Friday, January 11, 2013

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II, RP-C4431: Examiner who cleared Robredo pilot suspended

MANILA, Philippines—The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has suspended one of its flight examiners who allegedly faked a report that said he had conducted a proficiency check ride on the pilot of the doomed plane carrying Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III issued the 90-day preventive suspension order against Nomer Lazaro, who claimed to have tested the capability of Capt. Jessup Bahinting prior to the renewal of his pilot license in May 2012.

Bahinting was at the controls of the Piper Seneca plane on Aug. 18, 2012, that crashed and sank off the waters of Masbate. Bahinting, Roberdo and student pilot Kshitiz Chand died in the crash.

Criminal, administrative liabilities

During the preventive suspension, the investigation of Lazaro’s actions that might indicate criminal and administrative liabilities would proceed, according to CAAP Deputy Director General John Andrews.

“An actual proficiency check ride is mandatory prior to the renewal of a pilot’s license. This is to test a pilot’s capabilities. Sadly our team has come across evidence that Captain Bahinting was able to skip the process with the unlawful cooperation of CAAP’s own personnel,” Andrews said in a statement.

The suspension order cited a certificate issued by Mactan Flight Service Station stating that no flight plan had been filed for the purpose of conducting a check ride or test flight for Bahinting. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority has also certified that no landing and take-off fees were paid by Aviatour’s Flyin’ Inc., Bahinting’s company, for such a proficiency check ride.

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Ely Airport/Yelland Field (KELY), Ely, Nevada: White Pine County Commission votes to hire new Airport Manager

The White Pine County Commission voted to hire Steven Stork as the new Airport Manager Wednesday morning. 

The Commission interviewed three candidates: Robert Walker, Timothy Parish and Stork.

Burlington International (KBTV), Vermont: Planning committee discusses airport future

SOUTH BURLINGTON — The Airport Strategic Planning Committee, created last summer at the behest of Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, met Thursday at the airport to continue its discussion of how best to govern and manage the airport.

The committee is co-chaired by Burlington City Councilor Karen Paul, I-Ward 6, and interim Chief Administrative Officer Paul Sisson. It includes representatives from the business community as well as officials from South Burlington and Winooski.

Thursday, the Committee heard a presentation on the strengths and weaknesses of different governing models for the airport: maintaining the status quo, a city-managed facility with a weak commission; moving to a strong commission style; creating a regional airport authority; or privatizing the management.

Managing Director Adam Whiteman of Frasca & Associates, a transportation consultant and financial advisory firm from New York City, made no recommendation.

The committee will study his report in the coming weeks, as it begins to refine its goals and a time line for any changes it might ultimately recommend. To committee member Jane Knodell, the main issue for the committee is to determine “what structure would maximize the airport as an economic development tool.”

Interim airport head Gene Richards said the committee’s work is “an historical opportunity for the airport. We do need to make changes,” he said, “or history, and the mistakes that were made, will repeat itself. (The airport) needs to be insulated from what could happen again.”

The airport, with 1,600 jobs, has an annual payroll of $56 million, and Steven Baldwin Associates of Albany, N.Y., which studied its finances and management structure and presented its findings in May, said the airport is indirectly responsible for another 10,250 jobs. The firm estimates the airport’s total economic impact annually at close to $1 billion.

“Practically speaking,” that report stated, “Burlington International Airport is the state’s only commercial service airport and plays a vitally important role in the state’s overall economy and transportation network.”

Baldwin recommended the city explore creating a regional airport authority to replace the current municipal management system, but Weinberger said he is waiting for recommendations on governance to emerge from the planning committee’s findings later this year. He said he is unconvinced the airport’s well-documented financial problems of recent years — including a junk-bond-level credit rating — are attributable to the city’s control of the airport.

Thursday, Tamara Gagne, the airport’s director of finance and administration, released a report showing December “enplanements were down 14.6% leaving the airport down by 3.79% for the calendar year.” The total enplanements for 2012 totaled 623,604, down from 648,195 in 2011 and the 2008 mark of 759,021.

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, South Burlington City Council Chairwoman Rosanne Greco said she was displeased that as the committee deliberations began, neither South Burlington (which has one member on the five-person Airport Commission) or Winooski were not initially given voting seats on the committee.

South Burlington City Manager Sandy Miller told the Burlington Free Press that “we were originally invited to the meetings without a vote, but Mayor Weinberger and Burlington City Council amended their resolution to give South Burlington and Winooski a voting seat.”

Miller said he has attended meetings throughout the fall and has “found everyone on the Committee receptive to the ideas of others. ... The process is moving forward as we gather and discuss information related to the Committee charge,” Miller said.

Greco said South Burlington welcomed Weinberger’s invitation to participate in the meeting but said it was disconcerting to have to ask to have a vote. She said that at one meeting Miller couldn’t attend, committee co-chair Paul questioned the appropriateness of Deputy City Manager Bob Rusten sitting at the table.

She said South Burlington needs representation beyond a single vote on the committee, given the possible importance of the committee’s recommendations and the impact airport operations have on the city.

“South Burlington needs a say in future plans for the airport,” Greco said, “a pretty robust say.”

O’Brien said that is true as well for Winooski. “Winooski has a big interest in the operation of the airport,” he said.

She said that while Weinberger seems to “want to include us,” in practice the committee, while not “consciously excluding us ... (is) going back to the old ways of doing business.”

She said that while Mayor Michael O’Brien of Winooski has a vote, no elected official from South Burlington does. Rather, the vote was given specifically to Miller, who “doesn’t do policy, but administration. I’m trying to understand it,” she said.

She noted that a legal dispute between Burlington and South Burlington in a lawsuit brought by Burlington and Heritage Aviation on South Burlington’s tax assessment for the airport remains unresolved.

Greco said the airport has a continuous effect on South Burlington’s tax revenues, its quality of life (through its immediate effect on adjoining neighborhoods buffeted by airport noise) and an impact on numerous aspects of city services.

“We ought to be represented,” she said of the committee. “One voice is not sufficient.”

The committee’s next meeting is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the airport.

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Eastern Oregon Regional (KPDT), Pendleton, Oregon: Airport struggles with large debt, personnel changes

Despite a change in management and a $2.39 million debt to other city funds, City Manager Robb Corbett said Eastern Oregon Regional Airport’s woes remain fixable.

The airport is looking for ways to ease its financial problems without the benefit of a full-time airport manager. Former manager Larry Dalrymple retired Dec. 31 and Wayne Green has since started working part-time as interim manager. Green still retains his job as associate city engineer.

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E. Ore. regional airport bears down on weeds 

 The Pendleton airport is spraying to prevent weeds on the runways instead of waiting to kill them once they've sprung up.

The East Oregonian reports ( weeds are a problem the city is addressing at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport, where there's a $2.4 million debt to other city funds and a change of management under way.

City Manager Robb Corbett told the airport commission Thursday the airport's problems are fixable.

Airport secretary Patti Johlke said the Federal Aviation Administration in 2011 admonished the airport about weeds, and they were quickly removed. But, she said, the airport has to spray to prevent them.

