Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bringing air shows back to airport probably won't fly: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International (KAVP), Pennsylvania

PITTSTON TWP. - Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien wants Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport to once again host air shows, but the idea appears to be a long shot for now.

The air show drew large crowds between 1983 and 2000, when it was suspended for construction of the new terminal and never returned.

Now, there are many logistical problems with bringing the air show back, Airport Director Barry Centini told the Bi-County Airport Board during a Thursday meeting that included approvals of about $1.46 million worth of work.

The facility has changed significantly since the new terminal was built, and Mr. Centini said there is less parking available, meaning "we would need a lot of busing."

The local issues might be minor, however, compared to problems with the broader air show business climate.

"I hate to say it, but at this point in time, it looks like it's a dying business," Mr. Centini said.

"The Blue Angels aren't flying anymore," Mr. Centini added. "The Thunderbirds are grounded. With sequestration, there's no money. There's no military participation. Pretty much 90 percent of all military air shows, the big three shows that fill the big bases, are canceled."

Mr. Centini said his air show business contacts are going bankrupt because "there's no shows."

Michael Conner, assistant airport director, said the Federal Aviation Administration has started charging substantial fees for running air shows to make up for tight finances from automatic federal spending cuts.

Mr. O'Brien said even if the time is not right to bring the event back, the sequestration will end at some point.

The county commissioner said an air show would be another attraction to the region to join others like Mohegun Sun casino and arena, PNC Field, Toyota Pavilion, Pocono Raceway and the Shoppes At Montage.

"There's a whole host of all these great things going on that improve the quality of life for all the people who are living here but also provide an impetus for companies and people from out of the area to come here," Mr. O'Brien said. "The more activities we can have here, the better feel about our area."

In other business at the meeting, the board awarded a $671,101 contract to Kriger Construction to rehabilitate the airline apron and a $33,650 contract to B&H Taxilane Lighting to install a navigation device called a precision approach path indicator on the runway.

Mr. Conner described the apron work as a maintenance and safety project designed to repair ruts in the asphalt.

The board also approved two constructed-related inspection services agreements totaling $19,998 and $39,970 with McFarland-Johnson Inc., and a $58,794 change order for the ongoing hangar road extension and rehabilitation project.

Engineer Patrick McLaine told the board Scartelli Construction Services was initially asked for about twice that amount related to unforeseen road issues.

The airport board also approved a $639,907 agreement with L.R. Kimball for final design services for a project that could eventually total more than $12 million to extend the airport's taxiway.

Mr. Conner said extending the taxiway, which airplanes use to travel between the terminal and runway, will improve the airport's air traffic flow.

The bi-county board also gave airport officials approval to negotiate a contract with Aviation Technologies to become the fixed-based operator until Aug. 31, 2028, meaning the company would provide maintenance and charter services.

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Flight School Application Rejected At Meeting: Healdsburg Municipal Airport (KHES), California

Neighbors of the Healdsburg Municipal Airport knew they wouldn’t be able to count on quiet all the time living in the vicinity of a small aviation facility.

But some say they got more than they bargained for: pilots don’t always stick to the flight path, they fly too low, and noise from a hovering helicopter practicing take-offs and landings rattles nearby country homes and estates.

“I was in my hot tub last night at 7 o’clock when a plane buzzed my head,” said Julie Gilles, a Chablis Road resident, who said she could see the pilot’s head.

Hers was among the complaints aired Wednesday night when the Healdsburg Transportation Commission on a 4-3 vote rejected an application for a flight school at the airport located off Lytton Springs Road.

The vote was only advisory and the City Council is expected to make the ultimate determination, probably at its Aug.19 meeting.

“I think it’s a small country airport and it’s really meant for hobbyists. I think it’s inappropriate to have businesses of that scale here,” said Sylvia Hurst, a winery owner who lives on Chiquita Road, about a mile away from the airport.

“We continue to have planes fly off the flight path on a regular basis, which strongly affects our peaceful country life,” she said of the low-flying aircraft directly over the home she and her husband Phil have shared for 19 years.

She asserted that adding a flight school will only make things worse, although some pilots who spoke Wednesday disagreed.

“Rob will train people to fly away from people’s homes,” said pilot Paul LeBrett, in reference to Robert Markwood’s flight school application.

LeBrett and other pilots said the airport, built in 1939 as a private landing strip before it was taken over by the city, has had flight schools that have come and gone through the years.

Markwood, who currently offers pilot ground-school instruction and flight simulator training, wants to add flight instruction and airplane rental to his business.

He intends to charter up to five planes, conduct up to 10 flights a day, with two operations per month at night, up to midnight.

That may seem a small increase for an airport that, according to the city, experienced approximately 13,000 takeoffs and landings in 2012. There are about 50 aircraft based there now.

According to pilots, the scenic airport with its half-mile-long runway was even busier in the 1980s. Fuel costs and other factors, they say, have reduced the number of flights.

“The number of complaints when I first came on were considerably more,” said transportation commissioner John Lloyd.

But Markwood’s application provided an opportunity for residents to vent pent-up frustrations with noise they’ve endured for years.

It also prompted differing opinions about the economic value of the airport and whether the relatively small income the city gets from it is worth the irritation to area residents.

Assistant City Manager David Mickaelian said the city spends about $5,000 a year to run the airport. There is an airport manager on site five days a week who works for the city.

The city also accepts Federal Aviation Administration grant money for the operation and therefore is not able to restrict the use of the airport for flights, assuming all FAA requirements are met, according to Mickaelian.

Bretta Rambo, who’s lived close to the airport for 20 years, said a lawsuit brought by neighbors was resolved in the early 1990s with the city committing to noise reduction procedures, including keeping takeoffs and landing to the west, away from inhabited areas.

“The city has made a commitment to neighbors,” she said.

Newcomers like physician Robert Pousman, who just closed escrow on his property, said he might not have purchased his home on Lytton Springs Road if he knew a flight school was being proposed.

He and other opponents raised concerns about safety and the potential for crashes, as well as the effect on health from leaded airplane fuel and the erosion of their property values.

Walter Maack, an emergency room physician who lives near the airport, said constant noise is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Allowing the flight school, he said, will open the door for increased uses from crop dusting to tourist travel.

But Charles Brown, a pilot since 1949, compared living next to an airport to living next to a golf course. He lives next to Healdsburg’s golf course, he said, and has put up with hundreds of errant golf balls hitting his house, shattering windows, skylights and denting his cars.

“I’m not saying shut down the golf course. If I didn’t like it, I could sell my house,” he said. “ I would love to own land out by the airport.”

But he said the pilots need to be courteous, and one of the biggest enemies is irresponsible pilots who don’t respect the flights pattern. “They’re a mark against us in the aviation industry,” he said.

The controversy comes at the same time the city is planning to rejuvenate the runway with a slurry seal overlay and make other improvements.

The City Council this week authorized bidding for the runway pavement rehabilitation project and runway lighting improvements. The estimated $585,000 project is to be funded with FAA grant money.

