Sunday, November 23, 2014

Incident occurred November 22, 2014 at Senai International Airport, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

JOHOR BAHRU:   A student pilot, who was flying solo, escaped with injuries after his aircraft crashed into a ditch during landing at the Senai International Airport.

It is believed that the student was doing training manoeuvres after his four-seater Piper PA28-161 aircraft was cleared to land together with another aircraft belonging to a flying club.

“The first plane landed safely. But when this aircraft touched down, somehow the pilot lost control and it veered into a ditch beside the runway,” an airport official said, adding that four aircraft were taking turns to land during that period.

He said the third and fourth aircraft landed safely, adding that the crash did not disrupt airport operations.

The student pilot, in his 20s, was sent to the Kulai Hospital for injuries to his face and body at 2pm on Saturday.

One of those who rushed over to help him said the pilot was already brought out of the plane by the time he got to the scene.

“I immediately sent him to the hospital for treatment,” he said, declining to reveal further.

It is learnt that the Department of Civil Aviation has been told about the crash.

The last incident involving this flying club happened five years ago when a bank officer spent six hours trapped in a wreckage of a two-seater Cessna before rescuers found him in the Gunung Pulai forest reserve.

- Source:

Drone Flights Face Federal Aviation Administration Hit: Looming Rule Proposal Would Restrict Commercial Uses, Require Pilot License

The Wall Street Journal
By Jack Nicas and Andy Pasztor

Nov. 23, 2014 8:51 p.m. ET

Highly anticipated federal rules on commercial drones are expected to require operators to have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls, according to people familiar with the rule-making process.

The drone industry has awaited commercial rules for about six years, hoping the rules would pave the way for widespread drone use in industries such as farming, filmmaking and construction. Current FAA policy allows recreational drone flights in the U.S. but essentially bars drones from commercial use.

While the FAA wants to open the skies to unmanned commercial flights, the expected rules are more restrictive than drone supporters sought and wouldn’t address privacy concerns over the use of drones, people familiar with the matter said.

The agency also plans to group all drones weighing less than 55 pounds under one set of rules. That would dash hopes for looser rules on the smallest drones, such as the 2.8-pound Phantom line of camera-equipped, four-rotor helicopters made by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co. Similar-sized devices are seen as the most commercially viable drones and have surged in popularity in the last two years.

Small-drone supporters say such models are less risky to people and structures than heavier drones like Boeing Co. ’s ScanEagle, a gas-powered, 40-pound aircraft with a 10-foot wingspan that can stay aloft for more than 24 hours. ConocoPhillips Co. uses the ScanEagle to gather data on Arctic ice pack and whale migrations.

In addition, pilot certifications likely to be proposed by the FAA would typically require dozens of hours flying manned aircraft, according to people familiar with the rule-making discussions. Drone proponents have resisted requiring traditional pilot training for drone operators.

FAA officials expect to announce proposed rules by year-end. The proposal will kick off a public comment period that is likely to flood the agency with feedback. It could take one or two years to issue final rules.

In a statement, the FAA said it is working to “integrate unmanned aircraft into the busiest, most complex airspace system in the world—and to do so while we maintain our mission—protecting the safety of the American people in the air and on the ground. That is why we are taking a staged approach to the integration of these new airspace users.”

The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the current FAA proposal and seeking comments from other parts of the government, including the Pentagon and law-enforcement agencies. Last-minute objections could change some specifics and delay release of the proposed rules.

The agency has said it is moving carefully on drone rules out of concern for potential collisions with other aircraft and injury to people and structures on the ground.

Airline pilots and aircraft owners have supported the cautious approach. But some drone-industry officials predict a loud backlash to the proposal.

“I feel like there’s a colossal mess coming,” said Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, an advocacy group for drone makers and innovators, including Google Inc. and Inc. The rule is going to be “so divorced from the technology and the aspirations of this industry…that we’re going to see a loud rejection.”

Unmanned aircraft have proliferated in U.S. skies as technology makes them smaller, cheaper, more powerful and easier to fly. While the FAA has helped build unparalleled safety into passenger air-travel with strict manufacturing and operating rules, the system didn’t foresee thousands of small aircraft buzzing around at low altitude.

The FAA’s current policy allows commercial drone flights only with case-by-case approval. Officials have authorized just a handful of companies so far.

Still, thousands of entrepreneurs are believed to be flying the devices without FAA clearance, making it hard for those operators to get insurance.

Some government and aviation-industry officials are worried about surging use without meaningful oversight. Pilots are increasingly reporting midair drone sightings, including three near John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York last week.

Drone proponents say the U.S.’s regulatory approach is less accommodating than in other countries. This month, Canada plans to issue blanket approval for all commercial operations that use drones weighing less than 4.4 pounds as long as they comply with certain safety standards, such as altitude limits and no-fly zones around airports.

The FAA must “properly balance regulatory restrictions and the safety risks posed by” various sizes of unmanned aircraft, said Ted Ellett, a former FAA chief counsel who now is a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP. Mr. Ellett said a “one-size-fits-all” approach “will create yet another unnecessary and costly impediment.”

Gretchen West, former executive vice president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the nation’s biggest drone-lobbying group, said large, powerful drones like those used by the military got more attention when the FAA began working on the rules.

Since then, much of the growth has shifted to smaller drones. The expected rules are “going to be very restrictive for small systems,” she added.

Jesse Kallman, head of regulatory affairs for drone-software firm Airware, said requiring commercial drone pilots to have cockpit training “will end up excluding someone who has hundreds of hours of experience on an unmanned aircraft in favor of a pilot who understands how to operate a Cessna but not an unmanned aircraft.”

In exemptions granted to six filmmaking companies to use drones on film sets earlier this year, the FAA required operators to have private-pilot licenses.

The FAA’s draft rule is expected to require lower-level pilot certifications requiring fewer flight hours, according to people familiar with the matter.

One former FAA official said the agency is concerned that statutes bar it from authorizing commercial aircraft operations that don’t have a certified pilot.

The agency is drafting language asking Congress for greater flexibility, this person said.

The planned 400-foot flying limit within the operator’s sight largely follows the FAA’s current rules for recreational uses of drones. Those rules are based partly on voluntary guidelines for model aircraft published by the agency in 1981.

Drone proponents say the FAA is relying on decades-old regulations that don’t account for advancements in technology. Many drone pilots use “first-person view” technology allowing them to rely on real-time footage from a drone’s camera broadcast to their controller or headwear that resembles virtual-reality visors. Users can add infrared and other sensors for night or low-visibility missions.

The FAA’s expected requirement for daylight flights within the operator’s sight would essentially prohibit many commercial applications, such as pipeline inspections and crop monitoring on large farms.

The FAA is awaiting data from a number of test sites before proposing regulations affecting drones that weigh more than 55 pounds. That process is expected to take at least several years. Until then, many states and local governments are likely to establish their own standards.

- Source:

Incident occurred November 23, 2014 at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Maldives

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) runway has been reopened after closing the runway temporarily due to emergency landing of a flight of Etihad Airways at INIA.

An official of airport said to Sun Online that airport runway has been closed temporarily after EY279 flight of Etihad Airways that departed at 7:10 pm on Sunday from INIA to Abu Dhabi made an emergency landing at INIA at around 8:30 pm due to leakage of hydraulic oil. He added that runway was reopened at 9:26 pm on Sunday.

According to the official, there were a total of 189 passengers and crews and no one was injured in the incident. Official added that some flights have been delayed and a flight has been diverted to Colombo due to emergency landing of EY279 flight at INIA.

It has been noticed that airport operations were disrupted recently due to increase in the number of cases of leakage of hydraulic fuel from flights.

While INIA runway has been closed due to fuel leakage from a flight of Etihad Airways on Sunday evening, airport was brought to emergency status and runway has been closed at 11:49 pm on Saturday after a Flyme flight which headed to Baa Dharanvandhoo landed in emergency at INIA following a bomb threat, however, airport runway was reopened at 1:45 am Sunday.

- Source:

Higher fuel sales paying off for Tullahoma Regional Airport (KTHA), Tennessee

The Tullahoma Regional Airport is continuing to sell a high volume of fuel and that’s paying off is several ways.

Airport manager Jon Glass told the Airport Authority at its meeting Tuesday night that fuel sales are up significantly over last year and that through the month of October the airport sold 15,123 gallons more than over the same period last year.

He noted that there are now more jet aircraft based at the airport than in years past and that overall traffic also has increased significantly.

“October was the second best month we have had in the history of the airport,” Glass said.

“We saw 8,876.21 gallons sold during the annual Beechcraft Party this year,” Glass said. “That is a good figure.” He noted that 144 planes took part in the event.

“That is not a record but it is a good number,” Glass said.

He said because of the good sales the airport has been able to pay off a loan on its Avgas truck about a year early.

“We have a UDAG (Urban Development Grant) and the payment is $100 a month,” he said..

Because the loan on the fuel truck could be paid off, the authority has decided to reduce the price charged for Avgas by a nickel per gallon.

“That will make us more competitive,” said new board member Jim George.

Glass also told the authority that he took part in a lengthy phone interview with representatives of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) about the chances of Tullahoma getting to host one of four annual events held by the organization.

He noted that he got a “good feeling” from the phone interview. “We were told that if we didn’t get it this year that they will save it for the next couple of years,” Glass said.

Locations chosen to host the AOPA events are expected to be announced after the first of the year.

- Source:

Robinson R-44, VH-YYS: Accident occurred November 23, 2014 in Cape York, Queensland, Australia

Forced landing and ground fire involving a Robinson R44, VH-YYS, 56 km E of Archer River, Qld, on 23 November 2014  

Investigation number: AO-2014-184
Investigation status: Active

Investigation in progress

Summary:  The ATSB has commenced an investigation into a Forced landing and ground fire involving a Robinson R44, VH-YYS, 56 km E of Archer River, Queensland on 23 November 2014

During cruise, the pilot detected abnormal engine indications and received a low rotor RPM warning. He conducted a forced landing into long grass which was then ignited by the helicopter’s exhaust. The helicopter was destroyed by fire and the pilot and passenger were uninjured.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview the pilot and gather additional information.

A report will be released within several months.

Two men have been found alive after their helicopter crashed in remote far north Queensland.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) launched a search for the two men on board the Robinson R44 helicopter after it failed to land at the Mareeba airport, west of Cairns on Saturday night.

The 39-year-old pilot and 33-year-old passenger were found just before 5:00pm (AEST) yesterday at the crash site, about 56 kilometres from the Archer River Roadhouse, where they had taken off.

Brad Allan from the Archer River Roadhouse said the pilot had been fishing in the area and the pair had had lunch there before they took off.

AMSA combed a 765-square kilometre area between the Archer River in Cape York and Mareeba.

The men were located by a passing plane.

An AMSA spokesman said the men were "alive and well".

It was unknown if they suffered any injuries in the crash.

- Source:

Photo: The helicopter crashed about 56 kilometres from the Archer River Roadhouse on Sunday. 
(Emergency Management Qld)

Piper PA-28-236 Dakota, N351VA: Incident occurred October 31, 2016 in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio -and- Incident occurred November 23, 2014 in O'Fallon, St. Clair County, Illinois


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Cincinnati FSDO-05


Date: 31-OCT-16
Time: 19:30:00Z
Regis#: N351VA
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
State: Ohio

Date:  November 23, 2014 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA St. Louis FSDO-62 


Event Type: Incident 
Highest Injury: None 
Damage: Unknown 
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG) 

O'Fallon, Ill. – A small plane heading to Cincinnati, Ohio, made an emergency landing after experiencing a mechanical failure Sunday afternoon.  

The pilot landed the plane, a Piper PA-28-236 Dakota, in a corn field after experiencing an electrical failure about 15 minutes into the flight. The plane came to a complete stop just short of a family's driveway.

There were four people on board, according to the St. Clair County Sheriff.

The pilot, who did not want to be identified, said he is just happy it was a successful landing, and that that everyone on-board is okay.

According to witnesses, the pilot said he is an experienced pilot with military experience.

The plane belongs to a club and the pilot is working with an insurance company to remove the aircraft from the field.


O’FALLON, Ill. (KMOX) - A light plane made an emergency landing in the Metro-East, Sunday afternoon.

Officials say the plane ran out of fuel and had to land in a field near Pausch Road and Frederick Lane in O’Fallon.

No injuries were reported.


Aero Commander 500-A/AC50, N14AV: Aerial Viewpoint Aerial Photography: Accident occurred November 23, 2014 in McDade, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA056 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, November 23, 2014 in McDade, TX
Aircraft: AERO COMMANDER 500A, registration: N14AV
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators 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 aircraft accident report.

On November 23, 2014, about 0950 central daylight time, an Aero Commander 500A airplane, N14AV, impacted terrain near McDade, Texas. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Aerial Viewpoint Aerial Photography under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight departed the David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (KDWH), Houston, Texas, and was en route to the Austin Executive Airport (KEDC), Austin, Texas.

A preliminary review of communications revealed that the pilot had contacted air traffic control and was receiving flight following while en route to his destination. Prior to reaching KEDC, the pilot radioed his intention to descend. There was no further communication with the pilot or any reported distress calls.

Several residents near the accident site reported hearing or seeing the accident airplane flying low, although none of them observed the accident sequence. A local landowner heard the airplane impact terrain and called 911.

The airplane was located in an open pasture with rolling terrain. Impact signatures were consistent with a near vertical impact. All major airplane components and flight controls surfaces were accounted for at the scene. The airplane was retained for further examination.

At 0955, the automated weather reporting facility located at the Giddings-Lee County Airport (KGYB), about 16 nautical miles southeast of the accident site reported wind from 240 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 14 knots, visibility 10 miles, a clear sky, temperature 64° Fahrenheit (F), dew point 55° F, and a barometric pressure of 29.70 inches of mercury.

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

LEE COUNTY, Texas - Investigators are looking into a plane crash near Austin that took the life of the pilot Sunday.

The pilot who was killed in the crash is a 63-year-old man from Magnolia named Daniel Disbrow. The Texas Department of Public Safety says he was a former law enforcement officer.

The plane he was flying was owned by an aerial photography company in Spring called Aerial Viewpoint.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it was headed to Austin Executive Airport from San Antonio when it crashed in Lee County, about 60 miles east of Austin.

The crash happened just before 10 a.m., but investigators don't yet know what caused it.

"It was sad," witness Ray Turnipseed said. "I didn't know if the people had made it out."

The FAA and DPS are on the scene investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board will arrive Monday.

Story and comments:

LEE COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – A man is dead following a plane crash near McDade Sunday.

Shortly before 10 a.m., authorities responded to reports of a plane down at 2143 County Road 305 near the Bastrop – Lee County line.  This is about 15 miles east of Elgin.

