Sunday, January 06, 2013

Reported engine fire appears to be false alarm: Des Moines International Airport (KDSM), Iowa

A reported airplane engine fire at Des Moines' airport sent emergency crews to the scene Sunday afternoon, but no fire was seen.

The report came after an indicator light warned of a possible engine fire at approximately 3:15 p.m., said Ken McCoy, director of operations for Des Moines International Airport

The airport's fire department responded to the call, McCoy said, and no indication of a fire was found on the plane when they arrived. There were no injuries.

McCoy identified the plane as Allegiant Air flight 497, scheduled to depart for Las Vegas, Nev., at 1:45 p.m. according to the airport's website. The flight had 157 passengers and crew on board, McCoy said.

McCoy said the plane was on the taxiway at the time of the alarm, though he had no information on whether it was preparing to take off or was taxiing.

The airline and airport would run through their protocols to make sure the plane was safe for takeoff in the future, McCoy said.

There is currently no information available on plans for the passengers and whether they will be rerouted to their destination or another plane will fly to Des Moines to take them to Las Vegas, McCoy said.

McCoy was unable to comment on the frequency of alarms like this, as often problems with instruments are handled internally by the airlines themselves, he said.

Saskatchewan air ambulance ready to fly again

The Saskatchewan air ambulance that slid off the runway in Maple Creek in 2011 has been repaired.

The air ambulance that slid off the runway in Maple Creek in 2011 has been repaired and is once again ready to fly. 

 While the plane was being repaired, the Government of Saskatchewan lent one of their three executive aircrafts to the service. Now that the air ambulance is repaired, politicians can have their plane back.

However, going without one executive plane has saved the province money. Cabinet ministers took fewer flights in 2012, and the NDP are suggesting the government’s plane could remain in air ambulance service.

Across Saskatchewan, the demand for air ambulance service has increased sharply, even with the introduction of STARS. The number of government ambulance flights in southern Saskatchewan has actually increased by 15%.

The air ambulance slid off the runway in January 2011 after a wheel got caught in a ridge of snow while the plane was landing.

The plane was then shipped to Red Deer for repairs, which cost nearly $2 million and were covered by insurance.

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Ajit Singh to have final say on jet import

NEW DELHI: In yet another move to overrule the Prime Minister's office, the Ajit Singh-led aviation ministry has decided that the Jat leader will be the final approving authority for anyone wishing to import aircraft to India.

The aviation ministry used to have an empowered aircraft acquisition committee (AAC) headed by its additional secretary-cum-financial advisor that would clear requests from airlines, charter companies and private individuals to bring in aircraft. The empowered status of the AAC was withdrawn some months back and UPA's crucial alliance partner, Ajit Singh, was made the final approving authority. The PMO on October 30 had sent a letter to the aviation ministry, asking it to keep "in abeyance" its decision to give the Jat leader the final authority to clear the recommendations of the AAC. The letter stated that this structure could delay aircraft acquisition and bring in a license raj.

Sources close to Ajit Singh said he "did not even take cognizance" of the letter sent by a director of the PMO and aviation secretary K N Shrivastava took up the issue with the PMO. The ministry prevailed and issued an order — dated October 31 — that Singh will be the "approving authority" and AAC a "recommending authority" for aircraft acquisition requests by schedule airlines, regional airlines, charter companies and private individuals. The aviation secretary will be the approving authority for import requests by flying clubs; for extending initial import permissions and to replace aircraft when seating capacity of new planes is 10% more than the old ones.

This is the second time in six months when the aviation ministry has over-ruled the PMO. In July, it sacked director general of civil aviation Bharat Bhushan just after the PMO granted him an extension.

Aviation ministry officials say the decision to make the AAC empowered taken during the NDA rule was "bad in law". "The ministry clarified to the PMO that the final approval authority for importing aircraft is with the minister. Ajit Singh feels that low cost carriers which started in India were also meant to promote regional connectivity by connecting small towns to metros and have small planes to inter-connect small towns. In past few years, airlines have been allowed to import 100 plus aircraft and these airlines do not have small planes for regional connectivity. His aim to be the final approver was to ensure regional connectivity is not lost sight of while clearing airlines' request to bring in planes," a top official said.

Ajit Singh said: "Someone complained in the PMO that minister being final approving authority will mean delays. There is no question of that happening under me. Also, the decision to have the minister as approving authority was taken by my predecessor (Vayalar Ravi) in March 2011. There was no legal status for the AAC to be an empowered agency. I have spoken to the PM on this issue and it has been laid to rest."

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Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport (KIXA), Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina: Enjoys growth

Della Rose | The Daily Herald 
Andrew Roy, right, shares a conversation with Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport Manager Ralph Johnson and Aviation Safety Specialist Tom Freeman.

HALIFAX — Andrew Roy, manager of Pelican Packaging in Halifax, uses Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport at least a couple of times a week for business and pleasure, saying the airport helped make the decision to move the company from its Rocky Mount facility. 

“Our business was established,” Roy said.

He and his brothers live in Rocky Mount. When they needed to expand, they talked with several counties.

“But in talking with Halifax County, it was a no brainer where we should go,” he said.

Pelican Packaging has a single-engine four-seat Cyrrus. Roy’s personal aircraft is a Cessna 150. He said about 60 percent of his flying is personal, but from a business standpoint, time makes all the difference.

With the firm located less than five minutes from the airport, it saves him a lot of time doing business in other states.

“Doing business in Winchester, Va., takes five and a half hours to drive one way, but by plane, only 45 minutes,” he said. “So we can make a thing like that in less than a day.”

Roy said he can cover his customers’ concerns and still get in a half day of work in the Halifax facility. He also has customers come in to visit using the airport.

The increased use by Roy and other business people like him have helped the airport, which opened in 2009, reach new heights.


Airport Authority Chairman David King said the airport has shown steady growth in its use and ability to become self sustaining.

According to Airport Manager Ralph Johnson, the airport performed nearly 2,000 operations in 2012 — up from 1,726 in 2011, and sold more than 27,000 gallons of fuel — up from 23,000 in 2011. He said the airport is busy year round, with local and state training activities, group tours and an annual fly-in.

The Civil Air Patrol meets regularly at the airport, where they learn about aircraft and airports.

“We actually get them up and let them fly a plane,” Johnson said.

Johnson is proud to serve the airport, which he compares to an exit on the Interstate. He said having the airport makes the county more attractive for new business.

Eagle Home Medical owner Jeff Peedin uses the airport two to three times per month for business. He said frequently there is bad weather on his return flight and he has to use a manual approach to land.

