Monday, April 1, 2013

Three bodies near Northern Territory search site for plane

 
The Sceney family


The body of one male and two females have been found within the search site for a missing light aircraft in the Northern Territory.

Fears have been held for the lives of 45-year-old electrical contractor Stuart Sceney, his 53-year-old wife Karmi Dunn, and daughters Mekdes, 12, and Kal, 15, since their plane disappeared on Monday.

The Cessna 210 took off from Bullo River Station about 2pm (CST) and failed to land at an airfield south of Darwin a few hours later.

The body of a female was recovered late on Tuesday afternoon, washed up on a beach in the south of the search area near Cape Ford.

Acting Commander Mark Christopher said a forensics team recovered the body, but police were unable to say whether it was a child or a woman.

A further two bodies were discovered later on Tuesday afternoon but no identifying details were available.

Mr Sceney and his wife were well-known and respected in the Territory.

Carmelita (Karmi) Dunn helped in the implementation of the ground-breaking NT 1974 Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and was one of the Territory's most respected and revered indigenous elders.

Ms Dunn had two adopted African children, but it's not known if they were aboard the plane when it went missing.

Ethnologist and pilot Arthur Palmer, who was head of land claims at the Northern Land Council when Ms Dunn was an inaugural staff member, told AAP Ms Dunn possessed one of the sharpest minds on the council.

"She was (also) a brilliant sportswoman and now she's a corporate player," he said.

"She's a dear friend and I'm praying she's alright."

Mr Sceney was a former player and member of the Saint Mary's Football Club in Darwin.

Club president Shaun Hardy told ABC radio Mr Sceney often flew to remote communities as part of his job.

"As far away as Broome, and across the north into Queensland and the remote Territory, so he's certainly very accustomed to flying in Territory conditions," he said.

Media reported a plane wreck has been spotted at Anson Bay, but NT police say this is incorrect.

Up to eight aircraft and numerous vessels have been scouring the search area.

Beechcraft B100 King Air, N499SW: Accident occurred December 18, 2012 in Libby, Montana

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA073 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 19, 2012 in Libby, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/04/2015
Aircraft: BEECH B100, registration: N499SW
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

When the flight was about 7 miles from the airport and approaching it from the south in dark night conditions, the noncertificated pilot canceled the instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. A police officer who was on patrol in the local area reported that he observed a twin-engine airplane come out of the clouds about 500 ft above ground level and then bank left over the town, which was north of the airport. The airplane then turned left and re-entered the clouds. The officer went to the airport to investigate, but he did not see the airplane. He reported that it was dark, but clear, at the airport and that he could see stars; there was snow on the ground. He also observed that the rotating beacon was illuminated but that the pilot-controlled runway lighting was not. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert notice, and the wreckage was located about 7 hours later 2 miles north of the airport. The airplane had collided with several trees on downsloping terrain; the debris path was about 290 ft long. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The town and airport were located within a sparsely populated area that had limited lighting conditions, which, along with the clouds and 35 percent moon illumination, would have restricted the pilot’s visual references. These conditions likely led to his being geographically disoriented (lost) and his subsequent failure to maintain sufficient altitude to clear terrain. Although the pilot did not possess a valid pilot’s certificate, a review of his logbooks indicated that he had considerable experience flying the airplane, usually while accompanied by another pilot, and that he had flown in both visual and IFR conditions. A previous student pilot medical certificate indicated that the pilot was color blind and listed limitations for flying at night and for using color signals. The pilot had applied for another student pilot certificate 2 months before the accident, but this certificate was deferred pending a medical review.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noncertificated pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering to land in dark night conditions likely due to his geographic disorientation (lost). Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper decision to fly at night with a known visual limitation.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 19, 2012, about 0002 mountain standard time (MST), a Beech B100, N499SW, collided with trees near Libby, Montana. Stinger Welding was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The non-certificated pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Coolidge, Arizona, about 2025 MST with Libby as the planned destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the nearest official reporting station, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the pilot had been cleared for the GPS-A instrument approach procedure for the Libby Airport (S59), which was located 7 nm south-southeast of Libby. The pilot acknowledged that clearance at 2353. At 2359, the airplane target was about 7 miles south of the airport; the pilot reported the field in sight, and cancelled the IFR flight plan. Recorded radar data indicated that the airplane was at a Mode C altitude of 11,700 feet mean sea level at that time, and the beacon code changed from 6057 to 1200.

A track obtained from the FilghtAware internet site indicated a target at 2320 at 26,000 feet that was heading in the direction of Libby. The target began a descent at 2340:65. At 2359:10, and 11,700 feet mode C altitude, the beacon code changed to 1200. The target continued to descend, and crossed the Libby Airport, elevation 2,601 feet, at 0000:46 at 8,300 feet. The track continued north; the last target was at 0001:58 and a Mode C altitude of 5,000 feet; this was about 3 miles south of Libby and over 4 miles north of the airport.

A police officer reported that he observed a twin-engine airplane come out of the clouds over the city of Libby about 500 feet above ground level. It turned left, and went back into the clouds. The officer thought that it was probably going to the airport; he went to the airport to investigate, but observed no airplane. It was dark, but clear, at the airport with about 3 inches of snow on the ground, and he could see stars. He also observed that the rotating beacon was illuminated, but not the pilot controlled runway lighting. He listened for an airplane, but heard nothing.

When the pilot did not appear at a company function at midday on December 18, they reported him overdue. The Prescott, Arizona, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 1102 MST; the wreckage was located at 1835.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of FAA medical records revealed that the 54-year-old pilot first applied for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate in August 2004. On that Medical Certification Application, the pilot reported having 500 hours total time with 200 hours in the previous 6 months. No alcohol or medication usage was reported; however, the pilot was determined to be red/green color blind.

On June 9, 2010, the pilot reported on an application for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate that he had 925 hours total time with 150 hours in the previous 6 months. He was issued a third-class medical certificate that was deemed not valid for night flying or using color signal control.

On May 16, 2012, the pilot received a driving while intoxicated (DWI) citation in Libby.

The pilot reported on an application for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate dated October 16, 2012, that he had a total time of 980 hours with 235 hours logged in the previous 6 months. Item 52 for color vision indicated fail. This application reported a new diagnosis of hypertension, and use of medications to control it. This application reported yes in item 17 (v) for history of arrest of conviction for driving while intoxicated. The FAA deferred the issuance of the Student Pilot and Medical Certificate, indicating that they were investigating a failure to report within 60 days the alcohol-related motor vehicle action that occurred in Montana on May 16, 2012. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) reviewed copies of the pilot's logbooks beginning on March 21, 2010, and ending November 4, 2012. The entries indicated a total time of 978 hours during that time period. Time logged for the 90 days prior to the accident was 34 hours. The logbooks recorded numerous trips to Libby with three entries in the previous 90 days. The last solo flight endorsement, in a Cessna 340, was signed off by a certified flight instructor in August 2011. The logbook contained several entries for flights in instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions.

The IIC interviewed the chief pilot for the company, who was hired to fly the Stinger Company's Cessna CJ2 jet, which they purchased about 4 years earlier. The accident pilot owned the company, and would typically have the chief pilot arrange for a contract pilot to fly with him in the accident airplane. The chief pilot was standing by to fly the owner in the CJ2, but the owner never contacted him or requested another pilot for the accident airplane.

The IIC interviewed a contract pilot who flew with the accident pilot on December 16, 2012; this was their only flight together. It was a 6-hour round trip from Coolidge to La Paz, Mexico. The airplane was in perfect condition; everything was working, and they had no squawks. The pilot had paper charts, as well as charts on an iPad. The contract pilot felt that the pilot handled the airplane well, was competent, and understood all of the systems. The pilot coached the contract pilot on the systems installed including the autopilot. They used it on the outbound trip, and it operated properly. They used the approach mode into La Paz including vertical navigation. The pilot had no complaints of physical ailments or lack of sleep, and fuelled the airplane himself.