The worker who did daily runway inspections retired last week. Corbett said he's working to replace him, and someone from another department may do the spraying.
Information from: East Oregonian,

Video: "Robinson R22 nearly hits my friend!!!!" (United Kingdom)

Adams Electric to begin helicopter patrols to assess Sandy damage

Adams Electric will begin its 2013 aerial inspections Monday by patrolling critical overhead distribution lines and equipment, including lines in the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy last fall, according to a news release from the company.

The patrols are scheduled to begin on Monday morning, Jan. 14, in the Shippensburg area and then proceed to the Gettysburg area and then to the York area.

The company said that this year, critical overhead lines that feed power to the co-op’s substations and metering points in Adams Electric’s Gettysburg, Shippensburg and York districts will be inspected. In addition, all overhead lines and equipment will be inspected in the co-op’s York District. Special attention will also be given to areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy last fall. Those areas include sections above the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Lower Cumberland County and Upper Franklin County and the Fairfield/Carroll Valley area in Adams County.

The inspections are expected to last a week or 10 days. The extra patrols are scheduled to spot damage caused by Sandy that might go unnoticed to a ground inspection team, according to Marvin Snyder, manager of operations.

The cooperative has contracted with Pine Bottom Aviation of Martinsburg, Pa., to conduct the inspections. The inspections will begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. each day, weather permitting. Adams Electric linemen and a pilot will fly for about six hours each day.

The co-op has conducted aerial inspections every year since 1996. The crew will try to avoid flying over congested areas and hovering over agricultural operations. As always, employees, contractors and the public are encouraged to keep an eye on the lines and equipment and report any problems immediately by calling toll-free 888-232-6732.

Adams Electric Cooperative provides electric service to nearly 32,000 active member-accounts in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, Perry and York counties.


Frontier Airlines ending daily flights out of Dayton, Ohio

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - Frontier Airlines is ending service out of Dayton at the end of May, 2013.

The carrier will leave the market on May 31, according to an article published by The Dayton Business Journal Jan. 11.

Frontier did not comment, but airport officials said they were told the decision was made because of the entry of  Southwest Airlines into the market. 

Southwest began flying out of Dayton last summer.

Frontier was the sixth-busiest airline at the Dayton International Airport.

Delta is the busiest airline flying out of Dayton.

Regional jet lands safely after blowing a tire: McGhee Tyson Airport (KTYS), Knoxville, Tennessee

ALCOA (WATE) - A regional jet landed safely at McGhee Tyson Airport Friday afternoon. 

 The U.S. Airways Express jet reportedly blew a tire prior to landing.

Airport workers had the plane fly past the airport several times to assess the damage before it landed.

At the time of the landing, 49 passengers were on board.

Story and Reaction/Comments:    http://www.wate.comALCOA 

The U.S. Airways plane landed safely at McGhee Tyson Airport around 2:00 pm. 

 Flight #2467 was enroute from Charlotte to Tallahassee, but was diverted to Knoxville after the pilot declared an emergency.

All the passengers were taken off the plane safely.

Previous story:  McGhee Tyson Airport has declared an Alert 2 emergency, as a plane approaches the airport with a blown tire.

Blount County and airport emergency crews are on standby at the airport, in case the plane has problems landing.  Dispatchers say there are 49 people on board.  We do not know the type of plane, the airline, or where the plane was flying from or to.

An Alert Two means an aircraft is experiencing a possible major problem, such as faulty landing gear or hydraulic failure.  Emergency vehicles are put on standby on the airfield and at the security gates.   This does not necessarily mean the plane will have difficulty landing, but crews have to be prepared, just in case. 

Aviation director calls 2012 'noneventful' at Abilene Regional Airport (KABI), Texas

The American Airlines bankruptcy, a new air traffic control tower and two restaurant closings and one opening left marks on Abilene Regional Airport last year. But Aviation Director Don Green thought differently about the year.

"It (was) a pretty non-eventful year for us," Green said Thursday.

The airport saw 80,435 passengers board planes, a 7 percent decrease in departures compared to 2011, when there were 86,591.

Green said a 7 percent spike in departures occurred in 2011 because of the numerous area wildfires brought firefighters and other first-responders through the airport.

"I did not predict any growth" for 2012, Green said.

Compared to 2010 numbers however, the airport's departures increased by about 600 passengers; 79,879 passengers in 2010.

There were 80,304 arrivals in 2012.


Business at the airport, served by American Eagle, has been largely unaffected by Fort Worth-based AMR Corp.'s 14 months of bankruptcy. In fact, Green said, the airport is gaining an additional afternoon flight.

An eighth flight connecting Abilene and Dallas Fort Worth International will start Feb. 14.

"The bankruptcy has been very interior to the company which is their goal as it is any company's goal," Green said. However, "there is talk that American Airlines will merge with US Airways," after the bankruptcy.

AMR Corp. filed bankruptcy in November 2011 after years of financial losses. American Eagle is a regional airline for AMR Corp. in Texas.

Representatives from AMR Corp. and US Airways are considering a merger, The Economist reported. AMR CEO Tom Horton said a decision on the possible merger could be made in "a matter of weeks."

A merger wouldn't pose a threat to jobs or flights at Abilene Regional, Green said.

"I think we will always have American Airlines-related service to DFW," he said.


A 145-foot-tall air traffic control tower opened in May. The tower, costing about $21 million, replaced a tower that dated to the 1950s.

"It was quite an improvement from a facility standpoint," Green said, "but most of all the new tower's height is twice as high as the old tower."

The old tower, which remains but is vacant, stands 65 feet.

With the old tower, Green said, "Controllers would lose sight of aircraft taxing in some places on the airport and that's not a good thing when you're supposed to be maintaining control of those aircraft."


Moose's Snack Shack and Cafe has opened in the terminal. Previously, a "lack of customers" complaint was given by Sherry Brown, owner of Sweet Celebrations, Too, at the airport.

Merry McKenna opened Moose's in November after Brown closed her restaurant in August. Sweet Celebrations, Too followed Ann's Airport Cafe, which closed in February.

"I think she's doing well," Green said of McKenna. He did not know how many customers frequented the restaurant daily.

"She seems to have all the wheels turning where we just always thought in the previous (restaurants), 'Oh, there's just something missing here,'" he said.

Asheville Regional (KAVL), North Carolina: Airport seeking data from corporations

The Asheville Regional Airport is requesting assistance from corporations in the region to gather information so the airport can share that data with airliners for new, non-stop commercial air service.

"We want a realistic view of what corporation travel looks like in Western North Carolina," said Tina Kinsey, director of Air Service Development for the airport. 

Airport officials are looking for recent travel patterns, including destination and budget information.

"It's important for airports to frequently monitor the travel needs of regional businesses, and make sure that air service is a reflection of their needs," said Andrew Tate, executive director of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development. 

"Our job here at the airport is to advocate and be a liaison to help airlines know our market so they can make good use of their resources," Kinsey added.

Norfolk-built biplane ready for take-off in Germany – but grounded by UK red tape

A Norfolk aircraft manufacturer’s latest innovation has helped unlock new markets in Germany – but frustrations remain that the finished product is still grounded in the UK because of red tape. 


The Light Aircraft Company (TLAC), based at Little Snoring Airfield near Fakenham, produces the Sherwood Ranger aircraft, which has been sold in kit form to customers all over the world. 

After a year of development work, the firm has recently finished testing a ballistic parachute recovery system which can bring both plane and pilot safely to earth in the event of an emergency.

The system was designed to meet the regulations required to sell the microlight model as a fully-built aircraft in Germany.

But the current certification regime run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will not allow the same model to be sold as a completed biplane in the UK.

Director Paul Hendry-Smith said: “It is absolutely crazy. We are getting to the point where we can manufacture finished aircraft, ready to fly, for German customers, but we cannot sell them in the UK.

“We are employing more British labour and more British skills and components, and we are in a position where we can export British-built planes – which is what I thought the whole game was about.

“We have made representation to the CAA to ask to be considered to produce finished aircraft in the UK. They have a complex set of arrangements where we have to create an exposition of bills and on control of the whole process.

“The German equivalent of the CAA has empowered their national controlling authority for microlights to manage the construction of finished aircraft. That is like the CAA saying to the British Microlight Aircraft Association: ‘We’re busy doing jumbo jets, so you guys can control the smaller aircraft’ – but that has not happened in the UK.”

Mr Hendry-Smith took over the company in 2008 and now sells 12-14 Sherwood Ranger kits per year. About 18 kits sold since 2010 are currently under construction in countries including Thailand, Holland, Spain, Italy, America and Japan.

The company’s German distributor, Lanitz Aviation in Leipzig, has committed to sell between six and 12 finished aircraft per year.

TLAC is preparing for an April trade show in Germany, where demand has already been found to be high, with potential customers prepared to pay the equivalent of about £50,000 for a fully-built microlight, compared to the starting price of £13,500 for a kit.

Mr Hendry-Smith hopes the added sales will allow him to add to the company’s workforce, currently standing at two production staff, two on aircraft maintenance and two on administration duties.

“Successful completion of Germany will mean we are able to take on two more staff, and I would like them to be apprentices – because we are losing a phenomenal amount of engineering skills in the UK and unless we put some time and effort into bringing apprentices through then we are going nowhere as a country,” he said.

Jonathan Nicholson, a spokesman for the CAA, said while most aircraft were certified to European-wide standards, smaller aeroplanes like microlights were assessed on a “nation-by-nation” basis.

“The rules are very similar for the whole of Europe but there are some differences,” he said. “Some countries, like Germany, might have requirements for ballistic parachutes, for example, but we don’t.

“For us, we require a bit more oversight initially for a new type of aircraft, but that is just to ensure it is safe. For a new type of microlight we might be interested in doing some test flying, looking at the factory and seeing what standards they have got and how it is built. It would be exactly the same for a car manufacturer, where you would hope they had someone who understood how the brakes worked.

“But we have devolved a huge amount to associations like the BMAA and we are looking to do a lot more where we can, and where the association wants to take it on.”

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38th annual Cable Airshow features 'Tumbling Bear': Cable Airport (KCCB), Upland, California

Rob Harrison stands by the new yellow plane which he plans on flying at the Cable Airshow. The white and red one will be a back-up plane.
 (Photo courtesy of Eric Van Gilder)

Pilot and Claremont and Lake Arrowhead resident Rob "The Tumbling Bear" Harrison plans to retire in 2013 but not before he performs at this weekend's 38th annual Cable Airshow for one last time. 

"Well, that's the plan," Harrison said in a recent interview. "The caveat there is I've said that before.

This time I'm serious. I've been doing it over 20 years. I'm not getting any younger. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of energy."

Harrison will perform at the airshow and car show in Upland on Saturday and Sunday at Cable Airport.

A pancake breakfast starts off at 8 a.m. both days while airplane rides begin at 9 a.m. An air demonstration kicks off the event off at 10 a.m. before skydivers, Frank Donnelly (Dr. D) Old Time Aerobatics and more.

Afternoon performances, featuring many of the same acts, start at 2 p.m.

The complete schedule can be found by clicking here

Another performer to watch both days includes Sammy Mason, who is about 18.

Harrison said Mason was "among the best" and the show itself is "one of the best airshows anywhere" with acts like Jacquie Warda, Donnelly and more.

For his last cable airport show, he will display "a couple" of new maneuvers that are "hard to describe."

Harrison recently put his Claremont home up for sale but will live in it for the Upland show. In 2008, he crashed and broke both of his ankles but has continued flying. 

The injuries and his age has not contributed to his decision to retire.

"I'm fine, the airplanes are fine, I have every bit of passion I used to have. I want to travel, see my friends in Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic. I'm getting busy in my engineering consultancy."

That's not the only reason for Harrison to leave.

"It's getting harder and harder to make any money much less break even at air shows," he said. "The price of gas, the price of parts and maintenance and promoters don't have any money. As long as we have a depressed economy, it's hard to justify flying without making any profit."

As part of his retirement, Harrison will sell his two airplanes Zlin 50 airplanes (the 1992 one is about $160,000 and the 1978 one is about $70,000).

 Harrison said giving up his flying career and "The Tumbling Bear" image is hard.

"I've been a success as a lawyer, as an engineer, and I've been successful as an athlete at the university level," Harrison said.

"But the only thing I've ever done in my life where I'm one of the best in the world is flying airplanes. And that's kind of my identity" `The Tumbling Bear.'

I'm kind of sad. I'm giving up the one thing in my life where I really excel. It's hard to sit on the porch when you run with the big dogs. But sometimes the dog gets old, hips get stiff and all the dog wants to do is sit by the porch. You can't run with the big dogs forever."

Susan Newman-Harrison, 48, has been married to Rob for six years after they met at an airshow.

Newman-Harrison said Harrison proposed to her at an airshow and had an airshow wedding.

She added she earned her pilots license in 1990 and still flies.

After the Cable airshow, Harrison said he would perform at the Chino airshow on May 4 and 5.

"I have a great affection for the airshow community," Harrison said. "All my dearest friends are airshow people. It tears my heart out to be leaving them."

If You Go

 38th annual Cable Airshow  

Where: Cable Airport, 1749 W. 13th St., Upland 

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 

Cost: $7 for adults; $5 for youths age 5 to 12; kids under age 5 receive free admission 


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Business taking off for NS Aviation: Smith Reynolds Airport (KINT), Winston Salem, North Carolina

David Rolfe/Journal 
 Russ Kota, V.P. Maintenance for North State Aviation in Winston-Salem, NC, on the main hangar floor with seats from a United Airlines 737-800, rear, being upgraded to mount seatback television screens.

Rising demand for more in-flight entertainment options and safety apparatus is proving to be a boon for NS Aviation LLC’s business and employment.

The company operates as North State Aviation at Smith Reynolds Airport.

