Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Boeing 787 battery woes put Federal Aviation Administration approval under scrutiny

By Alwyn Scott and Mari Saito

SEATTLE/TOKYO | Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:32pm EST


(Reuters) - In 2007, U.S. regulators cleared Boeing's use of a highly flammable battery in the 787 Dreamliner, deciding it was safe to let the lithium-ion battery burn out if it caught fire mid-air as long as the flames were contained, and smoke and fumes vented properly, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

Fire risk on planes has always been a major concern, especially given the amount of fuel they carry and the heat generated by jet engines. U.S. aviation standards require planes to have numerous on-board fire suppression systems.

But through a review of government documents and interviews with aviation and battery experts, Reuters found that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granted the Dreamliner special conditions and said its contain-and-vent system was sufficient to control the build-up of explosive or toxic gases, except in situations considered "extremely remote."

The FAA's 2007 decision is now coming under scrutiny after the lithium-ion batteries in two 787 planes failed within days of each other, sparking a fire in one case in Boston, and generating warnings and an acrid smell that prompted the pilots of the second plane to make an emergency landing in Japan.

A key U.S. Senate committee plans to hold a hearing in the coming weeks to examine aviation safety oversight and the FAA's certification of the 787, an aide to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee told Reuters on Tuesday.

The FAA has grounded the Dreamliner in the U.S. pending an investigation, and other aviation regulators around the world immediately followed, stopping use of all 50 planes in service, each of which can carry about 250 passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting the U.S. probe, with help from Boeing, the battery maker, GS Yuasa Corp of Japan, and the FAA.

The review has broad implications for other aircraft makers, including EADS unit Airbus, which also had to meet special conditions set by the FAA to use lithium-ion batteries on the A380 - a superjumbo jet that carries about 550 passengers.

A spokesperson for the FAA defended the 2007 approval, saying, "the whole aviation system is designed so that if a worst case happens, there are systems in place to prevent that from interfering with other systems on the plane."

Boeing said the 787's battery system has four layers of protection to prevent the battery from overcharging, making a fire extremely unlikely. The company said it was confident the battery could safely burn out in air because of a robust system for containing a fire and venting smoke and fumes.

The batteries were chosen "after a careful review of available alternatives because they best met the performance and design objectives of the 787," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said. "Based on everything we know at this point, we have not changed our evaluation."

The cause of the two 787 battery failures is not yet known and investigators are still determining how the contain-and-vent systems performed. But the incidents have revived a decades-old debate on the safety of lithium-ion batteries and raised questions over whether the FAA should have consented to their use in the 787.

Congressman Rick Larsen, who was named ranking member of the House Aviation Subcommittee on Tuesday, said it was appropriate for the FAA to impose special conditions for the 787, the world's first carbon composite aircraft, but a review of the approval "may be something we could look at in light of the current problems."

The FAA spokesperson said the agency may add new requirements for the batteries upon completion of the NTSB probe, but declined to elaborate.

Depending on the outcome of the review, Boeing could face steep costs, ranging from compensating airlines for lost use of planes to a possible major redesign and re-certification of the battery or electrical system, industry experts say.

WIDELY USED TECHNOLOGY

Lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, recharge quickly and can hold more power than conventional cells. But they have a history of safety concerns, leading some battery experts to question their use in any consumer product.

In the FAA's 2007 review, it said lithium-ion batteries were "significantly more susceptible" to fires than other types and added that those fires are tough to put out.

"Metallic lithium can ignite, resulting in a self-sustaining fire or explosion," the FAA said in granting approval.

FAA rules do not cover lithium batteries, so the agency in 2007 set nine "special conditions" Boeing had to meet to ensure their safety. A year earlier, the FAA had set similar conditions for Airbus. Special conditions are commonly used to cover new technology for which rules have not yet been written.

In both cases, the Air Line Pilots Association International, the world's largest pilot union, said airplane fire is so dangerous that the FAA should require cabin crew to have fire extinguishers and training to put out a lithium-ion battery fire. "A fire from these devices, in any situation, is unacceptable," the union said, during the 787 approval process.

The FAA said it chose not to require special fire extinguishers and training because of the four redundant systems already in the Boeing system to prevent the battery from catching fire.

The ALPA said on Tuesday it is monitoring the investigation into the 787 battery incidents, but declined to comment while the probe is going on.

"It goes back to why this was approved in the first place," said Hidetake Sakuma, an aviation safety consultant and a former safety manager at Japan Airlines Co Ltd.

"Of course there were people asking whether this was really safe, but they (the FAA) approved it and the Japanese airlines never questioned it."

Japanese airlines operate nearly half of the 787s in service.

ODD SMELL

Passengers on the Japan flight reported an odor like burning plastic soon after takeoff. All Nippon Airways Co Ltd Vice President Osamu Shinobe said in addition to a battery alert in the cockpit, "there was an odd smell detected in the cockpit and cabin."

The NTSB declined to comment, citing the ongoing probe. The Japan Transportation Safety Board, which is leading that investigation, and the NTSB so far describe it as a "battery incident," not a fire.

A photograph of the battery retrieved from the flight showed a blackened, melted interior with fused wires, a deformed lid and scorched casing.

A GS Yuasa spokesman said the company is cooperating with the investigation, but declined to comment on the details.

Boeing has not commented specifically on the battery failure in this incident. In the case of the Boston plane, Boeing said smoke got into the cabin because the 787 was on the ground without cabin pressure to redirect airflow.

Some experts cautioned against a rush to judgment about lithium-ion battery technology, saying the key was to understand failure rates and design a safe system.

"Everyone knew these dangers, but after it was designed, there were multiple tests and that's why it's in the final plane," said Yoshitomo Aoki, a Japanese aviation commentator. "It wouldn't have been approved if it wasn't safe."

Airbus plans to use lithium-ion batteries in its forthcoming A350 jet, its answer to the 787. That plane will use a different architecture that puts less stress on batteries, while expelling unwanted gases safely, Airbus says.

On Sunday, the NTSB widened its probe to include the Tucson, Arizona-based company that makes the charger for the batteries, Securaplane Technologies, a unit of Britain's Meggitt Plc. Securaplane said it is cooperating with the investigation.

"In no way would a fire like this lead me to say you should never have a lithium-ion battery on an airplane. That's just the wrong way to go," said Daniel Doughty, who helped write testing standards for electrical cars and worked on battery technology during 27 years at Sandia National Laboratory, a federally funded research center owned by Lockheed Martin Corp.

But Doughty and others said the FAA's earlier decisions deserved scrutiny.

"It's fair to ask about the approval process," Doughty said. "There needs to be some explanation and defense of whatever they did."


Source:  http://www.reuters.com

Cirrus SR20 GTS G3, N140PG, operated by Epic Blue: Accident occurred January 22, 2013 in Danbury, Connecticut

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA117
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Danbury, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N140PG
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

The flight instructor was conducting a two-leg, cross-country familiarization flight at night with a private pilot. The flight instructor reported that, before departure, he used a flashlight to look in the airplane’s fuel tanks and determined that they contained 25 gallons of usable fuel and that the two flight legs would require 23.3 gallons of fuel. He then entered 22 gallons in the airplane’s multifunction display (MFD) fuel totalizer. The airplane reached its destination airport and departed on the return flight without incident; however, shortly after takeoff, the low fuel caution light illuminated. The airplane subsequently experienced a total loss of engine power. The flight instructor deployed the airplane’s parachute system, and the airplane subsequently descended into trees about 3 miles northeast of the airport. Postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, and less than 1 gallon of fuel was drained from the fuel tanks. 

