Monday, January 06, 2014

Hazleton Municipal Airport (KHZL), Pennsylvania: Councilman urges action on hospital hangar

A Hazleton councilman cautioned that delays in approving a lease-purchase agreement for a hangar at Hazleton Regional Airport could derail Lehigh Valley Hospital’s plans for stationing medical helicopters there – and jeopardize the hospital’s plans for obtaining trauma center accreditation for Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton.

Council Vice President Keith Bast on Friday criticized some members of council for removing two airport-related items from today’s meeting agenda.

But one council member said the resolutions were removed because council wasn’t properly informed of either proposal.

One of the items would authorize the city to enter a lease-purchase agreement for a hangar that was erected by Edward Maranuk. A related proposal, which is listed in a separate resolution, would allow the city to enter a business building and aircraft space lease agreement with Lehigh Valley Hospital, which would station up to two medical helicopters and associated air medical ambulance services at the hangar.

Costs and other details related to the lease agreements were not disclosed in resolutions that were included on the meeting agenda released early last week. Bast, however, slammed his peers for removing the agreements from a revised agenda that was released on Friday.

Bast said the deal would not only generate enough revenue to pay off the hangar in a relatively short amount of time, but would result in expedited medical services to the community.

He said he’s puzzled by the decision made by some council members to remove the resolutions from the agenda.

“LVH and (MedEvac) have indicated they want to move into the airport before Jan. 10, 2014,” Bast said in an email to the Standard-Speaker. “This move is part of the merger and commitment to immediately improve medical services in the city of Hazleton and the surrounding region. LVH indicated this is the first step to obtain trauma center accreditation for the City of Hazleton Hospital. LVH has the busiest level one trauma center in the State of PA.”

Stationing helicopters at Hazleton Regional Airport would “save lives” in the Hazleton area, spur economic development and increase job growth at the hospital and throughout the region, Bast said.

Council approved a similar lease-purchase agreement for a different hangar at the airport a few months ago. That hangar has since been filled to capacity, which brought about the need for a second hangar, Bast said.

“The city would buy the (second) hangar and MedEvac would be the tenant,” Bast said. “And, three (council members) do not want it. How ridiculous is that? To be able to get a trauma center and they don’t want it? My message would for the community: If this doesn’t go through, if they die of a heart attack or trauma, sue the city council – sue the three of them.”

Councilwoman Jean Mope on Friday confirmed that the lease agreement resolutions were removed from the agenda – and that Bast unilaterally attempted to get the items resubmitted for consideration at Monday’s meeting.

Mope, however, said items can only be added to the council agenda if they are requested by two or more members.

The items were removed, she said, because a new council lineup was not informed of either proposal until an early version of the meeting agenda was released to council last Thursday.

“It wasn’t fair to the new council members coming on who received no information on this as far as David (Sosar) told me,” Mope said. “We didn’t know anything about any of this stuff. None of us received enough information or had enough time to ask questions. Once again they are rushing legislation through. They’re going to have to learn things aren’t going to be done that way any more. We need to have time to review and to ask questions so we can serve the public properly.”

Brian Downs, Lehigh Valley Health Network’s director of media relations, said on Friday that the health network doesn’t typically disclose details about its discussions concerning real estate until it is prepared to make an official announcement.

Mope said she personally has a number of questions about the hangar and helicopter lease, including why council arranged for an executive session to discuss the issue this morning with “lame duck members of city council,” why the city didn’t share with council plans for applying for a grant for acquiring the hangar, and who in the city authorized the city engineer to conduct a title search on the hangar.

“We weren’t informed of anything,” Mope said. “We’re not even sure who we’re having at an executive session. We want to have the information and we want to be able to give the information to the public so the public has an understanding of what’s going on.”

The Standard-Speaker obtained a pair of confidential emails that Dominic Yannuzzi, of Alfred Benesch – the city’s engineering firm – distributed among council. One of the emails is a response to questions asked by council members.

According to the emails, lease payments and fuel sales stemming from the Lehigh Valley hangar lease will total approximately $46,000 per year. The lease would have a three-year term, with unlimited one-year extensions, and lease payments would increase by 5 percent in the second and third years, the emails say.

Lehigh Valley would pay for all improvements and utility extensions to the hangar, as well as internal cleaning services.

Revenue from the Lehigh Valley arrangement and another roughly $39,000 in lease and fuel sale revenue from a lease-purchase agreement at a different hangar would offset costs of the second hangar, the emails state. The city could also use a possible grant from the state Bureau of Aviation to cover costs for a second hangar, Yannuzzi wrote.

Council meets at 10 a.m. today at City Hall.


How EADS Became Airbus: Fifteen Years in the Making, Plane Maker’s Transformation Fraught With Sturm und Drang

The Wall Street Journal

By Daniel Michaels

Jan. 5, 2014 3:36 p.m. ET

Airbus just lost some baggage.

With the new year, the plane maker’s parent company dropped one of the corporate world’s most unaerodynamic names: European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. It is now rebranded as Airbus Group NV.

The Dutch-registered French-German-British-Spanish multinational’s transformation was 15 years in the making, fraught with the Sturm und Drang of Europe itself.

As a name that only an engineer could love, EADS actually was an attempt to exact revenge on British Aerospace, after it jilted one of Airbus’s founders in an earlier deal, former executives say. As payback, it backfired and instead weighed down the company.

“It was always much too long and confusing for effective marketing,” says Rainer Ohler, head of group communications at Airbus Group. Sales, marketing and public-relations executives for years moaned at the challenges posed by the name.

Inside the company, some managers said EADS sounded like a disease.

The story of the name starts in 1999. Back then, the European Union was flexing its new muscles and its common currency, the euro, was coming to life. The new Eurostar high-speed train line, an engineering marvel, for the first time linked Britain and the Continent. Marketers slapped “Europe” and “euro” on everything that could take it.

But the Cold War’s end and Europe’s reunification a decade earlier had pummeled its defense companies. Peace was bad for the arms business.

In the U.S., military contractors spent much of the 1990s merging into a handful of behemoths. European industrial and government officials watched with envy.

Seeking to keep up with American rivals and with European political integration, defense chiefs talked of creating one giant European aerospace and defense company. Policy wonks dubbed their dream the EADC.

It almost happened in 1998, when British Aerospace and the aerospace division of Germany’s DaimlerChysler came within weeks of merging. But at the last minute, the British company ditched DaimlerChrysler and bought a U.K. rival instead, creating a British-U.S. defense company, BAE Systems PLC.

Daimler executives were infuriated by the snub. Then a French playboy swept them away.

Jean-Luc Lagardère was an entrepreneur par excellence. His diverse holding ranged from Elle magazine to Exocet missiles (which had sunk a British Navy destroyer during the Falklands War in 1982). The French government had just entrusted Mr. Lagardère with consolidating the country’s aerospace industry. That done, in early 1999 he approached Daimler about a deal to link French and German companies—uniting factories that had faced off 60 years earlier.

After months of fruitful talks, the issue of the merged company’s name came up over lunch on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca, recalls Jean-Louis Gergorin, who was Mr. Lagardère’s head of strategy. Mr. Lagardère, who died of an acute infection in 2003, said Airbus would be the ideal name for the new company, Mr. Gergorin recalls.

Airbus was an obvious name, since the French and German companies together owned 75% of the plane maker. Airbus had been created in 1970 by aerospace groups in France, Germany, Britain and Spain but worked as a complex consortium rather than a single company. And DaimlerChrysler, which owned the German part, was about to buy the Spanish partner, which owned another 5%.

But in a quintessentially European twist, British Aerospace owned the other 20% of Airbus. The diners in Mallorca knew the valuable Airbus name couldn’t be used without BAE’s consent, which they deemed very unlikely, Mr. Gergorin recalls. And the new company would also make helicopters, rockets and fighter planes.

Instead, DaimlerChrysler executives proposed calling the new company EADC. They wanted to rub in British noses that the vaunted European aerospace and defense company was being created without them, several people familiar with the talks say.

The French negotiators knew they would need British cooperation to help turn Airbus into a real company and so suggested softening the slap by breaking the “aerospace” of EADC into “aeronautics” and “space.” Hence, EADS.

“The very naming of EADS is like a point scored in a lover’s tiff, a sort of revenge,” wrote former EADS spokesman Pierre Bayle in a blog last year.

The creation of EADS was announced with fanfare in October 1999 in Strasbourg, a city on the French-German border that had traded hands for centuries and is a seat of the European Parliament. Accompanying the overlong name, EADS was born with dual French and German headquarters, chairmen and chief executives. The logo was a fondue of icons from the merged companies.

EADS subsidiaries groaned under the weight of their new parent’s name and geography. In the U.S., Mr. Bayle noted, the logo on a hangar of the company’s helicopter division read: “American Eurocopter—An EADS North America Company.”

In 2006, EADS bought out BAE’s 20% of Airbus. The name—coined before Airbus was created in 1970 because its first plane was going to be a 300-seater designed to bus fliers between Paris and Frankfurt—remained with the EADS unit.

Airbus was now the biggest chunk of EADS and Airbus officials quietly boasted that their division was the true pan-European success story. But when problems arose developing the new Airbus A380 superjumbo jetliner that same year, the Europeans reverted to form and started fighting. French managers blamed German engineers for shoddy work. Everyone else accused the French of chauvinism.

As Europe descended into crisis, EADS became emblematic of the apparently unmanageable marriage.

The unwieldy and unloved EADS name held one advantage, former executives note: It took bad news well. For example, when several top Airbus executives were accused of insider trading in 2006, EADS sought to be quoted in the media to avoid tarring the Airbus name.

EADS and Airbus spent seven years extracting themselves from their mess. EADS streamlined to one chairman and one CEO. Under an unwritten agreement to maintain a Pax Europaea, each position alternated between a French and German executive.

The idea of replacing the EADS name with the Airbus name arose repeatedly over the years, but one conflict or another prevented it. “It was never the right time,” recalls Mr. Ohler.

Last year, the aerospace group’s stars aligned. European politicians had just shot down a proposed merger of EADS and BAE Systems, killing their predecessors’ dream of a true pan-European company. EADS Chief Executive Tom Enders opted instead to scale back on defense, making Airbus an even bigger portion of the company. Lagardère SCA and Daimler AG sold their remaining shares, reducing EADS’s direct ties to France and Germany.

In May the name change becomes legally binding after the company’s annual general meeting. But Europe won’t disappear from the moniker for long. Airbus Group plans next year to change its corporate designation from NV (the Dutch abbreviation for public company) to the SE that is used across the European Union. The designation is short for societas europaea, which is Latin for European company.


New Tazewell Municipal Airport (3A2), Tazewell, Tennessee: Hensley retires, Edwards fills gap

The sudden retirement a couple months ago of New Tazewell Municipal Airport manager Bill Hensley left a gap city officials say could have been very hard to fill.

The city is fortunate to have someone with Mitch Edwards’s experience to take over, said Mayor Jerry Beeler during the board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting (BMA) in which Hensley’s retirement was announced.

Edwards says he cannot remember a time when he was not fascinated by airplanes.

With some 1,000 flight hours logged, Edwards spent the last 25 years since earning his pilot’s license enjoying the thrills of taking flight and gliding along from cloud to cloud.

The veteran pilot spends every available hour at the airport he can squeeze in between his “day job” as owner/operator of Edwards’ Construction and personal obligations. More times than not, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified mechanic can be found with his head bent over a small plane’s engine or chauffeuring someone via air to various destinations.

“In a small town like this, you would be surprised just how much traffic this airport gets on any given day. During good weather, it‘s typical to see four or five planes a day land or take off,” said Edwards.

Since its runway expansion, the New Tazewell Municipal Airport has enjoyed traffic from nearly every type and size plane from the Cessnas, Barons and Senecas to the small jets that routinely transport salespeople to the various factories like DTR and LaZboy or weekend golfers to Woodlake.

A couple months ago, a metro liner with nearly a dozen people aboard landed safely at the airport.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam used a KingAire when he recently visited the county, Edwards said.

Like any other airport, there have been a few emergency landings through the years, but none Edwards says resulted in a serious outcome. One recent incident turned out well for a pilot who requested emergency clearance to land.

“The pilot thought he had lost oil pressure. It turned out, it was a wire that had broken on his instrument panel, making the oil pressure indicator read zero,” said Edwards.

As a rule, small planes outlast most ground vehicles sometimes by decades, he said.

“You’ll see a lot of planes built during the 60s, and even before then, still in good shape and logging airtime because by FAA regulations, you must have your planes inspected yearly,” said Edwards.

The New Tazewell Municipal Airport is located on Airport Lane, just off Blue Top Road, in Tazewell.

Edwards encourages the public to drop by anytime and visit “their” airport.

For more information, or to sign up for flight instruction school, you may call 423-626-7732.