A DPS spokesperson tells KXAN a 63-year old man from Magnolia, Texas died in the crash, but did not release his name. However, the spokesperson says the victim previously worked in law enforcement. No one else was on-board.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Lynn Lunsford said the Aero Commander AC50 was on its way to Austin Executive Airport from San Antonio when the crash occurred. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board will arrive at the crash site Monday to investigate. Meanwhile, the FAA and DPS are on-scene.

The plane is registered to an aerial photography company in Spring, Texas.

- Source:

At least one person is dead after a small plane crashed into a field east of Elgin on Sunday, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. 

DPS officers were called about the crash on the 2100 block of County Road 305 at 9:51 a.m. They secured the scene and the Federal Aviation Administration will handle the investigation, a DPS spokesman said.

It’s unclear what led to the crash.

- Source:

Beijing to streamline approval time for private jets

Beijing aims to give aviation a lift by streamlining the time it takes to approve low-altitude flights for private and commercial jets.

The air traffic control commission of the State Council and the Central Military Commission agreed to simplify flight approvals for general aviation next year, the PLA Daily reported yesterday.

The changes, which apply to all civilian flights except those by scheduled passenger airlines, will be covered in national aviation legislation due to be drafted next year. The mainland has 226 general aviation companies and 1,786 general aircraft, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The number of aircraft is expected to surpass 5,000 in six years, with an annual growth of 19 per cent, the CAAC's deputy director Wang Zhiqing told Xinhua.

General aircraft, which range from helicopters to private jets, are designed to operate mainly in low-altitude airspace - 1,000 metres or below - but getting off the ground is not easy because the airspace is tightly controlled by the military.

Any application for such flights, including ones for emergency search and rescue efforts, usually needs to be approved by various authorities, including the military, the CAAC and even local governments.

The report said the changes would be modeled on a trial program launched in 12 cities, including Guangzhou and Shenyang , which takes the military out of the approval process.

Military and aviation experts said the country was opening up its low-altitude airspace but the process would take at least another decade because it needed a more sophisticated air surveillance and control system.

"China is trying to catch up with the global trend [to open low-altitude airspace], but its defenses lag behind," Ministry of Transport search-and-rescue pilot Li Jia said.

Yue Gang, a Beijing-based commentator on military affairs, agreed the authorities needed to install a more advanced radar system to keep track of all the jets flying at low altitude.

"Military radars have limits in detecting objects flying at low altitude. Our existing radar system would have so many blind spots once we opened up the low-altitude airspace," Yue said.

He also said that PLA interceptors - which respond to aviation dangers - were not designed to track smaller and slower general aircraft. "It's like asking a racing car to follow a three-wheeled truck," Yue said.

- Source:

India hopes to reverse flight safety rating

India’s hope to reverse its downgrade of safety ranking by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) soon after the US agency’s inspection in December may come a cropper.

The FAA is non-committal on upgrading India to Category 1 soon, saying its reassessment may take several months.

A team from the FAA will examine the progress made by India between December 8 and 12, ten months after it downgraded India to Category 2, which has ten other countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Curacao.

The downgrade came as India could not achieve satisfactory on two counts – insufficient number of flight operations inspectors and airworthiness officers do not have required training to handle all types of aircraft.

India now says that it has recruited more Safety Inspectors and imparted proper training and expects a positive outcome of the inspection by January.  However, the Federal Aviation Administration is non-committal.

“The FAA will begin a reassessment of India’s Civil Aviation Authority in December, which may take several months,” an FAA spokesperson told Deccan Herald in an email from the United States.

Experience of other countries, which faced downgrade, is also not a solace for India, as it took long for countries to get back into Category 1.

The Philippines is waiting for about six years to re-enter Category 1 while the wait of Indonesia is around seven years.

Israel took four years to reverse the downgrade and re-enter Category 1.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials believe that a positive sign from the FAA would help India deal with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Officials claim they have impressed the EASA on the initiatives taken by the DGCA to improve the situation.

“The FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency share the common goal of ensuring the highest aviation standards,” the FAA spokesperson said.

- Source:

Police Chase, Arrest Man Who Commandeered A Work Truck At Mineta San Jose International Airport (KSJC), California

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Police have arrested a man who commandeered an airport work truck at Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes told KCBS that, at approximately 10:15 a.m. Sunday, an unidentified man was spotted on a ramp on the west side of the airport where the corporate aviation facility is located. Airport staff immediately made contact with the man, took him into the corporate building and called police, Barnes said.

Moments later, the man got up and fled out the front door of the building where he encountered a staff member and asked for a ride to one of the commercial terminals. The employee refused and the suspect then jumped into an airport vehicle and drove off in it toward Terminal B.

San Jose police found the man inside a public area of a terminal, and arrested him there.

Barnes says it’s unclear just how the man made it past security and onto the tarmac, or how he was able to commandeer the airport vehicle.

She said that at no point was passenger or employee safety compromised and that a full investigation is now underway.

Security at the airport has been called into question in recent months.

In April, a 15-year-old boy managed to climb a security fence, climb into the wheel well of a passenger jet, and survive a flight to Hawaii. Then, last August, a woman was able to board a flight to Los Angeles without a ticket.

- Source:

American Pilots, Management Agree to Keep Talking on a New Labor Deal: American to Shrink its Envoy Air Commuter Unit by Transferring Small Jets to Other Vendors

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey

Nov. 23, 2014 2:59 p.m. ET

American Airlines Group Inc. and the union that represents its 15,000 pilots said they would continue to negotiate terms of a combined labor agreement, putting off for now a plan to reach a deal through binding arbitration. The new goal is to resolve the impasse by mid-December, the two sides said.

Separately, American said it plans to transfer at least 50 of its small regional jets to other vendors from its wholly-owned Envoy Air unit, due to a pilot shortage at Envoy. Some of the planes will go to wholly-owned Piedmont Airlines and outside contractor Trans States Airlines, the parent company said.

American raised the stakes in the talks with its main pilots union late last week, when it told the Allied Pilots Association that it needed to agree by Nov. 21 to accept the framework of the carrier’s Nov. 11 offer to APA as the basis for talks, not the union’s later counterproposal. Otherwise, American suggested it would move to arbitration, an outcome the union would be forced to go along with.

American’s proposal includes bigger raises than what the aviators are guaranteed to receive in the arbitration procedure. APA countered by asking for larger pay increase to make up for the fact that American pilots aren’t being offered profit-sharing.

The union’s 22-member board of directors met for three days last week to discuss the situation and adjourned Thursday night after directing negotiators to have further talk with management. It seems the union agreed to work off American’s earlier offer, according to a person familiar with the matter. But to sweeten the deal, American withdrew a proposal unpopular with the pilots that would have enabled the company to raise the number of seats in some of the regional aircraft.

This isn’t a normal airline-labor negotiation. The American pilots already have a six-year labor accord they agreed to when American’s former parent, AMR Corp. was in bankruptcy proceedings. US Airways management, which orchestrated AMR’s emergence from Chapter 11 through a merger of the two carriers, agreed to improve the terms in response to the pilots’ backing of the combination. US Airways aviators signed onto it as well, and both pilot groups received substantial raises a year ago when the merger closed.

But to create a true joint agreement, all the work rules must be aligned. In the absence of a negotiated agreement, the parties agreed to let an arbitration panel come up with those co-mingled rules, ensuring that they don’t raise the airline’s labor costs more than $87 million a year.

