Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pilot's identity remains a mystery


The pilot at the controls of a float plane that flew under the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge last month remains a mystery. 

Transport Canada said in a statement released Tuesday that it conducted a “comprehensive” investigation into the Aug. 2 incident by reviewing video footage, interviewing witnesses and analyzing radar data but was unable to identify the float plane involved.

Lana Burpee, president of the Ottawa Rowing Club, was standing on the dock on the Ottawa River when she saw the small float plane rising out on the water.

Burpee said she thought the pilot was suicidal and wanted to crash into the side of the bridge.

Burpee told the Citizen in August the pilot was “a heartbeat away; it could have been the worst-case scenario.”

Story and Comments:  http://ottawacitizen.com

A group of rowers on the water look on, and some can be heard screaming and yelling as the plane flies under the bridge that connects Ottawa and Gatineau, Que. 

Burpee said it was unusual to see a plane on the Ottawa River, especially around the downtown core, but what happened next made her gasp. The plane picked up speed and lifted off.

“Honestly, I thought he was suicidal. I thought he was going to try to smash into the side of the bridge, but fortunately the pilot was able to get through that ascent safely,” she said.

She said the pilot was “a heartbeat away it could have been the worst-case scenario.”

Her husband managed to capture a roughly one-minute video of the plane just as it was taking off.

Burpee said she thought was the pilot was being “completely reckless” and that flying under the bridge was an unnecessary stunt.

She described the incident, which happened over the span of roughly five minutes as “crazy, reckless and endangering”, since there were at least a dozen small boats on the water at the time.

When the plane cleared the bridge, her thought was “we’re spared what could have been something pretty ugly” followed by disbelief “because you go who would do this, it’s crazy, completely crazy.”

Story and Comments:  http://news.nationalpost.com

The pilot of a float plane flying over the Ottawa River left some members of the Ottawa Rowing Club in shock. 

A video uploaded to YouTube shows the plane taking off from the Ottawa River and flying below the MacDonald Cartier Bridge.

Karin Germann tells CTV that it's normal to see float planes in the area but she's never seen a stunt like that.

"When it took off I think most of us were just kind of thinking this guy is either crazy, we weren't sure if it was illegal what he was doing," she explained. "It certainly didn't seem like a safe thing to do"

She said there was concern for the amount of boats out on the river when the plane took off. 

The proper authorities have been contacted about the incident.

- Source:  http://www.cfra.com

Mendocino County approves motion to consider alternative management of forest at Little River Airport (KLLR)

Community activists have fought for months to preserve trees that are said to be interfering with operations of the Little River Airport, and as of Tuesday, the trees will live to see another day after the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to consider alternative management plans of the nature parcel instead of harvesting the trees, for the time being.

However, the original issue still remains for the airport and day-to-day operations, which are apparently being disrupted by the trees themselves, along with people visiting the area which isn't fenced in, according to county officials.

"There is a need to separate the public from the operations area of the airport," Howard Dashiell, director of the Mendocino Department of Transportation, told the board. "It's not just a safety issue for people on the ground, but for the aircraft."

In August 2007, the board rejected received bids to harvest the area, and again in 2013 before appointing the Executive Office to solicit new bids.

On Aug. 12, Mendocino Forest Products came forward with the sole bid, and the board accepted it, meaning the timber harvest would proceed.

But at its Aug. 26 meeting, the board reconsidered to allow more time for conservation groups to work with the Board of Supervisors on a long-term management opportunity of the timber area at the airport, a request which was made by 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen, and 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg.

According to the board's agenda for Tuesday, Cal Fire filed a "major amendment" on Sept. 12, requiring an on-the-ground inspection of the site, which rules out any type of harvest at the location until 2015 at the earliest. Public comment on the amendment will be taken by Cal Fire until 5 p.m. Oct. 27.

On Tuesday, Board Chairman John Pinches said some of the trees that are causing safety concerns at the airport would likely need to be harvested in the future.

"As long as there is an understanding about that, I don't have a problem with this motion," Pinches said.

Citizen Linda Perkins, an advocate to keep the trees, spoke during public expression and seemed aware of the airport's concerns regarding the tree location.

"I'm hoping through this process we can resolve some of these safety issues," Perkins said.

With Tuesday's motion, McCowen and Hamburg are looking at establishing an ad hoc committee to oversee the Little River Airport project. 

- Source:  http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com

Report Faults Rollout of Air-Traffic-Control Upgrade • A Core Technology at Center of Modernization Is Cited for High Costs

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey and Andy Pasztor

Sept. 23, 2014 8:36 p.m. ET

An effort to modernize the U.S. air-traffic-control system is seeing such a bumpy rollout that costs associated with some of the core technology outweigh potential benefits, according to a report soon to be released by a federal watchdog.

An audit report by the Transportation Department's inspector general, slated to be released in the next few days, raises new questions about the design, deployment and projected benefits of one of the Federal Aviation Administration's futuristic ways to enhance monitoring and management of aircraft.

The document is sharply critical about early implementation of ground-based radio installations that are part of a proposed $4.5 billion network designed to track the locations of planes more precisely than current radar. The new system, dubbed ADS-B, eventually aims to rely primarily on satellite-based navigation and tracking. The ground-based stations are designed to be an integral part of the complete ADS-B structure.

The report comes as U.S. passenger airlines enjoy the safest period in history, with no fatal accidents in more than six years, though incidents persist involving close calls between jetliners in the air and on the ground. By tracking the location of planes more precisely than current radars, the modernized system aims to enable aircraft to safely fly closer to one another, while saving both fuel and time following more efficient routes.

In the report on the new system, the inspector general found, among other things, that pilots and controllers are receiving only limited benefits from some 600 ground installations due to incomplete technology updates of automated systems intended to track aircraft.

According to the report, the FAA itself has determined that taxpayer investments in such ground-based applications "now outweigh the projected benefits of the program by as much as $588 million." The findings also emphasize that "it remains uncertain how and when the FAA will implement" advanced capabilities, "and at what cost."

Some of the general criticism mirrors reports and comments by the inspector general and his staff over the past few years directed at the FAA's overall air-traffic-modernization initiative, which it calls NextGen.

U.S. airlines remain reluctant to invest billions of dollars in onboard equipment because they are uncertain how effectively the agency will carry out its share of the program. The FAA, for its part, recently has stepped up public pressure on the industry to commit to installing ADS-B devices by the mandated deadline of 2020.

The report's findings are likely to harden positions on each side. While the inspector general faults FAA implementation of the program, the report also makes clear that full application and benefits of ADS-B depend on widespread adoption of the technology by airliners, business jets and private aircraft. ADS-B stands for "automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast."

Until now, ADS-B ground deployment—for which Exelis Inc. is the prime contractor—has been described by company and FAA officials as on time, on budget and an outstanding example of agency program management.

In comments filed with DOT, the FAA described the nationwide rollout of ground stations, which it said was completed ahead of schedule, as "a major milestone." The agency also said it has "increased the availability of service and expanded coverage" as planned, adding that "cost and schedule baselines will be revisited periodically." But "more benefits would be apparent if operators chose to equip early," according to the agency.

An Exelis spokeswoman and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the trade group for general aviation, declined to comment.

Members of Airlines for America, the major trade group for the big carriers, won't be in a hurry to put the necessary equipment on planes until there is "a clear demonstration that the FAA has developed and designed a program, as well as policies and procedures, along with training for controllers, that could deliver benefits as carriers equip," said Sharon Pinkerton, the association's senior vice president of legislative and regulatory policy. By some industry estimates, ADS-B equipment could cost airlines, including regional carriers, as much as $5 billion.

Meanwhile, other aspects of the FAA's ambitious NextGen modernization initiative haven't gone well. "There's a history here," Ms. Pinkerton said, "when we have equipped our planes at great expense and then it takes the FAA three years to train controllers and design processes where we can benefit."

The report notes that the FAA has been unable to perform "end to end testing," encompassing cockpit equipment, controller stations and ground installations, because of the relatively few planes currently equipped with required technology.

The document also reveals that the Defense Department and others have doubts about the FAA's ability to face security challenges "related to cyber threats" and the "security of the ADS-B infrastructure and aircraft avionics." The report also says a more-complex version of the program, which would beam data into cockpits so that pilots could "see" the heading, altitude and speed of other airplanes around them, has so far not been "fully defined."

As of April, the FAA said it had completed the deployment of 634 ground radio installations to support the program, a point of pride and a reduction of the 792 ground stations originally projected. But the FAA office overseeing ADS-B has since identified "coverage gaps" and the need for an additional 200 stations with a price tag of $258 million, the report said.

Because the FAA "has yet to complete modernization of its air-traffic automation systems to accommodate the new ADS-B technology," only limited service is being provided to pilots and controllers.

In addition, testing has identified problems with the display of this data on FAA air-traffic automation systems in Louisville, Ky., Houston, Philadelphia and the state of Alaska. And the FAA "has not yet fully developed a system to monitor the performance and operational safety of the ground equipment and help avoid and resolve outages."

The report also noted that the FAA has warned "general aviation" pilots—mostly private pilots—they shouldn't rely on ADS-B information to separate their planes from others in the airspace. Some general-aviation pilots relying on this data "inadvertently flew their aircraft into restricted airspace that was either unmarked or incorrectly located on their ADS-B devices," the report said. The FAA subsequently cited these pilots with violations.

"Concerns such as these not only suggest significant safety risks, but could degrade users' confidence in the system and the industry's willingness to invest," the report said.

- Source:   http://online.wsj.com

Kokomo Municipal Airport (KOKK) Awarded $2.2 Million Runway Grant

The Kokomo Municipal Airport has been awarded a $2,268,125.00 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The federal funding will be used to extend the airport’s main runway to 6,000 feet for accommodating larger airplanes and increased demand for air travel. The grant will enable the Kokomo Municipal Airport to make improvements to its other runways and taxiways in addition to upgrading the airport’s lighting.

Construction is expected to begin immediately and be completed by November.

“Expanding the Kokomo Municipal Airport’s runway meets the demand expressed by our international companies,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “The airport is a major asset for Kokomo, and enhancing its capacity is part of our efforts to attract and retain business and industry.”

In addition to passenger flights, the airport provides service to Chrysler, General Motors, Delphi, Haynes International, Indiana University-Kokomo among others.

- Source:  http://kokomoperspective.com

Brazil Files Bribery Charges in Embraer Aircraft Sale to Dominican Republic

The Wall Street Journal
By Joe Palazzolo and Rogerio Jelmayer

Sept. 23, 2014 3:57 p.m. ET


Brazilian authorities have filed a criminal action against eight Embraer SA employees accusing them of bribing officials in the Dominican Republic in return for a $92 million contract to provide the country's armed forces with attack planes.

The criminal complaint, filed under seal and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, marks one of the first known efforts by Brazil to prosecute its citizens for allegedly paying bribes abroad, a milestone achieved with help from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The U.S. agencies are also investigating the company's dealings in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere and have provided their Brazilian counterparts with evidence, according to a request last year for legal assistance from Brazilian prosecutors.

Embraer, one of Brazil's highest-profile companies, is the world's third-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer by sales and employs more than 18,000 people at its plants in Brazil, China, Portugal, France and the U.S. Its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Because this matter is subject to an ongoing investigation in Brazil and the U.S., the company cannot comment further on any aspect of the case, including with respect to the proceeding in Brazil, where the Company is not a party to the investigation," Embraer said in an emailed statement.

Embraer disclosed in 2011 that it was under investigation in the U.S. for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a heavily enforced anticorruption law. The investigation is ongoing, and because its shares trade in New York and because some of the alleged payments passed through the U.S., according to the legal-assistance request, the U.S. has jurisdiction to investigate Embraer.

A spokesman for the Justice Department and a spokeswoman from the SEC declined to comment.

Brazilian prosecutors filed the 31-page complaint in a criminal court in Rio de Janeiro in August, the first step in a criminal prosecution. A spokesman for the Brazilian prosecutors' office declined to comment on the case.

The complaint alleges that Embraer sales executives agreed to pay a $3.5 million bribe to a retired Dominican Air Force colonel, who then leaned on legislators to approve the deal and a financing agreement between the Dominican Republic and the National Economic and Social Development Bank. The sale was completed and the aircraft were delivered.

The retired colonel, Carlos Piccini Nunez, was serving as the Dominican Republic's director of special projects for the armed forces in 2008, around the time of the contract negotiations. The contract provided the Dominican Republic with eight Embraer Super Tucanos, turboprop attack support aircraft that have been a darling of air forces in developing countries for their low maintenance and affordability.

The Dominican Republic Air Force and the country's defense ministry didn't respond to requests to speak with Mr. Piccini.

The criminal complaint alleges that an Embraer vice president for sales, Eduardo Munhos de Campos, promised to pay the bribe, and that he was assisted in arranging the payments by Orlando Jose Ferreira Neto, another vice president; Embraer regional directors Acir Luiz de Almeida Padilha Jr., Luiz Eduardo Zorzenon Fumagalli and Ricardo Marcelo Bester ; and managers Albert Phillip Close, Luiz Alberto Lage da Fonseca and Eduardo Augusto Fernandes Fagundes.

Embraer declined to say whether they are still employed at the company. Several of them appear to have moved on based on LinkedIn profiles. They did not return requests for comment or could not be reached. Their lawyers in Brazil could not be identified.