NS Aviation recently extended its multiyear maintenance contract with United Airlines to include renovating select aircraft with Live TV for first-class and coach seating.

On Thursday, United had at least 80 employees working on the Live TV wiring for a Boeing 757-300 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft in one of its two bays. The towering Boeing 757 took up more than half of the bay’s 48,000-square-foot space.

The project requires installing antennas that are needed to rotate 360 degrees to follow the GPS signal of the DirectTV satellite.

“We can handle three of those projects a month, or 36 a year, each taking between seven and 10 days to complete,” said Joel Marion, NS Aviation’s sales and marketing director “We can also do what we call ‘drop-ins’ for maintenance with our other regular customers.”

In the other bay, NS Aviation employees were performing maintenance work on a Miami Air aircraft and putting a nitrogen generation system kit into a United aircraft. NS Aviation is one of select number of maintenance companies nationwide that can install the kits.

The nitrogen generation system is being required for all U.S. aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration by 2017, with half of each airline’s fleet in compliance by the end of 2014. Nitrogen, as an inert gas, reduces the flammability risk of center fuel tanks compared with oxygen.

The additional maintenance and up-fit work has NS Aviation handling three lines for United most days.

It has enabled the company to hire 70 workers since the contract began in September for a workforce of 180 full time and 33 part time, according to Charlie Creech, its president. He expects to hire another 20 full-time workers by the end of March.

It also led to the signing of a five-year lease with the Airport Commission of Forsyth County. The company had been working on a monthly lease for more than two years.

“We think of gaining the additional United business as a pretty big vote of confidence in the quality and speed of our work,” Creech said.

“We’re talking with them about additional business. If we can get to four steady lines with United, it would be about all the work we can handle, which would be a welcome issue to handle.”

Particularly considering the two Smith Reynolds bays had been empty for nearly 1½ years after the collapse of Pace Airlines Inc. in September 2009.

NS Aviation had 31 employees when it announced in January 2011, with Gov. Bev Perdue's assistance, that it would have 308 employees within four years as part of the expansion.

The company pledged the jobs will pay an average wage of $42,072 - $80 more than the average in Forsyth County. It would spend nearly $1.3 million on capital investments.

In return, the state made the company eligible for a $300,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. It will also benefit from a $500,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation to the airport commission for airport infrastructure improvements.

Mark Davidson, director of Smith Reynolds Airport, said NS Aviation’s ability to gain the United business is rewarding the airport for its optimism when the company surfaced in 2010.

Creech said the company is finding employees through aviation-manufacturing programs locally through Guilford Technical Community College, and through aviation academies in other parts of the state and outside the state.

He said the company continues to hire qualified Pace employees as demand increases. It is gradually building an employee pipeline through a limited apprentice program that will help employees earn an FAA license certification in airframe or powertrain/engine maintenance and repair work in 18 months or both in 30 months.

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Nigeria: Ilorin aviation college to get 15 new aircrafts for pilot training

NIGERIA’S aviation ministry is planning to equip the International Aviation College in Ilorin with 15 new aircraft before April as part of ongoing plans to improve training and safety in the sector.

Following the recent series of air accidents in the country, the government is keen to improve aviation training for pilots and other staff. This will entail the equipping and increased funding of Nigeria’s aviation colleges such as those in Ilorin and Zaria that produce most of the country’s pilots.

Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, said the additional aircrafts would boost the training and operations of the institution and assist it in achieving economies of scale. He described the college as a strategic training institution, which would reduce the shortage of aviation personnel in the country as well as make the state a hub of aviation training activities across Africa.

Governor Ahmed added: “Our students are already flying and our college is one of the very few such institutions in Africa today. Our people may not feel the direct impact but it is just starting and we will begin to feel the impact of this school in terms of economic impact when we attain economies of scale.

“This can be attained when we add additional aircraft and I am happy to let you know that the vice-president is willing to support the Kwara State government. By the grace of God, within the next two or three months, we will be getting additional 10 to 15 aircraft.”

Rasheed Aiyelabegan, the registrar of the college, said the school already has four Diamond Aircraft planes. These are made up of two DA40 and two DA42 planes


United Airlines Awards $125,000 In Cash To Employees For Excellent Customer Service

HOUSTON, Jan. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- United Airlines today awarded $125,000 to employees across the company for excellence in customer service as part of the company's Outperform Recognition Program. The company held a celebration at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Launched in June 2012, the Outperform Recognition Program invites eligible customers who are MileagePlus members to nominate eligible employees for service at the airport, on the phone, on a flight, or at any other point in their experience with United and United Express. Employees from all work groups, including pilots, flight attendants, ramp and customer service employees, may be nominated.

The airline randomly selected 16 winning employees from more than 9,000 customer nominations submitted during the first four-month nomination period of the program.

"We're committed to recognizing and rewarding our co-workers when they do an excellent job for our customers. It's our job to provide our customers with the best experience possible when they're traveling with us," said Jeff Smisek, chairman, president and CEO of United. "The more than 9,000 nominations customers submitted are all great examples of co-workers who make it their priority to deliver outstanding travel experiences every day."

Jane Doucette, a Houston-based flight attendant of 18 years, won the Grand Prize of $50,000 in cash for service she provided to customer Jonipher Kwong of Honolulu during a flight to Los Angeles this past summer.

"I'm a big believer in recognizing people when they do great work. The more someone is recognized when they get it right, the better they'll perform," said Kwong. "Jane 'outperformed' during my flight from beginning to end - I felt the whole flight was all about me. She knew just how to personalize it."

For submitting the winning Grand Prize nomination, the airline awarded Kwong with a voucher for two round-trip tickets valid for international travel to anywhere United flies. Other customers who submitted winning nominations received frequent flyer mileage awards.

The following employees also demonstrated outstanding customer service and received cash prizes:

-- $25,000 to Carmen Madrigal, international sales employee from Monterrey, Mexico

-- $10,000 to Lisa Mayo, United Express flight attendant from Denver

-- $5,000 to Brian Ciampichini, customer service director from Albany

-- $5,000 to Susan Harrington, reservations agent from Houston

-- $5,000 to Sonia Stefanic, flight attendant from New York

-- $2,500 to Renee Bergeson, customer care agent from Salt Lake City

-- $2,500 to Michelle Guerriere, reservations agent from Houston

-- $2,500 to Maria Homolova, customer service representative from Los Angeles

-- $2,500 to Lavonda Moore, flight attendant from Los Angeles

-- $2,500 to Kathryn Powers, reservations agent from Chicago

-- $2,500 to Alessio Rodriguez, flight attendant from London

-- $2,500 to Suzanne Ramos, customer care agent from Salt Lake City

-- $2,500 to Tina Smith, customer service representative from Denver

-- $2,500 to Maegan Thomas, United Express customer service supervisor from Arcata, Calif.

-- $2,500 to Tricia Vecchio, customer service representative from Washington, D.C.

Below is a sample of comments that customers submitted about the winning employees:

-- "Alessio is an angel. He was pleasant, smiling and made my flight from London fun. He is why I will fly United."

