Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC Group) bites into general aviation sector

Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC Group) will soon start development and manufacturing of general aviation aircraft, Xu Heyi, chairman of the BAIC Group and a Beijing delegate, said during the ongoing session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC).

China is expected to officially release a policy to lift the ban on the use of low-altitude airspace below 1,000 meters to general aviation flights in May this year, and BAIC Group will begin research and development activities to build reliable general aviation aircraft, Xu said.

In 2011, BAIC and Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics (BUAA) jointly set up Beijing General Aviation (Group) Ltd., a Beijing-based company with a registered capital of 100 million yuan (US$15.9 million) and will focus on the development and sales of general aviation aircraft, Xu said.

With a solid foundation laid down in 2013, the company hopes to generate revenue of 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) next year, Xu said, adding that entering the general aviation sector is a strategic decision made by BAIC to enhance its future competitiveness.

BAIC will also focus on the other two fields in the future: medium- to high- end petrol-powered vehicles and new-energy automobiles.

China currently owns only around 1,050 general aviation aircraft, while the United States has a total of 230,000. The general aviation industry in the United States registers an annual revenue of US$150 billion, accounting for 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), creating about 1.26 million jobs.

General aviation covers all civil aviation operations except for scheduled commercial airline activities. This may include such activities as charter operators, aero-medical operators, agricultural aviation businesses, aviation-based fire-fighting services, training and aerial work such as aerial photography and surveying. It also includes private, business, recreational and sports aviation activities and supporting businesses such as maintenance providers.

BAIC sold 1.7 million vehicles in 2012, up 10.3 percent year on year despite a slowing economy and stagnant market sales growth.


Controversial Banner Ads Raising Eyebrows

Banner planes are a big part of the Spring Break campaigns for many local and national businesses, but, a few of the ads this spring are raising eyebrows.

The banner plane companies have differing policies about the ads they tow and where they display them. Some find the advertisement banner for Trojan condoms offensive.

Airsign Inc,
a company out of Bronson, Florida has been pulling the banner over Panama City Beach, targeting spring breakers.

An Airsign spokesperson said the company tries to stay away from elementary schools and churches.

Managers at Fort Walton Beach based Boomer Aviation said they do not have that problem because they do not accept controversial ads, but they are taking heat for this one anyway.

"We don't pull controversial banners,” said Jim Jones, the chief pilot for Boomer Aviation. “My boss was just speaking to me about that the other day. He's had to tell people that's not us. We don't do that."

Boomer has been pulling banners over the beaches in Bay, Walton and Okaloosa counties for more than 30 years.

They try to do deals with local businesses. "We've been flying up and down the beach advertising to all the Spring Breakers,” said Jones. “For all the local clubs here on the beach."

While they do occasionally accept contracts from national advertisers, they said they stay away from the controversial ones. 


Plane Lands Safely After Landing Gear Collapsed: Brenham Municipal Airport (11R), Texas

Lynn Lunsford with Federal Aviation Administration says the plane on the runway has damage to its left landing gear when it collapsed and that there's also damage to the other front wheel.  

 The plane is a Piper PA-454, a single engine turbo prop.

Lunsford say, "It's too early to say what happened that caused the plane to have problems, but the FAA sending an investigator to Washington County to conduct a thorough inquiry."

- - -

On Wednesday morning, a plane whose landing gear failed had an emergency landing at Brenham Airport.

Two people were aboard the plane when it landed. Nobody was hurt.

FAA is on the scene and an investigation is underway.

"The plane was from Houston and they were training pilots and practicing maneuvers here at Brenham when they had an issue when trying to land," Brenham Fire Chief Ricky Boeker tells News 3.

Student surprised with Angel MedFlight

GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WALA) - One Gulf Breeze High School senior received quite a surprise when about 100 students surprised her with a trip to Miami; complete with air, hotel, and car. 

But, this trip is not a vacation. It's a medical transport for 17-year-old Taylor Collins, who has epilepsy and suffers seizures.

Collins and her mother were flown to Miami aboard an Angel MedFlight jet. Angel MedFlight is a Scottsdale, Arizona, based air ambulance company.

The owner donated a plane, flight crew, and other expenses to Collins family at the request of some of Collins' high school colleagues.

Collins went to her schools' student body and explained to them that she needed to go to Miami for an operation, but her family could not afford it.

So the group did some brainstorming and found Air MedFlight online, so they called them.

"We had to come up with this very quickly, because we only had three weeks to put this together because she wanted to go during Spring Break and not miss any school," said Student Government Rep Jordan Kirchgessner, a junior at Gulf Breeze High School.

An air ambulance flight transfer is not cheap; one-way trips can cost as much as $40,000.

"The owner of [Angel MedFlight] is very passionate about high school students and what they do for their community, what they do for their colleagues, so he went ahead and donated that generous gift," said Kelly K. LoCascio, Corporate Counsel with Air MedFlight.

School officials brought Collins into the drama club classroom, where she was greeted by cheers.

"I was very surprised; I was [thinking], ‘Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh," said Taylor Collins, “I didn’t know what was going on, but I saw my mother, father, and brothers and thought oh my gosh.”

This special gift will also be Collins first time flying, so two medics will ride with her in case she needs any treatment once airborne.

"It was a lot of work, but we really feel that it was worth it because we're helping a member of our community, a member of Gulf Breeze High School; people love her and she's very nice, and she came to us in need, so of course we wanted to help her," said Kirchgessner.

Piper PA-28R-180 Arrow, N4631J: Accident occurred March 13, 2013 in Palm Coast, Florida

Phoenix East flight school’s Raul d’Souza is a hero: the young instructor was piloting a plane late this afternoon, practicing emergency landings with a student, when the plane ran into engine troubles–and forced D’Souza, 34, to execute an emergency landing in the heart of Palm Coast. He did so nearly flawlessly.

 With him was Joo Lee, 33, who looked distinctly shaken from the experience. They both smoked, paced, sat, and smoked again soon after the landing. They’re both based at Phoenix East Aviation, on Pearl Harbor Drive in Daytona Beach. D’Souza, who’s been at the flight school since at least 2004, maintains a YouTube page of favorites that includes several video clips from the flight school. 

An SUV–or at least a large white car–had to do an evasive maneuver as the eastbound plane negotiated the two rather narrow lanes of Palm Coast Parkway west, and a huge semi, carrying cars, was also on the road; the plane faintly clipped the truck, but managed to land on the road. The truck had been parked on the shoulder, having just picked up a Mercedes from Parkway Self Storage. The plane clipped its left-front guide-pole with the marker light on its left wing, which shattered, leaving tiny and still-visible fragments on the fender above the truck’s left-front-tire. The plane also clipped the air cleaner, which was dented. 

The single-engine Piper, built in 1968, landed safely at 6:45 p.m. on Palm Coast Parkway, just west of Belle Terre. The plane sat on the road for less than 20 minutes before authorities and one of the two occupants of the plane pushed it off the road and parked it at the entrance of Parkway Self Storage. The wesbound lanes of Palm Coast Parkway were shut down only briefly. 

The plane belongs to Daytona Aircraft Leasing Inc., based at the same address as the flight school. D’Souza had reported engine trouble to the Daytona airport’s tower just after 6:30 p.m. Authorities in Flagler got the call of a plane in distress at 6:37 p.m., when dispatch announced an airplane emergency, describing a plane approaching Palm Coast Parkway from the west, toward the east, and possibly looking to land there. Shortly afterward, the landing took place. 

The pilot and his passenger declined to be interviewed, referring questions to their safety supervisor, who was on his way from Daytona Beach. The Florida Highway Patrol was investigating the incident, which it categorized as a crash the moment the plane struck the truck. 

 Hayden Gordon, 52, has owned the truck since 1999, and said he’d never had any road incident resembling his experience Wednesday afternoon. He’s based in Port St. Lucie. He was on his way to New York City, after starting to pick up cars in Miami. He had three on the truck. “I didn’t really see it,” Gordon said of the plane’s approach. “I was parked here, I’d just put the car up, and I was right here, getting ready to chain it” he said, describing his position to the right of the truck, with the truck blocking his view of the parkway. “Then I hear the sound, I hear it go boom. So when I spin around I saw the plane. There was a car coming. The car went right under. The car went right under it, yeah?” It was a white car. “And I saw the plane hit the ground and run out.” 

Gordon ran down to see the pilots, who had immediately bailed from the plane and run to the south shoulder of the road, on the grass. “It kind of scared me a bit, you know,” Gordon continued, after he’d realized what had unfolded, but “they were fine,” he said of the plane’s occupants. “The guy said his engine went out, he tried to start it but it wouldn’t start.” 

For Flagler County, this last plane emergency is only the latest in a series, and one of the more fortunate. 

On Jan. 5, a plane carrying three people developed engine trouble on its way back from the Caribbean and crashed into a home on Utica Path in Palm Coast, killing the pilot and two passengers. The homeowner survived unscathed. At Wings Over Flagler, the annual air show, in March 2011, stunt pilot Bill Walker was killed when his Yak 52 plane crashed in front of spectators as he was going through a routine. Two months later, John Roderick, a 66-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, survived a spectacular crash in the woods of west Flagler when his plane lost power. And in May 2013, Leslie and John Nixon, Ormond Beach residents on their way to dinner in Georgia, made an emergency landing on the westbound lanes of State Road 100. No one was hurt.

SAN BERNARDINO: Big plane seeks “next-gen” air-tanker contract

Known in Lake Elsinore as the man who brought the world’s largest seaplane to town to fight wildfires, Wayne Coulson now is rebuilding an ex-military cargo plane he hopes will become a prototype for the nation’s next generation of air tankers.

And if he gets his way, his pilots will use night-vision goggles to become the first air tanker crews to fly day and night, relying on high-tech gadgets to pinpoint their fire-retardant drops with laser-beam precision.

The overhaul and modernization work is being done at San Bernardino International Airport, the home of the U.S. Forest Service’s regional air tanker base.

Test flights are set for April. Coulson hopes to win a Forest Service contract to begin fighting fires by June.

His project comes at a time when the nation’s fleet of large air tankers has dwindled from 44 to 10 – eight of them more 50 years old.

Under a modernization plan announced a year ago, the Forest Service envisions a fleet of 18 to 28 so-called next generation air tankers: jet-engine aircraft that the agency hopes will be far newer and safer than its aging fleet of predominately piston-powered planes. Contract applications are being reviewed now.

Modernization was ordered after metal fatigue caused the wings to snap off two air tankers -- ages 57 and 44 – in mid-flight during 2002, killing the tankers’ crews.

Coulson declined to discuss the cost of the proposed contract until the agency makes its decision.

He argues that his plane — an ex-Navy C-130Q Hercules turbo-prop — is a better choice than the converted airliners competing firms are offering. Unlike airliners, his plane was designed to fly low and slow, and carries its fire retardant in a lighter, simpler and more capable tank, he says.

His plane is 30 years old, but that’s relatively new by air tanker standards, and Coulson’s plane is completing an intense nose-to-tail restoration.

It is generally the same age as the C-130H models still in use by the armed services of many nations, he says.

The U.S. military even uses H models to fight wildfires when no other air tankers are available, though those planes are gradually being replaced by newer J-models.

A Canadian timber and aviation magnate, Coulson may be best known for his two World-War II-era Martin Mars seaplanes that were bought from the U.S. Navy and converted into air tankers.

“They’ve been fighting fires since 1960 – so roughly 52 years,” he says proudly.

In 2007, one of the glistening red-and-white giants helped fight a firestorm in San Diego. The next year, it battled wildfires in Northern California. And in 2009, it was based in Lake Elsinore, where it became a popular tourist attraction, floating at its moorings while awaiting fire calls.

It no longer fights fires in the United States, though it’s still active in Canada and Mexico.

With a 7,200-gallon capacity, the 65-year-old Mars hauled about twice the capacity of the nation’s large air tankers. But it no longer wins Forest Service contracts, an apparent victim of the agency’s reluctance to use what some see as antique airplanes.

Which helped trigger Coulson’s current project.

“We believe we’re bringing a like-new bird into the fleet,” he says of the completely overhauled C-130Q.

His long-range plan calls for him to convert additional youngish C-130s to air tankers. He believes about six are available worldwide.

And just like the current plane, he ultimately envisions installing night vision equipment and a GPS system that will automatically drop fire retardant precisely between two pre-selected locations designated by a laser device mounted in an accompanying helicopter.

The heart of the system is an already approved 3,500-gallon tank that the Forest Service used for many years in the first model of the Hercules, the Vietnam-era C-130A.

Unlike the pressurized tanks favored by some of his competitors, Coulson’s tank drops its fire retardant through doors in the plane’s belly, similar to the way warplanes drop bombs.

The so-called gravity system is simpler, lighter, cheaper and faster than the pressurized tanks now being used by his competitors, he says. And the entire load can be jettisoned faster in an emergency, making them safer, he insists.

“If you have an engine failure at a critical time in the drop, some airplanes will not recover,” Coulson said. “We believe the C-130 will recover, because we can … jettison all 3,500 gallons of retardant in two seconds.

“One second can make the difference between whether you live or die.”

Fire retardant weighs about nine pounds per gallon. So jettisoning the load makes the plane 31,500 gallons lighter – instantly.

“It’s like an absolute elevator,” he says. “It basically gets you out of trouble.”

With this year’s fire season fast approaching, the winners of the 2013 air tanker contracts are expected to be announced soon by the U.S. Forest Service.

Story and Photo:

Boca Raton, Florida: Coming in for a landing? Airport hopes cuts take a fly-by

Boca Raton—  Federal cuts are scheduled to land at Boca Raton Airport on April 7 — taking out federal funding for the air traffic control tower there — so the airport community met Wednesday to direct their best argument against that.

Wednesday's meeting brought together hotel managers, aviation business people and area corporate players, expressing their dismay that the $650,000 the Federal Aviation Administration pays for six staffers in Boca's control tower is most definitely on the list for cuts to be made.

"For my corporation, a large part of our decision to move to Boca from West Palm Beach was based on that tower being there," said Paul Loughrey, who works for Office Depot.

About 30 people who came to the meeting Wednesday discussed some of the downer effects the cuts could have: decreased safety, fewer hotel rooms rented, fewer airport workers. Airport Manager Ken Day urged them to email and call both of Florida's senators and the state's U.S. representatives and then urge others to do the same.

"It's politics and we all know that," Day said.

The money paid for contracted staff in the tower is part of the sequestration cuts that President Obama signed into law. Boca is one of 173 contracted air control towers most likely to lose federally funded staff. North Perry and Opa-locka airports are also on that same list.

Day said there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon that the cuts won't come to pass in the proposal that U.S. Sen. Jim Moran, R-Kan., has brought forward. But administratively, the picture is looking like more than a near-miss.

