Friday, March 01, 2013

Patient thanks medical staff with banner plane

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (WSVN) -- A man who was injured when he fell from a horse took to the skies to give thanks to the medical staff who saved him.

Don Donaguer paid for a plane to circle Memorial Regional Hospital Friday afternoon in order to tell the people who took care of him exactly how he felt. The banner the plane displayed read, "Dr. Daniel Chan is the man! Thanks Memorial Staff, Don."

Donaguer was taken to the hospital on Feb. 15, the day after he returned from a Valentine's Day vacation in the Cayman Islands. "We were having a great time, we were riding these horses," recalled Lydia, the patient's wife. Donaguer, regarded by loved ones as "quite the jokester," had the day all planned out, and even had a floral arrangement delivered to Lydia in their suite.

Donaguer said his fall altered the day's plans. "It's my big day of the year, and the wife said, 'No rain check.' ... You know what I'm talking about," he said.

According to Lydia, the horse Don was riding "got a little excited, and Don, down he went."

Donaguer said he suffered a nasty fall. "I was in shock that it happened," he said. "I hit [the ground]. I had a concussion. They threw me on a pickup truck on the beach."

Donaguer arrived at Memorial Regional the next day. Luckily for the patient, his injuries were the specialty of Dr. Daniel Chan, an orthopedic trauma surgeon. "He had a substantial pelvic fracture," said the doctor. "He was stable, but it was obvious he needed some kind of surgery to restore the alignment and stability of his pelvis, so he could walk again," he continued.

Dr. Chan used screws and plates to put Donaguer back together. "When I came out of surgery and I woke up, I was, like, 'Dr. Chan is the man!' I mean, I was screaming, I was happy to be alive [because] you're in this position where you just don't know," he said.

To express his appreciation, Donaguer came up with the idea of a plane banner. Dr. Chan said his reaction to it was "quite a shock when Don told me he was going to do that."

"I'm showing my gratitude," added Donaguer. "I'm so thankful. I'm so grateful, to the hospital, to Dr. Chan."

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Inquiry into beach plane crash, but they’d better hurry

The older brother of a man killed after a plane crashed on Maroochydore Beach in 1950 says the new investigation is urgent as the number of witnesses to the tragedy is dwindling.

Brian O'Connor, soon to turn 79, lost his brother Liam when an RAAF Wirraway on shark patrol cartwheeled across the crowded beach, killing three children and injuring 14.

He investigated the matter privately for some 20 years, coming to the conclusion that the pilot, who claimed to have been circling a shark spotted outside the breakers, may have been skylarking to impress the girls on the beach.
"He was flying too fast and too low and, when he did a sharp bank, his wing hit the sand," Mr O'Connor said. 

His collated notes were presented to Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie in December in the hope of a fresh Coroner's investigation into the tragedy.

Mr Bleijie has announced a new investigation.

Mr O'Connor said he was "happy" with the decision, but added that many passing years meant it was becoming more urgent.

"If they do decide to question people then it better sooner than later, because we're all getting older," he said.

Liam O'Connor, Pauline Probert and Graham Blair were killed in the accident. 

Clay Center Municipal (KCYW), Kansas: Spicer alone submits bid for full airport services

Two of the three proposals submitted to the City of the Clay Center for the airport manager and fix-based operator contracts did not meet all of specifications the city requested for those contracts.

The city’s Property and Rec. Committee reviewed three proposals for the airport on Thursday, but because the committee lacked a quorum, no action was taken on who to recommend for the airport contracts. 

Mike Spicer, the current airport manager, and Scott Heinen and Glenn Heinen, of Heinen Bros Agra Service, submitted proposals and draft contracts which differed significantly from each other, but were the most complete. Ty McNeil submitted his resume in applying for airport manager, but he did not list any airport or flight experience and submitted no proposals for how he would operate the airport.

The ad requesting proposals asked for “proposals for fixed-based operator services, including any or all of the following: full-service refueling, community hangar operations and ground towing,  and aircraft maintenance services.” The ad also asked for  proposals for flight training, aircraft rental, art charter services,  and other specialty services.

Spicer submitted a proposal and lease that is essentially the same lease he and his wife Pam have been operating the airport under for the last three years. Under that lease, they have been responsible for aircraft maintenance and operation, air charter services, aircraft and hangar rental, flight training and sale of aviation fuel and oil.

City attorney Dusty Mullin reported that one of the main differences is that the Heinen brothers posed “to upgrade the fuel system out there.” Rather than operate a full-service station,  the Heinens propose to install an automatic fuel pump payable by credit card and turn that system over to the city.

They propose to invest “approximately $44,000 in upgrading the existing fuel system at the airport to allow fueling 24 hours a day, which will give aviators the assurance that fuel will always be available,” the Heinens said in their proposal submitted through an attorney. “Although Heinen Bros Ag Services, Inc. would be the hands-on operator of the airport, we would request that the city assume responsibility for the processing of the credit cards at the fuel pumps and the general oversight of the fuel pumps. The city would receive any profit from the fuel sales.”

The Heinens also proposed to rent the shop and a hangar for $200 a month, which they asked to be credited for in exchange for their investment in upgrading the pumps.

In contrast, the Spicers have proposed to continue operating the pumps as they always have, which includes certification and training to operate the underground tanks. Pilots can now access fuel at the airport at any time with a phone call when the Spicers aren’t physically present at the airport.

Another key difference in the proposals is in qualifications and having an aircraft mechanic and inspector at the airport. Mike holds FAA aircraft and powerplant mechanics licenses and is a certified FAA aircraft inspector. He holds commercial and instrument single engine, multi-engine and jet type ratings and is a FAA certified flight instructor in both single and multi-engine aircraft. He has been appointed by the FAA to their elite safety team, and has over 15,000 flight hours in single engine, multi-engine, turbo prop and jet aircraft. The Spicers have run the airport for over 40 years.

The Heinen brothers, on the other hand, provide aerial application services for ag chemicals, which they have done in six states the last 20 years. They proposed to  upgrade the pilot’s lounge and to contract out a flight instructor, but had no clear proposal on how they would provide mechanic services other than to include it in the fixed-base operator contract, which was a carbon copy of what Spicer submitted.

Mullin noted that the airport manager contract between the Spicers and the Heinens were very similar. Both would rent hangars, collect fees and keep the rental under a three-year contract. They would also be responsible for half of the utilities and the full amount of phone service.

Spicer’s contract was for $8,700 a year -- which is what he was paid in the last contract. The Heinen brothers asked for $10,000 per year. They also said they “would be in a position to assume management of the airport at any time prior to June 1, 2013 if needed without additional cost to the city.”

The Heinens said in the letter through their attorney that their interest in running the airport began in April of last year after they had some problems with the current airport management.

“My client was forced to relocate his operation last year to a neighboring airport to avoid unnecessary difficulties in operating which may have placed their pilots at additional risk,” Brian M. Jacques, of Sloan Law Firm, said in a letter to the city.

Mike said he did not kick the Heinens out of the Clay Center airport. He counseled them for “unsafe activities” at the Clay Center airport, which he did through his role as an FAA safety team member and as required by the airport manager’s contract.

The spray pilots had left their planes running unattended on the ramp in front of the office for 45 minutes to an hour at a time, Mike said. While it’s common for spray pilots to leave planes running while fueling or loading spray, in this case, what they were doing was dangerous because of the traffic on the ramp and pedestrian traffic near the airport office, Mike said. 

The FAA Flights Standards District Office in Wichita followed up on the incident and said in a letter to Spicer that they had discussed the incident with the pilot and operator and were confident that they understand the “increased diligence required to mitigate any potential hazard that may be caused by agricultural operations on public ramps.”

While the committee did not discuss what recommendation would be made, Mayor Jimmy Thatcher asked Property and Rec. Chairman Dennis Ouellette to make a recommendation on the airport contracts at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Ouellette arranged to speak with Pam and Mike Spicer in further detail about the services they provide and to tour the airport Friday afternoon.  


Beechcraft Super King Air 350, N110EC: Tennessee Gov. Haslam Gets $4 Million New Ride | Nashville News, Weather

Tennessee Gov. Haslam goes slumming in a turboprop 

 Saturday, March 2 2013 

The media was atwitter yesterday regarding the State of Tennessee's purchase of a $4 million new (used) airplane for the governor. The Beechcraft King Air 350 Turboprop is no slouch for a propeller plane, but it's no match for Haslam's former trans-continental/trans-Atlantic ride:

State of Tennessee
Beechcraft King Air 350
Max ceiling: 35,000 ft.
Speed: 360 mph
Range: 1847 miles
Cabin height: 4' 9"
Price (used): $4 million
Pilot Corporation*
Dassault Mystere Falcon 50EX
Max ceiling: 49,000 ft.
Speed: 568 mph
Range: 4000 miles @ mach .8
Cabin height: 5' 11"
Price (used): $7.5 million

So humiliating. They'll be snickering behind his back at the country club.