The president of the flight school stated that, 2 days before the accident, he had 42 gallons of fuel added to the fuel tanks. He then entered 40 gallons in the airplane’s MFD fuel totalizer. He flew two more flights and estimated that the fuel totalizer should have indicated between 14 and 16 gallons before the first leg of the accident flight. Recorded MFD data showed that the total amount of fuel used since the last refueling was 42.4 gallons. The flight instructor likely overestimated the amount of fuel in the airplane before departure and entered the wrong amount into the MFD fuel totalizer, which led to an erroneous display of the actual amount of fuel remaining and his belief that the airplane had sufficient fuel for the flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The flight instructor’s inadequate preflight inspection in which he incorrectly estimated the airplane’s fuel quantity and his improper reliance on the fuel totalizer rather than the fuel quantity indicating and warning systems to determine the fuel on board, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. 

On January 22, 2013, about 1925 eastern standard time, a Cirrus Design Corp. SR20, N140PG, operated by Epic Blue Co., was substantially damaged after it deployed its Cirrus Airplane Parachute System (CAPS), while on approach to the Danbury Municipal Airport (DXR), Danbury, Connecticut. The flight instructor, a private pilot, and a passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that last departed Groton-New London Airport (GON), Groton, Connecticut. The familiarization flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the flight instructor and two occupants originally departed from DXR, landed at GON, and were returning to DXR at the time of the accident. The airplane was on approach to runway 26 at DXR, when it experienced a total loss of engine power and the pilot reported that the airplane was "out of fuel" to air traffic control. The flight instructor elected to deploy the CAPS and the airplane subsequently descended via parachute into trees, about 3 miles northeast of the airport. The airplane's empennage separated and the fuselage sustained substantial damage. 

The flight instructor reported that he was providing the private pilot Cirrus training and familiarization. He determined that the airplane had 25 total gallons of useable fuel onboard during a preflight inspection, by utilizing a flashlight to visually observe that the fuel level was "slightly below the tabs" in the right fuel tank, and "at the tabs" in the left fuel tank, prior to departing from DXR and noted that the required fuel for the round trip flight, which included taxi and reserve fuel was 23.3 gallons. He then entered "22 gallons" in the airplane's electronic fuel monitor. The flight subsequently landed at and departed from GON without incident, for a planned 38-minute return flight to DXR. During the initial climb, the flight instructor noticed a "High Fuel Flow" advisory warning for about 10 seconds. He reduced engine power until the light extinguished, climbed to 4,500 feet, and continued to DXR.

About 12 miles from DXR, the "FUEL" quantity annunciator light illuminated. The airplane was about 8 to 10 miles from DXR, when the engine experienced a total loss of the engine power. The flight instructor was able to restart the engine momentarily on two occasions; however, after the engine quit for the third time, and the airplane descended to about 1,000 feet mean sea level, he deployed CAPS. 

The private pilot reported that he had no previous flight experience in Cirrus aircraft. The fuel level observed during the preflight inspection at DXR with the flight instructor was "one finger below the tabs." After landing at GON the fuel selector was positioned to from the left tank which indicated below "1/8th", to the right fuel tank which indicated "5/8ths." He further stated that the fuel warning light on the left side of the primary flight display illuminated shortly after takeoff. When the airplane was about 18 miles east of DXR, he observed the right fuel gauge "bouncing" at one-half and mentioned landing at a nearby airport in Oxford or New Haven, Connecticut. The flight instructor indicated that there was no need to land based on the multi-function-display (MFD), which indicated there would be almost 1 hour of fuel remaining after landing at DXR. He further noted that the indicated fuel flow during cruise flight was 9 gallons per hour.

Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector did not reveal any visible fuel in the airplane's fuel tanks, nor were there any indications of a fuel spill at the accident site. After the airplane was recovered, approximately 26 ounces of fuel was drained from the airplane's fuel system. Subsequent inspection of the airplane by representatives of the airframe and engine manufacturer, under the supervision of an FAA inspector did not reveal any preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. An undetermined amount of additional fuel drained from the airplane; however, the total fuel drained was less than 1 gallon. All fuel sump valves worked correctly and displayed no evidence of leaking. About 1 minute after the avionics power switch was turned on; the "FUEL" warning light illuminated and remained on. The avionics power switch was turned off, and 10 gallons of 100-low-lead aviation fuel was added to the left fuel tank. When the avionics switch was turned back on, the "FUEL" warning light remained off and the left fuel gauge indicated 10 gallons present in the tank. In addition, there was no evidence of any fuel leaks when the electric boost pump was operated.

According to the President of Epic Blue Co., who was also a flight instructor, he conducted an uneventful training flight in the accident airplane on January 20th. After the flight, he ensured that that both fuel tanks were refilled to "tabs plus 8 gallons," which equated to 42 total gallons, 21 per side. He then set the fuel totalizer on the airplane's MFD to 40 gallons, to allow for a safety margin and conducted an uneventful flight that lasted .7 tach hours and 1.1 Hobbs hours. The following day, he flew to Martha's Vineyard, landed and then returned to DXR. The flights totaled 2 tach hours, and 3.1 Hobbs hours. He did not recall the amount of fuel remaining on the fuel totalizer after the flight; however, he recalled it showed 16 gallons remaining while on approach to land, about 7 miles from the airport. He estimated that the fuel totalizer would have indicated somewhere between 14 to 16 gallons at the end of the flight. In addition, he reported that the accident pilot told him after the accident that the fuel level was "…slightly under tabs on one side, and a bit more than that (under the tabs) on the other side." 

The four-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 1920, was manufactured in 2008. It was constructed primarily of composite material, and equipped with a Teledyne Continental Motors IO-360-ES, 200-horsepower engine. At the time of the accident, the airplane and engine had been operated for about 90 hours since its most recent annual inspection, which was performed on October 16, 2012. 

Review of the pilot's operating handbook (POH) revealed that airplane's total fuel capacity was 60.5 gallons, with 56 gallons noted as "usable." The airplane was equipped with an amber "FUEL" caution light in the annunciator panel located on the left side of the instrument panel, which would activate if the fuel quantity in both tanks dropped below 8.5 gallons. In addition, in the event fuel flow exceeded 18 gallons per hour, the MFD would display "Check Fuel Flow" in a red advisory box in the lower right corner of the MFD. Cirrus did not provide any guidance in the POH in the event of a high fuel flow indication. 


The airplane was equipped with an Avidyne MFD that was capable of recording engine and airplane performance data to a compact flash card. The compact flash card was removed and successfully downloaded at the NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Division, Washington, DC. The data recorded included the fuel used over time for a given flight. The total amount of fuel used since the last reported refueling was 42.4 gallons. In addition, review of the recorded data did not reveal any anomalies that were consistent with the flight instructor's report of a high fuel flow indication. Recorded fuel flows were observed in the normal operating range.

The flight instructor reported 471 hours of total flight experience, which included 120 in the same make and model as the accident airplane, and 40 hours during the 90 days that preceded the accident.

http://registry.faa.gov/N140PG

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA117 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Danbury, CT
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N140PG
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

 
On January 22, 2013, about 1925 eastern standard time, a Cirrus Design Corp. SR20, N140PG, operated by Epic Blue was substantially damaged after it deployed its Cirrus Airplane Parachute System (CAPS), while on approach to the Danbury Municipal Airport (DXR), Danbury, Connecticut. The flight instructor, a private pilot, and a passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that last departed Groton-New London Airport (GON), Groton, Connecticut. The familiarization flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the flight instructor and two occupants originally departed from DXR, landed at GON, and were returning to DXR at the time of the accident. The airplane was on approach to runway 26 at DXR, when it experienced a total loss of engine power and the pilot reported that the airplane was "out of fuel" to air traffic control. The pilot elected to deploy the CAPS and the airplane subsequently descended via parachute into trees, about 3 miles northeast of the airport. The airplane's empennage separated and the fuselage sustained substantial damage.

