Saturday, October 19, 2013

We bought N225m bulletproof cars for operations - Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority

Director-General of  the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu, on Friday defended the purchase of two BMW 760 armored cars, saying the vehicles are for operational use.

He denied media reports that the vehicles were acquired for the minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Uduah.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja on the controversy that has trailed the purchase of the vehicles, NCAA said due process was followed in the acquisition of the vehicles. He put the cost at N255, 150, 000.

He said: “This press conference is to throw more light on emerging media reports on the circumstances surrounding the procurement of Two BMW 760 Li Armored Series cars for the NCAA.

“The cars are operational vehicles used in the varied operations of the NCAA. Transporting the minister and aviation-related foreign dignitaries is part of this operation.

“We make haste to state that aviation is a global industry and the NCAA, the regulator of the industry in Nigeria very often plays host to dignitaries from international civil aviation bodies like, ICAO, IATA, United States -  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), among others.

“It is internationally customary to convey our minister and these visiting foreign dignitaries in security vehicles whenever they are in Nigeria.

“It must be noted that during such visitations, the security of members of the delegation is the sole responsibility of the host country,” he said.

According to him, the vehicles in question are in the pool of the NCAA for these special assignments and available at NCAA office.

Akinkuotu, further noted that the vehicles were budgeted for and that all necessary procurement and due process was followed.

He added that this was not the first time the agency had procured high security vehicles for aforementioned purposes.

He confirmed that vehicles were purchased from Coscharis Motors, the only dealer of such vehicles in Nigeria.

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Airport board to examine forming regional transportation authority: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (KAVP), Pennsylvania

 PITTSTON TWP. - The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport board unanimously approved a motion Friday to begin looking into forming a regional transportation authority.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien introduced the motion to explore creating one authority to handle all mass transit systems in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties and possibly Monroe County, including the airport, buses and rail.

By forming a regional transportation authority, the area would become the third-largest transportation system in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Mr. O'Brien said. It could give the region more clout and improve efficiency, he said.

"The future of Lackawanna County requires a strong Luzerne County, and the future of Luzerne County requires a strong Lackawanna County," Mr. O'Brien said.

The airport is already controlled by a bicounty board consisting of three members from Lackawanna and three from Luzerne.

The railroad authorities in Lackawana and Monroe counties merged to form the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority, and Mr. O'Brien said he would like to include Luzerne County moving forward.

Luzerne County Transportation Authority and the County of Lackawanna Transit System already work together and this could be an opportunity for each to save money and collaborate further, Mr. O'Brien said.

Airport board members will request assistance from the state Department of Transportation to fund the study. Commissioners from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties have previously talked about asking the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to study whether regionalizing bus systems would save money and improve services in the region.

Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania's most recently established county, was part of Luzerne County until 1878.

"We were one county a long time ago. It's time for us to get back together," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O'Malley.

Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton said he was willing to discuss the opportunity for a regional transportation authority but would like to see the expenses.

Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley and Councilman Rick Williams joined Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz in expressing support for the idea.

"I think it's long overdue. We have to take a look at trying to connect these communities," Mr. Wansacz said. "Progressive communities are looking at ways of doing this."

In other business, assistant airport director Michael Conner announced the number of passengers boarding planes decreased 1.3 percent in September to 17,564 from 17,802 in September 2012. He cited three reasons: the loss of a daily United flight to Newark, the reduction of U.S. Airways flights to Philadelphia on certain days and the hiatus of Allegiant flights to Orlando-Sanford.

The board accepted a grant from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for $41,784 to rehabilitate the terminal apron and install a runway. The grant is 5 percent of the total project cost of $835,680. Ninety percent of the project is being paid for through federal funds, with the airport paying the remaining 5 percent, said airport director Barry Centini.

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United Airlines to Buy 200 Flying Electric Taxis to Take You to the Airport

Airline plans to buy vehicles from startup Archer for $1 billion

United Airlines wants to fly you to the airport.

United Airlines Holdings Inc said Wednesday that it plans to buy up to 200 flying taxis from an electric aircraft startup, as the airline industry seeks new technologies to reduce its carbon footprint.

The purchase would be worth $1 billion, according to Archer, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company developing the air taxis. The tentative agreement is a stamp of approval for Archer, which said Wednesday that it will go public through a combination with a special-purpose acquisition company in a deal that values the combined company at about $3.8 billion.

United and Mesa Air Group Inc., MESA 4.48% a regional carrier that is joining with United on the purchase, said they envision using the taxis to whisk passengers over congested highways to hub airports. The taxis, which Archer said will be capable of flying 60 miles at 150 miles an hour, could nearly halve carbon dioxide emissions for passengers traveling from Hollywood to Los Angeles International Airport, United said.

Airlines say technology like flying electric taxis can help them reduce emissions, though they say there isn’t currently a substitute for the jet-fuel powered engines that power most aircraft. Batteries cannot match the energy density of jet fuel, and airline executives have said that electric or hydrogen-powered aircraft may only be useful for short trips.

“With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground,” United Chief Executive Scott Kirby said in a statement.

Archer aims to begin production in 2023 and launch consumer flights the following year.

United said that it would help speed the aircraft’s development through a strategic partnership, but that the taxis must get regulatory approval and meet the airline’s operating and business requirements before a purchase is completed. United and Mesa have the option to buy another $500 million worth of aircraft under the deal.

During the coronavirus pandemic, carriers have grounded planes and slashed flying. United lost over $7 billion last year and has relied on government aid to avoid laying off thousands of workers.

But airline executives including Mr. Kirby have said they expect the environmental costs of travel to weigh more heavily on eco-conscious consumers after the pandemic. Some Europeans have said in surveys that they had cut back on travel before the pandemic for environmental reasons, and policy makers there have considered taxing jet fuel.

Newer airplanes are more fuel efficient than many older models, but until the pandemic hit, emissions were still rising as more people traveled and airlines added flights. Commercial aviation accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions and about 12% of all carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit research organization.

Carriers have dabbled in biofuel, but cost and availability remain obstacles to wider adoption. Many carriers have relied largely on purchasing carbon offsets—essentially paying to plant trees to remove as much carbon dioxide as their flights release—to reduce emissions.

United has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050 and last year said it would invest in a carbon-capture project to suck carbon dioxide out of the air and sequester it underground. Mr. Kirby has criticized carbon offset programs and said more drastic action is needed to combat the effects of climate change.

Archer and Atlas Crest Investment Corp. , a special-purpose acquisition company backed by investor Ken Moelis, said they expect their deal to go public to provide about $1.1 billion in gross proceeds to the combined company. In addition to their aircraft order, United is investing $20 million in the startup, while Mesa is investing $5 million. Other investors include auto maker Stellantis NV, and former Walmart Inc. executive Marc Lore.

Also known as blank-check companies, SPACs raise money before they develop a business. They use the proceeds to make an acquisition, usually within a couple of years, that converts the target into a public company.

Mirarmar Air Station Firefighters Train Against Jet Fuel Flames

On a hot October day, Cpl. Cameron Arthur and more than a dozen crew members sparked a series of fires with more than one thousand gallons of jet fuel. The Saturday morning blazes at Marine Corps Miramar Air Station sent plumes of black smoke into the air visible from surrounding communities.
But on the ground, Arthur said things were under control — the fuel fires were part of monthly training exercises to keep Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting unit members comfortable in their heavy gear. 

The team practiced in a large concrete pit far from brush, Arthur said. 

"What we're doing is basically using water to push the fuel — 'cause the fuel sits on top of the water — and we're pushing the fuel along the fuselage of the aircraft to the back of the pit and then we're working together as a team to put that out," he said.

The unit rotated positions during the series of fuel fires to become familiar with each role. According to Arthur, flames reached 25 to 30 feet.

The crew burned a total of 1,200 gallons of jet fuel during the exercise, he said. 

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What to look for when chartering a private plane: Presented by Schubach Aviation

When a person goes to the internet to charter a private plane in the San Diego area, an overwhelming number of options usually appear. In actuality, there are only a few true charter companies in the area. Many of the options that appear are actually brokers, rather than direct charter operators. How does one determine the difference between a broker and an operator?

“When looking at the websites, it is important to look for certain words,” advised Kimberly Herrell, Director of Sales at Schubach Aviation. “Brokers will note that they ‘have access to’ rather than ‘operate’ charter flights. Brokers don’t actually operate aircraft. They are the middlemen in the transaction putting private fliers with operators like us and can be very helpful if a person travels around in a lot of different areas.”

“Keep in mind that there are no regulations in the broker industry so it’s important to find someone with a good reference and a good reputation who will find you the best value,” continued Herrell. “If you are planning on several flights out of the area, I would recommend bypassing the broker and working directly with an operator as they provide quicker service and response, and typically a lower price.”

A charter operator is an aviation company that holds a Part 135 operating certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The company staffs the plane, conducts the maintenance and adheres to stringent FAA guidelines. 

“If you determine that an operator is the best choice to go with,” said Herrell, “check out the operator’s history. Have they had any accidents or incidents? What steps were implemented to keep you safe in the future? What is the company’s reputation? Where and how are the pilots trained? Do they know their stuff? Do they keep you informed of delays? You are putting your life and your loved ones’ lives in their hands. It’s important to feel comfortable with the choice you make. We often give tours here at Schubach Aviation so that our clients know what to expect. It makes them feel more at ease, knowing who they are flying with.”

Once a person feels they have made the best choice based on the solid operation of the company, the next consideration is service.

“We cater to our customers,” said Herrell. “Some clients enjoy having a certain wine, or maybe a particularly comfortable blanket or a favorite magazine. We try our hardest to make people feel that they are at home…that this is the closest thing to having your own private plane without the hefty price tag of ownership.”

Pricing and payment is the next consideration: Is it competitive? Is prepayment required? Are there high cancellation fees? 

“We only charge cancellation fees when absolutely necessary,” explained Herrell, “because we focus on the long-term relationship we want to form with our clients. Mr. Schubach is very customer focused, and we haven’t forgotten the reason why we get to do what we do.”

More information


Schubach Aviation
Phone: (760) 929-0307
Address: 2026 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad

Russian Pilot Union Activist Arrested in Aeroflot Fraud Case

MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court has ordered the arrest of an activist of the Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel caught in a large-scale fraud case linked to Russia's major airline Aeroflot.

Valery Pimosheko will remain in custody for two months until December 19, Russian legal news agency RAPSI has reported. He faces up to 10 years in jail for “attempted theft” of Aeroflot’s property by deception.

The activist and the executive director of the Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel, Alexei Shlyapnikov, were detained on Saturday as they allegedly received 10 million rubles ($314,000) in exchange for their assistance in resolving the airline’s wage disputes with the pilots.

The suspects have demanded a total of 100 million rubles ($3 million) from Aeroflot’s flight director for settling the dispute over compensating crew members for harmful and dangerous work conditions, as well as night work bonuses.

Aeroflot has been ordered to compensate a total of 1,200 employees by a Moscow court. The total payment of compensation, which was set to begin last month, could amount to 1 billion rubles ($31 million).

The Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel comprises over 850 pilots, flight engineers and aero navigators from Aeroflot and more than 1,000 retired personnel.


Campaign urges Emiratis to consider a high-flying career as an air traffic controller

ABU DHABI // Young Emiratis are being urged to look to the skies when choosing a career.

While many opt to study medicine or engineering, a national campaign is promoting the benefits of training to become an air traffic controller.

“Traditionally, the popular jobs for UAE nationals are doctors and engineers. Why not become an air traffic controller?” asked Mutasem Al Swaini, manager of air navigation service-provider training at the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Center (SZC).

The Air Traffic Controller Promotion Campaign aims to raise awareness of the profession and generate interest in pursuing a career in it.

Launched by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), officials from the initiative have visited schools, universities, colleges and career fairs.

“We have seen a lot of interest from males and females,” said Mr Al Swaini, who is a graduate of the GCAA’s Air Traffic Control Nationalization Training Program, which the campaign promotes.

The Emirati-only training scheme began in 1998.

The campaign, which began about two years ago, is not about getting more applicants, but is focused on raising awareness of the profession, said Mr Al Swaini.

“We get thousands of applicants every year but you want people who really are keen and interested in the job,” he said.

“You want to raise awareness and it also gives an opportunity to younger people to think about a career in the future.”

People need a specific set of skills to make the grade, such as being able to multitask, work under pressure, speak good English and analytical thinking.

“We have to train someone from zero,” Mr Al Swaini said. “It’s a very technical job, it’s a highly skilled job. The right skills have to be there. There are certain skills we look for in a person and it’s not easy to find. Safety comes first, so there’s no room for mistakes.”

The air traffic controllers at SZC are responsible for about 2,100 flights across the UAE every day.

These includes planes entering or leaving the country, domestic flights and those passing through.

Controllers guide the pilots, telling them where to go and what speed to fly at, to ensure all aircraft operate in a safe and efficient manner, complying with international standards.

Applicants for the training program, who should be between the ages of 19 and 25, have to go through a screening process.

This includes aptitude, psychometric, English and maths tests, plus interviews to assess their personalities.

Training takes between two-and-a-half and three years and consists of theory classes – in-house and sometimes in other countries – as well as simulator sessions and a year of live training under the supervision of an instructor.

As a testament to the success of the program, the top two levels of management at SZC are Emirati.

Out of 102 air traffic controllers at the Abu Dhabi-based centre, 27 are UAE nationals. There are another 20 Emiratis at different stages of training.

“It’s very important to nationalize in all of the industries in the UAE, especially in the aviation industry,” Mr Al Swaini said. “We recognize the efforts from the GCAA management in making this program a success and appreciate their continuous support.”

Thani Al Karimi, 22, was following in his father’s footsteps and studying engineering when he changed his mind and decided to become an air traffic controller. He graduated from the training program in August.

“I thought that I wanted to do something else, something unique,” he said. “It’s a job that’s as important as a doctor or engineer. I recommend it.”

The Dubai resident said it was an interesting and fun job.

“You find new situations every day. You will never face the same problem every day,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure. We have been trained to deal with high-pressure situations and just do it.”

Emirati Hamad Sabaan, 24, from Abu Dhabi, graduated last month.