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Frontier airlines extends Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN) lease

Six months into its current lease agreement with Trenton-Mercer Airport and Mercer County, Frontier Airlines’ request to extend its lease to five years has been accepted.

Under the amended terms, Frontier’s lease will be in effect from May 21, 2013 to May 20, 2018.

Frontier’s rent is $18,558 per year. In addition, the airline collects a Passenger Facility Charge from each ticket sold and passes a portion of that to the airport. Currently that amount is approximately $40,000 per month.

Denver-based Frontier first entered the Trenton-Mercer market in November 2012 with flights to Orlando, Fla., and quickly added routes to other Florida destinations of Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa; and New Orleans, which began Jan. 31.

In April, Frontier added nonstop service to Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Raleigh-Durham and Detroit from Trenton-Mercer Airport.

Mercer County has made investments to Trenton-Mercer Airport in the past several years.

An airport safety project called Engineered Material Arresting System, or EMAS, is scheduled for September. This FAA-mandated project requires the airport to close its main runway during construction and temporarily suspend flights.

Frontier Airlines worked with county administration to determine the best time of year to complete the project, indicating fall is the airline’s slowest travel season.


Cargo plane emergency landing at Owen Roberts International Airport, George Town, Cayman Islands

A cargo plane chartered by Cayman Airways made an emergency landing at Owen Roberts International Airport Thursday afternoon.

The plane, operated by IFL group, landed safely. No one was injured and no information was provided about the nature of the problem on board the aircraft.

The roads around Owen Roberts were blocked off as per normal police procedure until the cargo plane landed Thursday.

Two Air India pilots suspended for allowing actress inside cockpit

New Delhi: Two Air India pilots have been suspended after they allowed a South Indian actress to sit inside the cockpit mid-air on a Bangalore-Hyderabad flight in flagrant violation of safety norms.

“Both pilots have been suspended and taken off the roster. An inquiry is going on,” airline officials said, adding that the matter came to light after a passenger lodged a complaint with the airline. The pilots have been identified as Jagan M Reddy and S Kiran.

Aviation regulator DGCA has taken a serious view of the incident which took place last month, official sources said today.

While both the pilots were suspended by the national carrier pending an internal inquiry, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is conducting a thorough probe into the “flagrant violation of passenger safety norms”, they said.

In his complaint, the passenger said the actress was allowed into the cockpit when the plane was mid-air. She had occupied the observer’s seat during the flight, which is reserved for examiners and observers authorized by DGCA.

With quite a few such incidents coming to fore in the past months, the DGCA is considering amending its rules to impose harsher penalties on the cockpit crew, the sources said, adding that cockpit entry by a passenger is completely prohibited since the 9/11 terror strike.

In May, the pilot of an Air India flight from Delhi to Bangalore got locked out of the cockpit as the door got jammed, resulting in the co-pilot making an emergency landing in Bhopal.

In April, two stewardesses were inside the cockpit for nearly 45 minutes as one of the two pilots had taken a long break.

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City evicts largest airport tenant: Border City Aviation - Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada

Unless a new lease agreement can be signed, Border City Aviation will be finding its self a new home, and that home may not even be in the Lloydminster airport, a place they have been at since 1985.

Negotiations between the city and the aviation company could not result in a completed new lease agreement, and during negotiations Border City Aviation’s previous lease went into an over-holding position, resulting in the company moving to a month-to-month payment. The city exercised its right and has evicted its largest tenant from the airport, and Border City Aviation must be vacated by July 31.

“I stalled in negotiations with the City to expand my business,” said Steve Watt, owner of Border City Aviation. “I was negotiating some more property at the airport and we were kind of going back and forth. As negotiations broke down my previous lease lapsed and the city has exercised its right to terminate my being here.”

Border City Aviation is multiple businesses in one, offering a flight school for potential pilots, a maintenance facility for over 70 aircrafts, charter flight services and aerial surveying. Watt bought the business in 2010 from the original founder and has expanded the business from two employees to seven, and said he has outgrown the facility he currently has at the airport.

One of the major sticking points in the negotiations was the right to sell fuel at the airport. Watt said that currently the city has given out exclusive rights to a single organization for the rights to sell fuel, and despite having the facility to store their own fuel, Watt added the city has communicated to him in the latest lease proposal that Border City Aviation must buy their fuel from the single fuel provider. 

“I think if there is more than one fuel provider it would promote competition and better fuel pricing,” said Watt. “Like anything, it’s always better if there’s competition there. There isn’t enough margin in my little aviation business to be getting dictated who I buy my fuel from. If I’m forced to buy from them and can’t shop around for a better price it will affect my bottom line.”

A 30-day notice of termination was given to Watt, leaving him little time to come up with a plan for the future. While he still wants to remain in Lloydminster and continue working out of the airport, his business may need to move down the road to Vermilion if a new lease can’t be made with the city, and for that, Watt hopes the public will get involved. But if nothing can be signed in the next 15 days, Vermilion is the next option.

“The skies are pretty blue and the waters are pretty smooth down there,” said Watt of the option to Vermilion. “They would love to have an organization such as ours move into town. They are just ready to embrace it with arms wide open.”

Sixty per cent of the flights out of the airport come from Watt’s company he added, a result that not only would hurt the air traffic out of Lloydminster, but also the employees at the airport who depend on the aircrafts Border City Aviation provides.

It also could result in NAV Canada, who owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation system, leaving the airport as well due to the lack of flights coming in, Watt said.

“This affects a lot of people,” said Watt. “We are the life blood of the airport as far as I am concerned. Seven full-time staff here and five staff in the control tower that will be affected at some point.”

At this time, the city has only issued the following statement about this matter after the Source requested an interview.

“The City of Lloydminster is working with legal counsel regarding this matter. The City of Lloydminster believes they have complied with the terms of the lease.”

A new lease would include two lots at the airport for Watt to expand his business, including adding more flight training and maintenance. He will continue to fight for his place at the airport and the opportunity to remain in the community and provide the flight service, but he is ready to move if needed.

“There is tons of opportunity here,” said Watt. “I’m fighting to stay here. At the end of the day if the city decides they don’t want me to be here then I’ll move.”


No visibility? New tech lets pilots see in blinding conditions

By John Roach NBC News  

Next month, the U.S. military's futuristic research agency will flight-test technology that allows helicopter pilots to take off and land even when visibility is cut to zero by blinding snow and fog or dust stirred up by other helicopters in the area.

These so-called degraded visual environments account for three-quarters of the helicopter accidents in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Vernon Fronek, a business development manager for BAE Systems, which developed the see-through technology.

Fronek likened the experience of landing a helicopter in these situations to driving down the road in thick fog and losing visual awareness. "What would you do? Where would you go? How would you avoid obstacles?" he said in an email to NBC News.

The Brownout Landing Aid System Technology "provides 'continuous vision' in zero visibility," he said. It fuses data from sensors such as radar and lidar — a method that uses pulsed light to measure distance to objects —to generate visual information about obstacles and terrain.

The information, in turn, is presented on the helicopter's dashboard or displays integrated with a pilot's helmet. Such helmet-mounted displays allow pilots to keep their heads up and eyes focused outside the helicopter. It should even work with Google Glass, a wearable display technology, noted Fronek.

"We use open architecture display standards, so most likely, yes, we could make it work with (Google Glass)," he said. In addition to imagery, the system displays symbols that give the pilot information on the state of the aircraft.

The system, which weighs less than 50 pounds, has been flown on military test aircraft to prove its effectiveness. BAE is currently preparing for advanced flight tests with the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in August and October.

The company aims to market the technology to the U.S. military as well as to clients in France and the Middle East, Fronek added.

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News. To learn more about him, visit his website


Parents sue air ambulance over toddler's injury - Manitoba, Canada

The parents of a boy who suffered brain damage during an air ambulance transfer in Manitoba are suing the company.

Blair Campbell and Emily Moar want to know how it could happen that their two-year-old son, Morgan Moar Campbell, was deprived of oxygen for some 30 minutes without anyone noticing.

“We're just going through a lawsuit and stuff and really, it's not about the money, it's just that we want answers and we want to know what went wrong in that ambulance that caused my son to be in this state.

“Nothing could make it better — money can't, but something has to be done. [They] can't get away with it.”

The incident happened May 2, when a STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) crew picked up Morgan in Brandon for a transfer to Winnipeg's Children's Hospital.

He was sedated and had a breathing tube inserted in his throat, but the tube somehow came out while he was being moved from the helicopter to an ambulance in Winnipeg, according to members of his family.

The STARS incident is under review by Manitoba Health.

Morgan's family is planning a fundraiser in September to pay for a procedure in a B.C. private clinic. A trust fund has also been set up at Scotia Bank.

The STARS incident is under review by Manitoba Health.

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Plane versus sheep on Rhigos airstrip... and the sheep won

Heard the one about the hardy sheep that was hit by a plane – and the aircraft came off worst?

A new air accident report has uncovered what must be the toughest animal in the Valleys after a light aircraft made an emergency landing in a field.

The report says the plane’s right wing hit the sheep and was damaged. But it added: “The animal did not appear to have been injured.”

The impromptu plane versus sheep trial of strength came as the plane, piloted by Bernard Ridgway, attempted to land at Rhigos Airfield.

When the engine cut out he was left with no choice but to bring it down next to the airfield.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch report says: “Unfortunately the field contained sheep, one of which was struck by the right wing which suffered damage.”

The 71-year-old pilot who had 1,404 hours’ flying experience and his passenger, like the sheep, all escaped unhurt.

Keith Richards, a friend of Bernard’s who fixed the wing of the 1964-built Jodel, said: “The sheep got a bit of a belt but seemed to be fine.

“I think we’d know by now if the animal was seriously injured or not as the farmer would have been in contact.

“Sheep get hit all the time in Brecon and just get back up again, which is what this one did when it was hit.”

“They’re quite tough I think.”

Keith, of the Black Mountains Gliding Club, added: “The wing of the plane was damaged but it wasn’t too bad.

“I fixed it and it’s back flying again now.

“The plane was landed in a calm manner, which is all a pilot can do in those circumstances.

“This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often though, as what we do is usually quite safe.

“We have the odd bit of damage but what happened with the sheep is very unusual.”

Using a combination of towing and taxiing under its own power, the aircraft was brought back onto the airfield after the incident, which happened on April 6.

The report said air crash investigators have not been able to pinpoint the reason for the engine failure.

But it added that the weather on the day of the forced landing was conducive to a recognized hazard with light aircraft – ice forming in the carburetor. If this happens it can cause an engine to fail.

Firefly moves Medan ops to Kuala Namu airport on July 25

PETALING JAYA (July 18, 2013): Turboprop operator Firefly will move its Medan operations in Indonesia from Polonia International Airport to Kuala Namu International Airport from July 25, 2013.

All Firefly flights from Subang SkyPark and Penang International Airport bound for Medan from that date will arrive at Kuala Namu airport, the second largest airport in Indonesia after Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta.

"Medan's present Polonia airport is currently over-congested and will be converted into a military airport," Firefly said in a statement today.

Firefly passengers traveling to and/or from Medan from July 25 onwards will be sent an update on their flight details and new airport code within the week. Passengers are reminded to ensure their email and mobile contact details are current and active for notification.


U.K. Says Boeing 787 Transmitters Should Be Turned Off: Call Comes After Fire at Heathrow Airport

British air-accident investigators, six days after a fire erupted inside a parked Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner, urged that all emergency locator transmitters on 787s be temporarily disconnected, and called on U.S. regulators to conduct a broad safety review of such devices installed on other aircraft.

Emergency crews surround a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, which caught fire at London's Heathrow Airport in this July 12, 2013, still image taken from video.

Thursday's recommendations by the U.K. Air Accidents Investigations Branch provide the most detailed explanation yet of what investigators believe could have sparked the fire aboard the empty Ethiopian Airlines jet that was sitting on the tarmac at London's Heathrow Airport.

It sets the stage for likely regulatory action affecting the global 787 fleet, and for further investigative work to review the safety of certain types of lithium-powered batteries used to power such emergency transmitters on an array of jetliners, business jets and general aviation aircraft produced by Boeing, Airbus and numerous other plane manufacturers.

Investigators said detailed examination of the top portion of the Ethiopian jet near its tail—which showed "extensive heat damage" to insulation and the fuselage itself—indicates the fire was most intense at the site of the emergency locator transmitter, or ELT.

Damage to the plane's composite structure coincides with the location of the ELT and "its associated wiring," according to the report, and investigators determined "there are no other aircraft systems in this vicinity" that "contained stored energy capable of initiating" the fire.

Boeing's stock rose after the AAIB issued its statement, largely erasing losses it suffered after the fire occurred Friday.

The U.K. agency's interim report and nonbinding recommendations, which are expected to be embraced by the Federal Aviation Administration, stop short of pinpointing the precise cause of the fire. Rather, the report says it isn't clear whether some internal battery problem or external short-circuit sparked the fire. But the update does highlight that the probe is focused primarily on the behavior of the ELT.

Boeing said it supported the recommendations. The FAA and Honeywell International Inc. which makes the ELT, didn't have any immediate comment. Experts from Boeing, Honeywell, the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency are all participating in the investigation.

Even as the AAIB was putting out its safety bulletin, a spokeswoman for the agency stressed that the exact sequence of events, and the potential involvement of other parts on the plane, hasn't been fully determined.

"This is a preliminary report only," the spokeswoman said. "We are still investigating and looking at everything; these things can typically take months not weeks to establish the cause."

Honeywell has previously indicated it would support calls for temporarily removing or disconnecting the ELTs.

According to Thursday's safety bulletin, about 6,000 of the Honeywell-produced parts are installed on various aircraft world-wide, and the fire aboard the Ethiopian jet "has been the only significant thermal event."

