Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Resident files lawsuit over Marshfield Municipal Airport (KGHG), Massachusetts

A Marshfield resident has filed a lawsuit against five members of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals over a decision concerning the expanded runway at Marshfield Municipal Airport.

 The lawsuit, filed in Plymouth Superior Court by attorney Sean Beagan on behalf of John Whippen, deals with the Zoning Board’s decision to decline issuing a cease and desist order for use of the airport’s recently expanded runway, which extends into a residential suburban zone.

Whippen is asking that the court reverse or annul the Zoning Board’s decision, as well as order that the portion of the runway that extends into the residential zone can’t be used because it violates the town’s zoning bylaws.

He is also seeking a declaratory judgment that the Zoning Board violated his rights as a citizen and taxpayer by allowing airport activities in an area they are not permitted in.

Five members of the Zoning Board – Chairman Joseph Kelleher, Heidi Conway, Mark Ford, Francis Hubbard and Lynne Fidler – are listed as the defendants in the suit.

Marshfield Town Counsel Robert Galvin said he didn’t think the lawsuit had any merit.

"The timeframe for such an appeal has long since passed," he said.

The town will fight the lawsuit, however, he said.

"The town will vigorously defend the decision of the Board of Appeals and seek to have it dismissed at the earliest opportunity," Galvin said.

Beagan declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The runway’s extension caused Whippen, whose home is in the flight path, to suffer injuries from increased jet traffic and jet fume pollution, noise, and diminution in property value, according to the lawsuit.

Galvin disagreed with that notion.

"I don’t think that Mr. Whippen is an aggrieved party in the way that term is defined in the law," Galvin said, adding that he didn’t think Whippen had "suffered any legal harm" that would have allowed him to appeal in the first place.

In September, Whippen and Beagan had approached the Zoning Board to appeal an earlier decision from Building Commissioner Gerald O’Neill not to investigate whether work on the airport’s runway was expanding beyond the Airport zone into the R-2 residential suburban zone.

Through Beagan, Whippen, individually and on behalf of the Marshfield Citizens Against Airport Pollution group, had also asked the Zoning Board to determine whether the shifting of the runway 190 feet to the southwest had been done without correct zoning approval.

The expansion was part of the airport’s $15.43 million runway expansion and improvement project, completed this spring. Through the project, the runway was expanded from 3,000 feet to 3,300 feet for landing. An additional 300 feet of paved area was added to both sides for safety purposes, allowing 3,600 feet for takeoff and 3,900 feet for emergency situations.

The board voted unanimously to deny his appeal on Sept. 23, and filed the decision with the Town Clerk on Oct. 7.

Whippen’s argument is rooted in a June 2011 zoning decision to grant the Marshfield Airport Commission a special permit to expand airport’s runway to the southwest near Woodbine Road. That work was approved for the airport zone and the B-2 business-highway zone.

During the Zoning Board meetings in September, Galvin said that despite that zone error in the special permit, the project was still described with the proper property addresses.

"It said on what properties it was going to be on," Galvin said of the permit. "That’s all it needs."

The Zoning Board’s decision also states that the previous board indicated that listing B-2 was a clerical error, and notes that no one challenged the board’s 2011 decision within the allotted 90-day time period after it was filed.

The lawsuit argues that the Zoning Board’s decision fails to acknowledge that according to town bylaws, no special permit for airport facilities is allowed in the R-2 zone, and that the only way the runway could have been properly expanded was to rezone the land at Town Meeting.

The lawsuit also says that the Zoning Board acted beyond its authority by denying Whippen’s appeal and allowing work in a zone it was not permitted, failing to acknowledge that the special permit did not grant permission for work in the R-2 zone and allowing airport and airport facilities to be constructed in that zone.

It further claims the airport land that already existed in the residential zone was not used for airplane activity, meaning there was not, as town officials had previously said, a pre-existing, non-conforming use in that zone.

The Zoning Board’s decision to deny Whippen’s appeal, though, said that the airport commission’s 2011 application showed proposed work on "a so-called runway safety area, which was in use by the airport for many years" in the R-2 zone.

- Source:  http://marshfield.wickedlocal.com

Deputies: DeLeon Springs neighbors took Kolb for scrap

A DeLeon Springs man thought his missing, engineless experimental plane was stolen but declined to press charges after his neighbor came forward and said he had taken the fuselage thinking it was junk, deputies said.

Scott Lyons’ plane disappeared from the woods at 1229 Reynolds Road where he had kept the 20-foot Kolb experimental aluminum plane for several months, investigating deputies said.

