Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Learjet 25, Starwood Management LLC, N345MC: Accident occurred December 09, 2012 in Monterrey, Mexico

NTSB Identification: DCA13RA025
Accident occurred Sunday, December 09, 2012 in Monterrey, Mexico
Aircraft: LEARJET INC 25, registration: N345MC
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On December 9, 2012, at 0333 Central Standard Time, a Learjet 25, N345MC, crashed in mountainous terrain at an elevation of about 5,600 feet above mean sea level approximately 70 miles south of Monterrey, Mexico. The flight departed General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (MMMY), Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico at 0319 and was enroute to Lic. Adolfo Lopez Mateo International Airport (MMTO), Toluca, Estado de Mexico, Mexico. The two crew members and five passengers on board were fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed.

The Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil of Mexico (DGAC) is investigating the accident. The NTSB has designated a U.S. Accredited Representative under the provisions of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13 as the State of Manufacture and Registry of the aircraft.

Inquiries regarding this incident should be directed to:

Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil
Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes
Providencia No. 807 — 6° piso
Colonia del Valle
Codigo Postal 03100
México, D.F.

MEXICO CITY – Municipal authorities want to make a tourist attraction of the site in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon where singer Jenni Rivera’s plane crashed last December, killing the star and six other people.

More than 50 men began working Monday to improve the narrow road a scant 50 centimeters (2 feet) wide that leads to the place where the airplane crashed in which the Mexican-American artist was traveling, Iturbide municipal secretary Cesar Romeo Carreon told Efe.

The “diva of the band” died Dec. 9 together with six other people when the private aircraft in which they were flying to the central Mexican city of Toluca crashed into a mountain in the Iturbide municipality.

Today at the place where Rivera’s remains were found stands an improvised altar dedicated to the songstress that is frequently visited by her fans.

“What we want is that people who would like to come here will be able do so either walking or on an all-terrain vehicle,” Carreon said, adding that the project has the support of the landowner, Rosendo Rodriguez.

He said “we still don’t know how much time it will take to finish the road,” since it will depend on the help received from the Nuevo Leon government to complete the project.

He also said that once the work is done, visitors will be able to make a “voluntary contribution” for the upkeep of the place.

Source:   http://www.laht.com

Commissioners approve funds to design airport tower: Somerset County (2G9), Pennsylvania

SOMERSET COUNTY—  The Somerset County commissioners approved a $3,800 supplemental engineering and design agreement with L.R. Kimball of Ebensburg Tuesday for a 40-foot automated weather observation system tower as part of the airport’s rehabilitation project.

The airport has a tower, but it does not comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations and must be replaced, said Somerset County Airport Manager Dave Wright. The county has been working on the project for 18 months, he said.
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In 2012 the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and FAA released hundreds of thousands of dollars to update the airport master plan and rehabilitate navigational aids. The county will be responsible for about $7,400 for both.

“I always look at best ways to use the money and to save the money while using it for the best of our needs,” Wright said. “Originally, when the grant was written, we didn’t include replacement of our existing AWOS tower” because it was functional and adhered to federal regulations at the time.

The FAA came back with new regulations and found that the airport’s tower was too low relative to the height of the terminal building, he said.

“When the wind hits the top of the building they were concerned it could give off false indications for direction and strength of wind, a crucial piece of decision-making information for pilots,” Wright said.

The grant money also will be used to replace the airport’s beacon tower with a more efficient lighting unit.

With the commissioner’s decision the project will be put out to bid within a month or so, he said.

“I’d not expect the work to start this year,” he said.

Source:  http://www.dailyamerican.com

Recent plane crashes involved experimental planes

 SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In the past month, there have been four separate emergency plane landings or crashes in Michiana. Two of those incidents, including the fatal crash Monday in Starke County, involved experimental or homemade planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration has less stringent regulations for experimental planes, but only licensed pilots can fly them.

"Once you get in the plane and you're by yourself and you're ready to wind it up, there's something that's hard to describe," said Bob Baird, pilot and plane builder.

For Baird, the thrill of building a plane and then flying it is exhilarating

"There you are after a year or two of building this thing and it's pretty hard to top," said Baird.

Before Baird could fly his homemade planes, he had to learn the Federal Aviation Administration regulations that govern experimental planes.

"The requirements are extremely broad for experimental guys. They can be airplanes that are more like a jungle gym set, canvas and tubes and wires. Or they can be highly sophisticated aircrafts from kits that are very expensive," said Baird.

Large manufacturers like Boeing, Cessna and Piper are highly regulated because those planes are mass produced. There is no room for creativity or experimentation.

But for plane enthusiasts, the sky's the limit for aviation alterations.

The alterations can be extremely risky, but if not for experimental homebuilt planes, Baird says the aviation industry wouldn't be what it is today.

"It's just a certain type of personality that's attracted to this and sometimes we lose guys like we have recently and it's sad but if there were no risks, there would be no adventure," said Baird.

There are no requirements for someone to start building an aircraft.

There are companies that sell kits similar to model airplane kits to build airplanes.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration does test the airworthiness of the plane before it is put in flight.

The plane also requires 25-40 hours of test flight time before passengers can fly in the plane.

And only a licensed pilot can fly it.

Story and Video:   http://www.abc57.com

Related Content

More Lawmakers Making Noise About Airplane Noise: Schumer, Gillibrand, Meng and Israel ask Port Authority to set up forum for airplane noise complaints

Elected officials representing Port Washington at the federal level are calling on the Port Authority to set up an advisory committee to address airplane noise concerns in the five boroughs. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, as well as U.S. Reps. Grace Meng, D-Flushing, and Steve Israel, D-Huntington, have sent a joint letter to Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, asking for the agency to set up a committee that would handle ongoing and future concerns about airplane noise for city residents. 

Currently, there is no forum through which residents can complain about flight patterns, construction, frequency of arrivals and departures and new runway configurations. 

“It is simple common sense to say that the largest metropolitan area in the country should have an airport advisory committee like the one we are proposing, a body that would help increase the quality of life for locals,” Schumer said. “With the creation of this committee, those affected by airplane noise can provide a more united front to their elected officials, the aviation community and the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Airport advisory committees currently exist in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville.

Days before the 2013 legislative session closed earlier this year, the New York State legislature passed a bill that requires the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey (PA) to conduct a noise and land use compatibility study to better address the rise in aircraft noise over Long Island.

Len Schaier of Port Washington, president of quietskies.net, said passage of the Part 150 bill is a signifcant victory for residents of the NY-NJ metro area. "Next milestones are the governor and the NJ legislature!" he said, recognizing local representatives for their efforts.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Jack Martins, who lives in the neighboring village of Mineola, is aimed at insuring that aircraft noise is given proper consideration by airport operators when they determine which runways and approach paths to use.

Source:   http://portwashington.patch.com

John Holland lays off 40 aircraft engineers

 The aviation business of Leighton subsidiary John Holland has laid off 40 engineers and technical staff at its largest engineering base after Virgin Australia reduced the size of its aircraft maintenance contract.

The latest job cuts are a further blow to Victoria's aircraft engineering industry, less than a year after Qantas shut its heavy maintenance base at Melbourne Airport. Qantas has previously warned that it will eventually reduce its bases for heavy aircraft maintenance in Australia from two to one.

The redundancies at John Holland Aviation Service's base at Melbourne Airport total about a tenth of its national workforce. It highlights a growing trend towards consolidation of aircraft maintenance work.

The decision to lay off engineers follows a decision by Virgin to reduce the size of its contract because its fleet of younger planes requires less maintenance than older aircraft.

Virgin's alliance partner and major shareholder, Air New Zealand, is also carrying out more of the heavy maintenance work on Virgin planes at its engineering base in Christchurch.

The John Holland contract was for maintenance of Virgin's Boeing 737 and Embraer aircraft.

John Holland, a division of Leighton Holdings, blamed the 40 job losses at its Melbourne facilities on reduced work due to "economic conditions and the high Australian dollar".

A spokeswoman said the workers would receive their full entitlements.

But the aircraft engineers' union said the latest redundancies raised concerns that John Holland would eventually consider closing the aviation division.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association president Paul Cousins said: "The reductions over the last six months show that John Holland is not securing any further aviation work. There is a concern that they would look to shed their aviation responsibilities."

Mr Cousins said the union had been trying to work with the local aviation industry to ensure John Holland's aviation division had a more consistent flow of maintenance work.

However, John Holland played down the concerns and said it remained the largest independent aviation maintenance business in Australia, supporting more than 80 customers. "JHAS will continue to adapt to meet the various maintenance strategies of its customer base," the spokeswoman said.

It has had six other redundancies this year.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au

Cayman Islands: Officials defend air ambulance systems

(CNS): Government officials from the various departments involved in the procurement of air ambulance services for emergency air evacuations have denied that the system is ineffective or poorly managed. In the face of the auditor general’s recent report regarding the issues it says could put the public purse as well as patients at risk, the agencies have denied any risk to those using the service. Admitting to some flaws in the process the three main agencies involved - the health ministry, HSA and CINICO defended the complex process for airlifting patients and said their chief concern is the well-being of any persons who may require the emergency air evacuation (EAE).

“It has been our experience that depending on a patient’s unique needs, the most cost-effective solution is not always what is required in each case,” the joint statement said.”We strive whole heartedly to ensure that the EAE process is managed efficiently from start to finish, and to secure the best possible outcomes for each patient. While our system is not without flaws, which we are determined to address, its effectiveness has also been repeatedly proven.”

The statement also claimed that neither the local broker or Canadian Medical Network used by CINICO actually transports, handles or provides any physical care for the patient being transported.

“The true exposures exist with the service providers: HSA (medical triage, stabilization etc. and transport to the air ambulance) then the air ambulance provider (maintenance of medical stabilization and any care administered during the transportation to the overseas receiving facility),’ the statement said.

Commending the local broker’s 20 years of service the officials went on to say that CINICO would investigate any evidence of fees being paid that should not have been and that all three agencies were committed to improving the treatment and care of patients.

Reflecting on the auditor’s report they said they had been “aware of many of the issues mentioned by the OAG for some time” but upcoming changes to the structure of the EAE would mitigate most if not all the concerns.

Story:  http://www.caymannewsservice.com

Video:  http://www.cayman27.com

Greenwood airport study sought: Province, Kings County request process to look at possibility of Greenwood site

The Nova Scotia government and Kings County have requested a feasibility study into relocating the Waterville Municipal Airport, shown in this 2012 photo.
 (GORDON DELANEY / Valley Bureau) 

CAMBRIDGE — The province and the Municipality of Kings County have formally requested a feasibility study into establishing a civilian airport at 14 Wing Greenwood to house the Waterville Municipal Airport. 

 “A recent … airport relocation study identified a civilian air park facility at 14 Wing Greenwood as an option,” says a letter to Col. James Irvine, the base commander.

The July 8 letter was signed by Kings County Warden Diana Brothers and Chris Daly, economic and rural development associate deputy minister.

More information is needed to fully consider the option, the letter says. It requests a meeting with the commander to discuss the study’s “parameters, logistics, costs and the process that would be involved to have it completed.”

The public will get an opportunity to ask questions about the report and its recommendation to locate at Greenwood. A public meeting has been planned for Aug. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. The county will also be accepting written and email submissions.

Municipal officials met Monday night with the study’s authors, the province and members of the co-op that manages the airport.

“And we met with the study group recently on a strategy to move forward,” Brothers said in an interview.

Development of a civilian air park facility at 14 Wing Greenwood appears to be the preferred option for relocating the Water-ville airport to make way for a possible Michelin expansion.

Although there is no promise to expand the Waterville tire plant, the feeling among municipal and provincial government officials is that if the land is made available, the company will invest there.

The Waterville airport is located at the northeastern side of the sprawling plant, boxing in Michelin at its current location.

The province commissioned Halifax consultants CBCL Ltd. to conduct a $100,000 study to determine options for another location. The 50-page study was released in June.

To eliminate uncertainty and encourage new Michelin investment, the sale of the land and the move to a new location “should occur immediately,” says the report.

“I don’t know what the outcome will be because the study hasn’t been done yet … but I don’t see why it couldn’t work here,” said Brothers.

The report estimates the cost of relocating to Greenwood at $6.7million. The Waterville airport is used by about 50 aviators, who are worried about who’s going to pick up the tab.

It houses 32 aircraft and employs 20 full- and part-time workers, with a flying school, skydiving school and aircraft maintenance facility.

Source:   http://thechronicleherald.ca

Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE) looks to build off venture with Allegiant Air

From left, Allegiant Air pilot Eric O'Neal, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority Executive Director Charles Everett and authority Chairman Tony Iannelli attend the announcement today at Lehigh Valley International Airport of a new service to southwest Florida aboard the carrier. 
Photo Credit:  KEVIN KUNZMANN, Express-Times

Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority Chairman Tony Iannelli knows the difference between a big and little step. 

Today's announcement of Lehigh Valley International Airport’s new venture with Allegiant Air was a small step toward bigger opportunities for the airport, Iannelli said.

Allegiant Air will be the carrier for the airport’s new destination at Punta Gorda Airport near Fort Myers, Fla. Nonstop flights to and from the location will be running every Thursday and Sunday for fares as low as $99 one way starting Oct. 31.

“With a mid-size airport like us, it seems like these smaller, individual carriers are really where we’re going to make some headway, so this is a good find for us,” Iannelli said at today's announcement at the airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

The authority cited a history of success with Allegiant when discussing the choice to partner with the Las Vegas-based airline.

According to authority Executive Director Charles Everett, Allegiant Air has been a carrier within Lehigh Valley International for eight years -- and Fort Myers has been a favorable destination for locals.

“It’s a huge-demand destination for people traveling from Lehigh Valley," he said. “We had it about a year or so ago, and it had a load rate around 90 percent.”

Allegiant Travel Co. President Andrew C. Levy said in a statement that the airline’s nonstop flights to Orlando and the Tampa Bay area have also been popular with Lehigh Valley residents, making the decision to team with the airport that much easier.

Iannelli said that the new destination “will matter in the long run” for the ailing airport -- much like last week’s unveiling of an airport cafe and the planned air show on Aug. 25 and 26.

“It’s a leisure flight for the most part, but it’s the kind of little things that add up,” he said. “We need some positive bumps right now.”

Regarding previous speculation that the airport may look into adding destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America, Iannelli said nothing has materialized.

“Those are all plans, hopes and dreams, but until they’re reality, that’s exactly what they are,” he said. “It’s safe to say we’re open to anything and everything we can possibly recruit. That’s the world of aviation today.

“Carriers like Allegiant are the kind that can allow us to attain the goals that we set,” Iannelli continued. “In essence, they’re going to be our best financial partners going forward in terms of new flights, so hopefully you’ll see more of them.”

Source:   http://www.lehighvalleylive.com

Aviation Law Expert Urges an “Aircraft Registry of Excellence” in Face of Federal Aviation Administration's Demand for Improvement: Bahamas Could Face Downgrade

Former commercial pilot, now Callenders law firm partner specializing in aviation, and member of the government's consultative committee on a Bahamas international aircraft registry Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright says an international registry of excellence is one means of meeting the increasingly stringent standards demanded by regulators including the FAA. The Bahamas has only weeks to comply.
 Photo Credit:  Roland Rose

Nassau, Bahamas - On the heels of a recent meeting between the Bahamian government and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with The Bahamas given until mid-August to address deficiencies in aviation standards or face a downgrade that could seriously impact every aspect of this nation's economy, aviation law expert Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright is pointing to the establishment of an international aircraft registry of excellence as a means to ensure maintaining a high standard in aviation going forward.

"This warning of being downgraded from a Category 1 to a Category 2 is serious and I know that government is working diligently to remedy any deficiencies and to make and implement the necessary improvements, including changing the framework within which the industry operates, separating regulatory and oversight from operations, a very important and not inexpensive move," said Boyer-Cartwright, a former commercial pilot and now a partner at Callenders law firm and member of the government's consultative committee on the aircraft registry. "One of the most certain means of assuring high standards is to establish an international aircraft registry, restricting it to aircraft of a certain age and condition, like that of our ship registry, and avoiding the temptation to build numbers by failing to set the highest standards."

The Bahamas, he said, cannot afford to become a registry of convenience.

"Ideally, for example, we would accept aircraft no older than, say, 20 years of age in our registry. Whatever the limit, we want to provide an appealing yet high quality registry that is capable of complying with international standards.”

"Aviation is one of the most stringent and regulated markets in the world, second only to nuclear power, according to some experts," Boyer-Cartwright said, "Setting and maintaining high standards for registered aircraft will serve the secondary purpose of satisfying the requirements of the FAA whose approval is essential for aircraft entering the US from The Bahamas. For the past few years a few of us have been championing the cause for the establishment of an aircraft registry as a means of maintaining a high standard for civil aviation within The Bahamas and I am delighted that the government has taken important steps in that direction, including the establishment of a consultative committee on which I have been happy to serve. However, it is important for us to recognize the need to take a carefully-planned yet expedient approach to establishing the registry.

Earlier this month, the FAA announced that Stage Two business jets will no longer be able to operate in the US after December 2015. That, says Boyer-Cartwright, may force those aircraft owners to retire their aircraft or register elsewhere.

"The implementation of this new policy could force as much as 60% of all related aircraft to register elsewhere. Many of these aircraft -- Falcons, Lear Jets, Gulfstreams -- considered top of the line a decade ago -- are now aging with large numbers failing to qualify under new standards.

"Naturally, this creates an opportunity for The Bahamas, with owners looking for an alternative jurisdiction," he continued. "However, we should be careful not to jump too quickly. While it is important for us to capitalize on opportunities, we must be selective.” Maintaining a standard of excellence in an aircraft registry is paramount when it comes to maintaining a high standard for the overall industry, especially in comparison with the high standards of the US and Europe.

In addition to fostering high standards within the industry, Mr. Boyer-Cartwright has pointed to the economic benefits associated with aircraft registries, including opportunities for leasing, financing, surveying and insuring. Economic and entrepreneurial opportunities are also generated due to a need for provisioning, servicing, repairs, fueling and maintenance. Other countries in the region have established registries with much success. Bermuda currently has more than 700 aircraft registered, with majority being commercially operated, and annual revenues topping $18 million by 2017.

Source:   http://www.thebahamasweekly.com

Syracuse Hancock International (KSYR), New York: Council may delay airport authority vote

Syracuse common councilors have taken a step back on action to approve a new airport authority to run the city's Hancock Airport. YNN's Bill Carey says the new council caution comes as people at the airport prepare to take the last steps toward a separation from city control.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For years, Syracuse's Hancock Airport has faced challenges as it has battled to attract more airlines and put pressure on for lower fares. It remains the only major Upstate airport operated by a city and not an airport authority. Authorities, with more flexibility, tend to have an easier time with everything from financing to leasing deals.

Now, the city seems on the brink of finally handing over Hancock to a new regional airport authority.

"It's taken a little while to put the pieces together and bring a management team, headed by Chris Callahan on board, so it seems like we're on a nice, comfortable time table, without rushing it and without undue delay," said William Fisher, Syracuse regional Airport Authority Chairman.

"We've definitely been spending the last two years building this business from the ground up. Getting systems into place, whether it's accounting software and a business plan and how are we going to run the airport. At the same time, we've been running the airport," said Syracuse Aviation Commissioner Christina Callahan.

The last major step is FAA approval of the transfer. Once the city approves the transfer deal, the authority hopes to take control at the start of the new year.

To meet that goal of a January 1st handover, the airport authority was hoping for action by the common council sometime in the month of August. But it now looks like that action will be delayed.

Councilors have begun poring over that agreement and say, in many cases, the documents are raising new questions.

"The process here in Syracuse has been extremely lengthy, going back from the original negotiation of the enabling act. So people have changed and they need to be informed about the decisions they're being asked to make," said Airport Authority Consultant Steven Baldwin.

"There's some 2,000 pages of information that we're just now receiving. So it's incumbent upon us, as councilors, to do our fiduciary responsibility to read through this, ask additional questions and have those discussions, so we make an intelligent vote," said Syracuse Common Councilor Nader Maroun.

The authority says there is no cause for panic over any delay. That there is still time to win over lawmakers, file the papers, receive federal approval and begin reaping the benefits of the new system in the new year.

The council is due to meet Monday and again on August 26th. Lawmakers at the review meeting say it is unlikely they would be able to make a final decision at either of those meetings.

Source:   http://centralny.ynn.com

Dawson Creek Regional Airport will undergo tree rezoning: British Columbia, Canada

The City of Dawson Creek plans to remove a substantial amount of trees from the east side of the airport due the height of them encroaching on federally regulated zones.

The City is required to remove a substantial amount of trees currently located within the protected airspace of the Dawson Creek Regional Airport

"It’s a regulation out at the airport obstacle of limitations Transport Canada put it in place when we originally built the airport at that time the trees weren't that tall they probably weren't even in existence at that time," Ian Darling, airport manager said.

Council approved a recommendation from the airport manager to remove trees on the west end of the airport property and in the fairgrounds that have grown into the restricted zone.

"I had a survey done because there was a lot of construction being done around here and there's lots of building's being built so I wanted to make sure that that we weren't in contravention of the OLS, and low and behold we found that the trees were so we have to mitigate that," he said.

Darling further explains that the height limitation varies depending on the location; with the airport zoning is split into 3 designated areas.

"The east end of the airport is not affected the trees are well under the heights the west end of the airport both the transition zone and the approach slope are both affected and it's trees located on either side of the runaway and into the fairgrounds," Darling added.

A request for quotations has been issued for the removal of the trees to be completed by September 3rd, with every effort to be made to keep the area in an esthetically pleasing condition.

"It's actually all city land that's being affected by it so I mean the fairground is used by the exhibition association so of course they're going to be affected because the trees are a part of their fair grounds, I think the city's probably going to end up having some sort of plan in place to do some mitigation there too at the end," Darling concluded.

Source:   http://www.cjdccountry.com

Runway extension a priority at Richard B. Russell Airport (KRMG), Rome, Georgia

Richard B. Russell Regional Airport Manager Mike Mathews told the Rome Optimist Club Monday that the lack of a 7,000-foot runway has prevented the community from bringing in two potential industrial prospects at the airport. 
(Doug Walker / RN-T.com

The lack of a 7,000-foot runway at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport may have cost Rome two potential industrial prospect several years ago, according to airport Manager Mike Mathews.

“They needed 7,000 feet for insurance purposes,” Mathews said in a presentation to the Rome Optimist Club at the airport Monday afternoon.

Mathews declined to specify who the two prospects were but said that both were aircraft-related businesses.

Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Al Hodge confirmed Mathews’ comments during a phone interview with the Rome News-Tribune.

“It has prevented us from getting some aviation-related manufacturers,” said Hodge. “But we’re not looking to get an aerial distribution center, not like FedEx or UPS.”

Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord said late Monday that the 1,000-foot addition to the main north-south runway at the airport is still being considered for SPLOST funding.

McCord said the project is budgeted at $5,761,000 and is one of 19 projects still being considered by the committee evaluating the possible SPLOST entries.

“It’s equally important for virtually every existing industry as far as safety goes,” McCord said.

Mathews said that if the airport were to attract a major industry, it would more than likely be located on a 30-acre tract on the east side of Admiral John Towers Field.

“It’s like a small city inside of a fence,” Mathews told the civic group. The entire airport is managed by Floyd County and administered by a 5-member airport commission.

The county manages the fixed-based operations, which include hanger rentals and fuel sales.

“We want to be self-sufficient, not a burden on the taxpayers of Floyd County,” Mathews said. He told the Optimist group that the airport has been turning a profit during most of the last ten years.

“We’ve been making a little bit, about $100,000 a year,” Mathews said.

Most of the revenue comes from hangar rentals, fuel sales and land leases. However, the bottom line got a big boost from the inaugural Wings Over North Georgia air show that resulted in close to $55,000 in fuel sales last year.

The show will return Oct. 12-13 with the Black Diamond Jet Team and GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team among the headliners.

Mathews said general aviation activity has been down through the economic slump of the last several years but said that corporate traffic has remained strong.

“We’re all about customer service and I push that with our line folks,” Mathews said. “We literally roll out a red carpet (for the corporate clients).”

As for the general aviation pilots, Mathews said that he has tried to undercut other airports when it comes to fuel prices.

The airport manager said the airport typically handles 50-60 flight operations per day.

Story, Photo, Comments/Reaction:  http://romenews-tribune.com

Snow Job: U.S. Air Force Flies Cocaine from Costa Rica to Miami

A curious cargo airlift operation recently took place at the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR), in the northern province of Guanacaste. According to a news report by Alvaro Sanchez from online news daily CRHoy, nearly 24 tons of cocaine were loaded onto a United States Air Force transport aircraft. The destination of the controversial payload? Miami, a city that once held the infamous title of “Cocaine Capital of the World.”

The public affairs office of the Organization of Judicial Investigations (OIJ in Spanish) in Costa Rica explained to CRHoy that the 23 tons and 780 kilograms of powder cocaine hydrochloride were the result of two years of interdiction work by the National Coast Guard Service, the OIJ, the Border Police, and Fuerza Publica (the national police force in Costa Rica). This does not include seizures made by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy as part of the Joint Patrol Agreement between Costa Rica and the U.S.

Too Much of That Snow White

The OIJ further explained that Costa Rica does not have the capacity or resources to destroy such a colossal amount of nose candy, which is the reason for requesting assistance from the U.S. military to take away almost 24 tons of what is often referred to as “the champagne of drugs.” Costa Rica is considered a bridge between the cocaine producing countries of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru for further traffic up to Mexico and ultimately the top consumer nation: The United States.

To understand the irony of such a massive quantity of marching powder being flown from Costa Rica to Miami, one only needs to screen the award-winning 2006 documentary Cocaine Cowboys. To really stoke the fire of conspiracy theory with regard to U.S. military aircraft being used to transport yeyo, it pays to read Dark Alliance, a masterpiece of investigative journalism by the late Gary Webb, published by the San Jose Mercury News; it is all about the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its role in funding the Contras in Nicaragua by transporting cocaine to Los Angeles during one of the longest proxy battles of the Cold War.

In the last few years, law enforcement in Costa Rica has considerably stepped up its drug interdiction efforts. So far this year, the National Coast Guard Service seized 4.6 tons of cocaine just in the Caribbean region. As a result, law enforcement officials in Costa Rica ended up with too much coke and no means to destroy it, which requires special incinerators that burn at 816 Celsius (1,500 Fahrenheit). These incinerators feature multiple chambers that filter out the hazardous fumes and leave nothing but carbon dioxide.

Mystery Aircraft?

Transporting almost 24 tons of the devil’s dandruff from different areas of Costa Rica to Liberia was, according to the OIJ, an unusual task that involved members of the Ministry of Public Safety, the Superior Council of the Republic, the Third Chamber of Justice, the Presidency of the Courts, and a judge that will apparently fly with the blow to ensure that it reaches its destination safely. Once in Miami, the Consul General of Costa Rica will continue the chain of custody and make certain that the massive stash is indeed destroyed.

The CRHoy news article mentioned that the OIJ stated that the aircraft that picked up the tons of flake belongs to the U.S. Air Force, and journalist Alvaro Sanchez copied reported 7708 AMC as the tail code, which is a bit puzzling because it does not conform -at least upon cursory investigation- to the system used by that military branch. If we assume that AMC stands for Air Mobility Command, perhaps Mr. Sanchez missed the name of the base that the aircraft belongs to, which should have been lettered on the tail; but, the number should have five digits.

The Costa Rica Star invites military veterans, subject matter experts and aviation buffs to leave comments properly identifying this mystery aircraft. CRHoy published a grainy photograph which shows what looks like a C-17 Globemaster on the LIR runway with tons of cocaine in the foreground, but we would like your assistance in determining the aircraft and the unit or base it is assigned to.

The real mystery of this aircraft, however, is whether it had the proper authorization to be in Costa Rica. The OIJ says yes, but legislator Carmen Munoz is not so sure. She questioned this matter during an open session at the National Assembly and was met with silence because not a single legislator recalls seeing such a request come through the docket. Legislator Munoz wants answers about the circumstances under which this U.S. military cargo aircraft landed in Costa Rica and who authorized it. The legislative permit in question is a Constitutional matter, and it is specially sensitive since Costa Rica abolished its military more than six decades ago; the country can’t afford to have foreign military forces (or paramilitaries) running around unchecked -it would be an affront to her sovereignty.

In a couple of articles recently published by the Costa Rica Star, we have discussed the importance of legislative permits for foreign military forces to enter our country. First there was the snub of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sherman while a Colombian Navy vessel docked in Puntarenas. The Sherman did not have permission while its Colombian counterpart did. And what about the Blackhawk helicopters that arrived on the eve of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Costa Rica? They were found to be in the country without permission and thus “disturbed the peace” in Costa Rica.

- See more at: http://news.co.cr

Young pilot soars thanks to lessons: Rhinelander Flying Service at Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (KRHI), Wisconsin

RHINELANDER - If Tom Mckenzie had to pick his favorite place in the world, it just might be the sky.

“When I was younger, my grandpa took me up in a Cessna just like this and from then on, even though I was a young age, I just felt that I could do it for the rest of my life,” said Mckenzie.

The “rest of his life” begins this fall.

He’ll be an aviation student at the University of North Dakota.

But first, he wanted to get his pilot’s license.

“He called up out of the blue; he’s had an interest in this,” said flight instructor Jeff Melau.

Mckenzie had his second lesson at Rhinelander Flying Service.

But before he hit the clouds, there’s groundwork to do.

“Usually we start out with a little paperwork, we check the weather, make sure it looks fine to fly and then we go over to the pre-flight extension,” said Mckenzie.

Mckenzie soared through the pre-flight check list, and finally, he was in the place he’s always wanted to be.

“It’s amazing. I’m just so happy when I’m up there and it’s just such a great feeling. It’s so hard to describe because it’s just something that I’ve always wanted, I love,“ said Mckenzie.

This flight includes a little help from instructor Jeff.

“This guy is really into flying. I mean obviously he’s going to go to school for it but he’s just enthused. I think if he had his choice, we’d go right back up in the air right now,” said Melau.

Over 14 years, Jeff has taught more than 100 students to fly.

“And I know when I sit in the airplane for a couple of hours and I don’t do anything other than TALK, I know that they’re at a proficient level and I know that I can solo them, in the airplane and feel confident that they’re gonna be okay,” said Melau.

Mckenzie still has a ways to go before he’s flying solo.

But until then- he’s content with just being in his favorite place.

“It’s endless. And you can basically go wherever you want and do whatever you want. Just the possibilities,” said Mckenzie.

And if you take a glance at the sky—you just might see him. 

Story and Photo:   http://www.wjfw.com

Second Opinion: Is Paying The Fine Cheaper Than Offering Health Care?

Montgomery Field Airport (KMYF), San Diego, California


Above: Rich Martindell teaches flight school at Montgomery Field in Serra Mesa. He says workers in San Diego's aviation industry still have a lot of questions about Obamacare. 

The Question: Is it cheaper for a company of 50 or more employees to pay the penalty for not offering health coverage than to sponsor a health plan?  

Rich Martindell started flying planes when he was 15. Now he works in San Diego's aviation industry, teaching others how to fly and investigating crashes. (You may have seen him offering his expert analysis to local news outlets earlier this month when an Asiana aircraft crash-landed in San Francisco.)

Martindell said, like most local industries, the companies that keep planes taking off from Montgomery Field in Serra Mesa — plane maintenance shops and fuel businesses — are trying to figure out what the Affordable Care Act means for them.

"They're not Boeing," Martindell said, but they're big enough to fall under Obamacare's employer mandate, which says companies with 50 or more full-time employees must offer adequate health coverage or pay a fine.

Here's Martindell's question:

Will small companies with, say, between 50 and 100 employees find it cheaper not to carry coverage and pay the fine?

The Takeaway: At face value, the fine is cheaper.

First, let's get this out of the way: Do you know how many full-time employees you actually have?

The threshold for Obamacare's employer mandate cannot be calculated with a simple headcount; it's calculated by hours. The federal government counts each 30 hours worked, even if two part-time employees share it, as a full-time position.

In other words: Divide the total number of hours all your employees put in each week by 30. If the result is 50 or more, you need to cover your full-time employees. Your part-timers factor into whether the mandate applies, but you do not have to insure them.

Now for the cost comparison. 

For that, we'll use the average premium for an employer-sponsored HMO plan in San Diego right now — about $5,000 per individual — and the annual fine for failing to offer adequate coverage — $2,000 per employee (but the government waives the fine for the first 30).

The answer seems easy: $2,000 is a lot less than $5,000. But, according to Linda Keller, the executive vice president of San Diego-based insurance brokerage Intercare, there are some things to consider:

  1. Companies aren't paying the full $5,000 premium. Typically, employees pay around 20 percent, decreasing the employer contribution to $4,000.
  2. But technically, an employer only needs to pay enough to ensure their employees aren't pitching in more than 9.5 percent of their household incomes. If your employees make more than $32,000, you could pay less than $2,000 each and still comply with the law. But Keller said she's never seen an insurance carrier OK an employer contribution of less than 50 percent, or $2,500.
  3. Employers can deduct what they pay in insurance premiums on their taxes. According to Keller, the standard deduction is 35 percent, potentially bringing the cost of coverage down to $1,625 per person.
  4. But even if your real-world plan doesn't pencil out to be less than the penalty, Keller had this to add: Not providing benefits can affect recruitment and retention. If you strip down or ax your benefits package altogether, you'd have to raise your salaries to remain competitive. And you're not just increasing pay at that point; you're also increasing payroll taxes, life insurance, disability insurance, etc.
One last thing to consider, under Obamacare, businesses must also cover the premiums for their employees' children up to age 26.

The Orders: Forget the mandate delay. Figure this out now.

The Obama Administration recently extended the deadline for businesses to offer coverage from 2014 to 2015. But you might want to pull out your calculator and time sheets now.

The Internal Revenue Service's current interpretation of the law asks businesses to keep track of their employees' hours over six months next year to determine who must be covered. They'd then enroll those employees in the latter half of 2014, with coverage beginning in 2015. The process could change, however, as the White House works out the kinks.

Check out last week's Second Opinion: Do I have to cover my three employees?

Source:  http://www.kpbs.org

Delaware State University partners with firm to offer region's first helicopter flight degree

NEWARK — Beginning in the fall, Delaware State University will offer helicopter pilot training in its aviation program, but it doesn’t need to buy any helicopters to make it happen.

The university is partnering with a Newark business, Horizon Helicopters, to offer professional helicopter pilot certification. It is the only collegiate program of its kind in the region, university officials said Monday.

“For years, we’ve received dozens of calls every day asking if we offer this kind of program,” said DSU aviation program director Stephen Speed. “Now, we can finally say, ‘Yes.’ ”

The agreement with Horizon Helicopters was signed Monday at the company’s facility on Sunset Lake Road. The new training will be an option available to students enrolled as aviation majors, a four-year bachelor of science degree. DSU has offered an aviation program since 1988, but it only used fixed-wing aircraft.

The decision to partner with a private business allows DSU to offer the new program without the immediate need to buy helicopters or hire staff, said Amir Mohammadi, university treasurer and executive vice president for finance. Looking ahead, the university is looking to upgrade its aging fleet of fixed-wing aircraft over the next few years, he said.

Fewer than 10 students are expected to enroll in the first year, but DSU officials say they expect that to grow over the next five years.

The university will continue to provide on-the-ground instruction while Horizon staff will give in-the-air training. Student fees will be used to pay Horizon for staff and the use of two helicopters.

The partnership was three years in the making, university officials said, because they had to secure federal approval to offer the new training.

Graduates receiving a helicopter certification will be able to fly for private companies. That kind of work includes charter flights and construction company services, Speed said. Passenger transport requires additional certification, he said.

Speed said the university would be supplying personnel for an industry that is expected to grow in the near future. The university decided to offer the new training after its research showed student interest and a lack of available programs.

The university intends to attract military veterans to the program. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides information on eligible flight programs and other approved education providers at www.gibill.va.gov.

Horizon Helicopters co-owner Harry Griffith said he expects the need for certified pilots to grow. His company provides such services as flight training, construction and photography.

“Business has been good. Even when all these other businesses have had trouble, we never had that,” Griffith said. “I don’t know why it is. I wish I did. I’d jar it and save it up.”

More information about the DSU aviation program is available by calling 857-6710.

Story:  http://www.delawareonline.com

More Foreign Airlines Show Interest In Nigerian Routes

Despite the dwindling fortunes of indigenous airlines, more foreign airlines are indicating interest in operating flights to Nigeria, even as those currently in the country seek for additional frequencies into the country.

Some of the airlines that recently showed interest include Air Zimbabwe, Air Uganda and Binter Canarias. It is on record that other international airlines that are already operating in the Nigerian market like British Airways, Lufthansa Airlines and others seek additional frequencies to the country.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which disclosed the recent interest following its participation in the recently concluded Routes Africa Strategy Summit which held on July 6- 10, 2013, in Kampala, Uganda.

The summit had in attendance chief executive officers and route development professionals worldwide and was a meeting point for aviation growth and development.The summit also focused on the need for private sector investment and participation in airport management and infrastructure, with emphasis on public- private- partnership, financial and operating models.

The need to encourage the outright concession of airport development to the private sector to free up public sector funds for airport security and safety infrastructure development was equally discussed by participants. Nigeria was represented at the event by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which used the forum to highlight the huge potential in the nation’s aviation industry.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive of FAAN, Mr. George Uriesi who was represented at the event by FAAN’s General Managers of Business Development and Planning,  Abubakar Achimugu and Nse Ikiddeh, respectively met with different groups and airlines who were willing to partner with FAAN in exploiting opportunities in the Nigerian aviation market, especially exploring additional routes.

Participants at the summit addressed issues ranging from Public Private Partnership for Airport Management and Development; the Development of Airports in Africa; New Carriers for Africa and Understanding Market Opportunities among others.

Source: http://leadership.ng

Rise of the zombie airport: How ghost hubs are brought back to life

  • Many abandoned, or 'ghost' airports, are finding new uses.
  • Ciudad Real Central Airport was used in the backdrop of Pedro Almodóvar's film, 'I'm So Excited'.
  • Malmö, Sweden's Bulltofta Airport has been converted into park space.
  • Old U.S. airports in Denver and Austin have been turned into housing complexes.

(CNN) -- Though Ciudad Real Central Airport sits just 150 miles north of Spain's capital, Madrid, the bankrupt complex is a desolate stretch of concrete.

In happier times, it was an expensive symbol of Spain's thriving economy and optimism for the future. Now, it serves as a reminder of the country's financial failings.

"The construction of an airport like this, and of other places that are completely worthless; there were a lot of them -- is responsible for the crisis," director Pedro Almodóvar told Slate.

Almodóvar is one of several people who have since found a use for the airport, which shut down April last year. He shot his latest film, "I'm So Excited", on the empty runways. Almodóvar shot at night. During the day, Lexus Spain used the site to show off their latest model to journalists.

"There are 4.5 kilometers of unused runway -- it's basically the longest in Europe," says Jose Antonio Galve, the PR Manager for Lexus Spain.

"When you're on it, it's strange, because there's no sensation of it being a road, and you have no sense of when it will end. It appealed to us because it was a very different experience."

There is little chance that the airport will recover its investment; it cost $1.3 billion to build, and though not in use, it continues to incur maintenance costs.

"Although having that kind of surface would be great for racing, how much are you going to make to justify the cost of acquiring that much land?" asks Angela Gittens, the director general of Airports Council International.

Likely, says Gittens, the owners are simply biding their time until they sell it, piecemeal.

"Typically, there's not a whole lot of instances where someone comes along and buys the whole property," says Gittens. "The facilities, or set of facilities, don't lend themselves to other uses."

At Berlin Bradenburg Willy Brandt Airport, the $5.7 billion travel hub that has yet to open, tourists can tour the empty grounds via bus or bike. According to the airport's spokesman Lars Wagner, its opening has been stalled because of problems with the fire protection system. An airport tour now, he says, gives visitors an opportunity to walk areas that, once opened, will be cordoned off. Mainly, though, he hints it's a chance to market the airport while it waits to open.

Some former hubs have reinvented themselves for good. In Malmö, Sweden, Bulltofta Airport was converted into a park and entertainment complex. Though one of the old hangars was turned into a school, according to Anders Reisnert, a cultural historian for the city, the area has lost its aeronautic identity.

Story, Photos, Videoa, Comments/Reaction:  http://www.cnn.com

Denton Municipal (KDTO), Texas: Airport officials remind of security procedures

Officials sent out a notice last week reminding tenants at the Denton Enterprise Airport that security means closing the gate behind them.

The notice included a July 22 photo of a pair of circular tire tracks on the pavement in front of one of the airport hangars. But, even as recently as Saturday, an open gate gave a pair of lost truckers ample pavement to turn around.

The airport tower reported two semi-tractor trailers had come into the airport late Saturday, according to Quentin Hix, airport manager. Although they had not breached space controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration, they were traveling through an area meant for aircraft, and that still can present a safety problem.

Denton Enterprise Airport is a general aviation airport, which means there aren’t as many controls on the ground space around the airport as there are for passenger airports, like Love Field or Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Denton’s airport has many longtime tenants who drive to their hangar and leave their car while they take their plane out for hours, or days, at a time — and that’s permissible, Hix said.

The airport does have a fence around its perimeter. That $1.1 million project was completed about 18 months ago when the city expanded the runway. People can get to airport-based businesses through the main entrance, or from exterior gates that are open each day or a new road that bypasses the main entrance to take traffic directly to the flight school, U.S. Aviation Academy.

The airport has installed new fence sections that control access to the taxi lanes, but they are expensive, Hix said.

Another fix that should help is a truck-turnaround under construction at the airport entrance, he said.

The airport is located at the end of FM1515, which is filled with warehouses and manufacturing companies that bring many semi trucks to the area.

Saturday’s incident wasn’t the first where a trucker missed a turn and ended up on Masch Branch Road, which is also a dead-end road.

“Some drivers are using the older GPS that doesn’t show that Masch Branch dead-ends now,” Hix said.

While there are many “Road Ends” signs in the area, airport officials have asked neighboring companies to help new drivers and independent truckers that come to the area, too, with more signage.

Mark Haggard of Jet Works, which operates on that side of the airport, said his company has an exterior gate nearby that opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. To get into the gate after hours, someone must enter a code on the keypad that opens the gate.

Securing the hangar and building isn’t much different than locking up your house, and the company plans to follow whatever security directives the government gives to the city, Haggard said.

Source:   http://www.dentonrc.com

Schuylkill County (Joe Zerbey) Airport (KZER), Pottsville, Pennsylvania: Construction on new hangar may begin this year

MOUNT PLEASANT - Construction on a new hangar at Schuylkill County's Joe Zerbey Airport may begin as early as this year.

Bill Willard, airport manager, said Monday the county airport authority is already seeking bids, which are due on Aug. 15. The project will be awarded by Aug. 31.

Depending on weather, Willard said, the project may break ground by the end of the year. If not, the project will be started within the first couple months of 2014, Willard said.

"I can make a list a mile long why we need this hangar," Willard said Monday.

The proposed hangar will be the largest one at the airport at 96 feet by 83 feet and 28 feet high.

Willard said all the hangars at the airport are full and the new addition will also be able to house corporate-sized planes.

"When you look at a hangar like this, you are looking to entice businesses to keep their aircrafts here, have longer leases, buy more fuel and also bring business into the county," Willard said.

The total cost of the hangar is estimated at $800,000. The airport received $400,000 in state grants over the past two years for the project. The remaining cost will come from the airport's match on the grants.

Gov. Tom Corbett awarded the first grant, $300,000, in February 2012. An additional grant, $100,000, was awarded this past February.

The grants were approved Thursday by the state Transportation Commission. The 15-member commission includes the Transportation secretary, 10 private citizens appointed by the governor and the majority and minority chairs of the state Senate and House Transportation committees.

Funds are distributed through the Capital Budget/Transportation Assistance Program, which is funded through state capital bond dollars in the General Fund budget. Authorized by the General Assembly, the grants are administered by the state Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aviation.

Source:  http://republicanherald.com

Boeing and Its Customers Try to Put a Price Tag on Fuel Savings: New Version of the 777 Jet Is More Efficient—And Is Expected to Be Its Most Expensive

The Wall Street Journal

Updated July 29, 2013, 8:35 p.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

LE BOURGET, France—With demand for more-efficient jets surging, airlines appear willing to make big investments to save on fuel costs. But as Boeing Co. completes plans for the new version of its popular long-range 777 jetliner, the U.S. aerospace giant and its customers are struggling to determine just how much they are willing to pay to achieve it.

Boeing's executives and salesmen spent much of their time at the Paris air show last month negotiating preliminary deals needed to win its board's approval to formally launch the new jetliner, known as the 777X, but a final price tag has remained elusive. The planned twin-aisle plane, which will seat 350 to 400 passengers, is critical to Boeing's efforts to fend off rival Airbus's assault in the market for long-range jets.

Boeing said its new 777X would burn 20% less fuel per seat than the current generation of 777s, which have been hot sellers. That's a potentially big savings for airlines, which spent $210 billion on fuel in 2012, according to the International Air Transport Association. Fuel is airlines' single-largest expense, accounting for about half of the cost of operating a long-range flight.

How big a savings depends on the future price of oil, which is hard to forecast. That complicates Boeing's efforts to determine a price in time to announce the 777X's launch—a step that lets it start signing contracts and taking deposits from buyers—around year-end and as early as the Dubai air show in November, according to industry officials involved in the discussions.

"The hard part…is the pricing part," said John Plueger, president of Air Lease Corp., a potential buyer who has been closely involved in the 777X's early development. Boeing "still has a lot of review to go yet" on the commercial terms of its offers, he said.

Scott Fancher, Boeing vice president of airplane development, said translating the 777X's fuel efficiency into dollars and cents is necessary to find "an equitable way to reflect that value in the price of the airplane." Mr. Fancher said "there are varying opinions of where fuel prices are going to go."

Brent crude oil prices, on which IATA's forecast is based, peaked around $144 a barrel in July 2008, and have fluctuated between $91 and $127 a barrel in the past two years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Over the past 12 months, the price of jet fuel, refined from crude, is up 4.5% in dollar terms, according to the IATA.

The list price for the 777X is likely to approach $400 million, said one industry executive familiar with the negotiations. Early customers are likely to get steep discounts, but even with those, the price of the larger of two planned versions of the 777X, with 400 seats, could top $200 million by the time it is delivered around 2020, they added.

While U.S. safety officials investigate the crash landing earlier this month of an older model Asiana Airlines Boeing 777, the inquiry isn't expected to affect sales efforts of the 777X, say industry analysts.

The expected 777X price would make it Boeing's priciest twin-engine jet ever, and close to the double-deck A380, which at a list price of more than $400 million is Airbus's priciest model. Boeing's most expensive plane currently is the 747-8 jumbo, which lists for $352 million. The largest model of its flagship plane, the advanced 787 Dreamliner, lists for $290 million.

The 777X is expected to incorporate many—though not all—of the Dreamliner's technological advances to help achieve fuel-efficiency goals, including wings made of carbon-fiber used on the Dreamliner and new General Electric Co. engines.

Forecasting fuel savings has become increasingly important for plane makers as oil prices have risen and airlines have become more cost conscious. But the long lead times for jetliners, and their long service lives, make predicting cost savings especially hard. The first 777X isn't expected to be delivered until around 2020, and the planes could fly for some two decades or longer.

Airbus, a division of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. has said that in pricing its A320neo it shared the value of the single-aisle jet's 15% fuel savings with airlines, effectively adding half the value of the savings as a premium to the price. That equates to $8.7 million more than the current generation A320, which lists for $91.5 million.

For the 777X, Boeing must factor in Airbus's plans for its 350-seat A350-1000, due in 2017, pitting its upgraded model against the European plane maker's all-new design. Airbus flew the first 300-seat A350 over the Paris show in June, a week after its first test flight, and the plane has since accumulated more than 90 hours flying during its first month in testing.

But Kevin Michaels, vice president at ICF SH&E, an aviation arm of consultancy ICF International Inc., said slower growth of developed markets, increasing fuel-efficiency standards of U.S. and European car fleets, expanding gas exploration and widening use of renewable fuels could curb oil prices in the future. "It isn't a given that it's going to go up and up and up," he said.

A jet that burns significantly less fuel per passenger is an "insurance policy" for airlines that can count on the savings should the trajectory of oil swing unpredictably with geopolitical events, said Michel Merluzeau, managing partner at G2 Solutions, a Seattle-based aviation consultancy.

Other factors also go into a plane's price, including expected maintenance costs, reduced noise and emissions, and the manufacturer's own expectations for its costs.

During its early years of development between 2004 and 2006, Boeing sold the 787 at steep discounts partly because it believed its costs would plummet with manufacturing and design covered mostly by suppliers. Having learned from the troubles of that program—which was delayed for years—Boeing will have to spend more itself to develop the 777X, including new factories to build the jet's wings. As a result, the company is weighing a more conservative approach to selling its new jet.

Mr. Fancher said Boeing is still finalizing details of the jet's business case, including where major pieces—like its wings—will be built. Those decisions will guide its upfront investment, and how much it spends for each plane it makes.

"The greater the affordability to Boeing, the greater our pricing flexibility in the marketplace," he said.

Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Air India pilot found drunk just before he was about to operate a flight

A senior Air India (AI) pilot was caught drunk two weeks ago at Mumbai just before he was about to operate a flight.

What has baffled the airline officials was the timing of the flight — the pilot was to operate an evening flight. Statistics show that normally pilots test positive for alcohol on early morning flights.

"Though not excusable, at least one can assume that the pilot must have got carried away and drank too much the previous evening," said an AI official requesting anonymity. "But when a pilot is caught under the influence of alcohol for an evening departure, one can imagine the level of indiscipline," he added.

AI spokesperson GP Rao confirmed the incident. "We will act as per the guidelines issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)," Rao said.

The pilot, a captain in the Airbus fleet is an office-bearer of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association – a union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots. The ICPA did not comment on the story.

"The DGCA should come down hard on drunk pilots," said aviation safety expert captain Mohan Ranganathan. "Second time offense warrants cancellation of license," he said. As per the DGCA rules, flying license of a pilot is suspended for three months for first offense. For a repeat offense, the flying license is suspended for five years.

Story and Comments/Reaction:  http://www.hindustantimes.com