In the event of a crash, the devices are intended to automatically transmit an emergency signal to help search crews locate the aircraft. Under U.S. rules, airliners are allowed to continue carrying passengers for up to 90 days with the ELTs inoperative or disconnected. Rules in Europe and other parts of the world are similar.

The FAA typically follows such top-priority recommendations issued by European accident investigators or regulators.

The report says the Ethiopian Dreamliner arrived early in the morning at Heathrow from Addis Ababa "after an uneventful flight" and the crew didn't report any technical problems. The aircraft's systems were shut down and it wasn't receiving any electrical power from the ground, according to investigators, though one of the airport's power cable was left attached to the aircraft.

Roughly 10 hours later, an employee in the airport's air-traffic control tower noticed smoke coming from the plane. When firefighters arrived and entered the jet, they encountered thick smoke and discovered a fire in the rear of the cabin, between the ceiling panels and the composite fuselage, according to the report.

In an unusual aside, the report notes that the incident "did not fall within the definitions of an accident or serious incident" under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which controls how and when international aviation investigations are launched. But invoking British law, AAIB investigators decided to launch a formal probe under ICAO rules and asked the FAA and other parties to participate.

Civil Air Patrol conducting exercise in South Dakota

RAPID CITY — More than 150 Civil Air Patrol cadets and senior members from the Dakotas and elsewhere are taking part in a search-and-rescue exercise in western South Dakota.

The three-day exercise beginning Thursday caps a weeklong event that teaches cadets leadership and emergency services skills.

Officials say practice scenarios likely will include searching for missing people and missing aircraft.

Other agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army and National Guard also are taking part.


Helicopter hemp hunt: Annual sweep finds plants

THREE RIVERS — With the assistance of a Michigan Air National Guard helicopter crew, SCAN (St. Joseph County Area Narcotics) officers located and removed more than 220 illegally growing marijuana plants Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Working in sweltering conditions, ground crews responded to reports from the Grand Ledge Air National Guard based-helicopter spotters and moved in on suspected illegal outdoor grows.

Six sites were identified and visited; one proved to be a legal grow, and contact was made with individuals at four of the other fives sites where all the plants found were removed and taken to the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department to be destroyed.

Reports of yesterday’s program results will be presented to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor for review and the possibility of warrants being issued.

The aerial marijuana grow interdiction program is coordinated by the Michigan State Police, and is offered to law enforcement departments statewide. An additional local air/ground search might be conducted later this year.

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Kolb Mark III, N175TS: Accident occurred July 17, 2013 in Fowler, New York

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA329 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 17, 2013 in Fowler, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2014
Aircraft: KRIPS JACK E JR KOLB MK III, registration: N175TS
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the experimental, amateur-built, amphibian airplane was seriously injured and could not recall the accident; however, he did remember that he intended to take off from the lake, circle it at 1,000 feet above ground level, and then land on the lake. A witness on the lake reported that the airplane was performing takeoffs and landings on the lake and that, during the approach for another landing, the nose dropped, and the airplane subsequently impacted the water. Examination of the wreckage confirmed flight control continuity and did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s improper landing flare, which resulted in a nose-down collision with water.

 On July 17, 2013, about 1730 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Kolb MK III amphibian airplane, N175TS, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged while landing on Sylvia Lake, Fowler, New York. The airline transport pilot was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from Sylvia Lake about 1720.

The pilot was seriously injured in the accident and could not recall the time period from about 2 hours prior to the accident, until 10 days after the accident. The pilot added that although he could not recall the accident, he remembered that his intention was to complete a local flight after not flying for about 2 weeks. The pilot intended to takeoff, circle the lake at 1,000 feet above ground level, then return and land on the lake. The pilot also reported a total flight experience of 12,000 hours; of which, 100 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The pilot had flown about 5 hours and 2 hours, all in the accident airplane, during the 90-day and 30-day periods preceding the accident, respectively. 

A witness, who was riding a personal watercraft on the lake, reported that the airplane was performing takeoffs and landings. During short final approach, as the airplane was nearing the southern shore, the nose lowered and the airplane impacted the water. The witness and another boat operator assisted the pilot out of the airplane. 

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage. The inspector was able to confirm flight control continuity and did not observe any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. 

The two-seat, high wing, experimental amateur-built airplane, serial number 8906, was assembled in 1998 and equipped with a Rotax 80-horsepower engine. The airplane's most recent annual condition inspection was completed in May, 2013. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 235 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 35 hours of operation since new. The airplane had flown an additional 5 hours, from the time of the most recent inspection, until the accident. 

The recorded weather at an airport located about 15 miles southwest of the accident site, at 1758, included wind from 250 degrees at 7 knots, sky clear, and visibility 9 miles.

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA329  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 17, 2013 in Fowler, NY
Aircraft: KRIPS JACK E JR KOLB MK III, registration: N175TS
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have travele
d in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 17, 2013, about 1730 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Kolb MK III amphibian airplane, N175TS, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged while landing on Sylvia Lake, Fowler, New York. The airline transport pilot was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from Sylvia Lake about 1720.

The pilot was initially unable to provide a statement due to his injuries. A witness, who was standing on the shore of the lake, reported that the airplane was performing takeoffs and landings on the lake. During short final approach to the lake, as the airplane was nearing the southern shore, the nose lowered and the airplane impacted the water.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.

A plane crash in Sylvia Lake in the St. Lawrence County town of Fowler left one man injured.

According to 7 News reporter John Friot, the man was rescued and brought to shore by boat.

The pilot, identified as Larry Kraker, 64, of Florida, was airlifted to a Syracuse Hospital.

He was a summer resident with a cottage on Sylvia Lake.

The plane is said to be a two-seat Ultralight pontoon aircraft.

Officials said the plane landed on the lake, took off and then crashed.

A witness reported seeing the plane crash into the water at around 1:30 p.m.

"The plane was just hovering in mid-air," witness Calaeb Hance said,

"We couldn't really hear the engine and all of a sudden his nose just dived right down and hit the . . . it was only 10, 20 feet off that dock over there," he said, pointing.

"He was in the cockpit," said another witness, Wyatt Porter. "We had to rip the front off it."

BALMAT — A man injured when his seaplane crashed in Sylvia Lake on Wednesday afternoon was flown to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, in serious condition.

The pilot was Larry Kraker, 64, Sylvia Lake, said W. Joseph Lacks, St. Lawrence County fire investigator and a Gouverneur firefighter.

Mr. Lacks said the cause of the crash hasn’t been determined.

“He was flying around the lake and crashed in the water close to the shore,” Mr. Lacks said.

Mr. Kraker was flying alone at the time of the crash. Mr. Lacks said there were campers nearby who pulled him out of the partially submerged plane.

“They kept him above water with life jackets until a pontoon boat and myself arrived,” Mr. Lacks said. “We got him in the boat and to the pumphouse on Pumphouse Road.”

Calaeb R. Hance, 15, Gouverneur, and Wyatt R. Porter, 14, were on a water scooter when they looked up and noticed that the ultralight plane’s engine had failed.

