Sunday, February 10, 2013

Livermore Municipal Airport (KLVK), California: Plane owned by flying club damaged in battery fire

Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Engineer John Hatges, left, and firefighter Ed White finish extinguishing an engine fire in a Cessna 152 at the Livermore Airport on Saturday morning. No one was injured in the fire, which ignited as a pilot tried to start the plane's engine.

LIVERMORE -- A small plane was heavily damaged after a fire began Saturday morning as the pilot tried to start its engine at the Livermore Municipal Airport. 

No one was injured. 

The fire was reported at 9:38 a.m. in an outdoor plane parking area near the airport's control tower. Firefighters arrived about 13 minutes later and quickly extinguished the blaze, keeping it confined to the plane's engine compartment, according to Battalion Chief Joe Testa of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.

The plane was a 35-year-old Cessna 152 owned and operated by the Flying Particles flying club of Livermore, Testa said.   The fire was likely related to the battery and was not suspicious, he added. 

The pilot told firefighters that the plane might be a total loss due to the cost of repairing it. 

The Flying Particles club was founded in 1957 by employees of the old University of California "Radiation" Laboratory who wanted to share the costs of plane ownership, according to its website. The club owns three Cessna planes -- including the one damaged in the fire Saturday -- and a Piper. 

Air India area sales manager collapses and dies at work in Abu Dhabi airport office: Rajesh Parekh suffered from a heart problem

Air India’s Abu Dhabi area sales manager collapsed and died at work in the airline’s airport office on Saturday afternoon.

Airport doctors examined Rajesh Parekh, who was suffering from a heart problem, and declared him dead. His body, which is now kept at the mortuary in Abu Dhabi, is to be sent home to India after completing the necessary paperwork.

His two sisters, one in India and the other in USA, are expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi soon to claim the body.

Parekh, 53, who hailed from Mumbai, had been working in the UAE capital for almost 31 years. His death was mourned by colleagues and the Indian community in Abu Dhabi.

Air India Abu Dhabi informed its customers and employees that a day of mourning will be announced later. "We deeply mourn the demise of Mr Rajesh Parekh, area sales manager, Abu Dhabi on February 9. His family is expected to arrive to receive his mortal remains. A prayer meeting will be held in Abu Dhabi after the cremation. Date will be advised later," said a condolence message from Air India Abu Dhabi office.

Akbar Travel manager dies in Dubai

The Dubai branch manager of Akbar Travels, an Indian travel and tourism company, died on Saturday night, Akbar Travels said in a statement.

Ahmed Khasim of Akbar Travels Dubai said the 65- year-old Krishna Swamy, who hailed from Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, passed away on Saturday night after cardiac arrest.

“His wife Radha Swamy and their three sons,  Sampath Swamy, Anand Sabu and Babu Swamy are here and his only daughter Vanitha Dutta, who is in the USA, will come for the funeral at the Jebel Ali crematorium.

“He went home after work and at about 10.30pm he was suffering from chest pain and an ambulance was called. He was rushed to Rashid Hospital where he died,” added Ahmed Khasim.

The deceased was in charge of the Deira, Karama and Al Qouz branches of Akbar Travels.

Akbar Travels is an agency selling Air India tickets.


Airline safety: Watchdog warns that Canadians are at ‘unnecessary risk’ of runway overruns

Canada’s transportation safety watchdog is sounding the alarm about runway overruns, worried that foot-dragging by Ottawa on implementing tougher safety regulations and an unwillingness by airports to install safety measures are endangering the public.

The rate of runway overruns in Canada is twice the world average — and four times the world average when runways are wet. 

An overrun occurs when a landing aircraft exceeds the available runway, running off the end.

With accidents showing little sign of decreasing, an exasperated Transportation Safety Board took the unusual step last month of taking to social media to make its point, tweeting a video expressing its concern.
“We first raised the issue of runway overruns and landing accidents in 2010 with the launch of our first safety watch list,” the safety board says in its video, “but since then, the number of accidents has not significantly decreased.

“This watchlist issue is one that can no longer be left unaddressed.”

“This is one area where the board is concerned and would like Transport Canada to do more,” says Mark Clitsome, the board’s director of investigations, air branch. 

The safety board, an arm’s-length government agency mandated with investigating accidents and making safety recommendations, says there were 12 runway overruns in Canada in 2010 and nine in 2011. 

There were 15 overruns in 2012, but the Safety Board cautions this figure is preliminary.

In 2005 an Air France A340 Airbus overran the runway while landing at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport during a severe thunderstorm. The 297 passengers and 12 crew members all survived, but the jet burst into flames and was destroyed. 

The Air France episode sparked TSB criticism of Canada’s lack of compliance with international standards. Canada is still not in compliance. 

The International Civil Aviation Organization mandates that there be a “runway end safety area” of at least 90 metres beyond the end of any runway longer than 1,200 metres, and recommends a runway safety area of 240 metres. 

The safety board acknowledges the Greater Toronto Airports Authority has a 90-metre overrun at Pearson, but it is immediately followed by a ravine, which the Air France jet fell into after it overran the runway.

In its 2011 aviation review, Transport Canada stated it is revising runway standards and “will require certain designated certified aerodromes to install and maintain a Runway End Safety Area.”

However, Transport Canada said in an email these “revisions are not yet complete,” and won’t be for years. It said it has “the objective of commencing public consultations in late 2013 or early 2014.”

The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States requires a runway end safety area at major U.S. runways of at least 300 metres from the end of a runway. 

Airports in the U.S. that have found it difficult to meet FAA compliance due to obstacles in place prior to implementation of runway safety area regulations have started installing something called an “engineered material arresting system” at the ends of runways. The system is a soft, crushable material designed to slow an aircraft that has exceeded the runway landing area.

The safety board is recommending airports in Canada install the arresting systems at runways that are unsuitable for overrun areas due to space limitations. In October 2012, Transport Canada issued an advisory to provide guidance for the installation of arresting systems, but such an advisory cannot mandate their installation.

“Currently, there are no airports in Canada with (the arresting system),” says Clitsome.

Clitsome acknowledges Transport Canada is doing “some studies and some research based on our recommendations, but we don’t know where or how far that’s developed.”

The safety board says “Canada now lags behind international standards” because airports have not installed overrun areas or arresting systems.

“The bottom line is, if we don’t do anything to prevent landing accidents and runway overruns, passengers, crew and aircraft will continue to be placed at unnecessary risk of injury or damage,” says Clitsome. 

Even though Transport Canada acknowledges it does not yet have in place regulations mandating overrun areas, it maintains “Canada has one of the safest aviation systems in the world,” Transport Canada spokesperson Kelly James said in an email.

“Between 2000 and 2011, Canada’s air transportation accident rate decreased by 25 percent.”

Federal Aviation Administration investigates plane crash in Sunnyside, Washington

Two men suffered minor injuries Saturday afternoon when their small plane crash-landed in the parking lot of a Sunnyside city park and flipped over into a cluster of nearby trees.

Witnesses said they saw a small, single-engine plane strike power lines that cross Interstate 82 about 12:40 p.m., according to a news release from the Sunnyside Police Department.

The plane then made an attempt to land in the parking lot of South Hill Park, which is less than a half-mile north of the interstate. Police said the plane landed, then crashed through a cyclone fence before coming to rest in a field on private property.

No one on the ground was injured, but damage to the 1963 Piper Cherokee was extensive, according to police.

One wing was torn off and the other was badly damaged, said Trish Combs, who was inside the community center when the plane came down. “It hardly looked like a plane.”

Combs, who spoke with the pilot, said the plane might have suffered control problems.

Authorities did not release the names of the men on board the plane when it crashed, or details regarding where the flight had begun or was headed.

The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead agency on a joint investigation with the Federal Aviation Administration into the crash.

Police directed further inquiries to the FAA, which did not return calls.

The community center is located in the city’s South Hill Park, a 17-acre park west of South First Street.

Multiple airlines expressing interest in Arcata/Eureka Airport; Additional service could start by summer

Eastbound? Flights from the Arcata/Eureka Airport could touch down in Denver, Phoenix or Salt Lake City as soon as this summer.

Humboldt County is currently negotiating with airlines to provide flights to and from the regional airport, in the hopes that additional service will reduce ticket prices and increase flight traffic.

Multiple destinations are being discussed, but Redwood Region Economic Development Commission Executive Director Don Ehnebuske said they are not releasing which airlines are in negotiations.

”We're not naming names yet,” he said.

Ehnebuske said they've spoken with one airline twice, and are meeting with another at their headquarters in March.

”We don't expect to have any real news until April or May,” he said, adding that service would likely start within weeks of an agreement. “They start quite rapidly.”

First District Supervisor Rex Bohn also declined to name airlines, but said several destinations are being explored: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Denver.

The county is luring airlines with a subsidy partially funded by a $750,000 Small Community Air Service Development Program grant. An additional $250,000 in funding came from the Headwaters Fund and more than 70 local donors, including businesses, tribes, individuals and local governments.

