Saturday, November 29, 2014

Santa flies in to Solberg-Hunterdon Airport (N51) in Readington, hears kids' requests

READINGTON TWP. —-Santa Claus flew into Solberg Airport on Saturday afternoon, arriving in a small plane surrounded by a crowd shouting greetings.

Santa showed up for the event, which ran from 1 p.m. to dusk, to find out what kids wanted for the holidays and posed for pictures. Other activities included airplane rides, aircraft fly-bys, helicopter landings and departures and more. There was a cook-out to benefit the Kiwanis Club.

The day's activities ended with a launch of 10 hot air balloons.

It was a cool and cloudy day, so most visitors were bundled up. Santa, of course, was dressed appropriately since he lives at the North Pole, a very cold place.

Story and Photo Gallery:

Santa Claus arrives by airplane at Solberg Airport in Whitehouse Station. Saturday, November, 29, 2014 

Job posting for airport manager closes Monday: Santa Fe Municipal Airport (KSAF), New Mexico

Monday is the deadline to apply to be Santa Fe's new airport manager, a job that pays up to $111,000 annually.

The job opened up after Francey Jesson was fired last month.
The city has declined to discuss the specifics behind Jesson's firing, calling it a personnel matter.
But in response to a public records request, the city released a police report hours after announcing her firing that shows Jesson had been kicked out of a hotel in Ruidoso six weeks earlier. 

The report accused Jesson, who was in Ruidoso representing the city at a conference, of trashing the hotel's gift shop.

According to the job posting, the airport manager directs the daily operations of the airport in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Transportation Security Administration regulations and the city's rules, regulations and ordinances.
Minimum qualifications include a bachelor's degree in airport management, business management, public administration or related field.
"Licensed pilot preferred," the job posting states.
If being the city's new airport manager isn't for you, click here to see the other job openings at the city.

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Francey Jesson

Opinion: Lafayette Regional Airport expansion necessary as Hub City grows

A 1-cent sales tax limited to just eight months to help finance a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport is a good deal for the citizens of Lafayette.

For starters, it's a dedicated tax that will generate a projected $37 million for the sole purpose of constructing a new airport terminal to replace the outdated, inadequate one that serves the parish. And it will self-destruct in eight months. For those who are accustomed to limited term taxes that get renewed again and again, airport commissioners assure us this tax proposal is written in such a way that it cannot be renewed. That, in itself, is a selling point. It's a great idea.

Plus, it's a sales tax, as opposed to a property tax. That means that not only will the citizens of Lafayette Parish be generating revenue for the airport terminal, but so will thousands of out-of-parish visitors who come to Lafayette to shop.

Lafayette and Lafayette Parish have been growing and so has the flow of people traveling in and out of the city. But the airport facilities have remained virtually the same since they were built in the mid-1950s and remodeled in 1989. Since then, the number of travelers going through the airport has grown tremendously. Over the past six years, passenger records have been set and a 40 percent increase in passengers is expected in the next 11 years.

A sales tax paid in part from out-of-parish shoppers makes a lot of sense. According to airport documents, nearly 75 percent of Acadiana area travelers chose Lafayette Regional compared to 17.6 percent who chose Baton Rouge and 6.8 percent who went to New Orleans in 2013.

We've outgrown our airport. Aside from that being a matter of convenience and aesthetics, it's also a matter of economic development. In addition to accommodating more people on the inside, the proposed terminal would have more gates and would be able to accommodate larger planes — and more of them. Parking capacity would be increased, too.

So, how does this all benefit the average voter who may fly once a year or every few years — or almost never? Not directly, of course. But it's all geared toward assisting Lafayette's continued economic growth.

On any given day, about half the passengers going through the Lafayette airport are business travelers. A more modern, larger terminal would mean more flights, making Lafayette a more desirable place for businesses to locate. And that means more jobs and more money coming into the local economy.

So far, all the other major Louisiana cities have updated their airport facilities. Baton Rouge has expanded its terminal. New Orleans plans a new airport. Monroe, Alexandria and Lake Charles have built new terminals and now offer more gates and vastly improved facilities even though they serve tens of thousands fewer passengers than Lafayette Regional Airport serves.

Ours is the fourth-busiest airport in the state behind New Orleans, Shreveport and Baton Rouge. But despite our vibrant business climate and genuine community pride, the other regional airports are leaving us behind when it comes to airport size, convenience and sophistication.

It's time for us to improve our airport. It will be good for everyone.

Lafayette has traditionally been known as the Hub City. It's time for it to be a hub for air travel, as well.

Vote yes on Dec. 6.

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Russian airlines banned from flying in eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian officials have banned Russian airlines from flying in the eastern parts of the country which have been controlled by pro-Russian forces in the past few months.

"Flights are banned for Russian companies to [the eastern Ukrainian cities of] Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk for safety reasons," Denis Antoniuk, the head of the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine, said on Saturday.

Antoniuk added that Ukrainian airline Dniproavia has also been affected by the open-ended ban.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow activists and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence pro-Russia protests in mid-April.

Violence intensified in May after the two flashpoint regions of Donetsk and Luhansk held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian authorities and the West have accused Moscow of having a hand in the crisis and supporting pro-Moscow protesters in eastern Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly rejected the allegation.

According to the latest figures by the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 9,300 others injured in the fighting. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA) explosive growth threatens Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD)

Washington Dulles International Airport is in trouble.

Sometime in 2015, more people will travel through Reagan National Airport than Dulles.

Dulles, 14 times the size of National, is expected to see about 20.7 million passengers next year, while National is expected to get 22.7 million.

Last year, Dulles saw 21.9 million travelers while National had 20.4 million.

The development is troubling Virginia leaders and the agency that manages both airports. They say that if National continues to outpace its larger neighbor, it could have serious financial and safety implications for the entire region.

“The shift to National — it’s a serious problem for the financial viability of Dulles,” said Jonathan Gifford, director of the Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy at George Mason University.

In addition to Dulles and National, travelers in the region also can use Baltimore-Washington International, still the region’s top airport for passenger traffic at 22.5 million in 2013, largely because of low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines’ significant presences there.

Among the three options, Dulles is widely seen as the biggest hassle to use, partially because of its 30-mile distance from the heart of the District of Columbia and lack of a nearby Metro stop.

National, on the other hand, is easily accessible by Metro trains and sits just 5 miles across from the District in Arlington County.

Many also blame Congress, which has relaxed federal rules restricting flights at National to facilitate nonstop service to various home states.

The strict rules were part of an effort to fuel growth at Dulles, and they worked for years. Flights longer than 1,250 miles were banned at National.

Members of Congress, many from Western states, began weakening the rules in 2000, allowing 26 additional flights at National to cities like Phoenix, San Francisco and Denver.

