Saturday, July 27, 2013

Flight on time: Reno-Tahoe International Airport (KRNO), Reno, Nevada

(Left to right) Pilots Jonah Hull, Dave Gurney and Chad Lichty work for Reno Flying Service and American Medflight, based out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

RENO — When it comes to treating a gunshot wound to the chest, seconds can be mean life or death. 

Having just landed from flying a child with cystic fibrosis to a hospital in the Bay Area, nurse Sunny Smith talked Saturday about one such patient. It was in Ely, where Smith often flies as an employee for American Medflight, a small company based on the east side of Reno-Tahoe Inter-national Airport at 485 S. Rock Blvd.

The patient had been shot with a .22-caliber weapon and the bullet nicked his bowel, she said, causing his chest to fill with air and blood — a combination that could have killed him in the time it would have taken to reach a major trauma center traveling on the ground.

“With every beat of his heart blood and air were building up,” she said. “He was like a time bomb waiting to go off.”

This patient reached the emergency room at 5:01 p.m. and a call went to Smith and her crew at 5:15. An hour later the Medflight plane took off with the patient, 50 minutes later it landed in Salt Lake City and 12 minutes later he was in the operating room.

Providing fast, in-transit medical care to save lives requires a maximum use of time. Right now, though, American Medflight and sister company Reno Flight Service are facing an uncertain future. During an open house event on Saturday, pilot Dave Gurney said the companies’ landlord, Sierra Air Center, recently announced it would not be renewing its lease at the Reno airport and will shut down on June 30. With that news, RFS and Medflight now must negotiate directly with airport management for a new lease. Negotiations just started, and the two entities have a long way to go before coming to an agreement, manager Jim Brown said.

The companies’ managers’ first choice is to stay in Reno, Brown said, where they have been since the 1930s. But if an agreement can’t be reached, the companies might have to move to Carson City, where the location, airplane maintenance facilities and staff are not as desirable for American Medflight and Reno Flying Service, which provides repair, flight training and other aviation-related services.

One of the main issues in the negotiation is rent, which Brown said he believes will most certainly go up, it is a matter of how much. When talks started, Brown said the increase in rent was going to be tenfold, but it has come down considerably since then. Chief pilot John Burruel said another issue is support on such things as snow removal. This past winter, Burreul said, Medflight planes were grounded for two days because they couldn’t get the snow removed from the ramp leading from hangar B to the taxiway and runway. Two medical calls were missed because of the snow issue, Burruel said. Medflight handles about 300 fixed-wing (non-helicopter) medical flights a year, largely servicing rural areas of Nevada where residents do not have quick access to more advanced medical facilities. Patients are transported all over the region, from Utah to Washington to the San Francisco area.

“That’s why we get called, because somebody’s probably not going to make it,” Burreul said. “They are instances where people need immediate help getting to a trauma center.”

Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority spokesman Brian Kulpin said on Saturday that a meeting is planned for this week with tenants of Sierra Air and with tenant of Jet West, another fixed-base operator (FBO) at the airport that decided not to renew its lease there and is also closing on June 30. Kulpin said the authority has a request out for bids for a new FBO at the airport to provide competition to Atlantic Aviation, the one remaining FBO at Reno-Tahoe. Whether replacements are found for both Jet West and Sierra Air Center or just one new operator comes in will be determined by demand.

“Is there enough fuel business on the field to have two FBOs or three? ... The market will determine that,” Kulpin said.

Any notions of drastic rent increases are speculation, Kulpin said, adding that the airport authority decided the old hangar facilities warranted offering 20 percent cheaper rent to some of Jet West’s tenants after the company decided not to renew its lease.

While Kulpin said the airport authority, which also runs the Stead airport, may be building more facilities there in the near future, Gurney said moving Reno Flying Service and American Medflight to Stead now is not possible because there is no room for them there. Moving the businesses to Carson City might not only have detrimental effects on the patients transported by Medflight, it would also cut into county and city tax revenue. Gurney said plane owners pay property taxes on their vehicles and the businesses pays taxes on their income. Gurney said a Lear jet that moved from Reno to Carson City was paying $80,000 a year in taxes.

“This is not the time to be forcing businesses to close,” Gurney said.

Experts question company's plan to build cargo planes; MidAmerica director touts developers' track record

While some aviation industry experts are pessimistic about a plan to produce a newly designed freight aircraft at a business park near MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, the airport's director says those behind the proposal have a track record of success.

The plan calls for Covenant Aerospace Inc. to build a business park about 253 acres currently owned by St. Clair County. The park would be located south of Interstate 64 along Illinois 4 in Mascoutah.

The park would be centered around the production of a regional freight aircraft and create about 2,180 jobs, according to the Covenant's website.

The owners of Covenant and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern could not be reached for comment.

Richard Aboulafia, a vice president of analysis with the Teal Group Corporation in Fairfax, Va., advises numerous aerospace companies and analyzes broad aviation trends.

Aboulafia said he's seen many such plans in the past and successfully guessed the proposed plane to be produced was a twin-engine turboprop freighter. While he wished the company well, Aboulafia said he didn't count on the plans coming to fruition.

"There have been so many approaches over the years and none of them have actually succeeded," Aboulafia said. "The idea of creating the perfect small-medium cargo lifter has been around for years and never did gain much traction."

MidAmerica Director Tim Cantwell said members of Covenant Aerospace have proven their ability to certify new aircraft.

"I was a consultant in the business jet community before I became the airport director. There are members in that community who have been trying to produce a business jet for 12 years," Cantwell said. "Some of those members are proven engineers who have certified three or four airplanes and gone through that process. I met some of those engineers in initial discussions with Covenant Aerospace. They have already gone through that process. It's not easy, it's not a given, but there are resources inside Covenant Aerospace that have the ability and proven their ability before."

Mike Boyd, president of Boyd Group International in Evergreen, Colo., had one piece of advice for taxpayers regarding the proposal -- "run for cover." The Boyd Group provides aviation related consulting to legislators and industry organizations.

"This is another Hail Mary pass," Boyd said, noting MidAmerica's previous proposals to ship carp, flowers and seeds. "You wish people the best and want entrepreneurs to do great things, but MidAmerica has had so many fruitcake ideas the last 10 years. If I was this guy, I'd go somewhere else. MidAmerica is not an opportunity for anybody except consultants to make money."

Why the pessimism?

The problem is twofold, according to Aboulafia.

"First, converted existing aircraft are just much cheaper. People aren't willing to pay a premium for optimum design," he said. "The second reason is a niche aircraft producer just doesn't have much of a chance. Perhaps a company like Boeing could, but since 1960 exactly one niche company has succeeded." He was referring to Embraer in Brazil.

Boyd said regional cargo aircraft is not an efficient way to ship freight unless the goods are time-sensitive. Trucks shipping up to 600 miles make more sense economically.

Covenant's website states: "The industry demand for a purpose built, truck-like aircraft has been created by an aging fleet of inefficient regional aircraft originally designed to transport passengers, not cargo. Currently, there are no regional twin-engine turboprop aircraft in the world that can satisfy the industry demand to carry containers and pallets cost effectively."

St. Clair County Board member Mike Baker, a Democrat of Mascoutah, represents the district that would host the site of the proposed business park. Baker said the proposal was a neat concept but cautioned it was too premature to say whether it would get off the ground.

The proposed site of the business park would be better suited for high volume retail than manufacturing because of its proximity to the major thoroughfares of Interstate 64 and Illinois 4, Baker said. He noted retail and commercial businesses have already developed just north of intersection.

"I think the best use for property up and around the airport would be on the commercial and retail side, then towards the back part of county-owned land put the manufacturing aspect centered around the airport," Baker said. For example, Baker suggested the proposed business park would be built behind retail businesses lining Illinois 4.

Boyd said his company was hired as a consultant prior to MidAmerica's construction and advised the state to delay construction until customer demand increased.

"There is no credibility left with MidAmerica. It was built with bad data to start with," Boyd said. "We worked for the state of Illinois and told them not to turn a spade of earth until they got customers lined up. It was a solution looking for a problem, and they haven't found the problem yet."

Baker said he was confident about MidAmerica's future.

"I believe MidAmerica is one of the greatest assets that the county has, and also Mascoutah," Baker said. "What I see happening at MidAmerica is the expansion of cargo flights, which looks like it's going to happen. And hopefully, Allegiant (Airlines) will pick up more routes. If that happens, it sure would be nice to see a route from here to Chicago to eliminate wait times for downtown business people using Lambert (St. Louis International Airport)."

Who is Covenant Aerospace?

Covenant Aerospace appears to be a reincarnation of SkyTitan International with the same owners and listed phone numbers. SkyTitan sought tax incentives from the state of Illinois in 2011 and lists its address as MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, according to the company's website.

The website domain for Covenant is registered under Freight Feeder Corporation. Freight Feeder President David Bridges is also a member of the board of SkyTitan and listed in the telephone directory of Covenant Aerospace.

Bridges and other members of the three companies could not be reached for comment.

Freight Feeder purchased the plans and patents for the aircraft proposed to be built at MidAmerica in 2007 from a start up company called Utilicraft Aerospace Industries Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M. The sale intended to infuse money into developing Utilicraft's existing products.

An airplane currently being designed would take at least five years to come into production, Boyd said.

"Crazy stuff like this is what builds America, but to say this is going to be something at MidAmerica -- this is going to take years," Boyd said.

Covenant's aircraft will take four years to develop and certify and another year to increase deliveries to four per month to achieve profitability, according to the Covenant's website.

Other metro-east aviation companies see success

While industry experts are pessimistic about the regional cargo market, other local companies serving different markets in the aviation industry have seen success.

Jet Aviation St. Louis, formerly MidCoast Aviation, employs about 850 people at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia. The company provides a host of services for aircraft and their crews, and has nine hangars capable of hosting up to 70 aircraft.

"Things are going very well," company spokesman Charlie Bosworth said. "As the economy picks up so does our business."

The company was just named the only certified service center for Embraer Lineage business jet in the nation. The announcement follows Jet Aviation's construction of a new hangar constructed specifically for such larger airframes.

"We have amazing capabilities," Bosworth said. "I've only been here a couple months and the first time I was exposed to the facility there is such an 'Oh, wow' factor. Most people don't realize what we do here."

The Boeing Co.'s subassembly plant at MidAmerica airport is completing construction of a 700-square-foot mezzanine within the plant to accommodate more workers. The plant produces equipment for the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft.

The additional office space will allow the company to grow from about 90 workers to 110 employees by August. Boeing representatives have said the company's site at MidAmerica is the most profitable of all the company's locations.

Read more here:

Airport to get electric fence: Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport, India

AHMEDABAD: An incident on Tuesday, where monkeys were seen scampering across the runway just when an Indigo flight was about to land, has prompted the decision to install electric fence. From Tuesday, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will put out official offers for companies to install solar-powered electric fences around the Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport.

Another major worry that has incited this move is the hordes of visitors who sit along the boundary wall to view airplanes landing and taking off from the runway. This could be a future security risk, say AAI officials.

"But the electric fence will mainly ward off disruptive animals, like monkeys and langurs. The system is cost-effective and good in the long term. The fence will be installed by September end," says an AAI official.

When an animal or human being comes into contact with an electric fence, they receive a sharp, short, painful but safe electric shock. The shock, according to AAI officials, does not cause any physical damage. The fence acts as a strong psychological barrier as any intruder avoids trespassing after experiencing the shock.

"There will be warning boards all along the fence so humans are aware of the fence being electrified. After a period of conditioning, the mere presence of the fence acts as an effective barrier, even if it is not powered," says the AAI official. A special alarm system will also be installed, which will detect faults like shorting or cutting of the wire due to tampering.


Beaver County Airport (KBVI), Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania: Runway expansion plans taking off

CHIPPEWA TWP. -- Convinced that the Interstate 376 corridor in Beaver County is poised for development, local officials are jump-starting plans to extend the county airport's runway to accommodate larger planes.

"If this economic boom happens ... all the corporate aircraft would be able to land at our airport," said Dan Donatella, chairman of the Beaver County Airport Authority and a former county commissioner. "Fortune 500 corporations don't fly on US Airways. They have corporate aircraft."

Officials are considering a plan to extend the runway by 500 feet -- 165 feet on one end and 335 feet on the other -- so that it measures 5,000 feet. That's the length that corporate jets need to land and take-off, Donatella said.

Donatella has lobbied for years to lengthen the runway, but Shell Co.'s proposed plan to build a ethane cracker plant in Potter Township has given his case some urgency.

Business and political leaders expect the cracker plant to spur growth in the entire area, especially with companies that would provide support to the cracker plant or use the products made at the plant.

Lengthening the runway, Commissioner Dennis Nichols said, "just seems like a good idea."

Commissioner Joe Spanik said improving the county airport would be just another part of the county's transportation infrastructure -- including highways, rivers and rails -- to attract investment and industry.

Commissioners Chairman Tony Amadio said there are estimates that industries related to the cracker plant could create as many as 18,000 jobs. Those companies, he said, have executives who would want quick and easy access to the area, which the county airport can provide better than Pittsburgh International Airport.

"We're banking on our airport to be an economic generator for us," Amadio said.

Donatella said the county airport could build a new hangar for corporate aircraft. Other benefits to jet-setting executives include no landing fees, cheaper aviation fuel and a hotel that is planned for the nearby intersection of Darlington Road and Cessna Drive.

Any expansion is probably three or four years down the road, Donatella said, but the long process to gain Federal Aviation Administration approval needs to start now to coincide with Shell's building plans.

Donatella hesitated to discuss cost estimates because there are several options being considered and some issues to address, such as a ravine on the west side of the runway.

If ultimately approved, though, 90 percent of the cost to expand the runway would be borne by the FAA while the airport authority and state would contribute 5 percent each.


Pilot Leslie Reynolds Taylor took a dream and flew with it

SOUTH KITSAP — The take-away from the life of Leslie Reynolds Taylor is this: “You live your dream, go after your dream. Don’t let anybody or anything get in your way.”

Taylor’s was to pilot the big commercial jets. At 60, the South Kitsap resident with lime green fingernails and turquoise-tinted glasses pilots the Boeing 727s through 767s, and DC-9s.

She has flown for 43 years, the past 25 of them for United Parcel Service. Her life at its best is at the controls far above the clouds. She’s wanted to be there since she was 5, when her father put her in his Cessna.

“The thrill of putting that power to the airplane and flying that airplane is above anything you can imagine,” Taylor said.

Many along the way would have stopped her. Male captains angrily ridiculed her even as she landed planes. A few encouraged her. A few was all she needed.

“I was very blessed to have the mentors I have had,” Taylor said.


Small, shy and roly-poly, she didn’t fit in with the cool kids at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor.

“I ran with the hoodlums,” she recalled.

A lesson she learned early was grueling work brought reward.

At 16, she had scrubbed enough dishes at Pearls by the Sea to put $2,500 on a 1967 baby yellow Ford Fairlane.

At career day, she was the only girl at the pilot table.

Back then, girls didn’t fly unless they were flight attendants.

“I don’t want to be in the back of the airplane. I wanted to be in front,” she said. “I had that burning desire to fly airplanes and I didn’t want to do anything else.”

The next stop was Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, where she found just one other female in the commercial-aviation course. Like she did for the Fairlane, she called on sheer determination.

“I would stay late at school and beg, borrow and steal flight hours,” she said.

But the tests for various flying certifications at Clover Park might have been written for men, not women. She repeatedly tried and failed, until one of the instructors changed the testing technique, adding more oral questions covering the same material. She began to respond.

“Every one of those certifications I failed six times each before the seventh time, I passed,” she said.

After Clover Park, it was on to Ocean Shores. At 21, she was issued a four-passenger Cherokee low-wing, radio and cash box and told to start a ground school. The runway ran through a golf course.

“I ended up teaching 10 percent of the town to fly,” she said.

But teaching retirees how to fly wasn’t the entire dream.

“My mission was to be an airline pilot. This was just a steppingstone,” she said.

More dues-paying came with a similar stint in Palo Alto, Calif.


At 28, she landed her first commercial job as a co-pilot for Cascade Airways.

She adored flying passengers aboard her Beech 99 between small cities in Washington and Oregon.

But co-workers’ machismo was really bearing down. Her captains treated her “like garbage.”

“I wasn’t well-liked. Girls weren’t supposed to fly airplanes. I was taking jobs away from men.”

Passengers didn’t come to her rescue.

Some disembarked when they spotted the female co-pilot. An elderly woman wrote a two-page letter to Taylor’s boss complaining the flight attendant did nothing except sit in the seat next to the captain and talk to him.

“I laughed; it was the funniest thing,” Taylor said.

All that changed when she was co-piloting a Beech 1900 out of Spokane. They’d just left the runway when smoke and flames burst through the cockpit. Taylor glanced down and saw flames shooting out of a panel and wrapping around her legs.

“We had a fire,” she said.

The captain took the plane to 700 feet, circled and descended. They’d cut the electricity, opened the windows and cleared the emergency exits during those excruciating seconds on the way down.

Taylor tore the cabin curtain aside.

The white-faced passengers uttered not a word.

Taylor was honored for her courage in 1984 by the national Order of the Daedalians, an esteemed pilots’ group. She was the first woman to receive the award in its history.

Cascade went under as deregulation rumbled through the airline industry.

Her next stop was co-piloting a 737 for Sunworld Airlines out of Las Vegas. At times, it seemed that the larger the jets, the worse the guys. They accused her of sleeping her way up. Like before, she had a small cheering section and that was enough.

Sunworld also went under and by 1988 she was out of a job. She was desperate.

UPS was starting an airline and needed pilots.

“I said no way was I flying freight.”

But she soon found herself co-piloting a 747 all over the globe, hauling tropical fish, livestock and even two diamonds totaling 13 pounds.

“A weight was taken off my shoulders. Now I had a dependable job,” she said.

In 1999, she made captain.

“The very first time I got in that left seat, it was the most awesome thing,” she said.

Today, it’s easier for women pilots. They’re not such an anomaly. Many have come out of the military.


Along the way, there were a couple of marriages and a beautiful 19-year-old artist son, the light of her life.

Taylor looks back at high school and the cool kids who snickered at her dream.

“And I did it. Was it easy? No,” she said.

Today, she is single and active in the South Kitsap community, having had the idea in the first place to build the skatepark that opened in June. Many know her through the Rotary Club of Port Orchard. She keeps her pilot career quiet.

Who knows? Maybe romance will be in Taylor’s forecast. Meanwhile for fun, she travels — of all things — with her married friends. She just returned from Tahiti. South Africa’s next on the list.

“I’ll stay home when I’m old and ready to go into the ground,” she said.

Story and Photos:

Delta Airlines accused of forcing paralyzed man to crawl off of plane

A former college professor who cannot walk has sued Delta Airlines in federal court, claiming that crew members on two flights told him the only way he could get off the plane was to crawl down the aisle, down the steps and across the tarmac.

D. Baraka Kanaan, who lives in Hawaii, filed the suit July 23 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, against the airlines and 20 unnamed individuals.

Kanaan, who suffers from partial paralysis of his legs stemming from a car accident, said the airline's "outrageous conduct" occurred on two flights he took a year ago.

On July 26, 2012, Kanaan, who is now head of the Lovevolution Foundation, was scheduled to take a series of Delta flights from Maui to Nantucket, Mass., for a conference.

Several weeks before the flight, Kanaan spoke to a Delta customer service representative about needing a lift to get on the plane and an aisle chair to get to his seat, the suit states. The representative assured him that he would be accommodated, according to the complaint.

After his scheduled flight was canceled because of weather, he was booked on another flight the next day. When he arrived in Nantucket, a flight attendent told him the airline did not have an aisle chair or a lift to get him off the plane to retrieve his wheelchair.

According to the complaint, the Airline Carrier Access Act and other federal regulations require airlines to have such equipment for disabled passengers.

When Kanaan asked about his options, the flight attendant said, "I don't know, but we can't get you off the plane," the suit states.

Although a lift was visible at an adjacent gate, Kanaan was forced to crawl out of the plane and across the tarmac without any assistance from the crew and with many people watching, according to the lawsuit.

Kanaan called the airlines to complain and to report that he would need the same equipment for his return trip.

Despite assurances it would be there, the complaint states that when boarding began the needed aisle chair and lift were unavailable but a flight attendant told him they could put down a piece of cardboard so his clothes wouldn't get dirty.

Upon his return home, a Delta representative offered him 25,000 "sky miles" as compensation, which he refused, the suit states.

Kanaan is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial, according to the complaint.

On Friday, Delta had not filed its response, according to online records.


Panel on seaplane operations yet to be finalized

A meeting convened by the government at Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday has decided to constitute an expert committee to study the impact of seaplane operations on fisherfolk. The names of the panel members have not been finalized, according to government officials. The meeting was convened after fishermen’s organizations raised objections to seaplane operations in Ashtamudi and Vembanad lakes on the ground that it would affect fishing operations. They had demanded that an expert committee be set up to study the issue.

The Ministers in charge of fishing and tourism were present at the meeting and the committee would be set up with the approval of both, a senior official told The Hindu. Reports that appeared in a section of the press on the names of the panel members were premature, he said.

Earlier, T.J. Anjalose, a trade union leader who took part in the talks on behalf of the fishermen, said there were apprehensions about omitting an expert whose name was unanimously approved at the meeting. It would amount to doing injustice to the job at hand, he said. Mr. Anjalose alleged that K.S. Purushan, former Dean, Fisheries College, Panangad, was among the proposed names, but there was a move to exclude him. 


Skydiving victim was decorated soldier

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 30-year-old Honolulu man who died in Tuesday's skydiving accident was a decorated Army veteran. 

 Capt. Martin Monahan, who was assigned to Schofield Barracks since 2010, was twice awarded the bronze star and served three tours in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said that Monahan struck the horizontal stabilizer at the back of Skydive Hawaii's Cessna Caravan aircraft shortly after he jumped from the plane.

A source familiar with the incident says Monahan was training for his license and was on his 23rd jump with Skydive Hawaii at Dillingham Airfield.

He was practicing a required maneuver known as a "hop and pop" where the skydiver jumps from an altitude of about 5,000 feet, instead of the usual 12,000 to 14,000 feet.

The source says there was some damage on the plane's tail and that the pilot was aware of that damage when it occurred. The pilot then ordered the remaining tandem skydivers in the plane to jump at a lower than normal altitude, the source said.

Monahan died Wednesday from his injuries.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating. But the source says the agencies didn't find any problems with the maintenance or record keeping for the aircraft and the parachute involved in the accident.

Skydiving accidents have claimed the lives of about half a dozen Skydive Hawaii customers and employees since the 1990s.

Story, Video, Photos:

Alaska Air replaces uniforms after attendants say it sickened them


As the numbers of employees reporting mysterious illnesses keeps growing, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has decided to replace the uniforms worn by its 3,200 flight attendants nationwide.

“Honestly, they’ve been frustrated with how long it’s taken to get to this point, but we are very happy to see that we are transitioning to a new uniform,” said Jeffrey Peterson, president of Alaska Airlines flight attendants union.

The union is convinced that rashes, headaches and hair loss and respiratory problems are linking to the uniforms flight attendants have been wearing since January of 2011.

“We did not have these issues before we transitioned to this new flight attendant uniform,” said Peterson.

He says some flights attendant’s illnesses were serious enough that they had to miss work for a period of time.

Union documentation shows that nearly 700 flight attendants – one fourth of the entire workforce – reported some form of illness since donning the new uniform.  They were manufactured by Twin Hill.

Alaska said it made the decision to purchase new uniforms from Land’s End at a cost of up to $5 million.

“Everybody wanted to rush to a new uniform quickly, but without understanding of the problem or understanding manufacturing, we weren’t going to be in a good place,” said Alaska Air’s VP on Inflight Services Andy Schneider.

She says the airline ordered extensive tests on the uniform.

“We haven’t found anything,” said Schneider.  “We looked very hard at the problem but nothing has come forward as the reason why so many people have expressed concern.”

The union says some members symptoms have not cleared up, even though they were permitted to wear an alternative uniform if they provided a doctor’s note.

“Some of our members are reporting some very serious health effects and that’s questionable how long it will take for those to be resolved,” said Peterson.

Alaska hopes to have flight attendants in their new uniforms by the end of the year.

“I want people to know that we’ve taken this very seriously,” said Schneider.

She says the airline is not aware of any illnesses reported by passengers.

Story, Video, Photos:

Studio exec investigated for copter use during Dorner manhunt: Ryan Kavanaugh's chopper was on a sheriff's helipad as the manhunt got underway

A Hollywood studio head is under criminal investigation for possibly impeding the manhunt for ex-Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner by landing his helicopter on a sheriff's helipad during the search, sources said. 

Relativity Media's Ryan Kavanaugh has been known for taking a chopper to the office and appointments around town. The noisy landings have drawn complaints from some nearby residents.

But the Los Angeles County Sheriff's criminal investigation is a new level of scrutiny. It's unclear what exactly Kavanaugh is suspected of doing wrong and how he might have slowed authorities down.

Kavanaugh's camp says that he did not impede the cops and that the probe is politically motivated.

Law enforcement agencies from around the region — including the Sheriff's Department — pitched in during the February manhunt for Dorner, who was accused of killing four people, including two law enforcement officers. The search drained significant law enforcement resources, as authorities scrambled to end the rampage before anyone else was harmed.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed there is a criminal investigation but declined to provide details because the probe is ongoing.

Kavanaugh's defenders said the criminal investigation is bogus, calling it political payback by Sheriff Lee Baca because Kavanaugh is supporting another potential candidate for sheriff in next year's election: Baca's outgoing top aide Paul Tanaka.

"This is another predictably sad and desperate attempt to distract the people of Los Angeles County from an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the sheriff's unlawful treatment of minorities," said Relativity spokesman David Shane. "It's disappointing that the sheriff continues to waste taxpayer resources to pursue his own politically motivated vendetta."

Shane added that the district attorney's office looked at Kavanaugh's landing during the Dorner case earlier this year and chose not to file any charges.

A source close to Kavanaugh said the producer is a Sheriff's Department volunteer and was landing near sheriff's headquarters in Monterey Park for an appointment with Tanaka. The source said that the hunt for Dorner was beginning around that time and that Kavanaugh did not know about it until he was taking off and leaving. Kavanaugh, the source said, in no way impeded any law-enforcement action.

In the past, the department was supportive of Kavanaugh's chopper rides. In 2011, he came under heat from residents around the West Hollywood neighborhood where he often landed. That prompted a skirmish between the hotel that was letting him use its helipad and the California Department of Transportation, which issues relevant permits. An official there sent a terse letter to hotel management ordering that any illegal helicopter activity cease immediately.

In that spat, sheriff's brass appeared to come to Kavanaugh's defense, with a top official writing a letter to the Sofitel hotel to say the department did not oppose Kavanaugh's use of the hotel's helipad.

Baca was known at the time to have a close relationship with Kavanaugh, who has raised more than $156,000 for the Sheriff's Youth Fund, according to a department spokesman. In 2008, the department gave him an award for his work on behalf of the charity.

That relationship, however, turned sour recently after the producer declined to support Baca's 2014 reelection bid.

In June, an attorney for Kavanaugh sent a letter to Baca accusing the sheriff of "abusing your elected position by using Sheriff's Department resources to target and investigate him for no legitimate reason. Mr. Kavanaugh also has reason to believe that this misconduct is in retaliation for his support of your political opponent in next year's race…. Be assured that Mr. Kavanaugh will not be intimidated."

Though Tanaka, who was forced by Baca to step down, has said he is considering a run, he has not officially announced one way or another.

Baca has been accused of launching criminal investigations on behalf of supporters and using his power to settle political scores before. His spokesman denied the allegations from Kavanaugh's camp, saying "this criminal investigation has nothing to do with politics."

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Story, Video, Pictures, Comments/Reaction:

FedEx Ground to deliver 1,000 jobs, traffic to Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania?

Massive distribution centers on Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE) land could employ more than 1,000 people, but hurdles must be cleared.

FedEx Ground is considering the Lehigh Valley for a massive distribution hub that could create more than 1,000 jobs and make the region a more attractive landing spot for big retail stores.

According to sources with knowledge of the plan, FedEx is in talks with the Rockefeller Group to locate two distribution centers measuring 1 million square feet each on a 254-acre parcel of Allen Township farmland owned by the Lehigh Valley International Airport.

The centers, to be a FedEx hub serving the northeastern region, would open as early as 2015 with as many as 500 drivers, warehouse workers and office staff. That number could grow to more than 1,000 within three years, according to several sources.

It would also require major roadwork, including the widening of more than a mile of Race Street and Willowbrook Road, from two lanes to four, to handle more than 14,000 additional vehicles a day.

Officials from LVIA and FedEx would not comment on the global freight giant's involvement, but airport officials cautioned that whoever develops the surplus airport property will have to clear many hurdles. Because the property is federally encumbered airport land, developers not only need approvals from Allen Township, they'll also need Federal Aviation Administration approvals and cooperation from the state Department of Transportation.

All that would take at least two years, airport officials have said. In preliminary plans delivered to Allen Township, Rockefeller does not identify FedEx Ground, but projects opening what it calls a 1 million square-foot "Regional Distribution Center" in 2015, and a second warehouse of 1 million square feet in 2017.

"We don't know all the potential users Rockefeller is talking to and we're not at liberty to discuss any of them," Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority Chairman Tony Iannelli said. "The good news is we're finding there is a tremendous amount of interest in our real estate holdings. The challenge is matching that interest with property that can be readily developed."

While FedEx Ground is a much coveted user because of its ability to attract other companies looking to reduce their shipping costs by locating nearby, the Lehigh Valley has become one of the nation's most sought-after areas for distribution center development. With its location in the Route 22 and Interstate 78 corridor, it's a prime location to serve a five-state shipping region.

FedEx has a much smaller Express shipping center in Bethlehem Township, one of hundreds of such facilities nationwide where locals can drop off packages.

The FedEx Ground hub would be one of just 33 regional shipping hubs capable of serving several states.

FedEx Ground, based outside Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of FedEx created to serve major retailers that want to get merchandise to customers in five days or less. Trucking 5.6 million packages per day from its regional hubs and pickup stations nationwide, it is designed to be direct competition for UPS Ground.

FedEx would not confirm its interest in the Lehigh Valley.

"FedEx Ground continuously evaluates opportunities that can enhance our ability to serve our customers," company spokesman David Westrick said. "But, as a matter of policy, we don't have further information on specific proposals under consideration."

Rockefeller spokesman Dwayne Doherty said the company does not discuss which companies are interested in its projects, but is optimistic with the progress it is making on the airport land.

LVIA, struggling to pay the remaining $14 million of a $26 million court judgment against it for taking a developer's land in the mid-1990s, has brought in Rockefeller to market more than 750 acres of largely farmland that straddles Lehigh and Northampton counties, just north of the main airport.

Because the land spans two counties and the townships of Hanover, East Allen and Allen, Rockefeller will need township planning approvals, even as the airport seeks FAA approval to sell. On top of that, local officials will be working to find what could be millions of dollars to make improvements to Airport Road, Race Street and Willowbrook Road.

"Rockefeller is talking about attracting significant companies that would create significant jobs, but for any of it to happen — at least on that property — it's going to require major road improvements," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., which helps bring new businesses into the region. "It's a heavy lift, but we're working on it."

Though sources did not detail precisely where the FedEx Ground facility would be, during a project scope meeting that involved township, airport, Rockefeller and PennDOT officials, Rockefeller laid out conceptual plans to place the hub along Willowbrook Road, just north of its intersection with Race. Willowbrook Road is a sleepy, two-lane stretch bracketed by airport property that has most recently been used for farming.

That would change if the hub opens. Willowbrook Road, which leads to Catasauqua High School, would have to be widened to four lanes to accommodate increased truck traffic. The plan will likely make for some heated township meetings, but 20-year Allen Township Manager Ilene Eckhart said township leaders have been expecting this for a long time.

"We always recognized that this was airport property, that it was going to be open for growth," Eckhart said. "That's part of the reason we changed the zoning to industrial in 2006. Yes, it's a big change, but we're a growing community."

Eckhart said she expects plans to come before the township board in the coming month, but nothing has been scheduled.

According to sources, FedEx is just the most immediate of several suitors interested in parts of the airport lands. The land is not only in a prime location capable of serving the Northeast, but it's also 750 undeveloped acres in the middle of a market that has few industrial and distribution center vacancies.

Just 6 percent of the Valley's class A industrial space is vacant — the lowest of any region in the state — with companies so eager to build more that they are doing it even before they have tenants, said Bill Wolf, vice president of CBRE, one of the nation's largest real estate brokers.

That low vacancy rate comes largely because developers are having trouble keeping up with bulging demand, growing the Valley industrial market space from 24 million square feet to 40 million in the past decade.

"The Lehigh Valley is now looked at as one of the top 10 industrial markets in North America," Wolf said. "The Lehigh Valley is viewed almost as an extension of the New York metro market."

Still, winning FedEx Ground won't be easy. Even if planners and developers can clear the many hurdles, sources say FedEx will likely also be shopping the project to locations in New Jersey, Maryland and other parts of Pennsylvania.

"There's a unique window of opportunity here that makes that airport property very important to the whole region," Cunningham said. "We've got some serious work ahead, but the payoff is worth it."


Greater Kankakee (KIKK), Illinois: Airport officials aim to ground skydivers until flap settled

Claiming that Skydive Greater, operating out of the Greater Kankakee Airport since late April, is working outside of its lease, airport officials are trying to ground the endeavor.

A notice to quit, authored by Kankakee Valley Airport Authority board attorney L. Patrick Power, was sent earlier this month to Larry Knipper and Brad Vancina, the owners of the skydiving business.

Airport officials said the business only has a storage lease, not the needed lease to operate a commercial business.

If the matter is not resolved, the KVAA likely will take the matter to the Kankakee County Circuit Court, an official noted.

"They are saying we are in violation of the lease agreement," Vancina said. "... We're willing to do whatever we can do to make things work and maintain our hangar."

According to Power, Skydive Greater is a commercial business and Knipper and Vancina only have a lease to operate and store their aircraft at the airport, not operate a business. To operate a business at that location, a commercial lease is needed.

Power said despite being told of this situation, the business has continued to operate there. In the notice to Knipper, Power wrote that if he does not comply, the lease will be terminated and the hangar cleared.

Knipper signed a hangar lease on May 1, 2011. The lease states that the "Lessee shall utilize the premises for the sole purchase of storage of the aircraft."

Vancina confirmed that tandem skydiving business is indeed in operation. He estimated some 125 tandem skydives have taken place as well as a number of other jumps. He said jumpers from across the Midwest have traveled to the Greater Kankakee Airport to experience a jump.

A first tandem jump cost $180.

Bob Glade, KVAA chairman, said Friday the authority is not looking to be the bad guy. The authority simply wants the skydiving business to have the proper lease and insurance.

"We are not discouraging skydiving whatsoever. We think they are a plus for the airport," he said. "But they have to play by the same rules as everyone else."

Vancina claims other airport hangar tenants are operating businesses there without commercial licenses. Glade and Power said they are not aware of any such situation.

"We are trying to resolve this problem, but it's not coming easy," Glade said.

The two sides appear to be arguing over terminology. Vancina said its a skydiving club. Power said it's a commercial business.

"We gave them permission to operate as a club, and they are advertising [Skydive Greater] all over the place," Glade said. "They are operating a business, and we don't have adequate insurance for them."


Bob Hope (KBUR), Burbank, California: Airport launches rewards points program


 BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Partnerships between credit card companies and airlines are taking off. Now consumers can earn free trips without having to be a frequent flyer. One Los Angeles-area airport is the first in California to offer airline and hotel rewards points. 

 The airlines really want your business and are willing to offer free trips to get your attention. But to get free travel you do need to get a new credit card.

Brian Kelly is a rewards points expert and runs a website called the He says today's rewards credit cards are better than ever.

"If you're smart about your credit card signup bonuses, they're extremely lucrative so you can take your entire family on a trip just for getting a single credit card," said Kelly.

Kelly's favorite card right now is through Southwest Airlines.

"Southwest is offering a card right now with 50,000 points, which means almost $900 in free travel. So you could take a family of four from L.A. to Vegas, and just pay the $2.50 tax per ticket," said Kelly.

But most of the time, Kelly suggests getting a card that is not tied to any one airline.

"There are cards out there like the Chase Sapphire Preferred that lets you transfer to not just Southwest, but also United and Virgin Atlantic, if you want to go to Europe," said Kelly.

One new way to earn more rewards points was announced Friday at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. It's a program called Thanks Again.

"With Thanks Again, Burbank Bob Hope Airport is the first and only airport in California to enter into an airport-wide rewards program that will give our customers airline miles or hotel points, whenever they use their preferred card, their credit or debit card to park, dine or shop here at the airport," said Airport Authority executive director Dan Feger.

There are more than 170 airports nationwide with the same program, so look for it when you travel.

Story and Video:

The Louis Berger Group Designs Super Bowl Aircraft Parking Plan for Morristown Municipal Airport (KMMU), New Jersey

The firm’s assignment will enable the facility to efficiently house additional airplanes and accommodate more passengers for one of the world’s largest annual sporting events.

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (PRWEB) July 25, 2013

The Louis Berger Group, Inc. (Louis Berger) recently completed an aircraft parking plan for the Morristown Municipal Airport to accommodate an increase in travelers to and from the New Jersey area during next year’s Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLVIII will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2, 2014.

The New York City metro area and its airports are expecting an influx of both vehicular and air traffic. With a proper plan to organize the aircraft on the ground at the airport, smaller facilities like the Morristown Municipal Airport will be able to house a larger number of planes overnight as well as move them in and out quickly.

“The FAA wants to ensure airports in the New York/New Jersey region are prepared to accommodate Super Bowl activity,” said Marc Champigny, director of U.S. aviation. “They reached out to us for a quick two-week turnaround on a plan to ease the congestion that increased traffic the Super Bowl is likely to cause.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Eastern Region is using Louis Berger’s plan as an example of what other airports in the region should be doing to accommodate Super Bowl-related airplane traffic.

About The Louis Berger Group, Inc.

The Louis Berger Group is an internationally recognized consulting firm that provides engineering, architecture, program and construction management, environmental planning and science and economic development services. We are a trusted partner to federal, state and local government agencies; multilateral institutions; and commercial industry. To this diverse client base, we bring strategic vision and an entrepreneurial spirit, developing innovative solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems. With a resource base of more than 6,000 professionals and affiliate employees in more than 50 countries, we are able to respond to local conditions while providing clients with the technical resources and rapid response capabilities of a leading global organization.


Pune varsity to offer postgraduate course in aviation

University of Pune (UOP) has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Germany-based pilot training and flight institute to offer a two-year postgraduate course in aviation starting September 1.

The course, which will award M.Tech (Aviation) degree for students with eligibility of BE or B.Tech, envisages on site aviation training at the institute's facility in Germany for three semesters in addition to a six month study at the UOP's department of technology.

The students returning to India after their on site training at the flight school in Germany- FFL- will be asked to undergo tests by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to secure an Indian flying license.

Talks with DGCA on the proposal were in progress, said Vice chancellor of UOP Vasudeo Gade. The degree would also entitle the students to apply for a European flying license on approval from the German aviation regulator, he added.

Representatives of FFL including its chief executive officer Ulrich Langenecker were present on the occasion of signing of the MoU at UOP, who noted that the demand for trained pilots would increase considerably in view of the growing aviation industry, adding that the onsite training of UOP students in Germany will also involve soft skills, ground studies and team building activities.

In order to facilitate visas and work permits for the aspiring UOP students, the FFL has approached the German embassy in New Delhi to provide earning opportunities for them while pursuing their studies in Germany, the officials said.

Gade said the new M.Tech course will not only involve pilot training but also the engineering aspects to facilitate job opportunities in flying as well as ground engineering and allied services.

The UOP's affiliation with FFL will add a new dimension to the university's future vision, he said, adding the students will be undergoing an extensive 800 hours of flying exercises and will provide a trained manpower to the country's aviation industry. The two-year course will have an estimated fees amounting to 70,000 euro - approximately Rs 55 lakh-in addition to the expenses on account stay in Germany.


Embraer shares fall on weak business jet outlook

(Reuters) - Shares of Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA faced their worst session in a year on Friday, after executives warned that economic concerns seemed to be weakening demand for bigger business jets.

The stock dropped as much as 5.6 percent in Sao Paulo trading, giving back its gains this month as investors took profits on its more than 50 percent rise this year.

Chief Executive Frederico Curado said Embraer's private jet division was on track to hit the lower end of its 2013 delivery and revenue targets as it faced softer demand for the Legacy 650 business jets in the "super mid-size" segment.

"There is overall some macroeconomic concern that there may be some bumps ahead. The executive jet segment is very sensitive to that," Curado told analysts on a call to discuss earnings.

Questions about deliveries in the second half led management to maintain their profitability forecasts for the year despite a currency swing that eased local labor costs, said Chief Financial Officer Jose Antonio Filippo.

The 10 percent depreciation of Brazil's currency, the real, also drove up Embraer's tax liabilities, triggering an unexpected net loss for the second quarter.

The late Thursday earnings and executives' cautious tone took the steam out of Embraer's stock, which is the best performer on the Bovespa stock index .BVSP this year.

Curado said it was still too early to tell whether softness in its executive jet division was due to stiff competition or slumping demand, adding that geographic trends were mixed.

"We saw stronger demand last year from China, for example, than we are seeing this year," he said. Embraer has bet big on the Legacy 650 in China, where it set up a joint venture to manufacture the aircraft.

Curado said the Legacy jets are also underperforming in the U.S. market, where corporate profits have hit record highs but Embraer's market share in the segment lags other regions.


Eastern Montana towns favor East Coast airline

Eastern Montana towns dependent on federal Essential Air Service flights to Billings are lining up behind an East Coast airline to replace departing Silver Airways.

Representatives from Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Sidney and Wolf Point agreed unanimously Thursday that Cape Air, of Hyannis, Mass., would be the preferred provider of subsidized Essential Air Service. Cape Air has proposed dedicating nine-seat Cessna 402 planes to serve each community. All seats on all flights would cost $49, according the documents obtained by The Gazette.

Communities currently serviced by Silver Airways share a 19-seat plane. Cape Air would make more round trips to Billings each day.

Montana communities using Essential Air Service have endured a bumpy ride over the years. Some flights abruptly halted in 2008 when Big Sky Airlines folded. The routes were taken over by Great Lakes Aviation, but Great Lakes routed passengers to Denver, while most preferred Billings. Great Lakes flights were sometimes delayed or canceled.

Silver Airways won the contract for Montana’s EAS routes in 2011, but chose not to bid for them this year. The Department of Transportation has chosen to keep Silver Airways on Montana routes until late October, when a replacement airline is expected.

Although Montana EAS communities prefer Cape Air, the federal Department of Transportation decides which airline receives the contract.

Congress has tried to cut or eliminate the Essential Air Service program more than once. In 2011, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and other rural lawmakers rallied to defeat a proposal to eliminate EAS from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

In 2012, House lawmakers attempted to eliminate EAS as part of a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration. Rural Senate lawmakers turned back that attempt.

This year, House and Senate lawmakers are again at odds over EAS. House lawmakers are proposing a $46 million cut to the program. The Senate wants to preserve EAS.


Man builds fully-functional Boeing 737 flight simulator in his son’s bedroom

An airplane enthusiast has taken his obsession a step further than most after using his son’s bedroom to build a Boeing 737 flight simulator that exactly mimics the real thing.

Laurent Aigon, 40, from Lacanau in France, has spent the last five years collecting and buying components from around the world in order to put together his simulator with best friend and fellow enthusiast (obviously) Jean-Paul Dupuy.

The pair have spent thousands of euros on internet orders for bits and pieces to construct the simulator – which is so realistic that the Institute of Aircraft Maintenance at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport asked him to give a lecture on his achievement.

Mr Aigon has since schooled himself in all the procedures for take off and landing and says he is able to fly his ‘plane’ just like a real-life pilot.

He also has interest from a couple of major aircraft manufacturers who want to use his creation to simulate various scenarios.

It is unclear what Mr Aigon’s son – who sleeps in a bunkbed crammed into the corner to make enough space for the simulator – thinks of his dad’s favorite toy (and the prospect of having engineers lining up outside his room).

Story and Photos:

Official: Iran Ready to Export Helicopter, Jet Fuel

TEHRAN (FNA)- Managing-Director of Abadan Oil Refinery Moslem Rahimi said his refinery is ready to export helicopter and jet fuel to foreign countries.

“Abadan refinery meets domestic needs to fuel for helicopters and training planes, and has made the country needless of importing this expensive product,” Rahimi said, reiterating that Iran is ready to export this type of Gasoline to other countries.

The fuel used in helicopters and training aircraft is very expensive and costs about 5,000 to 6,000 tomans (around $2) per liter.

Explaining that the fuel produced for helicopters and training planes is called LL100, Rahimi added, “Abadan refinery has the capacity for the production of 500,000 liters of LL100."

“We have sent a sample of this type of fuel to the Netherlands for tests of international standards, and it passed the tests successfully,” Rahimi said.

In April, a consortium of Iranian and foreign companies signed a €2.6bln deal with Iran's Oil Ministry to revamp Abadan refinery, located in the Southwest of the country.

The consortium is tasked with implementing the second phase of the refinery's development plan, which is aimed at increasing daily gasoline output by 6 million liters to 21 million liters, Managing Director of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) Alireza Zeighami said at the time.

All the old establishments in the refinery will be replaced with modern facilities to boost production capacity, he said.

Moreover, 15.5 million liters of diesel fuel, 7.1 million liters of furnace oil, 3.9 million liters of jet fuel, and 1.5 million liters of liquefied gas will be added to the refinery's production capacity, Zeighami added.


Delhi Metro Rail Corporation lays off 168 airport line employees

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which took over operations of the Airport Express line from Reliance Infra-promoted Delhi Airport Metro Express Line Private Limited (DAMEPL), has told 168 DAMEPL employees that their services won't be retained from August onwards.

The employees whose services have been terminated include the entire top brass.

“When we took over, DAMEPL had 393 employees on the roll. Of these, we have retained 225 at the lower management level. We are not retaining the senior management and security staff,” Sharat Sharma, director-operations, DMRC, told FE.

The 225 employees of DAMEPL have been absorbed by DMRC on contract basis.

“We couldn't retain the senior management as their salaries were higher than our existing team and there was no need to have a separate team for just one line when we already have a robust system in place for our 189-km route,” Sharma said.

It is still not clear whether Reliance Infra is going to absorb the 168 DAMEPL employees who'll be rendered jobless in a week in its other group companies.

A Reliance Infra spokesperson refused to comment.

Meanwhile, it is till not clear whether the DMRC will operate the Airport Express line permanently as the urban development ministry has not been able to take any call on the issue and is preparing to place the matter before the empowered group of ministers (EGOM).

DAMEPL has claimed a termination payment of about R2,800 crore from DMRC, saying it needs to be paid equivalent to 130% of equity and the entire remaining debt.

The arbitration panel — which is supposed to sort out the dispute between the DMRC and DAMEPL — has not yet started its hearing.

The DMRC has contested DAMEPL’s claim, saying the total debt of the Reliance Infra-promoted company is not more than R2,100 crore and since DAMEPL pulled out of the project, according to the contract, its total claim should be R1,680 crore (80% of the debt) and not R2,800 crore. 


Savannah aims for prominent role as aircraft hub

By ADAM VAN BRIMMER - The Savannah Morning News


The Lowcountry coastline has become as popular with aircraft manufacturers as sunbathers and retirees.

Stretching from Boeing's 4-year-old Dreamliner plant in Charleston, S.C., south to Gulfstream's facilities in Savannah and Brunswick and on to Brazilian firm Embraer's new military fighter production center in Jacksonville, Fla., the coast can claim aerospace capital of the South status.

And Savannah Economic Development Authority officials are intent on making Savannah the aerospace supplier capital of the corridor.

Last week's announcement that aircraft parts supplier LMI Aerospace would expand its Savannah facility and nearly triple its local workforce underscored the potential, SEDA CEO Trip Tollison said.

With Gulfstream's explosive growth — the local facility has doubled in size in the last five years — and Savannah's proximity to Boeing and Embraer's facilities, the "sky is the limit" for Savannah, Tollison said.

"We're in a sweet spot geographically here, with the largest aerospace manufacturer in the South in our backyard and Boeing and Embraer within two hour drives," Tollison said. "There are almost 30 companies that supply all three manufacturers. Our challenge is: How do we market to and work with those prospects?"

LMI is a "great foundation" from which to build a supplier hub, Tollison said.

The company opened its Savannah facility in 2003 with five employees. Once the new expansion is completed later this year, LMI will boast a local workforce of more than 150 employees and will have broadened the company's local services to include machining and assembly of aircraft components.

SEDA will sell LMI's Savannah success story in targeting other suppliers seeking to expand or relocate.

"Over time, this area promises to grow as an aerospace destination," LMI CEO Ronald Saks said. "Obviously, we've been pleased with our experience here. They just need to keep working on the aerospace infrastructure."

Building what Saks calls "aerospace infrastructure" is a challenge nearly as complex as the innards of an airplane wing.

Attracting the suppliers to the suppliers is one piece, Saks said. LMI's expansion could lead some of its suppliers to open local facilities, and Savannah could then better court other companies those suppliers serve.

With more and more manufacturers embracing LEAN manufacturing practices — keeping a low parts inventory onsite and asking suppliers to deliver to the factory regularly, often daily — suppliers need to be close. LMI's success locally is the result of its reputation for "just in time" delivery of parts to Gulfstream.

Workforce development is another issue in bettering Savannah's "aerospace infrastructure." Savannah Technical College's aviation technology programs and Georgia Tech's professional education courses provide needed resources.

The STEM initiatives in the local schools should prove beneficial as well, SEDA's Tollison said. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"Gulfstream is increasingly happy with the progress we are making on the workforce development side, and we need to leverage and capitalize on that," Tollison said. "We have caught on to what is going on in aerospace. We have scratched the surface."

Aerospace infrastructure evolves with the size and activities of locally based manufacturers, said Gulfstream's Ira Berman, the company's senior vice president, administration and general counsel.

Gulfstream considers having suppliers nearby beneficial because it allows the business jet maker to be "more collaborative with the suppliers," Berman said. Gulfstream has several local suppliers, including FlightSafety International, which has offered pilot training on Gulfstream aircraft at its local facility for decades.

"I don't know that there is a supplier ecosystem," Berman said. "Our presence here and the presence of other (manufacturers) in the I-95 corridor is what creates the ecosystem more than any critical mass of suppliers."

SEDA's push into the aerospace supplier sector is pending.

The staff has done the research, identifying 28 companies that serve Gulfstream, Boeing and Embraer and 24 more that supply Gulfstream and at least one of the others.

The LMI expansion is a "great start" for the process because it involved wooing Valent Aerostructures. Valent machines and assembles aircraft components, such as wings, and was poised to announce the opening of a Savannah facility six months ago.

That process was interrupted when LMI approached Valent's leadership about buying the company. LMI acquired Valent a few months later and decided to expand its Savannah facility rather than open a new plant for the operations it inherited from Valent.

Another recent announcement by an aircraft parts supplier relocating to the area should help SEDA's efforts. Quaker City Plating is opening a facility in Brunswick in early 2014. Quaker City plates the metal used in fixtures in bathrooms and elsewhere on Gulfstream aircraft.

SEDA is finalizing a rebranding initiative that will involve a website update and new marketing materials. Once that is complete, SEDA will begin to reach out to its aerospace parts supplier targets.

"We're excited about what's coming on the branding side," Tollison said. "Timing our push to when we roll that stuff out only makes sense."

Count Gulfstream among those confident Savannah will attract additional suppliers in the future.

"Our work with SEDA and the city and county and state . we have enjoyed working with them," Berman said. "They've helped us enormously."

Information from: Savannah Morning News,


72 hours before fire, Boeing oven severely scalded air hostess

A day after an oven aboard one of Air India's much-touted Dreamliner aircraft "caught fire" in midair, just two months after the national carrier resumed flights on the glitch-hit Boeing 787s, it has been found that it was not the first but the second such incident on that very aircraft within a span of 72 hours.

The same aircraft was flying from New Delhi to New York on June 22 when the oven overheated and a crew member of the flight (AI 115) sustained burns and had to be rushed to a hospital by paramedics at Heathrow airport. An Air India official told Mirror, "The crew member has toasting bread for a passenger. But when he opened the over, hot water gushed out instead."

Captain Nivedita Bhasin, who was commanding the fligh contacted the Heathrow Airport where paramedics were on standby. Upon landing, the crew member was rushed to a hospital.

In her flight report, Captain Bhasin had mentioned the faulty oven. "A repeat of the incident just proves that the report was overlooked," a cabin crew member said. Not just was the oven left unchecked, the first-aid kit was not refilled with ointments and creams that had been used up in the New York-bound flight.

An Air India spokesperson said they had reported the incident to Boeing. While only an investigation will reveal what caused the blaze, it comes after a series of mishaps that have dogged Boeing's Dreamliner planes, which boasts of being made of cutting-edge, fuel-saving technology largely through the use of composite materials that help save on weight.

Rajni Arora, Senior Manager - Operations, Air India, issued a circular on precautions measures while using ovens on Boeing 787 aircraft.

The circular reads, "Crew to avoid any burn injury should have an absorbent rag, paper napkins immediately available to soak excessive water. Stand back when opening the oven, Open the door slowly in the case of hot water." Reacting to this the crew members said, "Rags and paper napkins will only add fuel to the fire. It will also block the emergency exit door."

"It is amusing that a circular was issued even before two crew members who were injured could give their statements to the management. Their statements would have helped in framing rules," an air hostess said.

DGCA chief Arun Mishra said, "Prima facie it seems to be an issue with the oven and not with the aircraft as such. We have sought a report and only an investigation will give us the reason."

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Gerald R. Ford International (KGRR), Grand Rapids, Michigan: Airport aces Federal Aviation Administration inspection

For the fourth year in a row, Gerald R. Ford International Airport has passed its Federal Aviation Administration certification and safety inspection — with zero discrepancies.

“We commend you for the procedures you are using in the day-to-day operation of the airport,” said Alberto Rodriguez,
Federal Aviation Administration lead airport certification and safety inspector.

The airport’s executive director, Brian Ryks, said he’s “very pleased with the recent inspection results from the Federal Aviation Administration, verifying our airfield is in excellent condition.”

“This is a testament to the professional staff we have working at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and the dedication they exhibit each and every day to ensure our facilities are safe and secure for the traveling public,” he said.

Federal Aviation Administration airport regulation

Rules for the certification and operation of airports are outlined in the FAA’s Federal Aviation Regulation Part 139.

The regulation includes strict standards for governing airfield and pavement conditions, airfield lighting, snow and ice control, aircraft rescue and firefighting, personnel training and handling and storage of hazardous materials. Emergency planning and wildlife hazard management are also reviewed.

The FAA’s three day, comprehensive inspection revealed that GFIA is being operated in full compliance with FAR Part 139.


Service van bangs into jet...driver flees: Plane’s wing damaged

A flight service van rammed into a passenger aircraft parked at Saudi Arabia’s largest airport, causing damage to its wing before fleeing the tarmac in the absence of security cameras, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The right wing of the Airbus 320 was badly damaged in the accident at King Khaled international airport in the capital Riyadh on Thursday night, Sabq said.

“We are still searching for the driver who caused this accident…the plane is still out of service,” an unnamed airport official told the paper.

The official said the aircraft was undergoing maintenance ahead of its Friday’s flight when the supervising engineer felt the bang.

“The engineer was at the left wing when the accident occurred… he went round and found that the right wing was damaged…plastic pieces believed to be broken beacon lights of the vehicle were found on the ground below the wing… I am myself surprised that there are no security cameras in that area.”


Saudia hostess calls passenger darling... two families evicted: Saudi families face trial for swearing at stewardess

Saudi airport authorities expelled two local families, including a police officer and a mosque preacher, from an aircraft and intend to prosecute them for swearing at an Arab stewardess who addressed a foreign passenger as darling.

The incident caused a delay in the domestic flight of more than one hour before airport security men boarded the Saudia passenger aircraft and escorted the two families out.

The Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq said the incident started when the preacher rebuked the stewardess after hearing her calling the foreign passenger darling. It said a Saudi police officer with his family then intervened after the stewardess ignored the preacher and started to flirt with a steward in the aircraft.

“Instead of apologizing to us, the Saudia Airways expelled us from the aircraft and asked the authorities to arrest us,” said the preacher, Khaled Al Muhaizi.

Muhaizi told the paper he was flying from the capital Riyadh to the western Red Sea port of Jeddah to perform Umra (mini pilgrimage) with his family when the stewardess started to utter “such rude words in front of our families.”

“A Saudi officer was sitting in front of us and he had his wife and a baby with him…we both tried to draw the stewardess’ attention but she retorted rudely. “She violated the traditions of the country where she works…instead of

punishing her, she was treated as a victim and we as defendants…security men detained us at the airport from midnight until dawn before releasing us on bail pending trial.”


Boeing 777 hit with $2.7 million fine. Why?

Boeing 777: The FAA says Boeing was installing low-quality fasteners on the 777 aircraft. Now, two airlines say they have found faulty wiring on their Boeing 787 emergency transmitters.

Federal air safety regulators are seeking a more than $2.7 million fine against Boeing over quality control lapses related to parts used in the 777.

The 777 is a long-range passenger airliner. The Federal Aviation Administration says in a statement Friday that Boeing discovered in September 2008 it had been installing fasteners on the airplanes that didn't meet FAA safety standards.

The FAA opened an investigation one month later. The agency says Boeing repeatedly submitted plans that set deadlines to fix the problem, only to miss those deadlines.

The statement says the company finally implemented a plan to address the fastener issue in November 2010, more than two years after Boeing first learned of the problem.

Meanwhile, two airlines disclosed issues with the wiring on their Boeing 787's emergency transmitters, the same part of the plane that is getting close scrutiny after a parked jet burned earlier this month.

United Airlines said Friday that it found a pinched wire during an inspection of one of its six 787s. Earlier, Japan's All Nippon Airways found damage to wiring on two Boeing 787 locator beacons. It flies 20 of the jets.

The inspections were mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration for U.S. airlines after the tail of an Ethiopian Airlines 787 caught fire while parked at London's Heathrow airport earlier this month. U.K. investigators said the only thing in the tail section with enough power to fuel a fire like that was the emergency transmitter. That's a metal-cased, battery-operated radio the size of a loaf of bread that activates in a crash to help rescuers find a plane.

The FAA said last week it would require U.S. airlines to look for "proper wire routing and any signs of wire damage or pinching," and to check the transmitter's battery compartment for signs of heating or moisture. It issued a formal order on Thursday. The European Aviatoin Safety Agency issued its own order on Friday.

A wire could short-circuit if it's pinched by metal and the metal cuts through the wire's insulation, exposing the part that carries electricity.

United Continental Holdings Inc. spokesman Christen David said the transmitter with the pinched wire was removed and sent to its maker, Honeywell International Inc. Inspections were carried out without any impact on United's flight schedule, she said. That transmitter was replaced, and United has working transmitters on all of its 787s, she said.

Spokesmen for Honeywell International Inc. and Boeing Co. both declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

So far, the FAA and European orders have only covered 787s. That's Boeing's newest plane, and only 68 have been delivered so far. But those particular transmitters are used on far more planes — U.K. investigators said they've been installed on some 6,000 aircraft.

The fire at Heathrow happened just when Boeing was hoping to get the 787 out of the news. In January, smoldering lithium-ion batteries on two 787s prompted authorities to ground the plane for almost four months, forcing Boeing to redesign the batteries and their chargers.

The grounding was costly for the eight airlines that flew the 787 at the time. Polish officials have said that LOT Polish Airlines — which is struggling and trying to reorganize its finances — lost some $30 million from canceled flights alone.

On Wednesday, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney acknowledged that the grounding created "some instances where we had obligations to customers, and those have all been satisfied." A moment later he added, "We think they are all behind us now."

LOT disagreed on Friday. In a statement, it said its demands "have not been compensated in any form" by Boeing. A Boeing spokesman did not have an immediate response to LOT's assertion.