Saturday, February 9, 2013

Boeing completes 'uneventful' test flight of 787 Dreamliner

Sat Feb 9, 2013 7:25pm EST

Feb 9 (Reuters) -
Boeing Co completed what it called an uneventful flight on Saturday of a test 787 Dreamliner, its first since the airplanes were grounded more than three weeks ago after a series of battery-related problems.

The test flight to gather detailed information on the airplane's lithium-ion batteries lasted two hours and 19 minutes, taking off from and returning to Boeing Field in Seattle, Boeing said.

"The crew reports that the flight was uneventful," Boeing said in a statement.

The 50 Dreamliners in commercial service were grounded worldwide on Jan. 16 after a series of battery-related incidents including a fire on board a parked 787 at Boston's Logan International Airport and an in-flight problem on another airplane in Japan.

The groundings have cost airlines tens of millions of dollars, with no solution yet in sight.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday it would allow 787 test flights, under more stringent rules, to monitor the batteries in flight.

Boeing said the information gathered during the flight was part of the investigations into the battery events that occurred in January and that additional details could not be shared.

The airplane is Boeing's fifth 787 flight test airplane, marked as ZA005, and the only member of the test fleet in service. The flight had a crew of 13, including pilots and testing personnel, Boeing said.

Boeing said no flights of the airplane were planned on Sunday, but it planned to resume flights early in the coming week. Boeing does not provide advance flight schedules.

The test flight departed Boeing Field at 12:32 p.m. Pacific time (3:32 p.m. ET/2032 GMT) and landed at 2:51 p.m. (5:51 p.m. ET/2251 GMT), the company said.


Stillwater Regional (KSWO), Oklahoma: Airport opens newly constructed taxiway

January 31, 2013 

By Chase Rheam
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Airport Director Gary Johnson spoke to a group of Stillwater residents and officials as the Stillwater Regional Airport opened their newly constructed taxiway with a ribbon cutting Thursday.

The more than $4 million dollar project was created for many reasons including safety.

"This airport was designed in the 40s and the taxiways went all through the apron which is the place where you load and unload planes and people and it's not a good design to mix all of that," he said.

He said the FAA changed design standards in the 1960s.

"And probably 800 airports in the country had this same configuration and have been working to get all of them changed to a parallel taxiway configuration which is where we are striving to get with our main runway," Johnson said.

The airport has had the construction of a new taxiway in its plans for 10 years.

"We're very excited that this day is here and that this project is in the ground and it's going to serve the users for 50 years to come and more," Johnson said.

Union County Airport (KMRT), Marysville, Ohio: No Injuries Reported When Aircraft Tire Blows At End Of Runway

MARYSVILLE, Ohio - The Ohio Highway Patrol in Marysville confirmed that emergency crews were called to the airport when an aircraft blew a tire at the end of the runway.

The incident occurred just after 10:30 a.m. at the airport on Clymer Road in Marysville.

Officials responding to the scene said there was no damage to the plane and no injuries reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified of the incident.

DRATBE SHMIEL AMIR CLASSIC EDGE X, N662DA: Accident occurred February 09, 2013 in Miami, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA13CA130
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 09, 2013 in Miami, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: DRATBE SHMIEL AMIR CLASSIC EDGE X, registration: N662DA
Injuries: 2 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot/owner reported that he was flying eastbound with a passenger and was following two dirt roads, a set of power lines, and a canal that were all oriented east-west and parallel to one another. As the airplane flew along the canal, a "downdraft" or "rotor" caused a sudden loss of altitude, which placed the airplane directly in the flightpath of an intersecting (north/south) set of power lines that crossed the canal. The pilot attempted to fly under the power lines to avoid them but struck a tree on the canal's bank. The airplane then impacted the water and submerged, which resulted in substantial damage to the airframe. Witnesses reported observing the airplane flying just above the canal, below the height of the parallel lines, when it descended further, struck the tree, then the water. The student pilot/owner reported no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot's decision to fly at low altitude surrounded by tree, wire, and water hazards, and his failure to maintain clearance from those obstacles.

The student pilot/owner reported that he was flying eastbound with a passenger along two dirt roads, a set of power lines, and a canal that were all oriented east-west and parallel to one another. As the airplane flew along the canal, a "downdraft" or "rotor" caused a sudden loss of altitude which placed an intersecting (north/south) set of power lines, which crossed the canal, directly in its flight path. The pilot attempted to fly under the power lines to avoid them, but struck a tree on the canal's bank, and the airplane then impacted the water and submerged, which resulted in substantial damage to the airframe. Witnesses reported to the FAA that the airplane was flying just above the canal, below the height of the parallel lines, when it descended further, struck the tree, and the water. The student/pilot owner stated that there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane that would have prevented normal operation.

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Two occupants of an ultralight aircraft that crashed into a Florida Everglades canal early Saturday were pulled from the water by Good Samaritans who worried alligators would get to them first. 

 Jesse Kennon and Reynaldo Ordaz, tour guides at Original Coopertown Airboat, sprang into action when they saw the crash happen shortly before 10:30 a.m. near the airboat business at 22700 SW 8th St.

The aircraft’s riders, a man and woman, had been trying to land on a levee near the airboat business, when things went horribly wrong.

“We were watching him start to land,” Kennon said of the pilot. “He was almost on the ground. A gust of wind caught him and moved him sideways. And when it did, it put him in the canal system.”

When Ordaz and Kennon ran toward the canal, they saw the crash victims surfaced from the water, Kennon said. The woman freed herself, but the man still was buckled into the aircraft, Ordaz said.

“They were strapped down to that flying thing, so I jumped in the water as soon as I could,” Ordaz said.

Ordaz helped “because I know what’s in there: Gators,” he said.

“I helped them kind of get unstuck, and I helped them to the shore,” he said.

The aircraft occupants looked “shocked,” he said.

The man, who had a gash on his hand, "was pretty banged up,” Ordaz said. He was taken by helicopter to Kendall Regional Medical Center, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. The woman didn't need to be taken to a hospital.

By 1 p.m., a tow truck arrived to pull the tiny red, black and white aircraft from the water.

Visitors at the airboat business, which also has a restaurant and gift shop, said they, too, saw the crash.

“We saw the ultralight coming down fast,” said Tom Petrak, one witness. “It looked like he was going to hit the power lines and it just dived, crashed on the ground and then fell right into the water.”

Ordaz and Kennon both said they were glad that they were there to help.

“It’s what you got to do when you see somebody in trouble. And if you can help them, go for it,” Ordaz said.

Kennon said: “We’re here all the time, so you just think about trying to get the people out of the water. That’s all. That’s the only thought you’ve got in your mind, to get them out and make sure they’re not hurt.”

The crash remains under investigation.

An ultralight plane that crashed on Saturday morning is pulled from an everglades canal.

