Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Airport Commissioners Ousted: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

The Dukes County commission voted Wednesday to appoint two new airport commissioners, ousting longtime commissioner John S. Alley and Benjamin L. Hall Jr.

Mr. Alley, who is also a county commissioner, had served on the airport commission for more than 33 years, most recently as chairman. Mr. Hall had served three years.

Christine Todd, a county commissioner and last-minute candidate for the appointment, and Richard Michelson, a former airport employee, will replace them on the seven-member commission. The appointments run for three years.

The decision not to reappoint Mr. Alley and Mr. Hall, whose terms were up, comes amid a tangled workplace dispute at the airport that came to light this winter when an employee filed a claim of sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. The dispute, which includes charges against airport manager Sean Flynn, has played out in public and in closed meetings and remains ongoing.

At the county commission meeting Wednesday, commissioner Tristan Israel said he had seen footage of a January meeting held at the airport where the dispute was discussed, and as a result would not vote to reappoint any sitting airport commissioner.

“I don’t know any of the facts, and this is not about the right or wrong,” Mr. Israel said. “I was appalled at the way that meeting was run, appalled at the lack of process, appalled at the counsel.”

The county followed its usual process of seeking candidates for the airport commission by advertising the upcoming vacant slots this winter. Mr. Alley, Mr. Hall and Mr. Michelson all submitted letters of interest. Ms. Todd expressed interest at the last minute on Wednesday, and county commissioners debated whether it was proper to consider her. Some felt it was within bounds, while others said the process had historically been limited to previously announced candidates.

“I think it's an opportunity to have new eyes to be on that board and I am convinced there needs to be some change there,” Ms. Todd said. “I don’t take the consideration to enter into this post lightly, and a phrase that keeps occurring to me is ‘be the change you want to see.’”

In his position statement, Mr. Michelson said he felt the airport should work on its relationships with employees, tenants, the county and the greater community.

“I really believe some of the relationships at the airport have really just crumbled,” he said.

Reached by telephone Thursday, Mr. Alley questioned the reappointment process, calling it “bad government.”

“The thing that rankles me the most, is that if you have a set of rules, you have to follow the rules you have,” he said.

Mr. Alley said his ties to the airport date to 1959 when he began working for Old Colony Aviation. He said the decision to remove him from the commission was tied to the recent employee dispute.

“That is what people do, they will take an issue and decide that is what they are going to do, and decide this is his time for reappointment,” he said.

“I happened to be the chairman and you had to face tough decisions and you make tough decisions. It doesn’t make everybody happy.


Source:   http://mvgazette.com

First Air fires pilots who flew off course in Nunavut: Flight from Rankin Inlet to Iqaluit went 100s of kilometres off course

After reviewing the flight data and navigational aids on board, First Air has fired two pilots who flew a Boeing 737 hundreds of kilometres off course during a routine flight from Rankin Inlet to Iqaluit.

 First Air pilots suspended after flying 100s of km off course

“During the interviews, we learned the pilots did not follow our standard operating procedures designed to eliminate navigational errors,” a news release from First Air said.

The airline company said it interviewed the pilots and received reports from the cabin crew on board before making the decision to fire the two.

“Most importantly, we have learned that there was no immediate threat to the safety of the passengers and crew,” the release says.

First Air said passenger and crew safety have always been the company’s top priority, and they have taken this incident “very seriously.”

The company said it has reinforced procedures with all crew and dispatch staff and increased in-flight oversight using data monitoring tools.

First Air said it will share the results of its investigation with the Transportation Safety Board.

On March 31, Flight 955 left Rankin Inlet for Iqaluit with 19 passengers and four crew members on board.

Instead of flying to its destination, the plane flew north.

The pilots were relying on auto-pilot using GPS navigation when the crew noticed they hadn’t been handed off from air traffic control in Edmonton to Montreal.

After making contact with Montreal, the pilots reset their course and landed without incident in Iqaluit.

Maintenance crews on the ground found no equipment problems, and cleared the plane to continue flying.

The pilots were grounded while the investigation was underway.

Peter Black, chair of the First Air unit of the Air Line Pilots Association International, said in a statement that the union is "deeply disappointed" with the decision to fire the pilots "prior to a complete and thorough investigation of the incident."

“This rush to judgment has unfairly called into question the expertise and professionalism of a crew with more than 40 years of combined flight experience," Black said. "We will use all of the union’s resources to investigate this incident and support the crew.”


Source:  http://www.cbc.ca

Liberty Aviation Museum countersues marina

The counterclaim, filed in response to Treasure Cove’s lawsuit filed against the museum last week, asks for about $330,000 in damages and $300,000 for loss of income.  

Liberty Aviation Museum counterattacked Wednesday in its ongoing legal feud with Treasure Cove Marina.

The museum filed a counterclaim, alleging fraudulent invoices and long delays in the work of restoring a patrol torpedo boat that dates from World War II.
 
The counterclaim, filed in response to Treasure Cove’s lawsuit filed against the museum last week, asks for about $330,000 in damages and $300,000 for loss of income.

Last week, Treasure Cove Marina sued the museum in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court, claiming the marina is owed about $122,000 for repairing, maintaining, storing, furnishing and equipping the boat. 

The suit asked for the money, and for permission to seize the boat. It also seeks an order for the boat to be sold.

The museum’s answer to the lawsuit denies it owes the marina money, and also makes several allegations against Treasure Cove.

Among them:


•So far, the museum has paid about $1.59 million to Treasure Cove for work done on the PT boat.

•Treasure Cove billed for more boat parts than were actually used and billed for labor that wasn’t done. In some cases, the museum was double- or triple-billed.

•Treasure Cove turned in fraudulent bills of about $131,000 “with malicious intent”

•Treasure Cove has not met any deadlines for the renovation of the PT boat and has delayed the project for more than a year.

Treasure Cove’s attorney, James Reinheimer, of Port Clinton, said Wednesday he has not seen the counterclaim yet and therefore cannot comment.

“I’d rather take a look at it first” he said.

Treasure Cove owner Rob Moore earlier this week referred a question about the lawsuit to Reinheimer.

Ed Patrick, Liberty Aviation Museum’s CEO, contended Wednesday he has extensive paperwork to back up the allegations in his counterclaim.

“I have had two employees working since November going through every invoice and receipt, broke down into an Excel spreadsheet, double- and triple-checking all paperwork, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “We have compiled several boxes of legal files to document our findings.

“As a non-profit, we are required by law to document proper expenditures that have to be backed up with verifiable receipts,” he said. “We have not contrived to do this just to skate on a small amount of cash to avoid paying a bill”

A hearing on the lawsuit is Friday in Judge Bruce Winters’ courtroom.


Source:   http://www.sanduskyregister.com

Tim Bosma trial: Mark Smich says Millard looked 'like a lunatic' after he shot Bosma

An incinerator that police say was used to dispose of Tim Bosma's body.



  Mark Smich says his co-accused, Dellen Millard, "looked like a lunatic" after he shot Tim Bosma.

Smich, 28, began testifying Wednesday as the defence opened its case in the first-degree murder trial being held in Superior Court in Hamilton.

The Oakville man said he wasn't in Bosma's truck when the shooting happened. He told the jury he was following the vehicle in Millard's Yukon that the two had driven to the Bosma home in the Hamilton suburb of Ancaster.

The two vehicles drove for a short while before Millard, who was driving Bosma's truck, swerved to the side of the road and stopped.

When Millard got out of Bosma's truck, Smich said he appeared to put what looked like a gun into a satchel. He said he did not know that Millard was bringing a gun to the test drive.

"He just said, 'I'm taking the truck' and goes and grabs some stuff from the back. When I got out, I walked around, and I seen a bullet hole in the window and Mr. Bosma laying with his head against the dashboard."

That revelation was the first firsthand account of what may have happened to Bosma that the jury has heard.

"He looked mad, like a lunatic. Like something came over him," the witness testified.​

Both Smich and Millard, 30, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Testimony hits Bosma family hard

Smich's recounting of what allegedly happened on the fatal test drive appeared devastating for the Bosma family listening inside the courtroom, with Bosma's mother Mary running from the room, and his widow Sharlene crying with her head down. Bosma's mother didn't return.

"The way that it went down was not how it was supposed to go down," Smich said. "Any criminal activity we've done together, no one's ever been harmed." He testified the "plan" was for the two to "scope out" Bosma's truck, and then come back later to steal it.

Smich said Millard was "very forceful," and told him to get the licence plates for his red Dodge truck out of the SUV and put them on Bosma's truck. Smich said he did.

"I felt like I had no choice. I was scared," Smich said.

Smich said he then accompanied Millard to his farm in Ayr, Ont. He told the court that Millard told him to check the gate and make sure they weren't being followed. 

"When I got back, then I seen Mr. Bosma laying on what appeared to be some sort of a sheet," Smich said. "The passenger-side door of the truck was open. There was blood all over the whole left side of Mr. Bosma around his head.

"He proceeded to open the hatch of the Eliminator. He asked me ... he told me to help him put Mr. Bosma into the Eliminator, and I told him I can't. I didn't want to go anywhere near that ... I told him it was because of my shoulder." Smich previously testified he had a lingering shoulder injury at the time.

Millard then let out a "huff" as if he was irritated, Smich said, but he didn't specify how Bosma's body got into the incinerator. He later said that he did not burn Bosma.

Stripping Bosma's truck


The two men then drove to Millard's hangar at the Waterloo airport, Smich said, where Millard instructed him to strip out the inside of Bosma's truck and then wash it with a hose.

"He went and turned on the Eliminator," Smich said, adding that he "tried to stay as far away as possible" when Millard was using the Eliminator at the hangar.

In the following days, he said he and Millard burned the parts stripped from Bosma's truck. He said he kept talking with Millard because he didn't want to "raise suspicion" and make Millard think he was going to "call the police or something."

On May 9, Millard "panicked" after a conversation with Arthur Jennings, who previously testified at the trial, Smich told the court. He is Shane Schlatman's father-in-law, who has also testified.

He and Millard then moved Bosma's truck into a trailer and drove it out of the hangar, he said. On the way, they talked about Jennings. "He believed that Arthur Jennings called the police on him. That's why he wanted to move Bosma's truck." Jennings had called Crime Stoppers, court has previously heard. He is the only person out of several witnesses with information related to the case who attempted to relay it to police.

Dungey asked Smich why he didn't call police, even after Millard was arrested. "I didn't go to the police because I guess I was in denial," he said. "I did not kill Mr. Bosma. I was scared, I was confused."

Smich also said he didn't want to screw up his sister's upcoming wedding because his family "means the world to him."

"Mr. Bosma meant the world to his family," Dungey said. "I understand that," Smich responded. Smich spoke confidently and calmly with a deep voice thorough much of his testimony — but paused and spoke much more softly any time he said Bosma's name. Millard watched his onetime friend testify intensely, while taking notes.

Smich says he sold drugs to Millard


Earlier in the day, Smich told the court he met Millard when he sold him drugs back in 2008. He told the courtroom that his role changed over the years from being Millard's drug dealer to a close friend.

"Somebody gave him my number when I was selling drugs and he called me randomly," Smich said. "I met up with him and sold him some drugs — that's when we first met.

"As time went on, our bond was stronger, and I felt ... he was like a brother to me. He was like family, like a bigger brother," Smich testified.

Smich's lawyers began their case after more than three months of testimony and over 90 witnesses called by the Crown. 

Millard's defence team has indicated it will not be calling witnesses and the accused won't testify. An accused person cannot be compelled to testify.

With extra security inside the courtroom, Smich also revealed several thefts he and Millard were involved in that the jury has not yet heard about, including a wood chipper and several storage trailers.

Bosma, 32, vanished on May 6, 2013, after taking two men on a test drive in a pickup truck he was trying to sell. ​Investigators later found charred human remains, believed to belong to Bosma, in a livestock incinerator on Millard's farm in Ayr, Ont.

http://www.cbc.ca

Dellen Millard, the man accused at he centre of the murder case of Hamilton man Tim Bosma, is now charged with the death of his father and former girlfriend. 

The OPP announced Thursday that Millard, 28, is now charged with first-degree murder in the death of Wayne Millard and Toronto woman Laura Babcock, who was last seen in 2012.

Millard’s lawyer, Deepak Paradkar told the Star his client will plead not guilty to all charges. “We will defend them zealously,” Paradkar said.

Mark Smich, 26, who is co-accused in Bosma’s murder is now also charged with first-degree murder in Babcock’s death — police alleging the two also planned to kill her.

Millard’s 21-year-old girlfriend, Christina Noudga, was also charged with accessory to murder after the fact in Bosma’s death.

Babcock, 23, was last seen in by her former boyfriend Shawn Lerner on June 26, 2012 when he dropped her off at a hotel in the Queen St. and Roncesvalles Ave. area. Her phone records, obtained by Lerner who said he passed them to Toronto police investigators, showed Babcock and Millard exchanged several calls after her disappearance.

Babcock’s parents earlier told the Star that they had for months received no updates from police on their daughter’s disappearance and believed the case had fallen off the radar when the officer in charge moved to a new post.

On Thursday, her father Clayton Babcock told the Star he was informed of a pending announcement about his daughter.

“There’s always a glimmer of hope,” Babcock told the Star dejectedly from his Etobicoke home. “Even though it may seem far fetched.”

It’s not yet clear if Babcock’s remains have been found. Police do not need a body to lay murder charges, although it is unusual to do so in the absence of one.

Wayne Millard’s death was originally deemed a suicide by Toronto Police when he was found shot inside the home he shared with his only son in November 2012.

Police later reopened the case following Millard’s charges in the Bosma murder.

The older Millard was the heir to his father, Carl Millard’s airline dynasty, Millardair — which Dellen inherited upon his father’s death. When he was found dead, Wayne Millard had just recently completed the building of a massive million-dollar hangar at Waterloo Regional Airport and was planning for the grand opening.

Bosma put his pickup truck up for sale when two men arrived at Ancaster, Ont. home for a test drove on May 6. He never returned and was reported missing — launching a massive search that captivated international attention. Bosma’s remains were later found on a rural property in Ayr, Ont. belonging to Millard.


Story and photos:  http://www.thestar.com

Dellen Millard’s strange obituary for his father Wayne:  http://www.annrbrocklehurst.com


Wayne Millard with young Dellen Millard 



 

Dellen Millard, 14, stands with his grandfather, Carl Millard, 85, at Brampton Airport in 1999. Dellen rivaled his grandfather's notoriety as the oldest commercial pilot when the teenager became the youngest Canadian to fly solo in both an airplane and a helicopter. 


 
Dellen Millard in 1999.

 
Facebook photo
 Dellen Millard, 27
 
Dellen Millard at the hangar at Waterloo International Airport.


Swearingen SX-300, N54JX: Pilot dan pesawat asing dilepas setelah lengkapi dokumen - Pilot and aircraft released after submitting documents

Merdeka.com - Otoritas Indonesia akhirnya membebaskan Heinz Peier (65), pilot asing yang dipaksa turun di Pangkalan Udara (Lanud) Soewondo, Medan. Laki-laki warga negara Swiss itu dibiarkan terbang bersama pesawatnya, Minggu (13/4). 

 Pantauan wartawan, Heinz dibantu petugas mempersiapkan pesawat Swearingen SX 300 sejak pagi. Mereka juga mengisi 1 drum avgas yang dibeli dari Pertamina.

Pesawat Swearingen SX 300 yang dipiloti Heinz Peier lepas landas dari runway Lanud Soewondo sekitar pukul 9.45 WIB. Dia terbang menuju Bandara Seletar, Singapura.

Heinz Peier dilepas setelah menjalani sejumlah proses, termasuk yang terkait dengan urusan diplomatik, keimigrasian dan administrasi bandara. Dia sempat menjalani pemeriksaan kesehatan dan menandatangani sejumlah dokumen di dalam terminal VIP bekas Bandara Polonia.

Kepala Dinas Logistik Lanud Soewondo yang ditunjuk sebagai Wakil Sementara (WS) Komandan Lanud Soewondo, Letkol Tek Yani Prasetyo, memaparkan bahwa Heinz dibenarkan terbang karena sudah mengurus semua dokumen yang diperlukan. Izin yang dilengkapi di antaranya dari Kemenhub maupun Kemenlu. Dia juga sudah membuat surat pernyataan tidak akan mengulangi perbuatannya.

"Karena dia telah mengurus perizinan dan memenuhi kewajibannya kepada negara, sesuai perintah, kami membolehkannya terbang," jelasnya.

Yani memaparkan, pihaknya sudah memeriksa Heinz sejak dipaksa mendarat di Lanud Soewondo, Kamis (10/4). Dari proses itu, laki-laki yang mengaku pensiunan pilot sipil itu diketahui berencana keliling dunia. Penyidik pun memastikan tidak ada hal yang membahayakan dari aktivitasnya.

"Sebenarnya dia (Heinz) juga dijadwalkan singgah di Bandara Kualanamu, tapi seharusnya pekan depan, karena vendornya masih mengurus dokumen perizinan. Namun, dia langsung terbang ke sini, dengan harapan izinnya rampung saat dia sampai," jelas Yani.

Seperti diberitakan, 2 unit pesawat F-16 memaksa turun pesawat Swearingen SX 300 yang memasuki wilayah udara Indonesia di sekitar pantai barat Pulau Sumatera, Kamis (10/4) siang. Pesawat dipiloti Heinz Peier pun harus landing di Lanud Soewondo, Medan. Setelah mendarat pesawat itu dikepung petugas bersenjata lengkap, termasuk puluhan personel Pasukan Khas TNI AU.



http://www.merdeka.com

 Swearingen SX-300, N54JX 


 


http://registry.faa.gov/N54JX


Heinz Peier keeps a meticulous/precise travel blog of his nonstop Wings & Wheels movement. 


A foreign aircraft was forced to land Thursday by two Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) fighter jets at the Soewondo Airbase in Medan, North Sumatra, after the plane entered Indonesian airspace without authorization.

 The red civilian aircraft, with registration number N54JX, was intercepted by two TNI-AU F-16 jets at 12:44 p.m. Armed Air Force personnel, assisted by sniffer dogs, examined the plane after landing at Soewondo Airbase.

They did not find anything suspicious inside the plane, only three jerry cans of fuel and a bicycle.

As of Thursday afternoon, the plane was being tightly guarded by TNI-AU personnel, as the pilot, identified as Heinz Pieter, was being questioned at the airbase.

National Defense Sektor III commander Air Marshal Sungkono said that the Air Force fighter jets were conducting an operation over Sumatra, when suddenly an unauthorized foreign plane was detected on their radars.

Sungkono added that the two F-16s immediately intercepted the plane.

“The foreign aircraft was intercepted 80 nautical miles west of Meulaboh, Aceh. The plane was then forced to land at the Soewondo Airbase,” Sungkono said at the airbase in Medan on Thursday.

He added that the authorities were still questioning the pilot. Sungkono said that based on initial questioning, the plane was en route from Colombo in Sri Lanka to Singapore. He added that the pilot had claimed he was unaware he had entered Indonesia’s airspace.

“Based on his statement, it seems the pilot did not know the country’s territory,” Sungkono said, adding that Pieter was a retired commercial airline pilot from Switzerland. Sungkono said his command had not discovered any indication of threat from the foreign aircraft.

“As yet, there seems to be no threat to our territorial sovereignty. He [Pieter] appears to be guilty only of not having a permit, which he should have had before entering our territorial airspace. But we are still investigating the incident,” he said, adding that the Swearingan SX-300 civilian plane was personally owned by the pilot.

Pieter, 65, has told authorities at the airbase that he was flying his private plane to travel solo around the world and that he was not aware that he had entered Indonesian airspace.


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



Former Swiss airline pilot Heinz Peier, 65, has been flying around the world almost non-stop since February 2012. According to his blog, he was planning to fly between Sri Lanka and the Philippines when the arrest happened.


















Swiss national Peier now lives in Daytona Beach, Florida after retiring from his career as an airline pilot

The Indonesian Air Force forced a Swearingen SX300 aircraft to land at Soewondo Air Force Base in Medan, North Sumatra, on Thursday for entering Indonesian airspace without permission.

The red US-registered monoplane was forced down by two F-16 jet fighters. A number of fully armed Air Force personnel and sniffer dogs inspected the aircraft after it landed at Soewondo but no dangerous goods were found.

The aircraft will be impounded by the Air Force until the questioning of pilot Heinz Pieter, 65, is complete.

The National Air Defense Sector Command (Kosekhanudnas) III chief, Air Commodore Sungkono, said during an operation in Sumatra a foreign aircraft was detected in Indonesian airspace without a valid permit.

“The foreign aircraft was intercepted at 80 nautical miles [148.16 kilometers] west of Meulaboh, Aceh. The aircraft was then forced to land at Soewondo at about 12:44 p.m.,” he said at the air force base on Thursday.

Sungkono said the pilot had explained he was flying from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Singapore and was not aware he had entered Indonesian airspace.

“The pilot said he was not aware of Indonesia’s borders that’s all,” he said.

Sungkono added that the pilot was a retired commercial pilot from Switzerland and that so far there were no threat indications from the aircraft.

Heinz told Air Force personnel that he was on a journey around the world in his private, home-built airplane.

 
Ini spesifikasi pesawat asing yang nyelonong masuk Medan 
Siang ini, Kamis (10/4), tiba-tiba teritorial udara di sekitar daerah Medan heboh. Ada sebuah pesawat asing yang tiba-tiba nyelonong melintas di di Kota Sibolga, Pulau Sumatera. Kota ini hanya berjarak sekitar 350 kilometer dari Medan.

Ketika pesawat itu mulai terdeteksi, tentu TNI AU tak tinggal diam. Akhirnya pesawat yang hanya berisi satu pilot itu dipaksa turun di Lanud Soewondo Medan. Pesawat latih itu sempat ditempel dan dipaksa turun dengan dua pesawat F-16 milik TNI AU.

Sekitar pukul 13.00 WIB, akhirnya pilot yang belum diketahui identitas dan kewarganegaraannya dibawa masuk ke ruang VIP bandara dengan pengawalan ketat. Sedangkan pesawat berwarna merah itu terus dijaga petugas bandara dan Paskhas TNI.

Lalu sebenarnya pesawat apa yang digunakan pilot asing itu?

Pilot asing itu diketahui menerbangkan pesawat Swearingen SX-300. Pesawat asal Amerika Serikat itu pertama kali dikembangkan oleh Ed Swearingen seorang ahli penerbangan dari San Antonio, Texas sejak tahun 1980. Kemudian pesawat ini mulai perdana diterbangkan pada 1 Juli 1984.

Swearingen SX-300 termasuk pesawat yang mempunyai performa tinggi, namun hanya mempunyai dua kursi saja di dalamnya. Pesawat ini pun mampu menjelajah udara dengan kecepatan 106km/jam (66 mil per jam).

Pesawat ini mempunyai tiga baling-baling. Dengan desain kontemporer kanopi terbuka, konstruksinya juga berada di luar kemampuan rata-rata dari pesawat amatir lainnya. Swearingen SX-300 mempunyai 300 tenaga kuda (220 kW) dengan enam mesin silinder agar mampu terbang secara maksimal di udara.

Sang pilot sudah diketahui sebagai warga negara Swiss usia 65 tahun bernama Hing Pier. Hingga kini pilot itu masih diperiksa intensif oleh TNI. 


Swiss pensioner flying around the world in plane he built himself is forced to land by Indonesian fighter jet and arrested at gunpoint after entering their airspace 
  •  Heinz Peier, 65, used to be a Swiss Air pilot but has since retired
  •  Since 2012 he has been flying around the world in a homemade plane
  •  His travels have so far taken in six continents and more than 100 cities
  •  He was forced to land in Soewondo, Indonesia, today by fighter jets
  •  Peier was arrested at gunpoint after apparently flying into their airspace
A retired Swiss airline pilot flying around the world for the last two years in a plane he built himself has been arrested after straying into Indonesian airspace.

Heinz Peier, 65, was forced to land by Indonesian fighter jets today before being surrounded by armed soldiers at Soewondo Air Base where he was arrested.

According to his blog, Peier was due to travel from Sri Lanka to the Philippines when the arrest happened, and was not planning to stop in Indonesia.

However, according to an Indonesian Air Force official, Peier was on a ferry flight from Colombo to Singapore when he entered their airspace illegally, suggesting that he may have changed his route.

In the pictures he is surrounded by soldiers who point their guns at him while he climbs out of his aircraft before being taken away.

Since then he has travelled almost non-stop for two years, taking in six continents - including Antarctica - visiting around 30 countries, and stopping in more than 100 cities.

On his travels he has toured safari parks, ridden on elephants, sailed around glaciers and even took part in a cycle race in his native Switzerland.

He flies solo, stopping only to refuel and take in some sights before jetting off again. He is sometimes joined by his two grown-up daughters, Celcilia and Bianca.

In his last post, dated two days ago in Sri Lanka, Peier says he is due to visit the temple of Kanda after staying the night in the Sri Lankan mountains.

He also discussed refueling his plane beforehand in case he needs to depart 'on a moment's notice.'

It is not clear if Peier is being held by the Indonesian authorities or if he is has been released. 
 
Story, photos and comments/reaction:   http://www.dailymail.co.uk

ReelTime Partners Begins Development of Reality Television Series "Plane Nuts"

 EVERETT, WA, Apr 10, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- ReelTime Rentals, Inc. DBA ReelTime Partners a fast growing multimedia company proudly announces that it has signed an exclusive development, production, and marketing contract with Plane Nuts for the purposes of developing a reality based series.

Developmental filming of "Plane Nuts" has begun in Auburn, WA. "Plane Nuts" fresh new content profiles the acquisition and re-sales of general aviation airplanes such as Piper Cherokees, Ultralights, and vintage airplanes. The compelling characters are a mismatched band of retirees, A&P mechanics, a construction worker, a punk kid, and the nutty executive who funds the insanity. We have seen people go crazy over their hobbies but these guys are Plane Nuts."

James Hodge, CEO of ReelTime also remarked, "Today's receipt of the professional services retainer for the development and production of "Plane Nuts" edifies the basis for revenue from the development of new content while positioning us to share in all revenues created from the marketing of the Project. The earnings will allow the company to move full steam ahead establishing a pattern of revenue furthering our unique business model."

About ReelTime: ReelTime Partners www.reeltime.com is in the business of identifying and monetizing individuals and companies who have been thrust into the public eye through the media. This awareness may come as a result of being featured on a TV show, newsworthy event, or viral social media exposure. Most individuals and companies are not prepared to monetize such exposure and often times find the exposure passes without having used it to their advantage. ReelTime through its partners is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the exposure and to maximize the benefits. Maximizing the opportunity may be achieved via merchandising, leveraging exposure into relationships, creating and marketing new revenue streams for existing products, and launching new products. ReelTime also helps increase the exposure that its partners receive and aid in the shaping of its image.

Safe Harbor For Forward-Looking Statements

When used in this statement, the words "may," "will," "except," anticipate," "continue," "estimate," "project,"" intend" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27a of the securities act of 1933 and Section 21e of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 regarding events, condition, and financial trends that may affect the Company's future plans of operations, business strategy, operating results, and financial position. Persons reviewing this report are cautioned that and forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risk and uncertainties and those actual results may differ materially from those include within the forward-looking statements as a result of varying factors. Such factors include among other things, uncertainties, relating to our success in judging consumer preferences, financing our operations, entering into strategic partnerships, engaging management, seasonal and period to period fluctuations in sales, failure to increase market share or sales inability to service outstanding debt obligations dependents on a limited number of customers, increased production costs or delays in production of new products intense competition within the industry, inability to protect the intellectual property in the international market for our products, changes in market conditions and other matters disclosed by us in our public filings from time to time, Forward-looking statements speak only as to the date they are made. The Company does not undertake to update forward-looking statements to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made.


Source:    http://www.marketwatch.com

Cirrus SR22 GTS, 147 Aviation Inc Trustee, N147KA: Accident occurred July 21, 2013 in English Channel, UK

 A London-based German banker was worried about the weather before taking off in a one-engined aircraft that crashed into the English Channel, an air accident report has said.

Small sections of the Cirrus SR22 flown by Sascha Schornstein, 36, recovered from the sea indicated that the aircraft  "experienced a high-energy impact with the surface", said the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report.

The report did not determine the cause of the accident around noon on July 21 last year but said that "pilot incapacitation could not be discounted as a factor".

The AAIB also said the aircraft was being flown in conditions of low cloud or sea fog with little or no discernable horizon.

In addition, Mr Schornstein was qualified to fly only under visual flight rules (VFR) in which a pilot flies only if visibility is good.

The report said that immediately before the crash he was "flying in meteorological conditions that were not suitable for flight under VFR" with the pilot not qualified to fly on instruments.

The report said that before taking off for Le Touquet in France from Blackbushe airport in Hampshire, Mr Schornstein "was concerned about the weather" and flew several circuits of the airfield before departing.

The AAIB said: "The lack of evidence that the pilot used the emergency parachute system and absence of any emergency radio transmission means that pilot incapacitation could not be discounted as a factor."

The report said that, three weeks after the incident, a diver reported aircraft wreckage about nine miles from where the original floating wreckage was found.

Inquiries by the AAIB confirmed this was likely to be from the aircraft but the hazards of recovering it were "excessive for the limited new evidence it might provide".

After the incident, a search failed to find the the missing pilot and was eventually called off, with Hampshire police initially saying it was treating the case as a missing person inquiry.

The pilot's wife, Russian-born Yulia Schornstein, said shortly after the crash that flying had been her husband's passion and he had always been "well prepared" when flying.


Source:  http://www.capitalfm.com


 

Report name:  Cirrus SR22, N147KA
Registration:  N147KA
Type: Cirrus SR22
Location:  English Channel
Date of occurrence:  21 July 2013
Category:  General Aviation - Fixed Wing


Summary:
The aircraft was flying from Blackbushe to Le Touquet when it disappeared from radar. Small sections of the aircraft recovered later from the sea surface indicated that it experienced a high energy impact with the surface. The aircraft was being flown in conditions of low cloud or sea fog with little or no discernable horizon. The pilot did not have an instrument or IMC rating. The investigation did not determine the cause of the accident.


History of the flight: 
The aircraft was on a private flight from Blackbushe Airport to Le Touquet Airport in France. The pilot arrived at the airport at 0810 hrs and spoke to the controller on duty in the ATC tower. During this conversation, he expressed concern about the weather, specifically the cloudbase. The controller advised him that at Farnborough Airport (4 nm to the southeast) the cloudbase was approximately 1,500 ft. After some discussion, the pilot stated his intention to fly some circuits to assess the weather and, if he decided it was suitable, he would then depart for Le Touquet.

http://www.aaib.gov.uk/publications


http://www.aaib.gov

NTSB Identification: CEN13WA427
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Sunday, July 21, 2013 in English Channel, United Kingdom
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N147KA
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On July 21, 2013, about 1200 UTC, a Cirrus SR-22, N147KA, (s/n 1944) was found in the English Channel near the last radar contact coordinates. The airplane was destroyed and the pilot is missing, unlikely to have survived.

This investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the British government. Any further information may be obtained from:

Air Accidents Investigations Branch
Farnborough House
Berkshire Copse Road
Aldershot, Hampshire
GU11 2HH, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 1252 5130300
Facsimile: +444 (0) 1252 376999
E-mail: investigations@aaib.gov.uk

This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by, or obtained from, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch of England.  
 
Sascha Schornstein



 
Wreckage of the Cirrus SR22 GTS (N147KA) aircraft that crashed off Dungeness. 




Silver Airways leaving Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport (KPIB), Mississippi

It’s official: Silver Airways has served notice that it intends to pull service from the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.

Hattiesburg-Laurel Executive Director Tom Heanue said he received a phone call from airline officials Wednesday afternoon to let him know that Silver intended to file 90-day Notice of Termination papers.

Heanue said Silver informed him that it was shutting down the bulk of its Atlanta operations.

“I have been expecting this,” Heanue said. “Now, all we can do is wait and see who bids when the (Department of Transportation’s) ‘Request for Proposals’ is issued.”

Hattiesburg-Laurel wasn’t the only Mississippi airport affected by Silver’s actions Wednesday. Meridian, Tupelo and Greenville also will lose service from Silver, as will Muscle Shoals, Ala.

“While we have been privileged to be able to serve these cities from Atlanta for the past year-and-a-half, multiple factors have combined to make it economically impossible for us to continue flying in these markets,” Silver Airways President/Chief Executive Officer Dave Pflieger said in a release. “New federal regulations related to flight and duty limitations, as well as increased requirements related to new-hire pilot certification, have had the unintended effect of creating a nationwide shortage of regional airline pilots.

“Those facts, coupled with significantly lower-than-expected passenger enplanements in most of our Altanta-network cities have made it uneconomical for us to continue serving these communities.”

Silver began providing connections from Pine Belt to Atlanta in late 2012, stepping into the void when Delta Air Lines announced in the summer of 2011 that it intended to drop 24 routes in smaller markets across the nation, including Hattiesburg-Laurel, Greenville and Tupelo in Mississippi.

Silver Airways, a regional carrier based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was awarded the routes as the Essential Air Service subsidy jumped from about $1.4 million annually to about $2.9 million.

But the marriage between Silver and Hattiesburg-Laurel has been rocky.

It’s official: Silver Airways has served notice that it intends to pull service from the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.

Hattiesburg-Laurel Executive Director Tom Heanue said he received a phone call from airline officials Wednesday afternoon to let him know that Silver intended to file 90-day Notice of Termination papers.

Heanue said Silver informed him that it was shutting down the bulk of its Atlanta operations.

“I have been expecting this,” Heanue said. “Now, all we can do is wait and see who bids when the (Department of Transportation’s) ‘Request for Proposals’ is issued.”

Hattiesburg-Laurel wasn’t the only Mississippi airport affected by Silver’s actions Wednesday. Meridian, Tupelo and Greenville also will lose service from Silver, as will Muscle Shoals, Ala.

“While we have been privileged to be able to serve these cities from Atlanta for the past year-and-a-half, multiple factors have combined to make it economically impossible for us to continue flying in these markets,” Silver Airways President/Chief Executive Officer Dave Pflieger said in a release. “New federal regulations related to flight and duty limitations, as well as increased requirements related to new-hire pilot certification, have had the unintended effect of creating a nationwide shortage of regional airline pilots.

“Those facts, coupled with significantly lower-than-expected passenger enplanements in most of our Altanta-network cities have made it uneconomical for us to continue serving these communities.”

Silver began providing connections from Pine Belt to Atlanta in late 2012, stepping into the void when Delta Air Lines announced in the summer of 2011 that it intended to drop 24 routes in smaller markets across the nation, including Hattiesburg-Laurel, Greenville and Tupelo in Mississippi.

Silver Airways, a regional carrier based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was awarded the routes as the Essential Air Service subsidy jumped from about $1.4 million annually to about $2.9 million.

But the marriage between Silver and Hattiesburg-Laurel has been rocky.

Source:  http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

Airline departs Muscle Shoals, Alabama: Silver Airways gives 90-day notice

MUSCLE SHOALS — Silver Airways announced it will discontinue commercial air service from Northwest Alabama Regional Airport to Atlanta in 90 days.

The airline stated in a news release that leaving Muscle Shoals and four Mississippi communities is part of the company’s plans to increase revenue, reduce costs and better position the airline for future growth and opportunities.

Silver has been providing twice daily fights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport since October 2012, but has been plagued with flight delays and cancellations.

Airline officials claim several factors, including new federal regulations related to flight and duty limitations, and increased requirements related to new pilot certification, combined to make it economically impossible for the company to operate.

“These factors, coupled with significantly lower than expected passenger enplanements in most of our Atlanta network cities, have made it uneconomical to continue serving those communities,” Silver Airways President and CEO Dave Pflieger said in the release.

Rick Elliott, chairman of the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport board of directors, said the airline’s leaving has been a possibility.

“I’m not sure if it’s not a blessing in disguise,” Elliott said. “They’ve really been a huge disappointment. We’ve been dealing for two years with an attitude of indifference from Silver Airways.”

Elliott said the reason enplanements were so low was because of the airline’s poor performance.

“The problem was their on-time rate was 50 percent, and cancellations were nine to 11 percent,” he said. “How do you market something that bad? I think, to be perfectly honest with you, we did everything we possibly could on our end to make it work.”

Elliott cites a lack of competitive fares, poor performance and the lack of an early morning flight as reasons the public didn’t support the service.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based airline will also discontinue flights from Atlanta to Greenville, Hattiesburg-Laurel, Tupelo and Meridian in Mississippi.

According to the news release, Silver Airways provided the U.S. Department of Transportation with the required 90-day notice of its intent to discontinue scheduled air service.

The company was awarded an Essential Air Service Contract to provide air service to the Shoals and the four Mississippi communities. That contract is set to expire Sept. 30.

The Department of Transportation is expected to send out requests for proposals this month to airlines interested in providing air service to these markets.


Source:   http://www.timesdaily.com

Jet flight ‘vanished’ for 30 minutes over Germany

Five days after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously last month, a Jet Airways flight from London to Mumbai was reported missing for more than 30 minutes while flying over Germany, causing German aviation authorities to panic and subsequently complain to the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Documents accessed by The Indian Express show that the DGCA has launched an inquiry after its German counterpart complained that on March 13, pilots of flight 9W117 lost communication with air traffic authorities in Germany and did not respond through much of the duration of the flight over German airspace.

The flight was a Boeing 777-300ER jet with the registration VT-JEG. It was manufactured in 2007 and had a seating capacity of 312 passengers.

“The communication with the flight was lost for around 30 minutes over German airspace. German authorities panicked as it came close on the heels of the incident involving MH370,” an Indian official said.
 
Acting on the German complaint, a preliminary investigation body (PIB) of the DGCA convened a meeting in Mumbai on March 25 to discuss the issue.

A Jet Airways spokesperson confirmed the incident when reached by The Indian Express.

“The Jet Airways flight 9W 117 was between London and Mumbai where communication was lost over German airspace as the crew overlooked increasing the speaker volume after removing the headphones. This was investigated by the regulator and the pilots were off flying for two weeks. The report has been sent to the German authorities for closure.”

A DGCA official involved in the inquiry corroborated this version and said the pilots, had in their official deposition submitted that both of them had “removed their headphones”, resulting in a break in communication.

However, the incident is being construed as “serious” since the aircraft was out of contact for a full 30 minutes, just days after the Malaysian airliner incident.


Source:   http://indianexpress.com

Russia, Poland to pay tribute to memory of Smolensk air crash victims

 



A delegation of the Polish Embassy in Moscow under Ambassador Wojciech Zajonczkowski will take part in the events to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Polish President Lech Kaczynski's plane crash near Smolensk.

Memorial services will begin at 10:15 a.m., with a Catholic and an Orthodox priest uttering prayers in Polish and in Russian on the site of the crash, the head of the consular service of Poland in Smolensk, Michal Greczylo, said.

Andrzej Kunert, an official of the Polish organization in charge of Polish burial sites abroad, will also take part in the commemorative event.

The guests will lay wreaths at the impact location and will then leave for the Katyn memorial. Smolensk Governor Alexei Ostrovsky and representatives of the region's university students will lay wreaths at the memorable stone at the Severny airfield.

The Polish President's aircraft crashed near Smolensk on April 10th 2010 because of thick fog. 96 people aboard the aircraft, - 8 crewmembers and 88 passengers, including President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and high-ranking Polish officials died in the crash.

http://www.smolenskcrashnews.com

NTSB Identification: ENG10RA025
Accident occurred Saturday, April 10, 2010 in Smolensk, Russia
Aircraft: TUPOLEV TU154, registration:
Injuries: 89 Fatal.

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

On April 10, 2010, about 0656 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a Tupolev Tu-154M, Tail Number 101, operated by the Polish Air Force as flight PLF101, crashed during approach to the Military Aerodrom Smolensk "Severnyi", Russia. All 89 passengers and 7 flightcrew were killed, including the President of Poland. The airplane was destroyed by impact and postcrash fire.

Following the accident, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland concluded a bilateral agreement that the regional international independent safety investigation organization, the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), would conduct the investigation. Although the airplane was operated as a "state" aircraft, by the mutual agreement, the investigation was conducted following the guidance provided in ICAO Annex 13 Standards and Recommended Practices. As the United States was state of design and manufacture for the TAWS and FMS units, the NTSB was requested to support the investigation activity.

For more information on the accident investigation, contact MAK at mak@mak.ru.




Poland remembers 2010 Smolensk air disaster 

 Ceremonies are taking place in Warsaw on Thursday in honour of the 96 who died, including President Lech Kaczynski and wife Maria, in the Smolensk air disaster on 10 April 2010.

At 08.41 am local time this morning a trumpet played at the Powązki Military Cemetery in the Polish capital, the precise time four years ago when the TU-154 aircraft, carrying politicians, officials and top military brass to a WWII Katyn massacre remembrance ceremony crashed in a field near the Smolensk military airport in western Russia.

The official ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Deputy Prime Minister Elżbieta Bieńkowska and Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and members of the victims' families

As the trumpet sounded the names of the 96 victims were read out and prayers were said at the cemetery where 28 of the dead are buried.

Events are also taking place in cities around Poland, including Bialystok, Czestochowa, Elblag, Gdansk, Gdynia and Lublin, Nowy Sacz, Radom, Sopot, Wroclaw, Zakopane and Zielona Gora.

At the same time as the official ceremony was under way at Powązki cemetery, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) opposition party and identical twin brother of the late president, attended mass at a church in Warsaw and then gathered with supporters outside the Presidential Palace to pay their respects to the dead.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski has rejected official explanations of the cause of the Smolensk air disaster, with reports by both Poland and Russia finding that poor visibility and human error were behind the crash of the TU-154.

Kaczynski and members of his Law and Justice party have referred in the past to the "assassination" of President Lech Kaczynski and a report will be released today by MP Antoni Macierewicz which will claim that an explosion brought down the plane four years ago.

On Monday, however, Poland's top military prosecutor Colonel Ireneusz Szelag presented 1300 pages of documentation rejecting the theory that an explosion caused the air crash.

“After analysing 700 samples, experts found no traces of an explosion taking place aboard the TU-154,” he said.

But MP Macierewicz, who is also a deputy leader of the Law and Justice party, said the latest official assessment into the causes of the disaster was "unreliable".

"There are allegations that falsification of evidence could have occurred,” he said, alluding to a cover up by both Polish and Russian authorities.

There is also anger by supporters of the late president that Russia has yet to return the wreck of the TU-154, though Moscow says that investigations are still ongoing.

A demonstration organised by the right-wing Gazeta Polska newspaper outside the Russian Embassy in Warsaw on Wednesday night called for the return of the plane wreck and other key evidence into the causes of the disaster.

An opinion poll for the Gazeta Wyborcza daily by the Millward Brown pollster found that one-in-four (23 percent) of respondents believe that the death of President Kaczynski was the result of a “conspiracy” – an increase of six percent from a similar poll on the 3rd anniversary of the disaster.

Source:  http://www.thenews.pl

Kingman, Arizona: County planners approve change to a permit for a private landing strip and an airplane hangar on property in Havasu Heights north of Lake Havasu City

KINGMAN — The planning and zoning commissioners approved Wednesday a permit for a wireless cell tower north of Bullhead City.

The commissioners approved a building permit for a 100-foot wireless communication tower off Katherine Mine Road near Katherine Heights. The property is zoned multiple residential. An upcoming meeting by the District 2 Board of Adjustment will address setbacks.

The commission also approved a change to a permit for a private landing strip and an airplane hanger on property in the Havasu Heights north of Lake Havasu City. The land is zoned agricultural residential, 36-acre minimum lot size. The change to the permit would allow extending the strip into two parcels and would include a crosswind landing strip.

A neighbor opposed the crosswind landing strip saying there would be an increase in noise and the danger of a plane experiencing mechanical problems. She also said there is already a landing strip there.

The owner, Arlo Cox, said it would be for personal use and not for commercial use except for emergency landings. He also said the noise is less than an all-terrain vehicle. The strip would be used by future lot owners.

The commission also re-elected District 3 Commissioner Carl Flusche of Lake Havasu City as the commission chairman and District 5 Commissioner Mehdi Azarmi as vice chairman for 2014. The 10 commissioners, two from each supervisor district, meet each month to recommend planning and zoning issues to the county supervisors.

Steve Buck and Robert Jones represent District 2, which includes Bullhead City, and Azarmi and Paul Selberg represent District 5, which includes Mohave Valley and Fort Mohave.

The planning and zoning issues will go before the county supervisors for approval at their May 5 board meeting.


Source:   http://www.mohavedailynews.com

Santa Monica Keeps Options Open in Lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration

April 10, 2014 -- City Hall may appeal a decision by a federal judge in February to throw out a lawsuit that officials had hoped would settle a long-standing feud with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the future of the City-owned Santa Monica Airport.

Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Moutrie announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that the City had filed a notice of appeal in response to Judge John F. Walter’s decision to toss the lawsuit, which would have laid the groundwork for the City to begin closing the century-old airfield as early as 2015.

Filing the notice of appeal, however, does not necessarily mean the City will go through the whole process, but was more about keeping Santa Monica’s options open, according to officials.

“The filing of a notice starts the appeal process,” Moutrie told the Lookout in an email Tuesday. “And, if a notice of appeal is not timely filed, the right to appeal would be lost.”

After Walter’s February ruling, the City had 60 days to appeal the decision.

“An appeal can be abandoned after filing if the appellant decides not to pursue the appeal,” Moutrie said, speaking about the appeal process in general.

“Generally speaking, filing a notice of appeal preserves the right to pursue and appeal but does not require doing so,” she said.

The lawsuit that the City filed in November was the latest volley in Santa Monica’s ongoing war with the FAA over the future of the airport, which sits on 227 acres of City-owned land.

In the suit, the City claimed its 1984 settlement agreement with the FAA expires on July 1, 2015, the City no longer has to operate its land as an airport.

The FAA argued, however, that due to legal obligations embedded in the transfer documents signed when the federal government returned operations of the airport to Santa Monica after World War Two, the City must operate the land as an airport “in perpetuity.”

While the judge did not uphold the FAA’s claim, he ruled that the City had waited too long to challenge the federal government’s claim in the property.

Read more here:   http://www.surfsantamonica.com

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Search Zone Narrows: Crews Focus on Picking Up Fading Signals That May Be From 'Black Boxes'

The Wall Street Journal

By Rachel Pannett


April 10, 2014 12:10 a.m. ET

SYDNEY—The search zone for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continued to narrow Thursday, as authorities focused on picking up fading signals that may be from the missing jet's "black boxes" before their batteries run out of power.

The Australian authority leading the multinational hunt said more than a dozen planes and 13 ships would patrol an area of about 57,923 square kilometers (22,364 square miles) of the southern Indian Ocean northwest of Perth—the narrowest zone yet in a close to five-week-old search for the jet, which disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8.

The planes and ships are continuing to scour the surface of the sea for debris that could provide confirmation that Flight 370 went down in the area. Air sorties on Wednesday spotted a large number of objects, but those items fished out of the water by ship crews weren't from the missing plane, according to Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre.

Authorities believe they are closing in on the missing jet's likely final resting place after search crews regained contact with underwater pings consistent with emergency locator beacons attached to the flight recorders.

The latest signals, picked up twice on Tuesday, were weaker than the initial pings detected over the weekend, suggesting the recorders' batteries were close to running out of power. Beacons on the plane's two flight recorders have an estimated battery life of about 30 days before they stop emitting signals. It has been more than a month since the plane disappeared.

Investigators believe Flight 370 ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean after vanishing from civilian radar as responsibility for communicating with the plane was being handed from Malaysian ground control to Vietnam. It was carrying 239 passengers and crew.

On Wednesday, Australia sent a P-3 Orion military aircraft to drop 84 sonar buoys in a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean, broadly in the same spot where the Australian defense vessel Ocean Shield detected the stream of signals. Each sonar buoy is equipped with a set of underwater microphones that unspool on wires to a depth of 1,000 feet.

The buoys send data through a radio system back to the aircraft for analysis–a technique typically used to track enemy submarines attempting to evade surface radar. Dropped in a pattern across the search area, the buoys could help to triangulate the source or sources of four signals picked up by the Australian navy since April 5.

Ocean Shield has been sweeping a 7-mile strip of water since Friday. It is towing a U.S. Navy device nearly 2 miles beneath the ocean surface, listening for sounds from the black boxes. Other vessels, including the Chinese ship Haixun 01, are also doing an underwater search of an area farther south, though they haven't detected any new signals since late last week.

Unless search crews can pinpoint a more precise location for the signals detected by Ocean Shield—which are up to 15.5 miles apart—undersea vehicles hunting for plane wreckage on the ocean floor would need to cover a zone of about 502 square miles, according to the U.S. Navy, which is coordinating the underwater search. The submersibles travel at walking pace, meaning it could be weeks rather than days before any debris is found.

"The more effort we put into location of where the transmission is coming from, the more certainty we will have that we will find something on the bottom of the ocean," Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is leading the search operation, said Wednesday.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said that search crews still needed hard evidence, such as a photograph of the wreckage, to declare the plane has crashed.

To avoid interfering with the delicate search for signals, authorities are holding back on deploying any other ships or underwater vehicles, though Air Chief Marshal Houston indicated Wednesday such a move wasn't far away. Choosing to deploy the Bluefin-21, a torpedo-shaped submersible drone strapped to the Ocean Shield's deck, would mark another switch in the search, effectively signaling an end to hopes of more signals from the black boxes.

Authorities think the seabed is covered with a thick carpet of silt that might be distorting the signals and could also handicap any undersea vehicles sent to look for plane wreckage using sonar initially and later video cameras. The silt also may hide debris from Flight 370 that likely scattered over a wide area as it sank to the ocean floor, they said.

The two-year underwater hunt for the black boxes of Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, provides sobering lessons in the search for Flight 370. The ocean floor in the Air France crash was nearly 2.5 miles deep, with forbidding peaks and valleys. It took small robotic submarines provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution nearly 60 trips under the surface before the black boxes were discovered.


Source:  http://online.wsj.com