Friday, February 15, 2013

The debate over a pricey state plane for Vermont

MONTPELIER, Vt. -  "It's basically a safety issue," said Chris Cole of VTrans. "This plane behind us has seen its useful life." 

That was the official word from VTrans Monday. Planning director Chris Cole told WCAX News the state's 50-year-old Cessna 182 would need $83,000 worth of repairs to continue operating safely. Since that's more than the plane is worth, state aviation officials wanted lawmakers to approve a $1.5 million lease-to-own program for a brand new Beechcraft Baron.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, grounded that proposal Thursday.

"My staff flips out every time I crawl into it. But I have confidence in the airplane. We don't have to do it this year, but at some point we're going to have to deal with it," Shumlin said Thursday.

Cole says the news is disappointing and VTrans is refocusing financial resources on roadwork rather than airplanes. A wise fiscal move, according to Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who never supported the purchase.

"It's a sophisticated piece of equipment that we probably wouldn't use enough to warrant buying," said Scott, R-Vermont.

According to the Cessna's flight logs over the last decade, use has steadily declined since 2008, with an average of 122 flying hours annually. Scott says a Beechcraft Baron is not a wise investment.

"We have to make sure that we're as frugal as possible, that there's no fluff," Scott said. "And when I saw the aircraft, I thought this seems extravagant for Vermont. This seems like something is fluff. We don't have to have this."

Scott says the Beechcraft Baron is primarily a people mover, not a plane for aerial photography, surveying and low-speed searches. Records show the governor used the current state aircraft five times last year, yet his administration denies playing any part in picking a new plane.

"That was made because there was a desire expressed by the secretary that a twin engine would be a good aircraft to have because it has redundancy in the engines," Cole said.

Cole couldn't vouch for the current safety of the Cessna. He says it will cost $60,000 in budget year 2014 to overhaul the engine and replace the propeller. But a $23,000 avionics upgrade will have to wait.

"We're very well used to getting by with less, so we'll put the work that we need to put into the plane and we'll get by another year," Cole said.

"Maybe we don't need an airplane at all," Scott said. "We have a hangar that we have to appropriate for and maintenance and so forth, so maybe it's not worth it. Maybe we should just do away with the aircraft."

In the meantime, VTrans plans to keep a close eye on the aging aircraft's flying hours and Cole says that may mean denying some agencies' requests to use it.

VTrans says it needs an airplane to complete mandated safety inspections at state airports and eventually the Cessna will have to be replaced. But the type of plane, how much it costs and whether it's used is now open for debate.

Related Stories:

Plan for new Vt. state plane grounded
New state airplane plan hits turbulence

American Eagle Sees Room for Consolidation

February 15, 2013, 3:18 p.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. regional-airline industry could be set for more consolidation in the wake of deal-making among network carriers, according to the head of AMR Corp.'s American Eagle commuter unit.

A long-planned spinoff of American Eagle also remains a possibility even after the planned merger of American Airlines parent AMR and US Airways Group Inc., though Eagle Chief Executive Dan Garton said the initial priorities are developing a new aircraft-fleet plan and exploring how the partners' regional operations can be "blended."

Regional airlines are the backbone of the U.S. domestic-airline industry, expanding rapidly over the past two decades to account for just over half of all passengers, feeding them to big hubs such as Chicago O'Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth from smaller airports.

American Eagle is the largest regional carrier wholly owned by a U.S. network airline, and last year it accounted for 95% of the domestic passengers fed onto American's flights.

That is far more than American's rivals, most of whom have already outsourced the bulk of their commuter flying to companies such as market leader SkyWest Inc. and Republic Airways Holding Inc.

The regional airlines purchase most of aircraft and fly with their own crews, while the network carriers dictate where they operate and provide marketing, reservations and jet fuel.

The fierce competition among regionals to fly on behalf of carriers such as United Continental Holdings Inc. or Delta Air Lines Inc. keeps the network airlines' costs down, but also generates razor-thin profit margins that has forced many to seek bankruptcy protection or even close altogether.

"I would be very surprised if we were done with regional consolidation," said Mr. Garton in an interview, citing the potential economies of scale from purchasing aircraft and cutting overheads.

Mr. Garton first led American Eagle in 1995, returning to the helm in 2010 after spells at Continental Airlines and American Airlines. He said there was still plenty of scope for more deals that would cut overheads and generate economies of scale in, for example, buying aircraft.

He recalled that when 20 years ago he first served as chairman of the Regional Airlines Association, a trade group, there were some 100 carriers flying for bigger carriers. His second spell two years ago saw that number shrink to 20.

"That's still a lot of players," he said.

AMR's heavy reliance on doing almost all of its flying in-house has started to change, leading to deals with SkyWest and Republic in recent months to fly under the Eagle brand.

US Airways owns two commuter units, PSA Airlines and Piedmont Airlines, and also outsources flying to other companies using the US Airways Express brand.

The airline said this week that it would retain PSA and Piedmont and keep them separate from American Eagle, though eventually use the Eagle brand for all regional flying.

Mr. Garton said it wasn't necessary to combine the three commuter units straight away.

AMR and US Airways expect to secure extra revenue by linking their respective hubs, much of which will be done simply by putting common flight numbers on commuter flights.

Their in-house regional units are also geographically distinct, with PSA and Piedmont focused on the East Coast and flying routes that are typically shorter than those flown by Eagle, which is concentrated in the Midwest and South.

Mr. Garton has been a strong proponent of spinning off Eagle to reduce AMR's reliance on the unit, cut costs and provide other opportunities for the business to expand. The plan was well advanced before AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011.

He said Friday that a decision whether to spin off Eagle was "down the road" following a broader review of the enlarged American's regional business. While it was not "infeasible" a decision could be made this year—the merger is due to close in the third quarter—issues such as the need for regulatory filings would likely push any separation beyond that timeframe.

A person with direct knowledge of US Airways' plans said thoughts of spinning off Eagle were not "dead."

Eagle's immediate priority is to change its aircraft fleet, moving away from the smaller jets with 50 or fewer seats that spurred the surge in the regional sector's expansion when they were introduced at the start of the last decade.

Soaring fuel costs have now made them uneconomic to fly on many routes. Delta is dropping hundreds of them.

"We have way too many 37- and 44-seaters, maybe even 50-seaters," said Mr. Garton, though added that keeping some of the latter was "justified" to provide extra frequencies on smaller routes.

Eagle's pilot contract allows for the flying of aircraft with up to 76 seats, with anything larger operated by the mainline American unit, whose staff receive higher pay and benefits.


Frederick Municipal (KFDK), Maryland: Airport to promote women in aviation

Frederick Municipal Airport will host Maryland's only event marking Women of Aviation Worldwide Week from March 4 to 10.

`Women and girls who come to Women Fly It Forward will get a chance to fly in a small aircraft and see the Traveling Space Museum.

The museum features 15 exhibits, a space shuttle simulator and a space toilet.

The event aims to promote women in aviation. Only 6 percent of pilots are women, organizers said at a news conference Wednesday.

Pilot and event organizer Victoria Neuville said she hoped to create a network for women pilots through the weeklong event.

"When I finished all my training, I realized I didn't have a single role model," Neuville said. "Women Fly It Forward hopefully starts a support system."

