Sunday, November 2, 2014

City of Edmonton budget: McKeen concerned about recommendation for new $7.2-million police helicopter

EDMONTON - Edmonton police should receive $7.2 million next year to buy a new twin-engine helicopter, the city’s capital budget recommends.

The chopper would cost almost five times more than the single-engine aircraft it’s intended to replace, Air-1, which was bought in 2002 for $1.7 million raised through a public lottery.

That machine, one of Edmonton’s two police helicopters, was only expected to last for about nine years, according to the 2015-18 capital budget documents.

“If the (helicopter) program was curtailed or cancelled, an aerial advantage would be lost that could not be replicated by more officers on the ground,” says the budget, calling this an essential core service.

“The ability to respond quickly, see in the dark and relay timely information can only be delivered with the speed and technology that a police helicopter delivers.”

The remaining single-engine helicopter should be replaced in 2019 with another twin-engine model, which requires less downtime for maintenance, the documents say.

But Coun. Scott McKeen, a member of the police commission, said Sunday he’d like more focus on community policing and less on this type of high-tech equipment.

“I think there is a bit of a policing-industrial complex,” he said.

“I have so much regard for what our front-line officers do and how difficult their job is, but I’m not convinced that increasingly expensive and advanced armour and surveillance and weaponry is the answer.”

The current fleet, based in Villeneuve Airport since the City Centre Airport closed last year, annually costs about $1.9 million to operate and flies a total of 1,900 hours.

Their main use is managing police pursuits, but they also monitor suspicious activity and help at disasters, fires and searches for missing people.

This boosts public and officer safety, and reduces lawsuits from accidents, the budget documents say.

However, McKeen said the new machines will be noisier and many people don’t like constant surveillance from “Big Brother in the sky.”

There might be better ways to provide the same service, such as leasing helicopters when they’re really needed or staffing more two-officer cars, he said.

“The public has to be very vigilant, not about individuals, but about an organization that out of reflex wants the best hardware to do its job,” he said.

“I’m much more interested in human engagement.”

City council will have its first discussion Tuesday about the $6-billion capital budget, which guides spending on construction and major equipment.


Story and comments:  http://www.edmontonjournal.com

Members of the public check out the Edmonton Police Service helicopter, Air-1, in Hawrelak Park during Emergency Preparedness Week in May 2013. Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

Winds force Old Dominion University football plane to land at Richmond International Airport (KRIC), Virginia

Saturday night had already been miserable for the Old Dominion football team -- the Monarchs fell at Vanderbilt, 42-28, to lose their fifth game in a row.

But early Sunday morning things turned harrowing as the charter plane returning the Monarchs from Nashville, Tenn. had to abort two attempted landings at Norfolk International Airport.

Pilots on the US Airways charter plane made one attempted landing, and pulled up because of high winds. As the plane continued to be buffeted, the second attempt was called off before the plane again approached the runway.

The plane was then diverted to Richmond, where the Monarchs sat on the runway for an hour and a half as buses that had been waiting at the Norfolk airport drove to Richmond.

The plane carried 187 passengers, including ODU president John Broderick and his wife, Kate; football coach Bobby Wilder and his wife, Pam; athletic director Wood Selig, the football team and dozens of school athletic employees and even the radio broadcast crew.

Approximately 40 ODU boosters and alumni, including Dick Fraim, the brother of Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, were also on board.

Broderick said the plane appeared to get within about 100 feet of the runway before pulling up.

“You could see that it just wasn’t going to happen,” Broderick said. “There was just too much wind.”

“We were really getting rocked” on the first attempted landing, Selig said. “There were a lot of nervous glances.

“The pilot said he was going to try on more time, and he didn’t even come close.”

Even with the time change – clocks were set back an hour Saturday night – the ODU entourage did not arrive back on campus until 5 a.m., more than four hours later than expected.

“We’re all glad the pilot erred on the side of safety,” Broderick said. “Even on the bus ride home, you could tell how windy it was.”

Wilder said that for most of ODU’s players, it was no big deal.

“Most of the kids were sound asleep and had no idea what happened,” he said. “They slept on the plane ride to Richmond, while we waited for the buses and on the bus ride home.”

Wilder said that he shook the pilot’s hands and thanked him when the team finally departed in Richmond.

“We’re all thankful that we had an experienced pilot who knew what he was doing and avoided disaster,” he said.


Source:    http://hamptonroads.com

Man injured after struck by tail of own plane at Peterborough Airport, Ontario, Canada

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. - Paramedics say an elderly man received minor injuries Sunday when he was hit by the tail of his own plane in Peterborough, Ont.

Spokesman Chris Barry says the 80-year-old was trying to manually start the small plane by spinning the propeller when the rear of the plane swung around.

He says the tail struck the man, knocking him to the ground.

Barry says the incident occurred around 1:30 p.m. near a hangar at the Peterborough Airport.

The man was taken to hospital for observation.

Fire officials initially said two people were taken to hospital, but paramedics said the second person merely accompanied the injured man to the hospital.

Source: http://www.cp24.com

Brazilian aircraft Embraer manufacturer oversees North America operations from Fort Lauderdale

Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, has made Florida the center of its operations in North America.

Founded in Brazil in 1969 as a government-owned company and privatized in 1994, Embraer designs, manufactures and sells a range of aircraft for commercial airlines and defense, plus executive jets.

The company, whose name in Portuguese is Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica S.A. (Brazilian Aeronautics Company) is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets of up to 130 seats, has over 19,000 employees and logged net revenues of $13.6 billion in 2013.

Embraer’s midsize jets are used by regional airlines all over the world.

“Embraer opened its first U.S. sales office in Dania Beach in 1979,” said Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Aircraft Holding Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, the Embraer subsidiary in charge of sales and marketing for commercial aircraft in the U.S. and Canada. “And the company opened its Fort Lauderdale facility in 1981,” said Spulak, who began working for Embraer in 1983.

The Fort Lauderdale complex, built alongside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, incudes the headquarters offices, marketing staff for commercial aircraft, a maintenance center for executive jets and a warehouse with spare parts and equipment for Embraer’s commercial and executive jets.

The Fort Lauderdale facilities are only one part of Embraer’s large presence in Florida, built to support Embraer’s sales and service initiatives in the key U.S. market.

“The North American market accounts for more than 50 percent of deliveries of all Embraer commercial and executive jets,” said Spulak, who was born in Brooklyn, moved to Florida with his family and attended high school in Hollywood.

“And in the U.S., we have over 1,000 Embraer aircraft flying,” he added.

To gain a stonger foothold in the North American market and provide more service for its planes, Embraer has invested in production and maintenance facilities in Florida and three other states.

Since 2011, Embraer has been building its Phenom executive jets in Melbourne, and recently opened a $24 million engineering and technology center there.

The company is also investing an estimated $48 million in a new Melbourne plant that will make Embraer Legacy business jets.

The Melbourne plants are Embraer’s only production facilities outside Brazil, and more than 60 percent of components used in the planes made in Melbourne come from U.S. suppliers.

In Jacksonville, Embraer is building A-29 Super Tucano turboprop aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. This plane is designed for light attack, close air support, reconnaissance and pilot training,

Embraer also has service and maintenance centers in Arizona, Connecticut and Tennessee.