“I like to control.” he said. “I want to be in charge of everything. I was in the petrol industry as an instrument control technician.”

He recommends a career as an air traffic controller to other Emiratis.

“It’s a good opportunity,” he said. “Every day you will experience a lot of things. It’s exciting.”

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Plaintiffs ask for more than $674,000 in Oxford Aviation suit: Cessna 441 Conquest II, N383SS, Joseph Skilken & Co., Inc.

OXFORD — Plaintiffs in two lawsuits against Oxford Aviation are asking to be awarded more than $674,000 in total damages in a default judgment against the company.

Joseph Skilken and Co. and Karen Skilken filed lawsuits against the Oxford-based company in late August, claiming that negligent work by the company resulted in a harrowing emergency landing of a Cessna 441 airplane in Colorado Springs, Colo., in May.

According to the complaints, Oxford Aviation failed to properly reattach part of the airplane's tail after repainting the aircraft and the unattached portion of the tail fell off in mid-flight. The Cessna was piloted by Steven Skilken with Karen Skilken, her parents and the Skilkens' two young daughters as passengers.

Last month, U.S. District Court in Portland entered a default against Oxford Aviation after the company failed to respond to the complaint after being served with a summons Aug. 27.

By defaulting on the suit, the defendant is essentially accepting the facts of the case as true.

Together, the two plaintiffs are asking the court for damages totaling more than $674,000.

In its motion for default judgment, filed Oct. 16, Joseph Skilken and Co., asks for more than $518,000 in damages to cover a refund, loss of use of the Cessna for business, an "unacceptable" paint job and diminution of value of the aircraft, as well as costs, expenses and attorney fees.

The cost to repair damage to the Cessna's airframe, interior, left propeller, engine, nose tire, tire arms and fender and repaint the aircraft was $210,023. According a Sept. 13 invoice attached to an affidavit by Steven Skilken, repairs were completed by West Star Aviation of Grand Junction, Colo.

A refund for a three-and-a-half-month loss of use of the airplane, regularly used to transport business clients for Joseph Skilken and Co., totals $53,840, while the cost to use commercial flights and rent airplanes and vehicles totals $58,384.

Joseph Skilken and Co. rents property in West Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to its website.

The company is also asking for $200,000 to cover the loss of the value to the aircraft and associated fees relating to landing at Colorado Springs and unexpected test flights totaling $4,796.

In her motion for default judgment, also filed on Oct. 16, Karen Skilken, who was slightly injured in the emergency landing, is asking to be awarded $6,065 to cover her medical bills and $150,000 as an award for "severe emotional distress, mental anguish and pain suffering caused by the defendant's negligence."

The court has yet to set a hearing to assess damages.

Reached Friday at his Lewiston office, attorney Daniel Nuzzi, who filed the motions on behalf of the plaintiffs, said if the court rules in favor of the the judgments, his clients would attempt to collect the damages awarded.

As of yet, his office had received no communication from Oxford Aviation or its representatives, Nuzzi said.

An attempt to reach Oxford Aviation President James Horowitz of Casco at his company's offices at the Oxford County Regional Airport on Friday was unsuccessful.


Boeing procurement officer, contractors indicted on bribery and fraud charges

Deon Anderson, a former Boeing procurement officer, allegedly leaked nonpublic information to bidders for contracts on military aircraft parts in exchange for cash.

A former Boeing Co. procurement officer and three other people were indicted by a federal grand jury and accused of engaging in a bribery and kickback scheme, a federal prosecutor said.

The ex-procurement officer allegedly leaked nonpublic information to bidders for contracts on military aircraft parts in exchange for cash, the office of U.S. Atty. Richard Callahan in St. Louis said in a statement.

The grand jury indicted former Boeing executive Deon Anderson; Jeffrey Lavelle, who owned Everett, Wash., bidder J.L. Manufacturing; and an outside consultant for J.L., Robert Diaz. Boeing, based in Chicago, is the world's biggest plane maker.

"Anderson provided J.L. Manufacturing, though Lavelle and Diaz, nonpublic competitor bid information and historical price information in connection with one and more Boeing military aircraft part purchase order requests for quotes" from May 2011 to April 2013, Callahan's office said, citing the indictment.

Lavelle allegedly used that information as guidance for about nine different bid requests submitted to Boeing, winning seven contracts worth an aggregate of more than $2 million, according to the U.S.

Diaz, 54, and Lavelle, 52, each face one count of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud, according to the indictment. Anderson, 47, was charged with an additional wire fraud count, together with William Boozer, owner of Santa Ana company Globe Dynamics International Inc.

From November 2009 to February 2013, Boozer, 59, allegedly paid Anderson for information used in preparing about 16 Globe bids, winning seven contracts worth a total of more than $1.5 million.

Anderson entered a not-guilty plea Friday in an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shirley Mensah in St. Louis, his attorney, Nicholas Williams, said in a phone interview.

"Mr. Anderson maintains his innocence," his lawyer said.

Diaz is represented by the St. Louis federal public defender's office. That office didn't respond to an after-hours telephone message seeking information on Diaz's arraignment Friday. Lavelle's lawyer, John Crowley of Seattle, and Boozer defense attorney Dyke Huish of Los Angeles, didn't immediately reply to voice-mail messages seeking comment.

"Boeing has fully cooperated with law enforcement officials throughout their investigative process and we will provide our full cooperation as the case moves forward," the company said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg News.

Each mail and wire fraud count carries a maximum punishment of 20 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The indictment was returned Oct. 2 and sealed that day.

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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A former Boeing Procurement Officer and three of the company's sub-contractors have been indicted for mail and wire fraud stemming from a bribery and kickback scheme involving Boeing military aircraft parts. 

Boeing Procurement Officer Deon Anderson allegedly provided J.L. Manufacturing, a Washington-based aerospace job machine shop, non-public competitor bid information and historical price information in connection with multiple Boeing military aircraft part purchase order requests.

That information was used in bids submitted by J.L. Manufacturing to Boeing for approximately nine different Boeing parts requests - of those nine, J.L. Manufacturing was awarded seven, totaling more than $2 million.

In exchange for the information, J.L. Manufacturing's Robert Diaz and Jeffrey Lavelle made cash payments to Anderson in St. Louis and California.

In addition, the indictment states that another Boeing sub-contractor, William Boozer, the owner and operator of Globe Dynamics, asked Anderson to provide non-public competitor bid information and price information in exchange for cash payments.

The indictment alleges that Boozer frequently communicated with Anderson via phone and email, with Boozer frequently requesting "Isle 5," a coded reference to a "price check on aisle 5," which he and Anderson understood was a request for inside information.

Anderson gave Boozer information for bids on behalf of Globe Dynamics for approximately 16 different Boeing requests. Of the 16 bids, Globe Dynamics was awarded seven purchase orders to supply U.S. military aircraft parts to Boeing - totaling more than $1.5 million.

Each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

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A newer better LIAT takes to Caribbean skies

 St John's, Antigua (TDN) -- The acting head of the Caribbean airline, LIAT, in a message to staff, declared the comfort and well-being of passengers will be her overriding priority.

"At the new LIAT, we are working to build an airline which places the customer, our loyal passengers, at the center of our focus," stated Julie Reifer-Jones, who was appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer by the airline's board of directors this month.

Reifer-Jones underscored the importance of the airline's focus on the security of its passengers: "Today marks another significant milestone for LIAT - 57 years of continuous service to the peoples and countries of the region. We can also proudly say that these have been 57 years of safely serving the Caribbean."

Pointing out that for many destinations LIAT remains the major carrier, transporting more passengers than any other airline, she added: "LIAT continues to contribute to the economic and social development of our region, providing important linkages for inter-regional travel as well as for connections to international, particularly trans-Atlantic, travel."

Recalling LIAT has evolved from a single Piper Apache to its present fleet of 14 aircraft, she asked for patience: "As we go through change once again, we promise to serve our region better and in more efficient ways."

She thanked customers and stakeholders for their patience and support as LIAT transitions from its Dash-8 fleet to new ATR aircraft: "This change of fleet is a major investment for the company with a cost of US $107 million."

She was pleased to note, however, that on several routes, "our passengers are already experiencing the comfort of our new ATR 72s."

In addition to the introduction of new aircraft into the fleet, the airline has been able to stabilize its flight schedules throughout the Caribbean: "By the end of this year, we will have six new aircraft and this should improve our operational performance considerably,” she reported.

The LIAT acting CEO proclaimed the fleet modernization which continues into 2014 will improve schedules: "By the end of next year we expect to have a completely new fleet. In addition, we are actively working to improve on-time-performance and our customer service."

On its 57th year of service to the Caribbean, Reifer-Jones saluted all LIAT employees "who throughout the years have helped to build this outstanding Caribbean institution. As we move forward, we encourage everyone to keep the LIAT flag flying high."


Phoenix Fire debuts heavy duty airport fire truck

PHOENIX - Fighting a fire at a home or business is one thing, but fighting a fire on an airport runway is something very different.

The Phoenix Fire Department is rolling out its newest truck, designed to save lives if a plane goes down.

It's an impressive piece of machinery, designed to save lives if a plane goes down. This is an exclusive look at the Phoenix Fire Department's newest airport fire truck.

Phoenix Fire official Ed McDonald just got it ready to be put in service.

"It's a truck that we hope we never have to use, but it has to be there if there is ever a crash of a plane flying in and out of the valley," said McDonald.

The truck has two giant nozzles, one in front of the cab and one on top. They are fed by tanks that can hold more than 4,000 gallons of water and 500 gallons of foam.

Even with all that weight this truck can hit top speeds of 80 miles an hour -- and that's not all.

"It's 8-wheel drive, so all of the 8 wheels drive and six of those wheels steer -- so 3 of the axles are steering axles."

If you fly out of Sky Harbor, you helped pay for this truck. The $1.5 million cost came from that ticket surcharge we all pay when flying. The city didn't pay the tab.

$1.5 million gets you some cool technology, like this camera. Something you can't see with the naked eye.

"It gives them a picture of the fire or the airplane, whether its a wheel that's on fire or if it's a hot engine."

Even though there's never been a major crash at Sky Harbor, it is good to know that this new truck will help rescue crews be as ready as they can be for anything that may come their way.

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Ken Air LLC: Fairbanks charter pilot gets 3 days for allowing beer on flight to dry community

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A charter pilot who allowed a passenger to bring cans of beer on a flight to a dry village will serve three days in jail.

Judge Patrick Hammers also fined Ken Jouppi $1,500 for importing alcohol. The beer equaled about seven gallons of alcohol.

A court hearing will be held later whether the state will confiscate his Cessna 206, though Hammers said it should be seized to send a message to other aircraft operators.

In addition, Jouppi's corporation, Ken Air LLC, a Fairbanks air charter, was also fined $1,500.

Jouppi's lawyers argued said their client wasn't aware of what was in the groceries being placed on the flight to Beaver. However, state prosecutors said Jouppi is the charter of choice for bootleggers because of his "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The longest flight in the world

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  • World's longest nonstop flight (19 hours) linking Singapore and Newark canceled
  • Veteran passengers, pilots and a sleep expert offer tips for ultralonghaul airline flights
  • Many countries allow cockpit catnaps to stave off fatigue during long flights
  • More twin-engine planes are flying long routes because of powerful, reliable engines
(CNN) -- Climbers conquer Everest. Runners complete the marathon. And globe-trotters master the ultralonghaul flight.  Amazing advances in technology now let nonstop flights fly farther and cheaper for airlines than ever before. Many follow routes that take them near the North Pole as they whip over the top of the globe to the other side of the world.

But these giant intercontinental leaps present their own challenges: How do passengers and pilots deal with annoying and potentially dangerous fatigue that comes with marathon air travel? How do twin-engine planes figure into the future of longhauls?

Let's start with the king of nonstop flights: Singapore Airlines Flights 21 and 22 between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey. The route is the longest both in distance -- about 9,500 miles -- and in time -- about 19 hours.

Business traveler Charles Yap is a big fan of this route because it avoids a connection in Germany, which he says saves six hours. All 100 seats aboard the flight are business class. Add hundreds of in-flight movie choices, and longhaul travel isn't so bad for this Discovery Channel executive.
"If you're stuck on a flight, you might as well enjoy it," says Yap, 39.

His long-distance travel tips for surviving 19 hours aloft: "Walk around. Explore the cabin. Don't force yourself to sleep."

Ah yesssssssss, ssssssssslumber. Conversations with ultralonghaulers inevitably will turn to the subject of sleep. Specifically, avoiding jet lag.

"You should try on the day before to get on the same clock as your destination," advises Chris Uriarte, 36, an American Express exec who's flown the route about a dozen times.

"For long west-to-east flights -- a day or two before you leave, start moving your bedtime earlier in the evening. For long east-to-west flights, try to delay sleep until late at night. Planning ahead makes you a lot more productive when you hit the ground." Uriarte should know. He logs more than 200,000 flight miles a year.

Your seating position on the plane is "absolutely key," to a good longhaul, Uriarte says. Singapore uses Airbus A340s with a spacious 1-2-1 seating configuration. The back two rows are even better with 1-1-1 seating.

In general, Uriarte recommends aisle seats in the center section. Sleeping is easier when "there's no one climbing over you," he says.

Seats behind the plane's four wing-mounted engines will be louder, but some travelers enjoy being lulled to sleep by the jet noise.

'Dr. Sleepgood'

Sleep is Curt Graeber's business.

During his 19 years as Boeing's chief engineer for human factors, pilots nicknamed Graeber "Dr. Sleepgood" because he helped them manage fatigue on longhaul flights. "Buy a seat that has a bed, and you're fine," Graeber says with a chuckle. (The price tag -- often thousands of dollars -- is the real challenge.) Sleeping in a coach seat is no easy feat, Graeber acknowledges.

Try to sleep at the time when your body is asleep, he says, although "that's not always possible." And avoid eating a heavy meal.

For the traveler, avoiding exhaustion is nice if you can swing it. For pilots, it's critical.
Graeber ran a 1989 NASA/Federal Aviation Administration study that recommended allowing U.S. pilots to catnap in the cockpit -- but only under supervision of another pilot. Cockpit napping is allowed for pilots in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. It's been accepted by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The FAA won't allow it. "Longhaul flights require relief crews," the FAA said in a written statement to CNN. "Rest is provided outside the cockpit. The FAA does not permit napping in the cockpit on U.S. air carriers."

The FAA's rejection of cockpit napping "doesn't makes any sense," Graeber says. "Everyone I talk to who uses it says it's an important stopgap measure to improve safety and reduce sleep loss."

 National Transportation Safety Board investigators said they were concerned that pilot fatigue was a factor in July's deadly crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a Boeing 777 which caught fire on a San Francisco runway after a 10-hour flight from South Korea. The NTSB has not yet issued a final report on the reasons behind the crash.

International longhaul pilot Justin Schlechter says he's seen the effects of flight fatigue firsthand. "It's tough," Schlechter admits. "It affects your reasoning surrounding your flying and the speed that your brain processes information."

Schlechter predicts that the FAA eventually will reverse itself and allow cockpit catnaps. "The international standard allows it," he says. "I think it's safer to take a controlled catnap. I'm in favor of it."

Here's what U.S. longhaul pilots are allowed to do to manage fatigue:

Typically, during a 14-hour flight, the captain and first officer will fly the first three hours. Then, they hand off the plane to a second crew and get some rest in a special compartment -- or in reserved seats in the passenger cabin.

During the cruise portion of the longhaul, pilots use various methods to keep sharp, such as checking fuel consumption and navigation, adjusting the ventilation, turning up cockpit lighting and engaging in energetic discussions with the other pilot.

Every three hours, the two crews will switch off command of the cockpit until about 90 minutes before landing, when the captain and first officer will land the aircraft.

Twin-engine longhaulers

So, those are some of the ultralonghaul challenges for humans. As for the machines -- they have their own hurdles.

Obviously over vast oceans it's critically important for airliner engines to be reliable and powerful. But hey, it's a business, so the engines also have to be efficient enough to keep airline fuel costs low.
Decades ago, that meant ultralonghaulers were likely four-engine planes, like the 747. In the unlikely event that an engine failed, the other three engines could power the plane the rest of the trip, no problem.

The downside: Four engines guzzle a lot of fuel.

"Now, engines are way more reliable," says travel expert and former airline manager Brett Snyder of They're also more powerful and fuel-saving.

That's why Boeing's twin-engine 777 Worldliner flies so many of the world's longest nonstop routes.  In the coming years look for newer wide-bodies to fly more longhaul routes, like Boeing's twin-engine 787 Dreamliner and the twin-engine Airbus A350 XWB. Both aircraft are made with superlightweight materials which also cut down on fuel costs.

Already, United Airlines has announced its Dreamliners will begin 14-hour nonstop service from San Francisco to Chengdu, China. British Airways plans to use the plane for a 10-hour nonstop from Austin, Texas, to London.

The FAA requires twin-engine planes to fly within close reach of a safe landing spot, in case of engine trouble.

Some travelers seem intrigued by the idea that an airliner can fly in a straight line with only one engine. "Wouldn't the thrust from the engine be unbalanced and make the plane fly in circles?" they ask.

If a 777 lost one of its two engines, the plane has a computer that automatically adjusts the aircraft's controls to compensate for unbalanced thrust. Pilots flying other airliners may have to manually adjust the plane to compensate.

How reliable are those engines?

"We've never seen an issue where a twin-engine plane has lost one engine and can't make it somewhere with the other engine," says Snyder. "And engines almost never fail. With high reliability, airlines are free to look at economics and say, 'Why would we have aircraft with four engines when we can have one that performs the same mission with two and save us money?'"

What killed the longest flight in the world?

In fact, money is exactly what's being blamed for killing the longest flight in the world.  That's right -- after nine years of service, Singapore Airlines Flights 21 and 22 are scheduled for cancellation.

Snyder and most other experts suspect the airline got tired of dealing with poor profit margins on the fuel-guzzling four-engine Airbus A340. "They do use a ton of fuel, and that's always painful," says Snyder. "But the schedule advantage isn't that great either when you fly so far."

Also, the world's second-longest nonstop -- a Singapore Airlines 18-hour flight between Singapore and LAX -- is scheduled to be canceled this month.  That will leave Qantas Flight 7, a Boeing 747 from Sydney to Dallas, atop the list of world's longest nonstops by distance, at 8,600 miles. The longest nonstop by time will be Delta's Flight 201 -- a 777 from Atlanta to Johannesburg which clocks in at about 17 hours.  Fans of the Singapore-Newark flight say they'll miss its spacious seats and well-trained flight attendants.

On a Singapore passenger website, commenter Buster CT1K -- tongue firmly in cheek -- called the airline's decision to cancel the flight a "very sad day in the history of aerospace and aviation. First, man stops going to the moon. Then the space shuttle stops flying. Then Concorde stops flying. And now this. I will miss the Newark-Singapore nonstop very much."

The way Amex exec Uriarte sees it, for now, the airline industry appears to have pushed the longhaul envelope to the maximum.

"That's about as long as we're going to get," he says. "The days of the 19-hour flight are over."

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Diamond DA42: Embry-Riddle Training Plane’s Door Crashes to Pavement at 16 College Court in Palm Coast

A canopy door from a two-engine plane belonging to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University came undone during a training run over Palm Coast’s C-Section around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and fell to earth, slamming the pavement within yards of several houses around a cul-de-sac. No one was injured on the ground, and the pilot and trainee aboard the plane made it safely back to the Flagler County Airport. 
The cause of the mishap is unknown. It is the first time in recent memory that an Embry-Riddle training plane–the likes of which fly above Flagler routinely–has had any sort of accident.

“We are still investigating, and it’s going to be several days until we’re exactly sure what happened,” Embry-Riddle Spokesman James Roddy said. Many questions remain unanswered, including whether the Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the mishap, and where the plane was. Roddy said he “assumed” it was grounded.

The plane is a Diamond DA42, which seats four, has a top speed of around 220 mph and a range of about 1,000 miles.

A resident of the C Section called 911 to report hearing a loud crash outside, and seeing what looked like a plane door siting in the road near 16 College Court. The plane was flying overhead. At 5:23 p.m., Embry-Riddle called local authorities to alert them that one of their planes had lost a door, and that the plane had landed safely. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office turned the door over to university officials at Airport Director Roy Sieger’s request at 5:45 p.m.

“Witnesses,” a sheriff’s report found, “stated that they didn’t see it fall but heard the crash and went outside to see it sitting in the middle of the street. The falling door did not strike anything or anybody, other than the street, and it didn’t cause any damage to anything as a result.”

Embry-Riddle, Roddy said, conducts some 250 training flights a day.

“This is an incredibly rare event for us,” Roddy said. “In fact I had our director of aviation pull information, the last six and  a half years we have flown 388,000 hours of flight, and we’ve had one accident in those six and a half years, and it was a bird strike. So these events for Embry-Riddle are incredibly rare. Safety is the absolute number one priority for us.” The identities of the pilot and the trainee were not released. 

For Palm Coast and Flagler County, it is only the latest in a series of plane emergencies, some minor, one disastrous, this year.
The evening of March 13, a single-engine Piper on a training from Phoenix East flight school in Daytona Beach executed an emergency landing on Palm Coast Parkway, just west of Belle Terre. No one was injured, and only a semi truck sustained minor damage when the edge of the plan’s left wing clipped a part of the cab. In April, an experimental plane crashed into Lake Disston at the west end of the county. Its two occupants swam safely to shore.
On Jan. 5, three people aboard a BE35 aircraft died when the plane crashed into a house on Utica Path in Palm Coast, just short of the runway at the Flagler County Airport. The plane had developed engine troubles minutes earlier. The house was virtually demolished by fire, but its occupant survived unharmed.

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Cayman Islands: New airline to choose from

Blue skies are on the horizon for the Cayman Islands, once one local company takes off.

BlueSkies Airlines will put together a fleet of executive jets to service destinations in the Caribbean, Central and South America from the Cayman Islands. Chairman Kenny Rankin says his company will offer both on demand and commercial flights to complement, not compete, with Cayman Airways.

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Suspension extended for Caribbean Airlines manager

(Trinidad Express) A Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) manager has received an additional two weeks suspension, as an investigation continues into a multi-million dollar alleged racket involving the use of fraudulent credit cards which has already cost CAL more than TT$12 million in losses.

The accounting manager was initially sent on leave on September 23 for two weeks.

While on leave, management requested he provide the CAL board, led by Phillip Marshal, with a comprehensive report about the transactions which led to CAL’s losses.

Sources say from January 2012 to June 2013, CAL has lost more than US$1,721,792 in charge backs.

Charge backs are the return of funds to customers. It is the reversal of a prior outbound transfer of funds.

Following a forensic investigation by CAL’s internal auditing department and Ernst and Young, the manager at the airline was suspended for two weeks.

The credit card activities sources say, involve European, Jamaican and Nigerian individuals.

Sources say the scam involves the booking of airline tickets via credit card.

“Calls to our centers come in after 6 p.m., when banks are closed and we have no way of verifying the information on the cards,” the source said.

Adding that the fraudsters normally booked business class tickets to the United States, England and several Caribbean countries, the source said after the booking was made, the transaction was cancelled, following which the fraudsters called back the centres saying they wished to cancel the transactions and get a refund.

Contacted for a comment, CAL’s communications head Clint Williams said it was not CAL’s policy to “discuss publicly, confidential staff matters”.