The passenger was a company employee who was not a pilot.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a Beech B100, serial number BE89. The airplane's logbooks were not provided and examined. 

The IIC interviewed Stinger Welding's aviation maintenance chief, whose 4-year employment was terminated about 1 month after the accident. He stated that the airplane typically flew 200-400 hours a year; the company had flown it about 800 hours since its acquisition. The chief was not aware of any unresolved squawks as the owner usually had him take care of maintenance needs immediately. The airplane had been out of service for maintenance for a long time the previous year, having taken almost 7 months to get the propeller out of the shop due to the repair cost. The maintenance chief said that the owner kept the onboard Garmin GPS databases up to date. The airplane was operated under Part 91 CFR, and inspections being delayed were: the 6-year landing gear inspection was past due; the 12-month items were due; and the 3-year wing structure and wing bolt inspection was due.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The closest official weather observation station was Sandpoint, Idaho (KSZT), which was 46 nautical miles (nm) west of the accident site at an elevation of 2,131 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) issued at 2355 MST stated: wind from 220 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky 2,800 feet overcast; temperature 0/32 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point -3/27 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.72 inches of mercury. Illumination of the moon was 35 percent.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Airport/ Facility Directory, Northwest Pacific U. S., indicated that Libby Airport had an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS)-A, which broadcast on frequency 118.575.

Libby runway 15/33 was 5,000 feet long and 75 feet wide; the runway surface was asphalt. The airport elevation was 2,601 feet.

The airport was located within the general confines of the Kootenai National Forest, and beyond the town of Libby; the area was lightly inhabited.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The IIC and investigators from the FAA and Honeywell examined the wreckage on site. Detailed examination notes are part of the public docket. The center of the debris field was about 2.5 miles north of the airport at an elevation of 4,180 feet.

A description of the debris field references debris from left and right of the centerline of the debris path; the debris was through trees on a slope that went downhill from left to right. The debris path was about 290 feet long along a magnetic bearing of 125 degrees. 

The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a topped tree with branches on the ground below it and in the direction of the debris field. About 50 feet from the tree were composite shards, and a piece of the composite engine nacelle, which had a hole punched in it.

The next point of contact was a 4-foot-tall tree stump with shiny splinters on the stump. The lower portion of the tree had been displaced about 30 feet in the direction of the debris field with the top folded back toward the stump. Underneath the tree trunk were the nose gear and control surfaces followed by wing pieces.

One engine and propeller with all four blades attached was about 50 feet from the stump, and on the right side of the debris path. This was later determined to be the right engine. Next on the left side of the debris path was the outboard half of one propeller blade; another propeller blade was about 10 feet further into the debris field.

Midway into the debris field were several trees with sheet metal wrapped around them. Near the midpoint of the debris field, a portion of the instrument panel had imbedded into a tree about 15 feet above the ground. The wiring bundle hung down the tree trunk to ground level. To the left of the instrument panel was one of the largest pieces of wreckage. This piece contained the left and right horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizer, and part of one wing with the landing gear strut attached. The rudder separated, but was a few feet left of this piece.

Next in the debris field was a 6- by 8-foot piece of twisted metal, which contained the throttle quadrant.

About 100 feet right of the debris path centerline and downhill from the throttle quadrant was a 10-foot section of the aft cabin. This section was connected by steel cables and wires to a 4- by 7-foot piece of twisted metal.

The furthest large piece of wreckage was the second engine; this was later determined to be the left engine. The left propeller hub with two blades attached had separated from the engine; the other two blades were located earlier within the debris field.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Science Division, Department of Justice, State of Montana, completed an autopsy, and determined that the cause of death was blunt force injuries.

The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

Analysis of the specimens indicated no carbon monoxide detected in blood (cavity), no test performed for cyanide, no ethanol detected in muscle or kidney, and no findings for tested drugs.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The IIC and investigators from the FAA, Textron Aviation, and Honeywell examined the wreckage at Avtech, Kent, Washington, on February 13, 2013.

Detailed examination notes are part of the public docket. Investigators observed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engines.