Boca's air traffic has grown to 51,000 operations annually. Many jets that currently land at Boca Raton Airport would likely pass it by without staff to guide them in, because their corporate charters prohibit them from landing at uncontrolled airports. Airport Authority Chairman Frank Feiler likened it to trying to find a parking space during Christmas season at Town Center.

"It's like doing that with no traffic lights and vehicles traveling at 130 to 180 mph," he said.

Troy McClellan, president and CEO of Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, said that he will likely get some face time with Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio this weekend.

"What's the insight that's going to save the day?" he asked, noting that every one of the airports on the list could make the argument about the economics of not having staff in the control tower. "Is there anything that's going to hit a hot button?"

Richard Peck, director of operations for Universal Jet Aviation, said that his experience working for the FAA gave him some insight.

"The last thing the government cares about is profit and loss," he said. "You need to come up with a scenario with mid airs (collisions)."


Garmin GTN650 Getting Started -By Master Instructor Dick Rochfort

By Dick Rochfort 

 "A line oriented tutorial on the operation of the Garmin GTN Series avionics found in increasingly more light aircraft today including the PA46 Matrix, Malibu Mirage and Meridian aircraft.In this 50 minute "chalk talk" Master Instructor Dick Rochfort describes the functions of the Garmin GTN650 navigator. This essential training helps each pilot respond correctly and promptly while in flight. Dick uses proper call-outs and well documented, disciplined procedures. Dick Rochfort is a full-time pilot trainer specializing in the PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage and Meridian aircraft, providing excellent training and related services to owners and pilots of the Piper PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage and Meridian aircraft worldwide. He also provides He provides pre-purchase valuation, instructor training, corporate service and expert witness services worldwide."

Prosecutors Encounter Constraints in Filing for Appeal in Merpati Case

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:   Junior Attorney General for Special Crimes Andhi Nirwanto says he has found it difficult to file a plea in a graft case involving state airline company Merpati Nusantara Airlines, which implicated defendant Hotasi Nababan.

Andhi said the Jakarta Antigraft Court had hampered the process. We haven't received Hotasi's verdict, said Andhi, met at Harris Hotel in Tebet, South Jakarta, on Wednesday, March 13.

Andhi said he has sent a letter requesting a copy of the verdict but has not received a response. Andhi claimed the letter was essential for prosecutors to prepare an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The attorney general office's deadline for the appeal is early next week, on Monday, March 18. If the appeal is filed past the due date, it will not be accepted, said Andhi.


Marion County, Florida: Mystery flights are special ops training exercise

The aircraft, which have been buzzing the area since Saturday, are coming from the University Air Center at the Gainesville Regional Airport as part of a larger training exercise in South Florida conducted by the U.S. Special Operations Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, said Maj. Mike Burns, a public affairs spokesman for the command.

The flights out of Gainesville encompass between four to eight aircraft and are made up of Black Hawks and Chinooks, Burns said.

The Chinooks, a heavy-bodied helicopter, have distinctive tandem rotor blades. Black Hawks are smaller and are the military's go-to utility helicopter. Both have big engines and typically fly low in combat situations, which are what the exercises are simulating.

The Special Operations Command oversees special operations of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.

"There are no exercises in the Ocala area, but Ocala is directly in the transit route," said Burns, who would not specifically say why aircraft were taking off from Gainesville for exercises in the Miami area.

A press releases issued by Miami Dade County advises that the exercise includes the use of military helicopters and simulated gunfire. The training is meant to prepare participants for combat missions in urban areas and to prepare forces for upcoming overseas missions, according to the release.

A multitude of Marion County residents have reported being awakened or disturbed by the low-flying aircraft. Some have reported seeing fixed wing aircraft as part of the low flights, but Burns said any fixed wing aircraft as part of the operation are flying at between 30,000 feet and 40,000 feet

Bob Cook, who lives near Baseline Road and Fort King Street, said he was frightened when he saw the aircraft come over his home Saturday.

"I turned and ran. That's not right what they are doing," he said.

Cook said the aircraft were no more than 150 feet above the ground and whipped the tree tops with their propeller wash.

Burns did not say how low the aircraft were flying, but did say they were within Federal Aviation Administration compliance.

"Sometimes when people are not used to seeing or hearing those type of aircraft they seem a lot closer than they are," he said.

Some locals also reported seeing the aircraft flying without lights.

Burns said some of them do fly without lights because, "We are trying to simulate a combat experience as closely as possible."

Story and Reaction/Comments:

Gainesville Regional Airport: Helicopters here are part of South Florida exercise

If you've been hearing the sounds of military helicopters moving in and out of the Gainesville Regional Airport this week, there's a far-flung explanation -- and the aircraft will be around until at least Friday.

The helicopters, which have been taking off and landing at the airport since Saturday, are stationed temporarily at the University Air Center, the fixed-base operation at the Gainesville airport, and are part of a larger training exercise in South Florida conducted by the U.S. Special Operations Command based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, said Maj. Mike Burns, a public affairs spokesman for the command.

The flights in and out of Gainesville encompass between four to eight aircraft and are made up of Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, Burns said.

The Chinooks, a heavy-bodied helicopter, have distinctive tandem rotor blades. Black Hawks are smaller and are the military's go to utility helicopter. Both have big engines and typically fly low in combat situations, which are what the exercises are simulating.

The Special Operations Command oversees special operations of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.

Burns would not specifically say why aircraft were taking off from Gainesville for exercises in the Miami area.

A press releases issued by Miami Dade County advises that the exercise includes the use of military helicopters and simulated gunfire. The training is meant to prepare for combat missions in urban areas and to prepare forces for upcoming overseas missions, according to the release.

Story and Photo:

Over 10,000 complaints received against Jet Airways

Over 10,000 complaints have been received against Jet Airways with regard to refunds, lost baggage, misbehavior by airline staff among others in the last three years, the Parliament was informed today.

Between March 2010 and December last year, 10,004 complaints were received against Jet Airways, followed by 6,496 against IndiGo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation K C Venugopal told the Lok Sabha.

As many as 5,136 complaints against SpiceJet, 3,917 against Kingfisher, 3,181 against GoAir, 3,152 against Air India, 2,445 against JetLite and 90 against now closed Paramount Airways were received during the same period, he said.

Venugopal said last year, a total of 9,950 flights, including 3,461 of the national carrier Air India, were cancelled due to technical, operational, weather, air traffic control and other commercial reasons.

In reply to another question, the minister said 13 aircraft of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India's subsidiary Alliance Air were grounded for want of engines, auxiliary power units and other components.


VERMONT: Cavendish passes law prohibiting helipads

Cavendish  — After a long, drawn out battle with the town of Cavendish and the state, a Cavendish home owner can build a helipad on his property. But other home owners will not have that same opportunity because the Select Board passed a new ordinance prohibiting their use on Feb. 29.

The municipal ordinance disallows the construction and operation of take-off and landing facilities. The issue was brought to the surface in 2008 when David Coutu, a second-home owner and helicopter pilot, sought the town’s approval to build a small helipad on his property.

According to Town Manager Richard Svec, Coutu needed a certificate of approval from the Vermont Transportation Board and the town in order to build a private landing site.The Select Board denied Coutu a permit in 2008 because there was no local zoning, land-use, or municipal ordinance that specifically dealt with helipads.

Coutu then applied for a permit through the state but VTrans refused it because it lacked municipal approval. But Coutu argued the town had no zoning ordinance upon which VTrans could hear his case and he requested the town to send a letter to VTrans explaining his situation.

Coutu’s case was heard by the State Supreme Court, which ruled in February 2011 that the town of Cavendish acted within its jurisdiction, but that VTrans failed to respond to Coutu’s application. The lack of response allowed Coutu to re-apply. With the lack of town ordinance regulating the construction and usage of helipads, the Agency of Transportation gave Coutu permission to build a helipad last June, provided he obtain Federal Aviation Administration approval.

Coutu’s attorney Mark Hall confirmed that his client obtained FAA approval and plans are underway to build a helipad. As for the town of Cavendish, helipads and landing and take-off facilities will be against town regulations.

Svec added that the ordinance does not disallow medevacs, law enforcement or disaster response purposes but only applies to private land owners.

“Coutu will be grandfathered,” Svec said. “One of the important goals of the town plan is to maintain quiet rural atmosphere. Having (helipads in Cavendish) was contrary to that.”

The ordinance includes definitions of aircraft, prohibited aircraft operations and determination of pre-existing facilities. Any structure that is used for aircraft take-off or landings will be subjected to a $1,000 fine per day.

According to the ordinance, manned or unmanned vehicles including helicopters, amphibious airplanes, balloons, hang gliders, and ultralights are prohibited with the exception of radio-controlled hobby aircraft. It states that prohibited aircraft operations include “a take-off and/or landing of an aircraft, or helicopter hover testings where contact with the ground is involved.”

Coutu could not be reached for comment. Hall declined to further comment, saying that the matter has now been resolved.

The ban will go into effect April 28 unless voters can obtain signatures from 5 percent of registered voters for a special vote to rescind the ordinance.


Safety probe permanently grounds Barrier Aviation

Far north Queensland charter airline Barrier Aviation has been permanently grounded after an investigation into safety issues.

The Cairns-based airline has not been flying since Christmas, when the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) suspended its operations because of what was described as a "serious and imminent risk to air safety".

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson says a subsequent investigation uncovered serious safety breaches.

He says the CASA investigation found the airline had been operating aircraft with serious and known defects.

"Not maintaining aircraft properly, flying aircraft with defects, directing pilots to fly the aircraft with defects," he said.

He says CASA has cancelled the airline's air operator's certificate.

"The matters are so serious, Barrier hasn't put forward a successful plan to address the issues, so that's why they're permanently grounded," he said.

"Late yesterday, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority served a notice on Barrier which now effectively permanently grounds the airline.

"This is a result of our thorough investigation into all the safety issues at Barrier.

"We're not satisfied they can successfully address those issues, so they're now permanently grounded."

Barrier has 28 days to appeal.

After apology, Grand Forks, group to loan money to Cirrus Aircraft: Loan still needs to be approved by the Grand Forks Jobs Development Authority on March 18 (With Video)

Grand Forks Growth Fund, a Job Development Authority: Staff Report 
Growth Fund Committee March 5, 2013
Growth Fund Committee March 11, 2013
JDA March 18, 2013

City leaders have agreed to grant approval for a nearly $1-million loan at request from Cirrus Aircraft. Officials met with city leaders again, after last week the company felt it was the target of a councilman's scrutiny and judgement.

The atmosphere at Monday's meeting was a complete turnaround from the March 5th meeting. The Growth Fund committee moved that the company receive the $950,000 loan, but only after chairman and council Vice President Doug Christensen gave an apology.

Christensen: "I can honestly say that I trust that Cirrus will repay the City of Grand Forks...there's absolutely no doubt in my mind the future of Cirrus in the city of Grand Forks is extremely bright."

The nearly $1-million loan is going towards an autoclave aimed at producing high quality products which will save the company money in the process.

Bill King, Business Administration VP, Cirrus Aircraft: "The future of this industry in this small measure goes with this expensive equipment that we're now investing heavily into."

Cirrus officials received affirmation from councilmen.

Hal Gershman, Council President: "We've got your back, we love you in our community you've got wonderful employees and we wish you a tremendous future with us."

Dana Sande, Councilman: "I think we're very fortunate that we have you here and I as well want to see a long term relationship with Cirrus and hopefully it can continue to expand in the future."

Bill King, the company's Vice President says without question it'll be able to pay back the city.

King: "The simple math if you will is that the savings alone off of the components that we are now manufacturing far exceed the $11,000 a month."

Construction for the autoclave will begin shortly and King says he expects it to be fully functioning by end of summer or early fall. The expansion will also add jobs.

Story and Video:

A Grand Forks economic development group has agreed to loan Cirrus Aircraft nearly $1 million following an apology by the group's chairman for questioning the financial stability of the Duluth, Minn.-based company. 

 Grand Forks' Growth Fund Committee last week delayed action on the request by Cirrus for a $950,000 loan as part of a $1.5 million plan to buy equipment and expand its production facility in the city so that it can do work it currently outsources to other companies. Committee Chairman Doug Christensen said he was worried about the company adding more debt and increasing its monthly loan payment to the city for rent and previous borrowing from $70,000 to about $90,000.

Cirrus vice president William King said that amounted to an attack on Cirrus' integrity, and he also accused the committee of divulging confidential financial information.

Christensen apologized during a Monday meeting, saying he had failed to trust a company that was a valuable member of the city's corporate community.

"I can honestly say Cirrus will repay the city of Grand Forks," he said.

Christensen and other committee members last week cited Cirrus financial statements they said showed millions in losses. King said the numbers reflected Cirrus' obligations to its parent company, China-based CAIGA. He said much of the issue with the Growth Fund Committee was clarifying matters.

"I'm not going to lie, they've been very stressed," King said of company executives.

The loan still needs to be approved by the Grand Forks Jobs Development Authority on March 18.

"We've got your back," City Council President Hal Gershman told Cirrus officials Monday. "We love you in our community. You've got wonderful employees and we wish you a tremendous future with us."


Grand Forks Growth Fund, a Job Development Authority: Staff Report 
Growth Fund Committee March 5, 2013
Growth Fund Committee March 11, 2013
JDA March 18, 2013

International Lease Finance Corp. urges Boeing not to rush 777X project, backs bigger 787

(Reuters) - A major U.S. leasing company has urged Boeing not to rush into developing a replacement for its 777 wide-body airliner, contrasting with pressure from some airlines to refresh its popular mini-jumbo.

Henri Courpron, chief executive of AIG subsidiary International Lease Finance Corp, said Boeing's hot-selling, 365-seat 777-300ER would work well for the industry into the next decade.

"The 777-300ER is working fine and does not have much competition. It is a formidable airplane. Why break that?" Courpron said in a telephone interview. "The market does not need a replacement any time soon."

He said Boeing in any case had its hands full resolving a crisis over the grounding of its 787 Dreamliner.

"I don't believe the 777 is the most urgent topic for the Boeing Company right now. They remain fully focused on resolving issues with the 787 and seeing it through the crisis," Courpron said.

Developed in the 1990s, the 777 mini-jumbo is seen as Boeing's most profitable plane. The timing of any replacement is one of the key decisions Boeing has to make in the coming year as it seeks to head off a challenge by European rival Airbus without sapping demand for its existing model.

Some international airlines such as Dubai's Emirates , the largest 777 customer with more than 100 in its fleet, want the new version soon in order to replace 777s coming up for retirement.

Emirates airline president Tim Clark said last week he thought Boeing would start offering the new aircraft to customers within weeks, targeting first delivery around 2020, which was later than his originally preferred date of 2017.