-- "Brian consistently makes travel smooth and effortless in Albany. I go out of my way to choose United because of him."

-- "Renee was absolutely wonderful in helping us with our flights to Europe. Diligent, mindful and responsive. A true gem!"

-- "Tina got me a seat next to my wife and gave me the biggest laugh of the trip. A joy and blessing to my wife and I!"

-- "I would like to recognize Michelle for her professional, helpful and friendly manner in resolving my ticketing issue."

The current Outperform Recognition Program nomination period runs from Jan. 2 through March 31, 2013.

For more information on the program, including the Official Rules and eligibility requirements, customers can visit . Customers can nominate employees using United's mobile app,,, as well as United's Facebook page.

The Outperform Recognition Program builds on the airline's additional employee reward and recognition programs, such as awarding cash payouts for meeting on-time performance goals. Employees can also win brand new cars for achieving perfect attendance.

About United

United Airlines and United Express operate an average of 5,557 flights a day to 378 airports on six continents from the airline's hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United is upgrading its cabins with more flat-bed seats in first and business class and more extra-legroom economy-class seating than any other airline in North America. United now has 180 airplanes featuring DIRECTV, offering customers more live television access than any other airline in the world. United operates nearly 700 mainline aircraft and has orders for more than 270 new aircraft deliveries through 2022. In 2012, United was the first North American airline to take delivery of new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. United was rated the world's most admired airline on FORTUNE magazine's 2012 airline-industry list of the World's Most Admired Companies. Readers of Global Traveler magazine have voted United's MileagePlus program the best frequent flyer program for eight consecutive years. United is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 193 countries via 27 member airlines. More than 85,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit or follow United on Twitter and Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.

SOURCE United Continental Holdings, Inc.

NEW JERSEY: Judge grants Tewksbury group's request to intervene in Johnson helistop appeal

TEWKSBURY TWP. - A Superior Court judge granted a group of township residents' request this morning, Jan. 11 to join in the Johnson helistop appeal as a "defendant-intervenor."

The group, known as Friends of Cold Brook Historic District, sought to join in the Johnsons' appeal of the Tewksbury Land Use Board's decision to deny the family's application for a helistop on the Johnsons' 2,000-acre farm, located on Homestead Road in Oldwick. Members of the Friends include Larry and Amelia Ross and Chris and Lois Kennedy, who live near the helistop's proposed site, as well as Nancy Held, who rides horses in the area.

The Johnsons, of Johnson and Johnson health products fame, submitted the appeal to the Superior Court in Flemington on Oct. 5. In a preliminary decision released yesterday, the judge hearing the case, Peter Buchsbaum, asserted that the Friends "soundly demonstrated" that they satisfied the criteria to become intervenors in the lawsuit via the 83-page brief the group's attorney, James Rhatican, submitted on their behalf.

The Johnsons' attorney, Miles Winder, contested the judge's preliminary ruling in oral argument this morning, but was unsuccessful in reversing Buchsbaum's decision.

The Land Use Board and the Township of Tewksbury were the original defendants named in the Johnsons' lawsuit; the Friends' acceptance as intervenors will bring the family's adversaries in the case up to three.

In an interview yesterday, Jan. 10, Rhatican explained that as intervenors, the Friends will submit briefs and participate in oral arguments in the suit. He said he expected it would take about six months before the judge reaches a decision on whether or not to deny the Johnsons' appeal.

In addition to the lawsuit, in September the Johnsons submitted an application to the state Department of Transportation for a helistop license. Rhatican submitted comments on his clients' behalf opposing the application during the public comment period in October, as did the Tewksbury Township Committee.


American Airlines flight makes emergency landing - Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (KABQ), New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (January 11, 2013)—The crew of American Airlines flight bound from Las Vegas to Dallas made an emergency landing Friday morning in Albuquerque, N.M.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said Flight 1868 landed safely at around 8:20 a.m. Friday at Albuquerque International Sunport after the crew discovered of an issue with one of the plane's generators.

The plane's captain told passengers that the crew was forced to make the emergency landing after a generator went out and the plane's backup generator failed to turn on.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said no injuries were reported and the FFA is investigating.

Miller says a maintenance team is working to get the MD-80 aircraft back into service.

He said the flight carried 140 passengers and a crew of five.

Bendix King KMA 30


Published on January 11, 2013 

The LOOP team get a little hands-on time with the latest comms panel from Bendix/King -- the KMA 30. Tom Gray from Aspen is helping test the pre-production unit, so was happy to show one of our guys a few of the features. There is a lot packed into this little unit, including Bluetooth connectivity for up to eight devices and the ability to split the comms and music to various users within the aircraft. It also has a digital recorder that continuously listens to radio communications and stores the last few automatically so you never miss a call.

Monterey Peninsula (KMRY), Monterey, California: Airport runway upgrades approach deadline

Poster of Monterey Peninsula Regional Airport's plan for runway safety improvements 
 Robert Walch/ Off 68

With the clock ticking, the Monterey Peninsula Regional Airport staff hopes that construction on a necessary runway safety project will soon be underway. The federally mandated project must be completed by 2015.

Mark Bautista, Monterey Peninsula Airport District Deputy General Manager, Planning and Development, explained that Congress has mandated that airports that serve air carriers must meet current runway safety standards by the end of 2015.

This doesn’t mean just the runway itself but also the area around the runway, especially the end of it. The area just beyond the runway’s end must be maintained in such a manner that if an aircraft undershoots or overshoots a landing or takeoff, “there is a reasonable expectation that the risk of damage to the plane and risk of injury is greatly reduced.”

Monterey has two runways that must meet this runway safety area requirement. Runway 10L-28R, a small, general aviation runway, currently meets the Runway Safety Area (RSA) requirements based on the types of aircraft utilizing it.

The second, longer runway is used by the commercial air carriers and does not presently meet these requirements. Bautista explained that there must be one thousand feet beyond the end of the runway on each end.

To meet that requirement the additional space would jut into the Monterey Pines Golf Course on one end and infringe on Tarpy’s Roadhouse Restaurant space on the other. Since that wasn’t really feasible, the airport staff worked with the FAA to come up a plan that would utilize an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) to create an acceptable RSA. If EMAS is used, the FAA says the 1,000 additional feet of safety enhancement isn’t necessary.

Basically, EMAS, in this instance, would be a bed of pre-cut 4-feet x 4-feet concrete blocks placed at the end of the runway to decelerate an overrunning aircraft in an emergency.

To make this plan work, Bautista said the existing runway has to be moved 425 feet toward the east. Because the airport is located on a mesa, it will be necessary to add retaining walls and earthen fill behind them to create the space needed at both ends of the runway to install the EMAS.

Both sides of the runway must also continue to have vehicle service roads which are necessary for maintenance and emergency access. On the golf course side there will still be enough room for the access road but on the east end, because of the size of the retaining walls, the road will have to be relocated.

