Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Air traffic controllers help pilot land in treacherous conditions

MADISON (WKOW) -- Rapidly changing weather conditions put a local pilot in danger when he ran into some trouble in the air and an air traffic controller brought him down to safety.

 Dan Spangler, a recreational pilot from Jefferson, took off from Watertown Municipal Airport for quick flight. He says he checked the weather before he left, which appeared to be OK for flying. He was just planning to circle around and practice a landing or two, but once he got in the air he says weather conditions changed rapidly and his plane completely iced over.

Spangler was flying blind, so he called FAA air traffic control for help. Controller Jack Deutscher, stationed in Madison at Dane County Regional Airport's tower, stayed in radio communication with him for 30 minutes. He used radar to guide Spangler to a Madison runway.

"We just pointed him at the airport and then told him when to descend, when to turn and lined him right up with the runway over there," says Deutscher.

Spangler says it was a very smooth landing, despite the fact that he couldn't see out the windows. He says he's grateful for the help of air traffic control.

I don't know what would have happened if they wouldn't have been there, but thank heavens they were there," says Spangler. "It was really scary, I felt I kept pretty calm until I landed, then my hands started to shake."

Other planes were operating normally that day, but Spangler's small aircraft wasn't equipped to deal with icy conditions. He calls himself a "fair-weather flyer" so he wasn't quite prepared for it either.

Deutscher says it's the first time he's saved a distressed pilot in 12 years as a controller. As heard on the radio communication recording, both men remained extremely calm throughout the process.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Air traffic controllers help a recreational pilot land a plane, while he was flying blind for about 30 minutes.

A pilot who took off from the Watertown Municipal Airport on February 21st with plans to land right away again ran into some bad weather. His plane quickly iced up, including the entire windshield, and the pilot says he was flying completely blind. He called the airport and officials transferred his call to air traffic controllers in Madison.

For 30 minutes, an air traffic controller communicated with the pilot by radio, following him on a radar system and was able to guide the pilot to a safe landing.


Cirrus SR22, Zhuhai Hanxing General Aviation Company, B-9592: Accident occurred March 27, 2013 off the coast of Zhuhai, Guangdong - China

NTSB Identification: WPR13WA197 
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 27, 2013 in Zhuhai Sanzao Airport, China
Aircraft: CIRRUS SR22, registration:
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On March 27, 2013 about 1445 Beijing time, a Cirrus SR-22, Chinese registration B-9592, experienced a loss of engine power and subsequently ditched near Zhuhai Sanzao Airport, Guangdong Province, China. The airplane was operated as an instructional flight by Zhuhai Hanxing General Aviation Limited under the pertinent civil regulations of China. The airplane was substantially damaged and there were no injuries to the three people on board.

The accident is being investigated by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The NTSB has designated an U.S. Accredited Representative under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13, as the state of manufacture for the aircraft and engines.

Further information pertaining to this accident should be directed to:

Aircraft Accident Investigation Division
Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)
Central Southern Regional Administration (CSRA)
Tel: +86 20 8613 1650

A US-made Cirrus SR22 plane crashed into the sea off the coast of South China's Guangdong province Wednesday afternoon.

All three of the plane's crew members were saved after a US-made Cirrus SR22 plane crashed into the sea off the coast of South China's Guangdong province Wednesday afternoon.

The plane, which is owned by Zhuhai Hanxing General Aviation Co., Ltd., fell into the sea around 2:48 pm, the Zhuhai municipal maritime bureau said. 

 All three of the plane's crew members were saved by a rescue team made up of local fishermen around 3:13 pm, the bureau said.

The accident was caused by an engine failure, according to an initial investigation.

The plane's crew made a successful emergency landing in the sea after failing to restart the engine. The crew waited for rescue on floating seat cushions, said Zhao Liancheng, head of the general aviation company and one of the plane's crew members.

The plane has been lifted out of the sea and will be moved back to safety around 9 pm, Zhao said.


Aircraft on landing gear collapsed: March 27, 2013 at Big Bear City Airport (L35), California

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:21 pm | Updated: 6:31 am, Fri Mar 29, 2013. 

A U.S. Marine Corps T-34C training plane landing gear collapsed during landing at Big Bear Airport March 27.

No injuries were reported nor fuel or other leaks. The incident occurred around 3 p.m. and temporarily closed the airport until the plane was cleared from the runway.

The plane, which was flying out of the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, was attempting to land on runway 26. Big Bear Airport General Manager Pete Gwaltney said that the pilots told him that when they attempted to land a gust of wind came in forcing them off the runway. When the plane lowered for its second approach the nose landing gear hit the runway first causing it to collapse and become disabled.

The plane was flown by two Marine pilots who declined to comment.

Gwaltney said that once the plane was disabled on the runway he contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to put out a notice   regarding the runway closure. He also contacted the National Transit Safety Board, which turned the incident over to the military, according to Gwaltney. The airport crew used recovery equipment to transport the plane off of the runway into a nearby hangar for temporary storage after getting clearance from the military. The runway was reopened at approximately 4:15 p.m.

Gwaltney said he expects the Marines to be back at the airport March 28 to begin an investigation and repair the plane.

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Photo courtesy of Donald Shade

Bellanca 17-30A Super Viking N96JG: Accident occurred March 26, 2013 in Plainview, Texas 

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA211
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 26, 2013 in Plainview, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/24/2014
Aircraft: BELLANCA 17-30A, registration: N96JG
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot, with about 24 hours of flight experience, departed on a local flight with a passenger in night visual meteorological conditions. During cruise flight, the airplane struck a 102-foot-high power line. The power line broke through the cockpit windshield, and the airplane descended and impacted terrain. No mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane were reported that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The student pilot's improper decision to fly in night visual meteorological conditions and his failure to maintain altitude and clearance from obstacles.

On March 26, 2013, about 2200 central daylight time, a Bellanca 17-30A, N96JG, struck a power line during cruise flight near Plainview, Texas. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wing. The student pilot sustained minor injuries and a passenger was uninjured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident for the local flight that originated from Hale County Airport, Plainview, Texas, at time unknown.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector stated that the airplane struck a power line that was about 102 feet in height during en route cruise. The power line broke the windshield, and the airplane descended into terrain. The lower or upper portions of the fuselage or empennage were struck by a power line. The pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger was uninjured. No mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal airplane operation were reported by the FAA.

The pilot's student pilot certificate was revoked because the pilot did not hold a pilot certificate while carrying a passenger. The student pilot had a total flight time of about 24 hours, of which 8 hours were in the airplane make and model.

The student pilot did not contact the National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) after a voicemail was left by the IIC on April 15, 2013, instructing the student pilot to contact the IIC. A National Transportation Safety Board Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report (Form 6120.1) was sent to the student pilot on April 17, 2013. A Form 6120.1 was not received from the pilot.

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA211 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 26, 2013 in Plainview, TX
Aircraft: BELLANCA 17-30A, registration: N96JG
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 26, 2013, about 2200 central daylight time, a Bellanca 17-30A, N96JG, struck a powerline while circling to land near Plainview, Texas. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wing. The student pilot was uninjured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.


Bellanca 17-30A Super Viking N96JG

The power lines came across the engine case removing fuel injectors, spark plug wires and the air box before taking out the windshield.

The real testament to the strength of a Bellanca Super Viking is that the wing is still attached to the airframe. 

  The steel tubes behind the windshield deflected the two 1-1/4” power lines.

Beautiful Plane - By Brenda Grundt: Wawa Municipal Airport, Ontario -Canada (Photo Gallery and Video)

The flight crew were very happy with the hospitality and care shown to them by Wawa Airport staff, and said that it is a delight to fly in and out of our airport. They hope to come back.  -Brenda Grundt 

Wawa aviation fans had a treat on Monday morning when a Gulfstream G550 landed at the Wawa Municipal Airport. This is a $58 million dollar aircraft, with a maximum speed of Mach 0.885 – that’s more than 585 miles per hour (941 km/hr). This is said to be the gold standard in business aviation, so it is appros that this aircraft belongs to Barrick Gold Corporation, the world's largest gold producer.  

They were in Wawa to visit at their mine in Marathon, Ontario. From Barrick's website "The Hemlo property consists of David Bell, an underground mine, and Williams, an underground and open pit mine, located approximately 350 kilometers east of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Williams and David Bell mines share milling, processing and tailings facilities where ores from the two mines are co-mingled and fed to a standard grind, leach and carbon-in-pulp extraction mill. In 2012, Hemlo produced 206,000 ounces of gold at total cash costs of $978 per ounce. Hemlo’s proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2012 were 1.2 million ounces of gold."

One might ask why did they land in Wawa, and not Marathon. Simply put, Marathon's runway length is 3933/3735 feet versus 4429/3740 feet at Wawa. This aircraft needs 2,770 feet to land, and Wawa's runway length offered a little bit more room. That being said, the pilot did call to confirm weather at the airport and conditions before departing for Wawa. Even the wingspan of the Gulfstream could have caused problems. Our runway is 98' wide and the wingspan of the Gulfstream is 93.6 ft.   

Wawa-news had the opportunity to peek inside the cabin, wow! Travelling in this would be very, very comfortable. I didn't presume to sit in one of the plush, leather seats, but I can imagine falling asleep in one of them. In fact, the flight attendant told me that often times the passengers will do just that, fall asleep in the chairs - before she has a chance to make them up into small beds. She has a cosy, leather chair in a small cabin just beside the galley. This plane is equipped with a galley, coffee machine, stove, microwave, and fridge for travelling comfort.

But not only are the passengers spoilt, the pilots are also well looked after. A first for me to see, was the heads up display. The cockpit has all kinds of new features, and very interesting a 3D weather radar display. Too soon, though, the passengers arrived at the airport, and I took my leave of this beautiful plane. A few minutes later, after a pre-flight check, the plane began to taxi to the runway, taxiing down to the far end, then reving it's engines, Rolls-Royce's at that, took off and headed to it's next destination.

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New Jersey using helicopter with giant saw blades to trim trees

Aerial saw blade 
(Jersey Central Power & Light)

Photo and video courtesy Brian McCarthy


What Was Flying Over Mercer County Park?  
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WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - March 27, 2013 (WPVI) -- Jersey Central Power & Light's introduced Action News to its newest weapon in the war to keep the lights on. 

It is an aerial tree trimmer suspended from a helicopter that uses giant saw blades to shear off branches where they're encroaching on power lines.

"A gang of 10 blades 25 inches in diameter each, so you have a cutting surface of roughly 20 feet, and that's extended from the aircraft by a series of aluminum booms," Ted McAllister of Aerial Solutions, Inc. said.

The blades spin at 2,400 revolutions a minute, moving up and down to cut back tree limbs under the control of a skilled pilot who leans out of his aircraft to watch his progress.

"The aerial saw is able to turn around and cut from the top down and get a nice clean cut," Scott Wirs, JCP&L Regional Supervisor, said.

Keeping trees away from transmission lines like those running through Mercer County Park is a must. If branches come in contact with the 230,000 volts running through there it can cause big problems.

"Within a certain amount of feet you're going to have an arc and thereby it turns around and takes the line out," Scott said.

JCP&L hired the helicopter after Hurricane Sandy. That's when hundreds of thousands of people were left without power after fallen trees made it difficult to repair towers and transmission lines.

"Using the helicopter saw makes it much more efficient and much more effective. For instance, we are in a right-of-way here, where we would have had to have several different trucks in a confined area doing the same work which would have been much more costly and taken a great deal more time," JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said.

It cost about $500 an hour to hire the helicopter, but JCP&L says it's worth it.

They say the aerial saw is safer and can do in an hour work that would take a tree trimming crew two days to complete.

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iPads soar to new heights with Massey pilots

Massey University flight instructor George Minors tests an iPad during a training flight with student McKenzie Lewis.

Massey University’s School of Aviation is trialling the use of iPads as an “electronic flight bag” on board its aircraft. The trial has consent from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is the first of its kind to be undertaken by a flight-training center in New Zealand.

“In modern commercial aircraft the advanced technology cockpits are fitted with an electronic flight bag that provides easy access to the charts and manuals that pilots are required to carry on board,” says School of Aviation chief executive Ashok Poduval.

“In most aircraft, though, pilots have a carry-on flight bag that contains paper-based reference materials – manuals, booklets of technical information, maps and charts, etc. With this proof of concept trial we are trying to emulate the electronic flight bags of the commercial airlines, but in a practical and cost-effective way.”

The two-month trial has only just begun, but the flight instructors using the iPads are already discovering some key advantages.

“There’s some massive advantages to having all the paperwork in an electronic format,” says flight instructor and trial coordinator George Minors. “For example the AIP [Aeronautical Information Publication] is available as a free app for the iPad. When you download it, it streams from the website so it’s always the latest version and you can update it with the press of a button.

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VORTAC in Madison, Mississippi

Some of the structure can still be seen from Old Canton Road.

MADISON, Miss. (AP) - It's six stories high, nearly as wide as a football field and is peeking out above trees near the Madison airport. 

Public works official Tommy Boxx tells WLBT-TV in Jackson ( ) that the large dish on stilts has a VORTAC navigation system.

According to a federal aviation guide, VORTAC gives pilots the bearing and range of an airport. Pilots use the information to check whether they are on course.

Madison negotiated with the Federal Aviation Administration to keep the structure less conspicuous as is the local tradition. Boxx says antennas will be painted green to blend in with the background.

Madison has had a VORTAC in use for about 30 years but it had to be replaced after the FAA lost the lease to the land it sits on.

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British Airways closing Jacksonville call center: 280 jobs affected

British Airways will close its Jacksonville call center operations by the end of the year, a move that will affect about 280 employees.

"Following a global review of our call center operations, the decision has been taken to close Flytele, our call center in Jacksonville by the end of December 2013," a British Airways spokeswoman said Tuesday in an email.

The call center operates as Flytele and is located at 4887 Belfort Road. It is registered as Teleflight Limited Inc. and opened in 2001.

The spokeswoman confirmed that 280 staff would be affected by its closing. She said the company will work with the union and the affected employees "during this time."

In a statement, the spokeswoman said the decision "has not been taken lightly" and is part of the company's efforts "to ensure our customers receive the best possible service at the right level of cost, operational effectiveness and flexibility."

The company's Jacksonville call center operational costs are "significantly higher" than its other call centers and its closure is based purely on costs, she said. She did not elaborate on the difference in costs of the Jacksonville call center to others.

The company decided to exercise an option within its property lease to end the agreement in March 2014, the spokeswoman said.

As of Wednesday morning, no Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice, also known as a WARN notice, from the company had been updated with the state's website.


Pilots failed to 'see, avoid' - report

An inquiry into the 2010 mid-air collision between two Cessna aircraft which killed two people in Feilding has found neither the pilots nor the flight instructor recognized their airplanes were on a collision course.

Flight instructor 27-year old Jessica Neeson and her 64-year-old trainee pilot Patricia Smallman were killed when their Cessna 152 collided with 21-year-old Manoj Kadam's aircraft, nosediving into the ground.

Ms Smallman had taken up flying in February 2008 and flown solo for the first time in June that year. At the time of the accident she had 98 flying hours under her belt.

The TAIC report has found Mr Kadam, who at the time had 74 hours of flying experience, definitely did not see the other aircraft before the collision – but could not determine whether Ms Smallman or Ms Neeson had.

All three failed to initiate a concept known as 'see and avoid', a fundamental requirement for flight under visual flight rules, says chief commissioner John Marshall QC.

Mr Marshall also said the reason for the inquiry wasn't to pass blame, but to prevent further incidents.

"In telling the story like it is, there will inevitably be an inference of blame," he says. "Rather than unfairly focusing on blame, the media, public and industry must instead focus on what can be learned and share the responsibility to help prevent similar accidents in the future".

The report found that Ms Neeson, who had accrued 1566 flying hours at the time of the accident, should have been able to recognize the potential for a mid-air collision and take avoiding action.

The TAIC has recommended the Civil Aviation Authority educate pilots at all levels of the importance of the concept of 'see and avoid' for detecting and avoiding aircraft, the limitations of that concept and the importance of making clear and concise radio transmissions to warn other aircraft of locations and intentions.

The CAA has responded to the first recommendations by saying the authority already believes the current level of education is sufficient. However, it has picked up the third recommendation to review aircraft paint schemes and lighting to improve the reliability of the 'see and avoid' concept.

The commission also released a second report this morning into flying safety training, but could find no systemic problems due to a lack of evidence.

The TAIC says the CAA needs to have better data collection and analysis systems in place so it can identify any trends or issues.

However, Mr Marshall says new Zealand's fatality rates for training accidents are "broadly comparable" with Australia and the United States.

Mr Marshall says a recurring theme in the inquiry process was a lack of available data that might have contributed to safety occurrences.

"This meant that while we did not find evidence to support anecdotal claims of issues, we could not exclude them either."

The CAA has agreed to review its data systems and processes, do more qualitative safety research and improve instructor demographics and performance data collection and use.


The pilot in command -By Moe Glenner

Moe Glenner is the founder and CEO of PURELogistics, a leading consulting firm that specializes in change management, and a regular speaker at trade shows and industry events. Glenner earned his MBA at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification from Villanova University. In Selfish Altruism, Glenner explores the personal motives and emotions that can impact organizational change.

By Moe Glenner

As a professional pilot, I meticulously pre-plan my flight including strong and continuous consideration and planning for the weather. I can’t control the weather, but I can control how I react to it, including choosing to divert or not fly in it at all. However, there are times that, despite the planning, Mother Nature has her own little surprises. Regardless, as Pilot in Command (PIC), I must continue to safely fly the plane.

It is no different with life’s surprises for any of us. Sometimes, we can anticipate them and pre-empt either the change itself or its impacts. Other times, we may not be able to control the events themselves, but we can certainly control how we react to them and our consequential actions afterwards.

Ask yourself this question: Do events control you or do you control events? Or better yet, are you influenced by life events or do you influence life events? How many times are we faced with a situation that seems hopeless and resign ourselves to whatever fate presents?

Resignation is insidious. Sometimes when “the chips are down,” we will defer our own free will and ability to take charge of the situation and instead wallow in whatever was presented. Typically, this will happen at what I call a “failure moment.” For many of us, the failure is a fait accompli. It is time to accept the reality and finality and move on.

But if we look at the failure as not the end itself rather a means to an end, then the failure is just a speed bump to be traversed and not finality. In fact, failure might not be a bad thing in itself. Failure can spur as to be more innovative, better at what we do and possibly reach an even better solution than originally intended. The key is not to resign and/or give up when confronted with failure. After all, failure is an opportunity to be even better if we alter our mindset to accept it as an impetus for being better.

Once, an early morning airline flight was cancelled before I even left for the airport and then mysteriously reinstated with a long delay. Despite written notice of the cancellation, the airline refused to reschedule me without their requisite $250 rescheduling fee. Escalating the situation to senior management did not satisfactorily resolve the issue. In essence, I was out of luck and money.

At first, I was quite angry. How could the airline not take responsibility for its own screw-up? Why do I have to pay extra just to get them to rectify their own error? Why do I now have to placate my client about my non-arrival, even though it wasn’t my fault? What am I going to do about this in the future?

After the initial anger subsided and a calmer head prevailed, I decided to do something about it. I always wanted to be a pilot and fly to different places. Twenty years ago, I intended on taking flight lessons but somehow “life got in the way” (or rather, I allowed it to detract from my goal). Ten years ago, I intended to take flight lessons, but again “life got in the way.” Now, I was ready to do it and not have to rely on the airlines and their arbitrariness. With careful planning, I was ready to go.

Through considerable effort and dedication to learning, practicing and flying nearly every day, I was able to gain the various certifications necessary to not only fly myself in good weather, but even in poor visibility weather and to fly others around as well. As a professional pilot, I even have additional income opportunities available by being a corporate pilot for local companies. I was able to take an adverse experience, that for some is routine, and channel that into positive action. I was not and am not willing to concede to a culture of victimhood. I refuse to believe in “it is what it is.” I will only believe that “it is what you make it to be.” Of course, it helped that I was motivated to make the change and that I remained motivated throughout.

We are constantly faced with changes in our everyday lives. Some of them are (or can be) reasonably anticipated and perhaps even planned for. Others are sudden and/or involuntary. Either way, the only thing constant in life, is change. How we plan and react to these changes is critical to personal success and realization of our goals.

It is too easy and convenient to simply blame others for our own lack of success. We blame our society for all of its ills. We blame our government for their ineptness (even though it was us that elected them). We blame and blame and blame some more but with all of the blaming and pointing fingers, we ultimately concede control of our own destiny. As such, we have taken ourselves out of our optimal state and instead moved to the United States of Denial.

Denial is a powerful psychological weapon that we self-employ to keep away the truth. With apologies to Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men), we can’t (and don’t want to) handle the truth. It is easier to close our eyes, ears, and brains and pretend that whatever ails us is not our fault. And it is therefore acceptable to blame whatever culprit happens to be convenient. We see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe, regardless of the actual reality or the truth. Except that we can and should handle the truth. How else will we improve? How else will we make ourselves and the world around us better if we won’t even concede that it is our problem to solve?

It would have been too easy for me to simply blame the airline and leave it at that. What guarantee would I have had that it wouldn’t happen again? I refused to be a victim and took concrete action that would reduce the likelihood of a repeat occurrence. This action required an investment of time, effort and money, but it would be difficult to argue that a solid return wasn’t achieved for that investment.

What happens when we inevitably hit that “bump in the road?” We must continue to fly our airplanes. When a pilot is on final approach for landing, he lines the plane up to land on the centerline of the runway with no drift and pointed down the runway. If he encounters a strong crosswind and doesn’t take positive corrective action, the plane will drift in the direction the wind is blowing. The plane might not be pointing straight and on landing might actually go off the side of the runway, damaging the airplane and possibly resulting in injuries (or worse). By taking immediate corrective actions, such as slipping or even a go-around to land on a different runway or different airport, the pilot affirms his control of the situation and allows for a positive and safe outcome.

Our intended goals should not be setback by a strong crosswind, a bump in the road, or even severe turbulence. We need to immediately recognize the situation and then take corrective action to stay on-track and continue pointed straight down the successful goal achievement runway. We are in command and we must stay in command to achieve positive results.


Pilots ’N Paws: Pilot Chris Pease Airlifts Adoptable Dogs to States With a Better Chance at Life

HELP FROM ABOVE: Chris Pease says he’s been involved in around 100 pet rescues, and has also volunteered for Remote Area Medical’s animal airlifts, which can mean transporting 25-50 dogs at a time.

Chris Pease’s 3-year-old blue heeler, Tango, is a light in his life. A pilot, Pease named his dog for the aviator’s code word for the letter “T.” She wears a pink collar that says “Princess,” and trots faithfully by his side. “She’s a wonderful dog with a playful personality, and very protective,” he says.

The bespectacled business owner with the easy grin and close-cropped shock of bright white hair adopted his sturdy, springy companion as a young puppy; she and her littermates were rescues and he got “first dibs.” And while she’s the only dog Pease owns, she’s just one of in a long line of canines that Pease has kept from being euthanized. He estimates in the past three years he’s flown dozens of missions on behalf of Pilots ’N Paws, the nationwide organization that acts as a clearinghouse to match private pilots willing to provide free transport with people and organizations who rescue, shelter, or foster animals and need to move them to another location where adoptive homes await.

The volunteer work is a “three-for-one” good deal for him, says Pease. “I get to save animals and I get to fly, and both of those are really enjoyable. And it makes my animal-loving family members happy as well.”

Founded in 2007 by South Carolina animal rescuer Debi Boies and Knoxville pilot Jon Wehrenberg, PNP now boasts more than 3,000 pilot volunteers and 10,500 others who help on the ground. Most often, rescue groups are removing the pets from “death row” in high-risk Southern states, where PNP estimates 70 percent of dogs that enter shelters are euthanized. They find refuge in Northeast or Pacific Northwest locales where spay-neuter laws are stricter and adoptable animals are in shorter supply; New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and California are some of the most popular final destinations.

Pease has flown entire flights or legs to assist animals from such organizations as the Tennessee Pekingese Rescue and Young Williams Animal Shelter. He once flew a dog named Caesar. “Being a Doberman, he was a little on the edgy side, but he took right to me, which is good, since he didn’t have a crate and was so big he took up the whole back of the plane,” Pease says. “That was probably my most memorable dog.”

Inspired by “the thrill of the flight,” Pease has been flying since 1987 and is now a commercial pilot with a multi-engine instrument rating. He flies some charters, and also volunteers for Remote Area Medical, and says he may cap off his working days with a career as a commercial pilot. Right now though, his day job is at PBM Sales & Service, a bustling Xerox copier and IT solutions dealership that he’s owned for 14 years.

Outgoing and affable, Pease is full of quips spoken in a distinctly East Tennessee accent, and describes working at PBM as the equivalent of “falling on two hand grenades” at the start of each business day. The volunteer piloting is his main “thing” outside of his whirlwind job, begun when he was doing flight training with Corey Gerulis out of Lebanon, Tenn.

“He got me into this by saying he’d give me free commercial instrument flight instruction cross-country as long as we were saving animals—Corey is so cool.”

Between Pease, Gerulis, and two other aviation mentors and friends, Philip Beebe and Andy Hungate, Pease says they’ve probably been involved in 100 or so air rescues (“I should have kept count!”) He’s also volunteered as a pilot for Remote Area Medical’s adoptable animal airlifts. “They tend to use bigger airplanes, and take some 25-50 dogs at a time,” says Pease.

The four rallied when PNP’s Boies put together a national rescue to airlift dogs from New Orleans in 2010. “Everybody flew in from different parts of the country, and Subaru put us all up in hotels and fed us. The next morning over 100 planes were flying to different parts of the country. We probably took 20 a piece. It was a wild trip with that many dogs in a small plane, about three hours flight each way—we all smelt like the dogs we are.”

Canine passengers are usually agitated during loading and many are nervous being in a crate, says Pease, but the standard procedure is to give them Benadryl. “Shortly after departure, they settle right down. I’m not sure, but I think it’s the sound of the engines.”

FAA regulations make it so pilots are not allowed to accept fees to fly such missions, and gas prices can be staggering—$500 and up for even short jaunts. Pease is quick to point out that while flying adoptable animals is more comfortable for all than long car rides, and every animal saved is a karmic boost, the enterprise is not a comprehensive solution. “Pilots ‘N Paws and Remote Area Medical give national attention to a horrific topic, saving a portion of the millions of animals that are euthanized. They’re great, whenever they do an event, it helps energize the base of animal rescue volunteers. But no one is going to tell you flying is the most cost-effective way.”

The animals that don’t survive trouble Pease. “I probably get three-five e-mails every day, ‘Can you do this rescue?’ It’s very disturbing when you know how many of them get put down. It breaks my heart. It’s—just a shame. It was Gandhi who said, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ The more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”

Pease sees more widespread success coming from increased spay-neuter education, more adoption programs, and an investment in no-kill shelters.

While Pease revels in getting to pilot for a good cause, he won’t take much credit for himself or other volunteer pilots. “The people on the ground, the people who work to get these dogs to safety—the ones who adopt rescue dogs? They’re not getting national attention, but those are the real heroes.” m

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Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN), Trenton, New Jersey: Control tower closure concerns reviewed by Mercer freeholders

EWING — Mercer County Freeholders have been getting an earful from people in the community concerned about flying at Trenton-Mercer Airport without a manned air traffic control tower.

Freeholder Samuel Frisby said he got a call from some concerned area residents who were already in Florida and had flown Frontier Airlines from Mercer. They were worried about the flight back home to the small Ewing airport, where the control tower is slated to close early in April.

“They said, ‘If I had known that, would I have even come down here?’” Frisby said.

Freeholder Anthony Carabelli said he had been hearing concerns from people ever since the Federal Aviation Administration announced on Friday due to deep budget cuts it would could no longer support tower service at Mercer.

He said the residents were concerned that there would be an impact on passenger safety and that the positive economic effect the airport is having on the surrounding community would be undermined.

County officials have said that the airport will continue to operate once the tower closes and County Executive Brian Hughes has tried to assure passengers that they will be safe.

Board Chairman John Cimino, who believes the airport can operate safely without a manned tower, said no matter what assurances have been given there are still members of the public who are scared.

“How do we get to a level of comfort with people that it is safe,” Cimino said.

In a letter sent to Gov. Chris Christie yesterday, Hughes acknowledged that there are safety concerns — such as regulating the spacing of the aircraft at takeoff and landing — that make it important to keep a control tower operational at the airport.

“I cannot emphasize strongly enough the danger that exists from unexpected weather conditions, or wildlife strikes of aircraft and how often local air traffic controllers mitigate these dangers,” Hughes wrote.

He went on to highlight the work that the controllers do to contact emergency response if a pilot is in need of assistance and provide navigational aid to pilots.

The tower at Trenton-Mercer Airport was one of 149 towers slated to close nationally due to cuts to the FAA budget and federal budgets across the board, called the sequester.

During their meeting last night, the freeholders also expressed concern that if passengers are concerned about safety and chose not to fly from Trenton-Mercer the local economy will suffer. Since Frontier Airlines began flying from the airport in November the surrounding area has seen a boost of activity, Frisby has said.

“We know that there is an economic impact happening,” Frisby said. “It could be problematic.”

Frisby said he would like to see the county administration consider what it would cost to take over the contract for the tower — at least for a few months — to keep it manned.

Hughes said last week preliminary estimates show that it could cost $60,000 a month to keep the tower operating as it is currently.

“I don’t know if that is a bad price tag for a month or two to support the economy,” Frisby said.

The board members will write their own letter to Christie this week, supporting the concerns expressed by Hughes in his letter. The freeholders said they would also send the letter to the state’s congressional delegation with the hope of ensuring funding for the tower as quickly as possible.

Heritage Classic Foundation, Hilton Head may be asked to help fund airport tower

With the tower at the Hilton Head Island Airport scheduled to close April 7, Beaufort County might ask the town and the Heritage Classic Foundation for money to keep it operating through the week of the island's annual PGA Tour event.

Although it's unclear how much it would cost to operate the tower after April 7, the county is considering asking several "partners" to help -- among them, the town and the nonprofit group that runs the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, according to county administrator Gary Kubic.

Although total flight operations at the county-owned airport have steadily fallen, county records indicate that during the past three years, traffic during the month of April has been more than 35 percent higher than the monthly average, as tournament spectators and golfers fly in on private planes.

"It's definitely the busiest week of the year for the airport," said Steve Cucina, operations manager for Signature Flight Support, a contractor that provides fuel and other services at the airport.

County Councilman Steve Baer, who represents part of Hilton Head, estimates the tower costs $10,000 a week to operate. Based on that figure, he believes dividing the cost to keep it open two or three weeks makes sense.

"If Hilton Head and even the Heritage share in the cost, $10,000 divided by three is worthwhile," he said.

Baer and others note that the county forgave more than $30,000 in interest on a $1 million loan to the Heritage Classic Foundation last summer.

So far, Heritage officials have not been approached about the proposal.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot said Tuesday. "This hasn't even been discussed or brought up. I have no idea what would be expected or what the support would even be."

Attempts Tuesday to reach Hilton Head Mayor Drew Laughlin for comment were unsuccessful.

This year's annual PGA Tour event is April 15 to 21 at Harbour Town Golf Links. The tournament generates $72 million in sales each year for Hilton Head businesses.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it will close the 149 contractor-run towers at small airports across the U.S., including Hilton Head's, starting April 7. The cuts are part of the $85 billion federal-budget sequestration.

The airport tower, built in 2005, is staffed 14 hours a day. It lacks a radar, so controllers make visual contact with planes on approach.

Until 2005, the airport operated without a control tower, with one exception: A temporary tower was brought in each year for the Heritage. It wasn't clear Tuesday who paid for it.

Hilton Head's tower is operated by contractor Robinson Aviation, or RVA, which runs 96 airport towers across the U.S. An employee who answered the phone at RVA's Oklahoma City offices Tuesday said the firm had no comment.

Closing the tower will not affect safety or scheduled flights at the airport, the county has said.

The tower could remain closed for reasons other than cost. For instance, it's unclear if a municipality can simply pay for air traffic control services on its own. There also might be union or contractual issues, Kubic said.

Judge accused of mocking aviation experts

The judge who oversaw a case that led to a Pacific Blue pilot being convicted of flying out of Queenstown outside of Civil Aviation Authority rules mocked the expert witnesses who gave evidence, an aviation commentator says.

Peter Clark said that while he accepted Judge Kevin Phillips' decision, he was concerned with the judge's criticism of expert witnesses in his written decision.

"I don't think he has any right to do that. These guys are called as experts and say what they think."

Air New Zealand pilot and instructor Captain Stewart Julian and Captain Frederick Douglas were called as defence witnesses in support of pilot Roderick Gunn.

Gunn was fined $5100 for carelessly operating a Sydney-bound Pacific Blue plane with 70 people on board in dark conditions and outside the airline's and Civil Aviation Authority flight rules on June 22, 2010.

He was also ordered to undertake extensive training before renewing his license and not to operate as a pilot in command of flights in and out of Queenstown for 12 months.

In his decision, the judge rejected evidence given by Mr Douglas and Mr Julian and questioned their objectivity and independence.

"It seems this judge has something against pilots," Mr Clark said.

"He doesn't like what they do and how they make a decision and how they go about implementing their decision."

He appeared to be mocking the expert witnesses, he said.

Pilots made correct decisions 99.9 per cent of the time based on safety as they, too, wanted to get home.

Mr Clark was also surprised that the judge had suggested peer pressure or pressure from Gunn's employers might have been a factor in the takeoff.

"It's the normal pressure of running any business. Everyone has pressure but to blame that as an endemic problem ... he doesn't know that. He has no idea."

Defence counsel Matthew Muir said he had not spoken to Gunn since the sentencing although Gunn was greatly relieved that he was not disqualified from flying.

He declined to comment on the judge's criticism of expert witnesses.

"I don't think it would be appropriate to comment on that issue while the position in respect of any appeal remains as it is, which is no instruction."

Few of the organizations involved were prepared to comment yesterday.

Airways NZ spokeswoman Philippa Sellens said the business, which is responsible for air traffic controllers, was satisfied it had acted entirely within regulatory guidelines during the incident.

New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association president Glen Kenny said the association was reviewing the court decision and would not make any further comment until the next course of action, if any, was determined.

The Civil Aviation Authority and Air New Zealand declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Australia, the owner of Pacific Blue, said the company accepted the decision of the court and would not go into further detail. 


2 aircraft carrying 600 passengers escape mid-air collision today: Incident took place in Pakistan airspace

Two aircraft carrying around 600 passengers escaped a mid-air collision today (Wednesday) while flying over Pakistan airspace.

The disaster was averted after aircraft collision avoidance system activated automatically and also thanks to the presence of mind of the air traffic controller, Pakistan’s Geo television reported.

One passenger aircraft was flying from Beijing to Doha and the other from Mumbai to London when they had come close enough over the Pakistani province of Balochistan airspace, the TV said quoting air traffic controlling authority in the country.

Both the aircraft were flying at 35,000-feet altitude. The report didn’t disclose the airlines but said they’re foreign carriers.

This is the second incident that the disaster has been averted in less than four months.

The earlier incident, reported on December 14, 2012, involved two aircraft which had taken off from the UAE. One flight was flying from Abu Dhabi to Lahore while the other flight was on its way from Dubai to Lahore.

Anoka County-Blaine Airport (KANE), Minneapolis, Minnesota: Control tower will close May 5

Federal cuts mean tower at Anoka County-Blaine Airport will close

The control tower at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport will close May 5.

The tower closures at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport and the St. Cloud Regional Airport were announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Friday.

They were two of 149 airports across the country to lose their control towers through the FAA’s cuts in response to the federal sequester.

But the loss of the control tower won’t mean that the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, a reliever airport for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) ,will be shut down to aircraft traffic.

According to Gary Schmidt, director of reliever airports for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), the airport will lose its seven FAA-contract air traffic controllers, but flights in and out the airport will continue just as they do when the control tower is not operational at night.

Right now, the control tower at the airport is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day in the winter and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the summer.

Pilots will have to broadcast to each other to maintain separation, which is the case during the nighttime hours now, Schmidt said.

“But it helps to have another set of eyes,” he said.

The FAA plans to start closing control towers across the country in phases April 7, with the Anoka County-Blaine Airport being among the last to close May 5, according to Schmidt.

“In the short term after the control tower shuts down, the first week or so, I don’t think we will see much of an impact,” Schuldt said.

“But over a period of time, I expect to see a migration of traffic to other airports where control towers are available, like St. Paul Holman Field.”

That’s because some corporations whose corporate jets use the Anoka County-Blaine Airport have a policy that their planes only fly in and out of airports where air traffic controllers are available, according to Schmidt.

Impacted would be the two fixed base operations (FBO) at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, which provide gas, parking, maintenance, catering and other services to corporate jets using the airport, Schmidt said.

They are Key Air Twin Cities and Cirrus.

Key Air Twin Cities has been operating at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport for five years and according to its website has “an executive terminal and premier business center” with 70,000 square feet available for jet storage and office suites.

With the tower closure, “it will be hard to get new businesses to use this airport,” said Key Air Twin Cities General Manager Michael Lawrence.

“It will put us at a competitive disadvantage when we are trying to grow our business,” he said.

According to Lawrence, Key Air provides service to hundreds of corporate aircraft a year at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport.

When word first came through in early March that the Anoka County-Blaine Airport was one of the control towers scheduled for closure by the FAA, the MAC appealed, Schmidt said.

But the appeal was not successful, although a few were and Schmidt said he does not know what rationale the FAA has used to determine whose appeal was successful and whose was not.

Control towers at Crystal and Flying Cloud airports will remain open for the time being, but Schmidt is not optimistic that they will last beyond this year, he said.

However, there are bills in Congress that would restore funding to the FAA to keep control towers open, Schmidt said

But the $80 billion in sequester cuts to federal programs were part of the budget bills that passed House and Senate last week to keep the federal government operating through the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30.

Coon Rapids resident Dave McCauley has been a pilot for 15 years and learned to fly at the airport, where he is a member of the Gateway Flying Club, which has three airplanes.

Although he does not yet own an airplane, he is in the process of building one and expects to have it ready to fly in late 2014, according to McCauley.

“Those of us who are pilots are very concerned,” McCauley wrote in an email.

“Anoka is a busy field with a mixture of aircraft types. Closing the tower is like shutting off a traffic signal to save money on electricity.”

According to McCauley, he is also concerned that the charter jet traffic will relocate to St. Paul Holman and that would negatively impact Key Air.

“Bad news all around,” McCauley wrote in his email.

McCauley attended a forum Monday night on the airport tower closing with representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Aviation and Aeronautics Division, the FAA air traffic controllers and MAC taking part.

There were some 100 people present to hear speakers describe how different flight procedures such as aircraft patterns and radio communications will have to be implemented to accommodate traffic at the airport, McCauley wrote in an email.

“But all of the speakers admitted that most of the solutions are unknown at this point and they are struggling to find answers to all of the questions surrounding the closures,” he wrote.

“The situation remains very fluid.”

There is very little night traffic at the airport and with an operating control tower, ground traffic is directed by a ground controller and air traffic is directed by a tower controller, according to McCauley.

Among other things, they tell the pilot which runway is in use, wind speed and direction and other information, McCauley wrote.

The ground controller directs the pilot to the departure end of the runway, clears to cross runways and advises on other ground traffic before the pilot switches the radio to the tower controller for takeoff clearance and instructions on avoiding other air traffic, he said.

“Tower radar allows the controller to accurately locate you,” McCauley wrote.

“You are then advised of any traffic in your area and if you are landing, given instructions on how to fly your approach and the sequence you are in for landing. Finally, you are cleared to land.”

At a non-towered airport, pilots are on their own, although each airport has a published set of general rules, according to McCauley.

At a busy field like Anoka, pilots would make their first transmission on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), which all aircraft use, about 20 miles out, giving aircraft number, type, altitude, direction from the field and the pilot’s intention, McCauley wrote in his email.

“You will repeat this information as you get nearer the field,” he wrote. “Other aircraft in the vicinity will know you are there and give you appropriate responses.”

“When traffic is heavy, this requires vigilance to avoid conflicts.”

“Fifty percent of all airport traffic accidents occur on landing.”

When the aircraft is on the ground, the pilot will broadcast taxiing, taking off and crossing runways information, according to McCauley

The control tower closure at the airport came up at Tuesday’s Anoka County Board meeting.

Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah was concerned about the FAA’s decision and its impact on jobs and the “economic viability” of the FBOs at the airport, she said.

The FAA has kept open smaller airports than the Anoka County-Blaine facility because their air traffic controllers are FAA employees rather than contract workers, Sivarajah said.

The tower closure will also impact MSP because the Anoka County-Blaine Airport takes planes that would otherwise land at MSP, thus easing the pressure on MSP, according to Sivarajah.

“This will have ramifications for Anoka County,” Sivarajah said. “I hope funding can be found to keep the tower open.”

County Commissioner Matt Look said that closing the tower raises a safety issue.

In talking with a Lear Jet pilot, Look was told that planes using the Anoka County-Blaine Airport are diverse, ranging from those that travel at 50 mph to jets that have speeds up to 200 mph and with no controllers, there is a matter of safety, he said.

According to the MAC website, there 79,000 are takeoffs and landings annually at the airport, with 403 aircraft based at the airport.

The airport has runways of 4,855 and 5,000 feet with precision instrument landing system approach.


Blue skies or emergency - Jacksonville University’s new simulator puts aviation students in pilot's seat

Pilot Patrick Jones lined up the Bombardier CRJ-700 airliner with the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport runway visible out the cockpit window, as co-pilot Jesse Gutenberg monitored the videoscreen gauges.

As the approaching runway filled the twin-engine jet’s window, a screen displayed a warning and an alarm sounded — fire in the auxiliary power unit.

The simulation is part a $500,000 training device at Jacksonville University’s Davis Aviation Center.

“Would you guys go around or continue to the airport right now? We are five miles out,” Assistant Professor Chad Kendall said as Gutenberg tapped off the alarm.

“I’m continuing,” Jones said. “It would shut down automatically.”

With this replica of a 70-seat commercial jet cockpit, students who want to fly the friendly skies as a career have the ultimate videogame to learn on. It’s the next step up from the Cessna eight-seater Jones received his multi-engine commercial certification on in the university’s aviation program.

“We get to see a faster aircraft with more complex systems long before we actually try to get hired for a job,” the 23-year-old Argyle resident said. “It makes the transition easier for us when it comes time to jump into our career.”

When alarms go off to simulate an emergency, it feels “extremely real,” said Gutenberg. He is working toward a multi-engine rating as he trains to be a U.S. Navy pilot. Part of the training is getting comfortable with high-tech instruments.

“It is a little bit overwhelming because you do have those screens in front of you. You want to look at those screens,” the 28-year-old Avondale man said. “It’s one of those training things. You have to know to look up and look down.”

JU’s aviation center’s four-year degree program trains and certifies commercial or military pilots, air traffic controllers and aviation executives. The new simulator doesn’t offer motion simulation. But it does have digital navigation displays, jet engine sound effects and a wrap-around videoscreen with realistic views of the world moving by.

The university worked with Aerosim Technologies to build the simulator, the first of its kind in a higher-education institution in Northeast Florida, center director Juan Merkt said.

It duplicates the regional jet most students will see in their first job and means a better chance of getting hired by an airline, Merkt said.

“This is not only the most realistic tool we could bring to the program in terms of being able to apply for the first time what they learn in the classroom; now they are able to actually fly it,” Merkt said.


Congressman Fred Upton says Battle Creek may have case for reversing decision to close air traffic control tower

KALAMAZOO, MI -- With both the military and an aviation school based there, Battle Creek may have a case for reversing the FAA decision to close W.K. Kellogg's air traffic control tower, said Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph.

"It would seem to me, at least on the surface, that Battle Creek has a pretty good case to be made," said Upton in a phone interview. "We're going to be engaged in getting to the bottom of why that tower was closed."

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that the contract tower at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek would be among 149 nationwide to have their federal funding withdrawn. Under the sequester, which took effect March 1, the FAA has to cut $637 million.

The towers -- which are all "contract" towers, meaning the federal government contracts with companies to provide air-traffic control services -- will be closed during a four-week period beginning April 7.

Two other Michigan airports -- the Coleman A. Young International Airport in Detroit and Sawyer International in Marquette -- also were on the list. Airports in Jackson, Ann Arbor and Muskegon, which were originally slated to lose their towers, received a reprieve.

Upton said that he would be investigating the decision to defund the Battle Creek tower and was drafting a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

When the House voted March 21 to pass a continuing resolution (H.R. 933) to fund federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year, it built in flexibility for certain agencies, such as the FAA, to prioritize how cuts would be made, Upton said.

Upton represents Michigan's 6th congressional district, which includes Kalamazoo, the home base of Western Michigan University. The city of Battle Creek is represented by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade, whose office did not respond to requests for comment from MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette.

WMU operates the country's third-largest aviation school out of the airport in Battle Creek. W.K. Kellogg is also home to the Battle Creek Air National Guard, as well as Duncan Aviation, a refurbisher of jet planes.

Battle Creek's airport saw 82,000 operations in 2012, according to Capt. Steve Jones, director of flight operations for WMU's College of Aviation. Compare that with Lake Murray State Park Airport in Oklahoma, which received $150,000 a year from the federal government, according to a February story in The Washington Post. Lake Murray saw perhaps one takeoff or landing a week, the Post reported, with some weeks going by with no landings. Last Friday, between noon and 1 p.m., W.K. Kellogg saw 77 in an hour -- more than one a minute. (On March 18, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission voted unanimously to close the Lake Murray airport.)

"We're going to be asking legitimate questions related to the announcement, compared with some other towers that were left open," said Upton. "I want to make sure that the Battle Creek airport was treated fairly."


'No pressure' on pilots to fly

An aviation commentator has hit back at a judge's criticisms of the pressure put on pilots during yesterday's sentencing of a Pacific Blue pilot in Queenstown.

Auckland-based captain Roderick Gunn was yesterday fined $5100 for carelessly operating a Sydney-bound aircraft - flight 89 with 70 people on board - as he took from Queenstown in dark conditions and outside the airline's and Civil Aviation Authority flight rules.

During sentencing in the Queenstown District Court yesterday, Judge Kevin Phillips said he held concerns about pilots feeling the urgency to keep aircraft moving.

"In my view, there appears to be some degree of either peer pressure or operator pressure to personnel, and I find it alarming that a person as experienced as you has come to need to get this aircraft off the ground, out of Queenstown, in these circumstances," he said.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark rejected this view.

"Those guys are at the front of the aircraft. Of course sometimes they feel they're under pressure, that's their job - they've got 130 - 140 people at the back of the aircraft.

"But ... to say there's peer pressure, I can't quite accept that. These guys fly these aircraft safely."

He said he was also "very concerned" about the judge's criticisms of expert witnesses who gave evidence at Gunn's trial.

"Making these assumptions about other people's professional abilities, this really concerns me. They were expert witnesses."

During Gunn's trial last year, the prosecution claimed that had there been an engine failure during or immediately after take-off, the plane would not have been able to get safely out of the mountain-surrounded Queenstown basin.

A transcript of an interview with Gunn after the incident showed he regarded flying that day as "just another day in the office".

Judge Phillips found that to be an aggravating comment.

"You seemed to ignore the fact that you had to maintain visibility not only with the lake and the ground below, but also the mountainous terrain you had to fly around.

"Somehow, you as pilot-in-command could make your own rules."

Air traffic controllers who watched the plane take off made comments that included: "F***ing hell, I haven't seen this before", "Oh he's screwed"and "How big are his gonads?" 


Williams David L TEAM ROCKET F1, N343DW: Accident occurred March 26, 2013 at Deer Valley Airport (KDVT), Phoenix, Arizona


 An experimental airplane nosed over on Tuesday after landing at Deer Valley Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said in an email.   No one was injured in the crash. The plane was not damaged. According to Phoenix Fire, the plane tipped onto its nose after the pilot hit the brakes too hard. The plane is registered to Airfotos, LLC., in Scottsdale, Ariz. The FAA said it will investigate. 

Stewart International Airport (KSWF), Newburgh, New York: Fights uphill battle


NEW WINDSOR — Getting more air service into Stewart International Airport is hard now, with all industry trends pointing the wrong way. But there is still hope, a Stewart manager says. 

Efforts to attract more airlines, or more routes by the three carriers already at Stewart, are continuing and steady, Eric Billowitz said Tuesday in briefing the Stewart Airport Commission.

Billowitz is Stewart airport manager under a contract his firm, AvPorts, has with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Airlines are struggling with a 113 percent rise in operating costs since 2000, Billowitz said. There are fewer airlines, less competition, more control over prices, and even fewer hubs being used by the major airlines. Expect fewer flights, with higher “load factors” leading to more crowded planes, he said.

“The carriers are shrinking their way to profitability,” he said. “Currently, airlines are not seeking alternatives to the big airports.” On the plus side, he said, “we get meetings with carriers,” and some “continue to assess the opportunity that the Hudson Valley represents.”

Most are frank to say Stewart is not in their plans. However, Billowitz added: “There are folks who are looking at us pretty hard right now.” One is thinking of a new Florida city. Another is weighing a Chicago connection. Another says Stewart is on the short list. But he said such hopes must be taken with caution.

James Williams, a Town of Newburgh man who saw the presentation, said, “I didn’t see many positives listed to Stewart. I saw a lot of negatives.”

Alan Seidman, head of the Construction Contractors Association, suggested a parking discount would help trim overall cost of flying out of Stewart.

Flier use so far this year is off 20 percent, said Mike Torelli, a Port business development official at Stewart. 

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