Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pilots' Union Shines a Light on Low Wages

 The issue of airline pilot supply and demand is back in the news as the largest U.S. pilots’ union released a new chart to call attention to paltry salaries (PDF) they say are causing a shortage of aviators for regional airlines.

“The rock-bottom starting pay offered by regional airlines has become a serious deterrent for anyone considering becoming an airline pilot or—if they are already qualified—for choosing to work in the profession in the United States,” says Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association. The industry has also been beset by a drop in the number of people who choose flying as a career, given the large training expenses and modest salaries during the first few years of a pilot’s career. 

 Here’s the ALPA list of estimated first-year salaries for a first officer at 10 U.S. regional carriers:

This week, Boeing (BA) said the industry will need 533,000 new commercial pilots by 2033—a 7 percent increase from the company’s 2013 forecast—along with 584,000 airline maintenance workers. Most growth is expected to come in the Asia-Pacific region. European carriers will require 94,000 new pilots; North American ones will need 88,000.

In 2010, Congress mandated that airlines’ first officers would need to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate–which requires at least 1,500 flight hours (PDF)—instead of the 250 hours and commercial pilot certificate previously required. The new rules came in response to the 2009 crash of a Continental Express regional flight, which investigators linked to shortcomings in the pilots’ training.

Great Lakes’ chief executive officer, Chuck Howell, did not return a call seeking comment on Thursday. The Wyoming-based airline has been among the hardest-hit carriers as a result of the new rule. In February, Great Lakes stopped flying to six cities because its pilots did not have the newly required flight hours.

The regional industry says the law chose an arbitrary number of flight hours and did not focus on the quality of a pilot’s training and experience in setting higher minimums that do not make flights any safer. It also says the law has harmed air service to many cities across the country. Pilot supply has not been a problem, so far, for big airlines such as Delta and Southwest, which pay far more than their regional partners do and often hire pilots from the regionals’ rosters.

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Why are planes flying so low over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?


We've been receiving a lot of calls and emails here at WPXI about low flying planes in the area.

While that would concern anyone, Lt. Stacy Gault of the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, WV told Channel 11 viewers not to worry.

Gault said the Air Force is conducting a series of practice drills, utilizing a number of regional airports, including Pittsburgh International. The drills include practicing landings and takeoffs according to Gault.

The aircraft people are seeing is a C-5 cargo plane, the largest aircraft the Air Force has.

According to Gault, the C-5 is so large; when it is flying overhead it appears lower than it really is.

Fun Facts:

    The C-5 is so large; it can hold 6 school buses in the cargo area.
    The length of the aircraft is actually longer than the Wright brother's first flight.
    The C-5 is capable of transporting people as well as cargo.

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Trio charged with stealing millions from Miami-Dade Aviation

A couple and their co-worker siphoned more than $2 million from Aviation Department and used it to pay off car loans, mortgages and a $546,008 credit card bill, law enforcement officials say.

For more than two years, managers of a small company that operated an exclusive lounge for airline passengers siphoned millions of dollars intended for Miami-Dade’s Aviation Department through “shadow” bank accounts, law enforcement leaders said Thursday.

Their suspected haul: likely well over $2.19 million.

That’s the amount Miami-Dade Aviation, Miami-Dade police and state attorney investigators were able to identify as missing over a two-year period from January 2012 through February 2014.

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the “thievery” likely was going on longer.

“But we wanted to stop the bleeding now,” she said Thursday while announcing the arrest of three people.

Elena Iglesias, 45, an account manager and 20-year employee with International Airport Management Inc., was identified as the ringleader of a trio that included her husband, Lazaro Iglesias, 47, and her co-worker, Malena Rodriguez.

All three were charged with organized fraud, grand theft and two counts of money laundering. Their bonds were set at $1 million each, and before posting bond they must prove the money they put up did not come from stolen airport revenue.

Since 1999, IAMI has contracted with Miami-Dade Aviation to operate Club America — an invitation-only waiting area at Miami International Airport that offers private work stations, Internet access, cable TV, showers and a complimentary full bar.

The arrest warrant claims that the Iglesias couple used the money to pay off a $546,008 American Express bill they ran up in two years.

Prosecutors say the money also was used for prepaid college accounts, and to pay off car loans and mortgages. Investigators identified $139,915 in a Bank of America account they said belongs to Rodriguez.

Fernandez Rundle said Elena Iglesias earned $52,000 a year as an account executive with IAMI and Rodriguez made $32,000. Airport officials said Lazaro Iglesias was an employee at the Miami airport until 1999, but were unable to determine exactly where he worked.

The trio remained in jail on Thursday and it was unknown whether they had retained attorneys. Miami-Dade County records show the Iglesiases live in a two-story, six- bedroom, six-bathroom, 6,870-square-foot home in Southwest Miami-Dade. The property was recently assessed at $1.4 million. Calls to the home went directly to voice mail.

The way the scam worked, according to prosecutors, was relatively simple: Airlines supply privileged passengers with vouchers to use at Club America. Passengers then would turn in those vouchers at the club entrance to IAMI, which would bill the airlines.

The airlines paid with company checks made out to IAMI, which was supposed to deposit those checks directly into an account belonging to Miami-Dade Aviation. But investigators found that for at least the past two years, the three were depositing about 20 percent of the total revenues received from airlines into personal accounts.

The investigation also found that the allegedly stolen money came from 11 airline carriers, including $1.1 million from Swiss International Airlines, $347,000 from Taca International Airlines and $279,000 from Virgin Atlantic Airlines.

Miami-Dade Police Det. Richard Wilkinson said the alleged theft was discovered two years ago when, during a surprise audit of IAMI, investigators found vouchers used to bill the airlines totaling $49,000 on the office floor at the airport. That prompted a full-out audit that led to the arrests.

“That number wasn’t in the books,” Wilkinson said.

Miami-Dade Aviation said the lounge operator, owned by Ali Ghraouli, had only about seven employees, and three of them were wait staff. IAMI’s contract earns Ghraouli about $200,000 a year, according to Miami-Dade Aviation.

Ghraouli couldn’t be reached Thursday.

Operations of Club America were recently handed over to LAN Airlines.

Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez said he has had issues with IAMI’s month-to-month contract and has lobbied County Hall to change the terms or rebid the deal. He said that he has been rebuffed.

“These are egregious crimes,” he said.

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Smith bill would help airports hurt by pilot shortages

Third District Congressman Adrian Smith Thursday introduced a bill that would assist small, rural airports which are being threatened by a pilot shortage. The issue has been caused in part by new federal regulations that require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time.

The Small Airport Regulation Relief Act of 2014 would require the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to use boarding numbers from calendar year 2012 when calculating annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016. It would ensure those airports which reached 10,000 boardings in 2012 before the new regulations could use the boarding numbers from that year to obtain a million dollars in federal funds for safety projects, like taxiways, runways, aprons and other needs.

Western Nebraska Regional Airport as well as airports in North Platte, Kearney and Grand island have had the federal funding threatened by the pilot shortage issues.

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Seaplane operator feeling the pinch as work gets underway at Prince Rupert Airport

Construction work taking place at the Prince Rupert Airport may end up costing the community jobs.

The Prince Rupert Airport Authority sent out letters earlier this month outlining plans to start construction on July 21, construction that will reduce the length of the runway to less than 4,000 feet for a portion of the work.

That length is not suitable for private jets, which Inland Air owner Bruce MacDonald said has resulted in the redirection of flights for high-end clientele visiting fishing lodges in the region. Rather than landing in Prince Rupert and boarding a seaplane at Digby Island to reach the lodge, many of those flight will be landing in Sandspit where lodge patrons will board helicopters.

"I am looking at a loss of close to $100,000. I am probably going to have to lay off seven to eight people and I have a leased aircraft I am probably going to have to give back," he said.

"August is our busiest month. It's when we try to get our nut to get through the winter and then we get our throats cut like this ... I know our airport needs works and it needs to be done, just don't do it during the busiest month of the year."

Plans also call for the instrument landing system and the precision approach path indicator system to be disabled and, in the later part of the month, no airplanes other than "scheduled carriers" will be able to park at the airport.

Despite those changes, the biggest sticking point for MacDonald is a lack of consultation and a tight timeline, something he said eliminated any possible solution being found to keep the flights landing in Prince Rupert.

"Somebody made the decision to do this in August without consulting myself or any of the airport users ... and it is probably because there would have been such an outcry against this," he said.

Prince Rupert Airport manager Rick Reed said doing the project in August was necessitated by not only the type of work but by the timeframe imposed.

"The main thing is the weather period, though we do have a couple of constraints. Approximately 90 per cent of the $10 million from the federal government needs to be spent in this fiscal year and paving is weather sensitive ... if the weather is nice, it will take approximately 30 days to complete, so we couldn't risk getting into the wet fall period," he said, noting people knew the project was coming.

"People have known about this for three years. What we didn't know was the exact schedule, but we knew it would be during the summer time."

While the project is proceeding, Reed said the subject was one that the airport authority would be discussing in the future.

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Tear-down of old air traffic control tower begins at Calgary airport

CALGARY – Officials began the process of dismantling the former air traffic control tower at the Calgary International Airport on Thursday.

The 26-year-old building is being torn down by a state-of-the-art robot.

The tower stands 44 metres tall and supports a 414 square-foot office.

Thousands of successful aircraft arrivals and departures were managed from inside the tower, until the new control tower went into service in May of 2013.

The dismantling of the tower is scheduled for to be finished by October 31st.

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The old air traffic control tower at the Calgary International Airport, which opened in 1988. 
Global News

Lil Wayne Sued for $1 Million -Courthouse News Service

MIAMI (CN) - Rapper Lil Wayne and his company Young Money Entertainment owe more than $1 million for renting airplanes for his "jet setting around the globe," an aircraft rental company claims in a stinging complaint.

The Signature Group sued Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (Lil Wayne) and his "putative" company Young Money Entertainment on Thursday in Miami-Dade County Court.

The 14-page lawsuit is acerbic, sometimes snide.

"As with many such artists, Mr. Carter appears to enjoy the finer things in life: expensive cars, a mansion in La Gorce Country Club on Miami Beach, and private aircraft travel for himself, his agents, and members of his entourage, to worldwide destinations of his choice," the complaint states.

It continues: "Naturally, the enjoyment of such luxuries is not free, and Mr. Carter and his putative Florida limited liability, defendant Young Money, have failed to live up to their obligations and now owe plaintiff, Signature Group, over one million dollars in fees and charges relating to Mr. Carter's jet-setting around the globe on private aircraft leased to him by plaintiff. The nature of this dispute is straightforward and there are dozens of written communication from Mr. Carter's agents, not only attesting to the existence of this debt, but also promising payment if plaintiff foregoes taking action against defendants. Simply put, Mr. Carter can choose to use the proceeds that he earns to live the life of a hip-hop star - but he has to pay his bills just like the rest of us."

The Signature Group demands money owed, and damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

It is represented by Scott Konopka, with Mrachek, Fitzgerald, Rose, Konopka, Thomas & Rose, of Stuart, Fla.

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Federal Aviation Administration wants to speed up installation of new air-traffic control system at Newark, other airports

NEWARK — The FAA says it concurs with an unflattering federal report's recommendations for speeding implementation of a new satellite-based air traffic control system intended to improve safety and reduce delays.

The FAA has been gradually implementing elements of the new, so-called NextGen system to replace a radar-based system used since the end of World War II. NextGen incorporates global positioning technology similar to systems on smart phones and car dashboards, allowing air traffic controllers to track aircraft more precisely. The system's enhanced precision, say proponents, reduces the space and time between planes taking off or landing.

But a June 17 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general's office concluded that adopting the new routes and procedures were lagging, most notably at Newark Liberty, John F. Kennedy International, and LaGuardia airports, which together make up the nation's busiest air space. The report surfaced publicly on Tuesday.

"Use of high-value procedures remains low, particularly at busy airports such as those in the New York City area," the report states.

For example, the report found that a "curved" approach pattern possible under NextGen was being employed for 1 percent of flights at Kennedy and LaGuardia, and for none at Newark Liberty.

In a response that the FAA made public today, the aviation agency said it was already taking steps consistent with the report's recommendation that it complete "an action plan" for overcoming obstacles to NextGen; develop a timeframe for streamlining new procedures under the system; and establish a process to gauge the success of the new procedures.

But, the FAA noted in its response, these things take time.

"There are challenges that must be understood and managed in order to realize the full benefits of PBN," the FAA said, referring to new routes and procedures collectively known as Performance-Based Navigation.

"In 2011, the FAA kicked off an effort to understand the challenges to implementing PBN and identify the methods the Agency could utilize to mitigate or eliminate the barriers altogether," the FAA added.

The agency may face yet another barrier to NextGen's implementation: residents subject to new or increased aircraft noise thanks to changes in approach patterns made possible by NextGen.

"While I understand the need to reduce delays in the congested airspace here, the FAA does not operate in a vacuum," said Susan Carroll, who lives in Flushing, N.Y., near LaGuardia, and is a member of Queens Quiet Skies. "These more 'efficient' flight paths have come at a great cost to those of us on the ground."

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6th Annual Wings and Wheels takes off at Ingalls Field Airport (KHSP) on Saturday

Wings and Wheels offers a lot of high flying fun this Saturday in a beautiful location.  It’s held at Ingalls Field, where the elevation is almost 3,800 feet.  It’s the highest public use general aviation airport east of the Mississippi and it provides a unique location for all of the activities.

Becky Skidmore, the Airport Manager at Ingalls Field, organizes the air show for Wings and Wheels.

“We have Tiger Airshows coming and they have a dueling act,” says Skidmore.  “They have two aircraft, a smoke ring generator and they have a competition to see who can get to go through the smoke rings.  And then the winner of that, it’s actually a surprise what’s going to happen after that.  And then we have an AT-6.  I think it’s a World War II  military aircraft that was for training purposes, but he’s going to be doing a solo performance.”

And several planes will be on display.  There will also be a skydiving team, plane acrobatics and Tony Royal will be there with his L-29 Jet.

“It’s a trainer jet that resembles a MIG, like a Russian type of military jet,” says Skidmore.  “He’s going to be doing low passes throughout the day and he’s also going to be a static display.”

Wings and Wheels will also feature a parachute jump for charity to raise money for the Bath County Christmas Mother.   You can vote with your donations and whoever receives the highest number of dollars donated will make the jump.  The contestants are Mark Nelson, Director of Bath County Parks and Recreation, Ashton Harrison, Bath’s County Administrator and Melinda Hooker, Band Director at Bath County High School.     

“I’m looking forward to seeing the jets because I love things that are really loud and fast,” says Skidmore.   “I’m really interested in who gets the jump for charity because I think that’s going to be funny.”

Also this year there will be more activities for children.  There will be carnival and arcade games, rides, rock climbing and bouncy houses along with plenty of food, music and vendors.

And the wheels in Wings and Wheels is a car show where you can vote for the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice award winners.   And also new this year, a stunt motorcycle team, the 540 Boyz, will take to the runway to perform.

“There really isn’t anything around this area that brings so many different factors,” says Skidmore.  “You have the car people and then the car people like to come to car shows.  But then when they go to a car show, but gosh you know, we walk around and look at the cars.  But then when you throw some planes in there that are doing flips, you know, it’s entertaining.”

Wings and Wheels is Saturday, August 2, from noon to 6 at Ingalls Field in Hot Springs. Admission is $5 per person, $3 for ages 12 and under and it’s free for ages 3 and under.    

You can get more information on Wings and Wheels at, or by calling 540-839-7202.

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Get ready for Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014

Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014 officially kicks off Saturday at 10:45 a.m. with opening ceremonies.

But according to Airshow Nelson 2014 chair, Case Grypma, local aviation buffs should gear up for some mid-air practice runs as soon as Thursday afternoon as early arrivals prepare for Saturday’s show

“The bulk of the planes arrive Friday, but the early arrivals Thursday will be going through some practice runs in the afternoon,” Grypma said on the eve of what promises to be an amazing weekend spotlighting aviation in Nelson.

“Friday, the bulk of the planes arrive for demos in preparation for Saturday’s main show.

Grypma said everything is falling into place in regards to Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014.

A host of volunteers have climbed aboard the show to help make the event a success with food vendors lining up awaiting the arrival of spectators to the Nelson Airport.

As for the performers, Grypma said the public is going to be impressed female pilot Anna Serbinenko, who is flying Canadian Flight Centre’s Super Decathlon — a plane built by American Champion Aircraft for the purpose of aerobatic training.

“Being a female pilot, which is not very common, Anna Serbinenko performs a show call “SkyDancer” that has been opening to rave reviews on the airshow circuit she’s performed at,” Grypma explained.

Other aircrafts Nelson Pilots Association are pleased to welcome is the North American Aviation T-28 Trojan, a piston-engine military trainer aircraft used by the U.S. Navy and Airforce beginning in the 1950s operated by Peter Herzig and the Sailplane Glider piloted by Paul Hajduk.

“Nelson is a very unique venue for an airshow. . .. There’s really not other place like it in the entire country,” Grypma said.

“(Nelson) is situated in a narrow, remote valley but luckily enough we have a lake, and that lake is mostly unoccupied so performers can do aerobatics right over top of the water.”

Grypma said the main “aerobatic box” extends from west of the (Big) Orange Bridge to about the (Kootenay Lake) Yacht Club so there really is no bad seat in the house.

“I definitely encourage people to come down to the airport because there’s a lot to see and do,” Grypma said. “This is a very grass roots, family orientated event allowing the public to get up close to the pilots and aircraft.”

The airshow culminates Saturday afternoon with the Nelson Pilots Association Heritage City Club Air Race.

The course will see five planes covering a five-lap course taking organizers from the Nelson side of Grohman Narrows to Troupe Junction.

For safety reasons, Grypma said from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Kootenay Lake west of the Big Orange Bridge to adjacent the airport, as well as the Nelson Dog Walk, will be closed to traffic.

Boaters will be able to watch near the shoreline but the middle of the lake will be off limits to all sea craft and patrolled by Beasley Water Rescue Team.

See full Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014 schedule in PDF listed below.
Attachment    Size
flightfest_tri_fold_2014_2.pdf    2.75 MB

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Federal Aviation Administration proposes $428,000 civil penalty against Air Methods Corp

(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday it is proposing a $428,000 civil penalty against Air Methods Corp of Englewood, Colorado, for operating two helicopters that were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it alleges Air Methods, which provides emergency air ambulance services, failed to perform inspections of their Night Vision Imaging System Compatible Lighting Filtration installations.

Federal Aviation Administration  said Air Methods has 30 days from the receipt of an enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

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Waterloo Regional Airport (KALO) director departs for new job

WATERLOO | The director of the Waterloo Regional Airport is leaving after just six months to take a new position in Minnesota.

Mike Wilson, took the reins in Waterloo Feb. 18, has resigned his post effective Aug. 29 to become manager of reliever airports serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

"One of the airports is 37 minutes from my in-laws and 38 minutes from my parents," Wilson said. "It's pretty hard to pass that up.

"It had nothing to do with the airport here," he added. "The staff out there is doing a great job and I really love the area and the people here."

Wilson came to Waterloo after three years directing the Aberdeen Regional Airport in South Dakota. He had interviewed for the job in Minneapolis at the same time he was applying in Waterloo.

"One of my friends got the job back then, but it didn't work out for her," said Wilson, who was then contacted about filling the position managing two of the six reliever airports serving MSP International.

Wilson said he was confident in the future of the Waterloo airport, which has seen passenger numbers improve while new sources of revenue are helping the city avoid property tax subsidies. The city is currently purchasing new equipment and making hangar improvements with federal grants.

Mayor Buck Clark said he accepted Wilson's resignation "reluctantly."

"He was doing an incredibly good job and we hate to see him go," Clark said.

The City Council's human resources committee will be asked Monday to approve the hiring process for a new director, which Clark said should go much more quickly than it did when Wilson was hired.

"We're going to follow the same process we did the last time but the job description is already set," Clark said. "It's our fervent hope that we can get somebody quickly."

The city retained Austin, Texas-based Trillion Aviation to run the airport after former director Brad Hagen resigned in 2013. Clark said he hopes an interim consultant will not be needed this time.

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Thousands of Newark, LaGuardia, JFK airport workers to get raises today

NEWARK — Thousands of low-paid cabin cleaners, baggage handlers and other airport workers are due for a raise today at Newark Liberty International Airport, where a mandatory wage policy is scheduled to take effect.

A policy adopted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in April calls for $1-per-hour raises for airport workers earning $9 an hour or less, effective today. On Feb. 1, a $10.10-an-hour minimum wage will take effect under the policy, followed a year later by annual increments pegged to inflation.

The policy applies to airline employees and to the employees of low-paying firms that airlines contract with to provide ground services. Those firms, which often pay minimum wage with few or no benefits, have proliferated in recent years in the highly competitive, deregulated airline industry as a way for airlines to cut costs.

Advocates of the wage policy say it will apply to 3,700 contract workers for United Airlines just at Newark Liberty. The wage policy also applies to thousands of workers at New York's John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports, and Port Authority officials say they plan to expand the policy eventually to the agency's other facilities.

Direct employees of the Port Authority all make more than the wages established in the new policy, which also calls for a paid holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Unlike some other carriers at JFK and LaGuardia, United did not embrace the policy voluntarily ahead of the effective date. But while United has questioned the legality of the policy, it has not challenged it up to this point.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for United reiterated a company statement issued earlier this month: “United already pays wages at the airports that will meet this new rule. United expects United suppliers to meet all applicable laws and regulations.” 

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Airport commission, county commission clash in court: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

Attorneys for the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and the Dukes County Commission presented oral arguments in Dukes County Superior Court Tuesday in connection with the latest lawsuit sparked by a long-running dispute over control of the county-owned Martha’s Vineyard Airport and its operations.

In a 13-page civil complaint filed May 5, airport commission lawyers from the Cambridge law firm of Anderson & Kreiger asked the court to prohibit county officials from seeking to “unlawfully interfere with, and obstruct the functioning,” of the Airport Commission. The seven members of the airport commission are appointed by the elected members of the seven-member county commission.

The complaint is based on two ongoing disputes that are only the latest eruptions in the lengthy history of county efforts to exercise control over the county-owned airport. Over the objections of airport officials, county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders has refused to pay airport invoices approved by the airport commission and she has publicly released invoice details the airport considers confidential. And on April 23, the county commissioners recognized county manager Martina Thornton as an ex-officio member of the Airport Commission.

Airport lawyers asked the judge to issue injunctions to prohibit the county commission from naming the county manager an ex-officio member; prohibit the manager from sitting on the airport commission; prohibit the county treasurer from refusing to pay airport invoices; and prohibit the treasurer from releasing confidential information she had obtained between the airport commission and its attorneys.

In its answer to the lawsuit, filed May 30, the county commission made a series of counterclaims, including a request for the court to declare that the airport is under the jurisdiction of Dukes County, as a subdivision and department of the county, according to Massachusetts law. The county commission also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting the airport commission from submitting invoices without proper documentation. The county commission asked the court to dismiss the airport commission’s complaint, and award the county commission costs to defend itself, with interest.

In a hearing before Associate Justice Richard Chin in Dukes County Superior Court on July 29, attorney David Mackey of Anderson & Kreiger was first to make his case for the injunctions and declaratory judgement.

“This is much more urgent than it was when we brought this case,” Mr. Mackey told the court. “The county’s position has become more extreme. The county commission is attempting to take control of the airport.”

Mr. Mackey said Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws give the airport commission sole authority for custody, care, and management of the county-owned airport. He said the grant assurances signed by the county commission and the county manager with each round of state and federal funding make it clear that the county commission is prohibited from depriving or diminishing the powers of the airport commission. He also argued that a 2006 court ruling known as the Weibrecht decision reaffirmed the airport commission’s role as a body independent of county government with sole responsibility for the airport’s financial affairs.

“There is some considerable urgency about clearing up this issue about who is running the show,” Mr. Mackey said. He cited language from the law, the grant assurances, and the Weibrecht decision in support of the airport commission’s claim that each overrules the state law and county charter, when there is a conflict.

Judge Chin questioned the airport commission attorney about his requests for immediate injunctions.

“What is the urgency,” Judge Chin asked. “After reading his (the county commission attorney’s) submissions, are you going to turn the keys of the airport over to him?”

Mr. Mackey also argued that an immediate injunction was necessary to prevent the county treasurer from releasing invoices and other documents which could compromise the airport commission’s right to keep communications with its attorneys confidential.

Judge Chin also questioned whether an injunction was warranted on that issue.

“Part of the problem is the lawyers,” Judge Chin said. “Why are they just handing over privileged communication? The attorneys bear some responsibility. It doesn’t sound like you need a court order to prevent these communications. I don’t want this court used as a tool by which information is kept from people. I’m not going to interject myself in this controversy. that’s not the role of this court.”

Attorney Robert Troy of the Sandwich law firm Troy Wall Associates represented the county commission at the hearing. He characterized the disagreement between the two commissions as a political dispute. He said no injunction is warranted to prevent the county manager from sitting as an ex-officio member of the airport commission, because the provision is included in state law. He said “one person sitting at the table who has no vote, for an airport that is owned by Dukes County,” is not an attempt to diminish the airport commission’s authority.

“The real issues, that are petty issues, are due to improper practices of the airport commission,” Mr. Troy told the court. “This is about a very petty and illegal practice. The airport commission has been approving invoices that have no detail.”

As an example, he offered an invoice from a law firm in Colorado that he said the airport commission had retained.

“It says 3.4 hours at $525 per hour,” he said. “What was the work done? T-R-D, that’s all it says. The airport commission should have been communicating with the treasurer and not coming to court.”

Judge Chin noted that all the invoices were eventually paid.

“It seems to me there is no controversy before me about the bills,” Judge Chin said. “There are procedures in place to pay the bills. It sounds like the matter has been resolved. What would I rule on?”

All the parties in the lawsuit were present in the courtroom Tuesday, listening intently to the hearing. Also present was Tracy Klay, chief counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Aeronautical Division. He said the issues in the case are important to state regulators, no matter what the decision.

Judge Chin told the attorneys he will take the matters under advisement and issue a written ruling.

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Judge Richard Chin. 
Photo by Steve Myrick 
Airport commission attorney David Mackey (standing) shares a document with county commission attorney Robert Troy in Dukes County Superior Court.