Monday, August 25, 2014

Devils Lake Regional Airport (KDVL) rebounds; Thief River Falls waits for flights

Air passenger traffic is taking off in Devils Lake, N.D., since SkyWest Airlines started providing daily round-trip flights to Denver this summer.

Meanwhile, officials in Thief River Falls, Minn., hope to resume commercial passenger flights to Minneapolis by October. The city has been without service since January.

Passenger boardings at Devils Lake Regional Airport totaled 491 in July, the first full month since SkyWest started service in June. That’s nearly 200 more than July 2013 and the highest number since 2011.

“It’s been going very well for us,” Airport Manager John Nord said. “The service has been very reliable, very dependable.”

SkyWest, in a partnership with United Airlines, is using 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jets for 11 round trips per week between Devils Lake and Denver.

Flights leave Devils Lake at 7 a.m. six days a week, with stops in Jamestown. Nonstop flights to Denver leave Devils Lake at about 2:30 p.m. five days per week.

“The 7 o’clock flight has been very popular,” Nord said. “It’s a nice, smooth ride.”

The nonstop flight takes about 90 minutes to reach Denver.

“We’ve been seeing people from out of our market area, from Grand Forks and Minot, who like the direct route to Denver,” Nord said.

SkyWest won a federal Essential Air Service subsidy contract this past spring to provide air service to Devils Lake and Jamestown after Great Lakes Aviation pulled out of Devils Lake, Jamestown, Thief River Falls and other cities in the region in January.

Jamestown Regional Airport had 652 boardings in July, the most in the past 10 years and more than twice the volume of July 2012 or 2013.

Including Devils Lake and Jamestown, the United/SkyWest flights are averaging 20 to 25 passengers, according to Nord.

Great Lakes won a new two-year contract to serve Thief River Falls. While the service was expected to resume in June, local officials say it likely will be back by October.

Great Lakes and other small, regional airlines have been hit by pilot shortages since summer 2013. That’s when new federal regulations took effect requiring first officers, also referred to as co-pilots, to log 1,500 flight hours, rather than the previous 250 hours, and pass the Air Transport Pilot exam before they can work for commercial airlines.

“There’s been a lot of factors,” Thief River Falls Airport Manager Joe Hedrick said. “Pilot shortage, retraining and recertification has been the overriding problem.”

Hedrick said Great Lakes secured a new operating certificate through the Federal Aviation Administration that allowed the airline to hire pilots with less than the new minimum standard. As a condition, the airline had to remove 10 seats out of its airplanes.

“They’re really thinking out of the box,” he said, adding that it has taken time for the airline to reconfigure its planes.

When service returns to Thief River Falls, Great Lakes is expected to make 12 round trips per week to Minneapolis, including two daily Monday through Friday, and round-trip flights on Saturdays and Sundays.

Thief River Falls Mayor Jim Dagg said the resumption of air service is vital to the economy of the city and all of northwest Minnesota.

“We’re very hopeful it’s going to return,” he said. “It sure put a real strain on us.”

Even with Great Lakes planning to resume service in October, Dagg said community leaders are looking at the airport’s long-term future.

In September, he said, the airport authority will begin drafting a plan designed to attract interest from other regional airlines.

“We want to see what’s out there, even if it’s not for this year, but maybe for next year or down the road,” Dagg said. “We’ve got to try to sell ourselves. You have to stay positive. We’ve got great things happening in northwest Minnesota.”

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Lavrov Says Unclear Why Kiev Not Releasing Air Traffic Recordings of Malaysia Airlines

MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has still not received a clear explanation of why Kiev has not presented the recordings between the air traffic controllers and the crew of the downed Malaysia Airlines passenger airplane, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

“There has been nothing clear in regard to the reasons of why the full presentation of recordings from the black boxes, or reasons of why the Ukrainian side with all of its airplanes that were flying along the same echelon over the region [have not been provided], and there’s nothing clear of the reasons for the inability to present this information,” Lavrov said during a briefing.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17 while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board, including 283 passengers and 15 crew members, died in the crash.

The reason of the crash is a matter of debate, as Ukrainian authorities claim the independence supporters of the eastern regions shot down the plane, but the latter say they do not possess the means to hit a target flying that high. The investigation of the circumstances of the crash is hindered by the fights between the warring sides.

The United States and a number of European leaders supported Kiev’s claim, while the Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that a Ukrainian fighter jet was detected near the Malaysian aircraft shortly before it crashed.

Earlier in August, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that a preliminary report on the black box findings from the MH17 crash is expected to be handed over to the United Nations in September. 

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Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, 9M-MRD

Profiteering from misconduct

The woman believed to be the passenger onboard of MH20 from Kuala Lumpur to Paris Charles De Gaulle on 4 August 2014 who made a complaint about “A Chief Steward attempted to rape her during flight”, is probably making financial demands to get her to shut up.

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Netizens criticize Laura Bushney over tell-all TV interview on sexual assault incident  

KUALA LUMPUR: Laura Bushney, the woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a Malaysia Airlines steward, received criticisms following her appearance on a television show in Australia.

In a recorded interview with Channel Seven's talk show Sunday Night, Bushney, 26 claimed the steward allegedly came and sat down next to her three hours into the flight and began assaulting her under the guise of comforting.

Netizens are still questioning her innocence based on the photos uploaded on her Instagram account.

“For everyone saying Laura Bushney is innocent! Take a look at her Instagram,” wrote @lfcstreamlinks.

Astro AWANI visited Bushney's Instagram account and discovered all her posts have been deleted.

Netizens were also curious as they questioned why Bushney didn’t do anything to stop the steward.

Some Netizens, however have expressed their sympathy for Bushney.

Bushney, who was traveling by herself has reportedly, recorded the incident on her iPhone hidden under a blanket on her lap. She claimed that the steward placed his hands under the blanket and then down her pants.

She was also reported to have recorded a face-to-face altercation with the steward after the incident.

The steward, a married man with three children, was detained by police when the plane touched down at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in the August 4, 2014 incident.

A source from MAS when contacted said that the airline will 'remain neutral' and  'can’t comment on the ongoing case."

Read more at:

Australian woman Laura Bushney claims mid-air sexual assault on Malaysia Airlines flight

 A senior Malaysia Airlines staff member accused of raping an Australian woman on a Paris-bound flight this month begged her not to report the alleged incident to the authorities because he had a wife and children.

Perth woman Laura Bushney recounted a horrifying tale of alleged abuse at the hands of chief steward Mohd Rosli Bin Ab Karim on flight MH20 from Kuala Lumpur to Paris on August 4.

She recorded part of the incident on her mobile phone in footage that was aired on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program.

The 26-year-old disability support worker told the program she was scared to travel on the airline following the disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17.

Mr Rosli offered to calm her nerves but instead Ms Bushney claimed he raped her as she tried to sleep in row 81.

She told the program the 54-year-old married father of three started massaging her legs, placing them over his lap so she could feel that he had an erection.

Frozen with fear, she said he put his hand inside her pants, touching her genitals.

"I just keep saying: 'Why didn't I scream, why didn't I shout? Why didn't I stop it? I am a strong person because I can do that, I know I can,'" Ms Bushney said.

"When I was in the moment, I couldn't. I felt so scared, so petrified."

A fellow passenger, French Canadian Sophie Lachance, told her to report the alleged assault but Ms Bushney said airline staff did not heed her request to keep Mr Rosli away from her.

He approached her later during the flight and apologised, saying he had only wanted to calm her down. In an exchange recorded on her phone, Ms Bushney responded: "You wanted to calm me down by putting your hand in my pants. You did. You put your hand inside my pants."

Ms Bushney was moved to first class where Mr Rosli approached her again, begging her not to take the matter further because he had a wife and children.

"If you've got a wife at home why would you do that? That's rape," she told him.

Mr Rosli was taken away for questioning by police when the flight landed in Paris and remains on remand in the French capital while the investigation continues.

Ms Bushney, who is still in France but is expected to return to Australia this week, was required to confront her alleged abuser as part of the legal process.

She remains "furious" at the way the complaint was handled by the airline, an official advising her not to proceed with the matter.

She further claims the airline has not contacted her with an apology or an offer of counseling since the alleged incident.

Malaysia Airlines released a brief statement in response to the allegations.

"Malaysia Airlines can confirm that following allegations by a passenger travelling on flight MH20 from Kuala Lumpur to Paris on 4th August 2014 of inappropriate sexual behavior by a member of the cabin crew, the member of staff in question has been detained for questioning by the French police.

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

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Democratic Republic of the Congo-South Kivu: Doren Air Congo Let L-410 disappears

The Let L-410 aircraft, owned by Doren Air Congo,  has been missing since Saturday, August 23, according to the commander of the airport Kavumu.

Doren Air Congo officials said that the aircraft took off from Kavumu 42 minutes to 13h (local time) to Kama in Pangi in Maniema province but until now nobody knows its whereabouts.

Four people, including the pilot and co-pilot and two passengers were on board.

The plane was carrying nearly 1,500 kgs of merchandise.

The plane made ​​a flight that normally takes an hour never arrived at its destination, according to Kavumu airport commander.

According to sources from the RVA (RVA), the control tower of the airport Kavumu had one last contact with that aircraft 10 minutes after take-off and everything seemed normal. Sometime later, there was no news of the plane.

The search began immediately after the silence between the aircraft and the control tower.

Sunday morning, the search continued in the area where the plane was supposed to fly.

The director of the RVA said airport has alerted the military, the police and all administrative authorities in that area.

For now, the commander of the airport said he would not talk about a plane crash.

This plane was carrying 4 people including the pilot and co-pilot and two passengers.

It was carrying nearly 1,500 kgs of goods consist mainly books according to sources from the airport.

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Taiwan's TransAsia Airways offers record compensation of $621k to victims of plane crash

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's TransAsia Airways said on Monday it had offered record compensation to the families of each passenger killed in a domestic flight even though the cause of the crash is still unclear.

The offer of TW$14.9 million (S$621,000) was made to representatives of the 48 victims attending talks at Magong on Penghu island. The victims' representatives did not accept the offer on the spot but agreed to give it further consideration, according to an airline statement.

"As the owner of the plane, we'd like to take responsibility for the deaths and injuries... even though the responsibility for the accident has yet to be clarified," said TransAsia Airways president Chooi Yee-chong. The airline said the compensation would be a record for Taiwan.

Flight GE222 carrying 54 passengers and four crew crashed last month near the airport in Penghu, a scenic island group in the Taiwan Strait. The crash into houses after an aborted landing - the island's worst air disaster in a decade - also left 10 injured, some of them badly. Two French nationals were among the dead.

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TransAsia Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-212A (500),  B-22810,  Flight GE-222

Air India pilot finds Rat On Dreamliner


Published on Aug 25, 2014 

In utter disregard for safety of passengers, Air India ordered its brand new Dreamliner infested with rats to continue its London-Delhi flight and said that the problem will be solved on arrival.

 TIMES NOW has accessed the secret communication between pilot of the Air India Dreamliner from London to Delhi where the pilot is alerting the control room of a rodent inside the cockpit and under the rudder pedal.

The airline tells the pilot to continue the flight and engineering will look at the issue on arrival.

Air India tightens personnel rules: 194 cabin crew and 11 pilots dismissed over past year for unauthorized absence

Government-owned and loss-making Air India (AI) has terminated from service 194 cabin crew and 11 pilots over the past year, primarily for unauthorized absence.

It now has 3,400 cabin crew, including 800 hired on contract. A senior executive said, “Improving the performance parameters is priority. It is important to instil a sense of discipline. The airline and its passengers should not suffer due to delays or absenteeism on the part of cockpit and cabin crew.”

Additionally, 11 pilots were removed. “There have been five-six instances where pilots resigned and moved on to work for another airline without serving the mandatory six months notice period. Earlier, charge-sheets were not issued against such employees and they often returned to the company. We have now taken strict action against these pilots,” added the executive.

Under the revised norms, pilots who do not serve the specified notice period or breach the bond liabilities will be terminated from service. If they wish to return, they would have to join at the bottom of the outlined seniority structure and bear the expense of re-training. The other pilots dismissed were proceeded against on testing positive for alcohol for a second time in pre-flight breath analyzer tests and for adversely impacting the operations. Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju has issued detailed guidelines for enforcing discipline at all levels. “Delay in flights due to late coming of cockpit and cabin crew is not acceptable and should be firmly dealt with,” he said in a note dated August 11.

The management says it is prepared to face any legal issues for dismissing permanent employees.

The drive against absenteeism was initiated after an internal audit last year found only 2,800 of the 3,500-odd cabin crew available for duty. Consequently rules were framed that any employee not reporting to duty for 15 days without an authorized reason was to be issued a notice. Salary would be stalled for unauthorized absenteeism of a month. Charge-sheets would be issued subsequently and an absence of six months would lead to termination of service.

“We have been making efforts to implement the flight duty time limitations (FDTL) notified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, but have been facing stiff resistance from certain sections of employees who are refusing to work longer hours. Employee unions are citing bilateral agreements with the management to block implementation,” said another senior executive.

According to the FDTL norms, pilots and cabin crew should work 35 hours a week or 125 hours a month, subject to a maximum of 1,000 hours a year. However, the average working hours of cabin crew belonging to the erstwhile (pre-merger) AI’s All India Cabin Crew Association, operating wide-body aircraft, stand at 57 hours a month. Cabin crew of the erstwhile Indian Airlines’ Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) work 68 hours a month. ACEU cabin crew largely work on flights operating in the domestic sector and to neighboring international destinations. Additionally, the cabin crew has been refusing to follow the new auto roster and has demanded restoration of the earlier bidding system. The second executive explained, “The earlier practice was that cabin crew used to bid for the routes they wished to fly on. To improve productivity, we have now put in place an auto roster which allocates routes to cabin crew 15 days before a scheduled flight. However, despite this, cabin crew are swapping routes, which is unacceptable.”

For instance, earlier this year, four air hostesses did not turn up for a flight scheduled from Delhi to Australia. One reached the airport two hours after the departure time and another said she would fly only to a nearby place such as Dubai. AI suspended the latter hostess; the scheduled flight to Australia was waiting. The airline subsequently issued a notice, warning cabin crew that if they did not reach airports on time, penal action would be taken.

Two AI unions seek CBI probe

According to a PTI report, two Air India unions have sought a CBI probe into the state-run carrier’s losses and bringing those responsible to book. In a letter to the Prime Minister last week, two Air India unions — All India Service Engineering Association and Air India Employees’ Union — have also alleged ‘trampling’ of employees’ rights by a ‘dictatorial’ management in the name of the Turnaround Plan.

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Airbus Tests Jet's Ability to Fly Farther From Emergency Landing Sites: Widebody A350 Would Be Able to Take More Direct Flight Routes

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor and Robert Wall
Aug. 24, 2014 7:36 p.m. ET

Airbus Group NV intends to ramp up flight tests this week to demonstrate that its newest jet model eventually should be allowed to fly routes taking it as many as seven hours from an emergency landing strip.

Slated to be delivered to lead customer Qatar Airways Ltd. by the end of the year, the A350 would have unprecedented regulatory leeway compared with other twin-engine jets on ultralong polar or over-water routes.

If European regulators grant approval in coming years, the widebody jets would be able to take more direct routes to slash flight times, save fuel and give Airbus a potential marketing advantage connecting a limited number of destinations.

Industry officials said Airbus would win bragging rights for the A350 to fly virtually any nonstop route in the world without having to make adjustments to stay closer to potential diversion airports.

More broadly, the issue also highlights the remarkable reliability of the latest generation of engines, along with electrical, fuel and fire-suppression systems. Many U.S. commercial pilots can fly for an entire career without ever having to shut down a damaged or malfunctioning engine.

"Engine failure long ago stopped being a common cause of major airline accidents," said industry consultant Bob Matthews, a former senior safety analyst in the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Accident Investigations. "The latest safety issues aren't substantially greater than the thresholds we've already passed."

By some measures, according to Mr. Matthews, U.S. carriers on average experience one extreme jet-engine failure every 16 million flights. Some engine-plane combinations currently avoid in-flight engine shutdowns for years. As recently as the 1990s, the FAA's safety yardstick focused on one engine shutdown per 100,000 flight hours.

Rival Boeing Co. and some airlines currently have approval to fly certain Boeing aircraft as far as 5 1/2 hours from the nearest suitable airport in case of an emergency. When plans for the A350 were unveiled, Boeing said it didn't intend to match Airbus's goal.

On its A330-300 widebody, Airbus already has approval to fly as far as four hours from the nearest airport under so called Extended-range Twin Operations, or ETOPS, rules.

"This is the first time we are targeting such an aggressive ETOPS certification," said Fernando Alonso, senior vice president for flight testing at Airbus. Airbus initially needs to persuade European regulators the A350 can safely fly seven hours using a single engine and that other safety equipment, such as fire-suppression devices, also can last that long.

Later, the FAA will be asked to give its stamp of approval.

A seven-hour diversion amounts to a trans-Atlantic trip from New York to London on a single engine. When the A350 goes into service, Airbus expects to have approval for diversions of more than three hours.

To combat fire, one batch of extinguishers is designed to put out the flames. A second group would release chemicals in a controlled way to assure the fire doesn't rekindle.

Before extended twin-engine routes became widespread, many pilots and leaders of pilots' unions were skeptical. Regulators moved slowly to expand from 120 minutes to 180 minutes to 207 minutes the maximum flight time from the nearest strip. Four-engine jets such as Boeing's jumbo 747s, along with Airbus A340s and double-decker A380s, operate under different rules.

In the beginning, "Boeing had to handle the perceptions," according to Bill Yantiss, a senior official at a unit of consultant Argus International Inc. who previously was the top safety official at United Airlines. But today, he added, "technology to look into that airplane" from the ground "and anticipate future failures is pretty phenomenal."

Some of the new, nonstop routes that would be open to twin-engine jets include trips from Australia to Brazil or New Zealand to South Africa.

At this point, Mr. Yantiss said, "it's partly a case of one-upsmanship." The residual risk, he added, is relatively small because "we're clearly building on a history of success."

Sometimes, though, it isn't cutting-edge technology that can make a difference. Under some circumstances, he said, malfunctioning lavatories "can be a limiting factor" when captains consider diverting.

Mr. Alonso said an initial validation flight has already taken place, with an A350 test plane flying seven hours on one engine. Airbus plans to complete at least four more such flights. Regulators also will scrutinize reliability data of all the plane's systems, gathered during previous flight tests that spanned 14 months and 2,500 hours in the air. The earlier tests didn't focus on extended one-engine operations.

During the coming tests, Airbus will land the A350 in the Azores in the mid-Atlantic, more than two hours' flight time from Portugal, and on Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa. Both are common diversion airports for trans-Atlantic travel.

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