American agreed to give the pilots, even in an arbitrated outcome, a 3% raise on January 1, and two 3.5% increases, the first in early 2017 and the final one in early 2018. In addition, in 2016, the pilots would be brought up to the average of what pilots earn at United Continental Airlines Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. That could represent an increase of about 13% increase.

What American proposed to the pilots, as an amendment to the existing contract and a reflection of its financial performance, is an 18% raise on Dec. 2, plus 3 % a year for four years, starting this January, extending the pact by a year. The idea was to bring the group to Delta Air Lines Inc. pilot wages plus 3%. But the pilots, mindful that Delta pilots are in line to receive 15% of their annual earnings this year in profit-sharing, wanted 10% over Delta, rather than 3%.

The APA said its leaders and negotiators concur “that a negotiated agreement is preferable to an arbitrated outcome.” American, in a statement, said both sides have made progress and will continue to work toward a deal outside of arbitration.

American’s 24,000 flight attendants faced a similar choice, and early in November defeated a tentative new contract by a scant 16 votes out of more than 16,000 cast. The next step is arbitration, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 3. The attendants will be leaving money on the table because the outcome in arbitration is proscribed and is less than what American was offering.

Envoy, American’s largest wholly-owned commuter carrier, has been gradually hollowed out since the pilots there rejected a tentative labor agreement early this year. American has awarded desirable flying of large regional jets to other airlines and now is working on transferring some of Envoy’s remaining small regional jets to other airlines. As a result of the latest moves, Envoy is going to lose almost 100 planes to other airlines that have lower costs.

- Source:

New 50-seat jets coming to Pocatello Regional Airport (KPIH), Idaho

POCATELLO — Starting Jan. 1, Skywest Airlines will introduce new jets to its Delta Connection flights flying from Pocatello Regional Airport to Salt Lake City International Airport.

The new jet service will utilize the 50-passenger Canadair Regional Jet 200 (CRJ200), which will be replacing the existing 30-seat Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprop.

“They are quieter, more comfortable and people tend to prefer them,” David Allen, manager of Pocatello Regional Airport, said.

The new jets will depart at 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Allen says business demand might deem an additional flight be added on Sundays in the near-future.

“The times have been analyzed, and we find they provide the best connections with Delta flights and the lowest layover times,” he said.     

Allen said the 30-seat flights are usually at full- or near-capacity, a reflection of the 8 percent growth the airport has experienced annually since September 2012, compared to the national average of about 1.8 percent.

He said the airport’s biggest niche of customers flying to Salt Lake City are business travelers.

Customers may book their flights at or by calling 800-221-1212.

Story and comments:

Commentary: Washington feels like a second-class airport city

By Marina Ein  

Washington is home to majestic monuments, museums and the federal government. But as a transportation center, Washingtonians have second-class status, a situation made worse by growing airline consolidation. Sadly, prospects for improvement seem dim at best.

Many Washingtonians might be surprised to learn that only one carrier — United Airlines — formally considers Washington Dulles International Airport a “hub.” And, we are only sixth on the list of important hubs that United serves. As for Reagan National Airport, only one airline, US Airways, considers it hub-worthy. And that status is largely because of the ubiquitous shuttle service that connects Washington to New York and Boston.

For Washingtonians seeking to travel to the west coast of Florida, a miserable fate awaits. Earlier this year, Air Tran, the sole airline offering direct flights to Fort Meyers and other Gulf Coast cities year-round, was absorbed by Southwest, which dominates Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Washington passengers have no choice now (if they want a direct flight) but to embrace the Southwest spirit — cattle-call boarding procedures, no assigned seating and one of the worst on-time departure records in the airline industry. Indeed, the December issue of Travel & Leisure rated Southwest low compared to other major airlines for on-time departures. My personal experience with Southwest — six flights all of which were late — certainly supports that assessment.

As bad as our options are, there is no indication that improvement awaits. Airlines are competing in a challenging economic climate that promotes lessening service and restricted equipment expenditures. And with Washington considered a secondary focus, fewer and fewer scheduled direct flights are available to business travelers much less to resort and vacation destinations. What can we do?

We can ask our local leaders to make Washington’s access to first-class travel opportunities an important priority. They have the means to work with the many airlines that currently make us a change-over city to make us a true hub city. D.C.’s Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and other congressional leaders can raise this issue in Congress with the committees that regulate and oversee national transportation affairs. And, we as consumers, can voice our concerns to the airlines who serve us so badly.

In the meantime, Washingtonians must resign themselves to travel schedules that are more in line with what residents of Tulsa or Chattanooga expect. We will see increasing numbers of multi-leg flights that add hours to planned trips — and the uncertainty that comes with multiple takeoffs and landings. With enough delays, cancellations and generally horrific flying experiences in our future, perhaps we will truly come together as a capital region and demand more and better from the airlines that serve us so poorly.

Marina Ein is the president of Ein Communications, a District-based crisis communications and public relations firm.

- Source:

Plane prepped for final landing spot

BLOOMINGTON — After removing the left wing of the 1932 Tilbury Flash, a tiny but fast airplane popular with children visiting the McLean County Museum of History, Don O'Neall took a good, long look at it.

"Sad, isn't it?" said the president of the Bloomington Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 129. He and chapter member Tom Swearingen were charged with removing the wings and preparing the plane for storage.

While the historic single-seat monoplane on the museum's ground floor was a sad sight, it's story is far from over.

While that part of the former county courthouse is being turned into a new Route 66-theme visitor center, the plane is being packed away until it can be displayed after the first of the year at Central Illinois Regional Airport.

"Kids love this plane," O'Neall said. " But the great thing is that a lot of people are still going to be able to see this at its new location and our goal is to promote aviation and a whole new generation of children will be able to look at a great piece of our local history."

The plane was built by Owen Tilbury and Cecil Fundy and flown by Art Carnahan, who was the pilot for The (Bloomington) Pantagraph.

"Art was wild," said museum curator Susan Hartzold. "He would do just about anything."

Once recorded at 115 mph in flight, the plane set a world speed record for the smallest class of plane. It flew in and won aircraft racing competitions, often sponsored by governments interested in the military potential for small, highly maneuverable aircraft.

It is 11 feet 10 inches long, has a wingspan of 14 feet 8 inches and is powered by a Church-Henderson four-cylinder, 45-horsepower motor.

It's principal drawback was the small landing wheels, which could be used only on the smoothest of runways. It's pilot also had to be relatively small to fit into the tiny cockpit.

"We're going to miss it," Hartzold said. "It is one of the more popular exhibits, especially for the kids. We are sad to see it go. But we also understand that it is going to be seen by a lot more people and so we can live with that."

The plane was stored in a barn in 1935 and sat there for 40 years. It was recovered in 1975 and restored by members of the Bloomington EAA chapter, including Swearingen's grandfather, Tom Swearingen, who died about three years ago.

"He loved doing things like restoring a plane like this," Swearingen said. "That is why I feel a special connection to this plane. Knowing he worked on this plane and how important it was to him, makes it a special honor for me to be helping with this move."

Officials with CIRA have not yet decided where the plane will be displayed, but they are expected to make a final decision in the next few weeks.

"We are thrilled to be collaborating with the airport on this and know that whatever they decide to do with it — whether hang it or let it sit on the ground — it will be a great display and very popular," said Beth Whisman, museum director of development. "It's a special plane and if it can't be here, the perfect spot for it is at the airport."

- Source:

Volaris Airbus A320-200, XA-VLD, Flight Y4-970: Incident occurred November 22, 2014 at Sacramento International Airport (KSMF), California

Event Type: Incident 
Damage: Unknown 


Activity: Commercial

Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR) 

Aircraft Operator: VOLARIS 

Flight Number: VOI970

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Sacramento  FSDO-25

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —Passengers on a flight arriving at Sacramento International Airport experienced a slight delay Saturday night after the plane hit a bird during its descent.

The plane was scheduled to land just before 10:30 p.m. in Sacramento and was a Volaris flight coming from Guadalajara.

Three firetrucks met the plane on the runway to inspect the aircraft.

A few passengers said they felt a bump and smelled something burning in the cabin.

Some passengers told KCRA 3 they were not scared and said the pilots told them what was happening.

No information about the extent of damage to the plane was released.

- Source:

United and Orbitz sue to halt 'hidden city' booking

A 45-minute flight from San Diego to Los Angeles can get pretty pricey—about $350 for one-way economy seats on American Airlines.

But an unusual travel site can get you there for about $200 less. The catch is you must book a flight from San Diego to Las Vegas, with a stopover in Los Angeles. Instead of continuing on to Vegas, you simply step off the plane in Los Angeles.

It’s a troubling concept for United Airlines and Orbitz Worldwide, which have sued to stop the travel website from letting passengers use the money-saving tactic of booking “hidden city” destinations.

United and Orbitz accuse the site’s founder, Aktarer Zaman of New York, of “intentionally and maliciously” interfering with their operations and promoting “prohibited forms of travel,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago last week, said passengers who exit the plane before it reaches its final destination “adversely affect United’s ability to estimate head counts, which can not only cause disruptions at the airport gate, but can also require mechanical tweaks, such as variations in the amount of jet fuel needed for each flight.”

Orbitz sued because finds the fares and then directs travelers to book them on Orbitz, which has agreed not to book “hidden city” fares.

A representative for Skiplagged declined to comment.

Travel experts say there are drawbacks to booking through “hidden city” destinations. For example, the airline may not let you get your luggage until the plane reaches its final destination.

“If your airline prohibits this practice and you do it too blatantly, they may delete your frequent flier account,” said George Hobica, founder of the travel site “Some airlines really don't like being scammed.”

- Source:

Fees for Americans a sore spot in Cuba travel

TAMPA — The battle for the Cuban charter flight business out of Tampa International Airport has landed in federal court, exposing what U.S. citizens must pay the secretive Cuban government for use of Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

The annual total is somewhere between $31 million and $62 million — more than any other nation pays, said one Cuba analyst — enough to make critics question whether the fee is covering actual costs or going to support Cuba’s ruling Castro regime.

Tampa International Airport, by comparison, received $14.6 million in landing fees during 2014 for flights from airlines based in every nation that lands here.

On a per-flight basis, the same U.S. plane that pays $275 for landing fees at Tampa International pays up to $24,000 in Havana.

The cost estimates on U.S.-Cuba flights is based on two factors: the revelation in court documents that landing fees range as high as $148 for each U.S. passenger, coupled with the projection that two-thirds of the 635,000 Americans traveling to the island nation in 2014 are destined for the capital city of Havana.

“It is a way to get more money off the U.S. since the U.S. government blocks it from making money in other ways,” said Arturo Lopez-Levy, a policy analyst for the Cuban government from 1992-94 who now is an academic in Denver and an advocate for better relations between Cuba and the U.S.

Lopez-Levy said the U.S. is the only nation in the world that pays such high fees to land in Havana.

The $148 figure is included in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami pitting one company that offered flights between Tampa and Cuba against another.

Miami-based Island Travel & Tours alleges in the suit that Cypress, California-based Cuba Travel Services sets ticket prices artificially low to drive out competition, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Island Travel Tours began offering charter flights to Cuba from Tampa in October 2011. Cuba Travel Services entered the market in December.

In May, Island Travel Tours ceased flights out of Tampa. It continues to fly to Havana out of Miami.

At that time, in an interview with the Tribune, company President Bill Hauf blamed saturation of the charter flight industry from Tampa International Airport to Cuba coupled with predatory pricing by his competitor.

Now the court will take up the allegations.

In its lawsuit, Island Travel Tours lays out all fees charged to U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba in an attempt to demonstrate that Cuba Charter Services undercut prices:

♦$58.90 per passenger in United States passenger fees;

♦$148 per passenger for a José Martí International Airport landing fee;

♦$46 per passenger for a Cuba required medical insurance fee.

The suit says the airplane typically used for such flights is a Boeing 737-800, with a capacity of 162 seats. The rental fee for travel companies using the aircraft, according to the lawsuit, is $25,608 — for a per-passenger cost of about $158 on a sold-out flight.

Costs alone, then, adding the Cuban government fees and airplane rental, amount to about $411 per person, the suit says, not counting an commission of $30 to $50 per ticket sold through authorized travel agents.

Yet Cuba Charter Services was charging $399 to $529 for round-trip tickets from Tampa to Havana, according to a survey of prices in December, the suit says.

For flights next month, Cuba Travel Services is selling tickets at $469 to $529, which includes a travel agent commission of $30 per child and $50 per adult ticket, according to a check by the Tribune last week.

“Island Travel welcomes fair competition in the marketplace as this ultimately benefits the flying public,” company attorney Richard L. Richards says in an email to the Tribune.

“Cuba Travel Services is blatantly charging below cost in an unfair attempt to put competitors out of business. This action is against the law and public policy for obvious reasons — i.e. once all the competitors are out of business — then Cuba Travel is free to charge uncompetitive rates to the detriment of the flying public.”

Lisa Zuccato, president of Cuba Charter Services, also responded via email, saying, “We have always endeavored to provide the best service to our customers at the lowest possible price.”

Zuccato said prices are set based on seasonal demand, competitors’ prices, assigned routes, customer demand and “other economic factors.”

“To think that we have engaged in monopolistic activity is absurd,” she wrote.

Cuba Travel Services would not comment on the fees charged by the Cuban government.

Another company offering flights from Tampa to Havana, ABC Charters Inc., was selling tickets for as low as $399, including a $50 commission, according to a price list from April, before the lawsuit was filed. ABC Charters is not listed in the lawsuit and did not respond to requests for comment.

ABC is selling tickets to Havana for $449 to $549, which includes commissions of $30 for children and $50 for adults.

Cuba Travel Services and ABC Charters also offer services to Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Santa Clara, Holguin and Santiago.

The $148 figure listed in the lawsuit is consistent with a U.S. charter company contract for landing rights in Havana obtained by the Tribune.

That is the price charged for adults. The fee for children, according to the contract, is $100, and the price is lower for group rates — $94 for adults and $73 for children.

Group rates are charged to those traveling on educational tours under what are called people-to-people licenses.

Each charter plane must pay fees for a minimum of 60 passengers, the contract says. Any empty seats needed to reach the minimum of 60 are charged at the $148 rate.

“All that money goes to the government, who then decides where it is spent, including military and security forces for surveillance,” said Jim Cason, mayor of Coral Gables, who was chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 2002 to 2005. “Anyone who believes otherwise is very naive.”

Landing fees are supposed to help cover the cost to an airport for maintenance and operations of the runways and terminals, said David Plavin, a member of the board of directors for Eno Center for Transportation, an industry think tank based in Washington.