Initial examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector did not reveal any visible fuel in the airplane's fuel tanks, nor were there any indications of a fuel spill at the accident site. After the airplane was recovered, approximately 26 ounces of fuel was drained from the airplane's fuel system.

The airplane was equipped with a remote data module (RDM) mounted in the empennage, which was intended to record engine and flight parameters. In addition, a memory card was found in the Avidyne multi-function-display unit located in the cockpit. Both the RDM and memory card were removed and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for data download.


IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 140PG        Make/Model: SR22      Description: SR-22
  Date: 01/22/2013     Time: 0025

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

LOCATION
  City: DANBURY   State: CT   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT ON APPROACH CRASHED IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA, DANBURY, CT

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Approach      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: WINDSOR LOCKS, CT  (EA63)             Entry date: 01/23/2013 
 
 
 
An airplane that crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.
 Photo contributed. 

 
An airplane that crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. 
Photo contributed. 

 
The tail of an airplane that crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. 
Photo contributed.


Investigators inspect the damage after an airplane crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. 
Photo Credit: Jason Rearick

 
 A Danbury firefighter attempts to manage a parachute that was used in an airplane that crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. 
Photo Credit: Jason Rearick 



Local fire and rescue units were called to an airplane that crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.
 Photo Credit: Jason Rearick


 
A small plane crashed Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, near South Street in Danbury. 
Photo Credit: John Pirro
~
A plane crashed in the South St. area of Danbury, Conn. Tuesday evening, Jan. 22, 2013. The plane used a parachute to break its fall and three passengers escaped major injury. 
Photo Credit: John Pirro 
~

A small plane crashed Tuesday night near South Street in Danbury after deploying a parachute to break its fall, which got caught in power lines. 
Credit:@joe_britton49 
 Photo: Contributed Photo 

 
A small plane crashed Tuesday night near South Street in Danbury after deploying a parachute to break its fall, which got caught in power lines. 
Credit:crsagent02 
Photo: Contributed Photo 


A small plane crashed Tuesday night near South Street in Danbury after deploying a parachute to break its fall, which got caught in power lines. 
Credit:zbtcapone
 Photo: Contributed Photo 


 
Local fire and rescue units were called to an airplane that crashed near the corner of South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. 
Photo Credit: Jason Rearick

 A plane crashed Tuesday near South Street and Wixted Avenue in Danbury. 
 Photo Credit: Matt Zalaznick 




DANBURY -- A small plane headed for Danbury Municipal Airport from Groton came up short on Tuesday night, crashing around 7:30 near South Street. The plane was equipped with a parachute, which deployed, was caught on trees, and was in danger of become entangled in power lines. 

 All three people on board survived, officials said, and their injuries did not appear to be life threatening.

South Street was closed to traffic in both directions and power to the area was cut around 8:30 p.m. because of the danger posed by the parachute near power lines.

The plane's occupants, all males, got out of the aircraft under their own power and were treated in an ambulance at the scene. Their names were not immediately available.

Jose Martinez said he was driving on South Street toward Danbury when he heard a sound "like crunching snow" and looked up to see the plane descending toward him.

"I kept driving, I thought it was going to hit me," he said.

After parking his car, Martinez said, he got out and walked back in time to see the last occupant get out of the plane.

The white, single-engine Cirrus SR20 came to rest, nose down, on the edge of a wooded area near the intersection of South Street and Wixted Avenue, its orange-and-white, bull's-eye-patterned parachute billowing in the wind above in the trees.

A crowd quickly gathered but was kept away from the scene by police.

Airport Administrator Paul Estefan said the half-million dollar aircraft was flying to Danbury when the pilot deployed the chute for unknown mechanical reasons.

Federal Aviation Administration records indicate the plane is owned by Kenyon Flight of West Hartford. It took off from Groton at 6:51 p.m. and was expected to land in Danbury at 7:23 p.m.

Assistant Airport Administrator Mike Safranek said the small Cirrus aircraft is one of the few that comes with a parachute, which apparently cushioned the plane's fall.

The pilot reported problems when the plane was about five miles from the airport, and deployed the chute two miles out, Safranek said.

The pilot, whose name has not yet been released, is a licensed flight instructor who was giving lessons to a student, and the third person aboard was a friend of the student, Safranek said.

Julio Carrasquillo, who lives nearby on South Street, said he was home when he heard what he first thought was a car crash, until neighbors began knocking on his door, saying the plane had gone down.

"You don't think of (stuff) like this happening," he said.

Noe Flores said he was in his apartment when he heard a sound "like a plow" and asked his children if it had started snowing.

"They said, `No, there's a parachute coming down,' " he said.

Flores said firefighters and police were on the scene within minutes.

FAA officials were en route to investigate the crash, Estefan said.


Story, photos, reaction/comments:   http://www.newstimes.com

Pilot training takes off: Westmoreland Aviation at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (KLBE), Latrobe, Pennsylvania

 David Helfrich of Latrobe enjoys flying planes so much — like taking a trip to Ohio to see his brother — he wants to take it to another level. He wants to become certified to fly by relying on a plane‘s instruments, not just by what he can see.

In order to do that, Helfrich, a supervisor at Latrobe Specialty Metals in Latrobe, is undergoing flight instruction at Westmoreland Aviation‘s training school at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

He‘s among a growing group of 60 people who are pilots and prospective pilots training at Westmoreland Aviation‘s flight school. The increase in demand for flight training instruction has taken off, prompting Westmoreland Aviation to buy the building it is leasing and to expand by building another facility.

“We are growing so fast,” said David Castaldo, president of Westmoreland Aviation, a flight instruction school operated by Westmoreland Aviation Holding Co. of Murrysville.

There were only six students in the flight training class when Westmoreland Aviation took over the business and hangar from financially troubled Fly Wright Center in 2009, said Castaldo, who had taken pilot training classes from Fly Wright. Castaldo bought the business in partnership with J.T. Spangler, owner of ITSEnclosures of East Huntingdon.

The school has been enrolling more students through its partnership over the past three years with Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood. Students undergo a 12-week course in ground school instruction classes taught by the school‘s flight instructors.

The former state police hangar lacks appropriate accommodations for a classroom, Castaldo said, so Westmoreland Aviation uses the airport authority boardroom in the airport terminal. Its classes typically host between 15 and 17 students.

To accommodate the growth in enrollment, Westmoreland Aviation wants to construct a 125-by-50-foot building to house its offices and space for classrooms large enough for 30 students. The project will cost about $300,000, and the company will handle finances for the construction, Castaldo said.

Castaldo, who was a chief financial officer and chief executive officer of a Pittsburgh turnaround company before taking over the flight instruction school, hopes to have the new building finished by the end of 2014.

Westmoreland Aviation has moved on its plans by reaching an agreement with the Westmoreland County Airport Authority in December to acquire its hangar for $165,000, as well as additional property that will allow it to expand operations at the airport. The company had been leasing the hangar from the airport authority.

The closing on the property and a land-lease agreement for additional space for a new structure have not been finalized, but that likely will occur in a few months, said Gabe Monzo, airport executive director.

Bright job market


Those who earn their pilot‘s license can move into a job market that has a bright future, Castaldo said.

More pilots will be needed to fill the vacancies that will be created by the retirement of an older generation of pilots, he said.

“There‘s a big bubble that will burst pretty soon,” Castaldo said.

His assessment is supported by Chicago-based Boeing Co., the world‘s largest aerospace company.

Approximately 1 million new commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians will be needed worldwide by 2031, including 460,000 new commercial airline pilots, according to the 2012 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook.