(*Source: FAA registration records)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and members of his Cabinet spend a lot of time criss-crossing the state, doing the public's business. 

Now, the state has added a $4 million aircraft to the fleet that's used to fly the governor around.

The King Air 350, a 2007 twin-engine turboprop purchased back in December, is now the lead plane in the fleet operated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

"The governor is always the first priority for this aircraft," said Lyle Monroe, the state's chief pilot.

Monroe said the aircraft has lots of advantages over the 1985 model King Air that Tennessee's governors have flown for years, including more powerful, more efficient engines.

"We can burn the same amount of fuel and get further with this aircraft because of the increased speed," he said.

Inside the cockpit, it's got more advanced systems to make the pilots' jobs easier -- including conflict-avoidance systems to help then steer clear of other aircraft.

"If an aircraft encroaches within a certain limit of the airspace, it'll tell us pull up, turn left, turn right -- and it'll keep telling us to do that until we've actually gotten out of the conflict area," he added.

Inside the cabin, the aircraft provides comfortable seating for nine people, not counting the two-member flight crew.

"It's not something that we started and did quickly. We've been looking at this for several years," the chief pilot added.

In fact, Monroe said, part of the deal is that TDOT will sell another older and smaller King Air that's often used by other state officials -- to cut down on maintenance costs.

"The older airplanes we are having to fix more all the time on," he explained. "Every time we take them in, it's going to cost us more to repair those."

TDOT spokesperson B.J. Doughty says the department did shop around, but ended up paying the full asking price for the plane -- because state purchasing rules do not require a bidding process for used equipment.

State records show that the aircraft was purchased from Bell Aviation, out of Columbia, South Carolina.

"You are not required to go through the bidding process," Doughty said. "But I think that, more than anything, when you are purchasing something like an airplane, it's not as easy to get bids."

In the end, they hope that taxpayers will see that it is plainly a good investment.

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Operation Migration: Our Aircraft ... Then and Now

There once was a time when ultralight aircraft were mostly unregulated. Relatively speaking, there weren’t very many of them, and as long as you didn’t do anything stupid, the FAA left them mostly alone.

Over the years however, the numbers grew and some builders began pushing the rules by making them faster and heavier until the FAA had to get involved. They did so by creating a set of rules designed specifically for recreational flying called the Light Sport Aircraft category.

Recreation means that you can’t use them for any commercial purpose. That includes giving rides, using them to crop dust, to inspect remote property, or anything related to making money or promoting a business. That’s where Operation Migration ran into trouble.

Read more here:

City Pays Airport Fund for Storage

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013 10:27 am | Updated: 10:28 am, Fri Mar 1, 2013.
By Keith E. Domke St. Clair Missourian

In following the advice of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division, the St. Clair Board of Aldermen last week approved a payment of $11,700 from the city’s general fund to the new, separate airport account to compensate for use of the maintenance hangar at the facility.

The payment is the third such transfer into the separate account, which also was recommended by MoDOT Aviation as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, since it was created last month.

All told, nearly $17,000 of nonbudgeted funds has been moved out of the city’s general fund into the airport account as St. Clair officials continue to follow the advice of the state and federal agencies as it seeks closure of the facility on the north side of town between Interstate 44 and Highway 47.

The city has used the maintenance hangar at the St. Clair Regional Airport to store equipment, most of which is mowers and other things that have been used to maintain the facility. However, City Administrator Rick Childers told the aldermen last week that a 4- by 4-foot pallet which stored two wastewater pumps also was inside the hangar.

“This situation was referred to MoDOT Aviation, and MoDOT Aviation suggests that the city remove the items and pay to the airport fund — that would be the city paying to the airport owned by the city — money to compensate the airport owned by the city for storing things that belong to the city in the airport owned by the city,” Childers said during the Feb. 19 meeting.

Childers said the “magic number” amount of $11,700 was determined through a $325 per month rent payment for three years.

The city administrator added that the only “real-world impact” the transaction has is it will be less money the city has to spend later to subsidize the airport. He also said that the check will be written as a rent payment.

Since at least 2007, the local airport has operated in the red.

Currently, the mowers and other items remain in the maintenance hangar. Childers said everything in the hangar except for the two pumps will be sold at an auction later this year. The mowing equipment includes a brush hog, garden tractors, a trailer and some push mowers.

Maintenance Hangar

The maintenance hangar and the city’s use of it for storage previously was discussed in late 2010 when the city decided that if the hangar ever was rented to an outside party, the fee would be $325 per month.

In December of that year, the aldermen approved an ordinance establishing the $325 per month rate. At the time, however, City Attorney Kurt Voss said that even if there is an ordinance establishing the rental rate, it would be up to the city on whether it wants to rent the facility or not.

“You don’t have to rent it if you decide you want to use it,” he said, adding that because the city owns the building it serves as the landlord.

Officials decided that the city would continue to use the hangar to store its own equipment.

The city is seeking to close the airport on the north side of town and replace it with retail development. Permission is needed from the FAA because the city obtained federal grants to make improvements to the facility.

Lessee Sought for Hangar One; Moffett Airfields to Remain Under NASA Control

Hangar One is "for rent."

That's the announcement Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) made Friday following a Tuesday meeting with the General Services Administration (GSA), NASA, and the White House.

A "Notice of Intent," will be released by the GSA regarding the futures of Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield that reflects the following, according to Eshoo's office:

    Moffett Federal Airfield will not be excessed. It will remain a restricted Federal Airfield and NASA will remain its custodian.

    The Notice of Intent outlines a competitive bid process and the Request for Proposal (RFP) will be released this spring seeking a qualified lessee to provide for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic Hangar One. 

"This notice of intent embodies my consistent goals over several years to save Hangar One and to keep Moffett Federal Airfield as a local and Bay Area public safety and national security asset, and home to the 129th Rescue Wing," Rep. Eshoo said.

"GSA and NASA will work closely with the local community to explain the RFP process and produce the desired outcomes. I will continue to work with the agencies and my communities to see this critical process through," she said.

Air China to Buy 31 Boeing Passenger Jets, Freighters to Boost Capacity

March 1, 2013, 11:04 a.m. ET
The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG--Air China Ltd. Friday signed an agreement to buy a total of 31 passenger aircraft and freighters from Boeing Co. with a combined list price of $4.83 billion, as it seeks to expand capacity and improve efficiency.

The Chinese flag carrier said in a statement that it ordered 20 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, two Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft and one Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery from 2014 to 2015.

Air China's 51%-owned unit Air China Cargo Co. has also ordered eight Boeing 777 freighters, which will be delivered between 2013 and 2015, it added.

The Chinese carrier didn't disclose the purchase prices but said Boeing had granted it "significant price concessions." Airlines usually receive discounts for large orders.

Once all the Boeing aircraft have been delivered, the carrier's available ton kilometers--a measure of capacity--will increase by 18.7% from the end of December 2012, it said. 


NORAD may take Air Force sites in Virginia and Minnesota off 24-hour alert; 16 other sites would remain

DENVER (AP) — NORAD is considering taking two of its 18 Air Force sites off 24-hour alert, saying it will save millions of dollars without compromising its ability to defend against 9/11-style attacks.

A Government Accountability Office report released Thursday said the North American Aerospace Defense Command might take fighter squadrons in Duluth, Minn., and at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., off 24-hour alert.

A NORAD spokesman says no decision has been made and both sites remain on alert.

NORAD, based in Colorado, told the GAO the move wouldn’t hurt its ability to scramble fighters to intercept hostile or hijacked aircraft. NORAD said it used computer models and other analyses.

The Air Force says the move would save $73.1 million over five years. It appears to be unrelated to mandatory budget cuts taking effect Friday.


Bay Bridge Airport (W29), Stevensville, Maryland: Expansion moves ahead

STEVENSVILLE -- A new section of Bay Bridge Airport located to the north of the existing terminal and runway is expected to be fully operational by this spring.

It's the third phase of a five-phase expansion of the county-owned airport, which sits between state Route 8 and the Chesapeake Bay.

"Phase III began the airport's relocation of aircraft operations by constructing half of the new FBO apron on the north side of the airport," said Jennifer Lutz, project manager for URS Corp., the county's consultant for Bay Bridge Airport.

FBO stands for Fixed Base Operator, which is the airport business that provides aeronautical services such as fueling and maintenance, she explained.

"This half (of the apron) is located adjacent to the parallel taxiway and continues north to the existing Pier One Road," Lutz said.

Phase III provides space for future hangars as well as aircraft parking to relieve congestion at the airport. The apron was substantially completed in fall 2012 and will be fully operational by spring 2013, she said.

The winning bid of $349,570 for the Phase III work was submitted by David A. Bramble Inc. of Chestertown.

The project was funded 95 percent by a grant through the Airport Improvement Program through the Federal Aviation Administration, 2.5 percent by the Maryland Aviation Administration and 2.5 percent by Queen Anne's County, according to Lutz.

The first two phases of the airport expansion, which were funded in the same way, were completed in 2010, Lutz said.

Phase I included a comprehensive plan and construction package to relocate utilities, such as water and sewer, that were adjacent to the airport property, Lutz said.

"Relocation and expansion of the utilities allowed for both future commercial development and expansion at the airport," she said.

Phase II, which cost $893,614, included the construction of a full taxiway parallel to the runway and stabilization of the Runway Safety Area (RSA), which extends into the Bay.

"Due to the land mass affecting local water currents, over time the RSA began to erode, resulting in a reduced safety area. Because of the sensitive nature of the Chesapeake Bay, URS coordinated with the various federal, state and local agencies for environmental concerns and developed a (plan) providing a breakwater condition which will protect the safety area for years to come," Lutz explained.

The new taxiway allows for improved taxiing of aircraft and minimizes the need to cross the runway, Lutz said.

Construction of the new apron in Phase III is the first step in eventually re-locating the airport's operations facilities to the north side of the new taxiway. Long-range plans call for future hangars and aircraft parking space there as well.

Two more phases remain.

Phase IV continues the utility relocation begun in Phase I and the relocation of Pier One Road. Construction timetables and funding remain to be determined, according to Lutz. Phase V completes the expansion of the airport by extending the apron built in Phase III to the new Pier One Road and allows for the terminal and offices to be moved there, she said. The timetable and funding have not yet been determined.

A general aviation facility, Bay Bridge Airport has two maintenance shops and three flight schools.

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Sumner County Regional (M33), Gallatin, Tennessee: Airport, county power struggle reignites

The long-running power struggle between the Sumner County Commission and the Sumner County Regional Airport Authority reignited Monday and, if unresolved, may end up with the commission dissolving the board and starting over.

The County Commission unanimously approved eight replacement nominees to the Airport Authority board Monday under its new procedural rules adopted at its January meeting. The new rules completely cut the authority board out of the process of appointing its own members with no input, screening, or vetting of nominees.

“We don’t want to use the nuclear option if we don’t have to,” Com. Jerry Stone said at a January committee meeting. “We want to see if this works first. We sure don’t want to go back to court if we can avoid it.” Wednesday, he said that still was “an accurate summary” of his feelings on the matter.

Meanwhile, at the authority’s Monday meeting, board members voted to put forward to the County Commission the names of any board members whose terms had expired and who wanted to continue to serve.

The authority board also asked Jim Egan, a retired commercial pilot and member of Sumner United for Responsible Government, if he was willing to fill a vacant board seat. Egan pointed out he was already being put forward that same night for a vote before the County Commission, but said he would consider it. The name of John Berwin also was put forward.

A new turn in the troubles with the county comes from the authority board’s last-minute decision to give airport Administrator Steve Sudbury a raise of $1,000 a month with an additional cost-of-living adjustment of $250 a month, for a total $15,000 annual base pay boost for the post, meaning Sudbury’s pay increased from $30,000 per year to $45,000 annually.

Included in Sudbury’s employee agreement package was a five-year contract with an annual performance review. Sudbury told the board he had not been given a raise for “at least four years” and maybe five.

Sudbury pointed Wednesday to the recent completion of a 1,300-foot runway extension as a move that had made the airport “more attractive” to corporate jets and made his salary increase equitable.

“I think I've earned it and positioned it to be a super nice metropolitan airport,” he said, adding it would be “a huge part of the economic development for Sumner County.”

The eight authority nominees approved by the County Commission Monday are: pilot Don Drayton to replace Sue McPherson; pilot John Berwin to replace Tom Graves; pilot Steve Nelson to replace Jerry Kirby; pilot Bill Taylor to replace Chairman David Hunter; pilot Tim Lynch Jr. to replace Tim Adair; Egan to replace Richard Coker; Ben Williams, a retired Army Colonel who managed a military air base, to replace Kevin McCutcheon; and Don Dickerson, a retired Marine who was involved in helicopter logistics and maintenance, to replace David Blankenship.

Berwin and Taylor were previously appointed by the County Commission in December 2010 but the authority board refused to seat them and the matter ended up in Chancery Court. Chancellor Tom Gray ruled in November 2012 that the County Commission had not followed its own procedural rules in appointing airport board members, and so the commissioners had to re-do the process.

