Monday, May 05, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Congressman seeks answers from Federal Aviation Administration after PIX11 ‘Air Rage’ investigation


NEW YORK (PIX11) – In response to a PIX 11 News investigation into air-traffic controllers returning to the job after contributing to deadly crashes, a U.S. congressman has fired off a letter to the head of the FAA seeking answers.  

 PIX 11 News has exclusively received a copy of the letter U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney sent to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

“I write to you today to express my serious concerns about a recent report by PIX 11 News,”  Maloney writes.  The congressman, who is a member of the House Aviation subcommittee, then adds: “Their investigation into air traffic controllers has uncovered some disturbing facts.”

Maloney is seeking answers to the following questions:

• “What is the procedure for a FAA investigation following an incident or an accident?  What corrective actions are taken and how are they recorded?”

 • “How many employees’ actions have been considered contributing factors in accident reports?”

• “What specific accountability regulations exist for employees involved in a serious or deadly accident?  How are these regulations enforced?”

• “What determines whether an air traffic controller is temporarily or permanently removed from their air traffic control duties?

• “What types of error have been considered the result of “gross negligence” in incidents or accidents involving air traffic controllers?

• “What transparency measures exist when the FAA investigates an accident?

PIX11 News raised many of these questions to the FAA during its investigation, only to receive no answers.  After PIX 11 News initial set of reports.  the agency provided a statement that PIX 11 News has since posted.

Maloney in his letter acknowledges the “tireless efforts of the thousands of men and women working as air traffic controllers who work diligently to ensure our safety,” only to finish by addressing Huerta directly:  “I look forward to your response.”

The letter was copied to Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Story and video:

Fury as air traffic controller in 2009 crash returns to work

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Hudson Collision Errors 

The Wall Street Journal 
By Andy Pasztor 
Updated April 29, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

Repeated safety violations by air-traffic controllers led to the fatal midair collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small private plane over the Hudson River in August, according to documents released Wednesday by federal investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board information paints the most detailed picture yet of how a series of lapses by a number of controllers–including distractions caused by personal business–preceded the high-profile crash that killed nine people.

The victims included five Italian tourists celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of one of the passengers, as well as a Pennsylvania businessman and two others who died aboard the single-engine Piper aircraft. Both craft plummeted into the river near the West 30th Street helipad in Manhattan, from which the chopper had taken off just earlier. Joggers and pedestrians watched and filmed the horrific scene.

The board's data reinforce earlier indications that a distracted controller, engaged in a personal phone call while on duty and juggling various tasks, failed to keep proper track of the small, propeller-powered plane. The controller, Carlyle Turner, later told investigator he didn't see or hear radar-system warnings about an impending collision, the documents indicate.

According to a transcript released Wednesday, Mr. Turner was on a personal call for about 2 1/2 minutes. Five seconds before impact, he hung up by telling the female friend on the call: "Let me straighten … stuff out."

Disciplinary action is pending against Mr. Turner, according to people familiar with the details. An FAA spokeswoman said he remains on paid administrative leave, but declined to elaborate. A spokesman for the union representing controllers declined to comment, and said Mr. Turner wasn't available for comment.

In addition to shedding more light on the actions of controllers, the latest information highlights apparent slipups by both pilots, as well as other factors that contributed to the tragedy.

In analyzing the sequence of events, investigators are raising new questions about why Brian Jones, a controller based at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, told the safety board that he also failed to hear or see the same collision warnings.

According to investigators, Mr. Jones wasn't wearing glasses at work that day, as required by his medical certificate. Mr. Jones said that at first he thought an aircraft, by itself, had crashed into the river. When he realized a midair collision had occurred, according to a summary of his interview with investigators, "it hit him like a ton of bricks and he was pretty much in shock at that point."

The union also declined to make him available for comment.

In addition, Investigators disclosed that the experienced pilot of the sightseeing helicopter failed to follow the normal flight path—he climbed above 1,000 feet—after taking off from a heliport just moments before the accident. The collision occurred at an altitude of 1,100 feet, with neither pilot issuing any kind of emergency warning or transmission.

In the wake of the crash, amid pressure from federal lawmakers and local politicians, the Federal Aviation Administration revised flight paths and rules for choppers and planes operating under visual flight rules along the busy Hudson River corridor. New Jersey's Teteboro Airport is used by numerous corporate jets ferrying executives in an out of the New York area.

The latest timeline indicates that Mr. Turner failed to follow proper procedures from the time Steven Altman of Ambler, Pa,, the pilot of the private plane, requested instructions to take off from Teterboro shortly before noon on August 8. The pilot, according to the safety board's information, apparently wasn't familiar with airways over the Hudson and requested an unusual routing.

Initially, Mr. Turner, the Teterboro controller, failed to properly coordinate with other controllers at nearby Newark airport, according to one of the safety board's report. The Newark controller later told investigators he didn't notice any collision warnings.

Meanwhile, an air-traffic control supervisor on duty at Teterboro had stepped out, contrary to normal procedures, to run a personal errand and therefore wasn't available to keep an eye on preparations, according to investigators.

The new safety board documents indicate that the plane's pilot failed to switch radio frequencies as requested, so controllers at Teterboro and Newark weren't able to reach him and issue instructions that may have averted the crash. The Teterboro controller missed the pilot's incorrect acknowledgment of the new radio frequency, according to safety board investigators, because he was on a personal phone call while simultaneously monitoring radio transmissions from the plane's pilot and a Newark airport controller. "He's lost in the (radio spectrum), try him again," Mr. Turner told a fellow controller about 30 seconds before the collision.

Once it was clear that an accident had occurred, controllers also failed to properly follow emergency procedures to notify other agencies, according to investigators.

Next month, the safety board is expected to use the midair collision as one of its case studies at an unusual public forum on aviation safety scheduled for Washington. The three-day event will feature discussion about ways to enhance professionalism and concentration on the job by both pilots and controllers.

The safety board also is expected to look at two instances when school-age children visited the controller tower at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and were allowed by supervisors and their father, an experienced controller, to briefly give instructions to pilots. The May sessions also will focus on various airline pilots distracted by cell phones, personal laptops or nonpertinent conversations while seated behind the controls.


 Excerpts from draft government transcripts of conversations between the control tower of the Teterboro, N.J., airport and the pilot of a Piper plane that collided with a helicopter over the Hudson River on Aug. 8, killing nine people. The pilot of the helicopter involved in the collision was not involved in the conversations, though other helicopter pilots were:

11:48:46 a.m., the Teterboro controller contacts a helicopter in the area to report that a plane is taking off and "will be turning to the southeast, join the river, climbing to 1,100 (feet)."

The controller asks the Piper, tail number N71MC, to report its altitude.

11:50:05 a.m., Piper pilot: "Climbing out of four hundred."

Teterboro controller: "Traffic 11 o'clock and two miles, northwest bound one thousand (feet), a helicopter."

Piper pilot: "Seven one mike charlie, lookin'."

At that point, the helicopter pilot reports the Piper is in sight, and the Teterboro controller tells the Piper, "helicopter has you in sight."

Piper pilot: "Thank you, sir."

11:50:41 a.m., the Teterboro controller gets on the phone with a woman from the airport's operations center. "Do we have plenty of gas for the grill?" he asks.

Operations: "Huh?"

Controller: "I said, we got plenty of gas in the grill?"

Operations: "(unintelligible) it kinda sucks that we can't, we won't be able to do it today."

Controller: "(unintelligible) fire up the cat," a reference to a dead cat found earlier at the airport.

Operations: "Ooh, disgusting. Augh, that thing was disgusting."

Controller: "Chinese people do it, so why can't we?"

Operations: "Augh, stop it."

Controller: (laughter).

11:51:17 a.m. Controller, to the Piper pilot: "One mike charlie, start a left turn to join the Hudson River."

Piper pilot: "One mike charlie."

Eurocopter AS 350BA, Liberty Helicopter Sightseeing Tours, N401LH and Piper PA-32R-300, LCA Partnership, N71MC: Accident occurred August 08, 2009 in Hoboken, New Jersey

NTSB Identification: ERA09MA447A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 08, 2009 in Hoboken, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/25/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N71MC
Injuries: 9 Fatal.

NTSB Identification: ERA09MA447B
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, August 08, 2009 in Hoboken, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/25/2010
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 BA, registration: N401LH
Injuries: 9 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board’s full report is available at

The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-10/05.

On August 8, 2009, at 1153:14 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N71MC, and a Eurocopter AS350BA helicopter, N401LH, operated by Liberty Helicopters, collided over the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. The pilot and two passengers aboard the airplane and the pilot and five passengers aboard the helicopter were killed, and both aircraft received substantial damage from the impact. The airplane flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and the helicopter flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Parts 135 and 136. No flight plans were filed or were required for either flight, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
(1) the inherent limitations of the see-and-avoid concept, which made it difficult for the airplane pilot to see the helicopter until the final seconds before the collision, and (2) the Teterboro Airport local controller’s nonpertinent telephone conversation, which distracted him from his air traffic control (ATC) duties, including correcting the airplane pilot’s read back of the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) tower frequency and the timely transfer of communications for the accident airplane to the EWR tower. Contributing to this accident were (1) both pilots’ ineffective use of available information from their aircraft’s electronic traffic advisory system to maintain awareness of nearby aircraft, (2) inadequate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) procedures for transfer of communications among ATC facilities near the Hudson River Class B exclusion area; and (3) FAA regulations that did not provide adequate vertical separation for aircraft operating in the Hudson River Class B exclusion area.

 Photo Credit: Getty and WPIX
Air traffic controller Carlyle Turner is back on the job, even after a 2009 accident on his watch.

5 injured during turbulence after plane takes off from Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA - May 4, 2014 (WPVI) -- Heavy turbulence injured five people and forced a plane to return back to Philadelphia International Airport shortly after takeoff. 

The US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Orlando took off just after 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

Mark Pensiero, who was one of about 300 onboard the plane, describes the scary moments.

"There was a very brief period in time where the plane felt like it wasn't in control and it wasn't. It was being moved by some pretty intense forces," he said.

Turbulence jolted some passengers.

Before the captain ordered the plane back to Philadelphia International, he asked for anyone with medical experience onboard to help.

Sources tell Action News that four people were taken to local hospitals and a fifth person refused medical treatment.

A 10-year-old child complained of head pain and was taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

A female passenger complained of head and back injuries and was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

A 43-year-old male passenger complained of knee pain and was taken to Methodist Hospital.

A flight attendant complained of neck and back injuries. She was taken to Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital.

Pensiero says the spot where the flight attendant hit her head, made an indent on the plane's interior.

"When she hit her head on the side of the airplane, the part she hit cracked, she hit it hard," said Pensiero.

Action News is told that US Airways is inspecting the plane involved. Officials from US Airways have not returned our phone calls for comment.

Story, video and comments/reaction:

Air show at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst aims to bond public, troops

The skies over Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will ripple with the thunder of jet aircraft and the spectacle of skydivers next weekend at the military facility’s open house and air show.

The first large-scale air show at the base since 2012, the event will showcase more than 60 vehicles new and old from all three branches stationed at the joint compound — the Army, Navy and Air Force — in a mile-long hangar. Titled “America Strong,” the show is meant to show the public, not just what the military has at its disposal, but how they work and live on the base.

With troops on the ground to answer questions for curious onlookers, the show also will feature antique equipment and a mock set-up of a foreign military living situation as well as an aerial demonstration by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fighter jet stunt team and the Army’s Golden Knights parachutists.

“With the Department of Defense sequestration and budget cuts, we had to stop doing a lot of our community outreach programs,” said base spokesperson Angel Lopez. “We were losing touch with the public, and this was a way to show them what’s in their backyard and what it is we have here and do here.”

According to Commander Sgt. Maj. Calvin Coler of the U.S. Army, the show not only gives the public the chance to learn what those at the base do, but also gives the troops themselves the opportunity to see other parts of the base and catch up with each other.

“We adjusted the schedule so a lot of these guys could get to see the air show,” he said. “It’s a chance for them to learn about each other.”

Still, not everyone will have the day off. Troops from the Army will help provide security during the event, while other activities on the base will continue normally.

Scheduling the show in a way that would allow the base to continue functioning was part of what made putting it together so logistically difficult, said Capt. Ryan O’Dea, assistant grounds operations director of the show.

To make room for all of the aircraft — some of which the public will be able to touch, stand on and pose with for pictures — he had to organize an “elephant walk:” a succession of large, lumbering vehicles clearing out of the hangar and moving to other bases around the world to continue their duties.

Questions over the event’s funding also gave O’Dea, and a team of about 20 other officers, little more than four months to organize everything.

According to Lopez, a show of this size usually takes a year to plan.

This year’s show will feature nearly 20 more aircraft than the 2012 show did, and O’Dea said security and transportation plans had been improved upon since the last show.

With 250,000 patrons expected over the course of the two days, the troops asked that those attending the show come with patience for parking.

Attendees are asked to come in at the McGurie, Langlois or Route 68 gates. Once inside, buses will be provided to transport people to different areas of the base.

The air show and open house will take place next Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, including a show schedule and a list of the vehicles expected at the base, visit the website,

Story and photo gallery:

Oshawa residents living with airport noise are living well; Student’s study suggests residents close to airport have pricier homes, more money

 OSHAWA -- The standard of living is high for Oshawa residents most affected by noise from the Oshawa Municipal Airport, a study by a Trent University student has found.

The honors student’s study found that residents living with the most airport noise have more expensive homes than the average Oshawa resident, higher incomes, better education and are more likely to have a job.

Chris Hart is a fourth-year geography student at Trent University in Oshawa specializing in GIS, which combines computer mapping and non-geographic information. He tackled the socio-economic impact of the Oshawa airport on residents for his honours thesis.

“I’ve always kind of had an interest in urban planning and transportation,” said Mr. Hart. “I went to some of the council meetings and open houses and some of the discussions about the runway expansion a couple of years ago.”

Mr. Hart created noise contours for the airport based on flight movements and overlaid the noise contours over census blocks. He wanted to see if airport noise had a socio-economic impact.

The noise-affected area stretches north to Conlin Road, east to Wilson Road, south to King Street and west just past Thornton Road.

The results were that the socio-economic status of residents in the most intense aircraft noise zones was not only the highest among the areas impacted by airport noise, but also higher than the Oshawa-wide average.

“Aircraft noise does not appear to be having a deteriorating impact on the standard of living,” said Mr. Hart.

In the highest noise area, located north of Rossland Road, west of Simcoe Street and east of Stevenson Road, the average home value is $257,000, while the average home in Oshawa is worth $230,000. Average home values ranged from $217,000 to $235,000 in the other noise-impacted areas.

The average family income in the highest noise area is $83,000 compared to the City-average of $71,000. The study also found that the area with the highest noise impact had the highest employment rate among the noise-affected areas and the rate is similar to the Oshawa average. The education rate in the highest noise impact area is higher than the city average.

Mr. Hart’s study also found that 50 per cent of the land use in the noise-affected area near the airport is residential and the majority of the homes were built after the airport opened.

Only 18 per cent of the homes in the noise-affected area were built before 1946, meaning the majority were built after the airport opened in 1941. The largest proportion, 31 per cent, were built between 1946 and 1960, though just under 12 per cent were built more recently, between 1996 and 2006.

His study did not examine why the area closest to the airport has a higher standard of living.

“This was purely a statistical and geographic study, I wasn’t looking at neighbourhood opinions and why they chose to live in that area,” he said.

Story and photo:

OSHAWA -- Chris Hart is a fourth-year Trent University honors geography student who presented a paper on whether noise from the nearby airport impacts property values. April 8, 2014.

Qatar Airlines Close to Signing Revenue-Sharing Pact With British Airways; Agreement Set to Mirror Tie-Ups Between Other Gulf Airlines And Legacy Carriers

The Wall Street Journal

By Rory Jones

May 5, 2014 7:51 a.m. ET

DUBAI—Qatar Airways is "close" to concluding a revenue-sharing agreement with British Airways that would deepen relations between the two Oneworld allies and mirror tie-ups between other Gulf airlines and legacy carriers.

Qatar Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the two airlines were in talks to share revenues on routes in a similar deal to one struck recently with Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. Qatar previously flew twice daily to Hong Kong but has now withdrawn one of those flights and has instead entered into a joint venture that sees Cathay operating an Airbus Group NV A330 aircraft on the route, Mr. Al Baker told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

"We are talking to BA and we are very close to concluding," Mr. Al Baker said. International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, the parent company of British Airways, declined to comment. Qatar currently flies six daily flights into the U.K., while British Airways operates daily to Doha, Mr. Al Baker added.

Emirates Airline last year entered into a similar revenue-sharing strategic partnership with Qantas Airways Ltd.,  agreeing to align ticket prices and flight schedules from Australia to Europe via Dubai. Etihad Airways is also in talks with Air France-KLM to form a partnership where the carriers would divide up the revenues on designated routes between Europe and Abu Dhabi. Etihad has also bought minority stakes in carriers in Europe.

Qatar became the only Gulf carrier to join one of the three global alliances when it joined Oneworld in October last year, a grouping of airlines that includes British Airways and Qantas.


Benjamin Netanyahu Wants Spiffier Private Plane for Overseas Trip; $127K 'Sleep Chamber' Not Enough for Premier

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, complaining he has to rely on “some antenna they stick on a window”, says he lacks reliable and encrypted communications on the chartered aircraft that fly him on visits overseas.

The disclosure, by the leader of a country with deep security concerns, appeared in a report on Sunday by a government-appointed panel that examined whether an official plane should be bought for the prime minister and President Shimon Peres.

It recommended the state purchase a used aircraft and equip it with secure communications and anti-missile countermeasures.

After an aging air force Boeing 707 was retired in 2001, Israel’s prime ministers have chartered aircraft from national commercial carriers for official trips abroad, including 12-hour flights to the United States, a main destination.

“All of those (who testified) pointed to the gravity of the situation, in which the prime minister does not have constant satellite communications for the duration of the flight, which can take many hours on trans-Atlantic routes,” the committee said, after hearing Netanyahu and top security chiefs.

“Communications, when they are available, are not encrypted,” it added.

Netanyahu, in his remarks to the panel, complained about how it was “inconceivable” that “the supreme leadership of the State of Israel is put into a can” that has no protection or proper communications.

“There is communication, when they stick some antenna on a window,” it quoted the Israeli leader as saying.

Reporters who have flown on Netanyahu’s plane have on at least one occasion seen an aide walk back into the press section, cradle a hand-held satellite phone next to a seat window, make a call and ask about the latest news in Israel.

Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen told the committee that sometimes his agency “had sensitive intelligence it wanted to convey to (Netanyahu) … but the prime minister is unable to receive classified information during a flight”.

Tamir Pardo, who heads the Mossad, complained: “You try to jerry-rig something in the cockpit - to improvise something that is completely idiotic”.

The committee estimated that a used long-range plane could be bought for about $70 million, including the cost of special communications and anti-missile equipment.

Charter flights for Netanyahu’s overseas visits and first-class tickets for Peres, who usually flies regular commercial routes, cost the Israeli taxpayer $4 million last year, the committee said.

Netanyahu, who visited Washington and Los Angeles in March and flies to Japan for an official visit later this month, has been pushing for the purchase of an aircraft, arguing it would be cost-effective.

His travel has drawn the most scrutiny among Israelis, who bridled over $127,000 in taxpayer money - tagged onto a $300,000 charter bill - paid to El Al airlines to build a bedroom for Netanyahu and his wife for a 5-hour flight to London last year.

Story and photo:

Top Gulfstream manager talks future of mobility at Georgia Southern University

Even at Gulfstream Aerospace, a leading business jet manufacturer and large employer in the region, getting everyone to use a smartphone has not been the easiest task, according to Hannah Byrne, senior manager of mobile strategy at the company.

Byrne spoke Friday at Georgia Southern University about the past, present and future of mobility at her company as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Savannah chapter of the Technology Association of Georgia.

Byrne told the crowd of about 80 that even coming from a background that included launching a startup company and mobile app within 16 months, mobile development is not for the timid.

“It’s really true, the minute you think you’ve got something, something comes out better, faster, bigger, higher res, you name it, it’s impossible to keep up,” said Byrne. “And in my experience at Gulfstream, it’s even harder because of the size of the organization — we can’t be as nimble.”

Byrne said this is a challenge as she tries to implement mobile technology solutions at Gulfstream, solutions that benefit both the internal corporate workplace and their external clients, the people who own or operate their jets.

She said when she arrived almost two years ago, her boss handed her a Blackberry, already an outdated device from Byrne’s perspective, and had to wait several weeks before getting an iPhone.

“When I started 20 months ago, we had one Objective-C developer — just one native iOS developer — we had a mobile-specific budget of zero and we had less than 500 iOS devices in the environment,” said Byrne.

Flash forward, Byrne said, and the company now has a mobile team of 10 people, 2,500 iOs devices in use — with a few legacy Blackberry users — and 24 apps.

Byrne said a recent survey showed that although many companies say mobile development is a top priority and one of the biggest factors for their future growth, few allocated more than 5 percent of their budget toward relevant IT expenses.

Budgeting is usually the most significant obstacle when trying to determine whether to build a new native application or acquire one, said Byrne, but said IT professionals should not let it stand in the way of delivering useful products.

“Don’t let it be your No. 1 hurdle,” said Byrne.

She concluded with tips for success in the mobile/IT world, including having strong IT leadership and institutional backing, considering disruptive technology, adopting user interface and user experience (UI/UX) designers, fostering internal talent and building a library of reusable code.

She said although Gulfstream is a large and complex organization, she still encourages her mobile team to think innovatively. After all, she said, their clients are among the most mobile in the world, quite literally.

“It’s hard for us to bridge that gap to have innovation, so I try to encourage the internal team to get out a little bit, go to a TAG event and see what other people are doing,” said Byrne.

Story and photo:

Gulfstream’s Hannah Byrne talks about mobile apps to a crowd at the Small Business Council / SMART Luncheon.

Boeing hopes to build more “Growlers” for the U.S. Navy

(KTVI) – Boeing delivers its 100th Growler jet to the U.S. Navy and the company is celebrating, but it’s also hoping to land a contract to build more Growlers.

The “Growler” is an electronic warfare version of the f-18. It’s designed to block enemy radar and radio systems.  Production of the Growler at Boeing will end in 2016 unless Congress approves funding to build 22 more in next year’s federal budget.

The price tag for each is about $60 million.   The Navy wants the jets and calls them an important part of future combat operations.

Story and video:

New Braunfels Regional Airport (KBAZ), Texas

Plane Crashes Just Short of Runway at New Braunfels Regional Airport

(New Braunfels, TX)  --   No injuries were reported when a small airplane crashed just short of the runway at the New Braunfels Regional Airport Friday.

The incident happened Friday afternoon when the plane took off from the Canyon Lake area.

Either during takeoff or shortly after takeoff the plane lost its engine, and so the pilot glided the aircraft towards the New Braunfels Regional Airport only to come up a little short of the actual runway on the far side of the airport property.

Despite initial reports that the plane caught fire when it crashed, New Braunfels Fire officials say there was no fire and no injuries were reported following the crash.


Montgomery County, Maryland: Fire Department Using Drones

LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department has invested in a new tool that will help it better fulfill its mission of public safety — three Unmanned Aircraft Systems, better known as drones. 

“I think that this is going save lives, and it’s also going to save property loss, and it’s going to save us time,” Montgomery County Fire Department assistant chief Mike Clemens told WNEW’s John Domen, who got an exclusive look at the new machines. “It is exciting because it’s another element to make us better.”

Fire officials believe the reconnaissance the drone can provide while a fire is burning will be invaluable.

“Something like this can hover at the height of a building, about 25-30 feet above it,” Clemens said.

The high-definition camera mounted on board is capable of sending still shots and video to crews on the ground, so they don’t have to guess where to target the blaze. This can be especially helpful in highrise building fires.

The drone can also help officials more accurately gauge the structural stability of a burning building, allowing firefighters to escape before a potential collapse.

The new machines will be used in rescue operations both on land and on water.

“We spend a lot of time on the Potomac, and that’s probably the most dangerous thing we do in this profession,” Clemens said. “We can see different currents (in the water), different things that are occurring. We might see different people that are in trouble. We can only see visually what we can see from the boat or what we’re given. When we’re looking for victims, this thing can fly in areas you can’t get to.”

Hazmat situations, suspicious packages, multi-vehicle crashes, and construction accidents well above or even below ground are also the kind of situations the department anticipates the drones being utilized to help MCFRS responders. Clemens said he got the idea to use them while doing preliminary site work at the location where the county is building a new training academy.

Even with the camera on board, the system only weighs about two and a half pounds and is less than two feet in diameter.

It uses a built-in WiFi system to connect to GPS satellites and can be operated by a smart phone or tablet plugged into a remote control. Each drone costs less than $1,000.

Story, photos and video:

Poll: 63 Percent Of Americans Against Personal Drones Being Allowed In US Airspace

Baseball Teams Using Drones At Spring Training

Pakistan allows US to use airspace for military transport

Pakistan has allowed the United States to use its airspace for shipment of military equipments to and from Afghanistan, a private news channel reported on Monday.

The US in the initial phase will transport military vehicles from Karachi to Afghanistan through JinnahInternationalAirport.

According to reports, the first flight transporting 15 military vehicles to Bagram Airbase for the Nato forces in Afghanistan took off from Karachi on Monday.

This was the first time aerial transport was used to supply military equipment to the security forces that are expected to withdraw from war-torn Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Reports said 1,628 vehicles will be sent via air to Afghanistan for Nato forces.

As the reports unfold, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has allowed transit of US/ISAF/NATO cargo to Afghanistan. However, FBR has made it clear that tracking and monitoring of cargo en route, allowed transit under this CGO, shall be carried out accordingly.

Report further said that US Consulate in Karachi will provide a proof of delivery to Customs within 30 days after the cargo is delivered to the consignee.

In the history’s largest pullout of military hardware the US will spend around six billion dollars to take back 35,000 military vehicles and the equipment in 95,000 containers.


Leonard Green Is Sued by ILFC: Jet-Leasing Company Adds Private-Equity Firm to Trade-Secrets Complaint

The Wall Street Journal

By Doug Cameron

May 4, 2014 9:43 p.m. ET

Leonard Green & Partners L.P., the private-equity firm, is being sued by one of the world's largest jet-leasing companies for its alleged role in helping a rival accused of stealing trade secrets and other confidential information.

International Lease Finance Corp. added Leonard Green in an amendment to the lawsuit filed last April against Air Lease Corp., a fast-growing leasing company launched by ILFC founder Steven Udvar-Hazy and other former executives, according to a regulatory filing Friday.

The legal spat involves some of the aircraft finance sector's best-known figures and comes ahead of the planned $5.4 billion sale of ILFC by parent American International Group Inc. to AerCap Holdings NV, a rival jet lessor. The deal is expected to close this month.

Leonard Green was an early shareholder in Air Lease before its flotation, and it is the first external party to be added to the legal action launched against the company and some of its executives.

ILFC alleged in the filing that Leonard Green assisted Air Lease executives' "breaches of their fiduciary duties and duty of loyalty to ILFC and for unfair competition." ILFC declined further comment.

A spokeswoman for Leonard Green declined comment.

Air Lease, which declined comment, countersued AIG and ILFC last August, seeking more than $500 million in damages for alleged breach of contract.

AIG, which reports earnings on Monday, agreed in December to sell ILFC for $5.4 billion in cash and stock. AIG would retain a 46% stake in the enlarged AerCap.

ILFC disclosed in the filing that AerCap planned to transfer its fleet of almost 1,000 aircraft to an entity with an Irish tax residency, in line with most of the Netherlands-based jet portfolio.

In its filing, ILFC said first-quarter profit rose to $124.1 million from $49.6 million.