Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kalamazoo County confirms airport director on paid leave; contract details terms of severance

KALAMAZOO, MI — While attorneys for Kalamazoo County and Cliff Moshoginis are discussing his separation from employment as director of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, his leave will be paid. 

On Tuesday, the Kalamazoo County aeronautics board voted unanimously to allow its attorneys begin discussing separation from employment with the attorneys of Cliff Moshoginis, who has been on leave since at least Sept. 9.

Thom Canny, Kalamazoo County's corporate counsel, confirmed Wednesday that Moshoginis' leave is paid.

The airport director's employment status has been in question since it was reported nearly two weeks ago that an employee had filed a harassment complaint against him.

Under terms of Moshoginis' contract, which shows he is set to make $103,792 this year, he can be fired for "cause" or determine to leave on his own for "good reason."

MORE: Read Moshoginis' contract.

Cause is defined as: "...intentional conduct that is not in the best interest of the airport and/or contrary to the directions given or the policies established by the board, or deficient performance that continues after warning."

Good reason is defined as either: "A material reduction in salary or a substantial reduction in overall benefits package..." or "elimination of the Airport Director position, as currently defined."

If he left for good reason, Moshoginis could be eligible for severance benefits which include: "continuation of base salary for 24 weeks ..." and "the county's portion of Moshoginis' current medical benefits and life insurance premiums during the severance pay period, or until he obtains other employment ... ." Vacation and holidays are also prorated to the date of termination.

The contract dictates that any claim or controversy arising from the agreement be settled in arbitration.

Earlier this year in a similar case, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Portage Public Schools Board of Education in a claim filed by Ric Perry, the school district's former superintendent. Perry said he was unfairly forced out of his position when he was put on leave after an investigation found he was having an affair with the district's human resources director.

It's possible the aernautics board could reach a settlement with Moshoginis that could provide some form of severance while preventing him from suing the board.

Original Article and Comments/Reaction:

Memorials Set For Former Blue Grass Airport Director

Two memorials have been set for the former executive director of Blue Grass Airport who died last week.

Michael Gobb was found dead in his home on September 11. Gobb's employer, Alan Stein, told LEX 18 that Gobb had been on a leave of absence from SteinGroup for some time but was supposed to return to work soon.

A visitation for Gobb will be held from 5-8 a..m. on Friday, September 27 at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky on Airport Road in Lexington.

Another gathering is scheduled the next morning, Saturday, September 28, at 10:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church on Old Todds Road in Lexington.

Memorial contributions in Gobb's name should be sent to Kentucky United Methodist Home for Children and Youth in Versailles and the Hope Center in Lexington.

Gobb headed the airport for nearly a decade, including in 2006 when Comair Flight 5191 crashed killing 49 people.

In 2009, a state audit of the airport turned up more than a half million-dollars in questionable spending. As a result, Gobb was sentenced to five years probation for theft by deception. He had been working for the Stein Group for about 18 months.

The coroner has not yet released a cause of death, pending toxicology results.

Article and Comments/Reaction:

2 planes hit with bullets at Corona Municipal Airport (KAJO), California

Corona police are investigating what may be separate incidents that have left two planes at Corona Airport with bullet holes.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, Jim Yost arrived at the airport for an early morning flight on behalf of Wings of Faith Ministries, which delivers clothing and food to Native American reservations in California and nearby states.

Instead, his wife, Debbie, noticed damage on the passenger side of their Cessna 182. Before long, they found one bullet hole in the door of the hangar and another in a storage box in the rear of the hangar. The bullet grazed the plane in two places.

A week earlier, Dave Mejia, whose Cessna 172 is tied down nearby, discovered a bullet hole on the wing as he prepared for a morning flight.

Mejia said the repair estimate is $5,600. Yost is awaiting his. Both planes are insured for body damage.

Mejia, whose family plane has been at the airport for 23 years, suggested that “someone with a pass” to open the gate at night might be responsible. “We’re a community that looks after each other.”

He doubted that the crimes would have occurred during the day when the airport is busy.

Police Sgt. Brent Nelson said two bullets of similar caliber have been found, and that an investigation is continuing.

The Mejias were longtime owners of Mejia TV & Appliances on East Sixth Street in Corona until its closing last year. Dave’s mother, Eva, learned to fly at the age of 55, and his late father, Zeke, was also a pilot.

Mejia said news of the shootings spread quickly around the airport, and he fears that “one of these guys will come down here at night with a gun and someone will get hurt.”

The gate is the only security at the airport, Assistant City Manager Greg Irvine said, although police make random patrols. The airport land is owned by the Army Corps of Engineer and is leased to the city. Private parties own the improvements, such as hangars, and lease them to individuals and businesses.

The city’s airport manager retired recently, Irvine said, and the city has begun recruiting efforts to find a replacement.

Follow consolidation of city departments in August, the Parks and Community Services Department took over administration of the airport, which is home to more than 350 private aircraft.

Original Article and Photos:

SEATs Provide Quick Response To Wildfires

When smoke is spotted, Vicki Baker gets a call.

As manager of the Single Engine Air Tanker base at the Lake County Airport, Baker manages up to three aircraft during the fire season that play a vital role in the initial attack of wildfires.

Single Engine Air Tankers, known throughout the firefighting world as SEATs, are small fixed-wing aircraft that can carry up to 800 gallons of fire retardant.

“The key is initial attack here, that’s what we’re good at. Seconds count,” Baker said.

Baker alerts the pilots to prepare their aircraft and grabs Andrew O’Brien, an Aero Tech employee who helps load fire retardant and maintain aircraft.

On O’Brien’s cue, Baker sends concentrated liquid fire retardant from a storage tank to a mixing tank. She chases that with five times the amount of water for the mix. O’Brien stirs it all together while the aircraft taxi to “the pit,” a small loading area just off the runway.

O’Brien shuffles to underneath the running aircraft after it pulls up, securing a three-inch hose to the underbelly. About 750 gallons is shot into the plane’s storage tank before O’Brien clears the way and the SEAT takes flight.

The pilot, sometimes Jim Maxwell, flies to the dispatch location and a two-door gate drops a scarlet-red line of fire retardant meant to slow a wildfire spread until ground crews can arrive.

“Jim can come into the pit, and I write down his time when he stops, and we fill him up and by the time he taxis out to take off is six minutes,” Baker said.

Working together

The base was established in 1998. It’s part of the Southern Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership, a collection of federal, state and local firefighting agencies that work together to prevent and attack wildfires in Klamath and Lake counties and Northern Nevada.

SCOFMP is part of the National Interagency Fire Center, based in Boise, Idaho. At the beginning of the season, the NIFC will contract with Aero Tech to assign helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and ground support to bases across the country.

Baker maintains up to three SEATs during the fire season. A helicopter also is based at the airport. A pilot and eight firefighters can be dispatched to drop water, land and build fire lines or transport cargo.

Because both aircraft are small and quick, they are used more often in initial attack situations than larger aircraft. This is true especially in the urban interface, where man-made structures mingle and meet the forest topography. SEATs build lines that can save a building from a wildfire.

“The whole idea behind SEAT is to catch them quick and keep them small,” Maxwell said.

And that’s something SCOFMP has been able to do fairly well. Most of the fires handled by the agency have been kept to less than 10 acres, even while lightning was igniting several fires at once.

Despite all signs pointing to this year’s fire season being one of the driest on record, the SEAT team has been able to play a major role in quenching thirsty fires.

Original Article:

Airlines warned of danger of ash from Mt. Sinabung

The Kuala Namu International Airport (KNIA) administrator has warned airlines traveling to North Sumatra to avoid flying over the Mount Sinabung area for safety reasons.

KNIA operational manager Ali Sofyan said a number of airline companies had been warned following the eruption of Mt. Sinabung in Karo regency, North Sumatra. Ali added that the warning was especially aimed at low-flying airliners, such as Susi Air and Wings Air, and helicopters.

“They have been advised not to pass the navigation area near Mt. Sinabung. For the time being, the path is unsafe for flying due to very limited visibility caused by volcanic ash,” Ali said on Wednesday.

Ali said he had advised airlines flying to Nias Island, North Sumatra, and Simeuleu Island in Aceh to reroute their flights to avoid the effects of the eruption.

KNIA air traffic controller Susanto said that changing flight paths was aimed at avoiding volcanic ash that normally followed the wind direction. “If the ash blows eastward, then the flight path will be diverted to the west around 8 kilometers from the mountain and at altitudes of between 7,000 and 9,000 feet,” Susanto said, adding that low-flying aircraft flew at an altitude of over 4,000 feet and a distance of 4 kilometers from Mt. Sinabung.

KNIA has remained open since the eruption. “Everything remains normal because the volcanic ash from Mt. Sinabung has yet to affect operations at KNIA,” he said.

After first erupting on Sunday, Mt. Sinabung erupted again on Tuesday and on Wednesday and discharged huge volumes of volcanic material. A staff member at the Mt. Sinabung observation post, Ahmad Nabawi, confirmed that the volcano erupted again on Wednesday at 2:30 a.m.

“This is the third eruption. More eruptions are likely, but we don’t know when,” said Nabawi, adding that the third eruption sent volcanic ash up to 1,500 meters into the air.

Nabawi added that the volcanic ash blew eastward early on Wednesday.

“The ash spread until Berastagi, and even reached Sibolangit and Pancur Batu in Deli Serdang regency,” said Nabawi.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) Data and Information Center head at KNIA, Mega Sirait, said the ash reached 10,000 feet high. “We advise airlines to divert their planes from passing the Mount Sinabung area because it is very dangerous,” said Mega, adding that wind velocity at altitudes of between 5,000 and 12,000 feet around the Mount Sinabung area currently reached up to 15 knots. According to Mega, the speed is regarded as normal.


Airliner-repair firm plans 130 new Tucson workers

An aircraft maintenance company at Tucson International Airport plans to add about 130 jobs in an expansion that includes a new hangar.

The Tucson Airport Authority last month tentatively approved a lease extension for Ascent Aviation Services Corp. that would allow the company to expand with a new hangar at the airport.

However, final approval is awaiting a review of a proposed change to the Airport Authority’s hangar construction standards to allow the company to build a fabric-topped hangar.

The TAA board approved a resolution Tuesday to change the standards, pending a final review by the airport executives by Oct. 3.

TAA board Treasurer Steve Fell, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting for absent chair Lisa Israel, said it’s clear the board supports Ascent’s plans.

“I think it’s fair to say we want to get this done. We think this is a great opportunity,” Fell said.

Michael Melvin, Ascent’s president and chief financial officer, said the company will be looking to hire more than 100 aircraft mechanics and 20 to 30 support staff as a result of the expansion. The company now employs about 150 workers.

“We’re very encouraged by the board members’ unanimous vote and their stated support to get this hangar built,” Melvin said.

The hangar, which could be erected in as little as six months, is key to the company’s expansion plans, Melvin said. Its partly translucent roof will save on lighting costs and provide workers with abundant, natural light, he said.

The company has a strong relationship with Pima Community College’s highly rated aviation-technology program, Melvin noted.

“Certainly it’s a competitive industry, but we’ve had very good success in retaining highly skilled and motivated employees,” he said.

Melvin said the wages Ascent pays mechanics are in line with industry standards. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certified aircraft mechanics made a median hourly wage of $26.55 and an average wage of $26.78 in 2012.

The planned hangar will be about 45,000 square feet — larger than Ascent’s two existing hangars — and will fit two jetliners at once. The hangar is expected to cost about $3 million, according to the company.

At Tuesday’s board meeting Jim Sakrison, an attorney representing Ascent, pressed the board for its final approval, pending the construction-standards review.

Sakrison — a former TAA board member — told the board there may have been some miscommunication that the fabric-roofed hangar would be some sort of temporary structure, though the 25-foot-tall walls and much of the rest of the hybrid structure is steel.

TAA CEO and President Bonnie Allin, who had been out of town until recently, said she and other airport officials need more time to review the proposed construction standards change and financial data submitted by Ascent.

In August, the authority board approved the framework of a 12-year lease extension with three, five-year options subject to final negotiations.

The expansion will give the company more room to work on an expanding range of planes it is certified to repair and maintain, Melvin said.

The Federal Aviation Administration-approved repair station specializes in maintenance of narrow-body jetliners, such as the Boeing 737 and 717, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80/90 and Bombardier CRJ-100/200 series aircraft.

Ascent is awaiting final FAA approval to perform maintenance on Airbus A320 jetliners, which is expected sometime this fall.

“The size of this hangar will give us a whole new entry into a stable business, a business that definitely matches the Tucson environment very well,” Melvin said.

The new certification is seen as a key to growth in business from Latin America, where A320s are prevalent, the company says.

Ascent’s local architect, Michael Franks of Seaver Franks Architects, said the hybrid fabric-and-metal structure will meet all standards for strength and wind and fire resistance.

The hangar would be built by Maine-based Rubb Inc., which has installed similar part-fabric structures at a number of airports, including Boston’s Logan International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and airports in Newark, N.J., Orlando, Fla., and Honolulu.

The architectural membrane, made of polyester fabric clad in PVC plastic, is sunlight-stable, fire-retardant and expected to last 25 years, Rubb CEO David Nickerson said.

Did you know?

The operation now known as Ascent Aviation Services traces its roots to Hamilton Aviation, an aircraft-maintenance firm founded in Tucson in 1947 by aviation pioneer Gordon B. Hamilton.

The company emerged from a 2002 bankruptcy reorganization with a new parent company, Global Aircraft Solutions.

But in 2009, Global Aircraft filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, citing the recession and mounting debt.

Chicago-based Victory Park Capital, Global Aircraft's biggest creditor, bought the company's assets for about $5.5 million in a bankruptcy auction in October 2009 and began operations as Ascent Aviation.

Original Article:

Pennsylvania Police Say No Shots Fired at Choppers

A bullet which may have struck one of Maryland’s newly acquired Medevac helicopters last week did not come from gunfire during the pursuit of a Pennsylvania bank robber, officials said.

Pennsylvania State Police say they have no reports of shots fired by bank robbers at aircraft during the chase which injured two PA troopers.

The suspect died.

Maryland State police speculated last week that the damage to the top rotor may have been caused by a stray bullet fired while the AW139 was providing air support during the chase that began when a Pennsylvania man robbed a bank in Chambersburg.

Pennsylvania State police told FOX45 they are not currently investigating shots fired at aircraft which participated in the chase, leaving the source of the damage which temporarily grounded the chopper unclear.

The damage stranded the chopper atop the Maryland Shock Trauma helipad last week.

State police say the helicopter is now operational, though it is still awaiting repairs.

The state purchased 10 AW139s for $130 million dollars to replace an aging fleet.

Original Article:

Ontario International Airport (KONT) Lawsuit Heard Next Week

A lawsuit filed by the city of Ontario seeking to wrest control of Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles will face its first legal hurdle a week from today when a Riverside County judge considers motions by the defendant to summarily dismiss the case.

Los Angeles World Airports, a municipal agency that also runs Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports, is challenging the validity of Ontario's claims of breach of contract by LAWA, which has been in control of the Ontario airport since 1985. The respondents maintain there is no evidence of a failure to faithfully manage the facility.

Ontario wants the Joint Powers Agreement that placed the airport under LAWA's regional authority dissolved, alleging that the agency -- and by extension, the city of Los Angeles -- has neglected the field and left it at a competitive disadvantage by keeping ramp fees high while lowering them at Los Angeles International Airport in order to draw more traffic to the latter.

Ontario filed its suit in June after negotiations between officials from LAWA and Ontario hit an impasse. One of the chief stumbling blocks is L.A.'s request for a $475 million payment to surrender control of Ontario Airport. According to LAWA, nearly $500 million has been invested in runway and other terminal upgrades since the late 1990s.

Supporters of the "Set Ontario Free" campaign have offered $246 million.

Most inland governing bodies, including the Riverside City Council, back an independent Ontario Airport. Last year, the Ontario International Airport Authority was formed to handle a transfer of ownership.

The OIAA commissioned a study indicating that, without proactive steps to increase the airport's visibility through general promotional campaigns and direct marketing to airlines, the field's future prospects will continue to dim.

Passenger loads at the airport have fallen 40 percent -- from 7.2 million to 3.9 million annually -- since 2007, according to the study, which noted that at the current rate, passenger levels will fall below 2 million by 2024, costing the regional economy an estimated $430 million in annual economic activity.

LAWA officials say Ontario's decline corresponds with the Inland Empire economy's overall slide beginning in 2008.

Negotiations with the administration of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on an ownership transfer had stalled by the time he left office.

But Set Ontario Free campaigners sounded an optimistic note about the possibility of reaching an agreement with Mayor Eric Garcetti, who recently replaced all but one of the seven LAWA Board commissioners.

All parties have agreed publicly that a negotiated deal is preferable to litigation. 

Original Article:

Tongan tourism operators concerned over impact of safety fears from MA60 aircraft

Tongan tourism operators say safety fears over the country's MA60 aircraft are crippling business.

Earlier this year, the New Zealand Government suspended millions of dollars in tourism aid to Tonga and warned travelers of safety concerns over the plane, which is flying for Real Tonga airline.

New Zealand says the MA60 plane has been involved in a significant number of accidents in the past few years and is not certified to fly in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United States.

Australian Lisa Kingsberry was traveling from Fiji to Vava'u in Tonga and has told Pacific Beat airline troubles delayed her in the capital, Nuku'alofa, for two days.

"They informed us that the pilot had been rushed to hospital and they were trying to replace the captain," she said.

"The weather was perfect...and throughout the day this is the story that they kept telling us.

"Then we were told they were grounded for another day...told that the captain was still sick...and then weather had caused the flights to be grounded."

She says when the plane did depart, she'd never been on such an anxious flight.

"As we got on, the exit sign on the plane fell off, and they couldn't put it back on so they just took the exit sign off from the plane," she said.

"As we ascended off the runway, water started running from the cabin...we were sitting in the emergency aisle and it landed straight on top of me unfortunately.

"I've never been on such an anxious flight...everyone was talking about the safety issues.

"I've never seen so many people pay attention to the safety demonstration - it was like meerkats popping up - no one missed the safety demonstration. So it was an incredibly tense flight."

In July, Tonga was gifted a Chinese-made Xian MA60 for its domestic Real Tonga airline by China.

Since 2009, MA60 aircraft have been involved in 11 incidents, including three of them in the last two months.

Earlier this year, Myanmar grounded its MA60 planes for safety checks after two crash landings.

Most of the crashes were caused by technical or system failures.

Ms Kingsberry says local operators are fed up with the safety issues and delays caused by the airline.

"I spoke to quite a lot of tourism providers and they say it's absolutely crippling them," she said.

"The people on our flight...were either Australians or New Zealanders and I can tell you now that the tension and concern that existed around the flight...that will now go back to all of their families and all of their friends.

"If something bad happens you tell 20 people, if something good happens, you tell five, so their concern is more for the next season, rather than the end of this season."

Original Article:

Horry County officials not searching for new airport leader yet

Horry County officials have not yet begun their search for a new director of airports.

Last week, county administrator Chris Eldridge informed airport staff that Mike La Pier was no longer managing the department and assistant director Pat Apone would be handling the administrative duties on an interim basis.

Horry County Councilman Gary Loftus said the staffing change was Eldridge’s decision, and it was the administrator who informed council members. Loftus declined further comment, saying he doesn’t discuss personnel matters.

Eldridge wouldn’t comment on the reasons behind his decision. He did say that no timeline has been established for replacing La Pier.

Friday, La Pier’s final day, came exactly three years after his first day on the job.

He was being paid an annual salary of $149,383.52.

During La Pier’s tenure, he oversaw the opening a new $118 million terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport and he negotiated a deal that brought Canadian airline WestJet to MYR.

To entice WestJet to Myrtle Beach, the county promised to make up any profit shortfall if the airline failed to meet a 15 percent operating margin during its time here (their service is scheduled to end this fall). If the airline meets or surpasses the 15 percent threshold, the county does not have to pay anything. If the margin falls short of the 15 percent, then the county will pay up to $1 million to make up the difference.

La Pier could not be reached for comment.

Original Article:

San Luis County Regional Airport (KSBP) Looking For Businesses To Support Denver Route

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The San Luis Obispo Airport is on the verge of expanding its terminal and adding a new route to Denver.

The airport’s administration says it is working to get support from the business community to pull it off.

The airport manager says he met with several business travelers who he hopes will help fund a new flight to Denver and says pledges have already begun rolling in.

Each airport meeting yesterday had about 40-50 business travelers who expressed high levels of interest in the new route to Denver.

The airport already has a half million dollar grant from the federal government but is asking local businesses to help raise another million dollars to fund the new flight.

The airport has been talking to airline carriers such as United, Frontier and Sky West.

“We do have a large connective market to Denver. We have a number of co-located businesses in this community that want to go to Denver,” says San Luis Obispo Airport Manager Richard Howell. “On the other side of it, people are going East and the nice thing about a Denver connection is we would have access to 85 cities, 25 of which we do not have one-stop access to right now.”

The airport manager says if an airline added just one flight with 70 seats that would generate roughly $4.5 million dollars to the county.

The airport is also in its third phase of designing its new terminal which it hopes the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will approve on Tuesday.

The federal government has given the airport an $18 million dollar grant for this terminal which it wants the airport to spend by the end of the year.

Original Article:

The Charlotte Airport Commission’s hollow complaints

Richard Vinroot, attorney for the new but not-quite-official Charlotte Airport Commission, is unhappy. He thinks the Federal Aviation Administration should give the commission more say about whether it will get to run Charlotte Douglas International Airport, but the FAA is giving him the cold shoulder. That’s “astounding,” said Vinroot in a letter to the agency.

This, of course, is the same commission that was formed when N.C. Republicans rammed a law through the General Assembly earlier this year, ignoring protests from the City of Charlotte that the legislature was stealing an airport without giving the city a real voice in the process.

Vinroot also seems concerned that the FAA’s decision on the commission might be somewhat, shall we say, predetermined. Vinroot told the Observer’s Steve Harrison this week that former Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, who now oversees the FAA in his role as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, might not be recusing himself from discussion about the airport.

That, of course, is a discussion that never really got off the ground in Raleigh, as Republicans initially stomped out attempts at meaningful study over the bill, then proposed a “study” commission that was stacked in its favor. When the city declined that, Republicans passed a flawed law taking over the airport, only to backpedal in the face of a lawsuit before finally passing a newly flawed law.

Astounding? We boarded that flight long ago.

Outside of an impressive display of gall, we’re not sure what Vinroot was going for here. If it’s a play for public sympathy, well, Vinroot surely understands that even if Charlotteans have some honest disagreement over the best way to govern our airport, both Democrats and Republicans aren’t happy with the way lawmakers went about changing things. Sure, Vinroot is just doing his job advocating for his client, but the commission is coming off about as well as a burglar complaining about the raw deal he’s getting at the pawn shop.

As for the squeaky wheel approach with the FAA, let’s consider the agency’s perspective. The FAA received an Aug. 14 letter from the commission’s executive director, Jerry Orr, who outlined the reasons the commission should be running the airport. The FAA also is in touch with the N.C. attorney general’s office, which by the way issued a commission-friendly opinion last month saying that the proposed change in airport governance would not result in the city losing control.

So for now, the FAA apparently has what it needs from the commission. In other words, commission advocates, keep your seatbelts fastened until you hear otherwise.

Patience, however, hasn’t been a strength of those who want to wrest the airport from Charlotte. The result has been a bumbling display of governing that even now is resulting in unnecessary silliness. To wit: City Manager Ron Carlee told the editorial board Tuesday that City Council members are discussing whether they need to appoint members to a commission that might not ever exist by an Oct. 1 deadline that might not be valid.

Instead, the city and state – and the commission – should wait. Let the FAA work through at least some of the issues that should have been thoughtfully considered long ago. We’ve already rushed enough.

Original Article:

Syracuse Common Council stalls vote on airport authority

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The Syracuse Common Council may decide to hand over running the airport to an authority on Monday, similar to what's in place at many airports including Buffalo and Rochester. 

 Most local leaders agree that after nearly 50 years of running Hancock International Airport, it’s time for the city to get out of the airport business.

About eight years ago, the Common Council began to explore the idea of creating an authority to run the airport.

Supporters say the authority would have the ability to try things and innovate where the city can't or hasn't - plus save money - which has already been proven just with a change in security.

"So when the airport commissioner is talking to a low cost carrier, like Allegiant Air and they want to know what their operating cost will be she's got a much better offering to make to them," explained Bill Fisher, the Deputy Onondaga County Executive with the Syracuse Airport Authority Board Chair.

Fisher says the authority could also find newer ways to generate money for the airport.

He says the structure will better manage the airport for everyone it serves - not just the city of Syracuse - and ultimately increase service and lower airfares.

The transfer seemed all but ready for a vote on Monday by the Common Council until the brakes were pumped on Wednesday.

"I was a little taken aback that there hasn't been more substantive meetings between the Airport Authority and our bargaining units out there and you could see there was a lot of confusion in the meeting," said Pat Hogan, Syracuse Common Councilor.

City workers are saying they want to know what happens to them after the transfer in regards to things such as benefits and retirement funds, questions they say haven't been answered.

"There are just too many questions at this juncture to ask the Common Council to vote on this transfer," said Kerry Lightcap, who represents three Syracuse Airport unions.

“The mayor made it very clear to me in a face to face meeting that she would never consent to the transfer without these things being guaranteed for her employees. She doesn't want them to become our employees unless all those benefits are transferred over," Fisher said.

Fisher says there would be no layoffs, especially since says more workers are needed at the growing airport.

Hogan has called another committee meeting on the subject for Monday morning.

The full Common Council has its regular voting meeting that afternoon.

 Story and Video:

Doug Lewis is control tower Manager of the Year: Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (KITH), Ithaca, New York

Relatively speaking, it’s been a difficult year for the Air Traffic Control Tower up at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport when considering that federal sequestration nearly forced its closure earlier this year.

But, good news this week: Doug Lewis, manager of the Ithaca Tompkins’ Air Traffic Control Tower, was presented with the 2013 Manager of the Year award during a ceremony at the airport.

Lewis was chosen from a field that included managers from around 40 northeast facilities employed with control-tower workers from Midwest ATC Service, a contract tower company. Randy Walls, Manager of Air Traffic Services, Eastern Terminal Service Area, for Midwest ATC Service, flew in to present the award to Lewis in recognition of his exemplary service as tower manager as well as his dedication to safe aircraft operations. Administrators created Lewis with initiating and conducting annual educational sessions for the region’s private pilots in and around Ithaca.

An Orchard Park native and current Elmira resident, Lewis has worked up at the Ithaca control tower for a dozen years, being named manager in 2007. He began his control tower career in 1967 as a U.S. Navy man and, in the mid-1970s, he was employeed with the Federal Aviation Administration at the Elmira airport. In 1981, he got involved with the air-traffic controllers strike and lost his job along with 11,000 others after President Reagen fired them for failing to return to the job. Lewis said he took a 20-year hiatus from air-traffic control work before settling in at Ithaca Tompkins Regional airport, which contracts with Midwest ATC Service for its five air-traffic controllers.

“It’s always been a passion, I’d say,” Lewis said. “It’s a type of occupation that really challenges you. It’s hardly ever the same, and you rarely get bored.”

The Tuesday award ceremony was a nice surprise for Lewis, who used the opportunity to offer his appreciation for his four fellow controllers. All told, the group’s 85 cumulative years of experience make for a solid, excellent team, he said.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized. I have the good fortune to work at a facility that has excellent controllers,” he said. “I’m kind of a player-coach in that regard. There’s a lot of experience between them, and they make my job easier.”

Early 2013 was a rocky time for a majority of countrywide control towers that contract out for employees. Exactly 149 of the country’s 251 contract towers, including Ithaca’s, were threatened with closure due to a sequestration agreement affecting all government departments. After much lobbying and the support of local and regional leaders, the threat was averted and funding made available to keep all the towers open. The government, senate and house of representatives have all appropriated money in their budgets for full funding of the towers in fiscal year 2014.

Story and Photo:

Boeing Supplier Takes $68 Million Charge on Production Woes: Triumph Group Shares Slide After Warning of Profit Hit

September 18, 2013, 4:07 p.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal


A key Boeing Co. supplier on Wednesday warned its profit would be hurt by charges from work on the 747-8 jumbo jet, highlighting the challenges of managing the boom in commercial aerospace that has left plane makers with bulging order books.

Berwyn, Penn.-based Triumph Group Inc. is the third big Boeing supplier to run into trouble over the past five years as a number of new commercial and business jet programs provided buoyant sales, but with the risk of having to shoulder more development costs when problems emerged on cutting-edge jets.

Shares of the fuselage parts maker slid as much as 10% on Wednesday after it warned that its costs on the work would be $68 million higher than previously expected in its current fiscal year ending in March 2014, which analysts said would wipe around 14% from forecast earnings over the period.

“There was no big ‘gotcha’,” said David Kornblatt, Triumph’s chief financial officer, on a call with analysts. He said efforts to fix previously-identified problems with its production of fuselage parts for the 747-8 had been only partially successful, while higher labor and transport costs had further depressed profit margins on the program to “mid-single digits.”

Triumph started supplying major portions of the 747-8 when it paid $984 million for Vought Aircraft Industries in 2010 after the latter ran into trouble with its work on the delayed 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing was forced to buy out Vought’s contribution to the 787 program, taking over its North Charleston, S.C., facility and laying the groundwork for the plane maker’s historic move to start assembling jets on the East Coast for the first time.

Triumph’s disclosure follows the problems at Spirit AeroSystems Inc.,  Boeing’s largest supplier of aircraft structures—such as wings and fuselage panels. Spirit has revealed plans to take more than $1 billion in charges over the next several years that will bite into expected profit for its work on the 787 and new business jets being developed by the Gulfstream Aerospace unit of General Dynamics Corp.

Jeffry Frisby, Triumph’s chief executive, said it had already taken steps to address problems with its work on the 747-8, whose slow sales have led forced Boeing to trim production.

Executives disclosed that Triumph would have to hire an expensive Russian cargo plane to ship parts to Boeing’s Seattle-area facilities after falling behind on work, or resort to pricier express-rail services.

“Our opportunities lie exclusively in our ability to reduce our own cost,” said Mr. Frisby, adding that Triumph will have to shoulder these higher costs itself, and isn’t expecting any assistance from Boeing in the form of higher contract prices.

The stock was recently down 8.4% at $72, valuing Triumph at $3.66 billion.

Boeing has been conducting a companywide cost reduction effort dubbed Partnering For Success, enabling the plane maker to share productivity improvements in its supplier’s factories in the form of lower prices.

Triumph plans to update its full-year guidance when it reports its second-quarter 2014 results around October.

Company executives said one bright spot was a potential recovery in its defense business, which accounted 28% of sales in its fiscal first quarter. Mr. Kornblatt said the softness seen at the end of the quarter continued as the U.S. Air Force trimmed flying because of budget cuts.

He said there was “anecdotal” evidence emerging of what he called a “bow wave of activity later this year” as the air force carried out deferred maintenance work.

—Doug Cameron contributed to this article.


Kevin Meikle named Fresno airports director

Kevin Meikle was named Fresno’s director of aviation, City Manager Bruce Rudd announced Tuesday.

A city employee for the past 24 years, Meikle has been interim director since last year, and served as assistant director from 2011 to 2012. Previously, he was airports planning and engineering manager.

As assistant director, Meikle supervised a number of major capital improvements, including runway reconstruction and updating Fresno Yosemite International Airport’s baggage and handling system.

Over the last year, he has attracted new air service and implemented other improvements to both Chandler and Fresno Yosemite International Airport, the city said.

As aviation director, Meikle is responsible for management of Fresno Yosemite International Airport and Fresno Chandler Executive Airport.

Meikle earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His annual salary will be $148,000. As an unrepresented city employee, his salary is subject to a 3% reduction.


Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport (KDIK) seeks injunction against rental car company Budget – Dickinson, North Dakota

Though Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport manager Matthew Remynse said no car rental issues have crept up in recent weeks, the Dickinson Municipal Airport Authority Board of Commissioners decided Tuesday to be ready if they do.

During an executive session at its regular monthly meeting at the airport, the board — at the direction of legal counsel from Ebeltoft Sickler — approved a measure to allow Remynse to file an injunction against car rental company Budget if it conducts business at the airport.

After its contract to do business at the airport expired on Feb. 28, Budget continued to operate without a contract, much to the chagrin of airport management and the Airport Authority, Remynse said.

“After a cease-and-desist letter we sent out in late August, we haven’t had any problems with them,” said Remynse after Tuesday’s meeting. “The injunction is there so that we can respond if we run into further problems. It’s basically a safeguard.”

Remynse said that without a contract, Budget is limited to performing only pick-ups and drop-offs in the airport parking lot and cannot conduct other business or solicitation on airport grounds.

In other action, the board approved an amended airline contract agreement with Delta, United and Great Lakes Airlines for 2014, though financial terms have yet to be decided, which Remynse said was not unusual among airports.

Though no action was taken on the following items, the board also discussed the possibility of the airport adding security cameras and the implementation of background checks for potential employees in the airport hiring process, per Transportation Security Administration standards.


FOR SALE SOON - Lovely Greenfields lot suitable for homes; 1.4 acres. Contact Reading Regional Airport (KRDG), Pennsylvania

2 parcels owned by airport could be on market soon 

The Bern Township airfield may soon have two parcels of land for sale, land which once held aviation equipment that has since been dismantled and removed.

Airport Manager Terry Sroka on Tuesday told the Reading Regional Airport Authority that he's asking the Federal Aviation Administration to release both lots, allowing the airport to sell them.

The second lot, of 0.2 acres, is in Cumru Township a couple of blocks from Lancaster Avenue. It held equipment used as the airport's outer marker, a radio signal guiding planes to the landing strips.

Sroka said the airport would get appraisals for the lots, but any sale proceeds would have to be used for airfield improvement projects, not operations.

Meanwhile, the authority approved a new tenant lease for the Reading Jet Center and ratified a $138,000 federal grant to help rebuild the south taxiway.

And it noted that the Reading Aero Club's fly-in will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, and feature a car show and helicopter rides.

The nation's oldest aero club in continuous operation is on the airfield's west apron. It's accessible by using Route 183, turning north onto MacAthur Road, then turning onto the airfield on West Apron Drive.


Pilot only reported flying into power line days later: Ikarus C42 FB, G-CEFA, Accident occurred April 20, 2013, near Garristown, Co., Meath - Ireland

A pilot who struck overhead lines and left 11 homes without power for more than five hours failed to immediately report the accident to authorities.

A report from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) found that the unnamed 33-year-old male pilot only told the safety agency that the power line was struck "some days" after the incident, contrary to safety regulations.

The pilot, who was traveling with his father, was in command of a microlight aircraft on April 20 last five-miles north of Garristown in Co Meath when the accident occurred.

While conducting an approach to land his aircraft in a field, he made contact with and severed two ESB power lines.


"The pilot performed a go-around and returned to a local private airstrip where, during the landing rollout, the port side main undercarriage assembly collapsed. There were no injuries," the report said.

"Following an extensive search through various means, including Dublin Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), the aircraft was identified some days later. The pilot, on being contacted by the IAA, subsequently made contact with the AAIU advising that he had been involved in an occurrence.

"The aircraft was examined by an AAIU Engineering Inspector at Barstown airstrip some days after the occurrence.

"The pilot did not initially report the occurrence to the AAIU and furthermore, the aircraft was moved from its final resting position and parts were removed without permission being sought from the AAIU," the report added.

A homeowner told investigators he heard an aircraft fly very low over his house.


"In his opinion the aircraft first struck the power line in his garden, which 'bounced up and down for a significant period of time after the aircraft had left'.

"The aircraft continued into the adjacent field and struck/severed a set of power lines; there was no flash or bang."

ESB networks confirmed that 11 houses were without power for more than five hours, and 100 metres of line had to be replaced.

The pilot, who held a valid UK license, should also have transferred his license here, or applied to the IAA for it to be validated.

The report, which did not make any safety recommendations, said the pilot and his father were "extremely fortunate" that the outcome was not more serious.

Story and Comments/Reaction:


While conducting an approach into a private agricultural grass field, the aircraft made contact with and severed two 20 kV ESB3 power lines. The Pilot performed a go-around and returned to a local private airstrip where, during the landing roll-out, the port side main undercarriage assembly collapsed. There were no injuries.

Occurrence Date:   Saturday, 20 April, 2013

Report Date:   Tuesday, 17 September, 2013

Downloads:   REPORT 2013-012.pdf

Airport board picks builder for T-hangars: Kerrville Municipal (KERV), Texas

Texas Transportation Commission to consider funding request next week

Construction of new T-hangars for lease to plane owners and increased revenues at the Kerrville airport moved a step closer with the selection of a contractor for the project.

The Kerrville-Kerr County Joint Airport Board voted Monday to select Lansford Company out of Lampasas as the general contractor and project manager for a proposal to build up to 12 new T-hangars.   Lansford was one of six contractors to submit responses to a request for qualification for the project.