“It is a vast improvement over the other facility we had,” he said, adding the improved instrument approach allows pilots to land in Halifax during bad weather where previously pilots would have made it for Rocky Mount. “An airport’s manual approach can make a huge difference in whether a pilot chooses to use an airport or goes on to the next. “This airport allows the pilot to get down to 400 feet. The better the approach, the more usable it is. There’s nothing bad I can say about the airport.”

There are 72 publicly owned airports in North Carolina according to an Institute for Transportation Research and Education study released through North Carolina State University called Economic Contribution of North Carolina Airports.

According to the study, Halifax-Northampton Regional produced $10,190,000 total output dollars. While the facility employs three, it provides for 30 jobs in the area. The study said it impacts $990,000 in payroll and brings in $377,000 total state and local taxes.


The $14.5 million facility is state of the art, according to King, and is in its final phase of construction with the addition of the Precision Instrument Approach lighting system scheduled for completion this year.

“It allows airplanes to land with a 200-foot ceiling and half-mile visibility,” he said. “It’s the lowest minimums of any airport in the country. Our technology will rival any general aviation airport in the nation.”

The airport also boasts a 5,500 feet runway that can accommodate private and corporate aircraft.

The modern terminal facilities include a spacious lobby and vending area, visitor information center, operations room, offices, conference room, pilot lounge, quiet room and other amenities found at larger airports.

All of the 18 T-Hangars are currently leased. The self-service fuel farm operates 24 hours a day, and offers Jet A and 100 LL fuels, corporate hangar facilities, a parallel taxi way and Approach Lighting System.

An Automated Weather Observing System offers minute-to-minute weather updates by VHF radio at 119.975 radio, and off-site users can call in for data.

Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott said the economy is rebounding and there is more air travel for business and pleasure. Also, users of airports are finding out about the facility and make it a stop along their way. Finally she said, people that were using other airports in the area are using Halifax-Northampton.

“Ralph Johnson does a great job in managing the airport and accommodating pilots and guests,” Scott said. “(The airport) is extremely important in our business recruitment efforts. We have had several companies visit us in their site selection process that fly in to the airport. We meet in the airport conference room, then go visit sites and various community assets, and they get back on their plane.”

King said people are traveling to the East Coast and stopping off for fuel even though they are not staying in the Roanoke Valley.

“The airport, as with any business, is beholden to the ebbs and flows of the national economy,” he said. “As the economy picks up steam, our business will pick up proportionately. I’m hopeful — not only for the airport, but also the local economy.”

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Colombian Navy helicopter crash kills one, injures five

BOGOTA, Jan. 6  -- A Colombian navy helicopter crashed into the waters on Sunday, leaving one dead and five others injured in the country's southwestern Narino region bordering Ecuador, Navy authorities said.

The accident occurred early Sunday morning when the helicopter Bell 212 was on a medical mission where it reported an emergency at a place known as Bajito Vaqueria in a rural area nearby Tumaco city.

The helicopter plunged into the waters, where sadly perished the marine John Jairo Ocoro.  Coastguard and naval aviation crew evacuated, taking the injured to a hospital in Tumaco, where they are being treated," said the Navy report.

Authorities are investigating into the cause of the crash.

Group has high-flying hopes for Corsair, and the ancient hangar it will call home

Andrew King, executive director of the Connecticut Air & Space Center in Stratford, discusses the planned renovation of the historic Curtiss hangar on Thursday, December 13, 2012. 
Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post

STRATFORD -- The long-neglected Curtiss hangar at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, which has seen the likes of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh, may yet have its best days ahead. 

The reason is the Corsair fighter plane that for three decades adorned the entrance to Sikorsky Memorial Airport might find the 84-year-old hangar as its next home.

The hopeful group of volunteers operating the Connecticut Air and Space Center, now busily restoring the Corsair and other aircraft, say that the Curtiss hangar, on the Main Street side of the airport, would make the perfect home for the center's planned aviation museum, which would include other displays on the state's contributions to powered flight.

The Curtiss hangar isn't much to look at. In fact, the city of Bridgeport, which owns the airport along with the old hangar, had expressed a desire to tear down the building several times over the years -- the wrecking ball stalled only by a failure to appropriate money for demolition.

But Andrew King, executive director of the center, says that the hangar only suffers from "gingerbread issues," and that aside from a new roof deck, the cracked brickwork and broken windows can be replaced without too much fuss.

"It's built on a steel frame, and an engineer told us that it's fine," King said, adding that the center will lease the hangar from the city for $1 per year.

The hangar, sometimes called Hangar No. 2, was the home of the Curtiss Flying School from 1929 until about 1935. After that, it was run by the Bridgeport Flight Service.

There were about 16 Curtiss Flying Schools around the nation, but only one other Curtiss hangar survives, in South Carolina, and King said it might be demolished soon.

"The hangar is part of the golden age of aviation," he said.

The hangar's restoration will become the centerpiece of a revival of the eastern end of the airport, neglected since the mid-1960s, supporters say.

"When people come and see the hangar here, they'll know that they'll be looking at a historic airport," King said. "Charles Lindbergh was here, Amelia Earhart was here. Igor Sikorsky. Howard Hughes."

Money is always a problem, he said. The entire project could run more than $1 million, although the building will be made weather tight for much less. Supporters are hoping for corporate and private donations to carry much of the load.

"The steel doors are really special," said Mark Corvino, the chief fabricator for the Corsair project. "They run on tracks, and the entire span can be opened up if need be."

The hangar took a beating from Superstorm Sandy, but Corvino said that it has actually worked to the group's advantage. The parts of the roof that blew off will actually save some money because there's less of it to strip off now.

The F4U Corsair is still across the street in the former Avco Lycoming Army Engine Plant. The wings, engine and a few other parts are in Building 53. The fuselage and the rest of the plane is in another building in the Avco complex that was used as a tool shed and storage.

During World War II, the plant was used by the Chance Vought Division of United Aircraft, and it was there that 3,250 Corsairs were built. Hundreds were churned out every month at the height of the war.

The Corsair has a special place in the state's aviation history because it was almost entirely produced here.

Named after the notorious sailing ships of the Barbary pirates, the F4U Corsair was the first U.S. fighter to fly faster than 400 mph. Deliveries began in July 1942. Although designed as a carrier-based fighter, it usually was based on the tiny inlands of the Pacific Theater because it was a difficult plane to land on a carrier deck owing to poor forward visibility. For that reason, it was more commonly flown by Marine, as opposed to Navy pilots.

