Monday, March 18, 2013

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources remote-controlled toy helicopter considered a drone

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources wanted to fly a two-pound toy helicopter with a camera attached over remote marshland to monitor invasive species.

It was an idea that would save money — no $200-an-hour plane rental — while giving researchers more flexibility.

The problem?  

FAA regulations for a toy helicopter under such a situation are the same as those for a predator drone.

“The whole beginning of this was that we got the idea that we could use a remote control helicopter to find invasive plants in places where it became impossible to go by boat,” said Mike Pursley, DMR’s aquatic invasive species coordinator and field project manager.

“It would potentially save a lot of money,” he explained. “It would help find invasive hogs, plants — and it could help documenting day-to-day effects of coastline erosion.”

Pursley said the department applied for a grant and got the toy helicopter. But meeting FAA regulations proved too difficult. For example, Pursley said, even though DMR had a permit to fly the helicopter in a well-defined 50-acre plot of land, the local aircraft tower required two days’ notice. Regulations also required two people to man the flight, with both the pilot and official observer having medical airworthiness certificates and pilots’ licenses.

Since most unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have been used for military purposes, there aren’t specialized guidelines outside that arena yet.

“The FAA just released some statements last month about what they propose those certifications might look like, but right now we don’t know,” said Hinds Community College aviation instructor Randy Pearcy.

In essence, those who operate drones must be qualified to operate full-sized aircraft.

“We were pretty crestfallen when we found all these regulations. It’s not feasible right now,” Pursley said. “We don’t have the manpower to jump through those hoops.”

Meanwhile, DMR is hoping to generate support to train or hire pilots to fly its helicopter.

Pursley believes that by 2015, when drones will be cleared for civilian use, there will be more reasonable regulations for situations like DMR’s.

“I’m hoping they’ll have a standardized program with more classes of aircraft,” he said.

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Nigeria lifts flight suspension of Dana airlines

Abuja, March 18, 2013 (NAN) The Federal Government in Abuja on Monday granted Dana Airline permission to resume flight operations immediately.

This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Joe Obi, the Media Adviser to the Minister of Aviation.

"Officials of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority met with the Management team from Dana Airlines today in Abuja and deliberated on some safety issues in connection with the operations of the airline.

"At the end of the meeting, the suspension of the operations of the airline which took effect last Saturday was lifted.

`The airline is to resume normal operations immediately,’’ the statement stated.

According to the statement, one of Dana’s aircraft has a snag which led to the temporary suspension for safety reasons.

"The particular aircraft which had a snag over the weekend is to remain grounded until after its air-worthiness has been re-certified by Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft.

It will be recall that one of Dana’s aircraft crashed in June 2012 and its operational license was revoked by the government.

The airline was still battling with the resumption of full operation across Nigeria when it asked to stop operation again over safety issues.


Confidence sky-high over jumbo cargo plane: Aircraft on course for service after successful test flight, designer says

The country's first jumbo airfreighter is set for take-off into official service, its chief designer said weeks after its successful maiden test flight.

When fitted with Chinese-designed and manufactured engines, the Yun-20, or Transport-20, will have a greater take-off weight, longer fuselage and carry more cargo, said Tang Changhong, who has led the design team of the jumbo aircraft since 2007.

It is currently powered by four Russian-made engines, but these will ultimately be replaced by engines designed and made in China.

It will be in service probably within five years, depending on tests, Tang told China Daily.

The 15-meter-high aircraft underwent a successful test flight on Jan 26.

The Ministry of Defense confirmed shortly after the successful test flight that the Yun-20, mainly developed by the Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Co Ltd, has a load-carrying capacity of 66 metric tons.

It is 47 meters long, has a wingspan of 45 meters and a maximum take-off weight of 200 tons, Xinhua News Agency reported on March 3.

"We are still conducting test flights. They are going well, but more tests have to be carried out before it is put into use," Tang said.