Lyons reported the plane, which was 100 yards away and out of sight of his home, missing on Wednesday and said he was willing to prosecute whoever took the aircraft, a report shows.

In a follow-up investigation the following day, Thursday, Lyons told deputies that he had found his plane, a report states.

Lyons said there was no further need for the case to be investigated and wanted the case closed. Here’s why: Lyons told deputies it was a misunderstanding and his neighbors had accidentally taken his plane thinking it was scrap.

- Source:  http://www.news-journalonline.com

Genoa, Vernon County, Wisconsin: Sheriff investigates after laser pointed at small plane

According the most recent Vernon County Sheriff’s Department report the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department is investigating someone pointing a laser at an aircraft.

Sheriff John Spears said the department was contacted by the Federal Aviation Administration shortly before 6 p.m., Sunday night. The FAA said a someone shined a laser at a small single engine airplane as it flew over the Genoa area. Sheriff Spears said several officers went to the area to investigate, but found nothing.

Spears said it is a federal crime for anyone to point a laser at an aircraft and anyone convicted of doing so could face a possible five year prison term.

Sheriff Spears said the case is under investigation. Anyone with information call the Vernon County Crime Stoppers 608-637-8477

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

Plane turbulence injures 4 Air France cabin crew

PARIS (AP) - Air France says that a flight bound for New York's JFK airport was forced to turn around shortly after leaving Paris after severe turbulence injured four cabin crew members.

According to a statement, the incident took place Tuesday afternoon when flight AF006 encountered bad weather "at the beginning of the cruise phase."

The plane turned back and landed at Charles de Gaulle airport, where medical assistance was provided to the crew members. It wasn't immediately clear how serious their injuries were.

No passengers were injured.

- Source:  http://www.wboc.com

Beechcraft 200 Super King Air: Venezuelan Air Force Shoots Down Trespassing Plane

The Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez has confirmed that a passenger plane was shot down in Venezuelan airspace.

The Venezuelan Air Force has shot down a plane suspected of transporting illegal narcotics over the western state of Apure on the border with Colombia, the country's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced early Tuesday via his Twitter account.

Gen. Lopez posted a photo of the downed aircraft, saying "it is the wreckage of a King 200 plane that trespassed into our airspace and was shot down by the personnel of the strategic command of the Bolivarian Armed Forces southeast of Elorza, in the Apure state," he wrote.

- Source:  http://www.telesurtv.net

An aircraft was shot down while invading Venezuelan airspace.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation proposal could force charter flight players to suspend operations

A proposal by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to notify a new rule re-designating all non-scheduled operator permit (NSOP) holders with less than three aircraft as ‘private’ airlines could force a majority of India’s air charter industry to stop all “commercial” flights.

This is because aircraft owned under the private category, like those by corporates houses such as the Adani Group or Reliance Industries for transport of company executives or personal use, are not allowed to carry fare-paying passengers.

At present, 120 air charter operators, including players such as Invision Air, Zest Aviation and Freedom Services, are registered as NSOPs with the DGCA, but only 39 have three or more aircraft. The choice between the remaining 81 is to either stop operations or expand their fleet to at least three over the next 12 months.

The move by the DGCA is being seen as a fallout of the US Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) downgrade, with on of the most crucial deficiencies found in the Indian regulator’s functioning being the shortage of trained staff to carry out engineering and flight checks.

The regulator says the proposal to make amendments in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) — section III, series C, part III — meets the guidelines as issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and would lessen the burden on manpower to carry out safety checks on commercial non-scheduled aircraft.

“The requirement to have minimum three aircraft per operator is as per ICAO guidelines. A committee was set up to examine the issue of non scheduled operator’s permit, which recommended that operators with less than three aircraft not be permitted commercial operations by the DGCA. We have a shortage of human resources and the FAA downgrade is related to that. It is the same amount of manpower that goes in to checking a solitary aircraft or an entire fleet of a full scheduled airline,” a DGCA official said.

Director General of Civil Aviation Prabhat Kumar, who has accepted the recommendations of the committee, said the proposal is highly viable, as the regulator is also proposing such business aircraft operators to have scheduled flights in future.

“We have also given them one year’s time to either raise the fleet strength to meet the minimum airplane or helicopter requirement or to get themselves converted in to the private category,” Kumar said.

The DGCA had invited comments on the proposal after a public notice was issued on October 13 regarding “revision to the applicability requirement… on minimum requirements for grant of permit to operate non scheduled air transport services.”

The Business Aircraft Operators’ Association (BAOA), however, has called the proposal “retrograde” as that would “severely affect the entire industry”, “retard growth of remote connectivity”, and “would not, in any way, reduce safety oversight responsibility of the DGCA, as it appears to be the purpose of the amendment proposed.”

“The proposed amendment will severely retard the growth of regional and remote connectivity as it is contrary to the ministry of civil aviation’s policy.  Majority of NSOPs operate only one aircraft, and are looking forward to deploying them on remote routes. It would be in the best interest of aviation industry to frame regulatory requirement in conformity with the policy of MoCA,” BAOA President Rohit Kapur said.

- Source: http://indianexpress.com

Mitsubishi and Li Ka-shing in $800m aircraft joint venture

Japan’s biggest trading company and Asia’s richest man have teamed up in an $800m aircraft leasing joint venture, betting that cheap debt and strong demand from low-cost carriers will sustain a multi-year boom.

Mitsubishi Corp will get the venture started by selling it 15 of the 79 planes owned by its aviation finance unit, MC Aviation Partners. MCAP, which is wholly-owned by Mitsubishi, will contribute 40 per cent of the venture’s equity, with the remainder coming from Cheung Kong Holdings, the main investment vehicle of Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong-based billionaire.

The planes – new, narrow-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing – have a combined appraisal value of about $800m, according to MCAP. Assuming that banks provide loans of between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of that value, the partners will contribute equity of $160m to $320m.

Within a few years, the aim was to build the venture’s assets to about $5bn, said Hiroshi Nakanishi, general manager of Mitsubishi’s aviation business department. He noted that demand from budget airlines was expected to push the share of leased planes within the global fleet to about half in five to ten years, from 40 per cent now.

“Depending on discussions with Cheung Kong, more planes could be transferred,” Mr Nakanishi said. “But we need to source new planes from the market.”

The move comes as Japan’s “big five” trading houses by market capitalization – Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Itochu, Sumitomo and Marubeni – seek dependable streams of income beyond their mainstay resources businesses, concentrating new investment in areas such as food, retail, transport and healthcare. The shift has been prompted by softer commodity prices and attempts by Japanese utilities to become producers and distributors of oil and gas, invading the traders’ turf.

The benefits of more rounded portfolios were underscored in September, when Sumitomo Corp warned that writedowns connected to a Texan shale-oil project would almost completely erase its earnings for the fiscal year to March.

Analysts say that the “Sumitomo shock” could prompt other trading companies to mark down commodity-related assets as they report half-year figures this week.

Mitsubishi had been looking for an Asia-based partner for a while to develop an arm’s-length business. Cheung Kong, with its long-term view and similar “low-teens” expectations for pre-tax returns, was a natural fit, said Keiichi Otani, chief executive officer of MCAP.

Mr Li is known for his preference for infrastructure in countries with stable regulatory and common law systems. In August, Cheung Kong said it was in talks to buy a $5bn fleet of 100 aircraft put up for sale by Awas, a European lessor owned by Terra Firma, the private equity group.

- Source:   http://www.ft.com

Sun Air chosen to serve Bradford Regional Airport (KBFD), Pennsylvania

It’s official — commercial flights will be flying from Bradford to Pittsburgh once again.

The U.S. Department of Transportation made public last week an order selecting Sun Air Express to provide subsidized flight service between Bradford and Pittsburgh.

“It’s great news for the community and great news for the airport,” said interim airport director Alicia Dankesreiter on Monday.

The airport is currently in the midst of a lapse of service, as former subsidized carrier Silver Airways ended its Bradford flights on Halloween. While the Essential Air Service (EAS) contract with Sun Air began Nov. 1, the provider has not yet been able to start.

“We’re waiting to hear from Sun Air Express as to when they can start,” Dankesreiter said. “We expect that to happen before the end of 2014.”

Silver Airways had served Bradford since 2008. However, at the beginning of 2014, the company announced its intention to pull out of Bradford, saying it was losing its United Airlines hub in Cleveland, Ohio, and was retiring the type of planes used to serve the community.

Because service to Bradford was guaranteed under the federal Essential Air Service subsidy contact, the DOT sought proposals to replace Silver. Sun Air had the most attractive offer, airport officials said.

However, before a proposal was selected, the DOT announced Bradford’s passenger counts had fallen to the point where the airport was no longer eligible for the subsidy. Bradford airport officials set out to obtain a one-year waiver, which was granted in September. The DOT selected Sun Air on Oct. 24 as the carrier to replace Silver.

“This is great news,” Dankesreiter reiterated. “We went down and toured the gate we’re going to come in to Pittsburgh on. It’s very conveniently located. I think everyone is going to be happy with the service.”

The proposal is for Sun Air to provide Bradford with 24 weekly non-stop round trips to Pittsburgh International Airport for a two-year term, from Nov. 1 through Oct. 31, 2016 — although passenger counts will be reassessed on Sept. 30, 2015 to determine continued eligibility. The weekly ceiling on the subsidy is $40,224. Sun Air will use an 8-seat Piper Chieftain aircraft.

The order, signed by Brandon Belford, deputy assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs of the DOT, indicates Sun Air and a “coalition of stakeholders, including Pittsburgh International Airport, promise to make this service attractive to passengers, with interline ticketing and baggage transfer, and more frequent service using aircraft with fewer seats than the previous carrier.”

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

Trying to understand steep decline in ridership at Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport (KITH), New York

The Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport is working to increase traffic and fill financial holes following a steep decline in passengers over the past three years.

While 2011 proved to be a historic year for the airport with a record-setting 121,733 outbound passengers, ridership has since plummeted. By 2013’s year-end, the number of passengers had dropped nearly 14 percent, according to statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration– a downward pace that has continued into 2014.

“The airport has cyclic traffic over the years,” said Mike Hall, the airport’s interim aviation director. “This reflects as much as anything the turbulence of the airline industry.”

While there is no clear consensus to explain the slump, Michael Malnoske, the general manager at Blue Line Aviation, LLC and longtime Elmira resident, said he suspects the drop in passengers stems from the recent merge of two major airline carriers.

 “A lot of this comes from the legacy merge we had recently between U.S. Airways and American Airlines,” said Malnoske. “This creates a lot of red tape for the regional carriers, which serve Ithaca and Elmira.”

 Hall also cited the merge as an example of turbulence for the airport and industry, which has seen massive deregulation as well as spending cuts in recent years.

 “The shock waves of (deregulation) are still being felt today,” Hall said. “It’s been a tough few years to get reliable service. We’re working really hard at Ithaca to turn it around. We recognize that where we are is not acceptable.”

 One way the Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport is seeing the effects of budget cuts is in the number of flight services it has to offer. Currently, the airport only offers nine daily commercial flight services to three major hubs: Detroit, Newark and Philadelphia. Hall said that the limited number of services might drive away some consumers looking for more flexibility. To further agitate the situation, Hall continued, the airport is still up against the obvious external challenges, including harsh weather and crowded airspace.

 Not all airports in the southern tier are suffering though. According to Elmira-Corning Regional Airport manager, Ann Crook, business is steadily increasing– up more than 20 percent through the same time period in 2013. Crook said the increase could be attributed to the boom in natural gas exploration in the region, as well as the airport’s easy accessibility and partnership with Allegiant Airlines.

 Allegiant has a different business model than most of the carriers, Crook explains. The Las Vegas-based carrier specializes in offering low-cost, direct flights from smaller cities to popular destinations, such as vacation hubs like Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

 “The allegiant flights cater to people who are looking for direct service to Florida, for a good, low price,” Crook said. “This is now the airport to come to and has made us the airport of choice.”

 While the Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport has not landed a discount carrier, Hall believes the airport will soon rise back to its record high passenger levels. In preparation, the airport is currently rolling out an expansion plan, which includes nearly $20 million in infrastructure upgrades and will begin as early as the summer of 2015.

 Also securing the airport’s future, Hall said, is the high-demand by residents and international students for an easy in-and-out route to and from Ithaca–a community with no interstate highway or rail services. The airport, Hall said, has and will continue to offer a reliable connection to major cities, helping to maintain a local customer base, as well as the attention of major airlines.

 “Well, the airport is a very important part of economic development in Tompkins County,” Hall said. “The airport is really our portal to the world.”

- Source:   http://ithacavoice.com

Natrona County Commission Holds Public Hearings On Hangar, Gravel Permit: Casper-Natrona County International Airport (KCPR), Wyoming

The Natrona County Commission will take public comment about the airport’s request for funding from the Wyoming Business Council for a new hangar, according to its agenda for the meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the old courthouse.

The Casper-Natrona County International Airport’s proposed hangar would be used to attract businesses with aircraft, or need space for manufacturing and storage.
The proposal meets the Wyoming Business Council’s Business Ready Community Grant and Loan Program intention of economic development.

The airport itself would put up a cash match of $250,000 to match the grant from the business ready program, plus land valued at $68,000. The airport would pay for any cost overruns from its capital investment funds.

The airport also is seeking funding from private sources as well as the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance.

Story:    http://k2radio.com

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: Aircraft repair firm owner gets 5 years in federal prison for inspection fraud

The ex-owner of a Lancaster County aircraft repair firm was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison Tuesday for falsifying airplane inspection records.

Jay Stout, 55, formerly of Elizabethtown and the ex-president of Marietta-based Flying Tigers Inc., was convicted in April of conspiracy, fraud involving airplane parts, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

Besides the prison term, U.S. Eastern District Judge Harvey R. Bartle III ordered Stout to pay $503,340 in restitution and serve 3 years on probation after his release from jail.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, stout and co-conspirators committed the fraud between 2003 and 2010 by charging customers for mandated airplane inspections even though Flying Tigers didn't have a mechanic certified to perform the checks. They also falsified documentation.

Stout's son, Joel, pleaded guilty in the case and in June was sentenced to 5 years of probation.

- Source:  http://www.pennlive.com

Rolls-Royce to Cut 2,600 Jobs Reduction Part of Engine Maker’s Cost-Cutting Program

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall And Ian Walker
Updated Nov. 4, 2014 10:54 a.m. ET

LONDON— Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC said on Tuesday it would slash 2,600 jobs and replace its chief financial officer after a series of profit warnings disappointed investors.

The company, which has roughly 55,000 employees, said most of the job cuts would come next year at its aerospace division, which produces engines for Boeing Co. and Airbus Group NV jetliners. The division, with 29,000 people on its payroll, is the biggest contributor to Rolls-Royce’s sales and profit.

“The measures announced today will not be the last, however they will contribute towards Rolls-Royce becoming a stronger and more profitable company,” Chief Executive John Rishton said. He added the company would work with unions and seek voluntary departures as it tries to ensure key skills aren’t lost.

The company’s board met Tuesday to approve the restructuring. The civil aerospace business, rather than defense, will take the brunt of the job losses. Rolls-Royce said future cost initiatives would target the land and sea operations.

The news comes after the U.K. engine maker issued a profit warning last month, saying sales would fall this year. Rolls-Royce, which no longer has links to the luxury car maker, also said a promised return to growth in 2015 would be delayed amid a global economic slowdown. Underlying revenue for this year is projected to fall by between 3.5% and 4%. Previously, the company said sales would be roughly unchanged from last year.

Mr. Rishton has struggled over the past year to push through cost-cutting measures he has long promised. He cited only “mixed progress” last month.

The engine maker on Tuesday said it had appointed David Smith as the new finance chief. He joined Rolls-Royce earlier this year, and was chief financial officer of the company’s aerospace division. He previously worked for Ford Motor Co. for 25 years.

Mr. Smith replaces Mark Morris, a 27-year company veteran who had served as Rolls-Royce’s finance chief since January 2012.

The profit warning last month surprised investors who were already caught off-guard when Rolls-Royce said in February that sales growth would stall for the first time in a decade. In July, it also cut its outlook for the marine unit.

Earlier this year, the company committed to its first share repurchase, valued at £1 billion ($1.6 billion), and said it planned to complete the sale of its energy-turbine unit to Siemens AG .

Rolls-Royce management has been under pressure in the past two years amid a range of issues. The company is under investigation by the U.K. Serious Fraud Office and U.S. regulators about alleged illegal business dealings in Asia. An aborted effort to strengthen its maritime engine business through a $10 billion takeover of Finland’s Wärtsilä Oyj also spooked investors.

The restructuring announced Tuesday is expected to cost around £120 million over the next two years, with around half of that sum expected to be booked in 2014, the company said. Rolls-Royce expects annual cost benefits of around £80 million when the program is fully implemented.

Those costs will hit underlying profit and represent a fourth revision to earnings this year.

- Source:  http://online.wsj.com

City, Federal Aviation Administration to discuss Seacoast Helicopters: Mayor hopes to open dialogue with aviation administrators

PORTSMOUTH – Portsmouth officials have agreed to travel to Massachusetts to meet with the Federal Aviation Administration about noise complaints concerning the operation of Seacoast Helicopters.

Mayor Robert Lister said a group of five officials, including him, City Councilor Jack Thorsen and Deputy City Manager David Allen, will travel to Burlington, Mass. on Nov. 20 for the meeting.

“We’re going down to see if we can open the lines of communication and let them know what the concerns of the residents are,” Lister said Monday. “We’re hoping to have a discussion about helicopters and their flight patterns over the city.”

City officials had invited FAA officials to attend a public meeting in Portsmouth, but the FAA refused.

The FAA released a statement that said they declined to meet with the public about noise complaints because “airport operators are responsible for addressing noise impacts on the communities they serve.”

“The FAA's primary mission is to ensure the safety and efficiency of our nation's navigable airspace,” they said in a statement. “It does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft overflights of a particular geographic area unless the operation is unsafe, or the aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with Federal Aviation Regulations.”

Lister remains disappointed that FAA officials wouldn’t come to Portsmouth to meet with the City Council and city residents.

 “We could have at that point had a public session where they could have heard from residents and responded to residents,” Lister said. “It would have been televised and the message would be gotten first hand, not second hand.”

The FAA said Portsmouth can only bring five people to the Nov. 20 meeting, Lister said.

“We’re pleased we can at least see where it goes from here,” Lister said about the meeting at the Regional Offices of the FAA.

The number of noise complaints received at the Pease Development Authority — which oversees the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease — has jumped dramatically during the last five months when Seacoast Helicopters began conducting its red-helicopter tours over Portsmouth and other Seacoast areas, according to PDA statistics.

PDA officials received 226 noise complaints during the last five months, 169 of which were related to helicopter noise. Most but not all of the complaints involved Seacoast Helicopter operations, they said.

“Typically there might be 10 a month,” Airport Director Bill Hopper said recently about noise complaints before Seacoast Helicopters started operating.

Pease Development Authority Executive Director David Mullen said he’d like to have someone from the PDA attend the meeting, but he’s not yet sure if they will.

Still, he acknowledged there’s really nothing the FAA can do to regulate where Seacoast Helicopters flies as long as they follow FAA rules.

“It is a permitted use and they don’t regulate overflights over Portsmouth,” Mullen said Monday. “As long as Seacoast Helicopters maintains safe operations, there’s nothing regulatory that can be done.”

Seacoast Helicopters owner Bruce Cultrera has repeatedly told the Portsmouth Herald that he is already flying his tours at 1,000 feet or more, higher than he is required to by the FAA.

And he has refused so far to change how he operates his business.

FAA regulations state that helicopters, if their operation is “conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface,” may operate below even the 500 feet requirement for planes flying over non-congested areas, according to a copy of the regulation provided to the Portsmouth Herald.

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

Seacoast Helicopters: Portsmouth residents sound off over chopper noise

PORTSMOUTH – Portsmouth and Durham residents shared their frustrations about living with helicopter noise, and with the owner of Seacoast Helicopters’ unwillingness to address the issues.

Portsmouth resident Eleanor Bradshaw told members of the Noise Compatibility Committee and Pease Development Authority leaders Thursday night that “we’re all getting frustrated.”

 "It feels like whatever we’re saying here the comments don’t have anywhere to go,” Bradshaw said during a meeting attended by more than 30 people.

She noted that although the noise from the helicopters is “pretty bad,” “the frequency is really the worst thing.”

Living downtown, she has accepted that dealing with noise is part of the deal, but the helicopters fly so often over the city, there doesn’t seem to be any downtime.

“Now on beautiful days, they’re gone, those moments of peace,” Bradshaw said during a meeting in the PDA’s headquarters. “If you’re kayaking on the inland waterways, you have a little helicopter flying over you.’

Portsmouth resident Robert Nute, along with other people at Thursday night’s meeting, complained that the helicopters are flying right over the Portsmouth Middle School and Little Harbor School.

 “To me it’s a safety issue,” Nute said. “I have a buddy who’s a helicopter pilot, and when it comes down, it comes straight down, it doesn’t matter how good a pilot you are.”

 Nute said after the meeting he’d like to see Seacoast Helicopters owner Bruce Cultrera use some “common sense” when it comes to running his business.

“Fly around the school, don’t fly right over downtown,” Nute suggested.

Durham resident Lee Seidel, who’s also a member of the Noise Compatibility Committee, said the touring red helicopters are also creating a noise problem in Durham.

“Helicopters are increasingly becoming a problem for people in Durham also,” he said.

Seidel suggested PDA officials can do more than they’ve said they can to control the operations at Seacoast Helicopters.

“The idea we have no ability to control helicopters, I think is very self-serving on the part of the PDA board,” Seidel said.

The only reason Seacoast Helicopters is operating out of the Pease International Tradeport, Seidel said, is “because you folks rented them space.”

But Pease Development Authority legal counsel Lynn Marie Hinchee took issue with Seidel’s comment, saying Seacoast Helicopters is “not our tenant.”

The business, which gives tours of downtown Portsmouth and other areas in the Seacoast, and also operates a helicopter school, is a tenant of Port City Air, the “fixed base operator” at the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, Hinchee said.

"We have absolutely no right to impose a lease restriction on anything which we could not otherwise regulate,” she added.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates air travel, but they have so far refused to hold a public meeting with Portsmouth city officials.

The state’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to the FAA recently asking them to reconsider, which they did, Hinchee said. But so far they've only offered to meet with Portsmouth officials at their regional headquarters in Burlington, Mass.

“This is becoming a national issue,” she said about helicopter noise complaints.

Cultrera has repeatedly told the Portsmouth Herald that he is already flying his tours at 1,000 feet or more, higher than he is required to by the FAA.

He considers himself a good neighbor whose business promotes the city of Portsmouth, along with all its downtown attractions.

But he has refused so far to change how he operates his business.

Asked Thursday afternoon if he planned to attend the noise meeting, Cultrera said, “No I don’t want to defocus the intent of the meeting. I’m afraid if I show up, the meeting will take on a different complexion.”

FAA regulations state that helicopters, if their operation is “conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface,” may operate below even the 500 feet requirement for planes flying over non-congested areas, according to a copy of the regulation provided to the Portsmouth Herald.

Cultrera has previously refused to meet with Portsmouth city officials, and Hinchee said Thursday “at this time they (Seacoast Helicopters) have not accepted an invitation” to meet about imposing voluntary noise regulations.

The number of noise complaints has jumped dramatically during the last five months when Seacoast Helicopters began operating, according to PDA statistics.

PDA officials received 226 noise complaints during the last five months, 169 of which were related to helicopter noise. Most but not all of the complaints involved Seacoast Helicopter operations, they said.

“Typically there might be 10 a month,” Airport Director Bill Hopper said about noise complaints before Seacoast Helicopters started operating.

He added that the PDA has had months where they haven’t received any calls.

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

Oracle Challenger III moves through city streets overnight

KUSA- It was designed for performing snap rolls at incredible speeds, but early Tuesday morning, a specialized biplane crawled through the metro area at just 20 miles per hour on the back of a flatbed truck.

The plane was moved overnight from Centennial Airport to its temporary home at the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Lowry. There are no runways in the area, so the aircraft had to be moved by truck.

The bright, red biplane called the Oracle Challenger III belongs to master air show pilot, Sean Tucker. Tucker will be honored at the museum's Spreading Wings Gala later this month and his plane will be on display.

"You definitely gotta see that thing up close. I mean it's nuts," said Matthew Burchette, curator at the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.

The biplane packs more than 400 horsepower and weighs in at just 1,200 pounds. Burchette said it was built specifically for Sean Tucker.

"If you're any sort of an airplane nut, you know that wings actually have ailerons and there are two on each wing," Burchette explained. "This is a biplane, so you would think it would have four. No, actually it has eight and that allows Sean to do some of the most amazing aerobatic stunts you've ever seen in your entire life."

The plane's journey to the museum started at midnight Tuesday and wrapped up about 1:00 a.m. The move required permits from Centennial, Aurora and Denver and patience from a crew that guided the flatbed through the streets. Burchette said the biplane will be on display at the museum for the next two weeks.

The 2014 Spreading Wings Gala is set for November 15th from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Tickets are still available.

- Source:   http://www.9news.com

As Qantas ditches life rafts, airlines reveal how they are reducing costs ... from BA saving £700,000 by cleaning toilet pipes to GoAir only employing 'lighter' women

Qantas Airways has become the latest airline to announce a program of cuts in a bid to maximize profits and keep fuel expenditure as low as possible.

Less legroom, narrower aisles and smaller toilets could see extra rows of seats introduced into the economy sections on its aircraft in proposals backed by its chief executive officer Allan Joyce.

The measures could also see the Australian airline ditching life rafts on over-land flights, draining water tanks more regularly, and using modern technology to streamline on-board entertainment systems.

While high-paying passengers will have the luxury of lie-flat seats in business class, more room will be squeezed out of economy class.

Qantas is just the latest airline to announce cost-cutting measures. Last year, Samoan Air became the first carrier to charge passengers by weight; United Airlines introduced a 'paperless cockpit' using more technology, and uses lighter food trolleys; and GoAir announced it would only employ female flight attendants as they are 'lighter' than men.