U.S. lawyers for Messrs. Munhos and Fumagalli declined to comment. A U.S. lawyer for Mr. Close, Danny Onorato, said, "We are aware of the criminal complaint in Brazil and we are studying it." It wasn't clear whether the others had retained U.S. lawyers.

The Embraer employees are charged in the Brazilian complaint with corruption in international transactions, which carries as many as eight years in prison upon conviction, and money laundering.

The complaint alleges that "from all indications" part of the $3.5 million bribe was destined for a Dominican senator, who is not named in the document.

Emails excerpted in the criminal complaint appear to show Embraer executives attempting to make direct payments to three shell companies allegedly designated by Mr. Piccini. But Embraer's compliance department prevented the full transfer in 2009, forcing the sales team to devise a new plan, the complaint says.

The group allegedly concealed the balance of bribe payments by booking them as consulting fees to a middleman in a deal to sell aircraft to the Kingdom of Jordan that never happened, according to the criminal complaint.

- Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Illinois Department of Transportation makes sales pitch to potential South Suburban Airport partners

A diverse group of about 150 people came to hear a sales presentation Tuesday for the South Suburban Airport, as the Illinois Department of Transportation seeks private partners to help it design, build and operate the planned field near Peotone.

“Illinois is absolutely serious about building this airport” and wants to do it “as quickly as possible,” IDOT’s acting director, Erica Borggren, told the group of residents, elected officials and business representatives at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

IDOT’s timeline for the airport project has it continuing to acquire land while awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected in 2016 or 2017. Once that’s obtained, IDOT will begin selecting private partners in 2017 or 2018 and hopes to have its the airport open for cargo flights by 2020.

The inaugural plan is estimated to cost $702 million and will include a 9,500-foot runway, four passenger gates, an access road and an interchange at Interstate 57 and Illinois 50.

But the airport will be planned with “ultimate development” in mind, allowing for continued expansion and six runways, said Susan Shea, IDOT’s director of aeronautics.

The state has spent $86 million on land acquisition and has another $50 million available, as it needs 2,200 more acres to have the 5,800 needed for the initial airport, Shea said.

IDOT officials stressed that they want ideas and suggestions from potential partners on how best to develop the airport and planned to have one-on-one sessions with them Tuesday. Details of the public-private partnership have yet to be ironed out, but IDOT officials said it will try to balance the financial risk and compensate its partners with airport revenue.

Such partnerships “definitely work,” said Javid Aboutorabi, of Chicago-based Clark Construction, which has been involved in several of them.

Aboutorabi said he was on a “fact-finding mission” Tuesday and has worked with the state on other projects.

Large and small contractors came looking for potential work, as IDOT claimed the airport construction would generate 11,000 construction jobs and another 14,000 long-term jobs.

Loretta Molter, of Molter Construction in Tinley Park, came to see what the proposal was because she lives in the area and has worked on government projects.

“We’re always looking for work,” she said. “I hope by the time they (partnership) are ready to build it, they have the money.”

Walter Reddell, airport manager at the Meadow Creek Airpark subdivision on Harlem Avenue in Monee, seven miles from the planned airport, said the site is a “good place for an airport.” Home values should go up, he said.

“If there’s more commerce in the area, more people will come to the area,” Reddell said. “If Chicago was behind (the South Suburban Airport), it would have been built by now. It should be the No. 2 airport, not Midway.”

Many are counting on the airport spurring economic development. Frank Patton, of Crete-based Great Lakes Basin, said his firm plans to build a rail line from Milwaukee/Janesvillle to Rockford to Kankakee County, with a spur to the South Suburban Airport.

“How can you have a cargo airport without a railroad?” Patton asked.

He described the project as the “largest railroad construction project in 100 years” in the region, adding that plans have been submitted to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board for approval.

Some political leaders came to Tuesday’s session to learn more about the South Suburban Airport. Will County Board Speaker Herb Brooks, D-Joliet, said he was pleased to finally see a timeline and get some concrete information — “something we can hang our hat on.”

“I want to see limited turbulence,” said county board member Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet. “The South Suburban Airport is an important piece of upgrading the economy of this area.”

Will Township Clerk Glenn Ginder said land acquisition for the airport is “really chewing up the township.” Because IDOT has bought Bult Field, a small privately owned airfield, and 3,600 acres for the airport so far, Beecher schools have lost $92,000 in property tax revenue, Peotone schools have lost $66,000 and the township road maintenance fund has dropped about $6,000, Ginder said.

“As taxing bodies, we do not want to be in a holding pattern,” said Bob Howard, D-Beecher, a Will County Board member and the Washington Township supervisor. “If they’re going to build it, build it. If they’re not going to build it, we’re stuck.”

- Story and Photo Gallery:  http://posttrib.suntimes.com

Price increases for Des Moines schools aviation facility

The price tag for a new aviation facility in the Des Moines school district has jumped by $400,000 since the project was approved in February.

In addition, the district hasn't determined a final location for the facility although it will be built in the vicinity of McCombs Middle School, 201 County Line Road.

The school board approved building plans last week for a $2.9 million, 25,000-square-foot aviation facility, That's a 16 percent jump or $400,000 more than what the board initially approved earlier this year.

"Sound control is something I think we underestimated. Want to make sure that we're good neighbors, so there were some more costs associated with that," said Bill Good, chief of operations for the district. "$2.5 million was an estimated cost at the time without any design. Now that we have the design for the building, we have a better understanding of what we need."

Money for the new facility will still come from the statewide penny sales tax, a fund used for construction and building maintenance.

Initially, the district considered building on land north of McCombs, but that could cause problems for the future expansion of Blank Park Zoo or Blank Golf Course, Good said. Officials are now considering building the facility on district-owned land east of the school, on the opposite side of Chaffee Road.

To reach that solution requires a bit more bureaucracy.

Good said the city council would need to waive its sound ordinance since aircraft engine testing at the facility would likely exceed the legal city code thresholds for a decibel limit for land near the golf course. And the district also needs permission from the city to build closer to the property line of land now owned by the Polk County Conservation Commission.

The only time those engines would run is on Tuesday or Thursday during the school year, Good said.

The new facility will feature larger classroom spaces and a hangar for five aircraft. Construction could start this fall with completion by August 2015 when the agreement with Des Moines International Airport, where the program currently operates, comes to an end.

"This has been a valuable program over the years and becomes valuable for not only today but also with the baby boomers and the retirement in the aviation field has been huge," said Gary McClanahan, director of Central Campus. "There's going to be an opportunity for placement for these students and we know that to be an absolute fact."

A new instructor was added this year to include introductory pilot courses, expanding the aviation technologies program established in the 1940s beyond just mechanics.

"Right now, we're not offering the actual flight component. It's all the ground school they need to do before they start flying," said Tim Harmer, a program instructor. "That is something we would like to pursue down the road."