Tang made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body. The meeting concluded last Tuesday.

Even when it is in service, designers will be carrying out upgrades to improve its performance, he said.

Tang revealed that domestically designed and manufactured engines will be tested during test flights and once they have passed various tests they will power the jumbo airfreighter.

The Chinese engines perform better in terms of fuel efficiency and thrust-weight ratio, he said.

Tang also said that, as is international practice, an aircraft could use several types of engines.

China's largest transporter had been the Yun-8, which has a maximum take-off weight of 61 tons. The Yun-8 debuted in 1975.

The Yun-20 can operate in adverse weather and a range of topographical conditions, Tang said.

"It can serve peace-keeping missions and bring in large quantities of aid for humanitarian missions."

Tang, a graduate of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, works at the No 1 Aircraft Design Institute under the Aviation Industry Corp of China.

In addition to the institute, at least 1,000 companies or research institutes have been involved in design and production of the jumbo, according to Tang.

The transport plane puts China in an exclusive club of countries and signals an ability to produce homegrown technology to boost its defense capacity, Xinhua reported in January.

"The successful test flight of the Yun-20 marks a milestone in China's aviation industry and we're moving a step closer toward building a strategic air power for the country," the news agency quoted Tang as saying earlier this month.


Take off from Dubai Mall on a Boeing 737: For a mere Dh299 you can pilot a B737 and land at the city of your choice

Dubai:   Ever harboured a dream of flying a jumbo jet? Well, here’s your big chance to give wings to your dream – with a Boeing 737 at your command.

Here’s the deal: You can be a six-year-old or an adult. Pick any city or airport in the world to take off from or land.

The cockpit is a mock-up alright, but it’s the closest you can get to flying a jumbo jet without a licence because the navigation exercise is real and so are the instruments.

Put together in a simulation pit near Reel Cinemas at Dubai Mall, iPilot, the German company behind the concept, offers anyone the chance to take on air turbulence with the help of a licensed pilot.

For up to 60 minutes per session, you get to captain the US-made twin-engine.

The session starts with a few minutes of instructions on how to read and work the flight instruments. Then off you go to do a pilot’s routine – cleared by the air traffic controller, take off, cruise at up 900km/h, fly in extreme weather conditions and land.

“Our simulators are as close to reality as can be, most of the controls are taken from a real plane,” said Ivo Poricky, a trained pilot and one of the onsite flight instructors.

Already a hit with enthusiasts, the simulator is attracting customers of all ages, from those with zero flying experience to seasoned pilots who want to try it.

As you take the captain’s seat, the instructor sits next to you and explains how to get the aircraft ready and control the flaps, stabilisers, adding power for take-off, setting speed, etc.

The sound effects, the view of the “outside” world on LCD screens and the response of instruments to your cockpit manoeuvres all help to create the sensation that you are actually flying a plane.

Peter Fatalski, a middle-aged Australian, thought his desire to fly would remain unfulfilled. “I was curious to know if I could handle a plane in case of a real life emergency,” he said.

Fatalski took a short “flight” from Dubai International’s Terminal 3. After telling passengers to fasten their seat belts, the screen flashed real-life views of the runway and surroundings as he took off.

As the “plane” gained altitude, Dubai’s landscape came into view – the towers, road networks, the sea and the desert. The mode control panel showed the altitude, airspeed and direction, among others – changing numbers.

After cruising for a few minutes, our captain finally landed.

“It was my first experience and I can’t believe I did it. Everyone who ever had a desire to fly should try this. I now have a greater admiration for what a pilot does,” he said.

Poricky said a crash or an emergency are among the most common questions people ask. “This is not a certified training,” Poricky said. “But yes, you would not feel lost once you have had this experience.”

Customers can choose from several options, including a 15-minute flight session. The cost ranges from Dh299 to Dh1,349.

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Eclipse 550 Jet is "Powered Up" on Its Way to First Delivery: Eclipse Aerospace maintains schedule for first aircraft delivery, projected to occur in Q3 2013

Albuquerque, NM, Mar 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) -- Eclipse Aerospace, Inc. celebrates a major production milestone - the first power up of the new production Eclipse 550 Twin-Engine Jet. The first production Eclipse 550 aircraft successfully powered up its two Pratt & Whitney PW610F engines, and the aircraft systems came on line today at the company's facility in Albuquerque, N.M.

Eclipse Aerospace officially restarted the Eclipse Jet aircraft production line last June and continues to track for delivery of the first new Eclipse 550 series aircraft in the third quarter of this year. Built upon the same proven airframe as the Eclipse 500 aircraft, the new Eclipse 550 series is enhanced by additional technologies including a dual and redundant integrated flight management system and independent standby displays all powered by advanced microprocessors.

"What a great accomplishment by our entire team at Eclipse," said Mason Holland, CEO of Eclipse Aerospace. "This event is another key signal to the world that we continue on our methodical and well executed plan to reintroduce production and delivery of the Eclipse 550 Jet this year."

The operation of the current fleet of over 260 Eclipse twin-engine jets have already garnered a reputation as one of the most technologically advanced, safe, and fuel-efficient jets in general aviation. The Eclipse 550 will be powered by the same PW610F turbofan engines as are used in the EA-500, which collectively produce 1,800 lbs. of thrust. This gives the 6,000 lb. Eclipse Jet a maximum cruise speed of 375 knots and a maximum IFR range of 1,300 nm with a 45-minute fuel reserve. Like the EA-500, the Eclipse 550 will have a maximum service ceiling of 41,000 ft. and a cruise fuel flow of only 59 gal/hr.

"The global markets are improving, sales activity and orders continue to grow, and the Eclipse Jet is priced extremely competitively as the only jet available in the world for less than three million US dollars," stated Holland. "This attractive acquisition price coupled with our industry leading operating costs of only $1.69 per nautical mile makes the Eclipse Jet a great value for our owner flown customers as well as Corporations and Governments alike."

Eclipse 550 customers will also be able to customize their aircraft with new features including; auto-throttles, synthetic vision, enhanced vision, satellite phones, custom interiors, and anti-skid brakes.

About Eclipse Aerospace, Inc.

Eclipse Aerospace, Inc. is the manufacturer of the Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet, the most fuel-efficient jet in the world. Eclipse also provides engineering, maintenance, service, and support for the fleet of 260 Eclipse 500 Twin-Engine Jet aircraft. Adhering to the motto "Customer First," Eclipse Aerospace is focused on providing a superior customer experience for existing and future owners, operators, and pilots of the revolutionary Eclipse Jet aircraft. Eclipse Aerospace corporate offices are based in Charleston, S.C. Principle operations are located in Albuquerque, N.M. and Chicago, Ill. Eclipse Aerospace is located on the web at


Colorado Mesa University sues firm over football team's canceled charter flight

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado — Colorado Mesa University is suing over a canceled charter flight for its football team.

The Daily Sentinel reports ( the school says it paid Iowa-based STM Charters Inc. $75,000 to fly the team to Arcadia, California, for a game Aug. 30 against Humboldt State. The university says STM's president said the flight was confirmed, provided the company was paid by Aug. 24. 

The university says it signed a contract Aug. 20 and made a payment the next day, but it was told Aug. 22 that the flight was no longer available.

The team made other travel arrangements for $93,000. It is seeking damages of $18,000.

STM denies receiving a signed contract and says the university's losses were caused by events outside its control.

A trial is set for Aug. 27.

Corporate jet has overstayed its welcome at airport by several years; rent now charged: Lincoln (KLNK), Nebraska

LINCOLN, Nebraska — A jet that landed at Lincoln Airport about 3½ years ago has overstayed its welcome, so the airport has started charging daily rent.

The Lincoln Journal Star says the 1981 Canadair CL-600 Challenger had been flown from Santa Ana, California, to Lincoln on Sept. 3, 2009, for maintenance at Duncan Aviation.

Duncan spokeswoman Lori Johnson says that "due to many unforeseen circumstances, it did not leave at that time." She says Duncan is helping the current owner in trying to move the jet away from Lincoln.

Johnson says she doesn't know whether the jet is flyable.

On March 1 Lincoln Airport officials began charging the jet's owner in California $50 a day, in keeping with a new policy for any aircraft that stays past 30 free days of parking.

Former Royal Australian Air Force F111 arrives at Port Adelaide Aviation Museum

The SA Aviation Museum has become the first in Australia to take delivery of a former RAAF F111 jet bomber.

The retired jet - which can reach speeds up to two-and-a-half times the speed of sound - arrived at the Port Adelaide museum this morning.

It left Amberley RAAF Base in Queensland, near Ipswich, on board a truck on Friday (March 15) and travelled more than 1200km through NSW, Burra and Gawler.

It comes after the Federal Government announced the museum would be one of six groups nationwide to take delivery of the retired jets last October.

The F-111s, which were retired in December 2010 after 37 years of service, are best known for their spectacular displays at air shows and major sporting events where they would do ignited "fuel dumps".

SA Aviation Museum public relations officer John Roberts said the jet would help boost tourism in Port Adelaide and the state.

He also expected ticket sales to increase, giving the museum's volunteers more funding to restore and maintain its aircraft.

"People would have seen the F-111 blow fire out of its rear end and in pictures everywhere," Mr Roberts said.

"It is a modern-day icon, so it's a very significant and prestigious thing to have one here."

Visitors will be able to see technicians from the Amberley RAAF Base reassemble the jet over the next three days from designated viewing spots.

It is expected to be on display in the museum's hangar by Thursday.

The SA Aviation Museum is at 66 Lipson St, Port Adelaide, and open every day from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Tickets: $9 for adults and $4.50 for children under 16.

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Private airline: Indus Air gets two planes

Indus Air, perhaps the most talked about upcoming private airline of Pakistan, on Sunday confirmed that two  of its planes have reached Pakistan from the United States.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Indus Air officials confirmed that its planes had arrived, but did not share the specifications of the aircraft. Aviation industry officials say that these planes will need clearance from different aviation departments and it may take more than a month to induct these aircraft in the fleet.

The critics of the airline say that its management has been receiving benefits from the Civil Aviation Authority for being close to President Asif Ali Zardari or his immediate family. However, President Zardari denied his or any of his family member’s connection with the management of Indus Air in an interview with a television channel.

After the crashes of Airblue in 2010 and Bhoja Air in 2012, private airlines in Pakistan have been extra cautious in airworthiness and maintenance of their fleets.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2013.

A-26 restoration group wins award

ENID, Okla. — An Enid group that has restored a World War II-era A-26 Invader recently was honored.

The Lady Liberty group was awarded the 2012 Commemorative Air Force Distinguished Unit Citation at the Commemorative Air Force Winter Conference in Midland, Texas.

“It was definitely a surprise to the group. It’s quite an honor, because there are quite a number of Commemorative Air Force groups in the U.S. It’s a pretty nice honor,” said Dee Ann Ediger, Enid CAF board member.

The criteria for the award is to have consistently demonstrated extraordinary, meritorious and exceptional service to the Commemorative Air Force. The Enid-based group, led by CAF Col. Ken Larcher, was presented the award in part to significant improvements in its operations in 2012.

Lady Liberty arrived at Enid Woodring Regional Airport June 23, 2012, relocating from Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City. The citation mentioned the ability of the group to move the plane from the Wiley Post hangar to Enid, 80-miles away, when faced with the loss of its Wiley Post Airport hangar. The aircraft and support equipment were moved to Enid.

Its new home is the original Woodring Municipal hangar, built in the 1940s, and the round-top style of the hangar fits in well with the vintage of the aircraft, Ediger said. The crew plans to make improvements to the hangar, which will include a museum, officers club, flag pole and WWII-era art on the outside of the building. An east-facing entrance has been planned, which will make for easy access for visitors to the Vietnam Memorial Wall replica at Woodring when it arrives. The A-26 hangar is directly across the street from the Vietnam Wall site.

A crew from Oklahoma City drives to Enid every weekend to work on the aircraft, along with a number of volunteers and CAF members from the Enid area. The plane is undergoing annual maintenance and inspection in Hangar 11 at Woodring.

“Ours is the oldest flying A-26 in the CAF. It’s the only one with operational bomb bay doors,” Ediger said. “The Guthrie group has one that doesn’t fly; there’s still a lot of restoration to do. (The) Dallas-Fort Worth (group) should fly this summer for air shows,” Ediger said.

She said the three groups, Guthrie, Dallas-Fort Worth and Enid, are working together to coordinate pilot and crew training. By doing that, they can exchange pilots or crew, if needed.

The Lady Liberty was taken out of military service, then used as a Forestry Department tanker. It was sold for private use in the 1970s and eventually placed in storage, where it went unused for a number of years, Ediger said. Then it was sold to a private individual and eventually donated to the CAF, and restoration began.

The winter months are spent doing annual inspection. The CAF has sponsorships available for all the planes it owns, to help restore them to flying condition. Once in condition, the aircraft perform in air shows, and are used as static displays and to sell rides. Each CAF group is responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft. Groups receive some income from air shows and tours, but heavily rely on donations to keep the planes flying, Ediger said.

The aircraft owned by Enid CAF is the oldest flying Invader, Ediger said. It was the 130th one produced, and was accepted Aug. 18, 1944, at Long Beach, Calif. It was flown to Great Dunnow, England on Sept. 20, 1944, where it was assigned to the 9th Air Force.

The USAF Historical Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base does does have specific unit history of the aircraft.

Anyone interested in the Commemorative Air Force can go to

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Let the painting begin: Dean Baldwin Painting starts operations inside renovated hangar

— PERU — It’s been four years since state and local officials began initial talks to entice Texas-based Dean Baldwin Painting to move into a vacant airplane hangar at Grissom Aeroplex.

Those talks started paying off last week when American Airlines flew a massive Boeing 767 jet to the hangar to get a fresh paint job by newly-hired workers.

CEO Barbara Baldwin said in a previous interview the company has already hired 60 people, and estimated 160 employees would be working at the facility by the end of April.

She said the company will hire over 200 workers by the end of the year, with an annual payroll of around $6 million.

Dean Baldwin Painting officially began operations out of the renovated hangar last week, after winning a contract in January to paint American Airlines jet planes.

The airline company announced earlier this year it was changing its logo and livery on all its planes for the first time in 40 years.

“We were fortunate to win a piece of this,” Baldwin said. “The contract we won is good and long.”

She said it usually takes around 14 days to complete a paint job, and the Boeing 767 should be complete this week.

Since the initial talks began four years ago, Miami County officials have worked to secure funding to renovate the hangar at Grissom to accommodate the company.

The $13.8 million project expanded the hangar by 50,000 feet on the east and west sides so large airplanes could fit inside.

“This facility is one-in-a-million,” Baldwin said. “It’s really state-of-the-art.”

She said the company plans to paint and service more than 200 airplanes a year out of the new facility, which could attract other aviation businesses to the area.

The expansion will nearly double the size of Dean Baldwin, which currently employees 240 people at its facilities in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

Federal Aviation Administration officials met Friday with company and local representatives to formally present a certificate of operation for the hangar.

The expansion project was funded by a $7.2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state loans totaling $5.1 million and more than $1 million in local funding from Miami County.

Dean Baldwin Painting signed a 30-year lease agreement with Miami County to use the hangar. Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said the yearly lease payments will go toward paying off the federal and state loans.

He said studies estimate the facility will have an economic impact of $162 million in the area over its first five years of operation.

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Yellowstone Regional Airport Grows

CODY - Billing's loss is Cody's gain. The Billings Logan Airport will close on six weekends this summer. Cody's Yellowstone Regional Airport convinced Skywest to bring in more flights to Cody on those weekends.

The airport will have more flights then than it ever has.

Every summer, Yellowstone Regional Airport gets more flights from Denver and Salt Lake City. They serve the tourists who come to Yellowstone’s eastern gateway community. Next summer, in addition to the yearly increase, YRA will get even more flights.

YRA Airport Manager Bob Hooper said, "This summer the Billings Airport is going to be closed for six weekends starting July 12th for runway construction.”

The Cody Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources Board, a support group, saw an opportunity and asked United and Skywest to bring more flights to Cody.

Hooper said, “We were successful in getting an additional service to Salt Lake City provided by Skywest Airlines during those six weekends.”

Hertz Cody Manager Bradley Williams said, “Probably the busiest this airport’s going to be, probably the busiest we’re going to be, uh, we’re going to have to bring in some extra cars. I think every car rental here’s business is going to have to bring in extra cars for that.”

It will be the most air service Cody’s ever had. And, it’s not just benefiting the rental car companies.

Hooper explained, “Hotels, restaurants, the gift shops up and down Main Street, the museum.”

And, of course, the people who live in Northwest Wyoming, who may want more opportunities to fly out of YRA will benefit, too.

The extra flights will be on the weekends from July 14th to August 18th.


Aviation firm to settle up with county

Miracle Strip Aviation, one of two fixed-base operators at Destin Airport, has agreed to a plan that would settle its $485,000 debt with the county by 2019.

The Okaloosa County Commission is scheduled to vote on the plan at its Tuesday meeting.

“It’s a very good deal,” interim airports director Dino Villani said. “(The county) is recovering all the funds that should have been paid.”

The other benefit, he said, is “a healthy airport.”

Under the plan, Miracle Strip Aviation, which was recently purchased by Mississippi-based Regal Capital, would pay the county $150,000 upfront, make $100,000 in major renovations to the county-owned terminal at Destin Airport and repay the remaining $235,382 at 4 percent interest over six years.

Villani said the renovations would include improvements to the lobby and the bathrooms.

“It’s improving a county building,” he said. “We get our money back, we get interest ... and we hopefully get a good fixed-base operator to help the airport thrive.”

Miracle Strip Aviation amassed the $485,382 debt because of an error in the county’s billing system. From 2006 to 2011, the company received invoices from the county as a courtesy. The invoices were incorrect, billing for an amount lower than the actual lease payment.

“They continued to pay the old rate,” County Administrator Jim Curry said. “They never adjusted to the new rate.”

The discrepancy between what Miracle Strip Aviation should have been paying and what they continued to remit also was overlooked by the county until discovered by an internal audit in February 2011.

Other issues to be considered at the commissioners’ Tuesday meeting include:

- The approval of a short list of candidates for county administrator. The board will narrow a pool of nine finalists to five. The nine finalists are Rick Chaffin, deputy city manager of McKinney, Texas; Patricia Crook, city manager of Adairsville, Ga.; Ted Lakey, county manager of Jackson County, Fla.; W. Scott Larese, senior vice president of Navigator Development Group in Enterprise, Ala.; Stephen Layson, chief administrative officer of Bibb County, Ga.; Charles R. Oliver, a consultant for Pensacola; Ernie Padgett, county administrator of Manatee County, Fla.; Richard Starks, county administrator of Florence County, S.C.; Christopher K. Wilson, city administrator for Southaven, Miss.

- A proposal by Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson requesting permission to take over the collection of bed taxes from the Clerk of Court’s Office.