The Asia Pacific region continues to present the largest projected growth in pilot demand, with a need for 185,600 new pilots by 2031, Boeing said. China has the largest demand within that region, with a need for 71,300 pilots. North America will need 69,000 pilots over the next 18 years, while Latin America will need 42,000 pilots, Boeing said.

The median pay for airline and commercial pilots is $92,060, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook for 2012. The bureau said there were 103,500 pilots in the United States in 2010 and projects that the average growth rate for those pilot jobs for the next seven years will be 11 percent, which is about 11,000.

‘A lot to learn‘


The training the students undergo at Westmoreland Aviation will enable them to become pilots for corporations or individual plane owners, Castaldo said.

To acquire their pilot‘s license, students need to pass a 60-question knowledge test and take flying lessons with a certified flight instructor for a minimum of 40 hours, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration, Castaldo said. Most student pilots, however, take an average of 55 hours of flight training, he said.

Westmoreland Aviation, which has 15 members in its new Westmoreland Aviators flying club, has five airplanes for the students to use. Its 4,800-square-foot hangar is large enough to fit only three of its five planes, so it must store its other two at hangars at the airport, he said.

One of those hoping to become a corporate pilot is Chelsea McChesney, 22, of Greensburg, one of seven certified flight instructors at Westmoreland Aviation. McChesney, who has been flying since she was 16, wants to become a pilot for Southwest Airlines.

For David Blackmore, 51, of Murrysville, who is learning to fly at Westmoreland Aviation, a pilot‘s license will give the electrician another option for his career.

By learning to fly, Blackmore said, “I can pick where I want to work.”

He said he wants to be a corporate pilot some day but is not in any hurry. “I‘m taking it cautiously. There‘s a lot to learn,” Blackmore said.

Like police work


One student who needs a new career is Matt Livingstone, 33, of Penn Township, who was a police officer for 10 years.

He has been forced to change careers because he was seriously wounded in April 2005 while working for the Forest Hills Police Department. A man shot him in the arm, and the bullet caused further damage when it entered his chest.

“I found a good fit. I‘m taking a step forward to a new career. This school really does a lot for me,” said Livingstone, who wants to be a certified flight instructor.

In his previous career as a police officer, he said he never had time to learn to fly.

Livingstone sees a lot of similarities in police work and flying a plane.

“You resolve yourself to taking a risk,” he said.

Story and Photos:  http://triblive.com

2 Arizona companies get visits as part of 787 probe

 

The investigation into problems with Boeing's 787 "Dreamliner" shifted to Arizona on Tuesday as the National Transportation Safety Board planned to visit companies in Phoenix and Tucson involved in making components of the plane's auxiliary power unit system. 

The Japanese-made battery believed to be the source of a 787 Dreamliner fire in Boston this month was connected to the plane’s auxiliary power unit, or APU.

An auxiliary power unit is a motor that provides power to start the main engines. It also powers the plane's auxiliary functions when the main engines aren't running.

A fire ignited Jan. 7 in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a Japan Airlines 787 empty of passengers as the plane sat on the tarmac at Boston’s Logan International Airport. It took firefighters 40 minutes to put out the blaze.

Initially, investigators believed the lithium-ion APU battery, produced by Kyoto-based GS Yuasa Corp., had exceeded its designated charge of 32 volts.

However, investigators have ruled out overcharged batteries as the cause of the fire.

On Tuesday, NTSB investigators traveled to Arizona to test related products made by Securaplane Technologies Inc., of Tucson, and Pratt & Whitney Engine Services, of Phoenix.

Securaplane makes the charger for the Dreamliner's APU batteries, and Pratt & Whitney produces the APU itself.

Kelly Nantel, public affairs division chief for the Wash., D.C.-based NTSB, said both Securaplane's charger and Pratt & Whitney's APU would be tested, and the memory of both devices would be downloaded for examination.

Both Securaplane and Pratt & Whitney officials have said they would cooperate with the investigation but declined to comment further.

All 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in use by airlines have been grounded pending the outcome of the NTSB investigation.

Two Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines and Nippon Airways, have reported problems with the 787 Dreamliner including landing-gear problems, a minor fuel leak, a cracked cockpit windscreen, battery problems and a burning smell.

The earliest manufactured jets of any new aircraft usually have problems, and airlines that fly them first run higher risks, said Brendan Sobie, Singapore-based chief analyst at CAPA-Centre for Aviation.

Since about half the 787 fleet is in Japan, more problems are cropping up there, he said.

Story and Video:  http://www.azcentral.com

Nextant’s Restored Business Aircraft May Get European Boost

Nextant Aerospace, an Ohio firm that replaces the innards of old business jets to offer a cheaper alternative to new planes, aims to deliver more aircraft in 2013 after it received full approval from European regulators.

Nextant has recently delivered planes to customers in Germany and the Czech Republic, and aims to deliver 24 to 30 jets globally this year, compared with 25 since late 2011, President Sean McGeough said in a telephone interview. The European Aviation Safety Agency acted last year to allow the company’s Nextant 400XTs to fly throughout the continent.

Nextant remanufactures jets by adding new engines and instruments to the used airframes of Hawker Beechjet 400A/XPs. The plane sells for about $4.5 million, roughly half the price of a comparable new jet, according to McGeough, who joined the Cleveland-based company this month after leading international operations at Hawker Beechcraft Corp.

“It allows customers that may not have been able to buy a new aircraft to buy one that has already taken the residual- value hit,” McGeough said. “Every time you buy anything new, it will depreciate significantly the day you fly away, and this airframe has already taken that hit.”

The company is looking to expand sales in Europe, where it says delivery of entry-level business jets grew by 14 percent in the four years to 2011 compared with the previous comparable period. About 20 percent of the European fleet is for sale, affording Nextant an opportunity to meet demand for more fuel- efficient planes, McGeough said.

Nextant’s order backlog is worth $175 million and the number of entry-level business jets in Europe stands at 1,542 planes worth about $5 billion, according to the company.

The manufacturer is owned by Directional Aviation Capital, and the principal shareholder is Kenneth Ricci, who is also Nextant’s chief executive officer. Nextant has no plans to offer shares to the public, according to the company.


Source:  http://www.businessweek.com

National Pilot Shortage Affects Flyers

KWQC-TV6 News and Weather For The Quad Cities - 

Customers could end up paying more and seeing fewer options the next time they fly. 

A national pilot shortage could affect you the next time you head to the airport. Over 27,000 pilots are expected to retire over the next 20 years.

Not only that but new federal regulations are making it harder to become commercial airline pilots. When those regulations go into effect, it could affect regional airlines, like some in Moline, the most.

At Carver Aero in Davenport, two new flight instructors have been hired and a new Red Bird flight simulator brought in to prepare more students for the skies. 

"We saw it coming, we hired the instructors, universities are hiring instructors," Flight Instructor Jordan Bidwell says.

The national pilot shortage has more students flocking to flight schools.

"The odds are looking very good here if you want to become a professional pilot," Bidwell says, "This is the wave, this is where we catch the wave is right now."

As several thousand pilots are forced to retire at age 65, Bidwell says one airline is retiring 230 in a month alone in February, new federal regulations to make flying safer require new pilots to have up to 1500 hours of flight time. That can take at least seven to ten years to achieve.

Before some pilots were hired with as little as 250 hours. The federal mandates are also considering more rest time for pilots so new pilots are needed to fill that scheduling gap.

"The airlines are going to have to cut back somewhere, in my opinion they're going to cut back in the regional airlines," Bidwell says.

Smaller regional airlines, like Sky West and Go Jet serve big airlines like Delta, American and United, at airports every where, and they may be losing their pilots to those big airlines soon.

"The main lines, the big ones, American, United, they're going to take those regional pilots," Bidwell says, "They're just going to suck them up, that's the way it's always been."