This year, 12 students are taking new ground pilot classes, Harmer said. About 30 high school students are enrolled in the aviation maintenance program, where they learn how to fix the frame or the engine of an aircraft.

Harmer , a former emergency medical service helicopter pilot, said the new space should provide better facilities for teaching an expanded curriculum.

"We'll end up with larger, modern classrooms," he said.

The new facility would include a welding and painting shop and more aircraft for an increased emphasis in helicopter mechanics and piloting, Harmer said.

Des Moines' Central Campus is one of only three high schools in the country with Federal Aviation Administration certification to teach aircraft maintenance.

The existing facility currently operating inside a hangar at the Des Moines airport was built in 1974 and paid for through a school tax levy. That building, however, has belonged to the airport for the past two decades under an agreement between the airport and the school board.

The future of the program had been under threat. The program currently operates inside a hangar at the Des Moines International Airport, but officials there had initially refused to extend the rent agreement beyond June.

- Source:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com

Expansion suspended: Edgar County Airport (KPRG), Paris, Illinois

PARIS — The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the suspension of the Edgar County Airport apron expansion and fuel tank installation “pending a review of documentation used in the justification of the programming by the OEIG.”

A memo was sent to the Edgar County Airport Friday from Alan Mlacnik, IDOT-DA, notifying those involved of the suspension.

“In speaking with the FAA, it is recommended that we revisit and officially update the justification for the apron expansion in light of new based aircraft numbers and better explain the rationale used in the development of the fuel tank justification,”  Mlacnik stated in the memo.

Airport manager Jerry Griffin declined to comment at this time.

Edgar County Board member Jeff Voigt said the matter has been turned over to the Airport Advisory Committee.

“We are going to move forward,” he said.

In order to move forward, more information will be required including, “at a minimum, an inventory of the existing tanks and content complete with installation dates, local and federal participating costs and an accurate representation of existing monthly fuel purchases and current dispensing information (rates) for each tank,” according to the memo from Mlacnik.

“I believe that much of the information mentioned above may have already been developed as part of the formulation of the engineering report,” the memo went on to say. “…we can develop a strategy to move the projects forward utilizing justification acceptable to the FAA.

- Source:  http://www.parisbeacon.com

Coast Guard helicopter flight disrupted by laser

From a Coast Guard press release:

MCKINLEYVILLE, CA — A Coast Guard helicopter flying over Arcata was targeted by an individual with a laser Friday evening.

The MH-65D Dolphin crew was returning from an operation in southern California when the incident occurred. The laser shined directly in the eyes of both pilots and appeared to come from Janes Road at Upper Bay Road in Arcata.

Lieutenant Josh Smith was one of the pilots. "We were at approximately 1500 feet returning to the base when a green laser shined from left to right across the cockpit, shining in both our eyes (the pilots). We tried not to look at the laser, but flying on the instruments while looking away from it (the laser) is very difficult." Coast Guard pilots often fly solely by looking at the cockpit instruments without outside visual cues, but are trained to look away from a laser targeting the aircraft to protect their eyesight. Even if not directly hit by a laser, being forced to look away from the instruments can result in the pilot literally flying blind.

Laser pointers can cause glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision, all causing great danger to the crew. If a laser is shined in the eyes of an aircrew member, Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the aircraft must abort its mission. In order to protect their health and safety the member is taken off flight duty until cleared by a flight surgeon. This hinders the Coast Guard's ability to respond to people in distress and conduct training.

It is a federal crime, as well as a violation of California state law to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft. If an individual is caught purposefully lasing an aircraft, punishment ranges from being arrested or having to pay a civil penalty of $1000 up to $2,000 and 3 years imprisonment. Federal law allows for a punishment of imprisonment of up to 5 years. A list of California aviation laser incidents can be seen at the following location: http://laserpointersafety.com/news/news/aviation-incidents_files/tag-california.php. Anyone witnessing this crime is strongly encouraged to immediately call 911 to report the incident.

The Coast Guard wants to prevent future laser strikes and is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Arcata Police to investigate the incident.

- Source:  http://www.times-standard.com

Helicopter pilot, survey crew, confirm marijuana field in Smith County, Texas

Tyler, Texas - Department of Public Safety troopers seized 759 marijuana plants from a Smith County property last month. 

The fields were found off of FM 2016, near CR 437, about a mile and a half north of the loop, just west of Highway 69.

DPS flew a helicopter over the area and confirmed what they believed was a suspected pot field.

According to a DPS report, a surveying crew first reported the field to the Tyler Police Department.

During their investigation, a concerned citizen told authorities they saw water hoses and tarps in the area. The citizen also said they encountered three men carrying automatic weapons.

Officials say the property where the plants were found spans 192 acres. No growing equipment was found during the pot bust.

No arrests have been made.

Federal Aviation Administration rejects city request for meeting

PORTSMOUTH – Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration said they will not join city officials in a public meeting to talk about helicopter noise complaints.

City Manager John Bohenko told the City Council Monday night that the FAA told Pease Development Authority Executive Director David Mullen it would respond to the city’s concerns in writing.

“They’re going to write us a response but they’re not going to come,” Bohenko said at the meeting at City Hall Monday night.

Bohenko called the FAA’s decision “just ridiculous,” and said he would have to reach out to the state’s congressional delegation for help.

A spokesperson for the FAA could not be immediately reached Tuesday.

- Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com

Philosophical approaches to drone regulation -Eugene Volokh

Federal, state, and local governments are actively considering how to regulate domestic drone use. We will explore the history of this regulation, the current regulatory landscape, and some of the existing laws enacted by states in future posts. This post describes the philosophical approaches to drone regulation.

As policymakers consider drone regulation – particularly with respect to privacy and safety – the possible fields of regulation fall into five principal realms: operators, flight, purpose, property and surreptitious use. Some of these categories face practical difficulties, while others present constitutional issues. Nevertheless, these five fields offer a framework to help make sense of the legislation and regulation emerging around the use of drones.

Regulating Who Can Fly

Regulators might permit only certain people or entities to fly drones. As is the case with cars, planes, and helicopters, regulations might provide that only people with a valid, government-issued license can fly a drone. For example, North Carolina recently enacted a law mandating a drone-license, and the FAA already has a system for providing certifications and exemptions to authorize government agencies and some private actors to fly drones. More broadly, policies might permit only certain classes of people or entities to fly drones. It is conceivable that some laws might allow private entities to use drones, but not law enforcement entities — or vice versa. For example, Virginia has imposed a moratorium on law enforcement use of drones.

Regulating The Flight Of Drones 

Governments might regulate the flight of drones. As First Amendment lawyers, we think of this category as “time, place, and manner” regulations. With respect to “time,” it is possible that regulations will limit drone-flight to certain times of day. For instance the FAA’s Roadmap for integrating drones (a report formally titled “Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems in National Airspace System Roadmap”) suggests that its initial proposed regulations of small drones will permit drones to fly only during daylight.

Regulations also will limit where drones fly. Some of those regulations will impose permanent restrictions, while others might be temporary. Like planes and helicopters, drones will not be permitted in restricted airspace. (In fact, the FAA already is informing drone operators that they cannot operate in certain airspace, like this past Saturday’s football game at the University of Michigan.) Historically, the FAA has asked hobbyists to fly model airplanes away from congested areas. Some have suggested that guidance should become the law for drones generally. Some laws already restrict drones from flying over certain kinds of property. For example, an ordinance in Conoy Township, Pa., provides that flying a drone over someone else’s property is a summary offense. Other laws impose restrictions based on how high a drone flies. The FAA asks hobbyists to fly their model airplanes under 400 feet, while Oregon has enacted legislation giving landowners a possible cause of action if someone flies a drone over their property below 400 feet.

The law also might regulate the manner in which drones are flown. Regulators might require small drones to be flown within visual line-of-sight, meaning an operator must be able to physically see her drone as it flies — a position the FAA already has suggested it will implement. And, laws will almost certainly forbid drones from being flown recklessly. Indeed, the FAA has taken the position that it already has the authority to punish reckless drone flight.

Regulating Based On Purpose Of The Flight

Some policies have sought to place limits on drones based on their intended use. For instance, the FAA has long taken the position that drones cannot be used for commercial purposes without specific authorization, but hobbyists are free to use them. State legislatures have debated when government entities can use drones, with some states imposing limits on government agencies’ and law enforcement authorities’ ability to use them. Other states have sought to curtail private use of drones by permitting them to be used only for certain purposes, like selling houses or monitoring utilities. Still others are considering legislation that would prevent drones from being used by hunters or, alternatively by people to interfere with hunting.

Regulating Recording Based On The Property Involved 

In considering regulations on drone filming or photography, one approach might be to regulate drones’ ability to record images based on the property involved, treating different kinds of property differently. One possibility – drawing on a well-established body of tort and criminal law – is to restrict drones from recording people in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Alternatively, they might allow recording in certain areas or certain kinds of property, but not others. Some states have sought to distinguish between recording over public and private property. Or, regulators might protect certain kinds of property. For example, Louisiana restricts the ability to record or photograph “targeted facilities,” such as nuclear power plants and gas refineries. Texas, meanwhile, has adopted a number of limits on where drones can record, but allows them to record anywhere within 25 miles of the Mexican border.

Regulating Surreptitious Use 

Policymakers might seek to restrict the surreptitious use of drones. They might try to accomplish this objective by requiring drone operators to obtain consent before flying over private property or filming someone. Alternatively, drone operators might be required to provide advance notice of where they are flying or filming. Or, governments might require drones to be made more visible by requiring them to be certain colors or sizes. In addition, there have been calls for regulation that requires technology or some other system that identifies who owns and is operating a drone.

Which of these areas policymakers choose to regulate and how they choose to regulate within those areas will have significant ramifications for drone operations and the future of the drone industry. The policy questions are complex. For legislators and regulators, the answers have not come easily. Tomorrow, we will survey the history of the FAA’s piecemeal policy-making on drones, a history that has left many issues unresolved for far too long. We also will explain some of the recent regulatory developments at the FAA and the resulting lawsuits.

 - Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com

Harbour Air takes inaugural flight out of Pitt Meadows

The airline celebrated its new route with an inaugural flight on Monday morning with Steve Sheehy untying the plane and pilot Darren Batstone flying the morning run. Harbour will be offering daily float plane flights between Pitt Meadows Regional Airport and the Victoria harbour. 
 Photograph By Eric Zimmer/TIMES 


A brand new transport option for residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows became a reality Monday morning.

A Harbour Air seaplane full of passengers bound for Victoria took to the skies over the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, signifying the launch of regularly scheduled, seven-day-a-week service between the two cities.

The service comes after a “noticeable increase” in the number of people commuting to downtown Vancouver to use Harbour Air’s existing service, said Greg McDougall, CEO of Harbour Air.

As a result, “providing service to people’s homes just made sense,” he said.

“The addition of a Harbour Air seaplane is a fantastic opportunity for our facility,” said Arne Odenbach, marketing coordinator for Pitt Meadows airport.

 Before the flight, passengers arrive and check in at the airport like normal.

Then, they were loaded onto a shuttle bus and taken down to the dock on the Fraser River where the plane was waiting.

Harbour Air’s Darren Batstone piloted the first morning flight, and though the sky was grey and rainy, the takeoff was smooth and seamless.

For those looking to make the trip, the company is offering special pricing until Oct. 31.

More information is available online at www.harbourair.com.

- Source: http://www.mrtimes.com

Passengers made their way down the float plane dock where they boarded a plane for the inaugural Harbour Air flight from Pitt Meadows to Victoria early Monday morning. 
Photograph By Eric Zimmer/TIMES 

Officials increase security at Miami International Airport (KMIA) after loaded shotgun found

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco  

MIAMI (WSVN) -- Officials have stepped up security throughout Miami International Airport after an airport employee found a loaded shotgun with two boxes of ammunition in one of the airport bathrooms Monday afternoon.

The gun was found at around 3:45 p.m. in the garbage can of a bathroom that was outside of the terminal, near the airport entrance. Two boxes of ammunition were also found near the gun. "Somebody put it inside the garbage," said Rodolphe Guerrier, the HMS Host airport employee who found the shotgun.

"It's scary because this is the airport, and for security reasons," said Harry Museleire, another HMS Host airport employee.

Miami-Dade Police and the FBI are currently attempting to track down the person who brought the gun through airport doors. Authorities are treating the incident as a security threat.

Passengers are also very concerned about the discovery. "There's no guards at the front. They only say a thing when, for airport travelers, the moment something happens, they react to it very quickly," one passenger said.

"A loaded shotgun anywhere to me is very concerning and, in an airport, absolutely," said another passenger.

"It does concern me, but I trust security, and I know they are doing a pretty good job," said another passenger.

Miami-Dade Police cannot release information on the gun at this moment, as it is an incident currently being investigated by the federal government. The gun never passed through a TSA checkpoint, therefore TSA is not involved and not releasing information at this time.

- Source:   http://www.wsvn.com

Pilot Ron Robertson takes flight of a lifetime aboard World War II fighter plane

GREG DERR/The Patriot Ledger
Scituate resident Ron Robertson, a U.S. Navy veteran and retired United Airlines pilot, flew a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter at Plymouth Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.

PLYMOUTH – Ron Robertson vividly remembers the first time he laid his eyes on a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter that had stopped at Plymouth Municipal Airport. It was Sept. 10, 2001 – the day before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the crash near Shanksville, Penn., of a hijacked airliner aimed at Washington. “The next day they were grounded and couldn’t get out for a few days,” said Robertson, of Scituate.

