Sunday, March 30, 2014

MSP Aviation, dba MSP Jet Center: Recent bankruptcy filing in Minneapolis


MSP Aviation, doing business as MSP Jet Center, P.O. Box 44458, Eden Prairie; filed March 21, 14-41184; Chap. 7; assets, $70,000; liabilities, $536,140. Timothy Ashenfelter, president.


Fund to Help Pilot Injured in Crash: Cessna 172D Skyhawk, N2755U, Gone Broke LLC, accident occurred March 08, 2014 in Fairhope, Alabama

Updated: Sunday, March 30 2014, 07:05 PM CDT 

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WPMI) A fund has been opened to help the family of a pilot who was seriously injured in a plane crash earlier this month. 

Roger James was flying the single engine Cessna plane March 8 when it went down and burst into flames in Fairhope. 

The NTSB’s preliminary report says an investigation revealed no malfunctions with the aircraft of the engine. 

If you would like to help, you can leave donations at the BBVA Compass Bank on Fairhope Avenue in Fairhope. Just over $1,000 has been raised so far.
NTSB Identification: ERA14LA147

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 08, 2014 in Fairhope, AL
Aircraft: CESSNA 172D, registration: N2755U
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 8, 2014, about 1400 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172D airplane, N2755U, operated by Gone Broke, LLC, was destroyed during a landing attempt and postcrash fire at H L Sonny Callahan Airport (CQF), Fairhope, Alabama. The private pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was file for the personal flight operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight was operating under visual flight rules. The departure time and location have not been determined.

According to several witnesses, a military helicopter had been operating in the pattern at CQF for about 10 minutes. During the maneuver the helicopter descended into a hover over the approach end of runway 19, then transitioned into a takeoff and entered an initial climb about mid field. While the helicopter was ascending, the Cessna 172D was attempting to land on runway 19. A witness reported the airplane was about 30 feet above ground level when it suddenly rolled right in a right wing low attitude, leveled out and then impacted the ground flat in a level attitude forward of the runway threshold. Subsequently a post impact fire ensued near the engine cowling.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the airplane departed the right side of the runway and came to rest in the grass about 800 feet past the initial impact point and 50 feet west of the runway edge.

Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine by the FAA and airframe and engine manufacturers did not reveal any anomalies or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

Robert F. Rohde: Boyhood plane ride leads to dodging enemy fire as WWII cargo pilot

Robert F. Rohde, 91

• Hometown: Buffalo

• Residence: Lancaster

• Branch: Army Air Forces, Air National Guard

• War zone: China-Burma-India Theater

• Years of service: 1942-83

• Rank: Lieutenant colonel

• Most prominent honors: Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with two battle stars, Conspicuous Service Cross

• Specialty: Pilot on C-47 Skytrain

At age 12, when Robert F. Rohde was a Boy Scout, he was at a troop meeting in Riverside carving an airplane out of a block of wood when Scoutmaster Francis Ford walked up to him and asked if he’d like to go up in an airplane.

“I nearly fell over when he asked. I said, ‘Yes!’ He was a pilot, and he took me up in a Piper Cub at the airport in Cheektowaga,” the 91-year-old Rohde recalls as if it were yesterday. “I just loved it, and said I wanted to be a pilot.”

After he graduated from Riverside High School in 1941, Rohde enlisted in the Civilian Air Patrol, the training unit for what was then the Army Air Corps, and took up residence on the second floor of the University of Buffalo’s Lockwood Memorial Library, a makeshift barracks.

“We studied meteorology and navigation and practiced marching in UB’s back parking lot under Col. Oury,” Rohde says. “We learned how to fly at the Buffalo Airport.”

After completing his courses, he was activated and sent to Denton, Texas, where he trained to become a glider pilot. But due to a glut of glider pilots, he soon found himself at a base in Stuttgart, Ark., where he pulled shifts working in the base kitchen and digging a swimming pool for officers.

“We were using shovels to dig the pool, and this first sergeant came to the top of the hole we were digging and said, ‘We need some volunteers for liaison pilots,’ ” Rohde says, “and I stopped and asked my friend Arnie what a liaison pilot was and he said he didn’t know, and he wasn’t volunteering. I told Arnie, ‘It must be better than this,’ and I raised my hand with one other guy.”

The same night, he was on a train to Waco, Texas, where he learned the skills of a liaison pilot.

“Our job was to fly a Piper Cub and perform reconnaissance duty for combat troops, letting them know where the enemy was situated,” says Rohde, who was promoted to staff sergeant.

But before he was sent overseas, he made a case with the battalion commander at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma to let him train with the big boys, the pilots who could fly twin- and four-engine airplanes.

At 21 years old and with his brand-new twin-engine C-47 Skytrain cargo plane, he was soon on his way to the China-Burma-India Theater, making a pit stop in Cairo, where he saw the Sphinx and rode a camel. In India, he toured the Taj Mahal, but what he would see the most of in that far-flung corner of the world were the Himalayan Mountains, while he was going “over the Hump” to resupply troops in Burma who were battling the Japanese.

“There were no roads in Burma, and everything had to be dropped, either free drops at 150 to 300 feet or parachute drops at 300 to 500 feet,” Rohde says. “We’d use parachutes for the 50-gallon drums of fuel and heavier items, but food and ammunition, that was pretty packed up, and could be free-dropped.”

It was exhilarating and dangerous work, with the Japanese often shooting at the unarmed cargo planes as they flew low to make the drops.

“When you’re low and flying between two mountains, you could see the bullets actually hitting the mountainsides,” Rohde says. “With every drop, you changed your approach on the target to stay out of the gunfire. Guys who didn’t would get shot down.”

Even with those precautionary maneuvers, he says, his plane was often struck with bullets. “When we’d come back to our base in India, they would patch up our plane.”

The weather, he says, was the biggest challenge.

“In monsoon season, we’d fly through terrible rain, thunderstorms, ice storms and fog. I had a surface ceiling of 14,000 feet, and when the plane was loaded, it was lower than that,” Rohde recalls.

“The mountains went up to 29,000 feet. We weaved our way through the mountains. We would use the aluminum on the ground from planes that had crashed to guide us. We called it the ‘aluminum trail.’ ”

To stay alive, pilots had to be imaginative, Rohde says, remembering how one of his buddies got the better of a Japanese Zero fighter plane.

“He had this Zero on his tail,” Rohde says, “and he took him up a dead-end valley and at the last minute dropped his landing gear to slow the plane and made a tight turn and the Zero crashed right into the mountain.”

Rohde also proudly recalled helping a famed figure who hailed from South Buffalo.

“We supplied Maj. Gen. William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan’s units with supplies about 100 to 150 miles behind enemy lines in Burma where they raised hell with the enemy,” Rohde says, remembering that Donovan had established the Office of Strategic Services, which eventually became the CIA.

After the war, Rohde knew he wanted to keep a hand in flying and joined the Air National Guard at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and was twice called up to active duty stateside during the Korean War and the Berlin Crisis, when Soviet leaders in 1958 demanded that the United States and the other allies vacate West Berlin. In 1983, he retired from the Guard.

Returning to civilian life, he began with Buffalo Savings Bank in 1948 as a file clerk.

“It was the lowest job, but the bank sent me to school and I worked my way up the ladder and – would you believe it? – I retired as the bank’s corporate secretary,” Rohde says.

He and his wife, Antoinette Tamila Rohde, raised five children, all of whom graduated from college with master’s degrees. And on April 30, the former military officer and bank executive and his bride will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.

“We’re happily married,” he says. “It’s always been a happy life for us.”

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Appareo Systems: Maturing Fargo firm makes high-tech devices for aviation, agriculture

FARGO – Situated between the airport and North Dakota State University, the location of Appareo Systems’ Fargo headquarters reflects its unique enterprise.

Ranked the fastest-growing engineering firm in the nation by Inc. Magazine in 2010, Appareo Systems makes high-tech devices and software used in aviation and, more recently, agriculture.

Airbus Helicopters, a global helicopter manufacturing company based in Marignane, France, announced last month it would equip all its new aircraft with Appareo’s Vision 1000 cockpit camera and flight data recorder. Airbus had been installing the “black box”-like device in its AS350 model helicopters, or about 200 aircraft a year.

