Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pakistan International Airlines plane ‘fired’ upon at Peshawar airport

PESHAWAR: Unknown miscreants opened fire at a landing flight at Bacha Khan International Airport in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Saturday night, however, the aircraft and passengers remained safe, official sources said. 

Unidentified gunmen had attacked another passenger aircraft earlier in June as it came in to land at the same airport, killing a woman and injuring two flight stewards on board.

Official sources said that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-756 form Riyadh was fired upon by unknown miscreants between Sulemankhel and Mashokhel of Peshawar’s Badhber area tonight. 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials said that they have reports of firing but the flight landed safely without any injuries to the passengers. They said that they cannot officially confirm the attack. 

Badhber Police said that they have heard and seen the gunfire and were investigating if the plane was attacked or it was a routine celebratory fire, common in the area.

Another security source in the area told that light and short range weapons were used and the fire came from Sulemankhel area and it continued for about a minute. The security forces in the area targeted the firing spot and the attackers were silenced, the source added. 

Security forces were dispatched to the area and launched a search operation.

It may be mentioned that Dara Adamkhel Taliban were planning to target military helicopters and war planes besides passenger aircraft in Peshawar, according to a report by DawnNews. 

Security was put on high alert on Friday night after the threat alert and besides FC and police, army troops also patrolled the area near the tribal areas specially Adezai, Badhber and Mattani.

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Deputies: Physician’s assistant blocked helicopter landing at vehicle crash scene

Volusia County certified physician’s assistant who told deputies “I always go around firetrucks” was taken to jail after refusing to move his car to allow a sheriff’s helicopter to land at the scene of a fatal vehicle crash, according to his arrest report.

James Allen, 52 — who works at Urgent Care in Ormond Beach — was charged Thursday with failure to obey police/fire department and resisting an officer without violence, both misdemeanors, court records show. After spending the night at the Volusia County Branch Jail, he was released Friday morning on his own recognizance. Allen could not be reached for comment Friday.

Volusia County sheriff’s deputies and later the Florida Highway Patrol responded to State Road 40 and Church Street in Barberville early Thursday after 26-year-old Tessa George of Pierson had struck a tree after losing control of her sport utility vehicle. George had been traveling west on S.R. 40 and failed to negotiate a curve just east of Pine Street, FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said. She over-corrected her Hyundai Santa Fe, and that prompted the vehicle into a clockwise rotation, sending the SUV into a tree off the north shoulder of the highway.

Deputies on scene had called for the sheriff’s helicopter because they thought they had an injured driver who might need to be airlifted to the hospital.

Deputy Steven Eisen blocked traffic on S.R. 40 at Church Street and emergency vehicles were lined up in the eastbound lanes, the crash report states. Traffic was backed up in that area.

But Allen, as noted in Eisen’s report, drove his 2007 Toyota around the emergency vehicles for about 200 feet off the paved highway. Deputies and emergency personnel yelled at Allen to stop his car, to no avail, the report states. Allen was ordered three times to park his car east of the emergency vehicles and out of the way of the helicopter, but refused, deputies said, instead stopping on S.R. 40.

Allen then rolled into the open space on S.R. 40 that had been cleared for the helicopter’s landing, the report states. That’s when he almost struck Sheriff’s Sgt. Justin Sawicki with his Toyota, deputies said. As Allen passed Sawicki, the sergeant began yelling at him to stop. Allen was in the helicopter’s landing zone and the chopper was just above, 50 to 100 feet from the ground, the report states. Sawicki then told the pilot to abort the landing to avoid another accident.

Allen, of Port Orange, told deputies he had no idea the road was being blocked and then said, “I always go around firetrucks and never have had a problem before,” the report shows.

But deputies say Allen did have a tough time hearing several people yell at him as he drove around eight fire and emergency vehicles parked in the east lanes of S.R. 40 early Thursday just after midnight.

After the helicopter landing was aborted, Deputy Eisen asked Allen for his driver’s license. Allen refused and Eisen reached into the suspect’s car and grabbed his driver’s license, the report states. Eisen then told Allen to move his car away from the landing zone and then the helicopter did land. When it was determined that George had died at the scene, the helicopter left and Sawicki and Eisen turned their attention back to Allen.

When Allen was handcuffed, he asked, “What’s this all about?” then blurted out that he passes emergency vehicles routinely.

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James Allen

Cebu Pacific adding more flights to points in Visayas

Cebu Pacific Air, the country’s biggest budget airline, is increasing flight frequencies to the Visayas, the company said Friday in a statement.

Specifically, it will add more flights to Bacolod, Cebu and Roxas by the fourth quarter of 2014.

From Oct. 9 to Dec. 3, passengers may choose from 13 weekly flights (up from 7) between Manila and Roxas, and from 128 weekly flights (up from 114) between Manila and Cebu.

Those with plans to travel between Manila and Bacolod can choose from 49 weekly flights (up from 42), from Oct. 26 to Dec. 3.

Cebu Pacific continues to study “opportunities to stimulate travel to and from the Visayas,” said Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution. “We believe that air travel brings convenient accessibility not just for the tourism sector, but also for the business sector.”

Aside from Bacolod, Cebu and Roxas, the budget airline operates flights to 31 other domestic and 28 international destinations. In the Visayas, it also flies to Caticlan, Dumaguete, Kalibo, Iloilo, Tacloban and Tagbilaran.

Cebu Pacific’s 51-strong fleet is comprised of 10 Airbus A319, 28 Airbus A320, five Airbus A330 and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft.

Between 2014 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 11 more brand new Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo and one Airbus A330 aircraft. 

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Virgin Australia play flyover alarms some fans at AFL Grand Final

PR stunt backfires as fly-by by Virgin jet sparks security scare at AFL Grand Final... and even Julie Bishop's bodyguard 'reached for his gun' 

 A fly-by by a Virgin passenger jet sparked a security scare at Saturday's AFL Grand Final, even prompting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's bodyguard to 'reach for his gun'.

The PR stunt backfired just before the first bounce when the A330 flew low just above the Melbourne Cricket Ground as the showpiece game was about to get underway.

Fans tweeted their shock and Collingwood president and TV host Eddie McGuire told how the AFP assigned to Ms Bishop feared the venue was under attack.

McGuire told Fox Footy, 'I was sitting about 10 metres away from the foreign defense minister Julie Bishop and can I tell you, when the Virgin plane flew over the top of the MCG, I looked around and the secret service bloke from the federal police reached for the gun because no one had told him,' reported the Daily Telegraph.

'This bloke, he went for the gun. I’m serious, mate. I don’t know what he was going to do with it, pop it out of the sky,' he said.

The low-altitude A330 Airbus caused an uproar on social media, with many AFL fan's taking to tweeting about the stunt instead of the game.

One Twitter user said, 'Hey @AFL and @VirginAustralia - really appreciated the plane flying 20m over my house after weeks of political scaremongering... #AFLGF'.

Another commented, 'omg @ virgin airlines flying a plane close to the ground for a promotional stunt at the afl grand final during a high terrorism alert'.

The stunt come after weeks of heightened tension within Australia, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott announcing an increase in the terror alert to 'high' for the nation.

Following 'terror raids' on homes of suspected terrorists, some in the community have questioned the appropriateness of the timing for such a stunt.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson said:  'Virgin Australia is the official airline of the AFL and as a show of support for the game we operate a special flight over the MCG on Grand Final day each year.'

The flight was apparently operated in strict accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements, and flown by three senior pilots with no passengers aboard the plane.

Some football fans come out and called for followers to calm down, poking fun at those who were scared by the stunt.

'Those Melbourne football fans are a bunch of cowardly pants-wetters, aren’t they?'

Virgin, the official airline partner of the AFL, gave warning of the pre-game entertainment. The airline posted on their Facebook page at midday, 'Are you in Melbourne today? Look up in the sky just after 2pm for our MCG flyover.'

One Facebook user backed up the decision, commenting on the post, 'Great display ...don't listen to the drama queens trying to drum up sensationalism in relation to the aircraft flying low over the MCG and causing fear.'

Another said, 'Inappropriate? You're kidding. This is Australia, this is how we do things.'

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Collingwood president Eddie McGuire says he saw an AFP officer reach for a gun when a Virgin Australia plane flew low over the MCG as part of the Grand Final celebrations.

Footy fans and Melburnians have slammed Virgin Australia for the hair-raising sponsorship stunt which formed part of the pre-match entertainment.

McGuire says the incident spooked an AFP officer he was seated near.

“I was sitting about 10 metres away from the foreign defense minister Julie Bishop and can I tell you, when the Virgin plane flew over the top of the MCG, I looked around and the secret service bloke from the federal police reached for the gun because no one had told him,” McGuire told Fox Footy.

“This bloke, he went for the gun. I’m serious, mate. I don’t know what he was going to do with it, pop it out of the sky,” he added.

The colorful media personality's comments come in the wake of the Twitter storm that erupted after an A330 airbus flew over the stadium at low altitude before the first bounce.

Crowds outside gasped when the plane roared over the top of the stadium.

AFL fan Nicole said she was scared by the low-flying plane.

“That was really low. Pretty crazy.”

Mark from Melbourne tweeted: “We are in a state of high terror alert. All for the sake of  sponsorship with no warning to the city. STUPID.”

“GEE @virginaustralia stupid time to fly over the MCG. You know, because terrorism.”

However other fans were delighted with the stunt.

“I love a good flyover nonetheless! what a good spectacle at the ground,” tweeted Riley Toms.

Fans at the ground cheered at the jet as commentators confirmed it was as a pre-organized marketing stunt.

Virgin Australia quickly moved to stem fears by tweeting to worried Melburnians online that the flight path had be prearranged.

Virgin Australia spokeswoman Emma King said the flight is operated in strict accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements by three senior pilots.

“Virgin Australia is the official airline of the AFL and as a show of support for the game we operate a special flight over the MCG on Grand Final day each year,” she said.

There were no passengers on board.

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Low-cost airlines struggling to gain altitude in battle for Asian skies

Alongside the runway at Alice Springs Airport sits one of the world's newest aircraft "boneyards".

Since the first small plane arrived at the storage yard in June, a Qantas Boeing 767, four Tigerair Singapore aircraft and a Boeing 737 from another small airline have parked up.

From the air, the planes sit on their hard stands like mosquitoes in the desert.

The arrival of the Qantas jet at Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage's 110-hectare site in the parched land of central Australia over the last week fits with the airline's plan to retire its fleet of Boeing 767s by the end of the year. The white kangaroo on the tail of the 767 has been painted over.

Once the centerpiece of Qantas' domestic fleet, the last 767s will end up at Alice Springs or Victorville, the world's largest plane parking yard at the edge of the Mojave Desert in California. They are likely to find new owners, a better fate than many 747 jumbos. Once dubbed the "Queen of the Skies", many 747s will be broken up for scrap because of a weak second-hand market for the aircraft.

While the Qantas planes are at the end of their working lives for a full-service airline, the four Tigerair Singapore planes – two 180-seat Airbus A320s and two smaller A319s – are relatively young in aviation terms.

A further eight could be lined up alongside them over the coming months, depending on whether Tigerair can sub-lease the surplus planes to another airline.

Until they were parked at Alice, they shuttled passengers between cities in South-East Asia. Some are from Tigerair's offshoot in the Philippines, which was recently sold to that country's largest airline, Cebu Pacific.

Tigerair's decision to ground planes in the red centre serves as a stark reminder of the battle under way in South-East Asia between budget airlines. Qantas's budget offshoot in Singapore, Jetstar Asia, is among scores of low-cost carriers in the region bleeding red ink.

Put simply, there are too many airlines flying in South-East Asia to meet demand, even in a region boasting some of the fastest-growing economies on the planet. Seat capacity on routes in South-East Asia has increased by a third in just three years, according to analysts at investment bank CIMB.

Asian airlines have endured tough periods before, usually because of external events such as the Asian financial crisis in 1997 or the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003.

"But this is different because it seems this time what has precipitated the problem is a lot of carriers buying a lot of aircraft and putting them into the market at the same time, particularly no-frills carriers," says Rod Eddington, a former chief executive of British Airways and Hong Kong's flag carrier, Cathay Pacific. "This is clearly a tough time and the operating numbers for the airlines reflect that."

When Geoff Dixon unveiled Jetstar Asia in Singapore in September 2004, the then Qantas chief executive declared that "this is going to be a very, very substantial airline".

A decade later, Qantas has put the brakes on the expansion of the Singapore airline, the first of four Jetstar-branded carriers it has set up in Asia as part of joint ventures with local investors.

Jetstar Asia's fleet has increased by only one plane a year for the past two years, leaving it with 18 single-aisle A320s – the same size as Jetstar Japan which began flying just two years ago. The Singapore-based airline's losses blew out to $40 million last financial year, from a $2.2 million profit previously, due to what Jetstar Group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka described as an "unprecedented level of capacity".

While budget airlines and their shareholders are nursing their wounds, travelers have benefited from the surplus flights. Airlines are having to discount fares heavily to fill their planes.

Flight Center estimates fares from Australia to destinations such as Phuket in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are about 5 per cent cheaper than this time last year. "From an affordability perspective, it is fair to say that they have never been cheaper," a spokesman said.

The glut in flights has left budget airlines such as Tigerair Singapore little choice but to ground planes in far-flung corners of the globe – or to slow or cancel orders for new aircraft from manufacturers – while they await a pick-up in demand. Tiger's losses doubled in the first quarter to $S65 million ($58 million), part of which was due to the shutdown of a budget airline in Indonesia that bore its name.

The grounding of planes for any length of time runs contrary to a low-cost airline's business model. With them reaping less from their passengers, they need to sweat their assets more than their full-service counterparts. That means budget airlines need to turn planes around quickly at airports to ensure they spend as many hours as possible flying their lower-yielding travelers between cities.

Planes also need to be at least 80 per cent full, or they can quickly be tipped into loss-making territory. After all, an airline's biggest expense – jet fuel – is no cheaper for a budget carrier than their full-service equivalent.

In the rush to break into Asia's markets to tap an apparent gold mine, budget carriers have broken what many full-service airline executives once believed was a cardinal rule. That was to do their utmost to ensure they did not take delivery of new planes until they had secured air-traffic rights and landing slots at airports. Otherwise, airlines end up taking delivery of expensive assets without the ability to generate revenue from them.

Further north, Jetstar Hong Kong serves as a reminder of the consequences of breaking that rule. The joint venture between Qantas, China Eastern and Pansy Ho's Shun Tak has been forced to sell six of its nine-strong fleet because it is still to gain regulatory approval more than a year after it had planned to launch flights.

In South-East Asia, the development of many airports such as those in Jakarta and Manila has also failed to keep pace with the rapid increase in flights, leaving airlines fighting for landing slots, especially at peak times.

The big question remains how long it will take before the supply-demand imbalance ends. The concern is that a number of airlines such as Indonesia's privately owned Lion Air and Malaysia's AirAsia have a huge number of planes on order. Between them, Lion Air and AirAsia have ordered more than 800 aircraft.

Andrew Orchard, an aviation analyst in Hong Kong for CIMB, says low-cost carriers have indicated they will reduce capacity by leasing aircraft they are due to take delivery of to other airlines.

"But any measure that they make will be quite temporary and I'm not convinced they have altered their mindset. They are taking a wait-and-see approach," he says.

Azran Osman-Rani, the chief executive of Malaysia's AirAsia X, agrees competition is the most intense it has been in South-East Asia but remains predictably optimistic about the long-term outlook.

"It is a short term, one to three-year crunch, before demand catches up to capacity," he says.

"When you look at in the context of population and economic development, then demand will very quickly catch up to this excess capacity."

As budget airlines in South-East Asia fight for survival, the former cable television executive highlights the importance of remaining number one or two in the market.

"Once you start to get to a point of industry maturity, where you have [low-cost carriers] reaching 50 percent of the total market, it becomes very, very difficult for people who have a much lower market share – for people who are number three, four or five," Osman-Rani says.

"That's why when you look at some of the South-East Asian airlines, or affiliates of airlines that have closed down, it has typically been at least number three or one-third the size of the incumbents."

Smaller players such as Tigerair Mandala in Indonesia have raised the white flag because they have been unable to close the gap with market leaders such as Lion Air in a capital-intensive business.

Like other industries such as retail banking, an airline that has a wider footprint in the market than its competitors has a large economic advantage over its rivals.

Osman-Rani says airlines need to hold their nerve during the capacity crunch because the the size of the population in Asia with disposable incomes is growing fast and demand for flying will catch up with supply.

Regulatory barriers have long limited airlines' ability to spread their wings in Asia. Airlines such as Qantas, Tigerair and AirAsia have circumvented the ownership restrictions in countries by teaming up with investors to launch low-cost airlines such as Jetstar Asia.

South-East Asian governments have long targeted next year for a relaxation of the restrictions on airlines flying on routes within the region. However, the test will be whether all countries who are members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations – or at least the major nations – ratify, sign and implement what is known as "open skies". It promises much but many within the aviation industry remain cautious.

"There is not going to be an overnight wave of the wand for an open market but the framework is there with the ASEAN open skies," Osman-Rani says. "Once you have access to the routes, then that is the main way the market can really become a lot more efficient provided we address the problem of airport bottlenecks. Until the infrastructure bottle necks are addressed, the market is going to be very imperfect."

South-East Asia has seen phenomenal growth in budget airlines over the last decade. For every passenger flying on a full-service airline within South-East Asia, another flies on a low-cost carrier.

In comparison, only about one out of every four passengers flies from the region to destinations elsewhere in the world such as Australia on budget airlines. It is this segment of the market – long-haul flying to and from South-East Asia– that airlines such as AirAsia X and Singapore Airline's Scoot are targeting for growth as they eat into the underbellies of full-service airlines on the routes.

After several years of growth on routes to Australia, AirAsia X will focus on digesting the capacity between its hub in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast before it boosts capacity further. However, its affiliates such as Indonesia AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X are set to lead the expansion of services on routes to and from Australia. 

"Where the expansion is probably going to come from is probably our other hubs. We have invested in Indonesia AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X – they could be the ones where we continue our expansion into Australia from those hubs rather than KL," Osman-Rani says.

In the wrestle for market share, it may in fact be full-service airlines that give more ground as they have in Europe over the past decade to budget airlines on short-haul routes.

CIMB expects Malaysia Airlines, which had expanded aggressively in recent years, to cut flights throughout Asia as it seeks to turn its fortunes around following the loss of two Boeing 777 aircraft this year. The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines' flight 370 in March resulted in Chinese tourists avoiding traveling to South-East Asian countries  such as Malaysia and Singapore in droves.

Orchard agrees low-cost carriers recognize they need scale to survive. "They are all trying to be one of the few survivors, and the only way you can do that is build up your network. It is a case where the biggest and fittest survive, and it will be a case where a few guys pull back or go under.

"I don't think you will see it play out right away – it will happen over a number of years. The market has expanded very, very quickly."

Others remain optimistic about the outlook in Asia.

"There will be casualties but it will be just the weak ones that are weeded out," an executive at an Asian aircraft leasing company says. "The averages can be deceptive and I don't paint the airlines all with the same brush. We have got population on our side, we have rising disposable incomes and a number of countries are crossing the threshold in moving more into consumption-driven markets."

However, Eddington has a note of caution for airlines searching for a rich new vein of revenue in Asia.

"People are mesmerized by the size of the market and the growing middle class but that doesn't mean that airlines that get started are going to be profitable. There are a lot of airlines that have got started and most of them have lost a substantial amount of money," he says.

"Your passengers can disappear quite quickly. The low-cost carrier market basically targets people who are discretionary spenders. Those who follow [the dominant players] thinking it's an easy game are often doomed for disappointment."

A slight wobble in an economy can lead to risk-averse consumers closing their wallets. The Tigerair Singapore planes sitting idle in the red center of Australia serve as a reminder that the road to riches in Asia is full of hidden dangers.

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Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame to induct new members

Seven men will be inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Saturday night at the organization’s annual Honors Banquet, its biggest fundraiser of the year. The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall, with cocktails beginning at 5.

This year’s inductees are:

• Gordon R. Farquhar, a highly decorated Vietnam War helicopter pilot and one of the original full-time flight instructors for the Delaware Army National Guard’s aviation program. He is a Bronze Star recipient with more than 1,100 combat hours and 16,000 total hours. He’s also a retired corporate pilot qualified in 19 different aircraft.

• Robert L. Farris Jr., a Vietnam War helicopter pilot and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient. He was a fixed wing National Guard fighter pilot who flew five aircraft types during a 35-year US Airways career.

• Harry Griffith, owner and operator of Horizon Helicopters. With nearly 25,000 accident-free flight hours, he has instructed a wide range of students including area State Police helicopter pilots. He taught the first deaf person in the U.S. to receive a private helicopter certificate.

• Daniel T. Kirk, who is known as the “Balloon Guy.” A retired Army lieutenant colonel, he spent more than 30 years competing, mentoring and training the young and old in balloon airmanship. He was Delaware’s Hot Air Balloon Champion five years in a row and is an active member of several aviation groups and a mentor to many.

• James A. LeNoir, a B-24 Liberator gunner during World War II, who earned six Air Medals in 35 combat missions. He saved the life of a fellow crew member during a combat mission over Europe. After the war, he developed munitions for Hercules and continues to serve with veterans organizations.

• William F. Nutter, a World War II aircraft electrical specialist. He won the Bronze Star for correcting a B-17 malfunction that could have cost many lives. After the war, he earned a civilian commercial pilot certificate and was a Civil Air Patrol pilot and operations officer.

• Herman R. Richardson, a decorated Army helicopter pilot with 31 years of service and two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying 375 combat hours. He was the brigade maintenance officer responsible for more than 160 aircraft and their delivery overseas during Desert Storm. He also was a Boeing acceptance test pilot in the CH-47 Chinook.

For more information, go to

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Vietnamese Navy pilots train in Canada

Vietnamese Navy personnel and Canadian instructors 
(Photo courtesy Viking)

In 2013, an initial group of 26 students from the Vietnam People’s Navy completed the first phase of a multi‐year flight and maintenance training program in British Columbia.

On Sept. 22 an additional 10 trainees joined the ranks as certified Twin Otter Series 400 pilots, completing a 20‐month intensive flight training program at Pacific Sky Aviation.

The program, offered by Pacific Sky in support of a six‐aircraft deal between the Vietnam Navy and Pacific Sky’s sister company, Viking Air Limited of Sidney, BC, is timed to coincide with production and delivery of the sixth Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft.

More details from Viking’s news release:

As five of the six Series 400 Twin Otters on order from Viking have already been delivered to Vietnam, and the sixth aircraft is scheduled to arrive in‐country in early October, the timing of the graduation if the additional pilots is ideal.

All the Vietnam Twin Otter pilots completed the specialized training program developed in cooperation with the Vietnam Navy, which included: 

  • 6 months of Aviation English Language training
  • Transport Canada Private Pilot and Commercial Licenses
  • 6,000 total hours of flight training
  • Float and Night Ratings on C172, C182 and DHC‐2 Beaver aircraft
  • Over 1,000 total flight hours of Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft training, including 650 hours and 2,100 take‐offs and landings on the coastal waters and lakes of British Columbia.
The graduating students will return to Vietnam where they will be supported in additional on‐the‐job training by a Pacific Sky Twin Otter pilot and a Viking Field Service representative. This team will assist the Vietnam Navy in the further development of Twin Otter capabilities to meet the critical missions performed by the Vietnam Navy.

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Captain Steve Allright: British Airways pilot eases passengers through flight experience

British Airways pilot and trainer Steve Allright 
Sarah Dea / The National 

Captain Steve Allright, 48, is a British Airways pilot and training captain. He also teaches courses designed to help people conquer a fear of flying. His next “Flying with Confidence” course in the UAE is on October 20 at the Capital Club, Dubai. Here, he talks about a recent day when he flew to New York.


I shower and eat a banana on the go. I live in a village 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport, near London. When I moved house a few years ago, I found my project books in our old attic from when I was nine; one on airplanes and the other on birds. So I must have had a fascination with flying even then.


I get to the crew car park, jump on the crew bus, then it’s a five-minute journey to terminal 5. It’s there I meet the co-pilot. There are about 500 British Airways co-pilots and 300 captains on our 47 747s, so I’ve never met him before. He’s in training to swap seats from co-pilot to captain pilot. So he still sits in the right-hand seat on the plane, but I let him act as the captain and make all the decisions under my supervision.


We’re given paperwork covering the flight time, fuel needed, the weather at our destination and en route any forecast turbulence and defense issues we should know about. Then we do a 15-minute briefing with the 14 cabin crew. We leave the crew report area and go through the same random security checks that passengers go through. We abide by the same rules on how to store liquids, creams and gels, and walk with the passengers to the plane.


The other pilot walks around the outside of the aircraft to check for any obvious issues, meets the dispatcher organizing the departure and the loaders. I set up the navigation computers on board and make sure all those knobs and switches are in the right places. On a long-haul flight, there’s always a tray of sandwiches and chocolate biscuits that cabin crew provide for us when we get on board, which is a treat for us.


We depart on time, spend 20 minutes taxiing on the ground before taking off towards the Welsh Hills, and over Ireland. We get our oceanic clearance from the Shanwick Air Traffic Control Center and start flying across the Atlantic. The closest we get to other planes horizontally is 10 minutes apart, but in terms of altitude, we’re only separated by about 1,000 feet. Because airplanes use GPS computers they fly very accurately at all times. We’re on the North Atlantic track and would certainly see other aircraft over or under us. You tend to overtake other planes in a 747.


My favorite meal is served; tilapia fish with minted peas and potatoes. We eat different food to passengers. What I love most about flying is looking out of the window. On the way back from New York at nighttime, we see the Northern Lights, which are like an eerie moving green curtain when you’re at altitude, with a few purples sometimes. They’re tens of thousands of miles away in the atmosphere, and change quite rapidly in brightness and shape.


We do a brief for an hour or so about what we’re expecting for the landing approach. We have to be aware that there are lots of airplanes around us flying into New York, the air traffic controllers speak quickly and the runways there can be quite short. We discuss what speed and altitude we’ll be flying in at. I don’t ever get bored of the fantastic view from Cape Cod down to Long Island, coming into New York.

10.30am NY time (3.30pm UK time)

We land at JFK, taxi to terminal 7 and park the plane. Quite often we have to get towed on to the gate as it’s a very tight stand there. We shut down the engines and do secure checks for the next crew to board. I head through traffic for an hour-and-a-half to the Concorde Hotel in Manhattan, which is operated solely for British Airways staff. I take a shower and relax.

3pm NY time (8pm UK time)

Back to work, this time at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel to run a “Flying with Confidence” course for 12 people. One in four people have a fear of flying, and one in 10 have significant difficulties. There are always business travelers on our courses, people who have to fly every week for business but for whom the fear gets gradually worse each time they fly. For some execs, their fear may be holding back their career. On these courses we discuss issues such as pilot training and how jet streams and storms cause turbulence, but it’s never dangerous. I explain that wings cannot fall off airplanes, and it’s actually the wings that make the airplane fly. So if the engine stops, you can still glide for about 100 miles. I had an engine failure once on a 767 leaving Philadelphia — I diverted to Boston, and the passengers were kept aware of it. That’s the only dangerous thing that’s happened to me in 25 years of flying. My message is: “trust the professionals – we’re the most regulated profession on the planet”. I also teach relaxation techniques people can practice before flying. The Dubai course is five hours; the first took place in February and it was fully booked. One gentleman flew in from Saudi Arabia to attend and there was a Danish lady desperate to visit her family in Denmark.

6pm (11pm UK time)

I finish teaching, grab a slice of pizza and talk to my wife and two kids. FaceTime has changed my life. If I’m away for five days, not only is it lovely to see their faces but it’s lovely to see my garden. It just connects you with home, and when you’re stuck in a hotel room for 50 hours that’s wonderful. My youngest, Adam, has just started university so when I’m going to bed he’s normally just going out. My daughter Holly is 20, she’s on a year out working at British Airways HQ.

7pm (midnight UK time)

I never get jet lag. My wife says I could sleep on a washing line.

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Frequent flyer mile programs vary ... Consumer Reports compares deals

Who doesn't want to fly for free?

But can you really get where you want to go using your frequent flyer miles?

To find out, Consumer Reports asked staffers to try booking round-trip tickets using their frequent flyer miles with nine programs: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest, Spirit, United and US Airways.

The staffers searched for a seat on the five most popular U.S. routes Los Angeles to New York, Chicago to New York, Chicago to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to San Francisco, and Atlanta to New York for flights that departed in three days, one month and three months.

The results were just a snapshot in time, but the options were often limited. Staffers had the most choices on Delta, followed by Southwest and US Airways.

The deals also varied widely. Spirit required the most miles for the routes staffers checked, followed by US Airways. And they both charged the highest booking fees: more than $100 for last-minute travel.

The best mileage deals were with Alaska Airlines, followed by JetBlue, American and Delta.

Consumer Reports found that you are usually far better off booking early. For example, on Southwest's Chicago to New York route, a round trip ticket went from around 17,000 miles a month before departure to more than 77,000 for a flight three days away.

On short notice United was the only airline that sometimes lowered the number of miles needed to book a seat.

Whatever you do, Consumer Reports says don't hoard frequent flyer miles. You run the risk that they'll expire.

Consumer Reports says that if you can't book a seat using miles, try calling the frequent-flyer service desk. Agents can sometimes find seats that you can't.

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Hidden camera found in Honolulu International Airport (PHNL) women's locker room

Concerns about privacy are being raised after a hidden camera was found at Honolulu International Airport. 

 The Department of Public Safety says it is investigating a hidden camera found in a women’s locker room at the airport.

The department said they could not confirm which airline is involved.

KHON2 checked with Hawaiian Airlines who say they understand there is an open investigation into this incident.

KHON2 wanted to know if there was a way to detect these cameras.

“They’re getting smaller, They’re getting less expensive,” said Matt Lau.

They’re even becoming more discreet. Lau works for Cam Security, a company that sells all types of cameras for security purposes.

“They’re primarily for protection that’s the bottom line to protect your property,” said Lau.

While most cameras do remain visible and are used for the security of businesses and homes. These days you can find cameras with a lens as small as a pin hole and even ones that fit in watches.

These little cameras can cause some to worry, but KHON2 News spoke with Lau about a few ways to detect these cameras if you do feel they are being used for the wrong reasons.

“If it’s a wireless camera then you would need an RF signal or radio frequency detector,” said Lau.

But what if it isn’t sending off an RF signal?

Well, that can be a little tricky, but there is still a way.

“You can take a tube and look through it while flashing a light around the room,” said Lau. “Most cameras have a lens, even if they are small, so the light from the flash light should reflect no matter how small it is.”

Finally if the camera has night vision simply turn out the lights in the room and point the camera on your smart phone at the hidden camera. The infrared light from the camera should show up on your smart phone camera.

“The quality is getting a lot better,” said Lau. ” It’s going to be a point where you really want to think before you do anything illegal.”

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