Wednesday, September 04, 2013

High-end aviation company moving to Brunswick, Maine

(NECN: Amy Sinclair) - When the Brunswick Naval Air Station was decommissioned in 2011, it marked the end of an era in Maine and the start of the search to replace the thousands of Navy jobs that were lost. 

 Wednesday, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority marked another milestone in that process, announcing that Tempus Jets is expanding its business into Hangar 6 at the Brunswick Executive Airport.

Tempus Jets is one of the largest private aviation firms in the country. The company's CEO says the size of the hangars and length of the runways were a good fit for their business. They plan to repair and refurbish large aircraft for their mostly billionaire client base.

"An airplane comes in that's been in commercial use like a plane you and I fly on and someone wants to turn it into a private aircraft.  So we take out those uncomfortable economy seats and put in larges sofas, chairs, showers, TV screens, bedrooms and turn it into a private aircraft," said Tempus Jets CEO Scott Terry.

Terry says he was familiar with the base because he served as a navigator for one of the squadrons in the early 1990s.

The company expects to employ around 50 people - a combination of mechanics, engineers and support staff - in the first year. Tempus Jets hopes to eventually employ between 200-400 people.

Story and Video:

Plane crash hero saves his family

A former hunt master and his family escaped a brush with death – after he was forced to crash land his private plane.

The Right Honorable Johnny Greenall, son of the Baron of Daresbury, his wife Laura and three children walked away unscathed after their plane plunged from the sky shortly after taking off from Tatenhill Airfield, near Burton.

It is the second time in ten years that Johnny, younger brother of Lord Daresbury – chairman of Aintree racecourse – has survived such a crash.

Mike Shelton, manager of Tatenhill Airfield, confirmed the Air Accident Investigation Branch had been informed of the crash but responding to claims the plane had struck a flock of birds, he said it was ‘too early to know’.

He said: “I didn’t see the crash myself.

“We can’t move the plane yet as it’s deep inside a 6ft-high maize field about half-a-mile away from the airfield. It is certainly a write-off though.”

Ten years ago, experienced pilot Mr Greenall talked about seeing his life ‘flash before him’ when he had another miraculous escape after former jockey Willie Carson’s plane, which he was piloting, careered out of the sky into the Rift Valley in Africa.

This time, the couple and their three young children were en route to see family aboard a six-seater Beechcraft turbo-prop.

“We’ve had a very lucky escape,” said Laura, granddaughter of the Earl of Feversham, speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper following the recent crash, which took place on Friday.

“We’re all very shaken up but once we hit technical trouble, Johnny was incredible and somehow crash-landed safely in a field.

“There was no time to lose – we crawled through the doors and ran for our lives in case it blew up.

“As a mother, I am so relieved the children all came out alive.

“But when it happened we could all have died, yet there was no time to cuddle them or even say a prayer. It was absolutely awful.

“During those truly tense seconds when it could all have been over, my husband kept his cool and saved our lives,” said Mr Greenall’s wife, who lives with him at stately Wootton Hall on the edge of the Peak District, where she runs the Duncombe Arms gastro pub.

“We don’t yet know the cause of the accident, but Johnny had nerves of steel to keep it together while we dropped out of the sky.”

Original Article and Photo:

Tampa International Airport to close runway for maintenance

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport will close its main runway for maintenance for a month beginning Sept. 23, diverting landings and takeoffs to the airport’s east parallel runway that could create more noise over South Tampa residential areas.

The repair work is routine maintenance that must be done every 15 years, an airport release said.

In addition to work on the primary runway on the west side of the airport adjacent to the Veteran’s Expressway, crews will perform concrete maintenance on other parts of the airfield, including a section of a lightly used east-west runway and two taxiways.

The main runway is 11,002 feet long, compared with the parallel 8,300 foot runway on the east side of the terminal. It is made up of 17-inch thick, high-strength concrete on 6 inches of low-strength concrete and a 6-inch crushed stone base.

“During the maintenance period, which we expect to end on or about Oct. 23, people who live and work around the airport will notice an increase in aircraft noise throughout the day,” the release said.

When the runway maintenance work ends in late October, aircraft operations will resume on the main runway except between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. when work will continue on a Federal Aviation Administration equipment upgrade on the airfield.

Aircraft traffic during those hours also will be diverted to the east runway through mid-November, when the FAA project should be completed. 


Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano up for another raise

TAMPA — Another day, another raise for Joe Lopano.

The chief executive officer of Tampa International Airport is poised to get his third raise in 20 months at Thursday's meeting of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority governing board.

The chairman of the board, Robert Watkins, proposed the 5 percent merit raise for Lopano. If the board approves, the CEO's base salary would become $330,750 starting Oct. 1.

"I personally think he's done a fantastic job," Watkins said, "and performed beyond all expectations."

Lopano was hired in January 2011. In January 2012, the board voted to give him a $50,000 raise. Then in October 2012, the board voted for a 5 percent, or $15,000, merit raise. Lopano also had three contract extensions to go with the two raises during that 20 month span. The last extension was especially contentious — and potentially lucrative.

In May, the board voted 4-1 to extend Lopano's contract to 2018 and set up a $500,000 bonus for him to collect if he continues to run the airport for the next five years.

The only board member to vote nay was Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who vociferously opposed giving Lopano a bonus — it was the board's version of a non-compete clause — and extending a contract that already ran to 2016.

The board's discussion and vote of this latest raise should go much more smoothly. In preparation for Lopano's annual performance review Thursday, all five board members have already given him glowing written evaluations — even the mayor, who gave Lopano seven of the top "outstanding" grades and eight lesser "exceptional" marks.

Read more here:

Federal Aviation Administration won’t restrict airspace for America’s Cup

Remember when former Mayor Gavin Newsom said "Who the heck needs the Olympics and the Super Bowl when you've got the America's Cup?"

The Cup may have been pitched as the third-largest international sporting event in the world, but with only four teams competing and significantly scaled back economic impact projections, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn't even deemed the event worthy of the same airspace protections given to every San Francisco Giants and 49ers game.

"And there won't be a (temporary flight restriction) over the event," FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said in an e-mail. "We will issue advisories to pilots."

For every major sporting event in a stadium, the FAA prohibits low-flying aircraft from coming within 3 nautical miles of the venue. City officials have been talking with the FAA for months, telling the federal agency that they expect up to 100,000 spectators a day along the waterfront for the final races in September, but to no avail.

"They said even with that kind of attendance that wouldn't in and of itself justify flight restrictions unless there was a real safety and security situation they could identify," said Michael Martin, the city's point man on the Cup. "They told us they can put one in place very quickly if they see there's a safety or security reason that requires it."

Martin said other factors the FAA considers in issuing the restrictions are how much attention is being paid to the event, terrorist threats and even how important the attendees are. (Sorry Larry Ellison, apparently being a billionaire software mogul ain't all it's cracked up to be.)

Once it was clear that the FAA may not come through, the city turned to Plan B. On Monday, the Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Development Committee will consider a city-sponsored ordinance to "prohibit the use of aircraft, self-propelled, or buoyant objects to display any sign or advertising device in the airspace" over the course area.

"It sounds sort of ominous when you read it, but it's something we try to keep narrowly tailored," Martin said. "It's part of our running effort to keep safety paramount."

Though Martin says safety is priority No. 1, the legislation is concerned with appearances first, stating that aerial signs and towing banners would "undermine the viewing experience" before getting to the "dangerous visual distractions" for sailors.

Leading Cup critic Supervisor John Avalos says the ordinance strikes him as an attempt by Ellison and his racing syndicate to exercise further control over the event.

"It seems absurd to try to limit where spectators' eyes go," Avalos said.

Lunsford said the FAA hasn't had the opportunity to review the proposed ordinance. Martin said the city felt it could make its own rules about the airspace because Honolulu has a permanent ban on aerial advertising that was upheld by courts in 2006. 


Life Saver medical helicopter base closes in Birmingham, Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -   A Life Saver medical transport base closed permanently Tuesday in Birmingham.

Birmingham was one of the first cities in the country to have Life Saver and medical helicopter was based at Carraway Medical Center. A regional manager for Life Saver's parent company says a lack of funding and uncertainty with the health care reform law was behind the decision.

The inside of a Life Saver helicopter is like a hospital on wings.

Within minutes, the chopper can take off and fly to an emergency scene like a car wreck, and provide critical care support.

"So we bring basically your ICU, your ER; we bring this to the patient," Traci Jones with Life Saver said.

For more than 30 years, that's what this chopper did. It would fly out from Carraway Medical Center in Birmingham, pick up patients and then bring them back downtown. But over time, the owners of Life Saver, Air Methods Corporation, saw a need for change.

"They realize the people that need air medical transport were out in the rural areas so they wanted to place helicopters outside the downtown area," Jones said.

"All the major accidents that go on in the Birmingham metro, it's much faster for ground units to take them in," Gary Boullion with Air Methods Corporation said.

So with choppers based in Rainbow City, Sylacauga and Opelika, company officials decided to shut the Birmingham base down.

"This is an economic decision, absolutely," Boullion said. "The volume at this base has dropped and dropped over time due to the changing market factors and the way things work."

Care Flight, which flies for Children's of Alabama, will continue to operate out of the Carraway Medical Center. And Life Saver officials say even with that portion of aid leaving downtown, they don't expect a major impact.

"We don't anticipate any reduced services for the metro area," Boullion said.

Besides the bases Rainbow City, Sylacauga and Opelika, Life Saver is also planning to open a Tuscaloosa base soon.

Fifteen employees were stationed at the Birmingham base and Air Methods Corporation officials say they're trying to place them elsewhere in the company.

Story and Video:

Bad repairs led to plane crash - Transport Accident Investigation Commission: Piper PA31-350 Navajo Chieftain,, ZK-MYS

Investigation 11-004

Piper PA31-350 Navajo Chieftain, ZK-MYS, landing without nose landing gear extended, Nelson Aerodrome, 11 May 2011

On 11 May 2011 the nose landing gear of a Piper PA31-350 Navajo Chieftain (the aeroplane) jammed in a partially retracted position during a training flight at Nelson Aerodrome. The nose landing gear could not be extended again, and in the subsequent landing the aeroplane sustained substantial damage. Neither of the 2 pilots, the only persons on board, was injured.

The nose landing gear jammed as a result of wrong parts and incorrect maintenance, over a number of years, which allowed the landing gear to turn too far when full rudder was applied during the training exercise. The increased angle and misalignment between 2 key components prevented the nose landing gear centring during the retraction, and the jam ensued.

This aeroplane had a recent history of nose landing gear defects, including other failures to extend or retract normally. Some of the rectifications of the earlier defects, carried out by various maintenance organisations, had not been in accordance with Civil Aviation Rules, because incorrect parts or unauthorized repairs had been used, and the aeroplane manufacturer's Maintenance Manual procedures had not been followed.

Full Report:

A history of landing gear problems and maintenance contrary to Civil Aviation rules have been blamed for a Nelson plane crash in 2011.

A report from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission released its report today into the crash on May 11.

The report says the nose landing gear jammed "as a result of wrong parts and incorrect maintenance over a number of years".

Misalignment between two key components prevented the nose landing gear from centring during the retraction which caused the jam.

The Commission says the aircraft's own maintenance manual procedures had not been followed and unauthorised repairs had been done on the aircraft.

"Some of the rectifications of the earlier defects, carried out by various maintenance organizations had not been in accordance with Civil Aviation rules because incorrect parts or unauthorised repairs had been used," the report says.

The Commission says the standard of maintenance for general aviation aircraft needs to be improved.

It has also recommended the Director of Civil Aviation take action to improve the level of compliance in the general aviation maintenance sector.

This included the need for duplicate checks to reduce the likelihood of recurring problems and incidents.

The nose landing gear of the Piper PA31-350 Navajo Chieftain partially jammed during a training flight at the Nelson Aerodrome.

The landing gear could not be extended again and the aircraft was substantially damaged, but neither of the two pilots inside were injured.


Rescue Guardsmen Credited with Three Saves on Two Missions in One Night

CAMP DENALI, Alaska—Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons had a busy Tuesday night when they were tasked to respond to two separate rescue missions Sept. 3.

The 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was notified around 4 p.m. that a plane had crashed on the east side of Rainy Pass, 105 nautical miles west of Anchorage.

“A private citizen saw the plane crash and called the Alaska State Troopers, who then notified us,” said Capt. Jeremy Brewer, a senior controller of the 11th Air Force RCC.

At 5:18 p.m., an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron with two Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron took off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

At 5:53 p.m., an HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron with two Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron departed JBER to join in the rescue mission.

“The survivors were located at 6:18 p.m. by the crew of the HH-60,” said Brewer. “We found them during a visual search, and the Troopers were also communicating with them via satellite phone during this time.”

“The survivors had minor injuries,” Brewer said. “Whenever an aircraft goes down, we always take them to get checked out at the hospital, even with minor injuries, because you never know if there are more serious internal injuries. One minute they can be walking around, and 15 minutes later, they may go unconscious. It’s better to get checked out.”

The survivors were transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center and released to medical staff at 7:10 p.m.

However, the evening was not over for the rescue Guardsmen. Another call came in at 12:14 a.m. from the Alaska State Troopers about a hunter who was in distress in the Eureka area.

“The Alaska State Troopers received a SPOT (beacon) notification when the hunter activated the ‘SOS’ feature,” Brewer explained. “When he activated it, the SPOT call center contacted the Troopers who then called us for assistance because they were unable to get to the individual.”

At 1:12 a.m., the mission was accepted by the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard.

At 2:37 a.m., an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th along with two Guardian Angels from the 212th took off from JBER.

At 2:53 a.m., an HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th along with two Guardian Angels from the 212th also left JBER to support the mission.

“The rescue crew in the HH-60 arrived on the scene at 3:29 a.m.,” said Brewer. “The survivor had sustained a minor leg injury in an ATV roll-over. The Guardian Angels assessed his injuries and stabilized the him while en route to the hospital.”

The survivor was flown to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and released to medical staff at 4:18 a.m.

Over the span of 12 hours, the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were credited with three saves for the two missions across the state.


Russian helicopter pilot visits, reflects on grandfather’s role in Alaska aviation


Two Russian civilian helicopters visited Fairbanks Friday, a bit more than halfway through their round-the-world flight to test the helicopters’ performance in the subarctic. The stopover allowed one of the pilots to catch up with a veteran Alaskan bush pilot who was celebrating little-known role his grandfather played in Alaska aviation history.  

Art Mortvedt paces around just outside the tarmac on the west side of Fairbanks International Airport, keeping an eye on the sky. He’s waiting for two R66 helicopters and their Russian crews who were running late.

Mortvedt is a bush pilot from Manley Hot Springs and something of a modern-day adventurer. Earlier this year, he flew his Cessna 185 to the North Pole, on the second leg of a circumpolar expedition to demonstrate the utility of single-engine aircraft for polar research.

That’s when he met the Russian helicopter pilots.

“I arrived at the North Pole on April 6,” Mortvedt said. “And on April 7th, in the morning, I heard a helicopter outside the tent. And it was an R66, flown by a guy named Mikhail Farikh, from Moscow. He had just flown to the North Pole – the first time that an R66 has ever gone to the North Pole. And so I was invited to have some tea and a light meal with him and his copilot and some other people.”
Mortvedt says he’d hoped to return the hospitality someday. And he says he found out a few days ago that he was going to get a chance to do just that.

“Lo and behold,” he said, “a friend of mine in England, who’s a helicopter pilot, contacted me telling me Mikhail is on his way around the world with an R66, and he’s coming to Alaska!”

Soon, two sleek helicopters approached from the south, hovered briefly, then touched down. The crew members were met by U.S. Customs and TSA officials, who escorted them into their offices.
After the aviators cleared Customs, Mortvedt welcomed them to America.

“There’s my friend, Mikhail,” Mortvedt said, shaking Farikh’s hand. “Welcome to Alaska. Great to see you again!”

“Thank you,” Farikh said.

Farikh says the crews were delayed because they’d decided to fly around the restricted airspace in the several military operations areas around the Interior.

He says the crews will stay in Fairbanks for a day, then depart and stop at Galena and Nome, as required by Customs, before crossing back over into Russia.

Farikh says the two helicopters performed well throughout the journey, which began Aug. 2 in Moscow. They followed a mostly northerly route, with a brief diversion southward to Vancouver, B.C.

“So, we are very happy,” he said. “And now, we are going home.”

Farikh says coming to Alaska, and then returning home from here, holds special significance for him. That’s because his grandfather, Fabio Farikh, was also a Russian aviator who came to Alaska back in 1930. He says his grandfather and another Soviet airman were part of a search-and-rescue operation in Siberia to find legendary Alaskan aviator Carl Ben Eielson, the namesake of the Air Force base.

Eielson and his mechanic, Earl Borland, had been reported missing in early November 1929.

“Eighty-three years ago,” Farikh said, “two Russian pilots made their search and rescue operation in Russian Siberia, and they found two American pilots from Alaska – Carl Ben Eielson and his mechanic-technician, Borland.”

Eielson’s plane went down as he and Borland were on another rescue mission, to bring supplies to the crew of a ship that had become icebound off the coast of Siberia, and to salvage its cargo.

“These two Russian pilots found (the) American pilots’ bodies,” Farikh said, “and (the) American government asked (the) Soviet government to let (the) Russian pilots deliver the bodies here to Alaska. And one of these Russian pilots was my grandfather.”

 Farikh says he’s honored to follow the same route home that his grandfather took after he delivered he remains of Eielson and Borland in April 1930.

He hopes to work on an English-language translation of the book his grandfather wrote about the recovery mission.

Story and Photos:

Call for public inquiry into helicopter transport for oil workers

Helicopter statement: Finance Minister John Swinney said lessons would be learned from last month's Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma Mk2 helicopter crash off Shetland, during a ministerial statement on September 04, 2013. Mr Swinney told MSPs he recognized that concerns over North Sea helicopter safety were in a heightened state. He paid tribute to the victims of the crash as well as those who were involved in the rescue operation. Four people died in the accident on August 23. The investigation into what happened is continuing. The Civil Aviation Authority said the crash was not caused by airworthiness or technical problems, based on current information. Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma Mk2 went down close to shore on a flight to Sumburgh from the Borgsten Dolphin rig. It was the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.

Confidence in the helicopter transport system for North Sea oil workers will only be restored by a full, independent public inquiry, former Labor leader Iain Gray has said.

Confidence among oil and gas workers is "so low" following the latest Super Puma crash that such an inquiry is needed, Mr Gray said.

The Scottish Government should "send an important signal" and back calls for a public inquiry, similar to that carried out by Lord Cullen in the wake of the Piper Alpha disaster 25 years ago, he said.

Mr Gray pressed Finance Secretary John Swinney on the issue as the minister gave a statement to Holyrood in the wake of the latest accident which saw three men and and one woman killed when a helicopter carrying workers from an offshore vessel crashed into the sea as it approached Shetland last Friday.

Fourteen people survived, including two crew.

Flights to and from offshore platforms have resumed following a temporary suspension, as experts said they found no information to suggest that a technical problem was to blame for the crash.

Mr Swinney stressed that "rebuilding the confidence of the men and women who travel to and from our offshore installations must be a key priority".

In April 2009 the same Super Puma model went down north-east of Peterhead on its return from a platform, killing all 14 passengers and two crew on board.

Mr Gray, Labour's finance and employment spokesman, said that in such circumstances a "wide-ranging, comprehensive and independent inquiry" is needed to restore workers' confidence in the transport.

"It is vital to restore confidence in helicopter transport for the sake of the industry but, above all, for the sake of the workforce and their families.

"However, this is the fifth incident in recent times when helicopters have ditched, with 20 lives lost in two of those accidents.

"Whatever the conclusions of the air accident investigation regarding the cause of the August 23 ditching, the truth is there are wider questions now being asked to which the workforce will need answers to their strongest satisfaction if confidence is to be regained. Indeed, confidence is now so low that an industry review will not likely be able to restore it.

"Only a wide-ranging, comprehensive and independent inquiry, like Lord Cullen's, will be able to do that, whatever the cause of the latest incident turns out to be."

He urged Mr Swinney to back this call, saying: "Beginning to rebuild confidence now, in our view, needs an early commitment. So will the Cabinet Secretary reconsider his position on this and send that important signal by supporting such an independent inquiry now."

Mr Swinney insisted that the "correct approach" is to wait for the findings from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch before deciding if a public inquiry is necessary.

"There is a set of steps that have to be taken properly and fully to address the circumstances of this incident," he told MSPs at Holyrood.

"There has to be an investigation of this particular incident, properly and fully, by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and that has to report. And as a consequence of that, it is incumbent - because this is what the law says - that the Civil Aviation Authority has to consider and apply any relevant changes to the safety regime as a consequence of the investigation carried out by the AAIB.

"The Government maintains the correct approach is to wait for the sequence of investigations to be undertaken before we come to any conclusion about the need for a wider inquiry."

Because many of the issues raised by such an inquiry are reserved to Westminster, the UK Government would also need to agree to this, Mr Swinney also said.

"We will consider any further inquiries that are required once the conclusions of the AAIB investigation are to hand."

Tory MSP Alex Johnston, who repesents the North East region, backed the Finance Secretary's approach.

"I believe he is correct in saying calls for a public inquiry are premature. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is the correct facility for the initial inquiry," he said.

Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma Mk2, G-WNSB, CHC Helicopter: Accident occurred August 23, 2013 -  Fitful Head, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Ryanair Warns on Profit Expectations: Budget Airline Says It Will Cut Winter Capacity

Updated September 4, 2013, 10:32 a.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

LONDON—Ryanair Holdings said it may miss its net profit forecast for the current fiscal year as it reduces ticket prices to match a rash of low fares offered by its main competitors since mid-August.

The warning Wednesday caught investors off-guard as Ryanair, Europe's biggest discount airline by passenger numbers, said analysts' expectations of its earnings in the year to end-March 2014 were badly out of line with its own forecast.

Ryanair is known in the industry for its conservative earnings guidance, which in recent years has underplayed the strengths of its low-cost business model as the airline has continued to take market share in Europe and expand to new destinations.

The Irish carrier's confirmation that it is cutting its own fares in response to rivals' discounting also sent a shot across of the bows of Europe's other airlines, from the low-fare carriers to national flag carriers, which have all spent many months struggling to shore up the profitability of their own short-haul operations in face of the relentless competition from budget airlines.

Ryanair has the lowest operating costs of Europe's discount carriers meaning it is better positioned than its rivals to absorb cost increases, particularly higher fuel prices, and has greater flexibility to take them on with lower fairs if necessary.

The airline's average aircraft ownership and maintenance costs per passenger is just €6 compared with €8 for easyJet PLC and as much as €14 for Norwegian Air Shuttle, though they all compare well with Europe's flag carriers, according to Chris Tarry, a consultant at U.K.-based aviation industry firm CTAIRA. "Ryanair scores well on both low ownership cost and high revenue productivity," Mr. Tarry said.

Ryanair now expects full-year net profit to be at the lower end of its previously guided range of €570 million to €600 million ($750.7 million to $790.3 million), and may be even lower if fares and yields continue to weaken over the winter. Analysts had expected net profit of €653 million, according to the consensus earnings forecast compiled by data provider FactSet.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary told analysts on a conference call their estimates were too high. He said the company had seen weak bookings for September to November and planned to follow its competitors in aggressively lowering prices to ensure its planes were as full as possible.

Mr. O'Leary acknowledged that Ryanair's tactic was a self-fulfilling prophecy—the airline has lowered its profit guidance partly in anticipation of its own planned price cuts.

"We think there's generally an underlying weakness out there and we think the best way to respond to that is to be on the front foot and be very aggressive on pricing which we intend to be" into the third and fourth quarters, Mr. O'Leary said.

Ryanair now expects full-year passenger numbers of just under 81 million from just over 81.5 million in the guidance earlier this year. It plans on keeping more planes on the ground during the less-busy winter season to respond to lower demand and to save costs.

With capacity generally flat "we've been surprised that bookings have been weak," Mr. O'Leary said.

Shares in some of Ryanair's main rivals, including the U.K.-based easyJet PLC, Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus Group  PLC and Norwegian Air Shuttle, all fell Wednesday as the news of the Irish carriers' profit warning sank in.

"There is no doubt the market will be weaker than the industry is expecting over the next couple of months and we're going to respond to that by being out there first and being aggressive with the pricing and fares. Will that have an impact on the market generally? You bet it will," Mr. O'Leary said.

On a comparable London to Alicante, Spain, return journey in October, Ryanair's web fare came in cheapest at £51.98 ($80.88) from Stansted airport. Norwegian Air Shuttle cost £56.40 from Gatwick airport and the easyJet fare was £69.98 from Luton airport.

Norwegian Air Shuttle acknowledged it has undercut its rivals to kick-start its recently launched U.K. business.

"We don't try to start any price war on Gatwick with our low prices," said Frode Foss, the carrier's chief financial officer. "We are a small player there with a relatively unknown brand, so we have set the prices to get a better market position, though we still take our costs into account."

Still, at least part of Ryanair's profit concerns stem from the recent weakness in the euro against sterling. Around a quarter of Ryanair's revenue is denominated in the U.K. currency so the sharp rise in sterling in the past six weeks makes it more expensive for Ryanair to convert that sterling revenue back into euros. Sterling has risen to around €1.18 from €1.14 since the beginning of August.

In July, Ryanair reported a 21% drop in net profit to €78.1 million for the three months to June 30, despite a 4.5% rise in revenue to €1.34 billion. The airline reported net profit of €569.3 million in fiscal 2013, up slightly from €560.4 million the year before.

—Gustav Sandstrom in Stockholm and Marietta Cauchi in London contributed to this article.


McKinney officials approve $25M purchase of Collin County Regional Airport (KTKI) assets

McKinney city officials on Tuesday approved the $25 million purchase of Collin County Regional Airport assets, making the city owner of the airport property and facilities.

The McKinney City Council authorized City Manager Jason Gray to sign a binding contract to purchase assets the city did not already own at the airport. The city owns the airport property but not the improvements.

The city will take over the assets Nov. 1. As part of the plan, the city will begin providing Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services such as fueling and handling aircraft with trained FBO staff when the current vendor contract expires Oct. 31.

"The city has historically subsidized operations at the airport without an opportunity to participate in the economic benefits of hangar leases, fuel sales and other services," McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller said in a city release. "The acquisition will allow for a return on investment allowing the airport to be self-supporting as well as providing an opportunity for a single point of negotiation as we compete for corporate aviation and aviation-related business development."

The $25 million purchase price will come from Texas Department of Transportation funds already owed to the city for airport improvements, and approximately $17.25 million in bonds to be retired from airport revenue. The city recently earned AAA bond rating which, along with low interest rates, means that even without additional improvements, airport revenue will cover the debt payments.

"Fuel sales are a major revenue source at the airport," Gray said in the release. "By providing that and ancillary services, the city will generate additional income that will pay debt and fund improvements to make the airport a gateway we can be proud of to lure additional corporate aircraft and business to our city."

McKinney Economic Development Corporation President Jim Wehmeier said, "By owning and operating the airport we can package hangar space, fuel and other incentives in a way that cannot be accomplished under the present system.

"As the airport generates more revenue, we can use that revenue to make further improvements that enhance the airport's economic impact on our community. One example of that would be to build a new FBO facility and customer terminal that will compete more effectively than the present facility."

McKinney is modeling its plans after Sugar Land, a Houston suburb that has built one of the nation's highest-rated FBO facilities in Sugar Land Regional Airport.

"We have carefully studied their operations and believe the model will work equally well in McKinney," Gray said. "We want to achieve the same goal of having an airport that receives high ratings from its customers."

Airport officials said there can be a smooth transition when the city takes over in November. "We have an experienced airport manager who has run an FBO before and have the same access to fuel suppliers and other equipment as the current operators," Gray said.

Officials of the Federal Aviation Administration and TxDOT have been briefed on the city's plans. FAA rules allow municipalities to offer fueling and other services at airports.

"The bottom line," Gray said, "is that the city has a rare and unique opportunity to acquire a key asset, phase out subsidies and invest future income in a better airport to serve our community."


Airbus Wins Delta Order for 40 Aircraft: Airline Has Mainly Bought From Boeing in the Past

September 4, 2013, 2:00 p.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

Delta Air Lines Inc. placed an order for 40 Airbus jetliners in a deal valued at up to $5.6 billion at list prices, a victory for the European plane maker because the airline has mainly bought planes from rival Boeing Co. in the past.

Delta already operates more than a hundred single- and twin-aisle Airbus aircraft, all of which it acquired through its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines. But the Delta brand had not purchased jets from Airbus since 1992, and the European plane maker's jets account for only about a fifth of the combined carrier's current fleet of 727 jets, according to a Delta regulatory filing.

U.S. airlines have ordered more than 2,000 new jets from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier Inc. and Embraer SA over the past several years as their less-efficient fleets have neared retirement and jet-fuel prices have remained high.

Delta's aircraft-buying patterns have largely run counter to the other major U.S. carriers. Delta opts to refurbish older aircraft or buy current-generation jets at discount prices rather than shoulder the heavy financing and capital costs that come with next-generation jetliners.

Delta said it expects the 30 A321s it ordered to be delivered in 2016 and 2017, near the end of Airbus's phaseout of the current A320 family of jets. Typically, an airplane at the end of its production run commands a much lower price. The A321 lists for $107.3 million, before discounts. Airbus is a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. 

Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson called the agreement with Airbus "another opportunistic fleet transaction for Delta in which we acquire economically efficient, proven-technology aircraft."

Delta's last big order for new large jets was in 2011, when it agreed to buy 100 single-aisle 737-900ER jets from Boeing, the first of which will join Delta's fleet in the coming months. Airbus's 190-seat A321 competes directly with the 737-900ER.

Delta's latest order also includes 10 Airbus A330-300s, which compete with the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing's new flagship plane. Northwest was initially the U.S. launch customer for the 787, ordering 18 of the jets in 2005. But Delta, after the merger, deferred the order to 2020 after years of delays and concerns over the reliability of the Dreamliner.

Northwest Airlines, whose management today heads Delta, had a long history with Airbus, having placed a landmark order in 1986 that first allowed the European plane maker to break into the U.S. market with its single-aisle A320 jets. Wednesday's order will expand Delta's existing fleet of A330s, which were first purchased in 2001 and delivered to Northwest Airlines from 2003 to 2007.

Delta says it will be the first to operate an updated version of the 293-passenger A330 starting in the spring of 2015. The plane, which lists for $239.4 million, can carry more passengers, cargo and fuel than earlier versions for use on Delta's Atlantic and Pacific routes.

Airbus has lagged behind Boeing in selling out remaining current-generation, single-aisle jets it plans to build before transitioning fully to new models with new fuel-efficient engines first due to airlines in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Airbus in a statement said that "many" of the 30 A321s will be built at its new U.S. assembly facility in Mobile, Ala., which the plane maker built in part to win orders from North American customers. The assembly line will deliver its first A320 jet to JetBlue Airways Corp. in 2016.


Quincy Regional Airport/Baldwin Field (KUIN) working to fix compliance issues with Federal Aviation Administration

Federal Aviation Administration seeks better management at Baldwin Field

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued warnings to the City of Quincy regarding multiple compliance issues with Quincy Regional Airport and an FAA administrator has recommended the City reach out to other certified airports to “better assess staffing and resource needs to enhance the operation.”

The discussion of hiring a full-time manager at Quincy Regional Airport will be one of the topics at this evening’s Aeronautics Committee meeting at 5:30 at City Hall, Room 209.

In a letter the FAA sent to the City in May, FAA Inspector Heather Monaghan-Manna said there were a dozen discrepancies dating back to inspections made in 2012 that the City has been working to fix.

“Leading up to the December 2012 inspection, the lack of adequate airport management oversight and sufficient resources was apparent,” the letter stated. “It was evident that there was a breakdown in communication between airport management and ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting) personnel.”

The violations were:
  • Airport not in compliance with approved Airport Certification Manual (ACM) and (ARFF) personnel were not aware of their responsibilities in the ACM.
  • The ACM was out of date and did not reflect actual operational practices.
  • All maintenance personnel had not completed training.
  • ARFF personnel charged with the inspection of physical fueling facilities and equipment had not received training in the handling and storage of hazardous materials and substances.
  • Numerous sign panels were faded and runway and taxiway markings were faded and lost reflective qualities.
  • Airport could not provide documentation that the dry chemical system on the ARFF vehicle was being maintained.
  • Training was not completed in each subject area at least once every 12 consecutive months for all personnel assigned to Engines 3 and 6 (core ARFF personnel).
  • All ARFF personnel had not participated in at least one live fire drill within the previous year.
  • Airport did not receive written confirmation once every twelve consecutive calendar months from the fueling agent of fire safety training.
  • Airport did not review the Airport Emergency Plan at least once every 12 calendar months. The last Airport Emergency Plan review was conducted in March 2011 and this was a repeat violation.
  • Airport did not review Wildlife Hazard Management Plan.
  • Fencing was not effectively preventing wildlife access to the airfield.

During this period, Jeff Steinkamp was the interim airport manager along with his duties as city engineer. Steinkamp was fired following Kyle Moore election as mayor.

The FAA official said the City has since been “cooperative and has shown a constructive attitude towards compliance by correcting a majority of the noted discrepancies” and the remaining items have been resolved.

“It is our expectation that UIN (Quincy Regional Airport) will maintain these structures, practices and oversight put in place,” the letter states. “It is also imperative that the certificate holder provide sufficient, qualified personnel, and ensure continuity of compliance requirements through transitional periods that result in staffing changes.”

“Leading up to the December 2012 inspection, the lack of adequate airport management oversight and sufficient resources was apparent...we caution the City of Quincy that inadequate staffing levels at the airport can create significant challenges and an inability to ensure compliance with the regulation.”

“For historical comparisons, UIN previously had a full-time dedicated airport manager. Today, this position is held by an individual that provides other shared duties to other functions within City Government. While not necessarily indicative of a problem, UIN is one of the few Part 139 airports in the Great Lakes Region that is not currently staffed with a full-time Airport Manager.”

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore says these reasons in the letter and his further conversations with FAA officials lead him to believe the feds want the City to go back to having a full-time Airport Manager.

After the Aeronautics Committee gave Moore the authorization to hire an airport manager, he nominated Jarred Hester for the post last month. The City Council then tabled the action until it could be further reviewed by the Aeronautics Committee.

Original Article:

Rice Lake, Wisconsin: Airport Committee split over copter hangar

A deep divide in the Airport Committee surfaced Tuesday, Sept. 3. At issue was the construction of a new building for Life Link III, a medical transport company that bases a helicopter at the Rice Lake airport in a building it leases from the city.

After an extended discussion, the committee voted 4-2 to recommend to the City Council that the city extend Life Link's lease contract for 2 years while the committee discusses buildings with the company.

An earlier motion to borrow $125,000 and start the process of constructing a new building failed on a 4-2 vote.

Particularly at odds were airport committee member Mark O'Brien and Airport Chairman Stu Durkee. O'Brien is also on the City Council.

Both had talked with Life Link, but the two had completely different opinions concerning the company's intent.

O'Brien said the company is happy with its existing building; Durkee said the company sought a new building.

O'Brien said the company would not consider moving to Hayward if the city did not build a new building. Durkee said that was a real possibility, especially because the company has a history of moving from other communities.

O'Brien said there were existing empty hangars at the airport; Durkee said there were no empty hangars at the airport, and that the hangar O'Brien thought was empty was under a 2-year lease.

Durkee said there were problems with sand being blown around by the helicopter rotors, which caused problems for the neighboring Rice Lake Weighing hangar.

"That is an issue. The facility is in the wrong place," said Durkee.

O'Brien said he talked with Rice Lake Weighing, and "it's not an issue."

Need questioned

The company currently leases a hangar from the City of Rice Lake. That lease expires in October.

A medical crew lives at the hangar while on duty. Life Link planned to establish a maintenance facility here in addition to its based helicopter.

Funding for the proposed $450,000 hangar involved about $275,000 from the Federal Aeronautics Administration and $174,000 from the City of Rice Lake. The $275,000 from the FFA would have been the airport annual entitlement for 2012 and 2013.

Earlier last month, Life Link Rice Lake operations manager Joel Timblin discussed the city building a new hangar at an airport committee meeting. Following that, city officials contacted Life Link in a conference call. Involved in that call were Mayor Steve Harrington, city administrator Curt Snyder, city planner Harry Skulan and O'Brien.

At the last City Council meeting, O'Brien announced that Life Link planned to stay in its present hangar.

At Tuesday's meeting, Durkee said he and airport manager Jerry Stites had been working on the hangar idea with Life Link for 2 years, and that Life Link executives were surprised by the call from city officials.

"We'd been dealing with them for 2 years and all of a sudden they get blindsided. It's a heck of a way to conduct negotiations," said Durkee.

"I'm not sure you understood your customers when you dealt with them," said Durkee.

Durkee said the 2 years of work on the project included looking at options to redesign the existing city-owned hangar, but nothing was satisfactory. He said remaining at the existing hangar also would not solve the problem of sand being raised by the helicopter rotors. A new hangar would be at the southeastern end of the airport, away from the other hangars.

O'Brien contended there was no need for a new hangar.

"That hangar can be added onto for a lot less," he said.

Durkee responded that expanding the existing hangar or remodeling the living quarters could not be done under a grant, but building a new hangar could be under a grant.

Durkee said Life Link supplies its helicopters medical equipment from Rice Lake, which is becoming a medical center, and the Life Link helicopter here adds to the city's medical synergy.
"We liked the idea of being their central headquarters," he said.

"Why would we get into private industry instead of having private industry set that up for them?" asked Polly Wolner, a council-member who was in the audience.

Durkee responded that the premise is to get the airport off the tax rolls, and that's done with income, which would be generated by the lease. 

"The government doesn't need to step on the toes of small businessmen, or even large businessmen," said O'Brien.

"I don't see a need to commit $200,000 to a hangar we don't need and Life Link says they don't need," said O'Brien.

"You're not going to get any major businesses out there until you fix the water and sewer issue," said Airport Committee member Dave Armstrong.

The airport has its own well and septic system rather than municipal utilities.

Councilmember Bruce Willers, who was a member of the audience, said having the helicopter here best served the citizens of Rice Lake in a medical emergency.

"I would rather see it 7 minutes away than 17 minutes away in Hayward," he said.

Also at issue was an email to Stites from Bob Sannerud, chief financial officer at Life Link III. Sannerud stated that they are "very interested" in staying at the Rice Lake Airport, and that "the current quarters are adequate." But he also wrote that "From the perspective of our location at the airport, we would have the most interest in the option at the south/east end of the ramp."

"We're looking at the same letter and reading it totally differently," said Durkee.

Airport manager Jerry Stites said building 20 private airplane hangars was questioned when the airport was first built, but now those hangars are paid off and generate $44,000 per year in income for the city.

"You've got to have some trust and faith in the airport and that seems to be lacking," said Durkee.

The company plans to buy six new helicopters, with $18 million in funding coming through revenue bonds.

The county approved sponsoring those bonds last month. The county has no financial obligation under the borrowing. The county was involved to make the bonds' tax status more attractive.

Life Link III serves a consortium of nine hospitals, including St. Mary's in Duluth, Sacred Heart in Eau Claire and Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. It has helicopter bas
es in Rice Lake, and in the Minnesota communities of Wilmar, Alexandria, Anoka, and Hibbing.

 Original Article:

Flying pastor from Boonton, New Jersey, helps Haiti

On Aug. 20, Pastor Andrew Topp of the First Reformed Church of Boonton took his Piper Cherokee 6/300 out for its maiden voyage. The destination was Haiti and the purpose was a mission for the International Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHAF), which he founded six years ago.

The six-passenger plane can carry 900 pounds of cargo, enabling Topp to be more efficient in his work for IHAF, a relief organization that provides assistance to those in great need through a network of supporters, donors, and volunteers. While help is given locally as needed, a frequent locale for Topp is Haiti.

"It is so close and so poor," he explained.

He was there when the earthquake hit in 2010, working to build an orphanage and school for girls at Consolation Center. It was then that he realized a private plane would make it easier to bring more things as well as heavier items. On this current mission, the cargo includes solar panels for the Consolation Center, where the next project is a boy’s orphanage and a facility that will provide temporary housing and vocational training to families at risk of breaking up due to financial problems.

"It is to stop the tide of children being pushed to the street because of a family’s hardship," said Topp.

The multi-talented Topp is also a contractor and is building the Consolation Center out of converted shipping containers, which he said are "sturdy, economical, and versatile."

He has designed the Consolation Center to be like a self-contained village with its own solar power, compost, and toilet system. The private plane allows for the easy transporting of the solar panels, which Topp noted are too big for commercial flights. Shipping is not convenient as it is costly and takes time, not to mention, because of the value of the panels, they may not make it to the intended place.

Topp has flown with private pilots, but three years ago obtained his own pilot’s license. It was a year ago that he started looking to purchase a plane. A friend who is the owner of Bayonne Community Bank helped to secure the loan.

IHAF helps wherever people need assistance. Donated warehouse space allows them to collect and distribute items as they did after Superstorm Sandy. Topp is also involved in bringing those in need of medical treatment to the centers that can administer it. For example, he has flown in a boy with a deformed foot, a badly burned girl who needed surgery, and a young woman with head injuries sustained in the earthquake. "This is where the plane is very valuable," said Topp, noting that commercial flights and the long lines at customs can be too much for someone ill or injured.

He is looking to do more medical assistant flights.

"Any time I think a plane can be an asset, I will use it," said Topp.

The First Reformed Church of Boonton, said Topp, "is very supportive providing funds and giving me time off, they see this as their outreach as well."

Topp appreciates any help people can offer, be it with time or donations. For more information, visit the IHAF website at Topp can be contacted at

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