Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Charges: Pilot's blood-alcohol level topped 0.10 during preflight checks at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

A pilot suspected of being drunk while making preflight checks at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ahead of taking the controls was charged Tuesday with three offenses.

Suspended American Eagle pilot Kolbjorn J. Kristiansen, 48, was charged in Hennepin County District Court this week with attempting to operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol on Jan. 4 and two other gross-misdemeanor counts.

The charges say that a preliminary breath test measured his alcohol content at 0.107 percent, with follow-up blood testing coming back at 0.09 percent, after his removal from the airliner’s jetway before its departure for New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Those results are above the legal limit in Minnesota for driving, and they more than double the state’s limit of 0.04 percent for commercial airline pilots.

If convicted, Kristiansen could face on each count a maximum sentence of a $3,000 fine and/or up to one year in jail.

According to the criminal complaint:

At about 5:30 a.m., airport police officers smelled alcohol as they passed Kristiansen waiting to get on an elevator in Terminal 1 that is reserved for pilots and other flight crew.

The officers went to Kristiansen’s aircraft, where the first officer said Kristiansen had just been in the cockpit reviewing preflight paperwork before heading down the ramp to inspect the airliner.

Officers met up with Kristiansen in the jetway and saw that he smelled of liquor, had glassy and watery eyes and “was slow in responses to officer questions,” the complaint read.

Kristiansen acknowledged drinking the night before and was preparing to take the controls for the 6:10 a.m. departure. He was given a breath test and arrested.

The more than 50 booked passengers had not yet boarded the flight, which was delayed by about 2 1/2 hours because of the arrest.

Federal rules prohibit pilots from flying within eight hours of drinking alcohol or if they have a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 or higher.

Kristiansen was suspended soon after his arrest pending the investigation, said a spokesman for American Airlines, which uses American Eagle to operate shorter connecting flights. Both airlines are owned by AMR Corp. An airlines spokesman was not immediately available to comment Tuesday about the charges.

Kristiansen was charged by summons. A message was left at his home seeking reaction to the charges.

Pilots face drug and alcohol testing when they seek a job, are involved in an accident or return from alcohol rehabilitation. Some are selected for random tests. More than 10,000 pilots are tested each year and about a dozen flunk the alcohol part — a number that has remained mostly steady for more than a decade, according to federal statistics.

Twelve pilots failed the breath test in 2011, 10 in 2010, and 11 in 2009, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Source:  http://www.startribune.com

Eclipse Aerospace opens doors for production tours

Eclipse Aerospace announced Tuesday a step to raise its local profile by offering tours of its Albuquerque facility to see Eclipse 550 jets during the assembly process. 

“Production tours were widely popular with the previous company (bankrupt Eclipse Aviation) and we think our customers and the public would enjoy seeing the aircraft being built,” said company spokeswoman Jill Schepp. 

The Eclipse 550 production line has been completely re-engineered after a three-year review of production processes. In its announcement, Eclipse says it is confident that it has fully incorporated best practices, placing Eclipse’s production line among the most modern and efficient in aviation. 

“Visitors … will be guided along the production process from the initiation of production through final aircraft airworthiness certification,” said Mason Holland, Eclipse Aerospace CEO, in a statement. 
During the two-hour tour, visitors will see work stations from incoming inspection, to the preparation of the raw materials, friction stir welding, assembly of the fuselage, mating of the wings, and the application of personalized paint schemes. 
Eclipse’s 215,164 square feet of manufacturing space and 53,550 square feet dedicated for services is located next to the Sunport. The facility employs more than 200 people and has the capacity to produce up to 120 aircraft per year. 
Tours, with advance reservations, are available weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Call 505-724-1000 or email contact@eclipse.aero.

Source:  http://www.abqjournal.com

San Bernardino International Airport corruption figure Scot Spencer appears in court

SAN BERNARDINO -- Former San Bernardino International Airport developer Scot Spencer appeared in court for a pretrial hearing Tuesday for the first time since his March 24 arrest, and has been appointed a public defender to represent him.

Spencer, 48, pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy, perjury and preparing false documentary evidence to the Grand Jury during an arraignment on an amended felony complaint.

