Friday, July 19, 2013

Wichita County Sheriff's Office, Texas: Lt. George Robinson Injured at Military Jet Crash - Northrop T-38C Talon, Accident occurred July 19, 2013 near Sheppard Air Force Base

While the two Sheppard pilots both received minor injuries, a Wichita County Sheriff's lieutenant wasn't so fortunate while trying to help one of the pilots.

Lt. George Robinson was injured this morning while trying to get to one of the pilots.

According to Sheriff David Duke, Robinson started climbing a 10 to 12 foot fence to get to a pilot who was on the other side screaming for help but then the 49 year old became the one who needed assistance.

"When he got to the top of it the fence broke and gave away at the wire and he fell to the other side and got a severe fractured leg," says Wichita County Sheriff David Duke.

Lt. Robinson, who has been with the sheriff's office for 16 years, underwent surgery this morning at united regional to repair the break.

He's expected to be off the job for at least six weeks recovering.

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Ohio: Middletown may have part in Columbus Zoo exhibit


Middletown may have a part in an African exhibit at the Columbus Zoo.

City Manager Judy Gilleland told City Council in an email last month that Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, and his staff are looking for an airplane. The city’s plane, which is a Beechcraft 18 without an engine and “is just sitting around rusting,” has been offered to Hanna for $5,000, Gilleland wrote to council.

Gilleland said Friday they are still waiting to hear back from Hanna, but she said “we believe they are interested.”

During Hanna’s search for this type of plane, someone mentioned to his staff that Middletown had one, said Denise Hamet, Middletown Economic Development director.


787 Inspection Plans Laid Out

Boeing Co. and U.S. regulators joined forces Friday to instruct airlines operating 787 Dreamliners world-wide to inspect, and in some cases possibly replace, emergency-locator transmitters linked to last week's fire inside a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787.

As part of the Federal Aviation Administration's announcement that it will mandate inspections of the devices in coming days, the agency laid out what investigators apparently consider to be the prime suspects behind the blaze that occurred at London Heathrow Airport: Airlines were told to look for "proper wire routing and any sign of wire damage or pinching," referring to the connections between the transmitters, or ELTs, and the lithium batteries that power them. In addition, an FAA statement said inspections should look for unusual signs of heating or moisture inside battery compartments.

Boeing in a statement said it has provided instructions to operators on performing the inspections. It also will issue its own guidance highlighting that 787 operators have the choice of checking the transmitters or voluntarily removing them.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on any potential cause of the fire or the ongoing investigation.

The FAA said that over the weekend it plans to communicate its action plan to air-safety regulators in other countries.

FAA officials have told industry representatives the agency could mandate disabling or replacing the transmitters based on inspection results, according to people familiar with the details. Some carriers flying 787s already have checked the devices, and the rest are expected to do so over roughly the next week.

Industry officials said the work isn't expected to disrupt flight schedules.

In an interim report released Thursday, British investigators said the Ethiopian 787's transmitter could have either started the fire or helped spread the flames in the rear of the unoccupied jetliner parked on the tarmac at London Heathrow Airport. The report, however, stopped short of definitely concluding that the device, made by Honeywell International Inc. sparked the fire near the tail, between insulation and the plane's carbon-fiber skin.

But in its brief statement Friday, the FAA provided the most details yet about what investigators apparently suspect could have caused the fire. In addition to wire routing, investigators are looking at whether condensation could have contributed to the problem, according to people familiar with the probe.

Friday's move came amid disparate and sometimes conflicting views of carriers about how to treat the Honeywell devices. Some airlines have been waiting for Boeing to issue guidance or instructions, while others are looking primarily to their own national regulators for help. Still other carriers either already opted to voluntarily remove the emergency transmitters, or decided to keep them in place after inspections disclosed no problems.

European regulators, for their part, are poised to mandate removal of the devices, according to industry officials. But as the agency that certified both the 787 and Honeywell's transmitter, the FAA's statement combined with Boeing's technical guidance could help establish a benchmark for coping with safety issues stemming from the Ethiopian Airlines incident, industry officials said.

Under U.S. rules, airlines can fly passengers on 787s with inoperative or disabled transmitters for as long as 90 days. Other regions follow similar safety standards. In the event of an accident, the roughly six-pound devices, sometimes called emergency beacons, are intended to automatically transmit a signal to help guide emergency crews to the site.

Honeywell has said that over the years it supplied roughly 6,000 of the emergency-transmitter systems, installed on various aircraft built by an array of manufacturers. The company also has said it isn't aware of a single serious thermal event on any of those aircraft.

The FAA on Friday didn't address British recommendations to launch a broad review of lithium-battery-powered emergency transmitters made by various companies and installed on a large number of commercial planes, business jets and general-aviation aircraft built by an array of manufacturers.


Kestrel Aircraft making progress on new planes to be built in Superior, Wisconsin

Kestrel Aircraft updates council on progress

In a fully funded world, Kestrel Aircraft Co. could have its K350 certified in another 2½ years.

However, the company isn’t fully funded. Still, the airplane manufacturer that announced plans to build its single-engine turboprop, carbon composite airplane in Superior last year is making progress in that direction, said Steve Serfling, Kestrel Aircraft chief operating officer.

Certification of the plane is necessary before manufacturing can begin.

Serfling presented the Superior City Council with an update on the company’s progress Tuesday night.

“Our goal is to have our aircraft priced around $3.2 million,” less expensive, faster and with a larger cabin than its more expensive competitors in the market, Serfling said.

He said a very experienced staff of engineers and designers is working to make that happen.

“When we announced we were coming to Superior, we had 50 employees in the whole company,” most in New Brunswick, Maine, Serfling said. After moving to the Old Post Office a year ago June, he said the company is now up to 110 employees, most of them in Superior. He said about 60 percent of them are in Superior.

“We’ve got 40 engineers and 20-some designers,” Serfling said. “Every time I turn around there’s new designs going out. That part’s going really, really well.”

Serfling said the company’s designers and engineers are working on the second of three phases of development on the fuselage for the plane.

And the company is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to gain certification of the plane, he said.

During a recent meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration, Serfling said staff was able to provide necessary information and answer questions. He said the Federal Aviation Administration commended company staff for their professionalism. He said staff identified issues in advance for the aviation administration.

Councilor Mike Herrick questioned when the company would begin building its first planes and manufacturing facilities in Superior.

Under the original timeline, construction of the Winter Street Industrial Park should have begun already.

Serfling said that would happen about the time the plane is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Former Duluth City Councilor Ken Hogg told the council he sat on the council across the bay when Cirrus was going through the same issues.

“It takes longer to do some of these things than we would hope that it would,” Hogg said. “It takes some patience and some time and things went slowly it seemed like, but they were going as fast as they could.”

Hogg said patience will be worth the wait.

“This is important not just to the people of Superior and the area, but Duluth as well, when we have two fully functioning aircraft companies in our area,” Hogg said. “ ... It’s going to be a plus.”


Engineered Material Arresting System: Memphis International Airport (KMEM) Installs New Safety System On Runway

(Memphis) Something on the airport runway at Memphis International is making things a lot safer for plane passengers and drivers on the road.

 You may have seen it inside the airport grounds at Shelby Drive and Airways, but you may not know it could be a lifesaver in case of an airplane emergency.

“If an aircraft does land long and run beyond the length of the runway, then the material would stop them and prevent a more serious accident from occurring,” says Airport Vice President of Operations John Greaud.

He  says the  gray-colored runway extension is called EMAS or Engineered Material Arresting System.

The Federal Aviation Administration is asking all airports to install it on runways that run short of the extra 1000 feet needed  in case landing planes have an emergency and over-run the runway.

At the Memphis Airport, only one of four runways didn’t have the 1,000-foot barrier, the one closest to Shelby Drive and Airways.

Before a few weeks ago, if a plane had an over-run, it could have crashed onto busy Shelby Drive.

“Since the airport has been open, I am not aware of an aircraft that has over-run the runway where they would have needed this, but it’s a very good safety system to have in place in case this does occur,” says Greaud.

The company that created the thick foam like blocks of crushable concrete that make up the EMAS system say they act like quick sand on a fast-moving plane.

”The additional friction on the tire slows the aircraft down,” says Greaud.

Travelers say it’s a safety precaution that’s  worth its weight.

“More is better.  If they want to add more safety without compromising cost, then fabulous. Let’s go for it,” one passenger told us.

Before this system was installed, the airport got a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that allowed the shorter runway.

The new system costs around $11 million and the Federal Aviation Administration paid 75 percent of that cost.

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Pilot Tossed From Plane During High Winds, Thunderstorm: Humboldt Municipal Airport (M53), Tennessee

A pilot was thrown from his plane in Tennessee due to high winds on Thursday, it was reported.

WMC-TV reported that a severe thunderstorm in Gibson County caused the airplane to flip over at Humboldt Municipal Airport.

During the winds, the pilot was tossed from his plane, local police told the station.

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N.Y. Jets withdraw helipad application in Florham Park amid neighbors' opposition

FLORHAM PARK — The New York Jets withdrew their application for a helipad at their Florham Park training facility Wednesday amid neighbors' opposition to the project.

Florham Park Planning Board Secretary Marlene Rawson said she received a letter from the N.Y. Jets attorney Wednesday withdrawing the application. The letter did not indicate a reason for the withdrawal, Rawson said.

The application was originally scheduled for a May hearing, but the matter kept being adjourned, she said. It was next scheduled to be heard at the July 22 meeting, she said.

Madison Mayor Bob Conley said he hadn't spoken with residents yet, but he's sure the news "is going to make many residents happy."

"I'm sure their feeling very good about it on the western side of Madison," Conley said.  

After the application was filed in May, Florham Park and Madison residents objected to the project with hundreds signing an online petition against it.

Pat Rowe, a Republican council candidate who lives in the Madison neighborhood adjacent to the property, started the petition because he and other residents were concerned about noise pollution from low-flying helicopters, the possibility of an accident occurring or the use of local athletic fields for emergency landing zones.

"I'm also concerned that with the Jets being one of the two host teams for the upcoming Super Bowl at the Meadowlands, we could see a much larger volume of traffic to the site this winter, regardless of how the helipad's use is being positioned," Rowe has said.

Nearly 480 residents signed the petition, citing concerns ranging from increase air traffic, noise pollution and disruption to the neighborhood.

"This is a ridiculous request," David Arthur said in his petition statement. "Anyone arriving at the proposed helipad will still need to use a car to get to the facility. Morristown airport is there for a reason. No need to satisfy four or five people with something this stupid."

The driving distance from Morristown Municipal Airport in Hanover to the N.Y. Jets facility is approximately 2.8 miles, according to Google Maps.

Even though the application has been withdrawn, it's still possible for Florham Park Helipad LLC to try to seek approval in the future. Since the planning board never ruled on the application, it was withdrawn without prejudice, Rawson said.

Florham Park Helipad LLC was formed in October 2012 and lists its agent as Richard Goldman of Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP. Goldman has not yet returned a phone call requesting comment.

The N.Y. Jets declined comment through a team spokesman.


Agents find heroin in Chicago aviation officer's car near Milwaukee: Angela Brown charged with possession of heroin, intent to deliver

MILWAUKEE —A Chicago law enforcement officer is arrested, accused of transporting heroin to Milwaukee.

WISN 12 News investigative reporter Colleen Henry reported on the high-tech way investigators tracked her down and what else was in her car.

The suspect drove the Interstate 94 stretch from Chicago to Milwaukee weekly, as narcotics agents tracked her with a GPS device hidden on her car, a law enforcement source said.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas agents finally pulled over Chicago Aviation Officer Angela Brown near Rawson Avenue Wednesday morning.

Agents said when they stopped her, Brown gave them consent to search her car. Inside the glove compartment they found an eyeglass case that contained 40 grams of heroin.

A law enforcement source told WISN 12 News they also found her badge and her uniform.

The U.S. attorney charged the 47-year-old veteran officer with possession of heroin with intent to deliver.

Brown works as an aviation police officer at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

One police source told WISN 12 News agents are trying to determine if she was using her position to move drugs. Another source said she worked as a mule for a Chicago kingpin and drove heroin to Milwaukee for the last six months.

"I really can't tell you anything right now," Brown's attorney, Tom Erickson, said.

WISN 12 News talked to Erickson outside federal court where Brown appeared Thursday afternoon. A judge ordered her release without bail.

"She's basically out on bail until the next court appearance, and I suspect she'll be out of custody until this case is over with or beyond," Erickson said.

Brown declined to comment as she left court.

Brown has been on the job for nine years. An O'Hare spokeswoman would only confirm one of its officers is being investigated in Milwaukee.

The spokeswoman did not respond to questions about what's being done to determine whether Brown was running drugs out of O'Hare, but police sources told Henry that will definitely be part of their investigation.

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U.S. Border Patrol seizes marijuana dropped from ultralight aircraft

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents seized about 162 pounds of marijuana that had been dropped from an ultralight aircraft early Wednesday morning.

Shortly after midnight, an ultralight aircraft was seen crossing the Colorado River west of Yuma near County 12th Street. Agents tracked the aircraft as it entered the United States, dropped several bundles of pot, and then turned around and crossed back into Mexico.

Agents searched the flight path area and found the pot tied to a metal frame in a field near Avenue D and 32nd Street. The drugs were turned over to the DEA.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, agents encountered three Mexican citizens allegedly attempting to smuggle 192 pounds of marijuana through the western portion of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

The three men and the pot were turned over to the Yuma County Narcotics Task Force.

The marijuana seized in both incidents is worth a combined total of about $177,000.

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Learning to fly at Michigan Tech

One of the many options in the Summer Youth Program at Michigan Tech is learning about aviation and aerospace.

These students are learning all the basics they will need to start flying lessons and it includes an opportunity to fly an actual airplane.

It’s an experience that could have a lifetime affect.

Flight instructor Kevin Cadeau says, “For a lot of them, they’re teaching them even about the different careers that involved with aviation, so they got a big background of that if that may be something they want to pursue as a career or if they just want to do it for the pure enjoyment of it.”

11th–grader Paige Rios had never flown before but she’s interested in the Air Force.

The program has opened up a wide range of possibilities for her.

Rios says, “I hope that it gives me more insight and helps me decide if I want to go into aviation for my further career and I just want to have fun and know that if I do like this career that I’m going to enjoy it and just have fun and just enjoy my job.”

Weather permitting, these students will get their hand on the controls of the real thing tomorrow.

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Portugal’s air accident investigation bureau left without investigators

The Aircraft Accident Investigation and Prevention bureau (GPIAA) has lost its last remaining investigator after 70-year-old António Alves retired on Tuesday.

Speaking to Lusa News Agency, Fernando Ferreira dos Reis, the head of the GPIAA, confirmed: “Our last investigator stopped working on Tuesday after reaching the maximum age permitted by law to do that job. Ongoing investigations will all be suspended as will those which in the meantime may be opened.”

For the past year Fernando Ferreira dos Reis has been waiting to resign and be replaced as the head of the GPIAA, which belongs to the Ministry of Economy.

Since 2012 António Alves has been the GPIAA’s only active specialist. An ex-civil aviation pilot he has reached his 70th birthday and is therefore now prevented from working for the government.

After three other specialists left in 2010 and 2011, Alves became the bureau’s last remaining investigator.

In a letter sent to Lusa, the Ministry explains that “some constraints relating to the hiring of investigators have been lifted, which means from now on it should be easier to recruit specialized investigators.”

Regarding the substitution of the current outgoing director, the Ministry hopes to “soon close a second tender launched for the director of the GPIAA.”

In April, when asked about the scenario, airline and ultra-light pilots said the situation was “worrying” and that it could have “incalculable” consequences if the GPIAA were to be left investigator-less.

They feared that the organism could “fall into an operational void.”

As a result of 75 percent of the investigators leaving in 2010 and 2011 a lot of the investigations being conducted were delayed.

According to a report from the GPIAA, 35 cases were passed on from last year to this year, these being 18 accident investigations and 17 cases relating to incidents, all of which occurred in the past three years.

In 2011, eleven investigations were launched. Last year fewer still were opened, but given that for most of 2012 there was only one investigator working, the workload multiplied.

To top it off, last year six of the accidents that were registered caused ten deaths.

FedEx considers increasing operations at Tri-State Airport/Milton J. Ferguson Field (KHTS), Huntington, West Virginia

The FedEx operation in Huntington may soon grow, as FedEx has tentative plans to move its Charleston postal freight to its facility at Tri-State Airport, airport Director Jerry Brienza told the airport authority board on Thursday.

That means the Boeing 757 that arrives at the airport daily would have two daily flights, which will benefit Tri-State Airport through fuel sales, Brienza said. The company could fuel up at its corporate headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., but to date it's been good about purchasing some in Huntington as well, Brienza said.

Filling up a Boeing 757 requires about 2,000 gallons, and the airport makes about a $2 profit per gallon, he said.

Another potential outcome is that the more FedEx does in Huntington, the more it will see what Huntington has to offer and might consider an expansion there, Brienza said. It's not something that would happen immediately, because FedEx is in the midst of a reorganization, he said.

"Hopefully they'll come out of it bigger and stronger and want to expand, and we'll be ready when they do," Brienza said.

The transfer to Huntington is not finalized but tentatively planned for October.

"It's subject to change but it's looking good," said Eric Thomas, operations manager at the Huntington FedEx.

As the only FedEx Express ramp-sort facility in the state of West Virginia, the Huntington FedEx moves millions of dollars in freight. Currently, it unloads a packed Boeing 757 every morning, and sends the packages out on trucks throughout the region. Every night, the night crew takes packages brought from cities throughout the region, packs up another plane and sends it back to Memphis. It's the only air carrier in the region that can carry heavy freight, or anything over 1,000 pounds, Brienza said.

The Charleston FedEx operation moves a lot of U.S. Postal Service packages and will be bringing that portion of its business to Huntington, Brienza said. It currently flies two FedEx ATR aircraft into Charleston, and will be consolidating that into a second Boeing 757 flight out of Huntington.

"The Parkersburg area is served out of Columbus, and if they did this move, we could take back over the Parkersburg market that we lost," Thomas said.

In other business, the airport will start the bidding process next week for water and sewer infrastructure for the development project on the south side of its property. In preparation for that estimated $2.1 million project, board members approved intergovernmental agreements with the city of Kenova, the town of Ceredo, and the U.S. Army National Guard, all of which have made commitments toward the project. It is being paid largely from state funds, with some financial commitment from the other entities, Brienza said.

He also informed board members that because the one bidder on the planned taxiway rehabilitation project came in $1 million over budget, the airport will forgo that project for other projects that create regular headaches at the airport.

The airport has $1.3 million in Federal Aviation Administration Funds and a $400,000 state match to pay for things like a new generator for the terminal, to fix a slip, to do some paving on parts of the runway that have settled and cracked, to address drainage issues, clean duct work affected by the new heating and cooling system, address sediment buildup at a dam on the property near a residence, and more.

The board also got an update on enplanements, which were down 12 percent for the fiscal year, compared to the previous fiscal year, said Marketing Director Beckie McKinley. Delta Airlines, which left the airport in May 2012, carried 19 percent of the airport's passengers, she said, which indicates that some of that business is being made up elsewhere.