Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Future bleak for Civil Air Patrol facility

WILLIAMSTOWN - The former National Guard building at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport has been called uninhabitable after structural and other issues were noted by the Wood County engineer.

Bill Brown, county engineer, told officials with the Parkersburg Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, which now inhabits the facility, the building needs to be closed.

"I inspected the building and it is uninhabitable with structural and mold and mildew problems," Brown said. "If this was a private building in the county, I would condemn it at this point - mainly because of the mildew and mold."

He added while the structural issues with the building are a problem, the bigger issue comes from the health risks associated with the mold.

"The danger is not what we see, but what we don't see," Brown continued.

Mold and mildew is a problem in the building because the roof has a severe leaking problem and with water getting inside and heat, it has grown uncontrollably.

Maj. Sixto Velez, squadron commander for the Parkersburg Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, said the organization left the facility last week, following Brown's inspection, and is now using other airport space for weekly meetings.

"My biggest fear is the hazard the building is for people slipping or falling," Velez said. "I now go in once a week to clean up water, but we no longer use the building; we are done there."

Brown said the issues that make the facility uninhabitable aside from the mold and severely leaking roof include warped doors, broken windows and several county building codes that are not met.

"It is a danger for people to be inside the building," he said.

Airport manager Terry Moore said from the airport's stance, the best thing to do is to condemn the building, which removes any liability from the airport if someone gets hurt while there.

Brown said the building could be condemned as early as next week, but Velez argued it will take several weeks to organize and remove much-needed and valuable equipment.

"Because of the security of this building I have taken so much time to condemn it," he said. "Because of the limited access and it is not open to the public, we can take the time needed by the Civil Air Patrol."

The building will likely be closed on March 15.

Because the attached hangar is not in as bad a shape as the rest of the facility, it will remain accessible to the Civil Air Patrol.

Source:   http://www.newsandsentinel.com

Cessna-maker Textron plans some production in India

BANGALORE: Textron, the maker of Bell helicopters and Cessna aircraft, said it would add 300 to 400 people to its engineering center in Bangalore over the next one year. The center currently has about 500 engineers.

Inderjit Sal, MD of Textron India, said the center works on new products for almost the entire range of areas that the $11-billion Textron is in, including helicopters, aircraft, surface vessels and industrial segments. He said he could not provide details of the work for confidentiality reasons.

The US company has offset obligations in India, thanks to the $257-million order it won from the Indian Air Force in 2010 for sensor-fused weapons (computer controlled and radar equipped submunitions that hunt for tanks or armored vehicles below and destroy them). Under offset obligations, vendors are obliged to procure materials and services from within India equivalent to 30% to 50% of the contract value. In the Textron order, the offset obligation is 30%.

The sourcing from the Bangalore center will help towards partly meeting the offset obligation. The company is also looking to co-produce components in India. Ellen M Lord, CEO of Textron Systems, said the company had identified specific projects to undertake in India. "We are in the process of identifying partners, which we hope to complete in about a year," she said.

Textron is also bidding for the naval utility helicopter deal of the Indian Navy. The Navy plans to procure 56 helicopters, and Textron is offering two versions of Bell helicopters, which are being showcased at the aero show in Bangalore. Sal said private operators, the oil & gas sector, the medical sector and the paramilitary are also potential buyers of helicopters. Bell is estimated to have the highest market share in the Indian helicopter market. All of that is in the civilian sector now.

The company is also showcasing unmanned aircraft systems, command and control technologies, and precision smart air-delivered and ground-delivered weapons at the show. "India is ready to absorb these technologies, which is why we have such a big presence at the aero show," Sal said. 


Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

F-15 jets flying training maneuvers: Jets from the 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield, Massachusetts

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - A number of Franklin County residents heard a military jet training exercise in the skies Wednesday morning.

F-15 Jets from the 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield were practicing scramble maneuvers around the Massachusetts and Vermont state line.

Maj. Matthew Mutti of the 104th told 22News the practice scramble involved intercepting a civilian jet.

Additional practices are planned throughout the month.

The training helps the pilots prepare to deal with airspace restriction violations, hijackings, and responding to unknown aircraft.


Source:   http://www.wwlp.com

No Airport Restrictions on East Hampton-Bound Helicopters Yet

In response to complaints about noise from area residents, the East Hampton Town Board has been collecting data on helicopter traffic at East Hampton Airport. This might eventually result in applying to the Federal Aviation Administration for restrictions on chopper traffic. Aviation consultants briefed the board about airport issues yesterday. The next step is to compile the data, figure out what specific problems exist, and how they can be fixed. "Solutions could include creating a 'slot system' where only a fixed number of helicopters could fly in per hour on the weekend, limiting hours at the airport or creating a requirement that helicopters fly at a certain altitude." 

Rest easy, well-heeled whirlybird passengers. The town doesn't have the money to compile the data anyway! Estimated cost is up to $500,000. "'That's wonderful,' Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said. 'Where are we going to get the $500,000?'"
 

· Process Could Lead To Helicopter Restrictions At East Hampton Airport, Consultants Tell Board [27east]

Laura Euler


Source: http://hamptons.curbed.com

Latest Airport Food Trend? Trucks

Forget Panda Express.The latest in airport dining is food that comes from a truck. 

It was really just a matter of time. Food trucks have invaded nearly every city in America. Why should the airports -- the first glimpse travelers get of the cities they're visiting -- be left out? 

A few airports have recently brought food trucks to their cell phone parking lots. Orlando International has six food trucks at its commercial lot and taxi staging area. One -- Los Angeles International -- even has plans to build a structure that looks like a food truck in Terminal 4, rotating the offerings from the city's most popular food trucks. 

Tampa International has the most robust offering. The program started in mid-November as a way to service the throngs of people waiting in the cell phone parking lot to pick up loved ones during the busy holiday travel season. 

The 30-day trial was such a success that the airport has extended the program through August, with a new food truck every day. There's the Cheesesteak Truck, serving the obvious; Nicos Arepas Grill, serving Venezuelan arepas and chachapas; the Dude and His Food, serving burgers, hot dogs and the like; Graffeaties, serving global street food; and several more in the rotation. 

And while the program has been successful from a customer-service standpoint, it's "not a money-making initiative for us," said Christine Osborn, communications manager for Tampa International Airport. "But it's really caught on, and customers love it." 

It is, however, making money for someone. Tom Bradley owns the Cheesesteak Truck, the featured food truck at Tampa International that's there once a week. "At first I wasn't sure how it would do, but it's been great for business," he said while ringing up a customer who was purchasing a cheesesteak. "When you're on a street corner, you get the lunch crowd, but that's pretty much it. Here we have a steady stream of business most of the day. 

"My favorite are flight delays," he said, remembering a particularly busy day around Christmas when snowstorms in the North were keeping people waiting for hours in the cell phone lots for loved ones. 

The food truck at Austin - Bergstrom International Airport in Texas is also a recent addition: Twist of Spice -- serving Tex-Mex, paninis and salads -- arrived in the cell phone lot last month. Airport spokesman Jim Halbrook said the pilot program's been well-received. "The feedback's been all favorable," he said. "There are picnic tables to eat at, it's very pleasant." 

Debby McElroy, executive vice president at Airports Council International North America, said the trend of food trucks at the airport was born out of a desire to make the cell phone waiting lots better. 

"A number of airports are expanding their services by extending Wi-Fi coverage and adding flight display information so the person waiting can see if their loved one is delayed. Food trucks are a great answer for people waiting for an extended period for their loved ones to arrive," she said. 

It looks like the airport food truck trend may just be getting started. "Airports are watching what's happening at Tampa and the success of the program," said McElroy. "Airports are the gateway to their communities. Having food trucks helps local businesses, improves the customer experience and enhances economic growth. 

"It's win-win for everyone." 

Source:  http://abcnews.go.com

Years after bankruptcy, ex-Pace Airlines workers finally in line for payday

The nearly 3½-year legal case involving Pace Airlines Inc. was cleared for landing today by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge.

Judge Thomas Waldrep Jr. approved the final estate plan submitted by trustee Edwin Allman III. The report already had been audited by the estate’s bankruptcy administrator.

That means 421 former employees were approved to receive compensation for going up to six weeks without pay before the company was shut down in September 2009. Most employees stayed on because of fears that Pace officials would try to deny their unemployment benefits if they quit.

The Winston-Salem company, once an anchor tenant at Smith Reynolds Airport, was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in January 2010.

The filing lists the maximum amount of compensation at $3,261, which would be about $2,185 after an estimated 33 percent tax rate is taken out. The compensation is subject to typical payroll tax deductions. There are 324 employees eligible for the maximum amount.

The employees will be the only creditors to receive compensation, Allman said. Most employees have said they would treat what compensation they received as found money when they got it.

Allman said the employees should receive their compensation within 10 to 14 days depending on how quickly Waldrep enters an order for distribution and the bankruptcy administrator sets a schedule.

Pace and its predecessors had been an anchor tenant at the airport for decades until the company collapsed four months after William Rodgers Sr. took ownership in May 2009. Rodgers has a Feb. 18 hearing date in Forsyth County Superior Court related to the 27 criminal counts he faces in the county.

Waldrep approved fees and commissions totaling $369,313 for Allman and the law firm of Allman Spry Leggett & Crumpler P.A. as part of the final steps for closing the estate.

Both Waldrep and Michael West, the bankruptcy administrator, praised Allman’s doggedness in pursuit of as-sets that could be converted into money for creditors.

“This case began badly as an involuntary bankruptcy with no one to prepare schedules and documents and no one wanting to stand up and say they were responsible, and for good reason since this company was in disarray,” Waldrep said.

Lee Booth has been listed as a co-owner of Pace by Allman because of documents he signed with Rodgers during and after the airline’s collapse, and Booth took possession of some Pace assets.

The Pace estate holds $1.86 million after the liquidation of all of its discovered assets. Most of that came through a $1 million settlement reached in February 2012 with the insurer representing Rodgers.

“The trustee dug deep into the documents, investigated the acts of the principals involved, took some risks with the lawsuits he brought, and was successful,” Waldrep said. “But for his efforts and those of his attorneys, it could be said the creditors would not have received anything.”

“His work has been exceptional, particularly since he has not been paid anything on the case for almost three years.”

Rodgers took ownership in May 2009, signing a promissory note to pay $9 million to the estate of Bob Brooks – founder of the Hooters restaurant chain – for stock in Pace Airlines LLC and Pace Airlines II LLC and take over $6 million in liabilities.

In January 2012, a Forsyth grand jury indicted Rodgers on one count of willful failure to pay group health-insurance premiums to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and 26 counts of willful failure to deliver notice to employees. Each count is a Class H felony, which could carry a sentence of five to 20 months in prison.

Rodgers’ case has been continued numerous times since he was arrested by state insurance officers Sept. 22, 2009, just five days after the company shut down for good. Rodgers has been out of jail on a $50,000 bond since September 2009.

Mark Calloway, Rodgers' attorney, and Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Attorney General's Office, have said it is possible the case could be continued again. Rodgers' case was assigned to the N.C. Attorney General's Office in September 2010. It is also possible that a trial date could be set or Rodgers could enter a plea at the hearing.

Source:   http://www.journalnow.com

Newark Liberty International Airport firm to looking to fill 1,000 jobs

NEWARK  — A ground services company at Newark Liberty International Airport is looking to hire 1,000 New Jersey residents for a new cargo and baggage handling operation.

Swissport USA is receiving assistance from the Christie Administration and the Department of Labor to help fill the jobs within the next 60 days.

The company has promised to give priority consideration to applicants displaced by Superstorm Sandy and the long-term unemployed, particularly those already involved in storm cleanup efforts.

Swissport USA is hosting several job fairs in the coming weeks, including one next week at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Newark.

Candidates for positions ranging from warehouse and cargo office agents to supervisors must have a valid driver's license, a high school diploma, a clean record and a steady work history.


Source:  http://www.northjersey.com

Federal Aviation Administration Initial Dreamliner Approval Is Reviewed

Updated February 6, 2013, 3:19 p.m. ET

By ANDY PASZTOR And JON OSTROWER
The Wall Street Journal



The top U.S. investigator looking into burning batteries on Boeing Co. 787 jets said the probe will evaluate "the assessments that were made" initially by Federal Aviation Administration officials in approving the plane and what "more needs to be done" before the 787 fleet returns to service.

Deborah Hersman, chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, also told reporters that the investigators looking into the 787 Dreamliner problems were "probably weeks away from being able to tell people, 'Here is what exactly happened and what needs to change.' "


The FAA grounded U.S.-registered Dreamliners on Jan. 16. That followed a fire in the lithium-ion battery on a parked Japan Airlines Co. aircraft in Boston on Jan. 7 and a burning battery on an All Nippon Airways Co.  787 that forced an emergency landing in Japan about a week later. Other global regulators followed the FAA by grounding all 50 Dreamliners operated by eight airlines world-wide.
 

Ms. Hersman on Wednesday said the safety board is looking not only at the cause of the battery failures but also at how well the FAA, years earlier, assessed the potential hazards of Boeing's lithium-ion installations. In dealing with Dreamliner battery issues, she said, it is important to determine that the "right risk assessment" was done before the planes started carrying passengers and what risk mitigation was put in place.

Air India's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft approaches for a landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in September, 2012.

"We are evaluating assessments that have been made [by Boeing and the FAA], whether those assessments were accurate, whether they were complied with and whether more needs to be done," she said. "And I think that's important, before this airplane is back in the air, to really understand what the risks are and that they're mitigated effectively."

So far, neither U.S. nor Japanese investigators have identified a root cause for the JAL or ANA battery problems.

Ms. Hersman said the safety board is "consulting with the best minds in batteries" and lithium-ion technology to come up with answers.

The NTSB is expected to provide an extensive update of its investigation on Thursday morning, partly dealing with aircraft-certification issues and whether tougher standards now should be applied to large lithium-ion batteries installed on airliners or business jets.

The FAA meanwhile is evaluating a request from Boeing to perform its own flight testing in an attempt to find the cause of the battery failures.


Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Beechcraft B100 King Air, N499SW: Accident occurred December 18, 2012 in Libby, Montana

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA073 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 19, 2012 in Libby, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/04/2015
Aircraft: BEECH B100, registration: N499SW
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

When the flight was about 7 miles from the airport and approaching it from the south in dark night conditions, the noncertificated pilot canceled the instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. A police officer who was on patrol in the local area reported that he observed a twin-engine airplane come out of the clouds about 500 ft above ground level and then bank left over the town, which was north of the airport. The airplane then turned left and re-entered the clouds. The officer went to the airport to investigate, but he did not see the airplane. He reported that it was dark, but clear, at the airport and that he could see stars; there was snow on the ground. He also observed that the rotating beacon was illuminated but that the pilot-controlled runway lighting was not. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert notice, and the wreckage was located about 7 hours later 2 miles north of the airport. The airplane had collided with several trees on downsloping terrain; the debris path was about 290 ft long. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The town and airport were located within a sparsely populated area that had limited lighting conditions, which, along with the clouds and 35 percent moon illumination, would have restricted the pilot’s visual references. These conditions likely led to his being geographically disoriented (lost) and his subsequent failure to maintain sufficient altitude to clear terrain. Although the pilot did not possess a valid pilot’s certificate, a review of his logbooks indicated that he had considerable experience flying the airplane, usually while accompanied by another pilot, and that he had flown in both visual and IFR conditions. A previous student pilot medical certificate indicated that the pilot was color blind and listed limitations for flying at night and for using color signals. The pilot had applied for another student pilot certificate 2 months before the accident, but this certificate was deferred pending a medical review.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noncertificated pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering to land in dark night conditions likely due to his geographic disorientation (lost). Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper decision to fly at night with a known visual limitation.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 19, 2012, about 0002 mountain standard time (MST), a Beech B100, N499SW, collided with trees near Libby, Montana. Stinger Welding was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The non-certificated pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Coolidge, Arizona, about 2025 MST with Libby as the planned destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the nearest official reporting station, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the pilot had been cleared for the GPS-A instrument approach procedure for the Libby Airport (S59), which was located 7 nm south-southeast of Libby. The pilot acknowledged that clearance at 2353. At 2359, the airplane target was about 7 miles south of the airport; the pilot reported the field in sight, and cancelled the IFR flight plan. Recorded radar data indicated that the airplane was at a Mode C altitude of 11,700 feet mean sea level at that time, and the beacon code changed from 6057 to 1200.

A track obtained from the FilghtAware internet site indicated a target at 2320 at 26,000 feet that was heading in the direction of Libby. The target began a descent at 2340:65. At 2359:10, and 11,700 feet mode C altitude, the beacon code changed to 1200. The target continued to descend, and crossed the Libby Airport, elevation 2,601 feet, at 0000:46 at 8,300 feet. The track continued north; the last target was at 0001:58 and a Mode C altitude of 5,000 feet; this was about 3 miles south of Libby and over 4 miles north of the airport.

A police officer reported that he observed a twin-engine airplane come out of the clouds over the city of Libby about 500 feet above ground level. It turned left, and went back into the clouds. The officer thought that it was probably going to the airport; he went to the airport to investigate, but observed no airplane. It was dark, but clear, at the airport with about 3 inches of snow on the ground, and he could see stars. He also observed that the rotating beacon was illuminated, but not the pilot controlled runway lighting. He listened for an airplane, but heard nothing.

When the pilot did not appear at a company function at midday on December 18, they reported him overdue. The Prescott, Arizona, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 1102 MST; the wreckage was located at 1835.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of FAA medical records revealed that the 54-year-old pilot first applied for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate in August 2004. On that Medical Certification Application, the pilot reported having 500 hours total time with 200 hours in the previous 6 months. No alcohol or medication usage was reported; however, the pilot was determined to be red/green color blind.

On June 9, 2010, the pilot reported on an application for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate that he had 925 hours total time with 150 hours in the previous 6 months. He was issued a third-class medical certificate that was deemed not valid for night flying or using color signal control.

On May 16, 2012, the pilot received a driving while intoxicated (DWI) citation in Libby.

The pilot reported on an application for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate dated October 16, 2012, that he had a total time of 980 hours with 235 hours logged in the previous 6 months. Item 52 for color vision indicated fail. This application reported a new diagnosis of hypertension, and use of medications to control it. This application reported yes in item 17 (v) for history of arrest of conviction for driving while intoxicated. The FAA deferred the issuance of the Student Pilot and Medical Certificate, indicating that they were investigating a failure to report within 60 days the alcohol-related motor vehicle action that occurred in Montana on May 16, 2012. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) reviewed copies of the pilot's logbooks beginning on March 21, 2010, and ending November 4, 2012. The entries indicated a total time of 978 hours during that time period. Time logged for the 90 days prior to the accident was 34 hours. The logbooks recorded numerous trips to Libby with three entries in the previous 90 days. The last solo flight endorsement, in a Cessna 340, was signed off by a certified flight instructor in August 2011. The logbook contained several entries for flights in instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions.

The IIC interviewed the chief pilot for the company, who was hired to fly the Stinger Company's Cessna CJ2 jet, which they purchased about 4 years earlier. The accident pilot owned the company, and would typically have the chief pilot arrange for a contract pilot to fly with him in the accident airplane. The chief pilot was standing by to fly the owner in the CJ2, but the owner never contacted him or requested another pilot for the accident airplane.

The IIC interviewed a contract pilot who flew with the accident pilot on December 16, 2012; this was their only flight together. It was a 6-hour round trip from Coolidge to La Paz, Mexico. The airplane was in perfect condition; everything was working, and they had no squawks. The pilot had paper charts, as well as charts on an iPad. The contract pilot felt that the pilot handled the airplane well, was competent, and understood all of the systems. The pilot coached the contract pilot on the systems installed including the autopilot. They used it on the outbound trip, and it operated properly. They used the approach mode into La Paz including vertical navigation. The pilot had no complaints of physical ailments or lack of sleep, and fuelled the airplane himself.

The passenger was a company employee who was not a pilot.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a Beech B100, serial number BE89. The airplane's logbooks were not provided and examined. 

The IIC interviewed Stinger Welding's aviation maintenance chief, whose 4-year employment was terminated about 1 month after the accident. He stated that the airplane typically flew 200-400 hours a year; the company had flown it about 800 hours since its acquisition. The chief was not aware of any unresolved squawks as the owner usually had him take care of maintenance needs immediately. The airplane had been out of service for maintenance for a long time the previous year, having taken almost 7 months to get the propeller out of the shop due to the repair cost. The maintenance chief said that the owner kept the onboard Garmin GPS databases up to date. The airplane was operated under Part 91 CFR, and inspections being delayed were: the 6-year landing gear inspection was past due; the 12-month items were due; and the 3-year wing structure and wing bolt inspection was due.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The closest official weather observation station was Sandpoint, Idaho (KSZT), which was 46 nautical miles (nm) west of the accident site at an elevation of 2,131 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) issued at 2355 MST stated: wind from 220 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky 2,800 feet overcast; temperature 0/32 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point -3/27 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.72 inches of mercury. Illumination of the moon was 35 percent.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Airport/ Facility Directory, Northwest Pacific U. S., indicated that Libby Airport had an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS)-A, which broadcast on frequency 118.575.

Libby runway 15/33 was 5,000 feet long and 75 feet wide; the runway surface was asphalt. The airport elevation was 2,601 feet.

The airport was located within the general confines of the Kootenai National Forest, and beyond the town of Libby; the area was lightly inhabited.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The IIC and investigators from the FAA and Honeywell examined the wreckage on site. Detailed examination notes are part of the public docket. The center of the debris field was about 2.5 miles north of the airport at an elevation of 4,180 feet.

A description of the debris field references debris from left and right of the centerline of the debris path; the debris was through trees on a slope that went downhill from left to right. The debris path was about 290 feet long along a magnetic bearing of 125 degrees. 

The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a topped tree with branches on the ground below it and in the direction of the debris field. About 50 feet from the tree were composite shards, and a piece of the composite engine nacelle, which had a hole punched in it.

The next point of contact was a 4-foot-tall tree stump with shiny splinters on the stump. The lower portion of the tree had been displaced about 30 feet in the direction of the debris field with the top folded back toward the stump. Underneath the tree trunk were the nose gear and control surfaces followed by wing pieces.

One engine and propeller with all four blades attached was about 50 feet from the stump, and on the right side of the debris path. This was later determined to be the right engine. Next on the left side of the debris path was the outboard half of one propeller blade; another propeller blade was about 10 feet further into the debris field.

Midway into the debris field were several trees with sheet metal wrapped around them. Near the midpoint of the debris field, a portion of the instrument panel had imbedded into a tree about 15 feet above the ground. The wiring bundle hung down the tree trunk to ground level. To the left of the instrument panel was one of the largest pieces of wreckage. This piece contained the left and right horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizer, and part of one wing with the landing gear strut attached. The rudder separated, but was a few feet left of this piece.

Next in the debris field was a 6- by 8-foot piece of twisted metal, which contained the throttle quadrant.

About 100 feet right of the debris path centerline and downhill from the throttle quadrant was a 10-foot section of the aft cabin. This section was connected by steel cables and wires to a 4- by 7-foot piece of twisted metal.

The furthest large piece of wreckage was the second engine; this was later determined to be the left engine. The left propeller hub with two blades attached had separated from the engine; the other two blades were located earlier within the debris field.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Science Division, Department of Justice, State of Montana, completed an autopsy, and determined that the cause of death was blunt force injuries.

The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

Analysis of the specimens indicated no carbon monoxide detected in blood (cavity), no test performed for cyanide, no ethanol detected in muscle or kidney, and no findings for tested drugs.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The IIC and investigators from the FAA, Textron Aviation, and Honeywell examined the wreckage at Avtech, Kent, Washington, on February 13, 2013.

Detailed examination notes are part of the public docket. Investigators observed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engines.

The engines had been modified from Honeywell models to National Flight Services, INC., models per a supplemental type certificate (STC SE002292AT), and installed in the airplane per STC SA00856AT.

The left engine was TPE331-6-511B, serial number P-27185C based on a Beechcraft data tag on the engine. The starter/generator input shaft fractured and separated; the fracture surface was angular and twisted.

No metallic debris was adhering to the engine chip detector.

The engine inlet fractured and separated from the engine gearcase housing. Earthen debris was observed on the first stage compressor impeller. Vanes of the first stage impeller were bent opposite the direction of rotation.

Overall, the compressor case and plenum displayed crush damage. Upon removal of the airframe exhaust, investigators observed earthen debris within the engine exhaust. There was a fine layer of dried mud/earthen debris on the forward suction side of the third stage turbine blades. Investigators observed metal spray deposits on the third stage turbine stator vanes.

All four propeller blades exhibited leading edge damage; a section of one blade was not recovered with the aircraft wreckage, but this blade's tip was recovered.

The right engine was a TPE331-6-511B, serial number P27190C. 

Investigators observed rotational scoring in multiple locations on the propeller shaft. The first stage compressor impeller displayed tearing and battering damage; some vanes were bent opposite the direction of rotation. Investigators observed wood debris in the engine inlet area.

Investigators observed metal spray deposits noted on the suction side of the third stage turbine stator vanes.

All four of the right propeller's blades displayed leading edge damage and chordwise scoring. One tip fractured and separated; it was not recovered. All blades bent aft at midspan; they exhibited s-bending and tip curling.

  Entangled in litigation, Stinger Welding, Inc., the steel bridge and span builder with nearly four years of operation in Libby, is fighting for its life.

In a recent editorial and a subsequent interview with a Flathead County publication, Steve Patrick, Stinger vice president of northwest operations, said the operation in Libby is handcuffed by litigation, which includes federal tax liens, a lawsuit from creditors and a suit form the Port Authority, an entity that once was instrumental in bringing Stinger to Lincoln County.

“I meant what I said,” Patrick said Monday about the editorial that was critical of the Port Authority lawsuit. “Legally, I can’t really say that much more, and I mean that.”

Patrick was asked about Stinger’s future in Libby, and he was quick with a response.

“Let’s hope there is a future,” he said.

The brief interview concluded with a final question as to whether Stinger was removing assets from the mammoth bridge-assembly plant located on Port Authority property.

“Nope,” Patrick said.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, there has not been an open line of communication. For example, Kootenai River Development Council Executive Director Paul Rumelhart, who had almost weekly conversations with Stinger officials before the suit, now refers questions to Attorney Allan Payne.

Because of that lack of dialogue, Lincoln County officials are concerned assets from the building valued at more than $3 million could be relocated if Stinger scaled back its Libby operation.

Lincoln County Presiding Commissioner Tony Berget on Friday expressed concern that could be a possibility. However, litigation that was filed in October could impede asset removal, Berget said.

“We’re thinking everything is kind of tied up in the lawsuit,” Berget said.