The changes to the complaint do not affect the severity of the charges or Spencer's exposure to prison time if convicted. They merely reflect recent changes to the statutory language in the penal code pertaining to the criminal charges or inaccurate wording in the prior complaint, prosecutor Robert Brown said.

Deputy Public Defender Andrew Moss has been assigned to represent Spencer, but he said Spencer is considering hiring a private attorney.

A preliminary hearing was originally scheduled for Thursday, but Moss requested the hearing be delayed until he has time to review the evidence and gather more information on the case.

"We're still waiting on information, and once we develop that information we'll be able to get a clearer picture," Moss said.

Spencer and co-defendant Felice Luciano, 69, will next appear in court on April 17 for a pretrial hearing. The pair each stand charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, and Spencer faces three additional charges: two counts of perjury and one count of preparing false documentary evidence, which Spencer allegedly presented to the Grand Jury during an investigation in March 2010.

Read more here:  http://www.sbsun.com

Southern Airways Express may land at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (KDTS), Destin, Florida

A new airline start-up may be setting its sights on Destin Airport.

A Memphis, Tenn.-based airline by the name of Southern Airways Express announced April 4 that it planned to enter the Memphis air travel market in May with daily service out of two area metropolitan airports, according to a press release from the company. Initial routes, the release says, will include eight cities across the south, and five of those destinations will be non-stop from Memphis.

While the company's website hasn't been launched yet, the airline's Facebook page displays an aerial photograph of Destin as its cover photo.

"We are not confirming any destinations at this point," Chief Operating Officer Keith Sisson told The Log.

A list of potential cities is not listed on the airline's Facebook page or in the press release. An article posted on Knoxville News Sentinel website, however, cites Memphis airport officials saying the airline would "fly out of DeWitt Spain Airport in Memphis and Olive Branch Airport to destinations including Destin, Fla."

Instead of using major hub airports, such as Atlanta Hartsfield, Southern Airways Express will fly between secondary, executive airports, the release said. All flights will be operated using "10-passenger, luxury executive-style planes with all-leather seating and complimentary iPads" for in-flight entertainment and business.

Southern Airways will not charge baggage fees for checked or carry-on luggage and passengers are only asked to arrive at the airport 15 minutes before their flights, according to the press release.

Okaloosa County Deputy Airports Director Mike Stenson said in an email that he has spoken to Southern Airways Express President and CEO Stan Little and he "expressed interest in seasonal charter service from the Destin Airport to a few other cities in the southeast."

"There have been a couple of operators that tried to do this under the umbrella of the FBO (Fixed Base Operator), but didn't work out," Stenson wrote to The Log. "We'll see what happens here."

Stenson said he hasn't heard from the company recently.

As for an announcement on potential destinations from Southern Airways Express, Sisson told The Log that the company will hold a grand opening celebration in Memphis April 22, where more details will be made available.

"If we were to come to Destin, we would be doing it in a fashion that hasn't been seen before," he said.

Source:  http://www.thedestinlog.com

Property claim in airport case could be dismissed: Foothills Regional (KMRN), Morganton, North Carolina

MORGANTON, NC — The wife of former Foothills Regional Airport manager Alex Nelson has until the end of the month to argue why her claim to items the government seized should be returned.

The federal government filed a motion at the end of March to dismiss the claims of Nelson’s wife Tammy S. Nelson, saying she has no claim to the property seized during an FBI raid of the airport in June.

On March 30, United State District Judge Martin Reidinger signed an order giving Tammy Nelson 30 days to respond to the federal government’s motion to dismiss her claims.

Tammy Nelson claims her money paid for a Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Corvette, Sun Tracker pontoon boat, a swimming pool and improvements to the couple’s home, most of which the government seized during the raid.

Reidinger’s order says if Tammy Nelson fails to respond to the order that would likely lead to her petition claiming the property to be dismissed.

Alex Nelson and former airport operations manager Brad Adkins pleaded guilty in federal court in Asheville on Sept. 14 to embezzling and conspiracy. Alex Nelson also pleaded guilty to money laundering. The two men have not been sentenced in the case, and federal officials say an investigation into the matter continues.