British Airways says it has reduced engine taxing by having one engine shut down where suitable, and has descaled the toilet pipes on its Boeing 747s and 777s, resulting in £635,000 in fuel savings.

While easyJet says it is reducing fuel costs by around £312,000 each year by using tablets instead of heavy log-books.

Qantas hopes, despite the cuts, ticket sales can be maximized to enable the carrier to compete with Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia - and has announced its planes will fly for about 12 per cent longer every day.

Bloomberg has reported that Qantas cut non-fuel expenses by 4 per cent on international flights and 3 per cent on domestic flights during the 12 months to June.

'Little changes add up to millions of dollars,' Gareth Evans, chief financial officer of Qantas, which had sales of £7.6bn in the year ending in June and a net loss of £15bn, said.

'Medium-sized changes add up to tens and possibly even hundreds of millions of dollars.'

Another move is to introduce hotter water on board so as to cut grime on equipment and save on replacements.

The Australian reports that, despite much opposition, Qantas is pressing ahead with moves to strip life rafts off more than half its Boeing 737 planes that spend limited or no time over water.

The change affects 38 of its fleet of 72 Boeing 737-800s. A similar change will also be made for six Jetstar A321 aircraft.

Speaking to The Australian, Qantas' head of safety Mike ­Plottel said: 'The majority of our Boeing 737s operate between Australian mainland cities and don't fly over long stretches of water, so rafts simply aren't required even as a precaution.'

South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has said he is against the move and has written to the airline's chief executive asking him to rule out the idea as a matter of urgency.

Speaking about its cost-cutting measures, a British Airways spokesman told MailOnline Travel: 'One part of our plan to improve fuel efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint is to reduce the weight on all our aircraft.

'We have a dedicated fuel efficiency team – the purpose of which is to report and reduce our fuel consumption.

'Part of this work was to ask every department in the airline to focus on fuel efficiency and ask for ideas to reduce fuel burn.

'More than 50 projects were identified and a number have already been delivered.

'These range from switching from glass quarter-sized wine bottles to plastic equivalents, using lighter knives in our business class cabins and removing under-utilised equipment on board.'

And a a spokesman easyJet said: 'We operate our aircraft in a way that improves fuel efficiency and continually look to see how we can reduce the weight of the aircraft so we can be as fuel efficient as possible.'

The carrier has fitted Panasonic Toughpads in place of laptops and printed navigational charts, in all of its cockpits.

This means that the airline is already nearing a completely paperless plane. The tablets will also make easyJet one of the first airlines to use this type of device in all phases of flight and on the ground.

By replacing heavy printed log books easyJet expects to reduce fuel costs by around £312,000 each year. Every kilo of weight taken off easyJet's fleet of aircraft saves around £12,500 per year.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Federal Aviation Administration sues Southwest Airlines to enforce $12M in fines over plane repairs

DALLAS — The federal government is suing Southwest Airlines Co. after failing to reach a settlement with the carrier over allegations that repairs to dozens of planes didn't meet safety standards.

The Justice Department sued Southwest on Monday in federal district court in Washington state. The lawsuit seeks to enforce $12 million in civil penalties that the Federal Aviation Administration announced in late July.

The government says that starting in 2006 Southwest hired a contractor to make extensive repairs on 44 planes to prevent the aluminum skin from cracking. The FAA says the contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper procedures.

"We dispute the FAA's allegations and look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend Southwest's record in a court of law," Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said Monday night.

The Southwest case is the second-largest penalty that the FAA has ever sought against an airline, behind only a $24.2 million case against American Airlines.

Typically, airlines negotiate with the FAA to reduce the penalties. The FAA hit Southwest with $10.2 million in penalties in 2008, and that case was settled a year later for $7.5 million. The government's decision to sue Southwest barely three months after announcing the most recent penalty indicated the wide gap between the two sides.

The most serious allegation in the current case involves replacement of parts of the fuselages on 44 planes. The FAA said Aviation Technical Services workers under Southwest's supervision put sealant under the new skin panels but didn't install all the rivets fast enough for the sealant to be most effective, which could create gaps for moisture to penetrate and cause corrosion.

Dallas-based Southwest returned the planes to service in 2009 and kept flying some of them for months after the FAA warned the airline of the improper repairs, the FAA said. Regulators approved later repairs.

Story and Comments: http://www.star-telegram.com

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram posted a full copy of the suit (PDF), in which the government lays out specific allegations that Southwest's contractor, Aviation Technical Services, improperly installed skin panels, among other charges.