Airports around the world follow a United Nations recommendation to set fees based on each 1,000 pounds of an aircraft’s landing weight.

Tampa International charges $1.49 to $1.577 per 1,000 pounds, depending on each airline’s specific deal.

And Cuba follows that standard for companies from other nations. Canada’s Sunwing Airlines, for example, confirmed it is charged per 1,000 pounds for Havana landings, but CEO Mark Williams would not say how much.

A Boeing 737-800 has a maximum takeoff weight of 174,200 pounds, according to the manufacturer’s website. At Tampa International, the plane’s landing fee is a maximum of about $275.

That compares with at least $4,380 for same-plane landing in Havana carrying 60 passengers. A full plane, with $162 passengers, would pay as much as $23,976.

Cuba Travel Services, defendant in the federal lawsuit, would not reveal the fees it pays but said they are justified. The reason: The the travel and trade embargo the U.S. has imposed against Cuba for more than 50 years prevents U.S. companies from placing their own employees in the Havana airport.

Jobs such as ticketing and baggage must be performed by Cuban citizens, who are paid by the airport, said Michael Zuccato, general manager of Cuba Travel Services, husband of CEO Lisa Zuccato.

This doesn’t explain the high fees, though, said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the Washington-based U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, which advocates stopping travel between the U.S. and Cuba.

The average Cuban, Claver-Carone said, receives pay of just $20 a month — a number confirmed by Cuba’s National Statistics and Information Bureau website.

“It doesn’t take an economist to see that Cuba doesn’t need a lot of money to pay those employees,” he said.

But Cuba must also charge extra so it can operate a separate terminal serving U.S. travelers for security reasons, said Albert A. Fox Jr., founder of the Tampa-based Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation.

The U.S., Fox said, has a history of sending people to Cuba to inspire unrest.

“The U.S. lands in Terminal 2,” he said. “We are the only ones who use it. All the staff there is designed to screen people coming from the United States. It costs more money to maintain that type of terminal.”

Even this falls short of explaining the high fees for U.S. travelers, said Lopez-Levy, the former policy analyst for the Cuban government.

“The quality of the service is in fact lower than for the rest of the world in the other terminals,” Lopez-Levy said. “I don’t find convincing the official reasons for the higher landing fee costs charged to the U.S.-based flights.”

One component of the fee Cuba charges U.S. travelers is health insurance — $46 per passenger, good for the 30-day limit of a travel visa, according to the contract obtained by the Tribune.

Because of the U.S. embargo, no U.S. health insurance is accepted in Cuba.

The Cuban policy covers up to $25,000 in medical fees for emergencies, according to a copy provided the Tribune by Suzanne Carlson, president of Tarpon Springs-based Carlson Maritime Travel, which arranges trips to Cuba.

Governments other than Cuba’s charge higher fees to passengers from certain nations, said Plavin of the travel industry’s Eno Center.

“It happens in the Middle East and other parts of Latin America,” he said. “Typically a fee that has nothing to do with operational costs of an airport and everything to do with politics would be buried in ticket prices, and usually no one notices unless it is leaked publicly.”

Cuba might even charge different fees to different U.S. charter companies, said Cason, the former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

“There is a tremendous amount of bribery in all of this,” Cason said. “If someone offered Cuba money for lower rates, they would take it. The system is totally open to corruption.”

Cuba needs to rethink its fees to encourage more travel between the countries, said Lopez-Levy, the former policy analyst for the Cuban government.

“I am a believer, for the relations to improve between the countries we need more Americans to visit Cuba,” he said. “Lower ticket prices would mean more could afford to go.”

Story and video:

Duo convicted of culpable homicide following the death of paraglider

The father of a 28-year-old man who fell to his death paragliding in Argentina has said the conviction of the pilot still does "not provide justice" for his son.

David Mather, from Bishopton, Stockton, fell 200ft to his death in front of his brother, Gareth, on New Year's Eve, 2008.

The pilot, Mariano Poots, and the paragliding firm's owner, Mariana Farjat, were both found guilty of culpable homicide in an Argentine court on Friday, November 21.

The judge gave both a suspended sentence for three years, which means they will not have to go to jail. However both were ordered to pay 400,000 pesos, or £20,000 each in damages with interest.

A third person accused was exonerated, a decision supported by Mr.  Mather's family.

Mr. Mather's father, Ian, who with his family and David's friends has established a charity in his son's name, said justice had not been done.

He said: "Whilst the sentences given are seen as a victory here, they do not in any way provide justice for our son, David.

"The extreme negligence displayed by the company and the pilot are not recognized in law here. These sentences do not equal David's loss of life, or the pain our family has had to live through for the last six years.

"We will continue to pursue these people. This is a big step for us as a family and has been hard won. We will fight on."

Mr.  Mather, former acting principal at Freebrough College in Brotton, east Cleveland, and David's mother, Ceri, believe their son's harness was unfastened by a member of staff shortly before the flight. They claim the pilot then failed to check David was secure. Unable to cling on, David fell hundreds of feet into a garden, dying instantly, while his brother and a friend looked on.

The Mathers have contributed to a report from a group of MPs investigating the perceived failures of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to support families abroad.

Their charity, The David Mather Foundation, helps young people from Salta, the city close to where Mr Mather died, improve their education.

Story and photos:

Residents notice more plane noise after flight patterns change: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX), Arizona

Some historic neighborhoods in Phoenix have raised concerns about the noise from airplanes following changes made at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, but Ahwatukee Foothills residents say they’ve noticed an increase in noise as well.

“I know the area and spend a lot of time on the patio in the morning and evening,” said Mike Marzano, a former pilot and Foothills resident. “When we first moved out here, we commented on how absolutely quiet it was. As much time as we spend here hiking and biking, when you live up here, you really realize it’s really quiet. It was several weeks ago when my wife and I were sitting outside one evening and we noticed several planes flying over. I kind of know the patterns a little bit. I looked at her and said ‘That’s not good.’ My aviation mind started thinking, ‘I wonder if they’ve changed some arrivals and departures.’ I started doing research and they did.”

The changes were made by the Federal Aviation Administration and implemented on Sept. 18. The 14 new satellite-based arrival and departure procedures improve safety and efficiency, said a statement from the FAA.

“We’re aware some residents have concerns about one flight path that some of the departure procedures initially follow, and we are working with the airport to better understand those concerns and analyze the complaints,” said Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the FAA’s Pacific Division. “The new departure routes have been designed to be automatically separated from arrival routes. Airlines program the procedures into their flight computers, and planes fly the routes automatically. This improves the predictability of flight routes, decreases communications between controllers and pilots and provides more direct routings. An ancillary benefit is a reduction in fuel burned and associated CO2 emissions.”

Marzano said he has been woken up at 6:45 or 7 a.m. on some weekends from plane noise. Some days it’s relatively quiet while other times he counts as many as 60 planes going over his home.

On Nov. 14, the FAA sent a letter to the city of Phoenix saying some aircraft were not flying the new procedures as intended. Steps have been taken to try to mitigate that. The letter said the FAA, in partnership with the Phoenix Department of Aviation, would conduct more public outreach in the near future to share information and develop more understanding of potential changes.

“I am encouraged by the FAA’s decision to work with the city of Phoenix to reduce noise that has disrupted residents in Phoenix’s historic neighborhoods,” said Mayor Greg Stanton in a statement. “It is good news that some changes have been made, but this remains an ongoing process and I will keep working with all sides until we reach a result that works for everyone.”