Also, the county signed off on grants that helped Stinger acquire the massive overhead cranes it uses to move structures, Berget said.

Payne, the Port Authority attorney, on Monday said his client is proceeding with its lawsuit against Stinger.

“We heard from the Stinger attorney who asked that we afford them more time since the death of its CEO, which we granted. However, our main concern is the $3-plus million building that is a Port Authority asset. We’re concerned about the county and the building,” Payne said from his Helena office.

“We all feel bad about what happened to (Stinger CEO) Carl Douglas, but Stinger’s problems started long before Carl’s death. Perhaps, Carl juggled all the business transactions, and now they have no one to do that. This lawsuit is not the reason for Stinger’s problems,” Payne said referring to Patrick’s guest editorial that suggested Stinger would do better had it not had to deal with the Port Authority lawsuit.

Douglas was killed in the early morning hours of Dec. 18 when he crashed his aircraft into Swede Mountain as he approached Libby Airport just after midnight. Douglas and Stinger employee John Smith died in the crash.

Stinger Welding, Inc., is in receivership. A call Monday to MCA Financial Group of Arizona for comment went unreturned.

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.thewesternnews.com


NTSB Identification: WPR13FA073
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Libby, MT
Aircraft: BEECH B100, registration: N499SW
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 18, 2012, about 0002 mountain standard time (MST), a Beech B100, N499SW, collided with trees at Libby, Montana. Stinger Welding was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The noncertificated pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Coolidge, Arizona, about 2025 MST on December 17th, with Libby as the planned destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the nearest official reporting station of Sandpoint, Idaho, 264 degrees at 46 miles, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the pilot had been cleared for the GPS-A instrument approach procedure for the Libby Airport. The clearance had a crossing restriction of 10,700 feet at the PACCE intersection, which was the initial approach fix for the GPS-A approach. The pilot acknowledged that clearance at 2353. At 2359, the airplane target was about 7 miles south of the airport; the pilot reported the field in sight, and cancelled the IFR flight plan.

A police officer reported that he observed an airplane fly over the city of Libby, which was north of the airport; the airplane then turned toward the airport. The officer went to the airport to investigate, but observed no airplane. He noted that it was foggy in town, but the airport was clear. He also observed that the rotating beacon was illuminated, but not the pilot controlled runway lighting.

When the pilot did not appear at a company function at midday on December 18, they reported him overdue. The Prescott, Arizona, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 1102 MST; the wreckage was located at 1835.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) and investigators from the FAA and Honeywell examined the wreckage on site. A description of the debris field references debris from left and right of the centerline of the debris path. The debris was through trees on a slope that went downhill from left to right.

The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a topped tree with branches on the ground below it and in the direction of the debris field. About 50 feet from the tree were composite shards, and a piece of the composite engine nacelle, which had a hole punched in it.

The next point of contact was a 4-foot tree stump with shiny splinters on the stump. The lower portion of the tree had been displaced about 30 feet in the direction of the debris field with the top folded back toward the stump. Underneath the tree trunk were the nose gear and a couple of control surfaces followed by wing pieces.

One engine with the propeller attached was about 50 feet from the stump, and on the right side of the debris path. Next on the left side of the debris path was the outboard half of one propeller blade; another propeller blade was about 10 feet further into the debris field.

Midway into the debris field were several trees with sheet metal wrapped around them. Near the midpoint of the debris field, a portion of the instrument panel had imbedded into a tree about 15 feet above the ground. The wiring bundle hung down the tree trunk to ground level. To the left of the instrument panel was one of the largest pieces of wreckage. This piece contained the left and right horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizer, and part of one wing with the landing gear strut attached. The rudder separated, but was a few feet left of this piece.

Next in the debris field was a 6- by 8-foot piece of twisted metal, which contained the throttle quadrant.

About 100 feet right of the debris path centerline and downhill from the throttle quadrant was a 10-foot section of the aft cabin. This section was connected by steel cables and wires to a 4- by 7-foot piece of twisted metal.

The furthest large piece of wreckage was the second engine; the propeller hub with two blades attached had separated.

York, Pennsylvania: Helicopter is part of drug-arrest operation

A helicopter flying over York City during rush hour Wednesday morning was being used to assist police in apprehending dozens of alleged drug dealers.

The operation was the culmination of an 18-month investigation and the service of 80 arrest warrants, said Trooper Rob Hicks, state police spokesman.

The roundup began early Wednesday morning and will continue until all 80 suspects are located, according to York County District Attorney Tom Kearney.

He said state police are conducting raids with the York County Drug Task Force and numerous other law-enforcement agencies to arrest people involved in the city's drug trade.

Kearney and Hicks declined to disclose further details about the investigation. A press conference is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at the state police barracks in Loganville.


Source:    http://www.yorkdispatch.com

easyJet tests new fan system to help improve onboard air quality

easyJet passengers could notice something in the air next time they fly on the budget airline: it’s testing a new fan system to improve onboard air quality and help cut its fuel bill.

The carrier is fitting four A320 jets with the Zonal Dryer system, whose fan, heater and a moisture-absorbing rotor channels dry air towards the crown area of the aircraft, above passengers’ heads.

It’s supposed to cut excess moisture by up to 250kg on each flight, the equivalent of 12 hold bags, potentially saving 4.5 million kg of fuel per year if easyJet rolls the system out to all its planes. That could help cut the airline’s £1.2 billion annual fuel bill.

It flew 3.9 million passengers in January, 4% more than a year ago.

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

easyJet blasted by pilots over 'disingenuous' new job offers

Budget airline easyJet's announcement of 330 new full-time pilot jobs has been slammed by The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA), who say the company is merely switching current pilots to different contracts.

Last week, the budget airline said it would be offering new permanent first officer positions across all 11 of its UK bases as part of a move to provide cadet and first officer opportunities for pilots.

But BALPA have called the announcement 'extremely disingenuous', because new pilots were not actually being hired. Rather, contractors were being shifted into permanent positions as a reaction to growing pressure.

Read more:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk

FLORIDA: Brevard commission supports incentives for aerospace firms

 


Brevard County commissioners on Tuesday gave their initial approval to financial incentives for two aerospace companies seeking to create a total of 84 jobs on the Space Coast. 

 But Commissioner Trudie Infantini voted no on both proposals, saying that while she supports property tax breaks for companies creating jobs, she doesn’t like the way these two companies would get their incentives — in cash payments.

“Before we start handing over cash upfront or doing matching funds, maybe we should just let businesses start succeeding on their own merits,” Infantini said.


• United Paradyne Corp., which provides support and products for the aerospace-hardware industry, said it wants to create 50 jobs paying an average of $64,000 a year.

It asked the County Commission to designate it as a qualified target industry eligible for state financial incentives, as well as provide $40,000 in county incentives over an eight-year period as a required partial match for the state incentives.