Despite this handicap, it quickly became the fighter most feared by the Japanese, with a claimed kill ratio of 11 to 1.

By the end of World War II, it was used also as a fighter-bomber, and was key to the victories at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Marshall Islands.

Nearly the entire plane was built in Connecticut -- the airframe, the massive Pratt & Whitney 18-cylinder R-2800 radial engine, even the propeller.

After World War II, the Corsair saw service in Korea, and the French used Corsairs extensively in the Indochina War. Production ceased in 1955.

The Air and Space Center also is restoring about a dozen other aircraft. Its latest undertaking is a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter. It's an early variant, powered by a pair of P&W Twin Wasps, a newer version of the Corsair's power plant.

When the F4U was taken off its pedestal in 2008, those involved in the project said that they were eager to get the Corsair restored and back up on its concrete perch. But months of loving disassembly and restoration have made them question whether returning it to that spot, out in the salt air of the airport, would be wise. Hence, the need to restore the old hangar.

Today the Corsair is in pieces -- wings in one place, fuselage in another, engine in a third. It's covered in yellow primer. Soon it will be painted Navy blue, and it will eventually look like it did when Corsairs rolled out of the Chance Vought plant in the 1940s.

The group has had its setbacks, though. Bill Digney, of Fairfield, one of the older fabricators working on the Corsair, died on Nov. 18. And former state Sen. George "Doc" Gunther, a major supporter of the project, died in August.

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Kingfisher Airlines may lose international rights, slots

NEW DELHI: Kingfisher may theoretically have two years to restart operations but top aviation ministry sources say that unless the airline does so in the next month or two, it could well be the end of the road for it. For the airline's international flying rights—which remain in demand even when domestic traffic is dipping sharply—are going to be given to other Indian carriers, along with its airport slots, in the coming summer schedule if KFA shows no sign of life soon.

And then Kingfisher, which in its eagerness to start flying abroad before completing five years had bought Air Deccan to do so on its permit, will have to wait endlessly for foreign rights. "After that an airline will be able to get more foreign routes only when India and other countries enhance their bilateral flying. If Kingfisher has to start flying , it must do so in the coming weeks. Both state-run Airports Authority of India and private metro airports are also not going to reserve its slots, both domestic and international , forever," said a senior official.

Aviation authorities handling the Kingfisher crisis say they do not see any urgency among promoters to raise funds to restart flying. While the airline's license was expiring in the New Year, the management simply submitted an 'unsatisfactory' revival plan. Director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra had called the airline's VP Hitesh Patel on December 29 (a Saturday) to point out the various loopholes in the plan. The idea: the airline must have a working day (December 31, a Monday) to resubmit if it had anything concrete to offer.

"The airline management just gave an unsatisfactory plan and did not even bother to find out what our response to that was. We really wonder if they can raise funds and have any concrete plans to do so because of the dire condition the airline is in with a collective debt-cum-loss of over Rs 15,000 crore," said an official.

Sources indicate that the promoters wanted to somehow make the airline fly again so that they can sell it off. "Who is going to put in money in a grounded airline? Without putting funds, the management wanted us to give the nod to fly again and then get an investor. We have very clearly told them that get funds first either through an investor or through internal group funding, pay off employees and others and then fly," said an official.


Aviation authorities, which are handling the Kingfisher crisis, say they do not see any urgency in the promoters to raise funds. While the airline's licence was expiring in New Year, the management submitted an 'unsatisfactory' revival plan. Kingfisher, which in its eagerness to start flying abroad before completing five years had bought Air Deccan to do so on its permit, will have to wait endlessly for foreign rights. "Both state-run Airports Authority of India and private metro airports are also not going to reserve its slots, both domestic and international, forever," said a senior official.

Oklahoma insurance commissioner logging lots of time in state-owned planes

OKLAHOMA CITY - Insurance Commissioner John Doak has crisscrossed the state in state-owned aircraft on his mission to educate the public and reach out to constituents.

Doak is the top statewide elected official using state-owned aircraft, behind Gov. Mary Fallin. The costs billed to his agency are $3,462.

His predecessor, Kim Holland, did not use state-owned aircraft to travel, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Doak said he is the only insurance commissioner to visit each of the state's 77 counties each year.

He said the voices of people in Grove, Antlers and Woodward are just as important as those in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Fallin, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Doak are the only statewide elected officials to use state-owned aircraft.

Lamb used the aircraft on June 5 to travel to western Oklahoma. The cost was $2,264, according to DPS.

"The criteria for usage of state aircraft by the lieutenant governor include the availability of state aircraft, while maximizing his time on behalf of Oklahoma and striking the balance of safety, security and time efficiency," said Ashley Kehl, a Lamb spokesman.

Doak, who has been in office two years, said his use of state-owned aircraft is infrequent. He said he only uses the plane when it is available and when he travels to multiple counties.

Doak used state-owned aircraft in April to view damage caused by a tornado.

He said he didn't travel with Fallin because they were not on the same schedule.

Other trips included speaking engagements and meetings with chambers of commerce, local leaders, insurance agents and consumers.

Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, criticized Doak after the insurance commissioner purchased shotguns, body armor and police cars for his anti-fraud unit. Two Chevrolet Tahoe four-wheel-drive vehicles and five Dodge Chargers - all equipped with a "police equipment package" - cost a total of $170,960. The equipment was bought with money from the department's anti-fraud revolving fund, which comes from fines, settlements, fees and penalties.

Coates, a pilot, said Doak is trying to promote himself rather than serve as a regulator.

Doak disagreed with Coates' characterization.

"I am a statewide elected official, which is a job I take very seriously," Doak said. "I will continue to serve the people of Oklahoma and meet with them around the state."

Coates said there needs to be legislation specifying when statewide elected officials can use state aircraft.

Lt. George Brown, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said the state has seven Cessna-type planes, one King Air reserved for the governor and her staff, and two helicopters.

He said his agency does permit travel for statewide elected officials and agency heads.

He said the aircraft are used to promote the agency's mission to protect the public.

"At this point, it hasn't compromised the mission, but we don't want to get to that point," Brown said.

He said the agency has turned down one request by Doak because a pilot was not available.

Brown said Doak's office inquired about using the King Air but was told it was reserved for Fallin and her staff.

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Plane charters flying high for Elite Jets

Chartering a private plane may once have been an option available only to the affluent not too long ago, but rising disposable income and corporate profits are helping to boost demand for air charters as local charter operators and brokers look forward to a growing industry.