The existing exit for Tarpy’s will be closed and a new one will be created off Highway 68 that will serve both the restaurant and the security access gate for the airport’s east side maintenance/emergency road.

The $46 million project was ready to begin construction last year when a complaint was filed in June by the Highway 68 Coalition seeking a restraining order and injunction. The group argued that Environmental Impact Report did not adequately address alternatives and greenhouse gas emissions. There were also concerns voiced about the new access road.

An existing contract for the project had to be canceled, although the court did allow work to proceed on laying down a water line for irrigating new plantings which would eventually be set out in the construction area.

In October a judgment from the Monterey County Superior Court upheld many of the challenged portions of the environmental analysis but also identified some areas that needed further study. A 45-day comment period on the Revised Draft EIR began in October.

The visual impact of the west side of the runway will only be noticeable from the golf course. On the east side, because some trees and undergrowth will have to be removed and new trees will be planted, there will be a narrow window from Highway 68 where the construction work will be clearly visible for a while.

Although the EIR by the airport’s board of directors has been certified and re-submitted to the Court, Bautista said a decision is still pending as of early January.

“We were set to begin construction a year ago and figured we would complete the work by the late part of 2014,” he said. “We feel we’ve addressed the judge’s concerns and are awaiting her decision.”

To meet the Dec. 31, 2015, deadline set by the FAA, the project will have to proceed as soon as possible. Bautista is concerned that the longer the wait, the more expensive the new contract might be.

“The shorter the period of time it is to fulfill the contract, the more expensive it becomes,” the Salinas resident said. “There are a lot of trade-offs as the clock continues to tick.”

What complicates the matter even more is the fact that when each end of the runway project is completed, there is additional time needed to reposition the runway lighting and other equipment needed to guide aircraft safely in and out of the airport.

“The bottom line here is we are making a safe airport even safer,” Bautista said.

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Civil Air Patrol Glider orientation ride program at Byron Airport

Published on January 8, 2013 

Civil Air Patrol cadets, as part of the Aerospace Education program, are afforded the opportunity to do 5 glider rides. There is also the opportunity to do 5 rides in a CAP airplane. Cost - - - - FREE!!

Judge OKs sale of Aveos maintenance, repair and overhaul business

MONTREAL – A court has approved the sale of the last large segment of insolvent aircraft maintenance company Aveos Fleet Performance.

A Quebec Superior Court judge sanctioned the sale of a part of the engine maintenance, repair and overhaul business to a Lockheed Martin subsidiary.

Kelly Aviation Center, based in San Antonio, Tex., plans to restart operations in Montreal beginning in April and expects to hire about 100 workers by year-end.

The court was told that “up to 200 former Aveos workers “could ultimately be employed.

The U.S. defence and aerospace company purchased equipment and Aveos’ building at the airport for an undisclosed price.

The agreement follows the sale of Aveos’ components operations and another part of the company’s engine repair business. However, no buyer has been found for the airframe operations which accounted for most of Aveos’ 2,600 employees who lost their jobs when the company closed its doors last year.

Boston MedFlight buys $8m helicopter

Boston MedFlight, a not-for-profit organization that provides critical care transport service, said it is purchasing a new $8 million helicopter to replace one of the three helicopters in its fleet. 

The new helicopter is an American Eurocopter EC145 and is expected to be delivered in August. 

Among other features, the EC145 has an extra-large cabin for caring for a variety of patients, including those requiring specialized medical equipment.

Noting that it does not receive any public funding, Boston MedFlight said it has applied for tax exempt financing for this purchase through Mass Development. 

Boston MedFlight is financially supported in part by a consortium of Boston hospitals including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center.

“We are excited about this addition to our fleet,” Suzanne Wedel, Boston MedFlight medical director and chief executive, said in a statement. “This new helicopter will help us continue to provide exceptional care to the people of Massachusetts and the islands.”


MedFlight audit leads to ‘refining’ policies, plans for new fleet

Boston MedFlight execs are considering replacing the decades-old jet they use to transport hundreds of patients each year after an independent auditor highlighted a number of improvements they could make in the wake of a spate of mechanical issues exposed last year in a Herald report.

“In my 18 years, we hadn’t gone through a period of this many events, and we wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything,” Charlie Blathras, chief operations manager for the Bedford-based nonprofit, said of the audit, which he said made 18 recommendations that mostly focused on “refining” policies MedFlight already has in place.

MedFlight officials refused to release the audit because they consider it an internal document. But after receiving it, Blathras said officials decided to solicit bids for a new jet, which is currently provided by Boston Air Charter.

“We are committed to working with our vendor with some of the issues identified in the recommendations,” he said. “We are looking at ways we can improve our program.”

The company’s 33-year-old jet, which flew 200 medical missions last year, is on the “back end of time when you think about replacing an aircraft,” Blathras said. And if MedFlight does contract for a new jet, it will be as part of a plan to replace its entire fleet of aircraft by 2016, including its more widely used copters.

The four copters flew 1,600 missions last year, and were the focus of a Herald story in September highlighting a series of seven incidents that included multiple engine failures, reports of smoke and fire in cabins and, in August, a door falling from a helicopter in flight.

Blathras said the audit found that six of the incidents were because of mechanical malfunctions that had no “causal link,” while the door incident was due to “human error.” The mechanic responsible is no longer working for Era Helicopters LLC, the company that operates and maintains MedFlight’s helicopters, and while he was off the job shortly after the incident, Blathras said he couldn’t say if he was fired.

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Federal Aviation Administration to Review Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Updated January 11, 2013, 10:09 a.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

The Federal Aviation Administration, increasingly concerned about safety and reliability issues surrounding Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner, said Friday it will launch a top-priority review of the plane focusing on its electrical system and quality controls used in the manufacturing process.

The review will cover the 787's critical systems, including design, manufacture, and assembly.

"This review will help us look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future." Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement released at the start of a press conference Friday that included Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta and Ray Conner, head of Boeing's commercial aircraft arm.

"We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening," Mr. Huerta said.

In its own statement, Boeing declared its confidence in "the design and performance of the 787," adding that it welcomes "the opportunity to conduct this joint review."

The unusual move by the FAA comes after the agency has spent months monitoring various electrical problems and other operational glitches affecting the planes, according to people familiar with the matter, but was specifically prompted by a battery fire on Monday aboard a Japan Airlines Co. 787 on the ground in Boston.

Industry and government officials said the review—slated to be headed by officials from the FAA's new-plane certification and transport directorate offices—marks the first time in recent years that the agency has gone back to reassess the safety of specific systems in a jetliner already in revenue service.

Nobody was hurt in this week's incident, but it ratcheted up pressure on the FAA to announce steps to find the root cause of the blaze and determine common factors that may have affected earlier problems stemming from improperly assembled wiring and other electrical issues.

The FAA's lead spokeswoman late Thursday declined to comment.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on "the nature and content" of the company's communications with regulators, but said "we are working with the FAA and our customers to ensure we thoroughly understand" issues pertaining to introduction of the plane into widespread service. Spokesman Marc Birtel added, "we are absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787."