  Anthony Romano, NBC 6 
The accident was reported shortly before 10:30 a.m. By 1 p.m., a tow truck arrived to helped pull the aircraft from the water.

WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. - One person was hospitalized Saturday morning after a small aircraft crash in West Miami-Dade, according to Miami-Dade Fire Dispatch. 

 Shortly after 11 a.m., crews were called to the scene off of Tamiami Trail, west of Krome Avenue. An ultralight aircraft was carrying two people when the accident happened.

Witnesses say the aircraft was trying to land on the levee when it caught some wind and went into the water.

A woman was pulled from the water, witnesses say she was fine and walking around after the crash. A man, also pulled from the water, needed to be airlifted to a hospital.

The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating this crash.


One of two occupants on board a ultralight aircraft was taken to a hospital Saturday after an accident left their aircraft submerged in a waterway outside a restaurant and gift shop in the Florida Everglades, officials and witnesses say. The person was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. The person's latest condition wasn't available.  

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An ultralight aircraft careened into a body of water in Southwest Miami-Dade on Saturday, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Terry Duprewe. 

The accident happened around 9 a.m. Saturday near 22700 SW 8th Street, about five miles west of Crome Avenue.

Two passengers were on board, and were removed from the water. One man suffered a gash to one of his arms. The man was airlifted to Kendall Regional Hospital, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue reported.

Two people were on board the ultralight aircraft.

An FAA investigator is en route to the scene to assess the situation.

Ottawa, Canada: Pilot, passenger escape injury as small plane lands in snowy field

Firefighters and Ottawa police officer near the scene of where a plane went down in the Greenbelt near Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road in Ottawa on Saturday, February 9, 2013. No one was injured. 
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen 

A plane made an emergency landing in a field near Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road, Feb. 9, 3013. 
Image courtesy Ottawa Fire Services. 

A plane made an emergency landing in a field near Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road, Feb. 9, 3013. 
Image courtesy Ottawa Fire Services.

Ottawa police Sgt. Christina Wolfe walked a kilometre to the site of an emergency landing by a small plane in a field near Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road on Saturday, February 9, 2013. 
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen 

A tail can be seen near where a plane went down in the Greenbelt along Woodroffe Ave. near Slack Rd. in Ottawa on Saturday, February 9, 2013. Police say the plane landed belly down and no one was injured.
 Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen 

Firefighters on snowmobile and Ottawa police officer walking through snow en route to the site of an emergency landing by a small plane in a field near Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road in Ottawa on Saturday, February 9, 2013.
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen 

Ottawa police Sgt. Christina Wolfe walked a kilometre to the site of an emergency landing by a small plane in a field near Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road on Saturday, February 9, 2013. 
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen 

Ottawa emergency vehicles line the Transitway near the scene where a plane went down in the Greenbelt along Woodroffe Ave. near Slack Rd. in Ottawa on Saturday, February 9, 2013. The plane landed belly down and no one was injured. 
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Ottawa firefighters waded through knee-deep snow to get to a plane after it made an emergency landing in a field Saturday afternoon. 

 Ottawa Fire Services were called to the area of Woodroffe Avenue and Slack Road shortly after 2 p.m. after the plane, reported to have engine troubles, contacted airport firefighters.

The plane landed almost a kilometre into a field off Woodroffe Avenue, which made it difficult for emergency crews to get to the two people who were in the aircraft.

When the first four firefighters on scene walked through the snowy field, they saw two people standing beside the plane waving.

Firefighters carried a “rescue basket” that looks like toboggan and carries forcible entry tools to help free the two people in case they were trapped in the plane.

Firefighters shut off the fuel supply after they found the plane upright, sitting on it’s belly in the snow.

The plane didn’t appear to have any major damage.

Marc Messier, Ottawa Fire Services spokesman, said two snowmobiles were called in to take the patients to Ottawa paramedics who were waiting on the nearby transitway.

Ottawa paramedics said they assessed the two patients and they were not injured.

Ottawa police will hold the scene until Transport Canada investigators arrive.

Read more:

TRACON: The Making Of Africa’s Aviation Hub?

The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) says it hopes to be a leading Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) worth over N30 billion in the next three years.

Considering the infrastructure it has put in place, which, it says, remains a world-class, it means the nation’s air services facilitator would need an N11 billion boost to reach that target in three years.  NAMA also has some other big “dreams,” the most significant being the making of “a low-incident ANSP (zero-accident)” airspace in Nigeria.

Doable? “All ambitious, but achievable,” says Mazi Nnamdi Udoh, the managing director and chief executive officer, who currently calls the shots at the Agency.

A series of far-between, but far-reaching, air disasters in the last nine years — the most recent being the Dana crash and its protracted controversy — have created passenger phobia that has kept the domestic arm of the aviation business in a punctuated genuflection.

Operators cry of bad business, not so much as a result of low patronage, but due to harsh operating and financial environment: The N400 billion Intervention Fund for the Aviation sector turned out to be a huge controversy, while most of the banks are less than willing to go all the way with loan-seeking airlines.

Consequently, the Federal Government, through the Aviation Ministry, has perfected plans to purchase a number of   aircraft for willing operators in an arrangement that would help willing local operators get long-term facilities.

In deed, managers of the Nigerian Airspace have no other choice than to ensure that things really work.

NAMA, just like its other sister organizations, in the aviation sector, are constantly reforming, training staff, buying and installing whatever there is to meet growing expectations at home and abroad.

Nigeria is central to global aviation business and only a vibrant ANSP that is run as business concern would be able to tap into the potentials. Because the Airspace presents itself as a shorter route for aircraft traveling to the American continent from Asia, it is often the bride of most international airlines.

Since NAMA makes (or is expected to make) its revenue from airlines using or flying over the Nigerian airspace, this potential could be properly harnessed to attain most, if not all, of these targets.

But bringing NAMA’s dreams to fruition will have to depend on carrying all of current efforts to a winning conclusion, which only comes with lesser government participation in the business of providing navigation services.

But Nigeria is, perhaps, one of the few countries, where ANSPs are still run as government business.

The United States and the United Kingdom, the aviation templates of which are variously copied by developing nations, are mere investors in the business.

So, how can the airspace truly become Africa’s aviation hub? Beyond providing the physical airport infrastructure (which falls within the domain of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN)) and sound standards/quality regulation (almost an exclusivity of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), sustaining a safe airspace is key.

If all the indices are right, maybe NAMA could achieve its target of joining the league of world-class providers, in just three years.

Udoh is an engineer of repute and probably understands the nitty-gritty of getting there; at least, he and his foot soldiers (technical managers) at NAMA promised that much.

Reeling out statistics in a telephone conversation yesterday, General Manager (Surveillance), Nwankwo Ifeanyi Francis, said the current value of NAMA – thanks to the now completed “world-class” Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) — is N19 billion.

This is a give-and-take estimate, according to Mr. Nwankwo, who observed that the dream of Nigeria’s aviation sector sitting as the African hub would not be ambitious enough going by the strategic position of the country.

The Agency said it beefed up capacity to be able to provide services for international airlines, which, hitherto, relied on US satellite services while flying over the ocean waters.

As a roadmap to becoming Africa’s leading ANSP, Udoh said the Agency is driving towards self-sustenance on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), access to funds for capital projects, diversification to non-aeronautical revenue sources and human capacity development, among others.

The Agency says it has already succeeded in some areas, specifically, the TRACON project, safe tower, total VHF Radio Coverage, AIS Automation, procurement of Navigational Aids for designated airports, and rehabilitation of 13 control towers.

Others are solar power project, ICT enhancement, VSAT network, Fibre Optics Rings and Mobile Control Tower.

The technical room of the TRACON facility at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, as recently unveiled by the Agency, represents a convergence of technology that could help the NAMA achieve other set targets.

In Nigeria’s first practical move to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization's  (ICAO) principle of separating aviation service providers from the main regulatory agency, NAMA was established in 2000 with a mission to provide safe, efficient, effective and economic air navigation services.

Over the years, efforts have been made to evolve effective airspace architecture by building and strengthening the Agency’s infrastructure and manpower base.

With staff strength of 2,500, it currently has presence in 25 airports with additional nine en-route installations.

Known as Kano Flight Information Region (Kano FIR), the Nigerian Airspace, according to NAMA, contains a sub-FIR, administered by Lagos. The FIR is divided into four sectors — Kano West, which interfaces Niamey FIR (Niger); Kano East, which interfaces Niamey, N’djamena and Brazzaville FIRs; Lagos West, which interfaces Accra FIR; and Lagos East interfacing Accra and Brazzaville FIRs.

Udoh’s targets, according to him, are achievable and will guarantee safety and increased airspace capacity, as well as provide practical benefits to all stakeholders — pilots, airlines and passengers alike.

But completion of the TRACON  project is just the beginning of a journey to making Nigeria an African aviation hub.


Kingfisher Airlines lenders to meet in two weeks: A series of meetings on the troubled airline’s debt have remained inconclusive

Mumbai: Lenders will meet again to discuss about the debts of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd sometime in the next two weeks, State Bank of India chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said on Saturday. 

A series of meetings have remained inconclusive as the troubled airlines could not give any concrete assurance on returning the money owed to banks.

Air India wastes crores on planes, pilot training


 Published on February 7, 2013 

 In a shocking revelation Air India is found to have wasted public money to the tune of crores.  More dirt on Arvind Jadhav, the ex-CMD of Air India who stands accused of not correcting the willful mismanagement of chairman of a training committee that he had appointed. The mess created due to pilot's training caused huge loss to Air India.

TODAY: Agencies to conduct crash drill on Lake Erie: Marblehead residents who spot rescue crews on icy Lake Erie this morning shouldn't be alarmed — it's just a test

A full-scale disaster drill will simulate the crash of a commuter plane carrying 50 passengers into ice-covered Lake Erie just north of Marblehead's Coast Guard station.

The exercise will take place from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Numerous airboats, helicopters and shore-based rescue crews will be present.

Dozens of federal, state and local emergency response teams — including the U.S. Coast Guard, Ohio National Guard and the cities of Lakeside, Marblehead and Sandusky — will use the drill to evaluate their response plans and capabilities for a mass-rescue operation.

"Practice is the only way to ensure you have a life-saving skill when you really need it," said Sandy Waggoner-Hovest, president of Resource Solutions Associates, a local firm providing emergency response volunteers to simulate plane crash victims.

Pick up a copy of Sunday's Register for full coverage of this large-scale emergency drill.

Brevard County, Florida: Air ambulance makes emergency landing after bird strike

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —   A hospital helicopter had to make a quick landing after striking a bird Friday night.

According to a spokesperson for Health First, the hospital's air ambulance, First Flight, struck a bird while in-flight as they were responding to an emergency call.

The hospital said the aircraft landed safely and that the crew was treated for minor injuries.

The helicopter, which landed at Viera Hospital, has been taken out of service, according to the hospital.

Helicopter company not releasing info about malfunctions: Aeromed had mechanical problems again during critical call (With Video)

LEE COUNTY – Tonight we're learning more about problems surrounding Lee County's new medical helicopter service. Last night we told you how the victim of a car crash had to be transported by ambulance because the helicopter - once again - had mechanical problems. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason continues our coverage and is working to get you answers.

We all know Lee County's Medstar program had its share of problems, that's why it was shut down. But now a private company has taken over and it seems they don't want the public to know about their problems.

"Dan" at Aeromed made it clear today...they don't want to speak with us.

Dan: “I can't go on record for anything, so.”

Mike Mason: "Okay."

Florida's Sunshine Law requires public agencies to provide information, whether it's good or bad.

For example: when the Medstar scandal unfolded, we received documents showing how Medstar billed patients illegally and the program did not meet federal requirements. But Aeromed is a private company and they may choose to keep their problems private as well.

Arnold MacAllister: "I don't think you're going to get any information that's useful out of the county unless you dig for it."

Arnold MacAllister was Medstar's pilot. EMS workers told him about an incident last Saturday involving a car crash on Burnt Store and Pine Island Road in Cape Coral. He says when Aeromed arrived on scene there was a major malfunction.

Arnold MacAllister: "When the crew landed there when they got out the door, the sliding door came off the tracks."

Aeromed has had similar problems in the past. Mechanical failures grounded the chopper during a critical car crash in Estero last September. We asked the interim county manager for info regarding this latest incident but she said we'd have to contact Aeromed to address those questions. So we went to Aeromed's office...but they didn't have much to say.

Mike Mason: "Why didn't someone call me back? You said in a matter of moments somebody would call me back."

We did manage to get an incident report and one of the 9-1-1 calls from the county.

911 Operator: "Tell her to be still and wait for help to arrive."
Caller: "She's being as still as can be and people are holding her hand."

Reports show last weekend's crash involved a vehicle and a pedestrian.

911 Caller: "The daughter was letting her mother out of the car and she didn't get out fast enough."

Aeromed was requested at 1:38pm but at 2:06pm Aeromed had to cancel due to mechanical problems. So for 28 long minutes crews were counting on Aeromed to transport the victim....but they had to resort to an ambulance instead.

We wanted to know why this happened and what is being done to fix it but at this point... Aeromed is keeping tight-lipped.

Mike Mason: "Who can I get information from? That's what I need to know."

Dan: "I contacted someone to have them contact you back so..."

Dan at Aeromed told us someone would be calling us to discuss the problems but so far we haven't heard anything. When we do we'll let you know.

Story and Video:

Emergency Landing In Reagan County, Texas

A pilot in a vintage World War II aircraft made an emergency landing in Reagan County on Friday.

