Monday, August 12, 2013

Gary/Chicago International Airport pollution headed to Newton County landfill

GARY | Hazardous waste at the Gary/Chicago International Airport will end up in a landfill in Newton County, after a massive undertaking that will require a fleet of trucks to make three round trips a day.

Sixty trucks soon will haul off the worse-than-anticipated ground pollution that has delayed the airport's runway expansion project until at least next fall. The airport authority board voted 3-0, with two abstentions, to pay waste management company Republic Services up to $2.7 million to store soil and concrete that's contaminated with lead, arsenic and other chemicals.

The authority also will pay Brandenburg Industrial Services Co. an estimated $4.91 million to dig up and carry off the pollution, which is located on airport land that had previously been home to an oil refinery, an asphalt plant and a hazardous disposal facility. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have said the pollution must be cleaned up, and have approved the 265-acre Newton County Landfill as a site where it can be safely dumped.

Airport officials also considered disposing of the toxins in Joliet and Indianapolis, but Republic Services offered the lowest cost.

Expansion project manager Scott Wheeler reassured board members the expense would not add to the project's overall cost of $166 million. The airport is lengthening the runway by 1,900 feet so it can accommodate larger planes that could fly out to the West Coast, as part of an ongoing effort to attract more users and private investment in the surrounding area.

The project has been delayed mainly because two railroad companies have not yet reached an agreement on moving their tracks, and the worse-than-expected ground contamination needs to be cleaned up, Wheeler said.

PCBs, lead, oils and arsenic saturate the ground at the Conservation Chemicals site, which the airport bought in 2001. Airport authority officials initially thought it had 40,000 cubic yards of pollution, but the actual amount turned out to be closer to 120,000 cubic yards, spokesman James Ward said.

A berm at the airport also may contain even more pollution that would need to be carted off, but more testing still needs to be done, Ward said.

Arsenic and other dangerous chemicals cannot be left in the ground at the airport, because they potentially could harm Federal Aviation Administration employees who would have to install and maintain equipment at the airport, spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

The contractor will have until Nov. 15 to finish removing the pollution. "It's a huge undertaking," Ward said. "We have to have the site cleaned up to residential levels."

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Sloulin Field International Airport (KISN) Adds Parking Spaces

The airport in Williston is designed to handle right around 6,000 people every year. Last month alone, more than 8,000 people boarded a plane at Sloulin International Airport. As you might imagine, all those passengers make parking difficult, but a project that is just finishing up is going to relieve some of hassle of parking your car. Taking a few laps around the airport parking lot to find a spot isn't unusual, but a new lot with 200 spaces is going to help the problem. 

"It will bring are total up to about 650 total for the entire airport, which will help ease congestion in the other lots, and remove the need to park along the streets," says airport manager Steven Kjergaard.

Construction on the lot is ahead of schedule, and Kjergaard is planning to open the lot next Monday. When the lot opens no parking signs will line the street.

"Which then allow the police to ticket, and then tow any vehicle left on the street unattended," Kjergaard adds.

The entrance to the parking lot is going to be on the frontage road on 2 and 85. There will be lights in the parking lot, and on the sidewalk leading up to the airport.

"There is a sidewalk located from this parking lot, up to the additional parking lot that we have. Then there is a walkway in-between that parking lot and the next actual true airport parking lot," says Kjergaard.

Kjergaard says they've talked about charging for the new lot; but for now, it will be free like the rest of the lots. This parking lot will might also help separate short and long term parking.

"We were talking about changing the parking near the airport down to one week, and this being two weeks," Kjergaard.

Kjergaard says they're going to see what works best, and give people time to get adjusted to the new lot before they start towing cars.

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FedEx senior pilot on a mission to quiet the jet noise around Los Angeles International Airport

Dan Delane, one of FedEx's top pilots in Los Angeles, is something of an idealist. When it comes to flying, he likes to see things as they could be. And he thinks airplanes operating at Los Angeles International Airport can be quieter than they are today, using existing technology.

"I'm a one-man Don Quixote to make it happen," he said recently in his LAX office overlooking the airfield's southernmost runway.

Delane said airline pilots take more steps to reduce noise on nearby communities than most residents realize. He noted that it is standard LAX procedure to fly as high and as far off the coast as possible, and that pilots at all airlines are not permitted to deviate from approved courses.

At departure, he said, planes usually take off over the ocean and generally reach 12,000 feet before they are back over land.

But in recent months, Delane has taken further steps, asking FedEx pilots to be especially cognizant of noise whenever it is safe to do so. And that has won him kudos from many community activists, including Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion.

FedEx is a relatively small operator at LAX, with 16 arrivals and 16 departures on most days. But more than half of the package carrier's flights occur at night, so Schneider said FedEx's willingness to help the community is particularly important. Many of the noise-related changes could also save FedEx money by making the airplanes more efficient.

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Business and political leaders celebrate New Mexico aviation industry

Planes equipped with Aspen Avionics gear and jets built by Eclipse Aerospace are on display at the Aviation Rally held at Cutter Aviation on Monday.

Why We Fly Eclipse Jets 

Aviation business leaders, state politicians and employees from prominent New Mexico-based companies gathered in Albuquerque on Monday to celebrate the state’s growing aviation and aerospace industry. 

At the rally, organized by the Washington, D.C.-based General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Gov. Susana Martinez and others spoke about the industry’s broad impact on the New Mexico economy.

Aviation-related activity in the state supports more than 48,000 jobs, generates $1.3 billion in payroll annually, and contributes $3.1 billion to the economy, she said.

“That’s something worth celebrating, and worth building on,” Martinez told the crowd.

Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce said New Mexico is the 10th state selected by his organization for an industry rally, something the association launched following the recession in 2008.

The downturn had a huge impact on the aviation industry nationwide, so the association uses the celebration events to highlight its benefits and unite local, state and national leaders to make it stronger.

“We took a beating in the recession,” Bunce told rally participants. “We realized we hadn’t done a good job of telling our story as a high-wage and high tax-producing industry. So we’re telling our story with elected officials at the state, local and federal levels.”

General aviation, which includes all aviation other than military and commercial, contributes more than $150 billion annually to the national economy and supports 1.2 million jobs, according to the association.

In New Mexico, the sector contributes about $760 million annually to the economy. It includes everything from aircraft manufacturers and avionics developers to charter flight firms and repair and service companies.

As in other states, local businesses suffered in the recession. Many laid off workers. Some went bankrupt, the most notable being Eclipse Aviation Corp.

But the industry has rebounded substantially in the last two to three years. Nationally, the association reported that billings for airplane shipments reached $10.4 billion in the first half of 2013. That’s up 26.4 percent from $8.2 billion in the same period last year.

New Mexico companies also report healthy growth, including four firms that helped organize and host the rally in Albuquerque: Cutter Aviation, Aspen Avionics, Bendix King by Honeywell, and Eclipse Aerospace.

Eclipse Aerospace bought Eclipse Aviation’s assets out of bankruptcy and has since completely rebuilt the company, said Ed Lundeen, vice president for operations.

“The first Eclipse 550 very light jet will come off the production line in the fourth quarter of this year,” Lundeen told rally participants, which included a few dozen Eclipse employees. “When we started four years ago, we had only 13 employees. Today we have 273.”

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Yampa Valley Airport (KHDN) to pause air service in 2014 for repairs

Steamboat Springs — The runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden will be closed for about 60 days during spring 2014.

After ski season flights stop in April, the asphalt surface will undergo resurfacing that is required about every 10 years.

“It’s a couple of years past the 10-year mark,” said Airport Manager Dave Ruppel. “We took really good care of it.”

Just like with roadways, Ruppel said, sometimes runway closures are necessary to repair asphalt surfaces.

The closure means all air services will be suspended for the duration of the work on the runway. Ruppel said there is other asphalt work that needs to be done, but the hope is to have the runway operational again for the June uptick in flight traffic.

This past shoulder season, there only was one flight to Denver per day from YVRA. Traditionally, Ruppel said, there have been two flights out of YVRA per day during the same time period.

The airport will remain open during the runway closure.

“We’ll continue to administratively operate.” Ruppel said. “There’s still other things we need to work on as an airport.”

The airport discovered last month that the Federal Aviation Administration had found the discretionary funds to complete the project, he said.

Now begins the task of communicating with those who use the airport about the need to make alternative plans. That includes those who have private aircraft at YVRA.

In addition to the runway, Ruppel said, asphalt work will be done on connectors and a section of aircraft parking ramp, and a new vehicle service road will be constructed, which the FAA wants airports to have to keep vehicles out of the aircraft movement area.

“We’re trying to get them all done at the same time,” he said. “You get some economies of scale.”

Aircraft traffic only will cease during the runway resurfacing but can continue through the other repairs and construction.

“We of course regret the inconvenience, but the reality is it’s something we have to do to maintain that runway in a good condition,” Ruppel said.


Alabama Department of Transportation looking to lease $10 million jet

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – The Alabama Department of Transportation is looking at acquiring a new state jet to replace the state’s 24-year-old Cessna.

Alabama Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Harris confirmed the department was considering acquiring a new jet.

Harris said there are reliability concerns with the the state’s existing jet, a 1989 Cessna Citation II. The jet has been out of working order for about 30 percent of the year, he said.

"We have been reviewing options for rotating out the state plan due to the age and reliability of the existing plane,” Harris said.

“No decisions have been made. We are just reviewing options at this point,” Harris said.

Harris said  three models are being reviewed as possible replacements. They are a Cessna Citation CJ3, Lear 70 or an Embraer Phenom 300.

Purchasing one of those models would cost the state between $8 million and $10 million, he said.

However, Harris said the department would  lease the aircraft. That option has an estimated cost of $55,000 to $60,000 per month, he said.

“I think what we’ve concluded with an asset like a jet …. It is going to be better long-term for us to lease something from a reliability and operating cost standpoint,” Harris said.

Harris said a lease would allow for a scheduled rotation of planes so the state isn't trying to maintain an aging aircraft.

Alabama governors have been frequent passengers on the state jet over the years because it cuts down on travel time to events.

Jeremy King, a spokesman for Gov. Robert Bentley, said the governor's office is aware of the concerns about the current aircraft and that DOT is reviewing options.

The purchase comes at a time of budget cuts among General Fund agencies.

Harris said the acquisition would be made with state DOT dollars and not from the state's General Fund pot of money. DOT gets its money, from among other sources, gasoline taxes. 

The Department of Transportation currently has two prop airplanes.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. to clarify that the state would lease the plane

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Federal Aviation Administration Seeks Checks on Small Aircraft

Updated August 11, 2013, 9:57 p.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

U.S. aviation regulators on Monday will propose stepped-up inspections and accelerated replacement of engine parts on about 6,000 small propeller planes, one of the most sweeping regulatory moves affecting general aviation in the past decade.

The Federal Aviation Administration will call for enhanced safety checks of some 30,000 cylinder assemblies installed as replacements parts over the years on certain widely used Continental Motors Inc. engines that power many private aircraft, including popular Beech and Cessna models.

In a preliminary copy of the proposal posted on the Federal Register website Friday, the agency said its action was prompted by multiple reports of dangerous cracks, leaks or failures of cylinders and aluminum cylinder heads, which could result in engine failure "and loss of the airplane."

Since 2000 federal air-safety officials have identified more than 70 instances of cracks or failures of cylinder assemblies manufactured by closely held Danbury Aerospace, based in San Antonio, though the majority were resolved by previous safety directives.

Continental Motors was acquired in 2011 by China's Avic International Holding Corp., but the FAA's proposal covers only replacement parts supplied by Danbury Aerospace.

The latest proposal was prompted by FAA findings of 35 fractured cylinders manufactured prior to 2009, none of which the company says resulted in accidents or injuries.

Controversy over the parts heated up last year, when the National Transportation Safety Board urged the FAA to take action.

Government and industry officials said that the new directive released by the FAA, which had been in the works for years, has no connection to Friday's crash of a small plane in Connecticut that killed four people, including two children on the ground.

Capping years of negotiations between regulators and industry officials, the proposal comes over the objections of Danbury Aerospace units that manufactured and marketed the parts.

Company officials have told the government that the latest batch of failures stemmed from excessive temperatures resulting from improper operation of the engines, rather than from alleged design or manufacturing flaws.

As recently as April, the company told the FAA in a letter that potential maintenance errors mean "the dangers of removing cylinders are significant," and are likely to "result in an increased number of accidents and injuries."

The company projects as many as 10,000 private planes could be affected by the FAA's move.

Danbury Aerospace officials previously told the FAA that such a mandate could force the company into bankruptcy proceedings, according to company documents posted as part of the agency's deliberations.

In an interview on Sunday, Ty Stoller, Danbury Aerospace's president, reiterated that potential lawsuits and customer demands to replace the parts free of charge could end in a bankruptcy-court filing.

If it becomes final, the FAA's so-called airworthiness directive is expected to cost the industry about $82 million over roughly the next two years.

The FAA will accept public comments over the next 60 days, and Danbury is urging aircraft owners, maintenance companies and other interested parties to respond.

Over the weekend, the company put out a statement calling the FAA's proposal misguided and unsubstantiated, noting that the same operational issues pose a significant safety risk "for the entire general aviation fleet." The statement also said the FAA's move threatens to "cause a significant financial hardship to thousands of aircraft owners."

The FAA and the NTSB formed a task force in 2005 to look into failures of cylinder heads, including those manufactured by Danbury Aerospace's Airmotive Engineering unit, due to metal fatigue.

The company cooperated with the government and changed manufacturing processes in 2009.

In its proposal, the FAA stressed it acted only after conducting a detailed review "to consider all aspects of the information provided" by Airmotive. For many parts, inspection and compression tests are proposed four times a year; the FAA wants some to be replaced within 25 flight hours.

During discussions with the FAA, Danbury Aerospace and agency officials scuffled over whether sensitive company-generated test data should be returned to the company.

Eleven years have passed since the last time the FAA called for safety fixes covering so many small private planes at one time.

Starting in 2002, FAA officials mandated replacement of thousands of improperly heat-treated crankshafts in engines produced by Textron Inc.'s Lycoming unit. Fatal accidents, serious engine-failure incidents and other problems, including mandated engine recalls, cost that company more than $170 million.

Earlier this year, the agency ordered enhanced inspections and repairs where necessary to cables that control tail surfaces on about 30,000 Piper Aircraft Inc. planes. But those extra checks were less costly or disruptive than the current proposal, because they were mandated to occur during annual aircraft inspections.

The FAA originally anticipated releasing its proposed fixes a year ago. In the end, agency officials took the unusual step of crafting a package that is tougher and covers more aircraft than proposals initially contemplated by agency and safety board experts.


DeHavilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth, G-AAZG: Accident occurred August 12, 2013, near Canon Ashby House, Northamptonshire - United Kingdom

An 11-year-old boy was fighting for his life today after being seriously injured when a light aircraft crashed in the grounds of an Elizabethan manor house while apparently attempting a loop-the-loop.

It came down near Canons Ashby House in Northamptonshire and the boy - a passenger - was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital while the pilot was taken to University Hospital Coventry.

The plane plummeted 100ft when the pilot, believed to be the boy’s father, lost control of it and crashed into the grounds of the Grade 1 listed National Trust property at around 11:45am.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the De Havilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth attempting a loop-the-loop moments before the engine ‘cut out’ at the top of the climb.

Ben Nichols, 19, who lives at nearby Lodge Farm in the village, saw the plane spiral to the ground with sister Zara, 20.

‘We were working the sheep at the time,’ said Mr Nichols. ‘Then we saw this two-seater biplane, it was whirling around a bit, looked like it tried to do a loop. Then the engine cut out.

‘It spiralled down a bit, regained a bit of control and landed with a thud.’

He added: ‘When I went down it looked like it had had a good landing, given the circumstances. The cockpit was a bit smashed up with one of the wings but not as bad as we first thought.’

Zara Nichols said the plane ‘hadn't left a mark where it landed so it must have gone straight’.

Mr Nichols said it had landed ‘on the flat’ just yards from a fishing lake and a line of trees, and not far from ridges and furrows in the land. ‘He obviously picked the right spot’.

He said it was not unusual to get planes flying over the area, which is not far from several airfields. The wreckage of the white and red plane has been loaded onto the back of a lorry to be taken away.

Canons Ashby House, which was forced to close for an hour while emergency crews attended the scene, used Twitter to reassure visitors.

A spokesman said on the website: ‘Our thoughts are with those affected by the light aircraft crash today in the parkland.

'Nothing was damaged in the house or gardens.

‘Thankfully no visitors have been affected and the property is undamaged. Our thoughts go out to the injured and their families.’

A spokesman for East Midlands Ambulance Service said: ‘Both of the patients were taken to different hospitals via air ambulance.

‘The young boy was taken to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital whereas the pilot was taken to the Major Trauma Centre in Coventry.’

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Council looks to override Mayo's veto: Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU), Louisiana

The Monroe city council has a number of items on Tuesday’s agenda that could involve some heated discussion, including action on four items Mayor Jamie Mayo vetoed, and the purchase of two tractors for Monroe Regional Airport the council rejected previously.

Last month Mayo vetoed four ordinances approved by the council on July 9. To override the mayor's veto, the council needs a two-thirds vote, or a total of four votes.

Two ordinances deal with the Interstate 20 Economic Development Commission. One limits the mayor's authority to remove directors from the Interstate 20 Economic Development Commission's board of directors. The other is an ordinance to limit the authority of the I-20 board to conduct closed meetings.

Mayo said he vetoed these ordinances because the city council doesn't have jurisdiction over the I-20 board, a private, nonprofit board not governed by the city, even though it has a close relationship with the city for economic development.

Regarding the ordinance to limit the mayor's authority to remove members of the I-20 board, Mayo said a recent ruling by 4th District Judge Daniel Ellender said the mayor will continue to have the authority to remove members from the Interstate 20 Economic Development District board, including council appointments.

Mayo said the administration may pursue legal action if the council approves the two I-20 board ordinances.

“We’ll wait until after the city council meeting to see how we may move forward,” Mayo said.

Mayo also vetoed an ordinance to give the council the authority to approve temporary and permanent department heads selected by the administration before they're hired.

Councilman Dr. Ray Armstrong contends the council has authority under the city charter to approve department heads, including interim department heads.

The fourth vetoed ordinance would allow promoters to label their event as family oriented or adult content, which Mayo said could result in promoters improperly labeling their events and causing legal issues for the city.

Monroe Regional Airport officials also plan to bring back an equipment request the council denied in May.

Airport officials wanted to purchase a Chevrolet Tahoe for $28,676 and two tractors for $98,919 off state contract.

Council Chairman Eddie Clark said the council would consider the request if the Tahoe was removed.

The new request only includes the two tractors.

The airport has 2,600 acres of property to maintain, and airport manager Ron Phillips said the airport's tractors are more than 12 years old and frequently require maintenance.

The Federal Aviation Administration inspects the airport annually, and Mayo believes the equipment is needed to ensure a good review.

The FAA mandates the airport keeps grass cut appropriately along the airfield, Phillips said. High grass can create safety concerns by providing a habitat for birds, which can affect aircraft operations.

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Cessna T-41C Mescalero, USAF Dover Aero Club, N7884N: Aircraft force landed on a road, near Dover, Delaware

A small Air Force plane bounded to a halt in the center median of Route 1 Monday night after touching down in a field near Dover Air Force Base. 

Dover State Police’s Corporal Gary Fournier says the Cessna’s pilot and instructor are civilian members of the base’s civilian Aero Club, an aerial hobby group.

“It landed in that field, proceeded to across the field and through a fence, out onto the roadway and onto the right hand shoulder of Route 1 southbound and saw that it was running out of room and moved over to the center median of state Route 1 southbound, facing northbound,” said Cpl. Fournier.

No one was injured, however, numerous vehicles on the highway swerved out of the aircraft’s way. Katie Torbert says she was driving to the beach from Pennsylvania with four kids in the car at around 5:20pm when the plane interrupted her trip.

“All the cars in front of me started swerving in different directions and I swerved and slammed on my brakes and ended up hitting the guardrail. And, then noticed behind me that there was an airplane in the road. I didn’t hit the airplane,” said Torbert.

Dover State Police, Dover Air Force Base local first responders and FAA personnel responded to the scene, which backed up traffic for 2 and a half hours.

The cause of the landing is under investigation.

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An Air Force Aero Club Cessna R172E aircraft made an emergency landing on Del. Route 1 southbound Monday afternoon.

Dover, Del. — A Dover Air Force Base single-engine airplane made an emergency landing on Del. Route 1 southbound Monday afternoon.  
The plane landed safely with no injuries, according to officials from the Dover Air Force Base 436th Airlift Wing.

The Aero Club Cessna aircraft made the emergency landing between exits 93 and 91 on Del. Route 1 at approximately 5:23 p.m, Monday. The airplane was traveling from Richmond International Airport and was due to arrive at the Air Force base at 5:20 p.m., according to, an flight tracking website.

Traffic was diverted to the shoulder of the highway, causing a backup along the southbound lanes of Del. Route 1.

The cause of the emergency landing is not yet known, said DAFB officials. First responders from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware State Police and the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the scene this evening.

Minor damage was reported to the aircraft, said Michael O'Connor of the Dover Fire Department, which responded to the scene Monday. Dover Air Force Base Crash Rescue units were the first to respond, followed by the fire department, Delaware State Police, DelDOT and the U.S. Air Force.


Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, TTI Environmental Inc., N7223P: Accident occurred August 12, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina

A pilot forced to make an emergency landing without the plane's landing gear at a downtown Columbia airport on Monday was involved in a similar incident in Alabama in 2009, according to Federal Aviation Administration records released Tuesday.

Lee Buffington, owner of an Fort Payne, Ala., landscaping business, had to make a belly landing in Tuscaloosa Regional Airport three years ago.

Buffington was flying a four-seat Piper PA-24-250 registered plane for a 20-minute check flight of new radios when he was unable to extend the landing gear, according to FAA records.

Buffington was piloting the same single-engine plane made in 1960 on Monday when the landing gear would not come down, forcing him to slide along the Hamilton-Owens Airport runway to a stop. He was not injured.

Efforts to reach Buffington were unsuccessful. A woman answering the phone at his business, Turf Tamer, on Tuesday said Buffington was in meetings all day in South Carolina.

As part of its investigation of the emergency landing in Columbia, the FAA is looking at why the aircraft's registration was not renewed after expiring on June 30.

The agency had no enforcement records on Buffington.

Buffington was flying from Fort Payne in northeastern Alabama to Hamilton-Owens Airport when he reported being unable to extend his landing gear Monday afternoon.

The aircraft made about five low-level passes over the general-aviation airport in the Rosewood neighborhood before landing.

Each time, Buffington pulled up a few feet before touching down on the runway, apparently practicing the landing approach.

The plane then flew in a wide circle around the airport, using up potentially explosive fuel before attempting the landing.

As the plane would gain altitude and roar over Superior Street, near the airport, bystanders snapping photos and videos with their smartphones clearly could see the landing gear, locked against the plane’s body.

Workers at the nearby City Roots urban farm, just across the fence from an end of the runway, continued to harvest vegetables and pull weeds, only stopping to look up when the plane flew low overhead.

Police blocked off all traffic on streets next to the small airport and aviation officials closed the airport while the plane circled. Columbia Fire Department trucks were called to the scene as the plane circled.

About 4:45 p.m. — roughly an hour after news about the plane’s troubles first broke — Buffington lowered the belly of the aircraft gently onto the runway.

The plane slid briefly to an uneventful halt. Buffington bolted out of plane as a Columbia Fire Department truck drove up. No smoke or flame were visible. He returned to the plane to retrieve some gear. Firefighters then began inspecting the aircraft.

When the streets re-opened around the airport, a stream of onlookers drove slowly between the airport and nearby soccer fields, stopping briefly to take pictures.

The airport reopened around 6:30 p.m. Monday after fire crews were able to lift the plane away from the runway, Hamilton-Owens director Chris Eversmann said.

Authorities did not say why the plane’s landing gear malfunctioned. Buffington was cloistered in the Hamilton-Owens Airport aviation office and declined to talk to the media.

Hamilton-Owens Airport is popular for smaller aircraft because of its proximity to downtown Columbia and Williams-Brice Stadium. During the past 13 years, at least five people have died and another two have been injured seriously in five accidents and emergency landings near Hamilton-Owens Airport, according to news reports.



Piper PA-24-250 (N7223P) without landing gear circles over Columbia's Hamilton-Owens Airport on August 12, 2013., Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather 

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -   It was just a few tense moments, really. The plane, a 1960 Piper PA-24, circled the runway at Columbia's Jim Hamilton - L.B. Owens Airport as the pilot spoke with crews on the ground, trying to make the right choices that would help him sit the plane down.

Crews asked him to dump fuel, but he was unable to do so, according to Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.

"He had about 3 hours of fuel left on the plane," said Jenkins.

With that amount of fuel left, decisions had to be made and manuevers had to be perfected.

And so the pilot made several practice attempts at the runway; each time, he would pull up just before sliding the plane's belly into the ground.

Finally, around 4:40 p.m., word came that the pilot was finally ready to land the plane.

The pilot made a final circle around the airport before targeting the runway one last time. He put the plane down slowly and skidded to a stop in a grassy portion near the runway.

"He actually came down in a straight line as if he had the landing gear down," said Jenkins.

The still-unidentified pilot was uninjured.

According to the website, the single-engine plane was in route to Columbia from Ft. Payne, Alabama. The plane is registered to TTI Enviromental, Inc. However, that registration shows up expired. It's not clear why the registration wasn't valid, but the FAA confirms they're looking into it.

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An airplane performed an emergency landing Monday afternoon at the Hamilton-Owens Airport after its landing gear failed to deploy. 

The plane landed without wheels deployed after several passovers at the Rosewood-area airport.

The small aircraft hit the runway smoothly on a final pass and the pilot ran from the aircraft unscathed.

The single-engine aircraft is a 53-year-old Piper PA-24-250 registered to TTI Environmental Inc. of Fort Payne, Ala., according to FAA records.

The aircraft's registration certificate, however, expired on June 30, according to the agency. A FAA spokeswoman said she could not provide history on the aircraft until Tuesday.

The four-seat plane left Isbell Field in Fort Payne in northeastern Alabama shortly before 2 p.m., according to Flightaware, a website that tracks aircraft travel. The flight was supposed to take one hour and 41 minutes.

The pilot declined to talk with reporters at the field.

Efforts to reach the company were unsuccessful.

Fire and rescue crews were on the scene to douse any potential fires and treat injuries from the landing. There were no flames, however. The pilot was not transported to a hospital, either.

The airport closed while the pilot performed the landing, and the area surrounding Owens Airfield was also closed to land traffic.

A 4-mile helicopter flight to the hospital?

Your daily Letter to the Columnist — Aug. 12, 2013

Dear Dan,

I wrote you last week regarding the overlap of helicopter transport services between the private carriers and the state police. Thank you for keeping me anonymous.

Here’s another example of the abuse in our air transport market:

There were multiple people who witnessed emergency scene providers at a car accident in Forest, Va., call a helicopter to transport a victim to Lynchburg General Hospital. The accident, a couple of years ago, was on U.S. 221 and was less than 3 miles from the Lynchburg city limits!

Think about that for a moment: upon arriving at the accident scene, the EMS providers evaluated the victim then decided to have a helicopter transport the patient no more than three or four miles by air!  To expand on that further, if they’d simply loaded the patient in the ambulance, they’d have been at the hospital in no more than 10 to 12 minutes, max.

Yet instead, they requested the helicopter, waited for it to arrive on the scene (which involved landing in the highway after blocking both lanes), then loaded the patient to be airlifted just a few miles. There is no way anyone can claim with veracity this was either quicker or more practical than transporting that victim by land ambulance.

Using the helicopter actually delayed the time it took to get the victim to an emergency room and of course was much more expensive.

It is another example of the excess and abuse of the air transport system. One cannot help but wonder if there is some sort of incentive to use a helicopter instead of simply taking the patient by ambulance. At the very least, there seems to be too much superfluous use of a highly valuable resource.

Most importantly, these actions fly in the face of the “golden hour” theory of patient transport and regardless of who gets billed for what, the excesses are yet another reason for our ever-escalating health care insurance costs.

Please do not publish my name. Thank you.



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Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow, N4969J: Accident occurred August 12, 2013 in Fredericksburg, Virginia

NTSB Identification: ERA13CA362 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 12, 2013 in Fredericksburg, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-180, registration: N4969J
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, he initiated the first leg of a three-leg cross country flight at night without obtaining a weather briefing, nor did he obtain a briefing at either intermediate stop. Approaching his destination, he checked the weather and was informed that it included one-quarter mile visibility, 200 vertical feet visibility, and the runway was closed. He decided to wait and hold for the runway to open, which was about 30 to 40 minutes, and attempted an ILS approach. He performed the approach but executed a missed approach due to the low visibility conditions. After conferring with air traffic control, he elected to divert, but exhausted his fuel supply prior to performing an approach at the diversion airport. He executed a forced landing in instrument meteorological conditions. The airplane touched down in a grassy area and collided with a curb adjacent to the parking lot of a gas station. An inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration examined the airplane and confirmed that the fuel supply was exhausted and substantial damage was confirmed to the wings and fuselage. The pilot reported no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. He also reported that he may have been fatigued since he elected to fly all night after working the previous day.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s inadequate pre-flight and in-flight planning and his failure to obtain a weather briefing at his intermediate stops, resulting in a missed approach at his destination and subsequent fuel exhaustion. The pilot’s fatigue due to lack of sleep may have been a factor.

Many of us just can’t pass a WaWa without making a quick stop. But even so, it was surprising when a Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow landed in the parking lot of a WaWa just north of the Shannon Airport in Spotsvylvania County about 5:43 a.m. today.

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WUSA9) -- A plane landed in the parking lot of a Wawa store near Shannon Airport on Monday morning, confirms the manager of the airport, Robert Stanley.

According to Stanley, the plane was low on fuel and the pilot tried to land at the nearest two airports. Stanley says the pilot tried airports in Charlottesville and Louisa, but fog -- with 1/4 mile visibility -- kept him from landing there. 

Virginia State police say the 1968 single-engine, fixed-wing Piper was headed from Tampa, Fla. to Charlottesville but was diverted due to weather. State police say the pilot, 33-year-old Jerome M. Orlando of Broadway, Va. was first directed to Stafford Regional Airport. Due to the fuel level he was then diverted to Shannon Airport in Spotsylvania County, but Orlando was forced to make an emergency landing in the parking lot in the 3400 block of Shannon Park Drive, say police.

The plane then landed in the parking lot of the Wawa, its nose wheel folding back when it hit a curb shortly before 6 a.m., says Stanley. Virginia State Police say a mailbox and a parking sign were the only property damaged on the ground.

Stanley says the pilot was not injured. No other injuries were reported, says Stanley.

There is no estimated time for removing the plane.

The FAA has been notified about the incident and state police are investigating, according to Stanley.
It is still unclear if any charges will be filed.

Kishwaukee to begin offering beginning aviation classes in Lake in the Hills

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Aviation classes for college credit are set to be offered beginning this fall at the Lake in the Hills Airport.

The Kishwaukee College Aviation Flight Program is partnering with Blue Skies Flying Services Inc., which is based at the airport, to offer a beginning aviation class.

The AVF 101 Primary Flight Theory class will be taught at Blue Skies from 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays from Sept. 4 through Dec. 16.

The class is a four-credit-hour course that addresses the requirements for the Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot Knowledge Test, as well as the basics for a career in aviation. Credits earned in the course can be applied toward degrees and certificates and can be transferred to several four-year aviation programs, such as the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Lewis University and Southern Illinois University.

The course also can be transferred as an elective class, said Matt Feuerborn, associate dean of Career Technologies at Kishwaukee.

Because McHenry County College does not offer an aviation program, a cooperative agreement is available to ensure students receive in-district tuition rates from Kishwaukee.

Kishwaukee has had its aviation flight program since 2005, Feuerborn said.

Gino DeVivo, the Lake in the Hills economic development coordinator, said the village worked with the two entities to bring about the partnership.

"The village operates the airport," DeVivo said. "We work closely with service providers and businesses at the airport. We feel this is a good economic development vehicle to promote the area and the airport itself."

DeVivo added there is a hope to expand Kishwaukee's course offerings at the airport.

Feuerborn said Kishwaukee has been working to set up a course with Blue Skies for about a year.

Kishwaukee expects to draw students from the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

"We have a significant number of students who drive a great distance to Kishwaukee to take classes," Feuerborn said.

Kishwaukee is the only college in the area that has an aviation program that focuses on flight and pilot training.

"We've been trying to regionalize the program for a long time," Feuerborn said.

The class will cost $558 per student and is expected to have up to 15 available spots, Feuerborn said.

 "If we need to serve more students, we'll open more classes," he said.

The course also will be open to interested high school students, Feuerborn said.

Learn more

To help promote the new partnership, there will be an information session where attendees can learn more about the AVF 101 course and steps required to enroll. The session is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Blue Skies Flying Services Inc. at 8411 Pyott Road.


Beech E35 Bonanza, Avery Enterprises Inc, N3226C: Accident occurred August 12, 2013 in West Yellowstone, Montana

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA368 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 12, 2013 in West Yellowstone, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/28/2015
Aircraft: BEECH E35, registration: N3226C
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During a cross country flight, the pilot diverted to another airport. An airport employee who witnessed the accident reported that the pilot made several attempts to contact the airport over the common traffic advisory frequency; however, the pilot did not respond to replies from airport personnel. The airplane made a low pass heading south over the runway with the landing gear extended. After flying out of view, the airplane returned heading north over the parking ramp, about 50-75 feet above ground level. According to the witness, the pilot made a left turn to land but overflew final approach and was attempting to correct and line up with the runway when the airplane stalled and descended in a nose-low attitude to ground impact. It is likely that the critical angle of attack was exceeded during the turn, which resulted in the stall.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed several indications of an electrical problem: the manual fuel pump handle was extended from its stowed position; the manual landing gear hand crank was engaged; and, although the flap switch was in the extend position, the flaps were not extended. When the airplane's generator was placed on a test stand, it failed to produce power. No other mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airframe or engine were found that would have precluded normal operation. 

The generator failure was likely the reason that the pilot diverted from his planned route. After the generator failed, limited electrical power would have remained for a short time via the battery, allowing the pilot to transmit over the radio. However, the radio's volume knob was found in the lowest volume setting, which was likely the reason that the pilot did not hear airport personnel responding to his radio calls. It is likely that the generator failure distracted the pilot and contributed to his failure to maintain airplane control while landing. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain airplane control while aligning the airplane with the runway for landing, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's distraction during landing due to the effects of an inoperative generator.


On August 12, 2013, about 1130 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Beech E35, N3226C, impacted terrain while landing at Yellowstone Airport (WYS), West Yellowstone, Montana. The airplane was registered to Avery Enterprises, Inc., and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the one passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage by impact forces. The cross-country business flight departed Rigby, Idaho, sometime after 1000, with a planned destination of Tioga, North Dakota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The passenger was hospitalized for an extended period of time and the family reported he had no recollection of the accident.

Witnesses at WYS reported that the accident pilot repeatedly attempted to make radio contact on the airport unicom frequency (123.0), but he did not respond to any of the fix base operator's replies. The accident airplane was observed making a low approach down runway 19 between 100-200 feet above ground level, with the landing gear extended. When the witnesses next observed the airplane, it was on the downwind, about 50-75 feet above the ground. The landing gear was still in the extended position, and the engine sounds were normal.

One witness watched the airplane as it turned left onto the base leg. It appeared to him that the airplane had overflown final, and was attempting to correct "when it stalled." The witness then saw the airplane descend in a nose low attitude until it impacted the ground.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 67-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane.

The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on June 6, 2013. It had the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses.

An examination of the pilot's logbook indicated he had a total flight time of 4,516.0 hours as of July 31, 2013. He logged 35.9 hours in the last 90 days; all of which were in the accident airplane. He completed a biennial flight review on June 12, 2013.


The airplane was a Beech E-35, serial number D-3891. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane had a total airframe time of 6,016.5 hours at the last annual inspection dated June 12, 2013. The tachometer read 1,912.5 at the last inspection. The tachometer read 1,960.48 at the accident scene.

The engine was a Continental Motors E-225-8, serial number 30267-D-4-8. Total time recorded on the engine at the last 100-hour inspection was 3,652.5 hours, and time since major overhaul was 1,693.3 hours.

Last maintenance entry in the engine logbook was dated June 25, 2013, Engine tach time of 1,915.7, installed fuel pump: Romec RD77Q0, SN 19956. The logbook entry was signed by the accident pilot.

The most recent maintenance entry regarding the generator was dated June 9, 1982; the recorded tach time was 847.48. The entry stated the generator was removed, and the bearings and oil seal was replaced.

The weight and balance was computed using known data and was found to be within the aircraft operating limitations at the time of the accident. The accident airplane's stall speeds were computed using the calculated weight of 2,262 pounds. The stall speeds of the airplane with the flaps retracted, at a 0-degree bank angle was 54 knots, a 30-degree bank angle was 57 knots, a 45-degree bank angle was 63 knots, and a 60-degree bank angle was 74 knots.


The pilot was attempting to contact personnel at the airport via the airport unicom on frequency 123.0 but was unable to hear the responses from personnel on the ground.

The pilot was transmitting on the radio trying to establish communication with the Yellowstone unicom but did not indicate there was anything wrong with the airplane.

Post accident examination found the volume knob on the airplane communication radio was in the lowest volume setting.


Yellowstone Airport is an uncontrolled airport, which operated annually between the months of June 1 through September 30.

The Airport/ Facility Directory, Northwest U.S., indicated that Yellowstone Airport had an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS)-3, which broadcast on frequency 118.100.

The Airport/ Facility Directory also indicated that Yellowstone runway 19/1 was 8,400 feet long and 150 feet wide. The runway surface was asphalt.


Investigators examined the wreckage at the accident scene. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a ground impact where the airplane came to rest. There was no debris path. The orientation of the fuselage was 172 degrees on a 40-degree up-slope.

Flight control continuity was established for all flight control surfaces. 

The airplane was intact with the main landing gear struts protruding through the top of both wings. Both 20-gallon wing fuel tanks were intact; the right fuel tank was void of any fuel, and the left fuel tank contained 12-15 gallons of aviation fuel. The fuel tank selector valve was selected to the left tank. The auxiliary (wobble) fuel pump handle was noted to be extended from its stowed position.

The manual landing gear extension handle boot was removed, and the manual landing gear hand crank was engaged, which is the manual landing gear extension position. The landing gear motor circuit breaker was not pulled out.

The flap actuation switch was in the extend selection position, and the flaps were found in the retracted position.


The Gallatin County Coroner completed an autopsy on August 12, 2013. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

Analysis of the specimens for the pilot contained no findings for carbon monoxide, volatiles or tested drugs. They did not perform tests for cyanide.


On August 14, 2013, investigators examined the airplane wreckage at Arlin's Aircraft Service, Inc., in Belgrade, Montana.

The aircraft battery was disconnected at the accident site. Upon examination, no damage was noted to the battery. The voltage was tested at 12 volts with a 60 percent charge load level.

External battery power was applied to the airplane with no indication of any energizing of the airplane's systems. The solenoid was found to have a broken post, which prevented activation. It appeared the broken post may have been a result of impact damage.

The solenoid was activated by use of a jumper wire. Once the solenoid was activated the electrical systems inside the airplane become energized.

Upon examination of the comm-1 radio, the volume knob was observed turned all the way down. The radio exhibited impact damage and was stuck in transmit mode.

The generator (Delco-Remy 50 amp, Model 1101908-50A, SN 4116) was removed from the engine and placed on a test stand. The generator failed to produce power. During the disassembly, it was noted that the rear cap bearing was worn and in pieces. The stator was eroded from contact with the armature.

A review of the engine logbook records indicated that the generator was last serviced 1,113 hours prior to the accident. 

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA368 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 12, 2013 in West Yellowstone, MT
Aircraft: BEECH E35, registration: N3226C
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 12, 2013, about 1130 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Beech E-35, N3226C, impacted terrain while landing at Yellowstone Airport (WYS), West Yellowstone, Montana. The airplane was registered to Avery Enterprises, Inc. and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the one passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage by impact forces. The cross-country business flight departed Rigby, Idaho, sometime after 1000 with a planned destination of Tioga, North Dakota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

Witnesses at WYS reported the accident pilot attempted to make radio contact on the airport Unicom frequency (123.0) but the pilot did not respond to the fix base operator’s replies. The accident airplane was observed making a low approach down runway 19 between 100-200 feet above ground level, with the landing gear extended. When the witnesses next observed the airplane, it was on the downwind, about 50-75 feet above them. The landing gear was still in the extended position, and the engine sounds were normal.

One witness watched the airplane as it turned onto the base leg. It appeared to him that the plane had overflown final and was attempting to correct by increasing the angle of bank. The witness then saw the airplane descend in a nose low attitude until it impacted the ground.

Following Monday’s crash, the Beech E35 Bonanza plane was loaded up and transported from the Yellowstone Airport to a storage facility late Tuesday afternoon. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are continuing the investigation.

WEST YELLOWSTONE – Officials in southwestern Montana have identified a man killed in a small plane crash at the West Yellowstone airport. 

Gallatin County Sheriff and Coroner Brian Gootkin says 67-year-old Andrezej Furmanski was a resident of both Citra, Fla., and North Dakota.

Furmanski and another man were in a Beech E35 Bonanza plane that crashed at about 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The injured man was flown to the hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he was listed in critical condition. His condition Tuesday was not immediately known and his identity has not been released.

Gootkin did not provide any further information about the crash or the victims, saying the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are continuing to investigate the crash.

A small plane sits on a hillside where it crashed late Monday morning near the West Yellowstone airport. One man died in the crash and another was critically injured, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said.

WEST YELLOWSTONE - One man died and another remains in critical condition at a hospital in Idaho after a plane crash at the Yellowstone Airport late Monday morning. 

A small passenger plane crashed on the north end of the runway at the airport, which is located just north of West Yellowstone off of U.S. Highway 191. The crash was reported at 11:34 a.m.

The plane was identified as a Beechcraft Bonanza. Federal Aviation Administration records for its registry number list it as belonging to Avery Enterprises Inc. of Powers Lake, N.D.

The nose of the small passenger aircraft was smashed and broken as it rested near a low hillside at the end of the runway.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin confirmed the details of the crash Monday afternoon and said the investigation will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board -- the federal agency that investigates civil aviation accidents in the United States.

“We, the sheriff’s office, will be staying on scene until the NTSB gets here, and then we will assist them with that investigation,” Gootkin said.

Gallatin County deputies, the Hebgen Basin Fire District and Forest Service personnel responded to the crash.

The Big Sky Trail on U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to the airport was temporarily closed, and caution tape was strung around the crash scene while investigators worked Monday.

The sheriff said more details would be released as the investigation continues.

“We’re still trying to notify the families,” he said.

Aviation association calls for release of abducted pilots in Lebanon

BEIRUT: The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations called Monday for the immediate release of two Turkish Airlines pilots who were kidnapped in Beirut last week.

“[IFALPA] condemns this action and calls for the immediate release of the two pilots,” the organization said in a statement, adding that such an attack on civil aviation constituted “a willful hazard to the safety and security of passengers and crew.

“States and operators should consider the prevention of such attacks as a high priority, and do everything in their power to ensure the security of air crews and their families, in particular during layovers,” IFALPA said.

A group of gunmen kidnapped captain Murat Akpinar and his co-pilot Murat Agca as they headed to their Beirut hotel on a bus shortly after arriving in Lebanon at the Rafik Hariri International Airport.

A local group, Zuwwar al-Imam Ali al-Reda, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, demanding in exchange the release of nine Lebanese hostages in Syria who were abducted in May of last year by rebels.

Relatives of the Lebanese argue that Ankara, a strong supporter of the Syrian opposition, can secure the release of their loved ones.

IFALPA also said that it was constantly examining all flight crew transportation and accommodation and would continue to work alongside governments and operators to protect air crews against security threats.

“IFALPA will also raise the matter with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure that international Standards and Recommended Practices provide the necessary basis for the highest security regulations worldwide,” it added.


Demand credentials for airport manager: Sikorsky Memorial (KBDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut

Sikorsky Memorial Airport is currently without a manager. While the airport continues to function with the staff remaining, consideration should and must be given to the selection of the next manager. Friends of Sikorsky Airport (FOSA), an organization of almost 650 users and supporters of the airport, encourages the city of Bridgeport to recognize the importance of the airport with 45 businesses, more than 325 employees and salaries in excess of $16 million.

Sikorsky Memorial Airport needs a manager with experience in managing a diverse airport and developing (marketing) the full potential of the airport in a manner acceptable to the community. I'm hopeful that the city of Bridgeport will move beyond the approach used in the past of appointing a manager based on political criteria alone. A better approach for all interested constituencies is to identify airport specific knowledge, skills and abilities and perform a nationwide search for a manager with those credentials. Those credentials should include accreditation by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) like the managers of most successful airports of like size throughout the U.S.

David Faile


Friends Of Sikorsky Airport


Driveway inquiry picks up speed: Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut

BRIDGEPORT-- Call it the missing half-year.

As the City Council tries to get to the bottom of how they unknowingly bought a $400,000 no-bid driveway for a developer, then hired him to install it, members are zeroing in on how officials justified the project as an unanticipated expense to dodge the competitive bidding rules.

While the driveway deal wasn't finalized until spring, there are indications some city officials knew it was on the horizon as of late last summer.

"I'm sure there's a time line," City Attorney Mark Anastasi promised the council's Ordinance Committee Wednesday.

The committee wants to apply any lessons learned from the driveway inquiry to tighten purchasing rules.

Anastasi and the city's purchasing staff met with members Wednesday to begin answering their questions. Those offices, plus Sikorsky Memorial Airport Manager John Ricci, played key roles in the driveway project.

In April Mayor Bill Finch's administration -- unbeknownst to the council and general public -- hired millionaire developer Manuel "Manny" Moutinho to build the 1,000-foot gravel driveway for himself and three neighboring property owners.

The driveway runs from Sniffen Lane in Stratford, over city-owned Sikorsky Memorial Airport land, to the four private parcels along Stratford's shoreline.

Ever since Hearst Connecticut Newspapers revealed its completion in June, the driveway has turned into a political nightmare for Finch.

A neighboring condominium association last month persuaded a judge the project should never have been approved.

The mayor last week fired Ricci for allegedly not revealing his real estate dealings with Moutinho to the administration until after Hearst reported on them. Ricci is appealing through his union.

And sources have said federal authorities are now eying the situation.

The mayor's office has argued it owed Moutinho and neighbors the driveway because the city was taking away an older, dirt driveway for a runway safety project.

The administration has also said the council approved the $400,000 last September when members borrowed $3 million toward the Sikorsky Airport work. The $40 million runway safety zone is mostly federally funded, which is why the FBI and U.S. attorney are now paying attention.

But Anastasi hedged a bit Wednesday, saying the city had hoped Moutinho would assume the responsibility.

"At one point, there was also an expectation Mr. Moutinho on his own was going to do something," Anastasi said. "That didn't bear fruit."

The controversial developer -- whose allegedly botched sewer project in Trumbull is also part of an FBI probe -- previously obtained Bridgeport's approval to relocate the dirt driveway because it flooded. Last summer, he received permits from Stratford to build the new gravel access way, presenting it as his own $200,000 project.

But Moutinho never broke ground. Why, remains unclear, although Ricci in a statement following his termination claimed Moutinho held off because of the zoning appeal Breakwater Key condominiums filed last September.

After approving the $3 million for Sikorsky in September, the council in October OK'd an agreement with Stratford, where Sikorsky Memorial Airport is located, and with state and federal authorities for the runway safety improvements.

But according to records in Stratford, it wasn't until March that Bridgeport took over Moutinho's building permits.

Then, in April, the city hired Moutinho to install the driveway after waiving competitive bidding.

"So what happens between September and early April? That's a lot of time in-between," council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133, asked Anastasi Wednesday.

It's a key question because Moutinho was hired using city guidelines for "qualified purchases" that waive competitive bids when time is a critical and the purchases unanticipated.

But in a late April interview, lawyer Lisa Trachtenburg, the attorney in Anastasi's office assigned to the airport, told Hearst that as of late September or early October, she advised city budget staff to find money for the driveway.

"I went to my Office of Policy and Management director and said ... we've got to rebuild a driveway," Trachtenburg recalled.

Acting Purchasing Agent Berndt Tardy told the Ordinance Committee on Monday that the law department in April asked for the qualified purchase. He was told time was critical, the city was under a federal deadline to compete the runway work by 2016, and had to use Moutinho's permits and also hire him to get the driveway done.

"From what I was told, someone had the permits and if they didn't do the job, we'd have to pay them for the permits," Tardy said, adding that cost alone was $40,000. "I felt it was prudent to grant the request."

Even so, Tardy requested that the city, through Ricci, seek two other informal quotes from other contractors, both of which came in higher than Moutinho's price.

"How do we decide whether this is something where a department hasn't sat on this?" said Councilman Steven Stafstrom, D-130.

Tardy said he relies on the integrity of the city employee making the request for the qualified purchase.

"I just take their word for it," he said. "How do I go about proving they had time?"

Anastasi is expected to provide more details of what transpired over those several months at the Ordinance Committee's next meeting. Members also said they wanted to interview Trachtenburg.

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