Delegates at this week's ISTAT aircraft trading conference in Florida, the biggest event in the industry's financial calendar, said Boeing would seek to end the grounding of its 787 Dreamliner first, then introduce a stretched version provisionally called 787-10X, and only then refresh the 777.

The proposal dubbed "777X" is not a completely new aircraft but will include a new wing and new engines. Industry sources say these may produce less power than the current General Electric powerplants, the world's largest commercial engines, because new materials will make the plane lighter and reduce the needed thrust.

However, the plane will not be as revolutionary as the 787 Dreamliner.

Courpron welcomed Boeing plans to offer the 787-10X.

"We think there is room for a regional wide-body (jet). It doesn't necessarily need the range Boeing is offering ... but we think the market will respond positively."

Airbus, meanwhile, is just months away from a maiden flight of its new A350 passenger jet designed to compete with the 787 Dreamliner, but a larger version seen as a challenge to the 777 so far exists only on paper. Courpron, whose company owns many 777s, said there was no urgency in reacting to the A350.

Airbus says its 350-seat A350-1000, designed with a lighter fuselage, will be more efficient for airlines to operate. Boeing is expected to counter that its 777X, with 400 seats, does enough to beat the A350 on economics by updating what is already a successful airliner.


Kansas University preparing to buy share of new private plane

An upcoming purchase of a share in a private jet will cost Kansas University about $290,000, but it will also amount to a downsizing of KU’s private flight capabilities.

KU is nearing completion of a contract with the Executive AirShare for a 25 percent ownership in a Phenom 100, a four-seat jet, KU spokesman Jack Martin said. The $289,000 cost will be paid entirely by private funds from the KU Endowment Association.

The share is in addition to an eight-seat Citation Bravo jet that KU owns in full.

The new plane share will replace KU’s 50 percent ownership in a five-seat King Air C90B turbo prop, the contract for which is expiring.

The new contract will allow for 80 days of use per year, compared with 160 under the old one. It will also seat fewer people.

Martin said the university had determined it no longer needed as much private air travel capacity as it had before.

“This is part of a comprehensive look that we’ve done at how to be most efficient when it comes to the use of aircraft,” Martin said.

Ongoing costs for the new jet will likely be a bit higher than they were for the prop plane, Martin said, but the Executive AirShare company is phasing out its use of the King Air plane.

And the new share will also prevent increasing maintenance costs that were likely to result from further use of the King Air prop plane, which was manufactured in 1998, Martin said. The new jet is a 2010 model, for which KU opted over a 2012 model because of the lower cost.

“Like cars, planes also get costlier to maintain” as they get older, Martin said.

The KU Medical Center’s outreach programs for rural Kansas account for about 75 percent of the usage of the shared plane, Martin said.

The plane allows doctors to spend less time in transit as they travel to far-flung corners of the state, Martin said, meaning they have more time to see patients.

“Our doctors and folks have to cover a lot of ground, and this is one way that we can be most effective with their time and their talents,” Martin said.

Individual departments at KU that use the planes must pay for the cost of flights they make.

Right now that cost is $2,160 per hour for the jet and $995 for the shared prop plane. Those prices will likely change in the new fiscal year, which starts in July, Martin said.

The Medical Center is the heaviest user of KU’s planes, making about half of the flights. Kansas Athletics makes the next most flights at about 25 percent.

KU’s total cost for the operations of its aircraft in the 2012 fiscal year, which ended last summer, was $1.4 million, Martin said.

Story and Reaction/Comments:

Aviation authority chief Dr Demuren finally sacked for negligence over Dana air crash

 NIGERIAN Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) director general Harold Demuren has been relieved of his position after months of calls for his dismissal for failing to provide adequate air safety in the country.

Following the Dana Air crash last year, a panel of enquiry fingered Dr Demuren out for negligence, saying that his agency failed to provide adequate safeguards. Yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan finally approved of his dismissal and the search will now begin for a replacement.
A presidential spokesman said: "His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has approved the removal of Dr Harold Olusegun Demuren from office as the director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority with effect from March 12, 2013. This is consequent upon a careful consideration of Dr Demuren’s unsatisfactory response to the numerous concerns of stakeholders in the aviation sector.
"Mr President wishes him well in his future endeavours.” For now, the government has remained silent on his successor and it unclear when his replacement will assume office.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives had called for the sacking of Dr Demuren following last year’s crash that claimed 163 lives. On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, the House of Representatives blamed the accident on negligence by the regulatory authorities and recommended the dismissal and prosecution of Dr Demuren.
After the Joint Committee on Aviation of both chambers of the National Assembly had investigated the crash, their report also recommended that Dr Demuren should be sacked. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, the chair of the House Committee on Aviation, had said several faults were reported on the ill-fated aircraft before the crash but alleged that the NCAA continued to clear it for flight operations.
She added:  “The aircraft had five air returns before the crash and only one was due to bird strike. The others were caused by faults in the aircraft.
“The NCAA should have grounded the aircraft but the agency did not care about the lives of Nigerians. Each time a fault was detected, the NCAA continued to clear the aircraft for flying.”
Also, the report noted that there was no certified engineer for the MD83 aircraft in Nigeria, yet the NCAA approved it for flight operations in the country. For this alleged regulatory failure, the committee also recommended the dismissal and prosecution of the NCAA inspector, Suleiman Akwuh, who inspected and cleared the plane for flying.
In January this year, the Senate also recommended the sacking of Dr Demuren for negligence over the Dana Air crash. It also approved a recommendation for the revocation of Dana's air operating certificate.

Disabled Woman Can Sue United Over Treatment: Courthouse News Service

    (CN) - United Airlines must face claims that its employees yelled at a disabled woman who requested a wheelchair and help at the airport, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.

     Michelle Gilstrap says she suffers from severe osteoarthritis and has difficulty walking and standing owing to collapsed disc in her back, one replaced knee, another knee that needs replacing.

     United allegedly subjected her to harsh treatment on two separate trips in 2008 and 2009. She claimed to have requested help moving through airport terminals prior to traveling, but said the airline was either not prepared to help her or refused to do at every stop.

     United agents yelled at her, told her to stand in line, and once even booked her onto a later flight in retaliation, according to the complaint.

     Seeking damages and medical costs, Gilstrap sued United Airlines in California for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state-level negligence, misrepresentation, breach of duty of a common carrier and emotional distress.

     U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen dismissed the action in Los Angeles, finding that the Air Carrier Access Act pre-empted the state tort claims. Nguyen also rejected Gilstrap's claims under the ADA, noting that an airport terminal is not a place of public accommodation under the law.

     Though the federal appeals court in Pasadena affirmed the ruling on the ADA claims Tuesday, it revived Gilstrap's state-law claims.

     "The ACAA and its implementing regulations preempt state and territorial standards of care with respect to the circumstances under which airlines must provide assistance to passengers with disabilities in moving through the airport," Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the three-judge panel. "The ACAA does not, however, preempt any state remedies that may be available when airlines violate those standards."

     Perhaps United Airlines could be held liable for the way in which they failed to perform, if not for what they failed to do.

     "The ACAA regulations say nothing about how airline agents should interact with passengers," Berzon wrote. "Whether Gilstrap's complaint makes out a prima facie case of either negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress under California law is, of course, a separate matter." (Emphasis in original.)

