Monday, December 23, 2013

Conway, Arkansas: Corporate aviation taking off for new airport

All of the seven corporate hangars planned for the new Cantrell Field airport in the Lollie Bottoms are spoken for.

Jack Bell, Conway’s chief of staff, said the response from the business aviation community to the new hangar space expected to come on-line this summer when the airport opens should go a long way toward answering the question of whether moving the airport out of the city center would be bad for airport business.

Jamie Gates, senior vice president for the Conway Development Corp., said that having the largest, most expensive pieces of airport “real estate” spoken for “is definitely encouraging and proof that there’s pent-up demand here.”

“I fully expect, based on the response we’ve had, that we’ll open the airport with full occupancy, and that from there we’ll be looking at building more corporate hangars and more hangars and spaces for the smaller planes,” Gates said.

The airport tenants who have put deposits on new corporate hangars are:

• Brandon Adams, owner of Reliance Healthcare;

• Johnny Allison, Chairman of HomeBancShares;

• Bill Cope, corporate pilot President/CEO of Conway Aviation Services (fixed base operator at the current Cantrell Field);

• William “Skip” and Bryant Otto, grandchildren of Dennis F. Cantrell and corporate pilots;

• Todd Ross, CEO of Preferred Medical;

• Steve Stansel, corporate pilot for Morrilton-based Koontz Electric Co.;

• Keller Johnson, corporate pilot for Koontz Electric Co.

The corporate hangars at the new Cantrell Field will generally be about 100 x 100 feet, some larger, and, as the name implies, are typically leased by corporate airport tenants with larger, twin-engine aircraft that seat up to a dozen or so people with hangar space left over for a few smaller aircraft.

Corporate tenants will pay to build the hangars on airport property they lease for 30 cents per square foot per month. If they leave, the hangars become city airport property and can be leased to a new tenant.

Bell said that 17 private pilots have expressed interest in the 36 smaller enclosed hangars, and others are expected to move their aircraft into covered, but open aircraft parking at the new airport.

Also moving to the new airport will be aircraft used by the Sparrow Flying Club, an organization that exists in part to answer the common complaint that flying at Cantrell Field is available only to the local wealthiest few percent.

A $300 initiation fee and $39 per month buys a club membership, and a FAA Student Sport Pilot Certificate can be earned through the club. Airplanes are available to pilots on a per-hour basis, and club instructors or a qualified private pilot can do the flying for non-pilot members. Anyone can book a “discovery flight” with an instructor for less than $100.

“Our business is to make the airport available to the public-at-large,” David Jones, one of the club’s instructors, said.

The new airport is being built using 90 percent federal money. The remainder is split between state money and local money generated by the sale of the current airport property. By federal law, money from the sale of the current airport land must be invested into the new airport.

Gates said that the FAA accelerated the funding schedule for the new airport because of safety issues with the existing Cantrell Field. The field itself is not inherently unsafe, but the runway cannot be lengthened further because of Interstate 40 at one end and the railroad tracks and city growth at the other. It’s the growth of the city around the airport and increased air traffic over the years that’s created the safety issue.

Pilots who have engine trouble after taking off have almost no good options for an emergency landing and there have been two fatal crashes in which aircraft landing too long or too fast have gone off the west end the runway and hit houses, one in 1990 and one in 2007 in which home resident Janet Brady was killed when a corporate jet crashed into her home.

On Nov. 6, 2012, a Cessna 210 Turbo Centurion, one of Cessna’s heaviest and fastest single-engine aircraft, lost power after takeoff and its pilot, Robert Allen of Mississippi, chose to turn back to the field instead of attempting an emergency landing in what could almost only have been downtown or a neighborhood. He was killed when his Cessna stalled and crashed at the edge of the airport property. No one on the ground was hurt.

“We have the luxury of talking about the things a new airport can do for us economically,” Gates said, “but the necessity of public safety has always driven this project, and we should remember that some tragic events were the consequence of this undersized infrastructure.”

Gates said that U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and the rest of the federal delegation were “especially helpful in expediting the capital funding for the airport project.”

The existing airport is officially named Dennis F. Cantrell Field, though it’s most often referred to simply as Cantrell Field, which will be the official name of the new airport.


Source:   http://thecabin.net

Yampa Valley Airport (KHDN) schedules tours for beginning of 2014

Steamboat Springs — Public tours at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden have been full each month they’ve been offered since starting in September, according to airport manager Dave Ruppel.

The tours typically are limited to 12 people because of the mandated ratio of visitors to airport employees, and only December was without a tour, which was because of scheduling logistics, Ruppel said.

The slate of airport tours for the start of 2014 has been announced, and those who make the trip to Hayden during winter will get to see the facility in the full swing of its peak season.

Tours are scheduled for the following Wednesdays: 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 15, 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 12, 1 to 3 p.m. March 19, 3 to 5 p.m. April 16 and 10 a.m. to noon May 14.

The tours are part of the airport’s ongoing master plan process.

The intent is “to give people an opportunity to see what’s going on behind the curtain, so to speak,” Ruppel said.

Members of the public who participate in a tour get to see behind the scenes in the Transportation Security Administration area, go out on the ramp and see how airlines handle baggage and tour snow removal and rescue and firefighting sections of the airport, among other things.

“They’ll actually see a lot of that stuff in operation,” Ruppel said about the tours.

Participants also get to hear a little about the master plan process and what will be included in the final report. The airport’s runway resurfacing project also is a topic during the tours.

During the first part of 2014, Yampa Valley Regional Airport also is slated to hold a few other meetings as part of the master plan process.

A Planning Advisory Committee meeting, a local community organizations stakeholder meeting and an open house public meeting are listed on the airport’s master plan timeline.

Those meetings have yet to be scheduled.

Planning Advisory Committee meetings started in 2013, Ruppel said, and occur when needed to review progress on the master plan.

The open house public meeting will be publicized ahead of whenever it’s scheduled, Ruppel said.

“It’s another opportunity to really let the public have access to the process,” he said.

The meeting would involve a presentation, and members of the public would then be allowed to ask questions about the presentation and the master plan.

“The tour doesn't necessarily focus on all those specifics,” Ruppel said.

The local community organizations stakeholder meeting would be similar in content to the open house, he said, but it’s designed to reach out to different groups of people.


Source:  http://www.steamboattoday.com

Minnesota: Campaign employee traveled on state plane with governor last year

Late last year, as he was campaigning for Minnesotans to send him a DFL Legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton traveled on a state plane with a campaign staffer to Bemidji and International Falls.

While the governor repaid the state $2,118 for the October 24, 2012 trip, it had not been clear until Monday that Julie Hottinger, a Dayton campaign staffer, was along for the flights. But according to documents newly uncovered by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a Republican organization, Hottinger's name appeared on an invoice for the trip late last year. 

Dayton has already received significant scrutiny for his late 2012 use of the state plane for the campaign purposes. He took several flights as the election approached, which included campaign appearances. He repaid the state for the political portion of the trips but they have continued to raise questions about the appropriate use of state resources by a government official.

During the October trip, Dayton had an official meeting with Bemidji area officials, made a Bemidji area campaign appearance, flew to International Falls for a campaign stop and then returned to St. Paul. Spokesman Matt Swenson said the campaign paid for half of the cost of flying Dayton to Bemidji, all of Hottinger's costs, all of Dayton's costs to International Falls and back to St. Paul.

Asked if it is appropriate for campaign staff to join the governor on the official state plane, Swenson said: "It is appropriate and our policy that any campaign-related travel or travel expenses incurred by campaign staffers is paid in full by the campaign, which is what happened here. It is appropriate for campaign staffers to travel with the governor to campaign events if that travel is paid for by the campaign."

Ben Golnik, a former Republican Party staffer who heads the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, said that Dayton's use of the state plane is troubling.

"This new information about Gov. Dayton's misuse of state resources is very concerning," Golnik said. He also noted that some information was redacted from the Coalition's request for public documents. The redacted information included the signature line on an Air Travel Request form for the Oct. 24 trip.

The Coalition's finding will not be the last word on Dayton's use of the state plane. Later this month or early next month, the non-partisan Office of the Legislative Auditor will issue a report on the governor's office. That report is expected to include an assessment of the governor's political use of state resources.

Swenson said the governor's office awaits guidance from the legislative auditor and would not take its cues from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, which he called a "highly partisan right wing attack" organization.

The 2012 flights have already been examined by one agency watchdog. In September, in response to a complaint from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, the state's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board found that Dayton violated the law by not disclosing his campaign debt for his campaign's use of the state plane on several occasions.

In part because the media, including the Star Tribune, had reported on Dayton's plan to repay the state for use of the plane, the board decided that the lack of disclosure on campaign forms was inadvertent. Because the omissions were not made knowingly, the board decided the violation did not merit a fine.

Story and Comments/Reaction:   http://www.startribune.com

Hunt County, Texas: Marijuana plane case suspect placed in local custody


A Florida man has been placed in local custody in connection with a 2010 incident in which bags full of marijuana were dumped out of a plane flying across Hunt County.

Randall Thomas May, 52, of Palm Bay Fla., is being held in the Hunt County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond on a charge of  possession of between 50 and 2,000 pounds of marijuana.

May was indicted by the Hunt County grand jury December 13 and was taken into custody by the Brevard County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office the same day. May had signed a waiver of extradition and he was booked into the Hunt County Jail Thursday.

No arraignment hearing had been set on the indictment as of Friday evening.

May is the second individual charged in connection with the incident. Darin William Fayne was found not guilty by a jury of the same charge in September.

Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said he sent investigators from his office to Florida in August to obtain a DNA sample from May.

Six duffel bags believed connected to a plane abandoned early on the morning of July 19, 2010 at the Caddo Mills Municipal Airport have been recovered. The street value of the more than 200 pounds of hydroponic marijuana has been estimated at up to $1.5 million.

The possession charge is a second degree felony, punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of from two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000.

Source: http://www.heraldbanner.com


Feud over Jacksonville Executive Airport at Craig (KCRG) runway length re-emerges: Retired Air Force major wants room for executive aircraft; residents, Councilman Bishop unmoved

One man’s campaign to build support for a longer runway at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport is raising concern among neighborhood advocates who have resisted similar proposals for decades.

Marshall Wood, marketing coordinator for a charter-flight company based at Craig, is asking business operators involved with the airport to meet in January to develop a common set of arguments about public benefits of an extension.

“There is a move afoot. I am the move afoot,” said Wood, a retired Air Force major who said he’s trying to convince City Council members to rethink a policy the council adopted in the 1990s that limits the runway to 4,000 feet.

But the time to think about an extension passed decades ago, when land that could have been bought as a buffer area was developed instead for housing subdivisions and businesses, said Lad Hawkins, a longtime Arlington activist.

Hawkins said lengthening the runway would lead to larger planes using the field, and increase both the noise and risk of aircraft crashes.

Wood argues the reverse is true.

He said the runway’s current length means Craig is used heavily by very small planes whose owners are often hobbyists, who statistically have more accidents than professional pilots of the larger, newer “executive” planes the field’s name suggests it serves. Wood said that businesses commonly use larger planes now than when Craig opened, and that keeping runway length unchanged will progressively limit the planes that can operate there.

Wood, who also runs a religious organization called CrossOver Jacksonville, said he’s pushing the runway subject separate from company he works for, Malone Air Charter.

Councilman Bill Bishop, whose district includes Craig, said there’s a solid consensus against extension, and no plan to pay for any change.

Craig’s runway lengths are capped by the city’s growth-management plan, and can’t be increased without council action.

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority advanced a plan several years ago to extend the runways to about 5,600 feet, but dropped that in 2008, after the airport’s neighbors locked up council support to keep runway lengths unchanged.

Authority spokesman Michael Stewart said his agency still hopes someday to revisit the subject, but isn’t planning that now.

“As we move forward, we will pursue this issue in conjunction with the City Council,” Stewart said. “As it stands right now, we don’t have a willing partner.”


Source:   http://members.jacksonville.com

About 120,000 operators of private aircraft arriving in United States submit documents each year, says Customs and Border Protection

Federal Register Volume 78, Number 246 (Monday, December 23, 2013)

CBP officials estimate that approximately 120,000 operators of private aircraft will arrive in the United States each year and present several documents to CBP inspectors for their review.

The number of arriving private aircraft has not changed from the preceding year, said CBP, in an official notice it published in the Federal Register on December 23.

The “commander” of a private aircraft arriving in the U.S. from outside the country must present a pilot certificate or license; a medical certificate; and a certificate of registration, also known as a “pink slip,” the CBP notice explains.

“The information on these documents is used by CBP officers as an essential part of the inspection process for private aircraft arriving from a foreign country,” the notice continues.

CBP estimated it will receive about 120,000 such submissions each year, which will take the aircraft operator an average of only one minute to supply.

Members of the public wishing to comment on this information-gathering exercise have until February 21, 2014 to do so. Further information is available from Tracey Denning, of CBP, at 202-325-0265.

 Source:  http://www.gsnmagazine.com

Columbus Municipal (KOLU), Nebraska: Schademann ascends to airport manager position

 Keith Schademann is the new manager of Columbus Municipal Airport. The Columbus resident worked at the airport for three years before advancing to the new position earlier this month.
 Photo Credit:  Tyler Ellyson/The Columbus Telegram


COLUMBUS — When corporate executives and private pilots land in Columbus, their first impression of the city comes from the airport.

That’s why maintaining a “good, friendly” appearance there is a top priority for Keith Schademann, who took over as Columbus Municipal Airport manager earlier this month.

Schademann, the airport’s maintenance supervisor for three years before his promotion, replaces Mark Cozad as the head man at the city’s aviation hub.

Although three decades separated the two in age, Schademann’s vision for the airport would build upon a foundation Cozad created during his three years here.

“I’d like to promote the airport and facility and keep improving the grounds and overall appearance,” said Schademann, who almost missed his opportunity to take the airport manager position after Cozad left in July for a job with the Federal Aviation Administration in Kansas City, Mo.

Schademann, 60, said he didn’t immediately apply for the position because he thought city officials would look for a candidate with a more extensive aviation background, particularly on the administrative side.

And they did.

The city hired Ross Wheeler, a Sioux Falls, S.D., native with a degree in aviation/aerospace from the University of North Dakota and experience working as a dispatcher.

However, the newlywed backed out of the Columbus job after returning from his honeymoon.

This reopened the door for Schademann, whose role as interim airport manager showed he was qualified for the position full-time.

“I think the longer he worked at this, the more we saw that he is an excellent manager,” said Columbus Human Resources Director Mike Oglevie, who called Schademann “very intelligent” and “detail-oriented.”

Schademann has lived in Columbus for 23 years and worked for Mid-Nebraska Communications Inc. before taking the airport maintenance position. He and his wife Judy have four grown children.

The airport underwent several major changes while Schademann worked alongside Cozad.

The annual Columbus Days fly-in breakfast was reinstated during Cozad’s time here and events such as the Wings of Freedom Tour and 2012 Air Race Classic made stops at the airport.

Like Cozad, Schademann said he plans to host events and activities that get the community involved and show Columbus residents how the airport supports the city.

About 50 aircraft — from Cessnas to crop sprayers and corporate planes owned by Nebraska Public Power District and Behlen Mfg. Co. — are currently based at Columbus Municipal Airport, which handles approximately 15,000 operations each year, a number that totals takeoffs and landings.

A 20-year master plan developed under Cozad’s watch outlines more than $20 million in potential projects at the airport and Schademann has already identified a few as priorities.

These projects include constructing a building to store snow-removal and maintenance equipment, installing new perimeter fencing and tearing down an old A-frame building that’s become an “eyesore.”

Schademann would also like to build a new terminal building and add more hangars, but he said most of these projects can’t move forward until more FAA funding is available.

“That’s one of the things a lot of people would like to see,” he said of the hangar plan.

In the short-term, the city must hire an employee to fill the maintenance supervisor position vacated by Schademann, since the airport is run by just two employees.


Source:   http://columbustelegram.com

Teterboro Airport (KTEB) to pull an all-nighter after Meadowlands Super Bowl

 


 * Arrivals and departures allowed during normal no-fly hours – once Super Bowl is over 

In recent years, Teterboro Airport has reduced the number of night flights over densely populated Bergen County by asking aircraft operators to not fly in or out between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., if they can avoid it.

But when fans stream out of MetLife Stadium after the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, all bets are off.

At least five arrivals per hour will be allowed after midnight at Teterboro when a no-fly zone within eight miles of the stadium is lifted, and private jets can start picking up passengers. And many of the more than 200 jets that will likely park at Teterboro for the game are expected to take off between midnight and 6 a.m., after the game is over.

The Teterboro Users Group, a non-profit comprised of airport operators and users, said in its recently released Super Bowl operations plan that the usual noise restrictions — which are voluntary, anyway — will not be in effect for post-game operations, when the Federal Aviation Administration will be looking to clear much of the Super Bowl air traffic so normal business and leisure travel can resume uninterrupted on Monday morning.

Airport manager Renee D. Spann and Teterboro Users Group President Dave Belastock did not respond to requests for comment, and it is unclear how many overnight departures will be permitted.

However, the operations plan says that for all landings and departures from Jan. 29 through Feb. 4, aircraft operators must make reservations. Departures will be tightly controlled after the game by ramp coordinators, to be provided by each of the airport's five base operators.

Mandatory noise restrictions, such as an 80-decibel nighttime departure noise limit on Runway 24 and a 95-decibel departure limit, the equivalent of a jackhammer at 50 feet, on other runways, still apply.

"Noise is an issue everywhere," said Darren Large, facilities and projects manager at Morristown Municipal Airport, which will take some of the overflow from Teterboro. "We want the pilots to leave as quietly as possible.

"We will have a lot of planes departing that night, too," he said.

Late-night and early morning flights have averaged around a dozen each night in recent years at Teterboro, which asks aircraft operators to try to avoid taking off or landing between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. because area residents complain about the noise.

In the first half of this year, there were 75,569 takeoffs and landings at Teterboro, including 4,693 between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to a recent report from the airport's noise abatement advisory committee report, which tracks noise violations and complaints and monitors sound sensors in surrounding neighborhoods.

The number of night flights was unchanged from last year's January-through-June period, and the number was well below the 6,647 night movements logged in the first half of 2008.

The report said measurements of aircraft noise exceeding 90 decibels are most common at Hackensack University Medical Center, where 70 such readings were recorded in the first half of the year, up from 68 in the year-earlier period. A noise-monitoring device in Carlstadt measured 12 flights above 90 decibels, down from 21 they year before.

Hasbrouck Heights and Bogota monitoring devices picked up no measurements over 90 decibels this year through June and a device in Moonachie counted only one.

The number of Teterboro noise complaints dropped to 737 in the first half of this year from 1,684 in the year-earlier period.

The FAA, which is charged with keeping Super Bowl-bound private jets from interfering with the area's normal air traffic, said Monday it expects an additional 1,200 flights to New York and New Jersey airports for the big game, which is about the same number that flew to the last two Super Bowls.

Before the game, from about noon until 4 p.m. during an "NFL Experience" event for fans, no flights will be allowed within a one-mile radius of MetLife Stadium. A second, much broader restriction will kick in from around 4 p.m. until one hour after the end of the game, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Private aircraft, including blimps, are prohibited in an airspace extending eight miles from the stadium in all directions and 18,000 feet up.

Only public safety flights, military aircraft and commercial passenger, cargo and certain private charters will be allowed under a Transportation Security Administration-approved security program.

In an outer ring extending from eight miles to 30 miles away, private-plane pilots will have to keep in constant contact with air traffic controllers.

Unlike Teterboro, the Morristown airport is outside the FAA's Super Bowl no-fly zone, so it expects to see fan departures to begin around halftime.

"We are looking to accommodate about 200 aircraft for that event," Large said.

The last time Morristown had that many planes on the ground was during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when all air traffic was shut down by the government, and pilots had to land at the nearest airport that could take them.

"Right now, we are trying to figure out when the bulk of our departures are going to happen," Large said. "We will probably get that segment that wants to leave before the end of the game — those who are there to see and be seen and want to leave as soon as they get their face time in."

Naturally, he is preparing for the possibility of ice and snow.

"We've stocked up on deicing chemical," Large said. "We contracted a chemical company to keep some extra within a 15-minute drive of the airport."

Source: http://www.northjersey.com


Teterboro will permit overnight flights after Super Bowl

Long Island MacArthur Airport (KISP), New York: Struggling to reverse losses

 

Long Island MacArthur Airport, once touted as a major economic boon for Islip Town and the region, has lost nearly $4.2 million in the past three years and is projected to be down another $1.4 million in 2013.

The trend could endanger the financial health of the town, which owns and operates the facility, officials and experts said.

The 2013 projected loss on top of $2.07 million in 2012, $776,000 in 2011 and about $1.31 million in 2010 has forced Islip to use funds from a recent property sale to compensate for the deficits, according to figures provided by the town. Before 2010, the airport consistently made more money than it spent.


But if the airport loses more than $600,000 in 2014, Islip will have to dip into its general fund surplus to fill the gap.

"There will be a tipping point if this starts bleeding into millions of dollars a year that we're losing," said Islip Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr., liaison to the airport. "That's common sense -- the taxpayer is not going to have it, and we're going to have to do whatever we can."

MacArthur is seen as a vital part of the Long Island economy. Islip Supervisor Tom Croci, who ran his 2011 campaign partially on restoring flights there, has said it generates between $500 million and $1 billion annually in economic activity for the region.

But it has suffered the same fate as other small- and medium-sized airports since the recession hit in 2008.

When fuel prices soared in 2008 and never came back down, airlines began cutting destinations and redundant flights, especially at smaller airports, to improve their bottom lines.

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines -- MacArthur's bread and butter, providing 13 of the airport's 22 daily flights -- has been cutting down its service there for years. The Dallas-based airline's service at MacArthur peaked in 2007 with 11,416 departures and hit a low in 2012 of 5,875. Overall departures at MacArthur have fallen from 14,784 in 2007 to 7,930 in 2012.

While departing flights from Islip are 92 percent filled, Cochrane said, the number of times passengers boarded planes at the airport has dropped dramatically. In 2007, passengers boarded planes at MacArthur 1,183,576 times. By 2012, the number had dropped to 678,848, according to town data.

The airport's financial woes come as Islip Town is facing its own financial challenges. In 2012, Croci and the town board approved a 28 percent town property tax hike to cover a $26 million budget deficit.

Like other municipalities in the post-recession economy, the town has consistently used its general fund surplus to balance its overall budget.

In the past three years, the airport has been able to pad its financial shortfalls with money from a parcel of airport land the town sold for $11 million to the Long Island Rail Road in 2009, officials said. Town officials said the town kept about $5 million of that, leaving the airport with about $6 million. But that money is quickly running out.

"If we have a loss and we don't have the money in the airport, then it goes back to the general fund," Cochrane said. "We don't want that to happen -- but we realize that that is the fallback, to go into the capital fund."

To save and generate money at MacArthur, town and airport officials are making several moves, he said. They include: layoffs of airport staff, cuts in overtime, last year's addition of a general aviation landing fee, collecting rent from other town and county agencies using space at MacArthur, and attracting businesses to lease storefronts in the airport -- now at 100 percent occupancy, Cochrane said.

Officials want to lure more airlines by extending another of MacArthur's runways to 7,000 feet. Lengthening the runway from 5,100 feet could allow bigger planes to use the airport. "Once we get the master plan and get that one runway extended out . . . the airlines will look at us in an even more positive manner," Cochrane said.

The town and the airport "are doing everything we can to make sure we get over this spell that the airport has been in for the last five or six years," Cochrane said. "We need that next American Airlines or Delta or JetBlue. If we get that, then it'll be happy days like it was 10 years ago."

Private route suggested


If none of the town's solutions pan out, experts say, encouraging private investment is an option.

Though the airport has lost money, aviation consultant Michael Boyd of Colorado-based Boyd Group International said there is potential for investors to be interested in a public-private partnership at MacArthur.

"It's an operating airport, it's got roughly 8,000 departing flights a year," Boyd said. "It's a live airport; a live airport means there's always an opportunity there."

Andrew Vasey, owner of Indiana-based Vasey Aviation Group LLC and who is employed by Islip as an airport consultant, recently was involved in the privatization of publicly owned Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Vasey was a senior adviser to Aerostar Airport Holdings, which in July 2012 won a public bid to become the airport's private operator. Aerostar signed a 40-year lease under the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Privatization Pilot Program, created 17 years ago to give state and local governments that own most commercial airports a private funding option.

Experts, such as Samara Barend, public-private partnership development director for the engineering firm Aecom, say the pacts can be game-changers for struggling airports without the capital to invest in infrastructure improvements.

But there is often strong pushback against privatizing, said Michael Wittman, a research assistant in MIT's International Center for Air Transportation, a leading research center for the aviation industry.

"In the U.S. there's been an incredible amount of opposition toward privatization of airports, particularly because there are often multiple airports in a metropolitan region and if one becomes privatized, it creates this rivalry," Wittman said.

But idea faces turbulence
 
In Chicago, which is facing what Mayor Rahm Emanuel called "a huge structural deficit" in its budget, a controversial plan that would have privatized the operations of Midway International Airport fell through when Emanuel pulled the plug in September. Emanuel said he was afraid prices at the airport would increase too much if it was privatized.

A source familiar with town deliberations said there have been conversations among board members in recent months about potentially privatizing the airport.

But Cochrane said privatization is not an option now, partly because of a long lease on the airport's parking lot that ends in 2029 and would be costly to buy out. That lease has cost the airport a lot of missed income over the years, Cochrane said, and parking lot income can be vital.

"At small airports, the parking lot can be 25 percent or more of your revenue," said Boyd, the consultant. "A lot of small airports have found, 'I'll pay someone $12 an hour to stand there and take tickets rather than lease it out to someone to run it for me.' "

At Islip, the parking lots brought in about $2.8 million in 2013, about 23 percent of the airport’s revenue.

Cochrane said one of the town’s future goals is to try to buy out the lease. “You can’t lease an airport or sell the airport or rent the airport when the future buyer doesn’t have a parking lot,” he said.

In fact, Islip officials have tried to sell the airport in the past, sources said.

In 2009, officials held preliminary talks with JPMorgan Chase about selling the airport, and several regional development players were brought in. But, according to the sources, negotiations between the bank and the town stalled early on — the airport was expensive and laden with baggage, such as the parking lot lease and the millions of dollars still owed to Southwest Airlines for the building of eight gates at the new East Concourse, a project that started in the early 2000s.

Selling an airport is nearly impossible, experts say, because it receives billions of dollars in federal funds across its lifetime — money that would have to be paid back if the airport went private.

In 2012 alone, MacArthur received $15 million in improvement grants from the FAA, officials said.  Those annual grants date back to MacArthur’s beginnings as a commercial airport in the 1960s.

“It’s very hard to sell an airport, to completely privatize an airport, because you’ve taken federal dollars,” Boyd said. “Once you do that, the FAA says you can’t sell this, the taxpayers put money in here.”

The number of flights at MacArthur has remained stable this year, with the addition of two new daily flights to Boston from Alaskan carrier PenAir and two weekly flights to Punta Gorda, Fla., from Allegiant Air, Boyd said.

Next year Southwest will begin flying a fleet of larger jets, which can seat more passengers, Boyd said. More passengers mean more money for the airport.

“The bottom line is that there are going to be 8 percent more seats than last year, that’s a good sign,” Boyd said. “Is it going to turn around the economy in Ronkonkoma? I don’t think so.”

Story and Comments/Reaction:   http://www.newsday.com

Invisible Intelligence LLC: Aviation startup markets recording device for small airports


 Ron Cote, left, and John Guimond, have developed a device to improve safety at smaller airports by capturing and saving radio communications transmitted by pilots and airport personnel. Less than a year on the market, the device is in use at 13 airports. 



When it comes to flying planes, the rules are pretty cut and dried. They clearly weren't observed when, this summer, a pilot took off from a New Mexico taxiway, the narrow strip of pavement connecting airport runways.

"There are quite a few different no-nos on that," says Robert Uecker, the airport manager for the city of Belén, N.M.

Uecker is one of the first customers of Invisible Intelligence LLC, a Maine company producing a patent-pending computer system for smaller airports that records otherwise fleeting radio transmissions. The company's system uses the recordings to calculate traffic statistics and provide a firsthand account of events for airport managers who are trying to reconstruct them. It's also used to train staff to prevent the relatively rare cases when operations don't go as they should.

It was just a week after getting an Invisible Intelligence trial unit in his office that the New Mexico airport manager put the device to use. He sent captured radio transmissions from two pilots who observed the errant taxiway flier to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"It was useful knowing that I had some evidence right there, instead of [relying on] he-said she-said," says Uecker.

Sophisticated record-keeping is typically beyond the scope and budget of an airport like Belén's, where Uecker is the only employee. There, and at the nearly 5,200 other public general aviation airports in the country, pilots are most often guided not by a fleet of air traffic controllers but by FAA protocol that mandates pilots communicate their intended maneuvers over a common radio frequency. Depending on the hour, those communications may play to an empty room, after airport staff have gone home.

Those smaller airports in the United States and abroad are Invisible Intelligence's primary market, and one with which its founders are familiar.

John Guimond is the airport manager at the municipal Augusta State Airport and Ron Cote is an electrical supervisor for the Maine Department of Transportation, a job in which he has managed runway lighting at municipal airports for more than a decade. (The duo says they have their employers' blessings on their venture, on which they work off hours.)

It's their combined aviation knowledge, buy-in from Maine's DOT and the quick delivery to market of a product that was just a notion a year ago that gives them confidence they'll find ready customers among airport managers like Uecker. After launching the recorder system earlier this year, Maine's DOT announced it is developing a program to cover up to half the cost of the system for any of the 42 public airports in the state. The systems cost from $2,000 to $3,500, depending on the exact setup and platform. So far, 10 Maine airports are using it.

Overall, Cote and Guimond say they expect to generate $35,000 in gross sales this year, a figure that represents about six months of sales from around the country, mostly generated by word-of-mouth and a write-up in an industry email newsletter.

While the duo is still operating the business out of their homes (and Damon's Pizza & Italians in Augusta), their flagship General Audio Recording Device, or G.A.R.D., is recording radio transmissions at 13 airports and a heliport in four states. An installation in New Hampshire, a fifth state, was pending at press time.

Tapping an aviation metaphor, Cote says launching the company was a lot like building a plane in-flight, an approach that has worked so far.

"A lot of people will design something and wait till they perfect it," Cote says. "We did just the opposite and put it out there and asked how to improve it... it's kind of been designed by airport managers."

The next phase of the company's development will be fueled by a $25,000 grant from the Maine Technology Institute that Cote says will allow the company to deploy more advanced voice recognition software into its product and hire two contract employees to take on sales and administrative tasks.

The first unit Guimond and Cote installed began recording audio in February at the Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head, near Rockland. They intentionally picked that location.

"The idea started after the terrible airplane accident in Rockland last year," Cote says.

Three young men died after their Cessna 172 collided during takeoff with a pickup truck driven by an employee of Penobscot Island Air. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board stated the driver of the vehicle had announced plans to cross the runway over the radio and heard no response. "We'll never really know [what happened]," Cote says.

Guimond didn't understand why more information couldn't be available, and familiar with Cote's electronics expertise, he asked to meet and made his pitch to develop a recording device that would enhance airport safety.

After about 10 days tinkering and coding at his camp in Eustis, Cote had built and developed a basic prototype that could capture individual radio transmissions — cutting out dead air — and store the digital files with timestamps down to the second. The next step was contracting the Winthrop-based Alternative Manufacturing Inc. to build the small black box that links a unicom radio to a computer.

In a written testimonial about the company's system, Knox County Regional Airport Manager Jeffrey Northgraves says he began researching ways to record radio transmissions after the accident. Most options on the market, Northgraves wrote, have features beyond what his airport needed and are expensive. He expects other airport managers will find the device useful.

According to the latest annual report by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and FAA statistics, there were 1,422 general aviation accidents in the United States in 2012, 270 of which resulted in the death of one or more passengers. Representatives from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, contacted by Mainebiz, reviewed the company's website but said they could not comment on market demand for such a system.

Since the first deployment of the G.A.R.D. system at the Knox airport, Cote says he's continued to work on new features at the request of customers. That led to the first major upgrade earlier this year, enabling the program to tally airport traffic and maintenance operations.

Federal regulations require pilots to make a number of transmissions as they're taking off or landing, and Cote says his software can single out those events by analyzing characteristics of the unicom radio transmissions. That development represents half of the company's pending patent, which Cote says covers the combined functions of recording radio transmissions and logging a count and timeline of airport operations to enhance the planning abilities for airport managers.

At the Augusta airport, Guimond said the traffic data showed an unexpected lull on the weekends. Airport staff had previously performed only routine maintenance operations on weekends, but knowing that weekends are actually less busy has caused them to change that practice.

Cote and Guimond say that technology will give airport managers a better way to track airport traffic, which is not done uniformly, and to allow after-hours logging of traffic data.

"We've talked to five different [airport] managers and they had five different answers about where they got their numbers," Cote says.
Next steps

Now that it has an MTI seed grant, Cote says the next step for the G.A.R.D. system is to rebuild the software in a new programming language that can more efficiently incorporate voice recognition.

That, the duo hopes, will allow them to extract even more information from radio transmissions, like how frequently a specific runway is used, what types of planes are landing at the airport and other basic information. Cote expects development of that software to take around eight months.

The grant has paid for some patent attorney services and supported two year-long contracts with an administrative assistant and a full-time salesperson whose first task was contacting every state transportation department in the country. The company is also bringing on an intern from the University of Maine at Orono to help develop the software for Google's Android and Apple's iOS platforms.

It's the latest in a pattern of quick development for the young company.

"We went from concept to prototype in 12 days and then to market in less than six months," Cote says.

Invisible Intelligence LLC

Address: 32 Dusty Road, West Gardiner

Owners: Ron Cote and John Guimond

Founded: 2013

Employees: 2

Revenue, 2013: $35,000

Contact: 485-5521

www.invisibleintelligencellc.com


Source:   http://www.mainebiz.biz



Cessna 172N Skyhawk, Ang Aero Club Inc., N6142F


NTSB Identification: ERA13FA059 

  14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 16, 2012 in Owls Head, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/08/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N6142F
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

Shortly after the end of civil twilight and during the departure roll with about liftoff speed, the airplane collided with a private ground vehicle that was crossing the runway, which resulted in the separation of the airplane’s right elevator. The vehicle driver reported that he did not see the airplane until after the collision as it was attempting to gain altitude. Witnesses observed the airplane attempting to climb, drifting left of the runway, and then beginning a left turn. Witnesses then observed the airplane in “slow flight” and subsequently spinning until impact. 

Examination of the vehicle revealed impact marks on the left front fender consistent in size and shape with the airplane’s right elevator. One light bulb from the vehicle’s headlights was located, and examination of the light bulb revealed that the filament was stretched, which is consistent with the light being on at the time of the collision. The driver stated that he did not, nor was ever required to, have a yellow beacon on his vehicle. After the accident, the airport required airport beacons to be placed on the top most portion of the vehicle and to be operational both day and night while that vehicle operates on the ramp, taxiway, runway, or any other areas that an aircraft may operate.

Examination of the airplane’s wingtip light bulbs revealed that the filaments were stretched, indicating that the lights were on at the time of the accident. Examination of the beacon and navigation light bulbs did not reveal any information about their operational status at the time of the accident.
It could not be determined if the driver or pilot announced their intentions over the airport common traffic advisory frequency. A handheld radio was located on the vehicle’s dashboard; however, it was found in the “off” position. When the radio was placed in the “on” position and the correct frequency was set, the radio transmitted and received with no anomalies noted. Although the airplane was close to or perhaps past liftoff speed, the pilot likely could have stopped the airplane on the remaining 3,600-feet of paved runway following the impact with the vehicle. However, the pilot did not discontinue the takeoff. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The vehicle driver's failure to verify that the runway was not occupied by an airplane before crossing the runway, which resulted in the vehicle being struck by a departing airplane, and the pilot's continued takeoff with flight control damage, which subsequently resulted in an aerodynamic stall and spin at low altitude.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 16, 2012, about 1645 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172N, N6142F, was substantially damaged when it impacted a non-airport vehicle and then subsequently impacted terrain during takeoff from Knox County Airport (RKD), Owls Head, Maine. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured and the occupant of the non-airport vehicle was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 with the intended destination of Bangor International Airport (BGR), Bangor, Maine.

According to an interview with the driver of the vehicle, he was driving his private vehicle on the taxiway and had followed another aircraft out to taxiway "alpha." The other airplane continued down taxiway "delta" and he proceeded with his vehicle to the hold short line of the runway. He announced his intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF), utilizing a radio in his vehicle, heard no response nor saw anything on the runway, and he proceeded to cross runway 31. As his truck entered the runway a blur of an object went by in front of him striking the front of his truck.He continued to cross the runway and then got out to inspect what he saw at which time he observed an airplane attempting to climb. He continued watching the airplane drift to the left of runway 31 and then made a left turn as if attempting to return to the airport. Subsequently, the airplane was then observed in "slow flight" and then it began to spin. He observed the airplane on fire as he was driving to the accident scene. He also noticed while driving that his headlights were not working now.

According to an eyewitness statement, the airplane was observed departing to the west and appeared to be doing a left climbing "chandelle" type maneuver. The airplane also had what appeared to be a high angle of attack. About 200 feet above ground level (agl) the navigation identification lights were observed rotating slowly counter clockwise. The airplane then appeared to pitch down and was observed descending behind trees.

According to a representative from Lockheed-Martin Flight Service Station the accident pilot had called for a weather briefing at 1208 for the flight from BGR to RKD with a proposed departure time of 1500. No return weather briefing or flight plan was requested.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He held a third class medical certificate which was issued on June 30, 2011 and had a restriction "must wear corrective lenses." 

According to the pilots most recent Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, dated June 15, 2012, he had 48.5 total flight hours, 17.4 of those hours were logged as solo flight, 3.8 flight hours of night instruction received, and 0.2 hours of night flight as pilot in command. However, an accurate amount of flight time at the time of the accident could not be achieved as no pilot logbook had been located at the time of this writing.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the airplane was issued an airworthiness certificate on August 23, 1979, and was registered to the flying club on April 18, 1991. It was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-H2AD, Serial number L1894-76T, 160-hp engine. It was also equipped with a McCauley propeller. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was recorded on December 4, 2011, and at that time a recorded hobbs time was 7601.9 hours. The engines most recent annual inspection was recorded on December 4, 2011, with a recorded tachometer time of 7601.9 hours and an engine total time in service of 1816.9 hours.

The last recorded fueling was accomplished on November 16, 2012 at BGR. The airplane had been fueled with 10.5 gallons of fuel. Fuel samples acquired from the fixed base operator appeared to be blue in color, similar to 100 LL aviation fuel, and free of debris or foreign matter.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1655 recorded weather observation at RKD, included wind from 340 degrees at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 3 degrees C, dew point minus 3 degrees C; barometric altimeter 30.31 inches of mercury.
According to information obtained from the United States Naval Observatory official sunset was 1609 on the day of the accident and end of civil twilight 
was 1640. 

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The airport is a publically owned airport and at the time of the accident did not have an operating control tower. The airport was equipped with two runways designated as runway 13/31 and 03/21. The runways were reported as "in good condition" at the time of the accident. Runway 13/31 was a 5,007 -foot-long by 100-foot-wide runway and runway 03/21 was a 4,000 -foot-long by 100-foot-wide runway. The airport was 55.4 feet above mean sea level.

The airport lights were examined the following evening and operated as required. Photo documentation and video was produced about the time of the accident the following day in similar cloud conditions. From the threshold of runway 31 with the lights of an airport operations vehicle, parked on taxiway "A" could be detected with only the use of the vehicles headlights; however, when the airport runway and taxiway lights were illuminated to the full bright position the vehicle lights were unable to be differentiated from the surrounding lights. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Ground Vehicle

The personal vehicle was a white pickup truck and owned by the driver. The vehicle exhibited damage along the front including the headlights and grill. The vehicle also had an impact mark along the left tire well located approximately 26 inches above the ground and the impact mark was similar in size as the right elevator. A light bulb from one headlamp was located and the filament was stretched similar to being utilized. A hand held two-way capable radio was located on the dash of the truck. The radio was in the "OFF" position, when found. The radio was turned to the "ON" position and the correct CTAF frequency was noted, transmissions and reception were confirmed on the radio over the CTAF frequency. According to the owner of the vehicle, it did not have nor has he ever used a yellow airport flashing light.

Airplane

The airplane impacted the ground in a nose down, approximately 70 degrees, inverted attitude. The left wing came to rest inverted and the right wing and cockpit came to rest right side up. The wreckage was located approximately 2,100 feet from the initial impact with the vehicle. 

Nose Section

The engine and cockpit exhibited thermal damage. The engine remained attached to the firewall. The nose wheel remained attached to the engine. The propeller remained attached to the propeller flange and the spinner remained attached; however, exhibited crush damage with deformation towards one direction. One propeller blade exhibited no chordwise or S-bending but was located in the ground about 1 inch. The other blade exhibited bending in the aft direction along the entire span of the blade which continued until the blade tip was perpendicular to the normal position. Engine rotation was unable to be confirmed due to thermal damage; however examination of the engine revealed no evidence of preimpact abnormalities or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The taxi light and landing light were destroyed.

Right Wing

The right wing exhibited thermal damage; however, the leading edge exhibited crush damage along the entire leading edge and an impression was made in the surrounding terrain. The flap was in the up or retracted position and the cable continuity was confirmed from the flap actuator to the flap. The aileron remained attached and cable continuity was confirmed from the aileron to cuts in the cable produced by first responders, then from that cut to the yoke. The flap actuator was measured at the jack screw which indicated 0 inches, that correlates to a flap position of 0 degrees or fully retracted. The flap cable exhibited signs of tensile overload at the wing root. The right wingtip navigation light filament was stretched due to impact forces, which is similar in appearance of being in operation at the time of ground impact. No conclusive evidence could be obtained from the strobe lights as to their operation at ground impact. The autopilot servo cables remained intact and secured to the aileron cables; however, operation of the autopilot could not be determined. 

Empennage

The empennage exhibited thermal damage up to the bulkhead forward of the vertical stabilizer. Examination of the right side of the rudder revealed and impact mark similar to a mark from the right elevator impacting it at about a 15 degree trailing edge up angle. The right elevator was separated and remained at the initial impact point on the runway. The right elevator exhibited paint transfer marks associated with the vehicle. The right elevator also exhibited a slight bend in the positive direction and then was also impact separated into two large pieces and several smaller pieces. The right side elevator counter weight remained with the elevator. The right horizontal stabilizer leading edge exhibited crush damage in the aft direction approximately 10 inches from the tip. The right horizontal stabilizer exhibited crush damage in the aft direction. The left elevator remained attached and continuity was confirmed from the elevator horn to the yoke. Rudder continuity was confirmed from the rudder horn to the rudder pedals. An elevator trim cable was separated at a turnbuckle; however, the separation exhibited signature of postimpact separation. The beacon and identification light filaments were unremarkable; however, no conclusive evidence could be obtained on their operation at ground impact. The elevator trim tab actuator was extended to 1.5 inches, the trim tab cable was cut; however, continuity was confirmed from the trim actuator chain to the cut and from the cut to the trim wheel chain in the cockpit. 

Left Wing

The wing exhibited thermal damage and came to rest next to a tree, inverted. Impact damage was observed 17 inches in diameter beginning 43 inches from the wingtip. The outboard approximate 8 feet of the wing was separated and appeared to be similar as damage associated with the impact with the tree. The aileron remained attached and continuity was confirmed from the aileron to the cable cut at the door post, produced by first responders, then from that cut to the yoke. The aileron crossover cable exhibited tensile overload about the left wing root location. The flaps remained attached to the associated attach points; however, the flap cable exhibited tensile overload. The left navigation light filaments were stretched due to impact forces, which is similar in appearance of being in operation at the time of ground impact. No conclusive evidence could be obtained from the strobe lights as to their operation at ground impact.

Cockpit

The cockpit was consumed by post-impact fire; the directional gyro was the only instrument that was recognizable; however, due to the thermal damage no notable information was obtained. The yokes were consumed by post-impact; however, the yoke chain assembly remained intact and on the sprocket; however, exhibited thermal damage. The rudder pedals remained attached to the rudder bar; however, exhibited thermal damage. Three seatbelt latches were located and buckled; however, due to the thermal damage no seatbelt webbing was located. No shoulder harness were located and no should harness straps were buckled to the lap belt buckle.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on November 18, 2012, by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Augusta, Maine. The autopsy listed the cause of death as "multiple blunt injuries" and the report listed the specific injuries.
The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The report stated no carbon monoxide, no cyanide or ethanol was detected in the blood.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Cessna Model 172N "Information Manual"

According to Section 4 "Normal Procedures" for a normal takeoff states
1. Wing Flaps – UP
2. Carburetor Heat – Cold
3. Throttle – FULL OPEN
4. Elevator Control – LIFT NOSE WHEEL (at 55 KIAS)
5. Climb Speed – 70-80 KIAS

According to Section 5 "Performance", the ground roll required should have been 737 feet with a takeoff speed of 52 knots indicated airspeed at 2300 pounds. The manual further shows the distance needed for landing at the maximum weight over a 50 foot obstacle would have been about 1210 feet.

FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A),

According to Chapter 5 "Takeoffs and Departure Climbs" states in part "Rejected Takeoff/Engine Failure. Emergency or abnormal situations can occur during a takeoff that will require a pilot to reject the takeoff while still on the runway. Circumstances such as a malfunctioning powerplant, inadequate acceleration, runway incursion, or air traffic conflict may be reasons for a rejected takeoff. Prior to takeoff, the pilot should have in mind a point along the runway at which the airplane should be airborne. If that point is reached and the airplane is not airborne, immediate action should be taken to discontinue the takeoff. Properly planned and executed, chances are excellent the airplane can be stopped on the remaining runway without using extraordinary measures…"

According to Chapter 10 "Night Operation" states in part "Takeoff and Climb. Night flying is very different from day flying and demands more attention of the pilot. The most noticeable difference is the limited availability of outside visual references. Therefore, flight instruments should be used to a greater degree in controlling the airplane. This is particularly true on night takeoffs and climbs. The cockpit lights should be adjusted to a minimum brightness that will allow the pilot to read the instruments and switches and yet not hinder the pilot's outside vision. This will also eliminate light reflections on the windshield and windows.

After ensuring that the final approach and runway are clear of other air traffic, or when cleared for takeoff by the tower, the landing lights and taxi lights should be turned ON and the airplane lined up with the centerline of the runway. If the runway does not have centerline lighting, use the painted centerline and the runwayedge lights..."

Knox County Regional Airport Flightline Driving Manual

According to the manual under the section titled "Movement Areas" which states in part "The movement area consists of taxiways and runways. You are required to must [sic] have a need to access the movement area, prior authorization from airport management and you must have (and monitor) an operating two-way radio (set to Unicom Frequency 123.05) at all times before entering/driving on any movement area…"

The section titled "Driving on the Movement Areas" goes on to state:

• Do not enter a movement area unless you have a legitimate need, authorization from airport management and two-way aviation radio communications.
• Monitor your aviation two-way radio at all times, RDK Unicom frequency is 123.05
• After announcing your location and intentions on the radio, proceed only after you have looked in all direction, including up
• Never drive your vehicle on or across runways unless absolutely necessary and limit your time within the runway safety area by driving at an expedited but safe speed.

The manual goes on to state in part "…When driving on an AOA [airport operations area] make sure your vehicle is properly equipped for the area where you operated, i.e. radio, beacon, markings…use extreme caution at night and/or in poor weather conditions…aircraft always have the right of way…"

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA059 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 16, 2012 in Rockland, ME
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N6142F
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

On November 16, 2012, about 1645 eastern standard time), a Cessna 172N, N6142F, was substantially damaged when it impacted a non-airport vehicle and then subsequently impacted terrain during takeoff from Knox County Airport (RKD), Rockland, Maine. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured and the occupant of the non-airport vehicle was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 with the intended destination of Bangor International Airport (BGR), Bangor, Maine.

According to an interview with the driver of the vehicle, he was driving his private vehicle on the taxiway and had followed another aircraft out to taxiway "alpha." The other airplane continued down taxiway "delta" and he proceeded with his vehicle to the hold short line of the runway. He announced his intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency using a radio in his vehicle, heard no response nor saw anything on the runway, and he proceeded to cross runway 31. He subsequently saw something grayish in color, continued to cross the runway, and then got out to inspect what he saw at which time he observed an airplane attempting to climb. He continued watching the airplane drift to the left of the runway and make a left turn as if attempting to return to the airport. Subsequently, the airplane was then observed in "slow flight" and then it began to "spin."

According to an eyewitness statement, the airplane was observed departing to the west and appeared to be doing a left climbing "chandelle" type maneuver. The airplane also had what appeared to be a high angle of attack. About 200 feet above ground level the navigation identification lights were observed rotating slowly counter clockwise. The airplane then appeared to pitch down and descended behind trees.

Examination of the airplane revealed that it impacted the ground in a nose down attitude, next to a tree, approximately 2,200 feet from the initial impact location with the vehicle, and subsequently caught fire. The right elevator was in the vicinity of the initial impact location on the runway. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 346 degrees.

Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT), Colorado: Investigation Update

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Despite an ongoing FBI investigation, an internal investigation into airport operations and the resignation of board member Denny Granum, for the most part, the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority's Thursday night meeting was business as usual.

The special litigation committee doing the internal investigation did however provide an update on its findings so far.

They say they want to proceed as quickly as possible and have several more avenues to pursue.

They also say their next step is to hire an outside group to conduct forensic accounting to ensure money is going where it's supposed to.

"I think we've determined initially that we have some confidence we know where everything is at and are a little relieved at that," says board member, Rick Wagner. "But I think incumbent upon us to be able to prove that, it's one thing to say it, it's another thing to prove it."

The committee also said several interviews had been done during the investigation... Those interviews along with other digging have produced evidence which they've given to the FBI.

If approved by the board the committee will continue its investigations. But first, officials say they must determine the cost of continuing, and how long it will take.


Source:  http://www.nbc11news.com



Regardless of the good that Rex Tippetts accomplished, his legacy may well offset any gains he’s made. That legacy must be borne equally by him and by the previous Airport Authority boards for failing to exercise their fiduciary oversight responsibilities.  

 While the impacts of alleged malfeasances won’t be known until the investigations and lawsuits have run their courses, current costs in terms of legal fees, manpower hours for both employees and the current board, and the black cloud that hangs over the airport are far from insignificant.

Rather than cast citizens who have repeatedly raised concerns as “detractors,” perhaps The Daily Sentinel should question why previous airport boards, the county commissioners and the City Council effectively ignored the concerns. When I made requests of former Commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland, their response was that they only appoint three members and had no oversight responsibility.

As a CPA, I’d like to comment on a couple of financial items. First, I found it interesting that the Sentinel failed to comment on Authority member Steve Wood’s statement at the last board meeting to the effect that the planned $6 million administration building is actually an office building for six people that has a garage in order to qualify as an Airport Fire and Rescue facility. Therefore, it is eligible for FAA funding.

Next, I want to compare two statements. David Gordon, division director of the Colorado Division of Aeronautics, said that in 2008, general aviation visitors to Grand Junction spent about $20 million here, whereas former Airport Authority board member Craig Springer stated that, of the annual airport budget, only $134,000 comes from general aviation. While these are apples and oranges, to quote that budget number as a reason to question whether general aviation is really needed is perhaps indicative of previous boards’ leadership.

I pray that any investigations or lawsuits will be directed at those responsible for the problems and that no taint will be attached to our Grand Junction airport.

DREW ARMSTRONG

Palisade

Time for new members 
on Airport Authority board


I have read with interest the complaint by Donna Vanlandingham against the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority and Rex Tippetts. Without commenting on the veracity of the complaint, it does raise some serious issues. Apparently the FBI, at least, seems to believe there may be some “fire” to go with the “smoke.”

In my one and only interface with Tippetts, I found him to be exceedingly overbearing. The issue at hand then was the loss of free parking for the Patriot Guard and others who came out periodically to welcome veterans coming home.

That aside, and once again stressing “if” the complaint is found to be true, it appears that Tippetts ruled with an iron hand and intimidation. Apparently, a couple of board members did not vote for the firing of Tippets. I wonder why. It would appear, possibly, that the board did less than “true diligence” in going along with Tippetts. If the complaint is found to be true, there is enough “smoke” raised about the Airport Authority board itself that may need investigation.

I believe the city needs to take a serious look at how this plays out and immediately begin an effort to find a replacement for Tippetts.

In a recent article, The Daily Sentinel pointed out all the wonderful things Tippetts did to place our airport on the map. While all those wonderful things did occur, it does not mean someone else could not have done them as well, without the allegations of fraud, intimidation and coercion. I would also recommend to the city that it take a long look at the board’s makeup and perhaps look for replacements.

CREIGHTON BRICKER

Grand Junction


http://www.gjsentinel.com/opinion


City may need to take long look at members of airport board


I have read with interest the complaint by Donna Vanlandingham against the Airport Authority and Rex Tippetts. Without commenting on the veracity of the complaint, it does raise some serious issues. Apparently the FBI, at least, seems to believe there may be some “fire” to go with the “smoke.”  

In my one and only interface with Tippetts, I found him to be exceedingly overbearing and a good deal less than truthful. The issue at hand, then, was the loss of free parking for the Patriot Guard and others who came out periodically to welcome veterans coming home.

That aside, and once again stressing “if” the complaint is found to be true, it appears that Tippetts ruled the board with an iron hand and intimidation.  Apparently a couple of board members did not vote for the firing of Tippets. I wonder why?  It would appear, possibly, that the board did less than “true diligence” in going along with Tippetts. If the complaint is found to be true, there is enough “smoke” raised about the Airport Authority Board itself that may need investigation.

I believe the city needs to take a serious look at how this plays out and immediately begin an effort to find a replacement for Tippetts. In a recent article the Sentinel pointed out all the wonderful things Tippetts did to place our airport on the map. While all those wonderful things did occur, it does not mean someone else could not have done, as well, without the allegations of fraud, intimidation and coercion.  I would also recommend to the city that it takes a long look at the board’s makeup and perhaps look for replacements.

CREIGHTON BRICKER
Grand Junction


http://www.gjsentinel.com/opinion



Former Grand Junction Regional Airport Director of Aviation Rex Tippetts leaves Grand Junction City Hall after a recent Airport Authority board meeting. Tippetts was put on administrative leave at that meeting, and eventually fired, in the wake of an FBI investigation into possible financial fraud. 

 
Jim Hoffman 
CONSIDER THIS -  Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

Well, here we go with an excellent end to a 2013.

Monday is the deadline for this column and late Saturday night the computer dies, leaving me without the half-written column that was previously begun on Wednesday of last week. A minor problem for sure, but just one more in what has become a long string of issues big and small competing with the spirit of the Christmas season and the thoughts of a joyous New Year. One more little irritant threatening to increase blood pressure to a new personal high. No, I shall not wallow in self-pity. Life is good with a few challenges along the way.

The firing of Rex Tippetts was one subject of commentary in that now lost column. The Airport Authority did not reveal the reasoning for the axing of Tippetts, an at-will employee, but clearly stated the action did not indicate complicity in any crime or fraud at the airport.

In his defense, Tippetts’ attorney reminded the current board of the glowing performance reviews Rex has received from previous board members. It would have be hard to determine if that fact amounted to an actual defense of Tippetts or a possible indictment of some previous board members. One would hope that it is the former rather than the latter.

At that point in time, some facts were beginning to leak about an impending lawsuit which had been served on Mr. Tippetts and the Airport Authority board of directors. Early whispering indicated the suit would throw the covers off the emerging scandal at the airport and cast some light on the mystery that began when FBI agents showed up and carted off evidence in their investigation of fraud within the administration of the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

As facts of specific allegations within the suit began to emerge, there were indications the possible fraud could be wider ranging and involve a greater number of personalities than was originally anticipated. Allegations directly accused members of the Airport Authority of purchasing “used” airport equipment at below-market value. Some rumors have indicated that among this equipment is likely trucks that were purchased from a local car dealer.

Other allegations are that family members of the Authority board were awarded contracts for work at the airport. Additionally, there are claims that preferred bidders had access to what should have been privileged information that gave them great advantage in the securing of contracts for airport projects. And, of course, the security fence erected at the airport and the rationale for it are also covered within the suit.

While we can hope that these allegations prove largely false, prior experience has unfortunately taught us that avarice and greed exist. The investigation has already cost one reputation, and more are likely to be tarnished at a minimum. No arrests or indictments have yet materialized, so we can only sit on the sidelines and await the next revelation.

As of today claims within the suit are merely allegations of a prior employee who shall be painted as disgruntled. The employee also agreed in a separation agreement not to take legal action on the matter of her termination. Those are issues for the lawyers and courts to resolve.

It cannot be denied that during the reign of Mr. Tippetts our local airport has undergone improvement. Those improvements shall now likely be overshadowed by this darkening cloud over Tippetts, the Airport Authority, and the lack of oversight of our local City Council and County Commission. Also, we may see the unraveling of future airport expansion and the planned new hangar for West Star Aviation and it’s promised 150+ jobs paying $52,000 per year on average. An entity accused of financial fraud and impropriety is not a likely issuer of bonds or recipient of grant funds.

As new allegations and facts emerge, we shall see how many rush to distance themselves from Tippetts and their support for him. Furthermore, it is likely we shall see some distance themselves from their personal involvement on the Airport Authority board and begin claiming they were uninformed, ill-informed and were in no way responsible for their actions, Tippetts’ actions or any illegality at the airport.



http://www.postindependent.com


Turbulent times: As private pilots cheer ouster of airport director Rex Tippetts, backers wonder whether shake-up will ground future gains  

A decade ago, the Grand Junction Regional Airport wasn’t the Grand Junction Regional Airport. 

It was Walker Field, and it didn’t have a lot of what’s there now.

In those days, there weren’t many ways to fly out of town, unless one had their own plane and pilot’s license. For everyone else in the Grand Valley, commercial flights went only to Denver or Salt Lake City, at least when those flights were active.

That all began to change after 2005, when Rex Tippetts took over the job as director of aviation.

Tippetts may not be universally liked because he has somewhat of an abrasive personality, but few can deny that he’s turned the airport from a sleepy field into a regional hub that has helped boost economic development in the region, his supporters say.

Detractors, however, contend that growth came at the expense of members of the general aviation community, many of whom picked up and left the airport or claim their businesses were harmed by policies and changes pushed through by Tippetts and the Airport Authority board of directors.

In the wake of an FBI investigation into possible financial fraud within the airport administration, Tippetts being fired from the job as a consequence last week and now a civil lawsuit in federal court claiming several improprieties, some people in town are wondering if the good things that happened on Tippetts’ watch will be undone, and whether the federal probe and firing will stymie the airport’s future expansion plans.

“All of us benefit from the fact that this is a regional education, medical, retail and transportation hub,” said Craig Springer, a former Airport Authority board member who served when Tippetts was hired. “This airport is important not just to the people of Mesa County, but to western Colorado. It’s a big deal, a community asset that needs to be treasured. It also needs to be understood.

“Most airports like this are either supported from the taxpayers ... or the county that it resides in, or some agreement between the two,” he added. “This airport has always been, and I pray always will be, self-sustaining. It’s not on the tax rolls, it’s never had to go to the commissioners or the city and ask them for money.”

The growth

 
Springer, Tom LaCroix and Denny Granum are all past or, in the case of Granum, current chairmen of the seven-member Grand Junction Airport Authority Board. Though they did so before broad allegations at the Airport Authority came to light, published in Sunday’s Daily Sentinel, each came to Tippetts’ defense, saying the things he’s accomplished shouldn’t go unnoticed. Each has served years there and watched as prior airport managers did their best to operate the place.

But it wasn’t until Tippetts came on board in December 2005 that a long-term vision for the airport really began to take off, the three men said.

That’s because Tippetts’ experience managing airports in Aspen, Gunnison and Laramie, Wyo., taught him a lot about running the complex operations, and about how to leverage local money to get Federal Aviation Administration grants for capital construction projects, which cover 90 percent of those costs.

Not long after Tippetts started work, Springer realized just what the airport had been missing out on.

“He called me one day and said, ‘I cannot find any record of this airport ever applying for (FAA) discretionary funding. Can you explain that to me?’ ” Springer said of a phone call he got from Tippetts in early 2006. “I said, ‘I will when you tell me what discretionary funding is.’ He knew where those dollars were and how to go about getting them. He’s similar to Tim Foster (president of Colorado Mesa University). These are guys with vision, they know what they want to accomplish, they’re aggressive. Now it’s $45 million later, that’s the amount of capital projects he’s overseen since he’s been here.”

In Tippetts’ time at the airport, he got the main road into the airport realigned and repaved, expanded and repaved the airport parking lot with extra wide parking spaces, changed the name to a regional airport, built a new fueling station for rental cars, oversaw the building of a security fencing project, placed a Subway restaurant franchise inside the terminal and helped attract new non-stop service to Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Under his tenure, the airport also saw passenger emplanements increase and rental car revenues nearly double, though those numbers have leveled off since the start of the recent recession.

Gregg Palmer, a former Grand Junction mayor and former member of the Airport Authority board that hired Tippetts, said the board wanted a manager with vision and the ability to grow the airport. Board members, he said, knew what they were getting with their new hire — both the good and the bad.

“We recognized right away that Rex probably wasn’t going to be our (public relations) person. He didn’t have a lot of people skills that someone in his position might have. But what he had was a tremendous understanding of the FAA, the funding mechanisms and how to get additional funding for the airport. In that, he did exemplary.

“But he didn’t win a lot of friends among airport staff and tenants. And that wasn’t necessarily what many on the board had hired him to do. We had other people we felt could be a better public face for the airport.”

The push-back

The one thing that has dropped dramatically has been the number of total airport operations, which counts all takeoffs and landings. That fell from 79,010 in 2005 to 49,074 last year.

That’s primarily due to a drop in non-commercial general aviation flights — private pilots who fly in and out of the airport each year. Those numbers have dropped dramatically at most commercial airports across the state and nationwide, in part, because it’s become increasingly harder to maintain a pilot’s license and afford to fly smaller planes, Springer, LaCroix and Granum said.

It was on the general aviation side of things that Tippetts received his biggest push-back, with many users and tenants calling for his resignation and a dissolving of the Airport Authority itself.

Members of the Grand Junction Airport Users and Tenants Association have been outspoken over the past several years, criticizing many of the decisions Tippetts made — everything from who gets leases at airport hangars, to fees they have to pay, to a controversial wildlife fence that was extended to be a security fence with highly restrictive gates. As a testament to their displeasure, 51 of those small-engine pilots and business owners penned and compiled letters to the Transportation Security Administration citing the burden the fences placed on their operations.

Some tenants left — most notably the late Dana Brewer, owner of Monument Aircraft Services, who sold the lease on his hangar and moved to Mack Mesa Airport.

“When I’m at my hangar and I have a visitor or passenger call me from outside I suffer the inconvenience of having to drop what I’m doing, lock up, get back in my car and drive back through the gates, turn around, swipe my card and re-enter the general aviation area with my guest following closely behind,” one letter writer, Reed Mitchell, wrote to authorities. “This awkward, time-consuming and ridiculous maneuver goes on all day long by those of us who own hangars or operate airport businesses.”

Small airplane pilot Bill Pitts said he and others for years have felt like a broken record trying to alert local authorities to mismanagement. Like Palmer, Pitts is a former mayor and former member of the airport board.

“We tried to point out different things,” Pitts said. “How can you have a fence and the north side is open and the records are falsified? I can just recall a paragraph in the application that asked if anyone would be affected by the gates and it was checked ‘no.’ Everyone was affected.”

In the wake of the federal probe, several of the association’s leaders have taken an I-told-you-so stance, saying they’ve been calling for years for more detailed and transparent audits of the airport’s financial records and more scrutiny of Tippetts’ decisions.

“When citizens came forward with concerns rich in documentary evidence, the board’s reaction has been to shoot the messenger,” association president Dave Sheppard told the airport board at a meeting last week. “Over the last 2 1/2 years, this board heard hoofbeats, had dozens of citizens tell them about hoofbeats, had documents presented to them that spelled hoofbeats, and (the board) consistently elected to interpret the hoofbeats in the least plausible fashion possible.

“Until this board defines systems and internal controls to prevent the same outcome, the authority will remain dysfunctional and it could very well happen again. Our members want a vital, successful and respected airport. Let’s make sure our corrective actions are comprehensive and complete.”

Palmer said the acrimonious relationship between airport administration and general aviation tenants reflected Tippetts’ lack of interpersonal skills.

“It could have been handled better,” Palmer said. “The board should have been more aware of it and I take some responsibility because I was on the board at the tail end of it.”

Ultimately, Palmer said he believes the board was “trying to do the best for everybody.”

General aviation

Springer, Granum and La-Croix say the current and past boards have always tried to accommodate the needs of general aviation users at the same time they’ve attempted to boost the commercial side, which brings in far more revenue to the airport and economic benefit to the region.

“If you look at the numbers, it’s easy to ask the question, ‘Do we really need general aviation?’ ” Springer said. “Of a $10 million (annual airport) budget, $134,000 comes from general aviation.”

That’s not to say the Airport Authority intends to turn its back on its general aviation users or tenants, the three men said. Far from it.

Currently, the board is trying to find a way to help one of its major general aviation tenants, West Star Aviation, build an $8 million, 45,500-square-foot paint and maintenance hangar at the airport early next year. That hangar, once built, is expected to create up to 150 permanent jobs with an average salary of $52,000 a year. Those workers would come on top of the 940 who already work in various jobs at the 2,847-acre facility.

To get that done, however, the authority needs to sell bonds to purchase the hangar, which it would lease back to West Star.

But because of the federal investigation, the airport’s lending company is reticent to loan the authority the money it needs to sell the bonds, at least until more is known about what impact that probe will have on the airport’s finances.

While Granum is hopeful all that will get worked out in the end, he’s more hopeful about the FAA’s recent reaching out to the authority and its personnel, specifically the federal agency’s seeming willingness to work with them when it comes to existing and future grant requests.

“To clarify, the FAA is very helpful to airports, but not this helpful,” Airport Authority attorney Mike Morgan told the board last week. “I think they’re going out of their way to help us understand where we are with projects and other matters.”

Though Tippetts now is gone, there are several major projects still in the works, not the least of which is a plan to replace the facility’s half century-old and out-of-FAA-compliance runway. That project is expected to cost about $94 million, and it would be constructed, with the aid of FAA grants, over the next 10 years.

Other, more immediate construction plans call for a new terminal, an administrative building, a new facility for firefighting and other maintenance services, additional taxiways and aprons, separation and extension of the airport’s second runway and an expansion of the size of the airport itself, to make room for even more private companies to locate there.

“We are encouraged that they’re going to be very open and helpful to us,” Granum said of the FAA. “It’s a very, very positive move on their part. It shows there’s a whole new era going on as far as the Grand Junction Regional Airport is concerned.”

The exit

 
Palmer said, before recent specific fraud allegations became publicly known, he would be surprised if Tippetts “did anything overtly illegal” and he believes his time at the airport had “kind of come to a natural conclusion.” He said Tippetts ran a tight ship financially, was accountable to the board, kept it informed and didn’t get out in front of it.

He thinks the board’s firing of Tippetts was “a little bit premature but not unexpected.”

“There were a number of people at the airport and in the community who were not Rex fans and eventually the board felt pressured to make a change,” Palmer said. “It wasn’t unforeseeable.”

Although everyone still is awaiting the outcome of the federal probe, a civil employment lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver last week by former Airport Security Coordinator Donna VanLandingham may shed some light on what’s been going on at the airport.

She claims in her lawsuit that she was fired as retaliation for not going along with what she perceived as fraudulent activity by Tippetts — including deceiving federal authories and local tenants about the perimeter fence, directing contracts to preferred local contractors and family members connected to the Airport Authority board, and purchasing goods for his own personal benefit.


Story and Photo:   http://www.gjsentinel.com





Lawsuit: Airport fraud rampant

A civil employment lawsuit filed against the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority board of directors and former Director of Aviation Rex Tippetts alleges wide-ranging fraud and deception at the airport; by Tippetts himself, but also including Airport Authority board members and possibly local contractors as well.

In the lawsuit, former Airport Security Coordinator Donna VanLandingham claims Tippetts fired her in 2011 as retaliation for “her refusal to obey orders of Tippetts to perpetuate a fraud which he was committing” against the Federal Aviation Administration. She also claims she was fired to prevent her from going to authorities and exposing numerous allegations of fraud.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Transportation raided Airport Authority offices on Nov. 6. All the documents associated with that warrant are under seal, though it is known that their investigation is connected to fraud allegations involving airport administration.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver last week — about a week after the Airport Authority board fired Tippetts without giving any reason — and unsealed on Friday.

VanLandingham claims in the suit to know about or have possession of documentation that indicates Tippetts:

■ “Falsified the reasons” to build a fence around the airport perimeter, a project that was completed in 2011;

■ Arranged for certain bidders “to have the inside track” on major projects and purchases;

■ “Conspired” with members of the Airport Authority board to allow them to purchase what was described as “used” airport equipment at low prices;

■ Purchased goods for the airport that he then used for his personal benefit;

■ Awarded contracts to family members of the Airport Authority board.

As airport security coordinator, VanLandingham had access to sensitive information involving security systems at the airport, as well as construction projects involving security issues, according to the suit.

She also allegedly had direct knowledge of the purchase of vehicles and supplies for the airport, and many times was involved with requests for proposals, particularly for airport vehicles.

During Tippetts’ tenure, the former Walker Field changed its name and completed some $45 million in capital projects. The main road to the airport was realigned and repaved, the parking lot was expanded and repaved, a new fuel station for rental cars was built, the terminal gained a Subway restaurant, and numerous commercial airlines began non-stop flights from Grand Junction to major cities.

The airport also completed construction of a controversial security fence around its 
perimeter, leaving numerous disgruntled, general aviation clients in its wake because of the new security measures.

REFUSAL TO LIE, THEN DEMOTION, THEN FIRING


It appears from the timeline laid out in the lawsuit that the construction of the security fence — and VanLandingham’s apparent refusal to lie to general aviation clients directly affected by it — were critical to creating the rift between her and Tippetts.

Regarding the fence project, VanLandingham’s specific duties included, according to the suit, reviewing bids from contractors, sub-contractors and other vendors, and compiling the data for analysis.

She alleges the original idea of a fence being built to keep out wildlife somewhere along the way was converted by Tippetts into a security fence. He also deceived, she alleges, when he said a U.S. Department of Agriculture assessment called for keeping out wildlife, and when he said the Transportation Security Administration required a new fence for security reasons.

The suit also alleges that Tippetts concealed the fact that because the fence was actually a security fence, it was ineligible for federal funding.

Additionally, VanLandingham said she brought concerns about violations of TSA regulations to Tippetts’ attention, which she said were met with him telling her “to shut up.”

With knowledge that the fence was being designed solely to keep people out of general aviation areas — and that Tippetts had allegedly been deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration, the TSA, the Airport Authority and airport tenants — VanLandingham refused to lie at a meeting with general aviation tenants. That apparently sealed her fate.

Soon after, Tippetts demoted VanLandingham to the Subway fast-food franchise in the airport terminal. And a month later, on Jan. 5, 2011, Tippetts fired her, the lawsuit alleges.

That day, he offered her a take-it-or-leave-it separation agreement in which VanLandingham agreed to “forever, unequivocally and unconditionally” promise not to sue the Airport Authority or individual employees. She signed it — under threat, she alleges, that she would not get her seven weeks of accrued paid off-time, worth $8,153, if she refused.

Her lawyer asserts in the lawsuit that she “had no choice” but to sign the separation agreement, adding “she was unaware that there were laws prohibiting bribery and intimidation to obstruct justice.”

In the end, VanLandingham contends that a cascade of events led to her eventual firing by Tippetts.

“Tippetts discharged VanLandingham in retaliation for her refusal to carry out his orders which required her to lie to the (general aviation community) about the requirements of the TSA … Tippetts discharged (her) under circumstances which were designed to prevent her from obtaining information and revealing to the proper authorities the fraud he was perpetrating on the United States Government and other illegal acts he was committing,” the suit reads.

Tippetts’ lawyer, Harry Griff, told The Daily Sentinel on Saturday that he “defers all comment about the suit to the Airport Authority board,” despite his client being the central focus of VanLandingham’s lawsuit.

Airport Authority board attorney Mike Morgan could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The attorney who filed the suit on behalf of VanLandingham, John Steel of Telluride, said in an email he did not have anything to add to the complaint.

In her suit, VanLandingham is seeking double her back-pay losses, additional damages and compensation, court costs and attorneys’ fees, as well as her job back as airport security coordinator and applicable raises.



Story, document - VanLandingham lawsuit and comments/reaction:   http://www.gjsentinel.com