s only occupant, was uninjured in the crash, but the plane itself was totaled, airport director Phil Brown said.

The plane was flying over South 10th Street about 9:30 a.m. when engine problems began.

The incident shut down the runway until airport crews could drag the plane away. Although the crash was minor, it did slow travel for some and led American Airlines to divert a flight to Corpus Christi.

“We’ve had some diversions and some delays,” Brown said.


Crews have cleared away the wreckage of a small plane that crashed at McAllen-Miller International Airport early Monday morning. The single-engine private plane slammed into the ground just short of the main runway around 9:30. The pilot was the only person on board and he was not hurt. Airport officials say the plane had just taken off when it experienced trouble, turned around, and crashed as it tried to land. The crash shut down the runway for most of the morning. 

Coast Guard Helicopter Rescues Crew From Imperiled Shell Arctic Drilling Rig

Here is a short video released late Saturday by the U.S. Coast Guard, showing part of the helicopter rescue of crewmen from the drilling platform Kulluk. The rig has been imperiled by multiple simultaneous engine failures aboard the oceangoing tug Aiviq, which was towing the rig from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Puget Sound, for modifications, repairs and winter berthing. 


Shown in the video are the Kulluk – the round vessel with a tall central tower, the Nanuq – the long, slender vessel, and the Aiviq – the vessel with the helicopter platform over its bow.  The tug Guardsman, not shown in the video, is plotted on as being close by.  All four vessels haven’t moved much since they grouped together Saturday morning. Rather than get close to the shore and seek shelter from the ongoing major winter storm, as they had planned Saturday, they have decided to put as many miles as possible between the rig and the rocks.
Here’s the  Alaska news report

Bahrain civil aviation officials honored

Four long-serving executives of Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Affairs were honored on the occasion of their retirement at a recent ceremony in Manama, held under the patronage of Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation.

The officials included Undersecretary for Civil Aviation Affairs Captain Abdul-Rahman Mohammed Al-Gaood, director of Meteorology Yousif Khalaf, chief of operations at Meteorology Habib Al Aali and acting chief of Climate and Operation at Meteorology.

The Minister praised the executives on their significant achievements and dedicated efforts to develop and enhance the Civil Aviation sector at all levels, led by Captain Al Gaood.

Captain Al-Gaood said: “I am very proud to have been a part of this dynamic team and be able to make key contributions to the development of this vital sector.”

Captain Al Gaood’s career started as one of the first pilot Bahraini pilots working at Gulf Air.  With around 40 years’ experience in the aviation industry, Captain Al Gaood was appointed as Assistant Undersecretary for Civil Aviation Affairs at the Ministry of Transportation in 1996 and then promoted to Undersecretary in 2002, a position he held until his retirement.

At the end of the ceremony, the Minister presented the retirees with a memento in recognition of their services. – TradeArabia News Service

Washington state has work ahead to keep aerospace jobs: The new governor is facing a host of challenges to keep this vital industry happy

By Michelle Dunlop, Herald Writer

Until this year, Washington state could claim to be the only spot in the country where commercial jets are built.

But in 2012, the Boeing Co. delivered the first 787 aircraft built in South Carolina. And within a few years, Alabama will join the jet-making club when Airbus workers in Mobile deliver their first A320.

Keeping Washington's aerospace industry happy is a necessity for government officials in 2013, as the state swears in a new governor.

"The challenge for the state of Washington is: How are they going to continue to grow the aerospace industry with the budget woes they've got?" said Scott Hamilton, an analyst with Issaquah-based Leeham Co.

More to the point: Can the state retain what it has?

In recent years, with the help of industry organizations, the state and local governments in Washington have gotten behind training and education efforts geared at the aerospace industry. With her term waning, Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this month included another $26 million for aerospace training in her 2013 to 2015 budget proposal.

But it will be up to Gov.-elect Jay Inslee to set the state's aerospace strategy.

"Aerospace is one of the priority clusters in (Inslee's) jobs plan," Sterling Clifford, an Inslee spokesman, said in an interview Friday.

A looming wave of aerospace workers retiring will put pressure on the state to ensure there's a training plan in place to meet the industry's needs. Inslee is aware of that, Clifford said.