Source:  http://www.hickoryrecord.com

Casa Grande, Arizona: This week in history, 4/9/13

Dispatch (1968)

SIXTY-ONE YEARS AGO THIS WEEK   A small-town pilot from Yankton, S.D., moved to Casa Grande to start a crop dusting service. At that time, Virgil Koenig was no stranger to flying — during World War II, he flew Corsairs over the South Pacific for the Marine Corps. After the war ended, Koenig played football for the University of Arizona. Later, he flew the F7F Tigercat fighter-bomber during the Korean War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, Koenig operated crop dusting, aviation training and sales business for 17 years. 

Read more here: http://www.trivalleycentral.com

F16 Fighter Jets at Shaw Ordered To Stand Down

According to the following report from The Air Force Times, F16s in Shaw's 77th Fighter Wing will Stand Down April 9th, or upon return from current deployment.

WASHINGTON - The Air Force will begin grounding combat air squadrons Tuesday in response to forced spending cuts that have eliminated more than 44,000 flying hours through September, according to internal documents obtained by Air Force Times.

The Air Force's budget for flying hours was reduced by $591 million for the remainder of fiscal 2013, making it impossible to keep all squadrons ready for combat, according to an April 5 memo signed by Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, director of operations for Air Combat Command. The across-the board spending cuts, called sequestration, took effect March 1 when Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

Seventeen combat-coded squadrons will stand down effective Tuesday or upon their return from deployments, according to the documents. The Air Force will distribute 241,496 flying hours that are funded to squadrons that will be kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called "basic mission capable" for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013, the documents said.

The grounding includes F-22s from the 1st Fighter Wing's 94th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The squadron is returning from a deployment to the Pacific where airmen participated in a high-profile exercise in South Korea.

Other squadrons to stand down when they return to the U.S. include F-16s from the 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, which is returning from a deployment in the Pacific; B-1B Lancers from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; and A-10s from the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

The other grounded units include B-52s from the 2nd and 5th Bomb Wings, F-15Es from the 336th, 492nd, 494th and 391s Fighter Squadrons; F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron, 555th Fighter Squadron, 18th Aggressor Squadron and the Thunderbirds; and A-10s from the 81st Fighter Squadron, which will close as a result of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Grounded associate units - Air National Guard and Reserve units that share assets with the active-duty force - include the 158th, 169th, 187th, 442nd and 917th squadrons.

Any flying hours not used by the grounded squadrons will be reallocated to meet Air Combat Command requirements. Additionally, all combat aircraft will stand down the last seven operation and maintenance days in September, the memo said.

Air Force officials did not respond to a request for comment Monday night.

Air Force leaders had warned that mandatory budget cuts would lead to a reduction of flying hours by 18 percent, with readiness dropping to "sub-optimal levels," according to information provided to Congress. The drop in flying hours would mean that it could take up to six months to repair the damage to readiness, the Air Force warned lawmakers in a February presentation.
Units and aircraft affected

Air Combat Command officials announced a stand down and reallocation of flying hours for the rest of the fiscal year due to mandatory budget cuts. The limitation of flying hours means squadrons will stand down or maintain readiness at the reduced "basic mission capable" level, while others will remain at full "combat mission ready."

The affected aircraft and units, by airframe:


94th Fighter Squadron - Grounded April 9

27th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through September

3rd Fighter Wing - Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

15th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

49th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

F-15 C/D

67th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through September

44th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through July, then Combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September


336th Fighter Squadron - Grounded April 9

335th Fighter Squadron - Combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing - Two squadrons stand down April 9

391st Fighter Squadron - Stands down April 9

F-16 C/D
8th Fighter Wing - Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

77th Fighter Squadron - Stands down April 9

55th Fighter Squadron - Combat mission ready through September

79th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through July, then combat mission ready through September

555th Fighter Squadron - Stands down April 9

510th Fighter Squadron - Combat mission ready through September

13th Fighter Squadron - Combat mission ready through September

14th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through September

51st Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

57th Wing - One squadron (Thunderbirds) stands down April 9

158th Fighter Wing - One squadron stands down April 9

169th Fighter Wing - One squadron stands down April 9

187th Fighter Wing - One squadron stands down April 9

354th Fighter Wing - One squadron stands down April 9

4th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable until redeployment

421st Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through September

75th Fighter Squadron - Basic mission capable through July, then combat mission ready through September

51st Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

52nd Fighter Wing - Closing

442nd Fighter Wing - One squadron stands down April 9

917th Wing - One squadron stands down April 9


18th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September


7th Bomb Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

2nd Bomb Wing - Two squadrons stand down April 9

509th Bomb Wing - Two squadrons combat mission ready through September


2nd Bomb Wing - One squadron stand down April 9

5th Bomb Wing - Two combat squadrons combat mission ready through September


2nd Bomb Wing - Basic mission capable through September

18th Wing - One squadron basic mission capable through September

552nd Air Control Wing - One squadron basic mission capable through September


55th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September


55 Electronic Combat Group - One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September

55th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing - One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing - One squadron basic mission capable through September

55th Wing (training) - One squadron basic mission capable through September


55th Wing. - One squadron combat mission ready through September

Source:   http://www.wltx.com

Vero Beach, Florida: Piper announces order to build 35 planes

VERO BEACH — Piper Aircraft Inc. Tuesday morning announced a deal with CAE Oxford Aviation Academy for replenishment of its fleet, which includes an initial order of 35 planes. 

 Based on the size of the CAE’s fleet, however, the five-year agreement potentially could result in the sale of as many as 200 airplanes.

Piper and CAE made the announcement Tuesday morning during the annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in and Expo in Lakeland.

The new orders are not expected to have any immediate impact on employment at the company. The value of the deal was not released, but includes firm orders for 22 single-engine Archer TX training planes and 13-twin engine planes that could be Seminoles, as well as parts and service.

Piper already is building the planes at its Vero Beach facility. Deliveries will start this year with 27 of the new aircraft going to CAE Oxford Aviation Academy in Phoenix and eight being sent later this year to its academy in Oxford, England.

“Piper is absolutely delighted that CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, a recognized world leader in civil aviation pilot training, has selected our company for its next large fleet procurement of learning aircraft,” said Piper President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Caldecott in a prepared statement.

Last year, Piper officials spoke of wanting to create alliance with flight training schools and could make another announcement during the show.

Last November, it announced an alliance with Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Aeronautics was expected to lead to the sale of eight single-engine Piper Archer TX training airplanes this year, with the potential of as many as 16 more Archer of Seminoles over a five-year period.

The college was the first customer of a program that the company calls the Piper Aviation Career Alliance, which is designed to provide planes and additional support for flight schools.

Piper President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Caldecott has said that he saw the flight training market as the company’s “biggest opportunity going forward because of the shortage of pilots globally.”

This story will be updated.

Read more here:  http://www.tcpalm.com

ENAER T-35B Pillán: Pilots killed in air show plane crash were forced to fly, relatives say

Santo Domingo.- The relatives of the pilots who died Sunday when the their plane crashed into the Caribbean Sea, said they were forced to fly the ENAER T-35B Pillán aircraft, whose twisted fuselage was recovered from the seafloor Monday afternoon.

Although the result of the investigation is pending, it was learned that human error led to the accident.

Speaking during the funeral service, Alexander Sanchez, brother of the late 1st Lt Rafael E. Sanchez said his brother told him that would be off duty on Sunday because he had already flown Saturday, and affirmed that a senior military official had asked him to "fly again."

The pilots will be buried 1pm Tuesday.

Source:  http://www.dominicantoday.com

Robinson R44 Raven II, ZS-RJO: Tourist sues pilot after helicopter crash - Accident occurred September 17, 2010 near Belfast, Mpumalanga - South Africa

Pretoria - A young tourist from Rio Negro in Argentina, whose visit to South Africa in 2010 turned into a nightmare when the helicopter she was traveling in crash-landed on a farm on the outskirts of Belfast, Mpumalanga, leaving her with severe brain damage, is claiming more than R24 million from the pilot and owner of the aircraft.

Lola Marlen Schilling, 27, visited South Africa with a boyfriend she had met in Argentina. His father, Robin Garmany, a Sandton businessman, took her around the country in his helicopter.

They left Rand Airport on September 17, 2010, en route to Maputo in Mozambique, when things went wrong and the helicopter crashed.

Schilling is, according to papers before the Pretoria High Court, blaming the accident on Garmany.

She claimed he left Rand Airport without ascertaining the weather conditions along the intended route.

He also did not check the state of the mist and clouds in the vicinity of Belfast and failed to land the helicopter before they hit the mist and low clouds, Schilling said. Garmany should have returned to Rand Airport or any other airport to wait for the weather to improve, she added.

Schilling said Garmany flew through the clouds while he did not have the experience to fly a helicopter in these conditions. He therefore lost control of the aircraft.

Schilling suffered a skull base fracture and was in a coma for several weeks after the accident. She sustained numerous injuries, including subdural hemorrhage and swelling of the brain.

Schilling fractured various of her vertebrae, her hip and ribs and had a laceration to her liver.

She has no recollection of the accident. A medical report stated that she has no recollection of anything “in her whole life, up to the time of the accident”. She does not know where she went to school or where she studied.

She had been wheelchair-bound for months after she returned to Argentina, and received physiotherapy. She is due to undergo several surgical procedures in future.

According to her mother, Maria Angiorama, Schilling’s personality had changed. The mother said when her daughter woke up from her coma after five weeks, “she was a happy girl, but she also had the voice of a child”. Schilling studied tourism and worked in a hotel in the south of Argentina before she visited South Africa.

Garmany, in his notice to defend the claim, admitted he was the pilot of the helicopter. He also admitted the crash, but denied it was because of any wrongdoing on his part.

The matter was postponed indefinitely.

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.iol.co.za

Connecticut: City of New Haven, Tweed to sue Federal Aviation Administration over impending control tower closing

NEW HAVEN — The city and Tweed New Haven Regional Airport will sue the Federal Aviation Administration, or more likely join existing litigation, to prevent the closing of the airport control tower June 15, officials said Monday.

“I think it’s impossible to have a strong economic region without an airport with commercial service, and I think the community needs to do everything it can to keep the airport open, including litigation,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said after a special meeting of the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority.

Tweed, one of six Connecticut airports that could see its tower shuttered, first will file an administrative complaint with the FAA, said Tweed attorney Hugh Manke.

The complaint seeks to stop the closure by asserting the FAA failed to go through due process required under its regulations, including holding a public hearing before taking action that affects a safety system, he said.

The FAA had planned to begin closing “contract towers” at 149 airports on Sunday, but delayed action to June 15.

Federal regulations require a study of potential environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act before such action is taken, Manke said.

He said he expects the FAA to deny the airport’s request for a stay, at which time Tweed will seek to intervene in existing litigation seeking to stop the closures.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., working with U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., are prepared to introduce legislation that would prevent the FAA from closing any of the control towers.

The FAA imposed the cuts as part of $637 million in budget cuts it was required to implement under sequestration related to Congress’ failure to reach agreement on a new budget.

The control tower at Tweed, which is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, is operated under contract with the FAA by Midwest Air Traffic Control of Overland Park, Kan. But the airport remains open all night, and planes come and go from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. when the tower is closed.

The CEO of US Airways, the one airline flying out of Tweed, told Blumenthal the eight daily US Airways Express flights between New Haven and Philadelphia will continue after the tower closes.

Tweed Airport Manager Lori Hoffman-Soares told the authority there are 251 smaller airports in the U.S. with “contract towers” operated by private companies under contract to the FAA. Airport administrators are closely watching President Barack Obama’s budget, which they believe may eliminate funding for the 102 towers that weren’t on the current closure list.

Tweed is investigating moving equipment, such as light controls and an electronic weather monitoring system, out of the tower so Tweed’s operations staff can operate them themselves. Without people interfacing with the weather system, US Airways and many corporate jets won’t fly into an airport, she said.

Airport officials also are talking to the state about potentially funding continued operation of the tower and have gotten informal, preliminary estimates from two companies, including Midwest Air Traffic Control.

Hoffman-Soares told the airport authority it would cost $522,000 a year to have one company operate the tower, or $300,000 for a second company to operate it as it is now. Operating the tower with diminished hours would cost $230,256 for one company or $122,500 for the second, she said.

The other Connecticut control towers slated to close are at Bridgeport’s Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Hartford Brainard Airport, Waterbury-Oxford Airport, Danbury Municipal Airport and Groton-New London Airport.

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.nhregister.com