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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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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