Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tornado Touches Down Near Miami International Airport (KMIA), Florida

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-0 tornado touched down along NW 14th Street in Doral Thursday afternoon.

The tornado damaged signs and trees in the area and was first reported by the control tower at Miami International Airport. The initial report of a tornado touchdown was confirmed by trained spotters.

The Weather Service had just issued a tornado warning for Miami-Dade county until 3 p.m. when the reported touchdown happened. The weather service also reported a second possible tornado near Hialeah, but no touchdown was ever confirmed.

The tornado warnings were canceled a little after 3:15 p.m.

While the severe weather was moving near the airport, the FAA issued a ground stop due to weather, meaning no flights were allowed in or out for a time Thursday afternoon.

As of 5 p.m., there were 25 cancelled departures and 6 canceled arrivals along with 43 delayed departures and 14 delayed arrivals. The airport also reported 49 flights were also diverted to other area airports.

Flights began to move in and out of the airport again around 4 p.m.

Fort Lauderdale International Airport also saw problems, mainly coming from flooding in and out of the airport. FLL reported 74 arrival delays, 84 departure delays, and a total of 11 cancellations.

In addition to the tornadoes inland, several waterspouts were reported just off the coast as some of the storms pushed out over the open waters.

As the storms pushed through the area, thousands of Miami-Dade County residents lost power. The storms knocked out power to more than 5,000 homes in Miami-Dade County and more than 280 in Broward County as of 4:15 p.m.

By 10 p.m., FPL had reduced the numbers to 900 in Miami-Dade County and 148 Broward County.

Isolated storms are in the forecast for part of Friday, but the wet weather should move out of the area by the weekend.

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Surviving an aircraft crash in the water - Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

By Jen Peura   
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

“Mayday! The engine has failed! This is an emergency! Prepare for ditching!” These dreaded words hopefully no one hears. However, in the event of an emergency, having muscle memory on what actions are needed could very well be the difference between life and death.

As an itinerant wildlife biologist working this summer at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, I am required to take aviation safety training before stepping into a float plane to conduct aerial surveys or simply to be ferried to a remote part of the Refuge. And so here I was at the Nikiski Community Pool to learn what to do if your flight plan goes belly up in the water.

Rick Gividen and Dave Kreutzer, both trainers from Integrity Aviation Training, held a course this past Tuesday that included both a classroom component as well as a hands-on training session in the pool (aka “dunker” training). They introduced three categories of actions that help ensure survival in case of an emergency: pre-takeoff actions, egress (exiting), and post-egress survival.

“When the time to act comes, the time for preparation has passed,” stated Rick.

There are a few pre-takeoff actions that anyone flying, be it in a single engine up to a commercial airbus, could benefit from by simply taking a few moments to evaluate your environment. Rick advised to be aware of the location of the emergency exit. In smaller aircraft, you could even ask the pilot to practice opening the door. Rick spoke of a crash that ended in the worst possible way because the passenger was unable to exit the aircraft — he had never previously opened the door! Rick emphasized that the first time you open the door to the aircraft should not be in dire straits.

The same was true with simply unbuckling the safety belts. A quick practice run could really make a difference if something goes awry. Rick also stated that “all cargo can become a projectile or impediment if not properly secured.” Prior to takeoff make sure that everything is stowed away and take note of anyone or anything that is by the emergency exit. Thinking about details, such as the physical capabilities of the person responsible for opening the emergency exits to where the personal flotation device is located, could make a world of difference.

In the case of an emergency, Rick laid out 7 steps for a successful egression. For those of you who have completed the course, a quick refresher won’t hurt:

1) State “I’m a survivor” and set yourself in the right mindset to succeed.

2) Unplug flight helmet.

3) Open the door to the aircraft and brace for impact.

4) Slow count to 4 and sit up.

5) Locate, clear exit and grab a reference point.

6) Release seat belt and exit the aircraft.

7) Swim hand up, head up, investigate the surface and inflate your PFD.

The instructors emphasized that a positive mental attitude was a huge element of success. Practicing these 7 steps took me and other students to the Nikiski pool, where we were placed in the “Home Depot 2000,” a cage made of PVC pipes, straps, a harness and a helmet plug to simulate exiting an upside down aircraft underwater.

Post-egress survival is mainly dependent on not succumbing to hypothermia or fatigue. “It’s a tragedy to successfully egress ... only to succumb to hypothermia,” stated Rick. Dave reiterated this point that hypothermia is the biggest post-egression hazard.

To demonstrate survival techniques, my class practiced different floating and swimming formations in the pool. These formations were meant to utilize the warmest area of the water column, roughly the top foot of water just below the surface, as well as water that is warmed by our body heat. We got to really know each other after intertwining our limbs in formations such as “the carpet.” However, the best course of action — if the crew can make it to shore — is to start swimming. Keep an eye on every member of the crew, especially the slowest.

Survival tools and how to use them are also of extreme importance once the crew has successfully egressed. Some tools are intended for one-time use, such as dyes and flares, and should be conserved until the right moment when being spotted is most likely.  

Basic preparations and survival techniques can make a huge difference for the crews that are flying into remote areas of the Refuge and other areas of the peninsula. Awareness and a refresher on training will not only give passengers on smaller aircraft peace of mind, but also the pilots who fly the helicopters and float planes that their passengers are prepared for an emergency.

Jennifer Peura is a new biological intern at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. You can find more information about the Refuge at or

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Air Force transport plane diverts to Albany, New York, from New Jersey

Fog caused an Air Force C-17 to detour Wednesday night from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and land at Albany International Airport.

The massive military transport plane is a rare sight locally and its crew stayed overnight. They were still at the airport early Thursday morning.

"They elected to stay here because they couldn't get into McGuire because of the fog," airport spokesman Doug Myers said.

An Air Force official at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Wrightstown, N.J., confirmed the base was fogged in Thursday night, but could not provide any other details.

Myers noted C-17s have landed at the airport with the security detail accompanying President Barack Obama aboard Air Force One that landed at the airport three times during Obama's visits to the Capital Region in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Obama spoke at an event at the Tappan Zee Bridge on Wednesday and a dedication ceremony of the new 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center Thursday. It did not appear that the C-17 that landed in Albany overnight was connected to Obama's visit downstate, Myers said.

The C-17 is 174 feet long, with a 170-foot wingspan and a weight of about 282,000 pounds. The $220 million aircraft is made by Boeing and dwarfs the big C-130 transport planes commonly seen in the skies of the Capital Region.

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Fog caused this Air Force C-17 military transport plane to be diverted from McGuire AFB in New Jersey and to land instead Wednesday night at the Albany International Airport and to stay overnight. It was still there Thursday morning.

Griffin-Spalding County Airport (6A2) Ballot Question Hits Legal Snag

Spalding County had planned to ask voters in November whether they want a new airport. However, that is not the exact question that will appear on the ballot.

County commissioners had voted to put the question on the ballot essentially to take voters’ pulse. According to Commission Chairman Chipper Gardner, there was a legal snag to asking the yes or no question. “A state Supreme Court decision says that you cannot have a straw poll on a general election ballot,” said Gardner.

Instead, the November ballot will ask voters whether they want the county to issue bonds to build a new facility.

WABE asked Gardner whether he thinks the new wording will change people’s vote. “I think it is quite possible that it may affect the way people will vote,” said Gardner. “But people are wanting to have a say-so in this. This is a major project for our county.”

Gardner says most of his constituents appear to be against building a new airport.

The existing facility needs upgrades, but Gardner says it is still unclear exactly how much those will cost. He and other commissioners are looking for more information on that from the Griffin-Spalding Airport Authority.


Federal Aviation Administration-owned day care to close in 120 days: Parents were initially told Jumping Jax was closing Friday

HILLIARD, Fla. -  

Some Nassau County parents are relieved to know their children's day care will remain open for a short time longer.

It's a much different story from 24 hours earlier, when they were left blind-sided.

The parents of children who attend Jumping Jax Child Development Center, located at West County Road 108 in Hilliard, were notified Wednesday that the day care would close its doors Friday.

The day care is owned by the Federal Aviation Administration and services FAA employees.

The FAA sent a letter Thursday saying it will keep Jumping Jax open for 120 more days, giving parents enough time to find a new place to take their kids.

"The center is part of the community. It's been here for 20 years," said Heather Fisk, whose son goes to the day care.

The day care is a place for young kids to learn and grow, have fun and interact with staff.

"It really upsets me and it hurts a lot because, like I said, this school has been here for years," Fisk said.

Parents were left in limbo after learning Wednesday that Jumping Jax would be closing its doors on Friday.

"I happened to find out late last night and I just couldn't believe it," said Linda Purvis, whose grandson attends the day care. "I thought they were closing and going to rebuild, and now we find out they're not going to open it back up at all."

The reason for closing all boils down to safety. The building has a number of structural deficiencies, including a damaged roof. FAA officials said fixing it would cost too much.

"I never noticed it being unsafe," Purvis said. "I've been up here for two years now and I've never noticed anything. The playground is one of the top playgrounds around anywhere."

According to the FAA, the building that houses Jumping Jax was only temporary. That was 20 years ago.

In 2012, parents spent money building a new playground. They were left asking, if the center was going to close, why build it at all?

"If it's a money issue, then why put a playground in like they did?" Purvis said. "That was a fortune they put into that playground."

"I feel like if we had gotten more information sooner, maybe we would be able to make contingency plans," said Elizabeth Oxfouth, whose son goes to Jumping Jax. "But no one found anything out until Tuesday, and then the parents didn't find out until this morning."

Before closing in four months, the agency will begin emergency repairs on the building this weekend.

The FAA said it does not have enough funding in its budget to build a permanent replacement facility for the day care.

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Passenger Describes Moment Plane Plunged Hundreds of Feet to Avoid Collision

Kevin Townsend was returning home to California from a trip to Hawaii last month, flying high above the Pacific Ocean, when his plane suddenly dropped hundreds of feet. 
"It was like being in freefall," Townsend said, recalling the experience. 

The trip took place on April 25, and Townsend spent the next few weeks trying to determine what happened that caused his commercial passenger flight from Hawaii to have to suddenly maneuver in mid-air. 

He found out from the flight crew, the airline and the Federal Aviation Administration that his plane, a United Airlines Boeing 757, had come within 20 seconds of a potential collision with another commercial flight in the same flight path. 

United Airlines told ABC News they are reviewing the incident with the National Transportation Safety Board. American Airlines, which merged with US Airways, issues a statement on behalf of its sister airline: "The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority. We are working with the authorities as they look into what may have happened." 

"I was flying from Kona on the western side of Big Island and connecting through LAX to go home to San Francisco. We climbed up, looped around the Big Island, and reached cruising altitude, and stayed there for 5 or 10 or even 15 minutes," Townsend told ABC News today. 

"All of a sudden out of nowhere, the plane cuts into a steep dive," he said. 

"It was like being on an elevator dropping really quickly. You start to fall with gravity, not like in a fighter jet pressed up against your seat. It was like being in freefall. It was kind of exhilarating, like you’re weightless," he said. 

The sensation lasted five or six seconds, he said, during which a few passengers around him began screaming. His mind raced through the possibilities of what could be happening. 

"It was so sudden that it seemed like something had gone wrong, because you don’t expect that at all. But there was no sound involved and the plane didn’t seem to be out of control. It was tough to conceive of why it happened. Your body thinks, 'did the engines just go out and we’re diving into the ocean?' But then you feel like this is somewhat controlled," he explained. 

The FAA's Pacific Division issued a statement saying the FAA and NTSB are investigating the April 25 incident. 

The United Boeing 757 responded to an alert to avoid a US Airways Boeing 757 about 200 miles northeast of Kona, the agency said. 

"A joint FAA-NTSB investigation team will arrive at the Honolulu Control Facility today. The FAA began investigating the incident immediately and has taken steps to prevent a recurrence," the statement said. 

Townsend wrote about his experiences on the website Medium, where he gave a detailed account of what he found out while investigating flight safety regulations. 

He said that a little while after the incident, the flight attendant came on the plane's loudspeaker and made a joke, saying, "Well that was unexpected," and reminding passengers why it's important to wear seatbelts when the seatbelt light is on. 

"Ironically the seatbelt light was off when it happened," Townsend said. The flight attendant also announced that all the passengers would be receiving free Direct TV for the rest of the light. 

"It seemed like [the flight crew] was really shaken up by it, and that made me want to find out more about what had happened," he said. 

He spoke to the United flight crew at the gate in Los Angeles and they told him the plane had made the maneuver to avoid another aircraft in its flight path, a US Airways flight. 
"They were really candid," he said. 

After he got home safely, Townsend began calling the airlines and the FAA to find out how it was possible that two planes could come so close to crashing. 

He said that the companies and agencies were forthright and spent more than an hour on the phone with him talking about the close call, explaining how rare it is, and going over the ways that data is collected to avoid future incidents. 

"I gained an understanding of how traffic collision avoidance works," he said, though he came away from the conversations believing that the regulatory agencies could do a better job of collecting data and analyzing it to prevent future incidents. 

Townsend said he is still comfortable with the idea of flying but hesitant. 

"I think I have a keener awareness of what flying means. I think you have to accept there are risks to it," he said. 

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Could Federal Aviation Administration-imposed height caps stunt growth in Arlington?

Low-flying planes are a common sight in parts of Arlington County, including Rosslyn and Crystal City, but could their flight paths lead a new cap on the area's planned skyscrapers?

Federal lawmakers and county officials alike are keeping a close eye on a possible Federal Aviation Administration policy change that could lower building heights in heavily congested areas near Reagan National Airport. The long-studied proposal, known as One Engine Inoperative because its goal is to minimize hazards if a plane's engine fails during takeoff, was advertised on April 28. The FAA is seeking comments through June 27.

Alex Iams, acting deputy director of Arlington Economic Development, says he hopes airports will retain the discretion to determine how development projects should proceed in their own backyards. He said the county has long enjoyed a working relationship with the FAA, Reagan National and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and that each organization understands the need to balance airport safety with economic development.

Iams said the county worked closely with the FAA and MWAA on its long-range plan for Crystal City, including how a potential change to the OEI would factor in, and said he does not believe the change would alter planned developments in the area. The long-range plan allows for taller buildings than the county has allowed previously, and at least one building already has been redeveloped with additional floors.

The FAA does not have the authority to dictate specific building heights around airports or reject proposed projects beyond a certain height but it can determine that a building or object poses a hazard if it is in the flight line of an airplane taking off from a runway. The declaration is something local governments would have to take into account when considering the approval of new developments. The FAA also notes in its advertisement of the policy change that private insurers may be reluctant to permit construction of those projects if the FAA has issued a hazard notice.

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Malaysia Airlines, Whose Flight 370 Vanished in March, Grapples With Financial Difficulties: For carrier, tragedy's collateral effect has been to worsen finances that were already precarious, pressured by a wave of low-cost competition

The Wall Street Journal
By James Hookway, Mark Magnier and Jeffrey Ng

May 15, 2014 5:31 p.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—In its heyday, Malaysia Airlines was the toast of this steamy Southeast Asian capital.

It flew far-flung routes from Argentina to Croatia to South Africa, even though Malaysia was a developing country. Its $3.5 billion home airport, opened in 1998, was codesigned by a Japanese architect to look like a modernist masterpiece in the jungle, with natural rain forest between terminals. Employees wore uniforms designed by an Italian couturier. The airline regularly topped rankings for cabin service.

"It was like 'Catch Me If You Can,' " said retired pilot Nik Huzlan, referring to the Leonardo DiCaprio movie that portrayed flying as glamorous in its earlier days. "Our friends thought we were so cool."

Now, following the disappearance of Flight 370, Malaysia Airlines finds itself locked in a struggle for survival.

The jet that vanished March 8 has triggered an anguished and seemingly unending wait for relatives and friends of the 239 people aboard. For the airline itself, a collateral effect has been to worsen finances that were already precarious, pressured by a wave of low-cost competition.

Malaysia Airlines had a loss of 1.17 billion ringgit, or $359 million, last year. On Thursday, it reported a 443 million ringgit loss for this year's first quarter, a far deeper loss than the 279 million ringgit of a year earlier.

The outlook for the rest of 2014 is grim, with passengers canceling flights, weak new bookings and much of the company's advertising pulled for a time. While insured, the airline also faces uncertain costs from payouts to families and potential lawsuits. There is no indication the carrier's financial troubles played a role in the disappearance of Flight 370. Malaysia Airlines has had a strong safety record.

Yet getting back on track is more than a matter of regaining the confidence of fliers. Malaysia Airlines' difficulties reflect wider problems plaguing major Asian carriers as they confront the same competitive forces, especially the rise of budget airlines, that began transforming U.S. and European aviation markets more than a decade ago.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak acknowledges it might be too late to save Malaysia Airlines in its current form. Bankruptcy might be one among several options as a way to restructure the firm after years of losses and bitter conflicts with its labor unions, he said in an interview. The airline's parent is considering selling a stake in its profitable maintenance unit to help balance the books, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

"We have to look at it from all angles," the prime minister said, "bearing in mind that Malaysia Airlines is a government-linked company. It's not a private company, so there are certain repercussions in what you want to do in terms of how it is received by the employees and the general public."

The airline is 69%-owned by a state investment fund. Its stock has fallen about 43% over the past year, while the broader Malaysian market is up about 5%.

The Asian-Pacific region has long enjoyed faster-growing demand for air travel than other parts of the world. In 2011, it became the biggest market with a 30% share of all global passengers, compared with 29% for North America and 27.5% in Europe.

But it has also become a harder place for an airline to turn a profit. There are now 47 low-cost carriers in Asia, from India to Indonesia to Japan. That is up from around 30 in 2009, and the total is expected to approach 60 by year-end. The low-cost airlines, led by Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia Bhd., command a quarter of Asia's air travel, versus less than 10% in 2007.

The new entrants are driving ticket prices down while leaving Asia's once-vaunted national champions, including Malaysia Airlines but also Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific, with fewer easy ways to make money. Travelers now can make the 65-minute flight between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore for as little as $20, roughly what it costs to hire a taxi from Singapore's airport to its downtown.

Qantas, the Australian carrier, recently said it was cutting 5,000 jobs and delaying orders for 11 jumbo jets after a loss of US$210 million over six months. Singapore Airlines this month said it filled only 78.9% of its seats in the latest fiscal year, when it needed to have a load factor of 82% to break even.
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The budget-carrier competition is starting to rise in China, too, after a government decision last year to liberalize the market. Since then, one private airline has said it would transform itself into a low-cost carrier, another company has applied to launch a budget carrier.

"What we saw in the U.S. is a precursor to what we are going to see over here," said Vinay Dube, Delta Air Lines' senior vice president for Asia-Pacific. "As demand grows and as China, Malaysia and Indonesia's middle class spends more…they would wonder if they should pay $500 more for a Singapore Airlines seat over Scoot or Jetstar or AirAsia just to get a better meal," he added, citing three budget airlines.

In addition, deep-pocketed Middle Eastern carriers such as Qatar Airways and the United Arab Emirates' Etihad Airways are pushing deeply into Asia, drawing Europe-bound traffic away from legacy carriers.

Malaysia Airlines is in one of the weakest positions. Saddled with a sprawling route network built up in earlier expansions, it is also competes directly with AirAsia, the region's most successful low-cost airline. After years in a grubby hangar, AirAsia recently moved into a new hub adjacent to Malaysia Airlines' glittering terminal.

To fans of Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier is more than an ordinary airline—it is a symbol of the country's sweeping ambitions.

Its precursors started out in British-ruled Malaya, shuttling passengers above the tropical heat with chilled bottles of beer on board.

After independence, Malaysian officials including longtime leader Mahathir Mohamad embarked on an aggressive push to raise the country's profile. Malaysia set up its own auto maker, Proton, and erected what for a time were the world's tallest buildings, the twin Petronas Towers.

Malaysia Airlines was part of the plan. National leaders poured in cash. It became the first Southeast Asian carrier to fly to Latin America. A picture of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was added to bank notes.

Top brass turned to Gherardini, a Florence designer, to spruce up crews' sarong-style uniforms. Malaysia Airlines had the world's best cabin service for four years running starting in 2001, and later three more times, said Skytrax, a British consultancy.

The airline also became a vehicle for advancing social aims, including a 1970s policy crafted to raise the economic clout of ethnic Malays and help them catch up with wealthier ethnic-Chinese after race riots in 1969.

As with other government-linked companies and the civil service, ethnic Malays dominate top management positions at Malaysia Airlines, with members of minority groups sometimes saying they prefer to seek employment in the private sector.

"Malaysia Airlines is more than just a business," said Ibrahim Suffian, executive director at Kuala Lumpur polling company Merdeka Center and an expert on the country's politics. "It also serves a social and political purpose. When it runs into trouble, it is very difficult for the government to behave in a commercial way."

Those pressures and the carrier's heavy spending repeatedly landed it in financial trouble despite its growth. Often it has been enlisted to provide routes to underserved parts of Malaysia, called "missionary routes." Local dignitaries sometimes demand upgrades to business or first class, employees said. And many long-haul routes, while prestigious, have been money losers.

The problems intensified in the past decade as AirAsia built up its business in Kuala Lumpur and inspired other startups to do the same elsewhere. AirAsia has strung together an unbroken series of profits since entrepreneur Tony Fernandes relaunched a defunct airline of that name as a budget carrier in 2001.

In recent years, Malaysia Airlines began to cut unprofitable routes and trim some costs, but this wasn't enough. Its controlling shareholder, the state investment fund Khazanah Nasional, in 2011 devised a share swap with AirAsia. The idea was to let Malaysia Airlines drop more routes and share some expenses with AirAsia. Khazanah Nasional got 10% of the budget carrier, while AirAsia's Mr. Fernandes and his business partner got 20% of Malaysia Airlines.

The deal was welcomed in many quarters as a fresh start for Malaysia Airlines. Even Dr. Mahathir, the no-nonsense leader who ruled Malaysia for 22 years before retiring in 2003, approved. "AirAsia must know something that perhaps can be applied by Malaysia Airlines," he said at the time.

The two airlines quickly began cooperating on some ground operations and procurement plans to save money. Mr. Fernandes and other managers tried to renegotiate what people familiar with the situation described as lopsided supply agreements at Malaysia Airlines, including a 25-year catering contract held by a firm controlled by a brother of a former prime minister.

Employees were less enthusiastic. Union leaders worried that AirAsia and Mr. Fernandes stood to gain more than Malaysia Airlines. Some were put off by the way Malaysia Airlines spent money on projects that dovetailed with Mr. Fernandes's personal interests. Soon after the share swap was reached, Malaysia Airlines agreed to pay £2.1 million ($3.5 million) from its marketing budget to sponsor jerseys for Mr. Fernandes's English soccer team, Queens Park Rangers. Mr. Fernandes didn't respond to requests to comment.

The president of the Malaysian Airline System Employees Union, Alias Aziz, said Malaysia Airlines's 20,000 workers were afraid the AirAsia founder would make sweeping cost cuts and slash thousands of jobs.

Some lawmakers likened his business model of low-base fares and add-on fees for things like meals and luggage to gouging villagers, a critique to which Mr. Fernandes responded angrily. "Villagers could never fly before," he wrote on his Twitter account. "We have worked so hard to make flying affordable."

Union chiefs threatened strike action to undo the share swap. They courted politicians, knowing that an election loomed by early 2013 and that union members' votes could be pivotal in some areas. They also met with Mr. Najib, who is finance minister as well as prime minister and who had sanctioned the share swap.

In May 2012, AirAsia and a state investment fund that controls Malaysia Airlines unwound the share swap. At the state fund, managing director Azman Mokhtar blamed "the unintended and unfortunate confusion and distraction of the share-swap agreement" for undermining the task of reviving the airline.

Mr. Fernandes left to concentrate on his soccer club and his Formula One car racing team, Caterham F1. He also launched a new joint-venture budget carrier in India and took up the Donald Trump role in the Asian version of the television show "The Apprentice."

Malaysia Airlines' chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, now is focused on stripping more losing routes to the U.S., South Africa and South America from its schedules, and seeking ways to increase passenger loads on popular routes.

The aftermath of Flight 370 is worsening the situation, though, with passenger bookings under pressure, especially on routes to China.

The carrier's unions say they hope the government provides more money. "We need the government to help us. We need them to help us to serve our customers," union chief Mr. Alias said. "We're a government-linked company. We should get the help we need."

By contrast, Some analysts say Malaysia Airlines needs tough love, even to the point of allowing it to go through bankruptcy, as Japan Airlines did a few years ago.

"There will be a line crossed where the government will look at it and ask whether they should declare bankruptcy," predicted Shukor Yusof, an independent aviation analyst formerly with Standard & Poor's. "The only way out is creative destruction: Kill the airline and rebuild it from scratch."

Mr. Ahmad Jauhari, the CEO, said he thinks there is still time to revive Malaysia Airlines without an expensive bailout or a move to seek bankruptcy. "We know what we need to do to get the airline working," he said.

—Gaurav Raghuvanshi contributed to this article.


Waukon, Iowa: Residents spot low-flying plane Tuesday

WAUKON (KWWL) - If you were in Waukon Tuesday evening around 6:15 p.m., you may have wondered about a large passenger jet plane that circled overhead.

The Federal Aviation Administration's public affairs office said Wednesday morning it had received no word of a plane crash or low-flying plane in that area.

The FAA public affairs official said people who spot a low-flying plane or have other aviation-related concerns can report what they see to the FAA's Flights Standards Iowa Office, which is in Des Moines.

The FAA public affairs official said although it's not confirmed, the low-flying plane over Waukon could have been a result of a flight diverted from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, which was experiencing major delays Tuesday and re-routing flights due to smoke at an FAA radar facility.

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MARYLAND: New State Police medevac helicopter dedicated

The Southern Maryland Section of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command, Trooper 7, at St. Mary’s airport hosted a unique ribbon cutting ceremony for the new AW-139 helicopter Wednesday afternoon May 14th.

The ceremony brought local and state elected officials, volunteer fire and EMS folks from Hollywood, the St. Mary’s County Advanced Life Support Unit, Naval Air State Patuxent River and officials from the Southern Maryland Firemen’s Association and the Maryland State Firemen’s Association.

Lieutenant Walter Kerr, commander of Helicopter Operations for the Maryland State Police Aviation Command opened the ceremony and noted the ribbon cutting was “long time in the making, with literally thousands of hours of planning, the training and practice” so the Trooper 7 crew can continue their mission.

Superintendent, Maryland State Police Colonel Marcus Brown noted that “today is an exciting day for the citizens of Southern Maryland” because this helicopter represents an incredible improvement in public safety capabilities in Maryland.  He added that more than “140,000 people have been flown to life saving medical care since the first medevac in 1970.”

He drew everyone’s attention to the star above the Maryland State Police badge on the tail of the helicopter. “Unfortunately, some of our members have given their lives while serving our state, including the nine members of the Aviation Command who died in the line of duty. That star has been placed there in memory of all the members of Maryland’s Emergency Medical Services team who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Each time these helicopters fly we will remember those who are no longer with us.”

Delegate John Bohanan recounted the early struggles of the new helicopter program in terms of the politics for and against the helicopter procurement. For example, some members of the Maryland State Senate believed the Medevac helicopter should have been privatized.

Bohanan spoke of the House Emergency Medical Services workgroup that dealt “with the issue of replacing the current fleet.” He added the workgroup was supposed “to be in business for one session only” however we went beyond that because we felt it was important to add all the necessary pieces to support “the best emergency medical system in the world.”

Rear Admiral Steve Eastburg, USN (ret.) recalled when he was commander of Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) when John Bohanan invited NAWCAD to become involved with the Maryland helicopter procurement.

He added that Ed Greer, then the NAWCAD Executive Director, and Doug Dawson, a NAVAIR senior systems engineer and others were involved in this unique opportunity to share the rotary wing expertise offered by Pax River.

Eastburg went on to add that NAVAIR and the State of Maryland signed an agreement a year later that allowed NAVAIR to help the Maryland Department of Transportation with the procurement of the AW-139 helicopters.

Eastburg then recounted his family experience with the MSP Aviation Command. His oldest son was injured in a snowboarding accident at their Wildewood home. They called local first responders who took him to Trooper 7 at St. Mary’s airport for the flight to PG county trauma center. He commented that in aviation circles, “quality flight time is strictly referred to going out, pulling a lot g’s, having a lot fun, etc…” His 35-minute flight aboard Trooper 7 with his son was not quality flight time! However, he had great confidence in the crew that day.

He then told the audience about his own Trooper 4 flight on April 29, 1992. Eastburg, then a Lieutenant Commander and recent graduate of the Navy Test Pilot School class 100 was in the right seat while his pilot and fellow TPS alumni Lieutenant Sean Brennan was in the left seat flying in a twin engine S-3 Viking assigned to VX-20. Their call sign was Waterbug 736.

The purpose of the flight was to put the heavily instrumented Viking through two sets of maneuvers to help Pax engineers make the S-3 simulator more realistic in any flight conditions. These maneuvers involved pitching the nose up, then down, rolling the airplane left and right then slide or yaw the airplane left and right. The first series would begin at 10,000 feet at 305 knots or about 351 mph over the Chesapeake Bay and the second set at 5,000.feet at 365 knots or about 420 mph.

They had finished the first set and proceeded to perform the same maneuvers at 5,000 feet. While in the midst of the slide or yaws, the vertical tail and one of the horizontel elevators snapped off the airplane causing it to violently lose control. Eastburg ejected both himself and Brennan from the failing S-3 two and a half seconds into the mishap.

Eastburg added that a couple of Department of Natural Resources Police in the bay saw the events unfolding in the sky and thought “wow, no one could survive that!”

Eastburg was fished out of the water by DNR police then he transferred to Trooper 4 with his badly burned pilot.

He noted the Trooper 4 flight medics worked hard to keep Brennan alive for the short flight to Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore.

Eastburg closed his remarks saying that he and Brennan call each other on April 29th and express their gratitude to those who save their lives that day.

The remainder of the ceremony involved awarding wings to pilots who just completed transition training, length of service awards and the United States Park Police presenting certificates to the crews of Troopers 2, 3 and 7 for their work at the Washington Navy Yard during the active shooter incident September 16, 2013.

Story and photo gallery:

Screamin’ Sasquatch: Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show

New addition comes to Rhode Island Air Show

After being cancelled last year, the 2014 Rhode Island Air National Guard Open House and Air Show will be the debut show for the Screamin’ Sasquatch.

The Screamin’ Sasquatch is a refurbished aircraft from 1929. It is a biplane that has a 300 horsepower engine attached to the bottom.

Pilot Jeff Boerboon says the plane will be making its world debut at the show.

“This is a new program for the John Klatt Airshows” said Boerboon. He says it took 12 months to put the plane together and it has been airborne for only 4 months.

Throughout the performance Boerboon will take the Screamin’ Sasquatch though various loops and turns and at times he will appear out of control.

“What’s fun for us is we get to be out here in front of tens of thousands of people and they all wonder how its totally out of control even though we know we’re in control of the airplane,” said Boerboon.

The 2014 Rhode Island Air National Guard Open House and Air Show will take place on May 17 and 18 rain or shine.

Cape May County Airport (KWWD) to Host Annual Aerobatic Contest - “AcroBlast” to Take Off the Weekend of May 30 - June 1, 2014


Erma, New Jersey -

Today, Cape May Airport (WWD) officials announced that the Airport will once again host “AcroBlast,” an aerobatic contest sponsored by Chapter 58 of the International Aerobatics Club (IAC).  The event will take place beginning Friday, May 30 and conclude on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

According to Tom Berry, Airport Manager, the event is one of many regional contests held throughout the United States during the spring, summer and fall. “We’re pleased to welcome the membership of Chapter 58 for its annual “AcroBlast” competition,” Berry said.  “The IAC encourages education, idea exchange, practice sessions and – contests like “AcroBlast” so its membership become better and safer pilots.”

Berry added that the event is not airshow, but a contest designed to promote precision flying and pilot education in a controlled environment.

In aerobatic competitions, every competitor flies a series of flights that are graded by a team of judges. The judges grade each individual figure flown, as well as how well the sequence is positioned within the aerobatic box. The figures are graded on Precision of the lines and angles, roundness of full and partial loops, symmetry of figures, as well as other factors outlined in contest rules.

Approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the contest is undertaken in cooperation with the Delaware River and Bay Authority, Cape May County, and the Township of Lower.

About the Delaware River and Bay Authority

The Delaware River and Bay Authority, a bi-state governmental agency created by Compact in 1962, owns and operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May- Lewes Ferry, and the Delaware City - Salem Ferry Crossing. The Authority also manages corporate and aviation properties through its economic development powers - two airports in New Jersey (Millville Airport and Cape May Airport) and three in Delaware (New Castle Airport, Civil Air Terminal and Delaware Airpark). All agency operating revenues are generated through the bridge, ferry and airport facilities.

Airport fence damage under investigation: Gettysburg Municipal (0D8), South Dakota

Major damage was done to the fence at the Gettysburg Airport when a vehicle knocked down poles and tore out wire Sunday morning.

A call for wrecker assistance for a damaged vehicle at the city airport prompted a call to local police and ambulance personnel around 1 p.m. on Sunday.

There, Nathan Sundberg, 20, was with a pickup that showed severe damage consistent with the fence collision.

Sundberg, who reportedly suffered a concussion, was taken by ambulance to the Gettysburg hospital where he was treated and later released.

The vehicle was removed from the tarmac, and no arrests were made at the time but charges are pending.

Damage to the fence is estimated around $15,000, and the Ford F150 pickup sustained extensive damage.

A field east of the airport was also reported to have been driven through, but the damage to that was not significant.

The incident is under investigation.

Ohio State to pay $45,000 for plane destroyed by derecho at Don Scott Field - Ohio State University Airport (KOSU), Columbus, Ohio

Ohio State University has agreed to pay two local sky-diving companies $45,000 after their airplane was destroyed at Don Scott Field during a 2012 storm. 

The two Pickerington-based companies sued Ohio State, saying that the university airport’s workers failed to properly secure the plane before a derecho storm that sent severe wind through the region. 

Jump Planes owned the 1963 Cessna and leased it to Skydiving Columbus, which provides sky-diving instruction.

OSU officials declined to comment. Calls to the companies weren’t returned.

Workers from Skydive Columbus landed the airplane at the Northwest Side airport on June 29, as the storm was brewing, and agreed to pay OSU workers to tie it down, according to the suit.

The airport crew tied ropes around the wings and tail of the plane, securing it to the ground.

But during the storm, knots tying the plane to the ground failed, and the airplane flipped, causing irreparable damage, the lawsuit says.

The companies said in their suit that they were left with no airplane for two months, causing them to lose $125,000. They demanded that much from Ohio State in the lawsuit.

In court records, OSU officials admitted that the airplane flipped during the storm but denied that Ohio State was responsible for the damage.

A pilot from the sky-diving company had helped tie down the airplane, lawyers for Ohio State wrote. They also said that the airport “follows the appropriate standard of care for proper knot-tying.”

Last week, all sides reached a settlement that would split $45,000 between the two companies. Ohio State will cover $10,000 and its insurer will provide the rest, according to the agreement.

The Ohio Court of Claims approved the agreement on Monday.


Airfare Riddle: Same Flight, Different Prices; The Story Behind Price Gaps on Itineraries Shared by American and US Airways

The Wall Street Journal
By Scott McCartney
Updated May 14, 2014 11:29 p.m. ET

 The flight is the same. Even the seat is the same. So why is the airline charging two different—sometimes very different—prices?

American Airlines and US Airways, which merged late last year, are selling seats on each other's airplanes. But they are pricing tickets separately, and will continue to do so for the next 18 to 24 months. American flights have one price in American's reservation system and sometimes a different price in US Airways' reservation system. Same for flights on US Airways airplanes: Check both and and you're likely to see different prices.

The savings opportunity for savvy travelers can sometimes be large. Earlier this week, a one-way ticket on American's Flight 1054 from Boston to Dallas-Fort Worth was $656 on American's website, but only $346 on A Phoenix-Seattle round trip on US Airways flights for travel June 13 to 20 was $359 on US Airways' website, but only $298 on

This savings opportunity is a reminder for consumers that such pricing disparities exist every day around the world on code-sharing flights. With code-sharing, partner airlines sell seats on each other's flights and combine flights into connecting itineraries. The partner airline often has access to a limited number of seats and can price them independently. Sometimes the price is cheaper when there's not much demand. Sometimes it's way more expensive than booking directly with the airline flying the trip.

A spot-check of 240 different American and US Airways trips in May and June found one price offered by American and a different by US Airways 56% of the time. In most cases, the airline that actually flew the trip had the lower price, but sometimes a cheaper price was available by booking through the other carrier.

Robert Rex, a consultant and platinum-level American frequent flier, was booking a trip to Phoenix to see a client when he happened to check the US Airways website. There, he found the same American flights he was about to book for about $850 for only about $790.

"I think it's ridiculous, and a bit annoying. It makes no sense to me whatsoever," said Mr. Rex, who lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

He bought through US Airways to save his client the money. But by doing that he gave up his chance for complimentary upgrades to first class on the trip. Since he had a US Airways ticket, he couldn't get on American's upgrade list. "The client appreciated it, but I'm stuck in coach for 4½ hours to Dallas and another hour-and-a-half to Phoenix," he said.

American expects to be able to offer reciprocal upgrade benefits within a matter of weeks, spokesman Casey Norton said.

Once the merger closed Dec. 9, American rushed to begin code-sharing. The pricing issue won't disappear until the two carriers merge onto one reservation system—the hardest part of any airline merger—some time in 2015 or 2016.

Moving an airline from one reservation system to another is hugely complex, involving countless pieces of vital information and the retraining of employees. It's also full of potential potholes like lost passenger records and delayed flights. United struggled for months with major reservation systems problems in its merger with Continental.

"We are whittling down the differences as best we can, but we won't have 100% until we get to [reservation system] cutover," Mr. Norton said.

Pricing differences result from the two airlines operating on different pricing platforms, each of which has its own approach to gauging demand for remaining seats. In addition, one system always lags behind the other on inventory information, American said. When American sells a seat, for example, its system knows immediately and potentially adjusts prices for that flight and scores of connecting itineraries. There's a lag before the information gets to US Airways, and vice versa.

American says Delta and Northwest, plus United and Continental, were able to coordinate pricing faster because they already had existing code-sharing arrangements when they merged. But American and US Airways weren't partners before the merger, so they started with more work to do. ( Southwest Airlines and AirTranstill have some separate pricing and they merged in 2011.)

"This is unlike any other code-share. It's the largest in the world and we had to start from scratch," American's Mr. Norton said. He added the company's information technology department has done "remarkable" work over the last four months to smooth the transition.

Code-sharing price differences across the airline industry can be pretty remarkable as well. Consider an Atlanta-Seoul round-trip June 13 to 18 on Korean Air Lines, a Delta partner. Korean offered a $2,131 ticket earlier this week, while Delta's cheapest price at the same time for the same flights was $4,518. Whatever access Delta had to the cheapest prices was sold out.

More typical may be a Chicago-Prague round-trip on Lufthansa LHA.XE -2.15% in June priced at $1,698 on United's website but $1,608 at Lufthansa. Different flights the same day showed up at $1,607 on United and $1,518 on Lufthansa.

American and US Airways have their own flights between Dallas and Philadelphia. Before the merger they competed on price. Now they sell the combined flight schedule—but still seem to compete on price.

Flight 1542—both airlines use the same flight number—on June 13 was priced this week at $358 one-way on the US Airways website, but $261 on the website of American, which actually operates that flight. A June 13 to 20 round-trip on planes operated by US Airways showed a $277 price on and $458 if the same flights were bought through

If a US Airways customer looked for a last-minute Los Angeles-Honolulu flight this week, he or she would be offered Flight 31 for $569. But Flight 31 is actually flown by American, which offered the same ticket for $379.

Sandy Hedberg, a top-level frequent flier on US Airways, started flying from Knoxville, Tenn., to a client near Fort Wayne, Ind., almost weekly this year. American flies to Fort Wayne, but not US Airways. When the merger went through and the two airlines started code-sharing, Fort Wayne flights showed up on US Airways listings. But they consistently showed up about $200 more than on American's website. So Ms. Hedberg, who consults for medical device manufacturers, buys through American.

"I can't figure it out," she said. "But it's advantageous that they have not figured it out yet."