Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cocaine Slump Shows Force of Frankfurt Night-Flight Ban: Freight

By Richard Weiss - Jun 12, 2013 7:01 PM ET

Cocaine seizures at Frankfurt airport have fallen by more than 50 percent in two years, providing an insight into the fallout that a ban on night flights has had on Europe’s third-busiest aviation hub.

About 246 kilograms (542 pounds) of the drug were recovered in 2012, down from 524 kilos in 2010, with the termination of overnight mail services from Latin America a major contributor to the drop, according to Yvonne Schamber, a Customs Office spokeswoman. Airports including Munich, where carriers such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) diverted flights, have seen volumes gain.

Fraport AG, the hub’s owner, was forced to impose an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in October 2011 after residents opposed to a fourth runway sued over the increase in noise. The ban has hit hardest in the air-freight market, with volumes down 7 percent last year and Lufthansa -- the world’s second-largest cargo carrier and the airport’s biggest customer -- shrinking the capacity of a planned logistics center there by 20 percent.

“The ban has an economic impact that’s never been properly analyzed,” said Martin Harsche, professor of aviation economics at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt. “Many kinds of businesses are suffering.”

More than 2 million tons of freight passed through the airport last year, including 80,000 tons of air mail, ranking it second in Europe only to Paris Charles de Gaulle as a cargo hub.

Condor, Deutsche Post

In the wake of the night moratorium, Lufthansa Cargo switched 69 weekly flights to daytime slots or rival airports, while canceling others. The carrier’s combined freight and mail volume dropped 6.9 percent in 2012 after two years of increases.

Thomas Cook Group Plc (TCG)’s charter airline Condor, which uses Frankfurt as a hub, had to reschedule the 20 percent of flights operating at night, while Deutsche Post (DPW) AG, Europe’s No. 1 mail service, shifted volumes handled by its DHL global forwarding unit to other airports after the Frankfurt ban came into effect, according to spokeswoman Juliane Ranft.

Air-mail traffic via Frankfurt declined 2.3 percent last year after rising 7.7 percent in 2011, according to Fraport.

Among shipments hurt by the night-time closures were high-value goods such as time-sensitive spares for the automotive industry and flowers from Nairobi, Kenya, Lufthansa said.

Harsche reckons Frankfurt’s role in the transport of a wide range of items has been hurt, from legal pharmaceuticals to emergency supplies flow out to the sites of natural disasters.

Cocaine Surge

“While I have sympathy for people suffering from noise, an analysis of the economic costs and benefits would likely have to conclude that the ban is nonsense,” he said.

The global cocaine trade is worth about $88 billion a year, according to Interpol, the international body for police cooperation. As many as 19.5 million people use the substance, which is derived from the coca plant native to western South America, the 2012 edition of the Global Drug Report estimates.

Cocaine shipments to Europe surged last decade, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, narrowing the gap to the U.S. as the world’s biggest market. In Germany the amount intercepted more than doubled in the 10 years through 2011.

While 79 percent of cocaine destined for Europe is smuggled by sea, almost two-thirds of the total bound for Germany goes by air, the UNODC says. The half-ton seizures at Frankfurt airport prior to the night ban were equivalent to almost 30 percent of the average 1.7-ton annual haul for the country.


Just as Frankfurt has seen the amount of cocaine detected tumble since the flying restriction, Munich, Germany’s second-busiest airport, has witnessed a surge in recoveries, with the volume seized last year jumping 50 percent to 60 kilograms.

Lufthansa has direct flights to South America from both airports, and while the majority of air mail goes via Frankfurt, Munich has a 20 percent share, said Martina Goergen, who manages Lufthansa Cargo's air-mail business.

While the most popular trafficking routes are via ship from Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador across the Atlantic to ports in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, smuggling on aircraft is attractive because of cocaine’s high value-to-volume ratio.

The drug, which sells for about 40 euros a gram compared with 6 to 8 euros for the same weight of cannabis, accounted for 83 percent of air-related seizure cases documented in West and Central Europe from 2008 to 2010, according to the UNODC.

Colombia meets 80 percent of global cocaine supply, with neighboring Peru and Bolivia also contributing, Interpol said. Half of the 1,100 tons the UNODC estimates were produced in the Andean countries in 2008 were seized or consumed in the region, with 217 tons heading to Europe, of which 94 tons were seized en route and 123 tons, or 57 percent, reached drug users.

Wigs, Coffee Beans

Britain is Europe’s largest market, though 75 percent of the cocaine that reaches there has gone via the continent, followed by Spain and Italy, according to Interpol.

Air transport has also become a preferred method of transport from West Africa, either on illicit flights that can escape detection after taking off from remote locations, or via passengers on commercial flights acting as couriers or “mules.”

Smugglers are becoming smarter about evading detection, ingesting smaller amounts of the drug, often in liquid form, so that they can eat and drink during the flight, thereby avoiding suspicion, according to Interpol. Catches that once averaged 80 a year at Frankfurt airport fell to 25 in 2012, Schambers said.

“It’s become harder to detect body packers these days as they now swallow packs filled with liquid cocaine that don’t show on our x-ray machines,” she said.

Airport customs officers in Germany recently found cocaine in wigs worn by passengers, inside handbag handles, pressed and colored to resemble coffee beans, inside laptops, dissolved into clothes and books and injected into used aircraft engines.

“The smugglers are always one step ahead,” she said. “What we find is merely the tip of the iceberg.” 


Businessmen aim high: Kamloops, British Columbia

By Cavelle Layes
Kamloops This Week 
Published: June 12, 2013 4:00 PM
Updated: June 12, 2013 4:01 PM

Fuel gauges, check.

Lights and flaps, check.

Master, on.

Oil pressure, check.

Taxi clearance, obtain.

Flight controls, check.

Kamloops residents are preparing to take to the skies as early as this afternoon thanks to a pair of local entrepreneurs.

Tyler Gertzen and David Cruz are watching their dreams take off with their Kamloops aviation school — a business built out of what they viewed as necessity.

While obtaining a pilot’s license of his own, Gertzen was not satisfied with his experience.

“It felt as though it was more about the money than actually teaching people,” Gertzen said.

The young entrepreneur thought there must be a better way to get aviation enthusiasts up into the sky, one which would make the experience of future pilots not only educational but fun.

After thinking about the concept, Gertzen teamed up with David Cruz to create TylAir Aviation Ltd., the only locally owned and operated aviation school in the area — and it promises to offer services they can be proud of, whether it be earning a recreational license or a private-pilot designation.

“I want to be able to help people discover the freedom you get from flying,” Gertzen said.

Classes are taught by two pilots with combined flying hours reaching 14,000.

Most pilots are lucky to reach 1,000 in a lifetime, Gertzen said.

Those who want to learn how to fly a plane but do not have a lot of time or money can work toward a recreational license, Gertzen said.

This type allows for daytime flying with a single passenger on flights within Canada.

“It is perfect for someone who doesn’t think they will be going flying a lot or with a group of people,” Gertzen said.

“If you want to take your entire family along, however, you are better off to get the private license.”

It costs almost double the amount to obtain and requires twice as many hours.

With the added hurdles, however, comes more freedom, with longer flights, farther flying distances, trips out of country, night-time flying and multiple-passenger allowance.

Unlike obtaining a driver’s license, those looking to fly a plane can do so without taking a single ground course.

Customers can take the in-plane portion of their lessons before ever reading a thing and, depending on the hours put in, after about a month of lessons they could be flying solo.

The ground course is less expensive than the flying lessons and runs over a nine-week period in a continuous interval.

While it is easiest to start at week one, Gertzen said those interested can jump in at any time, as each lesson is stand-alone in nature.

With dedication, a prospective pilot could have a recreational license in just three months.

And, unlike a vehicle license, recreational pilots can be as young as 14.

They must be 17 to study for a private license.

“So many people think you need to make lots of money and have a university education in order to be able to fly a plane,” Gertzen said.

“You do not need to be a doctor or lawyer — you just need an interest in flying.

“If you have your medical, we can teach you the rest.”

Potential pilots must pass a medical overseen by an aviation doctor.

Kamloops has six qualified to do this.

The health check is more rigorous for a private license that the recreational classification, Gertzen said.

If you are in good health, you are good to go.

Pilots can also rent planes once they pass a safety check.

“A pilot can’t just not fly for two years and then one day decide to hop in a plane,” said Gertzen.

They are required to clock a certain amount of hours each year. Offering a rental helps them keep their stats up without the expense of owning a plane.

While they have been in operation for six weeks, the grand opening will be on Thursday, June 20, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 2845 Aviation Way, with flights available throughout the day to give people a taste of flying.

For $99, participants can take to the skies for 20 minutes and, at one point, take hold of the controls for a while.

Once back on the ground, those who sign up for lessons can count that time spent in the sky toward their pilot license.

Participants will also be entered in a draw for a free ground course.

A barbecue will be available for all those who visit and information on the flight school and other business features will be available. 

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Retired F-111 arrives in Longreach in outback Queensland, Australia

Photo: Defence spokesman Peter Cavanagh with retired F-111 jet in Longreach.
 (ABC News: Chrissy Arthur) 

By Chrissy Arthur

Communities and schools in central-west Queensland have been giving an outback "send-off" to a retired F-111 fighter jet.

The jet arrived into Longreach in central-west Queensland last night.

The F-111 is being taken on the back of a truck from Brisbane to Darwin, where it will be displayed at an aviation museum.

The jet is one of six that have been loaned to museums across Australia.

Another six F-111 will be on display at RAAF establishments.

It was a few hours late to Longreach, after it spent extra time at schools at Mitchell and Morven in the state's southern inland.

'Turning heads'

He says the students and others along the route have been fascinated by the jet.

"This one is significant because it was bought second-hand by the air force back in the early 1980s," he said.

"This aircraft - when it was flying by United States air force - it flew the last combat mission into Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

"We've just had the support from everyone - the road workers just help us through.

"They hear us coming, they all want to look and take pictures, and just the general public on the way - it is just a head-turner."

'End of an era'

He says they have stopped at schools at Mitchell and Morven and the response has been overwhelming.

"It is the end of an era - what they were bought for is not needed any more - and that is a good thing," he said.

"But again, it is sad to see them go.

"I am happy that they are going to be out there in the public display - it's the first time it has ever been done.

"They might save one aircraft here and there, but to save 12 F-111s shows how they are held in public esteem.

"Remember, this thing served our country for 37 years."

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Plans to relocate Waterville airport up in the air: Michelin says no guarantee of expansion, but it wants ability to move quickly if plan goes ahead

The Canadian Press
Posted: Jun 12, 2013 5:07 PM AT
Last Updated: Jun 12, 2013 5:05 PM AT

The Nova Scotia government and a municipal council in the Annapolis Valley have decided to relocate a local airport in order to make way for a possible expansion of a Michelin Tire plant.

The decision regarding the Waterville municipal airport was made Tuesday following an update to Kings County council on a study exploring the potential expansion of the Michelin Tire plant in Waterville. The plant is located next to the airport.

The French tire giant has said there is no guarantee of an expansion, but it wants to be able to move quickly if it decides to do so.

In a news release, the Department of Economic Development said it would work with the municipality to look at the possibility of relocating the airport at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood.

The department said a letter would be sent to the base to request a feasibility study.

"A major Michelin expansion means new jobs and more opportunities for the Valley," Economic Development Minister Graham Steele said in a statement.

"We are providing the proper environment and necessary information so Michelin can explore the possibility."

County of Kings Warden Diana Brothers said the decision was made in the community's best interest.

"We want to make sure we are making decisions that will benefit our community both today and well into the future," said Brothers.

Michelin employs about 3,500 people in Nova Scotia, including 1,200 at its plant in Waterville.

Last May, Premier Darrell Dexter announced a study would look at relocating the airport to allow for expansion at Michelin.

The study by Halifax-based CBCL Ltd. said various options for the airport relocation were considered including the development of an "airpark" in association with the existing 14 Wing at Greenwood.

It said the option is estimated to cost about $6.7 million, subject to completed negotiations with the Department of National Defence.

The current airport has a 1,066-metre asphalt runway that mainly serves small aircraft.


Greenwood called good choice for airport 

 June 12, 2013 - 7:21pm By GORDON DELANEY Valley Bureau

CAMBRIDGE — Development of a civilian “air park” facility at 14 Wing Greenwood appears to be the preferred option for relocating the Waterville Municipal Airport to make way for a possible Michelin expansion.

The province will work with the municipality to further explore the location, sending a joint letter to the military base to request a feasibility study, said Graham Steele, the economic and rural development minister.

Michelin has said it will invest $346 million in its plants in North America this year. Although there is no promise to expand the Waterville tire plant, the feeling among municipal and provincial government officials is that the company will build if land is made available.

Michelin spokeswoman Deborah Carty said in an email Wednesday that there are no plans for expansion at the Waterville facility.

“However, the recommendations put forward in the government’s study allow us flexibility for the future, should the need arise.”

The Waterville airport is located by the northeastern side of the sprawling Michelin plant, boxing in the company.

The province commissioned Halifax consultants CBCL Ltd. to conduct a $100,000 study to determine options for moving the airport. The 50-page study was released Tuesday.

The report says the best option would be in the eastern end of the county because of the proximity to Halifax, and the airport operator could own the land and have control over operations. But “finding a large topographically flat area that is on low-quality agricultural land is a challenge.”

The advantages at Greenwood are the large runways capable of handling jets, existing air traffic control facilities, full emergency response capabilities, cleared land, and proximity to a 100-series highway and the villages of Greenwood and Kingston, with their services and amenities.

The disadvantages include the airport being closed during military emergencies or security procedures and the property being solely owned by the Defence Department, which could shut it down at any time.

Locating the airport at Greenwood would be subject to negotiations.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on the letter because we haven’t received it yet,” base spokesman Lt. Sylvain Rousseau said Wednesday. “Once (the Defence Department) receives the formal correspondence from the province and the municipality, the request will be evaluated at the appropriate level.”

Brian Goldie, spokesman for the Waterville Municipal Airport Co-operative, said his board will not stand in the way of progress and sees the move as an opportunity. But he stressed the airport should remain operational until a move is complete.

The uncertainty over a new location is hampering development at the present site. Construction of three hangars was cancelled since news of the airport being relocated.

The current airport occupies 38 hectares and has a 3,500 ft by 75 ft asphalt runway. The report recommends a new runway of 5,000 ft by 100.

It’s the second-busiest airport in the province, after Halifax’s Stanfield International. It houses 32 aircraft and employs 20 full- and part-time workers. It has a flying school, skydiving school and aircraft maintenance facility.

The report says the military’s primary concern is security and safety of defence operations while hosting a civilian airport. All personnel entering and leaving the base are vetted for security.

The random coming and going of people and civilian aircraft could pose a problem.

“However, the establishment of a business park-like compound capable of being isolated from the rest of the base by closing of gates was generally agreeable to the Wing,” the report says.

The Waterville airport is used by about 50 aviators, who are worried about who’s going to pick up the tab for moving.

Kings County Warden Diana Brothers is concerned about who’s going to pick up the tab.

“I want to know what the master plan is,” she said Wednesday.

“It’s important that we know the province is going to participate in some funding for this. Six or $7 million is a lot of money. Where would we ever come up with that?”


Urban Air UFM-10 Samba XLA, EI-XLA: Accident occured June 12, 2013 near Birr Airfield in Co Offaly, Ireland

The scene is close to where flight instructor Niall Doherty and advanced student pilot Damien Deegan, both 31, died when their Cessna 150H came down in scrubland last winter. The friends had been flying circuits with the grass landing strip in sight when the crash happened on the afternoon of November 11, 2012.

Two men had a miraculous escape last night after their light plane crashed after hitting a tree.

The two had been flying to Abbeyshrule Airfield, in Co Longford when they went down in Birr, Co Offaly.

It is believed they were on a flying lesson when the plane struck a tree in low visibility.

The pilot then tried to perform a crash landing as the pair hurtled towards the ground.

But thankfully, both men escaped serious injury, leaving the passengers with only a few bumps and bruises.

They were brought to the Midlands Regional Hospital where they were big treated for their injuries.

Councillor Michael Loughnane told how the area has already been struck by aviation tragedy.

He said: “This isn’t the first time there has been a crash in recent years.

“Only months ago, two men lost their lives in Birr.

“But touch wood, these men will make a full recovery.”

Airport accident probe results in two weeks

Results of the investigation on the accident at the Davao International Airport will be disclosed in the next two weeks, an official said yesterday.

"The official statement from the CAAP will be out between June 20 and June 24," John C. Andrews, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director-general, said in a phone interview.

He also confirmed the arrival of the flight data recorder of Cebu Pacific Flight 5J-971 today from Singapore where it was examined. The recorder was brought to Singapore on June 9 by Cebu Pacific and CAAP representatives.

Mr. Andrews said CAAP will continue with its probe with the available contents of the flight data recorder.

"We expect to see what actually happened… There would be a lot of things that has to be interpellated and analyzed," he said.

Mr. Andrews reiterated pilot error as possible cause of the accident.

"As I’ve mentioned before, all evidences we have seem to lead to human factor, the most likely cause [of the accident]," he added.

On June 2, a Cebu Pacific Airbus A-320 veered off runway 23 of the Davao International Airport forcing the facility’s closure and causing millions of pesos in business losses. No one was hurt among the 165 passengers of the aircraft, which was removed on June 4 with full operations of the airport resumed the next day.

Reims/Cessna FA152, Madhya Pradesh Flying Club, Indore, VT-EMU: Accident occurred June 12, 2013, near Devi Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport - VAID, Indore, MP - India

INDORE: Director General of Civil Aviation ( DGCA) today ordered probe into emergency landing of a two-seater trainee aircraft belonging to Madhya Pradesh Flying Club in an agricultural field near Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport here last evening. 

The single-engine Cessna 152 attempted landing at the airstrip of the flying club which is adjacent to the Airport, but failed. Then it landed in the agricultural field and overturned.

Pilot-trainer Captain Anand Vengulekar and trainee Arjun escaped with minor injuries, official sources said.

An official of the Madhya Pradesh Flying Club, Mandar Mahajan, denied reports that mishap took place because of poor maintenance; aircraft was forced to make emergency landing due to a sudden technical snag, he claimed. 

Indore: A pilot and trainee had a narrow escape after a Cessna152 aircraft they were flying in toppled during an emergency landing in a farm near the Indore airport. Sources working at the Madhya Pradesh Flying Club, the owner of the plane, said that the emergency landing was forced due to mid-air engine failure.

 Both the instructor and the trainee pilot reportedly jumped out of the plane at last moment and therefore, escaped unhurt from what would otherwise have been a tragedy.

"The aircraft owned by the Madhya Pradesh Flying Club (MPFC) was being flown by Assistant Pilot Instructor Captain Anand Vengurlekar along with a trainee pilot named Arjun. As the field was soggy after the harvest, so the landing was relatively safe. Anand and Arjun did not get hurt” said Chandan Nagar sub-Inspector Shivpal Kushwaha.

 A Cessna 152 crashed outside Indore Airport, just 100 metres short of the boundary wall. An aerodrome source said that the pilot was forced to land the aircraft due to engine failure.

Chandan Nagar Police Thana Incharge Shivpal Singh Kushwah told The Hindu, that the aircraft owned by the Madhya Pradesh Flying Club (MPFC) was flown by Assistant Pilot Instructor Captain Anand Vengurlekar along with a trainee pilot named Arjun. “The field was soggy after the harvest, so the landing was safe. Anand and Arjun did not get hurt” said Mr. Kushwah.

According to an informed source aerodrome staff scaled the boundary wall with a ladder and brought the two occupants to safety. Milind Mahajan is the secretary of the MPFC and his brother Captain Mandar Mahajan is the chief flying instructor. Both did not respond to calls or text messages. They are the sons of Indore MP and senior BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan.

The club has been flying in rough weather lately. Its annual grant of Rs. 10 lakh from the State government was stopped in 2001. This was resumed at Rs. 2 lakh per year in 2010. This resumption of the grant coincided with the admission of former Chief Secretary Rakesh Sahni's son to the club at a concessional rate. The Lokayukta is probing the case.


Jet chairman's wife flies with pug, fined Rs 36,000

MUMBAI: Anita Goyal, wife of Jet Airways chairman NareshGoyal, was detained at Mumbai airport for carrying her pet dog, a Maltese breed, on a Jet Airways flight from London last Saturday.

After the flight landed, Anita was stopped by customs officials for carrying the dog against rules, which are mentioned on the airline's website as well. Only after she paid up Rs 36,200, including duty, fine and a penalty, was she allowed to take her pet home.

As per the customs rules, a pet cannot be carried or imported into the country in a plane's cabin unless it is accompanying a disabled passenger or is being flown due to transfer of residence.

Due clearances from the vets and a licence from wildlife, import and trade authorities in India are supposed to be carried before a pet is allowed carriage on an aircraft. Jet Airways also specifies that a pet can be flown only in the cargo hold. Sources said Anita Goyal had a certificate from a vet, but not the other documents. It's unclear how Jet authorities in London allowed her to board the aircraft with her dog.

Airport customs commissioner, P M Saleem confirmed the incident but refused to comment on it.

A Jet Airways spokesperson said that Anita was carrying a Maltese dog. "But the dog was in the cargo and not in the cabin. It was in a pet basket required for the transfer. She had all the necessary certification and documents. She paid all charges required in compliance," said the spokesperson.

At 11am on June 8, Anita landed at Mumbai airport along with her dog where she was detained for questioning. She reportedly told the customs officials that she was aware that dogs are not supposed to be carried inside the cabin. "However, since she is supposed to be in India for more than a month, she decided to carry the dog along on the flight," said a source. "She had to be stopped as the pet was illegally carried in the cabin. Also, she did not have the necessary licence from Indian wildlife and import authorities," he added.

As per Indian customs rules, a pet from another country can be flown only in the cargo unless the passenger is transferring residence from another country to India. "Live animals cannot be carried in the cabin. Service animals accompanying a disabled guest in the passenger cabin do not fall under this category," state the pet travel rules listed by Jet Airways.

A wildlife quarantine officer was called upon to check and clear the dog. The customs levied a fine under the Import Trade Control (ITC) order. Apart from the duty on the dog, Anita was charged a penalty and a fine for violating the rules. She paid a total amount of Rs 36,200. "The value of the dog was Rs 45,000 on which a duty of Rs 16,200 (36%) was charged. She paid a fine of Rs 12,000 and a penalty of Rs 8,000," said an airport official.

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Creeway Aviation: Fund helps entrepreneurs fly - Manitoba, Canada

Tim Sweeny of Creeway Aviation
It's hard enough for well-educated middle-class people with few resources at their disposal or a track record in business to find enough money to start their own business.

It's that much harder for First Nations people, especially from northern reserves.

Tim Sweeny who grew up in Cross Lake First Nation, knows first-hand.

He studied to become an aircraft maintenance engineer, earned his pilot's license and eventually got his commercial designation.

Using his savings -- and maxing out his credit card -- he opened a small aircraft-maintenance shop in Thompson called Creeway Aviation in 2006.

But when he wanted to get into the northern charter business, he knew it would be hard to raise the $300,000 to buy a used eight-seater Navajo Chieftain.

He eventually was put in touch with First Peoples Economic Growth Fund (FPEGF), a lending agency formed in the fall of 2008 and funded entirely by the Province of Manitoba.

Founded as a partnership with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, in its first five years it's provided about $13.5 million in interest-free loans to 43 First Nations entrepreneurs and 13 band-owned businesses.

Almost all the loans are for less than $200,000, but the total portfolio includes seven larger loans.

"When you're first starting out, you have nothing," Sweeny said. "The conventional banks, understandably so, have requirements. If you don't reach a certain number in their computer program they don't give you any money. That's normal."

But since FPEGF's mandate, according to its CEO Ian Cramer, is to try to help give committed First Nations entrepreneurs a leg up in their efforts to run their own business, Sweeny has become one of its all-star clients.

"I know I was a bit of a high risk and the reason I'm such an advocate of First Peoples fund is that they gave me an opportunity I couldn't find anywhere else," he said.

He's paid off two loans from FPEGF, has a couple more that will be paid off in a year and now charters three Chieftains, runs the maintenance shop and employs five people including himself.

Creeway is the kind of low-key business with a dedicated owner servicing a market demand with the chance to employ other First Nations people that the fund wants to target.

FPEGF's portfolio of loans includes two other small aviation companies, a number of grocery stores and gas stations, a catering company, a graphic design house, a number of fishing enterprises and several heavy equipment/construction companies.

"Out intent is to facilitate the economic success and increase the number of First Nations people in business," said Cramer, the founding CEO of FPEGF. "That's why we were created. Most of our clientele wouldn't be able to get a bank loan. But many are successful in conjunction with our financing."

Adhering to a strict lending practice, entrepreneurs must figure out ways to match FPEGF loans through friends and family, their own savings, or a loan from the bank.

Graeme Green, commercial account manager with the RBC main branch at Portage and Main, has loaned funds to FPEGF clients.

He said it's easier for the bank to make a loan when the entrepreneur has the letter of intent from FPEGF.

"It provides some gap funding," Green said. "It's another tool to help stimulate the economy."

After completing its first five-year run -- the province originally committed about $20 million -- it has stuck to a business-minded, low-key approach. Cramer said its clients are not universally successful but it's only now about to send its first couple of accounts out to collection.

Eric Robinson, Manitoba's deputy premier and minister of aboriginal and northern affairs, said the province is happy with how the fund has performed and is in discussions to increase its funding commitment to 2016-17.

"A lot of (First Nations) people want to get into business and this is one way we felt it could be done," Robinson said. "The opportunities the fund provides wouldn't normally be there. But what's more important is it gives people a sense of pride that they can enter the business world."

Patricia Turner, a veteran entrepreneur from Grand Rapids -- and a former chief of that First Nation -- is the chairwoman of the board that also includes former Manitoba Hydro CEO Bob Brennan and Bob Silver, the CEO of Western Glove Works (and an owner of the Winnipeg Free Press). (Board members are 100 per cent volunteer and do not take per diems or charge the fund for travel expenses.)

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Creeway Aviation: