Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Hangar dispute earns man $7500 fine

A Wellington lawyer's US$3m private jet has earned him a $7,500 parking ticket after he lost a case over disputed hangar fees.

Mike Garnham, who last year bought Terry Serepisos' ASB Bank Tower for $22 million, owned two Cessna Citation Mustang light jets through his company Acernus Aero.

Acernus Aero has been ordered by the High Court in Wellington to pay $7,510.95 to Vincent Aviation, an air charter and air transport company.

Garnham's jets were alternatively housed at Vincent Aviation's Wellington hangar, in an agreement originally entered into for $1,666.67 a month, excluding GST, for a single jet.

Garnham and fellow Acernus principal, Wellington lawyer Andrew Fawcett, used the jet privately, but also wanted to charter flights with it.

To do so, however, the aircraft required an air operator's certificate, for which Vincent added the jet to its own certificate.

The agreement allowed both parties to charter flights, a service Acernus charged an hourly $2,500 rate.

The main dispute, however, arose when Vincent proposed an increase in hangarage fees to $8,000 a month, which Acernus rejected.

On April 8, 2011, Vincent proposed a slightly lower fee of $7,000 a month, to which Acernus did not respond, but continued to use the hangar and charter flights.

The $7,000 comprised $3,000 for rent, and a further $4000 for the use of Vincent's AOC, air operator's certificate.

The company made no payments after May 2011, and in early 2012 Vincent terminated the arrangement, citing non-payment of over $100,000.

Acernus' contended amount of rent, $11,900, was paid at the end of the High Court trial in mid-February.

In his judgement out today, Justice Forrest Miller said he was not satisfied Acernus' continued use of Vincent's services after April 8, 2011 meant they had agreed to the new rates.

''Nor am I persuaded, on the merits, that anything more should be paid.''

As such, Justice Miller ruled Vincent was entitled to six weeks of unpaid rent at $2,900.

The further $4,600 in payments was won by Vincent in unpaid landing charges and Airways fees.


Mooney M20E Super 21, N9330M: Accident occurred April 01, 2013 in Guymon, Oklahoma

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA217  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 01, 2013 in Guymon, OK
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9330M
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 April 1, 2013, at an unknown time, N9330M, a Mooney Aviation Company, Inc. M20E, single engine airplane, was destroyed after impacting terrain near Guymon, Oklahoma. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of departure and a flight plan had not been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 91 personal flight. The airplane departed Guymon Municipal Airport (GUY), Guymon, Oklahoma, at 1203 central daylight time, and was en route to Meadow Lake Airport (FLY), Peyton, Colorado.

On April 2, 2013, concerned family members notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the airplane had failed to arrive at FLY. On the afternoon of April 3, 2013, the wreckage was found in a remote area at an estimated terrain elevation of 3,170 feet mean sea level (msl) about 5 miles northwest of GUY. Evidence at the accident scene showed the airplane impacted terrain in a nearly vertical attitude and it was nearly consumed by a postimpact fire.

A review of recorded data from the GUY automated weather observation station, elevation 3,125 feet msl, revealed that at 1053 the wind was from 020 degrees at 17 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling overcast at 1,400 feet above ground level (agl), temperature 4 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 0 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.17 inches of mercury.

At 1203 the data from GUY revealed that the wind was from 360 degrees at 13 gusting to 23 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling broken at 800 feet agl, overcast clouds at 1,200 feet agl, temperature 3 degrees C, dew point 0 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.20 inches of mercury. Remarks indicated that the pressure was rising rapidly.

At 1253 the data from GUY revealed that the wind was from 020 degrees at 15 gusting to 21 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 800 feet agl, temperature 2 degrees C, dew point -1 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.18 inches of mercury. Remarks indicated that unknown precipitation began at 15 minutes after the hour and ended at 30 minutes after the hour, and rain began at 18 minutes after the hour and ended at 28 minutes after the hour. The ceiling was variable from 600 to 1,000 feet agl.