     "Because the district court held Gilstrap's claims entirely preempted, it did not determine whether the California causes of action would survive under California tort law, incorporating the ACAA standards as to negligence and duty of common carriers but not as to negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress," she added. "We leave those issues to be determined in the first instance on remand.


Arlington, Massachusetts: More residents may hear airplane noise

Arlington, Mass. —    An additional 4,079 residents could begin hearing airplanes departing from Logan Airport under a proposed route change.

The proposal was scheduled to take effect March 7, but a public comment period has been extended to March 15. A new start-up date for the proposal has not been set.

It changes the air route navigation for flights departing from Logan Airport’s Runway R33L. Air traffic will fly through a narrower corridor than in the past.

If the proposal is adopted, about 20,300 residents will be affected to some degree by Logan departures. More than 16,200 residents are already exposed to plane-related noise, according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data.

"The FAA’s environmental assessment is showing that the intensity, duration and frequency of the noise will not be changed. There will be no increase in operations or runway usage, just the path on that runway," said Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine.

Chapdelaine has investigated the matter along with Health Compliance Officer James Feeney, and will continue to keep an eye on the situation, he said.

"We have very limited, if any, authority to impact the decision, but our health and human services staff will monitor changes and anything the FAA is releasing, and also be open to citizen concerns being raised," Chapdelaine said. "When we hear from them, we’ll follow up with the FAA and appropriate authorities as best as we can."

Plane noise is not a new issue in Arlington, Chapdelaine said.

"From time to time I’m sure people in town do have concerns about the noise. Living myself in East Arlington, when there’s a plane taking off on the right runway, I can hear it quite loudly," Chapdelaine said. "I’m sure there are people in Arlington who are aware of planes flying overhead, but it’s not necessarily a large-scale issue on a regular basis."

Selectmen Chairman Kevin Greeley said he will look more closely into the plan, but believes he would oppose it.

"Anything that would bring more planes over Arlington and affect the neighborhoods, I would oppose," Greeley said. "This is a clear case of ‘not in my backyard,’ but that’s how I feel about Arlington. I try to do whatever I can to protect Arlington residents."

The FAA determines runway usage and sets paths for the airplanes, said Matthew Brelis, MassPort director of Media Relations.

 "It’s a program that the FAA has instituted around the country. It’s part of a new generation of air traffic control using satellites rather than World War II-era radar and it has been done for safety, efficiency and environmental reasons," Brelis said.

If the proposal is adopted, planes departing from Runway R33L will use a satellite-based RNAV system instead of the old ground-based system. The RNAV system is beneficial because it is more precise and efficient, according to the FAA proposal. It has already been adopted at 15 Logan Airport runways for both departures and arrivals.

The FAA concludes in its report that no significant noise impacts would result from the proposed changes. In fact, the proposal concludes that about 68,000 fewer Greater Boston residents will be impacted by departures if the proposal is adopted.

The FAA also said it will conduct a six-month review after the changes are implemented to ensure minimal impact on residents.

The FAA’s standards dictate that only noise levels greater than 65 Day Night Average Sound Level (DNL) are unacceptable to a community. The DNL number is derived from all aircraft operations during a 24-hour period that represents an airport’s average annual operational day, according to the FAA.

The new proposal would not raise noise levels higher than about 46.3 DNL in Arlington.

Residents, town officials, or other interested parties have until March 15 to submit public comments about the proposal. Comments may be emailed to Terry English, Project Manager, at

"All comments we receive by the end will be reviewed and will be incorporated into the final environmental assessment we will issue," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.


NEW JERSEY: Tewksbury Township Committee urged to keep fighting Johnson helistop

TEWKSBURY TWP. — Resident Nancy Held urged the Township Committee to keep up the fight against a proposed helistop. 

Held said that the issue is not a "neighbor dispute" but rather a matter of defending the township's master plan, its zoning ordinances and the decisions of the Land Use Board.

Although the Land Use Board rejected the Johnson family's application, the Johnsons applied to the Department of Transportation for a license for a "restricted use" helistop on their farm. Held said that the DOT recently overruled the local government and granted approval for a helipad at Donald Trump's golf course in Colt's Neck but noted there were several differences between the two applications. The decision regarding that helistop came ofter the public comment phase regarding Johnson's application had closed, Held said.

Held wants the Township Committee or Mayor Lou DiMare to write to the Commission of the DOT to make him aware of the differences.The differences include the golf course is in a business location, next to highways and an Air Force base and the Trump helistop would only be used during daylight hours. The Johnson's farm is next to scenic roads, near historic homes and three miles from Route 78, and would have lights for night landings.

Held said the Land Use Board's decision has only a minor influence on the granting of a license. She also said that if the DOT approves Johnson's helistop, more applications will follow.

Held said the DOT may issue a decision by March 25. 

Meanwhile, Held is among a group of residents which received approval to intervene in a lawsuit regarding the helistop at a farm on Homestead Road.

James Johnson filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in Flemington in October seeking to overturn the Land Use Board's denial of the helistop on the family's dairy and horse farm.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for March 26.

The Johnsons have argued the helistop will allow them to fly in prospective buyers of frozen cow embryos. However, in May, the Land Use Board denied the application. 

Since helistops are not permitted in the zone, the Johnsons had to prove that the helistop was needed to keep their dairy farm in business. Several witnesses said that the helistop was needed to allow the Johnsons to fly in prospective buyers of frozen cattle embryos. Those who voted "no" did not think that was proven to be a necessity.

Attorney James Rhatican filed the motions to intervene on behalf of the group Friends of the Cold Brook Historic District.

Before the appeal was filed in court, the farm applied for a license from the state Department of Transportation.

No public hearings are scheduled on the matter.

The Federal Aviation Administration also has to review the application.


United States wants armed marshals on its Thailand flights

US authorities want to put air marshals on American-flagged airlines operating through Thailand in the wake of security threats.

Washington has sought permission to do so from top-level Thai officials who reportedly are still considering the matter, according to a source in Bangkok who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

The allowance, if granted, will apply chiefly to two US airlines operating frequent flights between Bangkok and US territory. The pair _ United and Delta _ are perceived to be direct targets of anti-US elements.

Thai authorities in the past have secretly allowed Israel and Australia to place air marshals _ defined as armed undercover law-enforcement officers assigned to prevent and interdict air piracy and acts of terrorism involving commercial aircraft _ on El Al and Qantas flights through Bangkok.

It could not be confirmed whether airlines of other countries considered US allies and operating through Bangkok such as British Airways and Lufthansa have deployed air marshals on Thai flights

But El Al, which operates flights between Thailand and Israel, makes no secret of the fact that it puts two air marshals on each flight, living up to its slogan of "Flying to Israel with Security and Ease".

Industry observers say the security threat against US interests remains strong even after the death of Osama bin Laden, with Thailand still seen as a staging ground for terrorism.

United and Delta maintain their own passenger-screening and baggage facilities at Suvarnabhumi in addition to the normal security procedures provided by the airport.

"Having air marshals on board US airlines is an added security measure in the same way as Israel does for El Al," said one veteran Thai pilot.

He said the US has a legitimate right to deploy air marshals on US-registered planes, whose cabins are technically regarded as US territory under that country's jurisdiction.

The number of air marshals _ referred to as sky marshals in the US _ is estimated in the thousands, a quantum leap from about 30 before the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept 11, 2001.

Air marshals have been on US planes for more than 40 years, but the ranks have risen with the growing threat of hijacking.

In this region, India also puts air marshals on Indian airline flights, but only in times of heightened security.