Linda Lanham, executive director of the Aerospace Futures Alliance, advocated for many of the worker training programs that are in place.

"We need to make sure we're always on top of training," she said. "We need to keep it up."

Lanham and Hamilton both say that a long-term state plan for the aerospace industry is badly needed. Hamilton noted that the state has to follow through on any strategy it devises, something Washington has failed to do in the past.

After landing the original 787 final assembly line in 2003, Washington "was just complacent" in terms of staying competitive in the aerospace industry, Hamilton said. In 2009, Boeing picked North Charleston, S.C., as the site of a second 787 assembly line. This month, Boeing reached a deal that would allow the company to expand its North Charleston site by as much as 1,100 acres.

It's not just South Carolina that has Hamilton worried for Washington. Alabama, North Carolina and Florida are in the hunt for aerospace jobs, too.

"The state needs to have a really good strategy to beat back the South, quite honestly," Hamilton said.

And Washington can't afford to wait another year or two to put in place a plan for retaining and growing one of its key industries. This year, Gregoire appointed Alex Pietsch as director of the governor's office of aerospace. Pietsch is responsible for crafting a statewide aerospace plan. He has spent the past several months gathering input from the state's 1,248 aerospace-related companies to understand industry's needs and the work already being done.

"The state needs to continue to build on its momentum," Pietsch said.

But the state's aerospace plan is in a holding pattern until Inslee takes office.

Besides the budget crunch and need for a longer-term strategy, Inslee will have a few other aerospace-related issues to tackle, Hamilton noted.

First, he'll need to "kiss and make up" with Boeing's rival Airbus, which Inslee blasted for receiving illegal financial handouts from European governments when Airbus' parent company and Boeing competed for a lucrative contract with the Air Force.

"Inslee did everything he could to piss off Airbus as a congressman. That could be a real problem as governor," Hamilton said.

While Boeing is the state's No. 1 jet maker, Washington also is one of the top suppliers in the nation to Airbus. That means hundreds of small or medium-sized companies in the state depend on doing business with the European jet maker.

The incoming governor also could face a big test early in 2013 if the union representing Boeing engineers and technical workers goes on strike. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees and Aerospace and Boeing failed to agree on a new contract this year and talks between the two sides have been heated.

In 2008, Gregoire visited the picket lines when the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers went on strike against Boeing. That didn't win the governor favor with Boeing's corporate officers in Chicago, Hamilton said. Rather than showing support for either the union or the company, Inslee would be better off to take a neutral mediator role, he said.


End of good times for Kingfisher Airline

Kingfisher Airline’s scheduled operator’s permit (SOP) or flying license expired on Monday after the airline failed to convince the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) about its revival plans. However, according to the rules, the airline has a period of two years within which it can still get the license renewed.

The airline had already submitted a revival plan to the DGCA which has asked for more details regarding how it would fund the plan given the precarious financial situation the company is in.

“We have not taken any decision as yet on Kingfisher’s license. We are waiting for more details,” DGCA sources said adding there is “nothing concrete on the table as of now” as far as Kingfisher’s revival plan is concerned.

While its lessors and service providers like Airports Authority of India are insisting that the airline should not be allowed to fly till it clears all dues, airline sources say as per DGCA rules, they have a two-year window to renew the SOP.

However, experts say it will be very difficult for the airlines to make a comeback. Aviation analyst, Sharan Lillaney, Angel Broking said the airline will need a minimum of 200 million dollars for the revival.

The airline’s SOP was suspended on October 20 capping three weeks of lockout in the cash-strapped carrier preceded by a strike by its employees demanding payment of salaries. Launched in 2005, Kingfisher has never reported a profit. — with Agency inputs

Air India Express in-flight announcements in Malayalam

Kochi: The Air India Express crew will make in-flight announcements in Malayalam in addition to the present Hindi and English. The decision has been taken by the airliner on the advice of the Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal.

Air India Express has also decided to include local dishes in the menu from January 1, said the airliner in a release.The changes will include idiappam-kadala curry, thattu dosa-sambar, ghee rice, nadan veg curry, veg biriyani etc.Cheese sandwiches will be replaced with veg rolls on all AIE flights.In addition to the above, banana chips and peanuts will be served, sweet dishes such as muffins, coconut burfi and imrithi will also be served on board.

“We are confident that these improvements will be appreciated by our passengers” said Mr. Ansbert D. D’Souza, Chief Operating Officer of Air India Express.

Nigeria: Niger Spends N80 Million to Train 10 Pilots

The Niger Government has spent N80 million on training 10 pilots at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology's facilities at the Minna Airport, the state's Commissioner for Transportation, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammad, said on Sunday.

Mohammad made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna.

"The trainee pilots had completed their ground training preparatory to their flying training.

"We are spending N8 million each for the training of each pilot, who had concluded their ground training, using the simulators in Minna and the training facilities in Zaria.

"The trainee pilots have been joined by three students from Benue, one each from Kaduna and Kano, bringing the total number of trainee pilots at the NCAT Minna Annex to 15 trainee pilots," Mohammad said.

According to him, the college is expected to deploy four of its aircraft for the training of the pilots, who had to earn a credit of 15 hours flying with instructors and another 15 hours earned credit of solo flying to complete the first phase of their training.

He said the college would give the successful students the Private Pilot License (PPL) but added that the students needed to attain 35 hours of credit earned flying before being given the Commerce Pilot License(CPL).

Mohammad said the college's location in Minna would not affect the quality of instructions given to the trainee pilots.

"It is 18 months rigorous training, anyone that did not earn the required credit flying hours will be dropped or asked to repeat.

He said the State Government was committed to the training of pilots at the Minna annex and that it would be sponsoring another set of students in line with its vision of becoming the third most developed state by year 2020.

He said that NCAT had been allocated a large parcel of land for the construction of its annex in Minna.

The commissioner explained that the land was allocated to the college so as to enable the indigenes to have the opportunity of receiving training as pilots.

How Dana flight data recorder was lost to fire, by Accident Investigation Bureau

More facts have emerged from the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) revealing that the post accident fire, which lasted for about 20 hours, consumed the digital component of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) of the crashed Dana plane.

Also, the AIB will soon launch its $5.5 million FDR laboratory system in Abuja.  The laboratory once launched will enable the bureau to download both flight recorders promptly during accident investigation.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the aviation sector have faulted the National Assembly’s recent report, which carpeted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and its leadership.

The AIB Commissioner, Mukhtar Usman told reporters in Lagos at the weekend that while the solid component of the FDR was recovered, the digital part of the device was lost to the post crash fire.

“It’s like cooking an egg. The shell is intact but the egg inside is destroyed,” Usman said.

The Dana incident is similar to that of Bellview crash in Lisa, Ogun State where cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the FDR were not recovered; a situation that has delayed the release of Bellview accident report.

A FDR is an electronic device employed to record any instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft. It is a device used to record specific aircraft performance parameters.

Another kind of flight recorder is the CVR, which records conversation in the cockpit, radio communications between the cockpit crew and others (including conversation with air traffic control personnel), as well as ambient sounds.

Usman stated that the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent American government agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation, where the Dana FDR was taken, could not retrieve anything from the device.

For the other component, the CVR, he hinted that only few minutes’ conversation was retrieved from the CVR.

Usman disclosed that the engine of the crashed plane had also been taken to the Washington-based organization for further investigations.

Since the June 3, 2012, Dana plane crash several panels have been set up in Lagos where the accident occurred and in Abuja.

The reasons were to investigate the direct and remote causes of the crash, but Usman said that the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, recognized only AIB and no other body in such an issue.

Usman was evasive on why pass accident reports were yet to be made public, explaining that his agency was not meant to apportion blames but to find the causes of an accident and make recommendations to relevant agencies.

Usman said that his agency made 32 safety recommendations to the Federal Government with 20 of them accepted while 12 were yet to be attended to.

Stakeholders in aviation sector faulted the report which called for the sack and prosecution of the NCAA’s Director General, Dr. Harold Demuren for alleged negligence in the June 3, 2012 Dana Air crash.