Captain Hani Salman Ahmad, better known in the aviation industry as Captain Salman, chief executive officer of local charter broker Elite Jets Sdn Bhd, said more people are looking at chartering flights for their convenience and to suit their own schedules.

He notes that business for Elite Jets has been growing rapidly since he founded the company three years ago.

Air charters were initially designed as an alternative to the high cost and continuing expenses of aircraft ownership. Chartering a private jet offers the same convenience, flexibility and luxury as owning a jet, but without the cost of owning and maintaining it.

The ownership of private planes was booming back in the 1990s and early 2000s. But in the aftermath of the global economic downturn, the industry suffered contraction and deliveries of private aircraft dropped by some 30% as companies cut their fleets and individual owners sold their jets.

This shifted the attention of executives from ownership to chartering. Nonetheless, the air charter business did not get much of a boost from this change as the industry was also badly hit by the economic crisis and has only recently shown smalls signs of recovery.

Various reports note that the private-jet industry is inching its way up and chartered flights should be able to enjoy steady, albeit slow, growth over the next five years.

A report by market researcher IBISWorld says that the charter-flights market in the US, one of the largest in the world, had been growing 0.7% annually to about US$15bil last year.

According to Salman, Malaysia is also riding the growth of the private-charter business.

Salman has been in the aviation industry for over 20 years as a private pilot. He started Elite Jets after receiving numerous queries from friends and acquaintances on how and where to charter planes.

Elite Jets is a charter broker, which means the company does not own any aircraft or lease any planes. Charter companies do not necessarily own planes as the cost of owning and maintaining planes is high. Most companies lease planes from aircraft owners.

“We don’t own any aircraft and we don’t usually fly the planes either. At this point in time, we are mainly doing brokerage whereby we help clients charter planes from the aircraft owners for a margin of about 7% to 15%,” Salman said.

Gaining altitude

With the economy picking up and growth still taking place in emerging-market caountries, Salman expects demand for air charters to continue growing this year.

In fact, he calls the corporate jet business an untapped gold mine.

“Year on year, we see good growth in the number of requests we get for air charters. Now, we get an average of 17 requests a day from around the region,” he said.

Elite Jets saw a total of 183 aircraft movements in 2011 which grew to 186 by December last year.

While the bulk of its business comes from overseas clients, Salman notes that domestic demand is also picking up fast. Currently, about 30% to 35% of its turnover comes from vibrant air charter markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore and about 15% from Indonesia.

According to Salman, a plane can clock a minimum of 400 hours of flight a year. At an average price of US$8,000 (RM24,100) per hour, an aircraft can generate a minimum annual income of US$3.2mil.

Currently, Elite Jets has about 30 aircraft at its disposal.

Reports note that private jets in the US average about 30 to 50 hours of flying time a month, which works out to about 360 to 600 hours a year, while an Indonesian charter firm claims to do 75 hours a month.

Aircraft chartering in Asia is clearly a growing business. According to CNBC, although still a relatively small private-jet market compared to the rest of the world, Asia is expected to account for 16% or US$40bil of total orders over the next 10 years.

In Malaysia, Elite Jets is one of the main players in charter brokerage.

Salman says the company’s advantage lies in its ability to provide a quick quotation for clients thanks to its established network with other charter providers.

Most of its business is derived from business and executive travel, but Salman adds that Elite Jets also caters a lot to VIP and leisure flights.

In short supply

As business takes off for plane charters and brokers, Salman notes that the main obstacle for growth is the lack of local-based aircraft that are available for charter services.

“While the prospects for plane charters and brokering are extremely good, there are not enough planes based in Subang that can be legally chartered out.

“Thus, we have to pay a ‘mobilizing fee’ to bring in aircraft from overseas for charter if the clients want to take the planes from here. And this means higher cost for clients and a longer waiting time for the aircraft to be brought in for use. This is the main issue we face in trying to meet the growing demand,” Salman said.

Although there are quite a number of planes parked in Skypark, Subang, he explained that most of them are privately owned aircraft and licensed exclusively for the use of the owner.

There are generally two categories of plane ownership: private ownership where the aircraft can only be used by the owner and cannot be chartered out; and public planes where the aircraft is purchased to be legally chartered out.

Despite the bright prospects of the air charter business, Salman laments that not many see the opportunities as business owners who can afford to purchase or lease planes are not tapping into the available demand. Elite Jets hopes to someday have its own fleet of aircraft to ensure availability of aircraft at the snap of a finger.

However, Salman said funding an aircraft is no easy task as reports note that some short-range planes can still cost about US$8mil to US$10mil, which is slightly more than half the prices they were going for at the pre-crisis peak.

“Being a pure broker on the other hand, we don’t need to carry the cost of plane ownership on our balance sheet. So we need to weigh it out and see if it is really a viable option for us to own aircraft,” Salman said.

Additionally, a report by US-based private jet charter brokerage, DukeJets, noted that the price of a private jet is only a small fraction of the operational costs of keeping and maintaining a private jet. There is also the cost of hiring and training pilots, hanger fees, fuel costs, ramp fees and so on, noting that the purchase “can be a money pitf like you never anticipated”.

For now, Salman is satisfied with growing Elite Jets’ brokerage business which is turning in impressive annual growth of more than 25%.

“We are growing and this is only the beginning. Things are going well for us. We definitely look forward to more business this year,” he said.

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Far East banks fly into aircraft leasing market as cost for airlines rises

Airlines and aircraft leasing companies will have to pay more to buy their planes in the year ahead, according to a report published today.

Orders for airplanes have hit record highs, but cash-strapped European banks are pulling out of the aircraft leasing market, a study by accountancy firm PwC said.

Lenders from China, Japan and the United States are filling the gaps in the market, but the financing costs for airlines and companies that lease aircraft are taking off, the report concluded.

Neil Hampson, PwC’s global head of aerospace and defence, said: “The industry is experiencing unprecedented levels of orders for aircraft that are more fuel efficient. Our research ­highlights that, whilst financing will be available, it will be at a higher price.

“As competition to secure financing intensifies, the question remains as to who will be picking up the cost.”

PwC financial services partner Shamshad Ali added: “There are a number of headwinds in the aircraft finance market that may make these orders more difficult to finance and more expensive.

“With the cloud of economic uncertainty still hovering around Europe, we are seeing banks there retreating from the market, and interest from Asian investors is increasing.

“We are already seeing banks from China and Japan snapping up aviation assets and we think this trend will only accelerate.”


