Thursday, August 21, 2014

A race for exams and pilot's license

Marlborough Boys’ College student Johnny Andrews is trying to complete NCEA level 3, as well as his private pilot’s license before the end of the year.

A Marlborough teenager is facing a race against time as he tries to get his pilot's license and complete NCEA level 3 before the year is out.

If two qualifications wasn't enough to be working towards, Marlborough Boys' College student Johnny Andrews, 17, also has two after-school jobs added to the mix.

He has been working towards his private pilot's license for the past two years, and has 10 hours' flying time and six exams left to complete before the qualification is in his hands.

His goal of becoming a pilot before leaving college was looking more unlikely as he focused on passing his final year, but Andrews was confident he could get there before the year was over.

"I should be finished [school] about November, so during the Christmas period I should be able to get most of my exams done . . . the goal is still to get it done."

Despite adding to the pressure for Andrews, the college has also been a driving force behind his pursuit, allowing him to spend time at Omaka Aerodrome through their Gateway program.

The program helps students get work-experience in the industry of their choice while in school.

"Instead of going into a job I go and study at Omaka . . . school helps me out by paying for my exams because it's through the course, so that's the big incentive," Andrews said.

One of his employers, New World, had also helped him by organizing $2000 through Foodstuffs to go towards his flying career.

Andrews first went flying in a helicopter at the age of 14, and followed that with a trial flight in a light aircraft, which lead into regular flying as a way to "get out of the house".

"It's something I have always wanted and just a career that I have sort of aimed for."

The ultimate goal for Andrews was to get his commercial pilot's license, which required a minimum of 150 hours' flying time, and a further nine exams on top of his six exams to gain a private license.

After that he hoped to get into the air force, but failing that would continue flying to get his hours up until he could land a job as a pilot with an airline.


Toilet row led to plane rage headbutt terror

A plane passenger sparked mid-air terror after he snapped and flew into a fit of rage as an aircraft was flying back to the UK.

Mark Turner leapt on his brother-in-law and savagely headbutted him, causing panic among passengers.

The pilot of the aircraft radioed in an emergency call and was told to take a direct flight to Blackpool Airport where the plane was met by police.

Turner, 32, pleaded guilty to assaulting a man in UK airspace.

He was bailed for pre-sentence reports with all options including custody to be considered and he will be sentenced at a later date.

District Judge Huw Edwards, sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court, told him: “The circumstances of this are extremely serious. It was in a place and one only had to imagine the fear and anxiety of the other passengers.”

Claire Harris, prosecuting, said Turner, his wife, their 18-month-old daughter and other family members were on an afternoon flight back home to the UK from Alicante, Spain, following a week-long villa holiday on August 9.

There had been a row at the airport over the time Turner had spent in the toilet, leaving his wife to cope with the bags.

During the argument Turner had sworn at his father-in-law and threatened to kill him.

On board Turner, of Chedworth Drive, Manchester, argued with his brother-in-law and then headbutted him, making his nose bleed.

Pilot Sandy Whitaker was alerted to the incident by cabin crew. He reported it to aircraft control who told him not to follow the flight plan but to take the most direct route to Blackpool Airport.

Martin Hillson, defending, said senior cabin crew member, Christine Bradley, had to be commended for her handling of the situation by calming people down and taking Turner to the front galley to talk to him.

Mr Hillson added: “Turner was in a pressure cooker.

“He was in a plane for two hours with constant comments directed at him and he momentarily lost control.

“Although it must have been distressing for passengers there was no danger to the flight. There was no alcohol involved.

“Following the incident he contacted an anger management counselor and is having sessions with him.”

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Charlevoix Municipal Airport (KCVX) manager suddenly resigns post - Scott Woody says parking issue the 'last straw'

Charlevoix Municipal Airport manager Scott Woody says he is resigning from his city job because he has been "micro-managed," specifically when it comes to his effort to change a policy that charges customers parking fees in a separate credit card transaction from their flight tickets as they stand at the same counter within the airport lobby. 

CHARLEVOIX — The city's airport manager announced his resignation this week during a public meeting because he said he has been "micro-managed."

Scott Woody told Charlevoix city councilors on Monday that he would resign — effective on Saturday, Aug. 23 — after he presented a report about a more than $1.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to be used on a multi-million-dollar infrastructure improvement in 2015 at the airport.

"I was made a promise by Rob Straebel that I wouldn't be micro-managed and it's happened," Woody told the city council. "Today he told me my heart is not in this job."

Woody said he intends to remain in Charlevoix and be available to help with aviation across the area.

Straebel, Charlevoix city manager, said out of respect for Woody he would not make specific comments about the personnel issue.

"I wish him well on future endeavors and thank him for his time working for the city," he said.

Woody came nearly two years ago to Charlevoix to administrate the municipal airport, which a recent state-completed community benefits assessment showed makes an annual $20 million impact to the area. During his time in the post he found inefficiencies to remedy, but said he found resistance to his latest suggestion. The issue became the "last straw," he said.

"I've tried to make this more efficient, but I've been prohibited from making these changes," Woody said.

The first inefficiency Woody said recently was successfully addressed is the prior policy of frequently driving a city-owned fuel truck down the airfield to Fresh Air Aviation. Now the mid-field airline owns and operates its own fuel wagon, saving expenses for both the city and the business.

Woody said he next wanted to change how the city charges customers parking fees to leave vehicles in the municipal lot in front of the airport along U.S. 31 South. Currently, Island Airways customers must first pay for their tickets and freight to Beaver Island, then slide down the counter and in a second transaction pay the city parking fee.

"People always complain about having to do that. Some actually get irate about it," Woody said.

To solve the customer service problem, Woody said he worked out a deal with the airline to charge the city parking fee in addition to its ticket and freight rates, in exchange for a 10-percent cut of the revenue. Despite the loss of some parking fee money, Woody said the city could save funds by a combination of not paying an employee to stay late to charge night flight customers parking fees, along with saving thousands of dollars each year in credit card transaction fees.

Straebel declined to comment on the parking fee situation, other than to say, "the issue was much bigger than that specific issue."

Island Airways formerly operated the airport as a "fixed-base operator" until in April 2011 the city government took over operations. Officials at the time said the move would make the facility more self-sufficient and reduce the need to use general fund dollars to supplement the airport budget.

On Wednesday, Woody showed a reporter city revenue reports that show during the last year the Charlevoix airport experienced an approximate 48-percent increase in overall landing fees, even though officials dropped a previously charged single-engine landing fee. He also pointed to an increase by 5 percent in parking fee revenues, something Woody attributes to improvements in the airport's customer service.

Woody previously worked as the airport manager at Gaylord Regional Airport, owned and operated by Otsego County.

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Aerobatic flights coming to Steamboat's Wild West Air Fest

Steamboat Springs — This year's Wild West Air Fest will be louder and smokier than ever.

For the first time, the air festival at the Steamboat Springs Airport will feature aerobatic shows.

Denver-based pilot Don Nelson is bringing his Sukhoi Su-26, a supercharged Russian plane with 400 horsepower that first was built in the mid-1980s specifically to win the World Aerobatics Championships.

"There'll be smoke and noise, and it's fast and dynamic," Nelson said Thursday from the cockpit of his plane after a practice flight. "I'll do loops, rolls and tumbles, and lots of gyroscopic maneuvers."

His performance will span from the ground up to about 2,000 feet above the airport.

Nelson, who flies solo, is one of three aerobatic performances scheduled for the air festival here.

The Rocky Mountain Renegades will do some high flying maneuvers and pilot Dagmar Kress, a national aerobatic champion, will perform in her Pitts biplane.

The aerobatic show is poised to become a highlight of the annual Labor Day festival at the airport.

"That's a little bit of what defines an air show," Airport Manager Chris Cole said about the aerobatic flights. "When people think of these shows, they think of planes doing loop to loops and flying maneuvers. In the past, when it was more static, you couldn't draw people that wanted that aspect of it. It's exciting and fun."

Cole said the Steamboat airport's altitude had made it more difficult in previous years to land aerobatic shows.

The show won't be the only thing having attendees craning their necks.

There will be flights by a 1941 Piper J-3 Cub, a 1943 Beechcraft C-45J, a Long Ranger helicopter and a 1945 TBM Avenger.

Dozens of other airplanes also will be on display at the airport.

That's not all.

Steamboat native Nissa Brodman will talk about her experience flying Blackhawk helicopters on medivac missions in Afghanistan, and Ian Runge will tell an audience about what it was like to fly a single engine airplane over 11,000 miles of ocean.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 30 and 31.

Air shows start at 11:30 a.m.

"It ought to be pretty exciting," local pilot Don Heineman said. 


Saturday, Aug. 30

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild West Air Fest, Steamboat Springs Airport

10 a.m. Spot landing demo by the Piper Cub aircraft

10 a.m. Presentation: "DUSTOFF: One Pilot's Perspective" by Nissa Brodman

11 a.m. Tribute to the troops, Steamboat Springs Airport (including the Steamboat Springs Civil Air Patrol cadets honor guard, missing man formation in the air and skydivers)

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Airshow with aerobatics performed by the Renegades, and Don Nelson in his Sukoi aircraft

1 p.m. Presentation: "Flying a Single Engine Plane over 11,000 miles of ocean; You've got to be nuts!" by Ian Runge

Sunday, Aug. 31

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild West Air Fest, Steamboat Springs Airport

10 a.m. Spot landing demo by the Piper Cub aircraft

10 a.m. Presentation: "Flying a Single Engine Plane over 11,000 miles of ocean; You've got to be nuts!" by Ian Runge

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Airshow with aerobatics performed by the Renegades, and Don Nelson in his Sukoi aircraft

1 p.m. Presentation: "DUSTOFF: One Pilot's Perspective" by Nissa Brodman

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Drone flying near Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX) sparks alarm from jet pilot

Police officials say the sighting of a personal drone in restricted Los Angeles International Airport airspace and another over City Hall support the need to clarify civilian drone use laws.

In the first incident on Aug. 4, police said a personal drone was spotted by a Canadian jetliner hovering about 10 miles east of LAX at 4,000 feet – an altitude outside Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for hobbyists with drones and and also within the airport’s Class B airspace.

To fly that high and close to LAX brings with it a host of responsibilities, including having a transponder on the aircraft and two-way communication with air traffic controllers, federal officials said.

Los Angeles police learned of the drone when the airline pilot asked air traffic controllers if it was a police drone. The LAPD’s two drones are locked away in a federal building and have not been used.

In the second incident, employees on the LAPD’s 10th floor on the northwest side of the building said they looked out their window Aug. 14 to see a drone hovering outside their window.

After some in the office waved at it and snapped pictures, it flew across the street to City Hall and got close to the rooftop antennae.

While authorities say the drone spotted near LAX violated FAA regulations, the one downtown does not appear to have violated any laws.

There are plenty of restrictions on law enforcement's use of drones and a permitting process for commercial operators. But not so for public users, something police have had to come to terms with recently.

“Everyone is going to suffer because of a reckless pilot,” said LAPD Air Support Capt. Gary Walters. “You don’t expect to see one at 1,000 feet when you’re doing 130 mph going to an emergency call to the Coliseum.”

The department is talking with the FAA and local lawmakers about what can be done to bring existing laws up to date so they apply to drones, officials said.

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Crash Victims Can't Sue Aircraft Maker in California -Courthouse News Service

ATR-72-212, Aero Caribbean, CU-T1549: Accident occurred November 04, 2010 in Sancti Spiritus Province, Cuba 

Courthouse News Service
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Last Update: 5:32 PM PT

(CN) - The family of a man killed in a November 2010 plane crash in Cuba cannot sue the French manufacturer of the aircraft in California, the 9th Circuit rules.

Lorenzo Corazon Mendoza Cervantes was one of 61 passengers killed when the Aero Caribbean ATR 72 in which he was flying crashed en route to Havana, Cuba on November 4, 2010. All seven members of the flight crew were also killed in what has been described as third deadliest aviation accident in Cuban history.

In the aftermath of the crash, Cervantes's widow, Gloria Martinez Montes, and his three sons, Lorenzo Mendoza Martinez, Eliu Mendoza and Eliezer Mendoza Martinez sued the plane's manufacturer, Avions de Transport Regional (ATR), a French company, in the Federal Court in San Francisco.

In their lawsuit, they alleged claims of product liability, negligence, breach of warranty and wrongful death against ATR, and a number of other claims, which were not at issue on appeal, against Aero Caribbean, Empressa Aerocaribbean S.A., and Cubana de Aviacion S.A, which owned, maintained and operated the ill-fated aircraft.

ATR moved to dismiss on the grounds that there was no evidence the airplane was ever operated in California or owned by a California citizen or resident. U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted ATR's motion to dismiss and denied plaintiffs' request for additional jurisdictional discovery.

Cervantes's family appealed to the 9th Circuit, which held that since the Cuban defendants had not yet been served at the time of Judge Alsup's ruling, his decision wasn't a final judgment in the case.

On limited remand, Judge Alsup certified his original finding, holding that the California lacked jurisdiction over the case. The family's appeal then went back to the 9th Circuit.

In affirming the District Court's ruling, the three-judge panel held that a court "may only exercise general personal jurisdiction over a corporation only when its contacts 'render it essentially at home' in the state."

In this case, wrote, U.S. Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher, the controlling precedent is Burnham v. Superior Court, and "Burnham does not authorize tag jurisdiction over corporations. ..."

Therefore, Fletcher continued, "ATR's contacts with California are insufficient to support general jurisdiction" and "Additional jurisdictional discovery would be futile."

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Editorial: Deja vu all over again - Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Dukes County, Massachusetts

If you are a Dukes County taxpayer you might ask yourself this question: what has the county done for me lately? If you answered not a thing, you are partially incorrect.

The county commissioners, through their meddling in airport affairs, have embroiled you in a senseless legal struggle that has already cost county taxpayers $19,000, directly in the form of county legal bills, and indirectly, more than $62,000 and rising, in the form of airport monies diverted from better aviation uses. And there is no indication that it will end soon.

The county commissioners appoint the seven members of the airport commission who by state statute are responsible for the “care and custody” of the airport. The county’s overriding responsibility is to appoint the most qualified individuals. Its authority over the airport begins and ends with its appointment power. But the county commissioners seem to have not gotten that message.

They did not get it in 1997 when the director of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC) told county commissioners that, despite the provisions of the Dukes County charter, managerial oversight of the airport by the county manager and any reorganization plan which might eliminate the independent airport commission would be unlawful and could jeopardize $8 million in grants that would eventually transform the old ramshackle airport terminal into a new modern facility.

They did not get it when state and federal airport officials, as a condition of future funding, required the county commissioners to sign “grant assurances,” which curtailed the authority of the county commissioners and the county manager over all airport affairs and put it squarely with the airport commission.

And not in 2002 when the MAC chairman warned that the refusal of the county manager and county treasurer to pay newly hired airport manager Bill Weibrecht his agreed upon salary could end up costing the Island one of the most respected airport managers in New England, and upset a “remarkable turnaround” at the county-owned airport.

And they did not get it in 2005 when Superior Court Judge Robert H. Bohn ruled that the legislation establishing the airport commission trumped the county charter, and the airport commission alone is responsible for the custody, control, and management of the airport, and is empowered to expend its own funds to pay salaries. By the way, that legal lesson cost county taxpayers $525,000.

Why, a taxpayer might ask, doesn’t the county get it? For some insight we refer you to a Letter to the Editor published July 2, from county commissioner Tristan Israel, who took The Times to task for continually referencing the Bohn decision in its reporting.

“The Times seems stuck back in 2006,” Mr. Israel wrote. “That is the year the Italians won the World Cup and George Bush was still president and Barry Bonds broke Ruth’s all-time home run record and the Wii was introduced by Nintendo and the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was released and Cold Play was big on the charts and reality TV was hitting its stride. And, ah yes, the County Commissioners were in litigation with the Airport Commissioners. We are reminded almost weekly by the Times of this fact. A fact that holds no bearing or basis for comparison with current issues even though they would have you think so by repeating the 2006 story over and over again, in story after story, and editorials as well.”

No bearing or basis? Fast forward to 2014. County commissioners unhappy with the airport commission’s bungling performance in its recent discipline of an employee pressed to have their county manager sit on the airport commission as a nonvoting member. The county treasurer attempted to exert control over the payment of airport bills. To defend its statutory authority, the airport commission, with the support of the Mass Aeronautics Commission, sought relief from the court. The county countersued.

As Steve Myrick reports this week, in an 11-page decision dated August 7, Superior Court Associate Justice Richard J. Chin ruled in favor of the airport commission on every point in its request for a preliminary injunction based on his view that the airport commission has shown “a likelihood of success on the merits.”

In his decision, Judge Chin continually cited Judge Bohn. He denied an airport commission request to dismiss the county commission’s counterclaim, but it should not take a legal scholar to digest the meaning of a “likelihood of success.” The smart course, the responsible course, would be for the county commission to call it a day.

The resignation last week of Peter Bettencourt of West Tisbury from the airport commission leaves an opening on the seven-member board. Discussing the appointment process, and with no hint of irony, county commissioner and self-appointed airport commissioner Christine Todd of Oak Bluffs said, “We’ve got some pretty big issues on the table at the airport, and I think it’s critical to get some new blood in there.”

The Island is rich in talent. The county needs to meet its responsibility to appoint the best person for the job and step out of the way.

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New terms could end Waterville airport suit

WATERVILLE — The group suing the Municipality of the County of Kings over the looming closure of the Waterville airport says it will withdraw its lawsuit if a counter-proposal is accepted.

The Waterville Airport Co-operative, the group that manages the civilian airport, and the Annapolis Valley Flying Association submitted a 12-point proposal to the county. The Hangar Owners Group, which initially launched the lawsuit, agrees to the proposal, said a copy provided to The Chronicle Herald.

The proposal calls for the transfer of at least $1.8 million to a newly created governing body that will operate and manage a new airport. The money, the estimated sale price of the airport lands to Michelin, would finance the airport relocation.

The proposal calls for creation of a new entity that would be the chief negotiating party for a new airport site. It asks for $32,000 from the municipality to develop a 10-year business plan and another $10,000 to hire a consultant to develop a governance model.

It asks that the property on which the hangars are located be subdivided and granted to the hangar owners, and that all equipment and structures be handed over to the airport co-operative.

The group wants the county to delay the Sept. 30, 2014, closing date of the airport by one year, to Sept. 30, 2015, thus honouring the existing contract, along with an extension of the management agreement until a new airport is operating.

If the county accepts the terms, the group will agree to withdraw the lawsuit with no costs payable to any party, said the proposal.

The airport co-op has also formed a transition committee, to be chaired by businessman Paul Easson. Its mandate is to communicate with the Defence Department over a possible civilian airport at 14 Wing Greenwood. And it will investigate a second possible “greenfield” option and help encourage investment and growth at a new airport site.

Gordon Squires, president of the airport co-op, said the lawsuit is a defence against council’s “unilateral surprise actions” that he alleges violate the contract between the municipality and the co-op.

The co-op and hangar owners group have tried to negotiate but to no avail, he said in an email message Wednesday.

Squires said the co-op joined the lawsuit because the county has argued that the hangar owners don’t have legal standing.

The local aviation community, like the public, is not privy to the county’s negotiations with Michelin to purchase the airport lands for a possible future expansion, he said.

“We have no idea as to the likelihood or timing of a future Michelin expansion. The (consultant’s) report done by CBCL states that there are 2.1-million private dollars invested at (the airport) by individuals and businesses.

“The aviation community strongly supports Michelin and a future expanded Michelin in Waterville. All we ask is that we be sincerely respected in the process … not thrown under the … bus.”

He said the counter-proposal is a “constructive and reasonable” reply to council’s airport strategy.

Council in July approved a plan to relocate the airport to 14 Wing Greenwood. The 22-page strategy, with 18 recommendations, reaffirms council’s decision to close the airport and sell the lands to Michelin for a possible expansion.

The strategy calls for development of a civilian airport at the base, citing similar arrangements at Canadian Forces bases across the country. It said the airport closure deadline will be extended to May 31, 2015, if aviators agree to create a new governing body to negotiate with the Defence Department.

“Sometimes politicians have to make tough decisions,” Warden Diana Brothers said in a recent interview. “There is a bigger plan here. … We’re trying to bring jobs to Nova Scotia … while at the same time find a place for the airport. … We can have both things if we work together.”

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Seacoast Helicopters cited for spike in noise complaints: Portsmouth International Airport at Pease (KPSM ), New Hampshire

PORTSMOUTH — The number of noise complaints received by the Pease Development Authority spiked in August, according to Airport Director Bill Hopper, who attributed “the vast majority of them” to the operations of Seacoast Helicopters.

Hopper, the director of the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, said complaints or inquiries to the airport’s noise line went from 13 in June to 27 in July and then to 63 through Aug. 20.

Hopper blamed the increase on the operation of Seacoast Helicopters, which conducts tours of the Seacoast and the city of Portsmouth from its location at the tradeport.

“It’s really the first summer they’ve done them, and we’re getting quite a few inquires on that,” Hopper said during the PDA’s board meeting Thursday.

Hopper said airport officials have been working with Seacoast Helicopters and the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls the operations of helicopters and airplanes, to see if anything can be done about the complaints.

Responding to a question about what actions the board could take, Hopper said, “I don’t really see much that can be done by the board, especially when this is beyond a Pease issue.”

PDA Executive Director David Mullen said the city could pass an ordinance “to not have helicopters land or take off in the city of Portsmouth,” but then added, “That’s about it.”

He said after the meeting that if Portsmouth passed such an ordinance, it wouldn’t impact the ability of Seacoast Helicopters to land and take off at the airport.

Board member Margaret Lamson complained that she had seen a red helicopter outside the funeral of former City Councilor John Hynes on Tuesday.

“I’m coming out and there’s that helicopter whirling around,” Lamson said. “I really thought that was offensive. It just seemed insensitive.”

Likewise, City Manager John Bohenko, who also attended the funeral and sits on the PDA board, said he saw a red helicopter “flying low.”

“They weren’t at 1,000 feet,” Bohenko said. “They were circling around the city proper (in the) downtown.

Bohenko asked Hopper to find out if the red helicopter was being operated by Seacoast Helicopters.

Bruce Cultrera, the owner of Seacoast Helicopters, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. He has said in the past that his helicopters always fly higher than 1,000 feet, even though there’s no FAA regulation that requires them to stay above any level.

He has also said his company is all about promoting the city of Portsmouth and bringing in tourists dollars to the region.

“The other thing is we don’t fly directly over downtown, and the reason for that is we’re carrying tourists who have cameras and they’re gawking and looking and you can’t see what’s directly under the helicopter,” he said during a recent interview. “We go around the outskirts of downtown.”

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Seacoast Helicopters, a company located at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease that provides flight instruction and tourist flights, has been the subject of recent noise complaints.

2014 Wings and Wheels Airshow September 6: Barnes County Municipal Airport (KBAC), Valley City, North Dakota

VALLEY CITY, N.D. ( The Barnes County Municipal Airport Authority will be hosting the Wings and Wheels Airshow Saturday, September 6.

The main aerobatic act will be 3rd generation pilot Matt Younkin performing in his Twin Beech 18 transport plane.

Other pilots performing include:  Kent Pietsch (Peach) flying in his Interstate Cadet, Warren Pietsch (Peach) in a Japanese Zero, Toby McPherson in his P-51 Mustang and Kelly Perhus in his T-6 Texan.

Jarrod Lindemann in his Pitts S2C, Paul Lindemann in his Pitts S2B, and a performance of the Original Red Baron by the Lindemann Brothers!

Also the Fargo Sky Divers will be attempting a State Record Sky Dive in Valley City.
Other events include a Car Show, Military aircraft displays, Helicopter rides, Kid’s Inflatable Games, on site Concessions/Beer Garden, Remote Control Aircraft performances by the Young Eagles and airplane rides.

Advanced Tickets are on sale for $12 in Valley City at the Eagles Club, Dakota Plains Cooperative, Brothers III, Leevers, Barnes County Museum, Marketplace and Valley City Office Works. Get your tickets at Jet Steam Car Wash and Cork N Barrel Liquors in Jamestown. The Tower Travel Center in Tower City. Or at Rod’s West Acres Cenex and the Fargo Air Museum in Fargo.

Those who purchase advance tickets will be entered into a raffle for a chance to ride in a P-51 Mustang. Tickets will be $15 at the gates the day of the show. Children 12 and under get in FREE!

Volunteers are needed to work the show. The hourly rate of $8 per hour but the money will be donated to the charity of your choice.

The 2014 Wings and Wheels Airshow, September 6.  For more information go to or call Jamie Bryn at 701-840-2324.

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Transport Canada's lax safety practices go beyond rail: Self-reporting rules for marine, rail and aviation contributing to 'weak safety culture'

The deadly Lac-Mégantic train crash — and this week's safety board report into what happened — raises questions not only about government oversight of the rail industry but of other sectors like air, marine and food as well, engineers and transportation experts say.

On Tuesday, the Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the worst rail disaster in Canada's history. In it, the watchdog agency criticized how the federal government ensures regulated companies follow safety rules.

TSB called on Transport Canada, the "guardian of public safety," to audit railway companies more thoroughly and frequently, saying Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway ran "largely unchecked."

Pointedly, TSB chair Wendy Tadros said federal auditors weren't "pulling back the curtains" to see what was actually happening inside a company.

"It's a pretty sweeping set of findings from the Transportation Safety Board," said David Jeanes, founding president of Transport Action Canada, a non-profit group that monitors rail safety. "It isn't just the rail mode. It's really about the whole process of safety regulation."

At the heart of the TSB criticism is a sometimes controversial approach called safety management systems, or SMS for short.

Under SMS, companies create their own safety plans, which are then checked by government officials, and they monitor their own safety performance, with occasional inspections by the regulator.

The rail industry adopted the approach in 2001, while large ships followed suit the year after and airlines started using it in 2005.

Reading binder vs. in-field checks

Critics suggest the move to SMS was driven by government cost-cutting measures, and stressed that it can only be effective if done in conjunction with sufficient checks by regulators on the companies.

In the case of Lac-Mégantic, TSB says Transport Canada looked at MM&A's safety plan on paper, but didn't dig deep enough into whether they were following the rules.

"What [the TSB] said is [Transport Canada was] satisfied to look at the binder and didn't verify that this binder, or the content of that binder, implemented physically in the field.

"And that's a big difference," says Jean-Paul Lacoursière, a chemical engineer at the University of Sherbrooke who specializes in risk assessments.

TSB's Lac-Mégantic report isn't the first time the watchdog raised concerns with how the government has rolled out SMS. But those who follow these developments closely suggest the accident, which killed 47 people, could finally spur change.

In 2006, a runaway freight train near Lillooet, B.C., prompted the agency to call for Canadian National to do a better job of following its own safety rules.

In 2010, the agency highlighted SMS as a concern not only for the rail industry, but for the other modes of transportation that Transport Canada also oversees.

"Transport Canada does not always provide effective oversight of transportation companies transitioning to SMS, while some companies are not even required to have one," the TSB wrote. It also put the issue front and centre by placing it on the agency's "watch list" of problems for marine safety.

Last year, the federal auditor general also targeted Transport Canada's oversight of rail. It found "significant weaknesses" in its supervision of companies, saying the department had done "very few audits" of the 31 federal railway operators under its jurisdiction.

Lacoursière says he was surprised but glad to see the TSB delve into the larger issues around safety culture in the Lac-Mégantic report. He's hopeful that the agency's criticism of the federal department could lead to significant changes for how it oversees rail, as well as marine and aviation.

"I think this is a game changer," said Lacoursière. "It'll bring safety management systems to the forefront."
Safety culture key

Lacoursière says the tragedy in the small Quebec town demonstrates how important the overall safety system can be. And the TSB stressed that point as well.

Despite identifying 18 factors that contributed to the crash, it also said, "take any one of them out of the equation and this accident may not have happened."

Even a well-trained worker like the MM&A locomotive engineer in the Lac-Mégantic case can make mistakes, says Lacoursière. "You need more than just relying on that person to actually prevent accidents. You need real systematic ways of doing things."

"And it's not only in that industry, but other industries that are under the federal jurisdiction are doing the same thing," he said.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair raised that same concern.

"The basic problem is self-management doesn't work when the government's not holding up its end of the bargain," Mulcair said on Tuesday following the release of the report. "Governments are supposed to be inspecting and regulating in the public interest."

"In the case of Lac-Mégantic and in the case of food inspections, we realize this is not working," he added.

Jeanes says that SMS has also come under considerable scrutiny in the airline industry, particularly in regards to smaller companies and their ability to implement such a complex, costly system.

As the federal government introduced the approach to the airline industry, retired justice Virgil Moshansky, who headed a three-year inquiry into one of Canada's worst air disasters (the 1989 crash of an Air Ontario flight that killed 24 people), was quite critical of the system.

In 2007, he warned it would be a struggle for cash-strapped smaller carriers, "where the greatest risk already resides," to implement SMS and monitor their own safety.

The retired justice worried that SMS relied on self-reporting of violations by airline personnel, which is inherently problematic because workers hesitate to report problems for fear of losing their jobs.

SMS 'works internationally'

MM&A was also a smaller company. The U.S.-based regional railway operator owned 820 kilometres of track across Maine, Vermont and Quebec.

While MM&A submitted its SMS documentation to the government in 2003, and was deemed compliant, it wasn't until seven years later that Transport Canada did its first audit of the company's safety system and found the system wasn't actually implemented.

In 2012, the government did a second audit, focusing on a limited aspect of MM&A 's safety system, but it never followed up.

"If TC does not audit the SMS of railways in sufficient depth and frequency and confirm that corrective actions are effectively implemented, there is an increased risk that railways will not effectively manage safety," the TSB report said.

As a result, MM&A developed a "weak safety culture" that led to continuing unsafe practices, and Transport Canada  knew there was an elevated risk, including problems with securing trains since 2005 and with track conditions since 2006, the TSB said.

On top of that, the company was dealing with a dramatic jump in dangerous goods transported on its tracks, an increase of 280 per cent from 2011 to 2012, almost entirely because of crude oil. That raised the risks, but the company didn't address them, even though it knew about the risks; and nor did the government.

Jeanes says the huge increase in crude transported on rail lines stretched transportation inspectors even further.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says the government has made sure that the department is properly resourced and trained to ensure auditors are "auditing appropriately."

The minister said use of the approach comes down to a "fundamental fact: there's 46,000 kilometres of rail track in this country. And you can't possibly ever have enough inspectors at every way point on every train at every single moment to have that kind of continuous oversight."

"So SMS has been developed, and it has been recognized and it has worked internationally."

The government has 90 days to respond to the watchdog's report, and Jeanes hopes that the TSB's strong criticism of the government's oversight leads to changes in the way it operates.

"Given that we've seen how catastrophic consequences can result from a failure of SMS, we must make sure it doesn't happen again," said Jeanes.

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Transportation Safety Board of Canada  calls on government to fix ‘troubling’ aviation safety deficiencies

The Transportation Safety Board says it’s “troubled” by unsafe practices in Canada’s air travel sector and called on the government to take action in order to prevent serious accidents.

“The slow pace of movement to address safety deficiencies in aviation compared to other modes of transportation is troubling,” the TSB said in its annual report, released Wednesday. “The board will continue to push hard for change.”

The independent safety watchdog listed four major areas of concern : crashes into land or water; collisions on runways; landing accidents; and the lack of safety management systems at small carriers.

In particular, the board drew attention to the fact that Transport Canada doesn’t require small carriers like commuter airlines, helicopter operators and flight training schools to have safety management systems in place.

Together, these smaller carriers are responsible for 94% of all commercial aviation accidents and 96% of all commercial aviation deaths, the TSB said.

“The board is concerned that, in the absence of [Transport Canada] requirements, the passengers and aircraft of these smaller operators are being placed at unnecessary risk,” according to the report.

The TSB added that Transport Canada has done little to encourage airports to prevent collisions on runways, of which there were 381 in 2013, and called for improved procedures and enhanced collision-warning systems.

The annual report also pointed out that Canada lags international standards when it comes to preventing landing accidents and runway overruns.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The TSB annual report comes one day after the board released its final report into the Lac-Mégantic derailment and explosion that killed 47 people last summer. It blamed many factors, but singled out Transport Canada for not forcing Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway to improve its safety record.

According to the TSB’s annual report, only 3 of 11, or 27%, of its rail safety recommendations have been addressed by Transport Canada in a “fully satisfactory” manner.

The board said it’s concerned that there is no requirement for on-board video and voice recorders on locomotives. It also said further safety measures should be implemented to ensure signals are consistently followed by train crews and to prevent passenger trains from colliding with vehicles.

In 2013, 1,067 rail accidents were reported to the TSB, up 4% from 2012. Accidents involving dangerous goods totaled 144, up from 119.

There were 275 aviation accidents in 2013, down 5% from a year earlier. The 57 fatalities was slightly higher than the 2012 total of 54.

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Runway 5K Set For Arrival: Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK), Wheeling, Illinois

The upcoming Run the Runway 5K aims to give local residents a unique view of Chicago Executive Airport.

“We thought it was a good way to get the community involved at the airport,” said Jamie Abbott, executive director for Chicago Executive, a facility jointly owned by the communities of Prospect Hts. and Wheeling. “The airport used to have open houses. This is a way to invite the community back to learn about the airport and what we do.”

The 5K run/walk will be held at airfield 16/34 starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30. All proceeds benefit the Chicago Area Business Aviation Association (CABAA) scholarship fund.

In addition to the 5K, there will be a mini open house with aircraft displays and food trucks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eight food trucks from Chicago area food vendors will make items available for purchase.

Runway 16/34 will be closed for the 5K from 6 to 11 a.m. “We will relocate planes before that time for the race,” said Vicki Mayr, executive secretary at the airport and event organizer.

Most flights coming into the airport are chartered or corporate planes along with individual owners.

The 5K will be held prior to the airfield’s closure starting in early September to install an Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS). EMAS is crushable concrete used to stop a plane from overrunning the runway.

Site work will be completed during the entire month of September with weekend closings.

“Construction crews will prepare the work, remove pavement and do infrastructure work,” Abbott said. “The actual installation will take place in early October and be wrapped up in mid-October.”

The material will be installed on the south end of the 16/34 runway by October and installation at the north end would most likely be completed next fall.

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