Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two ultralight drug smuggling aircraft seized in Baja: One aircraft crashed near Los Algodones, the other near Mexicali

Two ultralight aircraft, which were allegedly used to smuggle narcotics into the United States, have been seized in Baja California.

According to authorities, the first discovery was on Tuesday, July 16, after a loud noise alerted police of a crashed aircraft in the Mexicali Valley. 

The second discovery occurred less than 24 hours later. 

A similar aircraft hit an airline and crashed near Los Algodones. 

No suspects were arrested.

Ultralights are frequently used to drop narcotics over the U.S. border from northeast Baja California and Sonora.


Grab your guns...Colorado town considers ordinance that would pay residents for shooting down drones

Drone hunting season could soon be year round in a small Colorado town that's considering issuing licenses to allow gun users to take aim at unmanned aircraft flying overhead.

Deer Trail, Co. – which bills itself as home to the world's first rodeo- is considering an ordinance that would license bounty hunters to shoot down drones if they violate the town's "sovereign airspace."

According to the Daily Caller, the ordinance is the result of a six-page petition circulated by resident Phillip Steel who said the drones represent threats to "traditional American ideas of Liberty and Freedom" enjoyed by the town's "ranchers, farmers, cowboys and Indians, as well as contemporary citizens."

The measure is set to be taken up by the town council at its Aug. 6 meeting. It would make a one-year drone hunting license available for $25. According to the Daily Caller, a bounty of $25 would be paid to those who turn in parts of a downed aircraft and $100 for a mostly intact vehicle. The vehicle must bear marks showing it's a government drone to qualify for the bounty. 

The ordinance is specific on what can be used to take down the multi-million dollar unmanned vehicles. Shooters must use a shotgun, 12-guage or smaller, that fires lead, steel or depleted uranium ammunition and can only take aim at aircraft flying at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet.

According to the Daily Caller, shooters are limited to three shots every two hours. If you can't hit the drone with three shots, you don't need to be taking aim, according to the petition organizer.

You can read the entire Daily Caller story here.

Families of Oklahoma State coaches killed in plane crash file lawsuit: Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee B, N7746W, Accident occurred November 17, 2011 in Perryville, Arkansas

STILLWATER, Okla. — Family members of two Oklahoma State University basketball coaches killed in a 2011 plane crash are suing the estate of two Ponca City residents also killed in the crash.

OSU basketball coach Kurt Budke, 50, assistant coach Miranda Serna, 36, and alumni Olin and Paula Branstetter, ages 82 and 79, were killed in a plane crash Nov. 17, 2011, in Arkansas while on an official OSU women’s basketball recruiting trip. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

Budke’s wife, Shelley Budke, and the parents of Serna — John Serna and Nettie Herrera — filed petitions for damages against the Branstetter estate for negligence April 27 of last year in Kay County.

According to the petitions, the aircraft “was under the direction and control of the Branstetter defendants and they, individually and/or collectively, had a duty to ensure the subject aircraft was airworthy and safe for flight, and to adequately maintain, inspect, repair, overhaul and service the subject aircraft.”

The petition asks for damages in full amounts allowed by law, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and expenses and all other relief, whether at law or in equity, to which the plaintiffs may show themselves justly entitled. Both petitions ask for the case to be tried by jury.

In an affidavit, Jack Wesley Branstetter, the personal representative of the Branstetter estate, said his parents “frequently volunteered their services such as providing air transportation to members of Oklahoma State University’s athletic department.”

According to a court document listing the Branstetter’s various involvement with the university, at least three scholarships were established in their name, including the Olin D. Branstetter Memorial Scholarship, the Paula G. Branstetter Aviation Scholarship and the Olin R. Branstetter Farmhouse Fraternity Scholarship.

Budke’s estate is represented by Jason Roselius while John Serna and Herrera are represented by Sean Burrage of Claremore and Scott Jackson of Ponca City, respectively. On Dec. 17, 2012, Jack Branstetter’s legal counsel, including Chris Kilgore of Dallas, Kenneth Holmes of Ponca City and Anthony Mareshie of Tulsa, filed a motion to dismiss the case on the basis of Oklahoma’s Governmental Tort Claim Act, or GTCA.

According to the motion, the GTCA governs all tort actions and claims against Oklahoma, its political subdivisions and its employees and states that all three, acting within the scope of their employment, whether performing governmental or proprietary functions, shall be immune from liability for tort.

The motion states the Branstetters are immune from the lawsuit because they fall under the statutory definition of an employee as described by the GTCA.

“...The GTCA defines employee as ‘(a)ny person who is authorized to act in behalf of a political subdivision or the state whether that person is acting on a permanent or temporary basis, with or without being compensated or on a full-time or part-time basis,’” the motion states.

The motion said those wishing to proceed against the state or its employees acting within the scope of their employment must present the claim to the specific governmental agency within one year of loss.

According to the motion, the plaintiff’s petitions made no mention of the professions of any of the involved parties or associations with a state institution. According to, the court held a hearing March 21 in Ponca City and later overruled the motion to dismiss March 28.

“Without commenting or ruling about the application of (the Oklahoma GTCA) to the eventual facts that will be determined in the case, the Court finds that at this time the facts presented to the court do not rule out the existence of a set of facts that may determine the relationship of the Branstetters to Oklahoma State University classified as that of independent contractor,” a court document states.

The court granted a motion to consolidate both cases against the Branstetter estate May 16.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA072
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 17, 2011 in Perryville, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N7746W
Injuries: 4 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.

About 2 hours after departure, radar data tracked the airplane at 7,000 feet before the airplane then initiated a right, descending turn before disappearing from radar. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying low, descending, making several turns, before impacting terrain. Impact signatures were consistent with a steep, nose-low attitude. An examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. The reason for the pilot's loss of control could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's loss of control in flight.

Lackluster sales of Cessna dent Textron's profit

(Reuters) - Textron Inc, the world's largest maker of business aircraft, reported a 34 percent fall in quarterly profit as deliveries fell by more than half at its Cessna unit.

Cessna, which makes small, piston-powered aircraft and business jets, posted a quarterly loss as deliveries of its flagship Citation jets slumped to 20 from 49 a year earlier.

Sequestration-related budget cuts by the U.S. government have put a lid on spending by many small businesses - Cessna's main customers.

The unit's share of total revenue fell to 20 percent from 26 percent a year earlier.

To cope with declining demand, Textron has been forced to cut costs at Cessna. However, it has also raised prices and introduced new models.

"It's a tough balancing act," Textron Chief Executive Scott Donnelly said on a conference call.

Cessna's two new jets, Citation Sovereign and Citation X, would be ready for delivery late this year and in early 2014, the CEO said.

The Bell helicopter business, which makes military and civilian helicopters and is Textron's largest unit by revenue, delivered 44 commercial helicopters in the second quarter, compared with 47 a year ago. Revenue fell 3 percent.

Donnelly said a number of larger commercial Bell aircraft would be delivered in the second half of the year.

Last month, the unit, in association with Boeing Co. won a $4.9 billion defense contract to manufacture 99 V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

Textron's second-quarter revenue of $2.8 billion was below analysts' average estimate of $3.01 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.


A strong performance by Textron's industrials business, which makes fuel systems and golf and turf care products, helped the company beat analysts' earnings expectations.

Earnings of $114 million, or 40 cents per share, from continuing operations came in above the 38 cents per share analysts had estimated.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Stallard attributed the earnings beat to a good performance by the company's industrial unit.

A strong auto market in North America and new products drove growth in the business, the company said.

Revenue from the industrial business rose 6 percent to $801 million, or 29 percent of the total, making it the second-largest unit by revenue.

Stallard said the division could emerge as "a source of upside" for the company's sales.

Shares of Providence, Rhode Island-based Textron, which have shed 6 percent of their value in the last three months, fell a further 2 percent to $26.99 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.


Deal possible on Bridgeport's $400,000 "driveway": Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR), Connecticut

BRIDGEPORT -- Pressure is mounting on Mayor Bill Finch to salvage the $400,000 taxpayer-funded driveway his administration bought for millionaire developer Manuel "Manny" Moutinho.

The town of Stratford, which issued the permits for the work, wants to know if Bridgeport will fight a July 2 court ruling that the driveway for Moutinho and three neighboring property owners should have never been approved.

In letters this week the heads of Stratford's conservation and zoning offices warned Finch that unless the court's decision is appealed, Bridgeport must dig up sections of the driveway built through wetlands and restore the habitat.

Stratford gave Finch 15 days to respond.

"We're saying, `Don't forget about us'," said Stratford Town Attorney Timothy Bishop.

Meanwhile Bishop is also preparing for the possibility Moutinho and/or Bridgeport will reach a settlement with Breakwater Key, the condominium association that successfully fought the driveway in court.

"I heard they were going to be talking," Bishop said Wednesday. "It would be possible for the parties to come to an agreement that the court embraces that would allow the driveway to stay with some modifications."

Bishop said wants Stratford to be kept informed in case any deals impact the environment and the public.

Asked to comment, Finch spokesman Elaine Ficarra gave the same non-answer the administration has provided since Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe declared Moutinho's driveway illegal: "When the city has information that it determines to make public regarding its legal strategy or filings it will issue appropriate press statements."

Richard Saxl, who represents Breakwater Key, declined comment.

Moutinho last summer obtained permits to install a new, $200,000 driveway from Sniffen Lane, over Bridgeport-owned Sikorsky Memorial Airport property, to the gate of his waterfront mansion on Stratford's shoreline.

But at some point the Finch administration decided it needed to build the driveway to expedite $42 million in runway safety improvements at nearby Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

The mayor's office has said the $400,000 for the driveway was part of $3 million the Bridgeport City Council borrowed last September for the city's portion of the mostly federally funded Sikorsky work.

In March, the city took over Moutinho's permits and then in April circumvented competitive bidding procedures and hired the developer's Mark IV Construction company to install the driveway.

But the council has claimed it knew nothing of the driveway until June, when Hearst Connecticut Newspapers reported its completion.

The administration has continually defended its reasons for building the driveway and hiring Moutinho. But Finch suspended Sikorsky Manager John Ricci -- who, with Finch's legal office, helped arrange the deal -- without pay pending an internal probe into a possible conflict of interest.

Ricci, as Hearst reported, has had a long friendship and prior real estate dealings with Moutinho.

Bridgeport was not named in a Breakwater Key lawsuit against Moutinho, so only Moutinho can file an appeal.

Moutinho has three weeks to appeal Radcliffe's ruling. An appeal would buy Bridgeport time to file for new permits in Stratford to preserve the driveway.


Braden Airpark (N43) Easton, Pennsylvania: Rent a Pavilion for a Party

Forks Township offers two pavilions for parties or summer barbecues.

Having a party?

Well there are plenty of pavilions that can be rented in Forks Township.

Recreation officials say that pavilions are an affordable way to host a party for birthdays, graduations, baby showers or barbecues.

There are two available to residents:

    Braden Airpark Pavilion — The pavilion, located on 3520 Sullivan Trail, seats about 100 people and offers electrical outlets, charcoal grills and restrooms. The resident rental price is $60 for four hours and $15 for each additional hour.

    Community Park Pavilion — Located in the heart of Forks Township Community Park, the pavilion seats 50 people. There are electrical outlets, a charcoal grill and restrooms. The resident rental price is $40 for four hours and $10 an hour for each additional hour.

There is no alcohol beverage or pets allowed at either pavilion.


Appeal letter on its way to New Jersey Department of Transportation

TEWKSBURY TWP. –Almost two years and $50,000 later, the Friends of Cold Brook Historic District are furious that the Johnson & Johnson helipad received the go-ahead from New Jersey Department of Transportation, and want the Tewksbury Township Committee to do something about it.

At a meeting of the Township Committee on Tuesday, July 9, Chris Kennedy of Homestead Road presented the Township Committee with a letter of reason from the Johnsons lawyer to the DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson.

Prior to Kennedy’s presentation Deputy Mayor Dana Desiderio recused herself and left the room.

Misleading The DOT

According to Kennedy, someone must be misleading the DOT and Simpson because there was a lot of evidence and facts the Historic District battle for, and it seems like they have just been disregarded.

“The judge at the DOT requested a statement of reasons during the application process,” Kennedy said, “Upon which the DOT made the decision to approve the license. The response you have in front of you is ridiculously self-justifying. It seems to have purposely omitted key facts which if disclosed would have swayed the ruling. The DOT’s conclusion was that the matter was not a contested case. It seems completely irrational.”

The Friends have appealed the decision of the DOT, and want to see the injustice of their local rights being taken away stopped.

“Our concerns continue to escalate,” Kennedy said, “As the state proceeds to establish a habit of overruling the authority of appointed local officials, this is just another example. Recently it was the application for the power station. You have heard in previous meetings and subsequent to the building of the power station that decision has come down to be an environmental nightmare that seems to have no end. A lot of people in Tewksbury say well I don’t live by the substation or helipad, why should I be concerned? Well that could be them next. They don’t understand it.”

Kennedy urged Mayor Louis DiMare to write Simpson and the DOT a letter citing why the decision should be appealed.

“The commissioner has obviously not been listening to the people,” Kennedy said, “Trying to get this overturned seems insurmountable at this point, but at least take the shot.”

George Cassa of Guinea Hollow Road supported Kennedy’s request but wanted to urge the committee to look at the issue from the point of view of the letter.

“I want to know whether there are any misstatements of facts or law that need to be refuted to the judge,” Cassa said.

DiMare responded that they are not involved in the litigation so he wouldn’t want to take it to that level.

Cassa countered and asked if there was anyway the township could confirm that a misstatement has been made.

“What I’m concerned about is that there has been this effort put forth to defend the town and it seems to have been completely overridden,” Cassa said.

Finish the Job

Larry Ross of Homestead Road: asked the Township Committee to let the mayor finish the job he started.

“To date Lou has managed to persuade the commissioner to eliminate night flights,” Ross said, “Now the mayor wants to finish what he started by doing the most logical thing, get the DOT to put a cap on the number of flights per month.”

According to Ross, a director of the Jockey Hollow Club told him that the helipad is being set up next to what sounds like luxury accommodations. Ross urged the committee to check into the zoning of that because he doesn’t believe they have any permits.

DiMare said he would have no problem writing the letter but wanted the opinion of the committee. Peter Melick said he opposed the committee getting involved in the first place so he was opposed to the letter.

Shaun Van Doren and William Voyce favored sending Simpson a letter.

According to Township Attorney Michael Selvaggi, there was no downside to writing the letter, and the worst that would happen would be the DOT ignore the letter.

The mayor concluded that he will write a letter to the commissioner and give him a call to let him know it was coming; a courtesy Simpson had extended to him in the past.


Report on Boeing Dreamliner Fire Due Soon: U.K. Investigators May Recommend Removing Aircraft's Emergency Locator Transmitter

Accident investigators within days plan to issue an interim report that isn't expected to pinpoint the cause of last week's fire inside an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 but could prompt some temporary safety measures, according to people familiar with the matter,

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch is likely to lay out the known series of events that occurred inside the unoccupied jetliner when it was parked at London's Heathrow Airport, without drawing any conclusions about what touched off the blaze, the people said.

AAIB investigators have said they are focusing on several systems in the area of the burn, including a beacon used to locate a plane in the event of a crash, known as an emergency locator transmitter or ELT. The small, battery-powered device is attached near the location of the fire but it remains unclear if it was the combustion source or was burned in a fire that started elsewhere, two of these people said.

The Dreamliner's ELT is produced by Honeywell International Inc.  which on Monday was invited to participate in the investigation. Thousands of similar devices have operated on planes for several years without incident, Honeywell and industry officials said. The model is used on planes built by Boeing Co., Bombardier Inc. of Canada and the Airbus unit of European Aeronautic Defence  and Space Co., according to industry officials.

Amid uncertainty about the cause of the fire, the AAIB nevertheless appears poised to call for some interim steps as precautionary measures. Investigators are preparing to ask the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency to assess the necessity of the devices on 787s, according to a person familiar with the matter. The AAIB may suggest temporarily removing ELTs from Dreamliners while the investigation continues, this person said.

ELTs are required for a plane to be used for passenger flights in the U.S., and they are widely used by airlines around the globe. But under U.S. rules, operators can fly with ELTs inoperative for up to 90 days before replacement or repair is required. European, Asian and African carriers tend to have the transmitters attached to the fuselage, as in the Ethiopian 787.

A spokesman for the AAIB in London declined to comment.

Boeing declined to comment.

A Honeywell spokesman said the company hasn't been contacted by investigators or regulators to remove any beacons, but left open the possibility of doing so.

"While we do not have any orders to temporarily remove our ELTs from 787s at this time, as a safety-first company, we would support an action like this as a precautionary measure if our team, or the AAIB and NTSB, determine it's necessary to do so," the Honeywell spokesman said.

Industry officials expect that over coming weeks the FAA, EASA and airlines operating Dreamliners will pore over ELT maintenance records and databases for any incidents related to the beacons. Discussions about possible removal of beacons is the strongest sign yet that investigators suspect they may have played an important role in the Heathrow event.

But so far, according to officials familiar with the matter, no particular maintenance issues have cropped up with ELTs, which haven't helped locate any big U.S. or European jetliners after a crash in the past two decades.

Industry and government officials familiar with the investigation say they still don't know how a device as small as an ELT could have sparked the intense fire inside the plane.

The AAIB is leading the investigation with input from the FAA and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, EASA, Boeing, Honeywell and Ethiopian Airlines. Investigators plan to end their on-site analysis this weekend and the FAA representative would then return to the U.S. and analysis will continue on both sides of the Atlantic, according to industry and government officials.

In an unusual move, some FAA officials are quietly arguing inside the agency that the AAIB may lack jurisdiction to conduct the investigation under rules of the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization.

Air-accident investigations are usually led by the country where they occur. But according to people familiar with the FAA officials' reading of ICAO rules, this only holds for aircraft in flight or that have "intention of flight." FAA officials, according to these people, believe that a parked plane that was certified by the FAA should be investigated by the FAA.

Undersheriff to Jefferson County Legislators: Airport will no longer be a priority -- Watertown International (KART), New York

A security staffing issue at the Watertown International Airport that first appeared on the radar in early March has suddenly reached critical mass for Jefferson County.

During the public comment period of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators General Services Committee meeting, Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau told the committee that because of a personnel shortage, he no longer would be able to guarantee a deputy for security screening during afternoon flights at the airport.

“The airport will no longer be a priority. We will provide morning coverage. Afternoon coverage only if we have the personnel,” Mr. Trudeau told legislators.

“I’m not here giving you an ultimatum, I’m not giving you threats, I’m not here to bombard you. I’m a department head explaining to you what the situation is,” Mr. Trudeau said when he was called back to the podium at the end of the meeting.

“My officers are getting burned out, but they have really stepped up. You do have outstanding men and women working for you,” Mr. Trudeau said, noting that he has four vacancies in his department, placing a difficult strain on deputies who have to report to the airport three times a day in addition to their other duties.

Two of those vacancies are expected to be filled shortly with officers hired from other law enforcement agencies, Mr. Trudeau said.

He declined to name the agencies because he said the details of the contracts were still being worked out with the county’s Human Resources Department.

But Mr. Trudeau said that even with the two vacancies filled, he would be hard pressed to meet the demands of the airport detail.

“The issue is not on the expenditure side, it’s on the revenue side,” County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann said.

When the county took over the airport from the city of Watertown in 2006, the Transportation Security Administration provided a subsidy that allowed the county to hire four additional deputies to help with security.

Since then, the funds have steadily dwindled, leaving the county with no money budgeted to pay the deputies who would fill the remaining two vacancies.

According to the county’s contract with the TSA, a law enforcement officer has to be present for passenger screening.

“Until the sheriff’s deputy shows up, the plane doesn’t go,” said Philip N. Reed, R-Fishers Landing, chairman of the General Services Committee.

Mr. Trudeau said he has not yet set up a meeting with airport management or the TSA. First, he must secure permission to do so from Sheriff John P. Burns, who is away at a conference. At least until then, patrols will continue to be assigned to the afternoon flights.

The issue about the shortage first came up at the beginning of March, when Sheriff Burns said that he no longer would be able to provide a security detail at the airport because the county had not granted his requests to fill vacancies left by deputies who had retired, been promoted or moved on to other law enforcement agencies.

The number of vacancies had gone from three to four with the retirement of a deputy earlier that week.

The issue seemed to recede into the background after approval to fill at least two of the vacancies was granted after a period of public wrangling over the issue.

Mr. Trudeau said he received approval to hire the two deputies from the other law enforcement agencies only about a month ago.

The timing of Mr. Trudeau’s assertion comes at an awkward time for Jefferson County.

Last week, the airport hosted a meeting of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency board of directors, during which consultant David L. Mosher presented the highlights of an ambitious plan to bring 400 to 500 jobs to a proposed business park at the site within five to seven years.

Consistency of service is key to ensuring the success of the airport, according to Mr. Reed.

“This could be a significant problem,” Mr. Hagemann said of the deputy shortage.

Mr. Trudeau said that while the funding for deputies working the airport detail has decreased, the responsibilities of the job, which include assisting TSA employees with passenger screening and conducting perimeter checks, have not.

In the past, Mr. Trudeau said, he has sent relief to deputies working at an accident scene so they can report to the airport on time.

And when foul weather comes into play in the winter, deputies are required to work extended hours.

For his purposes, Mr. Trudeau said, he wants to see the Board of Legislators approve the final two positions that have been vacant since 2012.

Mr. Hagemann said Mr. Trudeau’s statements before the committee were a total surprise.

“I talked to Paul as recently as last Thursday and he never mentioned anything about this,” he said.

Mr. Reed said there would be a continuation of the discussion with the board.

Between its two interactions with Mr. Trudeau, which were contentious at times, the board received updates about two emergency management issues from Joseph D. Plummer, director of Fire and Emergency Management for the county.

Mr. Plummer discussed a study of the county’s public safety communications system being conducted over the next two weeks by Blue Wing Services Inc., a St. Paul, Minn., communications company, and a proposed update to the county’s 911 phone system.

Blue Wing Services already has held meetings with fire and EMS personnel in the town of Adams and the village of Chaumont and will be at 7 p.m. today at the Depauville Fire Department Banquet Hall, at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Evans Mills Fire Department and at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at the Champion Fire Department

The General Services meeting was recessed until 5:30 p.m. next Thursday, when the committee will hear some preliminary findings from the consultant.


With clipped wings, seaplanes are docked in no man’s land

Seaplane operations in Kerala, sought to take tourism to new heights, are in no man’s land. The project inaugurated a month ago with much fanfare is yet to get into regular operational mode.

The seaplane operations were halted after fishermen opposed the project, fearing disruption in fishing operations. Prominent organizations of fishermen have voiced concern over the possible loss of livelihood due to stoppage of fishing activity at sites where the seaplanes are scheduled to land and takeoff. They had also announced strong protest against the project and threatened to organize blockade around water dromes.

The government had responded to the fishermen’s concern by proposing a meeting with them to discuss the issue to remove their apprehensions. The meeting will be held on July 23, a top official of Tourism department told The Hindu.

The Bangalore-based Kairali aviation group, which announced its voyage with the inaugural flight at Kollam, is in no position to operate it now. The group with one amphibian aircraft had received only a temporary permit which has already expired. It needs fresh permit to continue operations. The group’s website meant to attract bookings for seaplane journey, has posted a note to wait for information, without giving any hint as to when the flight would resume.

A Tourism Department official said the license for operations was being processed for continuing the service. The amphibian aircraft is undergoing maintenance checks and would be ready for operations after the monsoon, he said. A few other operators too had evinced interest in the seaplane operations, he added.

The CITU-backed Matsya Thozhilai Federation, one of the fishermen’s organizations which has expressed objection to the seaplane project, wants a detailed study conducted on the services by a body of experts. The study conducted by Pawan Hans, the promoting airline organization, had not considered the fallouts in respect of fishermen’s livelihood, said T.Raghuvaran, district secretary of the Federation.

The fishermen’s contention is that the fishing operations will have to be halted in a large area where the flights are scheduled to land and take off from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They apprehend that it would curtail their area of activity, affecting livelihood.

The fishermen’s organizations are expected to stick to their stand to abandon the flight operations at fishing sites. It would be difficult for the government to get the support of the organizations, affiliated to political parties, given the impending Lok Sabha elections. The coastal belt has a strong community of fishermen who form a vote bank. The government too would not like to antagonize them at this moment. In the extreme scenario, the government will be compelled to operate the flights from dam sites and other water bodies were fishing operations are minimum.


Gulfstream Beijing earns maintenance OKs

A joint maintenance management agreement among civil aviation authorities will allow Gulfstream Beijing to service its aircraft registered in Hong Kong and Macau — the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China — as well as China proper, the company announced Monday.

The approval was granted through an agreement among the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the Civil Aviation Department of Hong Kong and the Civil Aviation Authority of Macau SAR.

Under the agreement, Gulfstream Beijing can perform maintenance and upgrades on airframes, avionics, power plants and interiors on Gulfstream G550, G450 and G200 aircraft registered in Hong Kong and Macau. Gulfstream earned approval last year to work on those models registered in China.

“The joint maintenance approval is welcome news for many of our Hong Kong and Macau operators who travel frequently to Beijing and nearby cities,” said Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream Product Support.

“As Gulfstream Beijing grows, our goal is to add authorizations to give our customers more options for maintenance,” Burns said.

More than 200 Gulfstream aircraft are based in the Asia-Pacific region, including nearly 50 in Hong Kong and Macau.

The Gulfstream Beijing service center is a joint venture between Gulfstream and Hainan Airlines Group subsidiaries Hainan Aviation Technik and Beijing Capital Airlines Co. Ltd.

Gulfstream Beijing is located at Beijing Capital International Airport. The facility features about 82,000 square feet of hangar space and 22,000 square feet of offices and back shops.


Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney defends $4500 a week spent on charter flights for him from Monto to Brisbane - Australia


It would be cheaper for Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney to catch a taxi to and from his electorate than take charter flights, which are currently costing taxpayers about $4500 a week. 

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk today told the Budget Estimates hearing at State Parliament that Jeff Seeney racked up a $162,505 bill on flights in nine months.

He defended the cost as necessary to have strong representation for regional Queensland in parliament, and said he had no plans to change his travel schedule.