The company has about 1,500 employees across the U.S. Of these, 727 are in Florida and about 280 in Fort Lauderdale. The new expanions in Melbourne are expected to add hundreds of new jobs.

To date, Embraer has invested around $1 billion in its U.S. operations.

Building its manufacturing and engineering facilities along Florida’s Space Coast has been an advantage for Embraer, Spulak said. “We are able to hire engineers and other specialized personnel who used to work for NASA.”

Embraer was able to carve out a share of the U.S. commercial airline market by successfully offering a line of commuter planes here after the federal government deregulated the airline industry in 1979, said Spulak, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Miami and an MBA from Barry University.

As a result of deregulation, many large airlines dropped commuter or regional routes that carried fewer passengers and were less profitable. Regional airlines – some of which today are offshoots of the majors – filled the gap, but needed midsize planes to cover their routes.

Embraer was able to compete successfully with Canada’s Bombardier, which makes passenger jets in the same size category, and today has planes flying with American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air LinesAir Canada, JetBlueBritish Airways and many others.

As a sign of Embraer’s success, Spulak said the company recently achieved the highest order backlog in its history: $22.1 billion. Most of this is due to orders for its commercial series of Embraer E170 to E195 jets. The E170s are in the 80-seat range, while the E195s can accommodate up to 124 passenger seats, depending on the configuration.

Embraer also sells a line of executive jets, called Phenom, that have been popular among companies for executive travel and wealthy individuals. It also sells a larger series of luxurious business jets called Legacy. The lowest price Embraer executive jet sells new for around $5 million.

One clear sign of Embraer’s strength in the U.S. market was an announcement in September by Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which agreed to buy 50 new Embraer E175, 76-seat commercial jets in a deal worth an estimated $2.1 billion.

Indiana-based Republic owns Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines and Shuttle America, has a fleet of nearly 250 aircraft and operates about 1,300 flights daily to some 110 destinations in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.

Republic operates these flights for major airline partners such as American Eagle, Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express.

The new Embraer planes, which will be delivered starting in 2015, will be operated for United Airlines under the United Express brand.

Republic, which is a long-standing customer of Embraer, has options to buy even more of the Brazilian company’s planes.

“United was our first E-jet [Embraer E-Jets] customer, and we are excited for the opportunity to further develop our relationship with 50 new E175s,” said Bryan Bedford, president, chairman and CEO of Republic. “We look forward to continuing to provide United with safe, [environmentally] clean and reliable air service.”

Embraer

Business: Brazil-based Embraer is a major designer and manufacturer of commercial aircraft, executive jets and military planes with offices, production and maintenance centers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The company, whose full name is Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica S.A., is the largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 130 seats. Embraer has its North American headquarters and a maintenance center in Fort Lauderdale, assembly plants in Melbourne and Jacksonville and recently set up a new engineering and technology center in Melbourne. It also has maintenance centers in Arizona, Connecticut and Tennessee. The U.S. is a key market for Embraer, where it currently has more than 1,000 aircraft flying.

World headquarters: Sao José dos Campos, Brazil

North American headquarters: Fort Lauderdale (276 SW 34th executive offices, plus North American marketing for commercial aircraft, a maintenance center for executive jets and a warehouse with spare parts for commercial and executive jets.

President: Gary Spulak heads Embraer’s North America subsidiary, Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc.

Founded: Embraer was founded in Brazil in 1969. Its first U.S. sales office was opened in Dania Beach in 1979 and the Fort Lauderdale center was set up in 1981.

Employees: Embraer has about 280 in Fort Lauderdale, 727 in Florida, 1,500 in the U.S. and over 19,000 worldwide, mostly in Brazil.

Ownership: publicly traded

Revenues: Net revenues for the entire company were $13.6 billion in 2013. Embraer has invested about $1 billion in its U.S. operations to date. It had a record high backlog of orders at the end of third quarter 2014, totaling $22.1 billion.

Commercial jet customers: American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, JetBlue, British Airways plus others.

Website: www.embraer.com

Source: Embraer

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com

Accusations fly as Taos Regional Airport (KSKX) expansion stalls

The expansion of the Taos Regional Airport remains stalled as town officials await permit approval from the county and a lawsuit seeking improved zoning works through the courts.

The airport expansion, which includes the construction of a second runway, was proposed decades ago but was long opposed by Taos Pueblo. The town, which owns the airport, and the tribe came to agreement on the expansion in late 2011, clearing the way for the project to begin. The new runway is meant to improve safety at the airport, and almost all of the $24 million project is being funded with federal and state grants.

But satisfying the concerns of the pueblo government did nothing to quiet a vocal group of opponents who continue to attack the project. Some critics argue the new runway will worsen noise from increased air traffic. Others claim it will benefit only the wealthy.

The primary concern of those bringing the lawsuit is the town failed to give residents in the airport area adequate notice of the project and had, until recently, completely avoided getting a development permit from Taos County. The plaintiffs in the suit contend the town and county must create common-sense zoning around the airport before building a new runway that will change approach and take-off patterns for aircraft.

But in separate responses filed in the lawsuit this week, both governments argued they have no obligation to rezone the area before crews can break ground.

In the county’s response, County Attorney Robert Malone asserts the county has “no legal duty to zone at all, or enact specific airport zoning.” An attorney representing the town made a similar defense, arguing that “there is no affirmative duty to zone the areas that the plaintiffs allege must be zoned.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs point to federal rules that state the town must make efforts “to the extent reasonable” to coordinate with the county to put zoning in place that restrict the use of land next to runways. In the decades since the airport expansion was first proposed, there has been minimal effort to control growth around the airport.

However, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said in September that zoning was a “local issue” and that there were no plans to withhold grant funding, even without a change in zoning.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have asked Judge Jeff McElroy to issue an injunction to stop the project until the county “has properly addressed all off-site impact through its land use planning process.” No hearing date to consider that motion has been set.

Among the claims made in the motion for an injunction, attorneys for the plaintiffs said increased airport noise will lessen property values, and the town will have to compensate landowners for lost property values. There are residents surrounding the airport who complain they’ve had no notice of the expansion and were unaware of the proposed project when they bought in the area.

But not everyone agrees. Former town councilor and real estate agent Rudy Abeyta is representing a vacant, 1.3-acre lot that sits at one end of the proposed runway. Abeyta contends it’s up to Realtors to disclose things like a dump and an airport, and it’s up to property buyers to do their due diligence. He also points out that land values in the area are already lower, in part because of their proximity to the airport.

Abeyta was a proponent of the airport when he sat on the council. He lost a bid for re-election in March.

Abeyta says residential developments on the southeast edge of the proposed runway came long after the original airport and nearby landfill were built. “Don’t come in and buy, then say afterwards, ‘I think the airport should be moved,’ ” Abeyta said. “Come on. You know it’s there. A reasonably prudent buyer can’t say they didn’t know it was there.”

Adding fuel to the fire were a couple of sentences from an article from Forbes magazine on development at Taos Ski Valley. The article described changes at the mountain since it was acquired by Louis Bacon. Among those changes, according to the story, is improved airport access. “Bacon has been working with the local community to have the airport become a more elite jetport, capable of handling up to 45-passenger regional jets,” the article reads. “Eliminating the current three-hour road trip from Albuquerque would be a serious game-changer.”

What an out-of-town journalist may have considered a benign couple of lines reignited conspiracy theories that Taos Ski Valley is a behind-the-scenes player in the expansion.

Both Taos Ski Valley and the town insist there is no agreement on funding or subsidizing the expansion. Nor are there plans to help pay for future air service into Taos, both parties agree.

Previous efforts and commuter air service, some of which enjoyed healthy subsidies, failed miserably.

The latest group to speak out against the airport expansion are residents of the Earthship community on the west side of the Rio Grande Gorge.

In a letter to the county planning director, Judy Sutton identified herself as a family nurse practitioner, with a master’s degree in public health, and an elected representative of the Great World Community Board — the board that represents many homeowners in the Earthship development. Sutton became a plaintiff in the lawsuit Oct. 21.

In her letter, Sutton claimed aircraft dumping jet fuel would contaminate water catchment systems that supply the Earthships.

“While this would not be that problematic for normal residences, it will have a disastrous effect on us,” Sutton wrote. “Our entire community’s water supply is roof water catchment. If even a small amount of fuel were to fall on someone’s home, that home’s water supply would be contaminated.”

But airport officials and aviation experts insist aircraft that land at the Taos airport aren’t capable of releasing fuel in midair. And even if they were, it essentially never happens.

Airport manager John Thompson said no aircraft had dumped fuel anywhere near the Taos airport as long as he had been there. “These guys don’t just say ‘Fill ‘er up, and if we can’t get off the ground we’ll just dump it as we take off,’ ” Thompson said. He said claims that it happen regularly are “propaganda” and “fear-mongering” meant to derail the expansion.

Nearly all aircraft don’t have the capacity to dump fuel in midair, and even if they did, they would get pounced on by environmental regulators, Thompson said.

In a 2001 letter to a group concerned about fuel dumping, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the FAA estimates fuel dumping happens very infrequently, and jettisoned fuel is expected to evaporate before it hits the ground.

“Fuel dumping is uncommon not only because it is an emergency action, but also because it is economically imprudent for an airline to take such action unless it is an emergency,” the letter reads. “Since fuel dumping is a rare event, and the fuel would likely be dispersed over a very large area, we believe its impact to the environment would not be serious.”

Despite the official position, Sutton said it would be hard for someone in a position of authority to allay her concerns. “Could somebody allay my fears? I’m not sure,” she said.

Sutton said in an interview that she found information on a website authored by opponents of the airport in Sedona, Ariz., who also claim to be suffering the health effects of dumped jet fuel. That site included a link to the specs of one business jet that has a system capable of jettisoning fuel.

Official reports on the project also raise little concern about environmental impacts.

The September 2012 federal Record of Decision approving the project found an expanded Taos airport is “not expected to have a negative impact on air quality conditions” because of the relatively low volume of flights.

The study did acknowledge that the federal government estimates aircraft account for about 3 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, though the amount coming from air traffic in Taos is “negligible.”

The report also concluded that the expansion would have “no substantial impact” to water quality in the area.


Story and comments:  http://www.santafenewmexican.com

A Guy In An Australian Mining Town Used A Light Plane To Drive To The Pub

Western Australian police are scanning the law books to see if a man, described as a “local character”, will be charged after he used a light plane to taxi down the main street of a Pilbara mining town to get to the pub on Friday afternoon. 

 The 37-year-old local man parked the wingless Beechcraft single engine two-seater aircraft outside the Newman Hotel about 2.30pm in what The West Australian newspaper says may have been a Halloween prank.

The bloke parked the plane outside the pub, then went in for a drink. Police arrived soon after and questioned him – he passed a breath test – with Newman police Sgt Mark Garner saying they were investigating whether if an offence had been committed. Police have CCTV footage of the incident and the plane was towed from the carpark. Newman, is about 1200km north of Perth, and home to more than 4000 people.

WA Police showed a sense of humor in dealing with the incident.

Perhaps it’s something in the water in Australia’s west, since the weekend also saw a 26-year-old jumped into the ocean to climb aboard a dead whale surrounded by feasting sharks.


Story, comments and photo:   http://www.businessinsider.com.au


Photo: The light aircraft was parked outside a Newman pub after apparently being driven along the main street. (Supplied: Newman Police)



A 37-year-old man who witnesses said taxied his plane down the main street of a Pilbara town to get to the pub has been spoken to by police.

Police were called to the Newman Hotel about 2:00pm on Friday.

Witnesses told police the light aircraft, with its propeller running, had been driven from one end of town to the other.

The aircraft did not have wings.

Newman Sergeant Mark Garner said the incident was being treated very seriously because there were children walking home from school at the time.

He said police had CCTV footage and were speaking with the plane's owner.

"When we arrived we found a Beechcraft two seater prop-driven plane parked in one of the bays," Sergeant Garner said.

"There was no-one there. The wings were off the plane.

"We made some inquires with some of the people in the pub and witnesses nearby and ended up speaking to a 37-year-old male."

He said the fact that the plane did not have a steering wheel made the situation very dangerous, and the propeller could also have caused significant damage.

"The danger obviously taxiing a prop plane down Newman Drive, bearing in mind that kids have just come out of school," he said.

"It's a busy Friday afternoon. I know it's Newman but we do get a fair bit of traffic."

Witnesses have been asked to contact police.

- Source:   http://www.abc.net.au

WWII-era plane sold for restoration previously was on loan to Combat Air Museum • Minnesota purchaser bought aircraft from man who loaned it for display

The World War II-era aircraft recently sold to a Minnesota man had served as a longtime display on loan to the Combat Air Museum, according to a board member.

Museum board chairman Gene Howerter said Friday the North American O-47B aircraft, an observation aircraft built in 1939, had been displayed in the museum’s hangar for more than 20 years. It was loaned for display by Bill Dempsay, of Rantoul, who Howerter said is a lifetime member of the museum, but it was never donated.

“We tried to get him to donate it, but he said it was part of his retirement,” Howerter said.

After The Topeka Capital-Journal reported in October about the O-47B aircraft’s brief stay at the American Flight Museum for disassembly before being hauled to its new owner to be restored, the Combat Air Museum contacted a reporter to correct misinformation provided by the flight museum for the story.

Although the original information provided to the newspaper identified the Combat Air Museum as the entity that sold the plane, Howerter said it was never the museum’s to sell.

Museum staff had been aware for some time that Dempsay was prepared to sell the aircraft, Howerter said. When interested buyers came to look at the plane, he said, its pristine condition surprised them.

“They were just really shocked because it didn’t have any corrosion, because we maintained it in our hangar and kept it in such good shape,” Howerter said.

The plane, which is one of just four remaining O-47B aircraft, ultimately was purchased by James Patrick “Pat” Harker, a Minnesota resident. Howerter said he met with Harker to work out details of the plane’s transfer to Harker’s possession.

The museum required an official record of Dempsay’s sale of the aircraft to Harker, Howerter said, so two letters were provided. The first, dated Sept. 4, was written by Dempsay to inform the museum the plane had been sold to Harker. A second letter, dated Sept. 19, was written by Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren Ltd., of Minneapolis, Minn., to advise the museum of the sale and request its staff’s cooperation with Harker. Howerter provided copies of those documents to The Capital-Journal.

Harker owns a small collection of World War II aircraft hangared at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport in metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul, Howerter said, and he plans to restore the O-47B, which has a seized-up engine, so it can fly in air shows.

“I’m really happy for this guy to buy and restore this airplane,” Howerter said.

After the plane’s restoration, it will be the only known remaining O-47B that will fly. Howerter said the three others are housed at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; and somewhere in California.

“A lot of people don’t appreciate that airplane, but it’s a very rare airplane,” he said. “It’s a classic.”

-Source:   http://cjonline.com

Hard landing sends skydiver to hospital • Perris Valley Skydiving at Perris Valley Airport (L65), California

A hard landing sent a skydiver to the hospital, say Riverside County Fire Department officials.

The accident happened at 10:52 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at Perris Valley Airport, 2091 Goetz Road.

The airport is the home of Perris Valley Skydiving.

A fire engine crew helped treat the jumper for what they described only as moderate injuries.

An ambulance crew took him to a hospital.


- Source:   http://www.pe.com

Kathmandu, Nepal: Harbin Y12e finally arriving today • Plane will be known as Koili

KATHMANDU, Nov 3: Ending months of uncertainty, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is finally bringing the 17-seater Harbin Y12e aircraft from China on Monday. Though China Aviation Industry Corporation formally handed over the Y12e in July, NAC could not bring the plane as the manufacturer said it was unable to supply an English-speaking instructor pilot along with the plane.

The twin engine turbo prop utility plane is provided by China to Nepal on grant as per an agreement to provide six aircraft on grant and concessional loan. The Harbin Y12e is part of the loan and grant agreement worth Rs 6.67 billion for the procurement of six aircraft -- two MA 60s and four 19-seater Harbin Y-12e. The MA 60 provided on grant has already been delivered and is flying in different domestic routes.

“Though late, we are happy that the aircraft is finally arriving. The plane is scheduled to land at 5:10 pm at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA),” said a high ranking official at NAC, adding that they had tried their best to bring the aircraft before Dashain but failed.

According to the official, the Chinese team along with instructor pilot is arriving in the aircraft. “Once the aircraft arrives, we will soon begin the procedure to obtain Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

NAC is planning to begin commercial operation through Harbin Y12e within the next 10 days if the test flights go well. The aircraft will be flying to the remote areas of western region.

The aircraft had already received the call sign 9N-AKS from CAAN. NAC has named the aircraft Koili.

Earlier China had sent an instructor pilot but as he could not speak and understand English, he was sent back so the plane delivery was delayed.

An NAC official requesting anonymity said, “We are hopeful there will be no hassles in documentation this time.”

NAC management decided not to bring the aircraft without an English speaking instructor pilot as the aircraft without an instructer cannot be flown. As the NAC pilots do not have training to fly Chinese aircraft, Nepal had to depend on China for instructor pilot. Harbin Y12e is a new type of aircraft for Nepal.

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

Captain Neil Schmid: Civil Air Patrol Pilot Earns South Dakota Aviation Award

Sioux Falls, SD (KELO AM) - Congratulations to Civil Air Patrol pilot Captain Neil Schmid of the Sioux Falls Composite Squadron who earned a significant aviation achievement on 29 October. Flying one of the South Dakota Wing’s CAP aircraft, Captain Schmid completed his “Fly South Dakota” Gold Level Award.

The Fly South Dakota program, which began in 2010, is sponsored by the South Dakota Pilots Association (SDPA) to promote general aviation within the state. The three-level program (bronze, silver, gold) involves attending aviation safety seminars, visiting South Dakota museums with aviation displays and landing at South Dakota’s public airports. The Gold level requires a pilot to have have landed at all 74 of the state’s public-use airports. The SDPA issues each pilot-participant a “passport” in which his activities are logged and certified.

Schmid has been a pilot for over 25 years and has seen much of the country from the air. In June 2010 he discovered there is much to see right here in South Dakota. He registered for the Fly South Dakota program and began flying to the airports near his home in Sioux Falls. By 2012, he had flown to over half the state’s airports and in 2013 to over three quarters of them. In October he landed at the final six airports in a Civil Air Patrol Cessna-172. His four year journey was accomplished in nine different single engine aircraft.

Capt. Schmid mused, “My fondest memory is my first landing at Custer County airport in the Southern Black Hills after flying by the Mount Rushmore monument and the Crazy Horse mountain sculpture. This airport is breathtakingly beautiful, surrounded by pine trees.

Later he commented, “While checking off the airports in the Passport logbook, about half of the flights were solo. I’ve also landed at many of the airports with others on board. I enjoyed sharing the experience with all of the co-pilots who traveled with me to some of these remote and stunning places in South Dakota.”

The Passport South Dakota – Gold Level Award consists of an “I Flew South Dakota” patch and a “74 Airports” tab for wear on his flight jacket.

The South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, with squadrons in South Dakota in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Rapid City, Pierre, Custer and Spearfish has approximately 300 members, six light aircraft and 17 multi-purpose vehicles. These assets are available to federal, state and county governments, emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to perform search and rescue, homeland security, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and counter-drug missions. For more information on SD CAP visit the wing’s website at http://sdcap.us and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SDWingCAP. For general information on CAP visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com.


- Source:   http://kwsn.com

Federal Aviation Administration discussions on Ferguson flight restrictions

By Associated Press November 2 at 3:01 PM

After 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to a police request to ban air traffic in more than 37 square miles of airspace surrounding the town for 12 days, even though police privately acknowledged the purpose was to keep away news helicopters during violent street protests, according to recorded conversations obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

The FAA records official phone conversations at its air traffic facilities, a policy that is known to employees. The initial flight restrictions hindered planes from landing at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport unless they violated the no-fly order. The recordings show FAA officials seeking police agreement the next morning to change the designation of the restricted area to allow air traffic into Lambert and then struggling with the wording of the no-fly order in an effort to prevent media from entering of the restricted area.

___

Manager at the FAA’s Kansas City Center, one of 22 regional air traffic control facilities across the country: “OK, so they wanna know if we can change (the temporary flight restriction) to an A2 ... that still will keep ... it allow them to run the aircraft on final there at Saint Louis, it will still keep news people out. ... St. Louis has class bravo airspace, so they ... the only way people will get in there is if they (air traffic controllers) give them permission (to be) in there anyway so ... with the A2, it still keeps all of them out.

St. Louis County police captain: “Yeah ... I have no problem with that whatsoever.”

___

Second Kansas City manager: “I went into the system and picked law enforcement ... and of course it puts the one in that says nobody can be in there except the relief aircraft. ...

Unidentified FAA employee: “Now what’s relief aircraft? ...”

Manager: “It’s whoever the police want in there at that point when it’s a law enforcement one. The problem is, this is a very unusual situation ... because normally these are, you know, a mile (radius) and 1,000 feet (in altitude), you know, to keep media out ...”

FAA employee: “Hang on. Why are we even having that? Because, I mean, if it’s just for media, like you said, then why is it so big? And, otherwise, we thought that it might’ve been for them trying to take pot shots at somebody. You know anything about that or anything?”

Manager: “I was talking to Jim, the FLM (front-line manager) in the tower, and I was talking to Chris at St. Louis County Police. The commander at St. Louis County wanted 3 (nautical) miles and 8,000 feet and I talked him down to 3 and 5. They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out ... but they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.”

Manager, later in the same conversation: “I’d like you to talk to the tower and get the coordination going again with the police department. They did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn’t want media in there. ... There’s no option for a TFR that says, you know, ‘OK, everybody but the media is OK.’”

FAA employee: “Right, right ... And that’s how we’re interpreting this. We, we know what the intent is, but the way the thing comes out, it doesn’t read like that at all.”

___

Kansas City manager: “This is such a screwed up system when I, I don’t have a choice to edit that language. ... How about I put something like, ‘With the exception of aircraft landing and departing St. Louis Lambert Airport?’”

Airport Tower manager: “Either that, or ‘under control,’ or something like that ... some wording that as long as they’re talking with us (air traffic control), it’s OK.”

Center: “The reason I wanna kinda throw in the ‘landing and departing St. Louis Lambert’ (is) because, if we put (in) talking to you, every media helicopter will say, ‘Hey, we’re talking to you, let’s go.’”

Tower: “... Yeah. OK, That’s perfect.”

___

Kansas City manager: “It now reads, ‘Temporary flight restrictions are in effect. Only relief aircraft operations under the direction of St. Louis County Police Department are authorized in this airspace. Aircraft landing and departing St. Louis Lambert Airport are exempt from this TFR.’”

FAA approach control official: “OK.”

Manager: “And I kinda used that verbiage ‘talking to the tower.’ They assured me that there are no other little airports or anything else in there, ‘cuz if we didn’t make it that specific, you know, aircraft under control of the TRACON (approach control center) or the towers or something, the media would be right back in it.”


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

Experts rally round to help Concorde restoration project at Duxford

Concorde, take a bow – the Duxford Aviation Society revealed newly-restored features on its supersonic prize asset before an audience of invited guests on the 11th anniversary of the iconic plane’s last commercial light.

The event at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford last week was the culmination of 18 months of painstaking restoration work, and the Concorde, which now features fully-functional cockpit lighting, is the only one in the UK with the ability to operate the nose mechanism.

Concorde came into land at a steep nose-up angle and the droop nose was developed to enable the pilot to see where he was going.

Duxford Aviation Society chairman David Garside said: “It is 37 years since Concorde G-AXDN was flown to IWM Duxford and since the hydraulic and electrical systems were last in operation.

“The restoration projects have required the servicing and overhaul of many intricate components and considerable patience and determination over a two-year period.”

Heritage Concorde, a group of ex-Concorde engineers and enthusiasts who gave their time and expertise. has been closely involved in the restoration project.

Graham Cahill, who heads the organisation, said: “G-AXDN is one of the most important Concorde development aircraft – it was the fastest and was the first to be fitted with the clear glass visor that we see on all the following Concordes.

“It was a pioneer of the digital age, having the first digital computers ever fitted to a commercial aircraft, to control her intakes – one of the most important features of Concorde.

“We thought it was appropriate that it should also be the first British Concorde to have a fully-operational nose since Concorde’s retirement in 2003.”

The Duxford plane is now joined by a six-metre-long model of a production Concorde, in British Airways service livery, which graced the foyer of the airline’s HQ for many years.

The model has cutaway features so that visitors can see the minute detail of the interior, including the seating.

Veteran Concorde pilot John Hutchinson recalled: “It was quite an extraordinary feeling. You had no sensation of speed at all. Other aircraft looked as if they were going backwards. You were hanging motionless, suspended in space, it was Mother Earth doing all of the work. It was magical, beyond any words I can use.”

A program of public Concorde droop nose demonstrations is now being organized and will be featured on the IWM Duxford website when ready.


- Source:  http://www.royston-crow.co.uk


Hiker rescued in Upper Peninsula wilderness after signaling helicopter with flashlight

ONTONAGON, MI -- A hiker lost in the Upper Peninsula wilderness was able to find rescue by flagging down a helicopter with a flashlight.

The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Traverse City rescued the missing hiker from the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park near Ontonagon on Saturday, Nov. 1.

The 55-year-old man was reported overdue from a hike about 10:30 p.m. after missing a planned 6 p.m. trailhead meeting with his wife, who had last seen him at noon, the Coast Guard said in a release.

Because of the rugged terrain, darkness and lack of access to a helicopter, Michigan State Police troopers requested help from Coast Guard through the Air Force.

The Traverse City helicopter crew spotted the man's fire and signaling with a flashlight. He was hoisted aboard and reunited with his family at a nearby airport

"As I understand, we were able to find him pretty quickly," said Petty Officer Christopher Yaw, a Coast Guard public affairs officer in Cleveland.

The man was not injured. The Coast Guard did not release his identity, but said the man was local to the area.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the state's only designated wilderness, according to the Michigan DNR. It is 60,000 acres of tall virgin timber, secluded lakes, rivers and streams.

Story and comments:  http://www.mlive.com

Illinois State Police trooper killed in 1997 helicopter crash honored with highway signs: Aérospatiale AS 350B, Illinios State Police, N911RR

Suzanne Sweeney certainly still feels pain over the death of her daughter, former Illinois State Police Trooper Erin Hehl, who was killed 17 years ago during a training exercise.

But Sweeney and the rest of Hehl’s family  in attendance at an Oct. 30 dedication of an overpass in Hehl’s name also felt proud and honored.

“This feels wonderful,” Sweeney said. “This is a tribute to her and the life she lived. There are a lot of her friends here, and we are very honored.”

Oct. 30 marked exactly 17 years since Hehl, who was 34 at the time, was killed while flying with a contractor pilot at suburban Frankfort Airport in Illinois State Police helicopter AirOne. She was a 1981 Niles West High School graduate and had lived in Skokie and Morton Grove.

Hehl and the pilot, George Kurelic Jr., who also was killed, were practicing touch-and-go landings when one of the skids of the A-Star Eurocopter got stuck in mud, causing the helicopter to flip over.

A gathering and ceremony was held Oct. 30 at the Burr Ridge Police Department, 7700 S. County Line Road. From there, a ceremonial motorcade proceeded south on Interstate 55 beneath the memorial overpass at state Route 83. Signs in both directions of the interstate designate the bridge as Trooper Erin Hehl Memorial Overpass.

“With the approval of the Department of Transportation, we are now putting overpasses in memoriam,” said Monique Bond, a spokesperson for the Illinois State police. “We weren’t able to do this when it happened, but we want this to be visible to people and to never forget.”

Hehl was an 11-year veteran of the Illinois State Police. She enrolled in the Illinois State Police Academy in 1986, began her career in District 3, and joined the State Police Marine Patrol in 1987. She became a certified diver during her tenure with the Marine Patrol. She was reassigned to road duties in 1991, and joined the department helicopter project in 1995.

She was the first female trooper to serve on sea, land an air. Hehl received a private pilot certificate with a helicopter rating in September 1997.

Story and photos:  http://hinsdale.suntimes.com

NTSB Identification: CHI98GA025.

The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Thursday, October 30, 1997 in FRANKFORT, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/20/2000
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS350B, registration: N911RR
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

: NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

A witness reported that he was watching the helicopter traveling in an easterly direction flying low above the building when it circled back in a westerly direction somewhere around the east end of the runway. While heading west above the runway it looked like it was getting ready to land. He said that when the helicopter was about 5 to 10 feet above the ground he turned his back getting into his car. He heard an explosion and then a second explosion and when he turned around he saw the flames from above the truck which was parked between the airport and his car. He said he then took a few steps to the east and then saw the helicopter in flames. The helicopter was destroyed on impact with the terrain and a post-crash-fire alongside runway 09/27. A post accident examination of the helicopter disclosed no evidence of any pre-existing anomaly with the helicopter or the engine.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot in command misjudged the clearance with the terrain during a dark night maneuvering approach to a runway. A related factor was the dark night conditions.

Wanted: 500,000 pilots for China aviation gold rush

BEIJING, Nov 3 (Reuters) - China's national civil aviation authority says the country will need to train about half a million civilian pilots by 2035, up from just a few thousand now, as wannabe flyers chase dreams of landing lucrative jobs at new air service operators.

The aviation boom comes as China allows private planes to fly below 1,000 metres from next year without military approval, seeking to boost its transport infrastructure. Commercial airlines aren't affected, but more than 200 new firms have applied for general aviation operating licences, while China's high-rollers are also eager for permits to fly their own planes.

The civil aviation authority's own training unit can only handle up to 100 students a year. With the rest of China's 12 or so existing pilot schools bursting at the seams, foreign players are joining local firms in laying the groundwork for new courses that can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars per trainee.

"The first batch of students we enrolled in 2010 were mostly business owners interested in getting a private license," said Sun Fengwei, deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's (CAAC) pilot school. "But now more and more young people also want to learn flying so that they can get a job at general aviation companies."

While uncertainties remain for what will be a brand new industry, firms are betting they can make money and trainee pilots are convinced they can land dream jobs. Among them is Zong Rui, a 28-year-old former soldier in the People's Liberation Army from Shandong province in east China, attending a pilot school in Tianjin, an hour's drive from Beijing.

"The salary is good for a general aviation pilot," Zong told Reuters by telephone, preparing for a training session. Even without a job lined up, Zong is certain money he borrowed to learn how to fly will pay off: "I can easily pay back the 500,000 yuan ($81,750) tuition in two years, once I get a job."

OPEN SKIES


By the end of the year, industry executives expect Beijing to issue detailed guidelines on how it will implement plans unveiled in 2010 to open up airspace below 1,000 metres in 2015, expanding the open skies to airspace below 3,000 metres by 2020.

Global makers of small planes, like Cessna Aircraft Company , Pilatus Aircraft Ltd or Piaggio Aero Industries SpA, have long had their sights on China's burgeoning general aviation market.

Now they're being joined by air service providers like Tasmania-based Rotor-Lift Aviation, which has helped train pilots in Hong Kong, Malaysia and other Asian countries.

"I came here for opportunities," said Peter McKenzie, Rotor-Lift training manager. McKenzie has been in talks to establish a training programme for Chinese general aviation pilots in Australia as well as a joint venture.

Taking training outside China is an option also favored by China's biggest aircraft maker, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which has invested in a flying school in South Africa.

Other foreign players include Spain's Indra Sistemas , the first foreign company certified by CAAC to implement a full flight simulator for helicopters in China. Canada's CAE Inc also operates a partly-owned flight training center in south China.

While the majority of new trainee pilots set their sights on a license as a means to a career, for some among China's more affluent classes it's a key to a flamboyant new hobby.

For Li Zheng, 33-year-old owner of an advertising company, driving a fancy car isn't that exciting anymore: He has set his sights on flying his own plane.

"I love sports, especially those with a challenge, like flying," said Li, a former hot air balloon racer, speaking just before a training flight. Li's ultimate goal: buying an airplane to fly with his wife, who recently joined Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways as a flight attendant. (1 US dollar = 6.1168 Chinese yuan)


- Source:  http://www.reuters.com

Temporary Flight Restriction: Ferguson no-fly zone aimed at media

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government agreed to a police request to restrict more than 37 square miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, for 12 days in August for safety, but audio recordings show that local authorities privately acknowledged the purpose was to keep away news helicopters during violent street protests.

On Aug. 12, the morning after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the first flight restriction, FAA air traffic managers struggled to redefine the flight ban to let commercial flights operate at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and police helicopters fly through the area — but ban others.

"They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out," said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. "But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.

At another point, a manager at the FAA's Kansas City center said police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there."

FAA procedures for defining a no-fly area did not have an option that would accommodate that.

"There is really ... no option for a TFR that says, you know, 'OK, everybody but the media is OK,'" he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic.

The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County Police Department, which responded to demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, that the restriction was solely for safety and had nothing to do with preventing media from witnessing the violence or the police response.

Police said at the time, and again as recently as late Friday to the AP, that they requested the flight restriction in response to shots fired at a police helicopter.

But police officials confirmed there was no damage to their helicopter and were unable to provide an incident report on the shooting. On the tapes, an FAA manager described the helicopter shooting as unconfirmed "rumors."

The AP obtained the recordings under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. They raise serious questions about whether police were trying to suppress aerial images of the demonstrations and the police response by violating the constitutional rights of journalists with tacit assistance by federal officials.

Such images would have offered an unvarnished view of one of the most serious episodes of civil violence in recent memory.

"Any evidence that a no-fly zone was put in place as a pretext to exclude the media from covering events in Ferguson is extraordinarily troubling and a blatant violation of the press's First Amendment rights," said Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney specializing in First Amendment issues.

An FAA manager urged modifying the flight restriction so that planes landing at Lambert still could enter the airspace around Ferguson.

The less-restrictive change practically served the authorities' intended goal, an FAA official said: "A lot of the time the (lesser restriction) just keeps the press out, anyways. They don't understand the difference."

The Kansas City FAA manager then asked a St. Louis County police official if the restrictions could be lessened so nearby commercial flights wouldn't be affected. The new order allows "aircraft on final (approach) there at St. Louis. It will still keep news people out. ... The only way people will get in there is if they give them permission in there anyway so they, with the (lesser restriction), it still keeps all of them out."

"Yeah," replied the police official. "I have no problem with that whatsoever."

KMOV-TV News Director Brian Thouvenot told the AP that his station was prepared at first to legally challenge the flight restrictions, but was later advised that its pilot could fly over the area as long as the helicopter stayed above 3,000 feet. That kept the helicopter and its mounted camera outside the restricted zone, although filming from such a distance, he said, was "less than ideal."

None of the St. Louis stations was advised that media helicopters could enter the airspace even under the lesser restrictions, which under federal rules should not have applied to aircraft "carrying properly accredited news representatives." The FAA's no-fly notice indicated the area was closed to all aircraft except police and planes coming to and from the airport.

"Only relief aircraft operations under direction of St. Louis County Police Department are authorized in the airspace," it said. "Aircraft landing and departing St. Louis Lambert Airport are exempt."

The same day that notice was issued, a county police spokesman publicly denied the no-fly zone was to prevent news helicopters from covering the events. "We understand that that's the perception that's out there, but it truly is for the safety of pilots," Sgt. Brian Schellman told NBC News.

Ferguson police were widely criticized for their response following the death of Brown, who was shot by a city police officer, Darren Wilson, on Aug. 9. Later, under county police command, several reporters were arrested, a TV news crew was tear gassed and some demonstrators were told they weren't allowed to film officers. In early October, a federal judge said the police violated demonstrators' and news crews' constitutional rights.

"Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying and arresting reporters who are just doing their jobs," President Barack Obama said Aug. 14, two days after police confided to federal officials the flight ban was secretly intended to keep media helicopters out of the area. "The local authorities, including police, have a responsibility to be transparent and open."

The restricted flight zone initially encompassed airspace in a 3.4-mile radius around Ferguson and up to 5,000 feet in altitude, but police agreed to reduce it to 3,000 feet after the FAA's command center in Warrenton, Virginia, complained to managers in Kansas City that it was impeding traffic into St. Louis.

The flight restrictions remained in place until Aug. 22, FAA records show. A police captain wanted it extended when officials were set to identify Wilson by name as the officer who shot Brown and because Brown's funeral would "bring out the emotions," the recordings show.

"We just don't know what to expect," he told the FAA. "We're monitoring that. So, last night we shot a lot of tear gas, we had a lot of shots fired into the air again. It did quiet down after midnight, but with that ... we don't know when that's going to erupt."

The recordings do not capture early conversations about the initial flight restriction imposed a day earlier, but they nonetheless show the FAA still approved and modified the flight restriction after the FAA was aware that its main intent was to keep the media away.

One FAA official at the agency's command center asked the Kansas City manager in charge whether the restrictions were really about safety. "So are (the police) protecting aircraft from small-arms fire or something?" he asked. "Or do they think they're just going to keep the press out of there, which they can't do."


- Source:  http://bigstory.ap.org

Watch: Flight cancelled due to smog, woman completely loses it in the cockpit

We have all experienced our fair share of irritations and inconveniences whenever a smoggy day comes rolling around, but this woman's reaction when she was told that her current flight would be cancelled and that she would be transferred to another plane completely takes the cake. After kicking up a big fuss and completely losing it by intruding into the cockpit, she was detained for ten days alongside another passenger, China News reported.

Shenzhen Airlines ZH981, bound for Harbin, was forced to remain at Taoxian airport in Shenyang for one night because of the adverse weather conditions in Harbin. The weather failed the improve the next day and all passengers were asked to transfer to another plane.

After much persuasion and explanation from flight crew, all passengers began to get off the airplane after 20 minutes. But the two women who were so furious that they stormed to the cockpit twice and had a row with the assistant pilot .

A worker from Taoxian airport told reporters that passengers are not allowed to enter the cockpit as they may affect the pilot. The two women were detained in jail for ten days, and told the press that they regretted what they had done.

- Source:  http://shanghaiist.com




Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo, N339SS, Scaled Composites: Accident occurred October 31, 2014 in Mojave, California

AIRCRAFT EXPERIMENTAL SCALED COMPOSITES 339 CRASHED ONTO THE KOEHN DRY LAKE BED SHORLY AFTER SEPARATION FROM MOTHERSHIP WHITEKNIGHT 2 N348MS, THERE WERE TWO PERSONS ON BOARD, 1 WAS FATALLY INJURED 1 SUSTAINED SERIOUS INJURIES, MOJAVE, CA 

FAA  Flight Standards District Office: FAA Van Nuys FSDO-01 

http://registry.faa.gov/N339SS 


For nearly a decade, champions of space tourism and other commercial ventures seeking to get beyond the atmosphere have predicted the rapid emergence of a new industry.

But a pair of launch failures last week, including Friday’s high-profile crash of a Virgin Galactic LLC rocket ship that broke apart miles above the earth killing one pilot and seriously injuring another, are prompting further questions about the future trajectory of such company-funded endeavors.

Already, proponents as well as critics of commercializing space travel are rethinking the likely pace of progress. Some predict difficulties obtaining additional private-equity funding for startup ventures, while others working in the industry worry about nagging propulsion problems and ways to restore public confidence.

“Recent events bring home the reality that we’re in a very dangerous phase” of pursuing myriad space activities relying on the private sector, said Howard McCurdy, a space history expert who teaches at American University. Launching rockets and vehicles “is always a very risky business,” he added, and no amount of ground tests “can duplicate the aerodynamic stresses and other conditions” of actual space flight.

Instead of aiming to quickly ramp up suborbital tourist flights to several each day, according to Mr. McCurdy, Virgin Galactic and perhaps other companies are bound to delay initiating service. Once trips commence, they “will probably be more akin to the early phases of mountain climbing,” he said, when exceptional rigors and dangers kept all but the bravest and strongest from participating.

Meanwhile, images and eyewitness accounts of what happened to SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered space plane, during a test flight in California’s Mojave Desert Friday suggest its engine malfunctioned and may have started disintegrating shortly after being powered up. It was the vehicle’s fourth powered flight, but the first one using a new fuel mixture.

The craft, known as VSS Enterprise, was flown by a pair of test pilots working for partner Scaled Composites, a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury, 39 years old, was killed and pilot Peter Siebold, the 43-year-old director of flight operations, survived, but sustained moderate to major injuries and was being treated at a nearby hospital, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s department. Virgin Galactic said in a statement Saturday that Mr. Siebold was alert and talking with his family and doctors. Both pilots were at the controls during SpaceShipTwo’s maiden unpowered flight in October 2010.

Champions of the current generation of “new space” projects--many pursued by small companies lacking pedigrees in rocketry or related technologies—argue that malfunctions and crashes always have been part of perfecting cutting-edge space hardware. On average over the past few decades, one out of the first three launches of both government and privately developed new rockets failed to perform as expected.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the most successful closely-held space company, had three early launch failures and officials feared for its very survival before the newly-designed Falcon family of rockets demonstrated reliability.

For a large chunk of the 1990s, the U.S. Air Force suffered a spate of botched launches that resulted in billions of dollars of losses stemming from destroyed satellites and lost rockets.

Notwithstanding recent events, “the entrepreneurial genie is out of the bottle and there is enough intelligence and desire to drive it forward,” said Peter Diamandis, chief executive of the XPrize Foundation, which encouraged development of SpaceShipTwo’s predecessor. “We should be focused on better design and more testing, not government regulation.”

To a considerable degree, the setback to the fledgling industry will depend on what investigators determine caused each accident. But according to some industry officials and analysts, Virgin Galactic’s fatal mishap may have a long-term residual impact as dramatic as the fallout from the 2003 in-flight breakup of the space shuttle Columbia, which killed all seven crew members.

“It’s clearly bad news for commercial space,” said one veteran industry official affiliated with another commercial space company, “but from the beginning people recognized a fatal event on some spacecraft was inevitable.”

Few think the government will revert to the previous authority it exerted over space projects. However, industry officials said the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the crash along with the National Transportation Safety Board, has authority to write additional rules that could cover such test flights.

The trouble started Tuesday, when an unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp. cargo rocket destined for the international space station exploded roughly 15 seconds after liftoff. Four days later the accident over California, ending with television footage of SpaceShipTwo debris scattered across a section of the Mojave Desert, rocked a broader swath of the space community. That’s partly because the Virgin Galactic brand—along with company founder and booster Sir Richard Branson —are recognized by so many people world-wide.