The stakeholders said that the report was not only laughable but also embarrassing to the country.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Hope Uzodimma had informed the lawmakers that MD 83 aircraft belonging to Dana Air had been phased out all over the world and wondered why the regulatory body certified the ill-fated aircraft in the fleet of the airline.

But an aircraft frame engineer who worked with Boeing Aircraft Company based in Seattle, Washington, Dr. Kolawole Adegbola told The Guardian that the legislators might be getting their facts mixed up.

Adegbola, currently a consultant, structural stress analyst with GKN Aerospace (Nashville, United States, faulted the lawmakers’ claim that the production of MD-80 Family/Series (this includes MD-80/81/82/83...88) had been phased out, noting that the operation of the aircraft was  “alive and well”.

General Staff denies that Turkish pilots have been arrested in Syria

High-ranking sources in Turkey's Foreign Ministry have denied reports that have surfaced on Dec. 31 that claimed four Turkish pilots were arrested while trying to infiltrate into Syrian military airport.

The Turkish General Staff has also denied the claims in a statement on its official website.

Four Turkish pilots have been caught trying to sneak onto a military airport near Aleppo, Syrian daily Al-Watan has reported, according to official Russian news agency RIA.

The pilots reportedly reached the area together with a Syrian opposition group.

Report further claimed that airport security noticed the group and arrested the four Turkish pilots, whose identities remain unknown.

Delhi airport development fee lowered

Flying out of Delhi would become cheaper from Tuesday, with the development fee (DF) charged by the operator of IGI airport here being reduced by Rs 100 for domestic and Rs 700 per international passenger.

The decision of GMR-led Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) to slash the charges followed a directive by Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) for charging Rs 100 and Rs 600 per embarking domestic and international passenger respectively from January 1.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had earlier directed DIAL and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) to abolish DF at the two airports with effect from Tuesday.

Following this, DIAL had moved AERA, which, after consultations, decided to slash the rate which would remain effective till April 2016. Till Monday, DF being charged at Delhi airport was Rs 200 and Rs 1300 for domestic and international passengers respectively.

Welcoming the order, DIAL said in a statement the measure would "enable airlines to reduce the overall travel cost of passengers, thus giving a boost to the Indian aviation sector."

In October, the Minister had also directed Airports Authority of India (AAI) not to levy DF at Chennai and Kolkata airports, which are being modernized by it.

AAI was also asked to infuse additional equity of approximately Rs 288 crore in MIAL and Rs 102 crore in DIAL, against its 26 per cent share in the equity in them.

In case DF is abolished, the expected financing gap for MIAL will be estimated at about Rs 4,200 crore and for DIAL at about Rs 1,175 crore.

While DF is levied to meet cash flow requirements before completion of an airport upgrade project, User Development Fee (UDF) is charged for using the completed facility. At present, DF is levied at private-led Delhi and Mumbai airports, among others.

Considine welcomes Hynes aboard as Shannon Airport Authority chairman

Shannon Airport director Mary Considine has welcomed the appointment of Rose Hynes as chair of the Shannon Airport Authority.

Shannon officially enters a new era today with its separation from the DAA and the formation of a new state-owned company to drive passenger numbers and develop aviation industry around the airport.

Ms Hynes is to chair the SAA during a transitional phase while legislation is drawn up to formally merge Shannon Development’s land assets with the new airport company.

On the appointment, Ms Considine said: “Rose brings vast business and aviation experience to the position of chairman of the new Shannon Airport Authority. She has, in her role as chairman of the Aviation Business Development Task Force, spent the last six months building a sustainable and strategic vision for the future of our airport.

“We have every confidence in Shannon’s ability, under her chairmanship, to deliver on its role as a key economic driver for the greater west of Ireland region and look forward to working with her.”

Meanwhile, Clare’s Deputy Michael McNamara expects legislation early in 2013 which will provide the legal basis for the merger and also to stimulate investment around the airport.

“The Finance Act will elaborate on the commitments contained in Budget 2013, to put in place measures to facilitate the construction of hangars and ancillary facilities to attract aviation sector organizations, as well as new funding sources for airlines, aircraft financing and leasing,” said the Labor TD.

Dutch ask Irish government for answers on safety standards at Ryanair

Junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld has asked the Irish government to clarify reports that airline Ryanair is ordering pilots to fly with as little fuel as possible, Nos television reported on Saturday.

Ryanair flies to a wide range of destinations from Dutch airports Eindhoven, Maastricht and Eelde.

Current affairs show Reporter on Friday featured four pilots who claimed they had been forced to fly with as little fuel as possible in order to save on costs.

The Irish government is responsible for controlling safety standards at Ryanair, a spokesman for Mansveld is quoted as saying by Nos. The minister has also asked for a copy of an Irish report into Ryanair. 

Own investigation

Depending on the outcome of these inquiries, Mansveld will decide whether or not to start her own probe into safety standards at the airline. The Dutch pilots’ association has called for such an investigation.

Reporter said three Ryanair flights have been forced to make an emergency landing in Valencia because they did not have enough fuel. 

In her reaction to the claims, Mansveld points out that the three incidents have already been investigated and no further action was considered necessary.

The four pilots told the show there is a ‘deeply rooted culture of fear’ at Ryanair. Other former officials described the company as a dictatorship.

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Report: 'Modern Family' star Jesse Tyler Ferguson tried to purloin private plane

“Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson nearly caused a riot at St. Barts’ tiny airport after attempting to “hijack” a fashion designer’s chartered jet to get off the swanky island by sunset.

Ferguson, who plays Mitchell Pritchett on the hit ABC sitcom that also stars Sofia Vergara, his fiancĂ©, Justin Mikita, and two girlfriends were waiting for their chartered plane to take them off the chic destination Wednesday night just before the island swung into high New Year’s season but became agitated when it was delayed.

A St. Barts airport witness tells us, “All the planes were delayed, and sunset was approaching. You cannot fly out of St. Barts past sunset. Jesse’s plane was late, and there were also three other groups at the airport who were waiting to get planes. They were all freaking out that they were going to miss the sunset deadline, because all the hotels were fully booked.”

All hell broke loose when a plane chartered by New York fashion designer Ramy Brook Sharp and her entourage came in before Ferguson’s. The spy said, “Jesse and his group barged through the doors and stormed onto the tarmac and jumped on the plane. It wasn’t their plane, but they insisted they were first. They basically hijacked Ramy’s plane.

“The pilot started to taxi onto the tiny runway with Jesse and his group on board, but Ramy wasn’t standing for it and had the airport call the plane back in, right as it was going to take off.

The Ferguson crew had to do the walk of shame back into the terminal.

“It was pretty funny, and they were very embarrassed. It was like an episode of ‘Modern Family, ’ ” said our spy.

Go to The Post to see Ferguson's funny tweet. 

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Man restores Vampire T11 on his front drive

Neil McCarthy pictured with his wife Amanda sons Ryan aged three and Nathan. 

 A once decrepit cockpit of a Second World War fighter jet has been restored to its former glory - and is display on a driveway.

Plane mad Neil McCarthy hit the headlines when he bought a vampire T11 Jet and parked it on the driveway of his house in Seaton Burn, North Tyneside.

Now, after months of hard work, dedication, and investigation, the father-of-two has welcomed back the shiny new cockpit to the parking space just outside his home.

The electronics engineer at Newcastle RVI was met with skepticism from family, friends and neighbors when he revealed his plans but the 30-year-old has proved everyone wrong.

"The day when it got delivered back on the he drive and I remembered what we had there the year before, it's just a complete transformation.

"I've got loads of compliments and because we live right next to the A1 you can see people looking down on it.

"The neighbors love it, the ones next door have have been showing a lot of interest in it, saying, 'wow, what a difference' and that they didn't think it would happen.

"I've become best buddies with a guy across the road because of it.

"It's strange but I think it has made everyone a lot closer."

The cockpit was up for grabs at an auction at RAF Millom Aviation and Military Museum in Cumbria and Neil, who is a display pilot in his spare time, jumped at the chance to own a piece of aviation history.

Built in the mid 1940s the cockpit was used as a gateway display at the museum in Scotland before moving to Millom museum 14 years ago.

