Wednesday, August 20, 2014

US aviation agency grounds Air India Dreamliner

NEW DELHI: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday grounded an Air India Dreamliner in Seoul to examine its engines. The American regulator's move came after some other airline's aircraft saw an inflight failure of its General Electric (GE) engine.

FAA then decided to ground all aircraft fitted with the same series of GE engines wherever they were and examine the engines before allowing them to take off. The problem, say sources, could be with the engine's "angle valve" which work as the gear box.

The AI Dreamliner (VT-ANP) operating on Delhi-Hong King-Seoul-HK-Delhi route was also fitted with the same series of GE engine and was grounded for checks by the FAA in Seoul. AI had to cancel the return leg of the flight to Delhi that this plane had to operate. The aircraft will be released after checks if the engine is found to be alright. The airline has put up stranded passengers in hotels.

The inflight engine failure is not the first trouble some GE engines fitted on Boeing 787 and 747-8 have been experiencing for some time now. But it is the most serious one.

Earlier, Boeing has asked Air India not to fly near thunderstorms as it could lead to icing on the GE engines used on it. AI has changed the routes on some sectors after this advisory.

"Boeing has issued an advisory to Air India to avoid flying the B-787 (Dreamliner) aircraft near high-level thunderstorms due to an increased risk of icing on the General Electric GEnx engines used on it," Minister of state for civil aviation G M Siddeshwara had told Parliament last month.

This issue is being witnessed possibly due to formation of ice crystals behind the main fan of the engine and then leads to a brief loss of thrust.

Boeing has changed the operating procedures for AI's Dreamliners. The new procedure reduces the risk of icing on the engines and improves safety. Icing occurs when supercooled water freezes on impact with any part of the external structure of an aircraft during flight. It can reduce a plane's performance, lead to loss of lift, stall the aircraft and result in loss of control.

Earlier, the problem of icing on certain engines of GE used on the Boeing 787 and B-747' latest version had led Boeing to ask airlines to stay away from certain clouds that have electric charge in them. Last winter, Japan airlines had withdrawn Dreamliner on Delhi-Tokyo route due to this fear. AI also got nod to fly the Dreamliner to Japan with great difficulty as a very limited airspace over China is open for civilian traffic which does not give much room for airlines to steer clear of clouds with lightening. 

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Warren County makes deals for airport land: Warren County Airport (KFRR), Front Royal, Virginia

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County won't need to use eminent domain to take land for its airport.

The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved the purchase of property owned by Brainard T. and Rebecca Sue Coffey and by James D. and Julie E. Curry adjacent to the Warren County Airport. The action also called for the county to approve the contract and to accept the property deeds from the owners.

The board canceled two public hearings on a proposal to seek to acquire the private property through eminent domain or condemnation. County Attorney Blair Mitchell told supervisors he and other county officials reached agreements with the owners prior to the meeting.

"I mean going to court is always stressful for everybody," Mitchell said Wednesday. "It's not pleasant for anybody, for either side. So it's always better when you can come to an agreement."

The county hasn't set a date yet to finalize the purchases but it could happen in the next few weeks. A title company will schedule a time to close on the acquisition once it does the necessary research, Mitchell said.

The board had scheduled the hearings several weeks ago because the county faced a looming Federal Aviation Administration deadline to acquire the land and rid the flight clearances of trees and other protrusions. Mitchell at the time said the county was still negotiating with the property owners. The county already had reached deals with other property owners for land and easements.

Under the contract with the Coffeys, the county will pay $310,000 for 4.3 acres of land, an avigation easement of 0.18 acres and an access easement of 20 feet by 450 feet. The county will use $101,320 in grants from the FAA and the Virginia Department of Aviation and cover the remaining amount with local funds. The Coffey's land lies to the south of the airport.

Under the contract with the Currys, the county will pay $80,000 for 1.55 acres of land, an avigation easement of 1.54 acres and an access easement of 0.08 acres. The county will use $64,157 in grants and cover the remaining $15,843 with local money.

Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress said Wednesday the local share would come from the general fund. Childress said the county may likely need to replace these funds later in the year with money from reserves, though he said he hopes more grants may become available to offset the local cost.

Without the land and easements the county can't clear trees from the flight clearance as required by the FAA. Board Chairman Daniel Murray Jr. last month said the county could face losing the full use of its airport if it did not meet the agency's requirements. The county has until February to comply.

At a previous meeting the board approved the purchase of less than an acre of land from Gregory Grigsby. The county began its work in 2007 by holding information meetings on the matter. The county began negotiations with property owners in 2011. Since then, the board reached deals with all but a few property owners and approved the purchases of land and easements. The county has paid between $10,000 and $50,000 for the needed property with most of the purchase price covered by state and federal funds.

The county also needs to build three, lattice-type towers, each 50-feet to 70-feet high with red beacons at the top. The towers will mark the outer edges of the boundary easements and aid pilots in landings and flights around the airport, Mitchell explained. Easements still allow property owners to use the land as they wish as long as the county can access the land to keep obstructions out of the flight clearance.

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Gulfstream G-IV, N121JM, SK Travel LLC: Fatal accident occurred May 31, 2014 in Bedford, Massachusetts

NTSB Identification: ERA14MA271
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Bedford, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/2015
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE G IV, registration: N121JM
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-15/03.

On May 31, 2014, about 2140 eastern daylight time, a Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation G-IV, N121JM, registered to SK Travel, LLC, and operated by Arizin Ventures, LLC, crashed after it overran the end of runway 11 during a rejected takeoff at Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Massachusetts. The airplane rolled through the paved overrun area and across a grassy area, collided with approach lights and a localizer antenna, passed through the airport's perimeter fence, and came to a stop in a ravine. The two pilots, a flight attendant, and four passengers died. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The corporate flight, which was destined for Atlantic City International Airport, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
the flight crewmembers' failure to perform the flight control check before takeoff, their attempt to take off with the gust lock system engaged, and their delayed execution of a rejected takeoff after they became aware that the controls were locked. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew's habitual noncompliance with checklists, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation's failure to ensure that the G-IV gust lock/throttle lever interlock system would prevent an attempted takeoff with the gust lock engaged, and the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to detect this inadequacy during the G-IV's certification.

SEPTEMBER 09, 2015 

NTSB: No preflight checks by Katz crew in 98 percent of flights

'Plain and simple, [this is] a case of pilots intentionally disregarding procedures,' NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said pilot error – especially "intentional, habitual" failure to perform safety checklists – caused the crash that killed philanthropist and former Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six others.

The crew had a "long-term pattern" of failing to complete flight control checklists, Vice Chairwoman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said in an opening statement of an accident review meeting.

She said with the Gulfstream's "gust lock" engaged as it hurtled down the runway, the plane "cannot take off safely." The gust lock prevents various flight controls, like the rudder and aileron, from moving and being damaged by winds while the plane is on the ground.

The NTSB also faulted the manufacturer, Gulfstream, and the Federal Aviation Administration for not assuring that the gust lock's locked position would have prevented any attempt at a takeoff by the flight crew.

The gust lock was engaged after the plane had landed in the Boston area, according to an NTSB investigator. The crew, he said, failed to do complete flight checks "98 percent of the time" in its previous 175 takeoffs.

The pilot repeatedly cried out, "The lock is on," before shouting, "I can't stop it."

Another NTSB investigator said the routine failure to perform preflight checks is a "procedural drift" that crews who routinely fly together over long periods of time are prone to fall into. The crew did just two full checks out of 175 examined by the NTSB. Partial checks were done sometimes.

"It appears that this, from my perspective, was plain and simple a case of pilots intentionally disregarding procedures," said NTSB member and pilot Robert L. Sumwalt III.

"There are so many things about this accident that bother me," added Sumwalt, who has operated a corporate flight service in his career.

He pointed out that the equipment and the crew were rated as among the best in the industry, but the failure to do flight checks changed that equation.

Sumwalt also said if the pilots had immediately shut off power when they noticed an issue, the plane could have safely stopped. Instead, the crew used precious seconds trying to troubleshoot the issue before pulling the power shutoff too late to save the aircraft.

Sumwalt introduced a new finding that the FAA had "missed an opportunity to detect insufficiencies" in the gust-lock system because it relied solely on engineering drawings and not field testing. He and two additional board members approved that finding.

The crash occurred on the night of May 31, 2014, after the jet accelerated down the runway at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts. The plane never lifted off the runway and all aboard died.

Katz, who was 72, died just four days after winning an auction for ownership of The Inquirer, The Daily News and

Also killed in the crash were Katz friends Susan K. Asbell, 68; Marcella M. Dalsey, 59, who ran a Katz-funded charter school in Camden; and Anne B. Leeds, 74; along with three flight crew members, Bauke de Vries, 45; James McDowell, 51; and Teresa Anne Benhoff, 48. 

Katz had flown with Asbell, Dalsey and Leeds from Cherry Hill earlier that Saturday to attend a social event in the Boston area. 

The jet was scheduled to fly to Atlantic City International Airport – Katz owned radio stations at the shore and had a house there – when it crashed.

The NTSB found that the accident itself was survivable, but the resulting fire blocking an exit made it impossible for those aboard to escape the plane.

The preliminary NTSB report in June 2014 suggested pilot error likely was a critical factor in the crash. The experienced crew did not appear to have performed a preflight check that would have alerted them to an issue with the jet's gust-lock system. 

A further review showed the crew was routinely lax about doing checks before takeoff.

In April 2015, the NTSB released a cockpit voice recorder transcript that revealed one of the pilots had repeated the phrase, "The lock is on," followed by, "I can't stop it" and "Oh no no" just prior to the crash.

Katz, who rose to prominence in business and law, was a former owner of the New Jersey Devils and Nets. 

In recent years, he became increasingly dedicated to charity, donating millions of dollars to educational institutions, including Temple University, the Dickinson School of Law and Katz Academy, a charter school in the Parkside section of Camden, where Katz lived as a child.

WASHINGTON – A fiery business-jet crash that killed a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer happened because pilots mistakenly left the Gulfstream IV’s wing flaps locked in place, as if the plane were parked, which prevented the aircraft from lifting into the air, federal investigators ruled Wednesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board found that the plane's red-handled "gust-lock system" was engaged, which kept ailerons, elevators and rudder locked in place, even though it was supposed to be turned off before starting the engines. The board found that the gust lock prevented the plane from taking off on May 31, 2014, in Bedford, Mass.

Gulfstream designed a limit on its throttle so that a plane couldn't reach takeoff speed if the gust lock was engaged, according to investigators. But investigators discovered after the crash that the throttle could and did reach takeoff speed, despite the limitation.

The Federal Aviation Administration missed the design flaw in certifying Gulfstream's plane based solely on drawings, the board found.

As the plane hurtled down the runway and into a ravine, the experienced pilots can be heard on the cockpit voice recorder repeatedly saying the “lock is on," according to the transcript. “I can’t stop it,” a pilot said before the crash.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, the board's vice chairman, said the pilots had flown together for years and had thousands of hours of experience but habitually neglected steps in preflight routines. The crew skipped steps during 98% of their previous 175 flights, according to investigators.

“An airplane cannot take off safely with the gust lock engaged," Dinh-Zarr said. “The flight crew routinely neglected performing complete flight checks."

Robert Sumwalt, a board member and 32-year commercial pilot, said preflight checks aren't just for Gulfstream planes, but for the safety of all flights.

"If you’re acting that way, you are just fooling yourself," Sumwalt said. “You don’t have a good operation if you’re not following those procedures."

As Gulfstream modifies its gust lock to prevent a takeoff while it is engaged, the board recommended that the FAA should require the company to retrofit existing planes with the new equipment.

The flight was planned from Hanscom Field, about 20 miles northeast of Boston, to Atlantic City International Airport.

The crash killed seven people, including Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, three other passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant.

Katz, 72, was killed four days after putting together an $88-million deal to gain control of the media company that owns the Inquirer with an eye toward restoring the newspaper's stature.

The plane traveled 2,000 feet along the ground after rolling about 850 feet off the end of a runway without ever becoming airborne, a witness told NTSB.

The plane hit an antenna and smashed through a chain-link fence before going down an embankment into a gully filled partially with stream water. Witnesses said they heard an explosion and saw a fireball 60 feet in the air.

The 44-year-old pilot in command had 11,250 hours of flying experience, according to investigators. The other pilot, who was 61 years old, had 18,530 hours of flying, investigators said.

Gulfstream jet pilots received notice from the company that a safety device designed to prevent accidents like the one that killed sports-franchise mogul Lewis Katz can be foiled in some circumstances.

The system is supposed to keep pilots from setting engines for takeoff power if control panels on the wings and tail are locked, Gulfstream told operators in an Aug. 18 letter obtained by Bloomberg News. Instead, it may be possible to add thrust “if proper unlock procedures are not followed,” it said.

The letter helps explain why Katz’s Gulfstream IV reached a speed of 190 miles (306 kilometers) an hour on the ground without lifting off as it tried to depart Bedford, Massachusetts, on May 31. It’s too early to determine if Gulfstream needs to modify its planes or pilots’ preflight procedures, said Steve Cass, a company spokesman.

“We’ll need to continue to get input and once we have sufficient input then we’ll decide if there’s any type of change that we need to make either to our procedures or to the aircraft itself,” Cass said by telephone. “I think it’s premature to make that conclusion right now.”

Gulfstream, a General Dynamics Corp. (GD) unit, has more than 2,000 aircraft in operation and all the company’s models have the gust-lock except for the G650, which uses different technology, he said.

Pilots are supposed to lock control panels on the wings and tail of the airplane when it’s parked at an airport to eliminate the risk of wind damage. Gulfstream’s flight manual requires pilots to switch off the gust-lock before starting the engines.

NTSB Probe

Four corporate pilots who have flown the Gulfstream IV said in interviews that they had all made the mistake of forgetting to switch off the gust-lock before starting the engines. They asked not to be identified because their employers don’t permit them to be interviewed.

While such an error wasn’t common, it was easy to forget to switch off the gust-lock in the proper sequence during the busy process of readying a plane for flight, they said.

When flight controls are held in position by the gust-lock mechanism, the nose of the airplane is forced down and liftoff is prevented even after the plane accelerates.

In the Katz crash, there was no evidence the cockpit crew attempted to check whether the control surfaces were working after starting the engines and taxiing to the runway, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board’s review of the crash-proof flight data recorder.

Plane Controls

Katz’s jet rolled down the 7,011-foot (2,136-meter) runway before sliding into a field, where it slammed into a gully and burst into flames. Katz and six others died.

The NTSB isn’t commenting on the accident beyond its previous statements and updates, Keith Holloway, a spokesman, said yesterday.

The Gulfstream notice reminded pilots to ensure they have switched off the gust-lock before starting the engines and to always check the flight controls before takeoff. The notice didn’t specifically reference the Katz crash.

The four pilots interviewed said that once the engines start driving the plane’s hydraulic system, which in turn moves the plane’s flight controls, it becomes difficult to release the gust-lock. It’s still possible to force the locking mechanism’s switch into the off position, they said.

If the gust-lock lever is in the on position, it limits engine power to slightly above idle, according to the plane’s manual.

Flight Manual
None of the pilots said they knew it was possible to move the switch in a way that allowed takeoff power while retaining the lock on the flight control panels on the wing and tail. Gulfstream’s manuals don’t mention this scenario.

If pilots forget to switch off the gust-lock, Gulfstream’s flight manual advises shutting the engines down before releasing it, a time-consuming process.

In the Katz crash, the plane’s elevator, which raises and lowers the nose, was in a position “consistent” with being locked during the takeoff attempt, according to a preliminary report released June 13 by the NTSB.

The gust-lock lever was found in the off position in the wreckage, the NTSB said.

Gulfstream’s preflight procedures include several steps designed to prevent inadvertent gust-lock errors. In addition to guidance about how to turn the lock on and off, pilots are required to test the control surfaces each time they start the plane. Gulfstream also recommends pilots test the elevator again while accelerating on the runway.

Newspaper Owner

The letter “is really to remind folks about that,” Cass said.

Katz, 72, had flown to Bedford to attend an event at the Concord, Massachusetts, home of Richard Goodwin and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Katz was a lawyer and businessman who once owned the New Jersey Nets basketball team, New Jersey Devils hockey team and ran a billboard company and parking-lot operator. He won control of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper and its sister publication at a court-ordered auction four days before the crash.

The other passengers were Susan Asbell, 67, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Marcella Dalsey, 59, of Williamstown, New Jersey, and Anne Leeds of Longport, New Jersey. A flight attendant, Teresa Ann Benhoff, 48, of Easton, Maryland, was also aboard.

The business jet was being flown by Captain James McDowell, 51, of Georgetown, Delaware, and co-pilot Michael De Vries, 45, of Marlton, New Jersey, according to the Middlesex County district attorney’s office.

Both pilots had more than 10,000 hours of flight experience, according to the NTSB.

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NTSB Identification: ERA14MA271
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Bedford, MA
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE G IV, registration: N121JM
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

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 traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 31, 2014, about 2140 eastern daylight time, a Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation G-IV, N121JM, operated by SK Travel LLC., was destroyed after a rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, Massachusetts. The two pilots, a flight attendant, and four passengers were fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight destined for Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey. The business flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The airplane was based at New Castle Airport (ILG), Wilmington, Delaware, and co-owned by one of the passengers, through a limited liability company. According to preliminary information, the airplane departed ILG earlier in the day, flew to ACY, and then to BED. The airplane landed at BED about 1545 and remained parked on the ramp at one of the fixed base operators. The crew remained with the airplane until the passengers returned. No maintenance or fuel services were requested by the crew.

The airplane was subsequently cleared for takeoff from runway 11, a 7,011-foot-long, 150-foot wide, grooved, asphalt runway. A witness observed the airplane on the takeoff roll at a "high speed" with "little to no altitude gained." The airplane subsequently rolled off the end of the runway, on to a runway safety area, and then on to grass. The airplane continued on the grass, where it struck approach lighting and a localizer antenna assembly, before coming to rest in a gully, on about runway heading, about 1,850 feet from the end of the runway. A postcrash fire consumed a majority of the airplane aft of the cockpit; however; all major portions of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The nose gear and left main landing gear separated during the accident sequence and were located on the grass area between the safety area and the gully.

Tire marks consistent with braking were observed to begin about 1,300 feet from the end of runway 11. The tire marks continued for about another 1,000 feet through the paved runway safety area.

The airplane was equipped with an L-3 Communications FA-2100 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and an L-3 Communications F1000 flight data recorder (FDR), which were recovered and forwarded to the Safety Board's Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC for readout.

Initial review of CVR and FDR data revealed that the airplane's ground roll began about 49 seconds before the end of the CVR recording. The CVR captured callouts of 80 knots, V1, and rotate. After the rotate callout, the CVR captured comments concerning aircraft control. FDR data indicated the airplane reached a maximum speed of 165 knots during the takeoff roll and did not lift off the runway. FDR data further indicated thrust reversers were deployed and wheel brake pressures increased as the airplane decelerated. The FDR data ended about 7 seconds after thrust reverser deployment, with the airplane at about 100 knots. The FDR data did not reveal evidence of any catastrophic engine failures and revealed thrust lever angles consistent with observed engine performance. Review of FDR data parameters associated with the flight control surface positions did not reveal any movement consistent with a flight control check prior to the commencement of the takeoff roll. The flap handle in the cockpit was observed in the 10 degree detent. FDR data indicated a flap setting of 20 degrees during the takeoff attempt.

The airplane was equipped with a mechanical gust lock system, which could be utilized to lock the ailerons and rudder in the neutral position, and the elevator in the down position to protect the control surfaces from wind gusts while parked. A mechanical interlock was incorporated in the gust lock handle mechanism to restrict the movement of the throttle levers to a minimal amount (6-percent) when the gust lock handle was engaged.

The FDR data revealed the elevator control surface position during the taxi and takeoff was consistent with its position if the gust lock was engaged. The gust lock handle, located on the right side of the control pedestal, was found in the forward (OFF) position, and the elevator gust lock latch was found not engaged.

The wreckage was retained for further examination to be performed at a later date. The airplane was also equipped with a quick-access-recorder (QAR), which was retained for download.

The certificated airplane transport pilot, who was seated in the right seat, reported 18,500 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate, which was issued on February 4, 2014.

The certificated airline transport copilot, who was seated in the left seat, reported 11,250 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA first-class medical certificate, which was issued on April 15, 2014.

Both pilots completed a Gulfstream IV recurrent pilot-in-command course and proficiency check during September 2013. At that time, the pilot and copilot reported 2,800 and 1,400 hours of total flight experience in G-IV series airplanes; respectively.

Initial review of maintenance records revealed that at the time of the accident, the airplane had been operated for about 4,950 total hours and 2,745 landings.

The reported weather at BED, at 2156, included calm winds, visibility 10 miles; clear skies; temperature 8 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 30.28 inches of mercury.

Pilot Bauke “Mike” de Vries with the plane that crash at Hanscom Field. 

Photographer: by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
 The General Dynamics Corp. Gulfstream IV never left the ground even though it reached a speed of 190 miles (306 kilometers) an hour, the NTSB said in a briefing June 3. 

 NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Luke Schiada speaks during a news conference at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass.,  June 2, 2014, regarding the investigation into  Gulfstream G-IV (N121JM) plane which plunged down an embankment and erupted in flames during a takeoff attempt there on May 31. Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, and six other people died in the crash. 

Six-foot high piles of foam created from remnants of fire-retardant chemicals used on Gulfstream G-IV (N121JM)  plane crash at Hanscom Field on May 31, 2014 that killed seven people were seen at the Ballardvale dam. Officials say the foam poses no known health risk.

South Carolina aerospace industry flying high, study says

Boeing's arrival in the Charleston area has helped make the aerospace industry a $17.4 billion enterprise in South Carolina, with four military air bases around the state accounting for most of the impact, according to a study by the University of South Carolina's Moore School of Business.

The four bases -- Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Joint Base Charleston, Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter and McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover -- employ more than 36,600 people and have an economic impact of about $9.4 billion, about 54 percent of the total aerospace industry, according to the study released Tuesday.

The aerospace private sector is catching up to the military, however, thanks to huge job growth since 2007, research economist Joseph Von Nessen said. The annual job-growth rate is 11.4 percent in the private sector, well above the 1.9 percent state average.

Von Nessen said the study, which took several months to complete, counted 466 aerospace companies statewide, topped by Boeing's operations in North Charleston, which started after the company bought facilities from two 787 Dreamliner partners in 2008 and 2009. The aircraft giant manufactures sections of fuselage for Dreamliner planes at its North Charleston plant, where it also completes final assembly of the planes.

The companies employ 17,114 people and contribute $8 billion to the state's economy. The majority of the companies are small -- 74 percent employ no more than five people, the study said. Including the military, there are more than 54,000 jobs in the aerospace industry statewide.

Thanks to Boeing, Charleston is the most lucrative region for the aerospace industry in South Carolina. Beaufort County and the surrounding area rank second in the state on the strength of the Beaufort air station, Von Nessen said.

The study didn't break down the individual economic impact of each air base, but the air station employs 4,226 people and contributes $1 billion to the state's economy, public affairs officer Capt. Jordan Cochran said.

In total, the aerospace industry brings in more than $532 million in tax revenue annually in the state.

From 1990 to 2007, an average of only 38 aerospace jobs were created each year. In the five years since Boeing's arrival, 1,032 jobs have been created per year, according to the study.

The effect is similar to the growth in the automotive industry after BMW started production in Spartanburg County in 1994. After BMW's arrival, 1,035 jobs were created per year between 1994 and 2007, helping to build the $27 billion industry of today, the study said.

Although it falls short of the effect the automotive industry has on South Carolina, the aerospace industry's growth ranks between the military, at $16 billion, and the tourism industry, at $18 billion.

The study, titled "Uncovering the Stealth Cluster: The Economic Impact of Civilian and Military Aerospace on South Carolina," is a partnership among the Moore School of Business; the university's Ronald E. McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research; the S.C. Department of Commerce; and New Carolina, South Carolina's Council on Competitiveness.

The high-skilled positions in the aerospace industry also mean high wages, according to the study. The average aerospace job pays $70,749 in South Carolina, well above the $41,206 average salary in the state.

The network of intertwined manufacturers that already provides for the military and larger companies must continue to grow to make the aerospace industry a "major pillar" of South Carolina's economy, Von Nessen said.

South Carolina schools are trying to create a skilled workforce to fill the openings. USC's McNair Center is developing an undergraduate aerospace degree, according to executive director Martin Keaney.

At the Technical College of the Lowcountry, the Transitioning Military Program continues to enroll new veterans, offering training and certificate programs to prepare them for federal license tests. Nearly 130 have passed the courses as of July, with many moving on to take the license tests and find employment, program director Paul Merritt said.


Major lawsuit against charter airline owned by former Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) consultant

Two Former Falcon Air Express Flight Attendants Sue Airline Claiming They Were Fired in Retaliation for Reporting Potentially Catastrophic Maintenance Issues

Attorneys Want to Speak to Passengers Who Were On Board Two Aruba-Bound Aircraft When They Reportedly Over Pressurized and Nearly Exploded Mid-Flight

MIAMI – Two former flight attendants for Falcon Air Express have filed a lawsuit against the Miami-based charter airline claiming they were fired after reporting dangerous situations that could have endangered the lives of the passengers and crew during two recent flights. Case Number 14-016182 CA 01 was filed in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County. The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Roderick Hannah and Pelayo Duran, want to speak with any passengers who were onboard two distressed flights on October 6, 2013 as they could provide more details about the harrowing experience.

“We believe this is a shocking case of retaliation that could have easily ended with a major air disaster with the death of approximately 145 passengers and crew on both flights,” said Duran. “We want to speak with the passengers who witnesses the chilling events that day. Our greatest fear is that Falcon Air was only concerned with cutting corners and avoiding paperwork instead of the safety and security of those lives on board the aircraft that could have exploded or crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.”

According to the lawsuit Karla Aquino and Leidy Garafolo were flight attendants working in Falcon Flight #801 from Miami to Aruba on October 6, 2013. The employees said that they and the other flight attendants were finishing their service and picking up trash, when the L2 door in the galley area of the aircraft cracked open approximately 12 inches allowing air to rush noisily in the passenger cabin. Lawyers said that as the cabin began to depressurize, passengers began to experience physical pain and express dismay and concern, questioning what had occurred, Aquino called her Senior Flight Attendant, Iris Lopez, to inform her of the situation. In response, Lopez suggested that ordinary napkins be used to try to fill the crack. Aquino informed Lopez, however, that the crack was too large to take such action. Lopez informed the flight attendants that there was nothing to be worried about and to simply take their seats, and apparently informed the head pilot, Captain Erlin Gonzalez, of the situation. No corrective action, however, was taken to secure the cabin prior to the aircraft landing in Aruba, and the flight attendants, including Aquino and Garofalo, experienced dizziness, feeling faint, and intense ear pain due to the decompression in the aircraft cabin door crack according to the lawsuit.

The complaint states that after landing in Aruba, the plaintiffs objected to the obvious safety hazard and risk on board the aircraft, and refused to continue to fly in the aircraft until the problem was fixed. They met with Capital Gonzales who over lunch on October 6 explained to the plaintiffs what had occurred. According to Captain Gonzalez, the pilots were having trouble compressing the aircraft due to a burned out cable, which had caused the aircraft to over-pressurize, and which in turn had resulted in the fuselage and door cracking open. Gonzales stated to the plaintiffs that it was a “good thing” the door had cracked open because if it had not done so, the entire aircraft could have exploded due to the over-pressurization, potentially killing or seriously injuring the passengers and crew. The lawsuit claims Captain Gonzales further explained to the plaintiffs that while his and the First Officer’s oxygen masks had been available after the door cracked and were in fact used by them, the oxygen masks for the flight attendants and all passengers on board had failed to deploy. Gonzales further informed the plaintiffs that he had refused to call in the situation as an emergency because there was just too much paperwork involved and he did not want the passengers scared with fire trucks and other rescue vehicles on the ground.

Subsequently on October 6, based on the representations that the mechanics had fixed the problem, the plaintiffs agreed to return to Miami from Aruba on board the same aircraft, this time designated Flight #802 according to the lawsuit. However, on the return flight the same, unnatural wind rushing noise, while not as loud as the first flight, was heard in the cabin from the L2 doorway, and the pilots, with knowledge of the dangerous situation and in an apparent attempt to reduce the in-rushing wind noise, erratically flew the aircraft at various different altitudes, causing the flight to be extremely bumpy and causing the flight attendants, including the plaintiffs, and the passengers to experience extreme discomfort and feel ill. Lopez further explained to the plaintiffs that she would prepare a report of the incident and that Captain Gonzales would do so, as well, once they had returned to Miami.

The lawsuit states that on October 7, Aquino and Garofalo contacted in-flight manager Cyndy Nicholson to discuss their experiences from the previous day and to verbally and in writing complain about what had occurred. In this meeting, Nicholson informed the plaintiffs that neither Lopez nor Gonzales had filed reports about the situation.

On October 9, the plaintiffs were called into a meeting with Falcon’s Human Resource Manager, and were told that they were fired according to the lawsuit. The reason giving for the termination was that the plaintiffs had been insubordinate to the Captain and Senior Flight Attendant on board the flights. Aquino was accused of sleeping on board the aircraft the lawsuit stated.

Attorneys said the former flight attendants are seeking back pay and lost benefits; reasonable front pay if reinstatement is not possible; compensatory damages for emotional distress, humiliation and loss of dignity; and attorneys’ fees, expenses and costs.

Anyone with information regarding Falcon Air Express Flights 801 and 802 on October 6, 2013 are urged to contact attorney Pelayo Duran at (305) 266-9780.

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Advisory board reviews airport rules: Sunnyside Municipal (1S5), Washington

Gary Pira attempts to establish contact with the automated weather observation system at the airport with a handheld radio, but the construction of the fire department prevented the signal from reaching the meeting room the airport board was using. 
Photo by Laura Gjovaag. 

The Sunnyside Municipal Airport Advisory Board continued to review a draft proposal for a new city code addressing airport operations at its meeting Tuesday night.

The board started a review of the main chapter of the code, which covers the minimum functional standards for operations at the airport.

One concern brought up by board member Ted Durfey is existing contracts, and whether or not certain aspects of those contracts will be grandfathered. In particular, Durfey noted that some of the existing hangers do not conform to the new standards.

Durfey was assured that consideration will be given to existing operations. A chapter of the code addresses the non-conforming buildings at the airport, with rules on when upgrades are required.

Members of the group also brought up a concern with a clause that reverts any buildings to become city property at the end of a lease. City Manager Don Day explained that without the clause, legal issues can arise when a tenant walks away from a lease. He cited a case in which the owner of a building died and the heirs had to negotiate with the airport to determine ownership.

Durfey said the clause will encourage longer leases, and Day agreed, saying that 20 to 25-year leases should be expected.

It was also noted during the meeting that some items in the new section of code are looking toward the future of the airport, including chapters regarding the rental of city-owned hangers. The city currently does not own any hangers at the airport.

Durfey also let the board know that three new aircraft are based at the Sunnyside airport since the last meeting of the advisory board. Sunnyside Public Works Director Shane Fisher said he’s also received inquiries for hanger rentals and other possible business operations at the airport.

The next airport meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 16, and the agenda includes further review of the proposed code.

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Oakenwold decision delayed by board: Stafford Regional Airport (KRMN), Virginia

After nearly four hours of debate and public comment Tuesday night, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors decided to defer a decision on Oakenwold, a proposed development near the Stafford Regional Airport.

Supervisors unanimously decided to defer the decision by a 6–0 vote, saying they needed more time to look over the background report and to weigh the public comments.

Chairman Jack Cavalier abstained from voting on Oakenwold due to an employer arrangement.

Oakenwold could bring up to 650 residences and up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space on a 232-acre site southwest of the airport. Tennis courts, a playground and a swimming pool would all be built in the area of the 19th-century home on the property that is called Oakenwold, which the developers have proposed to preserve.

Sentiment on the development was almost evenly divided among the more than 20 people who spoke during the public hearing on the project Tuesday. At least 11 speakers disapproved of the project, and at least nine spoke in favor of Oakenwold.

John “Skip” Groupe IV, the president of a Woodbridge-based engineering firm, and his son, John “Johnny” Groupe V, are under contract to purchase the 232-acre site from the owner, Michelle Moncure. The purchase is contingent on the supervisors rezoning the property from agricultural to planned–traditional neighborhood development.

Several speakers in favor of the project knew the applicants, and pointed to other successful developments they have built. One acquaintance of the Groupes said that the supervisors’ choice is between trusting a successful developer and the recommendation of county staff over the whims and distortions of airport enthusiasts.

The Stafford Planning Commission recommended that the development be denied by a 5–2 vote on July 9.

Paul Lof, who is related to the Groupes, said that he lives under the flight pattern of the Shannon Airport in Spotsylvania, and hasn’t had a problem.

At least two airport officials and two pilots who fly at Stafford Regional Airport spoke against Oakenwold, echoing concerns from Stafford Regional Airport officials. The Virginia Department of Aviation and the Stafford Regional Airport have both submitted written comments saying that residential development like Oakenwold near the airport could lead to continual complaints from future residents that may impact the airport’s future funding. Airport officials said that they compete for federal and state funding for projects, and development around the airport could be taken into consideration.

Some citizens felt like the area around the airport should be reserved for industrial development. They disagreed with Clark Leming, the attorney for the Groupes, who said that the county could have more industrial space than it could absorb should the area be emphasized for industrial development.

“I’m not against development as long as it is in the right place,” Paul Waldowski, a Stafford resident, said.

One resident doubted that supervisors would put an airport near a residential development should the residential development have been in the area first.

Leming said that it was the applicants’ fundamental position that Oakenwold doesn’t have a noise problem.

But to err on the side of caution, Leming said, the Groupes have offered a 500-foot buffer from the Centreport Parkway for residences, would inform potential residents of the airport’s proximity and would equip homes with noise-reducing material.

Leming also pointed to an industrial and commercial development currently surrounding the Manassas airport in Prince William County that is closer than the one proposed in Stafford.

The development would be located in an urban development area in the county, which is an area targeted for growth. Those areas are currently under review after the state erased the requirement for Stafford to have such areas. 

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Large marijuana field found near Sugar Land Regional Airport (KSGR) Houston, Texas


HOUSTON – A large field of marijuana was discovered in Fort Bend County Tuesday morning. 

A tip to undercover officers led them to the field that spreads across several acres off Highway 6 near the Sugar Land Regional Airport.

"Helicopters have been flying over since 9 this morning" said Roxie Foremoore, who lives nearby.

Investigators believe they found over a million dollars worth of plants. Some were as tall as 14 feet high.

"It makes me think about where we live differently" said Ashley Wallace, also a neighbor.

Officers had to use ATVs and boats to reach the remote area.
Two men were seen running away from the area when officers arrived. One of them shot at the officers with a pellet gun.

HPD and DPS joined FBCSO deputies in the search. They also used tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and helicopters.

Evidence shows the two suspects camped out there for months. They left everything behind, including a radio still playing music, toiletries, soap, food, clothes and all of their person belongings.

They showered, cooked in their makeshift kitchen under a tarp. They washed their clothes by hand and air dried them. People living in the subdivisions nearby were stunned.

"That does scare me. It's Sugar Land, supposed to be safe." said Foremoore.

Investigators say the suspects used an inflatable boat to go back and forth to the store. They used the Red Gully as their main source of water for everything.

"They pump the water through pipes and hoses to hydrate the plants," said FBC Sheriff Troy Nehl.

"It's pretty scary. I guess you never know what's lurking in the woods." said one resident who didn't want to be identified.

At last check, officers were still looking for the suspects. A caller said they spotted two half-naked men running in the area of Old Richmond Road.

Story and Video:

 A large field of marijuana was discovered off Highway 6 near the Sugar Land Regional Airport.

State awards contract to extinguish underground mine fire near Pittsburgh International Airport (KPIT) runway

To extinguish the fire and eliminate the smoke on the left side of this image, the DEP's contractor will pour several million gallons of water and 200 gallons of firefighting foam.
 Courtesy of the DEP

The state Department of Environmental Protection today announced plans to extinguish a fire burning for several years in a coal waste pile in Findlay, just 1,000 feet from a runway at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The state agency awarded a $1.4 million contract to Earthmovers Unlimited of Kylertown, Clearfield County. Work is scheduled to begin in September and take a year to complete.

The 10-acre coal waste pile was left by an unnamed deep mine that operated from 1906 through 1939, when it was abandoned, said John Poister, a DEP spokesman. To extinguish the fire, which occasionally sends plumes of smoke into the air, the contractor will dig out the fire and use several million gallons of water and 200 gallons of firefighting foam.

The agency’s news release said the fire smoke has threatened visibility for aircraft, poses a threat to a nearby radar facility and puts at risk an underground gas pipeline in the area. The site is bounded on three sides by Route 30, Route 576 and I-376.

“It’s not a curtain of smoke or a raging fire but our biggest concern is that it continues to smolder and then jumps to a larger coal waste pile next to it,” said Mr. Poister.

Approximately 429,000 cubic yards of coal waste will be excavated and used to backfill highwall cliffs left from the mining operation. The site will be graded and planted to prevent erosion and a gravel roadway through the site will be built, the news release said.

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Mario Nocove: Missing Colombian Pilot Might Be a Victim of Venezuela's War On Drugs

By Rafael Castillo 
August 20, 2014 | 11:40 am

A Colombian civilian pilot who went missing in Mexico City may have been shot down by Venezuelan armed forces in a well-known drug-smuggling air corridor.

None of the countries potentially involved in the case of 38-year-old Mario Nocove — Colombia, Mexico, or Venezuela — has made any statement on the matter or would confirm any details after repeated requests from VICE News.

Nocove last spoke with loved ones in Colombia on May 26. That day, the pilot told his eight-year-old daughter that he was in Mexico for a job and would be flying a plane that was located about three hours outside of Mexico City, his ex-wife told VICE News.

"[He told us] that he was in Mexico, and would be back in the first days of June," said the woman when reached in Bogotá last week.

The case drew public attention after Nocove's father contacted the Mexican newspaper El Universal. The paper then linked a series of apparently unrelated incidents that may lead to a scenario explaining his fate.
On May 25, a Beechcraft King Air plane was reportedly stolen in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The next day, Nocove contacted his family for the last time, telling them he was in a hotel in Mexico City and about to go on a job. On May 28, the Venezuelan air force reported that they shot down a King Air 300 near the city of Bruzual, close to the border with Colombia in Apure state.

According to Nocove's family, a stranger called his father, Gonzalo Nocove, and told him that the pilot's plane had crashed in Venezuela. "Don Gonzalo, this is tough — Mario is dead," the man reportedly said. When Gonzalo Nocove insisted for help in locating his son, the stranger told him to start his search in Bruzual.

Read more here:

Mario Nocove

Display of vintage aircraft and equipment planned at Lancaster Regional Airport (KLNC), Texas

“Warbirds on Parade” will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at Lancaster Airport, 650 Ferris Road in Lancaster.

About 40 aircraft will be at the annual display of vintage warplanes and equipment. Visitors may arrive early to watch them fly in. Aircraft include “Diamond Lil,” the oldest known airworthy B-24 flying today and Soviet-era equipment such as a Hind 24 Soviet gunship. There will also be helicopters, bombers, fighters, cargoes and trainers.

Lancaster resident R.V. Burgin, who fought in the Pacific in World War II, will sign copies of his book, Island of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific.

Suggested donation is $10 per carload or $5 per person. For more information, visit or email

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Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, N20TC: Accident occurred July 22, 2014 in Pago Pago, American Samoa

The family of the family and son team whose small plane crashed off Pago Pago International Airport in July have informed the Director of Port Administration that they will carry out a sonar search of the ocean floor where the aircraft is believed to have crashed.

Director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele says the family of Babar and Haris Suleman has hired an Oregon company to conduct the underwater search.

The Sulemans have contacted the port director for assistance in organizing a boat that they can use.

Taimalelagi says because of the equipment used, the search requires a special kind of boat.

She said the company in Oregon has also been in contact with her office and once a vessel has been arranged, they hope to come down to mount the underwater search.

Taimalelagi said she ‘s hoping that the company will be able to work with local counterparts in the private sector.

The body of Haris Suleman, the 17-year-old pilot who was attempting to fly around the world in the shortest time was found, however his father’s body was never recovered.

NTSB Identification: WPR14LA309
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 22, 2014 in Pago Pago, AS
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N20TC
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 July 22, 2014, about 2158 local standard time (0858 Universal Coordinated Time, July 23), a Beech BE A36, N20TC, crashed into the water after departure from Tafuna/Pago Pago International Airport (PPG), Pago Pago, American Samoa. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and the pilot's private pilot rated father sustained fatal injuries. Only remnants of the airplane have been recovered. The cross-country personal flight was departing en route nonstop to Honolulu (PHNL), Hawaii. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed.

One ground crewman and his wife met the pilot and his father at the airport to support the departure, and observed the pilot completing preflight checks. The ground crewman queried if they were going to depart, and the father replied yes noting that the weather was great. The ground crewman stated that the wind had been gusty and strong all day and evening. He observed the airplane taxi for departure, and repositioned himself so that he could observe the whole runway for the takeoff.

As the airplane moved down the runway, the ground crewman noted that the wind was very strong. The airplane became airborne, but it was moving up and down and side to side; it also was not gaining altitude. At this point, the airplane had passed the very high frequency omni-directional radio range, tactical air navigation (VORTAC), but was still very low. Before the airplane reached the end of the runway, it banked to the right towards the ocean. Over the next few seconds, the airplane kept getting lower, and then disappeared. He did not observe it contact the water; he only saw the lights getting lower and lower. He observed no explosion, and heard no noise.

The ground crewman stated that he contacted the airport duty supervisor to determine if there had been any contact with the airplane. The supervisor responded that he was waiting for a call from the pilot after the takeoff, and the ground crewman reported that he thought it went into the ocean.

Another witness was a couple of miles away sitting on a seawall facing the airport. He reported that the engine was loud as the airplane was taking off. He reported that it was unusual that the airplane did not immediately gain altitude. He stated that a few seconds after takeoff, the airplane suddenly went nose down into the water.

The American Samoa Department of Public Safety located the pilot's body at 0040; it was strapped to a seat cushion. They reported burn marks on the body, and a strong odor of gasoline. They recovered a life raft, a survival suit and clothing, a fuselage piece, a duffel bag, and two gumby suits along with other debris.

A pilot who was very experienced in transoceanic flights had been in contact with the pilot's father for several months during the planning of the trip, as well as during the trip. On the day of departure, the father indicated that the airplane had 249 gallons of fuel on board, and anticipated a 2300 departure time so that he and his son could land in Hawaii during daylight hours. He had purchased two life vests for them to wear instead of the gumby suits. He indicated that they planned to take off with 10 degrees of flaps, accelerate in ground effect, start a slow climb to 200 feet, retract the landing gear, climb to 500 feet and retract the flaps, and then climb to 5,000 feet and level out. Once the power and fuel settings were established for cruise, they would initiate a shallow climb to 7,000 feet, maintain that for 2-3 hours, and then establish a shallow climb to 9,000 feet.


Flight Standards District Office: FAA Honolulu FSDO-13 


PLAINFIELD, Ind. - Friends held a special tribute Tuesday night for a teen pilot from Plainfield, who was killed in a crash with his father last month. 

Soccer teammates of Haris Suleman honored him at their first home game of the season. His number 14 was everywhere - on teammates' cleats, on their shirts, on their wristbands and in their hearts.

The team is struggling with the loss.

"I'm definitely sad that I lost such a good friend and teammate," said Plainfield junior Ali Ahmed. “This entire season we're going to be playing extra hard for him."

Their mantra is to play and "Live Like Haris."

"They lost a friend. More than anything, that's what it is," said Plainfield soccer coach David Knueve. "This is an opportunity to remember their friend, honor his spirit and kind of come together as a community, to remember the good things about Haris."

Haris Suleman was the adventurous teenaged pilot who, with his father Babar, attempted to fly around the world in 30 days. Their plane went down just shy of that goal off the coast of American Samoa.

On Tuesday, Haris' teammates wore t-shirts with "14" and "Suleman" on the back, which they designed themselves. They sold more than 300 of the shirts, raising nearly $1,500 dollars for the charity Haris and his father were flying for - "Seeds of Learning" and "The Citizens Foundation."

That money will help build schools in Pakistan.

At the first home game for the Quakers, his team also held a special pre-game tribute.

"He was just a fun person to be around on the field. He was our captain," Ahmed said.

"Tonight is kind of a celebration of his memory," Knueve added.

Number 14 has been retired for the season by not only Plainfield, but also Cardinal Ritter, their opponent Tuesday night.

Ahmed delivered a message to the crowd through the loudspeaker, asking them to chase their dreams, just like Haris.

"That number 14 represents just a little more than a number, but a student, athlete, sibling and son," he said. "As we play the sport we love, I challenge you all to go and live like Haris."

Teammates released balloons at midfield in his honor and held a moment of silence to pray for his family. Then they got out there and did what they say Haris would want them to do - play on.

Their message and motivation served as an inspiration to Haris Suleman's family, who attended the game.

"I'm very proud of these kids. Obviously, they remind me very much of my younger brother," said Cyrus Suleman. "To see them commemorate my brother in such a way was truly touching and very thoughtful of them."

Cyrus Suleman said the team helped to preserve a legacy on and off the field of a young man teammates say they could feel out there - a friend they'll never forget.

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Medal of honor: Pakistan confers Sitara-e-Imtiaz on teenage pilot Haris Suleman 

KARACHI: Teenage pilot Haris Suleman, who was flying around the world in a bid to raise money for underprivileged students, has been conferred the Sitara-e-Imtiaz award by President Mamnoon Hussain.

A list issued by the government on the occasion of Independence Day mentions the name of late Haris Suleman as a recipient of the third-highest civil award in Pakistan. The list says that the award will posthumously be conferred upon him in a ceremony on Pakistan Day next year.

Seventeen-year-old US born Pakistani, Haris, died in a plane crash on July 22 when his single-engine aircraft crashed into the sea after taking off from the American Samoa Islands. Babar, his father, who was accompanying him, is still missing. The son-father duo, that was raising money for the education of Pakistani underprivileged students, was attempting to fly around the world in 30 days.

A high school student in Indiana, US, Haris and his father were collecting donations for The Citizens Foundation (TCF). According to the organization, the duo had already been able to raise over one million dollars before they met their tragic fate.

An uncle of Haris, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Abid Rao told The Express Tribune that the civil award was an honour for the whole family. “We are honored as this is a timely recognition. Haris was committed and undertook a dangerous journey flying over the ocean. His friends and others have vowed to carry on his mission and contribute to the TCF cause.”

Rao, however, said that Haris’s father, Babar, too should have been given some form of recognition as he was the one who had motivated his son to take up the cause.

The relative said that though Babar and the main wreckage were still missing, they had lost all hope of finding him alive.

A spokesperson for the TCF said that they were proud to be associated with Haris and his family. He added said that the duo’s inspiring journey for the education of Pakistani children would always be remembered.


Seventeen-year-old US born Pakistani, Haris, died in a plane crash on July 22 when his single-engine aircraft crashed into the sea after taking off from the American Samoa Islands. PHOTO: AFP

Centurion Air Cargo: Airline faces lawsuits over $13M in unpaid fuel

Centurion Air Cargo is facing lawsuits that allege it is past due on $12.9 million in fuel payments for its fleet.

The airline, which is based in an 800,000-square-foot facility at Miami International Airport (KMIA), and its Skylease affiliate were hit with 11 lawsuits in late July by fuel supplier Chemoil Corp. Each lawsuit represents a different plane – nine McDonnell Douglas MD-11Fs and two Boeing 747-400Fs.

FLASHBACK: Centurion Air Cargo to expand, create 200 jobs

Officials at Centurion didn't respond to several requests for comment. Centurion delivers products to Latin America, including flowers, fish, electronics, car parts and other manufactured goods.

It started in April when Chemoil filed mechanic liens against the 11 aircraft citing the unpaid fuel bills. The liens would prevent Centurion from selling the planes without paying the fuel supplier.

The lawsuits escalated the situation with Chemoil filing lis pendens, which would send the planes to auction to repay the debt unless Centurion can resolve the matter.

The bills cited in the liens range from $345,477 to $2.2 million per plane. While this sounds like a lot, it would be crazy to lose an aircraft worth over $100 million on such a small debt.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Bruce David Green, who represents Chemoil in the lawsuit, didn't return a call seeking comment.

Despite the apparent financial troubles, Centurion is current with lease payments at Miami International Airport, according to airport spokesperson Greg Chin. He said Centurion's co-leases its space at MIA with a Maryland-based company named Aero Miami III.

However, between January and May, Centurion's cargo revenue, which is measured in tons of cargo transported for each mile traveled, dropped by 30.2 percent compared to the same time last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

In 2013, Centurion filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Aero Miami III alleging that it was improperly charging the airline $50,000 a month in management fees as part of a sublease, plus a $2 million fee for deferred rent. The contested lawsuit remains outstanding.


November 2011: Centurion Air Cargo to expand, create 200 jobs 
Centurion Air Cargo is expanding its cargo center at Miami International Airport, creating 200 jobs.

The new 800,000-square-foot cargo center will house the new Centurion headquarters, an international shipping and receiving hub and an exclusive ramp with space to park up to eight wide-body aircraft. Centurion, a subsidiary of Aerolog Group, is one of the largest carriers of perishable goods in the Americas.

“Operating at Miami International Airport for more than 20 years, I have witnessed the airport’s unrivaled growth, and I am excited to build upon Centurion’s leading market position here at MIA through this new state-of-the-art cargo complex,” Aerolog Group Chairman Alfonso Rey said in a news release.

The new cargo center, slated to open in 2012, brings $123 million in capital investment to South Florida and will add about 200 jobs.

Aeroterm, a developer and manager of on-airport facilities, and Bristol Group, an investment and development firm, have partnered with Aerolog Group to develop and fund the center.

“The expansion and continuing success of Centurion Air Cargo and Aerolog Group emphasize the importance of the aviation industry and the diversification of Miami-Dade County’s economy,” Beacon Council President and CEO Frank R. Nero said in a statement. The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s official economic development arm, assisted Centurion with a local incentive.

The county has considered awarding Centurion with an incentive since 2008, when it was determined that, if the company could create and maintain 200 jobs over six years, it would earn $1 million under a Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund application.

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