Beechcraft H35 Bonanza, N375B: Fatal accident occurred January 04, 2013 in Palm Coast, Florida

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Hawker Beechcraft; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors, Inc; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Final Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA105 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 04, 2013 in Palm Coast, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/08/2014
Aircraft: BEECH H35, registration: N375B
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane departed under visual flight rules and was at an altitude of about 7,500 feet when the pilot reported vibrations and an “oil pressure problem.” Airports in the area were under instrument meteorological conditions with cloud ceilings of 900 to 1,000 feet above ground level (agl). An air traffic controller provided the pilot with radar vectors for an airport surveillance radar (ASR) approach to a nearby airport that did not have a published ASR procedure. The airplane was about 2.5 miles northwest of the airport, at an altitude of about 5,300 feet agl, when the pilot reported that the engine oil pressure was “zero” with “cool cylinders.” The controller did not obtain nor did the pilot provide any additional information about the engine’s power status. During the next approximately 7 minutes, the airplane continued past the airport to a point about 6.5 miles northeast before the controller vectored the airplane to the south and then west to the final approach course. The airplane subsequently struck trees and a residence about 3/4 mile from the approach end of the runway. A postcrash fire destroyed the airframe and engine. 

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the engine sustained a fractured No. 4 connecting rod due to oil starvation. The connecting rod punctured the crankcase, which resulted in a total loss of engine power. The crankshaft oil transfer passage at the No. 4 journal sustained mechanical damage during the accident sequence and contained displaced journal material. All other oil passages were unrestricted. The airplane’s maintenance logbooks were destroyed during the accident. Maintenance performed on the airplane about 1 month before the accident included the replacement of the Nos. 1 and 4 cylinders; however, it could not be determined if this maintenance played a role in the accident. The reason for the oil starvation could not be determined. 
Review of the air traffic control transcripts and interviews with the controllers revealed that they vectored the airplane such that it was unable to reach the airport. This was likely due to the weather conditions and the controllers’ incomplete understanding of the airplane’s mechanical condition (complete loss of power), which the pilot did not provide.

At the time of the accident, the pilot was using medication for hypertension and had well-controlled diabetes. It was unlikely that either condition significantly affected the pilot’s performance at the time of the accident. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

A total loss of engine power after the failure of the No. 4 connecting rod due to oil starvation, which resulted in a subsequent forced landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to clearly state that the aircraft had lost all power and the air traffic controllers’ incomplete understanding of the emergency, which resulted in the controllers vectoring the airplane too far from the airport to reach the runway.


On January 4, 2013, about 1419 eastern standard time, a Beechcraft H35, N375B, owned and operated by a private individual, experienced a loss of engine power while in cruise flight and was destroyed when it impacted a house, while on approach to the Flagler County Airport (XFL), Palm Coast, Florida. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an en route instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance was obtained for the flight, which departed Saint Lucie County International Airport (FPR), Fort Pierce, Florida, and was destined for Knoxville Downtown Island Airport (DKX), Knoxville, Tennessee. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The airplane arrived at FPR after flying from Stella Maris, Bahamas. The passengers cleared U.S. Customs about 1145. The airplane was subsequently refueled and departed for DKX under visual flight rules.

According to air traffic control information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted Daytona Approach control about 1407, and reported vibrations and an "oil pressure problem." The controller advised the pilot that the airports in the area were IFR with cloud ceilings of 900 to 1,000 feet above ground level. The pilot received radar vectors for an airport surveillance radar approach to runway 29 at XFL, which was about 8 miles north of the airplane's position. At 1411:06, the pilot reported that the engine oil pressure was "zero" with "cool cylinders." At that time, the airplane was flying at an altitude of 5,300 feet mean seal level (msl), and was located about 2.5 miles from the approach end of runway 11, at XFL. The airplane continued to be vectored to a point about 6.5 miles northeast of the airport and was provided headings to the south and then west, to the final approach course for runway 29. The airplane was subsequently cleared to land about 1416. Radar contact with the airplane was lost when the airplane was about 2 miles from the runway, at an altitude of 200 feet msl. At 1418:27, the pilot transmitted "…we need help; we're coming in with smoke." There were no further communications from the airplane.

The XFL airport director observed the airplane as it approached runway 29. He described the weather conditions as instrument meteorological conditions with a low ceiling and mist. He observed the airplane "break out" of the cloud layer, very low, just above the tree line. The airplane's wings were level as it descended and disappeared in the tree line.

Another witness, who was an airline transport pilot and flight instructor, reported that the airplane looked "slow" as it exited clouds, was in a nose high attitude, and appeared to "stall" prior to descending below the tree line, which was followed by smoke about 10 seconds later.


The pilot, age 58, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot's logbooks were not recovered. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on December 31, 2012. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 1,300 hours, which included 30 hours during the previous 6 months. The pilot reported 1,100 hours of total flight experience, with 50 hours during the previous 6 months, on an FAA medical certificate application dated February 4, 2010.


The four-seat, all-metal, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number D-5121, was manufactured in 1957. It was powered by a Continental Motors IO-470-C1, 250-horsepower engine and equipped with a Beech 278 propeller assembly. According to Beechcraft, the airplane was originally manufactured with a Continental Motors O-470-G series engine, which could be modified post manufacturer with a fuel injected engine per Beech Kit 35-648, "Engine Conversion to Fuel Injection on the Beech Model H35 Bonanza." No documentation for the engine that was installed on the accident airplane was found.

The airplane was found to have been modified with the addition of 15-gallon fiberglass wingtip fuel tanks, which would have included a wingtip tank fuel transfer pump mounted in each respective wing's wheel-well, to allow fuel to be transferred from each wingtip fuel tank, to its respective wing. There was no record of a supplemental type certificate for the installation of wingtip fuel tanks found in the airplane's FAA airworthiness file.

According to FAA records, the pilot purchased the airplane on May 30, 2008. 

The airplane's maintenance records were not located. According to an FAA inspector, it was reported that the pilot traveled with his personal logbook and the airplane's maintenance records onboard the airplane. Additional information obtained by the FAA inspector revealed that the engine's No. 1 and No. 4 cylinders were replaced due to low compression during early December 2012; however, no work orders or other associated documentation could be located. 

A friend of the pilot reported that he believed that the airplane's last annual inspection was performed around September-October 2012. He stated that he was not aware of any previous engine issues with the airplane, except for a small oil leak.