“We saw him hovering and we heard the engine stop,” Calaeb said. “He hovered for 10 seconds and then the plane dove in head first.”

The plane landed in a swampy area that residents call “the inlet,” on the south end of the lake.

“I floored the Jet-Ski and we were the first there,” said Wyatt, whose father and uncle own camps on the lake. The plane was pulled out of the water onto the uncle’s property.

“We had to lift the wing up and were trying to get his head above water,” Wyatt said. “We didn’t know if we were supposed to move him.”

State police Sgt. Eric R. Hadlock said the accident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and investigators will evaluate the wreckage to decipher the cause of the crash.

“When they brought him to shore he was alert and conscious,” Sgt. Hadlock said. “We pulled the plane out of the inlet and at the recommendation of the DEC wanted to do so as quickly as possible to limit contamination.”

State Department of Environmental Conservation personnel were on the scene cleaning up what fuel was spilled from the accident into the lake using contamination-absorbing pads.

DEC Officer Scott W. Atwood said only a small amount of gas leaked into the lake.

“Two or three gallons of fuel might have leaked out,” Mr. Atwood said. “It could have been worse. The gas tanks were intact except for a small hole.”

Oscar Derby leaving Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority

The director general of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, lieutenant colonel Oscar Derby is to demit office next month.

Our source says Colonel Derby is to take up a similar post in Curacoa.

Colonel Derby has been the head of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority since 2008. 

Pitts Special S-2B: Aircraft force landed on a road - Accident occurred July 16, 2013 in Dalton, Ohio

DALTON —   A Green man and a Columbiana County man were involved in a plane crash Tuesday night in Wayne County, but neither were injured, according to a news release from the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Jason P. Stropki, 43, of Green, was the pilot and owner of the Pitts Special S-2B biplane and Aaron J. Bokanovich, 18, of Hanoverton, was his passenger when the plane went down at 7:45 p.m. on Davis Road, just east of West Lebanon Road, said Lt. Stephanie A. Norman of the patrol’s Wooster post.

“The area is a designated ‘Aerobatic Box’ through the
Federal Aviation Administration, which allows pilots to perform maneuvers not normally allowed,” she said.

At 5,000 feet above sea level, Stropki tried to pull out of a “left upright spin” when the motor stalled, she said.

He tried to re-start the engine, but it wouldn’t start.

“At that time, he performed a ‘dead-stick landing’ on a private airfield at 1022 SW Lebanon Road,” Norman said.

But the plane was moving too fast.

“Due to the speed of the plane when landing, it traveled northbound along the east edge property line of 18381 Davis Rd.,” coming to rest on Davis, she said.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the crash, which remained under investigation on Thursday, Norman said.


Hungarians to launch new airline in August: Sólyom (Falcon) Hungarian Airways

BUDAPEST, July 18 (Reuters) - Three Hungarian businessmen backed by Middle East investors plan to launch a new Budapest-based full-service airline to plug a market gap left by the collapse of flag carrier Malev last year.

Sólyom (Falcon) Hungarian Airways expects to operate six planes by the end of September and grow its fleet to 25 aircraft by the end of 2014 and 50 by 2017, including 10 wide-body jets capable of long haul flights.

Solyom chief executive Jozsef Vago gave no details of its routes but forecast rapid expansion into the Middle East, North Africa and ex-Soviet states.

Budget airlines including Wizz Air and Ryanair have picked up some of Malev's destinations from Budapest while others remain unserved.

Peter Morris, an aerospace expert at Ascend Aviation in London, said a new carrier would have a hard time filling planes against established competitors in both the full-service and the budget segments.

"You have to be prepared to lose money before you build up the load factor, particularly with business clients," he said. "Nobody wants to book their CEO on an airline that is not sure to be there next year."

Vago said Solyom was focused on filling the gap left by Malev.

"Low cost airlines will never be able to do that," he told Reuters.

Vago said an industry investor from Oman and a financial investor from the United Arab Emirates committed to funding Solyom. He declined to name them.

Eastern European airlines have generated market attention of late. Korean Air bought a 44 percent stake in ailing Czech Airlines earlier this year, while Wizz Air has taken steps towards an initial public offering in London.

Poland's government has also sought to sell a majority stake in national airline LOT. And the UAE's Etihad Airways has considered buying an equity stake in Serbia's flag carrier JAT.

Ascend Aviation's Morris said flying outside Europe's liberated skies carries extra risks as red tape can slow down global expansion.

He added that costs can be tricky as fuel and services cost the same for every airline while plane manufacturers and leasing companies charge untested upstarts a penalty on aircraft orders.

"The one thing going for Solyom is Malev's collapse," Morris said. "There is a bit of a market vacuum. But others filled most of that gap, so even that is a challenge."

Vago said the airline's novel business plan would make it profitable almost from the get-go but he gave no details.


Emirates cancels Mumbai-Dubai flight due to technical reasons

MUMBAI: Gulf carrier Emirates on Thursday cancelled a flight to Dubai due to technical reasons, leaving as many as 70-odd passengers stranded.

Although the airline did not specify the technical reasons behind cancelling the flight, some of the stranded passengers alleged that the move by Emirates had been due to the flight having suffered a bird hit while landing at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in the wee hours today.

"Emirates flight EK 501 from Mumbai to Dubai was cancelled due to technical reasons. Passengers have been accommodated on subsequent flights EK 505 and EK 507 departing to Dubai," the airline said in a statement here.

However, one of the stranded passengers said: "After waiting in the queue for almost an hour-and-a-half, we were informed that it (the flight) has been rescheduled to 5am.

"Later on, we were told that the flight had been cancelled due to the grounding of the aircraft after it suffered a bird hit while landing," Khushroo Panthaky, a passenger said.

"While most of the over 300 passengers either opted for other flights, some 70 passengers, who have connecting flights from Dubai to other destinations, are stranded as they have been put on the next day's flight," said Panthaky, who was to have taken a connecting flight to New York from Dubai.


Two police staff arrested over helicopter logbook theft: South Yorkshire, UK

Two South Yorkshire Police employees have been arrested on suspicion of stealing a logbook belonging to the force’s currently out-of-action helicopter.

Both employees have been bailed and a criminal investigation is ongoing.

The helicopter owned by the force has been grounded for six months because of delays to its annual maintenance check.

Two weeks ago, police also confirmed one of its two logbooks was ‘missing’, although they stressed that was not the reason the machine could not fly.

A police spokesman said: “Two South Yorkshire Police employees were arrested on suspicion of theft and are currently on bail.”

“This is part of an ongoing criminal investigation.”

In April, the force’s helicopter transferred to the National Police Air Service, set up by the Government to reduce policing costs by making forces share aircraft.

The now disbanded South Yorkshire Police Authority, which used to oversee the way the county’s police force was run, objected to the formation of a national service when the original suggestion included a plan to close the police helicopter base in Sheffield.

But after months of negotiation, police chiefs were promised 10 hours of helicopter coverage a day from Sheffield.

NPAS is currently loaning a cover helicopter during peak times to South Yorkshire Police with out-of- hours cover from other nearby forces also in place at other times.

The force’s own helicopter is believed to still be in Gloucestershire, awaiting replacement parts from America.

It had a number of faults which meant the annual maintenance check could not be completed, leaving the machine out of action.

Earlier this month, police said they needed to ‘reconstruct’ the airframe logbook record as the document was ‘missing’.

At the time, it could not be confirmed when the helicopter would return to service.



Bahamas: Tourism Chief Confident On Aviation Tax Solution

A senior Ministry of Tourism executive yesterday expressed optimism that all parties would be “able to work” through the commercial airline concerns over new and increased taxes, and reach “a position tenable to all”.

David Johnson, director-general of tourism, told Tribune Business that the Ministry was seeking to strike a balance between this nation’s airlift and fiscal needs, and hopeful it could obtain “a clear indication” of where things were headed by week’s end.

Declining to go into specific proposals advanced by the Ministry of Tourism, Mr Johnson indicated that the talks now awaited the Government’s and, more pertinently, the Ministry of Finance’s position.

Tribune Business previously revealed how the Airlines for America (A4A) coalition, which represents the main US carriers serving the Bahamas, such as Delta, Jet Blue and American Airlines, had warned its members might cut back on services to this nation as a result of the new and increased Customs fees.

This newspaper understands that the Ministry of Tourism is leading efforts to avert any airlift loss, and Mr Johnson confirmed as much, while adding that the initiative also involved other government ministries.

Emphasizing that the Ministry of Tourism “works very closely” with the airlines in a partnership approach, and understood their concerns, Mr Johnson told Tribune Business: “We feel we’ll be able to work through this.

“That’s our attitude to this, and we’re busy working on it. We’ve informed the industry we’re embracing this. We’ve shared with them our views to wok through this, and reach a position that is tenable for all.”

Acknowledging that the commercial airline industry’s position on the situation was well-known, Mr Johnson indicated the only clarification awaited was the Ministry of Finance’s views in light of the concerns raised.

“I’m hopeful we can get a clear indication by the end of the week from our side, the Government side,” he told Tribune Business. “We know we’re in a position, fortunately or unfortunately, where we have to bridge market demands and, as we have, we have to be responsible, managing this in the best interests of the Government.”

Acknowledging that the Ministry of Finance had the responsibility for managing the Government’s fiscal position, and collecting revenues/setting taxes, Mr Johnson would not be drawn on whether it should have consulted both its Tourism counterpart and airlines before implementing the increased aviation taxes.

“We’re at where we’re at, and have to move forward with all parties,” he said, adding that other countries did not consult with, or forewarn, industry before implementing new or increased taxes.

“It’s more important that we grapple with this development in a constructive way, and realizing all parties have varied interests here, we want to get the optimum result for the country,” Mr Johnson said.

“It’s a work in progress. It’s just work that has to be done at a high level. We’re being constructive in our approach to this.”

The Government, in the form of Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services, had previously indicated they would not revise the new aviation tax regime. Their position is that the increases were necessary to cover Customs’ costs in providing certain services.

However, both the commercial and private aviation sectors have hit out at the increases and the way they have been implemented.

All flights are now being charged $75 for both arrival and departure, for a grand total of $150 per flight, along with increased Customs service charges for planes arriving after 5pm, and before 9am, on any given day.

Commercial aircraft with a seating capacity of less than 30 are being charged $50 per hour; airliners with seats numbering between 31-70, $100 per hour; and those with 71 seats or more, $200 per hour.

And A4A’s members also expressed concern over Customs’ new 1 per cent administrative processing fee, which will be added to brakes, tyres and other aircraft parts imported to the Bahamas for repairs. This fee, capped at $500 per import, replaces the previous $10 Stamp Duty levy.

A June 28, 2013, letter to Customs Comptroller Charles Turner from A4A warned that its members “may be forced to reconsider their service levels to the Bahamas”. It expressed particular unhappiness at the late notice provided by Customs to the airline industry of the tax /fee increases.

Keith Glatz, Airlines for America’s (A4A) vice-president of international affairs, warned Mr Turner in no uncertain terms that the new charges threatened his members’ “exceedingly slim profit margins” and could “undermine the desire to stimulate the Bahamas’ economy”.

“A4A’s members want to maintain and grow, where demand warrants, their operations to the Bahamas,” Mr Glatz told Mr Turner. “Higher taxes will not encourage A4A members to grow their service to the islands.

“With exceedingly slim profit margins and the inability to recoup the taxes and fees that they pay directly to governments, airlines may be forced to reconsider their service levels to the Bahamas.

“The proposed fees may have unintended consequences and undermine the desire to stimulate the Bahamian economy”.

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Deputy recognized for saving life

Deputy Ann Millerbernd of the Ward County Sheriff's Department received the North Dakota Peace Officer's Association Life-Saving Award Wednesday afternoon after being nominated by Capt. Mike Nason for her role in saving a pilot's life last month.

Shortly before 6:15 p.m. June 17, a crop sprayer airplane went down in a field west of Minot Air Force Base, severly injuring its pilot far from the eyes of anyone and destined to die.

Luckily for him, another pilot saw the crash and reported it to the Ward County Sheriff's Department, with Millerbernd taking the call while driving Minot's south side.

She knew only to look for smoke and a plane flying overhead of the scene, and after "taking 198th over and tracking back," she located the site of the incident "roughly between 172nd and 180th."

"The closest she could get was a half mile away and she had to grab her medical bag and run a half-mile through the mud because we had rescue vehicles getting stuck in the field because it was very, very wet that day," said Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski of the deputy's actions that day. "She ran into the field, guided other units there, got the helicopter there from Trinity and stayed with him and helped him with his injuries."

"He knew the severity of the situation," Millerbernd said. "I didn't lie to him, but I also told him we can do this, we can get through this, and we can make it. That's the biggest thing, is keeping that positive attitude and giving him reason to keep going.

"No one had really trained for something like that," she said of her situation that evening. "When we've had our plane crash drills they happen in a more controlled environment up here at the airport. It doesn't happen in the middle of a farm field without real direction or any sort of GPS that's going to say this is where we're at."

And pinpointing the location was the hardest thing for dispatchers, who couldn't find her location on their computer systems.

"I'm running through a field trying to tell them what's going on, mud literally up to my knees, and they're like 'We can't find you,'" she said of the dispatchers. "That's kind of a distressing feeling."

Millerbernd was quick to name the others who helped her, including community ambulance, Minot Rural Fire Department, Minot Fire Department, Northstar, and the N.D. Highway Patrol. Most of all, though, she said the pilot was the real hero for his will to survive.

"Yes, I may have got there before anyone else and was able to find the location and give that out but it was the cavalry that came to back me up."

A bit of turbulence: Watertown International Airport (KART), New York

Just when the flights of unconventional behavior seemed to abate at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff John P. Burns’ handpicked undersheriff paid a surprise visit to the Legislature’s General Services Committee on Tuesday night to threaten the county by warning that the department would no longer guarantee assignment of the required law enforcement personnel to the Watertown International Airport.

Without a police officer at the airport during the hours passengers are screened before being allowed to board an airplane, the American Airlines flight to Chicago each afternoon will take off empty, stranding irritated passengers who only want to go home, or make an medical appointment or attend a business obligation.

Paul W. Trudeau, who described himself as a department head, delivered a blunt ultimatum to the board: Hire more deputies, or no deputies will travel to Dexter each afternoon to meet the federal government’s requirement for a police presence in order to allow passengers to fly.

Mr. Trudeau is not a county department head. The undersheriff is a political appointment by the elected sheriff.

He reports to the sheriff who could not attend because of what was described as attendance at a conference. It turns out that the conference is in Alexandria Bay — not a long drive to Watertown and the county Legislature’s offices. Mr. Trudeau claimed he had been unable to arrange any discussions about the issue with airport management or the federal government because he needed Mr. Burn’s authorization — a hallow excuse since we know there is telephone service between Watertown and Alexandria Bay.

His alleged lack of direction from the sheriff, however, did not prevent him from frightening everyone who has purchased a ticket to fly from Watertown one afternoon in the future. Passengers will now travel to the airport uncertain if they will be able to board an airplane because of the rancor and arrogance of the Sheriff’s Department trumping its obligation to serve Jefferson County’s residents.

Further, it is known that County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann had denied the sheriff’s request for a $1,600 advance to cover hotel expenses while at the conference.

How curious. While the department is faced with an issue that impacts large numbers of residents, the sheriff hides in Alexandria Bay. Is the sheriff trying to get even with Mr. Hagemann and the county for not underwriting a $1,600 hotel bill?

The General Services Committee needs to look elsewhere for the required police officers at the airport. This outburst of pique should result in the county looking to the city of Watertown or the villages of Sackets Harbor or Dexter for officers to staff the airport. The county has a chance to carefully devise a plan that ensures its residents they are protected during the airplane boarding process, that competent officers are employed (especially since many of the village police officers are off-duty sheriff’s deputies) and maybe even reducing the cost of the Sheriff’s Department by leaving the four deputy vacancies open.

The county has endured a litany of irrationality too long to repeat again.

The response is simple. Demand Mr. Burns drive from Alexandria Bay to Watertown and deliver to him a brief message. Assign your deputies to the airport until we arrange alternative police coverage. And halt your hiring plans and live with a smaller department until a new sheriff is elected.

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Eye in the Sky vs. illegal logging

DAVAO CITY, Philippines–Can drones or the eye in the sky help save our dwindling forests?

Joselin Fragada, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Southern Mindanao thinks so.   The environment department announced it will pilot the use  of drones to track down illegal logging in the region.

Lourdes Wagan, regional technical director of the Forest Management Services identified the illegal logging hotspots as Macambol and Baganga in Davao Oriental, Laak in Compostela Valley, and Kapalong and Talaingod in Davao del Norte.

She further said the region’s forest cover has  dwindled to 800,000 hectares after Typhoon Pablo destroyed 119,000 hectares.

The DENR will use drones for its aerial surveillance as several areas are still not accessible because of damaged roads.

Fragada said that with the drones, they will be able to sustain their anti-illegal logging campaign, claiming that they already managed to reduce illegal logging hotspots from 66 barangays to 16 as of June this year.  Most of these hotspots are found in Davao Oriental towns of Boston, Cateel, Lupon, Manay, Mati City and Tarragona.

Drones, as described by an online article by Chris Cole and Jim Wright, are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be controlled either by a ‘pilot’ on the ground or by a pre-programmed mission.

The use of drones falls into two categories : for reconnaissance and surveillance, and for armed missiles and bombs.  Military units especially the United States and United Kingdom have employed drones for such purposes and have drawn controversy for such use.

US Army drone strikes in Pakistan killed around 3,000 people mostly civilians between 2004 to 2013. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston has demanded the US to explain the use of drones.

Drone manufacturing companies are now expanding their markets for domestic surveillance, which “make possible the dramatic expansion of the surveillance state,” said Cole and Wright.

DENR’s Fragada said they will rent the drones from a local company Skyeye,  Inc., at Php 10,000 an hour.

A look at Skyeye’s website shows that they are a company ran by “intensely curious engineers, scientists and technicians who want to understand the world around them and more importantly use what we have learned and understand to create new solutions, technologies and techniques.”

The website showcased their collaboration with the Ateneo Innovation Center in developing an aquaculture community in Lake Palakpakin,  one of the seven lakes of San Pablo in Brgy. San Buenaventura, San Pablo City.

Skyeye supposedly assists in aerial mapping, environment monitoring, disaster mitigation and local government support service.

Meanwhile, the use of drones in the fight against illegal logging drew skepticism from the environment group Panalipdan (Defend) Southern Mindanao.

“The technology for surveillance against illegal loggers is not really the problem of DENR,” says Panalipdan spokesperson Juland Suazo.

He said it is the lack of political will to stop loggers “from plundering the remaining five percent old-growth and secondary forests.”

He further said”some local officials are allegedly involved in the plunder of natural resources.”

Suazo said loggers using the Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMA) in Davao Oriental are “being protected by some LGU officials” in order to cut old growth and secondary forest trees.

He said the DENR granted 16 logging permits covering more than 80,000 hectares to logging companies in Baganga, Cateel, Caraga and Manay in Davao Oriental.

Suazo also scored as “useless” President Aquino’s Executive Order 23 which was signed February 1, 2011. The order declared  a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests nationwide, and created  the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force.

Suazo also expressed doubts over DENR’s real motive in using the drones technology.

“Is it really the illegal loggers they are after?  Or is the DENR now part of the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan?” he said, referring to the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program which involved flushing out the communist New People’s Army in the countryside.

He added that Oplan Bayanihan aims to protect the mineral and timber interests of big foreign and local companies.


Mango goes green with new aircraft

Cape Town - SAA’s low cost division, Mango, will take delivery of the first of two more Boeings next month. The airline is also investigating new domestic and regional routes in addition to increasing the number of flights on the Golden Triangle between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, helping to ease a shortage since 1Time stopped flying in December. It has applied to start scheduled services to two destinations in East Africa.

It flies to its first destination outside South Africa – Zanzibar – to which it operates charter flights for a travel company.

It plans to set up a permanent base at Durban Airport later this year which will enable it to increase its services from there.

The seats in its new Boeings will be lighter, in support of its campaign to reduce the total weight of its aircraft, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions. It has already reduced the weight of its entire fleet by 270kg per aircraft and will achieve further savings by installing the new lighter seats.


SAA has finally given details of the additional destinations to which it can sell tickets through its codesharing arrangements with Middle Eastern airline Eitihad and, to my relief, none of them are in Europe.

Nico Bezuidenhout, when acting chief executive of SAA, gave me an assurance that SAA would not withdraw from any of its few remaining European destinations by serving them through a codeshare arrangement under which its passengers would be carried by another airline while SAA received a portion of the fare.

The codeshare destinations for which it has already received regulatory approval are Bahrain, Kuwait, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to which Etihad will carry South African passengers from Johannesburg. It does not fly from Cape Town. We can also fly to Bangkok directly from Joburg with Thai Airways.

Three other destinations for which regulatory approval is pending are Shanghai, Singapore and Jeddah.

Capetonians are unlikely to take advantage of the codeshare flights to Singapore, unless they are anxious to earn points on SAA’s frequent flyer program, because Singapore Airlines flies from Cape Town International Airport.

In return, SAA will carry Etihad passengers to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London. It is waiting for regulatory approval to add Livingstone, Lusaka, Ndola, Harare and Victoria Falls to the list.

Kevin Knight, Etihad’s chief strategy and planning officer, explained that the codeshare arrangements were sought by his airline to meet growing demand for business and leisure travel to African destinations. He said business travel between the Middle East and major emerging markets in Africa, Asia, India and Australia was growing.

A threatened strike against SAA by the ground and cabin staff belonging to the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union and the United Association of SA has been called off after the airline unilaterally announced that it was granting a pay rise of 6.23 percent, effective from April 1. This is higher than its original offer of 6.02 percent but below the unions’ demand for 7.5 percent on total remuneration including special allowances. The rise offered by SAA excludes allowances.

Ironically, members of a new union, the National Transport Movement, which SAA initially refused to recognize, would not have joined the strike and, with some staff who do not belong to any union, would have enabled some flights to continue.

It’s a relief for passengers that they will not be inconvenienced. But, unfortunately, the strike threat will have done some damage because, knowing that it was a possibility, some passengers must have switched to other airlines during the past week, or cancelled or postponed flights.

The high arrival and departures tax charged by the British government has caused some canny passengers to fly to continental airports and enter Britain by train or ferry, avoiding the charge. Now it has been agreed that German trains can also travel through the undersea channel tunnel – but starting only next year.

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Virgin plane had just 535kg of fuel when it made emergency landing at Mildura Airport

The full extent of the low-fuel emergency involving a Virgin Australia passenger plane at Mildura Airport has been revealed in a report which shows the aircraft had just 535kg of fuel when it landed.

The report also shows that the unforecast fog at Mildura was so thick that the first officer had to look out the side-window of the cockpit because visibility at the front of the plane was "virtually non-existent.''

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday released its preliminary report into the incident on June 18 which saw a Virgin flight with 91 people on board, and a Qantas flight with 152 people, divert to Mildura after being unable to land at Adelaide because of heavy fog.

The Herald Sun has previously revealed that the Virgin plane was forced to land because it did not have enough fuel to divert, and that it had less than 800kg of fuel on board.

The ATSB's report revealed that by the time the plane landed safely - after an emergency landing which saw the passengers put into the brace positions - it had only 535kg of fuel in its tanks.

When it had departed Brisbane for Adelaide earlier that morning, it had planned to land at Adelaide with 2500kg of fuel, which equated to planned fuel reserves and an additional 30 minutes of fuel.

The Qantas plane, which left from Sydney, had planned to land with 2800kg of fuel, which was planned fuel reserves and an additional 45 minutes.

The report also confirms that information from the automated weather service at Mildura was not available.

The Virgin Australia crew had not been advised of fog problems at Mildura when they diverted from Adelaide.

"As they descended through about 10,000 feet in visual conditions it became obvious to the crew (of the Virgin flight) that they weather conditions were not as reported and there appeared to be fog at Mildura and low cloud in the area,'' the report states.

The report also shows that the Qantas crew had indicated to the Virgin crew that "fuel was an issue'' for them as they approached Mildura. The Virgin crew "assessing the intent of the radio transmission from the crew of (the Qantas flight) as meaning they had less fuel (than the Virgin flight), allowed the Qantas flight to land first.

However, it was later determined that the Qantas flight had 2100kg of fuel remaining when it pulled off the runway.

The report shows the Virgin flight was so low on fuel it had no option but to land.

"Due to their fuel state, they were required to land from the next approach regardless of conditions,'' it stated.

It also said that the "crew could not determine where they were in relation to the length of the runway and flew the aircraft onto the ground.''

Despite a "firm'' landing, the plane arrived safely and there were no injuries.

A final report is due by June.

Pilot to be tried in Arkansas airplane escapade: Cirrus SR22, N960CM

An Arkansas judge on Monday set a Jan. 7 trial date for the Rohnert Park pilot who was the subject of a statewide manhunt after fleeing from deputies in his airplane. 

Dennis Franklin Hunter appeared before Judge Grisham Phillips in Saline County Circuit Court facing a single charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer. If convicted, he could face up to six years in state prison, prosecutor Brian Clary said.

The charge stems from an April 1 incident at Saline County Airport where deputies sought to detain Hunter when he landed to refuel. Department of Homeland Security officials have said they were tracking Hunter's plane suspecting drugs were onboard.

Hunter owns a Santa Rosa-based company called GeoPot, which designs and sells fabric pots and planter boxes. He was sentenced in 2005 to 6 years in federal prison for operating one of the largest indoor pot farms in Humboldt County history.

When deputies approached the plane as he refueled, Hunter jumped back in the cockpit, hit the throttle and hastily took off. He later landed on a rural road and fled into the woods, turning himself into authorities several days later.

The assault charge stems from deputies' saying that the wing of Hunter's plane nearly struck a deputy when he fled.

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Cirrus SR22, N960CM: Dennis Hunter turns himself in to authorities

Cirrus SR22, N960CM: Pilot says panic led to Arkansas manhunt



New Police Helicopters Debut in Frederick, Maryland (With Video)

FREDERICK, MD - The Maryland State Police Aviation Command is getting ready to take their newest members of their aviation force to the sky. They will debut in Frederick and are larger then the old aircrafts and have more capabilities.

"Now we're seeing images from miles away that we were never able to see before, and with the light we have attached to the camera the way they work in concert together, we'll be able to highlight our targets without them even knowing were watching them," says Sr. Trooper Paramedic Lance Shank.

The new helicopters cost nearly $11 million a piece and are replacing the old ones that have about 25 years on them. That means lots of technology upgrades, including three cameras under the chopper's noses.

"We have a camera under the nose that does infrared imaging, also a daytime color camera and night time low light color camera," says Instructor Pilot Marcus Alberghini.

Officials say they'll now be able to respond to calls faster and more efficiently. The larger aircraft allows crews to have two flight paramedics and easily fit two patients inside if needed.

Troopers say it takes only 15 seconds to hoist up a patient on the new helicopter, versus the old one when it took over a minute.

"There's a lot of anxiety to deal with when you see them coming up, you can see it right in their eyes. It's important for us to get the victim up and into the aircraft, as well as for the safety of the flight crew. When were in a hover and have the victims dangling from the helicopter that puts us at risk," says Lt. Walter Kerr, commander of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command.

Troopers say aviation command responds mostly to patient transports, which are free, as well as assist with law enforcement and search and rescue missions.

The new helicopters are expected to start responding to calls by next week.

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