Sunday, February 3, 2013

Floyd Bennett Memorial (KGFL), Glens Falls, New York: Some oppose airport changes

QUEENSBURY -- A proposal to charge fees to pilots who land their planes at Warren County Airport has drawn opposition from some members of Warren County Board of Supervisors.

The county board’s Facilities Committee last month approved a proposal by Rich Air, the fixed base operator at the airport, to charge fees of up to $20 to “transient” pilots who land at the airport.

The proposal was to charge $15 for single-engine planes and $20 for twin-engine aircraft. Planes based at the airport will not be charged. Warren County would get 3 percent of the fees collected.

Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott, who has taken a particular interest in airport issues, said he was bombarded with comments from pilots during a visit to have breakfast at Carol’s Airport Cafe, recently. He said a number of the recreational pilots approached him with concerns about the fee, saying they will instead go to other airports that don’t charge.

“I got hammered on this,” Westcott said. “A number of people I spoke with said there would be fewer planes landing and it would hurt business at the diner.”

The county Facilities Committee passed a resolution last month supporting Rich Air’s request to start charging landing fees, but the full Board of Supervisors tabled the proposal at the subsequent meeting.

That action resulted in the Facilities Committee discussing the idea again this week, and passing it with only Westcott voting against it. The full Board of Supervisors will consider it again Feb. 15.

The county can only overrule Rich Air on the proposal if it finds the fees are “unreasonable,” Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said.

Airport Manager Ross Dubarry said he compared the proposed fees to those charged at other airports and did not believe they were unreasonable. A review of other airport policies in the region showed the nearest two, Saratoga County Airport and Argyle Airport, do not charge landing fees.

Two others in the region, Adirondack Regional near Saranac Lake, and Rutland Southern Vermont Regional in Rutland, Vt., charge landing fees, according to federal airport records.

Rich Air’s motivation for the new fee was not clear Friday. Calls to Rich Air owner Rich Schermerhorn were not returned Wednesday or Friday.


Dearth of pilots raising worries

 Tim Newton, left, manager with Livingston Aviation goes over instruction with flight student Rob Kietzman, right, at the Waterloo Municipal Airport Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Waterloo, Iowa. Kietzman from Ainsworth, Nebraska is working on his commercial pilots license.
 (MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor)

WATERLOO, Iowa --- Airlines anticipate a pilot shortage in coming years that could cut into service of small-market airports like Waterloo. 

 But it could boost business at flight schools, according to at least one aviation expert.

Pilots in general aren't young workers, according to Denny Kelly, a former pilot and now an aviation consultant with Kelly-James and Associates in Dallas. He says the average age of a commercial airline pilot is about 48.

"You've got to remember 5 to 10 percent of these pilots will retire every year," he said.

He pointed out American Airlines, whose regional carrier, American Eagle, serves Waterloo with two flights per day in and out of Waterloo Regional Airport, has been in bankruptcy reorganization and has lost pilots in recent years. If trends continue, he could envision American cutting back service to Waterloo if it needs to shift regional pilots to longer routes.

"If Eagle or American starts having a pilot shortage they're going to have to cancel flights, and the first ones they're going to cancel are markets like Waterloo," Kelly said. "If there's only two flights, that's a pretty small market, and that would be a place they'd look to cut. It's going to affect a lot of people a lot of ways."

But Brad Hagen, director of Waterloo Regional Airport, said there are a couple of reasons to doubt Kelly's dire outlook.

"First, we haven't heard anything from American regarding pilot shortages and any possible impact in the future," Hagen said.

Secondly, Hagen said, Waterloo is now part of the federal Essential Air Service program, which likely would insulate it from cutbacks.

"Since we're an EAS market, I don't think there's going to be any impact on Waterloo any time in the future," Hagen said. "If that comes about, small markets might be affected but not EAS markets."

Hagen said American Airlines likely would have informed him of any possible local impact.

"Through the years, there's been ebbs and flows of pilot shortages. How serious this is, I don't know, but we haven't been told by American there's going to be an impact, and I don't see that in the near and mid-term," he said.

A shortage of pilots could hit Waterloo, said Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airlines Association, based in Washington, D.C.

"I absolutely think that communities, even much larger than Waterloo, will be in jeopardy of losing their services, and that is not only by nature of the airline business but by the potential of pilot shortage that could hit almost at any time," Cohen said. "The concern is well-founded."

Residents who want to protect commercial air service should contact their lawmakers in Washington, Cohen said.

Rules that require an 1,500 hours of flight time for new pilots need to be reviewed, Cohen said.

"That ... is the single biggest barrier to getting new pilots into the pipeline," he said.

Flight schools like Livingston Aviation in Waterloo and Walter Aviation Inc. in Independence fill a vital role in addressing the problem --- as far as they can.

But that takes time.

People pursuing aviation careers may come out of training with 300 to 500 hours flight time. That leaves them 1,000 hours short of qualifying to be an airline pilot.

"Young pilots who would consider pursuing these careers aren't even getting interviewed," Cohen said.

Boost possible

On the other hand, Kelly said, the potential shortage could be a boon to flight schools.

Experts say some airlines could be strapped for pilots by the end of the year as current pilots reach mandatory retirement age of 65 and rules from the Federal Aviation Administration requiring extra training take hold.

Kelly cited Boeing Aircraft Co. estimates that the world's airlines will have to hire 460,000 pilots in the next 20 years. Flight schools are not turning out enough candidates, and the people they do turn out don't have enough experience.

The best way to build that experience is by becoming a flight instructor, Kelly said.

"They go out and get 1,000 hours instructing," he said. "But they instruct in a two seat single-engine plane that goes 90 mph."

Livingston Aviation, located next to Waterloo Regional Airport, has seen a slight increase in inquiries from prospective students for its flight training program in the last year, said Tim Newton, general manager.

"There certainly is talk of a shortage and a lot of older pilots retiring, and that's something we hope to tap into at some point," Newton said.

Livingston's flight school has an enrollment of about eight students, Newton estimated. Some learn to fly helicopters, some private planes, some commercial. Livingston does "a fair amount" of flight instructor training, Newton said.

"We have an accelerated program," he said. "I've noticed our flight instructor one is quite popular. Perhaps there's more people getting into the professional pilot field than in the past."

Walter Aviation, which operates at Independence Airport, has about a dozen students, said owner Jonathan Walter.

"We'll over double that in the summer," he said.

It generally takes three to six months to get a pilot's license and at least two years to become a flight instructor, Walter said.

