Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hummel H5, N144HV: San Luis Obispo County, California



The local pilot whose plane took a nose dive in Northern San Luis Obispo County on Monday, speaks exclusively to KSBY about how his plane went down. 

 David Dickey, a 55-year veteran pilot, said he's always loved aviation, so about a month and a half ago, he decided to make his own plane.

"I ordered the aircraft about two years ago from Ohio. A kit, I was the first kit builder. I built this in my garage in Shell Beach," said Dickey.

Dickey said Monday afternoon's sunny weather was the perfect day to take that single-engine experimental Hummel H5 out to the skies, and spread it's wings. An experimental aircraft means it's not a certified aircraft, like a Cessna, for example.

Dickey explains how he took off from Paso Robles Airport before 4pm, and then, "I was gonna fly it to San Luis Obispo, and I got about five miles further south from where we are now [Templeton]."

But then, his amateur aircraft's engine stopped working, right as he was entering Atascadero. Dickey said there was no time for fear to sink in. After notifying the Paso Robles Airport that he needed to make an emergency landing. The next thing he thought of, after he realized he could no longer fly the plane, was where to land it.

"And then I noticed the power lines were draped all over the place, so I went ahead and decided to take an in, and my straight in shot was in the, what I thought was the sandy shore river. Unfortunately it was the sandbar. Not unfortunately, because I did a good landing and I got down safely," said Dickey.

Dickey said he strategically landed in the sand bar at the end of Volpi Ysabel Road, to avoid people and houses. He said he's flown his Hummel H5 before, and doesn't know why the plane's engine stopped. Dickey plans on looking into it once he starts repairing the plane. He expects repairs to cost him around $3,000. Dickey said the plane cost $30,000 to make, and is glad he and the plane came out with only minor injuries.

"I'm very thankful, I think I did everything right," said Dickey.

Dickey suffered an inch-long gash and a burn from his seatbelt, after the plane came to a stop at about 50 miles per hour. He said the plane accident will not keep him away from flying, especially not from flying his beloved Hummel H5.

He said, "I intend to fix the aircraft, and I intend to fly it."

The Federal Aviation Administration said Dickey did not break any laws, and therefore will not be facing any charges. Although it said it is looking into why the plane lost engine power.


Story:   http://www.ksby.com

Benton Field Airport (O85), Redding, California: Landing Lights Federal Aviation Administration Certified

REDDING, Calif. -   Benton Airport’s recently moved runway is now safe to land according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA was on hand today to calibrate the airport's PAPI – or Precision Approach Path Indicator Lights – at each end of the runway.

The lights are designed to help pilots' landing remain on the correct approach angle to land on the runway safely.

An FAA jet made several approaches from both the North and South in order to certify that the landing lights were calibrated correctly.

The lights must be adjusted to within one one-hundredth of a degree to ensure the approach angle is just right.


http://www.krcrtv.com

Missouri House blocks effort to keep governor off state plane

The Missouri House today thwarted an attempt to block the governor from using the state’s new $5.6 million plane.

During a debate over legislation that aims to continue provisions of the state Sunshine Law that protect security and safety plans from prying eyes, Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, proposed an amendment to bar the executive branch from using the state Highway Patrol’s new plane.

Highway Patrol commander Ron Replogle testified in a recent House committee meeting that the new plane, which Republican lawmakers have sought to tie to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in recent weeks, was needed because the state aircraft is often used by the executive branch and isn’t available for law enforcement. Nixon would use the new plane under the plan.

“This only applies to the brand new plane,” Parkinson said in explaining his proposal today to block the governor and others from using it.

But, seeing that the GOP-controlled chamber was not in favor of the restriction, Parkinson eventually withdrew his proposal.

“A lot of the members of this body don’t have the stomach to hold the executive on the second floor of this building accountable," he said.

Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, said it wouldn’t make sense for the state to block the governor's access to its new aircraft.

“I think it was stupid that we bought the plane. I think it was way out of line in the current economic climate,” he said. “The fact that we have it but would not use it would be further abuse.”

House members did adopt a provision that will classify flight logs as public documents. Already, the logs are released through Sunshine Law requests.

During that debate, Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, raised safety concerns and accused Republicans of turning unrelated legislation “into a ‘pull the governor’s pants down’ bill.’”

“I don’t think I’m trying to pull the governor’s pants down,” responded Rep. Caleb Jones, a Republican from California and the bill's sponsor.

Engler said the provision will ensure that the public can hold state officials accountable for their use of state aircraft.

 The legislation, House Bills 256, 33 and 305, is expected to come up for final passage in the House later this week. It must also be approved by the Senate and the governor before it can become law.

Elizabeth Crisp covers Missouri politics and state government for the Post-Dispatch.

Source:   http://www.stltoday.com

Airplane mechanic program set to open in fall

Baton Rouge Community College officials plan to have a program to train airplane mechanics up and running by the fall, more than two years after originally hoped, officials said.

The program, which would produce federally-certified mechanics, is still being reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration, said Mark Peeples, the program’s director.

“We are just waiting for them to get around to us,” Peeples said. “It’s always frustrating, but it’s just one of those things.”

Peeples said the FAA review includes an examination of the proposed curriculum for the program as well as site visits to the location to make sure the facilities are adequate.

FAA officials did not respond to a call to their Baton Rouge office.

When the program was first announced, in 2010, officials said they hoped to have it going by spring 2011.

Getting the program started, however, is contingent upon accreditation and funding and the accreditation process has taken awhile, Peeples said. He said it takes from 18 months to 24 months “to get the equipment and go through the federal bureaucracy.”

FAA officials have not given BRCC any indication of when the program might receive final approval, Peeples said.

When the program does start, it will have 25 students and take 18 months to complete, he said.

BRCC has rented a hangar at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport which will house the program until it can move into a new, $4 million facility.

The Airport Commission approved the issuance of $4 million in bonds to build the facility for BRCC on Feb. 5. That request must now go before the Metro Council for approval.

BRCC’s yearly rent on the new facility would repay the bonds over a 30-year period, airport officials said.

In the meantime, BRCC is offering students a course in avionics — “all the electronic equipment inside the aircraft,” Peeples said.

The avionics course requires an increasing level of computer proficiency with the prevalence of “glass cockpits” that contain few analog instruments, Peeples said.

Students taking the class start “touching airplanes immediately,” Peeples said. “That gets them interested.”

BRCC has acquired three airplanes for the two programs: a Cessna, a Beech with retractable landing gear, and a Boeing 727 that was donated by the New Orleans Hornets in 2011.

For airport officials, seeing the avionics and aircraft mechanic program up and running will be the fruit of years of effort.

“It was something that was already in the works before I got here” in 2001, said Ralph Hennessy, the airport’s assistant director of aviation.

Airport officials discussed the possibility of such a program with several schools, Hennessy said, but for various reasons it never got off the ground.

Sowela Technical Community College, Southern University at Shreveport and Louisiana Technical College in Lafayette also offer the certification.

There is a market for certified mechanics, Hennessy said.

“We like it because we have companies on the airport that like to hire aircraft mechanics,” he said. “Having a local workforce is a plus.”

A large part of the current mechanic workforce is getting close to retirement age, he said.

“It’s going to create a void there,” he said. “There is a market there that’s going to be growing in the future.”

Starting salary for an aircraft mechanic is in the low $40,000 range, Hennessy said.


Story:  http://theadvocate.com

New eyes in the skies

 
Don Clarke cleans the windshield of one of the Guardian Air helicopters in a hangar at Pulliam Airport Wednesday. Clarke is a pilot who works for Air Methods. Guardian Air has six helicopters serving northern Arizona as well as one fixed-wing aircraft.
 (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun)


Soon after two shots rang out in Bushmaster Park two weeks ago, nearby residents listened to the sound of helicopter blades slicing through Flagstaff skies and watched Arizona Department of Public Safety pilots circle in search of their prey. 