$1.3M spent in search of boater who resurfaced without explanation

Enrique Hernandez
An exhaustive air and sea search was conducted by the United States Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies. While his trailer and vehicle were located at the boat ramp, neither Hernandez nor his boat was located.

In the four days that Apopka boater Enrique Bernardo Hernandez was thought to be missing in New Smyrna Beach, the U.S. Coast Guard spent more than $1.3 million on the search efforts.

Hernandez left his Orange County home at about 5 a.m. on Feb. 6 with his 14-foot boat and when he didn't return late that night, his family reported him missing.

His vehicle and his boat trailer were left on a public boat ramp in New Smyrna Beach. Rescuers searched a 13,000 square mile area before giving up the search on Feb. 10.

The hefty price tag attached to the exhaustive search for Hernandez paid for Coast Guard rescue crews, command center watch standers, fuel for rescue planes and boats and maintenance for those vessels for several days, according to petty officer Jessica Potter, Coast Guard spokeswoman.

On March 4, Hernandez resurfaced in Avon Park, a city in Highlands County – more than 130 miles away from where rescuers thought he went missing.

According to the New Smyrna Beach police, Hernandez called his family from Avon Park on March 4. He went home to Apopka the same day then went to police headquarters to tell authorities he was safe. Investigators still have not recovered his boat.

Hernandez has not spoken to media outlets to explain his lengthy disappearance but police say he did provide a statement for their detectives. That statement, however, has not been made public.

At this point in the investigation, Potter said Hernandez has not been ordered to repay the $1,331,770 in taxpayer money used to fund the Coast Guard search.

A through investigation will be conducted by the Coast Guard, the New Smyrna Beach Police Department and the Highlands County Sheriff's Office to determine if there was any criminal activity surrounding Hernandez's disappearance.

Anyone who has information regarding the month-long disappearance is asked to call Det. Hank Smith with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office at 863-402-7382 or the Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477.


Russian Transport Chief Asks Govt to Speed Up Foreign-Pilot Law

Russia’s transport minister asked the government Wednesday to speed up legislation allowing Russian airlines, plagued by pilot shortages, to hire foreign staff.

“We are asking now that the resolution of this issue be sped up, along with its approval under established procedure and the submission of a corresponding bill to the State Duma,” Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said at a meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The ministry proposes a five-year pilot project that would involve annually hiring some 200 foreign nationals as pilots of Russian airlines, Sokolov said. He said a bill to accommodate the plan had been drafted and passed muster at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.

Sokolov expressed the hope that pilots from Europe and the United States would be attracted by the Russian job offer, as pilots’ wages in Russia had become competitive, reaching 500,000 rubles ($16,250) a month, or about $195,000 a year.

Medvedev noted that working conditions for pilots in Russia have their own twists, though it was not clear what exactly he meant. “Will they be able to [work here]?” Medvedev asked Sokolov.

The prime minister also suggested holding more consultations with Russia’s air carriers before a final decision on the proposed legislation can be made.

The proposal to hire foreign pilots for Russian airlines has drawn a cool response from Medvedev’s predecessor, current President Vladimir Putin, in the past. When airlines raised the idea two years ago, Putin responded that they should not be hiring “skilled labor” but “trainers and teachers to prepare our pilots.”

Experts have noted that Russia's flight schools are not producing sufficient numbers of young pilots. According to some estimates, Russia's state-run training system produces an average of 650 pilots over the course of three years, falling well short of demand., a website matching potential candidates to jobs in the aviation sector, wrote last month that Russia needs some 1,000 to 2,000 new pilots each year, citing unnamed “industry experts.”


Up to 200 Foreign Pilots Could Fly Domestic Skies

Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov has called on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to speed up legislation that would allow foreign pilots to work in Russian airlines, despite strong opposition from the unions.

Sokolov, who took part in a meeting dedicated to regional aviation development chaired by Medvedev on Wednesday at the prime minister's suburban residence, said the draft of the legislation on foreign pilots would allow Russian companies to hire a total of up to 200 foreign pilots annually. He added that Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets supported the proposed legislation.

"We are asking to speed up the decision about this issue and organizing the necessary approvals, and having [the legislation] sent to the State Duma," Sokolov said, Interfax reported.

Medvedev is also a leader of the ruling United Russia party, which has a majority in the lower house of parliament.

While Medvedev said on television Wednesday that aviation companies "need to be consulted" before the decision on foreign pilots would be finalized, aviation expert Roman Gusarov from think tank said the law would likely be passed.

This is because provisions to invite foreign pilots were already included in a government road map approved by Medvedev to improve the standards of Russian aviation.

With Russian passenger flow growing 16 to 17 percent annually, according to industry experts, the country's aviation industry requires about 800 new pilots per year.

Transportation Minister Sokolov said that since an average salary of $10,000 per month paid to pilots here by major airlines is competitive, the country will be able to attract pilots from the countries of the former Soviet Union, Europe and Americas.

But however, pilot unions and some conservative-leaning aviation experts have expressed strong opposition to the move.

"Instead of supporting our own state, we will rely on foreign pilots who will be like instant coffee — not the real thing," said Magomed Tolboyev, a former test pilot and member of the presidential consulting body.

But Gusarov from said the core of foreign pilots would come from the former Soviet Union. He said Russian companies would look for Soviet-trained pilots, 40 to 45 years of age, to make them chief pilots. "But I don't think that it will save the situation," Gusarov said.

The situation is more difficult on the regional level, where smaller carriers are experiencing difficulties not only with pilots but also with acquiring new regional jets.

Only 4.76 million passengers were transported by regional companies, compared with 33.4 million passengers flown by major Russian carriers within the country last year.

Medvedev said the government would spend 3.5 billion rubles ($116 million) in subsidies to carriers for routes between the Far East, Siberia and the European part of the country.

The costs of local flights are high. A round-trip ticket from Moscow to Irkutsk in eastern Siberia can be compared to a similar ticket from Moscow to London.

Medvedev said that part of the problem is the cost of maintenance of airport infrastructure in far flung regions, which is significantly higher than more frequently used regional hubs.


State to help would-be pilots to finish training

Giving much need relief to tribal students from Jharkhand selected for pilot training program in Hyderabad, the Government has decided to help them complete their course.

The trainees will now be given training at M/s Chimes Aviation Pvt Ltd, Dhana Sagar, in Madhya Pradesh and M/s Saraswati Aviation Academy, Amhat, Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh for the remaining period.

The Advisory Council to the Governor has also issued directives to book Spica Airlines & Aviation of Hyderabad. It has sought disciplinary action against officials responsible for entering into agreement with the company by registering criminal cases.

It has also been instructed that the new agreement be done after better verification.

Non-teaching staffs of universities and colleges of the State would be given benefits of revised Sixth Pay Commission, along with advantages of MACP. The employees would also be getting ACP benefits in Fifth Pay Commission recommendations.

Cathay Pacific Profit Plunges: WSJ

Updated March 13, 2013, 11:41 a.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG—Hit by pricing pressures in its premium cabins and continued cargo weakness, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. posted its worst annual results since the financial crisis, with net profit dropping 83% last year.

'In the finance business, we saw less travelers,' said Chief Executive John Slosar.

The sharp earnings decline came even as the airline carried a record number of passengers, underscoring challenges faced by many Asian full-service carriers—historically some of the world's most profitable—as competition intensifies.

The region's premium airlines increasingly are being squeezed on both ends, with the proliferation of low-cost carriers pressuring fares for short-distance economy-class seats, while the rapid growth of luxury airlines in the Mideast erodes market share on long-distance first- and business-class travel.