As smaller airlines try to get new pilots in, Bidwell says, "They're either going to have to wait for them, or pay them more because they're going to have that experience under their belt."

"The regional airlines are going to have to offset those costs somewhere," he adds.

So travelers could see fewer options at the airport and increased fares.    

"It's going to cost more to fly, but it's going to be safer to fly," Bidwell says.

QC airport officials say this is an airline issue, not an airport issue. They tell TV6 if airlines do choose to cut back, dozens or even hundreds of airports that rely on regional airlines would be affected.

But right now they are not concerned.

Story and Video:  http://www.kwqc.com

Man continuously criticizes Naples Municipal Airport (KAPF), Florida

NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral  


COLLIER COUNTY - Complaints about the airplane noise in Naples are hitting the ears of Collier County commissioners again. But this time, there's a problem with who is criticizing the airport. 

 Out of 105 complaints for loud airport noise, 75 were made by one person. And that man doesn't even live in the fly zone and no one can seem to track him down.

Todd Erickson is the man who made those 75 complaints against the Naples Municipal Airport.

Erickson filed 17 noise complaints on December 7th alone - all within a little over an hour.

The confusing part is that his home is not within the airport's flight paths for its two intersecting runways.

We tried reaching out to Erickson Tuesday, but couldn't track him down.

It's the same problem airport officials are having since he won't return their calls or emails - preventing them from finding out more about the complaints.

"When we have somebody whose really upset, we like to talk to them and we can make them understand," said Ted Soliday, with the Naples Airport Authority.

"There are planes coming in, but 75 in a short period of time seems a little odd," said Naples resident Russ Dugan.

In the meantime, airport officials have blocked Erickson from making further complaints online. 


Story and Video:   http://www.nbc-2.com

Goetz Helicycle, N143PG: Accident occurred January 22, 2013 in Mesa, Arizona

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:   http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:   http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N143PG

NTSB Identification: WPR13LA099
NTSB14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Mesa, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/13/2014
Aircraft: GOETZ HELICYCLE, registration: N143PG
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that while in cruise flight, the helicopter’s engine lost partial power. Because the helicopter was unable to maintain altitude, the pilot performed an autorotation to a residential street, and the helicopter landed hard. A witness reported that before the helicopter landed, it was oscillating and sounded as if the engine was cutting in and out. Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that the "B" wire, which runs between the electronic speed controller unit and the fuel controller actuator motor, had separated. The pilot further reported that he had installed the "B" wire without strain relief at the connector, which allowed the wire to disconnect from the fuel control system because of vibrations during normal flight operations. The pilot reported that this disconnection resulted in a loss of fuel controller actuator motor power, and the engine power decreased to flight idle.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to properly install and secure the wire connecting the electronic speed controller unit to the fuel controller actuator motor, which resulted in the wire’s disconnection in flight and the resultant partial loss of engine power.


On January 22, 2013, about 1400 mountain standard time, a Goetz Helicycle, N143PG, experienced a hard landing following an off airport autorotation about 4 miles southeast of Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The helicycle was registered to, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that originated from Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD), Chandler, Arizona.

The pilot reported that he had hovered the helicycle for about 15 minutes prior to a normal takeoff. During the flight, the engine suddenly lost partial power. The pilot initiated an emergency landing onto a residential road. A witness reported that his attention was first drawn to the helicycle when he heard an engine cutting in and out. Once the helicycle came into view, he noticed that it was also oscillating. The helicycle made a circle over his neighborhood before it initiated an autorotation to the ground. The helicycle landed hard and came to rest in a bush. During the accident sequence, the tailboom and tail rotor assembly were substantially damaged.

Post-accident examination of the airframe and engine by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector revealed that the fuel controller actuator motor arm was in the minimum fuel position. The electronic speed controller unit was damaged and separated from the helicycle. Several of the wires from this system were pulled from their ring terminals, including the "B" wire, which runs to the fuel controller actuator motor. All of these wires showed signs of being mechanically pulled from the ring terminal with the exception of the "B" wire, which did not have the same rough and tension markings.

The pilot reported that the "B" wire had come loose at the connection while inflight. He further reported that when there is a loss of power to the fuel controller actuator motor the engine automatically goes to a minimum fuel stop position and flight idle. The pilot further reported that there were no parts failures, but that he had installed the "B" wire without an additional strain relief at the connector, which allowed the wire to disconnect from the system during normal operations.

The pilot reported that the accident can be prevented by installing a second parallel wire between the fuel controller actuator motor and the electronic speed controller unit.


 
NTSB Identification: WPR13LA099 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Mesa, AZ
Aircraft: GOETZ HELICYCLE, registration: N143PG
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

On January 22, 2013, about 1400 Mountain standard time, a Goetz Helicycle, N143PG, experienced a hard landing following an off airport autorotation about 4 miles southeast of Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa Arizona. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor and tail rotor systems. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight destined for FFZ.

The pilot reported that while approaching FFZ, the helicopter’s engine started to oscillate rapidly. Unable to stop the oscillations, he entered an autorotation and landed hard on a residential street sidewalk. Subsequently, the main rotor and tail rotor systems were substantially damaged.

The helicopter has been removed from the scene for further investigation.








MESA, Ariz. -  The pilot of a small experimental helicopter is okay after making an emergency landing in a Mesa neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, near Stapley and University. 
The pilot, a man in his 60s, was in control when he landed, and there was no explosion or fire hazard. 

The man was the only one inside the single-seat 2007 Helicycle and made it out of the plane before Mesa firefighters arrived at the scene. 

He was reportedly flying from Chandler to Falcon Field. It's unknown what caused the aircraft to go down.

No one on the ground was hurt, and the crash was witnessed by many people.

Firefighters say the pilot did a great job of avoiding homes and vehicles in the area, and landed in a bush next to a sidewalk. The plane is pretty much intact.

After the crash, the pilot was seen trying to disassemble the homemade plane so it could be removed from the sidewalk. 

Story, photos, video:  http://www.myfoxphoenix.com

Why Lithium Batteries Are Prized: Dreamliner's Power Packs Store a Lot of Energy in Small Package; Risks of Fire During Recharging

January 22, 2013, 4:56 p.m. ET

By GAUTAM NAIK
The Wall Street Journal

 

Lithium-ion batteries became crucial to the design of Boeing Co.'s new Dreamliner jet because they offered a combination of high power and low weight.

Yet the very chemistry that makes these high-tech batteries so attractive to designers may increase their risk of overheating and catching fire, a situation that has contributed to the global grounding of about 50 Dreamliners in use and a halt to new deliveries after two onboard fires.

Investigators aren't just looking at the batteries. Safety experts are combing over the jet's wiring, circuit boards and other battery-related external components as they probe the incidents.

Batteries convert stored chemical energy into usable, electrical energy. A lithium ion battery consists of a negative electrode and a positive electrode that are linked by an electrolyte, such as an organic solvent.

When the battery is being used, the electrolyte transports ions between the electrodes; electrons flow along a separate wire circuit and that electrical current is used to start an auxiliary power unit and for emergency power.

By mixing and matching different metals and chemistries, scientists have created a range of different battery types that differ in terms of voltage, service life, size and cost. Low-power devices such as those in a TV remote are usually powered by inexpensive alkaline batteries.

The challenge for battery makers has been to boost the amount of energy that can be stored in a given volume—and that is where lithium-ion technology shines. A lithium-ion power-pack can deliver more energy than a similar-size battery based on another metal, a measure known as energy density.

That is why lithium batteries were compelling to the 787's designers. The Dreamliner was crafted to allow for big fuel savings and weight reductions, some of which are enabled by the small but powerful lithium-ion batteries Boeing is using.