A U.S. Navy veteran and retired United Airlines pilot, Robertson, 67, returned to Plymouth Airport last week when the P-51 Mustang arrived for another visit. But instead of just catching a glimpse of the 72-year-old plane, Robertson got to fly it.

“It was almost like a bucket-list thing. I’ve been a pilot for 40 years, and to fly in a 70-year-old airplane and put it through the paces, I said, ‘You know, I’d sure like to do that,’” he said. “It’s pricey, but my wife and son said, ‘You better do it, otherwise you’ll be kicking yourself in the rear.’”

The 1942 fighter is owned and operated by the Collings Foundation, which operates vintage aircraft that fly throughout the United States, making stops for a few days. The foundation also brought a B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-24 Liberator to Plymouth.

For a price tag of $2,200, Robertson got 30 minutes in the air with another pilot who performs in the air show circuit. While the passenger rides in the back in other P-51s, Robertson flew in one of last dual-seat Mustangs.

“There’s no gentleness about it. The pilot pulled some heavy Gs, and let me do it, too,” Robertson said of the plane and its acceleration. “To get in a high performance airplane and put it through its paces, and to pull back and feel the four-and-a-half Gs, it was everything I expected it to be.”

Roberton, who is used to flying the Boeing 747, said he got to experience a portion of the pilot’s air show routine.

“After awhile of me flying I said, ‘It’s sloppy. You show me what this thing can do,’ so he went through the loops and rolls,” he said.

Robertson said he also appreciated the sound of the plane’s engine – a Packard system with a two-stage supercharger and aftercooler – which he said you can identify forever after hearing it just once.

“It’s not the whine of a jet, which can be annoying. It’s a unique, very distinct sound,” he said. “The way it starts and stutters, it’s just incredible.”

Robertson also noted the reaction from World War II veterans when they see the P-51 Mustang.

“You see the older guys and there’s a sadness and a happiness. They lost good friends in those things, or they may have been shot down,” he said. “Those memories are there, and they probably never talked about them. It’s a phenomenon no one understands.”

-Source:   http://www.patriotledger.com

Anoka County-Blaine Airport (KANE) explores new revenue streams • Two pieces of land on the north and south ends of the airport are being marketed for non-aviation lease and development

Darrel Starr pushed his Piper Super Cub out of the hangar he and his wife built at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport. They spent a decade restoring the plane. 
 Photo by GLEN STUBBE • Star Tribune

Fees collected from a mix of corporate high-fliers, aviation businesses and recreational pilots sustain the Anoka County-Blaine Airport financially.

Now airport operators are toying with another revenue stream.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is marketing two pieces of land on the perimeter of the airport for long-term lease and development. The development won’t be aviation-related. Rather, it could be a small-business campus, a convenience store or a fast-food restaurant.

One site, north of the airport, is about 4 acres at the corner of Radisson Road and 105th Avenue NE. The other site is 19 acres south of the airport between Hwy. 10 and 85th Avenue NE.

MAC, which owns and operates six smaller Twin Cities general aviation airports, as well as Minneapolis-St. Paul International, also is marketing six parcels of land for long-term lease and development at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie.

“General aviation has been trending down in the last few years. We are looking for other sources so we can maintain high levels of service.” said Eric Johnson, MAC director of commercial management and airline affairs.

There were 76,721 landings and takeoffs in 2013 at Anoka County-Blaine Airport, second only to Flying Cloud in Eden Prairie.

Activity at the 1,800-acre airport has been relatively stable but well below the high-flying 1990s. There were a record 215,000 takeoffs and landings in 1990.

Much of the reduction in aircraft operations over the past two decades is due to a dramatic drop in flight-training activities as government-funded programs for veterans ended, as well as to the increased cost of owning and operating an airplane, said MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan.

In 2013, there were 405 airplanes based at Anoka County-Blaine Airport, more than at any of the other five smaller MAC-owned airports. There are also more than a dozen businesses operating at the airport.

Airport manager Joe Harris estimates more than 1,500 schoolchildren visit the airport each year for hands-on learning and tours.

“It’s a workspace. It’s open space. It’s a recreation space. It’s a business space. It’s a classroom. It’s a community,” Harris said. “Blaine is very vibrant.”

Couple are drawn

That sense of community and energy is why Darrel and Vivian Starr chose to build a hangar and store their restored Piper Super Cub at Blaine.

They drive past other airports closer to their home because of the camaraderie and sense of adventure and fun they’ve found in Blaine.

“The airport is where the social life is. They are just a load of fun,” said Vivian Starr, describing a weekly dinner with other aviators and their spouses.

Vivian Starr is known statewide for her informal aviation e-newsletter. She attends all the MAC meetings and reports on their outcomes.

The retired Plymouth couple have restored planes and flown for nearly their entire 50-year marriage. Darrel is the pilot. Vivian goes along for the ride.

“I am the passenger. I used to be a very good navigator; then GPS came out and I became redundant,” she quips.

The college sweethearts met in Math 315, and aviation was Darrel Starr’s opening line. He leaned over and asked Vivian about her aviation textbook.

The couple married and rebuilt their first plane in their back yard at home. They were then living in Arizona for Darrel Star’s mechanical engineering career with Caterpillar.

“We stored the propeller under the bed,” Vivian Starr recalls. “We lived with that project.”

“People got a kick out of it. They’d open a closet door and there would be an instrument panel and bits of airplane where you would normally find socks,” Darrel Starr said.

They took some time off from aviation when their son was in college.

“It’s an expensive thing to do. Whenever finances were tight, we stopped flying,” he said.

The couple eventually moved to Minnesota in 1988 and built their hangar on the Blaine airport in 1995. It took them a decade to restore their Super Cub.

They spent $15,000 on the rundown old plane and then rebuilt it piece by piece, adding a more powerful engine, longer propeller and stronger wings. Darrel, who compares it to rebuilding a hot rod, said they’ve easily spent north of six figures on it, but flying and life at the airport is their dream retirement.

Their red and white Super Cub flies slow and low. At 90 miles per hour, it’s perfect for sightseeing and after-dinner flights. They like to fly over to Stillwater and see the progress of the new bridge construction.

The Starrs say they support MAC’s efforts to find new revenue streams.

“It’s a terrific idea. Those parcels of land could never be used for aviation anyway,” Vivian Starr said.

She said the relationship between pilots and MAC has been positive.

“Generally, it’s a good relationship and things have been improving.”

Story and Photo Gallery:  http://www.startribune.com

Darrel Starr, with his restored vintage Piper Super Cub, one of more than 400 aircraft based at Anoka County-Blaine Airport.
Photo by GLEN STUBBE • Star Tribune

Joe Harris is manager of the Anoka County-Blaine Airport. “It’s a community,” he says of the facility.
 Photo by GLEN STUBBE • Star Tribune

The Anoka County-Blaine Airport covers 1,800 acres. Two small parcels are being marketed for non-aviation uses.

Boom in Jetliners May Be Stalling: Industry Observers Fear That Demand for New Planes Has Peaked

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall

Sept. 23, 2014 12:19 p.m. ET


ISTANBUL—A period of record demand for Airbus Group NV and Boeing Co. jetliners may be nearing an end amid concerns in the aviation industry that the market has run out of growth.

"We are at the top of the market" with aircraft lease rates and available financing as high as they may go, said Philip Scruggs, president and chief commercial officer for AerCap Holdings, one of the world's largest lessors of jetliners. The market could remain at that level for another year or more though it is at risk to external shocks, he said at the ISTAT Europe conference here.

Peter Barrett, Chief Executive of plane lessor SMBC Aviation, said the market hasn't peaked—yet—though it may in six to 24 months.

Airbus and Boeing Co. have bulging order books that stretch out for years, banks are providing ample liquidity to finance planes and airlines are making money. For an industry used to boom-and-bust cycles, there is a growing sense the situation can't last.

"We should be concerned," Christian McCormick, global head of aviation finance at Natixis.  Outside events could hurt an industry that has seen a large inflow of money, and airlines and leasing companies placing orders that may be duplicative, he said.

Mr. Scruggs said political turmoil in the Middle East and tensions between Russia and the west could disrupt prospects.

A turning point also may come if central banks that have kept interest rates low to spur economic growth reverse policies. Low rates have triggered an influx of money into the market to finance planes as investors seek returns for renting out aircraft that surpass other investments.

"The fact we've enjoyed the low-interest-rate environment has been a tremendous boost for all of us," Steven Udvar-Házy, chief executive of Air Lease Corp., said at the event. If interest rates change rapidly "then we have to put on our seat belts," he said.

Investors have already become spooked by the high number of order cancellations at Airbus. The European plane maker has suffered 279 cancellations in the first eight months of the year. Airbus officials have said the situation is an aberration resulting from airlines ending deals for current A320 jets that will be replaced by orders for the upgraded A320neo jet due for delivery from next year.

Airbus is urging caution about production rate increases on the single-aisle said. John Leahy, the chief operating officer for customers at Airbus who is typically bullish on market prospects, said the company will weigh carefully whether to boost output to 50 or more A320s a month. The company builds 42 of the jets each month and will increase this to 46 in two years.

Mr. Leahy voiced concern as Boeing executives suggest the U.S. plane maker may raise output to more than 50 narrow-bodies. He charged his rival in the large commercial jetliner duopoly of moving prematurely before orders are booked. Boeing rejects the charge.

An industry expert said outside investors are putting money into the market for aircraft and engines at prices that are inflated.

While airlines are making money, profit margins are razor thin. Carriers will only make $5.42 profit per passenger, or a 2.4% after-tax profit margin, said Andrew Matters, senior economist at the International Air Transport Association. Without ancillary revenue for the likes of checked bags or onboard food, airlines would be returning a "significant loss," he said.

For now, nobody is ready to back off on growth plans based on anecdotal indicators the aerospace industry is headed for a downturn.

"We see a market that is good and getting better," said Randy Tinseth, vice president for marking at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Lease rates are moving up, a sign of strong demand, and prices for secondhand airplanes also are strengthening, he said.

Even Mr. Leahy said Airbus has the orders to boost output of single-aisle jets. The plane make is studying production rates of 50 single-aisle jets a month and has asked suppliers to look at even higher output.

- Source:   http://online.wsj.com

Aeroflot flagship carrier recruits first ever foreign pilot

MOSCOW, September 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s Aeroflot flagship carrier has recruited the first in the history of Russian civil aviation foreign pilot, its press service reported on Tuesday.

German Klaus Dieter Rolfs is the first foreign pilot to work for Aeroflot, and procedures are under way to hire two more candidates for aircraft commander, citizens of the Czech Republic and Germany, a company report said.

Aeroflot Director General Vitaly Savelyev said it was a historic day. “It is very important that owing to the recruitment of foreign aircraft commanders, we will sharply increase the turn-out of our own pilots who will fly with foreigners as second pilots, gaining experience for passing exams for aircraft commander qualification,” he said.

According to Savelyev, despite a slowdown in growth rates of air passengers’ conveyance, growth continued and aircraft commanders were in demand.

Russia has very good prospects as a market of air conveyance, the work of a pilot is in great demand and is highly valued, Klaus Dieter Rolfs said. He also hailed working conditions, saying they were better than in any other airline of the world. Rolfs’ first destination as Aeroflot pilot will be Prague on September 24.

In line with changes to the Air Code of the Russian Federation, from July 21 Russian airlines are allowed to hire foreign citizens in flight crews. A government instruction says up to 200 foreigners a year may be hired as aircraft commanders.

- Source:  http://en.itar-tass.com

Ohio legislators advocate for Air Nat’l Guard: Concern expressed to FAA for keeping traffic controllers at Toledo Express

Five members of Ohio's Congressional delegation have asked the Federal Aviation Administration to "strongly consider" potential harm to the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing if certain air-traffic controllers were to be moved out of the Toledo Express Airport control tower.

The 180th's rapid-response capability under its Aerospace Control Alert mission could be compromised if the Terminal Radar Approach Control functions now performed in Toledo are moved to a different control tower as part of FAA facilities consolidation, according to the joint letter the congressmen sent to FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta.

Co-signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), and Jim Jordan (R., Troy) and Ohio's two senators, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown.

Should the approach control be moved elsewhere, the congressmen wrote, Toledo air-traffic controllers experienced with the 180th's mission would be mixed in with others "who presumably have little-to-no familiarity with the mission."

Assigning controllers to Toledo's air space from a larger employee pool also would mean that each individual controller would likely have fewer opportunities to participate in the 180th's bi-weekly practice alert scrambles, they wrote.

"Controller experience and familiarization with the processes and procedures for launching ACA F-16 aircraft is imperative to mission success," the letter reads in part.

The congressmen also wrote that the existing opportunities for personnel at the 180th to meet and interact with Toledo Air Traffic Control staff "has contributed to the success of the ACA mission and a perfect safety record controlling and integrating fighters with other civilian traffic.“

Moving those controllers elsewhere "will obviously complicate this important face-to-face communication," they wrote.

The congressional letter follows similar letters the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and a coalition of airport users sent last month to the FAA concerning the possible TRACON relocation.

- Source:  http://www.toledoblade.com

Researchers create a robot pilot that can fly a real plane

Researchers have created a robot that they believe could one day pilot a full-size airplane.
 Named the PIBOT, a portmanteau of "pilot" and "robot," the device stands at just 39.7cm tall and has already successfully flown a real-world scaled-down model biplane.

Researchers at the South Korean university KAIST, including Heejin Jeong, David Hyunchul Shim and Sungwook Cho, designed the robot from an off-the-shelf humanoid Bioloid Premium by Robotis. The robot was then modified in order to work the controls of a scaled-down cockpit simulation.

The robot, which was presented at IROS Chicago earlier this month, has a video camera built into its face and additional software installed to detect runways and other visual clues.

The PIBOT also has the ability to activate various buttons and switches, which allows it to control an aircraft's throttle, braking pitch, altitude and direction, with information being fed to the robot directly via wired inputs.

The KAIST research team clearly has high hopes for the project, even suggesting that it could eventually replace human pilots.

"PIBOT can satisfy the various requirements specified in the flying handbook by the Federal Aviation Administration," the team confirmed.

Aside from its biplane flight, the PIBOT has so far only flown computer simulations, but the KAIST team already has plans in place for the robot to eventually pilot full-sized aircraft.

Turkish Airlines says studying more jet purchases

(Reuters) - Turkish Airlines is studying options for further additions to its fleet of Airbus and Boeing passenger aircraft, but has made no decisions, airline executives told a finance industry conference.

"Most probably we will need large aircraft but cargo capacity is important for us. It is under discussion at high levels in the board now at Turkish Airlines," Levent Konukcu, senior vice-president of investment management at Turkish Airlines, told the Istat Europe event in Istanbul on Tuesday.

He said the airline was looking at the Boeing 787, the Airbus A350, up to A380, or the Boeing 777X.

Airbus and Boeing have been trying to sell their largest aircraft, the 525-seat A380 and 467-seat 747-8, to Turkish Airlines as it seeks to use its geographical position and popularity as a final destination to capture traffic from both European rivals and the mainly transit-based Gulf carriers.

The airline aims to increase annual passenger numbers from 111 million in 2014 to 390 million in 2035, according to slides presented to the conference of about 1,000 aircraft financiers.

In February, the airline said it was studying the feasibility of acquiring either the A380 or 747-8, but political analysts have said the matter is partly influenced by uncertainty over Turkey's stalled efforts to join the European Union, as well as airport capacity issues and slot constraints.

There has also been industry speculation that the airline could initially be tempted to lease some of the largest jets.

Turkish Airline's Chief Executive Temel Kotil did not rule out orders for the very large jets at the same conference, but placed greater emphasis on smaller twin-engined, long-haul jets, which have outsold the four-engined jumbos in recent years.

"We are not against any type of aircraft but recently we have (ordered) the 777 for long-haul and Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies for medium-haul," he said, while the airline has also ordered the Airbus A330 long-haul jet.

"They work very well for us. I don't want to say anything for the future. We have made no decision," Kotil said.

- Source:  http://www.reuters.com

Wizz Air Wants Bigger Jets in Budget Airline Battle: Eastern Europe-Based Airline May Swap Airbus A320s for Larger A321s

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall

Sept. 23, 2014 7:03 a.m. ET

ISTANBUL—Wizz Air Holdings PLC is thinking of buying a slightly larger version of the current single-aisle Airbus jetliners it has on order to try to compress its costs to the same level as those of rival Ryanair Holdings PLC.

The move by the eastern Europe-focused budget airline comes amid continuing fierce competition in Europe's airline sector.

The likes of Ireland-based Ryanair and easyJet PLC of the U.K. continue to expand their geographic reach while targeting business travelers rather than just holidaymakers and people visiting friends and relatives. National airline operators like British Airways-parent International Consolidated Airlines Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG are expanding budget carriers of their own.

Wizzair plans to introduce more Airbus A321 jets by converting an order for smaller A320 jets, the airline's chief financial officer Michael Powell said. The airline has more than 30 A320s on order at Airbus.

"Right now we have 10% higher unit cost than Ryanair. We'd like to eliminate that disadvantage" Mr. Powell told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the ISTAT Europe conference. Wizz Air has already ordered 26 A321s with deliveries to start next year.

The carrier, which operates head-to-head with Ryanair in eastern and central Europe, may add more seats to the A321, Mr. Powell said.

The plane currently seats 220 passengers, though Airbus is offering higher seat density arrangements. Wizz Air may fly 230 passengers on its planes.

Ryanair this month said it would buy as many as 200 Boeing 737 Max jets, an upgraded version now in development, with 197 seats as the Chicago-based plane maker offers a higher-seat count configuration.

The Dublin-based airline is big operator of Boeing's 737-800. Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary long pushed Boeing for a 737 configuration accommodating more passengers to cut per-seat costs.

Wizz Air would likely take future single-aisle jets also in larger configurations though the planes it now has an order should satisfy its growth plans for another six years, Mr. Powell said.

Wizz Air in June pulled its planned €200 million initial public offering of stock after rising oil prices and profit warnings at some carriers unsettled investors.

Chief executive József Váradi said last week the IPO may be revived, though it isn't needed to finance growth plans. He called a share sale "a strategic option, but not the only strategic option."

Mr. Powell said the carrier was seeking growth in part by supplanting failed carriers.

"There is certainly a need for consolidation," he said. Mr. Powell bemoaned a European Union decision this year to approve state aid for Poland's struggling national carrier LOT, calling the decision "pretty galling."

- Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Volunteer 'victims' needed for plane crash exercise at Pease International Airport

PORTSMOUTH — At least 100 to 125 volunteers are needed as actors for a simulated “full-scale airplane crash” at Pease International Airport Saturday morning, Oct. 4.

Volunteers can be either victims or “concerned family members,” according to Zachary Boasbert of the Pease Airport Management Department.

Those who would want to volunteer should contact Jennifer Schirmer of the Department of Health and Human Services, 603-271-9454; jennifer.schirmer@dhhs.state.nh.us. Volunteers who call and would be asked to leave a voice mail should leave a name and a call back number.

The exercise will begin at approximately 8 a.m. and run until around 12:30 p.m.

Residents and travelers in the area of the airport are reminded by Boasbert to be aware the activity at Pease International Airport during that time is only a drill.

The exercise, titled “Seacoast Response 2014” is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a drill that must be held at least once every three years.

The exercise will be conducted by the Pease Development Authority, Airport Management Department.

This year’s exercise will involve the five Seacoast/Tri-City Region hospitals: Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital of Dover, Frisbie Memorial Hospital of Rochester, Exeter Hospital and York Hospital.

Other agencies involved in drill include the Pease Fire Department, Newington and Portsmouth Police and Fire Departments, Dover Fire Department, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department, the office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the New Hampshire State Police, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the American Red Cross. Other communities included in the primary response area for Pease are New Castle, Greenland and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. 

- Source:  http://www.fosters.com