The air service grant -- funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation -- comes with restrictions, including that a newly secured destination must be east of the Arcata/Eureka Airport, and cannot be a destination that grant money has been used to connect to previously, Ehnebuske said.

Humboldt County was awarded an air service grant in conjunction with Redding to provide air service to the Los Angeles International Airport in 2004.

”That's where we had Horizon for nine years flying,” Ehnebuske said.

Restrictions dictate that the county can't use grant money to seek service to Seattle or Los Angeles, Bohn said, but airlines are still expressing interest in connecting to those markets.

Because Los Angeles is a common destination for flyers out of Humboldt County, the Board of Supervisors had been seeking relaxation on the federal grant restriction through lobbying efforts.

Humboldt County spokesman Sean Quincey said the county recently abandoned the effort, directing lobbying firm Waterman & Associates to push for other federal changes of interest to the county.

”The DOT made it clear that (the grant) couldn't be used for LAX,” Quincey said. “Even if we pursued legislation for it, DOT wouldn't be open to legislation that would be retroactive.”

Some have raised concerns about the revenue guarantee, stating they don't want what happened with Delta Airlines to repeat itself. Delta ended its local service in 2010, surprising many county residents, after accepting a $500,000 Headwaters Fund revenue guarantee in 2008.

RREDC has been seeking a second airline since Horizon stopped flying out of the Arcata/Eureka Airport in 2011. The commission said it hopes bringing back a second carrier would reduce prices for residents and convince more to fly again.

About 50,000 fewer passengers fly out of the airport now, according to RREDC, which results in a loss of about $5 million to the community. United Airlines, the county's lone carrier, flies to San Francisco International Airport.

Bohn said airport staff has been putting in an “immense amount of work” on securing the second airline, which he hopes will help local businesses and the tourism market.

”We hope to see something come to fruition soon,” he said.


Travelers get a more luxe layover as airports class up with spas, celebrity cuisine, high-end redesign

CHICAGO - Getting stranded at an airport once meant hours of boredom in a kind of travel purgatory with nothing to eat but fast food. These days, it can seem more like passing through the gates of Shangri-la to find spas, yoga studios, luxury shopping, and restaurant menus crafted by celebrity chefs in terminals with calming, sleek design.

Stung by airline bankruptcies and mergers, more U.S. airports are hunting for alternative revenue streams by hiring top design firms to transform once chaotic and dreary way stations into places of Zen-like tranquillity and luxury where people actually want to get stuck - and spend money. Airports are putting what one designer calls "terminal bliss" on display in hopes of drawing in more passengers and revenue.

"It's classy, it's very classy. . . . It makes you feel good about the layover," said Marty Rapp, 70, who got rosy-cheeked with the help of a large glass of merlot under ice-crystal chandeliers at Chicago-O'Hare's Ice Bar, whose white and softly reflective decor gives the feeling of being secluded in an igloo - where everyone is drinking and merry.

Airport redesign has been accelerating in the United States over the last 10 years, fueled by a combination of factors including an airline industry that, beset by bankruptcies and consolidation, is less able to shoulder as much of the operating costs for city-owned airports through landing fees and gate rental. More revenue from better retail and dining helps make up the shortfall.

At the same time, travelers are becoming savvier and want more than just to get from Point A to Point B. The airport has become almost a destination in its own right, a place worthy of stopping off for a while for a little shopping or pampering.

"There's the ability to go swimming at some airports, there's the ability to actually perfect your golf swing at some airports, there is the ability to - it's not just getting a quick massage on your shoulders - it's almost really going to a spa in some cases," said Bill Hooper, an architect at global design firm Gensler, which has transformed airport terminals, including San Francisco's Terminal 2, whose abundant natural light, art installations, and cool club feel set a new benchmark for contemporary airport design.

The United States and Canada still lag behind Europe and Asia in the number of airports that are architectural gems and the array of unique offerings. Stockholm's Arlanda Airport offers a wedding package, so couples can tie the knot in the control-tower balcony. And Seoul's Incheon International Airport is building a six-level terminal that will include a soaring glass-paneled ceiling giving passengers the feeling they are passing through a terrarium-like wonderland, with a babbling brook, tropical plants, and butterflies.

But American airports are catching up. Space-age-looking redevelopment at Denver International Airport slated to be finished by 2015 includes a Westin hotel and conference center with a rooftop pool and views of the Rockies. With an outdoor plaza for events and a fast new rail line, the airport hopes to be seen as an extension of downtown, about 23 miles away.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opened a nearly mile-long walking path over mosaic floor art inside Terminal D in April. There are two optional cardio step courses leading up 55-foot-high staircases, and the path ends up at a free yoga studio, where barefoot travelers get a view of taxiing aircraft as they stretch behind light-diffusing screens.