County Executive Anthony Holt screened, interviewed, and recommended the applicants to the Committee on Committees. In the previous failed attempt to place Berwin and Taylor on the board, the combined actions of two commission committees, Public Service and Committee on Committees, were found by the court to have not properly vetted credentials of the nominees.

After the County Commission meeting, Lynch said he hoped the transition would be “very smooth.”

“We have a lot of things we want to do,” he said. “We want to move the airport forward, make it an economic engine in the county again, and facilitate the growth of a transparent model.”

Coker, one of the airport board members that the County Commission has moved to replace, said Wednesday that he had volunteered to continue to stay on the board and wasn’t sure if he would be able to keep his post.

“Apparently the county has one interpretation and the Sumner County Airport board has another,” he said.

In regard to Sudbury’s pay increase, Coker said the board had “canvassed” other airports and found most full-time managers earn between $70,000 and $80,000 per year. He noted that Sudbury’s position was “almost” full time.

“He's doing a good job, and we will look at it every year,” Coker said.

County Attorney Leah Dennen declined to comment on the county’s response to the authority board’s actions.

In previous committee discussions, several members said the county had had enough and should dissolve the authority board and re-establish a new one. They were urged to try the appointment route first.

Contributing writer Jesse Hughes lives in Sumner County.

Private Pilots Want Money for Charity Work

Friday, March 01, 2013
Last Update: 4:41 AM PT

Courthouse News Service
WASHINGTON (CN) - Private pilots who transport people and organs for medical purposes recently petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration for exemption from federal rules that state they cannot accept payment for their services.

The pilots say they want the ability to accept reimbursement for some or all of their expenses while making "charity flights" involving people in need of non-emergency medical treatment.

In response, the FAA explained that a private pilot license is considered to be an "entry level"  license and that federal law prohibits those carrying private pilot licenses from being in command of an aircraft for hire. It means people can't pay a private pilot to transport passengers. In order to do that, the FAA said, a pilot must obtain a commercial license.

"To allow compensation for expenses for the transportation of individuals, these private pilots are participating in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited,"  the FAA said.

The agency added, however, that, "The FAA has determined this activity can be conducted safely with limits applied to the (charity) organizations, pilots and aircraft. Beginning in 2010, the FAA issued several exemptions to charitable medical flight organizations granting relief from the requirements of [federal law].  The exemptions contain conditions and limitations that are intended to raise the level of safety for these flights."

Some of the requirements issued for exemptions include developing a pilot qualification and training program, flight release documentation, filing of an instrument flight plan for each flight and higher aircraft airworthiness requirements.

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3TV examines safety of homebuilt aircraft

 PHOENIX -- 3TV first met Joe Goetz in January after he made an emergency landing in a Mesa neighborhood. His homemade helicopter ended up just feet from a home, but no one was hurt. 

Months later, Goetz’s helicopter pad sits empty, but fortunately the pilot of more than four decades escaped harm.

“This is the one wire that broke,” Goetz pointed out.

He built the one-seater himself with special safety features which helped pad his crash.

“You gotta figure worst case in any scenario,” he said. “In this case, I got to test the devices. If I got to build another one, it would be very similar.

“Experimental Amateur Built” aircraft represents a growing population of aircraft with an estimated 33,000 registered nationwide.

While they still account for a small percentage of general aviation aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board says they account for a disproportionate number of accidents, and an even more disproportionate share of deadly accidents.

Nationwide FAA numbers from 2012 show 263 deadly general aviation crashes, 73 of them involving experimental aircraft, which translates to nearly 30 percent.  Of the experimental aircraft involved, 68.5 percent of them were amateur built.

The NTSB says engine failure and loss of control in flight are the most common issues by a large margin.

“Most of these are tried and true designs that have already been built with thousands of successfully flying examples,” said Jim Moss, the Vice President of the Phoenix Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Moss says the safety checklist required of all pilots flying experimental planes is impressive, starting with a rigorous inspection.

Once the aircraft passes the inspection, pilots are required to fly their first 25 to 40 hours in a remote, designated area.  Even after receiving a certificate from the FAA, inspections reoccur each year.

While many amateur built aircrafts come from kits, Moss showed us one built from scratch by his late friend and veteran pilot Wally Chapin.

About 30 years of sweat equity, knowledge and care went into the PJ-260.  The rare biplane even won an award for outstanding workmanship.

Moss showed 3TV the safety features and checklists that go into each flight.

Each experimental amateur aircraft requires a “passenger warning,” but Moss stands by the safety of the aircraft.