The airport authority’s biggest fear is that Congress will scrap the restrictions altogether in the upcoming reauthorization process to fund the Federal Aviation Administration.

In 2009, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., floated such a proposal, arguing that the increased service would lead to lower prices and more choices for consumers.

Virginia politicians, including retiring Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf and Democratic Sen. Mark R. Warner fought the effort and continue to believe that the relaxed rules are shortsighted.

“Northern Virginia’s economy is strongest when both major airports are in a position to thrive,” said Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va. “It does not make sense for Reagan National, with an area of 860 acres, to be on pace to have more travelers passing through it than Dulles, which comprises 12,000 acres.”

Airport officials think Dulles’s problems are temporary. They say the travel market is cyclical and that Dulles will rebound.

“The future of Dulles is bright,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the airport authority.

Dulles could stand to get a boost with the opening of Metro’s new Silver Line. The second phase of the $5.6 billion line, expected to be finished in 2018, will include an airport station.

Other reasons to be hopeful include Air China’s launch of nonstop service to Beijing and the start of daily service by budget carrier Frontier, said Scott York, chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

“There are obviously a few clouds over Dulles,” he said. “But I also see a bit of sunshine.”

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Seasoned Ethiopian captain establishes private airline, pilot school

Former captain of Ethiopian Airlines, Mulatu Lemlemayehu, owner of Dreamliner Hotel, is establishing a new private airline and pilot training school, East African Aviation, with an outlay of 57 million birr.

Captian Mulat is a seasoned pilot who served Ethiopian Airlines for 39 years and has accumulated 27,000 flight hours under his belt. While working for the national flag carrier he commanded aircraft from the old DC3 to the state-of-the-art jetliner, Dreamliner.

Mulat founded an investment company called M.T.D.N and built Dreamliner Hotel in Addis Ababa near Meskel Flower eight years ago. He started talking about the new business venture with his former colleagues a year ago. He retired from Ethiopian Airlines last August.

M.T.D.N owns the new private airline, East African Aviation, and the pilot training school. Captain Lemma Tekalign, general manager of East African Aviation, told The Reporter that the company was undertaking a feasibility study and working on paperwork for the last one year. Lemma said that the company submitted application to the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA). “They evaluated our application swiftly and approved the documents. To give us the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and license for the pilot training school they are waiting for the arrival of the aircraft that we bought,” Captain Lemma said.

East African Aviation will provide charter flight services. It will provide VIP flights and flight services for international organizations, tourists, construction and mining companies. It will offer flight services for aerial survey and mapping work. The new private airline will also offer medical evacuation (air ambulance services).

There will also be an aero club where individuals who want to fly for leisure will be enrolled as members and fly for a few hours during their leisure time.

According to the GM, East African Aviation recently bought three aircraft. For the airline operation the company both King Air 200 aircraft at a cost of two million dollars from a US-based company. The aircraft is expected to arrive at Bole International Airport after one month. East African Aviation is planning to offer an air ambulance service. “We are contemplating to bring Eurocopter and Cessna Citation aircraft that are fully equipped with oxygen and all other emergency medical equipment.”                         

East African Aviation bought two trainer aircraft, Cessna172, from a Sweden-based company, Air Unlimited, for EUR 380,000. The Cessna aircraft are now in Antwerp, Belgium, undergoing some modification work.  Lemma expects to receive them after four weeks. “We hope to be operational in January tentatively. Once we receive the aircraft ECAA will issue us the necessary licenses,” he said.

The company also bought two flight simulators for the pilot training school at a cost of 390,000 dollars. The company bought one Cessna and one King Air simulator from a US-based company, Redbird Flight International. The flight simulators are on their way to Djibouti Port.

The pilot training school has dormitories and a canteen which can accommodate 24 cadets at a time. The school has auditoriums, briefing rooms and a library. Theoretical part of the training will be given in the premise of the school while the flight lesson will be offered at the Bole International Airport.

The school will offer Private Pilot License (PPL) and Commercial Pilot License (CPL). It will take a cadet four month to complete a PPL training program. The CPL training takes 14 months. The tuition fee for PPL is USD 23,000 while the CPL training costs USD 66,500. “These costs include accommodation, meals, uniforms and other expenses. There is no hidden cost here,” Captain Lemma said.

“We will not make money out of the school. We just want to offer an internationally recognized service in Ethiopia. It could be profitable after seven or eight years.  The tuition might seem expensive for those who are not in the aviation industry. Fuel cost is cumbersome,” he said.  

According to Lemma, the trainer aircraft are equipped with a state-of-the-art flight instrument. “We want to make it a five star flight school.”

Lemma is a veteran Ethiopian Air Force pilot and former director of the Ethiopian Airlines pilot training school. The headquarters of East African Aviation and pilot training school is located in front of the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy off the ring road.  The school has already hired four instructors and hopes to admit 24 cadets.

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Delta flight diverted to Pittsburgh International Airport (KPIT) after smoke odor detected

FINDLAY TOWNSHIP, Pa. —Smoke forced a Delta Airlines flight to divert from Pittsburgh International Airport Saturday afternoon.

Flight 343 was headed from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to San Francisco.

Delta said there was a smoke odor in the plane’s rear galley.

The plane landed safely in Pittsburgh.

After everything was examined, the plane started its way to California again.

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Pooping Pig And Its Owner Booted From Flight: Bradley International Airport (KBDL), Windsor Locks, Connecticut

WINDSOR LOCKS — Passengers on a US Airways aircraft waiting to depart Bradley International Airport Wednesday morning were puzzled when they saw a pig board their flight.

Puzzlement turned to concern for one of those passengers, University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Jonathan Skolnik, when he realized the open seat next to him in the last row of the Embraer 175 was going to be occupied by the young woman carrying the pig down the aisle.

At first, Skolnik thought the large item the woman was carrying was a duffel bag — except that it was moving. And it stunk. The woman tied the pig's leash to the armrest then began to stow the other items she carried onto the plane, Skolnik wrote in email describing the incident that he sent to The Courant.

"Oh my Lord, where is she going to put that animal," Skolnik wrote. "I am burying my face in my sweater to hide from the stench. ... Now I, who dreads a dog coming too close, am contemplating an hour next to a big pig on the lap of my fellow [passenger]."

And then it got worse: The pig pooped.

That's when the woman began talking to the pig like it was a person, said Rob Phelps of Haydenville, Mass., another passenger who was seated near Skolnik. "You're being a jerk" was one of the nicer comments the woman made to the pig, he said on Saturday.

A flight attendant told the woman, "'You've got to clean that up,'" Phelps said of the poop.

She tried, but the stench grew, Skolnik and Phelps said. The pig was running back and forth in the aisle, too, Skolnik wrote.