In a sense, airports have taken some of the members-only airline club lounge experience and opened it up for all.

"They're actually trying to create the same sort of sanctuary concept for the more casual traveler," Hooper said.

Business travelers in particular are catching on and actually evaluating the offerings to pick which airport to spend their layover in.

"Montreal [airport] has a smoked-meat place . . . that if I'm booking travel and I need to go back on the East Coast, sometimes I'll say, 'Can you get me to Montreal for an hour layover so I can have a smoked beef sandwich?' " said Wil Marchant, 40, who works for a financial services firm in Winnipeg.

The transformations are paying off.

Concessions revenue from food, beverage, retail, and services at U.S. airports reached $1.5 billion in 2011, up 12 percent from the year before, according to Airports Council International-North America, which represents the vast majority of governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports.

The new business model has helped airports like San Francisco International, which finished its major refurbishment of Terminal 2 in April 2011. The design is sleek, super-modern, and playful, with children and adults spinning in comfy swivel chairs around coffee tables placed at every gate. Check-in desks, imposingly high at some airports, were lowered to look more like hotel concierge desks.

"What we were aiming for is a four- or five-star hotel experience for passengers in the terminal building," said airport director John L. Martin.

The average spent per passenger at the terminal is now about $14. That's 22 percent more than domestic travelers spend at the airport's other terminals.

At O'Hare, where once there was little more than hot dogs and souvenir shops, domestic terminals are now dotted with restaurants led by celebrity chefs like Rick Bayless, piano bars, and a tranquil aeroponic herb garden - a mini forest of green on a quiet mezzanine level.

"It's pretty amazing. . . . I didn't expect that to be here," said grad student David Janesko, 30, reading a book in a comfy lounge chair beside the garden on his way to see family in Pittsburgh.

But airport bliss doesn't come cheap, and its price can be a little jarring for passengers.

Back at the Ice Bar, which offers 23 vodkas and four kinds of ice (crushed, cubes, or sphere), blues musician and actor Cedric "Catfish" Turner was lamenting that his Jack Daniel's on the rocks cost $11. But he needed it, he said, to ease a headache from a long layover. 


Belgian boy fools airport security, flies without ticket

Moscow: A 12-year-old Belgian boy managed to sneak into the international departure zone of the Brussels airport and boarded a plane to Spain without a ticket. Belgium's RTBF broadcaster said the boy, whose name was not disclosed, was spotted by a police officer in the airport of the southern Spanish city of Malaga on Saturday.

Asked where his parents were, the child answered in French that they were registering for a flight. It turned out, however, that the boy arrived in Malaga on a Jet Air flight without a boarding pass or ID.

The air carrier and security services of the airport are studying CCTV camera footage in an attempt to find out how the child managed to pass a security check and board the plane, because minors are not allowed to travel without being accompanied by an adult.

Asked where his parents were, the child answered in French that they were registering for a flight.

"There are many question marks in this case. If this child arrived in Malaga by taking one of our flights, we should know how he got there. If there was an error, it is important to know where it occurred," Jet Air spokesperson Florence Bruyere was quoted as saying.

The child was declared missing by his parents. The reason why the boy had suddenly decided to travel to Spain without informing his parents was not clear.

New plans for OR Tambo

OR TAMBO International Airport management is close to concluding a partnership deal with development companies to expand the facility.

The airport's newly appointed general manager, Tebogo Mekgoe, said the partnership will focus on the commercial development of land previously owned by arms manufacturing company Denel.

Mekgoe said the airport's investment in the area will be minimal. Developers will build with their own money and operate for a number of years and the airport will earn rental income from them as the land will be leased.

The airport management is also conceptualizing a new passenger terminal to be built in the future.

Mekgoe, who has been at the airport's helm for three months following Chris Hlekani's departure to the SA Post Office, has asked Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) for R300m for capital expenditure for this year.

He said the money will be used for the maintenance and refurbishing of OR Tambo International Airport.

The airport generates an estimated R4bn in revenue annually for Acsa, of which 42% comes from commercial operations.

Mekgoe said the airport management wants to unlock the commercial value of the non-aviation land and to improve the access of passengers to the airport. The airport is currently using only 60% of its capacity.

The airport is still battling to reach 19million passengers, a number last seen in 2007, before the financial crisis crippled the aviation industry.