The pilot set the  restored airplane down on FM 1357 in northern Reagan County just after noon.

The Reagan County sheriff says the pilot lost power at an altitude of about 8500-ft,  and was able to glide it down onto the highway.  He had to steer into a pasture  to avoid a truck on 1357.

The pilot was not injured - the plane was damaged.

Watch Video:

Cessna 150A, N7200X: Plane lands safely during emergency landing near North Texas Regional Airport/Perrin Field (KGYI), Sherman/Denison, Texas

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- A pilot's plane lost power before making an emergency landing near the North Texas Regional Airport Friday evening. 

 Assistant Grayson County Fire Marshall David Gallagher says a plane landed safely in a wheat field off 289 near Hagerman Road before 6 p.m.

Gallagher says at this time they are not sure why the pilot lost power. He says no one else was in the plane and the pilot was not injured. Gallagher says the pilot made smart decisions to land safely.

"He had several thousand hours as a pilot and he knew he was not going to make the runway so he saw this field over here so that's when he diverted and came down and put it down in this field," Gallagher said.

Gallagher says the pilot is from the Dallas area and was about to make a pit stop at the North Texas Regional Airport to fuel up before heading home.

Ghana: Five Forty Aviation Withdraws Licenses From Fastjet

Five Forty Aviation Limited has withdrawn the licenses it granted to Lonhro Aviation (BVI) Ltd which operations in Ghana, Angola, and Tanzania not to use the Fly540 brand with immediate effect.

This is due to the failure on the part of FastJet's Africa Operations to comply with the respective license agreements signed with the company.

In June 2012, FastJet (formerly known as Rubicon Diversified Investments plc) acquired Lonrho Aviation (BVI) Ltd ("Lonrho Aviation") thereby gaining control of the assets and liabilities of Lonrho Aviation's three subsidiaries namely Fly 540 Angola - Sociedade de Aviação Civil SARL ("Fly540 Angola"), 540 Ghana Limited ("Fly540 Ghana") and Fly540 (T) Limited ("Fly540 Tanzania").

FastJet's Africa Operations have been licensing the Fly540 brand from Five Forty Aviation since 2008. FastJet flies three Fly540-branded planes in Angola and two in Ghana. It flew two planes using the Fly540 brand in Tanzania until November 2012.

On 24 January 2013, lawyers representing Five Forty Aviation Limited wrote to Fly540 Angola, Fly540 Ghana and Fly540 Tanzania respectively to inform them that if they did not demonstrate compliance with the terms and conditions of the license agreement within seven days, the Company's lawyers would withdraw their ability to use the Fly540 brand.

Specifically, the conditions that are not being adhered to are as follows: Payment of outstanding license and other fees of US$6.9m, US$0.5m and US$0.3m for Fly540 Tanzania, Fly540 Angola and Fly540 Ghana respectively as well as failure to disclose financial information for December 2012; contrary to the licence agreement and despite several reminders, FastJet's Africa Operations have not provided information to the company's Head of Safety to demonstrate compliance with Five Forty Aviation's accepted safety systems; and failure to provide the Company's Quality Manager with reports demonstrating that the quality systems are in operation.

As FastJet's Africa Operations have failed to respond, notice has been given to Fly540 Angola and Fly540 Ghana to re-paint their aircrafts in a neutral color.

Additionally, FastJet's Africa Operations have to re-brand all of the sales offices, removing the Fly540 brand; return all materials containing the Fly540 logo; and rename the companies other than 540. Also, as per the license agreement, the Company has written to the Civil Aviation Authority in all three countries informing them of the withdrawal of the licences.

Don Smith, CEO of Five Forty Aviation, said in press release withdrawing the FastJet licenses: "We had no choice but to take this action because the most worrying aspect of non-compliance with the licensing agreement is that we have no way of assuring that the planes are safe to fly. We have not received any safety reports for the past three months from FastJet's Africa Operations and we believe that one plane, which flew with defects from Tanzania and landed in Nairobi on 14 December, should not have flown."

Instructively, Five Forty Aviation Ltd is a low cost airline in Africa that, operating as Fly540, offers flights to destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Five Forty Aviation was established in 2005 and commenced operations in 2006. It is the first low cost airline in Africa to provide intra-country flights, and domestic flights outside of South Africa.


Dyckesville, Wisconsin: Coast Guard uses mannequins for ice training

In the bay off Dyckesville, there are 20 plastic statues - The Coast Guard asks people to leave them alone

DYCKESVILLE - If you are near the waters of Green Bay near Dyckesville, you may have noticed some activity from the U.S. Coast Guard in the area. It is only a training exercise, but what they're searching for is most unusual. 

 The Coast Guard is indeed out on the ice searching for mannequins. There are twenty in all, placed in hiding spots across the bay.
So if you see one of them out on the ice, the Coast Guard says please leave it alone.

Crews loaded an airboat with mannequins. For the next two weeks, the plastic statues and two snowmobile decoys will spend all day and all night out on the ice.

“There's some targets that are about 3 1/2 miles that way, and then they're all about 2 1/2 to 3 miles apart,” said Randy Szcepanski, Bayside Ice and Marine Recovery.

It's a new training method the Coast Guard hopes will improve efficiencies when it comes to ice rescue.

“We're going to have a couple of different search platforms, H-65 helicopters, SPC airboat, run certain special patterns,” said Don Decker, project manager.

Decker says the helicopter will search a grid pattern, similar to an ocean rescue.

A Coast Guard airboat launched as well. Crew members will rely on their eyes on the ice, and in the air to spot their targets.

“It can potentially save lives running a more effective search. You can cover a greater area in a shorter period of time, said Decker.

The test area covers 64 square miles. But those who use this part of the lake on a regular basis say it's time well spent.

“I think with the way the ice conditions have been the last couple of years, I think it's really going to pay off. Because we're going to just keep seeing the ice move around like that,” said Szcepanski.

In the meantime, if fishermen or snowmobilers run into one of the mannequins out on the bay, the Coast Guard has one piece of advice.

“If you see our mannequins out on the ice, please let them be, they're perfectly happy where they are,” said Decker.
So how many winter calls does the Coast Guard get?
Across the entire Great Lakes region, the agency has responded to 356 calls in the last four years.
That averages out to about 89 calls a year for assistance.

Story and Video:

Jacksonville naval station could fly armed drones

Navy could soon fly helicopter-like surveillance drones called 'Fire Scout'  

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -  The Navy could soon be flying armed drones one day on the far side of the world from a remote piloting station in Jacksonville.

A one-of-a-kind center for drone pilot is expected to be up and running within a few months, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. He is scheduled to inspect the under-construction facility and be briefed on the program Monday morning.

Nelson, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, will also see first-hand an existing center where the Navy is already flying unmanned helicopter-like surveillance drones, called the "Fire Scout."