 The agency was helping Flagstaff police track down several men involved in a daytime fight that included gunplay and left three with stab wounds near a playground.

One Thomas Elementary School teacher told a meeting of concerned Greenlaw residents that she and her students were comforted by the helicopter's audible presence during the ensuing school lockdown. It let the class know someone was looking out for them.

But years of state budget cuts to DPS staffing have left the Flagstaff-based Ranger helicopter operational only 49 percent of the time.

"As a result, some calls have literally gone unanswered," said DPS Aviation Administrator Terry Miyauchi. "It does have an impact (on public safety), but it's tough to measure."

NEW MISSION FOR GUARDIAN

In the Flagstaff region, Guardian Air, a division of the Flagstaff Medical Center, has stepped up to fill DPS' role in some search and rescue situations.

It was Guardian that responded when a Norwegian BASE jumper's parachute did not deploy properly and he plummeted to the bottom of the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers -- a drop of about 1,000 feet. The helicopter landed about 500 feet below the man and the pilots, together with a Sheriff's deputy, hiked to check on the deceased man.

Until recently, Guardian would not have been allowed to land in such an area.

The nonprofit helicopter group also flew rescuers to the bottom of Meteor Crater several weeks ago when a man jumped a fence and leapt into a 100-foot mineshaft. The Flagstaff DPS helicopter was out of service at the time and Kingman was unable to fly to the area because of bad weather blocking its path.

For the past several years, Guardian Air Director Wade Patten says his agency has been flying 12 to 15 flights annually in support of Coconino County Search and Rescue.

"There was concern over budget issues with the Department of Public Safety and we started to research how we could help," Patten said.

Guardian had to get approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to be allowed to land at more than its usual hospitals and designated landing areas, Patten said.

FMC has been covering the price of the flights out of its community service budget.

"We've done this as a public service, because we have to show we give back to the community," Patten said.

ONLY TWO AVAILABLE STATEWIDE

DPS has helicopters in Flagstaff, Kingman, Tucson and Phoenix, but only two of those aircraft are available statewide -- one in the north and one in the south -- at any given point.

"We can't adequately cover it with two," said Miyauchi, who oversees the aviation division. "If we lose any more staff, we wouldn't be able to cover the whole state."

To handle the budget cuts, their goal is to have the Flagstaff helicopter available to respond to the western part of the state whenever Kingman is down, and vice versa.

It takes an hour to fly from Flagstaff to Kingman.

The impact to public safety is amplified in a rural part of the state like Coconino County, where no other law enforcement agency provides air support.

DPS helps local agencies, like the Flagstaff Police Department and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, on a regular basis and does not ask for reimbursement. Specifically, Miyauchi said aviation is a proven public safety asset during high speed pursuits.

The Kingman helicopter was unavailable to help police with pursuit during a car chase in that city on Monday. Despite a lengthy pursuit, the Flagstaff helicopter couldn't get to Kingman before the car crashed, injuring the suspect and two others.

A lift on the hiring freeze last summer has allowed the Aviation Bureau to hire three new helicopter pilots who are currently being trained. One of those pilots is expected to join the Flagstaff crew in the coming months and two others are slated for Kingman.

The additional pilot will make the Flagstaff helicopter available 75 percent of the time. It could be some time before the office is fully staffed again.

COPTERS CRITICAL IN SEARCHES

One of Ranger's critical roles is aiding Coconino County Search and Rescue looking for the lost or injured and pulling them out of precarious terrain.

"Coconino County and the Flagstaff area, with the mountainous terrain, the extreme weather and adventurous people -- this is one of the busiest areas for use of the helicopter," Miyauchi said.

DPS will assist Search and Rescue on 40 to 60 searches each year, which means most searches are aided by air support.

"We have a great relationship with DPS Aviation and DPS in general," said Search and Rescue Coordinator Sgt. Aaron Dick. "They are a critical component of what we do."

Dick said that the department has done a good job of making sure an aircraft is almost always available, but the staffing issues have meant it can often take longer.

Other than weather preventing the Kingman helicopter from reaching Flagstaff, DPS has been available almost every time it's been called to aid Search and Rescue.


Story and Photo:  http://azdailysun.com

Dreamliner Customers Lean on 30-Year-Old Planes to Fill Network

By Robert Wall & Andrea Rothman - Feb 12, 2013 7:01 PM ET

Airlines waiting for the state-of- the-art Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner to return to the skies are relying on 30 year-old planes to fill gaps in their routes.

LOT Polish Airlines SA, the only European carrier so far with Dreamliners in service, said it is using Boeing 767s to work around its two grounded models, one of which is stuck in Chicago following its maiden trans-Atlantic traverse. U.K. tour operator Thomson Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle AS, the next two European airlines due to receive 787s, said they will use other planes to avoid the risk of stranded passengers.

Reverting to older aircraft bears the danger of a marketing backlash, and airlines who typically plan network coverage months in advance risk an open flank if an aircraft doesn’t get delivered. Uncertainty over the duration of the grounding is further complicating planning, said Colm Barrington, chief executive officer of Dublin-based Fly Leasing Ltd.

“There is no doubt the 787 situation has caused strong interest in the A330 and 767,” Barrington said. “People are now talking about renewing leases that were set to expire.”

Boeing last week told airlines that are about to receive Dreamliners that handovers will be delayed after a Jan. 16 decision by U.S. regulators to ground the jet. The aircraft maker has not give airlines new delivery dates as it tries to identify a fix to electrical flaws that caused a fire on a Japan Airlines Co. jet.

Wet Lease

Lease extensions would require an airline to operate the asset for at least one additional year, Barrington said. Airlines can also rent jets from other carriers for shorter periods, including crews, in what is called a wet lease in aviation parlance. LOT said it would consider leasing another aircraft for the summer season.

The Jan. 16 decision by U.S. regulators to ground 787s has stranded 50 airliners after a fire on a plane that originated in a lithium-ion battery. The root cause of the short-circuit has still not been determined, making impossible predictions of when the plane may again be operational.

“If the market perception forms that it is a long-term issue, then that will give lessors the opportunity to push for stronger terms and longer leases on used 767 and A330 equipment,” said John Higgins, chief commercial officer at Avolon, which owns six A330s. For now, such renegotiations are still “isolated incidents,” he said.

Airbus Demand

The aircraft leasing business, created and championed by Steven Udvar-Hazy at International Lease Finance Corp. almost four decades ago before he set up Air Lease Corp., has expanded in recent years as airlines seek to avoid big outlays of cash and build in flexibility so they can adjust their fleets to boom or bust times.

Lessors today own about 35 percent of the installed airliner base, compared with less than 20 percent at the beginning of the century. Single-aisle aircraft such as Boeing 737s and Airbus SAS A320s tend to comprise the bulk of lessors’ portfolios, because the smaller planes are the workhorses of the industry and always in higher demand.

Still, larger models such as 787s, 777s, and A330s command premium lease rates and are required for long-haul routes, securing them a slot in many lessors’ portfolios.

Lease rates for the A330 were already strong even before the 787 woes. The Airbus wide-body “is liked by nearly every airline, from U.S. majors to Chinese carriers,” said Aengus Kelly, the CEO of Aercap Holdings. Aercap, with a portfolio of 333 owned and managed aircraft, has eight A330-200s, 22 A330-300s and three Boeing 767s.

