Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spirit Airlines looking to hire Atlantic City-based flight attendants

Spirit Airlines says it is searching for some "caring, reliable, energetic and fun friends" to join its team. In other words, it's looking to hire some new flight attendants.

Atlantic City International Airport's dominant carrier will get the hiring process under way on Wednesday by holding a job fair at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel. There will be two sessions, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Maggie Espin-Christina, Spirit's senior manager of internal communications, said the airline plans to hire 22 new flight attendants for its Atlantic City operations. It already has 62 Atlantic City-based attendants.

Espin-Christina said the hirings reflect Spirit's growth. She noted that Spirit is committed to offering competitive pay based on experience, but she did not divulge salary figures.

Spirit currently is the only scheduled carrier serving the Atlantic City market, flying to the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach and the golfing mecca of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Last week, Spirit announced it will launch seasonal service between Atlantic City and Boston on March 20. The South Jersey Transportation Authority, the airport owner, says on its website that Spirit also plans to resume seasonal service this spring to Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit. No details have been released yet on the Spirit flights to those cities.

As previously announced, United Airlines is starting new service to Atlantic City from its Chicago and Houston hubs on April 1. United and Spirit will now compete for passengers on the Atlantic City-Chicago route.

Source:   http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com

Atlantic City International Airpor (KACY), New Jersey

9/11 responder keeping careful watch over ACY airport security

Tom Coury was serving as a top commander with the Pennsylvania State Police in 2001 when he was alerted to a plane crash near the rural town of Shanksville, Pa. It was United Airlines Flight 93, one of the four airliners that were hijacked by terrorists during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Still disturbed by memories of Flight 93, Coury is determined to stop terrorists or anyone else from threatening airline passengers in his current role as federal security director at Atlantic City International Airport.

"It was a hollowing feeling, because I knew a lot of people had died there," Coury recalled of the crash site in southwestern Pennsylvania that he would help oversee.

Although a relatively small airport in terms of airline traffic - handling about 1.4 million passengers annually - Atlantic City International is equipped with high-tech bomb detectors and multiple layers of security to thwart terrorist attacks. Coury insists Atlantic City's security is on par with the country's major airports.

"It will meet those standards. There's no question about that," he said. "I'm confident that the Atlantic City airport is as secure. I feel confident to fly out of Atlantic City International, and I feel confident to have my family and friends fly out of the airport. I don't think there is any better testimony than that."

In a behind-the-scenes tour of the airport, Coury showed off baggage-screening equipment and other technology used by his agency, the federal Transportation Security Administration, to protect airline passengers.

Travelers likely are unaware that once they check their luggage at the airline counter, the bags are sent by conveyor belt to a separate building, out of public view, that has large, CAT scan-like machines to search for bombs. At a rate of about 400 bags per hour, each piece of checked luggage is screened this way before it is loaded onto a plane.

The TSA's security officers also use trace detectors, which are smaller devices that search for the telltale chemical residue and vapors associated with explosives. Samples are taken by wiping cotton swabs on different parts of luggage and then feeding them into an explosives detector for analysis. Coury said the airport also has technology that analyzes the liquid in bottles for any explosives.

Out in the airport terminal, airline passengers must make their way through the security checkpoint before they are allowed access to the departure gates. As with other commercial airports, Atlantic City has been upgrading its technology at the checkpoints in recent years in the war on terrorism.

In 2012, it added full-body scanners that use electromagnetic waves - harmless to humans, Coury said - to detect explosives and weapons. The scanner resembles an upright tube or portal.

"Hands above your head. Stay still," one blue-shirted TSA security screener instructed a passenger as he entered the portal.

Passengers pause for about three seconds while the body scans occur. Their image is displayed in a nongender-specific outline to protect their privacy.

While CAT scans, chemical sniffers and electromagnetic waves form the high-tech security wall, there are also more standard parts of the screening process. Passengers must pass through metal detectors and have their carry-on bags scanned by X-ray machines, too. Footwear is still checked for explosives, requiring passengers to remove their shoes.

The airport owner, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, is in the process of replacing older analog-style surveillance cameras with more sophisticated digital models to enhance safety in the terminal and the parking lots.

In all, there are about 20 levels of airport security, including a database that gives a "mini-background check" on passengers when they book their flights, Coury explained. TSA partnered with airlines to phase in the program, an enhanced passenger watch-list matching system that more effectively identifies people who may pose a known or suspected threat to aviation.

"You have a lot more information on passengers now than in the past, which makes us a lot more comfortable," Coury said of the nation's security force.

Passengers who are generally not considered a serious risk to airport security include the elderly, young children, members of the military and airline flight crews, Coury noted.

Airport security nationwide was dramatically heightened after the 9/11 attacks. It was at that time the federal government formed the TSA to oversee airport security nationwide.

Coury joined the TSA in 2003, a year after he retired from the Pennsylvania State Police, where he worked for 33 years. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and served as State Police deputy commissioner in former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge's administration.

Coury was acting commissioner of the State Police on Sept. 11, 2001. When the horror of Flight 93 became known, it was Coury's job to brief Ridge on the crash.

"You could see a combination of pain and anger on his face," Coury said of Ridge, who would later become the country's first secretary of Homeland Security.

Coury oversaw the State Police security patrol at the crash scene. As a law-enforcement officer, he said, he had to keep his emotions in check, but one experience was particularly heart-wrenching.

"After a few days, families were showing up, and a makeshift memorial was set up," Coury said. "At one point, the husband of a flight attendant killed in the crash arrived at the scene. He had her flight attendant's uniform and hung it on the memorial. That was when the personal tragedy really hit me."

After joining the TSA, Coury was a top security official at the airports in Harrisburg, State College, Lancaster and Altoona, Pa., and in Hagerstown, Md. He took charge of security at Atlantic City International in 2012. In addition to Atlantic City, he serves as federal security director for the airports in Trenton and in New Castle, Del.

No terrorist ever has been detected at Atlantic City International, Coury said. However, passengers have been caught illegally carrying firearms, fireworks and flares.

Citing security reasons, Coury declined to disclose how many TSA screeners work at the airport. One of them is an explosives expert.

Coury credits cooperation between the TSA, New Jersey State Police, the South Jersey Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for enhancing airport security. The Port Authority took over the airport's operation from the SJTA last year, although the latter continues to own the passenger terminal.

Atlantic City International is located in Egg Harbor Township, about 10 miles west of Atlantic City. Sharing the airport grounds are the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center and the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing. Both the FAA center and 177th Fighter Wing play major roles in the country's security network.

The FAA center is a national research and development site for aviation safety systems, including bomb-detection equipment. The 177th's fighter jets have patrolled the skies in the aftermath of 9/11 to protect major Northeast cities.

The presence of so many key government and military employees and facilities adjacent to the airport terminal has added to the TSA's vigilance in protecting the site, Coury stressed.

"There are a lot of what I would call significant assets," he said.

Story and Photos:  http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com

Marshfield Municipal Airport (KGHG), Massachusetts

Marshfield airport to close for three months starting in March


Dozens of pilots who keep their planes at Marshfield Municipal Airport are making alternative arrangements in preparation for a three-month closure resulting from the ongoing $15.34 million improvement and expansion project.

Ann Pollard, the airport’s operations manager, said the airport, which is also known as George Harlow Field, is expected to shut down for fixed-wing flight operations beginning March 1 and reopen around June 1. About 45 planes are based at the airport.

“Some aircraft will remain here, but won’t be used, and others are relocating to neighboring airports, mostly Plymouth and Norwood,” said Pollard. “We worked to help put (pilots) in contact with the appropriate people and work out the logistics.”

All helicopter operations will continue at the airport, since they don’t rely on the taxiway or runway for taking off and landing.

The project will widen the runway, extend it by 300 feet, shift it 190 feet west of the current surface and add 300-foot paved safety buffers at each end. The taxiways will be widened by 5 feet. Work began in October and is expected to take less than a year.

In August, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would provide an $11.34 million grant for improvements to the town-owned airport, which is managed by Shoreline Aviation. The state pitched in $1.4 million, and voters at a special town meeting in November 2011 approved $200,000 more.

Pollard said the closure hasn’t come as a surprise to pilots who use the airport, since the project has been in the works for more than a decade.

“In some cases, airports can close just the runway that’s being worked on and still remain operational, but we only have one runway and it’s being reconstructed, so there’s no way around it,” she said. “It’s challenging for businesses and tenants, but ultimately everyone is looking forward to having a safer airport in the end.”

Pollard said the Federal Aviation Administration will issue a notice to pilots regarding the closure, and pilots who call to get weather briefings will be notified.

Source:    http://www.patriotledger.com

Elkhart Municipal Airport (KEKM), Indiana

Crews at the Elkhart Airport are getting a lot of use out of their snow-clearing equipment this winter! 

The manager was in Monday making sure everything is ready to go again for the next snowfall.

Yes, they have snow plows, but they also use a giant sweeper. It has metal bristles that help clear the runway completely.

First they put down a chemical fertilizer, then they let the sweeper go to work.

Elkhart Municipal Airport Manager, Andy Jones says,  "It also has a jet blast on each side, a high pressure jet blast, that is amazing to watch.  When that runs down the runway, it'll blow the ice and snow right out of those cracks, then you're looking behind you at a clean dry runway."

The goal is to keep the airport up and running 24-hours a day, seven days a week no matter what mother nature sends our way.

US all set to downgrade Indian civil aviation

A recent audit found conflict of interest in DGCA, whose inspectors were found to be on the rolls of the airlines they are supposed to monitor.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the American aviation watchdog, is set to downgrade India's civil aviation sector to Category II from its current Category I status based on an audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

The audit revealed serious conflict of interest in the DGCA, whose flight operations inspectors were found to be management pilots on the rolls of the very airlines they are supposed to monitor, top government officials told this newspaper.

While government sources said a formal announcement is expected next week, FAA refused comment. "We have no comment at this time," an FAA spokeswoman said in an email from Washington, DC.

The most crucial repercussion of the downgrade will be that carriers like Jet Airways and Air India will be barred from introducing new services to the US and will have to terminate any code-share agreements they have with American airlines.

This is because FAA does not support reciprocal code-share arrangements between air carriers of Category II States and American carriers. A senior FAA official said the downgrade will also mean carriers from India will not be allowed to introduce new services to the US till the DGCA takes corrective action.

Sources in the know said a downgrade was put off after the DGCA failed the September 2013 audit thanks to the Prime Minister's Office's intervention. The prime minister's principal secretary Pulok Chatterji, foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and the then aviation secretary KN Srivastava played a key role in using back-end diplomatic channels to stop the downgrade. Sources said it might not happen this time thanks to the friction created by the Devyani Khobragade issue.

"We are expecting a communication from the FAA within a fortnight," said Capt Mohan Ranganathan, member, Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Committee of India. "Wonder what can save us from a downgrade now. The FAA will not miss things like the DGCA's failure to complete accident investigations and instances like the recent Air India blind landing at Jaipur, which was initially covered up as a tire burst. The government is now in the process of hiring a special workforce for the DGCA as the heat of a downgrade increases. The government acts only when there is a threat."

Under the International Convention on Civil Aviation, each country is responsible for the safety oversight of its carriers. Other countries can only conduct specific surveillance activities, principally involving inspection of required documents and the physical condition of aircraft.

FAA conducts the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program, assessing the civil aviation authority of each country that has carriers operating to the US. Under provisions of the Chicago Convention and national sovereignty, the FAA cannot evaluate operations of a foreign carrier in its sovereign state. 

Source:   http://www.mumbaimirror.com

Snag forces Air India Boeing 787-800 to return to London

NEW DELHI: Boeing's unending problems with its Dreamliners continue to give nightmares to passengers and airlines using this aircraft. In the latest trouble, an Air India Boeing 787-800 flying from London to Delhi on Sunday night saw its transponders failing. The aircraft, which was over Germany after flying for about two hours from UK, then had to return to Heathrow. It barely made it there in time for the night curfew to kick in at Heathrow.

This vital equipment plays several crucial roles: it gives a collision warning to the pilot if another aircraft gets too close for comfort; pilots can use it to send distress signal discreetly to ATC and finally, it gives all details of the aircraft on the blips that appear on ATC radars. The emergency situations that transponders are used to warn ground controllers about are communication failure, hijack and any other emergency.

This is incidentally the second time Dreamliners with AI had transponder failure. On December 19, Boeing-787 flying from Delhi to Paris suffered the same snag due to which Charles de Gaulle Airport did not know which plane is approaching it. It was only after the ATC contacted the aircraft that they found that the plane was on a regular schedule flight to Paris!

Confirming the latest B-787 transponder trouble, an AI spokesman said: "The transponder trouble came after the aircraft had been airborne for about two hours. It then had to return to London. We sincerely hope Boeing is able to modification to the transponder issue. The aircraft is ready now and will leave London soon."

Transponder is the primary means for ground radar to identify an aircraft so that radar controller knows the position, altitude and speed of an aircraft. Apart from safety issues, failure of transponder means that in a busy airport an unidentified blip causes confusion and ATCs have to contact the aircraft. This kind of equipment failure in a brand new plane is unacceptable, said a senior pilot.

AI officials are fuming that Dreamliner snags are earning the airline a bad name while the Maharaja was hoping for a turnaround from this aircraft. "None of the Dreamliner issues have any bearing on safety. But snags mean delays and cancellations. Apart from earning the ire of passengers, we have to spend lakhs on putting passengers up in hotels. The aviation ministry should take the issue up with Boeing sternly," said a source.

The government recently disclosed that AI's Dreamliners had suffered 136 'minor' technical problems between September, 2012, and last month. The most recent troubles include cracked windshields and flap actuators breaking.

Source:   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com