The Navy reportedly wants to begin using armed Fire Scouts by next year, and plans to begin tests on an armed version in March.

Gary Belson is an army veteran who says this is a major military job creator for Jacksonville.

"I believe that it probably will," said Belson. "Absolutely."

Belson pointed out that these drones are unmanned aircrafts that can be remotely controlled from here in Jacksonville for lethal strikes from the air in war zones halfway around the world.

"It's relatively recent, but their ability to do it now has been enhanced because of our technological capabilities that have been improved," said Belson. "Because they don't have to put a live person into the area of harm, they can do it with a mechanical thing."

Belson said he's adamantly against the use of unmanned drones to watch over U.S. citizens.

"Using it domestically for certain issues, I personally don't support it for that," said Belson.

The U.S. military’s increasing use of unmanned drones, especially those used for lethal strikes, along with the pending nomination of drone-supporter John Brennan as CIA director have brought the use of drones to center stage.

Brennan testified on Thursday before the Intelligence Committee on the possibility of a special court being created to oversee the use of killer drones.

There is growing debate in states and cities over the use of unmanned drones by law enforcement. Nelson said police will not be trained to pilot drones at the Navy’s center.

Currently, Naval Air Station Jacksonville serves as the Navy’s only training center for operators of MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters.

The robocopter, which the Navy said it primarily uses for surveillance and intelligence gathering missions, has previously been deployed to hunt for pirates off Africa, track drug smugglers in South America and was used during the Libyan civil war in 2011.

The Navy has previously said it plans to purchase 175 of the unmanned helicopters. The Fire Scout training center opened its doors just this past July.

A new state-of-the-art 8,983-square-foot facility to train operators of a second drone, called the Triton, which is designed to scan the oceans, broke ground last September and is slated to open this fall.

The long-range drones, known as Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or BAMS, can cover 2,000 nautical miles of sea and fly in for a closer look at suspicious ships.

Nelson said he has been a supporter of the surgical use of force via drones.

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Jogja Air Show 2013 halted due to death of senior aviator

Preparations for the 2013 Jogja Air Show — due to be opened on Saturday at Depok Beach in Bantul, Yogyakarta — were suspended for a couple of hours on Friday in remembrance of a senior aviator and patron of the Indonesian Aero Sport Federation (FASI), Her Triyono Karto Wisastro.

Her Triyono, 66, was killed in a traffic accident on his way to Depok Beach for the event’s final rehearsal.

“The agenda today [Friday] is location checking and official rehearsal but we stopped as soon as we heard about the fatal accident to show our respect for this figure,” Jogja Air Show 2013 coordinator Maj. Andi Abadi said on Friday.

He said the organizing committee offered to pick up Her Triyono but he rented a car instead and drove it himself to the air show site.

It is suspected that Her Triyono had a heart attack when driving the car that hit at least four motorcycles along the Jl. Ring Road in Singgosarean, Banguntapan, Bantul, killing himself and one of the motorcycle riders.

“Both died instantly at the scene of the accident,” Bantul Traffic Police chief Adj. Comr. Setyo Heri Purnomo said.

The dead motorcyclist was identified as Sugiono, who rode a Honda motorcycle with a local registration plate. Two other riders, Purwadi and Triyono, sustained serious injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Setyo said the accident occurred at about 7:30 a.m.

“All of a sudden, the car began to swerve. It hit the road divider and entered the fast lane of the traffic going in the opposite direction. It kept on going and again hit the road divider before entering the slow lane and hitting four motorcycles,” he said.

Sugiono and his motorcycle was dragged until some 20 meters long and stopped only after the car, a Toyota Avanza, hit the road divider.

“Because the driver died, the investigation is stopped and the case will be settled in a family settlement,” Setyo said.

Suspicions that the driver suffered a heart attack were roused as no traces of attempted braking were uncovered, the victim’s tongue also showed signs of biting.

“I saw the car was behaving erratically, it cut into the opposite direction lane,” one of the hit motorcyclists, Agil Prasetya, 22, said.

Agil said he did not know what happened next because he was then hit by the car.

“My motorcycle bounced away and then the next thing I knew I was in the fast lane,” said Agil, a student from Jambi.


Cessna P210N Pressurized Centurion, N240PW: Accident occurred February 09, 2013 in Charloeri, Belgium

NTSB Identification: CEN13WA156 
 Accident occurred Saturday, February 09, 2013 in Charloeri, Belgium
Aircraft: CESSNA P210N, registration: N240PW
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On February 9, 2013, about 0840 hours universal coordinated time, a Cessna P210N, United States registration N240PW, impacted terrain after takeoff from the Brussels South -- Charleroi Airport (EBCI), Charleroi, Belgium. The intended destination was Lyon, France.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Belgium Air Accident Investigation Unit. This report is for informational purposes and contains only information released by or obtained from the government of Belgium.

Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Federal Public Service -- Mobility and Transport
Air Accident Investigation Unit
Rue du Progrès 80 Bte 5
1030 Brussels

Tel.: (32) 2 277 44 23

Rescuers gather around the crashed Cessna P210N Pressurized Centurion, N240PW 
(AFP: Belga/Virginie Lefour)

Пассажирский самолет разбился в бельгийском аэропорту 

A small passenger plane crashed at Belgium's Charleroi airport, killing five people and closing the international hub. 

The aircraft, a Cessna P210N Pressurized Centurion, had problems on takeoff and tried to return to Charleroi to make an emergency landing but crashed on the side of the runway, airport officials said.

"There was a problem on takeoff and they tried to come back, but unfortunately the plane crashed," said Melissa Milioto, an airport spokeswoman.

Firefighters sprayed water on the plane that was reduced to a wreck of twisted metal, with only the tail still visible, TV images showed.

The Belgian news agency Belga said the five killed were three young children, their mother and grandfather, and were all Belgian nationals.

The airport was closed immediately after the crash. Several flights were cancelled, with another handful of flights delayed at the start of the Belgian school half-term holidays.

Charleroi was due to reopen later on Saturday.

"Our priority is dealing with this drama. Flights are being diverted to Liege and Brussels," Ms Milioto said.

Charleroi airport, also known as Brussels South Charleroi, serves as the country's second international airport after Brussels' Zaventem airport and expects to handle 140,000 passengers over the half-term holiday period.


Пассажирский самолет Cessna авиакомпании Ryanair разбился в бельгийском аэропорту Шарлеруа. Как передает RTL, по предварительным данным, в результате катастрофы погибли 5 человек, в том числе трое детей. 

Сообщается, что у рейса возникли проблемы сразу после взлета, пилот предпринял попытку вернуться в аэропорт, но самолет разбился вблизи взлетно-посадочной полосы.

Joplin Regional (KJLN), Missouri: Renovation of old airport terminal under way

JOPLIN, Mo. — Renovation work has started on the inside of the old terminal building at the Joplin Regional Airport.

Most of the demolition work on the interior has been done in order to repair and update the interior, according to airport Manager Steve Stockam.

The City Council last year approved a $175,000 project to renovate the building so that it could be leased for use.

Because of the work, the Joplin squadron of the Civil Air Patrol was asked last fall to move out of the terminal, where it had held its meetings and training sessions for decades.

Representatives of the patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, expressed concerns to the City Council that it could no longer operate from the terminal. Members of the patrol at a Dec. 4 meeting of the council thanked the city for providing the space for the squadron to meet and train, and asked for help in finding alternative space.

The unit has arranged for a temporary meeting space that representatives said is not adequate long-term.

The unit has been serving in Joplin since 1942. At one time, it paid for its own land and hangar on the airport grounds, but in the late 1950s, the city bought the land and guaranteed the squadron a free meeting space at the airport.

In response to the squadron’s concerns expressed to the council, City Manager Mark Rohr directed city staff to work with the patrol to accommodate its need for space.

“We’re working with them as far as trying to get them back into the terminal,” Stockam said Friday. He said he had met with representatives of the unit on Thursday to discuss the status. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do on the terminal building. Once we get that done, we can sit down and address what they need,” he said.

Exterior repairs to the terminal have been finished, which included resealing the roof and installing new heat and air-conditioning units.

Inside, the walls are being patched and painted, the windows resealed, and a new ceiling, lighting and floor coverings are to be installed.

“We’re trying to get to a point where we can put out a request for proposals for people to occupy the building,” Stockam said. Once it’s been determined who will lease the space, there will be some work to be done to configure the space as occupants need.

“There are certain parts of the building that are going to be more conducive to aviation,” such as the side of the building where the loading ramp is located.

Stockam said there was no intent to permanently displace the Civil Air Patrol. There will be room for the unit to come back, he said.

“It was always our intent to have them out there,” Stockam said. “We just had to ask them to move out because we had to rehab the building. We’re very fortunate to have a Civil Air Patrol unit at the airport.”

Building layout

The former terminal building has two floors and a basement. It is the main floor that is being remodeled. The interior work is expected to be finished March 1.


Tri-State Airport/Milton J. Ferguson Field (KHTS), Huntington, West Virginia: Airport debuts new amenities, restaurants

KENOVA — From the ashes of a kitchen fire last year, officials at Tri-State Airport on Thursday unveiled a pair of new restaurants, including a pub where people can sit and watch aircraft coming and going.

“This is a very grand moment for us,” Jerry Brienza, airport director, said as elected officials and airport board members clustered behind a red ribbon in front of the new Tudor’s Biscuit World and Gino’s Pizzeria & Pub locations inside the terminal.

“We’ve had our ups and downs at this airport,” Brienza said, citing recent improvements, including the addition of Allegiant Air flights contributing to the airport’s $52 million per year economic impact for the region. The airport director compared the facility to a small city, with its own police force and fire department, although he noted it had been a city that wasn’t offering an appropriate level of amenities.

“When we had a kitchen fire about a year ago it enabled us to decide what we wanted it to become,” Brienza said, crediting Oshel Craigo and officials at Tri-State Foods for rescuing the situation by providing limited foods from Gino’s until a more permanent solution could be devised. Brienza said airport officials wanted a place to serve breakfast and lunch, as well as a gift shop and a lounge where travelers can “relax and have a drink and calm their nerves before flying. Today you can sit back in the pub and watch aircraft come and go ... or watch your family get on a plane.”

Before cutting the ribbon, Kevin Gunderson, an Ashland city commissioner and president of the airport board, said he’d already had a few opportunities to enjoy foods from the new restaurants and noted he is trying to help tourism officials in Florida understand the Tri-State has many destinations for tourists from that state.

“Those planes fly in both directions,” Gunderson noted with a smile.

Guests on hand for the ribbon cutting included John and Lydia Tudor, the son and daughter-in-law of Tudor’s Biscuit World’s founder John Tudor, who gave the new restaurant an inspection and obviously liked what they saw. Tudor’s offers a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The restaurant offers made-to-order sandwiches during lunch, along with daily specials on “country dinner platter” meals such as pork chops, chopped steak and country-fried steak selections.

Gino’s provides a comfortable lounge area with a wide selection of beverages and mixed drinks, along with traditional menu items, including pizza, sandwiches and five types of chicken wings.

The new Tri-State Airport Gift Shop offers items in demand by travelers, including magazines, books and snacks alongside West Virginia souvenirs such as coal sculptures, West Virginia glass products and official apparel for Marshall University and other regional colleges and universities. There are also books about local attractions.


Federal Aviation Administration downgrade cuts weather coverage at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (KLBB), Lubbock. Texas

KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Air travel in and out of the Hub City could become more dangerous in the next few months. The Federal Aviation Administration has announced they are downgrading Lubbock International Airport and will be taking away its Contracted Weather Office. The office monitors weather patterns 24/7 and reports back to Air Traffic Control. 

 An employee who requested to remain anonymous came forward with his concerns.

"Whenever there's dangerous, threatening or rapidly changing weather, we'll issue an aviation selected report. Airline dispatchers read our observations and decide if we should divert the aircraft," they said.

The FAA's CWO employs eight meteorologists and qualified scientists. However, because Lubbock no longer meets certain traffic requirements, the FAA does not believe the service in necessary. The employee says he received an email from the FAA last week saying Lubbock's Class B status would be downgraded and on May 1st, along with 14 other CWO's across the country, their doors would close.

"It's a slap in the face. An absolute slap in the face," the employee said.

So who will be keeping an eye on the South Plains' sky now? A computer actually, that doesn't have the best track record.

"Do you want trained people with extensive backgrounds reporting your weather? Or do you want a machine that is notorious for getting it wrong?"

Weathering duties will also be left up to Air Traffic Controllers.

The anonymous employee says, "We're against that. Why? Because they're air traffic controllers. They are best at guiding you from point A to point B safely. They do not need the distraction of having to stop guiding traffic to look outside and decide what the weather is doing. That's our job."

This employee says Air Traffic Controllers aren't trained in the levels of meteorology needed to keep the skies safe. The FAA disagrees.

In a statement released to KCBD they said:

"The Federal Aviation Administration continues to provide a high level of weather information for pilots using Lubbock's Preston Smith International Airport. Due to lower traffic levels, the facility no longer qualifies for contract weather observation. This service – which primarily consists of supplementing information from the airport's sophisticated automated weather station -- is now being performed by specially trained air traffic controllers. The level of safety will not be affected."
However, this employee says he's got the backing of numerous pilots and Air Traffic Controllers.

"The best response I've had is from a pilot who said that this is a bucket full of BS."

It's an uphill battle, but this employee refuses to give up the fight. He wants to continue doing his job, keeping passengers safe.

"We have the sincere fear of what will happen to the air transportation system in this country. This is a big threat. It should not be taken lightly," he said.

The employee has been in contact with Congressman Neugebauer, along with Senators Cruz and Cornyn. He encourages any concerned citizens to contact these officials and share their discontent.

Congressman Randy Neugebauer
611 University Ave. Suite 220
Lubbock, TX 79401

Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office BLDG
Washington D.C. 20510

Senator Ted Cruz
Dircksen Sen. Bldg
Suite 50B-40B
Washington, DC 20510

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Columbia Regional Airport Launches New Website

COLUMBIA - With the Delta service coming to an end at Columbia Regional Airport and American flights on their way, the city unveiled a new website for the airport Friday. 

According to a news release from Columbia Public Works, the website was due for "major enhancements." The city's IT and public communication staff worked together with public works and airport staff to create the new site. 

Some of the updates include a new look, flight status information and flight schedule. 

The new site will also save the city money. IT staff switched the site from a third party vendor to an in-house service, which will save the city $600 annually and make it easier to update. 

You can check out the newsite here:

Delta service to Columbia stops on February 13, and American flights start on February 14. 


Editorial: Air service boost

It may not be everything critics of Memphis International Airport wanted, but AirTran's announcement that it is adding several flights out of Memphis is a good first step.

AirTran is adding flights to Chicago, Orlando and Baltimore in advance of Southwest Airlines' arrival in Memphis. Southwest and AirTran merged in May 2011, but have continued to operate as separate airlines while integrating operations. The changeover in Memphis should occur this fall.

Getting Southwest here in a big way is seen as an important economic development weapon to blunt high airfares and make up for shrinking air passenger service. The AirTran announcement is clearly a test for Greater Memphis' air service consumers. Southwest executives will be watching to see whether Memphians take advantage of the AirTran flights as they make decisions about the level of service Southwest will offer out of Memphis International Airport.

Airlines are in the business to make money. As we have seen with the steep cuts in service by Delta Air Lines, the airport's primary passenger carrier, if their presence at a particular airport is not profitable they are more likely to keep fares high and flight options low.

When the expanded AirTran service begins in August, Greater Memphians will have a chance to show Southwest that Memphis would be a good investment.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Watsonville Municipal (KWVI), California: Airport plots path out of debt

WATSONVILLE -- Though in the red, Watsonville Municipal Airport finances are stable and headed for improvement, city officials say.

An audit of city finances, commissioned by the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury and released in January, noted an ongoing deficit at the airport and criticized officials for not presenting a clearer picture of the problem.

With the exception of 2008-09, the city-owned airport's annual operations have been in the black for the past five years, according to Administrative Services Director Ezequiel Vega. But revenue has not been strong enough to close a long-standing multimillion-dollar deficit.

City Manager Carlos Palacios said the airport developed a negative balance after the city refinanced a hangar construction loan in 2001 to shorten the term of the debt to produce interest savings. The trade off was higher annual payments.

"It's a decision similar to refinancing a home loan from a 30-year term to a 15-year term," Palacios said in an e-mail. "We knew at the time that the increased debt payments would put pressure on the Airport Fund balance, but also knew that in the long-term it would save money and that the Airport Fund was in a strong position to bear some years of negative fund balance."

Watsonville is the county's only airport. It's home to more than 300 aircraft, mostly single-engine planes but also six corporate jets and 12 helicopters.

John Cowan, vice president of the Watsonville  Pilots Association, said it's an invaluable resource for the entire county, starting with the role it can play in disasters. After the 1989 earthquake, for example, tons of supplies were landed at the airport, he said.

Cowan noted the airport hosts to a variety of aviation-related businesses, and provides a base for companies, such as Granite Construction, to reach out-of-town job sites and business meetings. He pointed to a study done a decade ago by the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments that said the airport generated $18 million in direct economic benefit to the region and many millions more in indirect contributions.

"A lot of the airport is used for pleasure," he said. "That's not to be discounted. That's the icing on the cake. It's sort of like the (Santa Cruz) yacht harbor."

Landing in debt

According to Vega, by 2008 the airport was running more than $4 million in the red, an amount that dropped to $2.2 million in 2011. But at the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the deficit soared again to $3.8 million, mostly due to capital projects designed to ensure the airport's viability into the future, such as $100,000 in improvements to attract a tenant for the restaurant.

Vega said he's in the midst of running projections so couldn't provide an estimate for how the airport's balance will look on June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. But he said the airport will soon be on the road to recovery. Once the final payment of $235,000 is made for the hangars in November, the airport can begin attacking the negative balance, he said.

"If everything goes well, in a reasonable amount of time the balance can become positive," Vega said.

Ready to take off

Airport General Manager Rayvon Williams said he is confident he can turnaround airport finances.

"It's straight P&L," he said, "profit and loss."

Williams plans to boost revenues by making fuel sales more profitable and increasing hangar fees. He also plans to build more hangars to generate additional rental income.

"If I can do that in the next five years, then I'm OK," Williams said.

He faces hurdles, however. The plan to build 100 hangars has been on the books for years. The airport maintains a waiting list of 135 pilots seeking hangar space so the demand is there. But environmental considerations have stalled construction. The airport also is home to the protected Santa Cruz tarplant and the California red-legged frog.

Williams said federal authorities recently cleared a plan to rebuild a taxiway, though he still needs approval from state Fish and Wildlife Services. He said if that project goes forward successfully, he'll be able to prove he can mitigate the impact of construction. Then he can push for the hangars.

He's already overcome challenges. A few months after he took over management in July 2011, the longtime restaurant operator decided to call it quits. Then, the county issued a letter warning fuel sales would be shut down if holding tanks weren't overhauled.

New tenant at restaurant

Since then, the airport fixed up the restaurant and signed a new tenant, completed a $75,000 renovation of the terminal lobby, restrooms and offices, acquired a used street-sweeper to better maintain runways and rehabilitated the fuel sales facility.

With the improvements made to the pumping station and better inventory control, Williams aims to net $250,000 to $300,000 a year on about $1.2 million in fuel sales, profits that can be used to cover salaries, maintenance and future capital investments.

The projects were critical, Williams said, to attracting and retaining business from pilots.

He's also embarking on a marketing effort. Aiming to draw out-of-town pilots, for example, the airport hosts an aviation swap meet with discounted fuel prices the second Saturday of every month. 


Four dead as small plane crashes in Greater Buenos Aires area of Lomas de Zamora, Argentina

Four people died as a small airplane crashed this afternoon in the Greater Buenos Aires area of Lomas de Zamora. The plane had taken off from the University Centre of aviation and reportedly fell down due to a mechanic flaw, in a field next to the Lomas de Zamora federal shooting range.

Residents near Lake Apopka concerned with airstrip expansion plan



Environmentalists said plans to expand a private airstrip could end up wasting millions of your tax dollars that have already been spent to clean up Lake Apopka.

The north shore of Lake Apopka is home to the largest number of water birds anywhere in central Florida, but neighbors are afraid they could be driven off.

The owners of a landing strip in the middle of a farm along the Lake-Orange county line want to expand it and build an industrial park around it.

"I'm extremely concerned about this airport," said resident Connie Harvey. "It could destroy the north shore Apopka area."

"It creates a destination. It attracts visitors. That's what an airport is for," said Guy Haggard of the West Orange Airport Authority.

At a regional summit, officials and residents from both counties hashed out the pros and cons.

Part of the discussion was about the tens of millions of tax dollars that have been spent to restore polluted Lake Apopka. Some say more planes could ruin everything.

"Done wrong, done in the wrong places, airports have the potential to kill this dream," said Charles Lee of the Florida Audubon Society.

Some officials said the area is ripe for what they call eco-tourism and believe it's perfect for something similar to Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

But is an airport part of that picture?

""If they don't work together, then we need to say so," said Fred Brummer of the Orange County Commission. "We need to make the decision which one will go forward."

Some Lake County leaders said the choice is clear, and they think a larger airport should be off the table.

"For it to expand and then also have an eco-lodge, no," said Leslie Campione of the Lake County Commission.

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Aviation Firm Donates Small Plane to State Police

The New Mexico State Police’s small air wing is getting a special mission addition, courtesy of an Albuquerque-based aviation management company.

CSI Aviation is donating an SB7L-360A “Seeker,” a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft valued at $250,000, that it no longer needs for its own business.

“The Seeker is too valuable of a resource to let it remain underutilized,” Tommy Dunn, CSI vice president for marketing and business development, said in a release about the donation. “The culture of this company is to give back to the community and we saw this as an excellent opportunity to do something for public safety in New Mexico.”

State Police Deputy Chief Pete Kassetas said the two-seat Seeker will have multiple uses, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, airborne patrol, search and rescue and narcotics interdiction.

“We’re hoping it increases our capabilities but also reduces our operating costs,” he said. “… It is not a luxury plane we’re going to be sending bigwigs across the state in.”

The Australian-designed aircraft has a high, fixed wing with a rear-mounted “pusher” engine and helicopter-like cockpit.

The Agusta helicopter the State Police has now is “used for surveillance and reconnaissance and everything else,” Dunn told the Journal. “They can do the same thing with this aircraft, except for a fraction of the cost.”

The State Police also has a Cessna 409 Golden Eagle turboprop but Kassetas said the plan is to phase it out. State Police was one of several police agencies that responded to a CSI-issued RFP in November offering the Seeker.

In business for 34 years, CSI provides a range of aviation services to corporations and government agencies, including air charters, aircraft leasing and aircraft purchases.

Dunn said CSI purchased two Seekers as demonstration planes for the aerial surveillance market in North America, but found that one was adequate for its purposes.

Commercial applications include things such as traffic reporting and aerial photography. “It’s a surveillance platform, so we’re going to market it and try to get it out there on the business side,” Dunn said. “Obviously, the meat and potatoes for this aircraft is cost savings.”

He said the donated Seeker is fully depreciated, which prevents the company from taking any type of tax deduction.


Drone dilemmas

Idaho's stand when it comes to unmanned drones seems to be a little up in the air.

Two measures regarding drones came out of the Idaho Legislature this week. On Wednesday, the Idaho Senate approved a resolution encouraging the state to apply to become one of six drone test sites to be operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Sponsored by Republican Sen. Chuck Winder, a former Navy pilot from Boise, that bill passed 28-6.

The next day the Senate Transportation Committee approved a revised version of a bill that establishes guidelines governing when Idaho law enforcement agencies send out unmanned aircraft to gather criminal evidence.

The bill approved Thursday differs slightly from the version that won initial approval last month.

The measure was modified to give Idaho Power and other companies an exemption that allows them to conduct surveillance without getting any official permission.

Transportation Committee member, Winder, R-Boise, was involved in this bill as well. He said the intent of the legislation is to protect landowners’ privacy.

The legislation requires police to establish probable cause or get a judicial warrant before using drones in criminal investigations.

That bill became a companion to the Senate resolution passed Wednesday encouraging the state to become a drone testing site.

The Winder-sponsored pro-drone bill that passed the Senate will now go to the House. Winder said securing the state as a drone testing site could be a boost to Idaho’s economy.

Opponents including Boise Democratic Sen. Les Bock raised privacy concerns, saying they were uneasy with the specter of unmanned aircraft spying on residents.

But Sen. Marv Hagedorn, a Meridian Republican, said privacy concerns would be addressed by the bill establishing clear legal guidelines for when Idaho law enforcement agencies could use unmanned aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in the process of selecting six sites nationwide for unmanned aircraft systems testing. Unmanned Aircraft Systems — previously referred to as "unmanned aerial vehicles" — come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and serve many purposes. They may have a wingspan as large as a Boeing 737 or smaller than a radio-controlled model airplane, according to the FAA website that describes the testing project.

The project itself is to test drones equipped to improve air traffic alert and collision avoidance systems. A description of the project from the FAA states it would “allow a government public safety agency to operate unmanned aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less” under certain restrictions.

These restrictions include flying the drones within the line of sight of the operator, less than 400 feet above the ground, during daylight conditions in controlled air space at least five miles from an existing airport.

According to the Associated Press, at least 11 states are proposing restrictions on the use of drones over their skies because of growing public concerns that the unmanned aerial vehicles could be used to spy on Americans.

Congress has taken steps to regulate domestic drone use. When it reauthorized the FAA in 2012, Congress told the agency it had to craft a comprehensive plan for the use of drones in U.S. skies by 2015.


Remote-controlled aircraft land in the Ozarks: At least two firms are using the small helicopters for civilian uses

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Unmanned aircraft have been helping fight wars for years, and now the technology is being used in the civilian world.

Jake Wynant may have been controlling his plane on Friday,  but he stayed on the ground as his aircraft headed for the sky.  Wynant owns Wingnut Aerial Video Systems.  His company uses a remote-controlled helicopter in movies and commercial production.

"It's not cheap, when you are flying something that costs more than your house."

"They are very beneficial both on our private investigation side and also the public side because of officer safety at that point," said Tim Brennen, director of Southern Missouri Judicial Services.

Brennen's group uses unmanned aircraft for investigations and other law enforcement purposes.

"We have put them up in the air for tactical situations.  We can get an overall view of what’s going on," said Brennan.

The controversy has caught the ears of lawmakers, including Missouri state Rep. Casey Guernsey, R - Bethany.  He introduced a bill that would outlaw the use of all unmanned aircraft in Missouri for surveillance use.  The only exception would be for law enforcement agencies -- and only if they have a warrant.

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