In a written statement, the lineman who refueled the airplane at FPR reported that he noticed "visible oil leaks" on the airplane's nose gear strut. In addition, after he informed the pilot of a fuel imbalance prior to refueling, the pilot informed the lineman that the airplane's right fuel pump was not working. 


The weather reported at XFL at 1350 was: wind 360 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 3 statute miles, ceiling 900 feet broken, 1,400 feet overcast, temperature 15 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 13 degrees C, and altimeter 30.22 in/hg. 


The following information, which contains excerpts of recorded communications, was obtained by an NTSB air traffic control specialist through interviews and review of communications and radar information obtained from the FAA: 

At 1349:34, the pilot contacted Daytona Beach approach control and reported that he was at 4,500 feet. Eight minutes later, the pilot requested a climb to 6,500 feet. The approach controller informed the pilot that they had received a pilot report (PIREP) reporting that the cloud tops were at 7,000 feet. The controller advised the pilot to maintain at or above 7,000 feet, and remain in VFR conditions. The pilot complied and climbed to 7,500 feet. 

At 1407:01, the pilot reported, "…we got a vibration in the prop, I need some help here." The approach controller informed the pilot that the closest airport was at his 12 to 1 o'clock position and 5 miles, and asked him if he was instrument flight rules (IFR) capable and equipped. The pilot stated, "I'm IFR, we're just getting a little vibration. We've got an oil pressure problem; we're going to have to drop quickly here." When asked to clarify the nature of the problem, the pilot stated, "…we got a propeller or something going, I'm backing it up here to see." 

According to the approach controller, Ormond Beach Airport, which was located approximately 6 miles to the southeast of the airplane's position, was considered briefly, however, because runway 8/26 was closed for construction and there had been a strong tailwind for runway 17, that airport was not an option. The approach controller subsequently cleared the flight to XFL, instructed the pilot to descend and maintain 2,000 feet.

About 1408, the approach controller instructed the pilot to continue his present heading, and informed him that he would get him as close as he could to the Flagler airport for a runway 29 approach. He advised the pilot that the weather ceiling at XFL was 900 feet, and that an instrument approach was necessary. The controller subsequently asked the pilot if he could accept an airport surveillance approach (ASR) into XFL and the pilot replied that he was "…lovely with that" (An ASR approach was a type of instrument approach wherein the air traffic controller issued instructions, for pilot compliance, based on an aircraft's position in relation to the final approach course, and the distance from the end of the runway as displayed on the controller's radar scope). 

Flagler County Airport did not have a published ASR approach. The controllers determined that to best handle the emergency it was necessary to offer the pilot an unpublished ASR approach to runway 29 at XFL using area navigation (RNAV) approach minimums. This determination was based on the information obtained from the pilot, and the need for the pilot to conduct an instrument approach into the airport due to the IFR weather conditions. 

At 1409, the pilot checked in with the arrival controller and reported he was at 7,000 feet descending to 2,000 feet. The arrival controller instructed the pilot to descend and maintain 3,000 feet, and to turn right to a heading of 060 degrees. According to the arrival controller, he assigned the airplane 3,000 feet because he wanted to ensure the airplane was high enough to remain clear of an antenna that was located northwest of XFL.

About 1410, the controller advised the pilot to expect an ASR approach to runway 29 at XFL.

At 1411:06, the pilot reported, "…we got zero oil pressure, but we've got cool cylinder head temperature." The controller acknowledged the pilot's transmission and instructed the pilot to turn right to a heading of 090 degrees and to descend and maintain 2,000 feet.

At 1411:47, the controller informed the pilot that he would provide guidance along the RNAV runway 29 approach and that the straight in minimum descent altitude (MDA) was 560 feet. 

At 1413:46, the controller instructed the pilot to turn right to a heading of 180 degrees and advised that the airplane was about 6 miles east-northeast of XFL on " a base leg for about a four and one-half to five mile final." The pilot acknowledged the turn and said "…we're starting to see some ground here." 

At 1414:27, the controller instructed the pilot to descend to 1,600 feet and to turn right, to a heading of 200 degrees.

At 1415:01, the controller informed the pilot that the airplane 5 miles southeast of XFL. About 35 seconds later, the controller provided the pilot turns to intercept the final approach course and informed the pilot that he was 4 miles straight in for runway 29, which the pilot acknowledged.

About 1416, the controller informed the pilot that the airplane was three miles from the runway, asked him to advise when he had the airport in sight, and cleared the airplane to land on runway 29.

At 1417:25, the controller told the pilot that the airplane was below radar coverage, instructed him to contact the XFL tower, and provided missed approach instructions, "if you don't have the airport in sight, climb straight ahead to 2,000 [feet]."

At 1417:59, the pilot transmitted, "…do you read me?" The controller immediately responded that he had him loud and clear and asked the pilot if he had the airport in sight at his 12 o'clock and a mile. The pilot did not respond.

At 1418:27, the pilot transmitted, "…we need help; we're coming in with smoke." The arrival controller informed the pilot that Flagler Tower was waiting for him, and that he was cleared to land.

At 1418:55, the XFL tower controller called the arrival controller and informed him that the airplane did not make it to the airport.

Federal Aviation Administration order 7110.65, "Air Traffic Control," provides guidance and instruction to air traffic controllers when an emergency situation exist or is imminent. Paragraphs 10-1-1, 10-1-2, and 10-2-5 stated in part:

10-1-1: Emergency Determinations...Because of the infinite variety of possible emergency situations, specific procedures cannot be prescribed. However, when you believe an emergency exists or is imminent, select and pursue a course of action which appears to be most appropriate under the circumstances and which most nearly conforms to the instructions in this manual.

10-1-2: Obtaining Information…Obtain enough information to handle the emergency intelligently. Base your decision as to what type of assistance is needed on information and requests received from the pilot because he/she is authorized by 14 CFR Part 91 to determine a course of action.

10-2-5: Emergency Situations…Consider that an aircraft emergency exists…when any of the following exist: 
a. An emergency is declared by either: 
1. The pilot.
2. Facility personnel. 
3. Officials responsible for the operation of the aircraft. 

[For additional information, please see the NTSB Air Traffic Control Group Factual Report located in the Public Docket.]


The airplane impacted trees and a residence about 3/4 mile from the approach end of runway 29, slightly left of the extended centerline. The initial impact point (IIP) was identified as a pine tree that was about 60 feet tall and contained broken limbs about 30 to 35 feet above ground level. Various components of wreckage extended from the IIP, on a heading of 288 degrees magnetic for 50 feet. The remainder of the airplane impacted the roof of a detached single family home and a large fire ensued, which destroyed most of the airplane and dwelling.