Commercial airlines aren't the only sector short of pilots, but there's some hope of a reversal.

"Just in the last year we've had a tremendous increase in people under 30 enrolling in our flight school," he said. "Over half of our students now are under 26."

Before, nine of every 10 enrollees were over 30 years old, Walter said.

The obstacles to becoming a commercial pilot are numerous.

"The feedback I'm getting is that a few want to go airline. The rest want to make a career out of aviation, but in medical flights, corporate, charter or crop dusting, you name it," Walter said.

Money shortage

Flight schools could take on a more important role, Kelly said. He thinks the airlines should join with flight schools to train aspiring pilots in bigger airplanes. But the major airlines are chronically strapped for cash.

The airlines once got a lot of pilots from the military, but those numbers have dwindled as airlines have disappeared and rules have changed. The military used to require a five-year obligation, Kelly said. Today, military pilots sign on for 11 years.

"You got out and were 25-28 years old, and the airlines gobbled you up," he said. "That isn't the case now. Plus, there's not that many guys, and once these guys get 11 years in, why not go up nine more and get a retirement?"

Commercial captains can make $200,000 a year, and co-pilots make good money, too, Kelly said. But there are yearly physicals, regular flight checks in a simulator and routes often are awarded according to seniority, Kelly said.

"If you're furloughed and come back, you have to start at the bottom," he said.

American Airlines has about 8,000 pilots --- down from a peak of 11,000. The airline says it will need 800 more to accommodate new FAA rules that mandate longer rest periods --- from eight to 10 hours --- if the new FAA regulation takes effect, Kelly said.

Whether it does up in the air now. The rules currently don't apply to cargo pilots, and they are threatening to sue, saying they should, Kelly said.

The biggest problem, though, is the wave of retirements.

American's bankruptcy also could play a role in the airline's ability to keep pilots, Kelly said.

Foreign carriers are offering jobs to experienced pilots that pay 20 to 30 percent more than some American jobs, Kelly said.

"If I'm 40 and flying for American airlines and flying co-pilot on a 737-800, and Qatar Airways will pay twice what you're making to be a captain, what are you going to do?" he asked.

Livingston's Newton said there is another, perhaps bigger, potential shortage in the aviation field --- mechanics.

"It's hard to get the training," Newton said. "Numerous community colleges have closed their programs in the last five to 10 years, including three or four in Iowa. We've actually had a couple of apprentices through our shop."

Story and Photos:

Missing ultralight plane found north of Brisbane

Searcher have found the body of a female pilot who went missing in an ultralight plane 70km north of Brisbane. 

Police have confirmed the Skyfox Gazelle has been found in bushland at Glass House Mountains.

The body of the missing female pilot has been found in the wreckage.  

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman said the officer who discovered the scene reported the pilot to be deceased.

"The search has now ended and the Queensland Police take over the investigation," the spokesman said.

The missing Skyfox gazelle was located just north of Beerburrum on Woodford Road at Glasshouse Mountains.

Vegetation in the area was extremely dense, and explains why the aircraft was not found sooner, Caboolture Aero Club president John Dawson said.

He said the thoughts of the Caboolture Aero Club members were with the pilot and her family.  

"Didn't know the lady, I know she was a part owner in aircraft which was a Skyfox Gazelle built in Caloundra," he said.

"I spoke to people yesterday who said she was most competent at flying; the lady was in a syndicate ownership and the plane was operated by the flying school."

Mr Dawson said he spoke to a number of people yesterday who knew the pilot but he was not aware of her flying history.

He said concerns were raised about by mid afternoon Sunday.

"When she didn't return by time fuel would run out the alarm was set off", he said.

The aircraft's signal dropped off the radar over the Glass House Mountains about 9.30am Sunday.  

Ground and aerial search crews, involving six helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft, swept the area yesterday but found no sign of the pilot or the green-coloured aircraft.

One of the search aircraft was AMSA's high-tech Dornier, a type used in the search for the deHavilland Dragon which crashed near Kandanga last year.

Earlier, Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman Mal Larsen said a team was dispatched at first light.

“After attempts failed last night the search resumed this morning, 12 helicopters, one fix-winged aircraft and police on foot have begun the search,” he said.

“Because of the thick bushland helicopters are the more effective search vehicle."

Four police trail bikes and three police 4WDs are assisting in the land search.

He said the search area for the day had been mapped out in the hopes of finding the accredited pilot and her green ultra-light aircraft.

“It is narrowed to 108 square nautical miles, which is roughly 220 km, in the area north-west of Caboolture,” he said.

“The search area has been narrowed to the likely area according the last known radar sighting."
Careflight Rescue Helicopter crewman Ryan Purchase told the ABC the search area covers some very difficult terrain.

"The radar can pinpoint where she lost contact," he said.

"The terrain we were flying over was dense bushland, pine plantations around the western side of the Sunshine Coast."

A police media spokeswoman said the woman was believed to only be carrying enough fuel for 150 minutes of flying.

No distress signal had been activated yesterday.

Police are investigating a report from a woman in the nearby town of Neurum who said she saw a plane flying low over the ground.

Residents in neighbouring areas offered information to Queensland Police via their Facebook page.   

“My daughter was watching a green and white plane flying really low this morning about 10am at Neurum,” Teresa Stanton wrote.

Another user said: “I heard a small plane coughing and spluttering this morning. We are in Woodford and I mentioned it to my daughter as it didn't sound good at all!”

Princess Danni wrote: “I saw a plane this morning at about 9 at the glasshouse mts (sic) I was unsure if it was landing.”

Krystal Drew said she saw a dark blue plane flying low over the rural township of D'Aguilar.
“I watched it for a bit and it seemed to be circling,” she wrote.

“I had polarized sunglasses on so may have been mistaken for blue instead of green but was definately (sic) a skyfox gazelle it nearly ran into the tops of trees on the next property at about 12:30 pm today.”

Caboolture resident Kerry Willson said she heard a light plane over her house “spluttering and misfiring badly” about 9.15am.

“This plane was quite low over our house and continually spluttering and cutting out and could possibly have come down unseen from the highway or from the airport,” she wrote.

 - reporting by Jacinda Tutty, Kris Crane, Kristin Shorten and AAP

Federal Aviation Administration Mandates Inspections of Older Piper Aircraft

Updated February 3, 2013, 7:46 p.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

Regulators on Monday will mandate enhanced inspections and repairs where necessary to cables that control tail surfaces on about 30,000 Piper aircraft, some of the most popular general-aviation planes sold in the U.S.

Prompted by at least one accident and a serious incident stemming from such malfunctioning flight-control systems in recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration wants planes that are 15 years or older to be checked for damaged or corroded cables during their next annual inspection. Younger planes are supposed to undergo the same inspection once they reach 15 years.

The FAA's safety directive, slated to become final when it is published in Monday's Federal Register, also mandates repetitive follow-up inspections. The move is unusual because it follows a pair of nonbinding recommendations by the agency on the topic going back 10 years, as well as more-recent safety letters and bulletins issues by the manufacturer.

The FAA said the move was prompted by "reports of control cable assembly failures that may lead to failure" to control movable tail surfaces that are essential to direct the noses of the planes up or down.

The mandate covers more than 34,000 propeller-driven Piper Cherokee, Saratoga, Lance and Seminole models, and industry officials said most of them are older than 15 years.

In comments submitted to the FAA, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said previously nonbinding government safety bulletins calling for inspections of all cable fittings for corrosion or cracking weren't adequate

Closely held Piper Aircraft Inc., based in Vero Beach, Fla., on Sunday issued a statement noting it "has cooperated fully with the FAA in developing" the safety directive and considers the move "helpful to increase overall flight safety."

In the statement, Jackie Carlson, Piper's director of communications, also said the company in 2010 and 2012 told owners and operators of the affected planes to inspect the control cables and associated hardware. In all three hazardous events cited by the safety board, according to Piper's statement, "evidence of approaching failure" of the cable or control systems "should have been clearly observable" during recurrent inspections.

Considering the large number of Piper aircraft that have been "in operation in the past 50 years, the historical data demonstrate that trained mechanics can identify these conditions before failure occurs," according to the company.

An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment. The agency initially proposed the safety directive last August but then invited comments.

In the final version of the directive, scheduled to become effective in early March, the FAA said safety data show "that certain Piper models have multiple reports" of cracked, corroded or frayed cables.


India: Flying club’s clipped wings leave students high and dry: Students unable to complete required flying hours due to club’s lack of chief flight instructor

Young flying aspirants have been left in the lurch, unable to complete their stipulated period of flying training to obtain a commercial pilot’s license.

The situation has arisen as the Madras Flying Club has not had a flight instructor for the past year. Airport sources said Captain N.K. Singh was the club’s last chief flight instructor. In January 2012, he turned 65 and as per civil aviation requirements, could not continue as instructor. Since then the club has not filled his post, and its students have been unable to complete the stipulated 200 hours of flying.

Another hiccup is the expiry of the club’s flying training approval. As per the guidelines of the directorate general of civil Aviation (DGCA), the validity of flying training approval of the club expired in March 2012, and was not renewed due to the non-appointment of a qualified instructor.

Another source said that ground classes had also been suspended for nearly six months after the chief ground instructor went on leave. They said he returned only a few weeks ago

The club however, continued to enroll a fresh batch of students. A senior official from the airport said nearly 30 students have been enrolled by the club in the last year. Each student has paid nearly Rs. 2 lakh for the training, which includes flying training, the official said.

The club has two Cessna 152 aircraft and a Cessna 172 aircraft, allotted to it by the Aero Club of India. All the aircraft are air-worthy, but they have not been operated for more than a year and are standing idle at the club’s hangar in the old airport in Meenambakkam.

Sources said that students have to spend nearly Rs. 20 lakh to undergo training in the Cessna 172 aircraft and Rs. 15 lakh for the Cessna 152.

Another problem with the club is that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has not renewed the club’s agreement. An AAI officer said they refused to renew the agreement issued to the club as they found it was using the facility to repair private aircraft. The officer said this was a gross violation by the club. The AAI had allocated a space to the club only on the condition that they would not undertake any commercial activity.

The AAI has already issued a notice to the club to vacate its premises at the old airport, where it has its administrative office and hangar.

When contacted, K. Sebastian Joseph, honorary secretary of the Club said they had already identified a suitable person to impart flying training. However, he could not begin classes as the DGCA had not given its clearance for the appointment of a new chief flight instructor.

“We have sent the proposal for the appointment of the new flying instructor to the DGCA for its approval. We expect to get its clearance in a few days,” he said.

On the plight of the 50 students who have completed the course but not the stipulated flying hours, he said that they would complete them shortly.


Rhode Island Air National Guard Recruiting Pilots

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. --    For Rhode Island Air National Guard pilot Captain Mike Collins, it's the best of both worlds.

"I wanted to serve my country but also be there for my family, the Guard allows me to do both," said Collins.

Now, the 143rd Airlift Wing is looking for more people like Captain Collins.

The Rhode Island Air National Guard is holding an open house March 3rd, at Quonset Point where they fly the C130 J aircraft.

According to Major Mike McCarron, "going from civilian flying to Air Force flying is like night and day; the amount of precision required to be an Air Force pilot is second to none."

The process is competitive; the training takes about two years start to finish.The missions can be either near or far, responding to an emergency or natural disaster.

"There's a lot of logistics work, bringing in support personnel, first responders that need to be brought to the area, our aircraft are uniquely capable here in Rhode Island to do that," said Captain Ryan Nugent.

The pilot positions with the Air National Guard are part time. They're looking for people up to 28 years old, who have, or are working toward, a 4 year degree. No military experience is necessary.

Anyone interested in the March 3rd Open House can email or follow the Guard on twitter at @143pilots.


Court dismisses airline ticket fraud case

DUBAI: A court has dismissed an airline ticket fraud case against a Palestinian driver and an Emirati broadcaster because the plaintiff was the airline company’s security officer and not the officials directly concerned with the case.

“The case was filed by someone who has no direct concern,” Judge Mohamed Jamaal Kamaal explained to a Dubai Criminal Court hearing on Sunday.

The driver, MR, 22 was being accused of committing electronic forgery on 20 tickets belonging to a national airlines company besides presenting them to the company’s employee.

He also faced charges of snatching credit card information of several people through fraudulent online means. He reportedly used the stolen data to purchase 6 more tickets worth Dhs77,100 after logging onto the airline company’s website.

His accomplice, the broadcaster MA, 25, faced criminal complicity in the above counts.

According to court proceedings, both defendants have been defending themselves against the accusations since the previous year.

The plaintiff, a 43-year-old Indian security officer HK had testified that while on duty at the airline company, he received a letter from a Dubai-based Australian bank notifying him that payments for several tickets had been cancelled.

The bank had reportedly discovered the theft of credit card data belonging to its customers. HK added that upon discerning the bookings at the company, it was discovered that six tickets were booked using data from the credit cards. He added that data from stolen cards was used in America to purchase tickets under different names.

They all turned out to be names of MA’s relatives.

On HK’s testimony prosecutors added that upon arrest, MR admitted he committed the tickets fraud with the help of a male accomplice residing in Egypt.

MR had earned some Dhs10,500 from customers and MA received Dhs300 from each ticket that he booked. They also told the court that MA had acknowledged criminal complicity.

Accident occurred near Camarillo Airport (KCMA), California

Ventura County firefighters responded to reports of a non-injury aircraft crash near the Camarillo Airport Saturday afternoon, fire officials said.

The small aircraft was reported down about 2:16 p.m. in the 700 block of Aviation Drive, officials said.

There were two occupants in the plane but they were not injured, a fire dispatcher said.

A small fuel leak appeared to be the cause of the crash, officials said.

Bell 47G-2, N3755Z: Accident occurred December 01, 2012 in Walkerville, Michigan

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA086
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 01, 2012 in Walkerville, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/2014
Aircraft: BELL 47G-2, registration: N3755Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 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 passenger reported that the pilot was maneuvering the helicopter over an area of tree-covered marsh at a low altitude when the helicopter entered a descent, collided with trees, and impacted the ground on its left side. An examination of the wreckage found damage consistent with the main rotor blades being driven by the engine when they contacted the trees. Although the passenger reported hearing a loud sound before the helicopter started descending, postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation. The circumstances of the accident are consistent with the pilot failing to maintain altitude while maneuvering at low airspeed and low altitude, which resulted in the helicopter descending into trees.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain altitude while maneuvering, which resulted in a collision with trees. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to fly at a low altitude, which did not provide enough margin to recover from the descent.


On December 1, 2012, about 1420 central standard time, a Bell 47G-2 helicopter, N3755Z, collided with trees and impacted terrain near Walkerville, Michigan. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was owned and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from private property at an undetermined time.

According to information provided by local law enforcement and the responding Federal Aviation Administration inspectors, the helicopter travelled at a low altitude when a loud noise was heard by the passenger. The helicopter descended and impacted trees and a marsh.


The pilot, age 49, held a commercial helicopter pilot certificate. On May 2, 2000, the pilot was issued an unrestricted second class medical certificate. On the medical application, the pilot reported having accumulated 4,000 hours of total time. The pilot's logbook was not available for review during the investigation. It is unknown when the pilot accomplished his most recent flight review.


The single engine, low skid, full bubble canopy, three-seat helicopter, serial number 1698, was manufactured in 1957. It was powered by a 200-horsepower Lycoming VO-435-A1 engine. The log books were not available for review and the helicopter's last annual inspection is unknown.


At 1414, an automated weather reporting facility at Fremont Municipal Airport, located 17 nautical miles to the south-southeast of the accident location, reported wind from 110 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 4 miles, haze, ceiling broken at 1,000 feet, broken at 1,600 feet, temperature 43 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 37 F, and a barometric pressure of 30.03 inches of mercury.


The wreckage was located in a wooded marsh in the Manistee National Forest, also known as Tanner's Swamp. Only the trees within about a rotor disk circumference of the helicopter exhibited blade strikes. The helicopter came to rest on its left side. All parts of the helicopter were accounted for at the accident site and the helicopter was recovered and transported to a hanger for an examination. 

Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration and representatives from Scott's Bell 47 attended the examination. The main rotors were fractured a few feet from the rotor mast with corresponding impact damage to the leading edge of the blades. The flight controls were fractured in several locations, but exhibited no preimpact malfunctions. Several of the engine cooling fan blades had leading edge damage with signatures consistent with the fan being driven at the time of impact. Engine control continuity was established from the controls to the carburetor throttle shaft. The main fuel strainer and carburetor fuel inlet finger screen contained an unmeasured amount of fuel.


An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The cause of death was blunt force injuries of the chest and abdomen. The manner of death was ruled an accident.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The specimens tested negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and drugs.


Bell 47 Flight Characteristics

Scott's Bell 47 representatives reported the following concerning turns in a Bell 47:

A characteristic of the Bell 47 is a best power to airspeed combination encountered in level flight at 45 miles per hour (MPH), indicated airspeed (IAS.) This characteristic is often demonstrated in flight training and may be validated when in level flight at 45 MPH IAS increasing or decreasing airspeed by cyclic input alone results in loss of altitude. For this reason pilots must always be mindful of airspeed and power when maneuvering at low level and reduced airspeed. As 45 MPH is the best power / airspeed combination and also the target airspeed for best autorotational descent, this is also the best and safest airspeed selected for low level observation and reconnaissance flight. When turning downwind from stabilized flight into wind at 45 MPH IAS, if no control input is made, the turn into downwind will result in reduced airspeed and the aircraft will tend to settle. The settling tendency is avoided by a coordinated management of increased power and airspeed control to maintain the desired altitude.

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA086
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 01, 2012 in Walkerville, MI
Aircraft: BELL 47G-2, registration: N3755Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Uninjured.

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

On December 1, 2012, about 1420 central standard time, a Bell 47G-2, N3755Z, impacted terrain near Walkerville, Michigan. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was owned and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Helicopter visual conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from private property at an undetermined time.

According to preliminary information provided by local law enforcement and the responding Federal Aviation Administration inspectors, the helicopter was traveling at a low altitude when a loud noise was heard by the passenger. The helicopter descended in to trees and impacted a swamp.

At 1414, an automated weather reporting facility at Fremont Municipal Airport, located 17 nautical miles to the south-southeast of the accident location, reported wind from 110 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 4 miles, haze, ceiling broken at 1,000 feet, broken at 1,600 feet, temperature 43 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 37 F, and a barometric pressure of 30.03 inches of mercury.

Tom Slocum, seen in an undated photo, died in a helicopter crash in December 2012. He was 49. 

A helicopter that crashed in an Oceana County wetlands in December 2012 was retrieved on January 6, 2013 
(Photo: Oceana County Sheriff Department)

A helicopter that crashed in an Oceana County wetlands in December 2012 was retrieved on January 6, 2013
 (Photo: Oceana County Sheriff Department)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Caffeine was the only substance found in the body of a helicopter pilot who died in a crash in a remote area of Oceana County in December, authorities confirmed to 24 Hour News 8.
Thomas Slocum was 49. His passenger, 28-year-old Matt Williams, was seriously injured but is recovering.

Lt. Craig Mast of the Oceana County Sheriff's Department confirmed the autopsy on Slocum showed he died from the injuries sustained in the crash on December 1, 2012.

The helicopter went down in a swamp in a remote area. Williams was able to get enough of a cell phone signal to call for help, and authorities used its GPS to pinpoint the crash.

It's still unclear exactly what caused the crash, though Williams told investigators he heard a loud noise right before the crash.

The helicopter was not able to be recovered until Jan. 6, 2013.


Gerald R. Ford International Airport (KGRR), Grand Rapids, Michigan: "Major announcement" planned

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Managers of Gerald R. Ford International Airport will make what they call a "major announcement" Monday about air service. However, they're not saying what that announcement will be. 

 Representatives from the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan will join airport officials for the Monday morning news conference. The alliance previously helped bring Frontier and AirTran Airlines to West Michigan.

There is speculation that Southwest Airlines, which bought AirTran last year, will begin service to West Michigan.

Seven airlines currently serve Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

WZZM 13 will have a live report at Noon on Monday and post all the information on online, as it comes in.

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Officer to receive medal for role in jet crash rescue

Nick Beane received the Virginia Beach Police Department's Citizen Life Saving Award on June 8. (Stacy Parker | The Virginian-Pilot)


A petty officer in the Coast Guard is scheduled to be honored for helping the downed pilot to safety and treating him following last April's jet crash in Virginia Beach. 

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Beane will receive the Meritorious Service Medal at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, Northwest Annex in Chesapeake on Tuesday, Feb 5 at 11:30 a.m., according to a Coast Guard press release.

Beane was off duty when the Navy F/A-18 plane crashed into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex in Virginia Beach. He was helping people evacuate the area when he discovered the downed pilot. Beane and another person cut him free of his parachute, dragged him away from the flames from the crash, and treated his wounds.

The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to members of the military who distinguish themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service, the release said.

It is the non-combat counterpart to the Bronze Star.

Story and Reaction/Comments:

Massive cargo plane gets the goods to Austin Straubel


ASHWAUBENON — Landing their AN-124 cargo plane at Austin Straubel International Airport on Saturday was a piece of cake for the Russian flight crew. They had an actual runway. 

 “They are some of the best airplane pilots you can find. Landing here for them is like going to a shopping mall,” said Frank Scheibner, president and CEO of Hansa Meyer Global Transport USA. “They fly to some of the toughest places in the world. Sometimes, they land on dirt.”

The Antonov AN-124 is the world’s second-largest mass produced airplane and third-largest operating cargo plane. It is big, and on Saturday was a big hit at Austin Straubel, where dozens of people lined security fences to watch the enormous airplane deliver mechanical assemblies for the USS Milwaukee littoral combat ship under construction at Marinette Marine.

“He landed so short, I couldn’t believe it. It was impressive,” said Al Timmerman, CEO of Jet Air Group, which coordinated the unloading of parts and refueling of the aircraft.

The AN-124 did a half-circle around the metro area, landed from south to north, then taxied to the apron near the airport security office, its four large engines stirring snow behind. It is taller and has a wider wingspan than Air Force One, another big plane that’s been to Austin Straubel on a number of occasions, though is slightly shorter.

Max Tugel of Ledgeview just missed the landing. He flew into Austin Straubel shortly after the AN-124 touched down, but joined other rubberneckers along the fence to watch the plane’s crew pop open the nose hatch shortly after getting clearance from customs.

“That’s interesting. A Russian airplane flying parts for the American military,” he said.

It took about 31/2 hours to unload the cargo.

Curt Smits of Titletown Express had three semitrailers waiting to haul the assemblies north.

“One piece is 70,000 pounds,” Smits said.

The AN-124 is a mechanical wonder. Originally built for the Russian military to provide the same capabilities as the American Lockheed C5 Galaxy and Boeing C17 Globemaster, the AN-124 is a completely self-sufficient airplane, Scheibner said. It can be loaded from either end, has an on-board overhead crane capable of lifting up to 30 tons of cargo, and the front can be lowered to allow easier access. This plane had a crew of 23.

“That’s the plane to do this kind of stuff,” said Scheibner, whose Houston-based company was in charge of getting the assemblies to Green Bay.

The AN-124 holds 70,000 gallons of jet fuel. Jet Air will provide 45,000 gallons for its return trip, which will be straight through to Europe. The trip to Ashwaubenon required a refueling stop at Gander, Newfoundland, because of the weight it was carrying.

Timmerman ordered five tanker-loads of jet fuel for the An-124. Passenger planes of the types that use Austin Straubel refuel with about 1,000 gallons, he said.

It took Timmerman two weeks to plan Saturday’s event. In addition to having enough fuel, cranes were need for moving assemblies from the plane and semitrailers to put them on. He had to have a forklift big enough for the task and hotel rooms for the flight crew. The fixed based operator has done this sort of thing before, but never on this scale.

Jet Air provided all the big things the job required, but didn’t forget the little ones either: fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies delivered to workers on the flight line.

The plane is scheduled to take off at 2 p.m. today.

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Wings of gold?

If a best-case scenario holds for Colton Daum and Ryan Enebo, the young pilots could find their wings layered in gold as their industry works through an aviator crunch.

"In the grand scheme of things, it's a really good thing," said Daum, 21, of Dix, Neb. He and Enebo are among graduates of the professional pilot program at Kansas State University at Salina who are eager to launch their careers.

But new rules governing commercial pilots have the industry dealing with a shortage. The shortfall gives the newbies a chance for higher pay starting out -- six-figure salaries if they're willing to move overseas -- and a quick ascent of command chains.

When the Federal Aviation Administration increases flight time in August from 700 to 900 hours to 1,500 hours just to be a co-pilot, air transportation could slow, said Kurt Barnhart, aviation department head at KSU-Salina.

It's a first whiff of what he calls a "perfect storm" that could jump-start careers.

"We'll hopefully ride the seniority wave," said Enebo, 21, from Sanger, Texas.

But for now, their careers are in a holding pattern. Both K-State graduates, Enebo and Daum are serving as flight instructors on the Salina campus, waiting for career plans to materialize while adding flight hours and hoping for an adjustment to the minimum age requirement, which is moving to 23 late this summer

Currently, a commercial pilot certificate with a multi-engine rating is all that's needed to obtain employment, Barnhart said, then the airlines set their own requirements for flight time.

Losing half the pilots

But that's changing.

"Airlines can't lower the hour requirement to fill voids. It's a hard rule, and that's really what's got it in a pinch this time," Barnhart said.

