Saturday, September 07, 2013

Fees likely to fly with officials: Apparently, planes landing at small, public airports are not immune to those annoying fees plaguing commercial aviation

Erie County commissioners urged those overseeing activity at the Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport to consider charging a $10 landing fee for all general pilots.

Recreational fliers landing at the public airport in Port Clinton currently do not pay a single penny to land, a situation that baffles local officials.

"If you have a boat, almost anywhere around here you would have to pay to dock it at a marina,” Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo said. “Why not a plane? For $10, that is not a lot of money to come down.”

Certain people would be exempt from the proposed fee, including those:

• Paying a hangar fee at the airport.

• Purchasing a certain amount of fuel at the airport.

• Flying on commercial flights. Executives, typically visiting a company located in northern Ohio, already pay a separate landing fee.

“This is something that has been discussed and seems pretty reasonable to me,” airport director Stan Gebhardt said.

The extra $10, meanwhile, could actually pay off in major dividends for airport operations.

Based on this year’s landing data, the airport could generate an extra $40,000 a year, representing more than 10 percent of the operation’s current annual income.

The regional airport eked out a small profit after income barely eclipsed the $382,000 in expenses in 2012. The airport receives funds from the federal government, in addition to local contributions from taxpayers in Erie and Ottawa counties.

Most public airports in Ohio lose tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, for any number of reasons.

But the Port Clinton airport actually stands to make some money, since it’s considered an attraction. Since 2011, a complete renaissance has occurred at the hub located off Ohio 2, including offering flight instructions and travel packages for flight trips to nearby islands.

Newer attractions recently landing on the premises also boost interest, such as the World War II-themed Liberty Aviation Museum and Tin Goose Diner.

Commissioners in Erie and Ottawa counties, along with an independent board overseeing airport activity, plan to continue debating the pros and cons of a landing fee. A deadline for the decision has not been set.

Original Article:

Accord would return skydivers to Hobby Field Airport (77S), Creswell, Oregon

CRESWELL — It may be as long as a year before skydivers once again parachute onto city-owned property next to Creswell’s municipal airport, but the long dispute between the city and a local skydiving business appears to be on a glide path toward final resolution.

The parties have come to terms on a settlement agreement that, once finalized, would lead to the dismissals of a lawsuit pending in Lane County Circuit Court and a formal Federal Aviation Administration complaint, both filed by Eugene Skydivers owner Urban Moore against the city.

The pending deal cancelled a trial that had been set to begin Aug. 27 on the claims alleged in the lawsuit.

The Creswell City Council approved the terms during a meeting last month, and a final agreement could be in the hands of Mayor Dave Stram by next week.

Its unclear exactly when skydivers could resume landing on city-owned property next to Hobby Field, but it could be more than a year away, according to the settlement terms submitted to the local court and obtained by The Register-Guard.

Original Article:

Southwest Florida International Airport (KRSW) adds service to Mexico

FORT MYERS — Mexico becomes Southwest Florida International Airport's third non-U.S. destination in December when MetJet launches weekly seasonal flights between Fort Myers and the coastal resort city of Cancun.

Airport officials say they'd love to expand their international reach even farther, but the potential is slim for landing nonstop flights to coveted destinations in South America and the United Kingdom.

Airlines are more risk-averse after a rash of bankruptcies followed by mergers and service cuts to bolster profitability. When contemplating new international service, carriers usually decide it is safer to stay with bigger cities in Florida and assume people will rent cars and drive to resort destinations, including the Fort Myers area.

"We're reaching somewhat of a plateau (in service)," said Bob Ball, Lee County Port Authority executive director.

"It takes 29,000 to 35,000 passengers a year before it becomes economically feasible to add a direct flight to anywhere," Ball told the News-Press (

The airport already is in rare company: Of the 429 commercial airports in the United States, it's one of just 26 with nonstops to non-U.S. destinations.

Canadian service began nearly two decades ago. Nonstops to Germany debuted April 1994. Service to these countries has held on, thanks largely to foreign nationals establishing second homes here.

The airport has year-round service to Dusseldorf, Germany, and Toronto, Canada, along with seasonal service to Montreal and Ottawa.

MetJet CEO Mike Heisman said he wanted Southwest Florida International to be a stop on his Green Bay, Wis.-to -Cancun service mainly because the local airport already had Customs and Border Patrol service, which Green Bay doesn't. Fort Myers also is well-known to Midwesterners seeking warm winter vacations.

However, Heisman said he dismissed the idea of adding flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, because it is more than twice the distance in air miles from Fort Myers than Cancun.

That's important, because Heisman counts on a significant amount of the plane being filled in Green Bay before stopping in Fort Myers to pick up additional passengers. Also, Sun Country — the airline providing the aircraft and crew — needs the plane back in Minneapolis by day's-end.

The road to new air service often comes in baby steps, said Carol Obermeier, the port authority's director of aviation market development..

For example, Silver Airways launched daily nonstop service between Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 5. Fort Lauderdale already has South American and Caribbean flights.

The new service to Fort Lauderdale and the resulting connections elsewhere could help the local airport build a better case for coaxing an airline to test a Fort Myers flight to a Caribbean destination, Obermeier said.

Original Article:

Plane damaged, hangar blown away onto Interstate 90: Jefco Skypark Airport (MT41), Whitehall, Montana

WHITEHALL - Severe weather pounded the community of Whitehall on Thursday evening.

A powerful thunderstorm packing strong winds, low hanging clouds and heavy rain, hit the community at about 7 p.m.

National Weather Service spotters reported downed power lines, and at least one mobile home was damaged north of town, injuring one person.

A number of damaged trees were also seen in Whitehall along Legion Avenue, with branches strewn along the roadway.

Damaged buildings, including at least one of the aircraft hangars along I-90, were noticed.

Debris from the damaged hangars made its way on to the Interstate.

A plane was damaged when one of the hangars was blown onto the Interstate, immediately west of the Whitehall exit.

No injuries have been reported.

Original Article:

Major aircraft deals a boon for GE Aviation plant

GE Aviation is wrapping up the summer in style.

The company recently signed two substantial aircraft engine contracts – and that means good news for the more than 600 employees who work at the local GE Aviation plant in Castle Hayne, which makes rotating parts for a slew of aircraft engines.

Those orders come on top of a significant future investment in the New Hanover County plant that the company announced at the start of the summer as part of a statewide expansion of its North Carolina facilities.

Just before the Labor Day weekend, Canada's WestJet Airlines ordered 65 next-generation Boeing 737 jets, which generally seat from 160 to 180 passengers. The exclusive supplier of engines to the popular twin-engined 737 is CFM International, which is a joint venture between France's Snecma and GE Aviation.

WestJet's order for LEAP engines is valued at $1.7 billion. The planes will be delivered starting in 2017.

Parts for the LEAP engine are made in Castle Hayne.

Then last week Delta announced that it had selected CFM engines to power 30 Airbus 321 jets, which will seat 190.

The agreement is valued at more than $850 million, including spare engines and a suite of material support agreements.

That engine, the CFM56, also uses parts from the Castle Hayne plant.

Delta's planes will start to be delivered in 2016.

GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy said that while it was hard to quantify the impact of a single order on employment levels, the recent contracts help to ensure the long-term stability at the local plant.

He added that GE and its partner companies, including CFM, are forecasting to deliver about 3,600 commercial and military jet engines this year and 3,800 in 2014.

"The outlook for the Wilmington plant, based on our production outlook over the next three years, is very good," Kennedy said in an email.

GE also has announced plans to expand and upgrade its aviation facilities in North Carolina, including at Castle Hayne.

The company announced in June that it would add 242 jobs – possibly 35 of them at its Castle Hayne facility – and invest $195 million over five years as part of a $20 million incentive package offered by the state and local governments.

In Castle Hayne, the company will invest $63 million in its 540,000-square-foot facility.

Along with parts for commercial aircraft engines that power airliners built by Boeing, Airbus, Montreal-based Bombardier and Brazil-based Embraer, the Castle Hayne plant also makes parts for a GE engine used to power the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a multi-role fighter popular with the U.S. and many foreign air forces.

Original Article:

MASwings: 32 orphans fly for first time

KOTA KINABALU: Thirty-two orphans selected from three orphanages travelled for the first time in an aircraft early yesterday morning from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan.

This was made possible by MASwings through its Wings of Love aspiration and support towards the educational program initiated by Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia – YADIM, Zon Sabah.

These orphans represented Rumah Anak Yatim As-Sakinah, Kota Kinabalu; Rumah Anak Yatim Al-Aman, Beaufort and Rumah Anak Yatim Darul Bakti, Kota Belud.

MASwings chief executive officer Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang said MASwings, under its corporate social responsibility program and being a caring community airline, had embarked on its very own community project tagged “Wings of Love” which is focusing on Community, Education and Environment initiatives.

“This is the second time MASwings is supporting the program under YADIM and we will strive to be firmly committed to meaningful initiatives such as this program through various methods, especially for those underprivileged who hailed from remote areas within Sabah and Sarawak,” said Nawawi.

“Most of these orphans have never been elsewhere but their own hometown and flying on an aircraft such as MASwings ATR for the first time is something they have never dreamed of, hence the valuable experience and exposure gain would give them the motivational push to excel better in their study and future endeavor. We hope and believe that through the use of our resources and contribution, it will bring about positive changes in the community, especially to these young generations and the country as a whole,” Nawawi added.

The orphans who are led by Tuan Haji Samin Ongki of YADIM Zon Sabah and the respective homes’ guardians, were expected to attend a ‘Majlis Aidilfitri’ event hosted by the Chief Minister last evening at his residence before returning home on Monday morning.

Original Article:

‘Aircraft too old for Saudi clearance’

Saudi Arabian authorities have denied clearance to a Boeing 747 aircraft that Biman has leased from Nigerian Kabo Air to carry Hajj pilgrims as it is ‘too old’.

The aircraft, leased by the Biman Bangladesh Airlines, was supposed to carry 582 Hajj pilgrims to Jeddah on Saturday morning.

“As per Saudi regulations, no aircraft over 20 years is given flying clearance and the one leased from Kabo is 21-year old,” a Biman official told on condition of anonymity.

As the aircraft did not get Saudi authorities clearance, Biman used its own Boeing 777 aircraft to carry 419 pilgrims leaving behind 163 passengers.

The Biman official hoped to get the clearance within Sunday. “As the aircraft is old so they are checking all its documents,” he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) had blacklisted Kabo for committing defraud in renting an aircraft in 2009.

Biman’s Managing Director Kevin Steele, however, claimed the aircraft was 20 years old.

“Kabo should have applied earlier to the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia for clearance earlier,” he said.

He said the GACA was closed on Saturday and will resume operations on Sunday.

Steele, Biman’s first foreign MD, said, the national flag carrier has to pay USD 11,750 per flying hour for the aircraft.

Meanwhile, Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) has expressed concern over smooth flight operation in the wake of complications on Saturday, the first day of the Hajj flights.

The platform’s chief Ibrahim Habib told this was not the first time there had been problems with Kabo’s aircraft.

Former member of Biman Board of Directors, Kazi Wahedul Alam has termed leasing of aircraft from Kabo as ‘suicidal’.

Original Article:

Medflight helicopter makes emergency landing with victim of Middlebury, Indiana, sport-utility vehicle crash

MIDDLEBURY — A Medflight helicopter transporting a young girl from an accident southwest of Middlebury had to make a precautionary landing on its way to a Fort Wayne hospital Friday morning.

Janell Yoder, 5, of Middlebury, was riding a horse-drawn cart with her mother, Linda Yoder, 29, when it was hit by a sport-utility vehicle at about 9:45 a.m. on C.R. 22 just east of C.R. 31, according to a press release from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.

Both vehicles were headed northeast on C.R. 22, toward Middlebury. Janet Dabney, 70, of Goshen, the driver of the SUV, said she did not see the cart because of glare from the sun and rear-ended the cart.

Both passengers were thrown off the cart.

Janell Yoder was being flown to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne when the pilot smelled something burning in the cockpit, he told the Department of Emergency Management for Noble County.

Michael Newton, director of the Noble County Management Agency, said the helicopter landed in bean field off of C.R. 600 South near Churubusco. The LaOtto Fire Department and an ambulance from Parkview Hospital responded to the scene.

Janell Yoder was taken to the ambulance and driven to Parkview Hospital.

“Everything went really smooth,” he said about the landing. “The pilot did a good job.”

Maggie Scroope, manager of media and community relations department for Beacon Health System, confirmed Medflight made a precautionary landing. Another helicopter is available for use while the other one is checked, Scroope said.

Janell Yoder had possible life-threatening injuries to her head, according to the press release, and was listed in “serious” condition at Parkview Friday afternoon.

Linda Yoder was transported to IU Health Goshen Hospital, with an injury to her head and lower back pain.

Dabney was not injured during the crash.

The horse was unhitched from the cart by the collision and was found a short distance away. It had suffered some cuts.

No citations were issued at the scene. The crash is being investigated by the sheriff’s department’s Crash Investigation Team.

Original Article and Photo Gallery:

Wonderboom Airport runs out of fuel - Pretoria, South Africa

Johannesburg - The Wonderboom Airport, north of Pretoria, has run out of jet fuel and aircraft operators have been told to bring their own.

"As a short-term solution, the tenants and aircraft operators based at Wonderboom Airport were granted the opportunity... to provide fuel for [their] own demand.." Tshwane municipality spokesperson Blessing Manale said.

"Please note that no permission is provided by the CoT [City of Tshwane] to any operator to sell fuel on the Wonderboom Airport premise."

The city was informed in July that fuel shortages were experienced due to “unplanned product shipment delays” and that they could not obtain stock to supply the airport in time.

"We suspect that such [sic] might not be true as the supplier might have already started terminating his supply sub-contracts in anticipation of non-renewal."

The city started with a procurement process to consider the appointment of a new service provider in April.

The tender was advertised and closed on 1 July.

"The consideration of the tenders and the tender evaluation results is still underway," said Manale.

He said measures to address fuel provision were investigated.

"To ensure that similar problems do not occur, we are considering a standing fuel supply database of service providers which can be used on needs basis," he said

"This will ensure that suppliers improve their quality of service, and in general do not hold the city to ransom when such service providers under-perform."

The city apologized for the inconvenience.

Original Article:

Federal Aviation Administration faces air controller shortages: report

The Federal Aviation Administration faces ongoing challenges in staffing the nation’s air traffic control towers, Congress‘ chief watchdog said, following a tumultuous few years of several high-profile examples of controllers falling asleep on the job and budget cuts that forced the agency to furlough thousands of workers.

After several air traffic controllers fell asleep on the job — some in the D.C. area — the FAA increased the amount of rest the controllers got between shifts and started requiring a second person to be on duty during overnight shifts.

The second person requirement is costing the agency an extra $1.9 million annually, but the Government Accountability Office said that could be offset by cutting overnight workers at 72 facilities that don’t get enough traffic to justify the after-hours shifts.

Plus, new software has been added that can alert managers if employees try to clock in during their mandatory rest period.

The GAO estimated that only about 1 percent of all shifts include controllers who have not gotten a minimum of eight or nine hours of rest, but said it remains concerned about the issue.

“Ensuring a well-rested, alert controller workforce is essential to the safe and efficient operation of the [national airspace system],” the GAO said.

Still, studies into fatigue are ongoing, investigators said, and the FAA might need to change its policies again as the effects of lack of sleep become better understood.

The nation’s aviation agency is also planning on hiring 11,700 new air traffic controllers by 2021 to replace those lost to budget cuts and retirement.

But investigators are concerned the hiring process is starting to take too long to train new workers.

“The average training time for new controllers rose by 41 percent, from 1.9 years in fiscal year 2009 to an average of 2.68 years in fiscal year 2012,” the GAO said.

Read more:

8 TSA Workers, 1 Pilot Arrested In Parking-Pass Scandal At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW)

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – TSA agents watch closely over who and what gets through airport security checkpoints. But now, eight of those agents at DFW International Airport have been arrested. 

They were not arrested for stealing passengers belongings, but for dealing in stolen airport employee parking placards.

TSA agents must pay money out of their own pockets to park at DFW Airport. And now one agent has been arrested on a felony charge of selling a placard to seven fellow agents, who are each charged with a misdemeanor.

Cynthia Vega, a spokeswoman for the airport says, “They have to pay $34 a month or $400 a year for the employee parking placard So in essence, they bought, we believe these employees bought the placards for $100.”

That would save the employees $300 a year.

Carrie Harmon, a TSA spokeswoman, says all eight have been placed on indefinite suspension without pay.

Vega says the airport first began its investigation back in March when American Eagle Airlines reported 129 employee parking placards went missing.

One American Eagle employee has been arrested for stealing them.

Spokeswoman Andrea Huguely says the airline has a zero tolerance policy, and that the employee no longer works there.

The airport says the airlines and other companies pay for their employees’ parking placards. But that’s not the case with the TSA agents.

Records show it’s a major sore spot for TSA union members nationwide, who are unhappy they have to pay to park at airports.

Vega says, “The shuttle bus that runs back and forth to the terminals cost money and there are administrative costs related to that as you can imagine, and someone has to pick up he tab.”

Airport police say seven of the parking placards have been recovered, which means 122 of them remain unaccounted for. That’s what detectives are still investigating, which could lead to further arrests.

Airport police aren’t identifying the suspects yet because their investigation is continuing.

Story and Video:

Albert J. Ellis Airport (KOAJ) beacon failure requires replacement

The rotating beacon at Albert J. Ellis Airport is inoperable and must be replaced.

The $30,000 project was unanimously approved at Tuesday night’s Onslow County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Airport Director Chris White told the board that the beacon, which pilots use to locate the airport in darkness and inclement weather, quit working recently and can’t be repaired.

In the interim, pilots are using GPS and other radio aids to locate the airport, he said.

He said the airport’s existing beacon no longer is manufactured. The beacon’s clutch went out and caused malfunctions.

As a result, the airport is buying a new beacon.

The refit will entail: repainting the support pole; completing electrical work; and replacing the 40-year-old head with a new generation unit.

 Money from the airport fund balance is allocated for the refit.

The airport fund balance is used for this type of project and airport construction. 

White said the airport had a contractor on standby and the work is expected to take two weeks.

Original Article:

Harrisburg International Airport (KMDT) holds full-scale emergency response drill

Harrisburg International Airport looked like a the set of a disaster movie  on Saturday as emergency response teams were put to the test.  It was all part of an airport disaster drill taking place in Middletown.

The exercise, required by the Federal Aviation Administration every three years, is designed to test the airport’s emergency preparedness in the event of an aircraft accident.

Several branches of emergency response teams were deployed to manage the crisis as it unfolded over the course of four hours.

Dozens of volunteers acted as victims, many wearing stage makeup to simulate injuries.

Tim Edwards, Executive Director of HIA says local communities were alerted to the exercise in advance of the event.

“This emergency training exercise is routine and we’re asking area residents in advance to not be alarmed should they see emergency vehicles at the airport,” Edwards said.

The drill did not delay or affect any travelers at the airport today.

Original Article:

Frontier charges Delaware's fliers extra for Houston: After route canceled, unusual move taken

It was, they believed, a stroke of incredible luck. In May, 14 members of a Wilmington-area family heading to Houston, Texas, for an Oct. 5 wedding were able to book tickets from New Castle Airport for a bargain price.

But Tuesday, with less than a month before the wedding, they received emails from Frontier Airlines telling them their flight had been canceled. The company, which discontinued service from Delaware to Houston as of Oct. 2, still will offer connecting service through Denver, but customers holding direct-to-Houston tickets must pay the difference in price – something industry analysts say is unusual.

“It was so convenient. Now it’s turned into, there’s drama here,” said Loria Bafundo, of Wilmington, whose boyfriend is the bride’s uncle. They were told that paying for a connecting flight would cost an additional $376 per person, each way, Bafundo said. “Honestly, I don’t think we’re going to go at all.”

Analysts said the inconvenience associated with an airline’s decision to discontinue a route from a small airport like New Castle is a part of life, especially one at Frontier, a small airline that has struggled financially.

But even under those conditions, Frontier is sending unhealthy signals by bucking an industry standard, said Jay Sorensen, president of the IdeaWorks Company, an airline consulting firm based in Milwaukee. As long as there’s a connecting flight, it’s normal for the airline to absorb the added costs to get the passengers to their destination, he said.

Frontier started service at New Castle Airport in July, offering flights to Houston, as well as Chicago-Midway, Denver, Orlando and Tampa, Fla. Service to Fort Myers, Fla., begins Nov. 16. Airline officials say ridership has been strong out of New Castle Airport for every destination except Houston.

Maureen Cushing, the bride’s aunt, said she was told that if she chose to take a connecting flight, she would need to leave the prior day and then spend 11 hours in transit.

Fliers making such a switch would have their change fee waived but would have to pay the difference in price, confirmed Kate O’Malley, Frontier spokeswoman.

“We offered fares as low as $59 each way as introductory offers between Wilmington and Houston, and unfortunately, those fares do not cover the cost of the connecting flights between Wilmington, Denver and Houston,” O’Malley said.

In interviews, various family members said they were offered a refund, which could take between 30-60 days to show up in their bank account. Bafundo said that she pressed a customer service agent to speed up the refund, and the agent agreed to do that, but she has yet to see the money come through. O’Malley said Frontier must process refunds within a week, “and then it is up to the credit card company when it will post to the customer’s account.”

Sorensen called what the family is experiencing “abysmal customer service.”

“You reaccommodate them, and you take care of business. To leave a group like this, it just screams that we could care less about what brand impression we’re making in Wilmington,” Sorensen said.

Bob Herbst, an airline industry consultant in Charleston, S.C., concurred that if an airline discontinues direct service but still offers service between two cities, even if it is a more expensive connection, the airline typically will pay the difference.

“Unfortunately, it’s just one of those issues. There are definitely more risks involved when you fly on a smaller airline, compared with a bigger airline, without a doubt,” Herbst said.

When things go wrong at a larger airline, “they have a lot more resources to fix it than a smaller airline,” Herbst said.

Sorensen said there are many small airlines that have the financial resources to absorb the financial impact of putting ticketed passengers on different flights, should they choose to discontinue their original route.

“This is not an indictment on small airlines or low-cost airlines. It’s an indictment on one specific airline, and that’s Frontier,” Sorensen said.

In interviews, several family members, including Bafundo, said they had accepted the refund because the connecting flight would have been too inconvenient, and added more nights in a hotel. The late notice, they said, was making it hard to get a good price on a different airline.

Bafundo said she and her boyfriend originally paid $100 per ticket each way, a fare upgraded from $79 to cover bag fees and a better seat.

The family was excited to travel together from a convenient airport at a great price, said Darlene Bunitsky, of Wilmington, an aunt of the bride. Now, Bunitsky said, the family is very upset.

For Frontier, Bunitsky said, “Of course, the almighty buck speaks.”

Original Article:

After early challenges, aircraft refinishing venture begins to soar: Sturgis Aviation Inc. at Kirsch Municipal Airport (KIRS), Sturgis, Michigan

Sturgis Aviation Inc., a custom aircraft refinishing company, has been in Sturgis since 1999, housed in several buildings at Kirsch Municipal Airport.

Sturgis  —

Sturgis Aviation Inc., a custom aircraft refinishing company, has been in Sturgis since 1999, housed in  several buildings at Kirsch Municipal Airport.

The business started in the 1990s when co-owners Danny King and Dave LaPorte worked at a Kalamazoo and Battle Creek area company that paints jets. The company was purchased by a larger corporation, so the two decided to begin pursuing other opportunities.

They started to look for airports with a runway long enough  to meet their needs and with buildings large enough for a painting business. They found that Kirsch Municipal Airport in Sturgis suited their requirements.

Initially, they needed to invest some major money to get everything up and running. They got help from a local bank, then for the next six months they kept their regular jobs, traveling to Sturgis after work and on weekends to get everything ready.

In October 1999, they painted their first airplane, King said.

By the end of the year, both had quit their jobs and were on their own in Sturgis.

“Things were going pretty well, and then 9-11,” King said. “We almost didn’t survive.”

One airplane was in the shop that day and could not fly for weeks. The rest of their orders for the year were canceled.

“We painted a motor home and a boat — anything to survive,” LaPorte said.

The bank once again was accommodating, and by the start of 2022, business picked up and the venture has grown ever since.

Currently, Sturgis Aviation is booked until March 2014, King said. They typically paint two or three planes a month, depending on size of the aircraft.

One of the company’s largest accounts is Travel Management of Elkhart, Ind., a privately owned luxury charter jet company. It typically has one of its 69 jets at the paint shop at a given time.

King and LaPorte fill different roles in their business.

“Danny is the up-front guy,” LaPorte said. “I’m out in the shop. This is more of a hobby for me. Painting airplanes is what I do best.”

King said, “I like the business part of it. Making it all happen — the success.”

Six people in addition to the co-owners now work for Sturgis Aviation.

Despite a bump in the road in 2001, the company has experienced steady growth. Was it a good business venture?

“Oh yeah,” LaPorte said.  “Terrific.”



Steps involved in the custom aircraft refinishing business: 

  • Create a conceptual design
  • Mask off windows in preparation for chemical stripping
  • Chemical stripping
  • Treat bare metal in preparation for epoxy primer
  • Remove flight controls for painting
  • Apply anti-static primer
  • Mask for stripes/designs
  • Other services include work on all types of aircrafts, small jobs and touch-up projects.

Original Article:

Castle Airport (KMER) in line for taxiway fix: Merced County gets $660K for improvements pending approval

Castle Airport has been awarded close to $660,000 in federal funding to build a new taxiway, pending approval from the Board of Supervisors later this month.

If approved by supervisors Sept. 17, the county would match 10 percent of the total project cost, about $40,198.

The county would pay for the labor, staffing and administrative costs.

Mark Hendrickson, Merced County director of community and economic development, said the new taxiway will alleviate a safety concern identified by the Federal Aviation Administration several years ago.

"What this new taxiway will do is allow the smaller aircraft to exit the runway more quickly so the larger aircraft can land safely as well," Hendrickson said.

Castle Airport is being used for both small and large aircraft, Hendrickson said. The airport is on target to reach 150,000 flight take-off and landings by end of the year.

Some have wondered if the grant money could be better spent in other areas of Castle Airport. Two people raised that question with Merced County District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis.

But Davis said the FAA grant was specifically intended for constructing a new taxiway to improve airport safety. "It's one of the things we needed to do out there, and it's exciting," Davis said.

Although the new taxiway will be used mostly by small aircraft, it also will benefit the large ones, said Rich Hitt, Castle Airport's air traffic manager.

"Larger aircraft want to be able to get in without having to hold and wait for smaller aircraft to land," Hitt said. "They're burning fuel waiting."

The new taxiway becomes more critical with the growth of the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Atwater, Hitt noted.

Bob Deklinski, director of airport development for Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, said the school has 450 to 550 operations a day. The academy's current roster is 180 students and 50 flight instructors, Deklinski said.

"When we first heard about the grant, it was a very nice surprise that this was coming because we put several hundred operations a day on the runway here," Deklinski said.

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, announced the grant in a news release earlier this week.

Costa said modernizing Castle Airport's facilities will help the valley continue growing. "As more families and businesses than ever depend on our local airports, investments such as this come at a critical time," Costa said in the release.

Merced County submits a list of airport projects to the FAA every year, according to Hendrickson. The new taxiway has been on the list since 2006.

The project will require a $32,889 grant from the California Department of Transportation's aeronautics division. The total cost of the project is $730,870.

Original Article:

State cracks down on hangar tenants: Honolulu International Airport (PHNL), Hawaii

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is cracking down on tenants at the Honolulu International Airport. Several small businesses renting T-hangars are frustrated by the state's crackdown after years of lax enforcement.

The state checked hangars and handed out citations on Friday. The Department of Transportation put up notices about the inspections two weeks ago. Roughly 80 of the small hangars are rented out.

"There are numerous businesses that have been operated down here for a period of 20 or more years. Lots and lots of people have their livelihood down here, either in maintenance or in flight instruction, tours," explained Brant Swigart, owner of Rainbow Pacific Helicopters.

Violations include unauthorized storage of non-aeronautical items like golf clubs and carts. Other offenses relate to electrical issues. Each tenant signs off on the state's rules to obtain a revocable permit.

"But they never really adhere to it, well now they want to adhere to it, but compliance with those rules and the permit might make it difficult or impossible for us to continue to operate," said Swigart.

A DOT spokesperson admitted that the agency hasn't been strict about enforcement, and said an FAA audit is prompting the push to make sure tenants follow the regulations. Failure to comply could cost the state millions in federal airport funds, according to the DOT.

"We have been going around and talking to different permit holders and letting them know about violations. After several verbal warnings, some citations were issued. There will be follow-ups to make sure that people are complying," said DOT spokesperson Caroline Sluyter.

"I don't think that's with the intent of bringing everybody into compliance, but more to intimidate and harass and create an atmosphere where it's either too inconvenient or uncomfortable to continue to run our businesses," said Swigart.

Story and Video:

Public work goes private at Chicago Rockford International Airport (KRFD) to save money

ROCKFORD — When Chicago Rockford International Airport outsourced on-field fire protection services last week to a Wisconsin firm, it was the airport’s second outsourcing maneuver in as many months at the city’s expense.

Airport commissioners inked a contract with Metro Enforcement this summer to augment security provided by federal Transportation Security Administration personnel. The job was previously done by off-duty Rockford police officers who were paid overtime wages.

Rockford-based Metro Enforcement has provided security in the main terminal since July 1. The airport, per TSA rules, must have a law enforcement-trained officer in the terminal before the arrival and after the departure of domestic and international flights to supplement TSA security.

“This is just one more thing Metro Enforcement has the ability to do to free up Rockford police,” Director Larry Hodges said.

The TSA reimbursed the city for the off-duty officers’ overtime, but those reimbursement checks have been dwindling. Last year, TSA reimbursements amounted to $22,000, which left the Rockford Police Department on the hook for a $150,000 overtime tab.

“They need an officer on duty two hours before (take off) on domestic flights and three hours before international flights,” Lt. Pat Hoey said. “There were some days when we had officers on a 16-hour day.”

The department’s overtime budget has risen three consecutive years: from $2.5 million in 2010 to $2.7 million in 2011 to $2.9 million in 2012. Under orders from City Hall to trim overtime expenses, Hoey said, it tried to workout a new agreement with the airport.

“We told them we’re not going to put an officer out there on overtime,” he said. “We would patrol the airport with the officers that we had on duty.”

Airport officials declined that offer. This week, they also declined to discuss the Metro Enforcement contract with the Register Star. Administrators instead referred all questions to its public relations firm, PR Etc.

Rockford police still patrol the airport, publicist Kimberly Rosby explained. Airport officials simply outsourced supplemental security services.

“This is not a reflection on (the police) services,” she said.

Last week, the airport board hired Pro-Tech Fire Services of Green Bay for aircraft rescue and firefighting services previously provided by the Rockford Fire Department.

Metro Enforcement, a 41-year-old private security firm formerly known as Merchants Police, provides an array of services including corporate, industrial and retail security; tactical armed officers for Rockford Housing Authority properties; and security for special events, such as Rockford AirFest and the now-defunct On the Waterfront.

The switch is expected to save the airport $575,000 a year. The airport will pay $601,000 to Pro-Tech; the city was charging $1.2 million.

Original Article:

Fanning memorial to assist students

MURFREESBORO — By all accounts, she had a deep passion to fly. Family and friends of Middle Tennessee State University alumna and UPS pilot Shanda Carney Fanning want to honor that passion by establishing a scholarship in her memory.

A Lynchburg resident and Shelbyville native, Fanning, 37, was one of two pilots killed Aug. 14 when their United Parcel Service airplane crashed in Birmingham, Ala.

Like many, best friend Whitney Dix, also a pilot and currently a dispatch manager with Southwest Airlines in Texas, was devastated by Fanning’s death. But Dix is determined to keep her memory alive by spearheading a drive to establish a scholarship at their alma mater — The Shanda Carney Fanning Aviation Memorial Scholarship.

Fanning graduated from Shelbyville High School before going on to earn her bachelor’s degree in aerospace administration from MTSU in 1999. Her husband, Brett, works in distribution at the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg.

“I want to give back to the aviation community and keep her memory and love of aviation alive,” Dix said in a release.

Amy Hardin, development director with the MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences, explained that a minimum of $25,000 must be raised to endow the scholarship, which would be awarded annually to aviation students studying within MTSU’s nationally known aerospace program.

More information about the scholarship is available at

Original Article:

Navy aviators assist civilian pilot: Fallon Municipal Airport (KFLX), Nevada

Three naval aviators assigned to Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) assisted a civilian pilot Thursday night in arriving safely to the Fallon Municipal Airport.

Aviators Lt. Shawn Navinskey, Lt. Johnathan Sheater and Lt. Matthew Sullivan were on their way back to the runway at Naval Air Station Fallon when the base air traffic controllers notified them of a civilian pilot, James Epperson, in military airspace.

“NAS Fallon approach told us there was a civilian aircraft in the area and he wasn’t talking to anybody,” Navinskey said. “After we told them the aircraft was a low-wing , twin engine craft, they let us know that he (Epperson) was having issues with his landing gear.”

Epperson thought he was heading to Hazen, 15 miles west of Fallon, but due to what seemed to be electrical problems and low visibility due to smoke from the Rim Fire in Yosemite, Calif., he was nearly 45 miles off course in the NAS Fallon training range.

“Whatever problems he was having, he couldn’t hear anybody but us,” Sheater said. “He asked us if his landing gear was down, and it’s a heart-sinking feeling when you know a pilot has to land and doesn’t have any landing gear.”

Epperson’s aircraft was traveling at 120 knots, or roughly 138 mph, while the slowest speed for an F/A-18 E-F is approximately 160 knots or nearly 181 mph.

“We had to come up alongside him, lead him a little bit, and then circle back to do it again,” Sheater said. “He was having a tough time staying on course.”

According to Navinskey, Epperson’s plane was somewhere in the Lahontan Mountain Range in southern Churchill County and flying at a dangerously low altitude. Furthermore, Epperson was alone in his plane and had about one hour of fuel left, so the NSAWC officers felt it was necessary to talk Epperson up to a safe altitude and get him to the municipal airport.

“If I was having a problem and wasn’t able to talk to anybody, I’d love to have somebody come help me,” Navinskey said.

Once Epperson was able to speak to the mechanic at Fallon Municipal Airport, the Navy pilots returned to the air station since they were also low on fuel. Epperson was finally able to get his landing gear down and landed safely.

“It’s a good day for all of us when we can help someone,” Sheater said.

NSAWC is the center of excellence for naval aviation training and tactics development in integrated strike warfare, weapons employment, irregular warfare and maritime and overland air superiority.

MC1 R. David Valdez is Naval Strike & Air Warfare Center public affairs officer.

Original Article:

Aviation tragedies conceal safer-than-normal Alaska flying season

September 6, 2013  

By Colleen Mondor
Alaska Dispatch

A rash of deadly aviation accidents -- four in less than two weeks -- has left six people dead and many Alaskans reeling in grief. And so it's gone for six months: in March, as the world watched mushers push into the frozen wilderness along the Iditarod Trail, a mother and daughter flying in to volunteer at a checkpoint were killed, along with the family friend (a neighbor) who was piloting them through Rainy Pass. Just days later two pilots were killed when their plane went down outside Dillingham. As the peak season of summer tourism arrived in Southcentral Alaska, a well-known pilot was killed, along with two families from the East Coast, before their plane could depart Soldotna's municipal airport. That accident, killing nine including Rediske Air owner Walter Rediske, was the deadliest in recent memory and yet in its wake the accidents have continued unabated: Merrill Field, Sutton, Tatina and now an Anchorage pilot, out hunting near Glenallen brings the death toll this year to 28.

With so much loss, it's difficult to put the accidents in perspective and analyze Alaska's aviation safety record. And yet, a closer look at 2013 flying statistics reveals a bit of good news amid all the harsh headlines.

This year has been safer for Alaskan pilots than many years past, according to an analysis of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident data dating back to 2003*. The simple fact: there have actually been fewer aircraft accidents this year, than in those previous.

Here is the breakdown by year:

Year Accidents (Total) Fatal Accidents (Total)
2013 61 10
2012 83 6
2011 77 8
2010 66 11
2009 76 3
2008 79 8
2007 74 7
2006 79 8
2005 102 6
2004 72 10

In 2003, there were 87 accidents recorded by the NTSB; 10 of them were fatality accidents. A fatality accident classification by the NTSB means that at least one person died in the accident; however, multiple deaths occuring in the same crash -- Soldotna, for example -- doesn't influence the NTSB methodology used to count accidents and measure safety.

With only a few weeks left in the busiest aviation season -- weeks when aviation deaths may crest 30 for the year as Alaskans head out for the fall hunting season -- 2013 is, nonetheless, looking as though it could be one of the safest in some time for Alaska aviators.

How's that so, with so much death?

 Read more:  Alaska Dispatch  - Aviation tragedies conceal safer-than-normal Alaska flying season

Colleen Mondor, a former Fairbanks-area air taxi dispatcher, is the author of “The Map of My Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska.” She holds degrees in aviation and northern studies; her graduate work on pilot error accidents in Alaska is cited in NTSB reports and studies.

* NTSB accident records extend online back to 1962. However, technology and its impact on the Alaskan aviation environment have changed dramatically in the ensuing decades, thus for the purposes of this article, I selected to analyze data primarily through the past decade.

Read more here:

New hangar at Chilton County Airport (02A) will house 10 additional planes

The Chilton County Airport Authority voted during its meeting Thursday to finalize a second hangar that will house 10 additional airplanes at the Chilton County Airport.

Airport Authority Chairman Craig Cleckler said Friday that the hangar should be completed by the first part of 2014 and spots for the new hangar have already been sold.

“The hangar will house 10 more planes, and we have already gotten 12 people who have called and asked for a spot,” Cleckler said. “The spots have already been sold before we even got it built.”
Cleckler said this hangar will look identical to a previous hangar constructed at the airport from funds appointed by the Chilton County Commission for the use of new hangars.

The commission unanimously voted during the March 11 meeting to give the airport $25,000 for 12 years for the use of new hangars.

The money was taken from the Trade School and Industrial and Rural Development Fund, but Cleckler told commissioners during the March meeting that the money would be used at a lending institution as collateral to borrow more funds for the hangars.

Cleckler said Kevin Morgan, a representative of the Federal Aviation Administration in Jackson, Miss. visited the Chilton County Airport last week with complimentary feedback regarding the airport.

“He stopped by for a daily inspection and said the FAA holds Chilton County as a model airport on how an airport should be managed,” Cleckler said. “It was nice to hear.”

Cleckler said the commission requested an update from the airport during the upcoming commission meeting on Sept. 9.

“We will give updates about the land acquisition and grant money,” Cleckler said.

The Airport Authority is comprised of seven members, five of which are appointed by the Chilton County Commission and two of which are appointed by the Clanton City Council.

Original Article:

Lawsuit against Tupelo Regional Airport Authority Board dismissed

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — A federal court judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by Terry Anderson over his termination from the Tupelo Regional Airport.

Anderson was fired as executive director in 2009 by the Tupelo Regional Airport Authority Board.

In his lawsuit, Anderson claims the firing volated his rights to free speech, and his replacement was much younger and had less experience.

In his ruling, U. S. District Judge Mike Mills says Anderson did not prove his firing was illegal on either claim.

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