"One lady was complaining because it started to smell like a barnyard," Phelps said.

The woman was then told she and her pig would have to get off the airplane. Phelps snapped a photo as she walked toward the front of the plane, the pig slung over her left shoulder.

The woman was able to bring the pig through security and onto the airplane because it was considered an "emotional support animal," said Laura Masvida, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, the parent company of US Airways.

To travel with an emotional support animal on American Airlines and US Airways, a passenger must provide documentation from a licensed mental health professional or doctor treating the traveler, according to the airline's website.

Despite the policy, when the pig became "disruptive," the flight crew asked the woman and her pig to get off the plane. The woman did not make a fuss, Phelps said.

"We needed an emotional support animal after that," Phelps said.

"I guess pigs didn't fly today," Skolnik added.

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A woman, who was permitted to bring a pig onto a plane at Bradley International Airport because it was considered an "emotional support animal," had to remove the animal when it became disruptive. 
(Photo courtesy of Robert Phelps)

Matthew Guthmiller: Record-setting South Dakota pilot plans flight on birthday

Matthew Guthmiller 

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota teen who was the youngest person to fly solo around the world is celebrating his birthday with a short airplane flight.

The Aberdeen American News reports that Matthew Guthmiller turned 20 years old on Saturday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering student says he plans to make a quick flight from Boston to perhaps New York on Saturday. He'll take the same airplane that he circumnavigated the globe.

Guthmiller completed the more than 29,000-mile journey in a single-engine airplane on July 14 when he touched down in California.

Guthmiller made about two dozen stops in 14 countries during the journey that began May 31.

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Young pilot no longer a teenager

 Four months after completing a record-setting solo flight around the world, Matthew Guthmiller is finally no longer a teenager.

The Aberdeen native turns 20 today. Guthmiller is a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is in Boston.

He will celebrate his birthday in predictable fashion.

“I’m going to fly somewhere. I haven’t quite decided where yet,” he said Friday. “That probably means I’ll just grab a few friends, make a quick trip to New York or something — that’s always a good default — grab dinner and fly back.”

He’ll probably take four friends with him, he said. The plane in which he circumnavigated the globe is based in Boston. When Guthmiller flies to New York, he typically lands in Teterboro, N.J.

How does he feel about turning 20?

“Not especially different, I guess,” he said.

In addition to his studies, Guthmiller does speaking engagements about once a month.

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Lufthansa Pilots Warn of Strikes After Talks With Airline Break Down: Union Says Pilots Could Walk Out on Flights at Lufthansa’s Passenger, Cargo or Germanwings Airlines at Any Time

The Wall Street Journal
By Natalia Drozdiak

Nov. 29, 2014 1:28 a.m. ET

FRANKFURT—Pilots at Deutsche Lufthansa AG late Friday said fresh strikes were impending after the most recent round of talks between the airline and its pilots over retirement benefits broke down.

The pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit, said no real progress was made in the recent discussions with the airline since the union’s last strike in October. It said the pilots could walk out on flights at Lufthansa’s passenger, cargo or Germanwings airlines at any time.

Lufthansa has been pummeled by a string of pilot strikes this year, following a dispute with the union that has dragged on for more than two years.

The airline wants to raise the early retirement age to 60 to cut costs as it struggles to compete with budget airlines in Europe and price-aggressive Middle East carriers.

Lufthansa pilots can currently retire at age 55 and continue to receive 60% of their salary. But the airline has said the benefits program is outdated now that the European Union recently changed the guidelines, allowing pilots to fly until age 65.

“The Lufthansa management hasn’t taken up any of VC’s offers and continues to insist on maximum demands,” Vereinigung Cockpit said.

The two parties are also at odds over the German carrier’s plans to shift some flying to lower-cost operations. Lufthansa’s supervisory board is set to decide on its lower-cost, long-haul concept in early December.

The German carrier in late October scaled back its earnings guidance for next year, citing the deteriorating global economic outlook. It now expects to see an operating profit next year “significantly above” the €1 billion it still expects to see this year.

The airline had said, however, the targets for this year and next don’t account for further labor union strikes.

The walkouts by pilots and other labor unions have so far cost the airline about €170 million this year.

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Cessna 182N Skylane, N92739: Incident occurred November 29, 2014 in Cape Coral, Florida

Event Type:   Incident

Highest Injury:   None
Damage:  None


Flight Phase:   LANDING (LDG)

Federal Aviation Administration  Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Miami FSDO-19

JAMES G. WHITTY: WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral 

CAPE CORAL, FL -A small airplane had to make an emergency landing on a popular Cape Coral road Saturday morning.

Two North Fort Myers men were thousands of feet in the air when the engine on their Cessna suddenly lost power.  The pilot had to land the plane on Burnt Store Road near Van Buren Parkway.  That's where he and his passenger walked away without a scratch.

"50 years and the first time I've ever had to make an off airport landing," said pilot Jim Whitty.  "Stay cool and make a good landing."

Whitty and his brother-in-law Lee Leahy took off from Pine Shadows Airpark in North Fort Myers just after 8 a.m.  They were on their way to Venice in Sarasota County for breakfast.  But minutes after take-off, something went wrong in the single-engine Cessna.

"She backfired really badly so we couldn't maintain airspeed.  We had to land," said Whitty.

The pilot said he turned on his landing and anti-collision lights. A couple of cars got out of the way quickly, and then the plane's wheels were on the road.

"The plane came down fine, and we came down with it," said passenger Lee Leahy.

Neighbors in Northwest Cape Coral quickly went on Facebook describing the scary moments. One of our viewers commented "Watched and heard it sputtering as it went down.  Looked like the pilot knew what he was doing."

Whitty did know what he was doing.  But he now wants to know what went wrong with the engine.

"You're always wondering how you're going to do if it happens to you.  But, I guess the training pays off," said Whitty.

We did some digging and found the plane was up to date on its certifications.  The pilots says the plane will stay inside a hanger at Page Field in Fort Myers while the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

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Samuel Seafeldt: New Jamestown Regional Airport (KJMS) manager has background in flight instruction

 Sam Seafeldt is the new manager for the Jamestown Regional Airport.
 Chris Olson / The Sun

 Samuel Seafeldt has been on the job as the new airport manager at Jamestown Regional Airport for a little more than a month.

Seafeldt was hired by the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority in September to replace former airport Manager Matthew Leitner, who accepted a job managing three airports in northern California. Seafeldt is married and has two children, ages 4 and 11 months. He has two bachelor’s degrees — one in aviation and the other in air traffic control — from the University of North Dakota, and he was a flight instructor for six years at UND before accepting the airport manager position in Jamestown.

Seafeldt said after he got married in 2010 and he and his wife started their family, he started thinking about his career. He became a pilot when he was 17 and had planned to continue his career as a flight instructor and in flying airplanes.

“The type of career I originally wanted (being a commercial pilot) didn’t seem like a good mix (with family),” he said. “I wanted to have a more stable job and career.”

Seafeldt said he had looked at becoming an airport manager and felt he was qualified for the job. The problem he was running into was there were no airport manager jobs available in North Dakota.

“The other airport manager jobs we could find were on the East Coast or in Texas,” he said. “We didn’t want to make that kind of move.”

When the JRA airport manager job was posted, Seafeldt said he knew this was the job he wanted. The couple wanted to stay in North Dakota because they liked the people around Grand Forks and the openness of the North Dakota country.

Seafeldt was born and raised in Auburn, Wash., a city near Seattle. He got his first taste of aviation while in a dual enrollment program with Green River Community College and his high school. He graduated with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in general studies from Green River Community College. One of the classes he took at Green River Community College was in aviation.

“I took the ground school course and then started flying on the side,” he said. “I got my pilot license and I decided I wanted to be in aviation for a living.”

Seafeldt said he likes what he sees at Jamestown Regional Airport. He said having projects like the almost completed new T-hangar building at the airport shows the Airport Authority is interested in maintaining and improving the airport. One thing Seafeldt would like to see is at least one private flight instructor operating out of the airport.

Seafeldt said his first experience at Jamestown Regional Airport was when he and a student flew into the airport from Grand Forks a few years ago.

“We pretty much just used the airport and left,” he said “I remembered seeing the city off in the distance as we took off, but we didn’t actually come into town.”

Jamestown turned out to be bigger than he thought it would be, but isn’t too big.

“I definitely like the small-town atmosphere,” he said. “I can tell that everyone is excited about all the opportunities that are taking place with growth out by Spiritwood and the direction the city is going.”

Since moving to Jamestown in October, Seafeldt said the Jamestown community has made him and his family feel welcome.

“We’ve received such a warm welcome,” he said. “The staff at the airport, they’ve been put under a bigger workload training a new manager. I can’t thank them enough.”

Seafeldt said he would also like to thank his wife and family for uprooting their lives and moving to Jamestown.

“I couldn’t have done this without my family,” he said.

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Dietmar Eckell: A Photographer Quit His Job To Document The Aftermath Of Plane Crashes Around The Globe

In 2010, photographer Dietmar Eckell was the general manager for Southeast Asia at a German Fortune 500 company, working and living comfortably. But, since his childhood, Eckell says he’s felt the strong pull of “wanderlust,” so that year he resigned his post and began travelling the world, documenting abandoned and decaying relics of earlier times.

Since then, he’s traveled almost 75,000 miles and visited four continents. “I haven’t regretted it for one day,” Eckell tells Business Insider.

For one of his main projects, Eckell researched and photographed 15 downed planes around the globe. The series is titled “Happy End,” because not a single passenger died in any of the crashes. “Pictures of fatal aeroplane crashes are all over the news. There’s no need for me to document graves,” Eckell told Slate. “I want to surprise the viewer with stories of heroes and miracles and give their viewing experience a ‘happy end.’”

Acting as part detective, part explorer, and part artist, Eckell traveled by any means necessary to some of the most remote areas of the world, tracking down these abandoned planes, many of which were difficult to locate.

“It’s just a great feeling to finally sit on the wing of a plane that you’ve been trying to reach for years,” he says.

Eckell has shared some of his photos here with us. For the full story on many of the planes he visited, we suggest you buy his beautiful new book.

Story and Photo Gallery:

Friday, November 28, 2014

The lure of tax breaks: Colorado Springs Airport (with video)

Anyone who questions the wisdom of tax breaks to encourage business development might want to chat with Jeff Perkins and Britt Ham.

Perkins works with a company that relocated from North Carolina to an area near the Colorado Springs Airport, in part because of tax breaks approved by city, county and state officials to encourage economic development at or near the airport.

Ham is president and CEO of a company near the airport that is expanding, thanks to the tax breaks.

Together, the companies employ more than 40 people, and they're planning to add another 75 employees - the bottom-line goal of the tax breaks.

The tax breaks are a "huge incentive" for Trine Aerospace LLC to expand in the Springs, Ham said. Trine, which moved to Colorado Springs from Chatsworth, Calif., last year, has grown from about a dozen employees to 20 and has up to eight contract workers.

"It gives us an advantage over other companies," Ham said of the incentives. "The benefit is to lower our cost and allow us to bring business to Colorado Springs. We have to compete for business and, as a new business, that competition is often based on price. We are a quality vendor at a significantly lower price."

Trine plans to expand to 50 employees by the end of 2016, and company officials are studying whether to consolidate space in five hangars at the airport into a single 60,000-square-foot hangar they would build nearby, Ham said.

Perkins, vice president of business management for Rampart Aviation LLC, said the tax breaks were one of several factors that prompted owner Tony Porterfield to move the company from the Raleigh, N.C., area to the Springs. The company specializes in providing flight services, aircraft maintenance and aviation training support mostly for military units for parachute drops. It has 20 local employees and plans to add another 25 in the next year, Perkins said.

Deals hinged on tax breaks

Both companies came to the Springs as Mayor Steve Bach and airport officials were developing a series of tax breaks to lure aviation and aerospace companies to the airport to provide jobs for local residents and generate income for the facility. Any income the airport generates from leasing existing hangars or from land for new hangars helps pay its operating expenses and cuts the amount that airlines pay in landing fees - a potential way to lure more flights to a facility that has seen traffic drop dramatically.

Besides the expansions by Rampart and Trine, the airport also has leased two long-vacant facilities - one that will house a vintage aircraft collection and the other that will be used by a company that plans to convert aircraft once used by airlines for military use, bringing at least 20 more jobs to the airport.

Dan Gallagher, the airport's director, said all four deals depended on the tax breaks, which include city and county exemptions or credits for sales and use taxes paid by businesses that lease, sell, repair or maintain aircraft.

Gallagher said at least two other companies are showing interest, as a result of the tax breaks, in 200 acres on the airport's west side for potential sites of hangars they would build for aircraft modification and conversion that could eventually employ thousands of workers.

"Our future appears to be aircraft integration, or bringing older planes to today's navigational and technical standards, including engine modifications and winglets to make the aircraft more fuel efficient," Gallagher said. "We have a great opportunity to take advantage of this developing industry and we have enough land available to create thousands of additional jobs" in that industry.

Aviation and aerospace manufacturers also have shown increased interest because of the tax breaks in building plants or other facilities in the airport's 900-acre Cresterra business park that has long been envisioned by local officials as an economic hub for the region.

The tax breaks aren't the airport's only recruiting tool. Parts of both the business park and the west side of the airport, which is home to a series of hangars for private and corporate aircraft, are designated as a foreign trade zone. Such zones allow businesses to delay, reduce or even avoid U.S. Customs duties, which are imposed on imported raw materials, parts and equipment brought into the zone, lowering operating costs for any businesses located in a zone.

But the tax breaks are considered a bigger draw.

Bach began pushing for tax breaks at the airport shortly after Gallagher was named interim airport director early last year as a way to help turn around declining airline service by finding other revenue sources that would lower costs for carriers at the airport. He said attracting businesses and jobs to the airport could help jump-start economic development in all of southeast Colorado Springs, the city's most economically struggling area.

"Companies in aviation and aerospace-related industries won't come to our airport unless we can give them some kind of targeted incentive to help them get started here," Bach said.

"We are using performance-based incentives to attract and retain employers at this airport."

Aircraft owners fled airport

Plans for the tax breaks grew out of an exodus of aircraft from the Springs airport that began when the city started charging sales and use tax on aircraft, parts and related equipment.

Owners moved more than 60 aircraft to Meadow Lake Airport near Falcon, Centennial Airport in Englewood and others along the Front Range. Most other cities with airports specializing in private and corporate aviation had waived or rebated such taxes, putting the Springs airport at a disadvantage.

The Colorado Springs City Council voted 7-2 in April to create a commercial aeronautical zone that allows businesses in and around the airport that lease, sell, repair or maintain aircraft to be exempt from most city sales and use taxes.

El Paso County commissioners in August unanimously approved the zone in the same areas to give credits for sales tax paid by businesses on equipment and supplies used in maintaining, retrofitting and upgrading aircraft.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade in September designated the airport as a aviation development zone, which makes aviation and aerospace businesses at the airport eligible for a state income tax credit of $1,200 for each newly hired employee.

Airport officials also have asked the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to exclude 1,023.6 acres on the airport's west side and in the business park from its borders so airport businesses won't have to pay the authority's 1 percent sales tax.

The authority has scheduled a public hearing Dec. 10 on the request.


2007: City of Colorado Springs begins charging aircraft owners a 2.5 percent sales tax on the value of aircraft based at the Colorado Springs Airport.

2008-13: Owners of 62 aircraft, about 20 percent of the 292 aircraft based at the airport, move them to Meadow Lake Airport near Falcon, Centennial Airport in Englewood and other airports along the Front Range.

March 2013: Mayor Steve Bach appoints Dan Gallagher as interim director of the Colorado Springs Airport following the resignation of Mark Earle and begins discussions about offering tax breaks to lure aircraft owners and aviation-
related businesses back to the airport.

April: Colorado Springs City Council votes 7-2 to create a commercial aeronautical zone in and around the airport that allows businesses selling, repairing or maintaining aircraft to be exempt from most city sales and use taxes.

August: El Paso County commissioners unanimously approve a similar zone offering sales tax credits for equipment and supplies used in maintaining, retrofitting and upgrading aircraft.

September: Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade approves Colorado Springs Airport as an aviation development zone where aviation and aerospace businesses can get a $1,200 state income tax credit for each new employee.

Dec. 10: Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority will hold a public hearing and vote whether to exclude 1,023.6 acres on the airport's west side and in its business park from its borders so businesses in those areas won't have to pay its 1 percent sales tax.

Story, Photos and Video:

Colorado Springs Airport amnesty boxes get their fill - but usually not with marijuana

Travelers leaving from the Colorado Springs Airport have done a good job of stashing their marijuana at home or in their cars before they fly.

Amnesty boxes, which were added to the airport in January, have been sparsely used for marijuana, said Sgt. Matt Harrell of the Colorado Springs Department airport unit.

"I think people know," he said. "They haven't been trying it."

While some travelers have dropped off edibles, marijuana vapor cigarettes and grams of marijuana, he said those aren't the most common items.

"What we've gotten more than anything is unused prescription medication," Harrell said.

Since the 2012 passage of state Amendment 64, which allows people 21 years and older to use or have recreational marijuana, and the official implementation of the law in the state this year, agencies, organizations and law enforcement officials have had to adapt to the change.

With federal law prohibiting marijuana - and having jurisdiction over airplane travel - confusion can emerge where state laws differ.

The amnesty boxes give passengers a last chance to ditch anything that might be illegal before going through security and possibly facing consequences.

The Transportation Security Administration, which screens airlines passengers and their bags, will call Colorado Springs police if a passenger tries to take marijuana onto a plane.

Denver International Airport does not have marijuana amnesty boxes, a spokesman for the airport said. They ask people to just throw it away, he said.

In addition to marijuana and prescription drugs, Harrell said other items, such as water bottles and cigarette butts, are found when the boxes are checked once a month.

"Probably gummy bears are the strangest thing we've seen in there," he said.

Can you travel with?

1. Marijuana? No. Federal law prohibits passengers from traveling with marijuana, medical or recreational.

2. Prescription drugs? Yes. They can be checked or carried on to a plane. TSA recommends the medication is labeled to help get through security faster, but it is not required.

3. Ninja stars? Yes. Passengers can take martial arts and self defense items such as brass knuckles and ninja stars on a plane, but they must be checked in.

4. Nerf guns? Yes. TSA suggests you check them, though.

5. Snow globes? Yes. If it appears to contain less than 3.4 ounces of liquid it can be packed in carry-on luggage as long as it fits in a one-quart sized bag plastic bag. Larger snow globes must packed in checked bags.

6. Live fish? Yes. But as a carry-on only. The TSA says the fish must be in a clear, plastic spill-proof container, which may be more than 3.4 ounces. A TSA officer will have to visually inspect the fish.

7. Alcohol? Yes. Bottles of alcohol more than 3.4 ounces must be checked in. Bottles with less liquid may be carried on, but must be in a one quart/liter plastic bag with a zip-top and are limited to one per person.

8. Snakes? It depends. The TSA recommends you check airline policy before traveling with pets and animals. Some can be carried on or checked.

9. Frozen rack of lamb? Yes, meat, fish and vegetables and other food items can be checked and carried on. If the food is packed in ice, or ice packs, the ice must be frozen when taken through the screening. If not, they will not be allowed. The FAA limits a passenger to 5 pounds of dry ice, which can also be carried on or checked.

10. Crematory remains? It depends. Some airlines do not allow cremated remains as checked baggages. Security officials will not open the crematory container. TSA suggests a container made of lightweight material, like wood or plastic.

11. Spray paint? It depends. Chemicals such as chlorine, bleach, tear gas and spray paint are not allowed to be carried on. They may be allowed in checked bags. Passengers should check with their airlines.