Lithium is the least dense of all metals and highly electropositive, which means it delivers a high voltage. Lithium-ion batteries pack twice as much energy density as nickel-metal-hydride versions, and four to six times as much energy density of the lead-acid battery found in many cars, according to Stanley Whittingham, a professor of chemistry and expert on lithium-ion batteries at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y.

Lithium also is the third-smallest element after hydrogen and helium. "Because it is small, you can pull it in and out of materials easily" compared with other elements that are bigger and can't be moved so easily, said Clare Grey, professor of materials chemistry at the University of Cambridge, England.

Today, lithium batteries are the preferred power packs for an array of widely used consumer products, from laptops and tablets to cellular phones and portable drills. They are also increasingly found in cars, buses, planes, trains and satellites.

On the 787, the batteries aren't used during normal cruising flight, but they are continually charged by the plane's onboard generators.

A potential problem can arise when a lithium-ion battery is plugged into an external power source for recharging. "If it is overcharged, there is electrolyte breakdown and that generates heat," said Prof. Whittingham.

Chemists call it "thermal runaway," an ever-increasing heating process that can cause the battery to ignite.

It isn't clear whether this is what happened to the Dreamliner batteries. Prof. Grey speculated that a manufacturing defect could have triggered a physical short-circuit, which caused heating, released oxygen and led to a fire. Or intense heat could have melted the physical separator between anode and cathode. "Then the whole thing goes up in a puff of smoke," she said.

Prof. Whittingham noted that, when heated up, the electrolytic solvent in the battery can turn into a flammable gas, which can potentially trigger a fire.

"When you get thermal runaway," he added, the battery can burn "at a temperature of 300-to-400 degrees Celsius," or between 570 degrees and 750 degrees Fahrenheit. 


Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Cebu Pacific launches first A320 jet with ‘sharklets’

An executive of Airbus yesterday said that in Asia, people are very interested in new technology, which is always followed by success in the company that has adopted these technologies.

As he spoke, Cebu Pacific, the Philippines’ largest low-cost carrier, was unveiling the new technology that the European plane maker has built into its latest range of passenger aircraft.

“In Asia, people are very interested in new technology always, which is a key driver in the success of the company,” said Jean Francois Laval, Airbus senior vice president for sales, Asia. He was speaking at the sidelines of the launching of Cebu Pacific’s first A320 aircraft that features “sharklets,” a wingtip innovation which Airbus says improves the plane’s fuel efficiency.

Laval added that Asia is growing and is a key element of Airbus’ strategy in this part of the world, adding that his company will continue to develop relationships with Asian carriers as well as with carriers in all the regions.

 “It is very important for us to be present in this region. We’ve been present in this region for many, many years and it is important for us to continue.”

Airbus is both used by Cebu Pacific and the country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines.

In its forecast, Airbus sees a market for 28,200 aircraft in Asia in the next 20 years as the region grows, and raised its single-aisle aircraft market forecast 1.6 percent to 19,500 planes.

Single-aisle jets will make up 69 percent of the market, while wide-body jets will constitute 25 percent, Airbus predicted.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific president and CEO, Lance Gokongwei, who presided over the inauguration of the first and only Philippine carrier to operate the latest version of the fuel-efficient A320 family plane, said the brand-new aircraft “ushers in their fleet expansion for the rest of 2013.”

Sharklets, newly designed wingtip devices that allow airlines to reduce fuel burn by up to 4 percent on longer sectors, are the latest featrure added to the new Airbus models.

Gokongwei said that as an example of the fuel-saving property of the sharklets, a flight to Bangkok that would normally consume 8,000 liters of fuel per hour would be able to save about 300 liters one way with the help of the wingtip innovation.

The sharklet, which is called “winglet” by Airbus’ US rival Boeing, is 2.4 meters or about eight feet tall, which helps reduce drag and enables airplanes to consume less fuel, give off lower emissions and increase its range.

 “Starting tomorrow (Tuesday), we will be the first Philippine carrier and the second airline in the world to operate sharklet-equipped Airbus aircraft,” Gokongwei said.

He added that it is the first of the seven sharklet-equipped A320 aircraft the company will receive this year.

Laval said that Airbus is now working to retrofit or adopt the sharklets to existing airplanes.

 “Yes, you’re right. We are now working on the retrofit program so that next year we expect to begin retrofitting existing aircraft with sharklets,” he replied to a query about whether aircraft’s straight wingtips could be twisted like sharklets.

“Cebu Pacific continues to have one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world, which helps keep our fares the lowest in the market, in all destinations we operate,” Gokongwei said.

The A320 family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single-aisle aircraft, of which more than 9,000 have been ordered and over 5,400 delivered to more than 380 customers wordwide, according to Airbus.

Story:  http://www.malaya.com.ph

Rolls-Royce announces plans to slash 400 engineers

Nearly 400 engineering jobs in the Midlands were on the chopping block today after Rolls-Royce announced a mass layoff.

The defence contractor said it was cutting 378 jobs - nearly half the total - at its Ansty plant near Coventry, with the workers' Unite union blaming "short-sighted" defence cuts.

National officer Ian Waddell said the company had sent an internal memo to staff detailing its proposals.

He said: "The blame for the loss of these highly skilled jobs in the key defence sector lies with the government and its short-sighted determination to ram through massive spending cuts in the defence budget.

"Once again, Unite calls for a coherent defence industrial strategy to be drawn up as matter of urgency to safeguard jobs and a defence industry at which Britain excels.

"This is vital, otherwise more high-skilled jobs will be lost - perhaps forever.

"There is a very long timescale for consultation and implementation, so we hope that compulsory redundancies will be avoided.

"However the underlying reason for the job losses is the government's defence spending cuts announced a couple of years ago.

"The scrapping of the Harrier jumpjet fleet, for instance, has led to redundancies at the Ansty factory, which will close.

"Meanwhile, work from Germany will be transferred to Rolls-Royce's site at Bristol.

"Unite will be seeking an early meeting with management to discuss the implications for our members and we will taking every step to safeguard their employment now and in the future."

He said bosses at Rolls-Royce had acted "fairly" by giving as much notice as possible to the staff of the company's plans to shut down the plant.

The 200-acre Rolls-Royce site at Ansty employs about 800 people and handles the refit and repair of both airplane and marine engines.

Components for the company's Trent series of civil aviation engines are also manufactured on the site.

A Rolls-Royce spokesman said that it was in consultation with recognized unions and hoped to achieve the cuts without compulsory redundancies.

Ansty's civil aerospace business would not be affected, he said.

Source:  http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk

Northeast Queens Leaders Vow to Continue Fight on Airplane Noise: Avella, Braunstein and Meng meet with FAA to discuss flight pattern out of LaGuardia Airport

Northeast Queens elected officials said they would continue to fight a noisy flight pattern over Bayside and Douglaston following a meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration last week.

State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Flushing, and a representative from U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s, D-Melville, met with the FAA on Friday to discuss the flight pattern out of LaGuardia Airport.

In a joint statement, they said they would call on the FAA to listen to the voices of the communities affected by the route.

“We took a step forward in addressing the significant quality of life issue that was created by the FAA’s new flight procedures at LaGuardia Airport, which have resulted in extreme increases in aircraft noise in northeast Queens,” the statement read. “We will continue to fight for an open process that involves additional options and put pressure on the FAA to pursue those alternatives, which include vital community feedback.”

A spokesman for Avella said no further details about the meeting with the FAA would be disclosed at this time. It was unclear whether the FAA intended to continue with the flight pattern.

The FAA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Early last summer, northeast Queens residents began complaining about continuous noise from low-flying planes over the community.

Elected officials said the FAA had told them there would be a comment period for residents, but that it never occurred. In late 2012, they said it appeared that the flight pattern had been made permanent.

Avella, Braunstein and Meng held a protest of the flight pattern in Bayside in December.

Source:  http://bayside.patch.com

Elk Grove, Sacramento County, California: Local hobbyist reproduces classic plane; advises upcoming film

 
Photos by Steve Crowley -
Thom Taylor, points out all the sewing involved with the project. 


Elk Grove resident Thom Taylor has spent the last two years immersing himself in the workings and architecture of vintage gliders. 

As reported in the Citizen in 2011, the longtime woodworker picked up the hobby of building revolutionary aircrafts after purchasing a technical book about the construction of the gliders.

Taylor and a friend soon built a smaller replica of the Wright brothers’ 1902 glider in his garage.

Recently, Taylor has expanded his fascination with the construction and mechanisms of classic airplanes by embarking on a new project: Building Bay Area aviator and professor John Joseph Montgomery’s first glider.

Taylor’s new venture has also placed him in the position of being one of the consultants for the forthcoming feature film, Correcting History, which will focus on the life of Montgomery. Inspired by the book, Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West by Craig Harwood, the great-great nephew of Montgomery, the movie will focus on the life of the aircraft trailblazer.

While it has been said that Wilbur and Orville Wright were the inventors of the flying machine, it was actually Montgomery who pioneered the first aircraft.

A struggling businessman at the time, Montgomery built and flew his first glider at the age of 26, almost two decades before the Wright Brothers produced theirs.

“After I gave my Wright Brothers glider to a museum the curator asked me, ‘What will you build next?’” Taylor said. “I really had no idea what to do for my next project…but I knew that I wanted to build something that was full-sized.”

Staff at the museum advised Taylor to build Montgomery’s first glider, the Gull.

But Taylor did not know about the aviator or his groundbreaking work at the time.

“Since I’d never heard of him I went back to my computer and did some research…I found out that Montgomery flew a monowing plane in San Diego back in 1884; almost 20 years before the Wrights,” Taylor said.

The more Taylor read about Montgomery the more he wondered why the innovator’s story had never been told.

“Everybody knows about the Wright Brothers, but not so many people know about this guy…he really got a raw deal in history,” he said.

Taylor spent 2011 studying Montgomery’s history and the technical aspects of the Gull; he soon purchased the necessary materials to build it and began to do so in his garage.

“I told myself I was going to build a working Montgomery aircraft and was going to fly it,” he said. “There weren’t many diagrams available to study, so I pretty much had to get old photographs and reverse engineer everything.”

In the midst of his research, Taylor noticed information online about Correcting History, as the film’s producer and executive producer - John Giddings and Veronica Craven, respectively  – set up a Kickstarter website to raise money for the movie.

Taylor contacted the Bay Area film producers about his project and they visited him at his Elk Grove home on Jan. 16.

“We’re really excited that Thom’s helping to bring Montgomery’s story to life,” said Giddings, an entrepreneur, jockey pilot, and professor at Santa Clara University who also recently found a fascination with Montgomery’s story. “Children should know Montgomery as an innovative role model.”

Montgomery was also a professor at Santa Clara University, and Giddings learned about his history through information he’d found on campus.

Captivated by what he’d learned, Giddings believed that a full-length film would better tell the rich story of this little known pioneer.

The producers describe Correcting History as a feature theatrical film akin to The Right Stuff meets The Da Vinci Code.

Giddings, Craven, and Taylor engaged in conversation about their common newfound interest, as the producers are gathering as much research, advice, and education as they can during the film’s pre-production phase.

“Montgomery wasn’t someone who told his story over and over, so his history sort of fell through the cracks,” Giddings said. “But it turns out that he did many huge public demonstrations where thousands of people saw what his glider could do…he had perfect control over the aircraft.”

Craven further explained the educational value of the film.

“History is usually told in a word-of-mouth fashion,” she said. “It’s campfire tales, or your grandmother telling hours of stories…that’s how you learned your history.”

Craven mentioned that since the school system does not have such luxuries, many points of historic interest are often quickly simplified or simply left out.

“This movie is filled with history, as well as Montgomery’s unknown intricacies and complexities,” she said.

Correcting History will be filmed in the Bay Area this year; its planned release is December. Actors will be scouted in northern California, including the Sacramento area.

In the meantime, “the year of Montgomery” - as Craven refers to it - rolls on.

Taylor gave up his other woodworking projects to solely dedicate his time to working on the groundbreaking glider.

Using wood, wax coated thread lashed to reinforce the wood, and metal braces to build the aircraft, he’s aiming to have it finished and ready for flight in about a year.

There will be several flight tests performed on the aircraft by pilot, Gil Wright, prior to having someone fly it.

“After it’s all put together we’re going to take it to a hangar and suspend it from the ceiling,” Taylor said. “Gil will bounce on the glider to get its wings flexing…if anything will fail, it will fail right then. If so, we’d go back to the drawing board and rebuild it.”

Taylor said that he would also like to test the glider at a location near Monterey where Montgomery flew his aircraft.

“We’ll put two holes in the ground, let the wind come up, and suspend the glider in the middle,” he said. “Someone will get on it and see if the wind coming up from the ocean will provide enough lift for the plane.”

Taylor welcomes any questions you may have concerning his project. You can contact him directly by email at Pilot1022@aol.com.


Story and Photo:   http://www.egcitizen.com

The Untold Story of Dana Air Crash and Unpaid Insurance Claims

Dana Airlines has resumed flights in the Nigerian airspace. But whilst the insurance industry may have honored most of its obligations that arose from the ill-fated Dana airlines flight No. 992 in Iju, Lagos, many remain in limbo as to why claims on passengers that lost their lives in the accident are yet to be paid fully. Nnamdi Durugives an update on the issues

Dana Airline’s Boeing MD 83 aircraft flight No. 992 crashed on June 3, 2012 into Iju area of Lagos State, killing all the 153 passengers and crew on board as well as another 10 on the ground.  The aircraft, which crashed in a densely populated area, also destroyed several properties on the ground as well as a house whose occupants included a couple that died, rendering their three young children orphans.

Following the agitation of Nigerians who alleged negligence on the part of the airline, the Federal Government suspended its operational license and restored it four months after. The airline has since gone back to business, leaving many Nigerian wondering why the government allowed other aircraft from the airline’s fleet resume flights while families that lost their loved ones are yet to be fully compensated.

Dana Aviation Insurance

The management of Dana Airlines and insurance companies, both local and foreign, agreed to insure its fleet of aircrafts at a premium of $1,448,206 (equivalent of N225.92 million).

A reliable source confirmed that the deal which was brokered by Aon Plc saw Lloyds of London taking 70 percent of the premium which amounts to N158.14 million ($1,013, 745) while 30 percent amounting to N67.78 million was retained by the local insurers.

In the local market, Prestige Assurance Plc its lead insurer and took on 8 per cent of the risk. The co-insurers include Leadway Assurance Company Limited, which took on 7 percent of the risk; NEM Insurance Plc took on 5 per cent of the risk; and Sterling Assurance Plc that took 3 percent of the risk.

The other co-insurers are Continental Reinsurance Plc with 3 per cent of the risk, Aiico Insurance Plc, which absorbed 2 percent of the risk and Standard Alliance Insurance Plc with 2 percent.

Claims


Whenever and wherever Dana claims is mentioned, most Nigerians associate it with the controversies over the insurance claims arising from the accident.  But contrary to this belief, claims that arose from the air disaster are multi-faceted.

However, several claims arose from the air disaster and it involved not only the eight regular insurers on the Dana group insurance account, which Prestige Assurance led.

The claims, particularly those made on other insurers other than the regular insurers on the account included individual and group life assurance claims and personal and group accident claims.

These are aside from the aviation claims that are being resolved by the appointed representatives of the reinsurer Llyods of London.  The aviation claims could be classified into life, aviation hull and cargo as well as third party claims.

Individual Life Claims

These are claims presented to various life insurers by relative of some of the passengers who lost their lives in the accident.  For those passengers who had life assurance policies, their relatives would have made claims on such policies by now.

Most of these claims may have been finally settled by the affected life insurers by now except where there are problems stopping the affected life insurers from paying claims to the designated beneficiaries.

This is particularly because, in every life policy, the assured is expected to clearly name the beneficiaries of the policy in the event of death of the life assured.  All the insurance company had to do in this case is to notify the families who come up with all the necessary documentations to enable them claim on the policy.

Group Life Claims

Another very important aspect of the Dana air crash claims which many Nigerian have almost totally over looked is the group life assurance claims.

The Pension Reform Act, 2004 mandated employers to take out group life assurance to the extent of 300 percent of individual workers’ annual salary for the benefit of their respective employees.  Related to this too, is the fact that many organization before the mandatory group life assurance, have different group life policies in place in addition to the one made compulsory by the act.

At the death of affected passengers in the air disaster, the policies triggers and claims made by the organizations whose staff lost their lives in the crash may have been met by now.

Some of the organizations whose group life policies may have been met include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), office of the Head of Service of the federation (OHOSF) for victims who may have worked for the Federal civil service and other organizations in the private sector.

Most of these claims may have been fully settled, except where there are problems with the named beneficiaries, including where the named beneficiary may have died and the victim was unable to change it before the accident.

Personal and Group Accident Claims


As in the case of life assurances, individuals and groups may have had in place personal or group accident policies which triggers when the insured sustains injuries in the air crash.

In this case and going by the fact that there is no survivor in the air crash, except in the case of victim on ground who may have any of such insurances, there would be no claims in this regard.

This is because the policy triggers not on death but when the insured sustained injuries as a result of accidents.

However, for any ground victim that may have had personal or group accident policies, his or her claim may have been settled by now.

Dana Aviation Claims

 
This is what comes to the mind whenever the Dana crash arises and here lies the problem lie. These claims cover the lives of passengers, aircraft hull and cargo.

Claims that may have risen from the air disaster with regard to the hull and cargo is expected to be resolved amicably since the value of the aircraft hull and the cargoes it is carrying could be ascertained with precision. Also, this involved negotiation between the insured and the insurers without any third party involved and there are global rules on how to calculate liabilities in this regard.

It is only the passenger and third party claims that are problematic because, the claimants are third parties under the contract and may have not had a good understanding of the insurance contract that exists between the airline and the insurers.

The third party claims include life of affected people and victims who lost their lives on ground, properties destroyed as a result of the accident or those destroyed in order to gain access to the accident site.

Complaints of Irregularities


Some relatives of the crash victims alleged irregularities and deliberate delay in the payment of the initial compensation on the trio of the management of Dana Airline, Prestige Assurance Plc and the foreign reinsurer, Lloyds Syndicate of London represented by Clyde and Co and its Nigerian representatives, Yomi Osikoya & Co.

While some raised an alarm that their names were advertised as having collected the $30,000, they were yet to receive any such money from any of the parties others alleged that they were short-changed by the trio, having been paid $15,000 instead of the full amount.

Some others accused the managements of Dana Airlines and Yomi Osikoya & Co were threatening them to withdraw the suit the instituted against Dana Airlines in the United States even as another would-be beneficiary alleged that the airline’s management and legal representative of the reinsurer forced him to go through a DNA test and secure a Letter of Administration but still refused to pay him or his proxy the said $30,000 initial compensation.

Payment So Far

As at last month, the lead insurer on the Dana Airline account, Prestige Assurance confirmed that 81 relatives of crash victims had received the initial $30,000 as at December 1, 2012, adding that the remaining 70 per cent of the claims would be paid to them when they meet the necessary claims conditions, including presentation of valid letters of administration from the state government.

None of the victims’ families have received compensation in full including the man who claimed he has submitted a letter of authority empowering him to administer the estate of his late daughter.

Prestige Clears Self

The lead underwriter for the Dana Airlines, Prestige Assurance has absolved itself from all blames regarding delays in payment of the initial compensation to relatives of the crash victims, saying it was neither responsible for negotiating nor verifying claims made by the bereaved families and that its duties under the contract stops at contributing its share of verified claims.

The Managing Director of the company, Dr. Anand Mittal, responded to allegations made against the insurers and absolved Prestige Assurance from blames with regard to the complaints of the stakeholders.

He said Prestige Assurance has paid $2.609 million dollars as at last month, being compensation to victims of the deceased and legal fees to relevant organizations handling various aspects of the claims.

According to him, the payment of the initial $30,000 compensation to families of the crash victims ran into trouble when multiple relatives started laying claims to the benefit of some victims.

According to him, Prestige Assurance role stops at paying its share of verified claims on the advice of the legal representative of the reinsurer, Lloyds of London, Yomi Osikoya & Co. which is the firm handling all the claims on behalf of its principal.

He explained that, it is the responsibility of the reinsurer based in London to verify and negotiate claims arising from the accident through its Nigerian agent in line with the insurance contract as approved by NAICOM.

Mittal emphasized that under the insurance contract, the job of Prestige Assurance in its capacity as lead underwriter is limited to making available 30 per cent of every verified claims  on behalf of all the co-insurers; adding that it was not concerned about how the reinsurer and its representatives arrive at the final claims figures.

Mittal however, challenged those making the allegations to come up with proofs of the misbehavior's as alleged.  The insurer noted that it is not its duty to prying into how the reinsurer investigates the claims and how he negotiates with victims’ families to arrive at the amount of the claims, particularly the liabilities claims which amount could only be determined by the court or through negotiation with all the parties affected but assured that with adequate proofs, it will take the issue with the reinsurer.

Letter of Authority


A necessary condition for the settlement of the aviation claims to relatives of victims of the air crash is the presentation of a valid letter of authority by the claimant.  This is actually the root of most of the allegations and counter-allegations on the Dana Claims.

Letter of Authority is a legal document empowering any holders to administer the estate of the deceased and as such with such a letter, the holder is qualified to claim the benefits payable on the live of his relative.

This document is usually issued by government and as usual it is not something that one could walk into a court room or any government office and come out with it.  This is issued after series of investigations to ensure that the personal is the lawfully appointed or rightful administrator of the deceased estate.

Most relatives of the victims of the accident have not been able to obtain this document from government talk more of presenting it to the insurers.  This is a major cause of delay in settling the claims

Multiple Claimants

 
Many Nigerian men are married to more than one wife and in some cases the second and other wives are secret wives and mistresses who have children for them.  There are cases where these secret wives also lay claims to the benefits payable on the lives of the deceased.

Related to this, is the case where there are distrust between the wife or husband of the deceased and the victim’s families.  This usually results to multiple claims on the life of a deceased passenger.  When this happens, the insurers should do all the necessary to ensure that the rightful person is paid or it may have to pay the claim more than once.

What was obvious in such cases, particularly with the payment of the initial US$30,000 preliminary claims on the lives of the victims is that the insurer splits the check and pay the various claimants.

Need for Awareness

The insurance industry may have earned a bad name and suffered an image crisis as a result of complaints of unsettled commitments with regard to the accident even when it is clear that the industry may have played its part creditably in the face of suffering by relatives of the victims of the air disaster.

The industry, particularly the insurers on the Dana Group account and those that may have settled various claims arising from the accident should come up with relevant publicity to create awareness that insurance actually pays, when the conditions of the contract are met by the insured or beneficiaries of the policies.


Source:   http://www.thisdaylive.com