The airplane's left outboard wing, with about one-half of the corresponding aileron attached, displayed evidence of a tree strike and was found at the base of a tree located about 60 feet from the back of the house. The inbound portion of the left aileron was observed near the right wing, which was inverted and located along the back of the house. The empennage came to rest inverted on the backside edge of the roof alongside of a section of the right wing inboard leading edge. Other remains of the fuselage and left wing were found inside the house. Examination of the airplane's flight control cables did not reveal evidence of any preimpact failures. The right flap actuator remained intact and was observed in a flap retracted position. The landing gear actuator was not observed and the preaccident position of the landing gear could not be confirmed.

The engine was found inverted on the floor of the house. It sustained a significant amount of thermal and impact damage, which destroyed all accessories, with the exception of the propeller governor, which was intact, but fired damaged. A large hole was observed in the crankcase, which contained a portion of the No. 4 connecting rod. The engine was forwarded to Continental Motors Inc., Mobile, Alabama, for further examination.

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange. The spinner was dented and did not display spiral dents. Both propeller blades displayed light chordwise scratches. The outboard section of one propeller blade was missing about 4 to 6 inches of its tip. The propeller blade was cut inboard of the missing section and forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, DC, for further examination. 

Subsequent teardown of the engine under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge revealed that the crankshaft exhibited lubrication distress, thermal damage, and mechanical damage at the No. 4 connecting rod journal. The crankshaft oil transfer passage at the No. 4 journal sustained mechanical damage and contained displaced journal material. The remaining crankshaft oil transfer passages were unrestricted. Only fragments of the No. 4 connection rod bearing were recovered and they displayed lubrication and thermal distress. In addition, the number No.4 connecting rod was fractured at the base of the I-beam and exhibited extreme thermal and mechanical damage consistent with a loss of lubrication. The oil galleys and passages in the left and right crankcase halves were intact, clear, and unrestricted. 

Subsequent examination of sectioned propeller blade by an NTSB metallurgist revealed that it exhibited extensive evidence of exposure to elevated temperatures that approached the melting point of the blade. This included complete removal of the paint, a thick oxide skin, and internal slumping of the blade material. The blade fracture surface exhibited characteristics consistent with separation while at elevated temperatures. The blade also showed a gradual deformation toward the camber side adjacent to the fracture. The deformation was accompanied by transverse cracking and stretching of the oxide layer on the flat side of the blade indicating deformation after or during high temperature exposure.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Medical Examiner, District 23, St. Augustine, Florida. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as "multiple blunt force injures." 

Toxicological testing performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was positive for the following:

"Atenolol detected in Liver
Atenolol detected in Blood (Heart)
1949 (mg/dl) Glucose detected in Urine
149 (mg/dl) Glucose detected in Vitreous
7 (%) Hemoglobin A1C detected in Blood"

Review of the pilot's most recent FAA medical examination application (dated December 31, 2012) revealed "No" was selected to the question "Do you currently use any medication (Prescription or Nonprescription)."

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA105 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 04, 2013 in Palm Coast, FL
Aircraft: BEECH H35, registration: N375B
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 4, 2013 at 1419 eastern standard time, a Beechcraft H35, N375B, was destroyed when it impacted a house during a forced landing in Palm Coast, Florida. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Saint Lucie County International Airport (FPR), Fort Pierce, Florida, and was destined for Knoxville Downtown Island Airport (DKX), Knoxville, Tennessee. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary air traffic control voice communication information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted Daytona Approach control, and reported vibrations in the propeller and engine. The FAA Daytona Approach controller advised the pilot that the airports in the area were instrument flight rules with cloud ceilings of 900 to 1000 feet above ground level. The pilot received radar vectors for an airport surveillance radar (ASR) approach to guide him to runway 29 at Flagler County Airport (XFL), Palm Coast, Florida. The ASR was not a published approach, however the pilot did hold an instrument rating. Several minutes later, the pilot reported that the engine oil pressure was zero with "cool cylinders." Radar vectors from Daytona Approach continued and the pilot was cleared to land. At 2 miles from runway 29, no further transmissions from the airplane were received.

According to witnesses, the airplane was visually observed on final approach at an unusually low altitude. About 1 mile from the approach end of runway 29, the witnesses lost sight of the airplane behind tall pine trees.

The accident site was located about 4,200 feet southeast of XFL. The initial impact point (IIP) was identified as a tree with broken limbs, with various components of wreckage extending from that point on a heading of 288 degrees magnetic for 50 feet. Following the IIP, the majority of the airplane impacted the roof of a detached single family home and a large fire ensued, which destroyed most of the airplane and dwelling.

The airplane wreckage was moved to a nearby storage facility for examination. An engine examination will be conducted at the manufacturer’s facility at a later date.

Dozens of neighbors gathered and sang songs and shared prayers at the vigil.

Neighbors surrounding the site of a plane crash organized a vigil to remember the three people killed Friday.

A woman, inside the home at the time, escaped by climbing out a window to safety.

A neighbor reflected on just how close his own home came to disaster.

He lives right behind the home that was damaged and said if the plane would have nosedived a few hundred feet that way, the plane would have crashed into his house.

The vigil was planned by those neighbors.

It was held outside the crash site around 6 p.m.

Organizers said they will be remembering the three victims:

  • 57-year-old Michael Anders, from Kentucky
  • 59-year-old Duane Shaw, from Kentucky
  • 42-year-old Charissee Peoples, from Indiana
Dozens gathered to sing songs and share prayers. Neighbors are glad the woman who lives in the home, Susan Crockett, made it out safely without a scratch.

“My wife and neighbors and everything are just shaking our heads and blessed that it wasn’t us. I feel for the people who lost their lives in the plane crash. I just don’t know what to say,” said neighbor Tom Arnold.

Investigators said a preliminary report about why the plane crashed will be released later this month.
Earlier Sunday, Crockett's church came together to help her. It was there, at Mt Calvary Baptist Church, friends said her survival was a miracle.

They also pulled out their checkbooks to help.

The plane crash set her house on fire, gutting everything inside.

A 911 call shows she was on the phone with her daughter during the moment of impact.

911 Operator: What's going on over there?

Daughter: I was on the phone with my mom and she says a plane crashed into her house.

911 Operator: Into her house?

Daughter: Yeah. I was on the phone with and the phone got really fuzzy. And she said call 911, a plane crashed into the house.

Crockett was rushed to the hospital, but was treated and released.