Adding to the shortage was the FAA extending the retirement age from 60 to 65 five years ago.

"In the next 10 years, we could lose almost half of our current pilots," Daum said.

It's ironic, Barnhart said, that just a few years ago, just before Enebo and Daum were underclassmen, the airlines were reeling from a glut of pilots. Go back to 2007 and 2008, and supplies were tight as the economy dipped into a recession.

"Now we're up against a problem that we kicked down the road," Barnhart said. "We have fewer people studying aviation. It's not as popular as it was, particularly due to the expense of flying and the complexity that's crept in over the years."

In-state students will invest $70,000 for their higher education and flight fees combined, Barnhart said.

New planes, more rest

Other factors have contributed.

Air carriers are buying new aircraft, he said, and some pilots are opting to retire rather than learn to fly a new plane.

Starting in January 2014, airline pilots are mandated to have more rest between flights, meaning commercial carriers are going to need more pilots to cover schedules.

"(Human resources) folks at the airlines literally have no idea where pilots are going to be coming from," Barnhart said. "American Airlines will need 400 more pilots a year just to keep up with the added rest rules."

United Airlines estimated that starting in January, it would lose one pilot every 18 hours, he said, and at American Airlines, word is 70 percent of the company's pilots will retire in 15 years; the figure was 65 percent with Delta Airlines during the same span.

"It will aggravate the situation," Barnhart said. "It could be a difficult year."

In the past two years at K-State, he said, the professional pilot student body has grown from 200 to 250. But even if that trend is the same at other universities with professional pilot programs, Barnhart can only hope that enrollment spikes will fill the void.

Pay can really shoot up

The shortage hasn't yet caused pilot wages in the United States to hit the stratosphere, but they have risen from lows of $17,000 a year for a rookie to somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.

But as pilots gain experience, their pay grows exponentially.

"By year three, one of our graduates could be expected to make $70,000 to $80,000," Barnhart said.

Major airline pilots retire making $200,000, but fewer than four years ago, the veterans were hitting the $400,000 range.

Making the problem more difficult for domestic employers is wage competition overseas.

With minimal experience, "You can sign a three- to five-year contract to work in China for $300,000 to $500,000 a year," Barnhart said. "They're promising living arrangements and housekeeping. A lot of people are saying, 'I can live in China.' "

Living in the USA

The two Wildcat fliers aren't that eager to bolt abroad on the promise of riches.

"You just can't beat living in America. I'd probably stay over here," Daum said.

Enebo has looked into jobs in other countries, just for the income potential.

"They pay quite a bit more," he said. "I don't know about moving permanently to another country."

Regardless of where they end up getting their mail, Daum and Enebo are right now just trying to stay apprised.

The FAA is considering changing the rules to allow restricted commercial licenses for those with 1,000 hours of flight time and at least age 21. Both exceed those proposed thresholds. A ruling is expected in May or June.

"There are proposals. We would like to see some sort of collegiate training exemption, but it's pretty late in the game," Barnhart said.

It could change quickly

The young pilots are not counting on big bucks or any other perks.

"I'm very hesitant to put all of my faith in this pilot shortage," Daum said. "Everything could change at the drop of a hat. I just try to stay well-versed on this."


India: Pilot job dreams crash as aviation suffers

Last week, Palash Roy's family was served a legal notice by a bank. Roy's father, a railway employee, had taken a Rs. 18-lakh loan so that his son could enroll in a pilot training academy. Today, Palash, 25, works as a personal assistant to a member of parliament. He says his family has no means to pay back the loan amount.

Palash is one of the many thousands whose dream to become a commercial airline pilot came crashing after a slowdown hit the aviation industry about five years ago. There are an estimated 12,000 unemployed commercial pilot license (CPL) holders in the country and the number is increasing every year.

Employment opportunities for new comers are next to nil. There are only six domestic carriers. "There is a complete freeze on hiring in almost all airlines. What airlines want are experienced commanders. There is hardly any demand for first officers," said Roy, who had left his engineering course midway to pursue his dream to become a pilot. While a captain earns around Rs. 4.5 lakh-a-month, co-pilots get around Rs. 2 lakh.

Pilot training academies charge between Rs. 20-25 lakh for a one-and-a-year course. That is not all. "After completing CPL training I spent another Rs. 5 lakh on multi-engine training in 2009," said Roy, who hails from Assam.

Airlines, he said, prefer type-rated first officers, which would mean coughing up even more - as much as Rs. 25 lakh - to qualify. However, there is no guarantee if that too would help as there are dozens who are jobless even after getting the type-rating done.

Indian carriers employ around 5,000 pilots and co-pilots, who include around 340 high-cost expatriate commanders.

There are 32 recognized flying schools in the country and joining them involves risk. "There is nothing like a job guarantee or placement," said an official at the Amritsar Aviation Club.

"Kingfisher is gone and no one else is recruiting. The aviation industry is in the doldrums since 2008," said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation expert. Before spending such huge amounts on flying training people should atleast find out if there are any jobs at all in the market, he said.

Since the Kingfisher crisis began in late 2011, an estimated 400 pilots and 600 cabin crew have left the airline.

"It's true that at present there are no vacancies," said a senior executive at a private carrier.

"Not even a single person in my batch could become a pilot. Those who had family businesses were lucky. Many others went back to college and did their graduation. Many are still sitting idle. There is also an unemployed pilot's welfare association on Facebook," said Roy.

Those who have trained to be cabin crew are no better off. Salaries for newcomers are as low as Rs. 25,000 a month.

"The charm is gone. Salaries are no more attractive. Very few of us get to fly on international routes. Moreover, there are hardly any vacancies," said a stewardess who did not wish to be named.


Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Cesar Oviedo dies in helicopter crash

A presidential candidate in Paraguay has died in a helicopter crash.

Spokesman Johnny Villalba of Paraguay's airport authority says Lino Cesar Oviedo was returning from a political rally on Saturday night in northern Paraguay when the pilot encountered bad weather.

Also killed in the crash were the pilot and Mr Oviedo's bodyguard.

Mr Villalba said the cause of the crash will be investigated by his agency.

Mr Oviedo was 69, a retired general and former army chief who was running for president in April's elections as leader of an opposition party, the National Union of Ethical Citizens. It is the third largest party in Paraguay.


Barbados needs small airport


Serious consideration should be given to the building of a small airport or airfield in the parish of St Lucy as a deterrent to criminal activity off the northern coast of Barbados.

It can be funded with assistance from the OAS and the Canadian and United States governments, all of whom have a vested interest in Caribbean security.

If drug smugglers and other criminal elements know that there is such a surveillance-equipped facility in the north, they would probably think twice about trying to smuggle drugs into Barbados through that part of the island.

It would be a worthwhile investment by all of the parties involved and would pay substantial dividends down the road. Therefore, whichever political party is returned to power in Barbados at the next election should make it an item of priority for the near future.

There are countries that are smaller than Barbados which have multiple airports or airfields that serve an important purpose in crime fighting and military training. This country must therefore elevate itself to that level of development. Not only will it provide law enforcement with additional tools and resources, but it would also provide employment for some of our northern brethren, and contribute to the expansion of the Barbados economy as well.

It would also be beneficial to Canada, Great Britain and the United States, which all have a stake in the regional security of the Caribbean in general.



Russia: Two Dead as Hang Glider Crashes into Urals House

© Photo Press Service Emergencies Ministry Department

MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) – Two people were killed when a motorized hang glider crashed into the wall of a house in Russia’s Urals, investigators said on Sunday.

The incident occurred in the town of Krasnoturyinsk, in the Sverdlovsk Region, on Sunday.

 The pilot was killed at the scene and his passenger died on the way to a hospital. 

 “During the flight, the hang glider hit a wall of a four-storey house and crashed,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement. 

A car which was parked near the building was damaged during the incident.

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One-in-four suits 'slumming it' as Ryanair chases business

By Nick Webb
Sunday February 03 2013
Up to a quarter of Michael O'Leary's customers on low-cost carrier Ryanair are now "business" passengers as the suits start 'slumming it' for cheaper fares.

Europe's largest airline now estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of all of its passengers are corporate or business fliers.

A recent internal survey showed that 22 percent of Ryanair's Spanish passengers were business travelers. Ryanair has been targeting business fliers since it introduced pre-booked seating on all its routes last January.

The frequency of Ryanair's flights has also been a major draw. "We currently operate approximately 22 flights a day between Dublin and London, the busiest international route in Europe, with an estimated similar proportion of business passengers traveling," Ryanair told the Sunday Independent.

"It's a combination of low fares in a recession where businesses are increasingly saying everyone must travel at low fares," and the "breakdown of business class as a product," O'Leary said in Lithuania last week.

Ryanair and fellow low-cost carriers such as Easyjet have gone after the business market with a variety of new measures ranging from introducing a €10 reserved seating charge to flexible tickets and corporate booking agents. Full service carriers have also upped their game with better menus and more spacious seating.

"There won't be an opportunity for people, when the economy recovers, to go back to flying these kind of short-haul airlines with their high fares and fuel surcharges, because I don't think the services will be there," O'Leary said.

Business and first-class traveler numbers have fallen sharply since the economic crisis began in 2007, pushing many European airlines into losses. Premium travel in Europe fell 3.2 percent last year, according to figures from the International Air Transport Association.

- Nick Webb


Federal Aviation Administration grounds Boeing 787s not their batteries

National Transportation Safety Board photo 

National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Mike Bauer works inside the Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" airplane under investigation at Boston's Logan Airport on Jan. 8 in Boston.

Associated Press 
Joan Lowy Associated Press
Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 7:40 am

WASHINGTON — At the time the government certified Boeing's 787 Dreamliners as safe, federal rules barred the type of batteries used to power the airliner's electrical systems from being carried as cargo on passenger planes because of the fire risk.

Now the situation is reversed.

Dreamliners worldwide were grounded nearly three weeks ago after lithium ion batteries that are part of the planes led to a fire in one plane and smoke in a second. But new rules exempt aircraft batteries from the ban on large lithium ion batteries as cargo on flights by passenger planes.

In effect, that means the Dreamliner's batteries are now allowed to fly only if they're not attached to a Dreamliner.

The regulations were published on Jan. 7, the same day as a battery fire in a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston's Logan International Airport that took firefighters nearly 40 minutes to put out.

Pilots and safety advocates say the situation doesn't make sense. If the 787's battery system is too risky to allow the planes to fly, then it's too risky to ship the same batteries as cargo on airliners, they said.

"These incidents have raised the whole issue of lithium batteries and their use in aviation," said Jim Hall, a former National Transportation Safety Board chairman. "Any transport of lithium batteries on commercial aircraft for any purpose should be suspended until (an) NTSB investigation is complete and we know more about this entire issue."

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, a former US Airways pilot famed for his precision flying that enabled passengers and crew to survive an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York, said in an interview that he wouldn't be comfortable flying an airliner that carried lithium ion aircraft batteries in its cargo hold.

The battery rules were changed in order to conform U.S. shipping requirements with international standards as required by Congress, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in a statement.

The NTSB is investigating the cause of the 787 battery fire in Boston. Japanese authorities are investigating a battery failure that led to an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways 787 on Jan. 16. All Dreamliners, which are operated by eight airlines in seven countries, have since been grounded.

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Illinois man killed in hang gliding accident in Groveland, Florida

Zachary Marzec 
(Facebook )

27-year-old hang gliding instructor Zachary Marzec died in a hang gliding accident in Groveland, Fla. 

A hang glider from Illinois died Saturday after crashing on the runway of a rural south Lake County airfield.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as 27-year-old Zachary Marzec.

According to Marzec's Facebook profile, he is a hang-gliding instructor and he has several dozen photos of himself hang gliding with friends.

Deputies say something went wrong as Marzec was in flight and caused the hang glider to go down at Quest Air Hang Gliding airfield.

No one at the business could be reached after the crash.

The crash happened at about 3:20 p.m. He was taken to South Lake Hospital, where he died.

Jim Vachon, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff's Office, said an investigation is ongoing into the accident and what exactly happened is unknown.

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GROVELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - A hang gliding accident turned deadly Saturday in Groveland. Lake County Sheriff's office said the man, 27-year-old Zachary James Marzec of Illinois was hang gliding when he crashed at 6548 Groveland Airport Rd. 

Deputies said he crashed on the runway at the Groveland Airport around 2:18 p.m.  The preliminary investigation suggest that Mr. Marzec's hang glider malfunctioned during flight causing it to fall to the ground.  

Marzec was taken to South Lake Hospital where he died from his injuries at 3:22 p.m.  Detectives with the Lake County Sheriff's office are still investigating the incident, however at this time it appears to be an apparent accident.

Airport management company chief says city of Yakima unclear about proposal

The CEO of a Tampa, Fla.-based aviation management company said the city of Yakima misunderstood its proposal for taking over operations and management of the Yakima Air Terminal. 

Michael Hodges’ claim comes days after the city of Yakima rejected bids from ABS Aviation, as well as the Yakima airport staff, in favor the airport becoming a department within the city of Yakima.

Hodges said he felt that the city’s decision was based on unclear information surrounding a fee mentioned in its proposal.

While ABS’ proposed $540,000 annual fee included payment for its services, most of the funds were to be used to cover labor and personnel costs, Hodges said. The fee was competitive considering that the airport spent upward of $700,000 annually on personnel in the past, Hodges said in a phone interview Friday.

Hodges sent a follow-up letter to city officials to provide additional information on the fee, but he ultimately felt his company was not given a sufficient chance to flesh out its proposal. He said he was surprised the decision was made without any in-person interviews and said it caused him to wonder if the airport was to become a city department all along. 

“I’m very suspicious with the way things transpired,” he said. “... I’m not upset about not getting selected. I’m upset that the city wasted our time by having us go through the process.”
Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke said he solicited the proposals to see if privatizing airport management and operations was a viable option. 

The selection committee that reviewed the proposals — which includes O’Rourke, officials from the city, Yakima County and the airport — asked for additional information from ABS Aviation to clarify a few points. Other than the follow-up letter elaborating on the fee, the company did not send any other information, O’Rourke said. 

More important, O’Rourke said, was that ABS was not willing to take responsibility for both the profit and losses of the airport. He cited a point in ABS Aviation’s proposal stating that the city would be responsible for any financial shortfall. 

ABS Aviation “failed the initial test — (it) would not take any ownership of the profit and losses of the facility. Period,” O’Rourke said. 

Hodges took issue with that claim. 

While the proposed monthly fee would provide the company with some income, the lion’s share of its revenue would come from a proposed incentive payment tied to reaching mutually agreed benchmarks on items such as increasing revenues and reducing expenses. Such incentives were briefly outlined in a cover letter introducing the company’s proposal.

“We had an incentive in that situation to maximize revenue and control expenses,” Hodges said.

Still, O’Rourke believes making the airport a city department is the right choice. “If we’re going to be exposed to losses, then we’re going to run it,” he said.

Rob Peterson, interim airport manager, said he believe the bid process was fair, and the decision to become a city department was also ideal as most of the staff would likely remain in their current positions. 

“I believe it will be more efficient to streamline the requests for maintenance and operations (to the city),” Peterson said. 

Before the airport becomes a city department, however, the city of Yakima still needs to complete efforts to secure sole ownership of the 825-acre facility. The city is working out an agreement with Yakima County, a co-owner. 

But O’Rourke knows what he would like to see. Under his plan, Peterson would focus on day-to-day operations while he would oversee strategic goals such as air service development and completion of an airport master plan update. 

O’Rourke said he would work on cutting expenses to stay within budget until revenue-generating opportunities come along.

“I’m more than happy to accept responsibility for the profits and losses of the airport,” he said.

Opinion: Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN) area has potential as economic jewel for region

By Robert D. Prunetti

The Trenton-Mercer Airport has the potential to become an economic jewel for the entire region. For too long, in my estimation, we’ve allowed this gemstone to dull due to underutilization. With the strategic business plan of Frontier Airlines, the development plans of Ewing Township and the demonstrated commitment of the Hughes administration at the county level, the chances of success for the airport to evolve into a vital part of our state’s economic future have never shone so brightly.

Let’s take a look at airports as economic generators. According to a study by CDM Smith, in 2010, airports in the U.S. directly employed 1.3 million people. Visitor activity at U.S. airports created 3.6 million jobs. Adding the multiplier effect of the economic impact of airports, we find that airports employ 10.5 million people with an annual payroll of $365 billion, with total economic activity of $1.2 trillion. In New Jersey, 231,000 jobs are created by our airports, with an annual payroll of more than $9 billion. More than $31 billion of annual economic activity is generated by New Jersey commercial airports. 

The FAA forecasts that Trenton-Mercer will be serving 11 million people by 2025. The FAA also projects that by 2025, air travel will increase by 50 percent. It believes that investments in smaller regional airports such as Trenton-Mercer will relieve pressure on larger airports such as Newark and Philadelphia and enhance local economies. 

There are about 4 million people within a 40-minute drive time from Trenton-Mercer airport. We have easy access from every major highway between Philadelphia and New York, and parking is far more economical than at the larger airports. We have good public transportation alternatives on site or within close proximity to the airport. Frontier Airlines now offers a number of flights at competitive prices to popular destinations. The growth projections in air travel, easy access to the airport and competitive pricing, positions Trenton-Mercer well to take advantage of a growing industry.

In Ewing Township, where the airport is located, Mayor Steinmann is developing a plan to redevelop the old General Motors and Navy Jet Propulsion sites into a vibrant mixed-use commercial/retail site. This plan alone will enhance the West Trenton portion of Ewing Township dramatically — but combined with the potential of the airport, it becomes a rare jewel. 

By repositioning the air terminal from its current location to one adjacent to the Navy site, the development will serve as a transportation hub, connecting air, rail and vehicular transportation services for millions of people. This hub would offer “economic fortification” — the activity generated by the transportation center will economically support the business of the commercial and retail developments at the site. In turn, the consumers who do business with the commercial and retail developments will be reintroduced to the revitalized transportation services available at the hub. This is a natural convergence of economic forces and produces a great opportunity. That gemstone is starting to shine now! 

Mercer County has also recently proposed to develop parts of the airport property into commercial and industrial niche locations, showcasing high-tech and emerging growth industries. The airport is a valuable element in that economic infrastructure. 

Workforce talent is an essential quality an area must offer to attract these industries. The mid-Jersey region is rich in this talent, but now we also have the means to provide air transportation to an ever-mobile talent pool from those industries. 

The Hughes administration has shown foresight with its aggressive promotion of a new air carrier at Trenton-Mercer Airport and the further development of the airport property. It is moving in the right direction in allowing more flights to more destinations. Rapid growth will occur if businesses and consumers see the advantages of Trenton-Mercer over other major airports, i.e.: competitive pricing to popular destinations, ease of access, comfort and commercial opportunities. 

The MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce supports the Hughes administration and Mayor Steinmann in their efforts to bring this opportunity to fruition. We encourage the support of these economic jewels so they shine brighter and more brilliantly in the future. 

Robert D. Prunetti is president and CEO of the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce (