Monday, July 28, 2014

Business soars at Garden City Regional Airport (KGCK), Kansas

GARDEN CITY, Kansas– Garden City has offered twice daily flights to Dallas Fort Worth since 2012. This year those flights have been 80% full, with enplanements, or ticketed passengers, up from a few years back.

“We used to struggle to get 10,000 enplanements, and now we’re looking at 26,000 enplanements [for 2014] so we’ve improved quite a bit,” said Airport Director Rochelle Powell.

So why is business picking up?

“It’s very handy to come here to the little regional airport and connect to a bigger airport,” said passenger Lamont Koehn, “you can go anywhere from here.”

The majority of passengers are traveling for business, but the reliability of service has helped gain other customers.

“We see families at the airport, which used to be a rarity, but now it’s common place,” said Garden City City Manager Matt Allen.

With more people comes more money for improvements.  If the airport reaches 50,000 passengers annually, they’ll be eligible for $1.5 million in federal funding, and that’s a half a million more than they get right now.  Powell said they’re working with American Airlines to bring an additional flight to the area, which will hopefully drive numbers up even higher.  “With the increase in passengers, we know that we can do a lot more with our air service since we have the support of the community,” she said.

She said they could potentially see an increase in flight options in as early as six months.

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County officials commit funding to save Victoria Regional Airport (KVCT), Texas

Victoria County officials are looking at a $150,000 marketing campaign to improve the reputation at Victoria Regional Airport.

Since Sun Air International started flying out of Victoria in October 2012, a constant string of maintenance issues, canceled flights, baggage issues and ticketing problems have doomed the airport.

Unless the number of departing passengers increases, the airport could face losing federal funding, a consequence that would effectively end commercial air service in Victoria.

With a new carrier anticipated to start in October, Victoria County Commissioners voted Monday to commit $50,000 to Airport Manager Jason Milewski's proposed campaign to show off the changes.

As word spreads of the new carrier, travelers are already rethinking plans to fly out of Victoria.

Despite Brad Bishop's bad experience with Sun Air two summers ago, he said he would be willing to give a new carrier a try.

After flying into Houston from Mexico, his flight back to Victoria was canceled. He ended up having to take a cab for two-hour trip back home.

"I'm sure I'll end up flying out of Victoria again," Bishop, 22, of Victoria, said.

Milewski will submit an application Wednesday for a $100,000 federal grant he hopes will cover two-thirds the cost of the marketing plan aimed at promoting the improved service a new carrier is bringing to Victoria.

"We need to do a massive marketing campaign to let our public know there are significant changes at the airport," Milewski said.

The new carrier, Public Charters, will start offering service Oct. 1 to Austin and Dallas - two of the busiest airports in a five state region including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma and Texas.

Since Pinnacle Airlines Corp., which operated Continental and later United flights from Victoria, declared bankruptcy in April 2012, Victoria Regional has struggled to live up to its federal contract with the Essential Air Service program. The program helps smaller communities maintain an airline.

"I don't want to beat a dead horse," Milewski said. "Without any question, it's clear that the level of service we're offering is not meeting the demand."

To continue being in the Essential Air Service program, the airport needs an average of 10 passengers a day and subsidies of no more than $200 per passenger.

While airports across the southwest region saw an average 2 percent increase in passengers, Victoria saw a 45 percent drop from 2012 to 2013.

Victoria is second-to-last in passenger numbers for the 2013 calendar year, and is above the subsidy cap, Milewski said.

"If our decline in passenger counts were reflective of our local or regional economy, I wouldn't be here today trying to pursue this," Milewski said. "More and more people are flying and the economy is getting better in our region."

County Commissioner Danny Garcia said it's unclear if the marketing campaign for the new carrier will show a return on investment.

"It's really a shot in the dark for us," he said. "But if Victoria County is going to continue to grow ... we have to provide that type of service, which is a good airline."

The Small Community Air Service Development Grant has $7 million in its budget this year and typically funds about 10 projects, Milewski said.

"It's strictly used for marketing, which is exactly what we need it for," Milewski said.

County Judge Don Pozzi said he supports the airport manager's recommendation.

Without the grant, the airport would still need the marketing campaign and likely $50,000 from the county, Pozzi said.

Commissioner Kevin Janak applauded Milewski's efforts.

"We need to spend at least that amount of money to inform the public that this is a new look," Janak said.

If passenger counts don't improve, the next move is to seek a waiver from the Department of Transportation, Milewski said.

Commissioner Gary Burns said the airport needs to make a drastic change.

Burns proposed making the commitment as a loan to the airport, which will be repaid to the county.

Commissioners did not discuss a timeline for repayment.

Milewski said if the grant is approved, he will look at hiring a marketing firm to take the lead.

"We will lose all air service completely if we don't do something," Milewski said, later adding, "This is our best shot."

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Helicopter used in selective enforcement

The Nebraska State Patrol in conjunction with the Norfolk Police Division and the Madison County sheriff's office completed a weekend special enforcement effort to reduce the incidents of aggressive drivers in and around Norfolk.

The special enforcement, which included utilization of patrol’s Aviation Support Division's helicopter and high visibility patrols took place during the evening hours of Saturday.

Lt. Jim Stover of the Nebraska State Patrol Troop B Field Services said enforcement action taken during the selective totaled 91 contacts.

It included 21 speeding contacts, one driving under the influence, one leaving the scene of a non-injury crash, one driving under suspension, three no operator's license, rules of the road violations (fail to signal, stop sign/light violations), numerous equipment violations (no headlight, no tail light, no proof of insurance).

The helicopter was also utilized to assist in locating a subject who ran from a non-injury crash at the intersection of Highway 81 and Highway 275. The driver was located in a small pond southeast of the intersection.

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Emirates airline says it will not fly over Iraq

Emirates will stop flying over Iraq due to concerns over missile attacks following the MH17 air disaster in Ukraine, said the airline's president Tim Clark.

LONDON: Emirates will stop flying over Iraq due to concerns over missile attacks following the MH17 air disaster in Ukraine, the airline's president Tim Clark told The Times on Monday (July 28).

Almost 300 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 died when it came down in eastern Ukraine nearly two weeks ago, with Washington and Europe claiming it was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Moscow militants.

"This is a political animal but... the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace," Clark told The Times in an interview published on Monday. "We cannot continue to say, 'Well it's a political thing'. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns."

Clark predicted other carriers would also decide to stop flying over Iraq, as the global airline industry reviews the risk of overflying combat zones.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, a Boeing 777 aircraft, was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard on July 17 when it was downed close to the village of Grabove, in the rebellion-wracked region of Donetsk in east Ukraine.

"The horrors that this created was a kick in the solar plexus for all of us," Clark told the daily paper. "Nevertheless having got through it we must take stock and deal with it."

On Sunday meanwhile, the commercial director of Malaysia Airlines called for a complete overhaul of the way flight paths are deemed safe following the plane's downing by a suspected missile. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Hugh Dunleavy said the disaster would have "an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry", claiming that airlines can no longer depend on aviation authorities for reliable information about flying over conflict zones.

"For too long, airlines have been shouldering the responsibility for making decisions about what constitutes a safe flight path, over areas in political turmoil around the world," he wrote. "We are not intelligence agencies, but airlines, charged with carrying passengers in comfort between destinations."

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Federal Aviation Administration Investigating Complaints About Oakdale Airport (O27), Stanislaus County, California

The Federal Aviation Administration San Francisco Airports District Office has informed the City of Oakdale it has received complaints that the Laughlin Road airport may be violating portions of its grants assurances sections as it applies to the condition and operation of the facility.

In a letter obtained by The Leader, FAA Airport Compliance Specialist Robert Lee informed Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer on April 14 that it had received a complaint from “Mr. William J. Bradford” about four violations of three separate grant assurance sections regarding economic nondiscrimination, operations and maintenance, and fee and rental structure.

Bradford, a veteran pilot, has been a vocal critic of the airport and its operation over the years.

Violations Alleged

When airports accept funds from FAA-administered financial assistance programs, they must agree to certain obligations or assurances. These obligations require the recipients to maintain and operate their facilities safely and in accordance with FAA specified conditions.

Since 2000, the City of Oakdale has accepted over $2.8 million in federal grant funding under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program.

A portion of the informal complaint questions that the city is allowing Sierra West Airlines the use of airport facilities for non-aeronautical purposes such as parking and business operations that do not relate to the airport.

“Non-aeronautical use of the airport designated land must be reviewed and approved by the FAA,” the letter states. “The alleged actions by the Airport…do not meet FAA’s policy of operating a federally obligated airport for the benefit of civil aviation.”

The complaint also conveyed that the airport is poorly maintained to include worn out gates, major tarmac damage and poor patching of the asphalt, and the existence of unpaved areas. The FAA cautions the city that if the issues exist and have not been corrected, the city would be in non-compliance of the grant assurances.

The final concern regards “Economic Nondiscrimination” that contends the airport may not be meeting the requirement to make the airport as self-sustaining as possible where airport revenue must be used only for the operation and maintenance of the airport.

Lee instructed the city to provide a response to the allegations within 15 days.

For the full article, including the city’s response and other discoveries during the course of this story, read the July 30 edition of The Leader

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Aerial advertising is not a threat

Kristen Paul Bonifacio, Opinions Editor

To protect our state’s scenic beauty, outdoor advertisements are heavily controlled, and our island prides itself in being one of only four states that prohibit billboards.

So when a mainland aerial advertising company decided to fly one of its planes over O‘ahu, locals were angered that this was ruining Hawaii’s natural beauty. However, this issue is being blown out of proportion. The plane is not a threat to our islands’ beauty, and it’s time that Hawaii reevaluates its law on aerial advertising.


It’s been a month since the New Jersey-based aerial advertising company Aerial Banners North first flew its advertisement plane across O‘ahu’s skies. Since then, the plane has continued to be sighted towing banners that read “Marry me Rachel” and “Advertising isn’t just for politicians.”

The company is doing this in violation of Hawaii’s law regarding aerial advertising. Any form of aerial advertising has been prohibited in our islands since 1978. In 2005, then-gov. Linda Lingle signed a law that further toughened outdoor advertising.

According to Aerial Banners North, the company received a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration allowing it to operate in Hawaii. Since federal law has supremacy over state law, the company believes that they are authorized to continue their business.


This issue was handled poorly by the state. It was unnecessary for Mayor Kirk Caldwell to advise locals to contact 911 to report any sightings of the company’s yellow plane. The issue is not severe enough that it warrants a call to an emergency telephone number.

The mayor also stated “natural beauty in our state is a top priority,” yet he supports the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. Despite the benefits or drawbacks of the rail system, it will affect Hawaii’s natural beauty. And if our island’s beauty is the concern, then addressing issues that affect our state’s land should be the priority, not those that affect our skies.

Aircraft advertising is also less of an eyesore than ads on city buses, which have been proposed by the mayor as a form of revenue for the state. Aircraft advertising can be limited to a single or a few aircraft, while ads could be placed on more than 500 city buses.

Furthermore if distraction is a concern then the hundred of political ads on fences should be a topic of discussion.


The actions taken by Aerial Banner North in violation of Hawaii law is a great time for our state to reevaluate its aerial advertising law. Since Hawaii has one of the highest state debts in the country, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the government should recognize the revenue that the advertising industry can provide.

And the issue of aerial advertising doesn’t have to be a black and white conflict.  A form of tax can be established on aerial advertising, and the state can create numerous restrictions that ensures miniscule nuances, while allowing for the operation of aerial advertising.

Specific regulations on length of time in the air, size and content of the banner, elevation levels from the ground and off-limit areas can all be established that can satisfy both those living in our state and companies hoping do to business in Hawaii.

The negative reaction to this aerial advertising issue is irrelevant. Aerial Banner North might have violated Hawaii’s law regarding aerial advertising, but it is not causing any distress, nor is it a harm to Hawaii’s natural beauty.

Issues such as graffiti, potholes and homelessness are not only more concerning, but they also impact our state’s image more than an aircraft pulling a banner. 

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Gary/Chicago International Airport (KGYY) approves borrowing up to $35 million

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority on Monday voted 5-0 to borrow up to $35 million, which financial advisers say will close the last funding gap in its runway expansion project.

When bond proceeds are combined with available cash and grant money totaling $39.6 million, the airport will have enough to expand the runway and move all railroads, Sycamore Advisors Senior Vice President Melanie Shaker told the authority at its regular meeting Monday at the airport administration building.

And that funding plan, only recently devised, should leave the airport with enough money to fund other needed projects, Shaker said.

"You want to get the job done," said bond counsel Rich Hill after the meeting. "But you don't want to strip the airport of its normal operating and maintenance budget."

There was some fear environmental issues and the demands of railroads could hike the total cost of the project beyond the airport's means. But that apparently has not happened.

The total cost of the project now rings up at $174.1 million, which is just 4.8 percent above the last revised estimate of $166.2 million, which was released in March 2012, according to officials at the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

The RDA has directed $50 million in grants to the airport expansion, including authorizing $7.2 million two weeks ago for an escrow fund that will pay for rail relocations north of the airport. Multiple railroad tracks must be moved because one currently blocks the runway expansion and its reroute causes complications for others.

The RDA board is confident the project can be completed by next year's deadline under the airport's new plan, said RDA CEO Bill Hanna. He said discussions over environmental and railroad issues will continue to play out in public, but everyone now feels a sense of urgency with next year's Federal Aviation Administration completion deadline looming.

"I feel they will hit the mark," Hanna said. "There is a sense this job has to get done."

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Pro-Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO) measure supporters raise $250K

SMO — Proponents of a pro-Santa Monica Airport ballot measure aren’t wasting any time.

A group formed to support the measure, which would put most future changes to the airport in the hands of the voters, has already raised $265,365, according to its latest filing with the City Clerk’s Office earlier this month.

A majority of that cash comes from two national organizations: The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which gave $125,000 and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which dropped $117,400 to date.

In order to get their measure on the ballot in November, proponents needed signatures from 15 percent of registered Santa Monica voters. To pull that off, they spent more than $180,000 on signature-gatherers — paid petition circulators who were seen holding clipboards all over the city, including at the farmers’ markets, outside of grocery stores, and in front of City Hall.

In total, the proponents have spent $256,000.

The pro-SMO measure will have to compete with City Council’s own ballot measure, which would retain council’s control over the airport but would require voter-approved limitations be established before development is approved for the land.

City Hall is not allowed to promote the measure on its own, only educate the public, but a resident group, Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Land (CLCSMAL), has formed to support it and to oppose the AOPA-backed measure.

John Fairweather, who heads the group, said they hope to raise $250,000 of their own but still expect to be outspent handily.

“We have not yet started serious fundraising though we intend to soon,” he said. “Despite that, we have already raised enough from core volunteers to hire a very experienced campaign consultant with Santa Monica expertise, and with their help we are putting the things into place that we will need.”

Regardless of the size of the respective treasure chest, Fairweather is confident his side will prevail for a number of reasons. He believes they will have more local support in the campaign; numerous neighborhood groups and the city’s largest political party have come out against the AOPA-backed campaign claiming, among other things, that it unfairly ties the closing of the airport to inevitable high-density development.

“The people of Santa Monica are not stupid and will see through their deception,” he said.

Proponents of the pro-SMO measure did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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Airport Revamps Employee Policies: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission is working on new bylaws and an employee handbook to better codify how business is done at the Island airport.

The bylaws and handbook are still in draft form and have not been made public, although in a letter county manager Martina Thornton urged the commission to make it public so the county personnel board and county commission could have an opportunity to review the draft.

“I believe that it is important that all county employees are being treated fairly and should enjoy the same benefits unless there is a legal reason not to,” Ms. Thornton wrote. “The draft that was provided to me clearly diminishes some of the benefits for your non-union employees.”

The handbook was drafted by airport counsel Susan Whalen and is based on existing Dukes County personnel bylaws as well as the collective bargaining agreement with the airport employee union, Ms. Whalen has said.

At a meeting Friday, the commission postponed a discussion and vote on the handbook because commissioner Richard Michelson, who has advocated for the creation of the handbook, was not present.

Deliberations on the employee policies are expected at a meeting at the end of August.

In other business Friday, the commission briefly discussed the airport master plan, which is an inclusive study of the needs of the airport on a short and long-term basis.

A master plan working group, which is made up of airport stakeholders, takes stock of each aspect of the airport and makes recommendations about priorities for future growth and areas of improvement.

The working group met on July 23.

During a discussion of the master plan, ongoing tensions between the airport commission and its appointing authority, the county commission, were evident when Ms. Thornton raised her hand to speak but was not recognized by chairman Connie Teixeira.

Ms. Teixeira said later that she would not call on anyone with whom the airport was involved in litigation. In the spring, the airport commission filed a lawsuit against the county commission asking a judge to declare its legal autonomy in managing airport affairs.

Former employee Beth Tessmer, who has been involved in a lawsuit against the airport charging retaliation and discrimination in the workplace, was also not recognized when she raised her hand.

“For all those people in the room with whom we are in litigation, you will not be recognized by the chair because anything that should be said should be said attorney to attorney,” Ms. Teixeira said.

After some debate, Ms. Thornton took the floor to inquire about the master plan process.

She asked how the public might find out when the master plan group is meeting and what they would discuss. “I for one would be interested to know,” she said.

Airport manager Sean Flynn said while the public is not invited to sit in on the master plan working group sessions, the airport welcomes comment via email.

“Comments can be continuous from the public,” he said.

Mr. Flynn, who had gone on paid medical leave in mid-June, said after the meeting that he had returned to work on July 24.

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Airport manager Sean Flynn is back on the job following a medical leave in June.
-Ray Ewing 

Airport commission has drafted new bylaws and an employee handbook. The draft documents have not been made public.
- Ray Ewing

Federal Aviation Administration wants shorter buildings near U.S. airports

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to reduce height limits on buildings near airports, but the proposal has sparked disputes between airlines and airports that support the change, and development interests worried about hurting property values.

The FAA says buildings should be shorter to bolster safety at 388 airports nationwide, to give pilots more options up to 10 miles from an airport in case one of an airliner's two engines fails while taking off or landing.

The policy change would affect 4,000 tall buildings near airports and 4,000 more that are planned nationwide, according to a 2012 analysis by the Weitzman Group real-estate consultants in New York. Many more developments that haven't yet filed applications with FAA could be affected, according to study author Peter Bazeli, senior vice president of Weitzman.

Airlines and airports say height restrictions are needed after 40 years of tall buildings encroaching on airports. Avoiding tall buildings by altering flight routes can lead to burning more fuel, and reducing cargo or passengers to lighten a plane's load.

"Our first concern, as always, is the safety of the operation of our aircraft," said Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade group for the largest airlines. "The industry looks forward to working collaboratively with local communities to find win-win solutions."

But developers say the limits could hurt construction plans from Arizona to the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Even the procedure is contentious. FAA is proposing a brisk policy change, rather than a formal rulemaking that critics prefer and that could take years to complete.

Rep. James Moran, D-Va., proposed legislation to require a rulemaking because 170 buildings are affected in his state. Airlines must already ensure there is a safe, alternate route if a plane loses an engine, which is why the policy has traditionally been considered an economic debate, Moran said.

A public-comment period, which has already been extended once, ended Monday.

FAA doesn't directly restrict the height of buildings, but issues a "determination of hazard" when buildings are too tall near airports. At that point, local zoning boards are reluctant to approve construction and buildings can become unaffordable because of higher insurance costs and smaller size.

Summarizing the FAA proposal is difficult because most airports have a variety of flight paths. But one example is that at 10,000 feet from the end of a runway, the current building height limit of 250 feet would be reduced to 160 feet, according to the Weitzman report.

"Certainly it's understandable that there might be some accommodation for disaster scenarios," said Bazeli, the study author. "The real concern here is that there is a really significant impact on property owners and communities and cities, and that certainly wasn't fully vetted in 2012 when it was originally proposed."

The proposal affects communities differently.

Hawaiian Airlines "wholeheartedly supports" the proposal, according to Daniel Lyons, the airline's senior director of operations analytics. All Honolulu flights departing from one runway must turn to the right because of rising terrain and a 447-foot antenna two miles from the runway, but then cranes at a container terminal create another obstacle for wide-body planes, Lyons said.

"If the trend continues of increasing obstacles on departure paths where no alternative (one-engine) path exists, at some point, federally funded runways will no longer be viable for commercial airline operations," Lyons said.

But Jack Longino, mayor of College Park, Ga., which contains several concourses of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, urged the FAA to drop the change. FAA's purpose isn't for the safety of passengers or airlines, but an attempt to reduce the economic impact on airlines that can't load their aircraft to maximum capacity, he said.

Arizona has interests on both sides of the debate.

The city of Phoenix, which owns Sky Harbor International Airport, "desires to preserve what clear airspace remains" beyond the east runway, according to aviation director Danny Murphy.

But four Arizona lawmakers – Republican Reps. Paul Gosar, David Schweikert, Matt Salmon and Trent Franks – said 75 existing and proposed buildings in their state would be hurt.

In Phoenix, the Maricopa County Court Tower and the Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center would be unable to add equipment or signs to the top of their buildings, the lawmakers said. In Tempe, the proposed Sky Tower would exceed the proposed limit by 217 feet, lawmakers said.

"At a time when the U.S. economy is just starting to turn around, the proposed (one engine) policy threatens to derail much needed economic development," the lawmakers said.

Another hot spot for the debate is Virginia's Arlington County, which surrounds Washington's Reagan National airport.

Rosslyn, along the airport's northern glide path, anticipates 4.5 million square feet of office space and 1,000 new housing units over the next 25 years. The skyline is "meaningful and much-valued asset," according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, but the FAA proposal "will hamper development and reduce property values."

But Don Gay, an electronics engineer from Arlington who lives 200 yards from the airport, supported the policy change.

"Safety must be foremost in this decision; not the financial interests of developers and the temporary creation of jobs," Gay said. "There are other places where buildings can be constructed. When aircraft accidents occur adjacent to airports, it will not be the developers who will be subjected to scrutiny and criticism, but the FAA."

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Frontier Airlines announces appointment of new senior vice president, general counsel

EWING – Frontier Airlines, which operates flights to 17 destinations out of the Trenton-Mercer Airport, has appointed Howard Diamond as of senior vice president, general counsel and secretary.

Frontier announced the appointment today, saying it brings the low-fare carrier a person with more than 20 years of professional experience and legal expertise.

"I am excited to join Frontier Airlines as it begins its third decade of service,” said Diamond. “I look forward to working with Dave, my colleagues, and Indigo Partners to solidify Frontier's position as a successful ultra-low cost carrier."

CEO David Siegel touted the hire as the airline finalizes its new senior management team, saying Diamond will be a “tremendous asset.”

Bill Franke, chairman of the Frontier board and managing partner of Indigo Partners, Frontier’s controlling shareholder, pointed to Diamond’s legal expertise.

“Howard is a key addition to the senior management team at Frontier,” Franke said. “He brings experience, legal expertise and leadership to the team. He will be a critical contributor to the success of Frontier Airlines.”

According to Tyri Squyres, vice president of marketing for Frontier Airlines, the senior vice president position had been vacant for more than four years.

Diamond previously served as vice president, general counsel and secretary for Thales USA, which is part of multinational company involved with providing electrical systems for aerospace and transportation markets.

Before joining Thales, Diamond worked as chief counsel for BAE Systems Land and Armaments, a global defense, aerospace and security company.

Previously, Diamond served as vice president and general counsel of Stewart and Stevenson’s Tactical Vehicles Division and practiced government contracts law with the firm of Sherman & Howard in the company’s Colorado Springs office.

Diamond received his bachelor’s degree English and history from Wesleyan University and his doctorate juris doctor from the University of Virginia School Of Law.

Diamond is a member of the Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas and New Mexico bars.

Frontier provides Trenton-Mercer Airport with regular, nonstop service to Charlotte, Chicago-Midway, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, St. Louis, Tampa, and St. Augustine/Jacksonville area.

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Pilot Chuck Cohen: ABC40′s Brittany Decker Takes to the Skies on an Aerobatic Flight

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB)- If you’re looking for adventure this summer, an adrenaline rush, or a check off your bucket list, Abc40′s Brittany Decker may have some ideas for you to try, or just view from your couch. 

Monday she takes us high in the sky on an aerobatic plane.

Sky aerobatics may look easy with a model plane twisting and turning in the air, as Pilot Chuck Cohen demonstrates. But imagine that in real life, over 200 miles an hour, 6-thousand feet up.

“And when we get to the point where the plane is not moving anymore we’re going to pivot around the center of gravity and come straight down and we may roll,” Cohen explains.

Pilot Chuck Cohen demonstrates the hammer head. This is a stunt ABC40′s Brittany Decker tests on his Extra 330LX specialty air plane.

The first put on their safety parachutes, strapped in, and took a few deep breaths. Then Cohen closed the top of the two-seater, took to the runway, and they were off!

It was a vertical climb, 4-thousand feet in the first minute, flying over a space approved by the FAA for aerobatics.

Then some they showed off some tricks.

“This plane will roll at almost 500 degrees a second,” says Cohen.

A barrel roll, snap roll four and eight-point roll, the hammer head as demonstrated earlier.. and more.

“Anywhere from 0mph to 230 miles an hour” Cohen adds.

Of course you can get dizzy and nauseous going round and round, but the key is to look a certain direction in each figure, keep the horizon in sight, and don’t close your eyes!

No matter if your right side up or upside down keeping them wide open anyway allowed to see the 3 dimensional view.

“Off to our periphery you could see the CT River, Northampton, and Mount Tom,” says Cohen

Decker even took control of the steering for a bit, all before the intense, high speed approach landing.

“Phew, that was crazy. Literally the craziest thing I’ve here done in my life,” says Decker. “Okay back on land I’m still spinning,” she adds.

You can try a demonstration ride too. Chuck Cohen runs Vet Air LLC. in Westfield. He is a flight instructor and can give demonstration rides.

Civil Aviation Authority explains airlines grounding

On June 17th 2014, Uganda’s air transport industry managers Civil Aviation Authority withdrew Air Operator Certificates (AOC) for three airlines that were registered in Uganda and operating international flights. East African Business Week’s PAUL TENTENA talked to Mr. Ignie Igunduura the CAA’s Public Affairs Manager to find out what exactly happened.

Q. Have the ICAO audit results come out?

A. Uganda is a member of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) a United Nations agency responsible for establishing standards for civil aviation. ICAO member states are obliged to comply with the international standards and recommended practices. They normally take 45days from the audit day to announce the results. The 45 days are not yet over for them to announce.

Why is Air Uganda accusing you of failing the ICAO audit hence the withdrawing of Air Operator Certificates (AOC) for International airlines registered in Uganda?

To ensure compliance with international standards, ICAO conducts periodic safety and security audits in all member countries. Accordingly, Uganda was audited by ICAO in November 2008 under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP). Following the 2008 audit, a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) was developed to address the audit findings. The corrective measures taken included formulation of amendments to the CAA Act Cap 354, strengthening the Uganda safety and security inspection system, advanced training of inspectorate personnel and review and alignment of civil aviation regulations in accordance with ICAOs International Standards and Recommended Practices. Initial findings by auditors on CAA were assessed as satisfactory and earned Uganda an overall safety performance improvement of 10% from 49% to 59%. It is not true that we failed the ICAO audit.

In a press statement you published last week, you said Air Uganda was found to have deficiencies that they must work on before re-licensing. What are these deficiencies?

Actually it’s not only Air Uganda. Uganda International Airlines have airlines manuals that are revised regularly through established and approved procedures. Any amendments must be submitted to CAA for approval before they are inserted in the manuals. During the audit, some controlled manual copies of these airlines were fund to have hand written amendments and revisions, photo copied pages, and others had been altered and were grossly different from the copies at CAA and pages which had super impositions.

Others were not original approved pages and had not been amended yet amendments were approved.

Air Uganda personnel also displayed high level of incompetence by submitting to auditors, CAA unapproved soft copies, presenting three different uncontrolled versions of the aircraft minimum equipment list, keeping unmarked For reference Only Manuals together with Controlled Manuals contrary to the industry practice.

Air Uganda also presented a computerized Quality System that failed to indicate calibrated tools expiry dates to the auditors and failed to present to the auditors approval and contract documents of the maintenance service provider.

You withdrew AOC for three operating airlines. Why it is that only one operator is moving from one media house to the other explaining. Where are the others?

Even us we’re wondering. Instead of working on the re-certification process, our colleagues are running to the press. The problem of Air Uganda arose from gross negligence when appearing before the ICAO auditors. The airline deployed unprepared personnel to handle the audit.

Secondly, after certification of Air Uganda in October 2013, CAA carried out bi-annual surveillance missions.

In April 2014, CAA visited the maintenance organization for Air Uganda where it was discovered that the Airline had violated its maintenance scope. The Maintenance Organization had low maintenance capability. CAA instructed Air Uganda to revert to the agreed level until it improved its maintenance capability. TransAfrik was found to be carrying items that were not authorized in their Air Operator Certificate. The re-certification process is ongoing and all the three are involved at stage three.

Air Uganda in their statement said the ICAO audit was only targeting regulators. Is this true?

And it’s where they go wrong. If the audit was for regulators…….why did they visit their premises? The audit was for the state and not only CAA. All industry players were audited and those found with deficiencies had AOCs withdrawn.

 When the ICAO Team came to Uganda. What were they looking for?

The ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission came to establish the status of implementation of the agreed upon Corrective Action Plan of 2008. They also wanted to see the implementation of the recommended amendment of the Civil Aviation Authority Act, organizational set up, accident investigation, air navigation services, aerodromes, Ugandan international airlines, aircraft maintenance centers and aviation training institutions.

Now that Air Uganda has suspended their operations and returned their leased aircraft. What hope should Ugandan and East African air transport users have from CAA?
In order to bridge this gap, we have approached and been approached by Ethiopian Airlines and RwandaAir to start picking up passengers from Entebbe and taking them to destinations they have not flown before. We have granted Fifth Freedom Rights to those two airlines to mount flights. Ethiopian Airlines has been already granted the Entebbe- Juba route. Precision Air has asked to do the Entebbe-Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salaam. This is of course in line with the re-certification process which is ongoing.

Any other issue CAA wishes to tell Air Transport users?

CAA applies a rigorous/thorough certification process to international air operators which, if fully complied with, would ensure safe operations. We’re responsible for industry oversight while the air operators are directly responsible for the safety of their operations. Air Uganda ignored CAA’s advice to follow guidelines for designation as a national airline. The guidelines include reasonable ownership of the airline by the Government or people of the state designating the airline.

Nonetheless, CAA went out of its way to negotiate Bilateral Air Services Agreements with countries like South Africa and Singapore which accepted to waive the ownership close to enable Air Uganda to operate. Kenya and Tanzania accepted designation of Air Uganda as a gesture of good relations between the EAC States and insistence of Uganda CAA.

Air Uganda was advised to desist from the practice of mis-informing the political leadership and seeking favor every time CAA raised aviation safety issues.

- Source:

Cessna 402B, HK4981G: Fatal accident occurred November 17, 2015 in Choco, Colombia

NTSB Identification: ERA16WA047
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 17, 2015 in Choco, Colombia
Aircraft: CESSNA 402B, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 8 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 17, 2015, about 1550 coordinated universal time, a Cessna 402B, Colombian registration HK4981G, was destroyed when it descended and impacted the ground in a residential area, during takeoff from Acandi Airport (SKAD), Choco, Colombia. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. Eight passengers were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was conducted under Colombian flight regulations, and destined for Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport (SKMD), Medellin, Colombia.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Colombia. Further information can be obtained from:

Grupo Investigación de Accidentes
Unidad Administrativa Especial de Aeronáutica Civil
Av. Eldorado #103-23
Bogota, Colombia
Fax: (57-1) 296-2013

This report is for informational purposes and contains only information released by the Government of Colombia.

Joe Kittinger brings old warplane to Orlando for Vietnam War memorial

The F-4D Phantom jet parked in a hangar at Orlando Executive Airport does not look like much now, its paint faded and scratched, stripped of its engines and instruments. But it once was considered the mightiest flying machine in America's war arsenal.

That's the way retired Col. Joe Kittinger sees the old jet. After all, it's akin to a companion for him, one that served him well during his third and final tour during the Vietnam War.

"It was just a really tough, wonderful plane," said Kittinger, who flew the jet four or five times during the 150 missions he commanded over the skies of steamy Southeast Asia.

It was in sister jets during the Vietnam War that he shot down an enemy MiG jet and was, himself, blown from the sky by the missile of a foe.

Now, 42 years after he was released from the infamous Hanoi Hilton prisoner-of-war camp, Kittinger has brought the jet back to his adopted hometown.
Pictures: Orange County Jail mug shots

He intends to clean it up, reapply the camouflage paint it sported during the war and display it in Col. Joe Kittinger Park at the southwest corner of the executive airport.

There, the jet will serve as a memorial to the men and women of Central Florida who served in Vietnam, including 333 who lost their lives.

"It is important not to forget history, not to forget the people who died for this country," said Kittinger, 85.

An aviation pioneer who once held the record for the longest skydive (19 miles) and flew a balloon across the Atlantic Ocean, Kittinger is trying to raise $180,000 for the display. He is about $100,000 short and plans to hold a fundraiser in September, though details have not finalized.

So far, Kittinger said, more than 170 people have each contributed from $5 to $10,000. He has about 40 volunteers helping, including his wife, Sherry.

"He's very excited," she said. "It's [the jet] finally here, finally making progress."

Kittinger has been working on the memorial for four years.

The jet had been kept at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, about an hour south of Dallas. It was disassembled and transported to Orlando about a week ago on two flatbeds pulled by a tractor-trailer. The trip cost $30,000, Sherry Kittinger said.

Though he was shot down in one of the Phantom 4Ds, Col. Kittinger remembers the jet as possessing "tremendous power. It was very agile."

Capable of flying at twice the speed of sound, the jet was used to protect ground troops, escort bombers and engage in fights with other supersonic aircraft.

Kittinger was born in Tampa, but lived in Orlando as a youngster. He flew for the now-closed Rosie O'Grady's entertainment complex downtown for 15 years, ending in 1996. He towed advertising banners and flew balloons.

In all, Kittinger said, he has flown 93 different types of aircraft and spent more than 16,000 hours aloft.

And now he has one of his favorite jets in Orlando.

"That F-4 took care of me," Kittinger said. "We're going to take care of it."

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