As a result, even some of the staunchest advocates of commercial ventures are maneuvering to highlight the technical distinctions between Virgin Galactic and rival projects. Xcor Aerospace Inc., which is developing a smaller and less expensive rocket ship for space travelers, said in a statement Saturday that its Lynx craft “is a very different vehicle than SpaceShipTwo,” because it takes off from a runway and uses different fuel.

“Unlike some other technologies, the same engine can be reliably used over and over again,” the company said, adding it “will continue to thoroughly test and retest our vehicle and its systems.”

Mr. Branson, for his part, met with Virgin Galactic employees Saturday at the company’s facility near the crash site.

After repeatedly predicting over the years that SpaceShipTwo was on the verge of commercial operations—and each time having to acknowledge more delays, the billionaire entrepreneur on Saturday was considerably more downbeat and guarded in his predictions.

“We’re not going to push on blindly,” Mr. Branson said.

Based on the work of test pilots, he said, “we hope that one day” passengers will be able to go to space safely. But he declined to elaborate.

Ken Brown, a local freelance photographer, said he captured the “in-flight anomaly” that destroyed SpaceShipTwo and described it as some type of explosion.

After SpaceShipTwo separated from the carrier aircraft, “they lit the rocket motor, everything was looking great,” recalled Mr. Brown, who was photographing the test flight from the Jawbone Ranger Station south of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

“It pulled out ahead, it pulled up to go vertical,” he said. About nine seconds into the flight, he saw “a big white puff” and instantly realized “something just went horribly wrong.”

Mr. Brown said he observed the spacecraft flipping upside down in less than a second. “Something happened that caused some sort of instability,” he said Saturday, “just bad getting heaped on bad.”

Mr. Brown and two other people with him heard a bang, which took a while to reach the ground from more than 50,000 feet above the desert floor. “Everything was over at that point; I was just shooting falling debris,” he said.

- Source:   http://online.wsj.com

Port of Port Angeles: ‘We will search for another air carrier’

PORT ANGELES — Kenmore Air Express will stop providing the only scheduled commercial air passenger service on the North Olympic Peninsula on Nov. 15.

Kenmore flies small planes, usually the Cessna Grand Caravan holding up to nine passengers, between William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles and Boeing Field in Seattle, and shuttles riders to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Years of declining ridership and increasing costs have taken their toll, company President Todd Banks said Friday.

“We are stopping,” Banks said in an interview Friday. “We are not going to operate a scheduled service out there.’

Banks said in a news release that “the decision was reached with great difficulty.

“We have worked very hard for more than 10 years to establish an economically viable route between Seattle and Port Angeles.

“But despite our best efforts, we have been unable to sustain sufficient passenger volumes at sufficient fares to adequately cover our costs in the market.”

The last flight listed on Kenmore’s schedule on its website at www.kenmoreair.com is Flight 5141, leaving Port Angeles on Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. and reaching Boeing Field at 2:25 p.m.

Kenmore will give full refunds to passengers with reservations to fly after that date and passengers with unused QuickTix discount flight coupons, it said in the news release.

Questions can be addressed by calling 866-435-9524.

No replacement service is in the works, although Port of Port Angeles commissioners — the port owns the airport — will seek one.

“We will search for another carrier,” said John Calhoun, port commission vice president, on Friday.

“We definitely want to keep a scheduled airline at the airport.

“We want to provide the environment and opportunity for economic development, and a full-service airport is certainly a key element in that economic environment, just like schools are.

“When we lose a key element, like scheduled airline service, we’re diminished.

“It’s a blow to the community’s infrastructure of services.”

Calhoun said the airport is in no danger of closing, as a charter service, Rite Bros. Aviation, and private pilots operate out of the facility.

Kenmore’s departure will be discussed at the port commission’s next regular meeting at 9 a.m. Nov. 13.

Port Executive Director Ken O’Hollaren said he was not aware of any other carriers who want to take Kenmore’s place.

Calhoun and O’Hollaren said port officials also will try to induce Kenmore to continue to provide service.

One idea that’s been floated: the community subsidizing the company by buying a guaranteed number of tickets.

But Banks doesn’t see the company resuming Peninsula service anytime soon.

The company also serves Victoria and the San Juan Islands, along with Nanaimo and inside-passage islands in British Columbia.

“We are not able to achieve sufficient passenger volume at the fares we need to get to make the business work,” Banks said.

“The business conditions are just not there right now.”

Ridership has declined every month compared with the same month the previous year since 2009, according to port records.

Emplanements — the combination of passengers getting off and getting on flights — totaled 673 in September.

In September 2013, they were 831.

In September 2009, when Kenmore offered more flights, they totaled 1,982 — three times more than this September.

Rising fuel prices increased expenses.

Jerry Ludke, the port’s airport and marina manager, said that in 2004, fuel was $1.90 a gallon.

Now it’s more than $4 a gallon.

As fuel prices have increased, the company has raised its rates, Banks said — a tactic that seemed to have backfired.

“Every time we’ve raised our rates, it seems like passenger traffic steps back also,” he said.

The company began serving the Peninsula in 2004 after taking over from Horizon Air, which stopped service after concluding, like Kenmore, that the route was not profitable.

At the time, Horizon cited annual losses of $1.5 million.

Kenmore, which pays $724-a-month rent at the airport, has been losing money since at least 2008, Banks said, though he would not say how much.

At one time, Kenmore, headquartered north of Seattle on Lake Washington, operated six round trips daily.

That was cut to five and then — on June 1, 2011 — to three.

Service was cut to two round trips a day this summer, and Banks told the Peninsula Daily News on Aug. 4 that the company planned to re-evaluate its operations in the fall.

In an effort to keep Kenmore in Port Angeles, the port has waived landing fees since 2008, costing the port — and saving Kenmore — about $105,000 since then, Ludke said.

The port also obtained a $400,000 federal Small Community Air Service Development Grant in 2010 to pay for advertising and promotion of commercial passenger service targeted to help Kenmore, Ludke said.

It was 90 percent funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, with the remaining 10 percent funded by the port, Port Angeles, Sequim and Clallam County.

“It didn’t really help move the needle up as far as enplanements,” Ludke said.

“Maybe it helped them stay a year longer than they have.

“I’m not certain what we can do.”

Kenmore’s decision seemed to be in the works for a while, said Russ Veenema, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director.

“I would say it’s not a big surprise to the people here,” he said.

“This has been happening in a slow motion over the past probably six or seven years, and we as a community have been working very hard to try to help Kenmore stay viable, but it was just getting more and more difficult, and we could all see that.”

The lack of commercial, scheduled airline passenger service will make it harder for real estate agents to sell the area to new residents, he added.

Port and Kenmore officials met at the company’s corporate offices Sept. 22, Ludke said.

O’Hollaren said company officials made port officials aware of the most recent economic challenges Kenmore was facing.

The change in rates over the years helps illustrate those challenges.

Ludke recalled several years ago when some tickets cost $49 on Kenmore and prices were reduced by co-pay arrangements with a passenger’s connecting airline.

A round-trip flight leaving Fairchild this Friday and returning Nov. 10 will cost between $175.10 and $233.20.

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

Kenmore Air Express, shown landing one of its Cessna Caravan aircraft from Seattle’s Boeing Field last March, will end the North Olympic Peninsula’s only scheduled passenger service Nov. 15. —Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News