Monday, February 10, 2014

Residents opposed to Wakulla County Airport changes

 WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL)-- Some residents who live near the Wakulla County Airport are speaking out against a possible expansion project. 

Wakulla County resident Jim Parham is worried for his and his neighbors' safety. The Wakulla County Airport is looking to make some changes that could bring air traffic closer to nearby neighborhoods.

"It was always intended for light use of light aircraft, nothing greater than that," said Parham, who also worries about trees being cut down to add more runways. "We have these trees all around our houses here that they say are obstructions to the airport. No, they're our protection of planes that might fly into our houses."

"What's happening in Wakulla County are proposed changes in order to make the airport safer," said Wakulla County Commissioner Howard Kessler. He says federal money would be used to add more taxi ways for smaller planes, and they will not expand runways for bigger planes.

The project would keep the county from having to close the airport, which could hurt the local economy.

"Whatever changes happen there will not change the characteristics of the airport as far as the type of aircraft that will be coming in and landing," said Kessler. "That really is an important point that everyone needs to understand."

But more air traffic is a possibility, something Parham doesn't want to see near his home.

"It just doesn't make sense," said Parham.

Asiana Airlines seeks cockpit culture changer after United States crash

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Asiana Airlines Inc is changing its pilot training program and encouraging its crew to talk more in a bid to change a corporate culture that U.S. investigators said may have been a factor in a crash last year.

A hearing into the July 6 crash that killed three people and injured more than 180 people in San Francisco revealed that one of the pilots said he did not feel he had the authority to abort a low-speed landing as people at a "higher level" had to make that decision.

"It's a reality that within our country there is a leaning toward a patriarchal culture and many pilots work and fly within the strict military order," Chief Executive Kim Soo-cheon told reporters on Monday.

The airline has since September strengthened pilot training, set up out-of-office gatherings and recommended all members of the flight crew address each other with honorifics while working, regardless of rank, Kim said.

Yamamura Akiyoshi, senior executive vice president in charge of safety since December, added that Asiana was also seeking to encourage staff to report problems without fearing possible penalties.

Another factor highlighted in the December hearing was pilots' reliance on the autopilot to maintain airspeed. One of the pilots also said he was stressed about manually flying the plane.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash of the Boeing 777 aircraft is still ongoing and both Kim and Yamamura declined to give details about the probe.


NTSB Identification: DCA13MA120
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 129: Foreign operation of Asiana Airlines
Accident occurred Saturday, July 06, 2013 in San Francisco, CA
Aircraft: BOEING 777-200ER, registration: HL7742
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 traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 6, 2013, about 1128 pacific daylight time, Asiana Airlines flight 214, a Boeing 777-200ER, registration HL7742, impacted the sea wall and subsequently the runway during landing on runway 28L at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, California. Of the 4 flight crewmembers, 12 flight attendants, and 291 passengers, about 182 were transported to the hospital with injuries and 3 passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The regularly scheduled passenger flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 129 between Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea, and SFO. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE), Allentown, Pennsylvania

$230,000 utility bill the result of airport error

After mix-up goes unnoticed for six years, LVIA settles with its largest tenant for $70,000.

Imagine the shock of opening a $230,232 utility bill.

That's what happened to New World Aviation because of somebody else's blunder.

For six years the company was undercharged for electric and sewerage at Lehigh Valley International Airport. But then somebody at the cash-strapped airport discovered the error and demanded the money be paid.

What followed was a yearlong negotiation between the airport and New World, its largest tenant. The two sides settled last week.

New World Aviation will plunk down a $70,000 lump-sum payment, and the charter plane company will remain at the airport for at least another five years.

It's a fraction of the amount LVIA was short-changed, but both sides say there were legal questions about how far back the airport could reach to collect. As it stands, it's found money — like a 20-dollar-bill in the dryer — for an airport that desperately needs it.

"Unbeknownst to us, they were paying our [utility] bill and we were paying theirs for years," said Dean Browning, chief financial officer of New World and a former Lehigh County commissioner. "Needless to say, when the airport wanted [$230,000] in back charges, we were less than agreeable."

Making matters even more complicated was the fact that, in this dispute, Browning represents both "we" and "they." He's also a Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority board member who was appointed in 2011, after the mix-up started but before anyone noticed.

It all began in 2006, when New World needed a second hangar at LVIA. In addition to its 63,701-square-foot Hangar 9, it moved into Hangar 3, expanding its operation to 38 employees and six planes. With a lease paying the airport $900,000 per year, New World became the airport's largest tenant.

The problem was, an airport employee mistakenly assigned the wrong utility meters to New World. While continuing to pay its normal utility bills for Hangar 9, New World started getting utility bills for a small airport-owned hangar where two car rental businesses are run.

Meanwhile, the airport got the utility bills for Hangar 3. So, while New World was paying surprisingly reasonable bills of roughly $200 a month for a 40,741-square-foot hangar, the airport was footing bills approaching $3,500 per month for a relatively small rental car office.

"I suppose our accounting office should have noticed," Browning said. "But we pay several lease and utility bills for various hangars."

No one from the airport noticed until 2012, when new airport Executive Director Charles Everett Jr. ordered a routine audit of all airport leases. Everett said he has no reason to believe the mix-up was anything more than a mistake, but he could not explain how it could have gone unnoticed for so long.

"I've never seen anything quite like this before," Everett said. "But we're happy to get it cleared up."

For the past year, the two sides have been negotiating through their lawyers in the hope of keeping the matter out of court. Airport officials argued that New World used the electricity, while New World officials pointed out that the authority caused the mix-up. Company lawyers also argued a statute of limitations applies to such under-payments.

"Basically, they said pay [$230,000], we said we'll pay $50,000. They came back with [$230,000] and we said, OK then $0," Browning said. "I did not participate in any of the discussions, but I understand that the negotiations were amicable throughout."

After months of closed-door negotiations, the two sides settled on $100,000. They initially agreed that New World would pay over the five years of its proposed new lease, beginning in June. The company then offered to pay the whole bill now for a reduced rate of $70,000, and the airport agreed.

Problem solved. Court avoided. Everyone's happy.

On the downside, New World recently saw a 1,700 percent increase in its utility bill.


Foreign aircraft flying into India to face safety checks

NEW DELHI: Foreign charter aircraft flying into India will now be subject to intense safety checks by aviation authorities here.

In a seemingly retaliatory move, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) — which was recently downgraded by US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mainly due to lack of adequate oversight capability — has formed two special teams to subject foreign aircraft to checks on Indian soil. Now based on faults found in them, aircraft can be flagged off in three categories — minor, rectify within a month or serious. In extreme cases, foreign aircraft could even be refused permission to fly on the ground of being unsafe and be allowed to take off only when fully repaired.

The FAA downgrade has meant that Indian aircraft can now be stopped for extensive checks abroad and foreign aviation regulators can ask to conduct their own safety assessment of the DGCA, something which the Japanese and the European Aviation Safety Authority wanted to do last year. After the downgrade, Singapore has already warned that it will put Indian aircraft flying there under strict ramp checks.

"The two teams formed by DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar will do safety assessment of foreign airlines (SAFA) at Indian airports. While there will be strict monitoring of all airlines, foreign charter planes are suspected to flouting safety norms and they will be under the scanner. This is not a reactionary move to the threat of our planes being held up for checks abroad after the downgrade. Our checks will be intense and sustainable," said a senior official. Sources say western carriers will be in for strict checks as singling out US airlines would be seen as a retaliatory move.

The FAA had first come for an audit of the DGCA in March 2009 and found that India did not have any checks on foreign aircraft flying into the country. Election commissioner Nasim Zaidi, who was DGCA chief then, started safety oversight of foreign airlines ( SOFA) based on Europe's SAFA. But DGCA could not continue this program for long and has now decided to revive it now.

While India may "return the fire", the biggest worry haunting aviation authorities here is of an Indian registered aircraft showing poorly in checks abroad. The DGCA has issued an advisory to all Indian airlines and charter operators to have all aircraft and crew documents in proper order. Some airlines like Air India have set up special committees for this task.

The downgrade has taken India by surprise. While the DGCA has over years become a completely toothless body thanks to a crippling shortage of flight operations inspectors and other technical staff, Indian carriers have placed orders worth millions of dollars with US major Boeing. Indian authorities felt this "commercial interest" will prevent US from taking the 'extreme' step of downgrading DGCA.

"Given all the troubles American Boeing's Dreamliners are giving Air India on a daily basis, we expected them to be a bit apologetic about their latest showpiece — the B-787. Yet they downgrade us and the aviation ministry still remains helpless in taking up the issue of Dreamliner troubles with Boeing adequately. Boeing is yet to rectify the problems with its new plane and the ministry brass is mysteriously silent. In fact, Boeing spokespersons and our top officials sound alike when it comes to addressing Dreamliner issues," said a senior pilot. 

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Northwest Harris County, Texas


Close to 1 pm Sunday afternoon a pilot and passenger left David Wayne Hooks Airport in a 2011 Capella Aircraft. As they got a few miles from the airport the aircraft lost power. 

The pilot attempted to turn and return to the airport but seeing the aircraft was losing altitude quickly he attempted to land it in an open field near the intersection of Boudreaux and Champion Forest. 

As they were on the approach the aircraft struck a raised brim causing it to crash and flip upside down. 

The pilot of the plane was transported by Cypress Creek EMS to Memorial Hermann in Houston with a head injury. 

The passenger did not require medical attention. DPS held the scene for the FAA who arrived on the scene to investigate.