Casey Parker with Colorado Springs Airport Operations installs an amnesty box outside the security checkpoint at the airport Wednesday, January 15, 2013. Two amnesty boxes are being installed for people who didn't realize that it's illegal to possess marijuana on a plane. It is legal to leave marijuana in a parked car at airports under the Colorado law that legalized recreational marijuana, but you can't bring marijuana inside airport facilities. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Aviation authors to co-pilot event about northern flying life

Into the Abyss

By Carol Shaben

Random House

Polar Winds

by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail

Dundurn Canadian authors Carol Shaben and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail are women whose recent books delve into the world of aviation, small planes and the pilots who often risk their lives to pursue their passion. Shaben’s debut book — Into the Abyss — is a national bestseller, a B.C. Book Prize finalist and winner of Canada’s Edna Staebler award for creative non-fiction. Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail is Edmonton’s Historian Laureate and author of two books — For the Love of Flying and Polar Winds: A Century of Flying in the North. Both writers will be teaming up for the Vancouver launch of Polar Winds on Dec. 2.

Q Why did you each decide to write these books?

A My interest arose after my dad survived a small plane crash in northern Canada. I was 22 and working overseas when I found out about it reading a local newspaper. When I returned home months later, I saw that the tragedy had transfigured my dad. He’d seen six people die, including friends and a close colleague, and had struggled, along with three fellow survivors to stay alive until rescue came. He forged extraordinary bonds with these men, including a convicted criminal and the rookie pilot. I sought out that pilot almost 20 years later and it was he who educated me about the pressures and risks young pilots faced — and continue to face — flying for smaller commuter airlines. These airlines are a lifeline for Canadians in isolated communities both in B.C. and in Canada’s north. I started to investigate the industry and was shocked to discover that small plane safety is still a concern more than a quarter century later. That investigation morphed into an award-winning article, and later, my book. Danielle came to write about aviation through her fascination with the North. Whereas I grew up in northern Alberta, she was raised in southern Ontario, so had a curiosity about this vast region and its people. With her first book, she learned how aviation is an amazing window into Canada’s history and has been connected to almost every development in the North, from resource exploration to public health and even residential schools. In her second book she really draws on her background in social and cultural history to shine a light on the lived experiences of northerners in the air and on the ground, especially using the often hidden voices from women, indigenous peoples and visible minorities.

Q Tell me about the event on Dec. 2 in Vancouver.

A We’re calling it Turbulent Tales: The Ups and Downs of Writing About Canadian Aviation. It’s going to be a relaxed evening of conversation between Danielle and I about our research and writing journeys, and on the theme of aviation. We bring different backgrounds to the table, which will be really interesting. I’m someone who left a career to return to school for an MFA in creative writing, and then pursue investigative journalism and writing. Danielle is a historian who started out as a creative writer and is now trying to marry the two in rigorously researched popular history. Neither of us are pilots, but both feel we’ve been adopted into the aviation community. We also each had personal connections that led us to write the books we did. The event is open to the public and will take place at the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano. There will be free refreshments, beverages for sale and, of course, we’ll be selling and signing books.

Q You’ve both chosen to write about aviation. Any thoughts on the theme?

A I think Danielle and I would agree that its astonishing how much has changed and how little has changed in over a century of flight in both northern Canada and when flying with smaller carriers. Pilots have gone from no navigation aids — no maps, or beacons and imprecise human systems such as dead reckoning — to GPS. They’ve gone from freezing open-cockpit planes they could only fly by visual contact with the ground (and no way to call for help), to planes with the latest instruments, safety features and communications technologies. And yet, any pilot flying into Canada’s northern or remote reaches will tell you that people and airplanes are still at the mercy of the weather and human error — be it from inadequate risk analysis or poor pilot decision making — and that these factors can still have surprisingly tragic results.

Turbulent Tales: The Ups and Downs of Writing About Canadian Aviation will take place Tuesday, Dec. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Billy Bishop Royal Canadian Legion, 1407 Laburnum St. The event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be provided. Drinks will be available for purchase. Space is limited, so please RSVP by Sunday at

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Cirrus SR22T, N227RR, Header Bug LLC: Accident occurred November 28, 2014 near Hampton-Varnville Airport (3J0), Hampton, South Carolina

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 28, 2014 in Hampton, SC
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP. SR22T, registration: N227RR
Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 Minor.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 28, 2014, about 1200 eastern standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22T, N227RR, descended under canopy of the cirrus airframe parachute system (CAPS) and landed into a wooded area near Hampton-Varnville Airport (3J0), Hampton, South Carolina. The private pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries, while one passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Header Bug LLC, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Sarasota, Florida, about 0933 EST, and was destined for Orangeburg Municipal Airport (OGB), Orangeburg, South Carolina.

The pilot stated that the purpose of the accident flight was pleasure. He intended to fly to OGB, which was the half way mark of the flight; however, the ultimate destination was to an airport in Leesburg, Virginia. After arrival at SRQ the airplane was removed from the hangar and the fuel tanks were filled. He then performed a preflight inspection using the checklist. No fuel contamination was noted and the oil quantity was checked and found to indicate 8 quarts, or full. After engine start he taxied to the run-up area, and while there performed an engine run-up using the checklist. It included a check of the magnetos at 1,700 rpm, and checking the load of the alternators. When the checklist was completed he obtained his IFR clearance, and departed from runway 04.

After takeoff the flight proceeded towards the destination airport. The pilot further stated that he checked the engine parameters; noting all readings citing specifically (oil temperature, oil pressure, and CHT) were in the green. About 3 minutes later, while flying at 9,000 feet mean sea level with the mixture leaned to the mark and the engine between 65 and 70 percent power, or 2,400 rpm, he heard an audible warning that the oil pressure was zero. The airplane at that time was near Savannah, or about 50 to 60 miles from OGB. The engine power went to idle, and he did not hear any sounds from the engine which was running smooth but was idled back. He reported he had no control over the power, and did not observe any oil or mist coming out of the engine and did not notice any smoke from the engine from oil getting onto a hot exhaust. He also reported he did not hear a change in sound from the propeller as if the propeller had changed pitch, and the propeller never stopped. The passenger in the right front seat read the display on the multi-function display (MFD) that the oil pressure displayed in the red showing 0 oil pressure. In addition, on the primary flight display (PFD) a red highlighted "WARNING" about the oil pressure displayed. He fully enrichened the mixture control and moved the throttle in an attempt to restore engine power but there was no result. Using the on-board avionics he confirmed the nearest airport was 3J0, which ATC confirmed. The controller called to the 3J0 airport to inform personnel there of his situation, and he descended at 98 knots (best glide speed is 88 knots).

The pilot stated that after realizing he was unable to land at 3J0, he informed the passengers to tighten their restrains (seatbelts and shoulder harnesses) before activating the CAPS, and pulled the CAPS activation handle at 800 feet; he did not recall the airspeed at chute pull. He reported that the engine stayed at idle during the descent, and while under canopy, the tail came down just as the airplane hit the trees. He attributed this to the altitude of deployment. A portion of a wing was knocked off and the tail was almost separated. The airplane descended to the ground, and he reported the contact was hard.

The airplane came to rest about ¾ nautical mile and 110 degrees from the approach end of runway 29 at 3J0.

Preliminary inspection of the airplane revealed the right wing was fractured at the outboard end of the flap, and the empennage was fractured just forward of the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. The airplane was recovered for further examination.

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA West Columbia FSDO-13

HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. - A small aircraft has crashed just short of the airfield at the Hampton County airport in Varnville. Chief Deputy Billy Jarrell with the Hampton County Sheriff's Office says there were four people on board who sustained minor injuries, and were transported for treatment of the non life threatening injuries.

 Hampton County Emergency Management Director Susanne Peeples says the worst of the injuries sustained was a shoulder fracture. A woman who suffered the injury was transported from Hampton Regional to Charleston for treatment. The other three passengers are being treated at Hampton Regional. The passengers are from Virginia. Their names are not yet being released.

Peeples says that around 1:00 p.m., a distressed signal came from the plane as it went down. Fortunately, the plane had a parachute that deployed. Emergency crews say that without the parachute to lessen the crash, the incident could have been much worse.

Neighbor Kaitlin Alberson says she and her father heard and saw the plane crash.

"It was spitting and sputtering, and I looked outside up in the sky and we saw a plane and then a parachute came out, and then we heard this big crash like power blew out," Alberson says.

Alberson and her father arrived on the scene to see if any passengers needed help, shortly after first responders did. That's when Alberson snapped the photos featured in the article.

Neither Jarrell nor Peeples know what caused the plane to crash into the wooded area near the airport, off of Walterboro Highway and Papas Road. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been investigating the cause.


HAMPTON CO., SC (WTOC) -  It was a frightening end to a holiday trip when a small plane went down in rural South Carolina.

Officials say it happened around 1 p.m. Friday in a wooded area off of Walterboro Highway in Varnville, SC.

EMS and Hampton Fire responded to the crash site and Lifestar was called to the scene.

The pilot reportedly made a distress call to air traffic control just before crashing a few miles away from the Hampton Varnville airport.

There were four people from Virginia on board the plane. Two men and one woman were taken to Hampton Regional Hospital with minor injuries. One other woman was airlifted with a shoulder injury just as a precautionary measure.

"We have a very fortunate situation. No one was seriously injured. We're very fortunate. This has been an experience for us. It isn't something that Hampton County has everyday. So we're very thankful that no one was hurt seriously and we hope the person that does have the worse of the injuries, that she will be okay," said Susanne Peeples, Hampton County EMA director.

Officials have not yet determined what caused the plane to crash.

The FAA continues to investigate.

- Source:

VARNVILLE, S.C. (WJCL) — Officials confirmed that an airplane crashed, in Hampton County, S.C. on Friday. 

 According to the Associated Press, Hampton County Emergency Management Director Susanne Peeples said that the pilot reported an emergency before crashing around 1 p.m. Friday at the airport near Varnville.

In the accident, one was air-lifted after a plane crashed about a quarter mile short of the runway of the Hampton-Varnville Airport – about a mile outside of Varnville.

However, neither the one sent off by helicopter nor the other three suffered life-threatening injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been called in to investigate the accident and is on the scene with more expected to join the investigation.

The incident involved a Cirrus aircraft which had a airframe parachute system.

Hijack alert sees Turkish plane's jet escort

A Turkish Airlines pilot's mistaken activation of a hijack alarm triggered a high-octane security deployment at Vienna airport on Friday, Austrian police said.

The error -- coupled with a depressurization warning and then unexplained radio silence from the cockpit -- led to two jet fighters being scrambled to escort the Boeing 737 to land at Vienna's Schwechat airport.

The passenger plane had been flying from Frankfurt to Istanbul when panicked passengers saw oxygen masks fall from the ceiling after it was hit by a pressurization problem.

The pilot -- who had asked to make an emergency landing  -- apparently inadvertently activated the hijack alarm as he responded to the problem, police said, confirming a report on the website of the daily Kurier newspaper.

Authorities stepped down from their hijack alert status 40 minutes after the plane landed, Kurier said.

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Boeing hopes SpiceJet's 'fleet reduction' strategy will work

NEW DELHI: With an order for 42 Boeing 737 Max worth $4.4 billion from crisis-ridden SpiceJet, the US aircraft major hopes that SpiceJet's strategy of "shrinking now and expanding later" - a reference to SpiceJet's ruthless fleet reduction - would work.

Boeing commercial airplanes (VP-sales) Dinesh Keskar was in India recently and told TOI that the delivery of 737 Max to SpiceJet, Boeing's answer to Airbus' hugely successful A320 Neo, begins from 2018 onwards and by then the low cost carrier (LCC) "will find a way out".

SpiceJet had ordered 42 Boeing 737 Max at the Hyderabad air show this March. But today, the LCC is struggling to survive by returning planes, cutting flights drastically and its auditors casting aspersion on its claim of being a going concern.

"I am not much worried. They will find a way. Their strategy is of shrinking now and expanding later. When you are hurting, the last thing you want to do is expand. Anyway, SpiceJet is supposed to start getting the Max from 2018 onwards," Keskar said. SpiceJet is today flying just 22 Boeing 737s - down from 35 in summer - and has cut over 50 daily flights reportedly due to a lack of funds that saw leasors taking back planes.

Asked won't the going get tougher for existing carriers, including SpiceJet, when Tata-Singapore Airlines JV airline starts flying soon and when Tata-AirAsia JV expands its wings, Keskar said: "Thanks to oil prices, airline operating costs have fallen. With those reduced costs and the current fare levels, the average gap in break-even price per ticket is just $10 (Rs 600-700). Indian carriers will be in profit during this peak holiday season." He added that SpiceJet will be able to deploy its smaller fleet more gainfully.While aircraft manufacturers keep their fingers crossed for airlines - remember the hit Airbus took when its customers Air Deccan and Kingfisher folded up with the latter having placed orders for five A-380s that were written off only recently - SpiceJet is fighting for survival. The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) has asked the LCC to give weekly status reports on its payables to various agencies.

Top DGCA officials say the airline has informed them that as many as 116 pilots have resigned and are serving notice period till mid-2015. While multiple top officials of DGCA confirmed getting this information from SpiceJet, the airline denied having giving any such information to the regulator when reached for comment.

On its part, SpiceJet says it is cutting Boeing fleet to get out of unfavorable leasing contracts. "We are revamping the fleet to come out stronger and shed unfavorable contracts and unwanted aircraft. We are doing this as part of turnaround process.... (Our) schedule reduction is about 50," Kapoor had told TOI last Sunday, while claiming that the airline's Boeing 737s fleet will grow to about 30 by the year-end.

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Clutha helicopter crash report hit by delay: Eurocopter EC 135 T2+, G-SPAO

The final investigation report into the Clutha helicopter crash a year ago today will not be ­published until mid-2015.

A draft version will take several weeks to complete, the UK Department for Transport’s air accident investigation branch (AAIB) said yesterday. It will then be sent to “interested parties”, such as relatives of those who died and the helicopter firms involved, early next year.

Ten people were killed when a Police Scotland helicopter crashed on to the Clutha bar in Glasgow city center on Friday, 29 November, 2013.

The AAIB issued its last interim report into the crash in February, when it revealed the helicopter’s two engines had failed after being starved of fuel, despite 76kg of fuel remaining in its main tank.

The AAIB said the two fuel supply tanks linking the main tank to the engines were almost empty, but it found no problems with the connecting pipes.

It said yesterday the investigation had been protracted because the Eurocopter EC135 T2+ aircraft was not required to have flight data or cockpit voice recorders. It said: “As a result, significant work was required to extract and analyze the contents of non-volatile mem­ory from microchipped equipment known to record data.

“This, together with further examination of the aircraft and subsequent tests, has now been completed, to the extent that the investigation team may reach its conclusions.”

The AAIB said it had been working with the helicopter manufacturer, engine manufacturer, the European Aviation Safety Agency, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority and the helicopter operator, along with other specialists, “to establish the causes and contributory ­factors that led to the accident”

Its February report said the investigation would “seek to determine why a situation arose that led to both the helicopter’s engines flaming out when 76kg of fuel remained in the fuel tank group”.

Pilot David Traill and his passengers, police officers Kirsty Nelis and Tony Collins, lost their lives. Those killed in the pub were John McGarrigle, Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins and Samuel McGhee. Some 32 people were taken initially to hospitals across the city. Joe Cusker was pulled from the wreckage alive but later died in hospital.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represents relatives of those who died, called for the final report to be published sooner, and repeated its demand for an urgent review of helicopters below a certain weight being exempt from carrying “black box” equipment.

Elaine Russell, a partner in the firm, said: “We cannot overstate how important it is for the AAIB to get this publication out as soon as possible so that our clients can understand what led to the incident, as well as what should be done to ensure that no-one else faces the terrible ordeals they have endured.

“The middle of 2015 is simply too long to wait for the answers that are needed.”

Jim Morris, a partner in the firm’s aviation law team, said: “Current regulations on the fitting black box equipment exempt helicopters weighing less than 3,175kg from having to carry it, which, as this tragedy and the latest AAIB update demonstrates, can make the job for the accident investigators much more challenging and cause significant delays in finding out the cause of accidents.

“This in turn leads to delays in providing answers to the loved ones of those affected, as well as affecting whether lessons can be learned and measures implemented to improve flight safety.

“One year on, and all of our clients remain frustrated and desperate for answers regarding how this terrible tragedy ­happened.”

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Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N5897P: Accident occurred November 28, 2014 near Andrews University Airpark (C20), Berrien Springs, Michigan

NTSB Identification: CEN15CA064 
Accident occurred Friday, November 28, 2014 in Berrien Springs, MI
Aircraft: PIPER PA 24-250, registration: N5897P

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

BERRIEN SPRINGS, MI — Rory Robinson was in his house in Berrien Springs late Friday morning when he heard something outside that didn't sound quite right.

"It sounded like a big snowplow, only louder," said Robinson, who lives in the 400 block of Bluff Street. "It sounded like a plane going through the trees."

A second after hearing the noise outside, power went out. That's when Robinson, a former pilot, knew something was wrong and went outside to investigate.

"We immediately lost power, it took down power lines," Robinson said. "That's when I went outside and saw the plane. It came over the river, it went right through the trees on the top of the river bank and stopped about six feet short of a house."

Robinson said that he didn't hear any engine noise prior to impact and he didn't observe any leaking fuel around the wreckage.

"That was my biggest concern, besides for the people on board," he said. "I don't know if they ran out of fuel or what. There was no fuel leaking around the crash. I think he was trying to make it to Andrews (Airpark) in Berrien. I had heard no engine noise."

The crumpled aircraft, a Piper PA-24 Comanche, had four people aboard.

Two people in the aircraft suffered serious injuries and two people suffered minor injuries, said Rick Smiedendorf, chief of the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Department.

The aircraft was headed from Richmond, Ind., to the Andrews University Airpark for a family gathering in the Berrien Springs area, according to a news release issued late Friday afternoon from the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Department.

The Piper Comanche was being piloted by Bryce Fisher of Richmond. He was in the plane with his his father, Dr. William Fisher of Richmond, who owned the plane and was acting as co-pilot.

Also aboard were William Fisher's wife, Barbara, and Bryce Fisher's girlfriend, Miritha Morales of DeKalb, Ill.

William Fisher and his wife, both 70, were seriously injured in the crash.

As of 3:15 p.m. Friday, the wreckage of the aircraft was being removed from the scene, Robinson said. Seeing one of the wings being loaded on to a trailer, he noticed that the aircraft's retractable landing gear did not appear to have been extended.

"It was a low-wing aircraft," Robinson said. "It did have retractable gear on it. The gear appeared to be still up."

This incident is still under investigation, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig said.

Story, Comments and Photo Gallery:

A single-engine plane crashed Friday morning at 11:12 a.m. behind a home in the 400 block of North Bluff in Berrien Springs, according to Berrien County dispatch. 

 Police sent out a report that evening stating that the pilot of the plane was Bryce Fisher who was flying with three passengers.

The first passenger and co-pilot was his father, Dr. William Fisher, who owned the plane. The other passengers were Barbara Fisher, wife of Dr. Fisher and Miritha Morales, girlfriend of Bryce.

According to reports all by Morales are from Richmond, IN, she is from Dekalb, IL.

The passengers were out and walking around when responders arrived and the pilot was trapped in the plane and had to be extricated.

We were told all four occupants are now in the hospital. Two of them appear to be in serious condition. 

The FAA will be taking over the investigation.

We're told four homes in the neighborhood lost power because I&M had to cut lines in order to free up the plane to be removed.

None of the surrounding houses, however, were damaged by the plane which landed just five to six feet away from the nearest home, according to reports.

The plane was headed from Richmond, Indiana to Andrews for a family holiday function, we're told.

Story, Comments and Photo gallery: