Thursday, February 28, 2013

Personal connection prompts Premier Aviation employees to collect money for cancer research

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - It only cost $715 for Chris Thrash to get a haircut, but it was all money that went to help the Susan G. Komen Foundation.Thrash, an aviation mechanic at Premier Aviation in the City of Rome, lost his mother to breast cancer and now has a friend battling the illness.

He says he wanted to raise money for research and his co-workers stepped up, as long as Thrash cut his hair, which he did Thursday afternoon at his workplace.

"My hair kinda' like, out of control, and they're always bustin' me about my hair, teasing me about my hair and everything else," he said. "What a better way to do it. It's gonna' grow back. It's something fun to do, it's for a good cause, a good friend."

Thrash says he hasn't been bald since 1976 when he joined the Army.

In addition to the negotiations that helped him collect $715 in exchange for his locks,Thrash is also organizing a spring motorcycle ride benefit.  


Yuma pilots assure balloon safety record

With a recent deadly hot air balloon accident in Egypt, local pilot Colin Graham has been getting calls from people concerned with the safety of the aircraft.

“We haven't had cancellations yet, but we've been asked about the safety of hot air balloons,” said Graham, a pilot and owner of Balloons Over Yuma.

Nineteen tourists died Tuesday in Luxor in possibly the deadliest hot air ballooning accident on record. According to initial reports, fire erupted on the balloon as the pilot prepared to land, causing it to shoot up into the sky and then plummet about 1,000 feet to Earth.

Graham wants to put people's fears to rest: “Balloons, statistically speaking, are the safest form of aviation in the world.”

Jerry Paulin, another Yuma pilot who flies Wound Up, a balloon that holds 77,000 cubic feet of hot air, also pointed out that balloons are among the safest modes of transportation.

“I consider it a very safe sport. I fly as much as I can. Unfortunately, once in awhile accidents do happen. There are a few accidents every year, but it's much safer than driving to work.”

USA Today, after researching records from the National Transportation Safety Board, reported 762 hot air balloon accidents since 1964, most without fatalities.

In addition, Paulin noted that Egypt's industry “is a different form of ballooning.” In Yuma, most balloons are smaller and carry a handful of passengers. His balloon carries two to three passengers plus the operator.

Graham agreed, pointing out that the Egypt balloon industry uses mostly “huge” aircraft, with upward of 500,000 cubic feet of hot air, that accommodate close to 30 people. His balloons contain 150,000 cubic feet of hot air.

There's another difference, the pilots noted.

“In the U.S., (Federal Aviation Administration) licensing and training is required for all pilots and equipment is inspected annually,” Paulin said.

On the other hand, the Egypt industry lacks proper regulation, and the company involved in the latest accident has had problems in the past, according to reports.

“The pilots in that company for the most part are inexperienced, with low flying hours,” said Graham, a pilot with 15 years of flying experience. He has completed 2,000 flights in 31 states and five countries.

In the U.S., hot air balloonists are strictly monitored by the FAA with annual inspections, and pilots are checked every two years on a flight review.

“If you have routine problems, the FAA will pull your license, and they don't have that over there (in Egypt),” Graham said.

“We are fully insured operators, with the same policy we've had for 13 years. Our aircraft are late model, low mile, fully inspected and registered with the FAA.”

In addition, in the U.S. all pilots must be commercially certified. Graham noted that the way a hot air balloon works is a “pretty simple process, you heat the globe and it goes up. That's why it's so safe.

“But it's not so simple to fly. You have to be better than an airplane pilot to fly. We have to have the same license as an airplane pilot.”

Graham suggests questioning a company about its safety record. He suggests asking: Are your pilots certified? Is your company insured? What is your safety record?

“If someone avoids answering, then you've got a problem,” he said.

He noted that another good resource is the Balloon Federation of America (, which is working on a system to ensure every member is in good standing.

One accident should not dissuade people from experiencing hot air ballooning, Paulin said, adding that if a bus wrecks in Egypt, people don't question the safety of all buses.

“Everything has a risk, but the risk in ballooning is very low,” he reiterated.

Paulin has been flying about four years. “I'm the rookie in the family,” he said at a balloon festival, noting that his son first became a pilot and has been around hot air ballooning for more than 20 years.

“They say your first ride is your cheapest ... because then you have to buy one,” he quipped.

His business, The Filter Factory, sponsored a balloon, but he wanted to be more than a passenger and got his pilot's license.

“It's very calm, very peaceful. The Earth moves away from you. It puts a smile on your face.”

Questions to ask operators:

• How long have they been in business?
• Do they run their own tours or outsource them to others?
• What is the average group size (there are regulations on the amount of people you can have in the basket at one time)?
• Do they own their own equipment or rent it?
• Have you ever had an accident?
• Also ask for referrals, and find out about deposit and cancellation policies.


Boeing Pares Dreamliner Workforce

February 28, 2013, 5:52 p.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

Boeing Co. plans to cut 100s of workers at a South Carolina factory where it builds 787 Dreamliners, part of a cost-reduction initiative set in motion before battery problems caused the grounding of the company's flagship jetliner, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The cuts, which started recently and are expected to be implemented over the course of 2013, could reduce staffing levels by up to 20%—at least for certain key teams—at its North Charleston, S.C., campus, which Boeing says has at least 6,000 employees.

The cuts primarily target workers employed at the plant through outside contractors, although Boeing also would reduce internal staff positions by not replacing some workers who leave or are promoted, the person said.

Such reductions aren't uncommon as assembly lines improve productivity, but the cuts come at a crucial time for the company. Boeing is trying to double monthly output of 787s at the South Carolina factory and another plant in Washington state by year's end. The South Carolina plant also is assembling major sections of a new Dreamliner model, the longer 787-9. It wasn't clear how the cuts might affect those efforts.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel declined to discuss any specific job cuts at the South Carolina facility. "As we progress in improving efficiencies in our processes, training our entry-level employees, and growing the experience of our team in South Carolina, we expect to continue to reduce reliance" on contract labor in order "to meet our production objectives," he said in an email.

Overall, Mr. Birtel said, Boeing expects to hire between 8,000 and 10,000 people in 2013, including at its defense division, which would keep its overall employment levels at "flat or slightly down" at year's end. "This includes hiring in some areas and reductions in others," he said. Boeing employed 173,781 workers at the end of January.

The South Carolina job cuts were initiated late last year, the person said, before overheating problems with the lithium-ion batteries on two Dreamliners prompted the world-wide grounding of the fleet in January. The grounding prohibited Boeing from delivering any new 787s to customers, but Boeing has said the move hasn't affected its production. The company last week proposed to U.S. regulators a package of modifications to the battery system that it hopes will allow the jets to return to commercial service as early as April, according to government and industry officials.

The actions in North Charleston appear to be part of a broader effort to reduce the costs to build the 787, which was introduced 18 months ago after years of expensive delays. Boeing has staked much of its financial future on the plane and on its ability to build it more efficiently over time. The company says the 787 program is currently profitable based on an accounting measure that average its costs out over the more than 1,000 planes it expects to build during the next decade. However, analysts estimate that Boeing currently spends about $100 million more to make each 787 than the jet brings in revenue.

The South Carolina plant has been an important element of Boeing's 787 strategy. Because it has a nonunion workforce, the facility has had flexibility to bring in temporary mechanics through outside contractors. Especially in its early years, the South Carolina facilities made extensive use of such contract labor, which tended to be more-expensive but also initially more experienced than the new workforce it hired locally.

Mr. Birtel said the use of contract labor to "supplement [Boeing's] workforce during surge activities and on development programs" is standard practice for the aerospace industry.

Boeing confirms that some contractors have been offered positions as direct employees, but a person familiar with the offers say many have declined offers, citing the comparatively lower compensation of direct, rather than contract, employment.

Boeing plans to either end early or not renew contractors at the South Carolina facility and two smaller facilities that make the mid- and aft-body of the Dreamliner. The two smaller factories predate Boeing's presence in South Carolina, when the facilities were set up by 787 suppliers in the early years of the program.

The factories struggled and in 2008 and 2009 Boeing was forced to purchase both, giving the company its first industrial footprint in the state. In October 2009, Boeing announced it would build a second 787 final assembly line on the Charleston campus, marking its first such site outside of its traditional commercial base on the west coast. The site delivered its first 787 to Air India last September.


Dallas man pleads guilty to pointing laser at Dallas police helicopter

A Dallas man plead guilty Thursday morning to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, a federal offense punishable by five years in prison.

Kenneth Santodomingo, 22, is accused of aiming a green laser pointer at a Dallas Police Department Air One helicopter minutes before 4 a.m. on Jan. 28. Air One was called to help search for burglary suspects in a wooded area when the laser shot through the pilot's window, impairing his ability to control the helicopter.

The pilot was able to lead officers to house near the 7000 block of Lake June Road after Santodomingo pointed the laser at the aircraft four times in a 10 minute period. In addition to the potential five year punishment, the 22-year-old also faces a $250,000 fine. 

Santodomingo told officers he “wanted to see how far it would go” when asked why he pointed the laser at the helicopter and handed over the laser. 

He will be sentenced on July 25, 2013, according to a press release. 

Shining a laser pointer at an aircraft became a federal offense on Feb. 27, 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website. 

Chicken causes power outage at Maui airport

By Associated Press
POSTED: 01:20 p.m. HST, Feb 27, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:20 p.m. HST, Feb 27, 2013


WAILUKU >> A power outage at an airport on Maui was caused by a chicken.

That's right. A chicken.

The chicken got into a Maui Electric Co. transformer in the rental car area at Kahului Airport on Tuesday afternoon. It caused a power outage that began at 2:07 p.m. that left some passengers having to disembark their planes the old-fashioned way — by mobile stairway.

The airport tower and air traffic was not affected, according to The Maui News.

The chicken got into a Maui Electric Co. transformer in the rental car area at Kahului Airport, Maui Electric company spokeswoman Kaui Awai-Dickson said. Power was restored about a half-hour later. The outage affected the airport and nearby businesses, including the rental car companies, a hotel and department store.

After about a half hour, customers were restored with power with the exception of the rental car companies located just outside the airport. All power was restored at 3:25 p.m.

During the outage, security screenings were performed manually and some electronic doors had to be manned by Transportation Security Administration officials, said Maui District airport manager Marvin Moniz.

He said the outage caused some flight delays of no more than 15 minutes.


Second Glance: Flyin’ time

Published on February 28, 2013, 8:00 a.m. 

Find the 12 differences between the original photograph and the altered photograph.   Original photograph by David C. Kennedy; Biplane at the Aerodome in Bealeton in September:

Floyd Bennett Memorial (KGFL), Glens Falls, New York: New restaurant proposed at Warren County Airport

Rich Air, the company that serves as the fixed base operator for Warren County Airport, is proposing two new buildings at the airport to house a restaurant and additional offices.

The proposal is to be discussed at a county Facilities Committee meeting Thursday.

The restaurant would be six times the size of the cafe that operates at the airport, said Jon Lapper, a lawyer for Rich Air. It would be located next to the terminal.

It would be open into the evening, while the cafe on the property is open only mornings and afternoons. Lapper said what type of restaurant it will be is to be determined.

The office building would be next to Hangar 2 on the airport property.

Lapper said that Carol's Airport Cafe would be closed and turned into a lounge or office space, and the proprietors would be given the opportunity to run the new restaurant.


Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania: Cleaning Crew Steals From Plane

By Elizabeth Hur 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Theft on the plane. Eyewitness News uncovered exclusive details about a cleaning crew that police say helped themselves to a passenger’s ID and money.

If you’ve ever flown across the country or even overseas, as was the case for the victim in this story, you know that by the time you get home, you are beat. Now imagine getting a call from your bank, telling you someone used your debit card to make purchases worth more than $1000.

“I was really shocked and saddened.”

Rachel Beasley talked to Eyewitness News via Skype and went onto explain that she was flying from Frankford, Germany to Virginia with a layover in Philadelphia. She quickly learned it was at Philadelphia International Airport that she fell victim on February 18th. Her bank, USAA Bank, notified her the next day.

Beasley said, “I actually had everything, my passport, my plane tickets, my driver’s license and credit card in a travel organizer.”

Turns out, someone somehow took of Beasley’s bank card and driver’s license. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Philadelphia police at the airport to zero in on the suspects.

Lt. Louis Liberati explained, “We determined that a purchase was made at the stores upstairs, and it was made by employees of a company that actually cleans the aircrafts. Five individuals who were observed leaving the terminals with bags from that particular outlet, it just so happens that those individuals were the assigned people to clean that particular aircraft.”

According to police, the five individuals were employees of Prospect Airport Services. The suspects were identified by police as Michelle Sampson, Vernice Robinson, Keyana Nelson, Sakya Geer and Amber Moore.

“It is a shame. When you travel, you’d like to think you’re secure with your property,” Lt. Liberati said.

Beasley added, “I just can’t thank Philadelphia Police enough. I’m just glad it happened in the way it did to bring it to closure, so that they’re not doing this to anybody else.”

When reached for comment, Suzanne M. Mucklow, Esq., the in-house counsel for Prospect Airport Services, Inc. released the following statement:

“Because airports are highly secured, all prospective employees are subject to an extensive background check as required by federal law. Individuals who are denied the credentials necessary to access secured areas of the airport cannot work for our company. The company takes the allegations involved very seriously and is cooperating fully with law enforcement on its investigation. We will follow our policies in addressing this matter internally. If these allegations are true, we believe the actions of a few should not reflect on the integrity of our entire workforce at the Philadelphia International Airport.”

Lt. Liberati explained, “Three of them reported for work last night, they were gathered up by their employer and police went to that office made the arrest of three.”

Police say the remaining two suspects surrendered on Wednesday. All five have been charged, according to police, with ID Theft, Forgery, Theft and related offenses.

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Raleigh-Durham International Airport (KRDU), North Carolina: Low flying aircraft

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Numerous people reported seeing low flying aircraft in the Raleigh area Wednesday evening.

A Raleigh-Durham International Airport spokesperson told ABC11 that the low flying aircraft are part of a military exercise.

There is no threat to the public, according to the spokesperson. 

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British Columbia: Whistler SAR report highlights need for improved heli-pad access

February 28, 2013
Brandon Barrett

Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) used helicopters during 31 responses in the past year, highlighting the need for the resort town’s health centre to update its heli-pad for the use of single-engine helicopters, an aircraft more suited to high-altitude operations than the twin-engine vessels it currently allows.

“Twin-engine helicopters historically have not proven to be any safer than single-engines,” said WSAR manager Brad Sills, noting that the two aircraft share a common gearbox, tail rotor and hydraulic system. “The fact that you have two engines is not necessarily going to prevent you from having a catastrophic failure. What it does do is increase the weight of the helicopter considerably … so they’re not ideal for high-mountain rescue.”

WSAR has access to 16 helicopters, 11 of which are single-engine machines.

According to its annual manager’s report, WSAR received 70 calls for assistance in the calendar year leading up to Feb. 19, 2013, of which 34 required team mobilization.

Whistler Health Care Centre’s heli-pad is currently not equipped for the landing of single-engine aircraft, resulting in all but three of the 34 cases being flown to the municipal heli-pad north of Emerald Estates before being transported by ground ambulance back to the clinic. During one incident last year, Sills said his rescue team was unable to enter high terrain with a twin-engine aircraft, forcing responders to go back to retrieve a single-engine helicopter to complete the operation.

“Much of what we do is in fading light or in poor weather conditions, so the pilot is already at the upper level of his abilities and now the choice to use a twin-engine (helicopter) to comply with the heli-pad deprives him of yet another capacity and it’s not safe,” said Sills. “It doesn’t increase the safety for the SAR members, for the pilot or for the subjects that were rescuing, so using a twin-engine has a serious effect for us.”

Lobbying from local search and rescue groups led to Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) officials in December to re-examine heli-pad access at the resort’s medical centre. Consultants that were involved in the heli-pad’s last upgrade allowing for twin-engine aircraft, completed this summer following two years of repeated delays, were tasked with preparing a report to determine the amount of work required around the site to allow for a clear flight path for single-engine vessels.

Whistler’s former council didn’t support additional tree cutting in the resort to allow for an effective flight path for single-engine vessels. Traffic lights close to the heli-pad would also have to altered or removed before single-engine aircraft could land there.

Several weeks ago, VCH sent a letter to Whistler Search and Rescue indicating they would not be paying for any additional upgrades at the site.

The WSAR report also noted that the “seriousness of SAR calls continues to escalate” with four fatalities and at least seven critical care medical rescues in the past year. Sills attributed the rise to not only improved downhill technologies, but also an increase in backcountry riders.

“The more serious incidents are basically a function of gravity and velocity. People are going much faster than they have previously in the backcountry,” he said. “When you put those combinations together and you increase the overall usage, you’re going to get more calls.”

Of the 34 incidents requiring WSAR mobilization, nearly a quarter of them were attributed to snowmobilers, resulting in one fatality. Ski mountaineering accounted for seven incidents and overdue skiers accounted for five. For the second year in a row, only one incident was attributed to an overdue snowboarder.

Geographically, the Spearhead Range saw the highest number of incidents at nine, nearly double Powder Mountain and Whistler backside, which both saw five incidents. Sills said he expects that number to increase with the installation of a Spearhead hut network proposed in the province’s Garibaldi Park Management Plan, expected for approval in April.

“If you’re going from the current (usage) and you look at the (increased usage) being proposed for these huts, that increase is in the magnitude of 20 to 30 times, so anytime you do that, you would certainly expect an increase in incidents there,” said Sills.

With the growing popularity of backcountry touring, Sills stressed the importance of ensuring riders are adequately prepared to enter more challenging terrain.

“We cannot stress enough that you need to have the knowledge and the equipment to enjoy (the backcountry) safely,” he said. “There is no replacement for acquiring the skills before you go out, so take a course.”