Passenger numbers last year reached 18million and Mekgoe expects them to be remain flat this year.

That view is supported by flight schedules submitted by airlines this year.

Mekgoe, who has been with Acsa for almost 13 years, said this non-growth is due to the current economic pressures.

The Acsa-owned airport is working with South African Airways and the South African National Roads Agency on new access routes into the airport in addition to its efforts to unlock commercial value.

Mekgoe would not be drawn into discussing the estimated value of the project as he has not taken it to the market yet.

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times

Tazewell County Airport (KJFZ), Richlands, Virginia: Richlands Youth Baseball League looks to use empty airplane hangar as practice diamond

Hangar at Tazewell County Airport

CLAYPOOL HILL, Va. — An area intended for flying planes is now being used to catch fly balls. 

Jerry McReynolds, manager of the Tazewell County Airport, said the Richlands Youth Baseball Boosters Club has been given permission from the airport board to practice in the new hangar whenever it is empty in hopes the league will draw more people to the facility.

“They are not currently using the hangar, but have permission to use it,” McReynolds said. “The new hangar has not been rented out yet, and they asked if they could use the space since it isn’t being rented out. The airport authority board thought it would be a good idea to support the youth league and that it would get more exposure for the airport.”

McReynolds said the league can move their equipment out quickly and will only be using the hangar until the weather warms up.

“All of their equipment is mobile so it can be moved out at a moments notice if the hangar is needed,” he said. “They are only using half of the hangar. They will mainly be using the hangar after hours and on weekends. You can still use the other portion of it to store aircraft overnight. Right now, they are using it to practice during adverse weather conditions. Once things warm up they will be back outside. We have an agreement with them for about a year, but nothing is set in stone. When the weather warms up they will probably be practicing outside.”

John Clifton, with the Southwest Virginia Baseball Association, recently asked the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors for a $5,400 grant so the youth league could ensure their practices did not cause any damage to the hangar.

“We have a usage lease on the hangar at the airport, and are there at the pleasure of the airport board,” Clifton said. “We have half of the big hangar to practice baseball indoors. All of it is for the kids. What we are looking to do is to get enough money to protect this structure from our activity. We have until the end of February to get everything out of our current building, and the airport board has been kind enough to take us in to that hangar. We want to put our stuff inside of that building and make sure we don’t do any damage to that building and turn it back to the county at a moments notice better than we left it.”

Clifton said the baseball league approached the airport authority about using the hangar after losing the lease on their current facility. Clifton said the baseball program is a positive activity for youth from across Tazewell County.

“Kids from all over the county can use it as long as we have insurance on them,” Clifton said. “We will continue to use it as long as we are able to. This will give our kids the ability to be competitive year-round. Everything we would put up there we should be able to take down. Nothing attached is permanent. We are completely non-profit and do fund raisers for our end of it. It’s expensive to play sports anymore. Everything you do costs money. We are just asking for a small contribution.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman John Absher and Eastern District Supervisor Charles Stacy both agreed to donate $1,350 from their district funds to the league while Northwestern Supervisor Seth White provided the remaining $2,700 from his fund.

McReynolds said hosting the youth league at the airport is a good way to advertise the facility.

“The airport is on top of a mountain by itself,” he said. “It’s so amazing how many people in the immediate area have never been to the airport. This will bring up the young people and their parents. This could get the youth interested in flying. The more people who see the airport, the more people know about it. This is good exposure.”

Though the new hangar is not being used at the moment, McReynolds said there are nine planes being stored at the facility with room for many more.

“There is another corporate hangar available for aircraft and all of the T-hangars are full,” McReynolds said. “The corporate hangar as of right now has an aircraft in there that was being housed on the ramp during the wintertime.The person who was renting that sold his plan and turned the corporate hangar back to the airport authority. He have nine aircraft currently being stored on the premises and we have room for about 10 more inside the hangars.”

McReynolds said the airport is also working on several renovations.

“We also have some major construction going on to put in an automatic weather briefing station for our pilots,” he said. “We are also going to have a new ramp and taxiway behind our new hangar done in March or April. We are repainting the terminal building with new carpet. We will have new striping on the runways. We have a lot going on this year.”

Additionally, McReynolds said the airport saw more corporate traffic last year than ever before.

“The airport is doing really well,” McReynolds said. “We had a record on our business aircraft this past year. I think the airport is very important to the region. Sometimes, this airport is the first place people ever see, so it is a very important part of the economy. The airport is here to serve the community for whatever the need is. We want everyone to be satisfied with the facilities we have here.”