The frame of the Vampire had endured years of corrosion but Neil was determined to refurbish the rare single engine jet and he did so through a lot of hard graft by him and his dad and thanks to a local firm who stepped in to help out.

Mr McCarthy, who already owns a Jet Provost Group, said: "There was a lot more involved than I first thought.

"Luckily a firm called North Eastern Composites offered to do all the donkey work.

"That was a great help so a big thank you is needed for them."

The realization of what he had achieved came to Neil when he took the cockpit to Cleethorpes Airshow.

He said: "The response was unbelievable.

"There were people in and out all day long."

The prized-possession has won over his wife, Amanda, as well as their two children Ryan, two, and eighteen-month-old Nathan.

"She's got a bit of affection for it now. It has become the family's Vampire so she's grown attached to it now it doesn't look so bad," he said.

"Ryan loves it too, Nathan, who's one in February, doesn't quite get it yet."

Mr McCarthy is hoping to add to his growing collection of crafts and with plans in place to get a full size mock up of a Spitfire cockpit, which will be made into a flight simulator but as ever storage is an issue so he's appealing to anyone who may have space available to come forward.

"My big concern really is storage so if anyone has any kind of storage, a barn or even a museum that would be willing to let us store it in there when we're not taking it to shows we could arrange something like printing a business name on the side," he added.

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Liberia's Airspace Needs Navigational Security - Towers Planted Without Lights Pose Risks to Planes

The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Dr. Frederick Norkeh has expressed concern over mobile-phone GSM companies, radio and television stations in the country indiscriminately erecting towers all over the country without lights on them to ensure navigational safety to planes and other flying objects.

The Postal Affairs Minister made the disclosure during a news conference that took place at the Ministry of Postal Affairs recently. He warned that in the absence of towers being planted around the country without lights and other warning signals, aircrafts helicopters and other users of the airspace risk involvement in accidents.

The Post and Telecommunications Minister highlighted that the presence of such lights and other warning signals are essential for aircraft navigational safety and even for the safety of residents in communities where these poles and towers are erected.

He said it will be very disastrous for residents in communities where these poles and towers are located in case there is an air accident involving planes hitting into such towers. He said the Liberian government can be sued by planes that may involve into such accidents.

Dr. Norkeh noted that protecting Liberia's air-space will give users the opportunity to easily move in every part of the country. He thus urged the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that laws are promulgated by the National Legislature to that effect and to make sure that such laws aree rigorously enforced without fear or favor.

He said such a legal framework will go a long way in mitigating plane crashes especially at night as a result of the absence of such light. "The Liberian government can be sued for negligence if stakeholders concerned fail to implement such laws.

The Posts and Communications minister however lauded some radio stations, television stations and GSM companies that are making sure that towers that they are planting are fitted with navigational safety lights.

Glades County pilot sees theft from the air, leading to Virginia man's arrest

Gary Robert Haines / Charlotte County Sheriff's Office

A Glades County man flying back home from North Carolina caught a man in the act of stealing a trailer while flying over his home near LaBelle Sunday, later following the suspect and calling authorities from the air. 

 The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office arrested Gary Haines, 59, of Virginia after a traffic stop on Interstate 75 by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say the trailer's owner, David Zehntner, was flying over his home in the 2400 block of Loblolly Bay Road when he saw a silver truck in his driveway. He lowered his altitude to get a closer look and observed a man, later identified as Haines, looking into the windows of his home and then attached his red trailer and pull out of his driveway.

Zehntner followed the truck down State Road 80 toward I-75 in Lee County and called the Glades County Sheriff's Office from the air. Glades deputies contacted the Lee County Sheriff's Office which located the truck as it headed into Charlotte County.

Deputies stopped the truck on mile marker 153 in Charlotte and detained Haines until Charlotte County deputies arrived to make the arrest.

Haines' pickup was impounded; inside, deputies found a loaded rifle and bullets on the floorboard. He was arrested for grand theft and taken to the Charlotte County Jail.

Haines was released this morning on $2,500 bond.

Glades County Sheriff’s Office detectives continue their investigation into the theft and weapons found in the Haines pickup.