“I think this is better built than my Cessna,” he said of the PJ-260.

Moss said his organization considers safety a top priority and offers technical and flight instructors to help amateurs build their aircraft.

“There’s certainly a tremendous amount of effort being put into those things,” said Goetz of experimental aircraft.

He knows firsthand that effort is for good reason.

“There’s no such thing as being too careful,” said Goetz.

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Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK), Maryland: Runway to be painted in the spring

Originally published March 01, 2013

Frederick Municipal Airport's runway will get a face-lift in the first week of April, airport manager Kevin Daugherty said.

The runway markings will be repainted by Speidel Construction, which won a nearly $123,000 contract for the job last summer.

The Virginia company has been waiting out the winter weather to maintain the runway, Daugherty said.

The project is part of routine maintenance at the airport, he said, adding that the last time the markings were repainted was about 2007.

Additionally, the old markings are obsolete since the air control tower was constructed last year, an executive summary of the bid noted.

-- Kelsi Loos

Broomfield, Colorado: ‘Gas wars’ fuel airports’ business

 Brian Pickerell of Air West Flight Center Inc. fuels an aircraft at Vance Brand Municipal Airport in Longmont. 

By Beth Potter 
March 1, 2013 

BROOMFIELD — Airports in the region are expected to see current “gas wars” continue.

Lower gas prices for twin-engine planes help folks such as Howard MClure in Broomfield. He says competition between airports for gas customers has helped Western Air Flight Academy Inc. maneuver into the black. McClure is president of the flight school located at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield.

Self-serve fuel for the training airplanes that Western uses cost $5.45 per gallon on Feb. 25. The smallest planes at Western use about seven gallons of gas per hour, McClure said. The school’s profit margins are so thin that McClure believes he’ll make a small profit this year from factoring in the lower gas prices after losing money last year.

“It’s been a very big boon to us,” McClure said. “When the prices vary, we kind of eat it. We’ve seen a little higher profit recently.”

Denver AirCenter owns the new self-serve fuel tanks. The private flight school company dropped its prices by as much as $1 per gallon after installing the tanks last summer. Airport officials kicked in $30,000 — or about half the total cost — to help buy the tanks, said Kenny Maenpa, airport manager.

Workers at Denver AirCenter check regularly with other airports in the region to try to make sure they have the lowest prices, said Lee Williams, a spokeswoman.

The competitive strategy seems to be working, Williams said. General aviation traffic to the airport is up, as are visits to two restaurants there, she said. While exact air traffic figures are not available for the last six months, more pilots seem to be making a stop in Broomfield these days to spend the day or the weekend, or to sightsee and have breakfast, Williams said.

Some pilots like to joke that they’re willing to spend $100 on gas to fly to a nearby airport and have breakfast on a weekend day, for example, Williams said.

“We’re not like Santa Fe, but we’ve definitely seen an increase in tourism,” Williams said.

Before the self-serve pumps went in at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, high fuel prices hurt profits for flight schools such as Journeys Aviation Inc., said Tracey Spence, current owner of Journeys. In response, Journeys moved its flight operation to Boulder Municipal Airport, where Spence bid for and won the airport fuel sale contract.

Spence said the recent gas price competition with Rocky Mountain has kept him on his toes. He said he tries to stay “on the low end” of per-gallon fuel prices in the region.

“Fortunately, we’re able to stay pretty close to what they’re at in price,” Spence said. “We’re right in line with those two airports (Rocky Mountain and Vance Brand Municipal Airport in Longmont), and we’re located smack dab in the middle.”

Lower gas prices can hurt the competitors, however.

Fuel sales are down about 25 percent from the same period last year at Air West Flight Center Inc. in Longmont, the fuel station operator at Vance Brand, said Larry Kuebrich, owner of Air West. Both DenverAir and Platte Valley Airpark in Fort Lupton appear to be selling fuel “for cost” Kuebrich said.

To make up for it, flight school business is up 20 percent from the same period last year, Kuebrich said. He attributes his healthy business to a regional economy that seems to be generally recession-proof.

“Right now, it’s a mixed bag of student pilots and aircraft rental,” Kuebrich said of his recent business growth, without giving specific figures.

At Rocky Mountain, offering self-serve gas at a cheaper price than before also seems to positively affect jet-fuel sales revenue, Maenpa said without giving specifics. Self-serve gas sales for non-jet airplanes makes up probably one-tenth of the total volume of fuel sold at the airport, he said. But it’s nice to see 700 or 800 gallons of self-serve gas sold to pilots on some sunny weekend days, he added. Most airplanes that use the gas have 100-gallon tanks.

“We’re pleased to see that and people coming to our airport to buy gas for a change, rather than the other way around,” Maenpa said.

Tim Barth, airport manager at Vance Brand, said the airport had its two best gas-sales revenue years in recent years when prices at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport were much higher. He applauded the recent “healthy competition.”

“All of the airports play this game. When it goes up, there’s nothing we can do to recapture that market unless we seriously undercut JeffCo (Rocky Mountain Airport),” Barth said. “We would have to give it away for what we’re buying it for, so the gas wars will continue.”

All Colorado airports, including the biggest one — Denver International Airport — and other commercial and general-aviation airports, generate close to $1.7 billion in net tax benefits per year, according to a study done by the Colorado Department of Transportation in 2008, the most recent period for which information is available.

More than half of the tax revenue comes from visitors who arrive by air and pay lodging taxes, sales tax on purchases and rental car taxes, according to the study. Airport tenants — including flight schools — are the next biggest contributors to tax revenue through fuel sales and other commerce. Jobs are the third biggest generator of airport tax revenue in the state, generating an estimated $382 million in state and federal income tax, according to the study.

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Powerful model plane stolen from Kempshott, Basingstoke (UK)

10:53am Friday 1st March 2013

An airplane has been stolen from the garage of an 87-year-old man in Basingstoke.

The Pulse XT model sports plane was stolen from a garage in Mallard Close in Kempshott, Basingstoke between February 13 and February 20.

There is concern that the plane could cause an injury to someone who doesn’t know how to operate it as the engine is quite powerful.

The model aircraft is red and white and has the words ‘Pulse XT’ printed just behind the cockpit.

PC Lee Stanbrook said: “This item is of sentimental value to the owner and he is concerned that it could be dangerous to those who don’t know how to operate it.

“If you know anything about this theft or have been offered this item for sale, please contact me.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC Stanbrook at Basingstoke Police Station on 101 or call the charity Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111, where information can be left anonymously.

Australia: Nathan Tinkler’s Private Jet, Helicopter Offered to Buyers

“When I get rid of the plane, you’ll know I’m broke,” Warren Buffett told The New Yorker in December, which doesn’t augur well for Nathan Tinkler as the coal magnate’s private jet and helicopter are put up for sale.

Nathan Tinkler's executive jet and helicopter have been put up for sale by the receiver of the coal baron's aviation company. 

Mr Tinkler's luxury Dassault Falcon 900C executive jet was placed on the market today with an advertised price of $US13.95 million ($A13.73 million), while the eight-seater Agusta A109S helicopter has been listed for $US5.95 million.

Receiver Nathan Landrey, of Taylor Woodings, said the listings were standard practice in the receivership process and did not prevent Mr Tinkler from refinancing the aircraft mortgages.

"(Mr Tinkler) has that option right up until we complete a sale," Mr Landrey said.

"Because they are not distressed assets there is no defined deadline (for the sale).

"There is the opportunity for the existing borrower to arrange refinancing."

The three-engined Dassault jet's features include leather upholstery, three separate seating areas accommodating 14 people, gold plating on fixtures and a galley espresso machine, according to a listing on the website of US aircraft sales company Avpro.

The red, black and white Augusta helicopter has red leather seats and still bears the Tinkler Group Aviation logo on its side in photographs on the website of another sales company, SMS Aircraft.

Taylor Woodings was appointed as receiver of TGHA Aviation in November, 2012, as Mr Tinkler's business empire faced mounting debt pressures.

Mr Tinkler slipped from top of the BRW Young Rich list in 2011, with an estimated wealth of $1.13 billion, to second in 2012 with wealth of $400 million.

A fall in coal prices crimped the value of Mr Tinkler's key asset, a 21 per cent stake in Whitehaven Coal, and the company recently posted a $47 million half year loss as production problems combined with weak markets to hurt earnings.

During 2012, Mr Tinkler was forced to sell of parts of his horse racing empire to raise cash and two of his companies, Mulsanne Resources and Patinack Farm Administration, were placed in liquidation.

In February 2013, two tax debt cases brought by the Australian Taxation Office against Mr Tinkler's sporting companies – the Newcastle Knights and Hunter Sports Group – were dismissed in the Federal Court after the parties reached an agreement.

If the aircraft are sold, the proceeds will be used to pay off the outstanding finance and settle any unsecured debts, with any remaining funds returned to the company.