The announcement caps a stretch of phenomenal growth for 11-year-old Appareo – Latin for “to appear.”

“The company’s starting to mature more from a startup phase to a mature business model,” said Tony Grindberg, Appareo’s aviation business unit manager who also launched the NDSU Research and Technology Park where Appareo got its start.

Appareo recently opened an expanded 11,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at the Research and Technology Park headquarters with three times the floor space. It now employs more than 140 people, and has additional offices in Tempe, Ariz., and Paris, France.

Appareo has plans to release two new Federal Aviation Administration-certified products in the next year, Grindberg said. He would not release details about the products.

In addition to those initiatives, Appareo is well-poised to eventually provide technology to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to safely share airspace with general aviation.

North Dakota is one of six test sites for integrating drones into general airspace.

Appareo President and Chief Operating Officer David Batcheller said the company will “participate in conversations” about how use of unmanned aircraft will expand. He said they will likely be useful in the oil industry, agriculture and other “dirty, dangerous or dull” jobs. He expects that will happen by the end of the decade.

“In some way, shape or form, I imagine we’ll be part of that market,” Batcheller said.

Humble beginnings

Appareo was founded in 2003 by Batcheller’s father, Barry Batcheller, who also was a founder of Phoenix International, now John Deere. He is now chairman and CEO of Appareo.

Appareo started from humble beginnings, basically a “closet” in one of the research park buildings in 2003, Grindberg said.

David Batcheller said Appareo attended its first aviation tradeshow in 2006 with a flight instruction tool that, while intriguing, didn’t have wide marketability.

It did open the door for creating the GAU 2000, a lightweight, low-cost data recorder for mobile equipment. That product is part of Appareo’s ALERTS (Aircraft Logging and Event Recording for Training and Safety) line, along with the Vision 1000 flight data recorder.

Its more popular product line, however, is the Stratus, a $900 “Wii remote on steroids,” David Batcheller joked.

The wireless receiver connects to an iPad or iPod touch, which private pilots can use to access weather, GPS and altitude information.

The Stratus features Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, which sends out a signal broadcasting the aircraft’s location, rather than needing to be “seen” by radar.

ADS-B technology will be mandated as part of the FAA’s modernization of radar surveillance.

David Batcheller said it’s easy for people to look at the devices Appareo creates and define the company by them.

“The software side of this is important,” he said.

Pushing the envelope

David Batcheller said Appareo thinks broadly about how its technology can be used, including off-road vehicles.

He said the company’s “young team” doesn’t know what it’s not supposed to do.

“The more we’re successful, the more we’re able to push the envelope,” the 31-year-old said.

He wants Appareo Systems to be a household name in the community, one that “contributes to the culture and landscape of this place.”

Economic development often focuses on bringing outside businesses to Fargo, David Batcheller said.

“I think businesses that are grown here are the things that have a lasting impact on the business community,” he said.

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Little Known Characters in America: Calbraith Perry Rodgers

Born on Jan. 12, 1879, Rodgers had contracted scarlet fever as a child which left him deaf in one ear and hearing impaired in the other ear. This did not stop the adventurer, as on March of 1911, he visited the Wright Aircraft Factory and Flying School in Dayton, Ohio. He received 90 minutes of flying lessons from Orville Wright on Aug. 7, 1911.

He then took his official flying examination at Huffman Prairie and became the 49th aviator licensed to fly. Rodgers was the first civilian to purchase a Wright flyer.

Calbraith decided to purchase the Wright airplane but needed cash to buy the plane from the Wright brothers. Therefore, in order to obtain the plane and pay other expenses for his proposed flight from one coast to another, he had J. Ogden Armor of the Armor and Company finance the long trip by naming his plane the Vin Fiz. This was the name of a soft drink manufactured by the Armor company.

Responding to a challenge, Calbraith Perry Rodgers made the first transcontinental airplane flight across the United States. The flight began on September 17, 1911, from Sheepshead, New York, and ended in Pasadena, California, on November 5, 1911.

After landing in Chicago on October 9, 1911, he took a southerly route to Texas to avoid flying over the Rocky Mountains. Landing in San Antonio, Texas, he headed west and landed in Pasadena on November 5. After landing, he was met by 20,000 enthusiastic fans.

Calbraith’s attempt to fly the transcontinental route was probably the result of publisher William Randolph Hearst offer to pay any pilot $ 50,000 if he or she were able to fly from one coast to another in less than thirty days from start to finish. Unfortunately, Rodgers missed collecting the prize by 19 days. In order to rest and obtain more fuel, Rodgers had made dozens of stops.

On April 3, 1912, Calbraith was making an exhibition flight over Long Beach, California, and flew into a flock of birds, causing the plane to crash into the ocean. He was never able to recover from his injuries and died at the young age of thirty-three.

Calbraith was the first pilot known to have died as a result of striking a flock of birds. Even today, airports around the world have had difficulty with birds flying into airplanes. This is especially true if the airport is located near an ocean.

The American aviator was the 127th to die as a result of an airplane accident and only the 22nd American. Of course, the year 1912 was before the beginning of World War I, where many aviators were killed during action in the skies above France and Germany.

Task force will tackle air service problem at Riverton Regional Airport (KRIW)

Working to combat mounting air service problems at Fremont County’s only commercial airport, the Riverton Regional Airport Board has named a citizen task force to address the problem.

In February, Riverton mayor Ron Warpness invited residents to apply for spots on the task force. By March, Warpness became aware of state funding alternatives for airport issues, and an ad-hoc committee was formed March 12 to ensure Riverton regional got its “hat in the ring” for the funding, Warpness said. The official task force is an outgrowth of that effort.

“At that time there was a real feeling of urgency to move on that matter as quickly as we could,” he said.

The ad-hoc committee consisted of Riverton city administrator Steven Weaver, Fremont County commissioner Stephanie Kessler, Lander City Councilman Cade Maestas, IDEA Inc. executive director Phil Christopherson of Riverton, and Missy White from the Lander Economic Develoment Association.

Broader representation

In order to have a broad representation of the county for the larger airport task force, Warpness also recommended the participation of airport division manager Paul Griffin, chairman of the airport board Dean Peranteaux, Pavillion Mayor Gary Hamlin, and city of or town council members Richard Gard of Riverton, David Bennett of Dubois and Ken Kundall of Shoshoni.

Warpness also hopes a Hudson council member and representative from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes will participate.

The task force is intended “to make the airport more responsive to the needs of our traveling citizens” in the county, Warpness said.

The task force will work on a long-term plan to improve airline service at the city-owned airport, where flight cancelations have increased substantially this year as a new federal regulation on pilot eligibility takes effect.

Impact of rule change

The Federal Aviation Admin-stration mandate requires co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time before they can work for Great Lakes Airlines and other carriers. The previous standard was just 250 hours. Great Lakes relied on lower-wage, less-experienced co-pilots before the rule change, but they no longer can work.

High fuel prices and aging aircraft that require costly maintenance are other obstacles before the airline. Other small carriers operating in the U.S. are seeing the same effects.

Great Lakes has terminated service to all of its former destinations in North Dakota and has cut back drastically in Kansas as well, among other states.

Wyoming Aeronautics Com-mission consultant Nick Wangler addressed a March 21 meeting in Riverton.

Another airline?

He said options the task force might consider include inviting another airlines to serve Riverton Regional, but he said that would not be easy given the pressures being felt by all regional airlines.
Dennis Byrne, the aeronautics division administrator with the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said the acquired funding available from the through an airport grants program would need to be applied for as soon as possible because other applicants would be submitting their requests soon.

The aeronautics commission would approve the application.

He said Cody, Rock Springs, Sheridan and Jackson either have applied for funding or are expected to, but “we do have some monies in the account that really aren’t allocated.”

He estimated that $2 million could be available for the next biennium.

Byrne said the added state funding wouldn’t necessarily be available each year, so the committee and community would have to take a long-term view to address the situation.

“It’s not being understated here when (Wangler) states that the community has to get involved and stay involved long-term,” Byrne said.

Any change would come with a cost, he reiterated, but if the ideas were well publicized and planned, and if committed investors were sought, the cost burden could be eased.

Moving forward

Commissioner Kessler cleared some confusion as the board discussed the task force, as to the preparedness of the group.

“We’re ready to jump on this,” she said. “We’ve already asked the questions. We’re already thinking about the private public partnerships that we need.”

White said IDEA Inc. and Lander LEADER have agreed to be co-sponsors of the grant application, work with the Wyoming Aeronautics Division, and seek private and public partnerships for additional funding.

She said task force members recognized the economic impact poor air service was having on the community, such as businesses leaving, choosing not to move to Fremont County, or recommending that their Fremont Count employees live in Casper instead.

“Unreliable air service essentially functions as no air service,” she said. “Currently for March we’re pushing 60 percent cancellations.”

Randy Kimmel of Avis Rental Cars at the airport told the board the business lost $3,000 in revenue in February because of poor airline service.

“We have a huge opportunity for big business here,” she said. “Fremont County is booming… (people) like to fly in here.”

She said she has seen huge community support and said airport patrons would prefer to fly Riverton rather than drive to another airport.

Committee balance

Maestas, who also is the president of Lander LEADER, told the board to keep in mind that Dubois, Lander and Shoshoni also have airports they have to support. He also added that although the task force was formed to address the countywide-used airport, there is dominant representation from Riverton.

“That says, ‘Here, come help us out,’ not ‘This is a joint effort,’ Maestas said.

Others noted that Riverton Regional is the only commercial airport among those mentioned and is owned by the City of Riverton.

Airport board chairman Dean Peranteaux volunteered to step down from the task force in order to balance representation. The appointments of the committee would still need to be approved by the Riverton City Council because the airport board is appointed by the council.

Once finalized, the committee is expected to meet to discuss what direction to take to improve service. Byrne said information will need to be detailed and presented in the grant application before moving forward.


We are ready for Federal Aviation Administration audit, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Director General assures

As the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commences the mandatory assessment of Nigeria’s aviation industry to retaining the Category One status achieved in September 2010 today, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said it is fully ready for the reassessment exercise.

Acting Director General of NCAA, Engr Benedict Adeyileka, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Lagos, explained that the four-man team from the United States FAA will be in the country for the next five days. They will carry out assessment of NCAA’s compliance with applicable sections of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards contained in Annexes 1,6 and 8 as a result of the eight critical elements of a state safety oversight as described in the ICAO document 9734 A.

Although the Acting  Director General did not say if the four-man FAA team was already in Nigeria or are  still being expected at the time of compiling this report, but a highly dependable source told **Daily Independent** that the team may have arrived Nigeria  and are being taken care of by the United States Embassy in Lagos.

The NCAA boss explained that in preparation for the visit, the NCAA has provided responses to the checklist and forwarded it to the FAA team leader.

He stated that the team will also visit Arik and its facilities, as the airline currently operates directly into and out of the continental USA, which was used for their initial IASA category one assessment in 2010.

He further said that the team will use the current International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) checklist and ICAO guidance material during the assessment.

The eight critical elements include: Primary aviation legislation, specific operating regulations, state civil aviation system and safety oversight functions and technical personnel qualification and training.

Others are technical guidance and tools, licensing and certification obligations, surveillance obligations and resolution of safety concerns.

Daily Independent recalls that the immediate past Director General of NCAA, Capt Fola Akinkuotu, assured in an interview before his ouster that the body was prepared for the assessment and that a Technical Committee has been set solely to ensure that Nigeria retains Category One.


Job Announcement / Airport Manager: Ithaca Tompkins Regional (KITH), New York

The Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH) in Upstate New York, is a Part 139 Non-Hub airport served by Delta, United and US Airways/American with approximately 120,000 annual enplanements. The Airport Manager reports to the County Administrator, but exercises a high level of autonomy and independent judgment. Decisions involving FAA and TSA regulations, general aviation operations and safety practices are made without guidance.  AAAE accreditation is expected within 3 years of appointment. As a public officer, US citizenship is required. The successful applicant must establish residency in the county within a reasonable period of time. 

 Apply online at


Aurigny Flying Jet Planes

Aurigny's jet service starts today.

The States owned airline doesn't have its own jet yet, but is renting one off Flybe for now.

It's after Flybe pulled out of the Guernsey to Gatwick route.

Aurigny is going to lease an Embraer 195 jet to offer more seats on the lifeline service.

It will have its own Jet from June so this is just a short term solution - and also gives an opportunity for staff to train.

An Aurigny ATR will be the airline's back-up aircraft during the lease period.


Ticketed for improper lane usage: Low-flying jet distracts driver

A low-flying jet contributed to single car crash on West Jefferson Street near Veterans Parkway Friday.

Jack Haynes, 60, of Springfield was westbound on Jefferson about 8:30 p.m., when jet flew low directly over his vehicle. He told police he looked up at the jet, and when he looked back at the road his car was starting to veer toward the median. He overcorrected, lost control, spun around and hit a guardrail, according to a crash rep.

Haynes was not injured. He was ticketed for improper lane usage.


Biplane search review continues

Officials reviewing a search for a missing biplane are identifying areas in need of a further look.

Officials reviewing a search for a missing home-built biplane have identified one area worth another look and are searching for more.

The biplane, with 53-year-old pilot Daroish Kraidy on board, took off from Auckland's Ardmore airfield on Tuesday morning but disappeared from radar soon after.

Search teams have been scouring parts of Coromandel Peninsula for the plane.

On Friday, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said it was reviewing the search to identify areas warranting further investigation.

A RCCNZ spokeswoman said on Sunday the review was continuing and the centre would be in a better position to say what the next steps would be on Monday.

A helicopter was sent to an area near Cuvier Island on Saturday after the review identified it as not having been adequately covered by the search.

It is possible other areas will be identified as the review continues.

An air force Iroquois helicopter searched the northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula on Friday.

The missing plane was heading northeast when it disappeared shortly after take-off about 11.30am on Tuesday.

Mr Kraidy has lived in New Zealand for several years and has represented New Zealand at the Precision Flying World Championships.


Directorate General of Civil Aviation tightens noose on air charter firms flying politicians

NEW DELHI: With the DGCA cracking the whip on air charter firms flouting safety norms, the companies busy flying politicians for poll campaign would now report to the aviation regulator on operational issues once every week from tomorrow. DGCA,which has deployed crack teams of its officers and engineers to carry out surprise checks, has kept the non- scheduled air operators on tenterhooks and warned of stringent action if they violate the laid-down aviation safety norms when they fly politicians across the country.

The regulator had earlier grounded an aircraft of Reliance Industries and issued notices to several private companies including the Jindal group, L&T, SRC Aviation and Poonawallah Aviation. It also ordered dismissal of a pilot of Reliance.

Official sources said the non-scheduled operators have been asked to report to DGCA every Monday on issues like whether any objections have been raised by the Election Commission about their flight or the passengers they flew or those relating to their operations.

The operational issues include those like Flight Duty Time Limitations of their crew members, whether they experienced any problems regarding their flight, the airport or the helipad and other operational issues. All these operators have been asked to nominate an official for managing election flying, who would be accountable for ensuring compliance of all instructions issued by DGCA, Election Commission, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Airports Authority of India, "before commencing election flying", the sources said.

The regulator has directed pilots and crew of aircraft or helicopters flying VIPs for poll campaigning to ensure that no unauthorized cash, narcotics or arms are carried in flights they would operate.

A week has passed since the DGCA effected the Air Safety Circular on operation of small aircraft and helicopters and their adherence to safety guidelines detailing the do's and don'ts for the charter operators. A special cell has also been set up within DGCA to monitor the flights of all these charter operators on a regular basis.

The regulator has also put the onus of aircraft safety on the owner and operator, with the sources saying that the analysis of earlier accidents or incidents associated with small aircraft or helicopter and the past experience of election flying has revealed that "instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardized."

Election flying is a highly demanding exercise in terms of skill levels and professionalism, the sources said, adding that long flying hours, large number of take-offs and landings, weather changes, lack of proper rest, hurriedly prepared helipads, crowd control and congested airspace pose serious challenges to air travel during polls.

Besides, frequent changes in itinerary, time management, highly stressed security arrangement, surcharged crowds, difficult and disturbed areas and lack of adequate communications also posed substantial risk, they said.

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Malaysia Digs Deeper Into Airport Security, People Aboard Flight 370: Interviews, Background Checks Turn Up Nothing to Incriminate Passengers and Crew

The Wall Street Journal
By Jake Maxwell Watts And Jeffrey Ng
March 30, 2014 6:28 a.m. ET

Hundreds of interviews and background checks have turned up nothing to incriminate the passengers and crew in the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet, authorities say, prompting officials to look again and more thoroughly in a bid to identify possible suspects while scrutinizing airport security procedures.

The multinational investigative effort has left investigators with no clear leads to why the plane ended up thousands of miles off course, with satellite and radar data analysis leading searchers to zero in on the Indian Ocean to hunt for wreckage but nothing so concrete about what happened to get it there.

"We cannot zero in on any faults by passengers or crew members so we are focusing on getting into value-added information in order to strengthen our investigative findings," Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. He didn't elaborate.

Mr. Zahid also said that officials were re-examining airport security procedures. "We are revisiting our standard operating procedures," he said, "especially the protocol of our security at our entry points; especially at our Kuala Lumpur International Airport."

Malaysian investigators believe Flight 370 deviated from its original flight path on March 8 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing due to what Prime Minister Najib Razak has termed "deliberate action." They have been careful not to rule out any possible cause for the plane's disappearance and say they are focusing on hijacking, sabotage and personal or psychological problems, without elaborating.

The country's police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said earlier last week that all passengers had been cleared by their respective countries and that Malaysia was looking again at the crew. He didn't provide details.

"It's more likely they found nothing of concern for any of those people, and if there were one or two people who were of concern, I think they would pop out more quickly unless they were a complete unknown," said Justin Gosling, an independent law enforcement consultant and former criminal intelligence officer at Interpol.

Indeed, two passengers who boarded Flight 370 and were traveling on stolen passports were identified by investigators within three days of the flight's disappearance when their records were checked against an Interpol database. Pouria Nourmohammadi Mehrdad, 19, and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 30, were both from Iran. Neither was found to have any militant links. The younger man appears to have been trying to reunite with his mother in Germany.

Malaysia doesn't consult Interpol's database on a routine basis during the passenger boarding process. Mr. Zahid, the home minister, suggested in Parliament last week that the database would be too slow to work with Malaysian systems, a statement that drew an unusually sharp rebuke from Interpol.

"Interpol has no idea why Malaysia's home minister chooses to attack Interpol instead of learning from this tragedy," the agency said in a statement, adding that the database takes just seconds to access and that the U.S., one of the member countries using it, checks it 230 million times a year.

Malaysian officials turned to the 13 other countries with passengers on Flight 370 in the early days of the investigation to ask them for background checks on their own citizens. The country's police chief said that more than 100 interviews had been completed as part of their own investigation.

"It would be quite challenging to do very thorough checks," said Mr. Gosling, since some countries do not have nationalized databases to share information between relevant departments. More thorough checks could involve looking at travel habits of the passengers but those would likely involve non-law enforcement networks, such as immigration databases, he said. "And then you also have to join the dots from all the different countries."

Indonesia said it had cleared all seven of the Indonesian nationals on Flight 370. "We did a thorough check on them using international standards. We check their background, their track records. We found that they are not linked to any forbidden organizations," said police spokesman Agus Rikwanto.

China, which had 153 nationals on board Flight 370, has also cleared its own passengers. Chinese officials didn't respond to requests to comment about the process.

Malaysian investigators have focused their attention on passengers and crew with the experience to have cut off the plane's communications with air traffic control and steered it off course. The plane's pilots, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, have been subject to most scrutiny, but investigators haven't turned up anything suspicious relating to either man.

A homemade flight simulator belonging to Mr. Zaharie was seized by police and analyzed both in Malaysia and then again in the U.S. by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Neither analysis turned up anything suspicious.

"Malaysian police can effectively investigate our own citizens," said P. Sundramoorthy, head of criminology research at Universiti Sains Malaysia. But he added that diplomatic relations can be a sticky business. "You must understand that the sovereignty of a nation goes beyond all. Just because we are investigating here, it does not compel the other countries involved in this to provide'' comprehensive information.

—I-Made Sentana, Celine Fernandez and David Pearson contributed to this article.