The FAA plans to review procedures and provide an update to the city by Dec. 14.

- Source:

Cover-up in Mandela pilot's crash: Mother

The family of Nelson Mandela's pilot who perished in an air-crash two years ago, accuse the SA National Defense Force of covering up details of the accident.

Major Kurt Misrole died with 10 other passengers on December 5, 2012, exactly a year before Mandela died.

According to a report on the SA Air Force website, "the C-47TP Dakota transport aircraft of 35 Squadron was on a routine shuttle run from AFB [Air Force Base] Waterkloof near Pretoria to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape when it encountered severe weather conditions on December 5.

"The wreckage of the aircraft was found the next morning, having crashed on a mountain top near Giants Castle in the Drakensburg mountains. All 11 members of the air force aboard were killed".

Misrole's mother, Beulah Misrole, said Kurt was not supposed to have been at work on that day as he had taken leave until January 2013.

It is believed the C-47TP Dakota plane was going to deliver medical support for the then ailing Mandela.

The plane had been in the air force service for more than 75 years.

A board of inquiry was instituted into the accident, and at a memorial service for the late 11 crew members on December 11 that year, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: "The investigation results will be made public as soon as possible..."

But two years later, Misrole is still fighting a seemingly lost battle to get the defense force to release the findings.

In her attempts, she even applied the Promotion of Access to Information Act to force the unit to release the report.

Responding to Misrole's request last month, defense secretary Colonel GJ Barnard said the report was being referred to the defense intelligence division "for declassification and/or masking process as no department of defense records may be released to the public without the said process".

Thereafter, it will be referred to the chief of defense force General Solly Shoke and Barnard for recommendations and to decide whether it should be released or not.

"It's a cover-up. I've done all I could to get answers from SANDF about the incident. I have even sent out an advert to newspapers last year seeking assistance and I'm doing that again this year.

"I've sent letters to the office of the defense minister but they get returned because someone is not collecting them from the post office. I'm not going anywhere unless they put a bullet through my head," said 58-year-old Misrole.

She said her research, which included talking to Kurt's colleagues, led her to believe the aircraft was not in good condition.

Ironically, Kurt qualified as a military pilot on December 5 2002, the same date that he and Mandela died.

"I believe something was wrong with that aircraft. It was old and had no blackbox and it's not clear if it had any oxygen cylinders.

The aircraft crashed at 11000 feet [3353m] and it couldn't have gone higher than that," said Misrole.

The defence spokesman Xolani Mabanga said they acted fairly in dealing with the report, adding that they needed more time to declassify it before it could be released to the public.

"The declassifying process requires us to look at the contents of the report and to ensure that we do not divulge information that could land in wrong hands," said Mabanga.

- Source:

Flyme flight makes emergency landing after bomb threat

A Flyme passenger flight has made an emergency landing at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) at 11:49pm on Saturday after the pilot received a bomb threat, the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) has confirmed.

All 11 passengers and three crew members on board the flight have been escorted safely off the plane, the statement said. The MNDF is now conducting a search of the aircraft.

The airport runway was opened after a two and a half hour closure.

The Maldives Police Services declined to state if any arrests were made, only stating that said an investigation team is active at the airport.

The flight to Baa Atoll Dharavandhoo Island left Malé at 11:04pm, a journey of approximately 20 minutes.

Minivan News understands a passenger on board the flight passed the bomb threat written in English to the pilot via a member of the crew.

On receiving the threat, the pilot immediately turned around and headed back to INIA. All arrivals to Malé were diverted and departures including a Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines flight were delayed.

Only one of the 11 passengers is a Maldivian, a Flyme official has confirmed.

A year ago, on November 23, a Flyme flight departing to Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Kaadehdhoo was delayed after a group threatened to hijack the plane.

Flyme is operated by Villa Air, a subsidiary of Villa Group. Tourism tycoon, Jumhooree Party Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim is the owner of Villa Group.

Last week a Flyme flight was forced to return  to Malé en route to Kadadehdhoo after a 59-year-old woman died during shortly after take off.

Story and comments:

 The Maldives Police Service on Sunday said that they are investigating the bomb threat sent to a Flyme Airlines passenger flight on Saturday night.

A flight en route to Dharavandhoo Airport in Baa atoll had to make an emergency landing at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) after the cabin crew found the threat on a seat on the plane.

“The investigation is ongoing but we cannot reveal any of the findings to the press yet” a police official told Haveeru.

Haveeru has received information that the culprits behind the threat had demanded that a group of prisoners at the Maafushi prison be released. The source had not identified the convicts.

According to the official, a team from the service has been active on the scene since it landed at 11:49 pm. Flights scheduled to land at the airport were rerouted and departures were delayed more than two hours.

11 passengers and two cabin crew were safely escorted off the plane.

The incident delayed departures via flights from Emirates, Singapore, and Turkish airlines.

- Source:

Vistara Airlines launch held up due to flying permit delay

Mumbai: Tata-Singapore Airlines promoted full-service carrier Vistara will now be able to start operations only next year due to delay in grant of scheduled Air Operator Permit (AOP). The airline had applied to the DGCA for the permit in April and had planned to launch services by September.

"Vistara has still not received the AOP and even if it gets it in the days to come, the airline will take at least a month to launch," industry sources said.

"Besides, any airline looks for few initial bookings before the launch and as of now there is a total silence from the airline on this front," they said. "We are in the final phase of securing the air operator's permit (AOP). We are working with the regulator to complete the remaining process expeditiously and look forward to launch our services soon after receiving the permission," a Vistara spokesperson said in a statement.

It will be all the more difficult for New Delhi-based Vistara to hit the skies after the arrival of winter season, which is known for thick foggy conditions in the north leading to flight delays and cancellations, according to sources.

The to-be-launched full service carrier, in which Tata Sons holds 51 percent stake and Singapore Airlines the remaining 49 percent, is also going slow on inducting aircraft due to the delay in flying permit. Against its target of five aircraft by March, so far it has taken delivery of only two planes on lease.

The airline was scheduled to take the third aircraft last month but has deferred it owing to the delay in the obtaining AOP. On a long-term basis, the airline has already decided to lease 20 Airbus A320s, including seven fuel-efficient A320 Neos.

Once it launches, Vistara will be the third full service carrier after state-run Air India and Jet Airways. Vistara will operate from its base Delhi and connect Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Jammu and Patna in the first year, as per the plan submitted to the regulator DGCA while applying for the air operator's permit.

It plans to operate 87 flights in the first year, with five leased Airbus A320s, and then scale it up to 301 flights by the fourth year. Apart from the delay in obtaining SOP, the airline is also facing legal hurdles as the previous UPA government's decision to approve the joint venture has been challenged in the Delhi High Court saying the 49 percent FDI rule in aviation does not allow a new airline with FDI, but only to existing airlines.

- Source:

London authorities fine Pakistan International Airlines for crew members traveling with expired passports

Immigration authorities in London imposed a fine of 2,000 pounds on Pakistan International Airlines after two of its air hostesses were found traveling with expired passports, Express News reported on Sunday.

The air hostesses traveled on PK-785 and arrived in London from Islamabad where they were held by the immigration authorities.

Issuing a warning, the London immigration authorities directed the national carrier to abide by the rules in the future.

Earlier in September, customs authorities had detained PIA crew members – returning from London –  after they recovered 21 smartphones and 5,000 British pounds from their possession.

- Source:

Swearingen Merlin 3, N224HR: The Story Of The Mystery Plane, The Cash, The Drugs And Maybe The CIA

Here’s a story of mystery and intrigue. It concerns a private plane, organized crime, a drug seizure, a large amount of cash and more than likely the CIA.  
Writer &  Blogger 

Some weeks ago I started a blog post about a mystery plane that turned up in Australia, a significant quantity of illegal drugs, a large amount of cash and likely CIA involvement.

I’ve already written two blog posts on this topic. Here is part three. But first a little background as a recap.

The plane, a US-registered Swearingen Merlin 3 twin turbo prop, arrived illegally in Australia but no one knows how.

But clearly someone knew something because the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Middle Eastern Organized Crime Squad, raided the eight-seater private plane while it was parked on the tarmac at Illawarra airport, a tiny, regional hub south of Sydney. The day of the raid was real cops and robbers stuff. About 20 police surrounded the plane. The local newspaper was tipped off and took plenty of pictures.

A 43-year-old Wollongong pilot, Bernard Stevermuer, listed as the owner of the plane, was arrested and charged with being part of a criminal organization and dealing with the proceeds of crime. He is currently on bail.

Police allege a major international crime syndicate was using the airport to import guns and drugs for distribution throughout southwest Sydney. The syndicate was allegedly operated by two other men, who police claim have links to a number of New South Wales outlaw motorcycle gangs. What their precise connection might be to Stevermuer has not been revealed.

Police obviously had Stevermuer under surveillance. They claim to have documents which show that the syndicate commissioned Stevermuer to buy the plane in the United States for $US400,000 provided by a mortgage company in Sydney. But as you will discover, the purchase was very complicated and full of intrigue.

Police also allege that documents show Stevermuer, mysteriously had access to a large amount of cash and was prepared to pay $A1.5 million to buy two aviation businesses.

Several aviation sources say Stevermuer was in negotiation to buy the flight training organization, NSW Air and another company, the Aerial Patrol shark-spotting plane service.

Read more here: 3

The Story Of The Mystery Plane, The Cash, The Drugs And Maybe The CIA 2: 2

The Story Of The Mysterious Plane, The Cash, The Drugs And Maybe The CIA: 1

Pilot 'paid to have fun every day': Air Choice One • Mason City Municipal Airport (KMCW), Iowa

Pilot Scott Miehe watches from the conference room of the Mason City Municipal Airport as a ground crew member refuels his Cessna Grand Caravan. He said the planes are roomy, comfortable and handle well in the windy conditions often experienced in the Midwest.

MASON CITY | Air Choice One (ACO) is just getting started in Mason City, but the airline already is creating jobs and attracting new residents.

Scott Miehe
Pilot Scott Miehe, a Wisconsin native most recently from Oshkosh, has been spending his off hours looking for a place to call home in North Iowa. His wife, Lacy, and daughters Peyton, 6, and Sawyer, 3, hope to relocate in January.

 “I’m just excited to join the community,” Miehe said, “to be a familiar face out here (at the Mason City Municipal Airport) and get to know the regulars who fly in and out.”

Miehe has been intrigued by flying for as long as he can remember. Yet his first plane trip, on a family vacation to Florida at age 8, left him somewhat unsatisfied.

“I was kind of disappointed we didn’t get to go upside down,” he recalled.

Despite the early attraction to the sky, Miehe initially pursued a career in analytical chemistry.

“It didn’t have the ‘it’ factor,” he admited. “The office didn’t have a very good view like (flying) does.”

Eventually, Miehe pursued aviation at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, before working as a flight instructor.

After joining Air Choice One he underwent extensive training using a flight simulator exactly mimicking the Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft he is currently using.

“It was spot on,” he said of the simulator. “It was amazing.”

Prior to starting at Mason City, Miehe served the airport at Ironwood, Michigan, for ACO. 

On Nov. 17, ACO’s first business day in Mason City, the weather was unseasonably cold, snowy and blustery. Miehe said the company’s aircraft are well suited for the conditions.

“They’re big and comfy,” he said. “They’re warm in the winter, that’s for sure. It was windy out there today but we didn’t realize it was windy until we opened up the doors.”

Pilots typically fly one round trip from Mason City to Chicago each workday. That schedule was a key selling point for Miehe, who values time spent with his wife and daughters.

“It offers me the opportunity to be home seeing my family almost every night,” he said.

Once Miehe and his family are settled, he is looking forward to learning more about local recreational amenities. He noted he enjoys “hunting, fishing, biking, walking the dogs -- anything to get outside and off the couch.”

For now, however, Miehe is focused on helping ACO build a solid reputation in Mason City. He’s grateful for the enthusiasm and “typical Midwest charm” with which he and the airline have been welcomed.

“Everyone’s excited for us to be here, and I know we as a company are excited to be here as well,” Miehe said.

Above all, he’s looking forward to balancing a good family life with a career he truly loves.

“It’s unbelievable I get paid to go have fun every day,” Miehe said.

But not too much fun.

His childhood fantasies notwithstanding, Miehe promises squeamish travelers he has no intention of flying upside down during commercial trips.

“There are other aircraft that are better designed for that,” he said.

- Source:

Politician and mining magnate Clive Palmer attempts to suppress existence of private plane

Clive Palmer has lost a bid to get a suppression order concealing the already widely known fact that he owns a private airplane after a judge rejected claims the knowledge could put his life in danger.

Mr Palmer, who was repeatedly been photographed next to the estimated $70 million aircraft during the 2013 federal election campaign, now believes fresh media coverage about its existence poses "safety issues".

The application for the confidentiality order was made as part of Mr Palmer's fight against the public release of flight records for his jet that was ordered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The departure and arrival records for all aircraft that use Australia's airspace are held by commonwealth regulatory agency Airservices Australia, which has traditionally ruled that release of this type of information is in line with public policy about transparency and does not violate privacy laws.

Fairfax Media was supposed to be granted access to the flight plans under freedom-of-information laws, a decision that is now being challenged by Mr Palmer's company, Palmer Aviation, in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Mr Palmer's legal counsel argued the existence of the legal proceeding should be suppressed from the public and a pseudonym used in all documentation that refers to the politician and mining magnate and his company.

"Our submission is that the basis of the business of Palmer Aviation is to provide confidential business travel to Mr Palmer and his invited guests. At the crux of that business is the confidential nature of the transportation and Mr Palmer and his invited guests' whereabouts…," Tracey Miley said.

"The only issue I can point to is safety issues if the registration of the plane is ... registration number of the plane is made known publicly."

But AAT deputy president Philip Hack found the submission was "at too high a level of abstraction".

"As I understand it, Mr Palmer is a figure of some notoriety. He is a member of the House of Representatives. He is frequently in the media," he said.

Deputy president Hack noted that aircraft registration numbers were already a matter of public record and refused to grant the confidentiality order.

The application was made despite Mr Palmer routinely using the intercontinental Bombardier Global Express - which has been emblazoned with a logo of the Palmer United Party - as a backdrop for photo opportunities and press conferences. The plane is registered in the Isle of Mann, an off-shore tax haven.

PUP is under increasing pressure from factional splits, with Mr Palmer recently blasting fellow member Jacqui Lambie as a "drama queen".

Mr Palmer, whose legal counsel is now seeking to suppress all administrative documents relating to the FOI application, is also hoping to make a personal submission to the tribunal over concerns about whether his "personal information and safety" have been adequately considered.

- Source: