Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fire destroys small plane, car kept in Aloha barn - Oregon

A car and single engine plane were among the items torched when the barn they were stored inside caught on fire Monday, according to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

Firefighters responded about 2:20 p.m. to the  21700 block of Southwest Murphy Lane and found the barn engulfed, said Pete Scott, a Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue spokesman. No one was injured and the flames were soon extinguished.

The barn was heavily damaged and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Story and photo:  http://www.oregonlive.com

Aviators battle president's user fee tax proposal

Wichita, Kan. -- At a time when Wichita's general aviation industry struggles to regain its former altitude, aviators are concerned the Obama administration wants to saddle it with a $100 per flight user fee tax. 

Aviation support organizations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association are working to keep the user fee from becoming law.

AOPA President Mark Baker speaking at the Wichita Aero Club Tuesday says, "User fees, once again. I don't know if this will ever go away." Baker has seen it come up in previous budgets only to be defeated.

The proposal would levy a $100 fee for each take-off.

Baker asks, "Why do you want to go put more burden on a really distressed industry?"

Baker is concerned another tax will make it even more difficult to get more people interested in general aviation flying.

Aviators ask why fix what they say isn't broken.

Walter Berry, President of Berry Companies and owner of a Cessna Citation Mustang says, "We have a user fee. It's in the fuel prices. It's a system that works well."

The aviation fuel tax supports government aviation programs similar to the gasoline tax motorists pay to help fund highways.

Jeffrey Peier, an attorney with Klenda Austerman, arranges airplane financing for airplane buyers.

Peier says, "I think it would be a big drag on the industry if we had user fees come into play. Much of the cost is built into fuel pricing."

Berry says, "We're paying for the system now and I think that system is working well. And if it's not working then maybe we should be talking about what should be the proper tax per gallon."

Baker believes it will be defeated again saying, "The user fee will be fought back into its proper box, put the lid on it one more time."

Story and video:    http://www.kake.com

Tax-free zone could lift Colorado Springs Airport

The owner of Rampart Aviation could bring 60 jobs to the Colorado Springs Airport this year.

Or he could take those jobs to the Pueblo Airport, or Centennial Airport in Denver or a number of other airports throughout the country.

On Monday, Rampart owner Tony Porterfield stood between the wings of the WWII B-25 Mitchell bomber and a Grumman Avenger fighter plane inside the city's National Museum of World War II Aviation, telling his audience that whether he moves those jobs to the Springs Airport will depend largely on the City Council's decision to create, or not create, a Commercial Aeronautical Zone around the airport.

The zone would eliminate all city sales and use taxes on airplanes, aviation equipment, supplies, tools and other items used to maintain, service and rebuild or repair general aviation aircraft.

Porterfield came to Colorado Springs with the Army in 1997. He moved his first company, NEK Advanced Securities Group, to the Springs from New Mexico in 2006. Porterfield started Rampart Aviation outside Raleigh, N.C., in 2008.

Now, he wants to bring his company home instead of operating it from 2,000 miles away. But other airports are competing for Porterfield's company, which performs oil exploration and military flight services.

"I live here. It's my home," Porterfield said. "But just because I live here doesn't mean I can bring my business here if it doesn't make financial sense."

Porterfield's thoughts were echoed by Britt Ham, president and chief executive officer of Trine Aerospace & Defense Co.

Trine is an aircraft engineering and modification subcontractor for Boeing, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, and others. The company rents 35,000 square feet of hangar and office space inside the Colorado Springs Business Air Park off Taxi Way.

Trine officials want to add 80 to 100 employees who would work in a 60,000-square-foot building that the company wants to construct on the airport's west side.

Creating the tax-free zone around the airport would help Trine accomplish that goal by saving them a significant amount just in the first year. Ham said eliminating the city's sales and use tax around the airport would help Trine "become serious about the expansion."

"The extra space will enable them to expand their current business and fulfill their goal of building a new, world-class Fixed Base Operator on the airport," wrote Roy Clenna, who heads the investor group that brought Trine to Colorado Springs. A Fixed Based Operator provides fuel, maintenance and other services to aircraft.

Colorado Springs is one of few cities left in the nation that charges a sales and use tax at its midsize airport, city aviation officials have said. The tax has been on the books quite a while, but the city only began to enforce it in 2009, said Dick Janitell, who operates the J.H.W. hangar complex that houses and stores aircraft. He said the city's sudden enforcement drove away 20 percent of his hangar business when pilots began to store their aircraft elsewhere.

"We lost a flight school, and avionics shop and two maintenance shops," he said. "In all, we lost around $190,000 in rents from 2010 to 2012."

City Council President Keith King hopes he can attract some of those lost businesses as well as new businesses to the Springs as he works to persuade council members to pass an ordinance to create the airport's tax-free zone. King introduced the proposal to council members at their informal meeting Monday. A final vote on the measure could come in early April.

"This (ordinance) will make us competitive again," King said, "and give us the opportunity to do something with airport that we have not been able to do."

Story and comments/reaction:   http://gazette.com

Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field (KAGS), Augusta, Georgia

Augusta is looking for a new airport director  

Augusta, Ga (WRDW)----The search is on to find a new airport director for Augusta Regional. The current one says he wants to let his contract run out. 

The Aviation Commission is already looking for his replacement. Augusta Commissioners are getting involved.

"It's hard for me to understand why anyone would get a $10,000 raise at one time," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.

Airport Director Gary Letellier is the highest paid in Augusta Richmond County. He makes around $160,000 after a $10,000 raise last month.

"If you want to be progressive and move forward. You have to have someone with the skill set that Gary has and then you have to pay them," said Aviation Commission Member Cedric Johnson.

Just last year, commissioners stopped just short of giving city employees a $1,500 raise. "The message to the other 2700 employees is damaging," said Smith.

Commissioner Donnie Smith wants to do something about it. Lettier is retiring soon and the Aviation Commission is looking for his replacement. smith wants the Augusta Commission to have the last word over the new contract which always has belonged to the Aviation Commission.

"The Airport Commission will recommend that and the Augusta Commission will have the final sat because we own the airport," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.

"The main thing is since we concentrate really on the airport. We have a better hands on feel of what needs to be done and how it needs to be done," said Johnson.

The Aviation Commission is made up of 12 members who are all appointed. They manage the airport on an enterprise fund that receives no local tax dollars. Meaning they generate what they spend. Their budget is between $40 to $45 million.

"Simply because you have money in the enterprise fund doesn't necessarily mean it's right," said

Reports show since Letellier took over airport ridership and revenue has increased. We're told he brought in more parking and a new runway ramp. Regardless his flight is heading out of town while some commissioners continue to chart the course on how to give other employees a raise as well.

Story and video:  http://www.wrdw.com

Helicopter Rule Changes Concern East Hampton

The Federal Aviation Administration has published a new helicopter rule that could have serious implications on the air traffic approaching and leaving East Hampton airport.

On March 4, the FAA issued a new final rule, effective May 5, that would add a new category of helicopters, classified as “Stage 3,” which meet certain noise standards. Helicopters that are currently certified as Stage 1 or Stage 2 helicopters could be reclassified as Stage 3 helicopters if they are upgraded with quieter components.

According to the FAA, “these more stringent noise certification standards adopted into U.S. regulations will reduce noise exposure from helicopters certified in the United States and are consistent with the FAA’s goal of harmonizing U.S. regulations with international standards.”

While this at first blush may sound promising, East Hampton residents are concerned because, once helicopters are classified as Stage 3, the town will no longer have local control in regulating those helicopters’ use of the airport, unless the town decides to stop taking grant money from the FAA.

“This new rule is enormously significant for the Town of East Hampton,”  said Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the town board liaison to the airport, in a press release issued Monday. “For years, the town has been advised that it could restrict operations on Stage 1 and 2 helicopters without FAA approval…. Under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act and Part 161 of the FAA regulations, grant obligated airports can restrict operations by Stage 3 aircraft or helicopters only with FAA approval. With this new rule, the FAA has now imposed an additional hurdle for grant-obligated airports.”

Advocates for local control of the airport have long been pushing the town to not take any more FAA money for upgrades to the airport, since money the airport has taken from the FAA in the past dictates whether the town has control over limiting the aircraft that can fly into East Hampton. If the town opts to not take any more FAA money, these so-called “grant assurances” are slated to expire at the end of this year.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said the two recently appointed sub-committees of the Airport Planning Committee, comprised of noise abatement advocates and members of the aviation community,  are embarking on a study of the airport’s operations, noise data and complaints ”so that the town can narrowly define the noise problem for the purpose of identifying potential methods to address it.”

“Upon completion of the proposed noise analysis, the town will be considering a range of options related to possible restrictions on helicopters as well as fixed-wing aircraft,” she said. “As the town considers whether to remain grant obligated after December 31, 2014…. the latest FAA rule will be a significant consideration.”

Kathy Cunningham of Quiet Skies Long Island warned the town board last November that the changes to the helicopter regulations were afoot, but then-airport liaison and councilman Dominick Stanzione asked her to wait until the new board took office in January to deal with it.

“This makes it ever more urgent that we not accept FAA funding,” she said at the time.

At last Thursday’s town board meeting, Ms. Cunningham praised the new board’s efforts.

“I’d like to thank Councilwoman Burke-Gonzalez for taking control with both hands and doing great work. I’m very happy to be a part of it,” she said.

Story and photo:   http://www.eastendbeacon.com

Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field (KHUF), Indiana

Possible bookkeeping 'abnormalities' under scrutiny at TH airport 

TERRE HAUTE — State authorities are investigating possible “bookkeeping abnormalities” at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

Airport officials found evidence of “what looks like some, inappropriate bookkeeping” and immediately contacted the Indiana State Board of Accounts and the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office, stated Bill Foraker, interim director of the airport.

The SBA then contacted the Indiana State Police and an investigation is currently under way, Foraker told the Tribune-Star when contacted today. The investigation, which involves the use of a state forensic accountant, is likely to last a month or two, he said.

Forensic accounting uses investigative techniques, the results of which can be utilized in court.

“The matter has been turned over to investigators at the federal, state and local levels for in-depth investigation and audit of all [Terre Haute International Airport] funds,” the airport said in a written statement issued later today.

When asked whether anyone at the airport was on suspension as a result of the investigation, Foraker said one employee in the financial management section of the airport is no longer employed at the facility.

The possible irregulatories were uncovered on Feb. 19, the airport said in its statement.

Story and comments/reaction:   http://www.tribstar.com

Airport Finances Being Looked At

Financial records at the Terre Haute Airport are being scrutinized by state authorities.

The Trib Star reports that airport officials found evidence on February 19th of “what looks like some, inappropriate bookkeeping” and now the Indiana State Board of Accounts and Indiana State Police are investigating.

The investigation could take up to two months.

One employee in the financial department of the airport is no longer employed at the facility.

Source:  http://wibqfm.com

Retired police helicopter captain gets a special airborne tour of Kansas City

 KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A retired Kansas City police officer got a pretty cool homecoming, and a chance to fly in a state-of-the-art police chopper. 

Back in 1968 Captain Jack Brady was on the cutting edge when he dreamed that Kansas City police should add a helicopter to the force, and back then he had his detractors.

He was the first to suggest that the department buy several Hughes Helicopters from a company in California. At the time one commanding officer told him it would never work.

Now, police departments in most metro cities have choppers. In fact Kansas City bought three last year.

One month before he turns 88 years old, Captain Brady came back to the city’s helicopter hangar for a special flight.

Captain Brady could likely talk about helicopters all day and night since they’ve been such a big part of his life. And the year 1968 doesn’t seem so long ago to him. Pilots with the Kansas City, Mo. Police Department credit the captain for helping start its helicopter unit, long before some of them were even alive.

Captain Brady finished his 28 years with the department back in 1980, and on Monday he re-introduced himself to the flying force by driving up to the hangar and asking for a tour.

“I’m ready, and I can fly one of ‘em too,” said Captain Brady.

Police did him one better. They took him for a ride as a passenger and flew high over the metro.

“Several cities had fixed wing. But helicopters were comparatively new. Some cities had helicopters, but they cost so much money. Kansas City, or anybody like that, couldn’t afford them,” said Captain Brady.

Captain Brady scouted choppers in California and helped fly the department’s first series of choppers home to Kansas City. By late 1960′s standards $300,000 for each helicopter was considered a big expense, but the bird he flew in on Monday?

“These are about three million dollars apiece,” said Captain Kevin O’Sullivan with the KCPD’s helicopter unit.

Captain Brady’s 20 minute flight took him all around the city. Current officers and family members say it served as a reward for a life’s work dedicated to innovation in police work.

“He loved the idea of it. Kansas City had none, but larger cities were starting to get them. He wanted to get them, and he loved flying anyway,” said Kelly Summers, Captain Brady’s daughter.

“It eventually would have happened, but for Kansas City to be on the forefront of it is a pretty exciting thing,” said Captain O’Sullivan.

“I have a lot of pride in the police department,” said Captain Brady. “I’ll straighten some of you young guys out once in a while too.”

Kansas City police say Captain Brady worked with the military to get the city its choppers back in 1968. He also played a key role in starting the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, which now has more than 3,000 members across the country.

Story and video:    http://fox4kc.com