Adding to the headwinds is the persistently high price of fuel, which now accounts for some 60% of operating costs on a long-haul flight.

Cathay Pacific's net profit fell to 916 million Hong Kong dollars (US$118.1 million) from HK$5.50 billion in 2011. It was the airline's worst earnings figure since the airline posted an HK$8.7 billion net loss for 2008.

Excluding income from fuel surcharges, passenger yields—a key measure of average fares—were off 3.5%, with yields for first- and business-class cabins down more sharply, according to the carrier, which is based in Hong Kong. The passenger count was up 5% to a record 29 million.

Revenue rose slightly, to HK$99.38 billion from HK$98.41 billion.

A factor in Cathay Pacific's performance this year will be corporate clients, analysts said. If such customers start returning and boost premium demand, that could lead a turnaround. The airline reported a pickup in demand in January and February, and it continues to invest in upgrading services with new business-class cabins and airport lounges.

The airline, like rivals Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Qantas Airways Ltd. has been struggling with reduced demand for first- and business-class seats as financial institutions cut staff and travel budgets.

"Certainly in the finance business, we saw less travelers as banks restricted travel demand," Cathay Pacific Chief Executive John Slosar said at a news conference. But he described the sluggish market as more a cyclical downturn than a systemic change in corporate-travel preferences.

"I don't think we've seen the end of [the premium business] quite yet," he said. The airline has seen premium demand growing in developing markets such as mainland China, he said.

Singapore Airlines last month reported a 15% drop in net for the nine months ended Dec. 31 as the carrier coped with a weak premium segment. Australia-based Qantas reported weak operating performance for its fiscal first half, which ended Dec. 31.

Cathay Pacific, which is controlled by conglomerate Swire Pacific Ltd. was less upbeat about its cargo business—which accounts for more than a quarter of the company's revenue but continues to be a drag on earnings. With the global economy still weak, the air-cargo market remains depressed with no clear signs of a sustained recovery, though the carrier said it believed that demand eventually would return.

"The quick and efficient movement of critical goods by air makes modern life possible," said Chris Pratt, Cathay Pacific's chairman. "There is no placing that genie back in the bottle."

The carrier's 2012 earnings also were hit by lower profit contributions from Air China Ltd. of which Cathay Pacific owns 19.3%, as well as from losses at its cargo joint venture with the Chinese flag carrier.

Cathay Pacific said the combined contributions from associates, including Air China, slid to HK$641 million from HK$1.72 billion a year earlier. The company cited higher fuel costs and unfavorable exchange-rate movements.


Crippled F-16 jet lands safely at Fresno Yosemite International Airport (KFAT), Fresno, California

An F-16 fighter jet stationed at Fresno Yosemite International Airport has landed safely at the airport after developing an engine problem, authorities said Wednesday morning.  The plane's instruments apparently alerted the pilot to a problem with oil pressure, the Fresno Fire Department reported.  The jet circled the airport for several minutes to burn off some fuel before landing about 11:15 a.m. 


AMD CH2000 Alarus, N651AM: Accident occurred August 30, 2012 in Nephi, Utah

The owner of a Salt Lake County funeral service business was charged Tuesday with allegedly stealing a wedding ring worth $1,500 from a dead body. David Louis Jacobsen, 59, the owner of Jacobsen’s Removal and Embalming Service, in West Jordan, is charged in 3rd District Court with one third-degree felony count of theft. Jacobsen allegedly lifted the gold ring from the body of Peter John Mrowiec, who was one of two men who died in a plane crash near the Nephi airport on Aug. 30. 

According to charging documents, Cheryl Mrowiec reported that the ring was not given to her after her husband’s body was returned from the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office.

Investigators looking through records for the mortuary that cremated Mrowiec’s body found that the business had hired Jacobsen to transport the body from the Medical Examiner’s Office to the mortuary, and that Jacobsen had confirmed that the ring was among the personal items inventoried by the medical examiners. However, once the mortuary received Mrowiec’s body, the ring was nowhere to be found.

Jacobsen told police that while he did sign off on the inventory of personal belongings, he did not personally inspect the bodies before transporting them, according to charging documents. Jacobsen said he did not recall seeing a ring and denied stealing it, suggesting that it may have been sent to the family of the other plane crash victim by mistake. But the wife of the second victim told police she did not receive Mrowiec’s ring.

Mrowiec, 58, a Canadian citizen, and Robert Lamb, 45, a Utah County pilot and flight instructor, were the only two people inside an Alarus CH 2000 when it crashed and burst into flames about a mile from the Nephi Municipal Airport just after it took off.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board states that a thunderstorm with strong winds, heavy rain and lightning was present at the time of the crash. An official cause of the crash has not been released.

Mrowiec had traveled to Utah to buy the plane and retained Lamb to fly it and help familiarize him with the craft.

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA378 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 30, 2012 in Nephi, UT
Aircraft: AIRCRAFT MFG & DEVELOPMENT CO CH 2000, registration: N651AM
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 30, 2012, about 1615 mountain daylight time, an Aircraft MFG & Development Company, CH 2000, N651AM, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while in the traffic pattern at the Nephi Municipal Airport (U14) near Nephi, Utah. The aircraft was registered to private individuals and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The certified flight instructor and private pilot receiving instruction were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the instructional flight. The local flight originated from the Provo Municipal Airport near Provo, Utah, about 1500.

According to witnesses located adjacent to the accident site, the airplane was observed on a southerly heading south of U14 before it turned left to a northerly heading at an altitude of about 150 feet above ground level. Multiple witnesses reported that the airplane seemed to be traveling at a slow speed when it suddenly pitched downwards and descended into the ground. One witness stated that prior to the sound of impact the engine seemed to be at a high power setting. Witnesses further stated that at the time of the accident, a thunderstorm with strong wind, heavy rain and lighting were present in the area.

Examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed the airplane impacted an open field about 1.7 miles southeast of U14. Wreckage debris was found within about 50 feet of the main wreckage. All major structural components were located within the wreckage debris area. The wreckage was relocated to a secure location for further examination.

Passenger offloaded for abusing single hostess: Flight delayed following call to make women without companions disembark

Manama: A man was questioned by the Saudi police after he delayed the departure of a plane for two hours by insisting that all women traveling without male companions should disembark.

Preparations for Flight 1108 between the western coastal city of Jeddah and the eastern city of Dammam were proceeding normally on the plane when a passenger stunned the air hostess explaining the safety instructions by telling her that she should not be without a male companion.

“Why are you on the plane without a mahram [companion]?”, the passenger asked in a loud voice, local Arabic daily Okaz reported.

The passenger, who was not identified, insisted that the plane should not take off until all the unaccompanied women passengers disembarked.

Efforts by the plane crew to calm the passenger failed and the captain called the airport security to offload the passenger and his son who was accompanying him.

An investigation into the incident has been launched.

Conservatives in Saudi Arabia insist that women should not be allowed to travel without a male companion “to ensure their physical and mental well-being”.

However, the tendency is being resisted by reformers championing what they see as fair treatment of women.

The passenger’s attitude was widely condemned as “terribly negative and inappropriate” in the comments posted on the Saudi daily website.

Women were in January allowed to become members of the Shura Council, the national advisory council.

The bold breakthrough for women in the conservative country allowed them to have 30 of the 150 seats and comes two years before they are allowed to run and vote in the municipal elections in a landmark achievement.