"This option has been identified as the best option by the Ministerial Services Branch," Mr Seeney said.

"It is about ensuring that regional Queensland is represented in a government that cares about regional Queensland."

A taxi from Brisbane to Monto would cost about $1100 according to Yellow Cabs - so a return trip would still be somewhat cheaper than Mr Seeney's current weekly charter flight bill.

However to drive from Brisbane to Monto would take nearly six hours - compared with just over an hour to fly the distance.

EARLIER it was reported that Mr Seeney had again been forced to defend the cost of flying to and from Brisbane each week after it was revealed charter flights cost taxpayers more than $160,000 last year.

At the budget estimates hearings on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk asked Mr Seeney if he was using charter planes as a "personal taxi service", given the $162,505 price tag over nine months.

Mr Seeney lives in Monto in central Queensland and uses a charter service to travel to Brisbane each week because commercial flights do not service the town.

"I am a regional member of parliament and our government believes that regional members of parliament have every right to hold senior positions in the government and we will continue to ensure regional Queensland is well represented in our government," said Mr Seeney.

"I travel once a week from where I live to Brisbane in a small Cessna aircraft, a four-seater.

"I would dearly love the opportunity that I suspect the (deputy Opposition leader) Member for Mackay has to have a Qantas business class option but that's not available to me."

He said the cost to taxpayers amounted to about 60 percent of his travel budget.

The bill amounts to about $4500 a week.


Reading Regional Airport/Carl A Spaatz Field (KRDG), Pennsylvania: 2 firms eye hangars

Reading Regional Airport has two firms looking at potential hangar sites on the airfield – the newest of them to house corporate jets and the other a huge firm still interested in bringing hundreds of jobs to refurbish airliners.

Both have been looking at the site of the historic Hangar 501, built in World War II and razed in 2008, but also at other sites on the airfield.

And both would benefit from the state’s move last week to eliminate the sales tax on repair and maintenance of fixed-wing aircraft.

Airport manager Terry P. Sroka said that could bring many new jobs to the state.

The newest developer, an unnamed utility, wants to build a hangar for three large corporate jets at the Hangar 501 site for which the airport has a $600,000 state grant for site improvements.

The other, announced a year ago, is a still-unnamed major player in the airliner maintenance, repair and overhaul industry, and is still interested in Reading Regional.

The company was back in town a month ago, talking to county officials about the site, said Michael A. Setley, airport authority chairman.

He said the airport is one of several sites it’s considering.

The airport said last year that the firm is based in the Southwest and wants to expand by creating a major overhaul facility in the East.

It did not said how many jobs it might bring, but aviation officials said overhauling full-size airliners would require several hundred highly skilled workers.

To accommodate it, airport engineers drew up a plan for a 300-by-300-foot hangar – twice the size of the old Hangar 501 – on that site.

With the new interest, the airport is now considering two smaller hangars there, each about 150 by 150 feet, the first for the utility and the second site reserved for a future firm.

But that would produce about half the leasable space that the larger hangar would.

“I look at it this way: It’s not as large as what we dreamed, but it’s larger than what’s there now,” Setley said. “It’s a bird in the hand.”

Besides, he and Sroka said, that site wasn’t the larger firm’s first choice anyway, and it could build the big hangar at several other airfield sites.

One of those is in a free-trade zone, allowing the firm to bring in planes from Canada, work on them and ship them back without import duties or red tape, and now, without sales tax.

Dropping the 6 percent sales tax can add that same 6 percent to a company’s bottom line, said airport engineer Fran Strouse of the Harrisburg-based L.R. Kimball engineering firm.

Several years ago, the state eliminated similar taxes on helicopters, bringing numerous helicopter firms and jobs to the state.

The Aviation Council of Pennsylvania lauded the most recent move.

“The (state’s) newly revised tax policy provides the foundation for the creation of new, private-sector, family sustaining jobs in the fixed-wing industry,” the council said in a statement last week.