UPDATE:   GUYMON, Okla. — The wreckage of an airplane reported missing while flying from El Reno, Oklahoma to Colorado Springs was found Wednesday afternoon.

Another pilot spotted the crashed aircraft near Guymon, Oklahoma. Officials with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol say two bodies were found in the wreckage.

Investigators from the FAA and NTSB are expected to arrive at the scene at midday Thursday.

The family of the pilot reported the plane missing Tuesday when it never reached its destination of Colorado Springs.

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Air patrol officials are looking for a single engine plane that was expected to arrive in Colorado Springs after taking off from Guymon, Oklahoma on Monday.

Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado Civil Air Patrol are searching for a low wing Mooney M20 Turbo that took off at approximately 12:30 p.m., and never made it to Colorado Springs.

Maj. Sandra Smith with Texas Civil Air Patrol said the pilot was planning to make a stop in La Junta before reaching its intended destination at Colorado Springs.

The plane was reported to have taken off to the northeast from the Guymon Municipal Airport and then turned west.

The aircraft is described as white with red stripes and a solid red bottom.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida has requested Civil Air Patrol to conduct aerial searches.


Cape Air, Regional Carriers Step Up As American Eagle Departs Caribbean

Above: a Cape Air plane in Vieques 
(CJ Photo)

The last flight from Tortola on Sunday night marked the end of the American Eagle era in the Caribbean, a process that has been in the works for several years.

Eagle, which had operated out of San Juan, had been a crucial carrier for intra-Caribbean routes, particularly smaller destinations without the capacity to receive larger planes.

But for a region and a tourism industry in constant need of more airlift, who will be able to fill the void? And when?

The answer might come as a surprise.

Efforts by smaller carriers like Cape Air and Seaborne — along with the market entry of JetBlue, have meant a very different impact from Eagle’s departure.

“It’s been in the offing for several years, so we’ve had a lot of time to plan for it,” Andrew Bonney, vice president of planning at Cape Air, told Caribbean Journal. “While American Eagle has been reducing capacity in and out of San Juan, both JetBlue and Seaborne have been increasing capacity, as well as other carriers.”

For July, for example, JetBlue is up to 13,600 seats on intra-Caribbean routes, a 49 percent increase, according to the Official Airline Guide.

Seaborne, which recently took delivery of three new Saab 340B aircraft, is up a whopping 863 percent. The latter is planning new service to a host of destinations, including the French departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Overall, it means a decline of just about 12,000 seats for July — not nothing, but not nearly as drastic as might have been thought.

Cape Air, which launched in the Caribbean in 1998 after first operating in northeastern destinations like Martha’s Vineyard, now has 21 Cessna 402 nine-seat aircraft in the region during the peak season.

And the size of the carrier’s fleet has afforded it the opportunity to “dynamically adjust capacity” to meet demand, Bonney said.

“For example, the four o’clock from point A to point B might have just nine seats,” Bonney said. “But if those start selling on a good booking curve, we’ll add a second section — another airplane. So we might have the same flight and increase the authorized capacity of that flight to 18 or 27 or 36, but we only publish the first section.”

This month, for example, Cape Air has about 2,300 seats each way, but actually has more than 5,000 seats loaded each way.

“So we have over 10,000 in the market for April,” he said. “So we’ve doubled.”

Of course, the smaller carriers still operate in the shadow of JetBlue, which opened a major San Juan hub last year, and has naturally had a large impact — increasing service for some markets, but tightening up others.

“JetBlue had their first year flying between San Juan and St Croix, and that market really changed for Cape Air,” he said. “We were carrying about half the traffic we were carrying before. So that market has gone way down with JetBlue — but you see some markets, like Tortola, go up — it’s a very dynamic landscape and we’re constantly adjusting our capacity to ensure that we’ve got a sustainable business.”

Smaller destinations traditionally served by Eagle, like Dominica and Nevis, could have room for improvement. Dominica is one of several new destinations for Seaborne, and Nevis has become a growth opportunity for Cape Air, Bonney said.

Nevis, where Cape Air launched service a year and a half ago, has seen advanced bookings rise 62 percent year over year.

“We’re just building that market,”he said. “But that’s a market that feels like it’s working well.”

Vieques, another frequent destination from nearby San Juan, also “continues to grow and mature,” he said, with improved annual growth.

“For the markets we we serve, we’re very comfortable with our growth,” he said. “And with JetBlue a very close partner with Cape Air, we’re very optimistic for the prospects for Cape Air and JetBlue in the Caribbean.”

And while airlift will remain a major issue for the region going forward, it means that today’s picture is far from the gloom and doom once predicted following Eagle’s departure.

“The marketplace is very dynamic right now,” he said.

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Beechcraft Baron 58 Colemill Foxstar Description

Glacier Park International Airport (KGPI), Kalispell, Montana: Lawsuit Filed to Stop Tower Closure

In letter to FAA, airport director raises safety concerns

The Flathead Municipal Airport Authority, owner and operator of Glacier Park International Airport, announced Wednesday that it filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration in an attempt to stop the closure of its air traffic control tower in May.

Air traffic controllers and GPI’s airport manager are also raising concerns about safety following the planned closure. In a letter written by airport director Cindi Martin and obtained by the Beacon, she states that closing the tower would “unacceptably compromise safety at GPI.”

On March 22, the FAA announced that GPI’s control tower would be one of 149 across the country to close this spring due to automatic federal budget cuts. If the tower were to close, the area around GPI would revert back to Class E uncontrolled airspace, but planes would still be able to fly. The control tower there opened in 2001.

In the March 12 letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta, Martin wrote that because of mountainous terrain and unpredictable weather in Northwest Montana, the tower is critical to safe airport operations. The letter also discusses the fact that there is only one runway authorized for use by commercial air carriers, which results in more traffic in a confined and narrow corridor.

The Beacon obtained Martin’s letter to the FAA from Ron Taylor, president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.

“This was a technical letter, written to technical people about a technical issue,” Martin said. “We don’t want to alarm the general public that if the airport tower closes that the airport will be less safe. GPI went without a tower for 60 years.”

But Taylor says air traffic at GPI and in Montana has changed since 2001 and a manned tower is critical to maintaining safety.

“What they are doing is unsafe,” Taylor said. “The skies are more complicated now. We’re in the 21st century and they’re referring to air traffic patterns of the 20th century… The most critical part of flying is landing and takeoff and they want to unman that tower? I can’t believe it.”

Taylor said that if the FAA is going to defund the tower, the burden to staff it should shift to GPI. In Martin’s letter, she writes the airport authority cannot pay for its own air traffic controllers.

On March 29, the airport authority filed a lawsuit against the FAA in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in hopes of reversing the decision to close GPI’s tower. In a press release, Martin said the FAA did not consider any local site-specific operational issues in its decision to close the tower. She added that having the control tower adds an additional layer of safety at the airport.

“Given the amount of commercial and private aircraft traffic in the nation’s skies, we are unwilling to accept any backtracking on safety,” Martin said.

The lawsuit is one of a series of similar suits that have been filed by airports around the country trying to stop the closures. The press release also says GPI has requested that the FAA delay the closure until the court has made a ruling. 

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Elliott Aviation gives avionics system facelift to planes (With Photo Gallery)

Elliott Aviation is proving that you can still breathe some new life into an old airplane. 

This month, the company located at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline, will install its 90th new Garmin G1000 avionics suite in one of the many airplanes that fly in from all around the world for a facelift.

Garmin, known for making GPS systems found in vehicles, has been getting into the avionics field over the past few years, said Rich Baeder, general manager and vice president of Elliott Aviation.

Baeder said the company prides itself on its relationship with Garmin and its ability to be a leader in a highly competitive market.

“Our clients fly to Moline from all over the world,” Baeder said Tuesday. “Because we’re centrally located, they frequently have to fly over our competitors to get here.”

On Tuesday, Baeder gave the media and members of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce a tour of the facility and insight into the G1000 system.

The three-panel display system fully integrates communication, GPS navigation, collision avoidance systems and auto-pilot systems.

Elliott Aviation became one of the first authorized dealers in 2008 and has installed more G1000 systems than any other dealer in the world, Baeder said.

Baeder said G1000 is a “much cleaner instrument panel” that’s a lot easier for the flight crews to use and gives them 10 times the technical capabilities than they had with the older panels.

“It gives (pilots) a lot more ability to see what’s going on around them in the sky,” Baeder said.

The panel also has some other nice perks, such as XM radio, Baeder said.

Baeder said that replacing the old system with the G1000 also makes the aircraft about 200 pounds lighter, which allows pilots to carry more.

The system has become increasingly popular as it has become expensive to replace older equipment, which sometimes can’t be repaired, Baeder said.

From start to finish, it takes workers about 15 business days to install the system. Baeder said it typically costs $350,000 for the system itself and costs between $335,000 and $340,000 to install.

The quick turnaround time is why clients from all over the world make the trip to the Quad-Cities to have the system installed or other work done, Baeder said.

Elliott Aviation, founded in 1936 by Herb and Arlene Elliott, provides technical support for aircraft, as well as purchasing, refurbishing and reselling aircraft all over the world.

It also is a factory-authorized service center for all lines of Hawker and Beechcraft aircraft and the only independently owned Hawker authorized service center east of the Rocky Mountains.

The company now employs 240 full-time workers and expects to grow to nearly 300 employees in the next two years.

The company is planning at $1.8 million expansion that will add 50 jobs. The plans include turning a nearby hangar into an aircraft jet maintenance center that also will provide extra storage for the company, Baeder said.

In the past few years, the company has added a paint completions facility, design center and an accessory shop to complete landing gear overhauls.

Earlier this year, the company received a huge break from Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed a law exempting Elliott Aviation from paying property taxes.

In response, the Moline-Coal Valley School District has filed suit against Quinn and other state and local officials to challenge the law. The Coal Valley Fire Protection District also said it plans to intervene in the suit.

The company is not named in the suit.

Baeder has said that the tax break helps the company compete against other competitors that already have a tax-exempt status in other states.

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Elliott Aviation:

Aztec Airways Beech E18S, N737SW: Plane Lands on U.S. 27, Florida

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A small Aztec Airways plane made an emergency landing on U.S. 27 Tuesday after both of its engines were inadvertently turned off during a training mission, authorities said. 

Two men, a pilot and a student pilot, were on board. The pilot said they were practicing different emergency scenarios and he went to turn off one of the engines, but accidentally turned off both of them, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dennis Roberts said.

"Luckily they were able to glide down onto U.S. 27 and make a safe landing," Roberts said.

The Beech E18S landed in the southbound lanes of U.S. 27, about 5 miles north of I-75. There were no injuries, authorities said.

"Nobody was hurt, everything is fine, the airplane was undamaged," said the student pilot, who didn't want to give his name.

The plane, which has a tail number of N737SW, took off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at 7:17 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Aztec Airways is a passenger and cargo charter service out of Fort Lauderdale.

After the plane landed it rolled into the median. The pilot wanted to use the roadway as a runway to take off, but troopers told him he couldn't do that, so a short time later he fired up both engines and taxied the aircraft over to a nearby boat ramp, Roberts said.

"Very lucky they picked the right time of night tonight, and I guess the only thing out here are the mosquitoes and us right now," Roberts said.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue units also responded to the scene.

This is the second small plane to make an emergency landing on U.S. 27 in recent weeks. One landed on the highway just south of Griffin Road on March 17.