• BRS Aerospace said it’s considering opening a research-and-development and prototyping operation in Brevard, creating 34 jobs paying an average of $62,100 a year.

BRS designs, tests and produces aircraft-safety systems, primarily for unmanned and training aircraft. It also asked to be designated as qualified target industry and sought $27,200 from the county over a six-year period.

County Manager Howard Tipton said the cash payments are spread out over a number of years and are tied to “performance guarantees“ to ensure the companies create the jobs they promised.

He said “the dollar values are very small” in relation to the economic effect of the jobs that could be created.

Infantini said the commission should “start moving a little slower when throwing out taxpayers’ cash.”

“That’s all I’m suggesting,” she said, adding that even with her objections there were enough votes on the commission to pass the measures.

The other four commissioners voted in favor of the resolutions.

“If we don’t do it, someone else is more than willing to do it,” and another community will get the jobs, County Commission Chairman Andy Anderson said. “I don’t like the system. I don’t like how economic development goes in the United States. But it’s an evil we have to operate within the game that’s out there right now.”

Tuesday’s votes were preliminary, with final County Commission action scheduled for Feb. 19.

Story:  http://www.floridatoday.com

Flying private jets just got sexier

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aviation fans are excited about the new, super-fast and stylish Gulfstream G650
  • Oprah, Ralph Lauren, Warren Buffett are said to be interested in the $65 million plane
  • Businesses aim to make flying private more affordable
  • Beyonce reportedly gave Jay-Z a Challenger 850 as a present

(CNN) -- He's an 82-year-old "redneck hillbilly from west North Carolina" who's been scratching an itch to go fast his whole life. 
 
Finally, after decades of racing high-performance speed boats and winning world-class endurance car competitions, Preston Henn got his hands on the fastest executive jet on the planet: the G650.

CNN caught up with Henn by cell phone between practice laps at Daytona International Speedway. "As long as the cars here don't crank up, we can talk!" he said.

From then on, Henn -- Florida's flea market kingpin -- sounded like a giddy schoolboy as he told his story about how he put down a $1 million deposit in April 2012 to become the first person to buy a Gulfstream G650 -- "the hottest airplane out there" --- with its distinctive, sweeping, curving wings and its roomy, swanky interior.

It made him "feel like a million dollars," he said gleefully.

For a plane that costs $65 million, feeling like $1 million might seem like a disappointment. But you get the picture.

The jet's top speed: 704 mph -- nearly the speed of sound -- makes it arguably the world's fastest civilian aircraft.

"I was just amazed at how quick it took off," says Henn. "And then it just went ZOOM -- straight up. I just sat back and drank a glass of wine and enjoyed it."

Henn knows speed. He's been around the track a time or two -- winning the checkered flag during the '80s at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours event at Florida's Sebring International Raceway.

He doesn't compete anymore. But he still travels around the world to race his friends. A super-fast G650 that can fly 8,000 statute miles -- farther than just about any other executive class jet -- might save him a lot of time and hassles.

Saving time and avoiding hassles are the main reasons the rich and famous want to fly private.

Read more:  http://www.cnn.com

Barnes Regional Airport runway reconstruction could cause F-15 fighter jets to be temporarily transferred to Westover Air Force Base

WESTFIELD - Four agencies are moving forward with plans to reconstruct the runways at Barnes Regional Airport, but discussions are preliminary.

“The runway has a life span of 20 years and we are approaching 30 years,” said Air National Guard 104th Fighter Wing Executive Officer Maj. Matthew T. Mutti.

He said the runways continue to be safe and usable but all officials know the work does have to be done eventually.

The project, which is estimated to cost at least $30 million, must be approved and funded by the Air National Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, the city of Westfield and the state. It is very early in the planning process, he said.

If the runway is resurfaced, it will call for Fighter Wing’s F-15 Eagle fighter jets to be moved to another location while work is being done. Base officials are having discussions with those at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and other airports in the northeast to find a temporary home for the planes, Mutti said.

“We will not stop our alert commitment. There are many alternatives,” he said.

The preliminary plan would call for the larger of the two runways, which measures about 9,000 feet and used by the 104th Fighter Wing, to be resurfaced first. The civilian operation can continue uninterrupted because the planes use the shorter runway at the airport during construction. Once the work on the longer runway is completed, civilian planes can use that runway while the shorter runway can be resurfaced, Mutti said.

The F-15 jets must take off and land on a longer runway so they will need an alternative location, he said.

Westover Chief of Public Affairs Lt. Col. James G. Bishop said the base should be able to accommodate the fighter jets during construction. Last summer some were parked at Westover when it was needed.

“We are talking with them about the possibility” he said.

Since details of the construction project are so preliminary, it is not known when it may happen or how long it would take, Mutti said.

In December, Barnes officials announced they were canceling plans for a summer 2014 international air show at the base because of a potential multi-million dollar runway reconstruction project. 


Story:  http://www.masslive.com

Irish pilots ‘fear air crash’ due to fatigue

The Irish Airline Pilots Association said that it was concerned that the European Aviation Safety Authority was not using certain scientific recommendations on its proposed EU Flight Time Limitations. 

Irish pilots fear there could be an airplane crash in Europe due to fatigue, an Oireachtas committee was told today.

Representatives from the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) made the comments while speaking to the Joint committee on Transport and Communications today about the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA)’s proposed new EU Flight Time Limitations for pilots and cabin crew.

Captain Evan Cullen, president of IALPA, said the association is concerned about what he described as EASA’s “failure for some time now” to consider and include its own scientific research in the proposals on flight time limitations.

He said that their overall concern is that EASA “for reasons that have never been explained” to them, “continues to ignore the recommendations of its own scientific appointees” during the process.

According to IALPA, the Moebus Report compiled by 10 independent scientists on the EASA proposal on flight time limitations concluded that the current limitations are deficient, and made 33 recommendations. He said that EASA’s proposal in return complied with just two of these recommendations. This led to EASA asking three independent scientists to review their proposal, who came up with “with similar findings”, he said.

Read more:  http://www.thejournal.ie

Training Exercise Taking Place at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (KLAL), Florida

Your HAM radio might crackle today with word of a plane crash at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

But it’s not a real disaster. It’s a massive training exercise.

More than 200 volunteers and workers are participating in an the exercise. It will test the response of local emergency agencies in a scenario based on a commercial airplane crash (fake, of course).

Agencies including Polk County Fire Rescue, Lakeland Fire Department and Lakeland Police Department will participate in the event scheduled between 8 a.m. and noon today.

County officials warn that radio traffic about injuries and deaths at the airport are part of the exercise. So don’t be alarmed.

The training serves as the airport’s Federal Aviation Authority re-certification.


Story:   http://www.newschief.com

Lakeland Linder Regional (KLAL), Florida: Airport getting new 135-foot-tall control tower

LAKELAND --   Polk County's best-known airport is getting a major upgrade.

It's a $4.3 million air control tower at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

The current control tower built in 1981 is only 50 feet tall and doesn't meet FAA guidelines. The biggest problem is with the size of the tower. It limits how far controllers can see.

That's an issue because the airport has lengthened its runways over the year and the runways will be getting even longer in the future.

"Right now, at 50 feet tall, you can barely see the end of our runway at this point because of the location," airport director Gene Conrad said. "When our runway goes to 10,000 feet some time in the future, you need to be able to see all of what are called movement ares that our aircraft will be on."

The new tower will be 135 feet tall, according to The Ledger of Lakeland. More than three-quarters of the funding will come from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Construction on the near tower should start by the end of the year. It's expected to take more than a year to finish.

Story:  http://www.baynews9.com

Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania: SUV crashes, nearly hits plane

 

PHILADELPHIA - February 6, 2013 (WPVI) -- A woman crashed her vehicle through a fence at Philadelphia International Airport overnight, and very nearly smashed into an airliner. 

 The accident happened just before 2:30 a.m. the small white SUV crashed into a fence surrounding the US Airways maintenance facility near Tinicum Island Way and Scott Way.

The SUV got past the fence and within five feet of a docked Airbus.

Officers rushed to the lot shortly after the call came in. When they arrived they found the driver unharmed.

Authorities say it appears the driver lost control of the SUV but they don't suspect she was under the influence or up to anything else criminal.

Police tell Action News that no one else was in the car and the driver was not taken to the hospital.

The incident remains under investigation.

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://abclocal.go.com


 A woman lost control of her vehicle car and crashed through a fence at the Philadelphia International Airport, nearly striking a parked plane, police said.

However, no one was hurt and the accident occurred in an area of the airport reserved for planes awaiting maintenance.

Philadelphia police said the crash occurred at Tinicum Island Road and Scott Way about 2:30 a.m., and that no airport passengers were in harms way. No flights were interrupted.

The car came to a halt a few feet from a plane.

Police said they don't know how the woman lost control, but that she is not expected to be charged in the incident.

Story and Reaction/Comments:   http://www.philly.com

Cop 'copter helped in 185 arrests in 2012

The police helicopter helped ring up 185 arrests in 2012.

That’s the most pertinent detail released Tuesday in the city’s annual flight operations report for the police helicopter. Police say Air1 responded to 3,445 incidents in total in its first full year in the sky, with the most frequent including traffic stops, break and enters, robberies, and assaults.

The police helicopter, which is budgeted to fly 1,000 hours per year, also helped Mounties, the Morden Police Service, and the Manitoba Finance special investigations unit in 2012, the report states.

The $3.5-million helicopter, which police started using in February 2011, was purchased b the city. The province pays $1.2 million per year in operating costs, which includes the cost of pilots and tactical flight officers.

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.winnipegsun.com

Bellanca Super Viking: Bird hit left wing, no blood or damage

 

Bellanca Super Viking flight 

Published on February 4, 2013

Full video in HD from take off to landing.  

"LOL hit a  bird at 20:15.  It hit the left wing, no blood or damage."

Frontier Airlines to lay off hundreds of workers nationwide: Spokesperson says company will outsource 700 jobs nationwide (With Video)

ORLANDO -  Hundreds of airline workers were told late Tuesday that they may lose their jobs at Frontier Airlines, including employees in Orlando.

Kate O'Malley, a Frontier spokeswoman, told Local 6, the company announced it will outsource roughly 700 jobs nationwide to a third-party vendor as part of an effort to reduce costs.

The layoffs include gate agents, ticket counter and ramp workers. This includes Orlando International Airport and all 28 locations around the country, except for the company's headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

"We need to take every reasonable measure to ensure the future stability and viability of our company and to keep our costs low for our customers," said O'Malley in an email to Local 6 Tuesday night.

The company previously announced customers will have to pay extra if they book their ticket on another website other than Frontier. The company filed for bankruptcy in recent years.

O'Malley said 60 percent of the company's workers are already being outsourced.

It is currently unclear exactly when the last day will be for the workers losing their jobs in Orlando.


Watch Video:  http://www.clickorlando.com

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: Airport Authority to seek new CEO

 A leadership shake-up in Allegheny County authorities continued on Tuesday with the reassignment of Airport Authority CEO Brad Penrod and Chief Financial Officer James Gill.

“I think we need to have somebody in there who will wake up every day thinking about how to get more flights into Pittsburgh International Airport. Obviously, we haven't done very well at that recently,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who appoints the authority's board members.

Penrod, 52, who Fitzgerald praised for his day-to-day operation of the airport, will remain with the Airport Authority as president and chief strategy officer. He did not return a call for comment. Gill will become executive vice president. Officials could not provide their salaries.

The authority will hire an outside firm to conduct a national search for a new CEO, said board member Dennis Davin, who also serves as the county's Economic Development Director. Gill “will essentially have the same responsibilities, but probably with a few more added on,” Davin said.

That, as well as Penrod's and Gill's new salaries, will be discussed at a board meeting on Friday, at which board members will vote to formalize the personnel changes, Davin said.

It's the second county authority in less than a week to remove its CEO and start a national search for a replacement. The Port Authority fired Steve Bland on Friday. Fitzgerald sought Bland's replacement.

The addition of two top-level executive positions follows the Airport Authority's appointment of a new director of corporate and community relations. Former County Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, who served on County Council with Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, for 12 years, will fill that post at a salary of $113,500 a year. Fitzgerald recommended him. Gastgeb resigned his council seat on Tuesday.

“So they've added (more salaries) to an airport that's losing money,” former County Executive and county GOP Chairman Jim Roddey said. “That sounds like a typical government strategy: If you're losing money, you need to bring in more people and lose more money.”

About 8 million passengers used the airport last year, down 3.1 percent from the year before. At its peak in 1997, before US Airways eliminated its hub there, 20.8 million passengers used the airport. The airport receives $12.5 million a year from the state's tax on casinos, money Fitzgerald has said he'd like to divert to the county.

Story:  http://triblive.com

Council approves Eureka Municipal Airport name change

The Eureka City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution officially changing the name of the Eureka Municipal Airport to Samoa Field to help distinguish it from nearby Murray Field, commonly referred to as Eureka or Eureka Murray.

Two U.S. Coast Guard Group/Air Station Humboldt Bay officers spoke at the council meeting, stating that safety concerns prompted the request for a name change. Operations Officer Brian Edmiston noted that the close proximity of the two airfields with similar names causes confusion for pilots. The name change would have no financial impact on the city and has been approved by Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, the oversight agency of the Eureka Municipal Airport.

Story:  http://www.times-standard.com

Collier, Florida: Officials discuss future of county's three airports

 
Photo by LANCE SHEARER 
An aircraft taxis down the new taxiway. On Friday morning, about 200 people gathered at the Marco Island Executive Airport to cut the ribbon on a $7 million taxiway upgrade giving the airport safer and more efficient operations. 
Lance Shearer/Daily News



Collier County leaders held a workshop Tuesday to discuss the future of the county's three airports, with critics saying they are financial drag and supporters saying the airports are community assets worth the investment.

However, few decisions were made at the 3-hour workshop, which included Collier commissioners, the county's Airport Authority Advisory Board and staff.

The discussion kicked off when Commissioner Georgia Hiller asked the advisory board members what they believe the plan for the airports should be. Collier County maintains airports in Immokalee, Marco Island and Everglades City.

She spoke of different options the county could consider, including having the county manager's office take over the airports or selling them.

If the county sold its airports, the airports would no longer be eligible for federal funds, which require a government entity to sponsor those grants, said Jim Murray, vice chairman of the advisory board. Losing a government sponsor could lead the FAA to come after the county for grant money the FAA had spent in Collier County, he said.

Michael Klein, chairman of the airport advisory board, said the airports are part of the county's infrastructure and the county has a responsibility to residents to take care of that infrastructure. Supporters of the airports say they bring people into the community who spend money.

Commissioner Tim Nance said he agreed that the airports are of value to the community and that they generate money into the local economy.

"The Immokalee Airport is a diamond, but that diamond is now 71," he said. "It is discussed with affection, but we have no strategic method to move it forward."

Discussion about the Immokalee airport dominated workshop. That airport has been a source of tension between county staff and tenants over changes staff has made on the property.

Commissioner Tom Henning spoke about the need for efficiencies at the Immokalee airport. The airport has $20 million in debt recognized by the board, he said.

Chris Curry, the executive director of the airport authority, said small airports like those under the county's control rarely turn a profit. The debt, he said, is considered a cost of business.

Nance said it is time for everyone to get on the same page.

"We've made a commitment to Mr. Curry and Mr. Curry has made a commitment to us," Nance said. "But he told me, and it is very telling, that, 'When I don't have clear direction from the board, I do what I think is best.' I think we need to examine why he doesn't have board direction."

Story:  http://www.naplesnews.com

California Pacific: Carlsbad airline delayed in Federal Aviation Administration dispute

The sleek passenger jet sits idle on the north side of McClellan-Palomar Airport. Its white fuselage and light blue letters read, “California Pacific.”

It looks ready to fly, but isn’t.

The airline — California Pacific — is in a dispute with the Federal Aviation Administration that has brought its licensing status back to the early stages of a complex process that can take months.

This isn’t what Ted Vallas expected would be happening right now at the North County airport when he filed his application to start an airline in April 2010.

Vallas, 91, thought that by now his airline would be flying in and out with multiple planes, offering nonstop service to San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and eventually Cabo San Lucias.

The Embraer 170 regional jet — the aircraft California Pacific would use — landed to media fanfare in July. It was being touted as a commercial airline for North County, an opportunity for those who live in between John Wayne Airport in Orange County and downtown San Diego’s Lindbergh Field to have a convenient airport. But that leased plane — with its 72 seats — still sits alone at Palomar, while Vallas pays $200,000 a month in rent just for the aircraft.

The dispute with the FAA has been brewing since 2011, but the tipping point came in November 2012. That’s when the agency informed Vallas that it was returning his application to a preliminary phase.

The U-T obtained letters from Vallas and the FAA outlining the dispute through the Freedom of Information Act.

“FAA has expended significant resources in man-hours and travel funding to accomplish certification oversight tasks associated with the CP Air Project,” FAA San Diego field manager Jerome Pendzick wrote to Vallas in November. “The actual performance of CP Air has not been what was expected, and as such, the FAA now finds itself facing serious doubts about the possibility of a successful certification of CP Air.”

Vallas, who founded charter service Air Resort Airlines in the 1980s, said Tuesday that he is still pushing for the airline. He still hopes to have it running in three to six months.

“I really wouldn’t have a story to tell,” he said. “We’re right in negotiations.”

Vallas said he is continuing to fundraise — he’s up to $10 million, and is pursuing an additional $11 million.

The FAA, which upgraded the application in December after some back and forth with Vallas, cited major concerns with documents that California Pacific submitted outlining procedures involving maintenance, safety, flight crew training and personnel. Those are the requirements in the application process.

Vallas argues that the San Diego FAA office — the Flight Standards District Office, or FSDO — acted with bias against California Pacific in 2011 when it revoked and then reinstated its certification to commercially fly the E170 out of Palomar. Vallas said the suspension stifled fundraising efforts, led to a loss of key employees and made it all but impossible to promote the business.

“Given the consistent biased tone from the local FSDO, we have no choice than to escalate this issue and request that the current team be removed from this process as we move forward,” he wrote.

FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency temporarily suspended the E170 certification because it did not have required data showing that Palomar’s runways could handle a plane of that size.

Allan Tamm, president of Avicor Aviation, said if a plane is too big for an airport, the potential profits fall. “One can get around it by having less fuel and less passengers, but would the airline want do to that?” he said.

Vallas said Tuesday he was working with others on making changes such as putting lighter equipment on the planes.

Gregor denied any bias toward California Pacific Airlines, saying that safety is the agency’s priority. He said regardless of which office handles the application that San Diego’s would be involved.

Gregor said the airline and the FAA met in January to further discuss the certification process, but that there have been no new developments. He said the FAA is committed to working with California Pacific through the application process as quickly as reasonably possible and that the airline can still use previous application materials for future consideration.

Vallas said the negotiations are part of a longer process.

“We’re moving forward,” he said. “That’s all really that we could say right now.”

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.utsandiego.com

Panel OKs Plan To Move LAX Runway



LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Airport officials approved a plan Tuesday to expand and modernize Los Angeles International Airport, including a controversial proposal to move a runway closer toward residential homes.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners’ approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the LAX Specific Plan Amendment Study (SPAS) would move the airport’s northern-most runway another 260 feet north.

While officials say reconfiguring the runways on the north airfield would bolster safety and better accommodate the A380 Airbus and other larger aircraft, residents in Westchester and Playa del Rey fear the move would increase noise and air pollution.

Commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of the move, which would allow for the construction of a new taxiway to address an operational problem on the parallel runways that were blamed for a 1991 runway crash that killed 34 people.

CBS2′s Bobby Kaple reports officials with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) maintain that even if the runway is moved, no neighborhood homes would be in jeopardy and that all changes would be on the airport’s current property.

Gary Toebben, president of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, previously told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that commissioners would ultimately vote in favor of the proposal “because the EIR and the staff have spelled out a very compelling argument for the movement of the runway.”

The proposal – estimated to cost approximately $5 billion and is expected to be paid for entirely by LAWA – will head to the city Planning Commission for a hearing on Feb. 14. 

Story and Video:  http://losangeles.cbslocal.com