Monday, April 07, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Plans to start chartered flights to China put on hold

KOTA KINABALU: Plans to start chartered flights from Kota Kinabalu to major cities in China will be put on hold due to the latest kidnapping case in Sabah and the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said Sabah Air Aviation Sdn Bhd (Sabah Air) would postpone chartered flights to four cities in China, including Chongqing.

He said the Sabah government would work closely with tour operators from China to create a win-win situation in the tourism industry in the aftermath of the disappearance of MAS Flight MH370 on March 8.

“I think most of the operators and charter service providers are putting things on hold due to what has been happening in Sabah and the country recently. Because, first of all, at times like this, it is very insensitive for us to continue talking about tourism industry plans, especially for the families of those affected. So we are putting things on the back-burner and we will look into it again when things calm down,” he said.

Pang was speaking to reporters after witnessing the signing ceremony between Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) and Novotel Kota Kinabalu 1Borneo for the provisioning of TM’s hospitality Entertainment Solution, at Novotel here yesterday.

Pang also said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar should spend more time ensuring the safety of the nation’s borders and not on making unproductive statements.

“He (Wan Junaidi) should be focusing on making sure that we have enough numbers (of security personnel manning the borders), and the facilities and equipment provided for our men in our security forces are the best possible, so that they can do their utmost to protect our borders,” stressed Pang.

Wan Junaidi had proposed that resorts on isolated islands in east coast of Sabah should be closed following the latest abduction case and this should be done for the safety of their customers. He pointed out that no one can guarantee the safety of these places when they are situated far off the coast and added that the police as well as the military cannot be there all the time.

Pang echoed his minister’s and the state’s tourism industry players’ comments on the issue, saying that Wan Junaidi’s statement was uncalled for.

“In times like this, I think the most important thing for us, as a community and the leaders of the country, is to avoid making insensitive statements. The Deputy Home Minister’s statement is totally unnecessary, inappropriate and insensitive, especially coming from him, whose ministry oversees the security of the country,” Pang said.

Wan Junaidi, he added, does not seem to have a total comprehension of the situation, noting that there were eight security personnel stationed on the island when the two women were kidnapped from the Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna, in rebuttal to the deputy minister’s comments that there was lack of cooperation between the resort operator and the security forces.

“He may not know that there were eight security personnel staying at the resort, where the operators were providing lodging and accommodation for the eight security personnel. This showed that they (resort operators) were cooperating with the security forces.

“It was just unfortunate and untimely that at the time of the incident, the personnel were making their routine rounds. Maybe that lends credence to the theory that it could have been an inside job,” said Pang, adding that the government is looking into all possibilities in investigating the matter.


Monday marks 20th anniversary of bloody attack in FedEx plane

Usually a crisp and flawless white, the pilots’ shirts were stained that unmistakable shade of red when they appeared in the doorway of the massive cargo plane after an emergency landing at Memphis International Airport. 


NTSB Identification: ATL94LA077. 
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Thursday, April 07, 1994 in MEMPHIS, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/07/1994
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, registration: N306FE
Injuries: 3 Serious,1 Minor.

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


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
Not Determined. 

Chicago, Illinois: Helicopter lift goes to Plan B when roof not ready for four-ton load

7-Apr-14 – Weighing at least 8,000 pounds, a cooling tower had to be set down in the median of Wacker Drive on Saturday when a helicopter lift did not go exactly as planned.

The Sikorsky S-58T twin-turbine helicopter, employed by Midwest Helicopter Airways, had to abort its fifth and final trip due to unspecified issues on the roof of 205 West Wacker, a 25-floor commercial office building formerly known as Engineering Building.

The load was gently set down on Wacker Drive. The helicopter flew off but returned shortly to finish the job.

Jim Triggs, director of operations for Midwest Helicopter Airways, says there was never any actual emergency.

“The mechanic wanted to look at the helicopter to check something out,” said Triggs on Monday. “That was our planned [landing zone] if we needed one. All worked out good.”

A short stretch of Wacker Drive was closed to traffic and pedestrians between Wells Street and Franklin Street from about 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The helicopter is no stranger to the Chicago riverfront. It has delivered steel beams to the roof of Merchandise Mart and to the roof of theWit hotel. It helped take down each letter in the Unitrin sign on the north and south sides of One East Wacker Drive and one week later, lower into place each letter of the new Kemper signs. In 2010, the helicopter delivered camera gear to the roof of 35 East Wacker Drive during filming of Transformers 3.

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Preparations for Thunder move into overdrive

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – As the days to this year's Thunder Over Louisville dwindle, the excitement is building and the work to make the show happen heads into its final stages.  

UPS will take part in this year's Thunder air show and will be flying one of their Boeing 767 freighters down river. The unique part is all of the crew involved in the flight - the captain, first officer, safety advisor, and even the mechanics who will do the preflight checks - are all veterans of the U.S. military. 

The flight crew spend time in a simulator to give them a look at the route they will be flying during the air show. 

Thunder planners are gearing up for the show and have started to move into Thunder Command Central at the Galt House. 

To prepare the Clark Memorial Bridge for its role in Thunder the span will shut down beginning at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 10 and remain that way until Sunday afternoon, April 13. 
The Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy flight demonstration team, are scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Thursday. 

WAVE 3 News is your exclusive home for Thunder Over Louisville. Our live coverage begins Saturday morning, April 12, on WAVE 3 News Sunrise and picks up again starting at Noon. 

Many roads in downtown Louisville will be closed or have traffic flow changes for Thunder Over Louisville. To get the complete list, click here


United to discontinue Monterey-Denver service

The Monterey Regional Airport announced Monday that United Airlines will discontinue its scheduled service from Monterey to Denver effective June 5. United is adjusting its summer flight schedules nationwide to accommodate the national pilot shortage and changes in Federal Aviation Regulations that affect aircrew flight time and rest requirements, airport officials said in a press release.

“We are deeply disappointed with United’s decision and sad to lose this service,” said Tom Greer, airport general manager. “This announcement took us by surprise.”

United began flying from Monterey to Denver on June 5, 2005. Its average load factor for the 12 months ending February 2014 was 82%. Though respectable, it was less than the 90% average on competing routes flown by United from Denver.

Customers with reservations after June 5 can contact United directly at (800) 241-6522 for rescheduling. United will continue to offer non-stop service from Monterey to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Airport officials said they continue to work to expand air service to other cities. The airport now offers daily nonstop flights to Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco.


Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB), Florida

Bad weather flips plane, downs trees and power lines in Daytona Beach

Rough weather passing through the east Volusia County area flipped an airplane at the Daytona Beach International Airport and damaged others, officials said Monday night.

According to Amanda Bowen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne, 52 mph winds and heavy rain blanketed the Daytona Beach area at 6:30 p.m. At that time, a Cessna plane with two people on board was taxiing on the runway at the Daytona Beach International Airport, and the strong winds flipped it over, Bowen said.

“Two people were on board, but they were not harmed,” Bowen said.

The Cessna plane was coming in for a landing when it was overturned by the high winds, said Bill Snyder, Division Chief with the Volusia County Fire Services.

“As far as I undertsand there is no real damage to the runway,” Snyder said.

Volusia Sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said the Cessna plane sustained a rip in the right wing. There were reports of damages to other planes, Haught said.

Haught said the bad weather also downed a tree into power lines near a hotel on West International Speedway Boulevard, brought down power lines in a yard at 2507 Bellevue Ave and knocked a tree down that blocked most of the lanes of Orange Avenue at 1028 Orange Avenue.

There were also reports of traffic lights not working at Jimmy Ann Drive and Dunn avenue, Haught said.

Bowen said the stream of bad weather moved off the coast, and the Daytona Beach area will not see any more rain until Tuesday morning.

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Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Sonicblue Airways, C-GRXZ: Accident occurred January 21, 2006 in Port Alberni, BC, Canada

The owner of an airline who sued Transport Canada for $10 million to $12 million after going out of business following a crash that killed three people has had his case dismissed in court.

Ranjit Singh Gill was the sole shareholder and director of International Express Aircharter (IEA) Ltd., the company that operated the Sonicblue Airways plane that crashed on Vancouver Island on a flight between Tofino and Vancouver on Jan. 21, 2006.

Edward Huggett, the 25-year-old pilot, Terry Douglas, a 58-year-old Edmonton businessman, and three-year-old Braeden Hale of Tofino were killed when the Cessna Caravan aircraft had a loss of engine power and crashed. Five passengers were seriously injured.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation and concluded in August 2007 that a manufacturing defect in a blade in a turbine caused the loss of engine power.

The day after the crash, Transport Canada, concerned that there was a link between the accident and the company’s poor aviation record, convened a meeting of officials and decided to suspend IEA’s operating certificate.

The company, which was forced into bankruptcy as a result of the suspension, appealed the decision and a tribunal found that regulatory officials had erred and sent the decision back for reconsideration.

In February 2008, the suspension was upheld.

Gill sued Transport Canada, making a number of allegations, including that Transport Canada owed the company a duty of care and that the suspension was issued without adequate or any grounds for doing so.

He sought damages for recovery of economic losses in the amount of $10 million to $12 million.

But in a ruling released Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Greyell found that the interaction between the company and the defendants did not give rise to a duty of care, and dismissed the claims of negligence.

The judge also dismissed an allegation that there was malfeasance in public office.


NTSB Identification: SEA06WA046
Accident occurred Saturday, January 21, 2006 in Port Alberni, Canada
Aircraft: Cessna 208B, registration:
Injuries: 3 Fatal,4 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On January 21, 2006, approximately 1610 Pacific standard time, a Canadian-registered Cessna 208B, C-GRXZ, experienced a loss of engine power, and subsequently collided with trees during an attempted off-field forced landing about 18 nautical miles southeast of Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada. The pilot and two of his passengers received fatal injuries, the remaining four passenger received serious injuries, and the aircraft sustained substantial damage. The scheduled commercial passenger flight, which departed Toffino, British Columbia, about 16 minutes prior to the time the aircraft lost power, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. The flight, which was originally en route to Vancouver, British Columbia, attempted to divert to the airport at Port Alberni once engine power was lost.

According to the Canadian Safety Board, the pilot was not able to stretch the glide far enough to reach the airport, and he eventually tried to land on a logging road in wooded mountainous terrain about 11 nautical miles south southeast of Port Alberni.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the government of Canada. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Mr. Bill Yearwood
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
#8-3701 Number Five Road
Richmond, British Columbia
Canada V6X2T4
604 323-3556

This report is for informational purposes only, and contains information released by the government of Canada.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability. 

Aviation Investigation Report

Engine Power Loss ñ Forced Landing
Sonicblue Airways
Cessna 208B (Caravan) C-GRXZ
Port Alberni, British Columbia, 11 nm SSE
21 January 2006
Report Number A06P0010

Synopsis:    The Cessna 208B aircraft (registration C-GRXZ, serial number 208B0469) was en route at 9000 feet above sea level, from Tofino, British Columbia, to Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia, when the engine failed. The pilot began a glide in the direction of the Port Alberni Regional Airport before attempting an emergency landing on a logging road. The aircraft struck trees during a steep right-hand tu rn and crashed. The accident occurred at about 1420 Pacific standard time, approximately 11 nm south-southeast of the Port Alberni Regional Airport. Five passengers survived with serious injuries; the pilot and the other two passengers were fatally injured.

Robinson R22 BETA, Rotortrends Inc., N13HG: Fatal accident occurred April 06, 2014 in Green River, Utah

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: 

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Docket And Docket Items:

National Transportation Safety Board  -   Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA158
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 06, 2014 in Green River, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/17/2015
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N13HG
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 pilot's family reported that the purpose of the flight was to look for shed elk antlers. When the helicopter did not return, a search was initiated. The wreckage was located the following day on the side of a gully in rough terrain.

Onsite wreckage documentation revealed that the main rotor blades did not show evidence of rotation at the time of ground contact, and the rotating components of the airframe exhibited little damage. The gascolator container was stained an orange/brown color at the bottom and along the sides. Fluid drained from the gascolator was colorless but murky and had a faint smell of gasoline. A water/alcohol-indicating paste test revealed water contamination in the sample. If the pilot had drained fuel from the helicopter's fuel tank or gascolator before the flight, he would most likely have discovered the contamination. Other than the contaminated fuel, postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the helicopter.

The pilot kept aviation fuel in a barrel on his property, and he would pump the fuel into 5-gallon plastic cans, which he used to fuel the helicopter. Testing of the fluid in some of the cans revealed significant water contamination. One of the cans contained a mixture of about 50 percent aviation fuel and 50 percent water, and another contained a mixture of about 85 percent aviation fuel and 15 percent water.

The lack of damage to the main rotor blades and the rotating components of the airframe indicate that it is likely that the engine experienced a loss of power due to water contamination of the fuel. In order to spot antlers, the pilot was likely maneuvering at a low altitude; therefore, he had little time to react to a loss of engine power or locate a suitable landing site in the rough terrain.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of engine power due to fuel contamination while maneuvering at a low altitude and the pilot's inadequate preflight inspection, which failed to detect the contamination.


On April 6, 2014, about 1215 mountain daylight time, a Robinson R22 Beta II, N13HG, collided with terrain near Green River, Utah. The pilot was operating the helicopter under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The local personal flight departed from private property near Green River about 1115. Visual (VMC) meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The family reported that the intention of the flight was to look for shed elk antlers. They reported that the helicopter was overdue about 1800 on April 6, and the Utah Highway Patrol initiated a search. Using signals from a cell tower and an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), they discovered the wreckage about 1300 the following day.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 38-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and helicopter. The pilot held a certified flight instructor (CFI) certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-helicopter.

The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on March 24, 2014, with no limitations or waivers.

No personal flight records were located for the pilot. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) obtained the aeronautical experience listed in this report from a review of the FAA airmen medical records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot reported on his medical application that he had a total time of 7,800 hours with 200 hours logged in the previous 6 months.


The helicopter was a Robinson R22 Beta II, serial number 2603. A review of the helicopter's logbooks revealed that the helicopter had a total airframe time of 2,828.6 hours at the most recent 100-hour inspection on April 26, 2013. The logbooks contained an entry for an annual inspection dated June 28, 2012, at a total airframe time of 2,440.8 hours. The hour meter read 2,889.6 hours at the wreckage examination.

The engine was a Lycoming O-360-J2A, serial number L-34900-36A. Total time on the engine was 2,889.6, and time since major overhaul was 744.7 hours.


The NTSB IIC, an NTSB investigator, and investigators from the FAA, Robinson Helicopters, Inc., and Lycoming Engines examined the wreckage on site.

The helicopter came to rest on its right side about a quarter way up the south slope of an east-west gully with a dry creek bed in the bottom. The slope changed at the midpoint of the fuselage; it was 55 degrees downhill below the wreckage and 40 degrees uphill above it. The creek bed was 30 feet away, and the bottom of the bluff was about 75 feet away. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a ground scar that was on a 255-degree magnetic heading. The vertical and horizontal stabilizer assembly separated, and was in a tree at the eastern end of the ground scar. A rock face was at the western end of the ground scar, and exhibited a 3-foot-diameter area of white marks with white paint shards at its base. The orientation of the fuselage was 180 degrees.

Both tail rotor blades separated a few inches from the hub. One blade was in the bottom of the gully; its fracture surface was angular and jagged. The other blade was in the tree with the stabilizer assembly; its fracture surface was angular and jagged and there was a dent in the leading edge near the tip. The aft skid crosstube was in the bottom of the dry creek about 30 feet from the tail rotor blade.

The main rotor blades were oriented north-south. The south blade did not exhibit any leading or trailing edge damage, but did have a puncture midspan and midchord that went through to the top of the blade. The north blade bent down about 2 feet from the hub; it did not exhibit any leading or trailing edge polishing or dents.

The engine did not show evidence of catastrophic failure. The exhaust exhibited ductile bending.

The bowl section of the carburetor separated, and was in the forward portion of the ground scar. Liquid was drained from the gascolator that was colorless, but murky, into two bottles. The fluid in one bottle had no smell; the other bottle had a faint smell of gasoline. A water/alcohol indicating paste was dipped into the liquid in both bottles; the paste changed color from pink to dark red, indicating water. The gascolator was removed; it contained an orange/brown colored fluid in the bottom and orange/brown colored stains along the sides. A water/alcohol indicating paste was dipped into the liquid; the paste changed color from pink to dark red, indicating water.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Utah Department of Health. The cause of death was reported as the effect of multiple blunt force injuries.

Toxicological tests on specimens recovered from the pilot were performed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute Forensic Toxicology Research Team in Oklahoma City. Analysis revealed no findings for carbon monoxide or volatiles. Testing for cyanide was not accomplished.

The report contained the following findings for tested drugs: ibuprophen detected in urine.

Refer to the toxicology report included in the public docket for specific test parameters and results.


Global Positioning Satellite System (GPS)

The airplane was equipped with a Garmin GPSMap 396 GPS receiver. The unit sustained impact damage, and was sent to the NTSB Office of Research and Engineering for data extraction. The extracted data revealed a flight on April 6th. The initial data point at 1140:05 was not at the known departure point. The recorded flight began in the mountainous area where the pilot and passenger were looking for elk sheds. The path meandered in the area, and ended at 1211:59, about 1.6 nm from the accident site.

Follow Up Examination

Investigators from the NTSB, Lycoming, and Robinson Helicopters examined the wreckage in a hangar at Hurricane, Utah, on May 13, 2014. A detailed report is part of the public docket for this accident. No preimpact anomalies with the airframe or engine other than water in the fuel system were discovered.


Friends of the pilot indicated that he kept a barrel of aviation fuel outside of a building on private property. He would pump fuel from the barrel into 5-gallon plastic cans, which he in turn used to fill the helicopter. Investigators syphoned a sample from the barrel, and observed a light blue fluid that smelled like aviation gasoline. Investigators went to the building housing the gas cans, and observed seven cans. Four cans had enough liquid to drain into bottles. Fluid from two of the cans was light blue, and smelled like aviation gasoline; dipping a water/alcohol indicating paste into the liquid did not change the color of the paste. About 85 percent of the liquid from one can was light blue, and smelled like aviation gasoline. The remaining 15 percent was dark and murky; a water/alcohol indicating paste dipped into the murky liquid changed color from pink to dark red, indicating water. About 50 percent of the liquid from the fourth can was light blue, and smelled like aviation gasoline. The remaining 50 percent was dark and murky; a water/alcohol indicating paste dipped into the murky liquid changed color from pink to dark red, indicating water.

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA158 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 06, 2014 in Green River, UT
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N13HG
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators 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.

On April 6, 2014, at an undetermined time, a Robinson R22 Beta, N13HG, collided with terrain near Green River, Utah. The pilot was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The local personal flight departed from private property near Green River about 1115. Visual (VMC) meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The family reported that the helicopter was overdue about 1800 on April 6, and the Utah Highway Patrol initiated a search. Using a signal from a cell tower and an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), they discovered the wreckage about 1300 the following day.

On-site documentation revealed that the white helicopter came to rest about 1/4 way up the south slope of an east-west gully with a dry creek bed in the bottom. The slope changed at the midpoint of the fuselage; it was 55 degrees downhill below the wreckage and 40 degrees uphill above it. The creek bed was 30 feet away, and the bottom of the bluff was about 75 feet away. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a ground scar that was on a 255-degree magnetic heading. The vertical and horizontal stabilizer assembly separated and was in a tree at the eastern end of the ground scar. A rock face was at the western end of the ground scar, and exhibited a 3-foot diameter area of white marks with white paint shards at its base. The nose of the cabin was in contact with the north end of the white marks on the rock face; the orientation of the fuselage was 180 degrees.

Both tail rotor blades separated a few inches from the hub. One blade was in the bottom of the gully; its fracture surface was angular and jagged. The other blade was in the tree with the stabilizer assembly; its fracture surface was angular and jagged and there was a dent in the leading edge near the tip. The aft skid crosstube was in the bottom of the dry creek about 30 feet from the tail rotor blade.

The main rotor blades were oriented north-south. The south blade did not exhibit any leading or trailing edge damage, but did have a puncture midspan and midchord that went through to the top of the blade. The north blade bent down about 2 feet from the hub; it did not exhibit any leading or trailing edge polishing or dents.

The engine did not show evidence of catastrophic failure. The exhaust exhibited ductile bending.

Robin Francis Venuti, 38, of Washington, Utah

LIHUE — A local tour flight operator died in a Mainland crash along with a passenger on Sunday, leaving a widow and two young daughters. 

Robin Francis Venuti, 38, of Washington, Utah, and his brother-in-law, Albert Munoz Rubio, 36, of Beaver Utah, reportedly died sometime Sunday in a remote area of southern Utah.

Robin and Dana Venuti took over Inter-Island Helicopter in 2010. The 24-year-old company flies out of Hanapepe.

Staff of Inter-Island Helicopter referred calls regarding the death of Venuti to a family member, who said they could not make statements at this point in the grieving process. The family is waiting for direction from widow and co-owner Dana Venuti and their two daughters, Lexi and Bella.

According to his business profile, Robin Venuti was raised in Escalante, Utah. He started his career at HeliTech in Riverside, Calif., before completing private, commercial and CFI courses in various aircraft to qualify as a lead instructor.

After Venuti and Rubio were reported overdue from a Sunday morning helicopter flight, the Utah Department of Public Safety initiated a helicopter search using infrared cameras on Sunday evening. The effort was suspended about midnight. The search resumed Monday morning. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter located the crash site on the west side of Desolation Canyon, about 40 river miles north of Green River, about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Investigators confirmed there were no survivors. The bodies were recovered and transported by DPS helicopter to an Emery County off-road ambulance at 6:45 p.m.

The FAA is handling the crash investigation.

Story and comments/reaction:

 GREEN RIVER — A search for two men who didn't return from a helicopter flight Sunday ended about 2:30 p.m. Monday when it was located.

"It is a crash site," Grand County Sheriff Steven White said.

No details were released about the crash, including the location. White was informing family members of the discovery.

The search covered at least three counties Sunday and Monday.

Pilot Robin Venuti and his passenger, Albert Rubio, took off about 11:15 a.m. in a white Robinson R22 helicopter to search for elk antler sheds, according to White.

"They were up here looking for sheds up the Green River corridor," he said.

The men were reported as overdue about 8 p.m. The Department of Public Safety was called Sunday night and brought in its helicopter to assist in the search. DPS flight crews used forward-looking infrared cameras to aid in the search, but the effort was suspended about midnight.

The search resumed Monday morning with helicopter crews from DPS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, White said. Four small planes were also called in to aid in the effort, which encompassed parts of Carbon, Emery and Grand counties.

"We're working from here to the Colorado line," White said. "We're close to getting to the Uintah County line and up into Duchesne."

The sheriff said the helicopter could have covered about 200 miles with a maximum fuel load. He described the search area as "very treacherous terrain."

"It's tough, it's in extreme conditions," White said. "The cliffs are very narrow, very steep."

Venuti, 38, is from Washington, Utah. Rubio, 36, is from Beaver. The sheriff said Venuti's family described him as an experienced pilot.

Authorities in surrounding counties were contacted about the missing helicopter, and airports were checked in those counties to determine if the aircraft had landed within those jurisdictions, the sheriff's office said.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

EMERY COUNTY –The two occupants aboard a missing helicopter found dead in Southeastern Utah were identified as Robin Venuti and his brother-in-law Albert Rubio.

Venuti, 38, of Washington City, was the pilot.

Venuti and Rubio, 36, of Beaver, left from the Green River area Sunday afternoon to search for Elk Antler sheds.

Venuti’s brother to FOX 13 News that Venuti was an excellent pilot and can’t imagine what happened.

The helicopter was reported overdue Sunday evening and was located Monday afternoon by a helicopter for the Department of Public Safety in the Range Creek area in Emery County.

Many of the family members of the victims are part of the aviation community and brought their own helicopters to help in the search, according the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

It is unknown what caused the helicopter to go down but the crash site was located in a remote, steep area that is hard to get to by foot, officials said.

A cause could take serveral weeks to determine.

Venuti leaves behind a wife and small children.

A recovery operation is in progress.


Air India proposes 15% pay cut for pilots

NEW DELHI: Air India has proposed to cut the salary of its pilots by up to 15%, a move that could lead to another round of industrial action just ahead of the coming summer holiday travel season. The largest cut will be for executive commanders of wide body aircraft, with their monthly pay dropping from Rs 8.8 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh. Fresh co-pilots of wide body aircraft, who are earning Rs 2.3 lakh per month, could get away with a cut of just over Rs 1,000.

While pilots' union has rejected the new structure, the airline management says it has given them 21 days to respond. "The final salary structure will be decided only after consultation with pilots is over. We have limited the cut to 15% and tried to find the least painful way," said an official. Loss-making AI is surviving on taxpayers' money with the government pledging Rs 30,000 equity infusion over the next decade.

The airline has an annual salary bill of Rs 3,200 crore and expects to cut it by Rs 250 crore through a leaner wage structure. Of the total wage bill, pilots get Rs 1,100 crore and AI wants to save Rs 150 crore through the new structure.

However, even the proposed new wage structure will not lead to immediate pay parity between pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines (narrow body fleet) and Air India (wide body fleet). "We have limited the cut to 15%. Supposing someone's salary was to be cut 20% or 25%, the portion beyond 15% has been termed as 'unabsorbed cost to company'. The future salary hikes or promotion will be adjusted against this unadjusted CTC," said the official.

So, when will pay parity happen? "It will take two to three years under this formula. Ultimately, the only difference between a captain and co-pilot of wide body and narrow body aircraft will be Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 per month, which will be the wide body allowance paid over and above a common salary to pilots of bigger planes," said the official.

Meanwhile, pilots have rejected this pay proposal. "Other airlines, both Indian and foreign, pay more to pilots. With this pay structure, the airline management has ensured that AI witnesses an exodus of pilots to other airlines. Tata-Singapore, Tata-AirAsia, Etihad, Emirates and IndiGo are hiring like crazy. Does the management want to have an airline without any good pilots as the best will leave. A pilot of IA and AI flying a plane together will continue to be paid differently for the same work and this is not acceptable," said a pilot.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) of erstwhile IA pilots is the only pilot union in the airline. The union of AI pilots was disbanded when their pilots went on strike two years back. In a communication to its members, ICPA has rejected the proposed pay structure and vowed it will not accept anything "less than the prevailing market rates". It has called an emergency meeting to decide the future course of action.


From Washington to Michigan, STOL pilots converging on Llano for fly-in April 11-13

LLANO — While most residents might not be aware of the jewel that lies just off Texas 16 north of Llano, hundreds, if not thousands, of pilots across Texas and the United States know exactly how great the Llano Municipal Airport is.

And, a bunch of them are flying in April 11-13 for the 2014 Texas STOL Roundup. One of the biggest selling points of getting the event, which attracts short-take-off-landing specialists and their aircrafts from California, Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and numerous other states to Llano, is the airport itself.

“The airport in Llano is a big draw for this, mainly because of the grass strip,” said Jimmy Gist, the air boss for the STOL event. “Llano is really a showcase airport, not just for Texas but the whole nation. Pilots around the country know about this airport and talk about it.”

The airport has garnered attention in several national aviation publications. Gist said a lot of the accolades should go to Llano city leaders along with state officials. The two groups worked together with funding opportunities to make significant upgrades to the Llano Airport the past six years.

Pilots and the public can experience all the airport offers during the STOL Roundup.

While STOL flying isn’t anything new, especially for the military, Gist said it’s growing as an aviation class. He pointed out pilots in remote areas of the country such as the Rocky Mountains, the wooded Midwest and Alaska rely on the short-take-off-landing planes to get in and out of rugged spots. The aircraft are built rugged to handle the back country and short landing areas.

“It’s the aviation equivalent of four-wheeling,” Gist said. “They put tundra tires on the planes, and they pretty much go rock hopping.”

During the STOL event, pilots will have some friendly competition in five different classes. But there’s no prize money involved.

“It’s all for bragging rights,” Gist said.

Gist couldn’t put a number on the amount of planes and pilots that will participate, but, based on the words bouncing around the flying forums, he expects a significant total.

While some of the pilots will bunk down in the local hotels and motels, Gist said many will camp out on the strip right by their airplanes. And that’s part of the fun of these fly-ins, he explained. Everybody gets together, shares stories, gets in some flying and has a good time.

The event has drawn plenty of attention. Four of the main manufacturers of STOL airplanes will be on hand. And one of the largest aviation parts suppliers in the country, A.E.R.O. of Granite City, Ill., is sponsoring the event.

“It looks like it’s going to be a huge turnout,” Gist said.

While this isn’t an air show, Gist said he hope locals will check out the event and, particularly, the airport.

“We want to generate interest in aviation, in general, especially among young people,” he said.

People should be aware this is a working airport, and planes are moving about. There will be some guidance to help spectators see the aircraft and speak with pilots.

At noon April 12, there will be a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of several new hangars.

The airport is located about two miles northeast of Llano just off Texas 16 at 100 Evelyn Gould Drive. Call (325) 247-5635 for more information.


Brownwood, Texas: Military returning Tuesday to Brownwood’s Depot to discuss upcoming flight training events

This Tuesday at 6 p.m. the military is returning to the Depot Civic and Cultural Center in Brownwood to hold a public meeting to discuss their upcoming flight training events.

Army, Air Force and Navy officers conducted a public outreach meeting at the Depot last June following several calls from local residents about sonic booms caused by military jets. About 60 area residents attended June’s meeting.

The Air Force is about to ramp up its flight training again in the Brownwood and Brady joint use Military Operating Areas (MOA). Air Force aircraft from Kelly Field, San Antonio, Randolph Air Force Base and Fort Worth conduct training evolutions in both MOA’s. The Marine Corps F/A-18 squadron from Fort Worth trains in the Brownwood MOA on occasion as well.

The overhead airspace encompassing Dublin to the north, south to Valley Spring, west to Paint Rock and north again to just above Novice has been identified as a Military Operating Area for military aircraft training for several years dating back to the mid-1970’s.

Tuesday night’s meeting is an opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about the aircraft training that occurs over Brownwood and neighboring counties.

The City of Brownwood is graciously hosting this open meeting from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Depot, located at 600 East Depot Street.


California: Boeing shutting down C-17 military transport production early

 Boeing will shut down production of the last major aircraft built in California in mid-2015, three months earlier than it had predicted, the company said Monday.

The closure of production at Boeing's 1.1 million-square-foot assembly plant in Long Beach will mark the end of production of large aircraft in California, once the center of the aircraft industry in the United States.

The C-17 Globemaster III, a four-engine military transport, is the last large aircraft built in the state that once boasted large aircraft factories in Santa Monica, Long Beach, San Diego, Burbank and Palmdale.

Boeing built 223 C-17s for the U.S. Air Force as well as multiple transports for Australia, the United Kingdom, NATO, Canada, India, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

The production shutdown will idle some 2,200 workers who work on the C-17 assembly line. Some will be offered jobs at other Boeing facilities.

Boeing acquired the C-17 and the Long Beach aircraft assembly plants when it merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1996.  The C-17, a four-engine, high-wing plane, can carry large military vehicles, combat troops and cargo.

Boeing operated McDonnell-Douglas's commercial airplane production facilities at Long Beach for several years building the Boeing 717 twin jet.  Those production plants had built hundreds of commercial jets including the DC-8, DC-10, MD-11, DC-9, MD-80 and MD-90.

The C-17, which was built in a plant on the opposite side of the Long Beach Airport from the former commercial airliner assembly plant,  is the principal aircraft stationed at Pierce County's Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Boeing reportedly considered using the Long Beach plant as a site to build its upcoming 777X, but decided to build that long-range, twin-engine aircraft at Everett after Machinists Union members agreed to a long-term contract with modest increases in pay and benefits.

The C-17 production halt isn't the only assembly shutdown Boeing is facing.  Unless the company receives more orders for its F/A-18 fighter soon, Boeing may shutter the company's production line in St. Louis, Mo. by 2017.


Master Instructor Dick Rochfort: Radar Low Level Rain Showers VRB


RWR Pilot Training:

Video by Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII·

Published on April 7th, 2014

Ride along with Master Instructor Dick Rochfort on an in-flight demonstration of the techniques and procedures for avoiding rain showers using the RDR2000 color weather radar with vertical profile in the Piper PA46 aircraft. Dick uses proper call-outs and well documented, disciplined procedures to ensure the safety of this challenging flight. Dick Rochfort is a full-time pilot trainer specializing in the PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage and Meridian aircraft. He provides pre-purchase valuation, training, corporate service and expert witness services worldwide.

Malaysia Airlines: Ship Picks Up Signals Consistent With 'Black Box' Pings; Development Is Best Lead Yet in Search for Missing Flight 370, Authorities Say

The Wall Street Journal

By Robb M. Stewart in Melbourne and Rachel Pannett in Sydney

Updated April 7, 2014 1:27 p.m. ET

The Australian navy picked up extended underwater signals in the search zone for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in what authorities said Monday was the best lead yet in the hunt for the jet's "black box" flight recorders.

The naval ship Ocean Shield—fitted with U.S. Navy black-box detector equipment able to pick up signals far beneath the ocean surface—has been searching an area of the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia for nearly two days. Investigators believe the area is the most likely spot where the plane may have run out of fuel, more than a thousand miles from the nearest airport, after disappearing from civilian radar on March 8.

The first of the signals late at night on Saturday local time was held for more than two hours, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is leading the multinational search, said Monday. On a return trip along the same path early Sunday, two distinct "pinger" signals were detected and held for about 13 minutes.

"Significantly, this would be consistent with transmission from both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder," Air Chief Marshal Houston said. "Clearly this is a most promising lead…The audible signal sounds to me just like an emergency-locator beacon."

So far, the multinational team of military aircraft have failed to spot any debris related to Flight 370 on the surface of the ocean in more than two weeks. Instead, investigators have relied on radar, satellite communications and other data to plot where they believe plane likely went down.

That analysis, which has been revised several times, steered the Australian-led search operation to direct the Ocean Shield to an area of ocean about 650 miles from the town of Exmouth on the Western Australian coast.

Once on site, the Ocean Shield swept back and forth across a seven-mile strip of open sea, towing the black box detector equipment some 3,000 meters, or nearly two miles, beneath the surface. The highly sensitive equipment usually needs to come within about 2,000 meters of the black boxes to register their pings, Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy said.

Sounds under the surface are affected by temperature, pressure and salinity, which can affect the quality and range of any underwater signals, he said.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said searchers still needed to fix on a precise location before sending an underwater vehicle to investigate the finding, in an area of ocean some 4,500 meters deep. Those depths are at the absolute limit of the undersea vehicle aboard Ocean Shield, which might mean that crews would have to turn to other submersibles or drop cameras to the ocean floor to investigate.

Monday's announcement came at a critical time in the search. Locator beacons on the two flight recorders aboard the plane have an estimated battery life of about 30 days before they stop emitting signals. Monday marked the 30th day since the plane vanished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

But in a hunt that has been fraught with false leads and setbacks, authorities were careful to inject some caution.

"In deep water, funny things happen with acoustic signals," Air Chief Marshal Houston said. "I would not be prepared to confirm that this is the spot where the aircraft is on the present evidence," he said. "Without wreckage, we can't say it's definitely here. We have to go down and look."

Air-safety experts have said other maritime locating devices use similar frequencies to flight recorders. Following a signal that search teams detected on April 3 but later discounted, the Australian agency leading the search operation warned that biological sources, such as whales, could lead to false alerts.

Commander William Marks, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, said the Ocean Shield picked up returns "with a slight variation in frequency." He said that could be explained because the pingers for the two recorders are not precisely the same age and their acoustic signals could vary slightly as a result.

The Ocean Shield was searching at the northern end of an arc determined as the most likely flight path for the missing Boeing 777, based on updated satellite and aircraft performance data, when it made the discovery. On Friday and Saturday, a Chinese vessel, Haixun 01, reported detecting several "acoustic pings" 1.2 miles apart—about 300 nautical miles from the Australian naval ship on the edge of the southernmost of three designated search zones.

The Chinese listening device was designed to identify sounds at depths of less than 1,000 feet, according to one person briefed on the Flight 370 probe, while the ocean bottom in parts of the search area exceeds 13,000 feet.

Still, Air Chief Marshal Houston said Monday the Australian finding doesn't rule out the earlier Chinese discovery. If the plane flew at a slightly slower speed than would be normal with better fuel conservation, it would likely have hit the water near the Chinese vessel. If it flew somewhat faster and burned more fuel, it likely would have crashed into the ocean nearer to the Ocean Shield location. A U.K. Navy ship HMS Echo was on its way to assist the Chinese vessel in its search on Monday.

The former Australian defense chief warned that even if searchers can recover the signal again and accurately pinpoint the wreckage, they are in for a long recovery effort with the Southern Hemisphere winter fast approaching.

"We're talking about a long operation here that will be measured in months," Air Chief Marshal Houston said. "It will take several days to actually cover what would appear to be a fairly small area. Things happen very slowly at the depths we are dealing with," he said. "Some of the water out there exceeds 5,000 meters, which is going to be very challenging."

—Andy Pasztor and Daniel Stacey contributed to this article.


Searey, N385JD: Lake Idamere in Tabares, Florida



TAVARES, Fla. —A Lake County pilot escaped injury after his seaplane crashed while attempting to land.

It happened around 12:30 p.m. on Lake Idamere in Tavares.

Authorities said the pilot was trying to make a water landing, but the wheels on the plane failed to retract and the plane flipped over when it hit the water.

"A fisherman happened to be on the lake right where it went down," said Joyce Ross, spokeswoman for the city of Tavares. "He immediately went to the plane, and the pilot was already outside the plane. He was immediately rescued."

The pilot was not injured, and the plane suffered only minor damage.

Top video: Plane searchers: Spot signals consistent with black box

It was towed to a dock belonging to the Progressive Aerodyne company, which manufacturers the same make of seaplanes.

Story and photo:

Why Small Airports Are in Big Trouble: As Airlines Cut Service, Prices Rise and More Travelers Drive; 'Rocket City' Fails to Break Out

The Wall Street Journal

By Susan Carey

April 7, 2014 4:12 p.m. ET

To reverse years of declining traffic and fewer flights, Huntsville International Airport last year decided to offer its few remaining airlines incentives if they enhanced service to the small, northern Alabama city.

The airlines were furious.

The plan, drawn up last summer, would set aside up to $5 million this year in potential rewards for airlines that added flights, lowered fares or otherwise encouraged Huntsville fliers to use its airport instead of air fields in nearby cities. But frustrated by what it saw as lapses in customer service, Huntsville also said it would charge different landing fees for airlines, depending on whether they met service thresholds, such as prompt luggage handling.

The airlines responded that Huntsville's plan violated federal law barring governments from interfering with airline fares, routes or service levels. They feared that the standards would unleash a patchwork of benchmarks at other airports, and Airlines for America, the industry's largest trade group, threatened to sue.

Huntsville backed down last month.

The episode highlights the huge difficulties that smaller airports have attracting service, which has dwindled outside the biggest cities as airlines cut less-profitable flights. U.S. airlines reduced the number of scheduled domestic flights by 14% from 2007 through 2012, with midsize and small airports the hardest hit, according to a study last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The airport in Des Moines, Iowa, lost 22% of its flights, according to the study. Flights decreased 24% in Burlington, Vt., and 28% in Columbia, S.C.

There have been a few success stories more recently. The two-gate Trenton-Mercer Airport near Trenton, N.J., without offering incentives has gone in two years from no commercial airline service to becoming the East Coast base for budget carrier Frontier Airlines Inc.

The MIT study found that the number of Huntsville flights dropped 18% over the five years through 2012.

 Rick Tucker, executive director of the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority, said his 14-gate facility was losing "hundreds of thousands" of passengers a year who drive less than two hours to Birmingham, Ala., or Nashville, Tenn., larger cities whose busier airports are dominated by discount carrier Southwest Airlines Co.

"We've got to do something," said Mr. Tucker, who has run the airport for 20 years.

Local officials said good air access enhances their ability to attract new jobs and compete for conventions and tourists. "We view everything we're doing through the lens of economic development," Mr. Tucker said.

Known as "Rocket City" for its role in U.S. space missions, Huntsville, with a population of 184,000 people, is thick with defense contractors and government agencies. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration runs the Marshall Space Flight Center in the city. More than 70% of the airport's passengers fly for business, Mr. Tucker said, meaning they tend to book at the last minute and pay top dollar. Washington, D.C., is the top destination.

Huntsville airport's traffic peaked at 635,500 passengers boarded in 2005 and hit 521,000 last year. It is served by Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. 
Between them, they fly nonstop to just nine other airports.

Reduced competition at smaller airports often causes fares to rise. The U.S. Transportation Department regularly cites Huntsville airport as having the highest average domestic fares among the top 100 the department tracks, with round-trip fares averaging $559 in the third quarter of last year. The national average was $390.

Mark Curran, vice president of Huntsville operations for defense contractor L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., said Huntsville fares are so steep that his company conducts a lot of teleconferences, skips some trips and "micromanages" conference registrations so not too many staffers attend.

For personal travel, he tries to book "real early," Mr. Curran said. "Or if it's six to seven hours [by car], we're driving."

In 2010, Huntsville airport landed a $1 million federal grant and added $1.5 million in local funding to lure AirTran Holdings Inc., with its low-fare flights bound for Baltimore and Orlando, Fla. The airport waived AirTran's rent and landing fees, gave marketing support and provided a revenue guarantee if not enough fliers booked tickets. Such federally backed programs are fairly common, but are of limited duration and aimed at attracting an airline that will introduce new flights to targeted destinations.

But Southwest, which acquired AirTran in 2011, ended the Huntsville flights in 2012. Last year, partly as a result of the "airport's struggle to attract and maintain a low-cost carrier," Moody's Investors Service downgraded $52 million of the airport's revenue bonds to A3 from A2.

The Huntsville airport board's controversial "customer standards" program approved last summer would keep landing fees constant for carriers that met requirements such as having enough check-in agents and getting luggage to the carousel within 15 minutes of flight arrival. Airlines that fell short would have to pay 76% more, to a sum the airport said was its actual cost.

Rob DeLucia, associate general counsel of Airlines for America, said Huntsville's incentives for airlines already serving the city was akin to "choosing winners." That is illegal under the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act, which requires airports to treat all airlines equally, he said.

Joshua Schank, president of the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan think tank, said he agreed with the airlines. "It's not in the public's interest to have these bidding wars" because airlines would scoop up the incentives and cut flights elsewhere, he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration wrote a letter last August expressing concern that Huntsville's plan might run afoul of rules on incentive programs. The airlines that serve the city quickly threatened legal action.

The Huntsville airport board responded in January by reiterating that the customer standards didn't become mandatory until March. Then, to avoid litigation, the airport essentially capitulated last month, saying it would keep discounted landing fees in place indefinitely, even for carriers that fell short of service standards.

Airlines for America said it would postpone any litigation.

Huntsville's Mr. Tucker said the airport didn't believe it did anything illegal but now was focused on a bit of good news. American Airlines discounted some fares in the city. A person familiar with the carrier's thinking called it a routine sale and not a quid pro quo for the airport's decision about the landing fees. For the reduced fares, to 125 destinations, American requires a 14-day advance purchase and a Saturday night stay. Travel must be completed by May 21.

Mr. Tucker said he is using $350,000 of the incentive funds for marketing the discounted fares "to get the word out as far and as fast as we can." He said he hoped other airlines would take note.


Citabria: Pilot rescued after plane goes through ice

 DORSET, Ont. - Provincial police say an 80-year-old pilot suffered minor injuries when his plane broke through the ice on a central Ontario lake.

Police say the small private aircraft was taxiing in on Little Trading Bay, just east of the village of Dorset, when it went through the ice on Monday afternoon.

The pilot managed to escape from the Citabria single-engine plane and was treading water when he was rescued.

Police say Donald Shortreed of Algonquin Highlands was taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries and hypothermia.

The incident is under investigation by the OPP and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

By The Canadian Press

Charity Lockheed flight blends elements of Whatcom history, 'Casablanca'

Auctions and sales are a staple at community fundraisers, but the Bellingham Festival of Music has come up with an unusual offering that combines elements of local history, a famous movie and a vintage airplane.  

The festival is offering five people a chance to pay for a flight around Mount Baker in a restored 1938 Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior, on Aug. 2.

That's the same twin-engine plane portrayed in the classic closing scene of "Casablanca," when Humphrey Bogart says goodbye to Ingrid Bergman, who is about to fly out of Bogart's life.

Up to 100 people also can pay to attend a "Casablanca" party Aug. 2 at a hangar at Bellingham International Airport.

The 1938 plane is owned by Patrick Donovan, a retired commercial pilot and the great-grandson of John Joseph (J.J.) Donovan, an early Bellingham businessman whose life is the subject of "Treasures from the Trunk," a history exhibit at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall building.

Donovan, who lives in Seattle, was in Bellingham recently for a tour of the Donovan exhibit led by Brian Griffin, the local author and historian who was the leading force behind the exhibit. Griffin is working his way through Donovan's letters, diaries and other papers to write a biography of the prominent businessman and civic leader.

Also at the exhibit tour was Sally Chapman, a friend of Griffin's and co-chair of the festival's dinner auction. After the tour, they all ventured to Boundary Bay Brewery for beer and conversation.

The subject of old movies came up and, given Donovan's airplane, "Casablanca" was mentioned. Chapman asked Donovan if rides aboard his plane could be sold for the festival, and he agreed.

"If it's a good cause, I'm happy to participate," Donovan told me later.

As it turns out, Griffin discovered in one of J.J.'s diaries that J.J.'s son Philip, an early car dealer and aviator, flew around Mount Baker with his wife, Hazel, in 1928.

With a contemporary Baker fly-around in the works, they decided a "Casablanca" party made a good idea even better.

San Juan Airlines, which recently combined with Northwest Sky Ferry, will host the party at its hangar at 4167 Mitchell Way. The party will include the movie, piano music, Moroccan food, beer and wine, and prizes for the best "Casablanca" character impersonators.

"This ought to be a hoot of a party, a thriller of a flight," Griffin said in an email. "The plane is absolutely original and authentic, even to vintage magazines in its behind-the-seat racks."

Donovan's Model 12 Electra is a smaller Lockheed plane from the late '30s, a model used by small airlines, companies and well-to-do individuals.

Fortunately, his plane is not exactly like the plane in the foggy goodbye scene in "Casablanca." That's because the plane waiting to take Bergman away was a reduced-size model, not a real plane.

During production of the 1942 movie, location shooting by studios on the West Coast was restricted because of concerns about possible Japanese attacks. That meant Warner Bros. had to shoot the airport scene on one of its soundstages.

To fit, they used a small-scale version of the Lockheed, with midget actors as the ground crew. The fog in the scene was created artificially to mask the trickery.

Story, photo gallery and video:

Western Michigan University: College of Aviation celebrating 75 years of aviation education in 2014

BATTLE CREEK, MI – Western Michigan University aviation flight science student Josh Blain leveled the wings of his Cirrus SR20 and extended the flaps as he commenced his approach to W.K. Kellogg Airport.

"Western 44, you're cleared for a touch and go on runway one-three," the air traffic controller said.

A few seconds later, after feeling the main landing gear kiss the runway, Blain applied full power and nudged the Cirrus off the ground and began climbing to set up for another touch and go landing.

Touch and go landings, such as the one that Blain performed, are just one of many aviation maneuvers taught to students at WMU's College of Aviation, which in 2014 is celebrating 75 years of aviation education.

Beginning in 1939 with a maintenance program, WMU's involvement with aviation education has expanded to offer degrees in aviation flight science, aviation management and aviation maintenance technology.

In 1999, the existing WMU School of Aviation became the WMU College of Aviation, making it the university's seventh college.

Currently with a fleet of advanced training aircraft, modern facilities in Battle Creek and more than 700 undergraduate students in the program, celebrating 75 years of aviation education is an historic event, college officials said.

"1903 is when fixed wing aircraft with the Wright brothers started," College of Aviation recruitment and outreach officer Scott Warner said. "We have 75 years of history with them so we have the majority of aviation's life under our belt. 75 years is a huge milestone."

Showing students, members of the community and those thinking of attending the college how aviation at WMU has unfolded is something that College of Aviation business manager Dace Copeland says is vital during this celebration.

"We need to know what our history is so that we can move forward too and I think that that's really important," Copeland said. "We get a lot of visitors that come through here and we always want to show them what we're doing and what we have."

WMU's College of Aviation will hold events throughout the next few months, culminating in a 75th Anniversary Celebration Gala on Oct. 24.

For the full list of events, visit

Story and photo gallery: 

Major Aviation Events at WMU 

• 1939 - Department of Vocational Aviation is formed.
• 1946 - SkyBroncos flying club is formed.
• 1955 - Flight training begins at Plainwell Airport.
• 1959 -Flight training moves to Kalamazoo Airport.
• 1972 - Students are able to earn multi-engine rating.
• 1995 - School of Aviation Sciences is formed.
• 1997 - School of Aviation moves to Battle Creek.
• 1999 - School of Aviation becomes College of Aviation.
• 2002 - Flight team wins fifth national championship.
• 2005 - Delivery of Cirrus training aircraft begins. 

Michigan resumes leasing planes despite Federal Aviation Administration probe

The Michigan Department of Transportation has resumed leasing planes to state universities despite the fact that federal authorities have not yet completed an investigation of the practice.

The renewal of the lease program in December contradicts statements last summer by agency officials that MDOT would suspend the program pending the conclusion of the review by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA launched its investigation last summer. The agency hasn’t disclosed the exact target of its review, but state officials have said they believe the FAA is suggesting that MSU athletics could be outside the scope of state government, which would make those flights “commercial” in nature. That would require MDOT to obtain new certification to lease the planes to MSU.

Jeff Cranson, spokesman for the department, said the agency had a change of heart after agency officials, and the state Attorney General’s Office, reviewed the MDOT policy and concluded it was in compliance with FAA regulations.

“They determined that the (MDOT) aircraft are operated as civil aircraft under the Federal Aviation Regulations,” said Cranson, referring to MDOT and AG officials. “Because state colleges and universities are legally defined as state government entities, there is no basis to restrict their use as customers of the service.”

Officials of the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on their review of the MDOT policy.

It remains unclear whether MSU is among state universities that have begun leasing planes again from MDOT.

Universities officials said Friday any inquiries would have to be made through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

The FAA began its review of the leasing program after the State Journal published a story in June about how state planes are used, and who uses them. After viewing five years’ worth of trip logs, the paper reported MSU men’s head basketball coach Tom Izzo and MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio were among the most frequent fliers.

MDOT makes its four passenger planes available to all state employees and employees of Michigan’s 15 four-year public universities who can justify the cost of traveling in them for work purposes.

Any university, or state department for that matter, that uses the planes, including MSU, reimburses MDOT for the expense.

But state-owned aircraft cannot, under federal law, be used as transportation for hire outside government. Aircraft used for commercial purposes must have certification.

The MSU athletics department pays MDOT a per-hour fee to use the planes, and the state planes are one of several charter options that the athletics department uses.

In all, MSU employees and guests used the state planes at least 150 times during the five-year period.

Elizabeth Isham Cory, spokeswoman for the FAA, said the review of MDOT’s plane use is ongoing, and she could not speculate on when it might conclude.

Story, photos and comments/reaction:

Asano: Adaptation can spur innovation; Missing plane presents critical problem

Shintaro "Sam" Asano was named by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011 as one of the 10 most influential inventors of the 20th century who improved our lives. He is a businessman and inven­tor in the field of electronics and mechanical systems who is credited as the in­ventor of the portable fax machine.  Write to him at

As I stated in last week's installment, the category of problems of importation and adaptation do not require new invention. It requires either importing the available technologies from other field(s) and/or adapting available solutions by searching elsewhere.

As you may have already guessed, the final package of solutions can be a combination of several inventions or practices.

Problem: A Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 Boeing 777 disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. There were 239 people aboard the plane. As of April 4, fully 27 days after, an intense air and sea search has been covering the remote and desolate part of southern Indian Ocean some 1,000 miles east of Perth, Australia, with little positive results. At least 10 aircraft and 10 ships are involved from the United States, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Yet, we have found nothing that conclusively pinpoints the aircraft had gone down there. None of this ocean debris could be connected to the missing aircraft.

The expenditure of this search, assuming one aircraft per day means at least $50,000 and a well-equipped search ship at a similar amount of expense, tallies up to $1 million a day minimum. Additionally, the ground crew cost and other miscellaneous expenditure would cost another $500,000 a day. Thus the search's direct cost may be around $1.5 million a day. The search so far has cost upward of $35 million, and counting with nothing to show for it.

I am sure the large search party will eventually find some artifacts that would be determined to have been from the flight MH370. But, that doesn't prove the exact point where the aircraft plunged to the ocean, nor what happened to 239 people aboard after that. By the time the search is terminated either due to finding nothing or finding something attributable to the flight to prove it went down into the ocean, it is possible the cost would have risen to $100 million or more.

It is very strange that we cannot know what happened to flight MH370 when we know exactly where the "curiosity" search robot is, and what he is doing on the surface of the moon. So I started to look around for the technologies to possibly help this situation. I have in my car a $100 GPS unit that shows where I am at all times. The instruction book that came with this unit from Walmart stated its accuracy is within 75 feet. Yes, my inexpensive GPS display can locate my car within radius of 75 feet without fail. And it can do so at anywhere on the Earth.

If you want to know how the GPS system works, I suggest you read the well-written description of Global Positioning System at Wikipedia. The system can tell you your position in real-time anywhere in the world including around both the North and South poles.

The main problem of the tragedy of flight MH370 is that the aircraft's real-time location could not be obtained. Either due to shutting down the transponder by the pilot, or some catastrophic equipment failure, the position information was not transmitted.

When I read through some Wikipedia articles about GPS and other related subjects, I found the concept of using a transponder to report an aircraft's location made me quite uncomfortable. A transponder is a silent device that speaks out when asked a question. Otherwise, it sits quietly and does not do any transmission. In that sense, transponders are interactive devices with two-way traffic required. A ground controller asks a flying airliner to respond to his question such as the aircraft's location, and the transponder in the plane responds to the query.

Thus a transponder system saves the amount of traffic greatly compared with systems that transmit data (or broadcast) at all times whether they are needed or not. Transponders are thus a perfect application for the toll collection gate. When a car with the toll transponder passes under the toll collection antenna, it receives a query: "Who are you?" The transponder replies with its ID, and the toll gate system gets the ID to see if this account has enough money in it, and subtracts the toll fare. This way the transponder in the car uses almost no energy, thus no need for a battery as the required energy comes from the toll gate system when queried.

It seems that location data collection for commercial aircraft worldwide has been using transponders, which reply when queried. If for some reason, the people on the flight deck shut off the transponder or it was broken, no locational data would be transmitted back. That was exactly what happened in the case of flight MH370.

For 27 days, nobody quite knew where the huge aircraft went. A couple days ago, the authorities determined the area they had been searching was probably wrong, and moved it northward. And these actions do not involve a few miles here and there. The location change moved 700 miles north. The target range is currently 1,040 miles west of Perth, Australia. Its size is about 200 miles by 500 miles, 100,000 square miles, and equivalent to the state of Colorado. Now, readers, just think: numerous planes and ships looking for floating debris possibly from flight MH370 in that vast area of rough waters. The aircraft takes nine hours to get there and return to the base. They have only a few hours to look for the debris before their fuel is exhausted.

To be continued next week.

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Maine: Aviation companies prepare for takeoff as new trade group forms

Kevin Dauphinee didn't over-reach when he founded his company, Black Bear Aviation, in central Maine in 2011. He set up shop at the Dexter Regional Airport, where, he says, his leasing costs were low enough that he could charge aircraft maintenance and restoration rates that were 25% to 35% lower than competitors. He took on jobs ranging from aircraft engine overhauls to pre-purchase inspections. He let customers know he'd travel to them if they couldn't make it to Dexter.

His strategy of starting small and paying attention to customer service has paid off for Dauphinee. This spring the three-employee company is completing a move to a larger airport after signing a five-year lease with Waterville's city-owned Robert LaFleur Airport.

"We'd gone from one hangar to two hangars and then to three hangars," he says regarding the decision to move. "We were running out of room."

Black Bear Aviation's story mirrors upward trends reported by much larger aviation companies in Maine. They are all riding an increasing demand for aviation services, which a national report forecasts will see the aviation maintenance industry grow globally to $86.8 billion from its current $57.7 billion. Here in Maine, the 2014 market economic assessment released in mid-March by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association and TeamSAi Consulting puts total employment for Maine's aviation maintenance industry at 1,052 workers, with an economic impact of $124.7 million. Both figures reflect an upward trend from ARSA's 2009 report, which tallied 984 aviation maintenance workers in Maine and an impact of roughly $120 million.

Among recent developments within Maine's aviation sector:

    C&L Aerospace in Bangor announced in late March it was partnering with a Swedish company to buy 14 Saab 340B airplanes that will be refurbished in Bangor before being resold. The planes in that $10 million deal will be among the first to be painted at a new C&L facility that is part of the company's $5 million expansion at the Bangor International Airport.

    Tempus Jets, a $141 million company with more than 15 offices worldwide, is expanding into Brunswick Landing. Its move into Hangar 6 last September brought 18 full-time jobs paying an average $65,000 yearly salary to the former Navy base, but the company anticipates that number could eventually jump 10-fold if its long-term growth continues at the current pace.

    The Maine Aviation Business Association was launched last year to help recruit aviation service businesses to Maine and market those already here.

"The industry is on track to grow and flourish," says ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein. "Maine companies can capitalize on that growth, assuming the [Federal Aviation Administration] gets smarter about how it regulates and Congress doesn't make it harder for U.S. repair stations to do business internationally."
Marketing Maine's aviation assets

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and a pilot himself, is bullish about the prospects of growing Maine's aviation-related industries. It isn't only that he has considerable assets at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station to market — namely, two 8,000-foot runways and 500,000 square feet of hangar space. He says Maine's 75 public-use airports and a labor pool of 14,430 workers with skills suitable for aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul work (based on Maine Department of Labor statistics) are largely underutilized assets.

"This is an opportunity to really grow Maine's aviation industry," he says. "We have significant airport infrastructure built by U.S. taxpayers during World War II and the Cold War era. Almost 25% of all general aviation aircraft in the United States and 52% of all general aviation aircraft in Canada is within 500 nautical miles of Brunswick Executive Airport. It's a great opportunity. More and more airports around the country are land-locked. They don't have any room to accommodate any more aviation businesses."

Levesque says the sense of an untapped potential is the primary reason behind last year's launch of the MABA. The nonprofit group, which operates out of MRRA's office at Brunswick Landing, says its goal is to make Maine the location of choice for aviation businesses looking to start up or expand.

Its president is Barry Valentine, a former acting administrator of the FAA in the late 1990s, whose resume includes stints as director of the Portland International Jetport from 1987 to 1991 and as a senior vice president for international affairs for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. He also has represented the U.S. government and industry in numerous international aviation forums and was director of aeronautics for the Maine Department of Transportation from 1983 to 1987, when he worked closely with the FAA to expand and develop the state's biennial airport capital program.

"I've worked in aviation all my life, I'm nuts about airplanes. A lot of that activity took place here in Maine," says Valentine, who returned to the state with his wife to retire. He says he still does some consulting work in Washington, D.C.

Aside from having airports with few close neighbors and unencumbered air space (which makes Maine ideal for flight testing and pilot training), Valentine says Mainers might not realize the reputation they have outside of the state of being hard-working and creative problem-solvers. He recalls being told by an administrator when he started working for the FAA, "'I know how you Mainers are: You show up on time, you work hard … and you wear flannel shirts.' In other parts of the country, that's how we're known."

Valentine agrees with Levesque's assessment of Maine's airports as underutilized resources, citing Brunswick Landing's assets.

"The Navy built some large hangars there," he says. "You'd have to live several lifetimes to recoup your investment if you were a business and tried to build one of them from scratch."

He expects that in the coming year MABA will begin working with allies such as the Maine International Trade Center and the state's transportation and economic and community development departments to better market Maine airports, its work force and existing aviation businesses. A likely initiative that would advance those goals, he says, is having a state pavilion at the National Business Aircraft Association's annual convention in Orlando, Fla., this October.

"One of the things I've observed, because I've attended a lot of conventions and conferences, is that a number of states have a banner saying, 'Come to Colorado … or Arizona … or Virginia. We've got great aviation assets.' We'd like to be able to do that same sort of thing, and tell people, 'Maine is a great place to be, too. We've got a great work force. We've got great assets. The cost of locating in Maine is less.'"
Big players, big stakes

Scott Terry, president and CEO of Tempus Jets, says his company's decision to relocate its aircraft services from Newport News, Va., to Brunswick Landing last fall was driven by the hangar requirements for servicing large commercial aircraft such as Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier jets.

"We essentially grew out of our space there," he says. "We did a nationwide search for hangars that were the size we needed. It's incredibly expensive to build new, so we looked at many, many places across the country."

Although the nationwide search turned up some promising options, his wife's casual question, "'What about Brunswick [Naval Air Station]? Didn't that close down?'" turned his attention northward to a place he knew quite well, having flown P-3 Orions out of there more than 20 years ago as a Navy pilot.

"I called Steve Levesque on a Monday last August and within 30 days we had secured the space we needed," Terry says. "He gave me almost everything I needed within 48 hours of that first call. He knows how to get the right people in the room at the right time. He's a professional, absolutely one of the best."

Terry says besides the lease for 35,000 square feet in Hangar 6 — comprising half the space within the hangar built in 2005 — his company has lease options on another hangar and an adjacent manufacturing space. He's hired 18 full-time employees and has brought in as many as 20 independent contractors.

"We anticipate doubling our work force in the next six months," Terry says. "We've got lots of room for growth. Having an option on the other hangar was a primary consideration in our move to Brunswick. A lot of the places we looked at have long runways just like Brunswick, but they don't have the space. There's no room to grow into."

Besides finding the physical assets he needed at Brunswick Landing, Terry says the change in Maine's tax policy that exempts aircraft parts from Maine's sale tax also influenced his decision.

"In the last three months we've moved 16 tractor-trailer loads of parts into Maine," he says. "So the elimination of the sales tax is a significant amount of money that we've saved."

Noting there are only five or six other states that don't charge some kind of sales tax on aircraft parts, Terry says the Maine Legislature's decision last fall to extend the exemption for 20 years gives his company greater assurance in any decisions to expand in the state.

A little more than 100 miles north, Bangor-based C&L Aerospace, a global aviation services company specializing in parts, service, sales, leasing and maintenance for Saab 340 and Hawker 800 series aircraft, is in the midst of an expansion guided by CEO Chris Kilgour's vision of a vertically integrated one-stop-shop for regional airline operators.

"We're growing, we're building new facilities that triple the space we'll have [at Bangor International Airport]," says Kilgour, noting that his company now has 130 employees, more than double the work force he had just two years ago. He anticipates that number could grow by another 40 employees as a result of the company's $5 million expansion, which includes a new paint hangar scheduled to open this summer.

The expansion will be completed none too soon, given the 14 Saab aircraft C&L workers will paint and refurbish in Bangor. The planes then will be sold or leased to airlines. Kilgour says his chief worries looking ahead are whether he can meet his long-term work force needs and be able maintain a sufficient supply chain in Maine to meet his customers' needs.

"In this business, people want good quality and they want it yesterday," he says.

Although he understands the rationale behind MRRA's goal at Brunswick Landing of developing a hub of aviation-related businesses there, he says C&L is very happy being the lone aviation services company in its neck of the woods, which reduces competition for his skilled work force.

Dauphinee of Black Bear Aviation has a different take. In moving to an airport with two runways and more space, he's gaining two established aviation businesses as neighbors: Airlink Aviation LLC, which offers flight instruction, scenic flights, aircraft charter and aircraft sales, and Aviation Appearance Plus, which has a full range of aircraft detailing services. The Waterville airport also provides FAA exams and other professional licensing/certification computer-based proctored exams.

As Dauphinee sees it, there are bound to be synergies that will not only benefit each business but also add to greater Waterville's economy.

"We all hope to grow, that's the name of the game," he says. "I'm hoping to staff up some more. We're all going to be able to complement each other's work. I really think that's going to work out well."

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