Saturday, September 6, 2014

Man injured in fight over model airplanes - Benton, Saline County, Arkansas

Photo by Saline County sheriff's office
 Robert Runyan, 69.

A Benton man was arrested Thursday morning after he was involved in a fight at the old Saline County Airport, officials say. 

At about 10:24 a.m., Benton police officers were dispatched to the former airport on Airlane Drive for a disturbance.

Robert Runyan, 69, of Traskwood and James Dougherty, 65, of Benton were flying model airplanes at the old airport when they got into an argument about their model airplane club, Benton Police Department Lt. Kevin Russell said.

The two men were arguing when it turned into a physical altercation, he said.

Witnesses told police that Dougherty said he was going to get a gun from his vehicle, when Runyan grabbed him from behind.

Dougherty fell on the ground and twisted his leg while the two were fighting, Russell said.

Witnesses also said Runyan choked Dougherty during the fight.

Dougherty was transported to Saline Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and cited for disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening. 

Runyan was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, carrying a prohibited weapon and aggravated assault, Russell said.

A butterfly-style knife was found in Runyan’s possession, Russell said.

“It’s not illegal to have one of these knives, but it’s illegal under state law to have them on your person,” he said.

Runyan was not listed on the Saline County sheriff’s office online inmate roster as of Friday afternoon.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Benton Police Department at (501) 778-1171 or (501) 315-TIPS.

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Annual auto/aircraft show returns today at Vail Valley Jet Center - Eagle County Regional Airport (KEGE), Colorado

Anthony Thornton |Vail
Buck Roetman and Gary Rower fly their planes together on Friday during a practice run for the Wings and Wheels show happening today in Gypsum.

EAGLE COUNTY — If you’re lucky or have the very good sense to be at the Eagle County Airport Saturday, you’ll see a couple biplanes belching smoke and looking like they’re falling.

They’re not. OK, they are falling, but they’re supposed to. Do not call 911.

That’s Buck Roetman of Wild Horse Aviation and Gary Rower of Rower Airshows performing for Saturday’s Wheels and Wings show in the Vail Valley Jet Center at the Eagle County Regional Airport.

They flip a switch and special smoke oil falls on the hot exhaust manifold, which creates a smoke trail. It’s the best and highest use of petroleum products in human history – both literally and metaphorically. They do stuff that defy the laws of physics and gravity, and makes every kid in the place holler, “Oh yeah! I wanna do that!” as their mothers roll their eyes and their fathers agree with the kids.

Saturday is the Wheels & Wings show at the Vail Valley Jet Center. Sunday is the Vail Automotive Classic in Vail Village, events that celebrate The Great American Symphony that is the well-tuned V-8 engine. It features more than 250 cars, 100 motorcycles, and 50 aircraft.

Flying with Fardie

Vail Valley local Ken Fardie flies a 1956 North American Trojan AT-28. His was a South Vietnamese fighter plane during that war, and has a few panels riveted to the fuselage to cover the bullet holes.

The AT-28 carries two 50 caliber machine guns, seven rockets on each wing, and a couple wing-mounted bombs. The plane did much of the damage along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They’d fly at night looking for truck lights. When they spotted a truck, it was lights out.

When we were flying Friday afternoon, Fardie politely declined to let me to strafe a Toyota Prius, although the machine guns do everything machine guns are supposed to do. We also didn’t get to drop water balloons on the Vail Daily building because, well … I didn’t think of bringing any until we were buzzing the rooftop. He did, however, fly us by the spot where Capt. Craig Button corkscrewed his A-10 into the side of the New York range.

During the Vietnam war, the AT-28 was frequently flown at treetop level, and when the pilot used the airbrake the fuselage would get sticks and leaves in it, along with bullet holes.

It generates 1,425 horsepower, flies 400 mph and will reach an altitude of 38,000 feet. It has tail hooks so it can land on aircraft carriers.

Fardie bought his AT-28 six years ago from a guy in Rockford, Ill., and just spent $50,000 for a new motor. That’s just the motor. It cost about $30,000 more to get it installed.

“It was worth it,” he said smiling.

He named it Sherry Berry because that’s what his wife’s father used to call her.

“Few people know that below 10,000 feet the Trojan will out climb and out turn a P51 Mustang, though the P51 people don’t like to admit it,” he said.

He’s also the proud owner of a Spitfire, not the sports car, the Royal Air Force World War II fighter plane.

Fardie does most of his own work. He’s a retired nuclear engineer who built nuclear surface ships, and later ran his own business restoring antique Jaguars.

Saturday’s Wheels and Wings show, and Sunday’s Vail Village car show is full of people like Fardie and Rower and Roetman, and the machines they love.

If You Go

What: Wheels and Wings/Vail Automotive Classic

When: Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Vail Valley Jet Center, Eagle County Regional Airport. Saturday’s classic auto auction, 3:30-6 p.m. Sunday, Vail Automotive Classic, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Vail Village.

Where: The Vail Valley Jet Center is inside the Eagle County Regional Airport. If you’re coming from the east, get off in Eagle and head toward the airport.

Cost: Saturday’s Wheels & Wings, $20, $5 for children. Discount tickets available online. Sunday free in Vail Village

Information: This is the fifth year for Wheels and Wings. Go to

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University of Louisiana at Monroe Aviation Student Sets Lofty Goals For the Future

(Terrance Armstard/ULM Photo Services, University of Louisiana at Monroe) 

Press Release -- Heidi Higginbotham, a senior University of Louisiana at Monroe aviation major, has wanted to be a pilot for as long as she could remember. Throughout her life—and her time at ULM—Higginbotham has stood out in the aviation community.

Her professors have noted her amazing persistence and perseverance, both of which are evident when she tells her story.

“My fascination and passion with all aspects of aircraft and the aviation industry started when I was about eight years old,” she said. “At the age of 14, I took a discovery flight in Guatemala. [That was] when I decided there was nothing I would rather do than fly. I can proudly say that after saving money since I was 14 years old, I paid for my private pilot’s license on my own and obtained that certificate on July 15, 2012.”

Higginbotham was recently a recipient of the 2014 International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation Scholarship worth $10,000.

“Scholarships in aviation have always been hard to come by and limited,” said David King, program coordinator for ULM aviation. “Qualifying for and receiving a scholarship of this amount is very special indeed. Persistence definitely pays off. Heidi is one of our most stellar aviation students.”

King went on to acknowledge Higginbotham’s ability to balance school and her work as a pilot. She is currently using her talents to help those in need.

“I work as a special events coordinator for Pilots for Patients, a non-profit 501(c) 3 that transports medically stable patients to their treatments at no cost to the patient, and I am also one of their volunteer pilots. I have flown over 10 missions for Pilots for Patients to help others because it keeps me flying at a reduced price and also reminds me that the struggles I have in life are a mere nothing compared to the patients who are fighting for their lives.”

Higginbotham’s ultimate goal is to get students more interested in aviation. She spends time on “discovery flights,” which give hopeful aviation students an inside look into her world.

 “I just love to get other people excited about aviation and share my love and passion for flying with them. I enjoy stimulating aviation and helping those in need, as I see no better way to build my hours,” she said.

Higginbotham is in the process of completing her commercial pilot’s license at Flightline Air Service in Pineville.  She plans to become a flight instructor and to obtain her certified flight instructor designations before graduating in May.

“I cannot wait to inspire new pilots as my flight instructor has for me, and share my passion for aviation with them as their instructor,” she said.

“After I graduate with my bachelor’s degree, I plan on obtaining my Master’s in Business Administration at ULM. My educational goal is to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and get my Ph.D. in Aviation. I know that this is a lot of education that is costly, but I believe a good student, worker, and pilot is always learning. I have so much passion for teaching others about aviation that I can see myself opening my own flight school. I truly believe that this is my goal and in time I will accomplish it.”

For more information about ULM Aviation, visit

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Northeast State Community College will offer 2-year aviation program

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — Those interested in a career in aviation may want to take a look at a new two-year program that started this fall at Northeast State Community College.

The program, which will offer additional classes come spring 2015, came about through the Northeast Tennessee Aviation Education Initiative. Hank Somers, a co-founder of the initiative, presented detailed information about the program to the Tri-Cities Airport Authority this week.

Somers along with co-founders state Rep. Tony Shipley and Richard Blevins of Bell Helicopter began the planning process for the initiative last July. In the beginning of talks for the initiative, Blevins said Bell Helicopter couldn’t find enough trained people from the Tri-Cities area to employ and the problem needed to be fixed, according to Somers.

“What we’re interested in rather than those students finding jobs somewhere else, we want to attract aviation-related industries,” he said. “We want to provide jobs for graduates right here and we want to have economic impact.”

The founders decided that the aviation curriculum would fill the needs for craftsmen and promote aviation.

“We realized for this to be successful, you don’t just put a curriculum in place and put a pamphlet out and tell the kids, ‘Come on over. We’ve got something for you to do,’” Somers said. “What we want to do is get back in the high schools and start talking to kids to have a passion for aviation. This would be a feeder of the pipeline into aviation curriculum. Also, if we’re going to do that we need to promote aviation and so we have in mind another group that would promote aviation, especially to kids, to create a passion.”

Blevins suggested that a helicopter simulator could be taken to schools as part of the promotion.

“We want to work with Clay Walker and Networks to help promote Tri-Cities Airport and also aviation,” he said. “We have in mind region aviation jobs here, region aviation impact.”

He noted that graduates of the program don’t have to use their learned skills in aviation; the skills can also be used in auto repair, the building trade, electrical work and sheet metal work.

Somers believes that the program is an opportunity for students who work with their hands to “make a good living for their families in high technology if we can all pull together and put the support mechanisms in place.”

Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable believes the initiative is outstanding.

“It’s started off on the right foot and can’t be anything but good,” he said.

The mission of the initiative is to promote work force development by fostering the advancement of aviation-related skills. The vision for the initiative is for Northeast Tennessee to become a national leader for aviation high technology with a highly trained work force and an emphasis on craftsmanship.

Somers and the co-founders hope a four-year program will be offered at East Tennessee State University in the future, but that part of the plan is not being worked on yet, he said. ETSU is currently part of the steering team for the initiative.

Other goals for the future include a Northeast State flight school targeted for 2016 and the promotion of aviation to K-12 students with presentations at schools in Bristol, Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee, Unicoi, Johnson and Carter counties.

“We think this is a very exciting opportunity for aviation education and economic development,” Somers said. “We think this is really exciting for the airport. If we can all pull together, I think there’s some aviation support here that can help us all to help develop this airport, which is such a wonderful facility.”

He mentioned that the close proximity of Northeast State to the airport is also a plus.

Tri-Cities Airport Director Patrick Wilson said he believes the initiative meets the need Bell Helicopter has expressed “of providing more formalized training programs to supply its work force needs.”

“If in any way that initiative can make use of the airport facilities, whether it be pilot training or anything related to that is part of our goal,” he said. “… It plays in so well with our aviation park, which is designed for aerospace industry to move into. One of the most important things those industries look for is a trained and available work force so the aviation initiative really meets one of the primary selection criteria that an aerospace company would be looking at to attract them to our aviation park area on the airport.”

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Kansas City Radio Control Association Warbird Fly-in at Charles Reed Flying Field

Kansas City Radio Control Association is holding their annual Warbird Fly-in Sept. 6 at the Charles Reed Memorial Flying Field at Fleming Park. Registration is at 8 a.m., with flying from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Warbird Fly-in is for airplanes that are scale models of military warbirds from all eras, beginning with World War I and continuing through to today. There will also be biplanes from W.W.I and early World War II, as well as scale jets from the Korea and Vietnam wars. They also make room for "military looking" airplanes, they may not be scale, but they are painted and decorated to resemble military airplanes.

During the noon lunch break, all flying is stopped and the pilots line their planes up on the large paved runway for a "meet and greet" with the public. Spectators can ask questions and take pictures. A raffle will also be held for a Horizon F4U-1A Corsair 44-inch Wingspan. Tickets are $1 or 6 for $5. There will also be concessions from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., which includes hot dogs, polish sausages, snacks and soft drinks.

The is a sanction AMA event and your AMA card is required. The Landing Fee is $15 and includes dinner at Day’s End ($7.50 for additional dinners).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hershey Flying Service: Aviation company eyeing David City location

Jared Storm of Wahoo, owner of Hershey Flying Service, speaks during the Aug. 27 David City Council meeting about his plan to add an ag aviation repair facility at David City Municipal Airport. 

DAVID CITY — It wasn’t the first time Hershey Flying Service was a major topic of discussion at a David City Council meeting, and there have been several mentions in the past few months.

But the discussion had never gone into as much detail as it did at the Aug. 27 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Company owner Jared Storm, who also operates aerial ag spraying services out of Wahoo, detailed his plans to add an aviation repair service at David City Municipal Airport. The 22,000-square-foot building would be just south of the airport entrance off Nebraska 15. Initial staffing calls for up to 10 employees.

“This is an economic boost for David City. We specialize in ag aircraft. We need to come into a community like David City that is willing to help us with some infrastructure needs, because that is going to be a $1.2 million building,” Storm said.

Hershey Flying Service has been located near Hershey, 20 miles west of North Platte, since 1949. Storm bought the company in 2011. The company specializes in the Grumman Ag Cat, an ag aerial spray plane that got its start in the 1950s. Storm’s long-range goal is to build the plane in David City, he said, but until then he said the company would continue to be involved in building ag plane parts and doing repairs.

“I’m moving back here for a lot of reasons, but one of them is to hire more people that can develop this business,” Storm said. “You’ve got Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, you have Omaha and Columbus. You have a pretty good pool of people in this area that would bode well for an aircraft manufacturing facility,” he said.