Neuville has become a mentor herself. She inspired a young woman to take flying lessons after meeting her at Braxton County Airport in West Virginia, she said.

The event is now in its third year in Frederick, and this year it will have two new themes: women in space and breast cancer awareness, organizers said.

Astronaut Pam Melroy, the second woman to command a space shuttle, will speak March 9 in honor of 50 years of women in space. Women at NASA program manager Mamta Nagaraja will also speak that morning.

Fly It Forward will have free flights March 9 for women who have been affected by breast cancer.

"We're giving a special gift to those who have been through so much," Neuville said.

Organizers hope the event will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about the airport itself and the educational programs it offers, they said.

"People think that this airport here is just a commercial airport or a playground. It's not," said Gail Norman, public relations consultant. The airport is home to a flight school, restaurants and businesses.


Fed Ex donates plane to Sacramento City College Aeronautics Department


 SACRAMENTO - Fed Ex made a very special delivery to Sacramento City College aeronautics students on Friday.  The global delivery company donated a Boeing 727 airplane to the school's flight technology and aircraft maintenance department.

"We think of it as a laboratory with wings. This is so beneficial to the program it's hard to even express what that means to us, " said Phil Cypret, Chair and Teacher for Sacramento City College's Aeronautics Department.

Sacramento City College's Aeronautics Department at McClellan Park is mostly comprised of small, twin-engine planes. Fed Ex's 727 is the department's first full-sized airliner.

Fed Ex retired the 727 freighter, named "Gideon," from active service after 21 years of deliveries. The plane made its final flight from Virginia to Sacramento International Airport on Wednesday. On Friday, Fed Ex pilots flew the plane to McClellan where a crowd of cheering airplane enthusiast watched her touch down.

"To us it's worth two to three million dollars, that's what it would take us to get this on the open market," says Cypret who says students will start getting their first hands-on lessons on the plane next week.

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Virginia man pleads guilty to killing 8, shooting down state police helicopter, gets 5 life terms

Christopher Speight
/ AP Photo/Virginia State Police
APPOMATTOX, Va. - A man accused of killing eight people at his rural central Virginia home and shooting at a state police helicopter pleaded guilty Friday to several murder and other charges and was sentenced to five life prison terms.

Christopher Speight, 42, pleaded guilty to three counts of capital murder, one count of attempted capital murder of a police officer and five firearms counts.

The former security guard was arrested on Jan. 20, 2010, after an overnight manhunt near the Appomattox home he shared with his sister, her husband and their two children. Those family members, two neighbors, their teenage daughter and a teenage boy were killed in the shootings.

After hearing from four relatives of the victims, an Appomattox Circuit Court judge agreed to sentence Speight to five life sentences, plus 18 years.

Kim Scruggs, whose son was among the victims, wept as she scolded Speight.

"Christopher Speight, you look at me! You were a coward up there that day when you shot my son in the back, running for his life," she said. After a long pause to gather her composure, she added, "May God have mercy on your soul."

Steve Canard of Lynchburg, whose sister Karen Quarles was among the victims, brought pictures of his sister, her husband and niece, who also was killed, into court. He told the Associated Press that he wanted to "make sure he remembers the faces of the people he killed."

He said he was satisfied with Speight's sentences.

"I think it's better that he think about it the rest of his life in solitary 23 hours a day," Canard said. "The death penalty would be too easy for him."

Speight surrendered at daybreak after the manhunt in the woods. He was unarmed and wearing a bulletproof vest.

According to court records, investigators later seized 42 homemade explosive devices and fuses, multiple rounds of ammunition, several assault rifles and a 9mm pistol from Speight's home.

Family members and others who knew Speight said at the time that he had a history of mental problems and had been obsessed with the mistaken notion that his sister, Lauralee Sipe, was plotting to kick him out of the house on 34 acres that they inherited after their mother's death in 2006.

Five months after the shootings, a judge sent Speight to a state mental hospital for treatment after a psychologist found the defendant was too mentally ill to assist his lawyers or stand trial. The case remained on hold for the next couple of years as attorneys dealt with pretrial motions and awaited additional mental evaluations.

The shooting victims included Speight's sister and her husband, Dwayne Sipe, both 38, and their 4-year-old son Joshua. Also killed were Morgan Dobyns, Lauralee Sipe's 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage; Morgan's friend Emily Quarles, 15; Emily's boyfriend Ronald "Bo" Scruggs, 16, and her parents, Karen and Jonathan Quarles, both 43.

Two years after the shootings, officials said for the first time that they believed Speight killed the three Sipes two days before fatally shooting the other five.

Speight also was charged with firing at a state police helicopter, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.


Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (KDTS), Destin, Florida: 'A Good Looking Runway'

 After more than a month of work, the Destin Airport runway has been completely resurfaced and is now open to air traffic. 
The Destin Log

Within minutes of the Destin Airport's newly replaced runway opening Friday morning, planes were touching down. 

"We had our first incoming arrival at 6:03 a.m.," Okaloosa County Deputy Airports Director Tracy Stage told The Log. "We had our first departure at 6:09 a.m."

Crews from C.W. Roberts and RS&H have spent the past month working through a complete resurfacing of the 5,000-feet-long by 100-feet-wide runway at Coleman Kelly Field.

The skies over Destin had been rather quiet since the runway closed to fixed-wing air traffic Feb. 4 for the airport's first major repairs since it opened in 1963. The final safety inspection and cleanup took place Thursday, and the project wrapped up that night.

As part of the roughly $5 million project, the airport's electronic runway navigation system, taxiway signs, directional signs, and runway signs were replaced. Modern, cost-efficient LED lights were installed.

The runway was originally expected to open for business Feb. 12, but weather stymied those plans. Despite the delays, Stage told The Log that the repairs wrapped up "as planned and under budget."

"We may be able to use the leftover money from the runway for other projects," Stage said, noting that the airport's taxiways are still in need of resurfacing.

Stage said the Destin Airport sees roughly 60,000 flights annually. That number can fluctuate based on the current economy.

With major work completed, the only thing left for crews to finish up is the permanent striping on the runway, which will be done in about 30 days, since the asphalt needs time to cure.

"It's a good looking runway," Stage said.

Now that the runway is up and running, airport officials can turn their attention to other projects, such as the proposed air traffic control tower.

The tower was approved earlier this year, when the Federal Aviation Administration accepted the small airport into its contract tower program. The tower, which would cost roughly $3 million to construct, would stand about 84.5 feet tall and be located on the eastern side of the runway, forward of the midway point.

For years county officials, city leaders, local pilots and residents have debated the merits of an air traffic control tower in Destin. Some say it's not necessary, while other say it's vital to air safety.

Given an increase in the number of small planes, helicopters, military operations and parasail operators that navigate the skies in Destin, Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan has told city leaders the tower would allow for simultaneous launches between Destin, the Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) and Eglin Air Force Base, which are prohibited currently.

As part of the proposed tower plans, an environmental assessment was recently completed, Stage said.

"We have a funding plan in place for the tower and the access road that would lead to the tower," he said.

Construction could begin as early as 2014.

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Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (KFLL), Florida: Runway to close temporarily

The main runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will be temporarily closed from 12:01 to 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 27 to allow for routine maintenance work.

During that time, planes will use the airport's diagonal runway, meaning residents of northeast Dania and southwest Fort Lauderdale may hear increased aircraft noise.

On May 6, the airport plans to close the diagonal runway to allow for construction of the new $791 million south runway, which is scheduled to open in September 2014.

Conoy, Pennsylvania: Township supervisors considers regulations for remote-controlled airplanes

Conoy Township supervisors are taking a dim view of anyone who may want to use a remote-controlled airplane to get a birds-eye view of another property.

In addition to providing regulations for dealing with junked cars, garbage, and high grass on private properties, a nuisance ordinance township supervisors reviewed at their meeting Thursday includes a section barring the flying of remote-controlled planes over properties without permission.

Specifically, the ordinance prohibits "the operation of remote controlled or other non-tethered aircraft over property not owned by the operator and without permission of the property owner."

On Thursday, supervisors singled out that section as a unique and valued regulation to address the specter of small, private spy planes flying above a property and recording video of what is below.

"That's the highlight of the whole thing," Supervisor Stephen Mohr said.

Most of the proposed ordinance, however, deals with the earth-bound problems of junked vehicles, trash, and unruly vegetation on private properties.

While the township had previously addressed such issues elsewhere in its zoning guidelines, this new ordinance tightens the regulatory language.

Matt Creme, the township's solicitor, said the ordinance actually raises the threshold for the township to get involved in a matter while giving it more legal backing when it does.

"This would allow us to enforce the most extreme cases," Creme said.

Creme said the ordinance specifies that things such as junked cars actually have to be creating a public nuisance — such as leaking automotive fluid — to qualify as a nuisance under the new ordinance. It is not enough for them to just be unregistered or out of inspection, he said.

"It is not a property maintenance code. It is not about how things look, it is about how they affect public health, safety and general welfare," Creme said.

The ordinance also addresses garbage on a private property as well as unsafe structures. It also has a section that would bar grass from being more than 10 inches high outside of the rural and agricultural zoning districts.

Creme said the township would use its discretion about when to bring citations under the ordinance.

Violations can result in a fine of up to $300.

The ordinance will be the subject of a formal hearing to be held during the supervisors next regular meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 14, in the township office, 211 Falmouth Road, Bainbridge.

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Aviation mechanic school in Van Nuys gets OK for $1 rent

That aviation mechanic school at Van Nuys Airport that has received the attention of LA politicians looks like it will be saved now that the FAA has given its OK to lower the rent. A letter from the FAA to city officials says it would be within federal policy to charge the school just $1 a year rent for its facility on the west side of Van Nuys Airport at Saticoy Street. Although the city of Los Angeles airports department runs VNY, the FAA is allowed to dip its bureaucratic fingers into all kinds of policy areas at airports.
From the Daily News

Mesa begins negotiations to hire executive director for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (KIWA), Phoenix, Arizona

A city of Mesa employee is slated to be hired to replace outgoing Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Executive Director Lynn F. Kusy, officials said. His final day is expected to be March 15, according to the airport's website.

After a nationwide search, and following direction from the airport authority’s board of directors, Mesa City Manager Chris Brady and board counsel have decided to enter into negotiations with Jane Morris, Gateway Airport director of special projects, for the executive director position, according to a press release.

Ms. Morris is one of the finalists interviewed by the board, along with Casey Denny and Izzy Bonilla, to become the new executive director. Mr. Brady and staff will present a draft agreement with Ms. Morris to the board of directors for their consideration and possible action at a future board meeting, according to Brian Sexton, city of Mesa public information officer.

The airport was established in 1994 and is owned and operated by the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, which consists of the Gila River Indian Community, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, and Queen Creek. Gateway airport offers nonstop passenger service via Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit Airlines with nonstop flights to over 35 cities nationwide. For more information, visit

Turbulence facing sector boils down to the ground rules

 One ray of hope in this otherwise descending sector is the recent move by the Indian government to allow foreign direct investment 

Dubai: Bad regulation, outrageous taxes, high airport charges, volatile fuel costs, high operating costs, inefficient infrastructure and rupee depreciation. These are the ingredients that make up a recipe for disaster for India’s aviation sector.

The one ray of hope in this otherwise descending sector is the recent move by the Indian government to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) of up to 49 per cent in the country’s airlines.

Sure, it opens up tremendous opportunities for Gulf as well as other global carriers that have so far been waiting to gain a strong foothold in the Indian market. But is it really helping Indian carriers emerge from their spiral? It still remains to be seen if global carriers will take that leap and invest in the debt-laden and loss-making Indian carriers such as Air India and Kingfisher Airlines (the carrier which recently lost its license owing to massive debts).

As Geneva-based aviation analyst, Andrew Charlton of Aviation Advocacy, points out: “Indian airlines are failing for a single reason — they have been subject to terrible regulation and to regulatory interference for too long. There has been incredibly restrictive investment rules, work practices and work limitations enforced by unions with government support. There has also been significant under-investment in infrastructure and incredibly protectionist, restrictive negotiation of rights and access.”

And then there are astronomically high ticket prices. In the first half (from April-September) of financial year 2013, air traffic in India fell 1.8 per cent over the last year, “the first such instance in the past five years”, according to Amber Dubey, partner and head of aviation at global consultancy KPMG.

“Economic slowdown, weak business sentiment and high ticket prices contributed to this drop in traffic,” he said, adding that the exit of Kingfisher allowed airlines to price tickets above cost for the first time in several years.

Clearly, the Indian airline industry is failing for a number of reasons, but one can begin with state-owned Air India and its regulators, as US-based analyst Ernest S. Arvai of the Arvai Group points out.

“This inefficient carrier is heavily subsidized by the government, which also mandates that it charge fares lower than its costs to compete more effectively with more efficient low-cost carriers. That process is simply staving off the inevitable bankruptcy to come, were the state to stop propping it up,” he says.

“In the EU, for example, Air India would have been closed, like Malev in Hungary, for illegal state subsidies propping up a money-losing operation,” Arvai added.

Depreciation of the rupee, crude oil price volatility, high operating costs and high taxes continue to plague the Indian aviation sector, according to KPMG’s Dubey, who says that the outlook for the airline industry in the short term remains that of cautious optimism.

“There have been encouraging signals from the [civil aviation] ministry and one hopes that pending reforms, especially on the taxation front, and regional airports would be fast-tracked in 2013,” he said.

So what can be done to make sure the Indian aviation sector steers out of the turbulence?

For the government to rationalize the taxes for long-term growth of this critically important sector is just one of the options, according to Dubey.

“Else 2013 appears to be no better than 2012,” he warns.

“An improved alignment between capacity and demand has seen yields strengthen and several airlines have reduced their losses in first few quarters of FY [financial year] 2013.

However, it is still too early to predict a turnaround in the Indian aviation industry,” he added.

What remains to be seen is whether India’s aviation sector will be able to manage a smooth take-off this year.

Aerospace companies mired in lawsuits: Suits and counter-suits at Testori/Wiebel worth more than $15M

One of P.E.I.'s largest aerospace companies is involved in lawsuits worth millions of dollars.

The lawsuits surround the sale of Testori Americas, Testori Interiors and Wiebel Aerospace in April 2011. TMC Avion purchased the companies, which design and build interiors for mass transit vehicles, from Lindo Lapegna of P.E.I. and two Italian business partners.

TMC Avion is suing the former owners for close to $14 million claiming the value of the company was misrepresented.

"The sale of the Companies was a distress sale," TMC Avion says in its statement of claim.

"The companies were nearly insolvent at the time of the sale and the defendants as individual shareholders had personally guaranteed some of the Companies' debt."

Lapegna and his partners have launched a countersuit for more than $1.5 million they say TMC Avion still owes them.

Lapegna, who was president of the company before the sale, denies the companies were in trouble. He said the companies were operating at no worse than a break-even basis and they had available credit.

He is concerned now that delays in financial restructuring are hurting the companies, and its arrangements with the P.E.I. government.

"This is an important operation for a province like P.E.I.," said Lapegna.

"Two hundred employees, especially some in Bloomfield, in an area like that, and the rest in Summerside, I would say it's an asset they should have treasured."

The P.E.I. government has a big investment in Testori Americas and Wiebel Aerospace. There is a $13.2 million loan that the government says is in arrears, though it won't say by how much.

"Our concern is that there continues to be an entity that functions up there, and our concern is also about the jobs that are there," said Innovation Minister Allen Roach.

According to the companies' websites there are about 185 people working at the three companies.

TMC Avion says it can't finalize its financial arrangements with the P.E.I. government until the finances with the former owners are settled.

None of these claims have been proven in court. All the parties involved are denying the allegations made against them.

End of the runway for Bahrain Air

Bahrain Air, the country’s second airline, has abruptly shut down, claiming it cannot pay back financial losses accrued in relation to “the unstable political and security situation in Bahrain”.

The airline entered voluntary liquidation on Tuesday, forcing its immediate closure and potentially leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, with tickets dated after February 12 unable to be used or transferred to another airline.

“If you have not completed your journey, you will regrettably have to make your own arrangements and purchase new tickets if necessary,” a statement from the airline says.

The carrier claims that while it had received no compensation from a government decision to limit its activities, it was at the same time being chased to make immediate payment on past government debts.

“This effectively strangles the airline by simultaneously requesting payments and reducing its ability to generate the necessary revenues both to make these payments and to sustain long term profitability,” the airline said, in a statement.

Bahrain Air also blamed the country’s minister of transportation, Kamal Ahmed – also a board member of local competitor Gulf Air – for failing to help find a solution to the crisis.

“He [Ahmed] has shown no inclination to provide a meaningful solution. His decisions to restrict route approvals have cost the airline BHD4.5m [US$12m] in lost revenues over the last three months,” the statement continued.

“The position of the Minister was made clear when, during a time of negotiation, he only extended the company’s [license to fly], after operational audits had been passed, for two months instead of one year.

“After meetings, the latest company proposal was forwarded last Thursday 7th February. During the EGM, a very negative response was received providing only minor route concessions in return for payments of over BHD4m.”

The airline has four leased aircraft and around 300 staff, who will now be laid off.

Passengers with tickets will be able to apply to the company’s liquidators for a refund.

Local unrest in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Arab world, plus stiff competition from other airlines in the Gulf, have left both of the country’s carriers posting losses.

Gulf Air, which is owned by Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, has cut routes and plane orders as it bids to get back in the black. Last year, Bahrain Air signalled that it would be open to a merger with its larger competitor.

The last Gulf-based airline to shut down was Saudi domestic operator SAMA, which closed down in 2010 after failing to make a profit.

Objections over Oswestry model plane club’s flight plan

Parish councilors are objecting to controversial plans for a model aircraft club to fly planes in a field near Oswestry throughout the year.

Oswestry Rural Parish Council says the noise will disturb residents and wildlife.

The parish councillors’ concerns add to objections from a number of people who live near the field in Maesbury used by members of Oswestry and District Model Flying Club.

They say the sport makes their lives a misery.

The model plane club currently has permission to fly their aircraft in the field on 28 days of the year. Club members want to be able fly on any day they wish.

They say having the annual permit will help them boost membership and give them more flexibility. But the plan has sparked objections from residents and parish councilors.

In its objection to Shropshire Council, Oswestry Rural Parish Council says: “The parish council does not support this application. The noise, disturbance to residents, the small scale of the field, disturbance to wildlife and animals and an entirely inappropriate site for the sport.

“There are other clubs in close proximity for flyers to use and the one in the application is totally unsuitable.”

Shropshire Council had hoped to have made a decision on the bid by the end of last month.

But the decision is still out for consideration after the council asked for further information.

The has now been lodged with the council by the club outlining where a cattle trailer, which members use as a shelter, will be located on the field. Details about where a toilet members use will be sited have also been lodged.

Club bosses already indicated they will appeal to a planning inspector if their bid is rejected.

The club had to appeal for permission to fly after it was refused approval by the now defunct Oswestry Borough Council in 2006 over noise concerns. That permission ran out after two years and since then members have been using a planning rule which allows them to fly their models on 28 days a year.

New WestJet flights won't ground Comox Valley Airport's impressive numbers

WestJet recently spread its wings a little bit farther down Vancouver Island.

Starting June 24, WestJet's new Encore regional service will introduce flights for Nanaimo-Calgary, Victoria-Vancouver, and Fort St. John-Vancouver.

The latest flights will have implications on the services from Comox Valley Airport but chief executive officer, Fred Bigelow, said it's going to be minimal.

Bigelow had the opportunity to meet with WestJet Encore president Ferio Pugliese on Monday, who visited the Comox Valley following the major announcement.

"We had a good chat. They've looked at it and they have done some analysis," said Bigelow. "It will have an impact on some of the passengers that previously came up from the mid-Island - Nanaimo area - through Comox but pretty small. All-in-all it won't have an impact on WestJet's operation out of Comox."

WestJet Encore will use its first two 78-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops for the new services. There will be one flight each way daily on the new routes. The Victoria-Vancouver service continues on to Fort St. John and Calgary; the Nanaimo-Calgary service is non-stop. Bigelow said WestJet will continue to use the larger 737 airplanes out of Comox.

"There are no changes planned for service to/from YQQ," said WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer. "We believe in both markets (Nanaimo and Comox) and do not believe we will see an adverse impact in either one. In fact, we see growth in both."

YQQ had a record year in 2012. It served more than 327,000 passengers last year, setting a new record. It surpassed the previous record of 310,450 passengers in 2007, representing a six per cent growth, which was double the targeted goal outlined in the CVA's strategic plan.

Bigelow said that the airport commission will be reviewing its strategic plan to determine whether they are on track with its goals like the upgrade on Runway 12 and the clearing of trees protruding into the Comox aerodome that has led to Transport Canada imposing landing restrictions at YQQ, keeping commercial flights from landing if they cannot see the runway at 500-foot elevation. The previous height was set at 200 feet. It has caused flight cancellations during adverse weather and foggy conditions.

"My aim is to get all these issues cleared up before the winter weather sets next fall," said Bigelow. "So the base will be in full capacity."

One of the improvements that will help the airport, said Bigelow, is the instrument landing system that has a precision approach. It provides flight path information on Runway 12 and will also be available on Runway 30.

"That's really a pretty significant increase in capability," said Bigelow. "The hope is to complete that before the weather becomes an issue next fall."

California Sex Offender Arrested At Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD), Washington, District of Columbia

STERLING, Va. (WUSA) -- A man who reportedly failed to register as a sex offender and violated parole in California was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, say officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations.

According to officials, 56-year-old Cristiano Genovese of Palm Springs, California arrived at Dulles on a flight from Istanbul, Turkey. CBP officers found out he was wanted on a warrant of arrest out of the State of California for a parole violation and failure to register as a sex offender.

You can see what appears to be his sex offender profile here: Christan Genovese on Sex Offender Archives 

Genovese was arrested by CBP and turned over to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police for further processing and extradition.

The sad story of Bahrain Air

For every Emirates, there’s a Bahrain Air. Last week, after spending five years manfully battling against mammoth headwinds, the carrier was finally forced into voluntary liquidation. It’s bad news for the carrier’s 300 staff, who will find it tough to find new jobs in the same industry, as rival Gulf Air is also paring back its staff.

CEO Richard Nuttall – who is, by all accounts, an immensely likeable guy – must have had one of the toughest jobs in the Gulf in recent years. In an interview with Arabian Business last year, he described 2011 as ‘spectacularly uninteresting’ in terms of growth.

That remark was something of an understatement. The term perfect storm has become a cliché, but for Bahrain Air, the last two years have seen huge obstacles thrown in its path. Airlines worldwide have been forced to pare back their operations or merge; the biggest news in the industry right now is the $11bn merger between US Airways and American Airlines’ parent, which will create the world’s largest carrier.

Expensive fuel and an uncertain economic outlook have affected most airlines’ balance sheets; the situation was far worse for Bahrain Air given the ‘Arab Spring effect’ on most of its routes, plus the unrest at home. And if that were not enough, the carrier – which marketed itself as somewhere between a low-cost and a full-service airline – also faced competition at home from state-backed Gulf Air, as well as what appears to be a pretty intransigent attitude from the Ministry of Transport.

But the real question has to be whether Bahrain – with a population of only 1.3m – ever needed a second airline in the first place. Even at the time that Bahrain Air launched in 2008 – which in itself was unfortunate timing – rival Gulf Air was on its third CEO in two years and battling desperately to stay competitive against fast-expanding Emirates, Etihad and co. By the end of 2008, it was losing money hand over fist – at around half a billion dollars a year – and acting as a major drag on the results of its owner, sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat. Bahrain Air was left with the crumbs from Gulf Air’s table in terms of routes; its traffic rights were such that it could only fly to destinations that its larger rival had written off as unworthy.

All airlines make a loss in the first few years of operation and Bahrain Air was no exception. But the difficulties the carrier faced were such that there was no way that shareholders could see when the balance sheet was going to improve. While Gulf Air lapped up government funding, Bahrain Air couldn’t raise financing from the banks. And while Gulf Air is still flying despite losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Bahrain Air is finished due to debts of tens of millions.

While there was some talk of a merger last year, I’m not sure the idea was ever seriously considered by Gulf Air. The state-owned carrier didn’t need Bahrain Air’s planes (which were leased anyway), or its staff, and the only routes that the smaller airline had were those which Gulf Air didn’t want.

The most successful carriers in this region have been those that fulfil a national need, and have some degree of support – in whatever form that may come – at the governmental level. Unfortunately Bahrain Air had neither. Air Arabia is the rare exception, which is why it’s tough to underrate the achievements of CEO Adel Ali. When we asked Ali last year what advice he would give anyone wishing to set up an airline, his candid response was: “In a nutshell, don’t do it.” And as Richard Branson once famously said: “If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline”.

Nashville Airport Marriott Completes its Extensive Lobby Renovation

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Classic Southern comfort meets modern design at the newly revitalized lobby inside Nashville Airport Marriott. At this dynamic Nashville, TN, hotel, guests are now welcomed by a spectacular entrance that is sure to set the tone for an unforgettable stay.

Conveniently located just seven minutes from the state's largest all-in-one shopping, dining and entertainment destination, this lodging destination is now more expressive than ever before.

The $5.2 million makeover began at the end of November 2012 and seamlessly transformed the lobby into Marriott's distinct M.I. Greatroom concept. The elegant new Greatroom design removes traditional architectural barriers and divides the lobby space into open plan zones where guests can choose to work, relax, drink or dine.
The renovation wraps up in late March or early April with the long-anticipated opening of Champions, a delectable alternative to downtown Nashville area restaurants, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. This dynamic integrated sports and entertainment concept combines an exciting environment with quality food and beverage. Casual, contemporary and cultured decor, state-of-the-art audiovisual programming, and simultaneous sports and media broadcasts will offer something for everyone. Together with a huge selection of draft beers and fun, creative food served in nontraditional ways, Champions promises to keep guests buzzing. 

About Nashville Airport Marriott   

This distinctive hotel near downtown Nashville offers the ultimate in convenience. A premier hotel near Nashville Airport (BNA), Nashville Airport Marriott features a newly renovated lobby and is just minutes from top attractions like the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and LP Field, as well as premier shopping and dining options. Retreat to one of 380 modern hotel rooms or 12 spacious suites, all reflecting the unique charm of the city. Amenities include a state-of-the-art fitness center, an indoor/outdoor pool and convenient dining at Champions, the soon-to-be-open hotel restaurant. More than 25,000 square feet of renovated event space features an elegant ballroom with seating for up to 900 guests. Easily accessible to all that Music City has to offer, this hotel near Opryland and Nashville Airport is the perfect destination for your Nashville getaway.
For more information, to make a reservation or to submit a request for proposal, call 615-889-9300 or visit
SOURCE Nashville Airport Marriott


Chipotle Adds Healthy, All-Natural and Fresh Menu Items to the AIRMALL at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI), Baltimore, Maryland

BALTIMORE, Feb. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Two new restaurants featuring all-natural, healthy and organic ingredients have joined the dynamic food and beverage concessions program at the AIRMALL at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall). AIRMALL((R)) USA, the leading airport concessions developer in North America and operator of the AIRMALL at BWI Marshall, is pleased to announce that Chipotle and BGR The Burger Joint are now open.

"Having natural and organic menu items is not a dining fad. In fact, it's becoming a requirement for diners, including those grabbing a bite while traveling," said Brett Kelly, vice president of AIRMALL Maryland. "That's why we're excited to add Chipotle and BGR The Burger Joint to our concession program at BWI. Both of these concepts use high-quality, fresh and natural ingredients that diners can feel good about enjoying."

Chipotle has selected the AIRMALL at BWI to open its second airport location in the country. Located on Concourse A/B, Chipotle (801 sq. ft.) features a menu of Mexican favorites such as burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and salads. The restaurant is committed to using natural and organic ingredients and local produce as much as possible. Chipotle strives to offer high-quality meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones as well as dairy products from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones. Diners can also feel better informed about their food choices by using the restaurant's online nutrition calculator and food allergy guide.

Located in Concourse B, BGR The Burger Joint (620 sq. ft.) is a Virginia-based concept that specializes in made-to-order burgers. BGR's burgers are crafted using an award-winning blend of prime, all-natural, hormone-free, grain-fed beef. The restaurant also offers better-for-you burgers, including veggie, turkey and ahi tuna, as well as sides that include sweet potato fries and asparagus spears.

"We welcome these new restaurants to the BWI Marshall concessions program, and know that travelers will appreciate the variety of healthy and satisfying menu items that they both offer," said Paul J. Wiedefeld, executive director of BWI Marshall Airport. "Passengers can enjoy an all-natural juicy burger or fresh, made-to-order Mexican with the addition of BGR and Chipotle."

For more information on AIRMALL USA, visit


AIRMALL(R) USA is the developer and manager of the retail, food and beverage operations at Pittsburgh International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport (terminals B and E), Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The leading airport concessions model in North America, AIRMALL USA continues to boast among the highest per-passenger spends on the continent and consistently receives accolades for innovation and customer service. AIRMALL USA is owned by Prospect Capital Corporation, a leading New York investment company founded in 1988. For more information on AIRMALL USA, visit

Charter flight from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba makes emergency landing at Miami International Airport (KMIA), Florida

A MiamiAir charter flight to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., from the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was forced to make an emergency landing at Miami International Airport shortly after noon Friday because of engine trouble.

The Boeing 737 landed routinely, and passengers were being processed through Customs and Immigration before being rerouted to Andrews AFB. The plane carried attorneys, the chief judge, 9/11 victim family members, journalists and others who had been in Guantánamo for hearings in the death-penalty trial of the men accused of planning the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Hurricane sold to French buyer

Wanaka's World War II Hawker Hurricane P3351 fighter plane has been dismantled and shipped to a new owner in France.

The plane, a feature of the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow since 2000, was the last airworthy asset of the Alpine Fighter Collection established by Sir Tim Wallis.

Alpine Group chief executive Jonathan Wallis this week confirmed the plane's sale but declined to say who had bought it.

''It is very sad to see it go. However, it is great the aircraft will fly again. That is what it was built and designed to do.''

Mr Wallis would not say how much it sold for.

The Otago Daily Times reported in 2009 the Hurricane was being offered for sale by auction and was expected to fetch $4.9 million.

The Hurricane was built in 1940 and is one of just 11 still airworthy. It is believed to have been the only one in the southern hemisphere.

The wreckage of the plane was recovered from Siberia, where it was believed to have been shot down in 1943. Sir Tim acquired it in 1993 and had it restored.

Most of the restoration, aside from the engine and wings, was carried out in an Air New Zealand hangar in Christchurch.

Retired Air New Zealand engineer Mike Davies said while he did not work on it directly himself, he knew it had been a ''labor of love'' for those engineers who had.

Mr Davies said one of the problems of owning vintage aircraft was the cost of keeping them airworthy.

Parts were difficult to obtain and were expensive, and inspections were required at short intervals. He was personally sad to hear the plane would no longer be seen in New Zealand.

The Hurricane was the major drawcard for the 2000 Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow which was attended by 110,000 people over three days.

Over the years, the Wanaka-based fighter collection restored and flew an array of vintage aircraft, including five Polikarpov fighters, a Mark XVI Spitfire, a P-51D Mustang, a Kittyhawk, a Russian Yak 3, an American Corsair, and two Messerschmitt fighter-bombers.

The decision to sell the collection followed Sir Tim's serious Spitfire accident in 1996.

The Hurricane had been on the market for eight years, which Jonathan Wallis said was a reflection of the group's desire for the Hurricane to stay in New Zealand.

''Having exhausted all avenues for keeping P3351 in New Zealand, the aircraft has now been exported,'' he said.

TV host flying high after plane crash

Brantford's Scott Wilson, here with a Cessna 172, took control after a plane crash by getting his own pilot's license in December.

When Brantford's SCOTT WILSON decided to dive into a new travel TV show, he wanted to go deeper than the typical tourist attractions. 

 Little did he know that his adventures would turn into pure irony.

The host of Descending, an underwater exploration show on OLN, was shooting footage in Indonesia last year when the small plane he was in descended directly into the ocean, taking him on the kind of underwater adventure you never want to see.

"There was a guy with a small float plane and he offered to take us up to get some aerials," recalls Scott.

His partner and cameraman, ANDRE DUPUIS, went first, nabbing some wonderful aerial footage but, knowing what a plane nut Scott is, Andre encouraged him to take a ride.

Scott and the pilot buzzed over some dugongs - big manatee-like creatures - and went back for a better view.

"He ascended and the engine slowed and then the pilot cranked hard right and the plane stalled. Down we went."

The saving grace, says Scott, was that they were only about 400 or 500 feet above the ocean and, although he was in the front of the little tandem plane, he was wearing a crash helmet so when the windshield blew in, he was somewhat protected.

"I kept thinking the guy was just hot-dogging and sooner or later we were going to pull out of the dive but suddenly I was surrounded by water!"

Two more things went right for the former BCI boy: his fingers miraculously found and released his five-point harness on the first try and, when he bobbed to the surface, he and the pilot found a pontoon from the plane had broken off before the aircraft sank out of sight.

Back on shore, Andre and Scott's brother, JEFF WILSON, a producer on the show who sometimes gets to do field work with the travelers, were going crazy!

"They were frantically trying to get in boats to get to where they saw the plane go down. It shook my brother up pretty badly for two hours."

And it still shakes up the guys' mom, DIANNE WILSON. She refuses to watch that episode, which features footage that Andre got both before the crash and during the search for Scott and the pilot.

While some would have sworn off small planes or flying entirely, Scott went another route.

"In December, I officially became a pilot. It was a huge accomplishment for me and the crash was kind of a catalyst. I figure if something happens, I want to be in control!"

Read more here:

Pilots 'unaware of short runway'

Pilots of a UK-bound holiday jet taking off from Prague on a flight to Stansted airport in Essex started their take-off forgetting that a set of works had considerably reduced the length of runway available, an accident report has said.

They realized their mistake only when the easyJet Airbus A319, with 149 passengers aboard, approached the works at the temporary runway end.

The aircraft became airborne at the planned speeds, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said. But in what the AAIB described as a "serious incident", the plane "approached closer to the works than would have been intended".

The report said that in their pre-flight package the crew noted a notice to airmen for Prague airport that the works had reduced the runway length from 3,715 metres to 2,500 metres.

Before take-off, the pilots had listened to an automatic terminal information service broadcast, "but it was reportedly in heavily-accented English", the AAIB report said.

The report went on: "They did not glean from it that the runway length was reduced and had forgotten the content of the associated Notam (notice to airmen) seen at the pre-flight stage.

"Thus the airport details copied by the co-pilot to the paper flight plan did not contain any reference to the reduced length, and their subsequent take-off performance calculations were based upon take-off using the normal runway length. The commander (captain) later attributed the oversight to reduced crew awareness at the end of a lengthy duty period."

The captain also considered that the presence of manuals showing both the normal and reduced lengths of the runway had contributed to the incident.

The report went on: "He (the captain) also noted that the crew's pre-flight activities had been interrupted by a visit to the flight deck by an acquaintance and thought that this distraction may also have been a factor."

The AAIB added that the works on the runway were not easily visible to the crew at the start of the take-off and as the aircraft had landed on another runway when reaching Prague the crew had not seen the works at that stage. The report said that the captain had noted later that "there were no warnings from from ATC (air traffic control) or ground signage indicating that the runway length was reduced."

Plane makes emergency landing at Palestine Municipal Airport (KPSN), Texas

Firefighters spray foam around a Cessna 210 following an emergency landing shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday at the Palestine Municipal Airport. 

PALESTINE — A small aircraft pilot safely made an emergency landing at the Palestine Municipal Airport shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday as emergency personnel were on standby at the scene after the pilot reported problems with his landing gear. 

 Palestine pilot Jim Wells, owner of Pumping Services Inc., landed his Cessna 210 on a runway, skidding onto the grass just off the runway at about 5:09 p.m. Thursday. He and passenger Donna Jordan did not have any injuries.

“God was in control of this one — he did everything perfectly, he couldn’t have done any better landing,” his wife Candis Wells told the Herald-Press as tears swelled in her eyes after he landed the plane safely.

Emergency personnel were first informed of a pilot having issues with landing gear at 3:45 p.m. Thursday.

Emergency personnel responding to the scene included troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, firefighters from the Palestine Fire Department, Westside Volunteer Fire Department and Montalba Volunteer Fire Department, officers from the Palestine Police Department and the Palestine City Marshal.

Also responding were City of Palestine Emergency Management Coordinator Schelby Wells, Palestine EMS paramedics, Anderson County Precinct I Constable Doug Lightfoot, Anderson County Precinct 3 Constable Kim Dickson, as well as crews from Trinity Mother Frances Flight for Life and PHI Air Medical from Corsicana.

“We got a call that a pilot was reporting that he was having trouble with his plane’s landing gear,” Palestine Fire Chief Alan Wilcher said. “We responded to the scene along with Westside VFD and Montalba VFD. Westside provided a tanker truck and a pumper truck and Montalba provided a tanker in case extra water was needed. Westside also donated their foam pack, which was sprayed around the plane at the scene.”

Wilcher said the pilot was trying to work his landing gear.

“The front and right ones were working fine, but the left one was not locking. You would normally pump it 30 to 50 times to lock it and he said he had tried 100 times and it was just not responding,” Wilcher said. “(The pilot) did an excellent job of landing. He said he had even popped his door just before landing, so in case they needed a path out it would be available.”

Uniquely, Trinity-Mother Francis Flight for Life, which has a base in Palestine, also had a chopper on the scene and one of its pilots was a small engine pilot as well, Wilcher said.

“They followed the plane around to be their ‘eyes in the sky’ and let them know what was happening. They had their very own angel up there,” Wilcher said. “The PHI helicopter was also at the scene in case another was needed.”

Jim Wells, who has been flying for 12 years and has 550 flight hours, said he and his passenger had just left the Palestine airport — “just joy riding, a pleasure flight.”

“When we came back in to land, the landing gear wouldn’t drop even after I made several attempts,” he said.

After emergency personnel were alerted to the situation, Jim Wells was advised to fly around in a circle around the airport to burn off some of the fuel in case of a crash landing.

“I tried several emergency procedures as instructed by a professional pilot to get the gear to drop,” Jim Wells said, noting that his passenger was a “real trooper” — especially for this being her first time to fly in a light airplane.

At one point while trying to burn the fuel in his left tank, the engine on the plane died and he had to switch it to the other tank, then restart. He noted that it seemed like forever at the time waiting on the plane to restart.

“I did a normal landing, but held off as long as I could to burn the fuel,” Jim Wells said.

His wife was alerted to the situation about 3:30 p.m. Thursday when Jordan called her from the air.

“She said something was wrong with the plane’s landing gear and I could tell she was shaking. I told her I was on my way,” Candis Wells said.

DPS Trooper Brent Taylor said he himself has a few flight hours in and gave credit to the pilot for the job he did landing.

“He did a great job accessing the situation and following through,” Taylor said. “Everybody at the scene did what they were supposed to do. Trinity Mother Frances Flight for Life didn’t have to help, but they did, giving the pilot advice on different things to try. It was an emergency situation that turned out to be an emergency landing.”

Taylor stayed in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration during the incident. An airplane mechanic was expected to arrive on the scene Thursday night to look over the aircraft.

Town Chairman Mike Timmons: Howard Young Medical Center investigating all options for helipad hangar site

Officials from town, HYMC, county zoning hold three-hour meeting on project, controversial location  

The agenda for Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Woodruff Town Board  stated no action would be taken that night regarding the proposed Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC) helipad-hangar project, but that didn’t prevent a lengthy discussion about the issue.

Town Chairman Mike Timmons said a three-hour meeting was recently held and attended by HYMC officials, their project engineer, himself and representatives of the Oneida County Zoning Department.

“The discussion centered around the hospital saying they would review all the possible sites for the project,” Timmons said. “They’ll then use a score system to determine which, in the final analysis, is the best location for the hospital, but safety and patient care remains the number one priority for the project.”

Within the last year the helipad was moved from the east side of the HYMC campus to the west side. After that move, hospital officials announced plans to construct a helicopter hangar and an ambulance storage garage adjacent to the helipad location. HYMC is also considering construction of a large fuel tank on the site to hold thousands of gallons of fuel for the helicopters.

Hospital officials said moving the helipad to its current location closer to the emergency room will allow for quicker treatment for patients needing emergency care. In fact, they say there is the potential that patients will be treated 10 minutes faster, which could be the difference between life and death.

Hospital officials say the building itself will be 120 feet by 70 feet and will house four ambulances and two helicopters. There will be mechanic space, a pilot’s office and a sleeping room as well as a bathroom and medical supply room.

Timmons said that at the recent meeting, hospital officials said they will “look at everything.”

“They said there will be five or six areas of consideration for scoring what is the best possible site for this project,” Timmons said. “Then they’ll come back with a presentation detailing their final proposal.”

Some property owners living near HYMC have expressed opposition to granting approval for the project. They said the increased flights and the moving of the helipad to its new location will significantly increase the amount of noise they hear and the vibrations they feel in their homes when the helicopters fly in to land at HYMC.

They also said the medical center should have not been allowed to move the helipad to its new location without the public being informed before the move began.

The medical center has already completed a considerable amount of ground clearing work and the removal of trees at the site they have proposed for the project.

All the information gathered by HYMC will also be included in its application for a conditional use permit (CUP) which must be approved or rejected by the Oneida County Zoning Department.


John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County (KJST), Johnstown, Pennsylvania: Airport to receive state grant for hangar repairs

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown’s airport is getting some state help with much-needed repairs to its aging hangars.

A $250,000 state Transportation Assistance Program grant to John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport was among $10 million announced on Thursday by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The county-owned airport will have to come up with another $250,000 in matching funds to accept all of the money, said James Loncella, chairman of the Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority.

The authority receives income from the hangars through rental payments from private pilots and businesses that operate from the airport.

Having pilots and businesses based at the Johnstown airfield brings additional benefits through fuel sales and economic development, Loncella said.

“It is more than the hangar rent,” he said.

“If someone wants to move an aircraft for a business into the airport and we didn’t have a hangar for them, that would really be a bummer. You lose opportunities.”

When the grant application process started a few years ago, most of the hangars were rented. The grant was eyed to build new hangars.

About the same time, the authority authorized a review of its existing leases and instituted a policy limiting hangar rentals to aviation purposes. Several were being used as large storage units.

The changes, including some rent increases, cleared out a few hangars, so the authority will probably address the needed repairs, Loncella said.

“We have a number of hangars that have really old roofs and some with really old doors,” Loncella said.


Airbus to Drop Lithium-Ion Batteries From Newest Jet

Updated February 15, 2013, 4:01 a.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

European plane maker Airbus is dropping lithium-ion batteries from its newest jet due to concerns that regulatory uncertainty could delay initial deliveries of A350 aircraft, according to industry officials familiar with the details.

The decision, which was communicated to some of the company's airline customers on Thursday, is the latest sign of a growing industrywide pullback from such technology as a result of two instances of burning lithium-ion batteries aboard Boeing Co.'s 787 jets last month.

The incidents prompted an indefinite world-wide grounding of the 787 Dreamliner fleet, while the resulting investigations and regulatory reviews have raised questions about future safety standards for rechargeable lithium batteries installed aboard planes.

Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., originally intended to use four rechargeable lithium batteries on each A350 to provide electrical power on the ground and backup power in the air. But now, according to these officials, the plane will be delivered with conventional nickel-cadmium battery systems.

Airbus expects the plane to make its first flight this summer, and then to undergo a series of flight tests and seek certification from European aviation authorities by early 2014. Airbus has said it expects the A350 to begin flying passengers by the middle of next year.

The decision to jettison lithium technology, according to these officials, was prompted primarily by schedule rather than safety considerations. Airbus still intends to start testing the A350 in the air with lithium-ion batteries aboard, since that configuration is ready to start the early flights. That indicates the plane maker's belief that its battery design is safe, since Airbus personnel will be conducting the tests.

But when the plane is officially certified and eventually delivered to start commercial flights, it will be equipped with only conventional batteries.

In the wake of Boeing's battery woes, various Airbus and industry officials publicly suggested that the European plane maker eventually might reconsider its commitment to lithium batteries. But Thursday's messages to future A350 operators highlight how quickly Airbus opted to take another path, even before definitive findings are released about what caused the Boeing incidents.

Industry officials said that Airbus is intent on avoiding delays in the event that months from now—when the A350's testing schedule is locked in—regulators from Europe or the U.S. decide to impose more-stringent standards to prevent fires or ruptures of lithium batteries.

Makers of business jets also have their share of concern with the future regulation of such rechargeable power systems. Long before the Boeing incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration mandated replacement of lithium-ion batteries with conventional batteries on one Cessna Citation business-jet model after a fire occurred while the plane's battery was being recharged on the ground.

In the roughly six years since the FAA established safety criteria for the 787, both the agency and an industrywide standard-setting group issued tougher testing requirements for lithium batteries on aircraft. The recent 787 incidents, however, have prompted scrutiny of the FAA's original standards.

Looking ahead, Airbus and other manufacturers worry that additional design and testing changes may be necessary to comply with further revisions of those standards.

Since the 787 incidents, Boeing officials have reiterated their intention to stick with lithium batteries, which are lighter and more powerful than conventional ones.

Airbus, by contrast, previously signaled its ambivalence about keeping lithium-ion technology on the wide-body A350. At the end of January, Fabrice Bregier, the company's chief executive, was quoted by Reuters saying that if the A350's lithium-battery design has to change "because the authorities reach the conclusion that the technology is not mature, then we have all the time to do this" before initial deliveries, slated for the second half of 2014.

—Jon Ostrower contributed to this article.


Letter: Aviation education jeopardized

I am a Korean War veteran, having served in the Korean Theater of Operations (Okinawa) in 1953-54 in a fighter squadron.

I am also a six-year volunteer at the Pearson Air Museum. During my time as a volunteer I have hosted hundreds of children on tours, allowing them to sit in a "real airplane" and sit at a flight simulator and experience what it is like to "really fly."

I've also explained what forces keep an airplane in the air — what "thrust," "lift" and "drag" mean in flying terms. It is an educational experience for the young people as well as adults.

I've also hosted visitors from Australia, England, Japan, Lithuania, Canada, Mexico as well as every corner of the United States. All have been generous in their compliments about the airplanes and exhibits we had.

Now, the museum is in jeopardy. How sad.

I urge the citizens of Vancouver and Clark County to contact Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., immediately and request prompt action on their part to have Pearson Air Museum returned to us.

George Higgins



How airports beat bad weather


(CNN) -- Ensuring a bustling aviation hub runs like clockwork is a challenging endeavor at the best of times. 

 Doing so under a blizzard of thick snow, ice and freezing fog can only intensify the battle against the clock.

Faced with these winter extremities for almost half the year, Oslo Airport has recruited a secret weapon to help meet its scheduling commitments -- the TV 2000 snow-blower.

Weighing in at a mammoth 40 tons and with a price tag of just under $2 million, the giant snow-plow can clear a three kilometer runway in as little as 15 minutes.

The TV 2000 can remove "about ten thousand tons of snow an hour," said the airport's head of services, Henning Bratebeck.

"It pushes the snow with a plow, it sweeps the runway and it blows the snow to the side," he added. An array of smaller vehicles finish the job.

There are only four such devices in the world, he added, and Oslo Airport has snapped up two of them.

Employing such advanced weather management systems make sense for an airport situated just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle.

Winter stretches between October and April in Norway, with snow falling regularly during this period.

According to Oslo Airport CEO, Nic Nilsen, this has pushed Oslo to become a leader in airport snow maintenance.

"We have winter six months a year, and we need to be able to handle winter operations more or less like summer operations," Nilsen says.

"This requires good planning, it requires a lot of resources, good procedures and a lot of training.

"(If not) we will more or less be out of business," he added.

The TV 2000 is a key weapon in the fight to keep flights on time but, as Nilsen intimates, there are a host of other snow-clearing devices and tactics employed at Oslo Airport.

This includes a rigorous de-icing process for aircraft and runways as well as a fleet of giant plows that follow the TV 2000 to clear the snow blown off runways.

An extra 90 people meanwhile are hired by the airport just to assist with snow clearance during winter months.

"The idea is this (TV 2000) basically does the grunt work," Bratebeck explained.

"(But we also always) have 27 guys ready in case the snow starts falling."

As soon as "the first flakes fall down we will drive out ... and (begin) the snow cleaning," he added.

The effectiveness and military-like precision of this process becomes fully clear when compared to winter performance at other European airports.

Few sites are exposed to the elements with such regularity, yet almost all find it hard to compete with Oslo's record on punctuality.

Around 40 percent of flights were cancelled at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports on just one day in January this year.

Frankfurt meanwhile was forced to close operations, leading to the cancellation of some 500 flights in the process.

By comparison Oslo has only ever had to cease operations because of heavy snow twice since opening its doors in 1998.

On both occasions operations were up and running again after a matter of hours -- although Oslo Airport is considerably smaller than those in London, Paris and Frankfurt.

"I think it's fair to say that after fourteen years we are in the position where we have a very solid and very good operation," says Nilsen.

"We are well prepared, know how to handle the situation, and we also have a policy of standardizing the fleet of vehicles, so maintenance and renewal is much more easy.

"(But) we know that one winter will always play different from the previous ones so we (will always) learn something new," he added.

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