Boeing Woes

Airbus had benefited from Boeing’s troubles with the Dreamliner even before the aircraft was grounded. The three-year delay of the 787 into service boosted demand for the 330 as a suitable substitute, even as Airbus works to introduce a new competitor, the A350, which is set for first flight this year and introduction to service in 2014.

The 787 capacity bottleneck risks to become more critical if it drags into the summer season for airlines when demand for jets peaks, said Barrington, whose leasing business manages five 767s and one A330.

Boeing will need to change the battery system on the 787 which may take months to complete, International Consolidated Airlines Group SA CEO Willie Walsh said on Feb. 10 in Dublin. IAG’s British Airways unit, which currently operates 14 767s in long-haul, expects to start taking delivery of 787s in May.

Delays in delivering the 787 have already eaten into spare aircraft capacity, John Strickland, director of airline advisory JLS Consulting, said in an interview. Airlines such as Norwegian, which is introducing a new product, also have find crew to operate the replacement aircraft.

“We are heading into a peak period for key parts of the aviation world so this is going to become a bigger issue in the coming months,” Strickland said.

Source:  http://www.bloomberg.com

Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN), Trenton, New Jersey: Mercer County to apply for $2.5 million grant to rehab taxiways

EWING — The county is planning to apply for $2.5 million in state grants to rehabilitate three taxiways at Trenton-Mercer Airport, continuing ongoing work to upgrade the facility over the last several years.

The freeholder board is expected to approve the grant applications at a meeting Thursday. If the state Department of Transportation approves the funding, the county would be required to contribute 5 percent of the overall $2.6 million project cost.

The work would take place in two phases. The grant for the first phase would be worth about $1.5 million, with the county contributing $85,000. Part two would require $1 million in state funding and $56,000 from the county.

Last year the county was awarded a $1 million grant for a similar project on different taxiways. The airport, located in Ewing, has received more than $14 million in state and federal funding in recent years for rehabilitation and safety projects, county officials said.

The airport has long been used for corporate and private flights, and Frontier Airlines recently started daily commercial flights to a few destinations.

Last month the freeholders approved a $151,443 contract with C&S Engineering to examine how the main passenger terminal can be reconfigured for maximum efficiency.

With Frontier preparing to increase its flights from two to 20 per week, county officials said they want to ensure the terminal is operating smoothly and not crowded.

The county is also considering a long-term plan to build a new terminal in a different area of the airport. 

Source:   http://www.nj.com

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College--Superior launches new program to support Kestrel Aircraft manufacturing process

Moving at the speed of business may sound like a slogan of UPS, but some could argue the same thing about Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior as they launch a new program developed to help students launch careers with Kestrel Aircraft Co.

It was July 2011 when when local officials approached Alan Klapmeier, Kestrel Aircraft’s chief executive office about bringing the company to Superior.

By July of this year — just two years later — remodeling will begin for the first 20 students to participate in an aviation composite technology program at the technical college in Superior.

Students have the option of earning a two-year associate degree or three-semester technical diploma if they already have their general education courses out of the way, said Charlie Glazman, dean of continuing education at WITC. The program will admit its first 20 students in August; another 20 students will have the opportunity to participate in the program in January, just two years after Klapmeier announced Kestrel was coming to Superior to build its K-350. The single-engine turboprop, carbon composite airplane that seats six to eight is being designed with performance standards for comfort, safety, versatility and convenience.

WITC partnered with Kestrel Aircraft to get a Wisconsin Covenant Foundation grant to develop the program.

“We started asking ourselves ‘what are we going to be able to do for these guys?’” Glazman said. “Sure, they’ll be hiring a few welders, some machinists, but there’s got to be something else.”

In talking with company officials, Glazman said WITC discovered one of the needs the company would have is for composite technicians.

“These are people who can take carbon fiber in rolling pieces of cloth and layer them upon one another, introduce resins and harders, compact to draw resin through it and bake it so it becomes as hard as steel,” Glazman said. “It takes a unique set of skills to be able to do something like that.”

Glazman said with no other program like it to teach the necessary skill in the state, WITC had to build the program from the ground up.

Steve Serfling, chief operating officer for Kestrel Aircraft, said the work to turn the carbon fiber into a structure that will be used in the plane is very exacting.

“One of the key things we talked about early on was the composite technology to make this airplane,” Serfling said. “It may sound simple, but you have to be very, very anal because the precision that we have to make the airplane and the process we use to make the airplane is very, very specific.”

Kestrel worked with Glazman and his team to develop the syllabus for the courses and will provide some of the materials needed to teach the program, in addition to offering internship opportunities to students to give them experience in the field.

“For a new business to grow, it needs to have the right kind of talent,” Klapmeier said. He said the right foundation and technical skill can take someone any place they want to go.

In addition to the new aviation composite technology program, WITC will also be offering a new online course in early childhood education, IT computer systems specialist and an HR management program coming in the fall, said Jena Vogtman, marketing and public relations associate with WITC.

“I am very proud of being able to promote and recognize the technical colleges in Wisconsin, especially in Superior, said Mayor Bruce Hagen. Hagen joined force with Douglas County Board Chairman to declare February Career and Technical Education month during an event to announce the new courses at WITC.

More information about the new programs will be posted on WITC website in the next few weeks. Go to witc.edu. 


Source:   http://www.superiortelegram.com

Donation Funds Aircraft Mechanic Program

The North Valley Occupational Center Aviation Center, which trains students in aviation mechanics, has received a $100,000 donation, avoiding a potential closure or relocation.

Si Robin and Betty Robin, owners of Sensor Systems Inc. in Chatsworth, made the contribution, which should keep the school open another year while a new lease with Los Angeles World Airports can be negotiated. Sensor Systems is the largest aircraft antenna manufacturer in the U.S.

The school, which has operated at the Van Nuys Airport for 40 years, has been struggling in recent months as the Los Angeles Unified School District has had severe budget cuts and the rent has increased.

The center has 75 students enrolled in the two-year program, which is a 50-percent decrease from its enrollment prior to budget cuts.

Aircraft maintenance firms, commercial carriers and aerospace companies hire students from the program.


http://www.sfvbj.com

Lancair 360, N123ST: Accident occurred February 12, 2013 in Williams, California

http://registry.faa.gov/N123ST

NTSB Identification: WPR13LA122  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 12, 2013 in Williams, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2013
Aircraft: ST CLAIR LANCAIR 360, registration: N123ST
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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

Having leveled off at cruise altitude, the passenger began to smell an electrical burning odor in the experimental airplane's cabin. Smoke then began to stream from the lower center console to the right of the pilot’s footwell. The passenger attempted to locate the source of the smoke while the pilot initiated an emergency descent. Shortly before landing, the footwell became engulfed in flames. During the landing flare, the airplane struck a group of trees and collided with a berm.

The majority of the airplane was consumed by fire; however, examination of the electrical wiring revealed arcing damage to one of the primary electrical supply lines in the area where the passenger reported the first traces of smoke. The wire connected the master solenoid to the airplane’s main system bus.

It is most likely that the wire’s insulation had become compromised, leading to its electrical conductor coming into contact with a metallic airframe component, resulting in a short circuit and fire. The pilot shut off the master solenoid during the descent, which would have halted the short circuit; but by then the fire had most likely already spread, possibly igniting the fuel supply components in that area. The fact that the master solenoid was off also negated the possibility that the short circuit occurred during the ground impact sequence.

The airplane’s construction consisted of automotive electrical wire and household PVC tubing for electrical conduit. Additionally, the battery and associated master solenoid wiring had been relocated three times since the airplane’s completion; however, it could not be determined if this construction or modification caused or contributed to the short circuit.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
An in-flight fire due to an electrical short circuit.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 12, 2013, about 1130 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur-built Lancair 360, N123ST, landed hard during an emergency landing following an in-flight fire near Williams, California. The pilot/registered owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and his pilot rated passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence, and was subsequently destroyed by fire. The cross-country flight departed Ukiah Municipal Airport, Ukiah, California, about 1100 with a planned destination of Minden-Tahoe Airport, Minden, Nevada. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The passenger reported that after the airplane leveled off at 9,500 feet mean sea level (msl), he began to smell a “burning electrical” odor. Smoke then began to stream from the lower center console to the right of the pilot’s footwell. The passenger unbuckled his seat belt and attempted to look for the source of the smoke. The pilot initiated an emergency descent, and shutoff the master switch. The intensity of the smoke dwindled temporarily, and then increased. As the airplane approached about 1,000 feet above ground level (agl), intense flames began to erupt from the footwell. The pilot attempted to land the airplane on a raised dirt road, however, during the flare, the left wing struck a group of trees, and the airplane collided with a berm.

The passenger reported that the engine continued to operate during the descent.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The single engine, low wing airplane, was comprised primarily of composite material. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360 fuel injected engine.

FAA Records revealed that construction of the airplane was completed in September 1992. A few months later, the airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate with Phase I operating limitations of 40 flight hours, which were to be completed within 1 year. The certificate subsequently expired, and another was issued in January 1996 with similar Phase I limitations. Phase I flight tests were subsequently completed, and the airplane was issued its final special airworthiness certificate in November 2000, having accumulated a total of 63.5 flight hours. The airplane was purchased by the pilot on August 24, 2012.

Review of the airplane’s maintenance logbooks revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed on August 6, 2012. At that time, the airframe had accrued a total of 126.3 flight hours.

The airplane was equipped with a “header” fuel tank, located behind the instrument panel. The fuel selector valve and associated fuel lines were located in the center console, just to the right of the pilot’s footwell.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest along the side of a raised road, adjacent to a grove of fruit trees. The debris field consisted of the fragmented left wing, the lower engine cowling, aft cabin, and all the landing gear doors. The sections of wreckage in the debris field did not exhibit thermal damage or oil contamination. The remaining airplane structure came to rest about 60 feet beyond the initial impact point. The entire structure with the exception of the firewall, engine, and right horizontal stabilizer tip, had been consumer by fire, with only charred composite weave fragments remaining.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Engine

The engine came to rest inverted, and sustained thermal damage to its lower side and associated ancillary components. All fuel and oil lines were either tight at their fittings, or had been consumed by fire. The oil cooler remained attached to the firewall, and was free of cracks. Both the exhaust manifold and its associated pipe sustained crush damage, and were removed. No cracks were noted, and the corresponding lower cowling in the area adjacent to the exhaust pipe did not exhibit any burn signatures. The magnetos and both the engine driven, and auxiliary fuel pumps were partially consumed by fire. The upper surface of the engine exhibited black sooting, but was largely undamaged. The fuel flow divider remained attached to the crankcase, and all fuel injection nozzles and lines were free of damage. No anomalies were noted with the engine which would have precluded normal operation.

Cabin

The battery was located in the upper footwell of the right seat, and had sustained extensive thermal damage, with only remnants of its inner plates remaining. All the electrical wiring for the alternator, battery, and engine starting systems had been charred, with most of their insulating material burned away. The wires were examined, and the 4-AWG copper conductor, which directly connected the master solenoid output to the main system bus, had sustained breakage to 11 of its 19 strands, 33 inches from the master solenoid terminal. The area of the damage was located in a position roughly adjacent to the center console in the footwell area. Closer examination of the damaged area revealed that the wire separation surfaces exhibited gray glass-like coatings, and globular melting patterns consistent with fusion and electrical arcing damage. The input side of the master solenoid remained attached directly to the battery’s positive terminal.

All remaining electrical wires were examined, and exhibited sooting and brittle fractures, consistent with thermal exposure and subsequent movement during the airplane's recovery from the accident site.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Original Lancair construction documentation called for the battery to be installed on the rear side of the aft cabin bulkhead, just behind the right seat. The documentation further stated that moving the battery location is permissible in order to achieve the correct airplane weight and balance. Examination of maintenance logbooks revealed that the battery was relocated on three occasions between April 1993 and September 1998. The final placement of the battery would have required rerouting and/or replacement of the master bus electrical wire.

Examination of the unburned airplane remnants revealed extensive use of automotive electrical wires and PVC tubing to route wiring through the wing structure.

No electrical wiring diagram was recovered for the airplane, however, the configuration of the primary electrical system components appeared to match the manufacturer's “Basic Wiring Diagram” schematic. The schematic did not require a fused link between the battery and master solenoid, rather, the solenoid was controlled by a master switch in the cabin.

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Two Ukiah men were injured when their plane crashed into the edge of an almond orchard near Williams this morning.

The identities of the men were not immediately available, but Colusa County sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Erdelt said that heavy smoke in the cockpit forced the two-seat Lancair 360 to the ground.

The two men were on their way from Ukiah to Tahoe, Erdelt said.

“There was some light smoke in the cockpit so they started to descend,” Erdelt said. “Then the smoke got heavier and they ended up crashing.”

The craft, considered an experimental plane, hit some almond trees west of East Camp Road and about a mile south of Highway 20.

One man was airlifted to Enloe Medical Center in Chico with what was described as major injuries. The other man was taken by ambulance to Colusa Regional Medical Center, but also was expected to be airlifted to an area hospital, Erdelt said.

The accident, which happened about 11:30 a.m., is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Man sued after pirate radio broadcast interferes with airport tower: Robens Cheriza named in federal suit, accused of ignoring $20,000 fine

A West Palm Beach man whose home-based pirate radio station interfered with air traffic control tower transmissions at Palm Beach International Airport is being sued by the federal government.

Federal prosecutors filed a summons against Robens Cheriza in federal court Tuesday, instructing him to respond within 21 days to a lawsuit demanding that he pay the $20,000 fine issued against him by federal broadcast regulators last year.

According to the lawsuit, filed Jan. 9, Cheriza has ignored the Federal Communications Commission's order to pay the fine — called a forfeiture order in FCC documents — since last April.

Cheriza violated federal broadcasting laws by "willfully and repeatedly" transmitting a radio signal without a license in the spring of 2011, according to the lawsuit. The summons was filed Tuesday.

According to FCC records, the sounds of a party being broadcast from Cheriza's home interrupted the control tower frequency at Palm Beach International Airport on April 1, 2011.

The airport incident prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to file a complaint with the FCC the next day.

"Safety of the traveling public is the FAA's top priority," said Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokesperson, in a statement. "We work closely with the FCC to identify and eliminate interference with air traffic control communications."

Agents with the FCC's Enforcement Bureau in Miami went to work after receiving the complaint, deploying "direction-finding techniques" to zero in on an antenna mounted to a West Palm Beach home.

Agents went to the house and the station "all of a sudden went off the air," just moments before they went inside, FCC records state.

Once inside the home, Cheriza brought agents to an enclosed patio, where they noted an FM broadcast transmitter connected to an antenna. The transmitter was hooked up by audio cables to an "operational broadcast studio" comprised of a PC, laptop, microphone and audio mixer.

Cheriza told agents he owned the studio and its equipment. He said he had been operating the station on 107.3 MHz for about a month, the FCC said. Cheriza also said he knew that operating an unlicensed FM station was illegal.

"In addition, Mr. Cheriza confirmed that he broadcast a party live from his residence on the evening of April 1, 2011," and that the audio transmission interfered with the control tower frequency, according to an FCC notice issued against Cheriza on Feb. 1, 2012.

Interference from pirate radio also became an issue in Hollywood in late 2012, when dozens of people reported not being able to use their keyless entry systems while parked at the Hollywood Police station.

In that case, police found that somebody had set up a bootleg station on the roof of a nearby bank building, which jammed the signals of drivers' keyless entry systems. The station, broadcasting on 104.7 FM, played Caribbean music around the clock, police say.

In 2012, a Fort Lauderdale resident was fined $20,000 for running a bootleg radio station. In 2011, a North Lauderdale man was arrested after deputies said he was operating a pirate station that played Haitian music.

The FCC notice to Cheriza warned him that he would be fined $20,000. The notice told Cheriza to respond in writing if he wanted to challenge the fine by having it lowered or canceled.

Cheriza ignored the notice, according to the federal suit. On April 3, 2012, the FCC ordered that he pay the $20,000 fine. He hasn't yet paid, according to the federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, is asking that Cheriza pay the $20,000 fine plus costs and interest.

Cheriza couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.


Story and Reaction/Comments:   http://www.sun-sentinel.com

Authorities ID body found near Ryan Field Airport (KRYN), Tucson, Arizona

Appel's body was discovered Friday near the scene of a plane accident in the area of Ajo Highway and South Postvale Road by a woman who was walking her dog. 


 
Jeffrey Scott Appel
 (Source: Pima County Sheriff's Department)

 
TUCSON - Remains found Friday by a woman walking with her dog and children west of Tucson have been identified.

Investigators with the Pima County Sheriff's Department say the body was that of Jeffrey Scott Appel, born in August of 1965.

They also say obvious signs of trauma were found on the victim, whose body had been in the desert for some time.

The woman approached deputies to report the body while they were in the area investigating a small plane crash about a mile and a half away, near Ryan Field.

When deputies initially examined the remains, they couldn't tell much about the body, except that it looked like it had been there, covered with a blanket, for some time.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call 911 or 88-CRIME. 


http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com

More cargo, fewer flights at Detroit Metro Airport

Cargo traffic was up but the total number of flights was down at Detroit Metro Airport last year, the Wayne county Airport Authority reported today.

The airport also saw more international travelers.

Cargo shipped increased 6% over 2011, to 483 million pounds. The increase in cargo traffic at Metro bucked a worldwide trend, which saw air freight decline 1.5% last year.

Meanwhile, the total number of flights at the airport -- including both passenger and cargo take-offs and landings -- fell 3.4%, to 427,814.

Thirty two million passengers flew through Detroit Metro last year, about the same as in 2011. But the proportion of those who were international travelers was up.

About 2.8 million international tourists flew through Metro, up 6.8% from the year before.

Delta remains the airport’s largest passenger carrier, with 78.5% of traffic. Southwest and subsidiary Air Tran are second, with 5.3% of passengers. Spirit is third, with 4.6%. Some new domestic routes will begin this year, including a Southwest non-stop to Fort Myers, a Spirit non-stop to Denver and Frontier’s non-stop to Trenton, N.J.


http://www.freep.com

NASA cuts leave void in Clear Lake

Frankie Camera, owner of Frenchie's Italian Restaurant, a traditional hangout in Clear Lake, says he has seen lunchtime business drop 30 percent.


Empty restaurants, a struggling floral shop and a "transition center" packed daily with job-seekers are among the lingering effects of the loss of thousands of aerospace jobs in the Clear Lake area. 

To continue reading this story, you will need to be a digital subscriber to HoustonChronicle.com. 

Read more: http://www.houstonchronicle.com

Medical helicopter plagued with problems?

 
  A matter of life and death!   Former EMS workers say Lee County's medical helicopter is literally falling apart, risking the lives of patients in need of life-saving services. Since the county's Medstar helicopter was grounded due to a billing scandal.

Venable takes airport manager role in new directions

To maintain funding for the Redwood Falls airport, a full-time manager was needed, and life-long flying enthusiast Winston Venable jumped at the opportunity.

Winston Venable was born on an Air Force Base in Arizona, and has been fascinated by airplanes ever since.

He got his pilots license about 15 year ago, just because he could, and was once part-owner of an airplane based at the Redwodo Falls airport.

When the opportunity to become the new manager of the Redwood Falls airport on January 1, Venable grabbed it.

The opportunity came about because the city’s funding for the airport was threatened.

The Federal Avaition Administration (FAA) gives up to $150,000 a year for improvements to the airport, and another $30,000 for maintanence to keep the runways safe for pilots.

The city is currently putting together a long range plan for the airport’s next 20 or so years. New hangers and longer runways are part, so keeping that state and federal funding continuing is a must.

However, to maintain enough funding to continue with airport improvements over the next 20 or so years, the city needs to get that number up to at least 20,000 operations a year.  (An operation is ever time an aircraft takes off or lands. If a pilot takes off from the Redwood runway, then comes back to land there, it’s counted as two operations.)

According to Redwood Falls City Project manager Jim Doering, the airport had 9,828 operations in 2012.

Having North Air Care based at the airport helps tremendously. Every time a North Air Care helicoptor takes off and lands, that counts at two operations.

According to Doering, having more businesses and private pilots based a the Redwood Falls airport is vital to keeping the state and federal funding coming.

“The change to a full-time position came from wanting full-time attention given to the airport,” said Doering.

Marketing is going to be a much more important part of the airport manager’s job in the future.

“The job description now includes working with pilots and industry,” said Doering. “We’d like to see the offices rented in the terminal, and more pilots basing their planes there for business and contract flying.”

Just being available at the airport is an important part of Venable’s new position.

“Pilots like to talk. If they stop by to get gas, or to plug in their airplane overnight, and there’s no one here, they won’t stop by again. I’ve also noticed they like good stiff coffee, so strong a spoon stands up in it.”

The better word of mouth the airport gets, the more are likely to stop by.

“The price of fuel is down (since Jan. 1),” Venable said. “A lot of general aviation pilots were concerned about prices. If a pilot thinks Redwood charges too much, he might not stop here to refuel on his way back.”

“We used to have a lot of North Dakota aviation students from Grand Forks fly down here to refuel, then fly back again,” Venable said.

And he’ll have the strong coffee on for them when they’re here.

Story:  http://www.redwoodfallsgazette.com

Airport Receives Funds For Summer Projects

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Monday the Twin Falls City Council approved an agreement to start to process of the design, bidding, and construction of two projects out at Magic Valley regional Airport.

The two projects are basically maintenance issues that need to be addressed.

The first would be to seal–coat the entire runway along with the taxiways and the loading and un–loading areas.

The second would be some ramp reconstruction along and periodic pavement patchwork and painting on parts of the taxi-ways.

“Total project cost for both projects is about $3,225,000.000. We have about a million and a half dollars of our normally scheduled grant money. And the City and County, the folks match that at 6%. So that’s about 6 cents on the dollar that we match locally on that. So… it’s a very critical revenue stream from us to get work done.” Said Airport Manager, Bill Carberry.

With that 6% match, the city approved a $616,000.00 agreement to have Riedelse Engineering being that planning process.

Bidding on both projects should begin in the spring time with construction getting underway this summer.

Story:  http://www.kmvt.com

Restaurant to open at Stinson Municipal Airport (KSSF), San Antonio, Texas

Bernard's Creole Kitchen & Catering will open at Stinson Municipal Airport next week. 

Restaurateur Bernard McGraw will open his kitchen Tuesday at 8535 Mission Road. 

The previous location on the campus of the Baptist University of the Americas has been closed. 

http://www.bernardssa.com

Chico airport commission to talk parking fees again

CHICO — Following up on the 2012 work plan, the Chico Airport Commission will continue talking about possible fees at the airport.

An ad hoc committee of the commission has been studying the feasibility of charging a vehicle parking fee in the airport terminal lot.

The commission will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chambers, 421 Main St.

The commission is also studying designating a tie-down area for visiting aircraft, and collecting a fee for that as well.

Considering such fees were identified in the commission's priority list for its annual work plan.

At a meeting in October, the commission discussed a terminal parking fee to add revenue to the airport's budget.

But it also heard public objections at the idea, which could alienate even more travelers to choose another airport. Travelers from the north state often head south to the Sacramento airport. United Express flights out of Chico end in San Francisco.

In October, the commission asked for more study of the concepts, which included a fee of $5 daily for car parking, and fees range from $5-$20 for four to 24-hour tie down, depending on the size of the visiting aircraft.

The committee talked about an "honor system" for paying the parking fee, with a box inside the terminal, as well as placing Fortress Street, which fronts the airport parking lot, on "no parking" status.

A vehicle parking fee could offer the city potential revenue of $104,000 annually, with an implementation  cost of $5,400, an earlier study indicated.

The committee surveyed other communities about their airport fees, finding airports such as Sonoma County, Stockton, Redding and Sacramento charge for parking.

In another agenda item, long-time airport commissioner Bob Koch submitted his letter of resignation because of a move out of the city limits.


Source:  http://www.chicoer.com

Tri-Cities Regional Airport executive director leaving for post at Raleigh-Durham International

BLOUNTVILLE — Tri-Cities Regional Airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson will be taking the position of deputy airport director at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), TCRA announced Monday.

He will oversee airport operations at RDU, an airport processing more than nine million passengers in 2011.

Wilson has held the executive director position at TCRA for eight years and was previously deputy executive director for eight years.

In recent years, Wilson has been overseeing development on TCRA’s south side airfield with the help of federal grants.

Wilson also transitioned TCRA’s governing structure from an Airport Commission to an Airport Authority.

Wilson anticipates moving into his new position at the end of March.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity I have had to work at Tri-Cities Regional Airport,” Wilson said in a prepared release. “The Airport Authority is made up of dedicated employees and commissioners who have always worked hard to provide the region a great airport. I will miss being a part of this team.”

Airport Authority Chairman Jim Rector said of Wilson: “Patrick has been an excellent leader for Tri-Cities Airport. During his tenure, he has provided a steady hand, leading the airport through extensive terminal and airfield projects, property issues, development of the south side of the airfield and the transition of the Airport Commission to an Airport Authority, all while keeping the airport in good financial shape.”

TCRA has not received any local tax dollars since 1967, when the main terminal was constructed.

The Airport Authority Executive Committee will meet this week to determine the path forward in conducting a search for a new executive director.

-----------

Tri-Cities Regional Airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson will be taking the position of Deputy Airport Director of Operations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, TCRA announced today.

Wilson has held the Executive Director position at TCRA for 8 years and was previously Deputy Executive Director for 8 years. Wilson anticipates transitioning into his new position at the end of March.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity I have had to work at Tri-Cities Regional Airport,” said Wilson. “The Airport Authority is made up of dedicated employees and commissioners who have always worked hard to provide the region a great airport. I will miss being a part of this team.”

The Airport Authority Executive Committee will meet this week to determine the path forward in conducting a search for a new executive director.


Story:  http://www.timesnews.net

Baker City Municipal (KBKE), Oregon: City to consider renaming airport for fallen soldier

 Baker City Municipal Airport — also known by its original name of Heilner Field — might be renamed as Mabry J. Anders Field to honor a local man who was killed last August while serving as a U.S. Army Specialist in Afghanistan.

Baker City Councilors will hear about the plan when they meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, 1655 First St.

Anders, 21, and Sgt. Christopher Birdwell of Windsor, Colo. were shot to death on Aug. 27, 2012, by an Afghan National Army soldier in a “green-on-blue” attack in Kala Gush, Afghanistan.

Both men were assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo.

The Airport Commission met Jan. 17 to consider the matter. Four of the seven commissioners attended — Josh DeCarl, Terry Schumacher, James Davis and Mark Berthelsen. All of them were in favor of changing the name.

DeCarl proposed the name change to the Airport Commission.

Anders is the stepson of commissioner Troy Woydziak.

Woydziak and his wife, Anders’ mother, Genevieve, also run Baker Aircraft, the company contracted by the city as the fixed-base operator of the airport.

There were just four commission members voting because Woydziak and Councilor Dennis Dorrah didn’t attend the January commission meeting. And a replacement member for Jake Jacobs hadn’t been named at that point.

City Manager Mike Kee suggests in his written report to the councilors that they “discuss (the proposed name change) and allow for a period of public comment” before making a decision.

He also states that if the councilors decide to change the name of the airport it could “take up to 18 months for the changes to show up on charts, directories and other publications.” 

Story:  http://www.bakercityherald.com

Grand Junction Regional (KGJT), Colorado: Proposal to remedy airport fence

Increased security barriers at the Grand Junction Airport have forced some businesses to close their doors, but airport administrators and government officials are working to come up with a more balanced security solution. 

 In response to the decline of the aviation community in Grand Junction, Colorado elected officials sent a letter today regarding the airport security fence, asking the TSA to consider a new security plan for the airport.

However, for aviation business owners like Steve Bottom its too little too late.

"Nobody wanted to fly to Grand Junction there was maybe a third of the business we used to have," said Former owner of Tristar Aviation Steve Bottom.

Bottom set up shop in 1997 and sold the company in August of 2012 and said its all because of the fence.

Bottom said if elected officials and airport administration had done what they are doing now it may have made a difference for his company.

A portion of the letter signed by, Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Representative Scott Tipton reads as follows:

"Due to the strain that the airport's existing security protocol is placing on the community's interests, we urge you to consider this proposal as expeditiously as possible.This process was part of an on going, good-faith effort to ensure airport security compliance with TSA regulations while promoting an environment beneficial to local business, commerce and flexibility of movement for general aviation. "

We tried contacting airport officials for a comment but our calls were not returned.

Story:  http://www.nbc11news.com



More Stable Airlines Fly Out of Mergers: Fliers Poised to Benefit From Greater Investments, Stability


 
Updated February 11, 2013, 7:23 p.m. ET

By SUSAN CAREY, JACK NICAS And MIKE SPECTOR
The Wall Street Journal


The U.S. airline industry is starting to fly high again.

An expected merger agreement this week between AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc.  could end the latest chapter on consolidation that has helped to stabilize an industry troubled for decades.

The $10 billion-plus deal would follow three other industry megamergers since 2008, a period of consolidation that has produced a healthier industry with the prospects of sustainable profitability and investment-grade credit ratings. Travelers would have fewer airline choices—an AMR-US Airways merger would leave four airlines controlling about 83% of domestic seats—but potentially the benefits of greater reliability and airline investments.

Few believe U.S. fares would rise dramatically as a result of the merger. Competition remains intense as discount carriers account for roughly 37% of domestic passenger air trips, keeping a lid on price increases. On an inflation-adjusted basis, domestic fares are about 15% lower than they were in 2000, according to government data.

And even though there are fewer airlines, passengers still have numerous choices. For instance, a person who wants to travel to Seattle from Savannah, Ga., can choose between flying Delta via Atlanta, American through Dallas, US Airways via Philadelphia or Charlotte, and United through three of its hubs.

People familiar with the matter said the AMR and US Airways boards are scheduled to meet separately on Wednesday to consider the merger plan, which could be announced later that day or on Thursday if the timing doesn't slip. US Airways Chief Executive Doug Parker would run the combined carrier as CEO, while AMR CEO Tom Horton would become nonexecutive chairman for a limited period. Current talks are focused on the length of Mr. Horton's term, the makeup of the new board and potential compensation for the airline's new management and other employees, these people said.

The U.S. airline industry has struggled to stay aloft since it was deregulated 35 years ago. The ensuing decades brought multiple bankruptcies, liquidations and billions of dollars of losses as carriers pursued what in hindsight were self-destructive strategies as they tried to cope with rising costs, inefficient labor contracts and the advent of low-fare competitors.

This year, analysts are predicting that all of the nation's 11 publicly traded passenger airlines will be profitable, and together earn roughly $6.8 billion, even though jet fuel—their biggest expense—currently costs about $3.24 a gallon. That would top one of the industry's most profitable years, 1997, when it earned $4.8 billion amid jet-fuel prices hovering around 60 cents a gallon. Only in 2006 and 2007 did the industry exceed the 2013 estimate, but those results were inflated by items related to bankruptcies.

Emboldened by both bankruptcies and mergers, U.S. airlines are reducing capacity on money-losing routes, cutting back at some of their hubs and taking a hard line on costs, said John Thomas, head of the global aviation practice at L.E.K. Consulting LLC. "Taking structural costs and inefficiencies out of the system is what excites people about consolidation," he said. "Large carriers can weather the storm so much better than small carriers."

Instead of worrying about a bigger, fiercer competitor, rival executives have said they are pleased by the prospect of another merger. Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Continental Holdings Inc., said last year that losing United's partnership with US Airways through the Star Alliance would be "negative." But "if they left as a result of consolidation, I think that would be very good for the business and for the industry," he said.

Across the world, airlines are consolidating assets to form larger networks. In Europe, Air France and KLM formed Air France-KLM SA, and British Airways and Iberia joined to create International Consolidated Airlines Group. In addition to the three recent megamergers in the U.S.—United and Continental Airlines; Northwest and Delta Air Lines; and Southwest Airlines Co. and AirTran Airways—regional carriers, which fly on behalf of the majors, also hooked up. Pressed by their airline partners, some have cut unprofitable flights to small cities due to high fuel prices.

Air travel is the latest network industry, after railroads, telecom and utilities, to reinvent itself through consolidation, said Brookings Institution economist Clifford Winston. "Mergers have worked for all the network industries in helping those industries shed the least efficient carriers," he said.

Airlines have become more efficient in meeting demand for travel. In the year ended in October 2012, airlines carried 736 million passengers, 54% more than in 1992. They filled nearly 83% of their seats in the period, compared with 64% in 1992.

Analysts said several factors, including the wave of consolidation, have raised the barriers for newcomers. Hunter Keay of investment researchers Wolfe Trahan & Co. said the biggest barrier is that starting an airline requires so much capital, yet it is near impossible to convince lenders to invest in a company so tied to a commodity as volatile as fuel. David Swierenga, an airline economist with consultancy AeroEcon, said startup carriers still can enter the business, "but the bigger problem is: how do you compete with the networks of these very large airlines?"

One of the biggest hazards in an airline merger is worker unrest. But in the case of AMR and US Airways, American's three big unions and US Airways' pilots are on board with transitional labor agreements. Unions must still agree to single seniority lists, something that has proved difficult in past mergers.

Airline marriages can take years to implement and often lead to technology and service glitches. "The execution risk is high," said Bill Swelbar, an airline researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Because Delta and United have begun melding cultures and operations, American would have "no room to stumble," he said.

Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Cost of keeping Delta in Pierre, South Dakota: nearly $500,000

The U.S. Department of Transportation paid Delta Air Lines nearly $500,000 to compensate for the extra time the company served at the Pierre Regional Airport in late 2011 and early 2012 after its planned pullout date.

The DOT also paid Delta for staying longer in 13 other communities the company planned to pull out of in 2011 and 2012, according to DOT documents.

In late 2011, Delta announced its intent to end service at airports in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Delta’s service to the Pierre airport was originally intended to end Nov. 20, 2011.

“The suspension notices were precipitated by Delta planning to and ultimately disposing of its fleet of 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft,” the order notice says.

The DOT then required Delta to continue service at the airports for a set time. In Pierre’s case, Delta continued service for about two months until Great Lakes took over on Feb. 1. For staying longer in Pierre, the DOT paid Delta a subsidy of $473,114, which was almost $4,000 for each departure, the documents say.

There were two other South Dakota airports that were affected by the Delta pullout, Aberdeen and Watertown. Delta received a subsidy of $178,137 for staying roughly an extra five months in Aberdeen and $1,034,083 for staying about five more months in Watertown.

In total, Delta was paid $12,884,006 to temporarily continue service at all the airports.

The subsidy made up the difference between the company’s expenses and revenue with a little extra money added, said Bill Mosley, with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“The idea is, we make up their losses plus a margin of profit,” he said.

Mike Isaacs, Pierre Regional Airport manager, said the subsidy agreement is between Delta Air Lines and DOT. The city of Pierre and the airport have nothing to do with it.

Robert Herbst, an airline analyst who follows Delta and other major carriers, said the exodus of major carriers from small and regional airports is nothing new.

Airlines have really focused on repairing their balance sheets and trying to turn a profit, he said. One way to save money is to do what Delta did and phase out the smaller 40-50 passenger jets used at some airports.

“In order to make a profit they have to charge such high fares because the price of fuel has gone from 10-11 percent of the average ticket cost up to 35-45 percent and airfares just can’t keep up,” he said. “If they charge what they need to they can’t get enough passengers to fill up these planes to places like Pierre and Fargo and Hibbing and Thief River Falls and that is the problem.”

Herbst said the smaller jets are being phased out across the industry because carriers are struggling to make money with them.

“When they built them the price of fuel was 65 cents a gallon for jet fuel and now jet fuel is up to $3.25, $3.45 a gallon,” he said.

The final order by the DOT that set compensation was posted in October, about nine months after Delta pulled out of the Pierre airport. However, it is around the same time that the hold-in period was expiring for Delta at the other affected airports. The eligible hold-in period for two airports lasted until December 2012.

The difference between what Delta asked for in subsidy and what the DOT gave the airline is $4,279,486, according to the documents.

Mosley said is common for the DOT to negotiate with the airlines to save money.

“We want to try to stay within budget and save the taxpayers money as much as possible,” he said.

An email to a public relations official with Delta seeking comment from the airline was not returned by deadline.

Story and Reaction:  http://www.capjournal.com

Grounding the Blue Angels

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The roar of the engines. The death defying stunts. The Blue Angels are always a big draw at the air show in Jacksonville and all over the country. The idea of grounding them to save taxpayer money doesn't fly with fans. 

"Oh that's sad," said Denita Davis.  "It's entertainment for families."

The Navy says grounding the squadron for the last half of the year is a real possibility, if the sequester cuts go through at the end of the month.

But Senator Bill Nelson says fans need not be worried.  "This is not going to happen," he said Monday, standing in front of the Blue Angel jet at NAS Jax.

"That is a consequence if the sequester goes in to effect.  But among reasonable people, the sequester will not go into effect."

The proposal would cancel 30 shows, including the one in here in Jacksonville.  The Navy estimates it would save $20 million.  But taxpayers we spoke to believe the savings could be found elsewhere.

"I haven't heard anybody gripe about we don't want to see them because it's costing us money.  I've never heard that," said taxpayer Ronnie Farkas. "I can't imagine taking away the Blue Angels," she added.

The Navy told Action News there is no plan B if the sequester goes into effect.  There simply won't be an air show this year.  However, it's still scheduled to take place in October at NAS Jax.

Story:  http://www.actionnewsjax.com

Googleport: Is Google building its own airport?

High-flying Google wants to get in on the aviation game. 

No, the search engine giant isn't developing the next generation of self-piloting 747s or upping its Street View game with autonomous drones. Instead, the Mountain View-based tech giant desperately needs a place to park its private fleet of jets. To accommodate its many planes, the company plans to build an $82 million facility in San Jose, Calif.

Having a private jet is one of the perks of being one of the richest people (and companies) in the world, but finding parking for it is no straightforward feat, especially when you have as many planes as the top brass at Google does.

Between founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and executive chairman Eric Schmidt, the trio have a fleet estimated at eight jets -- and that doesn’t even include Google’s corporate fleet.

Until now, the company kept its planes at Moffett Federal Airfield. Not everyone has been pleased with that setup, however, including Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who believes Google was getting a sweetheart deal from NASA by paying only $3.7 million a year. Not looking to cause a ruckus, Google is now pushing plans to build its own facilities.

"While our base of operation at Moffett Field currently meets our needs, expansion is both limited and uncertain," Schmidt wrote in a letter endorsing the Signature project, according to MercuryNews.com. "[This] will provide us with long term hangar stability and the ability to grow our flight department in Silicon Valley."

The new plan is more palatable for locals. The deal would be a 50-year lease that spanned 29 acres and each private plane "would be a property tax generator," Mayor Chuck Reed told the Mercury News. 
 
The proposed "Googleport" will also include its own executive terminal, multiple hangars, ramp space, aircraft, parking lot, retail shops and even office space. In all, the new facility would generate over $3 million in rent, fuel fees and taxes.

Fresh off a $1.4 billion renovation project, San Jose airport surely won't mind the extra income.

Starduster TOO SA-300: DeLand Municipal Airport-Sidney H Taylor Field (KDED), DeLand, Florida


DeLAND, Fla. - A plane has crashed at the DeLand Municipal Airport on Tuesday, according to Volusia County Fire Rescue. 

 DeLand police said at around 3:15 p.m., Laurence A. Lapointe, 77, was about to land a Starduster SA-300 aircraft, when he lost control of the plane and slid the vehicle off the runway.

Lapointe was not injured and said he encountered problems steering the plane once he touched the ground.


The aircraft is being removed from the scene and the investigation is being turned over to the National Transportation and Safety Board.

No other information was immediately available.

Ryanair Expects Aer Lingus Bid Won't Fly

Updated February 12, 2013, 9:59 a.m. ET

By MARIETTA CAUCHI
Wall Street Journal


 
LONDON—Ryanair Holdings on Tuesday said it would appeal an expected decision by European regulators to block its takeover of Irish carrier Aer Lingus, despite offering "unprecedented" remedies to maintain competition on Irish routes.

The discount airline said it had been notified by the European Commission that the regulator intended to block the €694 million ($930.3 million) takeover—Ryanair's third attempt at a merger—during a meeting ahead of a March 6 deadline for a decision.

A Ryanair plane takes off from Barcelona airport, in a file picture taken on Sept. 1, 2010.

"It appears clear from this morning's meeting, that no matter what remedies Ryanair offered, we were not going to get a fair hearing and were going to be prohibited regardless of competition rules," Ryanair said, adding that it will appeal the decision in European courts.

Ryanair currently holds 29.8% in Aer Lingus. The Irish government, which has a 25% stake in Aer Lingus, opposed the bid.

The news comes just 10 days after Ryanair submitted the latest in a string of concession packages to secure approval to acquire Aer Lingus, after the commission—the European Union's regulatory arm—signaled that remedies proposed earlier were insufficient.

In the latest package, regional carrier Flybe Group would have taken over 43 Aer Lingus routes, guaranteeing €20 million in annual profit as well as a €100 million upfront payment for Flybe. The aim was to convince the commission that Flybe was a credible competitor to Ryanair despite issuing several profit warnings over the past two years and cuts to its U.K. workforce, announced last month.

Ryanair had also proposed to transfer all of Aer Lingus's routes between London Gatwick and Ireland to British Airways, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, or IAG. Under the previous package, British Airways would instead have received the routes between London Heathrow and Ireland.

"Given Ryanair's remedies package clearly addresses every issue raised in the EU's statement of objections, any decision to prohibit would be manifestly unfair and in contravention of EU competition rules," said Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely. "Ryanair has no alternative but to appeal any prohibition decision."

But others have noted the contrasting business models operated by Flybe and the two Irish airlines.

"How can Flybe compete with Ryanair? It's impossible. It's the classic motivation of the corporate raider," Aer Lingus Chief Executive Christoph Mueller said in an interview last week. "You can manipulate any marketplace with artificial competitors. Ryanair would even write the business plan for Flybe—this is very, very flawed," Mr. Mueller added.

Aer Lingus on Tuesday said it hadn't been notified of any decision from the commission and that it intends to oppose Ryanair's offer for the company.

Ryanair and rival low-cost airline easyJet  have ramped up pressure on national carriers already squeezed by high fuel costs and a sluggish economy.

Earlier on Tuesday, IAG said its Spanish unit Iberia had started the formal process of collective redundancy over 3,807 jobs, part of its plans to cut capacity by 15%. And Deutsche Lufthansa AG,  Europe's biggest airline by passengers; smaller German rival Air Berlin; and Air France, owned by Air France-KLM SA, are all reorganizing their operations to stem losses.

—Dan Michaels and Vanessa Mock in Brussels contributed to this article.


Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Air show featuring the Thunderbirds planned for June to mark Myrtle Beach’s 75th birthday

Myrtle Beach will celebrate its 75th birthday with an air show this June over the ocean featuring the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and other performing aerobatics teams.

The Myrtle Beach Air Show will take place June 28 through June 30 and will include the air teams, music by the U.S. Army Band, vendors and presentations marking Myrtle Beach’s milestone birthday, said George Cline of Air Boss Inc., a Greensboro, N.C.-based company that produces and directs air shows.

The event is free, and spectators should plan to watch from the sand near the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park for the best view of the air show. The vendors, music and presentations will take place near the boardwalk at the former Pavilion site.

Though the Thunderbirds will likely be the big draw, several other air acts also will perform, including Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, a Vintage Thunderbird team, a jump team featuring a former Golden Knight and Mike Wiskus, an aerobatics champion.

“We’ve got a pretty good lineup,” said Cline, who produces about 30 air shows a year and previously was involved in air shows that were part of the Sun Fun Festival. “It’s going to be a pretty big event for the weekend.”

Officials plan to announce the event and details about it during a news conference Wednesday at Myrtle Beach Aviation, 1250 Airdrome Ave. Cline, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, Horry County Councilman Brent Schulz and Horry County Airports Director Mike La Pier are scheduled to attend.

Amie Lee of Palmetto Event Productions declined to comment on the show Tuesday.

Myrtle Beach hasn’t had an air show in at least five years, and city officials have wanted to bring one back because it’s a big draw, with throngs of spectators flocking to the sand to watch the action overhead. Air shows were often part of the Sun Fun Festival in Myrtle Beach, which was canceled last year and isn’t scheduled to return this summer.

Timing an air show with the city’s 75th birthday would help generate excitement, city spokesman Mark Kruea said. It’s one of a number of events city officials are planning to mark the birthday this year.

“The air show during Sun Fun was always very popular and exciting,” he said. “It’s an exciting, crowd-pleasing event. It’s one of those awe-inspiring types of things.”

On June 28, activities will include practices during the day and air performances during the evening, as well as presentations for Myrtle Beach’s birthday. Activity on June 29-30 will likely kick off about 12:30 p.m. and last until about 4:30 p.m., Cline said.

“It’s something different for the community,” he said. “It just adds more to your beach-going pleasure.”

Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com