The review won't ground planes or halt production, but the FAA has broad latitude to take action as a result of any findings. That could range from ordering new production procedures to revising designs of some electric components, which potentially could prompt further production delays and additional costs for Boeing.

In addition to reviewing technical and safety questions related to the design of the 787's groundbreaking electrical system, the FAA also will delve into manufacturing issues such as how well subcontractors are integrated into Boeing's overall production system, according to one person familiar with the details.

The decision to launch the review is bound to stoke concerns on Wall Street about potential negative fallout to Boeing's reputation and stock price. But the move also carries some political risks for Michael Huerta, the recently confirmed chief of the FAA, who now must oversee a high-profile review that could reopen some safety and manufacturing issues the agency was supposed to put to bed before it certified the Dreamliner in late 2011.

U.S. aviation regulators raised questions about the reliability of the Dreamliner during long transocean flights months before the advanced new jet suffered a spate of electrical and other problems this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The ability of the Dreamliner to fly long routes, such as the 7,400-mile trek between Houston and Auckland, New Zealand, was touted as one of the plane's game-changing characteristics by Boeing and airline customers alike, with the jet's lightweight body and fuel-efficient engines linking cities out of the range of similarly sized aircraft.

Reaching that ambitious goal quickly now will be a challenge, according to government and industry officials, limiting the routes available to airlines just as Boeing boosts production to satisfy carriers that have waited years for their Dreamliners after a succession of delays.

Electrical issues, leaking fuel lines and a series of other malfunctions have caused a string of operational problems and emergency landings stretching back several months.

Regulators and airlines around the world, including the eight who fly the 787 today, will look to the FAA for guidance because the plane is built in the U.S. and the agency leads the certification of the new jet.

From its inception, the 787's advanced design, featuring weight-saving carbon-fiber composite materials and two fuel-efficient engines, was intended to make it suitable to fly practically any global route—crossing long stretches of ocean or spanning remote polar regions.

Chicago-based Boeing, by the middle of the past decade, had hoped that soon after introduction into service, safety regulators would allow 787s to fly up to 330 minutes, or 5½ hours, from the nearest emergency-landing strip.

When the first Dreamliner began carrying passengers in October 2011, 3½ years behind schedule, the FAA and overseas regulators permitted the jets to fly no longer than 180 minutes, or three hours, from any suitable airport. At the time, Boeing said it expected to extend that to 330 minutes by early 2012, citing work under way to modify some fuel-gauge software.

But FAA experts have been monitoring a variety of reliability issues that arose in the past few months and attracted attention inside and outside the agency, prompting FAA officials to adopt a go-slow approach in extending the three-hour restriction, according to people familiar with the matter.

The FAA's concerns, these people said, moved beyond the fuel-system-related software to include a range of power-supply issues along with questions about quality controls during Boeing's manufacturing process.

For now, Dreamliners remain under the 180-minute rule, a substantially tighter restriction than the FAA imposes on the Boeing 777, the 787's larger twin-engine sibling, which started flying in 1995 and is now offered with 330-minute certification only as of late-2011.The lead-up to the 787's original approval suggested both Boeing and the FAA believed the same factors would play out. Both Rolls-Royce and General Electric Co. engines offered on the Dreamliner were granted approved for 330-minute extended operations ahead of their first deliveries to their respective launch customers, All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines. During initial testing and certification, Boeing flew the 787 for 345 minutes on one engine, and five of six power generators disconnected, according to Mr. Sinnett.

That rules out airlines flying the 787 between, for example, Dallas and Sydney—a route Qantas Airways Ltd. now flies with the larger four-engine 747.

Continental Airlines, now part of United Continental Holdings Inc. and the U.S. launch customer for the 787, highlighted its hopes for the jet by naming Houston-Auckland as the first route for the plane. That plan has since been shelved for other reasons, but United has identified routes from the U.S. to Australia as another target market for its 787s, six of which are now flying.

A United spokeswoman said the airline doesn't comment on future route plans but said that it "looks forward to more opportunities to where we could fly" with the Dreamliner.

Mike Sinnett, a Boeing vice president and the 787's chief engineer, said Wednesday in a conference call the FAA wanted to take into account the early performance of the Dreamliner.

He called getting the 787 certified to be flown beyond 180 minutes "a procedural question." and said discussions with the FAA center on determining how early teething troubles are factored into the Dreamliner's certification to fly extended missions.

When the 777 was certified by the FAA years ago for extended overwater routes, the reliability of its engines was the primary consideration. The frequency of in-flight shutdowns was painstakingly tracked for each engine manufacturer, and those results largely determined when and which additional routes the planes would be permitted to fly.

But now, it turns out that some of the biggest concerns about the 787's reliability center on its redundant electrical grids, as well as the ability of batteries to power key onboard systems in case of an emergency requiring a lengthy diversion to a backup airport.

Rival plane maker Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. also hopes to be able to fly long routes far from suitable diversion airports. The European plane maker is developing its A350 XWB jet, itself delayed until 2014 after design issues, which aims to be able to operate as far as 350 minutes from emergency fields.

Achieving beyond-180-minute certification is also key for Boeing's next act: the larger 787-9, slated to be delivered in 2014 to launch customer Air New Zealand Ltd.

The Auckland-based carrier had already flagged that it wanted to fly ultralong, overwater routes by pushing Boeing to certify the 777 to the full 330 minutes, allowing it to fly to parts of Africa and South America that that were previously impossible with a two-engine aircraft.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Kelly Kilgour said, "It is simply too early for us to comment on the performance capability of the" Dreamliner.

On Friday, Japan's All Nippon Airways reported two new cases of problems with the aircraft. ANA spokeswoman Ayumi Kunimatsu said a small amount of oil was discovered leaking from the left engine of a 787 flight from southern Japan's Miyazaki airport to Tokyo.

The jet returned to Miyazaki, but after checks found no safety risk it flew to Tokyo. ANA said on another flight, to Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, glass in a cockpit window cracked and the aircraft was grounded for repairs.

—Jack Nicas and the Associated Press contributed to this article.


Liberia: Don't Fly Delta - Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Warns

What may have appeared to be a major danger has been averted by the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority or LCAA.

The unsafe situation in which the American Airlines, Delta Air is engulfed may have prompted the LCAA to move quickly in advising the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf against a flight with it.

The Director General of the LCAA, Mr. Richelieu Williams, in a press statement issued in Monrovia Thursday, said unless certain conditions are met by Delta Air, President Sirleaf may not take a flight on it should there be any immediate or future plan by her to do so.

When Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmick Piah was contacted last evening, he declined to officially comment on the situation until he gets approval from the President.

But Director General Williams also disclosed that on a number of occasions, the airline has unceremoniously cancelled or delayed several flights to the detriment of Liberian travelers for unexplainable reasons.

He noted that following its own observations, the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority discovered that Delta was undergoing technical and mechanical problems, which are threatening to the safety of its Liberian passengers, something about which a formal complaint has already been made.

"As result of a series of delays and technical delays and cancellations of Delta flights en route to Liberia via Accra, the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority took the lead to a two-approach with Ghana's acquiescence to make a formal representation to Delta Management requesting explanation for the delays and cancellations; the two countries have so far communicated their concerns to Delta Management in Atlanta," Williams asserted.

"Owing to the urgency attached to the matter by Liberia and Ghana, a combined team of safety inspectors is being mobilized to carry out a comprehensive safety audit of Delta's operation operational and maintenance within the shortest possible time to meticulously and specifically conduct safety inspections on all '767-300 series short-listed on Delta's Aircraft Operating Certificate (AOC) viz-a-viz Air service License (ASL) issued by the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, "he assured.

According to him, plans were far advanced to invite the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to participate in the joint safety audit of the Delta's operational and maintenance facilities, noting that the LCAA has appropriately advised Delta Air Lines that the combined safety audit will be undertaken within 30-days as per the receipt of the communication flowed by a subsequent determination on the basis of the findings for the possible removal of all 767-300 from Delta's AOC.

Meanwhile, LCAA Director General has quoted Ghana Civil Aviation Authority has expressed dissatisfaction over the airlines' poor customer service bordering on rudeness, indifference or brusque manner by Delta flight attendants, as well as the alleged use of old aircraft on the Ghana-USA route and the repeated major inconvenience and additional costs experienced by Ghanaian customers to mechanical failure of lavatory system resulting to flight reschedules and cancellations.

The Ghanaians also noted that more than 18 reschedules and cancellations were recorded between November and December 2012.


Airline industry turbulence has hindered passenger growth at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (KSJC), San Jose, California

San Jose's arduous campaign to establish the first direct flight between Silicon Valley and Asia in more than six years highlights the obstacles regional airports face in luring more planes to terminals in an era of airline industry cost-cutting.

After a five-year effort, business and government officials will toast Friday's launch of the five-day-a-week All Nippon Airways service between Mineta San Jose International Airport and Tokyo's Narita International Airport that will deploy Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner. But industry experts say future success for San Jose International -- which underwent a billion-dollar makeover amid the U.S. airline industry's recent financial implosion -- will be hard-won.

"It's not just a San Jose issue. The airline industry has fundamentally changed in the last three to five years," said Robert Herbst, an aviation industry consultant who operates "It will be challenging for San Jose to get any measurable airline growth. I don't see it happening in at least five, 10 years minimum."

The changes include airline bankruptcies, major consolidations, elimination of routes and reducing plane sizes for some service. Meanwhile, more flights have been shifted to the nation's largest airports, such as San Francisco International Airport, and away from secondary airports, such as San Jose. The deep recession added to the financial pain airlines were experiencing brought on by rising prices in jet fuel, cutthroat domestic competition and aging, less efficient planes.

Annual passenger traffic at the San Jose airport has dropped 22 percent since 2007 -- from 10.6 million to about 8.4 million last year, with final numbers for 2012 expected to remain about the same. Oakland International Airport experienced an even greater falloff during the same period: a 32 percent plunge, from 14.6 million passengers to about 10 million. SFO, on the other hand, has seen the number of passengers moving through
its terminals soar 20 percent from 2007 to about 43 million in 2012.

San Francisco remains the de facto gateway for the region. San Jose and Oakland, for example, offer only one daily nonstop flight to the New York City region -- and each flight is a JetBlue Airways red-eye flight. SFO has 28. San Francisco International handles about 96 percent of all Bay Area international travelers, averaging 60 international flights a day. Other than the new Tokyo service, San Jose has just three international routes, all to Mexico. Oakland has two routes to Mexico and two seasonal summer flights to Europe.

San Jose's airport is "a beautiful facility and better than the vast majority of U.S. airports," said Alan Bender, professor of aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. But, he added, passengers land at San Jose because it is usually their final destination, not to catch another flight. "San Jose is a dead end. Almost no one is going to change planes there," he said.

The industry's turbulence began with the struggles of U.S. airlines. Over the past 11 years, America's airlines suffered dramatic losses caused by a combination of skyrocketing fuel prices -- up 300 percent in the past seven years -- the recession and broken business models, said Herbst, the consultant. Airfares, on the other hand, increased only 15 percent between 2006 and 2011, he noted.

In the past two years, after the merger of Delta and Northwest, United and Continental and Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways, most U.S. airlines returned to the black. American Airlines, which is in bankruptcy, is looking to merge with US Airways.

The consolidations cut service to smaller airports. In 2003, Oakland International averaged 15 United departures a day, airport spokesman Brian Kidd said. Today, United has four daily flights at Oakland.

The Bay Area is "the third-largest air market (in the United States), after New York and Los Angeles," he said. "But that doesn't mean it gets distributed proportionately."

Oakland, he added, was particularly hard hit when Burlingame-based Virgin America launched service at SFO in 2007, which caused competitors to beef up service in San Francisco to the detriment of other airports.

Changes in flight plans have been devastating for San Jose International, which incurred $1.5 billion in debt to modernize its facilities on the assumption the improvements would increase air traffic to Silicon Valley. Airport officials, in planning for the worst-case post-construction business scenario, anticipated a 2 to 4 percent drop in airline business, said Bill Sherry, Mineta San Jose International Airport's director of aviation. Instead, the revenue drop-off from fewer passengers was about 35 percent.

"No one, from the rating agencies to the bondholders to our financial consultants, envisioned we'd lose 35 percent of our traffic," he said.

"We had to take some extraordinary measures," Sherry said. Those included slashing airport expenses by $50 million a year, including restructuring debt and outsourcing services such as janitorial, landscaping and curbside security.

It also meant cranking up marketing efforts, including tapping the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents companies from Apple (AAPL) to Cisco Systems (CSCO), to lobby airlines such as ANA to bring new service to San Jose.

Increasing numbers of airports are trying to steal service from one another, said Debby McElroy, executive vice president of Airports Council International, a trade organization that sponsors an annual conference that is something akin to speed dating for airports and airlines. Airport officials make pitches not only to win new air services, but also to retain those they already have, she said.

With the U.S. airline industry still in recovery, airports are aggressively courting international carriers, which are rolling out new aircraft and routes. To land the ANA San Jose-Tokyo flight, San Jose offered the airline numerous incentives -- including no fees for its first year, a 66 percent fee discount its second year and 33 percent discount the third.

Bender said the incentives are a good way for secondary airports to snag a new carrier. And it can pay big dividends when the new flight is an international route, he said. Studies show that travelers from Asia, for instance, spend as much as $2,000 when they travel, giving a good boost to the local economy.

Seth Young, director of the Center for Aviation Studies at the Ohio State University, said San Jose and Silicon Valley, with its large population, tech economy and wealthy enclaves, is in a strong position to attract more flights once the economy and airline industry have fully recovered.

"If you make those investments (in airport upgrades) there is always a risk of the investment not turning out," he said. "But if you don't make those investments, there is no chance of taking advantage of increased demand in the future. If airlines are going to service a major market like the Bay Area, there will be need for additional capacity."

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