The engines had been modified from Honeywell models to National Flight Services, INC., models per a supplemental type certificate (STC SE002292AT), and installed in the airplane per STC SA00856AT.

The left engine was TPE331-6-511B, serial number P-27185C based on a Beechcraft data tag on the engine. The starter/generator input shaft fractured and separated; the fracture surface was angular and twisted.

No metallic debris was adhering to the engine chip detector.

The engine inlet fractured and separated from the engine gearcase housing. Earthen debris was observed on the first stage compressor impeller. Vanes of the first stage impeller were bent opposite the direction of rotation.

Overall, the compressor case and plenum displayed crush damage. Upon removal of the airframe exhaust, investigators observed earthen debris within the engine exhaust. There was a fine layer of dried mud/earthen debris on the forward suction side of the third stage turbine blades. Investigators observed metal spray deposits on the third stage turbine stator vanes.

All four propeller blades exhibited leading edge damage; a section of one blade was not recovered with the aircraft wreckage, but this blade's tip was recovered.

The right engine was a TPE331-6-511B, serial number P27190C. 

Investigators observed rotational scoring in multiple locations on the propeller shaft. The first stage compressor impeller displayed tearing and battering damage; some vanes were bent opposite the direction of rotation. Investigators observed wood debris in the engine inlet area.

Investigators observed metal spray deposits noted on the suction side of the third stage turbine stator vanes.

All four of the right propeller's blades displayed leading edge damage and chordwise scoring. One tip fractured and separated; it was not recovered. All blades bent aft at midspan; they exhibited s-bending and tip curling.
===

An attorney for the Lincoln County Port Authority says the bankruptcy of Arizona-based Stinger Welding, Inc. could delay much-needed economic development in Libby. The company filed for bankruptcy in Arizona on March 8, a move that could hold creditors and lawsuits at bay for the time being.

The bankruptcy is the latest development in an ongoing saga that began in mid-December, when Stinger CEO Carl Douglas was killed in a plane crash near Libby. In January, the company entered voluntary receivership and on Feb. 11 the court-appointed receiver and manager, MCA Financial Group, announced that it would be closing the Libby plant.

As of January, the plant had employed nearly 70 people.

The Beacon made multiple attempts to contact Stinger Welding. Phone calls to the company’s headquarters in Coolidge, Ariz. were met with a message stating the phone had been temporarily disconnected. A call to the company’s Libby office was answered, but questions were directed to the court-appointed receiver. MCA Financial did not respond to numerous interview requests.

In the weeks that followed Douglas’ death, a legal dispute between Lincoln County and Stinger spilled into public view. In October of last year, the county port authority filed a lawsuit alleging Stinger failed to comply with a 2009 economic development agreement. The port authority also wants to determine who owns a multi-million dollar welding facility that Stinger built on the former Stimson Lumber Co. site in Libby with the financial help of the county.

On March 18, Stinger informed the Lincoln County Port Authority that it must halt its lawsuit because of the bankruptcy. But port authority attorney Allan Payne argues that since it was Stinger Welding, Inc. that filed the bankruptcy and not the company’s Montana entity, the lawsuit should move forward.

“As you can understand, there is a dispute as to if the stay (of commencement) actually applies to Stinger Montana,” Payne said.

The bankruptcy could have negative impacts for Lincoln County. Payne said the longer it takes to determine the ownership of the welding facility, the longer it will take to find a new tenant.

“Lincoln County’s unemployment is at 17.2 percent and there is a large facility tied up in litigation,” he said. “We need to continue with much needed economic development, but we’re caught up in Stinger’s death thrashes.”

According to County Commissioner Tony Berget, as of late March, Stinger was still operating a skeleton crew in Libby, but most of the employees had been laid off.

Berget said he hopes to see a new business move into the facility soon.

“Our key interest is getting employment back up in Lincoln County, getting jobs for people and helping folks out,” he said.

