Saturday, February 22, 2014

Travis Air Force Base announces air show lineup

Travis Air Force Base has released its list of initial performers and static aircraft participating in the installation’s upcoming airshow scheduled for May 3 and 4. 

 Headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, the two-day event will also play host to multiple civilian performers to include Commemorative Air Forces Warbirds, Bill Cornick, Spencer Suderman and Eddie Andreini.

Furthermore, static aircraft on display will include a T-6 Texan II, T-38 Talon, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, RC-135, B-52 Stratofortress, MQ-1 Predator, A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III, C-5 Galaxy, KC-10 Extender, P-51 Mustang, AT-6 Spiral and PT-19.

“A lot of people don’t get the chance to come on base and witness the mission,” said Maj. William Kerr, the 2014 Travis Open House deputy director. “This gives them the opportunity to come out, touch an airplane and talk with aircrew members. We want to provide the community with the experience of a lifetime.”

In addition to confirmed performances, base Open House officials also released the airshow’s event schedule. For both May 3 and 4, gates to the free event are slated to open at 9:30 a.m. with performances running between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The base has also issued a promotional video on the Thunderbirds that can be viewed at:


United States Air Force Thunderbirds rehearse at Travis Air Force Base while preparing for their 2011 air show. (Daily Republic file 2011)  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Susi Air to Spend Up to $50m for 10 Additional Aircraft

Jakarta. ASI Pudjiastuti Aviation, an Indonesian airline operator that runs Susi Air, plans to add 10 aircraft to its fleet this year, with aims of expanding its reach.

Total combined cost is estimated to reach as much as $50 million, said Susi Pudjiastuti, chief executive and owner of the airline operator, on Wednesday.

The additional aircraft will expand the schedule and charter airline’s fleet to 59 airplanes.

“I want to make citizens of our archipelago feel as if they live in one continent, instead of thousands of scattered islands. I want to show them it’s easy to travel using our service,” said Susi.

Susi Air, based in Pangandaran, West Java, is one of the world’s biggest users of Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft, in the chartered and commuter service category.

She added that the purchase will be financed by loans, not through leasing.

“For airlines who operate with small aircraft, it is better to use bank loans. The option of leasing is a very expensive one,” she explained.

Founded in 2004 with two Cessna Grand Caravans, the company has managed to find a niche market by flying to remote regions that are not serviced by larger commercial airlines. Some routes are booked on a charter basis.

Susi Air now serves a total of 195 routes and 165 destinations throughout Indonesia, from the most western part of Aceh province to the most eastern part of Merauke in Papua. The airline offers scheduled commercial flights, block seat flights and scheduled chartered flights. It also offers spot charter flights and long term charter flights.

Of its 195 domestic routes, 177 — or 91 percent — are unique to Susi Air.

Last year, it booked $40 million in revenue and in 2014, Susi hopes to see a 20 percent increase, thanks to steady demand from its customers.

“The biggest challenge is now the rupiah depreciation. It contributes to around 70 to 80 percent to our total spending, for spare parts, maintenance and pilot costs,” explained Susi.

Still, she is confident her business will continue to see growth, along with the government’s efforts to open more remote areas and build more airports that can accommodate smaller airlines.

When asked whether she may be interested to takeover routes leftover by Merpati Airlines, an ailing state-owned carrier that has suspended all flights in early February, she said: “If it looks good, we’ll take it [the routes]. But I don’t know, it all depends on the government.”

Susi was previously a lobster entrepreneur who unintentionally fell into the airline business.

Susi Air’s corporate clients include coal miners Adaro Indonesia and Indika Energy, diversified conglomerate Bosowa Corporation, cement maker Holcim Indonesia, as well as global cable news network CNN.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cape Air Announces New Service to Block Island

Flights to Block Island from Providence and New York will begin May 22, 2014.

Hyannis, MA (PRWEB) February 17, 2014

Cape Air, one of the nation’s largest regional airlines, will begin seasonal service to Block Island, RI. Beginning on May 22, the Thursday before the start of Memorial Day Weekend, Cape Air will offer daily flights between Block Island Airport (BID) and T.F. Green Airport (PVD) and between BID and Westchester County Airport (HPN). Passengers also have the option to take Cape Air’s ground transportation from Westchester County Airport to 35th Street and 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

The addition of service to Block Island complements Cape Air’s current schedules, which include seasonal, daily flights to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard from T.F. Green and Westchester County Airports.

“After several years of collaboration with the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, we are thrilled to be able to start seasonal, scheduled service to Block Island. Cape Air specializes in connecting passengers to some of the most desirable destinations in the U.S. and Caribbean – Block Island fits our model perfectly,” said Linda Markham, President, Cape Air.

Block Island has a short runway, which limits the type of aircraft that can land at BID. Cape Air has acquired Britten-Norman Islanders that are specifically suited to the needs of this market. The Britten-Norman Islander is a nine passenger, high-wing, twin-engine aircraft with the capability to land on short runways.

“Flights from T.F. Green Airport to Block Island will soon become a reality. Block Island passengers on Cape Air will have access to connecting service on other carriers and commuter rail service to Providence and Boston via the convenience of T. F. Green Airport. Cape Air is a valued travel partner, offering seasonal service to the Cape and Islands for over 15 years. This additional service is, hopefully, an indication of future growth,” said Kelly Fredericks, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC).

Passengers can book their flights to Block Island now by visiting, or by calling 800-CAPE-AIR.

About Cape Air:

Now in its 25th year, Cape Air is one of the largest independent regional airlines in the United States annually flying over 735,000 passengers to destinations around the world including New England, New York, the Caribbean, the Midwest and Micronesia. With a fleet of seventy-five Cessna 402s, three Britten-Norman Islanders, and two ATR-42s, the employee-owned company operates up to 550 flights per day. Based in Hyannis, Massachusetts, Cape Air also operates flights under the Nantucket Airlines brand. Cape Air is a codeshare partner with United Airlines and American Airlines in the Caribbean and American Airlines in the Midwest. In Micronesia Cape Air operates as United Express. In addition, Cape Air has ticket and baggage agreements with most major airlines. Cape Air’s unique brand of customer service, MOCHA HAGoTDI,* has earned the airline accolades as ‘Best Airline’ on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and in the United States Virgin Islands. The airline has been recognized for outstanding philanthropy in the communities it serves and Cape Air Founder and CEO Dan Wolf was recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year™ Award. *Make our Customers Happy and Have a Good Time Doing It!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Cessna 172S Skyhawk, PRN LLC, N426SP: Accident occurred February 17, 2014 in Caldwell, New Jersey

NTSB Identification: ERA14CA127
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 17, 2014 in Caldwell, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/01/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N426SP
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he intended to complete three full-stop landings at night, to meet currency requirements. During the first landing, the airplane bounced three times and veered left. The pilot applied right rudder and right aileron in an attempt to correct; however, the nosegear struck a snowbank off the left side of the runway. During the collision, the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted. The pilot added that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions with the airplane and the wind was reported as calm about the time of the accident. Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to the right wing and vertical stabilizer.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain directional control while landing.

A Brooklyn pilot crashed a small plane while trying to land at a New Jersey airport Monday, police say.

The Cessna 172 touched down at the Essex County Airport in Fairfield just before 7 p.m., then suddenly veered off the runway to the left, striking a snow bank and then overturning, police said.

The plane was piloted by Chaim Masri, 46, of Brooklyn, according to authorities. Masri declined medical attention for a minor injury to the leg.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. 

Story and photo:

Cessna 172S Skyhawk, N426SP: 

A pilot suffered a minor injury after his airplane crashed earlier tonight at Essex County Airport in Fairfield, police said.

Chaim Masri, 46, of Brooklyn, received a minor injury to his leg and declined medical attention after his Cessna  172 crash landed on the airport runway at 6:53 p.m. and overturned, Fairfield Deputy Police Chief Anthony Manna said in a press release tonight.

Manna said the Cessna 172 "touched down, at which time, it veered off the runway to the left, striking a snow bank and then overturning."

The plane is being up-righted and will be secured at the airport pending an investigation by officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, Manna said.

Information relative to ownership of the plane was not available, he said.

Story, photo and comments/reaction:

DuPage Airport (KDPA), Chicago/West Chicago, Illinois

None Hurt As Small Plane Slides Off Runway At Dupage County Airport

(CBS) – No one was injured when a small business jet carrying seven people slid off the runway at DuPage County Airport Monday afternoon.

“It was terrible conditions, he just ventured off the runway,” according to West Chicago Deputy Fire Chief Dennis A. Keefe.

Chief Keefe said the jet was essentially taking off in white out conditions when it slid off the runway.

He said the airport’s Rosenbauer 4×4 Aircraft fire and rescue vehicle was immediately sent to the aircraft but there was no fire.

The FAA identified the craft as a Falcon 20 which was heading from DuPage to Baltimore, when it slid off the runway on takeoff.

Keefe said there were no injuries to the two crew and five passengers aboard and he said while the plane needed to be towed back onto the runway, there was no damage reported. 

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Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport: CVG board changes alcohol, travel policies for members

The board that oversees Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is overhauling its travel, food and alcohol policy, but stricter rules will not change the state auditor’s ongoing special investigation into board members’ spending.

CVG will no longer pay for alcohol or first-class domestic flights for Kenton County Airport Board members to travel on official airport business, board Chairman Jim Huff said Monday.

Huff’s decision comes amid an investigation by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen into the board spending airport money on travel, food and alcohol, first reported by The Enquirer.

Huff’s decision will not change the nature of the state’s investigation, but “any improvements that are made to strengthen their policies are welcome,” said Stephenie Hoelscher, Edelen’s spokeswoman.

Other policy changes Huff and the board’s executive committee approved Monday:

• The board will no longer serve food or alcohol after every monthly board meeting.

• The number of board members who can attend an airline-industry conference has been reduced from 18 to 11 per conference.

• Board members will only be permitted to fly coach on any flights in the U.S. on airport-related business. The airport can pay for a first-class ticket on an international flight longer than four hours. Board members are permitted to upgrade to first class on all flights as long as they pay for it on their own.

With new policies in place, Huff told board members, “at least (spending) can’t get out of hand.”

Asked if the decision was in response to the state’s audit, Huff said: “There’s pressure on every airport to run these things more efficiently. The changes we’ve made will help us do that.”

As first reported by The Enquirer, the board spent more than $260,000 on travel expenses and food for airport conferences and dinners after board meetings in the last five years. Huff is among the board members who have come into question for spending on travel.

Most other public boards in the region typically do not serve alcohol after regular meetings, although some serve a meal and snacks.

The spending prompted Edelen’s office to launch its investigation. Auditors have been reviewing documents electronically the past few months, and last week they began on-site work at CVG.

Auditors will be spending two to three days a week at CVG the rest of this month. Hoelscher said the audit is expected to be completed by spring.

“We’re cooperating with them fully,” Huff said.


Rat on board, Air India flight delayed for two hours

Never underestimate a tiny rat. A 100-odd passengers who took Air India's Aurangabad-Mumbai flight on Saturday evening will agree hands down. For, it was a little rat on board that delayed their flight by over two hours, upsetting their schedules terribly.

The rodent was first noticed by state minister Nitin Raut around 5.30pm just as the flight was picking up momentum. It scampered over Raut's feet. Raut looked down to find the rodent ducking for cover, as it were.

The minister, who holds a pilot's licence, was quick to alert the cabin crew and the pilot, said sources. When dna tried to contact him for his comment, his phone was not reachable.

A rat, or any such creature on board, can pose serious threat to safety of a flight. It is for this reason that the civil aviation authority – Directorate General of Civil Aviation – forbids any littering on board or anywhere around the airport.

Staffers at Aurangabad's Chikkalthana airport were quick to swing into action. The plane was brought back to the hangar. Air India sources said that it was decided to abort the flight.

"Passengers were deplaned. A thorough search began to locate the rodent," said a spokesperson of Air India. "The flight was delayed by at least two hours."

Work began at a frenetic pace. Passengers' baggage and other cargo were pulled out, said an airline source. "Rats can prove dangerous as they can destroy the wiring system of an aircraft and leave a catastrophic effect mid-flight," said this source who spoke strictly on the condition that he not be named. In keeping with protocol, the aviation regulator was informed about the pest on board.

The task was pretty much like looking for a needle in a haystack. With no sign of the tiny rat for far too long, the last resort was to smoke the rat out. "The plane was fumigated," said an airport source. As curls of smoke filled the aisles, out jumped the rat, running helter-skelter and scurrying onto the open runway and yonder.

For Air India's staff the woes hadn't ended yet. They had to bear the brunt of agitated passengers who complained of the delay and about missing connecting flights from Mumbai. All this, thanks to a tiny little rat.


Pilot on evening walk molested in DLF City Phase II, Gurgaon, India

 GURGAON: In an incident that puts a question mark on the security of women even in upmarket residential neighborhoods, a city-based pilot was allegedly molested in DLF City Phase II on Sunday evening while out for an evening walk on an empty road.

The victim was talking on the phone when a man on a bike came up behind her and grabbed her. The victim managed to push him away and rushed to a nearby house to seek help. An FIR has been lodged against the unidentified biker with the DLF-II police.

According to the police, the incident occurred on Sunday around 7.15 pm when the 28-year-old Air India pilot and resident of DLF-II went out for a walk in her neighborhood. "I was talking on the phone when a man wearing a helmet rode up on a bike and parked at the corner of the street. He grabbed me around my waist when I tried to walk past him. I screamed and pushed him away, and then kicked him, which made him fall. I ran to the nearest house and shouted for help and a woman came out on her balcony to ask me what was wrong. Seeing the woman, the biker fled. It is unfortunate that there were no eyewitnesses on the street at that time. I have lodged a complaint with the police," the victim said to TOI.

A team led by ACP Mamta Kharab and ACP Rao Dalbeer Singh reached the spot and investigations into the matter are on.

"We are trying to identify the accused," said SHO Shiv Kumar. He clarified that the accused clearly intended to molest the woman, not rob her.

Gurgaon has seen a constant rise in the cases of crime against women. While in 2012 just about 65 cases of rape and molestation were filed, the numbers shot up by three times in 2013. The police claim that this is happening because more women are able to file FIRs and most of these cases are being solved within months, local women rights groups say cops have failed in checking the crime graph.

Just three days back, a 20-year-old woman from Tripura was attacked by two men inside her home.


Salt Lake City, Utah: National pilot shortage has local impact

SALT LAKE CITY — A national shortage of airline pilots is hitting Utah close to home. 

The number of people going through training and entering the field of aviation nationally is declining, and has been on a steady downfall since the mid-1980s. A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek cited lower starting salaries for new pilots and tighter government regulations as major factors in the decline.

Jim Green worked as a Navy and commercial pilot for more than 30 years before he retired to teach in Utah Valley University's Aviation Science program, where he currently works as a flight instructor. He said he’s seen the effects of the pilots shortfall at all levels in the industry. 

“Boeing is predicting a worldwide shortage of nearly 500,000 pilots over the next 20 years,” Green said. “We have no idea how we are going to get those numbers.”

Green echoed the factors listed in Bloomberg for the shortfall, but said there are some deeper reasons fewer people are entering the world of flying.

“The reason starting salaries have been low is because of pure supply and demand,” Green said. “There always seemed to be enough young pilots who were willing to work for starvation wages at first in order to get the experience and hours necessary to secure a job with a major airline where the pay is much better.”

Green said today students looking to come into the industry have higher college debts to pay off and can’t afford to work in a sort of apprenticeship for a few years to get their careers started. This drives many out of the industry that would otherwise be interested.

“The idea of paying a lot for an education in aviation with the prospect of having student loans to pay off at the same time as making low wages doesn’t equate as a smart decision,” Green said.

In recent years, the national government has passed a few new laws that Green said have also hindered pilot enrollment. Public Law 111-216, which took effect last August, requires all pilots, including first officers, to log at least 1,500 hours to receive their Airline Transport Rating (ATR). An ATR was traditionally only held by captains.

“That (law) is a serious problem, because there aren't enough young co-pilots with those hours to qualify for the right seat of any airline,” Green said. “This absurd law couldn't have come at a worse time as we start to face a serious pilot shortage.”

If not corrected, Green said the current decline in pilots will create a domino effect throughout the entire aviation industry.

“The significant pilot shortage,” Green said, “is expected to last for the next 20 years, and exacerbated by PL 111-216, will cause most of the regional airlines to go out of business completely. Small cities across the nation are already seeing their air service cut, with the prospect that all air service will cease to cities smaller than 150,000 population.”

While the new law may have been passed with public safety in mind, Green said it failed to factor in the long-term consequences tighter pilot regulations would have on every area of transportation.

“The intent of Congress was to increase safety for passengers,” Green said, “but now because people will need to drive long distances to get to a major city to fly, there will actually be more deaths, because driving on our highways is more dangerous than flying.”

Green said UVU is taking strong measures to encourage prospective students to enter its aviation program and become pilots.

“Our newly updated online program is so good we are attracting students from all over the world, in fact,” Green said. “Students who take the online classes can fly locally wherever they are, and receive the FAA certification required to be licensed.”

Green said the program’s numbers are down from previous years, but the teachers and staff have been able to boost enrollment by offering a quicker route to ATR qualifications. Currently 160 students are enrolled in UVU’s aviation science program, with an additional 1,600 signed up online.

Green said he would encourage anyone interested in a career as a pilot to investigate all options and not let tougher restrictions scare them away.

“There's never been a better time to prepare to fly for a career,” Green said. “The need is great, the technology wonderful, the conditions safer than ever and the pay is only going to go up.”

He said he wouldn’t trade his lifetime in the air for anything, and would love to see eager young pilot-hopefuls experience the thrill of a career in aviation.

“I tell young people all the time, ‘You have two choices to make concerning your future career. You can either choose to work a job for a living, or you can fly.’ ” Green said. “In my opinion, there is no choice. It's the only way to go!”

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Piper PA-28-236 Dakota, Joseph Andrew Stack, N2889D: Fatal accident occurred February 18, 2010 in Austin, Texas

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: 

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

National Transportation Safety Board -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: CEN10FA124
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 18, 2010 in Austin, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/12/2011
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-236, registration: N2889D
Injuries: 2 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.

The airplane was destroyed after the pilot intentionally flew it into the side of an office building in Austin, Texas. The private pilot and an employee who worked in the building were killed. As this event was an intentional act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation assumed jurisdiction and control of the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s intentional flight into a building.

On February 18, 2010, approximately 0958 Central Standard Time, N2889D, a Piper PA-28-236 single-engine airplane, was destroyed after the pilot intentionally flew it into the side of an office building in Austin, Texas. The private pilot and an employee who worked in the building were killed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from the Georgetown Municipal Airport (GTU), Georgetown, Texas, at 0944. 

Preliminary review of air traffic control communications and radar data revealed that after the pilot was cleared for take off from Georgetown Airport, he proceeded southbound and climbed to an altitude of 4,800 feet. During this time, a controller approved a radio frequency change and the pilot responded, "Eight niner delta thanks for your help have a great day." No further communications were made with the pilot. At 0954, the airplane was observed on radar descending out of 4,800 feet and making a turn toward the west. At 0957, the airplane was last observed on radar at an altitude of 1,000 feet on a southwesterly heading before the data ended.

The airplane collided with the office building between the first and second floors, and exploded on impact. The airplane's engine, two (of three) propeller blades, and the right wing came to rest outside of the building. The empennage came to rest on the ledge of the building and was partially hanging over the edge. The left wing, portions of the fuselage, and a propeller blade, were found inside the building on the second floor. The flaps were found in the fully retracted position. The airplane was destroyed by impact and the post-impact fire.

The weather at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Austin Texas, at 0953, was reported as calm wind, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 25,000 feet, temperature 9 degrees Celsius, dew point 1 degree Celsius, and a barometric pressure setting of 30. 24.

As this event was an intentional act, the FBI has assumed jurisdiction and control of the investigation.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A low-flying airplane, and the explosion that followed, shattered the calm as employees started their work day in Northwest Austin four years ago. 

Smoke billowed from Echelon Building #1, tarnishing the clear blue sky above the building along U.S. 183 between MoPac and Loop 360.

At first, confusion reigned.

The single engine Piper Dakota piloted by Andrew Joseph Stack had taken off from the Georgetown Airport on Feb. 18, 2010, about 9:45 a.m.

Minutes later, Stack aimed his aircraft at the building and plowed into a suite full of offices housing dozens of Internal Revenue Service workers, at full speed.

Employees at the office conducted tax audits and investigations.

The crash killed Stack and 68-year-old Vernon Hunter, an IRS employee. Thirteen others were injured, two critically.

A few miles away, crews were battling a blaze at Stack’s two-story home in the Schofield Farms neighborhood. A fire he was suspected of setting.

It quickly became clear the crash was a deliberate attack.

Why did Stack do it?

There were signs of domestic trouble at home. Stack’s wife and 12-year-old stepdaughter had checked into a hotel the night before, after the 53-year-old had an angry outburst at home.

The morning of the attack Stack posted a suicide note on his website.

In the letter, he ripped not only the IRS, but President George W. Bush and the Catholic Church.

The aftermath

A week after the crash, engineers determined the building could be saved.

After several months and millions of dollars of repairs, the rebuilt structure reopened. The IRS no longer has offices there.

In the end, federal officials labeled what happened at the building a “criminal act”, not a case of domestic terrorism.

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Man accused of DUI murder of 8-year-old after Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show dies Monday

Haylee Burks, killed after the air show 2012.

 Danny Ray Smith, 66, was charged with murder after the accident that killed Haylee Burks, 8, after the Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show nearly two years ago.

His attorneys confirmed Monday that Smith died Monday morning.

Smith was charged with driving under the influence last month after Northport Police officers noticed that he was driving erratically. A test, however, revealed that he had no alcohol in his system at the time.

His attorneys criticized Northport Police at a court hearing held in January, saying that officers should have taken Smith to a hospital instead of jail.

“This was mishandled,” said attorney Bob Prince. “When he blew a 0.0, the police should have at least considered assisting with medical treatment.”

The Northport officers charged him with driving under the influence after he acted confused and handed over his Social Security card instead of a driver's license.

Smith spent a night at the Tuscaloosa County Jail, Prince said, and was transported to DCH because his was disoriented and had not eaten.

He went into a coma shortly after being hospitalized, Prince said.

Doctors performed tests for a suspected infection but never confirmed a diagnosis, Prince said.

Prince has said the fatal accident was caused by a medical condition since Smith's 2012 arrest. He had hosted a party at Dixie Air Service during the air show. His blood alcohol tested at .13 after the accident, higher than the .08 legal limit.

Haylee's mother filed a wrongful death suit against Smith in 2012. He was also involved in a civil dispute with Dixie Air Service's insurance company concerning terms and conditions of the policy. Smith's death concludes the criminal case, but the civil actions will remain active.

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Danny Ray Smith

Ethiopian Airlines Hijacking Shows Continuing Shortfalls in Security: Threat to Global Aviation Still Seen From Industry Insiders

The Wall Street Journal

By  Daniel Michaels

Updated Feb. 17, 2014 3:03 p.m. ET

The hijacking Monday of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner by a co-pilot seeking asylum illustrates a security wild card still facing global aviation despite years of efforts to combat terrorism: the inside threat.

Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, authorities world-wide have added layers of screening to stop passengers, crew or staff from carrying weapons or dangerous materials onto airplanes.

But people linked to airlines and airports around the world have still been implicated over recent years in plotting terrorist attacks, smuggling drugs and brazen theft. Security specialists say the cases show that aviation insiders still have ample opportunities to sabotage flights.

"We spend so much time in aviation safety on checking passengers for prohibitive items at checkpoints that we forget all other screening issues," said Philip Baum, managing director of Green Light Ltd., an aviation-security consulting firm in London.

"Ultimately it is what is going on in someone's head that matters, and even more so when they are in control of a plane," Mr. Baum said.

In Monday's case, the co-pilot was seeking asylum, according to Swiss authorities, and not looking to harm anyone. The Boeing 767, carrying 202 people, landed safely at Geneva airport after the co-pilot commandeered Ethiopian Flight 702, en route from Addis Ababa to Rome, when the captain went to use the toilet. None of the passengers or crew were harmed.

The Ethiopian government identified the co-pilot as 31-year-old Haile-Medhin Abera Tegegn. He has worked as a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines for five years, said Information Minister Redwan Hussein.

The incident Monday was unusual but not unprecedented. Nine passenger planes have been hijacked by pilots seeking asylum, according to the Aviation Safety Network, a website that tracks air incidents. Many were Cuban flights diverted to the U.S.

In three other cases since the late 1990s, however, pilots are suspected of having deliberately crashed perfectly functioning passenger jets without any warning to air-traffic controllers.

Pilots are generally screened before hiring and repeatedly assessed while on the job. The frequency and thoroughness varies by airline and country. The Ethiopian information minister said in an interview that in the wake of the hijacking, the country had no immediate plans to re-examine its vetting of pilots or other airline regulations.

"These kind of issues aren't very common," Mr. Hussein said. "It happens once in a blue moon."

Investigators have publicly indicated that the captain of a LAM Mozambique Airlines regional jet that went down in Namibia in November, killing all 33 aboard, put the plane into a dangerously steep dive seemingly on purpose and continued adjusting the controls with the intention of causing a crash.

Data retrieved from cockpit and flight-data recorders, according to investigators, indicate the Embraer 190 regional jet dove toward the ground at roughly 6,000 feet a minute. The captain didn't issue a mayday call, they said, and disregarded multiple instrument warnings of an impending crash.

In December 1997, a Singaporese Silkair Boeing 737 flight from Jakarta to Singapore with 104 people onboard crashed in Indonesia. Indonesian investigators never determined the cause of the crash. But experts at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which ran simulations and otherwise participated in the investigation, concluded the most likely scenario was that the captain committed suicide after facing financial and professional problems.

Almost two years later, EgyptAir Flight 990, with 217 people onboard, crashed off Nantucket, Mass., shortly after taking off from New York for Cairo. The NTSB concluded that the only sequence of events that fit the evidence was that one of the pilots put both engines into idle and his "flight control inputs" put the plane in a nosedive. The NTSB said the reason for his actions wasn't determined. Egyptian authorities challenged the U.S. analysis.

In all three crashes, only a single pilot was in the cockpit when the plane started plummeting toward the ground.

When one pilot leaves the cockpit for a bathroom break or some other reason, many carriers require a flight attendant to enter and stay there until the cockpit door is opened again. There have been cases of the remaining pilot becoming confused about how to reopen the door. Such issues have been highlighted since cockpit security was enhanced world-wide in the wake of the September 2001 airborne terrorist attacks in the U.S.

While pilots crashing commercial airlines are exceedingly rare, many other aviation employees on the ground can also pose threats to flights. Background checks and security assessments of aviation employees who work on the ground, particularly those not in direct contact with airplanes, are often less thorough than for pilots, say air-security specialists.

A report by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy from 2011 cited the "insider threat" as a continuing danger to aviation. The report cited insider plots in New York, Jakarta and Britain as examples of the risk.

In the British case, a U.K. jury in February 2011 found former British Airways software engineer Rajib Karim guilty of plotting terrorist acts and using his job to prepare them. Prosecutors had charged Mr. Karim, now 35 years old, with what they called a "chilling plot" to use his job to blow up a passenger plane. They said that in encrypted computer messages, he offered to get a cabin crew job and help get a "package" onto a U.S.-bound plane.

And one year ago, masked robbers disguised as police and carrying automatic weapons stole more than $50 million in diamonds from the belly of a plane about to leave Brussels Airport. The timing and precision of their audacious raid indicated they almost certainly had help from people who knew details of airport operations, people familiar with the investigation have said.

Dozens of people were arrested in May in relation to the case, but Belgian prosecutors haven't released details of their investigation.

In September, French authorities at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris said they uncovered a shipment of 3,050 pounds of cocaine, with a street value around $270 million, on a flight from Caracas. French and Venezuelan authorities arrested more than nine people, including three members of the Venezuelan National Guard, for their involvement.

The authorities said the shipment, hidden in 31 suitcases with false identification tags, was taken off the plane separately from real passengers' bags and to a warehouse. The special handling indicates the smugglers included insiders in both Caracas and Paris.

The U.S. Military Academy report on threats to aviation noted that insider threats "become markedly worse at non-Western airports in regions such as West Africa or South Asia, where local authorities' ability to effectively screen prospective airport employees is frequently negligible due to incomplete or poorly structured terrorist and criminal intelligence databases."

—Simegnish Lilly Yekoye, Marietta Cauchi, Heidi Vogt and Andy Pasztor contributed to this article.


Schererville, Indiana: Tourism chief defends air show move, pushes for regional convention center

SCHERERVILLE — South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority officials are banking the controversial move of the South Shore Air Show from Gary to Newton County will pay off.

“We’ll either be geniuses or we’ll be idiots,” Speros Batistatos, SSCVA president and CEO, said before the monthly gathering of the Lake County Advancement Committee, held last week.

Batistatos said this will be the first time in the country an air show is being partnered with an attraction like Fair Oaks Farm, and that creates the potential for major market partnerships with companies like Pfizer, Caterpillar, Cysco Foods and others who are the farm’s current partners.

He said people who have listened to the plan understand the reasons behind the move.

“It’s no more or no less a marketing expense,” Batistatos said before the meeting on Friday.

Regardless of where the air show is held, he added, it brings people to the region and generates hits on the SSCVA’s website and Facebook pages. Ninety-nine percent of those people who check out the air show pages online indicate an intent to return to the region.

Without a conference center, Northwest Indiana is a considered a second-tier or even third-tier tourist destination; that’s why the SSCVA needs to help create reasons for people to come here, he said, such as the air show and the new South Shore Brewery Trail, which in its first week received 4,000 hits online.

Batistatos said the region is in need of a true convention center if it ever plans to host larger events and draw more people to the region to spend their dollars.

With the backing of the board of directors, SSCVA staff is set to begin pursuing the best way to make that convention center happen. He said declined to say where the SSCVA would like to see the center built because in the past, once a site has been named, the bickering between communities about the final location has derailed the effort.

Region officials need to look past petty rivalries and realize an investment of this nature in one community will help all communities, Batistatos said.

A food and beverage tax will be key to developing that convention center. Batistatos said the SSCVA has no legislative agenda this year, but in the next couple months, staff will look into conducting financial impact studies, a first step in advancing a project.

In the meantime, a deal to have the SSCVA act is the tourism bureau for Jasper County for a fee has gone to the lawyers. He expects the SSCVA board to sign off on the agreement Thursday. The deal will be final once approved by Jasper County officials.


Airline pilots' health fears over polluted air

Airline pilots are taking legal action following claims they are suffering from a condition known as 'aerotoxic syndrome' caused by the inhalation of engine fumes.

Inside Out spoke to several pilots who claim that the condition has damaged their health and ability to fly.

Dr Jenny Goodman, an expert in environmental medicine, and Dr Michel Mulder, an aviation medical consultant, believe toxins in aircraft are the reason the pilots became ill.

But the medical establishment and civil aviation authorities refute their claims that aircraft toxins can damage the nervous system.

The Department for Transport says there is no conclusive proof that cabin air exposures cause ill health in commercial aircraft crews, whether in general or during 'fume' incidents.

Inside Out's Jacey Normand talks to solicitor Frank Cannon who is taking legal action on behalf of deceased pilot Richard Westgate who believed he was being poisoned by cabin air.

Story and video:

Passenger jet in near miss with paraglider on flight from Newquay

An airliner carrying passengers from Newquay to Southend missed a motorized paraglider by just 50 metres as it came in to land.

A ‘near miss’ report to the UK Airprox Board revealed the pilot of the easyJet Airbus A319 saw the red canopy of the machine flash past the cockpit window at 2,000ft.

He told air traffic control: “We’ve just had some kind of para-glider or something like that passing very, very close to our left hand side.”

Radar cannot pick up very small or slow-moving aircraft, so air traffic controllers were unable to warn the pilot on July 18 last year.

It is understood that, under current rules, wannabe pilots can buy paramotor kits online for £1,500 and take to the air untrained and unlicensed.

The board report found there was a ‘Category A’ risk of collision near Southend Airport, in Essex, and recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reviews the licensing of paramotor glider pilots.

It states: “The Board observed that the paramotor pilot had probably been unwise to position himself at 2000ft so close to the approach track for Southend’s active [runway]… the positioning of the paramotor possibly indicated a low-level of aviation awareness by its pilot.”

Officials said they had been unable to trace the pilot after what must have been a “frightening experience”.

Board members stated that although paramotor pilots do not need a license to fly, they must still comply with guidelines called Rules of the Air.

The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHGPA) oversees pilot and instructor training but there is no requirement for pilots to join the organization.

The report adds: “The pilot involved in this Airprox could well have been entirely independent, and could possibly have received very little training in Air Law and airmanship matters.”

The BHGPA has backed calls for paramotor pilots to be licensed.

EasyJet said: “The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority. Our crew followed procedures correctly and acted accordingly.”


Student pilot 'wanted to crash plane'

A trainee pilot tried to crash a plane carrying both himself and his flight instructor in a suicide attempt after beating his trainer around the head with a rock, a court in eastern Germany heard on Monday.

He is accused of attempted murder by allegedly hitting the 73-year-old flight instructor around the head with the rock after the plane took off from an air strip in Strausberg, Brandenburg.

The Cessna light aircraft underwent an emergency landing last June after the fight broke out in the cockpit between the 52-year-old student pilot and his flight instructor.

But the two gave conflicting explanations for the crash.

The trainee claimed his instructor sexually harassed him whilst in the air, causing the tussle, and after the plane touched down pulled out a knife, at which point the trainee hit him with a rock in self-defense.

The flight instructor, meanwhile, accused the trainee of attacking him while airborne, before trying to crash the plane in a suicide attempt.

After the emergency landing in a field left the single engine aircraft upended, the trainee fled the scene and was discovered by a search dog hours later, asleep in a clump of bushes, the BZ newspaper reported.

The case at the court in Frankfurt (Oder) continues.

Story, photo and comments/reaction:

The accused allegedly attempted to murder his flight instructor in a suicide attempt. 
Photo: DPA

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sign up for thrill rides at New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest

NEW SMYRNA BEACH – For the ride of a lifetime, just come to the New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest March 28-30 at the New Smyrna Beach Airport. Whether you choose a hot-air balloon, a helicopter, a vintage biplane or a single-engine Cessna, you’ll be high in the sky over beautiful New Smyrna Beach.

Hot-Air Balloon passenger flights - Early-morning one-hour passenger flights are $230 per person. These rides include the traditional post-flight ceremony and a toast with your special souvenir champagne flute. A reservation list is now being maintained. It’s first-come, first-served, so call 386-957-FEST (3378).

Tethered hot-air balloon rides will be offered on Friday and Saturday evenings during the Balloon Glows, and for a time in the early morning hours on Saturday and Sunday (if winds allow). These rides last a few minutes as the balloons hover above the crowd, and the cost is just $10. Tickets will be available at the event.

Biplane rides – Climb into an open-cockpit vintage 1941 World War II trainer for a trip into yesteryear at a price per passenger of $80. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling 386-478-0600. Ask for “Fest Rides” tickets, or you can purchase them on-site at the Sky Fest RIDES booth.

Helicopter rides will be offered in three different aircraft:

• The Enstrom F-28 helicopter can take two passengers per flight, and tickets can be purchased right at the Sky Fest RIDES booth for just $30 per person.

• The legendary Huey can carry 10 passengers at a time on an open-door thrill ride for just $75 per person. Tickets available at the event.

• The Cobra Attack Helicopter carries one passenger at a time on the ultimate ride for $300 ($500 for a longer flight). Tickets available at the event.

Airplane rides will be available in the classic Cessna 172 for just $30 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the Sky Fest RIDES booth during the event.