At church, Crockett felt healthy enough to join her fellow choir members.

“Say what you want, but this is a miracle. She may not want our praise, but we will. Thank you Jesus,” said Pastor Edwin Coffie. Crockett, a Sunday school teacher, lost everything from clothes, appliances, to food and a bed to sleep on.

Right now, she is staying in a hotel.

The congregation was called upon to help and they acted with pen in hand.

“So here's what we're going to do today for her, show her our benevolence for sister Susan, we're going pull out our checkbooks,” said Pastor Coffie.

The response was so overwhelming it brought Crockett to tears.

Pastor Coffie announced the church will also set up a bank account so people outside the church can donate.

Flight carrying former finance minister diverted to Kolkata

KOLKATA: An Air India flight carrying 166 passengers, including former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, from Delhi to Ranchi was diverted to Kolkata on Sunday evening following thick fog cover over the Jharkhand capital.

The flight hovered over Ranchi and then travelled to Kolkata when the weather showed no signs of improvement. It landed at the NSCBI Airport at 4.30pm. While 38 passengers chose to return to Delhi in a flight that left Kolkata at 6.30pm, the rest, including Sinha, decided to travel by road. While Air India arranged two Volvo coaches for the journey, state police deputed two armed security guards in each bus on Sinha's request.

The buses had to journey through Jangalmahal area in West Bengal and Jharkhand where Maoist rebels, though depleted, are still active.

Recently, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's flight to Patna had similarly been diverted to Kolkata due to bad weather and he had then taken a train to the Bihar capital.

Seaplane connection to Munnar faces obstacles

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The seaplane project might have to drop one location from its priority circuit as an 11kV power line runs across the Mattupetty dam in Munnar. The Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited has requested power distributor M/s Tata Tea Ltd to decommission the line and locate it elsewhere.

"We received communication from the government asking if we could relocate the power line as it is a hindrance to the landing and take-off of the seaplane. It crosses a side of the dam near the Echo Point.

Electrical lines are usually drawn from the shortest distance. So the economics of the new location need to be studied. We have asked our engineers to work on the request. However, we have only received a letter, no official from the local KSEB office has visited us yet. The power lines supply electricity to Kerala Livestock Development Board, so it needs proper study," said C Sreekumar, PRO, Tata Tea.

Munnar's climate is also a matter of concern, "Operators are likely to opt for a single engine aircraft. They have to take a call on operating in Munnar's foggy climate," said a source from the tourism department.

The project is on track at the other five locations, such as Astamudi, Punnamada, Kumarakon, Bolgatty and Bekal. According to sources, five seaplane operators have shown interest to avail the early bird incentive which ends on January 31.

The KTIL is going ahead with the fabrication of the floating boat jetty at five locations. However, the one at Bolgatty is likely to be located around 24 nautical mile north of KTDC's Bolgatty Palace so as to avoid the Cochin Port Trust's shipping channel. Also, it has been decided that the passengers would be transferred via speed boat (owned or rented by seaplane/hotel operators) to a houseboat which will be berthed alongside the floating jetty, which will act as a holding and final frisking area. The seaplane operators are likely to be invited to conduct test flights before mid-2013.


Father and son team learning to fly

Flight instructor Chris Jones, left, is helping student Chris and Mike Cincio earn their wings.

PELHAM - More than a decade ago, Chris Cincio brought his young children to Niagara Central Airport for a ride in Bruce MacRitchie's vintage T-28 Trojan fighter plane. 

Chris, a Niagara Regional Police officer and Welland resident, said he's always wanted to learn to fly.

And the chance to fly in the restored 1950s plane was an experience he never forgot.

On July 30 last summer, he was riding through the countryside aboard his Harley Davidson motorcycle with his now 14-year-old son Mike when they once again found themselves at that same airport.

He asked Mike if he'd like to go for an introductory flight lesson, and Mike eagerly nodded his head.

They haven't looked back – or down – since.

“As soon as you get up there it's like a whole different world,” Chris said.

They've been learning to fly with Chris Jones, an instructor at the Welland Aero Center at the Niagara Central Airport.

Despite losing his contract to operate his flight school in the main airport building at the end of October, unable to negotiate a new agreement with the airport commission, MacRitchie, the Welland Aero Center owner, has continued to honor his commitment to his students including Chris and Mike, working from within his personal hanger at the airport.

MacRitchie said he's always believed that by teaching people to fly, he's helping to make their dreams come true.

“Frankly, if it wasn't for the fact that we hung in there, that dream wouldn't be coming true for this young man,” he added. “He's totally committed to it.”

In his six years of teaching prospective pilots, Jones said Chris and Mike are the first father and son team he's taught together.

“These guys are both great students,” Jones said.

Jones said there's a bit of friendly rivalry between his two students.

If that's the case, Chris said his son is winning.

He flew his first solo flight on Dec. 23, something he has yet to do.

Although Jones has had 14 year old students before, Mike is his first student of that age to fly solo.

Although prospective pilots can begin flight training at 14, Mike said he has to wait until he's 16 to get his recreational pilot's license and 17 for his full private pilot's licence.

But being at the controls of an airplane, and then returning to the life of a normal 14 year old has been a little challenging for the Grade 9 Notre Dame student.

Chris recalled driving home in his car after a day spent in the air a few months ago.

“It was really turbulent upstairs and we were tossed around all over the place,” he said. “After flying the aircraft, driving (the car) was nice and steady,” Chris recalled. “I turned to Mike and said, 'It's kind of different driving nice and smooth like this. He turned to me and said, 'I wouldn't know. They don't let me drive a car.'”

But it's probably better to wait a few years before he starts driving cars, anyway.

“As Bruce MacRitchie says, It's safer flying because there's not as many crazy people flying out there,” Chris said.

Learning to fly may also be helping Mike academically, his father speculated.

“He's learning about physics and chemistry. He's learning about biology and the effects on a pilot while flying,” he said.

“That's priming him up, and the more he works here in ground school and the tests he's writing, his marks in school have gone up.”

Story, photo, reaction/comments:

Big Bear City (L35), California: Airport district sets board meeting

The Big Bear Airport District board of directors meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the Big Bear City Airport terminal.

Items on the agenda include a reorganization of committees, discussion and possible amendment of board meeting time, discussion and possibly recommendation of a date for the next Big Bear Airport Air Fair, and reportable action on real property negotiations for Units 1, 2 and 4 of the terminal building.

The Big Bear City Airport is at 501 Valley Blvd., Big Bear City.