Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jet Airways’ mid-air scare: Directorate General of Civil Aviation under fire

Nine near air misses were reported in the last eight months, which raised concerns over the country’s civil aviation and safety standards.Even as Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is gearing for US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) team for lifting safety downgrade on the Indian civil aviation sector, nine air misses involving India’s commercial airlines have already taken place this year. These nine incidents, which include the latest Jet Airways goof-up, will weaken India’s case for lifting the safety downgrade of the country’s civil aviation sector in January this year.

According to official sources, the goof-up involving Jet Airways Boeing 777-300 ER that suddenly descended 5,000 feet below its designated flight path over Turkey’s airspace will prove to be embarrassing as it was not immediately reported to the DGCA.

Strangely, the DGCA remained clueless about the incident and came to know after receiving an anonymous SMS five days after the incident.

A senior civil aviation ministry official said the US team is bound to raise the issue about incidents going unreported as the DGCA lacks a proper monitoring system.

A top government official said the Jet incident exposes how illequipped the DGCA is as it remained clueless for an entire week after the incident.   “The regulator must have its own internal intelligence network. If it fails to know of what is happening within the airline, the concept of having a regulator is lost,” the official explained. Though the DGCA has initiated action against Jet Airways for concealing the incident, sources said the damage has already been done.

The Jet incident could have proved dangerous as another plane could have been flying in the additional flight corridor created vertically below with an approximate separation of 3,000 feet on the Asia-Europe air route through Turkey’s airspace. A top DGCA official told Mail Today that most Indian carriers, barring Air India, do not have an adequate number of qualified instructors to train their pilots. After Jet, DGCA would also conduct a training audit of other Indian carriers to maintain better training standards as per the international norms.

“You cannot have a pilot with a laid back attitude. They must be sensitive enough and be adequately trained from time to time-which is not followed by most carriers as the cost of training is very high. We are also asking other airlines, besides Jet, to streamline their training of pilots. The airline will have to strictly enforce stringent training standards,” he added.

Another civil aviation ministry official disclosed that some airlines have been skipping periodical training programs for pilots during the winter and monsoon season. “We have been complaining about this for very long. Airlines have largely bunked the norms in this regard,” he said.

Flights connecting Europe and Asia are currently not flying over Ukraine where a Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane was shot down last month. Similarly, Iraq’s airspace has also turned into a war zone and is being avoided. This leaves only one path over Turkey’s airspace for the Europe-Asia sector, making it one of the busiest air routes in the world.
Meanwhile, the DGCA has set up a three-member team to review Jet Airways’ flight training programs and facilities following the incident.

One of the issues that led to the downgrade of India’s aviation sector by USFAA was lack of chief flight operation instructors. This issue is likely to crop up again as the DGCA has managed to appoint only 35 of 75 such instructors required by the US aviation regulator.

- Story and Comments:

Judge Upholds Airport in Case Against County: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

A superior court judge has sided with the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission in its ongoing dispute with the Dukes County Commission over the legal independence of the airport. 

In a written opinion, the Hon. Richard Chin, an associate justice of the superior court, granted the airport commission a preliminary injunction that allows it to exclude the county manager as an ex officio nonvoting member of the airport commission. He also ordered that the county treasurer may not refuse to pay the airport legal bills and does not have the right to see privileged communications between the airport commission and its attorneys.

Judge Chin denied a request from the airport to dismiss a series of counterclaims by the county, but in all other matters the 11-page decision sides squarely with the airport commission on questions of control and authority over airport affairs.

A preliminary injunction is not a final ruling, and the case will now proceed to trial, but injunctions are granted to prevent the likely winner of a lawsuit from suffering irreparable harm while waiting for the final outcome.

The county commission is the appointing authority for the airport commission. The two commissions have sparred on and off for years over who ultimately controls the airport, which is owned by the county but financially independent from it. The county operates under a state charter while the airport operates under a different state act, enacted after the charter.

In 2005 a superior court case brought by former airport manager William Weibrecht confirmed the airport’s authority to set salaries and contracts for its employees.

In the latest lawsuit, filed in May, the airport seeks expanded recognition of its autonomy from the county. The complaint stems in part from a decision by the county commission earlier in the year to name the county manager to the airport commission as an ex-officio member. The airport commission has refused to allow county manager Martina Thornton to participate at meetings. There has also been disagreement and tension between the two commissions over how the county treasurer has been handling legal bills.

At a hearing in the Edgartown courthouse last month, Judge Chin heard arguments from attorneys for both sides on the motions by the airport for injunctive relief and dismissal of the counterclaims. Attorneys for the county argued that because the county appoints the airport commission, it has ultimate control. But attorneys for the airport said allowing the county to make organizational changes could jeopardize state and federal grant assurances which provide millions of dollars in funding for airport operations.

In the ruling dated August 12, Judge Chin agreed with the airport on the matter of grant assurances and said adding the county manager to the airport board as an ex-officio member could be construed as a reorganization of the board. The county charter provides for the appointment, raising the broader question of whether the county charter trumps the airport act.

Referring back to the 2005 Weibrecht case, Judge Chin said it does not.

“The county commission argues that the Weibrecht decision is narrow in scope, addressing only the power to set salaries for the airport manager and assistant manager, and is consequently irrelevant to the issues before the court in this case. The court disagrees,” he wrote. “The court agrees . . . that the charter, a broad enabling statute, does not supersede the narrowly tailored airport act even thought it was enacted afterwards.”

- Story and Comments:

Hon. Richard Chin

Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair, N1229M: Accident occurred August 14, 2014 in Wiggins, Stone County, Mississippi

NTSB Identification: ERA14LA389
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 14, 2014 in Wiggins, MS
Aircraft: CESSNA T206H, registration: N1229M
Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 14, 2014, about 1807 central daylight time, a Cessna T206H, N1229M, was substantially damaged following a partial loss of engine power and forced landing near Wiggins, Mississippi. The private pilot received serious injuries, while two passengers received minor injuries. The airplane was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for business flight that originated at Denison, Texas (GYI) and was destined for Daytona Beach, Florida (DAB). 

According to the pilot, the flight was in the vicinity of Hattiesburg, Mississippi when he elected to change his landing destination to Mobile, Alabama (MOB) to refuel and have dinner. After descending to 2,500 feet above mean sea level (MSL), he leveled the airplane and advanced the throttle, but observed no response from the engine. He could not recover engine power, although the propeller continued to spin. The throttle "felt very loose." He maneuvered the airplane toward the nearest airport; however, there was not sufficient altitude to reach the airport. The airplane collided with trees before coming to rest in a farm field.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. He confirmed substantial damage to both wings and extensive damage to the fuselage. The engine was broken free from its mounts during the impact sequence.

Flight Standards District Office: FAA Jackson FSDO-31


STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - What began as a probe into a plane crash in Stone County is now a narcotics investigation. A Cessna 206 went down Thursday evening. By Friday, one person who was on board that plane was facing a drug charge.

As bad as the wreckage looked, some Stone County residents were amazed to find out no one was seriously hurt. Many people came to get a closer look at the plane that snapped tree limbs and power lines before crash landing on the side of Oilwell Road.

A pilot and two passengers were on the plane when it went down. Law enforcement officials said the stories the men told investigators prompted them to take a closer look at the crash site.

"Based on the information from the pilot and the individuals that were in the plane, it didn't seem to be the normal routine for a normal flight," said Capt. Jay Green, with the Stone County/Wiggins Narcotics Task Force. "They were coming from Texas headed over to Mobile, and with their indicators and their statements, we asked for a canine to come check the plane. We had a positive alert with the canine."

After getting a hit from the dog, investigators from the Stone County/Wiggins Narcotics Task Force went through the luggage on the plane.

"There was pills in the plane, in the luggage. There was a few capsules on the ground that had pills in it," said Green.

Investigators charged Jeff Franklin, 34, of Sherman, TX, with possession of a controlled substance hydrocodone. Franklin was a passenger in plane.

Authorities said Franklin does not have a prescription for hydrocodone and the pills were found in a container for an antacid, which is illegal.

Narcotics investigators said they also found thousands of dollars in cash in the form of $100 bills. The pilot and the other passenger are still in the hospital with what authorities said are non-life threatening injuries. Officials said the investigation into who owns the pills continues.

Meanwhile, the FAA was also at the crash scene on Friday. Stone County Sheriff's deputies said the wreckage will be taken to an airport hangar on Saturday so investigators can take a closer look at the plane. However, FAA officials said while they investigate to see if any federal regulations were violated, it will be the National Transportation Safety Board that makes the determination on what caused the accident.

Story, Video and Photos:

Jeff Franklin.
 (Image source: Stone County Sheriff's Department.) 

Narcotics investigators said they also found thousands of dollars in cash in the form of 100 dollar bills on the plane. 
(Image source: Stone County Sheriff's Department.) 

"There was pills in the plane, in the luggage. There was a few capsules on the ground that had pills in it," said Green. 
(Image source: WLOX News.) 

  Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair, N1229M

Friday, August 15, 2014

Skydive Long Island: Federal Aviation Administration to examine parachute packing in skydiving fatality - Calverton, Suffolk County, New York


The Federal Aviation Administration probe into a fatal skydiving accident in Calverton is looking into whether the parachute was packed properly and deployed correctly, an agency official said Friday.

A parallel investigation into the skydiving company by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was called off when it was determined that the FAA had primary jurisdiction, officials said.

Both agencies had been looking into the factors leading to the ill-fated tandem jump on July 30. Gary Messina, 25, an off-duty New York City correction officer, was killed and his instructor, Christopher Scott, 28, critically injured.

Skydive Long Island founder Ray Maynard has blamed the accident on a "dust devil," a strong whirlwind. Witnesses told Riverhead police that the parachute had deployed.

OSHA closed its investigation into training, equipment and other potential safety issues following a brief court battle with Calverton-based Skydive over whether the agency had jurisdiction.

Maynard provided an OSHA inspector information on employees and equipment on July 31, but then balked at letting the inspector speak to employees privately, according to court documents.

Skydive's attorney had been seeking to reverse a federal judge's order to let in OSHA inspectors.

"They had no jurisdiction," Maynard said Friday. "When OSHA showed up, I was still in shock with what happened, and I'm being the good guy to let them do their work. We have nothing to hide.

"The FAA is the investigation authority, and OSHA shouldn't have been there," he said.

But Maynard said it's "totally wrong" that the FAA is looking at parachute issues.

"The FAA knows that everything was packed and done totally according to the FAA" rules, he said Friday.

OSHA officials said they sometimes start their own probe until it's clear who has jurisdiction, and the U.S. Labor Department, which governs OHSA, now says it's the FAA.

Story, Comments and Video:


Plane shot at in Missouri: Sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information to call 660-646-0515 or 660-646-2121

Police seek information 

Chillicothe Municipal Airport (KCHT), Missouri 

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — In Chillicothe, Mo., about 95 miles northeast of Kansas City, authorities have spent the last two days looking for a gunman who shot at a small, private airplane with a shotgun. 

“It is pretty unbelievable and scary to think someone did that. To actually shoot at a plane that’s in the air of course could do a lot of damage or even possibly bring it down,” says Chief Deputy Michael Claypole with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators say the local pilot was not hit. His damaged airplane is still sitting inside a hangar at the Chillicothe airport.

“We just need a lot of leads right now to know what direction to go in,” Chief Deputy Claypole said.

Authorities say around 6:30 Wednesday evening the pilot, whose name they aren’t releasing, was practicing takeoffs and landings at the small, rural airport when someone fired at his aircraft.

The pilot didn’t actually discover the damage until the next day.

Investigators believe the pilot was fairly close to the ground when his plane was shot. They also believe the gunman was in close proximity to the Chillicothe Municipal Airport’s runway.

“Somebody actually shooting at a plane that’s in the air, it could again bring it down, not only causing death to the pilot, but anybody else that would’ve been in the area as well. Yes, he’s one lucky pilot given the fact he wasn’t hurt in any way, ”  Claypole said.

Livingston County authorities have notified the Federal Aviation Administration about the shooting incident.

The Sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information to call 660-646-0515 or 660-646-2121.

  Story and Video:

Eclipse Aerospace announces layoffs

Randy Siner | Albuquerque Business First
 Just nine months after getting $238,000 from the city and $397,000 from the state​ to hire 100 new workers, Eclipse Aerospace laid off several people on Friday. The company has delivered 10 ​new Eclipse 550 jets since March, when it had a major press conference to announce ​its first sale of a 550. 

Just nine months after getting $238,000 from the city and $397,000 from the state to hire 100 new workers, Eclipse Aerospace laid off several people on Friday.

“I’ve had much better days,” Eclipse Aerospace senior vice president Ed Lundeen told Business First on Friday.

“The bottom line is that the market has not recovered yet. We’re not seeing the sales we planned for,” he said.

Lundeen said the company is not disclosing how many people it laid off, though it had about 220 employees. The company did offer a severance package, though Lundeen declined to offer details.

The company has delivered 10 new Eclipse 550 jets since March, when it had a major press conference to announce its first sale of a 550.

“The people that are buying them love flying it,” Lundeen said.

However, just last December, Eclipse announced that it was receiving help from the city and state, and that it was hiring 100 new workers. The city pitched in $238,000 from its Economic Development Action Fund and the state pitched in $397,000 in Local Economic Development Act funds.

The state instituted clawbacks on its LEDA funding; however, those will not go into effect in this case. “I don’t believe this layoff would affect that. I know this layoff wasn’t big enough,” said Angela Heisel, spokeswoman for the state’s Economic Development Department on Friday.

The city deal, however, includes a performance-based clawback. The mayor could not immediately be reached for comment.

The aviation market has not rebounded as much as the company would have liked, Lundeen said.

“We just wish there were more people that are wanting to buy aircraft,” he said. “As a result of that, we’ve had to realign our production forecast. We’re building less airplanes, and we need fewer human resources.”

“We lost a lot of really good folks today, across the board — Albuquerque, Chicago and Charleston — and it’s a painful event we’re going through,” he added.

“We have to keep our costs in line so we have a sustainable business model,” Lundeen said.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s Eclipse Aerospace confirms it has laid off a significant number of employees at its New Mexico aircraft factory. The company would not specify an exact number, but several employees were seen Friday morning carrying out personal effects in boxes.

Eclipse Senior Vice-President Ed Lundeen blames the layoffs on the economy, especially the general aviation segment.

“This is a function of market conditions and our efforts to reduce costs of the company,” Lundeen said. “As a result of these cost reductions we are going through a restructuring at the present time to insure the long term viability of this company.”

Eclipse had recently reduced its production schedule and was still struggling to find buyers of its light jet, the twin-engine Eclipse 550.

One employee laid off this morning who preferred not to give his name said, “I’m not too dismayed by it, because the economy itself is somewhat in a tizzy right now. It was a pleasure to work for Eclipse and I hope to be back,” he added.

Lundeen said Eclipse will continue to manufacture planes and staff its service centers around the country, just at a slower pace and with a smaller staff.

“We’re very hopeful that when the economy recovers, and we start selling more aircraft that we will post positions for restaffing,” Lundeen said. “And we hope that these employees that were laid off today will reapply to come back to work for us.”

Albuquerque’s Economic Development Director Gary Oppedahl issued this statement Friday regarding the Eclipse news;

“We need to diversify our economy, those efforts have led to recruiting world-class businesses like Eclipse. Like many successful companies, it is incumbent upon them to flex to the demands of the market. It is our understanding that Eclipse has a plan to reabsorb staff, once their market conditions improve. In our agreement with Eclipse they only receive rental discounts when they are actively hiring. We anticipate they are still on track to hire 100 people, for a total of 275 employees, by December of 2015, as that is part of our contractual agreement with them.”

Story, photo and comments:

Eclipse Aerospace manufacturing takes off with first delivery

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Eclipse Aerospace announced that it has reached a major milestone Wednesday morning.   

They say it is a good sign that its jet manufacturing operation is taking off.

    Eclipse Aerospace Official Press Release»

Eclipse Aerospace has delivered its first Eclipse 550 Jet to a customer, a big step forward for the company following certification by the FAA.

The company first announced production of the 550 jet in Albuquerque in June of 2012.

Eclipse says the jet can fly at 430 miles per hour, at an altitude of up to 41,000 feet and is the most fuel-efficient small jet in production. When in cruise, the 550 consumes only 59 gallons of fuel per hour.

Eclipse says it also features safety features and technology traditionally found on commercial aircraft.

Last September, Eclipse unveiled the new jet at a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Eclipse says production of the jet, which runs at approximately $2.9 million, is ramping up and so is customer interest.

In 2008, the former company, Eclipse Aviation, filed for bankruptcy and laid off its workers.

Eclipse Aerospace CEO Mason Holland told KRQE  News 13 this is a big step forward for the company and for the city that saw Eclipse Aviation collapse.

“It’s got to be big for Albuquerque as well, because it marks a signal of a milestone we’ve achieved after four years of pretty hard work,” Holland said.

Holland wouldn’t release hard numbers, but said a good number of orders are lined up for the year.

Eclipse is now looking toward the future, and possibly expanding its product line beyond the 550 jet. A spokesperson for the company couldn’t expand on what other aircraft Eclipse could be developing, but said final production of any product would likely stay in Albuquerque.

Right now, 175 people are employed at Eclipse.

A recent partnership with the city, state and Eclipse is supposed to help expand the company, with both the city and state giving the company a total of more than half a million dollars.

The partnership is expected to result in at least 100 new manufacturing jobs over the next two years, bringing the number of employees at Eclipse in Albuquerque to 275.
Council approves helping Eclipse Aerospace 

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Albuquerque City Council voted 6-0 Wednesday night to shell out more than $238,000 to help Eclipse Aerospace grow. Three council members, Klarissa Pena, Brad Winter and Dan Lewis, were absent from the meeting. 

The company wants to add 100 high-paying jobs over the next few years. To help make that happen, the funding from the city, and $397,000 from the state, will go toward paying for Eclipse’s space at the Sunport so the company could spend more on hiring.

Right now, 175 people are employed at Eclipse, but owners want to add to its workforce as it ramps up production of its new 550 jet.

But, if Eclipse fails to meet its goal, or it goes belly-up within the next 10 years, the company will have to pay penalty payments to the city.

Eclipse’s old owners declared bankruptcy in 2008.

Tax protesters appear at Atlantic City AirShow – Thunder Over The Boardwalk

Dozens of residents, unhappy with a 29 percent tax increase, rallied in front of Kennedy Hall just hours before the Atlantic City Airshow - Thunder Over The Boardwalk.

On Tuesday more than 100 protesters gathered in front of City Hall, carrying signs and warning that Atlantic City could become a ghost town if residents couldn't afford their tax bills.

At about 11 a.m. the protesters began marching down the boardwalk, threatening to disrupt one of the biggest tourist days of the summer for the city.

- Story, photos and comments:

Protesters march on the boardwalk on Wednesday during the Atlantic City Airshow.

Cities, universities get first crack at state airplanes

SPRINGFIELD | Local governments and public universities across the state have about two weeks to decide whether they want to own an airplane.

As part of a budget-cutting move by Gov. Pat Quinn in June, the Democrat from Chicago directed his aides to sell nine of the state's 21 airplanes.

The process of putting them on the market is underway, officials said.

The total savings is expected to be about $7 million annually, but it remains unclear when that money might start flowing.

Under state law, equipment no longer needed by the state — from old police cars to out-of-date electronic devices — is offered to other units of government before it is sold to the public.

Those governments would have to pay whatever the airplanes are appraised at. Illinois Department of Central Management Services spokeswoman Alka Nayyar said the price of each of the planes is expected to be set soon.

But, it remains unclear whether any towns or cities are interested in the planes.

"It's yet early to say on the response from local governments ... as we just began offering it to them," Nayyar said in an email.

Up for grabs are seven planes operated by the Illinois Department of Transportation and two planes used by the Illinois State Police.

Some of the planes are good for ferrying passengers between Chicago and St. Louis. Others are smaller planes used for observational purposes.

Local governments will have until the end of the month to decide whether they want one.

If there aren't any takers or if some of the planes don't sell, Nayyar said it likely will be September before the public gets a chance to bid on the planes.

- Source:

Taxiway improvements on way for Trenton-Mercer Airport (KTTN), New Jersey


TRENTON — Freeholders unanimously awarded a $2.46 million contract yesterday for rehabbing three taxiways at Trenton-Mercer Airport.

According to county officials, the existing paving of the taxiways is in poor condition and the lighting on the taxiways is nearing the end of its service life cycle.

The three taxiways represent the first phase of the rehabilitation project at the airport, according to Julie Willmot, county spokeswoman. Further phases of rehabilitation are slated for the next three years.

Willmot said 95 percent of the first phases are funded through New Jersey Department of Transportation grants, with the remaining funds coming locally.

Future phases that are funded through Federal Aviation Administration grants will include 90 percent federal funding with the remainder split evenly between the state and county.

The contract was awarded to HBC Co. Inc. of Lodi and is expected to take approximately 55 working days for completion, though Willmot noted that including weekends and potential weather delays, the work will likely take between 75 and 90 days.

In addition, as part of the ongoing runway obstruction study, the freeholders awarded an $8,000 contract to Steel in the Air Inc. to look into the possible relocation of two cell towers at the airport.

Willmot said the specialists are needed as the county doesn’t have anyone on its professional staff with expertise in “the arduous regulations” involving relocating the towers.

“As we prepare for the recommendations of the runway obstruction survey that’s underway, we wish to have those professionals on hand if needed,” Willmot said.

In recent months, the freeholders authorized the use of FAA grants for environmental runaway assessments at the airport.

The grants would fund 90 percent of the costs while the county would chip in the remaining 10 percent.

At the time, Freeholder Lucylle Walter expressed concern that clearing obstructions such as trees on easements near the runway could pave the way for larger aircraft that could have a negative impact on Pennsylvania residents who live under flight paths.

Freeholders also extended the lease with the FAA for 3,583-square-feet of space in the airport’s air traffic control tower to March 31, 2015, at a rate not to exceed $7,464.50 a month.

The current deal is set to expire at the end of September.

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Federal Aviation Administration letter may keep aviation startups like AirPooler grounded

By Scott Kirsner 

Cambridge-based AirPooler isn’t exactly “Uber for private planes.” But it is a way for private pilots to offer extra seats on their trips to people who’d like to tag along and share some of the expenses. (I wrote about the startup’s launch in April, and in June it won entrance to the MassChallenge entrepreneurial program.) Trouble is, the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t seem to love the notion.

AirPooler’s attorney had asked the FAA for a clarification of the rules: could passengers on private flights with non-commercial pilots chip in for part of the expenses, on a pro rata basis? AirPooler’s plan was to calculate the maximum shared cost allowed for each flight, bill the passenger, and pocket a small transaction fee before handing the rest of the money to the pilot.

Co-founder and CEO Steve Lewis tells me that some pilots participating in AirPooler’s beta test earlier this year “had gotten phone messages from FAA regional [officials], saying that you may be violating FAA rules, and that worried other pilots.” That’s why the company had requested additional information about the FAA’s stance on the matter.

Unfortunately, while AirPooler tried to argue that chipping in on expenses isn’t quite the same thing as buying a ticket on Delta or chartering a private jet, the FAA disagreed. “By posting specific flights to the AirPooler website,” the FAA wrote in a letter to the company, a private pilot would be advertising a trip — something that they need a special air carrier certificate to do. Essentially, it’s kosher to invite an old college friend on a trip to Bar Harbor and ask her to share the expenses, but using a site like AirPooler to promote that you’re going on the trip and invite just anyone along to defray the costs isn’t.

Lewis called the FAA decision “confusing, because it seems to rely critically on language lifted from a draft version of a 1963 regulation, that the agency itself rejected in the final rule it adopted the following year.” In a statement he circulated earlier this evening, he said it means that “private pilots with empty seats will not be able to use services like AirPooler to list flights they are intending to take and share the costs with passengers, unless they obtain a government certificate to operate as an air carrier — a prohibitively stringent requirement for private pilots.”

Lewis says that more than 800 pilots have registered to use AirPooler in Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego, the three cities that the company has focused on so far. When we spoke tonight, he said he hoped to meet with the FAA later this month to “have an opportunity to put our views forth to them. Whether it will result in a change of mind, I really couldn’t speculate. But we’re certainly going to try.”

But Lewis also said that the startup may adjust its offering and business model in response to the ruling. “What we’ve discovered is that there’s tremendous demand out there among pilots, and we think demand is pretty good with the general public,” he says. 

The decision seems likely to also affect FlyteNow, a startup founded by Northeastern University students that has been participating in the Y Combinator accelerator program this summer in Silicon Valley.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column and blog, which track entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England. 

- Source:

Flight-Share Deemed Illegal by Federal Aviation Administration in Blow to AirPooler

Airplane ride-sharing services such as AirPooler Inc. that connect pilots with passengers willing to share fuel costs and other travel expenses aren’t operating legally, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said.

Arranging such travel is equivalent to a charter flight, which requires additional licenses and regulatory oversight, the FAA said in an Aug. 13 letter to a lawyer for AirPooler. The letter was in response to a May 19 letter in which AirPooler asked the FAA whether its pilots needed commercial licenses.

The FAA’s legal interpretation rejects the idea that these air-travel services simply amount to cost-sharing rather than commercial aviation operations. The pilots or the company may face FAA enforcement action should they continue.

The letter was sent by Mark Bury, the FAA’s assistant chief counsel for international law, to Rebecca MacPherson, a lawyer at Jones Day representing AirPooler.

The legal opinion is consistent with prior rulings the FAA has made, according to the letter.

AirPooler was founded in 2013 by Steve Lewis and Andy Finke with the idea of making general aviation more affordable, according to the company’s website.

- Source:

500 Unemployed Pilots Need Jobs -Nigeria

Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Noggie Meggison, has said that the number of unemployed pilots is about 500 in the country.

He therefore appealed to the federal government to come to their rescue and noted that many of the pilots who graduated from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria and other aviation institutions are jobless.

He added that the collapse of many carriers in Nigeria coupled with the penchant for airlines to engage foreign pilots and engineers has done incalculable damage to the sector.

Meggison stated that until there is a policy that guarantees the engagement of these pilots, they would continue to roam the streets, recalling that as far back as 2008, the country had about 1140 private jets flying clubs, lamenting that Nigeria with about 170 million people have just two training schools and not a single flying club.

The AON Chairman noted that in the United States, pilots from the flight schools do not look for jobs in bigger airlines such as Delta and United because they will not employ them since they do not have the required flying hours, adding that the US does not feel the effect because they have many general aviation aircraft.

Another pilot, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that instead of roaming the streets, young pilots in the US usually pay owners of aircraft, who are doing small cargo business from New York to New Jersey because they want to build hours.

To address the problem, the source advocated strong General Aviation (GA), saying that Nigeria aviation is having this problem because the country did not train pilots for long period.

Speaking in the same vein, Managing Director of Finum Aviation Services, Sheri Ayuba Kyari, decried the unemployment of pilots, engineers and other cadre of aviation workers, stressing that it is still an issue.

He said, “Last year, we were told that over 200 pilots were without work and similar situation is befalling others. We need to open up the industry for more investors and give these young ones an opportunity to achieve their aspirations. All bottlenecks for investors should be removed to allow serious investors whether domestic or foreign to buy into aviation. This will also pave the way for more jobs and even consultants to thrive.”

Meanwhile, Kyari has called for an increase in security level at the nation’s airports in view of the bombing of public places in the country.

He noted that since airports are also public places, “we have a duty to use technology for surveillance of secured environments around the airports”, adding that undoubtedly, concerned authorities need to increase the level of security awareness and employ latest technology to scan the airports to keep air travelers, workers and infrastructure safe and secure.

- Source:

Safety proposal put forward due to increasing number of unknown aircraft flying over Hawarden Airport

Hawarden Air Traffic Control looking into creating a Radio Mandatory Zone so pilots must use a radio in the airspace near airport

Increasing numbers of unknown aircraft flying close to Hawarden Airport have led to the proposal of a new safety measure.

Hawarden Air Traffic Control has launched a consultation with airspace users about the possibility of a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ).

This would mean pilots having to make two-way radio communication with the “Hawarden Radar” before entering the proposed airspace zone – something that is not currently a requirement.

How much of the airspace the RMZ will cover has not yet been finalized but it is most likely to be in operation between 6.30am-9pm weekdays, 8.30am-7pm on Saturdays, and 8.30am-5pm on Sundays and public holidays.

The Hawarden Airport RMZ Consultation website stated: “The reason we are considering the establishment of an RMZ is quite simply safety. Hawarden is routinely used by large and fast aircraft, whilst general aviation traffic has increased in volume and variety. We have witnessed an increasing number of unknown aircraft operating, totally legally, in the local area.

“Unfortunately, controllers aren’t always able to find a safe way to route aircraft around the unknown traffic, quite simply because we don’t know their intentions, they can turn, climb or descend at any point and we don’t know when that will happen.

“Moreover, smaller aircraft such as home-builds and microlight-sized aircraft do not always generate a good radar return and sometimes they do not display on radar at all. If we know your intentions in advance, we will be able to vector traffic to ensure the safety of all, whilst minimizing the disruption to all flights.”

The website added: “As with many UK airports, Hawarden Airport is in the process of evolving and developing.

“Beluga movements will increase as Airbus are increasing production and wing delivery over the next few years, the next generation Airbus Beluga may well be based on a larger aircraft, existing airframes in the business domain are being replaced by larger aircraft, other companies operating on the airport such as Airbus Helicopters, Marshall Aerospace and Flintshire Flying School are all looking to maximize flying opportunities.”

The first RMZ was established as a temporary measure around Blackpool Airport in 2013. And last month a temporary zone was also put in place around Southend Airport until a decision is made regarding their application for controlled airspace.

Hawarden Air Traffic Control would prefer a RMZ to a controlled airspace as the latter would be “overkill” and “not warranted for the current level of operation and safety risk”.

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Foul mouthed thug ranted at crew and attacked police on Easyjet flight into John Lennon Airport: Michael Warrilow jailed after breaking officer's thumb in "out of control" rage

A violent thug who let fly an expletive laden rant at Easyjet cabin crew attacked a police officer who had been called by the worried captain.

Michael Warrilow was returning from a stay in Amsterdam to Liverpool John Lennon airport when he turned on two members of staff.

Geoff Lowe, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that Warrilow had began rummaging around in the flight attendants trolley and when she told him not to replied: “Drop the f***ing attitude”.

As the plane began to descend and the crew tried to tidy the plane he was asked to pick up a pile of crisps he had dropped on the floor, but replied: “I’m not a f***ing dog, especially not your f***ing dog”.

When a male flight attendant tried to intervene he was said to have made homophobic comments, which he denied.

Warned that police would be called, he said: “I don’t give a ****. Get away you **** before I hit you.”

Police were called to meet the plane but when an officer tried to arrest him he struggled so wildly he broke the policeman’s thumb and ligaments and it took three people to get him into a van where he started to head butt the cage.

The next day, October 22 last year, he claimed not to have assaulted anyone and said he had not been on drugs, having drunk only water while in Amsterdam.

The officer who he injured had to undergo a course of surgery and take time of work.

Two weeks before his trial Warrilow pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm, a public order offense and two charges under the civil aviation act.

The court heard Warrilow, of Fonthill Road, Kirkdale, had 65 previous convictions including disorderly behavior, resisting police, battery, burglary, assault and affray.

Nick Cockrell, defending, said he was trying to find work but it was not easy with his record. Judge Andrew Menary, QC, jailed Warrilow for 15 months, saying: “Your offenses and the injury to the police constable were the culmination of a quite appalling episode of violent aggressive and intimidating behavior displayed by you toward cabin crew of the Easyjet flight.

“It must have been intimidating and threatening not just to the cabin crew but other passengers nearby. Traveling on an airplane is stressful enough without passengers behaving as you were behaving.

“Traveling on an airplane places a special responsibility on passengers to behave. Everyone is placed in a small area high above the ground.

He said the arrival of police should have “been the end of it” but instead resulted in a “nasty injury” as Warrilow “Lost control”.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

HUGH and CHRISTINE BEAGAN: The impact of the Marshfield Airport project

In celebrating the addition of land to the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield (“Our Opinion: 3 stories of creating a meaningful legacy,” Aug. 4), it is important not to overlook the significant and damaging impact that the airport project has had on the marshes on which the runway addition has been constructed.

The beautiful marshland and estuary has been clear cut by the construction crews, forcing out wildlife that had been protected by the vegetation. Marshfield residents driving along Plymouth Avenue will be shocked to see the extent of the clear cutting that has occurred.

Additionally, the airport manager has been given a permit to “lethally take” Canada geese, herring and ring-billed and great black-backed gulls that are deemed harmful to the planes.

More than 2,500 pilings coated with copper, chromium and arsenate have been driven into the marsh to support the new runway. The long-term effects of these chemically coated pilings on our water are not known.

As Ms. McCallum of the Audubon Society states, “Marshland is an important habitat to preserve … most importantly, it can act as a sponge to absorb storm surges across Green Harbor, protecting residents, businesses and people.”

Ironically, the marshland that has been cut for the project directly borders many neighborhoods, thus removing a safety barrier.

The marshlands also provided noise mitigation for the neighborhoods close by. Significant increases in noise and jet fumes have been reported by neighbors. In part because of such complaints, the airport has bought homes from neighbors and is discussing the possibility of buying more. Thus, a neighborhood is being destroyed.

While the rationale for the runway construction project was “aeronautic safety,” one wonders if the safety of the neighbors was ever considered. In the study prior to the airport project going forward, one scenario was to leave the airport as it was, and have jets, which would need a longer runway, use larger municipal airports close by, such as in Plymouth. This common-sense solution was dismissed out of hand.

What Ms. McCallum states is sadly true: “Any land that is not permanently protected can potentially be used for something, either now or in the future.” Whole neighborhoods are now living with the results of such thinking. All residents of Marshfield should take note.



Canandaigua Airport (D38) officials seek public comment

Flight Instructor Roger Tones of M&S Air Service speaks at a resident forum at the airport to discuss concerns with a new airport expansion plan.

Canandaigua officials invited Canandaigua residents to gather on their local airstrip Thursday to field questions and concerns about a future airport expansion.

The Canandaigua airport supports business jets, local recreational traffic and the occasional military aircraft. Its runway was expanded a year ago to accommodate larger airplanes that bring commerce opportunities to the area, but residents living around the airport are increasingly concerned about noisy aircraft flying over their houses on weekends and in the dead of night.

A master plan for an expanded airport that can handle more traffic is in the works for 2015, said Ontario County Industrial Development Agency Economic Developer Mike Manikowski. But before that plan takes off, he and airport officials wanted to hear from the community, he said.

“We want to create a dialogue and an open forum around this,” Manikowski said in front of about 25 residents sitting outside next to a row of small aircraft at the airport on Brickyard Road. He emphasized the value of including points of public concern in the airport’s new plans, but said that having a larger airport will help the area keep the business attraction it currently holds.

“How do we stay competitive? We need aviation,” he said. “This helps maintain the businesses we already have here.”

The airport will not support passenger airliners — those will stay at the Greater Rochester International Airport, said McFarland Johnson airport planner Zachary Staff. “This will relieve some congestion at the Rochester airport so that smaller aircraft don’t hog that airspace,” Staff said.

Residents’ main concern was the noise of aircraft in the area — “it’s just very pesky,” said resident Charles Ron Evans, who lives on New Michigan Road, two miles north of the airport. Evans said planes buzzing back and forth over his house cause constant irritation.

“Where I live, it just keeps getting worse,” he said. “I can’t use my property because of the way (Canandaigua officials) choose to use their property.”

Other neighbors, like Canandaigua National Bank CEO George Hamlin, said that the Canandaigua airport offers convenience to local aviators.

“Instead of driving an hour to Rochester and waiting in that airport, we can use this airport and get to two, three places a day,” Hamlin said. Small aircraft are also less noisy than other forms of recreational transportation, he said. “These aren’t nearly as loud as one single car down at the motorsports park,” he said.

Ander and Janene Sweet are new residents on Yerkes Road in Canandaigua, which is about a mile away from the airport. While they had concerns about moving close to an airfield, “the airplanes have been pretty quiet,” Ander Sweet said. “The Army choppers were the loudest I’ve heard it, but that was the only real issue.”

Earlier this year, Manikowski got calls about the racket of several Black Hawk military helicopters using the airport for training, he said. They are based in Rochester but come out to Canandaigua occasionally on “reverse cycles,” when they practice flying at night, said McFarland Johnson project manager James Dolan. While these helicopters are noisy, several residents agreed that they were happy the military was practicing in this area, in case a natural disaster or other emergency were to occur locally.

Aircraft flying over Canandaigua from other smaller airports like Penn Yan and Sodus may be adding to the area’s noise, Dolan said. He said he spoke to the airport personnel at those locations to see what can be done about noise control.

The airport currently supports about 28,000 “operations,” or takeoffs and landings, per year, Staff said. Taxpayers do not fund the airport and will not fund the expansion, Manikowski said; it is funded completely through the Federal Aviation Administration. Plans for new hangars would be included in the new master plan, so that businesses could base their aircraft in Canandaigua, Manikowski said.

“To grow, we have to have more services to bring their aircraft and business to this area,” he said. “Having a fully equipped airport, which we hope to get to, will help keep that business going in this community.”

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Business jet sales take off again in better climate

Financial Times 
By Michael Stothard in Paris
August 13, 2014

When the chief executives of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors flew to Washington, cap in hand, during the 2008 financial crisis to ask for a government bailout, they did so in three separate private jets.

Following the subsequent torrent of criticism, GM terminated the leases on seven Gulfstream jets. Citigroup, which received billions from the government, cancelled a Dassault Falcon 7X and put on the market two older Falcon 2000EXs.

This episode, combined with a rapid fall in corporate profits, business confidence and deal-making, helped bring about an unprecedented 30 percent fall in the private jet market by delivery value between 2008 and 2013.

But this year the global market is showing signs of a comeback, pointing to the creeping improvement in global business confidence and the impact of the ever-growing number of the ultra-rich on the luxury goods sector.

“We are now seeing a decent recovery for the market as a whole,” says Captain Stephen Taylor, head of Boeing’s business jet unit, which along with rival Airbus makes some of the biggest and most expensive jets in the world.

The market for deliveries, which has a year or two delay from when orders are placed, is expected to rise 3 percent this year to $23bn, and then 10 percent the following year, according to Teal Group, the US aerospace consultancy.

This bodes well for the main business jet groups, which include Gulfstream, Bombardier, Dassault Aviation, Cessna and Embraer. Hawker Beechcraft, which went bankrupt in 2012, last year left Chapter 11 protection.

The structure of the market has changed significantly, however. The smaller end of the market, where jets cost between $4m and $26m, saw a whopping 56 per cent drop in deliver values from 2008 to 2012, and still shows few signs of recovery.

It is the bigger jets, costing from $26m to $400m, that are leading the post-crisis revival, tapping into greater demand for long haul travel, but also the rapid return to profitability of the world’s largest corporates, particularly in the US.

“The large-cabin long-range aircraft has recovered much more quickly than the midsized or the light-jet market,” says Scott Neal, who runs sales and marketing globally for Gulfstream, the jet-maker owned by General Dynamics.

Demand for larger jets, while improving everywhere, was coming “especially from the larger corporations in the US, the Fortune 500-type companies,” he added.

Margins at S&P 500 companies are hovering near all-time highs of 9.8 percent. The cash of the largest companies’ balance sheets is also near a record at $1.233tn, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The rapid rise in large jet sales also taps into the growing number of the global super rich. The number of billionaires increases nearly ever year, growing from 935 in 2003 to 1,682 in 2013, according to Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report.

“Countries with a new class of rich people, for example in Russia, want the biggest, fastest, strongest planes,” says Fabio Gamba, head of the European Business Aviation Association. “A decade ago this market did not exist in the same way.”

Long term, there is hope Asia will drive growth. “In the last few years, we have seen Asia-Pacific, and in particular China, become a very strong and fast growing market for corporate jets,” says David Velupillai, the director of marketing for Airbus.

Some of the ultra-rich have even gone so far as to buy private jets from Airbus and Boeing, which are essentially large commercial jet lines made private, and are more typically used by governments.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire investor, for example bought one of the largest passenger jets in the world, the superjumbo A380, which seats about 550 people, according to Airbus. An A380 costs $400m at list price.

He ended up selling it to another undisclosed buyer, according to the company. Mr bin Talal already has a Boeing 747.

Captain Taylor says that for the private 747s, the interior can often cost as much as the $300m plane itself, once you factor in missile protection, for example, and the sometimes eccentric customer demands.

“Some of the things that really impressed me were a full restaurant-sized pizza oven, for a gentleman who just had to have fresh pizza, and we have seen putting greens [as well]. You name it and it has been in our planes,” he says.


Brazil Business Aviation Conference Overshadowed by Crash: Tragedy Occurred in Year When Brazil Is Expected to Become Largest Latin American Executive Jet Market

The Wall Street Journal
By  Luciana Magalhaes

August  14, 2014 7:15 p.m. ET

SÃO PAULO—As some of the world's leading aircraft makers gathered in São Paulo this week for the region's biggest aviation showcase, they had to cope with some tragic news.

The three-day Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition was overshadowed by Wednesday's plane crash that killed Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos. He and six others aboard died after the Cessna 560XLS+ Citation Excel in which they were traveling plowed into a residential area in the coastal city of Santos, about 35 miles south of São Paulo.

"Everyone was talking about it, especially because the people coming here are pilots and airplane owners," said Eduardo Marson, president of Brazil's Association of General Aviation, which organized the event. He estimates the show, which ended Thursday, attracted 14,000 to 15,000 people.

The tragedy occurred in year when analysts expect Brazil to surpass Mexico as the largest executive jet market in Latin America.

The region's two largest economies—Brazil and Mexico—are currently neck-and-neck when it comes to executive aircraft, with just over 800 each, analysts said.

But over the next decade, Brazil is expected to add up to 560 new executive aircraft, compared with between 110 and 140 for Mexico by 2024, according to industry numbers compiled by Brazil's aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

Already the world's largest market for corporate helicopters, Brazil is alluring to private jet makers as well. Manufacturers say demand is being driven by a number of factors, including its growing wealth and variety of industries.

Geography is also key. About the size of the continental U.S., Brazil has poorly developed highways, railroads and commercial airports. About the only way that business executives can travel quickly to many far-flung places is by using the nation's robust network of private airstrips—close to 3,500 in all, according to Francisco Lyra, president of São Paulo-based CFLY Aviation, a Brazilian firm which provides management and services for the aviation sector

"Only 130 of Brazil's 5,600 towns have regular commercial flights," Mr. Lyra said.

Mexico is seen as a more mature market whose buyers have easy access to secondhand executive jets from the U.S., according to industry executives.

"Brazil will surpass Mexico because of its needs, because of the size and number of its industries," said Stephane Leroy, regional vice president for international Latin American sales at the business aircraft division at Canada-based Bombardier,  who came to São Paulo this week.

Mr. Leroy declined to comment on sales so far this year. But he said he was encouraged by the number of inquiries at the show.

Industry executives said Brazil's sluggish economy, the monthlong World Cup and uncertainties regarding October's presidential elections crimped sales in the first half of 2014.

"Brazil would've been ahead of Mexico at the beginning of this year … but the market was kind of slow," said Marco Tulio Pellegrini, Chief Executive Officer and president of Embraer Executive Jets. "We continue to have clients see the jets, but they are taking longer to make a decision."

Still, Embraer is predicting a stronger second half. The company said it expects to deliver between 105 and 120 executive jets to customers world-wide this year, compared with 119 last year. It didn't provide a regional breakdown.

Latin America as a whole is seen adding some 850 jets valued at $16.3 billion in the next 10 years, Embraer said.

While the U.S. remains the world's top market with close to 12,000 executive jets, and China is up-and-coming, Latin America is still one of the most promising markets for private jets, experts said.

The Labace show in São Paulo was teeming with top-of-the-line aircraft aimed at corporate buyers and wealthy individuals. Among the fanciest was Embraer's Lineage 1000E, a modified version of the company's E-190 regional jet. Priced at $55 million, it aims to be a flying home for rich travelers. Its 70-square-meters of interior space boast a full kitchen, dining and living rooms, a master suite and private lavatory with shower.

Capable of transporting up to 19 passengers, the Lineage 1000E is the Embraer's largest executive jet. The company said 20 of the planes are in operation, some purchased by buyers in China, India, Indonesia and some nations in the Middle East.

Executives say the industry is still recovering from the global downturn that followed the U.S. financial crisis; global business jet deliveries of 678 aircraft in 2013 were about half what they were at the peak in 2008, according to data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Assoc.

"We are at turning point, with the U.S. showing signs of recovery while Europe is still hurting," said Mr. Lyra, of CFLY Aviation.

In spite of setbacks, Latin America received around 12% of the world's business jets deliveries in 2013, and almost 45% of those went to Brazil and 12% to Mexico, according to numbers provided by Bombardier.


Cessna 560XLS+ Citation Excel, PR-AFA, AF Andrade Empreendimentos e Participações

Hernando County School District's new aviation course is at risk of becoming grounded before it takes off

Application deadline extended for new aviation course in Hernando schools

With school beginning on Monday, only eight students have signed up for Aerospace Technologies I at Nature Coast Technical High School. The course will be canceled unless 10 students register.

The district has pushed back the deadline for freshmen and sophomores to apply from Wednesday until Aug. 22.

Spokesman Eric Williams said the district is not happy with the turnout and that Marcia Austin, supervisor of secondary programs, is calling a group of 65 students who had expressed interest in an aviation program in a survey. He said high school principals will also work to promote the course during the first week of school.

The course, which would be a yearlong overview, has 25 available seats.

The course is the initial offering in what the district hopes will become an academy for high school students interested in careers in aviation. The ultimate goal is to give students a foundation in the industry, bolstering the local workforce and helping to attract new industry.

On Tuesday, the School Board officially approved a partnership between the district and Corporate Jet Solutions, which has helped bring the program to fruition.

Aviation experts have said the industry expects to see a big decline in the number of pilots, mechanics and other aviation workers in the next decade. Local officials think the Hernando schools could play an important role in training students.

Plans call for the aerospace technology track to eventually include four one-credit courses: Aerospace Technologies I through III and Advanced Technology Applications, which will be optional. Students are eligible to obtain Federal Aviation Administration ground school certification after completing the third course.

Students will not be flying on the district's time. To earn a private pilot's license, students would have to complete an additional 40 hours of instruction with a certified flight instructor.

How to apply

Hernando County high school freshmen and sophomores interested in the district's new aerospace academy must submit an application by the end of the day on Aug. 22 to Marcia Austin, the district's supervisor of secondary programs. Austin can be reached at (352) 797-7051 or Students who do not attend Nature Coast Technical High School will have to transfer to the school to be part of the program.

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'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior': Malaysia Airlines flight steward 'assaulted' passenger

Malaysia flight steward 'assaulted' Aust 

 A Malaysia Airlines steward has been detained over allegations that he assaulted an Australian passenger.

A Malaysia Airlines cabin crew member has been detained in France over allegations that he sexually assaulted an Australian passenger who was scared of flying with the disaster-prone airline.

The airline said in a statement on Thursday that French police had detained a crew member for questioning following allegations by a passenger of 'inappropriate sexual behavior' on flight MH20 from Kuala Lumpur on August 4.

The Australian passenger complained to authorities about the incident after touchdown at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, saying she had told crew at the beginning of the flight about her apprehension of flying with the airline.

The chief steward of the Paris-bound flight sat beside her and sexually assaulted her under the pretext of 'comforting' her, she said, according to a source close to the French probe.

Malaysia Airlines vowed to assist French authorities in their investigation, adding 'the safety, comfort and well-being of our passengers is always our highest priority'.

'Malaysia Airlines expects and accepts nothing short of the highest standards of conduct from its crew and takes any such allegations very seriously,' it said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously in March with 239 people aboard, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace has been found and the airline was widely criticised for its handling of the crisis.

On July 17, MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, with 298 people killed.

The airline stands on the financial brink after the disasters.

State investment fund Khazanah Nasional, which has controlled the airline for years via a 70 per cent ownership stake, said last week that it plans to buy all remaining shares and de-list the company before undertaking a 'complete overhaul'.


Fistfight: Saudi Arabian Airlines captain and flight steward fight

Pilot-steward fight holds up Saudia flight

A spat between a pilot and a cabin crew member grounded a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight bound for Madinah from Cairo for six hours on Wednesday morning.

The verbal argument between the steward and the flight’s captain soon turned violent when the two engaged in a fistfight.

“The fight took place as the plane was about to take off,” said Col. Mutaz Youssef, duty head of the airport police.

The steward sustained hand injuries and was treated on the spot in the presence of security personnel, while the pilot was injured in his eye and transferred to a nearby hospital.

Flight attendants from Cairo evacuated the 153 unhurt passengers from the plane and kept them in the transit hall until Saudia administration in Jeddah sent another team on a plane leaving from Jeddah to Cairo three hours after the Madinah-bound plane was due to take off.

The flight finally took off six hours after its scheduled departure time.


ORNGE fined for improper pilot training: Ontario’s air ambulance service has been fined twice by Transport Canada for allowing pilots to fly without proper training, federal records show


OTTAWA—Ontario’s air ambulance service has been fined twice by Transport Canada for allowing pilots to fly without proper training, federal records show.

ORNGE was slapped with two violations of Canadian Aviation Regulations for allowing pilots to fly in 2013 without having fulfilled the necessary training requirements and had to pay a $4,000 fine for each offense.
ORNGE’s aviation operations have been in the spotlight since the May 2013 crash of a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter at Moosonee, Ont., killed the two pilots and two paramedics onboard.

Though not related to the fatal crash, the enforcement action by Transport Canada shows that the agency has been under increased scrutiny by the federal regulator.

ORNGE spokesperson James MacDonald said it has paid the fines.
“ORNGE takes these matters seriously and accepts Transport Canada’s findings. We worked collaboratively with the regulator to ensure these matters were addressed as quickly as possible,” he said.

In the first case, a flight crew member in Moosonee was allowed to fly a Sikorsky S76A helicopter without having completed controlled flight into terrain avoidance training (CFIT) as required by ORNGE’s training manual, MacDonald said.

Controlled flight into terrain happens when pilots inadvertently fly their aircraft into the ground, usually in conditions of poor visibility or darkness. It could be one of the causes of the May 2013 accident, which happened at night.

In the second infraction, a Sudbury-based AW139 helicopter pilot had not received technical ground training on the helicopter,” MacDonald said.

“Both pilots have received the appropriate training, and ORNGE now meets or exceeds the regulator’s requirements for CFIT training,” he said.

MacDonald said the agency has also taken steps to avoid a recurrence, including implementing an electronic system to track pilot training.
Transport Canada spokesperson Silvia Di Tiero said the shortcomings were found during a “process inspection” in June 2013, just weeks after the accident.

“The department issued two administrative monetary penalties to the company for issues identified in the process inspection. The company has addressed the issues,” she said.

The department came under fire in June during a meeting of the Commons transport committee when NDP MP Mike Sullivan questioned the apparent lack of enforcement action by Transport Canada on ORNGE.

“I want to know why Transport Canada is not bothering to enforce its own regulations,” Sullivan said.

But Martin Eley, director-general of civil aviation, told Sullivan the department had hit ORNGE with monetary penalties and suggested further fines could be coming if an ongoing investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada turns up further evidence of problems.

“We have applied monetary penalties to ORNGE. Certainly, if further evidence comes from the TSB, we will respond to that,” Eley told the committee in June.

“We went in there. We did inspections. Some things were corrected. We did apply monetary penalties.”

In May, ORNGE was hit with 17 health and safety charges alleging that the pilots at the controls of the helicopter that crashed in Moosonee were improperly trained, lacked experience in night operations and should never have been paired together.

Transport Canada has raised questions about ORNGE’s air operations in the past. In December 2012, Transport Canada inspector Ken Walsh asked about ORNGE’s policy to avoid pairing two inexperienced pilots on the same flight. And he also asked about so-called “black hole” procedures, used when the combination of night sky and lack of ground lights leaves pilots with few visual references.

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Transportation Safety Board
 ORNGE’s aviation operations have been in the spotlight since the May 2013 crash of a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter at Moosonee, Ont., killed the two pilots and two paramedics onboard.