But resolving the building’s ownership could be a long ways off, as the bankruptcy case in Arizona becomes more complex. Just five days after Douglas’ widow and Stinger’s corporate secretary Stephanie Jordan filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. and Steel Girder, LLC., business partners of Stinger, filed an emergency motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case. In documents provided to the Beacon by Payne, it states that the bankruptcy was an “unauthorized and bad faith filing by Stephanie Jordan.”

“This case will turn into a liquidation unless it is immediately dismissed. Over 125 employees will lose their jobs and millions of dollars in value will be lost,” the documents state. “Ms. Jordan has no real economic stake in the Debtor (Stinger Welding); she is only filing this surprise petition to cause the maximum amount of damage and disruption to gain leverage for herself, without any concern for the Debtor or the impending damages she will cause to all creditors.”

On March 13, the receiver MCA Financial Group joined the emergency motion to throw out the bankruptcy case. MCA, which had been managing the welding company until the ownership situation could be sorted out, states in court documents that it was given “absolutely no advance notice (or) warning,” about the filing.

Among the creditors that Fisher’s attorney says could be harmed in the bankruptcy case is Lincoln County and Montana. Court documents state Stinger Welding owes the county $76,192 in taxes. It also owes the state of Montana $219,080 and the IRS $875,922.


Source:  http://www.flatheadbeacon.com

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA073
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Libby, MT
Aircraft: BEECH B100, registration: N499SW
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On December 18, 2012, about 0002 mountain standard time (MST), a Beech B100, N499SW, collided with trees at Libby, Montana. Stinger Welding was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The noncertificated pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Coolidge, Arizona, about 2025 MST on December 17th, with Libby as the planned destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the nearest official reporting station of Sandpoint, Idaho, 264 degrees at 46 miles, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the pilot had been cleared for the GPS-A instrument approach procedure for the Libby Airport. The clearance had a crossing restriction of 10,700 feet at the PACCE intersection, which was the initial approach fix for the GPS-A approach. The pilot acknowledged that clearance at 2353. At 2359, the airplane target was about 7 miles south of the airport; the pilot reported the field in sight, and cancelled the IFR flight plan.

A police officer reported that he observed an airplane fly over the city of Libby, which was north of the airport; the airplane then turned toward the airport. The officer went to the airport to investigate, but observed no airplane. He noted that it was foggy in town, but the airport was clear. He also observed that the rotating beacon was illuminated, but not the pilot controlled runway lighting.

When the pilot did not appear at a company function at midday on December 18, they reported him overdue. The Prescott, Arizona, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 1102 MST; the wreckage was located at 1835.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) and investigators from the FAA and Honeywell examined the wreckage on site. A description of the debris field references debris from left and right of the centerline of the debris path. The debris was through trees on a slope that went downhill from left to right.

The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a topped tree with branches on the ground below it and in the direction of the debris field. About 50 feet from the tree were composite shards, and a piece of the composite engine nacelle, which had a hole punched in it.

The next point of contact was a 4-foot tree stump with shiny splinters on the stump. The lower portion of the tree had been displaced about 30 feet in the direction of the debris field with the top folded back toward the stump. Underneath the tree trunk were the nose gear and a couple of control surfaces followed by wing pieces.

One engine with the propeller attached was about 50 feet from the stump, and on the right side of the debris path. Next on the left side of the debris path was the outboard half of one propeller blade; another propeller blade was about 10 feet further into the debris field.

Midway into the debris field were several trees with sheet metal wrapped around them. Near the midpoint of the debris field, a portion of the instrument panel had imbedded into a tree about 15 feet above the ground. The wiring bundle hung down the tree trunk to ground level. To the left of the instrument panel was one of the largest pieces of wreckage. This piece contained the left and right horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizer, and part of one wing with the landing gear strut attached. The rudder separated, but was a few feet left of this piece.

Next in the debris field was a 6- by 8-foot piece of twisted metal, which contained the throttle quadrant.

About 100 feet right of the debris path centerline and downhill from the throttle quadrant was a 10-foot section of the aft cabin. This section was connected by steel cables and wires to a 4- by 7-foot piece of twisted metal.

The furthest large piece of wreckage was the second engine; the propeller hub with two blades attached had separated.

Steve Mullins: Drury University professor flies and builds airplanes

To many people, studying economics conjures thoughts of studying the theories of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek and analyzing spreadsheets of data looking for correlations.

In one word: boring.

It is anything but boring, says Steve Mullins, a longtime Drury economics professor.

“You can’t talk about any news of the day without it having important economic ramifications,” Mullins said.

“We are all faced with finite resources. Economics helps us design institutions, government policies and markets that help us make the most of resources and not let them go to waste.”

Mullins, who marks his 30th year as a faculty member in Drury’s Breech School of Business this year, doesn’t spend all of his time crunching data and studying theory.

His father, who died in 1991, was a World War II fighter pilot. After his father’s death, Mullins, who had always wanted to earn his pilot’s license, made learning to fly a priority. However, he wasn’t satisfied with just flying aircraft; he wanted to build them, too.

“I built my first aircraft from a kit. It took me about three to four months to build it in my garage, and its maiden flight was in October of 1993,” Mullins said.

Read more here:   http://www.news-leader.com

Private aircraft stores opening across China

China Daily, April 1, 2013

Private aircraft stores are springing up across China, with Beijing opening its first on Friday. Yet industry insiders say it does not signal maturity in the general aviation market.

"Low-altitude airspace (under 3,000 meters) is still restricted in China and the infrastructure for take off and landing is rather poor," an engineer surnamed Xu at Beijing Capital Helicopter Co said on Sunday.

Besides policy and infrastructure shortages, buying a private aircraft is not as easy as purchasing a car.

"A private aircraft buyer must have an independent licensed aviation company to manage the plane," Xu said.

If the aircraft is used for commercial flights, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has strict requirements, he said. For noncommercial flights, pilots must submit detailed flight plans, such as time and route, and wait for the administration's approval.

Despite all these barriers, Beijing's first private aircraft store still attracted some people's attention. Three planes were ordered during the first three days the store was open.

A businessman named Ma from Shandong province, who received his pilot's license several months ago, bought a 17 million yuan ($2.7 million) helicopter and a 2 million yuan helicopter, China Radio International reported on Sunday.

Wuhan Morning Post reported that it costs at least 200,000 yuan to get a pilot's license in China.

"If clients buy our aircraft, we can offer free training for them to become licensed pilots," said Zhang Changyi, manager of the Beijing International United Flight and pilot coach of the store.

Zhang said a small airport for aircraft storage, taking off and landing will be built in Chicheng, neighboring Hebei province.

Yang Hongyan, director of Fenghuangshan High-Tech Industry Park in Weifang, Shandong province, said his park will consider launching similar programs.

While Beijing's first private jet dealer opened on Friday, Wuhan also opened a store on Saturday.

Liu Xianlu, customer service manager, said besides jet sales the store also provides services such as maintenance, repairs, pilot training, aircraft management and rentals.

On Saturday, three helicopters were ordered by two aviation companies in Hubei and Henan provinces. Each plane cost around 20 million yuan.

The high costs don't bother rich Chinese people. Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based magazine that documents wealth, estimated China has 63,500 yuan billionaires and about a million people with assets valued at more than 10 million yuan.

Cai Gangjun, owner of Zhejiang Rongsheng Private Jet Sales and Services, has said that China's private aircraft market will become competitive if regulations are loosened.

In 2011, about 502,700 hours of flight were recorded in the country's general aviation. The number is expected to soar to 2 million by 2020, according to the aviation administration.

A recent CAAC report showed at the end of 2011 there were 70 airports and 216 landing points for general aviation and the country had about 132 private jets.

Gao Yuanyang, a professor at the School of Economics and Management of the Beihang University, said in 2010 the State Council and the Central Military Commission issued a circular on extending changes to rules on the use of the country's low-altitude airspace, a strong policy signal that low-altitude general aviation will be opened up.

The low-altitude airspace management reform has been piloted in Guangdong, Hubei and Guangxi, according to the National Air Traffic Control Committee. But the timetable for opening low-level flying across the country is still unclear.


Story and Photo:  http://www.china.org.cn