David City Mayor Alan Zavodny acknowledged that Storm's project had been part of discussions over the past three years. He said the most recent details involved moving the facility closer to the west side of the city’s airport property to reduce the cost of installing water lines. At that location, a taxiway would be needed to run parallel to the airport’s driveway entrance. One of the hangars now lining the west side of the airport would be removed.

Storm said he’d like to finalize a land lease agreement the city this month, and, at the earliest, builders could be on the site this fall. He said he would like to move company operations to David City by next summer, but there are still a list of details to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and Nebraska Department of Aeronautics.

Storm said the airport is operating far below its potential for economic impact to the city.

“This would be the beginning of trying to develop your airport,” he said, explaining that his company is an approved ag plane repair facility.

“If we have an aircraft repair station here you are going to have a lot more traffic through this airport,” Storm said. “I don’t know of another solely ag aviation facility in the country that’s a repair station.”

The key, he said, is to get other aviation entities to bring their facilities to the airport.

“To develop a new airport you want people who are going to put their own money into developing the airport. If you have to pay for all the buildings that go in out here, you are never going to have the money to do it,” Storm said.

Along those development lines, the city council also heard from Eric Johnson of Kirkham Michael, which is working on the airport development plan for the city.

Johnson explained that the city has $600,000 in FAA funds that are on a limited timeline for developing hangars and other facilities. Johnson detailed the first possible project, a six-plane hangar that would be built west of the current small hangars.

If the funds are not used for development within four years, the money must be returned or assigned to another airport in Nebraska.


Barrows Super Bearhawk, C-FBCA: Accident occurred September 04, 2014 in Sault St. Marie, Michigan

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: 

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Docket And Docket Items:

National Transportation Safety Board  - Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: CEN14LA492 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 04, 2014 in Sault Ste Marie, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/10/2015
Aircraft: CAMPBELL SUPER BEARHAWK, registration: CFBCA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he was attempting to land the airplane on a lake and that he misjudged the height of the airplane above the water, which he described as “glassy.” During the touchdown, the left float “dug in,” and the airplane subsequently nosed over. It is likely that the glassy water conditions adversely affected the pilot’s depth perception, which led to his subsequent failure to judge the height above the water.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s inadequate flare during landing on water with a glassy condition, which resulted in the airplane nosing over. 

On September 4, 2014, about 1230 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Campbell Super Bearhawk, CFBCA, nosed over during landing on Lake George near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. The recreational pilot was uninjured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wing. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was not operating on a flight plan. The flight departed from the Ste Marie River at 1145, and was destined for Lake George near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.

The pilot reported that he was attempting a landing on Lake George when he misjudged the height of the airplane above the water, which he described as glassy. During the touchdown, the left float "dug in" and the airplane nosed over.

  NTSB Identification: CEN14LA492  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 04, 2014 in Sault St. Marie, MI
Aircraft: CAMPBELL Super Bearhawk, registration: CFBCA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 September 8, 2014, at 1424 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Campbell Super Bearhawk, CFBCA, nosed over during landing on a river near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The pilot was uninjured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight.


Flight Standards District Office: FAA Grand Rapids FSDO-09


A small plane went down in St. Mary’s River near Sugar Island Thursday afternoon. OPP were dispatched to Bell’s point campground , U.S. Coast Guard and RCMP Marine assisted in the investigation. 

Mike Miceli, a near by boater witnessed the crash of a small float plane. “We saw it coming in and then flipping over, my chum and I got in the boat went over to get him, he was already sitting on the pontoon the plane was completely flipped over”

The pilot was not injured in the incident. The male pilot did not want to comment to media. He was driven away in an SUV shortly after coming to shore and talking to OPP at the scene.

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Air India to transfer 70 B777 pilots to low-cost arm

Air India (AI) has decided to transfer 70 Boeing 777 pilots to its low-cost international arm — the AI Express.

The move will help the national carrier overcome the severe shortage of pilots faced by AI Express and at the same time put to optimal use B777 pilots whose flying had been reduced to a great extent with AI selling five of its B777 aircraft to Etihad. AI has plans to lease or sell another three B777 aircraft, which is a long haul aircraft.

“AI Express has a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft and conversion from B777 to the narrow body B737 can be done easily. With this single move, we will solve two big problems,” a senior AI official, who did not wish to be named, said. The proposal, sources said, has been cleared by the airline’s board.

“Except for the ultra long-haul flights to the US, we are using the B787 Dreamliner on most international routes. All international flights are operated using the Dreamliner,” said another official, who too did not wish to be quoted. “AI Express had been facing a shortage of pilots while competition from foreign and domestic airlines for traffic to Gulf had been increasing. With more pilots, pressure should ease a bit,” the official added.

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Oshkosh makes more room for aviation businesses

OSHKOSH – Oshkosh’s Aviation Business Park is taking flight. 

 The city of Oshkosh and Winnebago County held a groundbreaking Thursday for the $4.5 million project.

The 82 acre park is meant to create and expand businesses and provide jobs related to aviation.

Elizabeth Harman, CEO of Chamco, said, “it can take a long time to develop and fill a park of this nature. But we believe with the great assets we have in this community including the presence of EAA and the great facility here at Wittman Regional Airport, that we have a lot of great assets that will be attractive to businesses in aviation and aerospace.”

They are hoping the infrastructure for the park will be done by the end of 2015.

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Feds give Oshkosh region another $1m for job development

The Department of Defense has awarded the Oshkosh region an additional $1 million to expand efforts to diversify the local economy in the wake of steep Oshkosh Corp. layoffs.

The award will allow the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to expand the scope of an industry diversification study and other planning efforts underway since last fall. A year ago, the DOD awarded the region $837,000 to map the defense industry's supply chain, invest in aviation and aerospace industry marketing and development projects, and to help affected suppliers find new streams of business.

The city of Oshkosh, Winnebago County and their state and regional development partners took a concrete step forward on diversification efforts Thursday when they officially broke ground on an 82-acre aviation business park under development at the southeast end of Wittman Regional Airport.

Oshkosh Community Development Director Allen Davis said some of the new grant money will help support development of the airport business park, a business accelerator under development by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the aviation business park's marketing study.

"On the aviation/aerospace side, we've added both Outagamie and Fond du Lac county airports to the marketing analysis to determine what segments of the industry each airport can work to attract independently and what we can work to attract together," Davis said. "This is something DOD stresses: Their history tells them a regional approach is best in dealing with these sorts of projects. They came with the mindset that this needed to be a regional response."

He said the additional funding will also allow the city hire a firm to develop covenants and manuals for the aviation business park.

"It should make it easier for prospects to develop in the business park," he said. "The aviation industry has its own set of requirements that we want to make sure we accommodate in the new park."

The Oshkosh area popped up on the Department of Defense's radar last year after Oshkosh Corp. laid off more than 1,200 workers, or more than 1 percent of the city's work force, in less than a year. The company said the cuts were necessary as a result of the wind down of major production contracts for military vehicles.

Davis said he doesn't take the supplemental grant as a warning that further layoffs could come to Oshkosh Corp. soon.

"I don't see the grant as a sign of a weak defense industry, I see it as the Department of Defense liking these projects and feeling they will benefit laid off Oshkosh Corp. workers directly," he said.

Oshkosh Corp. spokesman John Daggett said the company does not plan to lay off additional workers.

"At this point in time, we've adjusted our workforce, but we are a market-driven company. Our employment will be dictated by the markets and by the federal government spending," Daggett said.

The supplemental grant will also help the regional planning commission undertake steps to create a more collaboration among regional economic development entities and help defense industry supply chain companies re-engage other industry sectors to soften the blow of declining defense business, according to a commission press release.

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Sen. Schumer calls on FAA to reclassify Williamson-Sodus Airport (KSDC), New York

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer requested that the Federal Aviation Administration reclassify the Williamson-Sodus Airport as a local airport in its upcoming National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems report set to be released this fall.

The airport is currently “unclassified,” cutting it off from the automatic annual allotment of $150,000 it had been receiving from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, which provides funding to airports for planning and development projects.

According to Schumer, in 2012 the FAA divided general aviation airports into four categories: national, regional, local and basic, but nearly 500 airports were left unclassified, making them ineligible for FAA AIP funding.

A follow-up report reclassified more than 200 airports, but still left the Wayne County airport unclassified.

For more information, visit

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McMurray Searey, N8768B, Sierra Bravo Aircraft Inc: Fatal accident occurred September 04, 2014 in Webb, New York

Schiele "Bill" Brewer standing next to one of his planes. Brewer, 77, died Thursday in a plane crash in Herkimer County.

Sierra Bravo Aircraft Inc: 

NTSB Identification: ERA14LA423
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 04, 2014 in Webb, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/29/2016
Aircraft: MCMURRAY DAVID C SEAREY, registration: N8768B
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot had purchased the experimental, amateur-built amphibious airplane about 6 months before the accident and was practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings on a reservoir. A witness reported observing the airplane departing from the water and flying overhead before losing sight of it behind trees. She added that the airplane then sounded as if it was approaching for another landing when she heard a series of engine “sputters and roars,” followed by silence. The airplane was subsequently located nose down submerged in water. The pilot was in the interior of the empennage, and he had drowned. Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. 

Autopsy findings indicated that the pilot likely had longstanding hypertension and significant coronary artery disease, and toxicology testing detected enalapril, a blood pressure medication, in his urine; however, it is unlikely that his medical conditions or the medication he was taking to treat them contributed to the accident. Further, the pilot was able to attempt to extricate himself from the wreckage, which indicated that he was alive and at least somewhat functional after the crash. This eliminates the possibility that sudden cardiac death or unconsciousness caused the loss of control. Although lesser cardiac symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath might be distracting, there is no evidence that such symptoms occurred. Given the evidence, it is likely that the pilot lost control of the amphibious airplane while practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings, which resulted in its impact with water.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the amphibious airplane while practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings on a reservoir.

On September 4, 2014, about 1105 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built amphibious McMurray Searey seaplane, N8768B, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged while landing on the Stillwater Reservoir, Webb, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that originated at the Boonville Airport, Boonville, New York. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was purchased by the pilot through a corporation on March 3, 2014. The airplane was equipped with a Rotax 912 ULS, 100-horsepower engine and originally issued an airworthiness certificate on July 1, 1997.

According to information obtained from an FAA inspector, the pilot was practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings on the reservoir. A witness observed the airplane departing from the water and flying overhead before losing sight of it behind trees. The witness stated that the airplane sounded as if it was approaching for another landing and she heard a series of engine "sputters and roars" followed by silence; however, she did not associate the sounds with an airplane accident. The airplane was subsequently located nose down, submerged in the water, with the pilot, located in the interior of the empennage. The canopy was completely fractured and the airframe around the forward portion of the canopy was substantially damaged.

Examination of the airframe and engine, which included confirming flight control continuity to all control surfaces, and a successful postaccident engine operational test run by an FAA inspector, did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions, which would have precluded normal operation. The airplane was equipped with lap belts, and was not equipped with shoulder harnesses.

The pilot, age 77, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, single-engine sea, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, and instrument airplane. The pilot reported 3,100 hours of total flight experience, with 48 hours flown during the previous 6 months on his most recent application for an FAA second class medical certificate, which was dated July 3, 2014. The pilot's logbook was damaged due to water immersion; however, examination of the logbook by an FAA inspector determined that he had accumulated approximately 11 hours in the airplane since it was purchased.

The airframe logbooks were not recovered and the airplane's last condition inspection could not be verified; however, it was noted that the airplane had been issued a new FAA Airworthiness Certificate on August 5, 2013, which would have required a condition inspection. Review of maintenance information provided by the pilot's family indicated that at the time of the accident, the airplane had been operated for about 300 total hours. In addition, the last engine maintenance was an oil and filter, and air filter change, which were performed on November 20, 2013, about 65 hours prior to the accident.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Herkimer County Coroner's Office, District No. 1, Old Forge, New York. According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was warm water drowning and the manner of death was accident. The heart weighed 450 grams. The left ventricle was described as normal sized but hypertrophied. The left ventricle measured 2.0 centimeters (cm) thick and the right ventricle measured 0.6 cm thick. In addition, coronary artery disease was identified with 60 percent stenosis in both the left main and left anterior descending arteries and 20 percent stenosis in the right and circumflex coronary arteries. However, the heart muscle was free of scar or other focal findings.

Toxicological testing performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, identified enalapril in urine, but not in blood. No other tested-for substances were identified. The pilot reported a diagnosis of hypertension with the use of omeprazole and enalapril during his most recent FAA medical examination.

A weather observation taken at an airport that was located about 50 miles south-southwest of the accident site, at 1053, reported winds from 140 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear skies; temperature 23 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 18 degrees C; altimeter 30.15 inches of mercury.

NTSB Identification: ERA14LA423 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 04, 2014 in Webb, NY
Aircraft: MCMURRAY DAVID C SEAREY, registration: N8768B
Injuries: 1 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 September 4, 2014, about 1105 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built amphibious Searey, N8768B, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged while landing on the Stillwater Reservoir, Webb, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that originated at the Boonville Airport, Boonville, New York. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was purchased by the pilot through a corporation on March 3, 2014. The airplane was equipped with a Rotax 912 ULS, 100-horsepower engine and originally issued an airworthiness certificate on July 1, 1997.

According to initial information obtained from an FAA inspector, the pilot was practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings on the reservoir. A witness observed the airplane departing from the water and flying overhead before losing sight of it behind trees. The witness stated that the airplane sounded as if it was approaching for another landing and she heard a series of engine "sputters and roars" followed by silence; however, she did not associate the sounds with an airplane accident. The airplane was subsequently located submerged in the water. The canopy was completely fractured and the airframe around the forward portion of the canopy was substantially damaged.

Initial examination of the airframe and engine by an FAA inspector did not reveal evidence of any obvious catastrophic failures. The wreckage was retained for further examination to be performed at a later date.

The pilot reported 3,100 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA second class medical certificate, which was dated July 3, 2014.


Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Albany FSDO-01

Any witnesses should email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Schiele "Bill" Brewer 

Obituary of Schiele Brewer 

Schiele "Bill" Brewer

Sherrill-Schiele "Bill" Brewer, 77 of 1005 Sherrill Road, Sherrill passed away Thursday September 4, 2014 in a tragic airplane accident.

Born in New Rochelle, NY on July 25th 1937, he was the son of James Edward and Catherine Schiele Brewer.

Dr. Brewer was a class of 1955 graduate of St Frances DeSalles High School in Utica. He attended the University of Notre Dame from which he graduated in 1958.

He completed his medical training in 1961 at Upstate Medical School in Syracuse.

Upon his graduation from medical school he was commissioned with the Air Force as a flight surgeon and performed active duty from 1962-1964.

He then returned to Upstate Medical Center in 1965 to complete his residency in Ophthalmology.

In 1968 Dr. Brewer started his medical practice in both Oneida and Rome continuing to help people preserve their vision for 30 years. In addition to his private practice he also served as a faculty member training new ophthalmology residents at the VA Hospital in Syracuse.

Dr. Brewer also served with the Air Force Reserves for over 20 years, retiring as a Colonel in 2000.

On June 18, 1960 he married Heleene Volk. The couple remained happily married for 54 years creating a family with seven children.

Bill's volunteer activities and clubs included the Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Quiet Birdmen and Madison County Medical Society. He served as a Sherrill City Commissioner from 2002 to 2011.

Bill's passions included a deep appreciation for the outdoors and a love of flying. He took his young family to the Adirondacks and soon bought a camp in Beaver River. Summers were spent in the woods and on the waters of the Stillwater Reservoir where Bill found peace and adventure in outdoor projects and pursuits. The Adirondacks always remained a haven for him, his wife and children.

The clear blue sky was a constant draw to Bill Brewer. His interest in airplanes began as a young boy. He soloed when he was 16 and maintained his pilot credentials throughout his life. He considered any time spent in the air with friends and family as preferable to being bound to the ground. He was a Certified Flight Instructor who frequently introduced young pilots to the thrill of flying and infrequently charged them for the service. He combined his medical skills and flying interests by providing area pilots with annual flight physicals. He lived each day with energy and optimism looking at the gift of 24 hours as something that should be spent learning, working and enjoying family, friends and the opportunities provided by a vigorous life.

He is survived by his wife Heleene, his seven children Christine (Roy) Regner, William (Leah), Edward (JoDean), Paul (Una), Mark (Pam), Ken (Kris), Anne (Pete Evans), and 16 grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother James (Joanna) and sister Kate (Gordon) Greer.

Friends may call on Sunday September 7th from 3:00-7:00pm. at the Malecki Funeral Home Inc. 464 Sherrill Rd., Sherrill.

Funeral services will be held Monday September 8th at 3pm at St. Helena's Catholic Church, Primo Ave. , Sherrill. A reception for friends and family will be held at the Brewer home, 1005 Sherrill Road, following the service.

In lieu of flowers donations can be directed to the VVS Educational Foundation or the Lions Club.

- See more at:

SHERRILL, N.Y. -- Compared to his decades of serving in the Air Force, Thursday's routine flight practice was supposed to be nothing for Schiele Brewer. 

The 77-year-old, who went by Bill, recently retired as an attending physician at the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center, his daughter Christine Regner said. Before that, the ophthalmologist held a private practice in Oneida and Rome for more than 30 years. He retired in 1998.

When he wasn't caring for patients, he was in the sky.

Brewer was in his 1997 Searey single-engine plane practicing touch-and-go water landings Thursday on the Stillwater Reservoir when his plane crashed. State Forest Rangers and the Lewis County sheriff's deputies found Brewer's body inside the wreckage.

State police and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash. The FAA said it could take weeks before the investigation is concluded.

The plane Brewer was flying Thursday was smaller than the single-engine Cessna plane Brewer was used to flying. The smaller Searey plane, considered a light-sport aircraft, is harder to maneuver and required more technical skills than the Cessna, Regner said.

Brewer got the new, smaller plane in March and saw it as a new challenge, Regner said. Thursday was not the first time Brewer had done the touch-and-go water landings and had never had any problems doing them before. He'd been flying in the area many times in the past, including over the reservoir, Regner said.

"He was a very experienced pilot," she said.

Taking advantage of the nice weather, Brewer had been out flying on Wednesday, the day before the fatal crash, Regner said.

Brewer's love of flying started in 1962, when he began service as an flight surgeon for the Air Force in Texas following his graduation from SUNY Upstate Medical University in 1961. He served on active duty until 1964.

While balancing his private practice, Brewer served in the Air Force Reserve for more than 20 years, reaching the rank of colonel while based at Dover Air Force Base, Regner said. He retired in 2000.

Brewer bought property in Beaver River, on the south shore of the Stillwater Reservoir, in 1980, Regner said, where the family would often spend time.

Brewer has taken Regner, her six siblings and all of Brewer's 16 grandchildren up in the air with him, she said. They had plenty of opportunities to go, as Brewer would go flying as often as he could.

"Any time it was a nice day, blue sky, he wanted to be up there," she said.

A passion for flying runs deep in the Brewer family. Regner said her brother Edward is a commercial pilot for Delta Airlines and another brother, Mark, flies recreationally. Regner herself has a student pilot's certificate.

"He was doing what he absolutely loved to do right up until the end," she said.

Brewer served as Sherrill City Commissioner from 2002 until 2011 and was active in the Lions Club, St. Helena's Catholic Church and was a volunteer for Angel Flight, a non-profit organization that provides free flights for those needing non-emergency medical treatment.

Calling hours will be held at the Malecki Funeral Home, 464 Sherrill Road., Sherrill, on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at St. Helena's Catholic Church, 210 Primo Ave., Sherrill.


Ronald Nearing surveys light plane wreckage on Stillwater Reservoir near Beaver River on Thursday.

Update: State police said a 76 year old man was killed Thursday when his plane crashed at Stillwater Reservoir in a remote section of Herkimer County.

 Officials identified him as Schiele "Bill" Brewer, who had a camp at Beaver River (also known as Beaver River Station).

According to police, his small single-engine plane took off from Boonville Thursday morning.

His body was recovered and taken to Lewis County General Hospital Thursday evening.

Scott Thompson was the first to approach the plane.

"The plane had damage. It had been there a long time and we could just see sneakers and legs," he said.

It was emotional for Thompson because he lives in Beaver River, a tight community where everyone knows everyone.

He, just like everybody else who owns property there, knew Brewer, who was an experienced flyer.

"We had just had his daughter's wedding here and everybody that's been coming to town for the last 10 years came to the wedding. So it was a real family event," said Thompson.

The mood around town during last month's wedding was polar opposite of Thursday's mood.

State police spent a majority of Thursday afternoon and evening navigating the waters trying to find a way to get to the plane - not an easy task because the water levels are low.

The water is the only way to get to the plane.

Investigators still aren't sure exactly what happened over the reservoir.

Crews from the Federal Aviation Administration were expected arrive Friday to try to determine just that.

In the meantime, state police will monitor the plane, Which was moved to a dock about a mile from where it crashed.

Our report from earlier Thursday evening:

Emergency personnel from Lewis County have been called to the scene of a reported plane crash in Herkimer County.

County Emergency Services Director Jim Martin said the plane reportedly crashed in Stillwater Reservoir near the community of Beaver River Station.

He said the area is so remote that Lewis County has the only access road to transport equipment into the water.

Martin said a sheriff's department boat and the county's search and rescue squad were called to the scene.

Martin told 7 News one person was reported to still be in the plane and another person was in the water.

However, the co-owner of the Norridgewock Lodge in Beaver River (also known as Beaver River Station) said one person was dead.

Scott Thompson said the scene is about a half mile from the lodge.

"We all went to the scene and all we could see was that there was a body in the plane. It was a small amphibious home-built aircraft or a kit-built aircraft," he said.

Thompson said he had spotted the craft in the water earlier in the day, but had no idea it was a plane.

A camp owner in the area, Ronald Nearing, told 7 News he heard a plane flying overhead at around 9 a.m.

Nearing (pictured at the accident scene) said he also heard the sound of an engine dying during that same time period.

"I know what engines sound like when they're going bad. It sounded like a plane that was in trouble and I thought, 'Wow, what can that be?' And all of a sudden, I didn't hear anything more," he said.

Nearing and Thompson said state police and officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation are on the scene.

Dive teams have also responded, they said.

According to Martin, Lewis County's undersheriff and Emergency Medical Services coordinator responded.

- Source:

Sep 05, 2014 — Emergency responders expected back at the scene of a plane crash today in the remote Stillwater Reservoir, in the western Adirondacks 

 A local eyewitness interviewed by NCPR say it appears that the pilot of the small aircraft was killed in the accident, which occurred sometime on Thursday.

According to WWNY-TV, State Police have identified the victim as 76-year-old Schiele "Bill" Brewer

According to numerous sources, Brewer was a physician in central New York who owned a camp on the Stillwater.

Scott Thompson, a proprietor with the Norridgewok Inn in Beaver River, tells NCPR that he visited the scene of the crash and found the plane tail-down in roughly five feet of water.

"Because we're so remote we sort of have our own emergency procedures here," Thompson said, but he added that it appeared that the operator of the plane was already deceased beneath the water.

"Most of the wing was actually protruding from the lake," he recounted, adding that it was apparently a man who died in the crash.

According to WWNY TV, officials from neighboring Lewis County responded to the scene because they have the easiest access to the reservoir.

The crash occurred in one of the most inaccessible corners of the Adirondacks.  Beaver River is accessible only by boat, float plane, or rail.  Federal investigators are expected to reach the scene today.

- Source:

A small plane crashed Thursday afternoon on the north side of Stillwater Reservoir in Herkimer County, killing the pilot, according to Robert A. Mackenzie III, Lewis County emergency medical services coordinator. 
The pilot of the plane was identified in broadcast reports as Schiele “Bill” Brewer, 76. His single-engine plane crashed after taking off in Boonville. Police were still working to remove his plane, the report said.

State police did not release details of the crash.

Lewis County Emergency Services Director James M. Martin said the crash site is 6 to 10 miles by boat from Stillwater, nearer to Beaver River Station, a Herkimer County community accessible mainly by boat.

Mr. Mackenzie and Lewis County Undersheriff James M. Monnat were among the emergency responders dispatched to the boat launch at the Stillwater Hotel. The county Search and Rescue squad was placed on standby at the hotel.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation also has boats in the area.

Pilot Errors Blamed for 2013 Indonesian Jet Crash: Accident Underscores Issues Safety Experts Say Continue at Fast-Growing Asian Aviation Markets

The Wall Street Journal 
 By Andy Pasztor
Sept. 4, 2014 4:52 p.m. ET

Repeated pilot mistakes and violations of basic safety procedures led to the crash of an Indonesian jetliner on a domestic flight in April 2013, according to investigators.

Pilots of the Lion Air Boeing 737 descending to land at Bali failed to adequately communicate with each other or properly monitor their position during an approach in stormy weather, according to the final report released recently by Indonesian authorities. The crew descended much rapidly and ended up too low without seeing the airport, and then waited too long to try to climb away from the strip, the investigation concluded.

No one was killed in the crash, but four passengers were seriously injured as the aircraft, which was only two months old and had no malfunctions of any kind, broke apart after slamming into the ocean less than a quarter of a mile short of the strip.

The accident has underscored shortcomings in training and cockpit discipline, issues that safety experts say continue to surface at various carriers serving fast-growing aviation markets in parts of Asia and elsewhere.

A spokesman for the airline didn't have any immediate comment.

The report said the crew exhibited "inadequate situational awareness" and failed to properly control the plane's speed using engine adjustments and its descent by changing the angle of the nose.

Investigators concluded that the flight crew failed to adhere to "the basic principles of jet flying."

The report, among other things, notes that at an altitude of roughly 200 feet the co-pilot indicated it was "totally dark" as the plane entered an intense patch of rain and his view of the airport was completely obscured by the storm cell. But the report indicates the captain didn't try to break off the approach until the plane was about 20 feet above the ground—a point at which it is virtually impossible to rev up the engines and climb away safely. The crash occurred a second later.

Typical airline safety procedures—buttressed by landing guidelines developed by international safety groups—require a go-round hundreds of feet higher if the strip isn't in sight.

In this case, according to investigators, the cockpit-voice recorder indicates the co-pilot said he didn't see the runway starting from a height of 900 feet. The report indicates the captain opted to press on with the descent, expecting to see the strip any second.

Years before the crash, according to the report, a trainer emphasized the captain's habit of continuing to descend and land during simulator sessions even if he violated mandatory criteria for "stabilized approach."

During the accident flight, the relatively inexperienced co-pilot handed over the controls to the captain shortly before the crash. And the plane's nose was pointed slightly downward just before impact, rather than pointing slightly up as required by flight manuals.

In addition, investigators said the co-pilot mistakenly attempted to evacuate passengers using one of the cockpit windows.

The preliminary report issued in May 2013 urged the carrier to ensure its pilots are properly trained in "changeover of control at critical altitudes and critical time."

Lion Air has become Indonesia's largest airline and one of the fastest-growing carriers in the world by rapidly rolling out new low-cost service across the Indonesian archipelago.

In the wake of the crash, the carrier enhanced its training focusing particularly on manual flying skills and decision-making during landing approaches.

According to the final report, the weather was clear four minutes before the accident but changed quickly.

The report includes recommendations dealing with more-effective ways to pass on the latest weather information, along with stepped-up pilot training. It also urges enhanced training for cabin crews in evacuating an aircraft.

- Source:

 NTSB Identification: DCA13RA074
Accident occurred Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Denpasar, Indonesia
Aircraft: BOEING 737, registration:
Injuries: 20 Minor,88 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On April 13, 2013, at about 1515 local time, Lionair flight JT-904, a Boeing 737-800, registration PK-LKS, crashed while on approach to Denpasar-Ngurah Rai Bali International Airport (DPS), Denpasar, Indonesia. Reports indicate that there were no fatalities; however, there were multiple injuries to the 101 passengers and 7 crew onboard. The domestic flight originated in Bandung Airport (BDO), Bandung, Indonesia. Weather reported at the time of the accident was wind 090 degrees at 6 knots, visibility greater than 10 kilometers, and ceiling broken at 1,700 feet above ground level.

The accident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) of Indonesia. In accordance with ICAO Annex 13, the NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative as the State of Manufacture and Design of the airplane.

All inquiries should be directed to the NTSC at the following:

National Transportation Safety Committee
Ministry of Transportation Building 3rd Floor
Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 5

Pilot Robert Moulton 'mistook mown field for runway': Rans S-6ES Coyote II, G-BYMV

The airfield and mown grass strip were roughly parallel to each other 

A pilot crashed his light aircraft, killing himself and his wife, after mistaking a mown grass strip for a runway, an inquest heard.

Robert Moulton, 76, is thought to have lost control of the high-wing monoplane after trying to correct his error.

He and wife Lillian, 84, died instantly when the aircraft hit the ground nose-down near Stoke Golding Airfield, Leicestershire, on 14 July 2013.

Their son, Michael Moulton, said the airfield was difficult to identify.

Giving evidence, he said: "My father was an experienced pilot, and I am myself, and even with several visits, a lot of visits to Stoke Golding, at an altitude below 1,500ft it's extremely difficult to spot the field.

"So it's entirely possible he may have mistook the runway."

He had been flying in an aircraft ahead of his parents on the day they died, but managed to land safely.

Speaking after the inquest in Loughborough he said: "Yes, it was a tragic accident. However, they died together, doing something they loved."

Misidentification 'not rare'

Post-mortem examinations showed the couple, who lived in Ashby de la Zouch, both died of severe multiple injuries.

They had been flying from Measham Cottage Farm, where they stored their aircraft.

Emergency services were called at 18:44 BST and the crash was later investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

Investigator Andrew Robinson found no engineering issues with the aircraft that would have caused it to crash.

Investigator Timothy Atkinson said eyesight, the setting sun or windscreen glare could have been factors in misidentifying the runway.

Mr Atkinson said: "Misidentification is not something that happens rarely.

"History has shown us even airliners landing at the wrong airport because the flight crew have misidentified from the air."

Rutland and North Leicestershire Coroner Trevor Kirkman said: "Mr Atkinson was satisfied that, in his view, it is on the balance of probability likely that Mr Moulton mistook the distinctive mowed strip in the field above Fenn Lanes, and was approaching that.

"[He] realised when he was fairly close to the ground that he was not approaching the correct runway, [which] prompted him to reassess his options at that point."

He concluded the deaths were accidental.

- Source:

As more aircraft take to the sky, new technology will allow pilots to pick their own direct routes but still avoid one another

In a windowless industrial building on the outskirts of Madrid a group of people are watching a series of colored symbols move steadily across a bank of computer screens. Each icon represents an aircraft flying over southern Europe. In an adjacent room another group are monitoring flights over part of Asia, and next door all eyes are on South America. These flights are not “live” but are simulated by Indra, a Spanish technology company, to train controllers in the operation of a new generation of air-traffic-management systems that promises to make flying more efficient by shortening flight times and reducing delays.

What is different about these virtual flights is that some are “free-routing”, which means pilots have the freedom to set their own courses instead of following one another along established flight corridors, as they presently do. Free-routing allows an aircraft to fly more directly to its destination, which for European journeys alone would knock ten minutes off average flight times, thus saving fuel and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.

On the face of it, free-routing seems like a disaster in the making. If fast-moving jets can fly where they want the risk of collision would appear to rise. Yet the controllers in Madrid are relaxed and, apart from issuing a few course corrections to avoid a spot of bad weather, leave the aircraft to get on with it. This is made possible because the trajectory of each plane has been worked out by computers some 25 minutes in advance and the pilots have already been informed of any adjustments needed to prevent a potential conflict. Provided each aircraft sticks to its flight plan, there is no need for the controllers to intervene.

Traditionally, air-traffic controllers have played a more proactive role in keeping aircraft apart. The corridors which jets fly along function much like lanes on a motorway. They pass through sectors and each sector is monitored by air-traffic controllers with the assistance of radar. When an aircraft is about to enter a new sector, the pilot and controller communicate by radio. The controller then gives the pilot instructions to maintain a safe separation, both vertically and horizontally, from other aircraft.

It is a tried and trusted method, but one that will struggle to cope with future demand for air travel. This will be huge. In the past 40 years the number of airline passengers worldwide has grown tenfold to some 3.1 billion in 2013. By 2030 it is expected to reach over 6.4 billion.

Flight corridors frequently follow historic routes and zigzag around. Many of the routes which cross America are based on where hilltop beacons were lit to guide Charles Lindbergh’s mail flights in the 1920s. Plenty of radar systems still resemble 1940s technology and provide only a limited “view” of what is in the air. And in Europe, flights have to negotiate a labyrinth of 64 air-traffic-control areas operated by different national authorities. All this adds to journey times and puts constraints on the system because of the need to maintain the safe separation of planes.

Flying ahead

A much-needed revamp is under way. Although suffering from delays and budget constraints, America’s NextGen air-traffic-modernization program is slowly taking shape. Europe is part way through the Single European Sky initiative, which is supposed to increase co-operation between a reduced number of control centers. Japan also has a project in hand to renovate its air-traffic-control systems.

One element of this modernization involves fitting new kit to aircraft. This is a system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). It will be compulsory for jets in Europe by 2017 and in America by 2020. ADS-B uses satellite navigation for pilots to determine their position and is generally more accurate than radar and radio-navigation aids. This allows aircraft to be safely spaced closer together, which permits more planes to be in the air at the same time. Crucially, though, it also establishes a data link to control centers and to other planes by regularly broadcasting an aircraft’s identification sign, its position and other information.

These data, when combined with the known trajectory of the aircraft, mean flight-management can now be “based on where we know the aircraft will be at any particular time,” says Gonzalo Gavin, the director of a program at Indra to install such a system at a control center in Prestwick, Scotland, run by NATS, a British company. The Prestwick centre provides en-route services across northern Britain and for flights crossing part of the busy North Atlantic. Known as iTEC (for interoperability Through European Collaboration), the trajectory-based system was developed by Indra with air-traffic providers in Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands as part of the Single European Sky initiative.

In a typical flight, a pilot may climb, descend, change course at various points and speed up or slow down numerous times. But with trajectory-based management, the flight should be smoother and shorter, says Mr.  Gavin. And it is more likely to arrive on time.

The ability to predict the arrival time more accurately should mean less circling in holding patterns while planes wait to land, says Alastair Muir, operations director at Prestwick. That would allow more aircraft to use what is called a “continuous descent approach” when coming in to land. This is a procedure which involves a longer descent, more like a steady glide towards the runway. It requires less engine thrust than having to level out at various stages of the approach, so it saves fuel and is also quieter.

A wholesale switch to free-routing will not take place overnight—the aviation industry is notoriously cautious in introducing new technologies and procedures. At first pilots are likely to pick from a number of available routes before free-routing completely takes off.

It should enhance safety with an early alarm should something go wrong. Although no one knows what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March, the new systems would have alerted controllers that the aircraft was not keeping to its trajectory soon after it changed course.

Being highly automated, the new generation of air-traffic-management should also help with the commercial use of civilian drones. Aviation authorities are facing increasing pressure from companies to allow drones to be used for a variety of applications, ranging from aerial photography to surveying, search and rescue, delivering goods and providing temporary Wi-Fi. Guidelines are slowly emerging, but generally the operation of civil drones remains restricted in most countries, particularly the United States.

With data-driven systems like ADS-B and trajectory management, monitoring the flight path of a drone can be automated, says Benjamin Trapnell of the University of North Dakota, which was one of the first institutions to launch graduate courses in operating drones.

Test flights by BAE Systems in Britain have also shown how a drone can be made to respond to air-traffic-control instructions. This is done by having radio communications to and from the drone relayed via a “pilot in command”, who would be a drone operator on the ground. That operator might well be in charge of more than one drone. With the cost of operating a drone only a fraction of that of a helicopter or light aircraft, the civilian use of unmanned aircraft is bound to make the sky an even busier place.

This is yet another reason why the long-awaited modernization of air-traffic control is welcome, says Andrew Charlton, head of Aviation Advocacy, a Swiss-based consultancy. But he thinks it should go much further. Organizing more airspace along functional lines rather than around national borders, as much of it now is, would greatly improve efficiency—especially in Europe. And with systems based on data, he says more competition should be possible, giving pilots a choice of air-traffic-management providers.

Nevertheless, the EU gushes about the prospects. It expects trajectory-management to enhance safety by leaving less room for human error. It hopes the Single European Sky initiative will provide the ability to handle three times as many flights, cut air-traffic-control costs and produce savings for airlines worth some €9 billion ($12 billion) a year. It also says that aircraft will on average land within one minute of their scheduled arrival time. Weary air travelers will be forgiven if they think that is a bit of pie-in-the-sky.

- Source:

EDITORIAL: What’s in a longer runway?

Go figure. Not all that long ago – maybe five years – the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) was telling us a longer runway is needed so Green Airport could remain competitive and be capable of offering regularly scheduled, non-stop, coast-to-coast service and flights to Europe. It was a convincing argument, especially in view of the state’s economy, high rate of unemployment and Green’s decline of airline passenger traffic.

The mantra was about investing in the infrastructure for the future – the Interlink was part of that – which would create construction jobs now and enable growth in the future. We believe that makes sense, but the often-repeated logic that Green can’t make it without a longer runway has a hallow ring following Tuesday’s announcement Condor Airlines will start providing twice-a-week seasonal flights to Frankfurt, Germany, beginning next June.

Guess what? Condor will be using Green’s existing runways – the longest of which is 7,166 feet. Lengthening that runway to 8,700 feet – a project that will start with a ceremonial groundbreaking next week – won’t be completed until December of 2017.

While pilots will always prefer a longer runway to a shorter one, Condor’s use of Green’s existing system doesn’t mean risks are being taken to bring Rhode Island its first regularly scheduled flight to Europe. There’s no compromise of safety regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t allow for it.

The answer to “how can this be” lies in the type of aircraft Condor will use. It’s a 259-seat Boeing 767/300. It can operate from the existing runway when carrying a full load of passengers and reach Frankfurt. In fact, the jet stream is a big help.

For years leading up to the memorandum of understanding that ended the standoff between the city and RIAC over lengthening the runway, the city argued for no or a shorter extension, saying if the market demand was there for longer non-stop flights, airlines would find a way to fill it. That’s just what has happened.

This is not to suggest the longer runway project RIAC is about to embark upon is for naught. As we said, longer runways are preferable to shorter ones. And perhaps – and hopefully this proves to be the case – more service will follow the pioneering schedule being offered by Condor. A longer runway conceivably will play into those decisions.

But, as we know now, the market, not just the current length of Green’s runways, is a powerful factor.

- Article and Comments:

Auckland Airport's lawnmower like no other

Samantha Smith 
 The Fieldmaster Airport Express is the new mower for the grass at the Auckland Airport. 

Mowing the equivalent of 600 rugby fields in just three hours sounds like a subject for a new Tui advert.

But it is happening out at Auckland International Airport and with a machine like no other in the world.

A little bit of Kiwi ingenuity has been used to create the airport's new lawnmower, the Fieldmaster Airport Express.

It's light, easy to manoeuvre and its spread of mowing blades can cut an area three to four times faster than its predecessor. It travels at 20kmh and can cut 60,000 square metres an hour - which means it could clip your quarter acre in one minute tops.

Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood says it's important to keep grass at the airport short to minimize wildlife and birds.

"As you could imagine wildlife are very attracted to seeds and grass and if we don't control it we can be in a situation where bird strikes can be a critical issue for aircraft safety," he said.

Fieldmaster innovations director Paul Ayers says planning for the mower began 18 months ago. Staff from the Pukekohe company locked themselves in a room until they had a plan.

"It was five of us that came back from City Parks at Auckland Airport understanding the extent of what they had to do. We have now delivered a machine that can do something that nothing else in the world can do."

The airport is a 24-hour a day operation and has more than 420 international and domestic flights every day.

"That means our window of opportunity to maintain the grass is very small - in fact it's only a window of 1am to 4am every Monday," Littlewood said.

Deputy prime minister Bill English, who was at the machine's launch, says New Zealand is known for creating "weird stuff".

"We think of all sorts of things that officials, bureaucrats and economists don't think of - and who would think of this? This is real innovation."

A key part of bird control at airports is keeping the grass at just the right length - long enough to deter birds from landing but short enough not to tempt them with seed or insects attracted by flowers. The soil cannot be damaged or exposed at any time because that means worms that attract birds.

The Airport Express can also cut in any weather conditions.

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