Sunday, December 07, 2014

Taylorcraft BL-65, N27580: Accident occurred December 07, 2014 in Everett, Washington

NTSB Identification: WPR15CA056
Accident occurred Sunday, December 07, 2014 in Everett, WA
Aircraft: TAYLORCRAFT BL 65, registration: N27580

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.

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Seattle FSDO-01


SEATTLE - A pilot made a hard landing at Paine Field Sunday afternoon, damaging his plane and two hangars, but otherwise walking away unhurt.

Airport officials say the pilot lost control while landing a lightweight, vintage aircraft and careened off the runway.

The plane struck two different hangars, damaging both building and the tips of both wings.

The pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft, and was able to pull the plane back into the hangar.

The incident happened just before 3 p.m. and delayed other plane traffic for a short time. Operations are now back to normal.

Story, comments and photo:  http://www.komonews.com571.html

Qantas flight QF2 makes rapid 'emergency descent' to Perth after plane fault

A passenger on board a Qantas flight from Dubai to Sydney has described how the plane was forced to make an "emergency descent" to Perth after a fault with the aircraft's air conditioning system.

Qantas flight QF2 was believed to be about 800 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia on Monday morning when the captain announced over the loudspeaker that he would be making a rapid descent, from 39,000 feet to about 9000 feet.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the captain made the "controlled descent", believed to have taken just a matter of minutes, as a precaution due to a problem with the plane's air conditioning system.

She said the plane diverted to Perth Airport, where it was given a "priority landing". It landed safely early on Monday morning.

One passenger, Nigel Richardson, tweeted that the cabin crew were running after the captain announced that they were about to make an emergency descent.

Mr.  Richardson praised the crew, who he said kept some nervous passengers informed about what was happening.

Although the captain announced that the plane was making an emergency descent, it's understood passengers were also told that the Airbus A380-800 was in full control.

Another passenger Anne, traveling from the United Kingdom, told Perth's Radio 6PR that the pilot's announcement was both alarming and reassuring. 

"It was quite frightening because at that moment we were over the sea," she said.

"I thought we were going to have a crash landing in the sea."

Engineers were due to examine the plane's air conditioning system in Perth on Monday morning, but the Qantas spokeswoman said the flight crew would have reached their maximum duty limits by that time.

Passengers would be offered overnight accommodation in Perth, she said.

Read more and photo:

Dallas-Maui flight canceled after alleged assault

American Airlines is conducting an internal investigation after a crew member aboard a Hawaii-bound jet reported an assault prior to takeoff Saturday from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The flight was subsequently canceled, but no one was arrested.

Passengers aboard American Flight 119 had already endured hours of delays due to separate mechanical issues that took one Boeing 737-300 out of service and temporarily grounded a replacement aircraft after the crewmember reported the assault.

The drama unfolded after the jet finally pushed away from the gate at DFW... only to return 15 minutes later. Eric Hattey of Allen captured what happened next with his cell phone camera.

DFW Police officers boarded the aircraft and removed a woman who reportedly assaulted the flight attendant. Hattey said officers spent more than 45 minutes questioning passengers about the alleged assault, but could find no witnesses.

American Airlines said the flight attendant was not injured.

The flight was eventually canceled because the crew had exceeded the maximum number of hours they could safely work — in part because of the police investigation.

Passengers (including Hattey, who was travelling to Maui for his honeymoon) were booked on other flights to Maui on Sunday.

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Airline owes nearly 200 creditors

The collapse of Wellington-based charter airline company Vincent Aviation has created financial turbulence for 178 unsecured creditors.

But one creditor said he was owed less than $10 and was sorry to see the demise of Vincent's, which was established in 1989.

Pricewaterhouse Cooper's first liquidators' report into Vincent Aviation, which stopped trading in October, listed Vincent's assets as "three aircraft, inventories, and accounts receivable".

But it went on to say "the receivers have advised that it is unlikely that funds will be available to meet unsecured creditor claims".

The report had a list of 178 unsecured creditors, and it was possible that more would come forward.

The list included a host of aviation-related companies such as Air New Zealand, major airports - including Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Palmerston North and Nelson - and aviation authorities such as Airways NZ and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Several accommodation providers were also out of pocket, including Wellington's Brentwood Hotel, Timaru's Comfort Hotel Benvenue, Auckland's Hotel Grand Chancellor, and Nelson's Beachcomber Motor Inn and Aloha Lodge.

Mint Cafe, located at Lyall Bay's Retail Park just down the road from Vincent Aviation's base at Wellington Airport, and Quinny's Dry Cleaners in Upper Hutt were also owed money.

Quinny's co-owner Murray Quinn said his company used to dry-clean the uniforms of Vincent's ground crew and engineers, as well as sundries such as towels.

He was surprised to be on the list of creditors and said if Vincent's owed him anything it would be less than $10.

"They've been very good customers and it's been a bloody shame that not one but two aviation companies [Helipro was placed in receivership shortly before Vincent's woes surfaced] were severely hit in the space of two weeks," Quinn said.

Vincent Aviation owner Peter Vincent has blamed the collapse of the New Zealand arm of his company on financial issues caused by the failure earlier in the year of its Australian operations.

That is borne out by a raft of creditors from across the Tasman, along with a handful from Japan, the United States, Sweden and Singapore.

The liquidators' report also listed 17 creditors with secured interests.

They included Westpac New Zealand, six companies with claims on aircraft, and two with claims on Toyota Hiace vehicles.

There were also preferential claims, including those from Inland Revenue and New Zealand Customs, totaling $122,000.

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Luxury jets pamper pets with pilaf, space to roam

As millions of Americans cram into coach for holiday travel, some four-legged passengers will fly on luxury private jets.

A rebound in U.S. business-aircraft trips this year means more dogs and cats are taking wing too. In addition to the perks of on-demand flights and plenty of legroom, being able to bring furry companions onboard can justify the price of a ticket, which doesn’t come cheap.

A flight on Jet Edge International costs $67,000 on average, and the company also charges a $2,000 refundable pet deposit in case of accidents on board. The average net worth of the company’s customers is $1 billion, according to Chief Executive Officer Bill Papariella.

Letting animals tag along is “one of the main reasons why people will fly private,” Papariella said in an interview. “They don’t want to go to Aspen or their holiday or to their second home without their pets being on board.”

For those with means, a charter flight or a jet with fractional ownership is an attractive alternative to airlines’ limits on carry-on kennels or the risks of sending a crated pet in the hold. It’s a niche market that can include handmade dog snacks — a $1,000 Kobe beef snack or rice pilaf with salmon — special attendants and even solo flights without an animal’s owner.

It was worth it for Dallas real estate investor Alan Box, whose purchase of a one-fourth interest in a Learjet via leasing company Flexjet a decade ago was driven chiefly by a desire to ensure that family members could enjoy getaways to their ranch in Crowheart, Wyoming, with canines in tow.

Box, 63, was living in Virginia, at the time as CEO of radio-station chain EZ Communications. Commercial flight connections through Denver and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, would have been impossible with Ribsy and Cody, his full-grown chocolate and black Labrador Retrievers.

“We just thought they were too big,” said Box, who has since sold the jet share because he didn’t replace his pets when they died. “We didn’t feel like it was safe or really worth the trouble,” to fly commercial, he said.

NetJets Inc., the luxury-jet unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, probably flew pets on about 9 percent of last year’s flights, according to figures from spokeswoman Christine Herbert and the website of the Columbus, Ohio-based company. Boston-based Magellan Jets estimates that it carries animals on a quarter of its trips, while at Jet Edge the share is about half.

As with two-legged passengers, the holidays tend to be the busiest time for animals as well. The post-Thanksgiving Sunday is “our highest-volume day of the year,” Herbert said.

While private-jet operations still aren’t back at pre- recession levels, flights are up in 2014 as an improving U.S. economy and surging corporate profits buoy business and personal travel. This year is poised to be the busiest for such trips since 2008, based on Federal Aviation Administration data through September.

A perception of safety is one of the reasons some people opt to upgrade their pets. Fifteen animals died on U.S. airline flights this year through August, down from 18 in the same period in 2013, according to U.S. Transportation Department data. And travel rules on commercial flights are poised to tighten this week, when American Airlines Group starts requiring that pets on connecting flights be routed through one of five U.S. cities.

Airlines’ restrictions ensure that few travelers ever see a dog or cat on board.

American, for example, limits carry-on pets to a maximum of seven containers per flight, excluding service animals. Size limits on the kennels — 19 inches (48.3 centimeters) long by 13 inches wide by 9 inches high — rule out larger breeds. On private planes, pets can roam free for the duration of the flight as there are no industry-wide safety rules for non-human passengers.

Usually only dogs and cats are allowed on commercial flights, which means owners of barnyard animal-companions must make other arrangements. Emotional-support animals are allowed, but only if they are not disorderly. A woman and her pet pig were escorted off a US Airways flight out of Connecticut recently after the animal befouled the plane and was running in the aisle, according to reports from the Hartford Courant and USA Today.

“I have a client in Dubai who flies me down there to fly with him and his goat a few times a year,” said Carol Martin, the founder of Carmel, California-based Sit ‘n Stay Global, which supplies pet-friendly flight attendants and “pawmenity” kits that include custom snacks.

The goat owner likes to have fresh milk and has a pen at the back of his private plane for that purpose, said Martin.

While Magellan passengers have brought along exotic birds, gerbils and hamsters, the typical private-jet-flying animal is a dog joining its owners on a family vacation, Chief Executive Officer Joshua Hebert said in an interview. Jet Edge has one celebrity athlete client who likes to have his German shepherd on all of his trips, domestic and international, CEO Papariella said.

The rarest transports are for animals traveling without an owner, perhaps the result of a couple splitting up while retaining joint custody of a pet.

“They fly the pet back and forth and they want a nanny on board,” Martin said. One such former couple pays about $50,000 per trip to fly their dog from Los Angeles to New York every other month.

“A couple times a year, we get the passenger manifest and I realize, ‘Oh my God, all there is is a dog on this plane,’’ Jet Edge’s Papariella said. ‘’Holy cow, this person is actually paying for their pet to go somewhere.’’


Guam International Airport under Federal Aviation Administration investigation

The Guam International Airport Authority is under investigation.

A letter from the Federal Aviation Administration director of airport compliance and management analysis Randall S. Fiertz to Star Marianas Air counsel Jason Goldstein of Richards & Associates on Nov. 13 confirms this.

A copy of the letter was received by the airport’s counsel Calvo Fisher & Jacob LLC last Nov. 21.

“I understand that on Sept. 16 you contacted FAA’s Western-Pacific Region Airports division requesting an investigation. That investigation is both recent and ongoing,” Fiertz told Goldstein.

Fiertz said the “investigation process initiated by the Western Pacific Region, in accordance with 14 CFR Part 13, presumptively provides a reasonable prospect for resolution.”

14 CFR Part 13 is an informal investigation process as opposed to 14 CFR Part 16.

Star Marianas Air sought a formal Part 16 investigation as well which FAA dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 14 CFR §16.27 or incomplete complaint.

Under 14 CFR §16.27, “If a complaint is not dismissed pursuant to § 16.25 of this part, but is deficient as to one or more of the requirements set forth in § 16.21 or § 16.23(b), the Director will dismiss the complaint within 20 days after receiving it. Dismissal will be without prejudice to the refiling of the complaint after amendment to correct the deficiency. The Director’s dismissal will include the reasons for the dismissal.”

Fiertz explained to Goldstein that pursuant to 14 CFR §16.21, before filing a Part 16 complaint, a person directly and substantially affected by the alleged noncompliance must engage in good faith efforts to resolve the disputed matter informally with those individuals or entities believed responsible for the noncompliance.

Firtz said, “A complaint under this part will not be considered unless it certifies that (1) the complainant has made substantial and reasonable good faith efforts to resolve the disputed matter informally prior to filing the complaint; and (2) there is no reasonable prospect for practical and timely resolution of the dispute.

Last Sept. 16, Star Marianas Air through its chairman Robert Christian elevated the issue to FAA seeking an investigation of the Guam International Airport Authority for breach of grant assurances.

Star Marianas Air has been attempting to provide scheduled and charter flights between the Northern Marianas and Guam; however, it claims to have hit roadblocks with its application to do so.

According to the regional carrier, GIAA has leased the commuter terminal designated on the airport layout plan to United Airlines Human Resources and continues to deny SMA the use of the commuter passenger building for its aeronautical use.

Star Marianas Air claims the airport is using the space for non-aeronautical purposes which is a breach of grant assurances.

The airline said that GIAA has breached Grant Assurance 22, Grant Assurance 23 and Grant Assurance 24 which in effect prevents SMA from having airside access to the Guam airport terminal.

Grant Assurance 22 is on economic nondiscrimination which requires the airport sponsor to make its airport available for public use “without unjust discrimination to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical activities.”

Grant Assurance 23 pertains to exclusive rights whereby it will permit no exclusive right for the use of the airport by any person providing, or intending to provide, aeronautical services to the public.

Grant Assurance 24 covers fee and rental structure which requires the airport sponsor to assure that it will maintain a fee and rental structure for the facilities and services at the airport which will make the airport as self-sustaining as possible under the circumstances existing at a particular airport.

Further on the Part 16 investigation request by SMA, FAA said that for a Part 13 informal investigation to be elevated to Part 16, certification as cited in 14 CFR §16.21(b)is required.

The certification, Variety learned, must include a description of the party’s efforts to obtain informal resolution but shall not include information on monetary or other settlement offers made but not agreed upon in writing by all parties.

Efforts to seek an informal resolution must be recent and with pertinent documentation.

Fiertz, in response to SMA, wrote, “Your pleading does not indicate why the informal Part 13 resolution process offers no such prospect, or why FAA should commence the Part 16 process while the informal Part 13 process is ongoing.”

In an interview, Star Marianas Air Inc. president Shaun Christian confirmed to Variety that an informal investigation is ongoing.

“We have been informed that the FAA is investigating our informal complaint, but we do not have any feedback from them on how the investigation is going or how long it will take,” he said.

“To date we have received no formal timeframe from the GIAA when they will have a location available for us that allows self-access / self-handling of our aircraft and customers consistent with the size and scope of our operation,” he said.

He said they remain hopeful that SMA will receive feedback from them “in the near future that puts a definitive timeframe on when we can begin using the airport without being required to contract third party ground handlers at a substantial cost.”

But if the FAA investigation drags on too long, Christian said they may consider their legal options.

“At this point we are considering our legal options if the FAA’s investigation drags on too long or if the Guam Airport does not provide us with a location to operate from, including possibly filing a lawsuit in federal court against them. Hopefully this won’t be necessary and the FAA and the GIAA will work together to bring the airport into compliance with its regulatory requirements as a recipient of Federal Airport Improvement funds,” said Christian.

SMA’s efforts to offer scheduled flights to Guam have been ongoing for the last two years.

For its Guam-Rota-Saipan flights, Star Marianas Air is planning to use five passenger planes and seven cargo planes. It plans to use five nine-passenger aircraft, PA-31-350, Piper Super Chieftain and seven cargo planes.

They intend to provide the traveling public with an alternative to Cape Air.

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Exodus stalks SpiceJet, pilots leave to join Jet Air, IndiGo

Amid a funds crunch, flight cancellations and the and the aviation regulator keeping a close tab on its curtailed operations, budget carrier SpiceJet is seeing an exodus of pilots, mainly in favor of Jet Airways and IndiGo.

At present, around 125 pilots have quit the airline and are serving the six-month notice period, sources said, adding of them 54 have already applied for a job with Jet and IndiGo.

Of those who have quit, 98 are captains while the rest are first-officers. “These pilots will start leaving the airline from December as and when their notice period gets over,” source said.

The airline currently has around 525 pilots.

While the airline did not reply to an email from HT, it said in a media statement that “even after the pilots on notice part ways with SpiceJet in the coming months, we will have more than enough pilots to fly our fleet”.

Concerned over the deteriorating condition of SpiceJet and flight cancellations, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday withdrew 186 of its slots and asked it to clear salary dues of employees by December 15. The regulator would also carry out “heightened” surveillance of all SpiceJet flights on landing to ensure that safety is not compromised due to its financial troubles.

The number of daily flights is down to 240 from 332 in September while the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet is down to 22 operational aircraft. The airline is operating only 13 of its 15 Q400 aircraft.

“Such high-levels of attrition are unusual,” said Subhash Goyal, Chairman, STIC Travel Group. “SpiceJet’s survival is important for the Indian aviation sector,” Goyal said.

The airline reported a R310-crore loss during July-September quarter. Aviation consultancy Center for Asia Pacific Aviation has said that Spicejet has a funding requirement of $250 million to stabilize operations.

The airline’s promoter and media baron Kalanithi Maran is said to be in talks with investors.


New name chosen for Camdenton Memorial Airport (H21), Missouri

The Camdenton Board of Aldermen have agreed to give the revamped Camdenton city airport the new name of “Camdenton Lake of the Ozarks Regional Airport at Veterans Memorial Field.”

The name was chosen after local residents objected to the removal of “memorial” from the airport’s name.

The airport was originally named the Camdenton Memorial Airport in the late 1940s, as a way of honoring local World War II veterans, according to Jeff Hancock of Camdenton.

Because the $7.6 million revamping project includes improvements to both the apron and hangar areas and an extension of the runway, the airport’s name with the FAA has also been changed. For that reason, personnel with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) suggested it was also a good time for the city to change the official name.

The addition of the words “Lake of the Ozarks” to the official name was the town’s way of identifying the facility as providing service to the entire region, Hancock said.

In early October, the board approved the name change to “Camdenton/Lake of the Ozarks Regional Airport.”

But shortly after the new name was announced, several residents appeared before the board to object the removal of “Memorial” from the name. Aldermen voted to send the issue back to the Airport Advisory Board and to accept the board’s recommendation.

The new name will be registered with the FAA, but the words “At Veterans Memorial Field” will be left off those official documents. Those words will be included on new outdoor signage at the location.

In addition to the official name change, the airport’s FAA identifier has also been changed from “H-21” to “OZS” in recognition of its location at Lake of the Ozarks.

The revamping of the airport, along with the 1,000-foot runway extension, is being handled in three phases with the construction paid for by a series of aviation grants from the federal government and MoDOT. The first phase was completed last summer at a cost of $370,000 and included the rebuilding and expansion of the apron area and several hangars.

Phase two of the project will include an environmental study and the purchase of additional land needed to expand the runway.

The final phase — the actual construction of the runway extension — is expected to be completed in 2016.

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President John Mahama’s Private Jet Breaks Down

President John Mahama nearly missed the national Farmers’ day celebration yesterday as the Falcon 900 eX Presidential Jet on which he was scheduled to travel to Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region via Kumasi developed a technical problem. 

That was just after the President had finished a prayer meeting with some pastors, including internationally acclaimed T.D. Jakes and Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams of Christian Action Chapel International.

Mr.  Mahama and his entourage were supposed to leave Accra in the early hours of yesterday for Kumasi with the plane and continue to Sefwi Wiawso by road to grace the occasion and honor farmers who had excelled in their respective areas of operation this year.

Due to a technical hitch, the plane could not make the journey and another flight had to be arranged for the President and his retinue to go.

The program, which was under the theme, ‘Eat What You Grow’, was originally scheduled to begin at 10:00 am, but the presidential team arrived at about 1:00 pm and had to apologize to the gathering.

The President explained the reason for his late arrival at the venue saying, ‘We had a technical problem with the plane that we were coming with.’

Due to the incident, he indicated that he and his entourage had to ‘disembark and wait till another plane was secured to bring us.’

Angry Farmers  DAILY GUIDE gathered that majority of farmers and fishermen who thronged the Sefwi Wiawso College of Education park for the event were disappointed.

Most of the farmers were not happy at the late start of the program.

Commendation President Mahama commended the farmers for their contributions towards national development.

George Asamoah Amankwah of Europa Farms in the Brong-Ahafo Region was adjudged the National Best Farmer for 2014.

The 49-year-old father of three has been farming for 17 years now.

Amankwah has a 129- acre maize farm, 6,800-acre cocoa plantation, 20-acre pepper and okra farm,6,000-acre plantain farm, a 20-acre oil
palm plantation, 147 cattle and three fish ponds in which he breeds catfish and tilapia.

He has 22 staff and 50 casual workers. In his acceptance speech, Mr Amankwah expressed appreciation for the honor bestowed on him.

He called on government to consider outsourcing the tree planting component of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) program to private people as the private sector, he observed, had shown the capacity to do a better job over the years.

The National Best Farmer will have as his prize, a three-bedroom fully furnished house sponsored by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and a pick-up vehicle, among other things.

In all, 74 farmers and fishers were honored for their outstanding contribution to the economy.

Prior to last Friday’s event, the nominees visited some institutions in the Western Region, including the Takoradi Port.

At the port, Capt James Koranteng, the Acting Managing Director of the port, said there was dignity in farming and appealed to farmers not to relent in their efforts at producing to sustain the local economy.

The farmers also visited the Regional House of Chiefs where they interacted with the chiefs, headed by Osagyefo Dr Kwamina Ennimil IV.

From the house of chiefs the farmers went to the Naval Base at Sekondi for a sea trip.

The award winning farmers later visited the Takoradi Thermal Plant.

The Falcon 900 EX Presidential Jet, the purchase by the erstwhile Kufuor administration of which engendered much debate and widely condemned by the National Democratic Congress (NDC)—then in opposition—arrived in the country in August 2010, almost two years after the NDC assumed power.

It came to replace the 37-year-old Fokker 28 aircraft famously described as the ‘flying coffin’ which was used by former President Rawlings.

The National Farmers’ Day celebration, which was instituted in 1985, is aimed at recognizing and rewarding hardworking farmers for their
contribution to national development.

Government has since 1988 set aside every first Friday in December as a national holiday to honor the nation’s gallant farmers.


Airbus looks to claim bigger slice of corporate jet market with 330 Summit

Airbus hopes to grab a bigger share of the large corporate jet market with the launch of its wide-body A330 workhorse to customers in the region as the delayed rollout of its successor, the long-range A350, helps Boeing gain altitude over its fiercest rival.

With a price tag of less than US$200 million, according to the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) chief Benoit Defforge, the 330 Summit can fly between the Arabian Gulf and the US west coast non-stop and features a bedroom with en suite bathroom, an office and a conference and dining room. It can accommodate up to 90 passengers. That compares to a list price of $218m for the 787 business jet from Boeing.

“The ACJ330 provides Airbus with a short-term viable corporate jet rival to [the] 787-8/9 Boeing Business Jet [BBJ] until it can devise a longer-term base using the A350 platform,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with StrategicAero Research. “Given the pressures on businesses and individuals to be less active in the business jet market, demand for this jet will be piecemeal given that many such jets last for many years and are seldom replaced just because something newer exists.”

The first 787-8 BBJ – also known as the 787 VIP – was delivered in December last year, a few months after the commercial version was handed over to airlines. Its main feature is its fuel-efficiency thanks to a composite frame.

The first A350 is slated to be delivered to Qatar Airways next week and Airbus has an order backlog for 800 aircraft, leaving corporate clients facing a long wait for a bespoke model.

The Middle East is Airbus’s biggest market for corporate jets with more than half of its 170 private aircraft sold in the region, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, it said. The Middle East Business Aviation Association (Mebaa) – which is hosting an industry event kicking off in Dubai today – has predicted that the number of registered aircraft in the region will reach 1,200 by 2020, up from 530 in 2013.

However, Honeywell Aerospace said in a late October report that business jet demand from the Middle East and Africa had moved below its historical growth rate of 4 to 7 percent a year, citing ongoing conflict in the region, lower oil prices and health crises in Africa.

The dogfight between Boeing and Airbus for supremacy in the large business jet market is as keen as it is in the commercial sector, with total historical sales of 217 BBJs for Boeing and 178 ACJs for Airbus.

However, with austerity still top of mind for most companies, crude sliding 40 per cent since June and the 787 already being delivered to customers, the pressure is on Airbus.

“It’s a challenging market for everybody but it is a key business tool and allows executives to be more productive,” said David Velupillai, marketing director for Airbus Corporate Jets.

“Sales are less today than pre-2008 for all manufacturers. Today we would expect to sell 10 aircraft a year, whereas a few years ago we would have sold 15 aircraft a year. The market we are in is cyclical with peaks and troughs. We are driven by economic growth and the prospects for economic growth is good.”

The global business jet market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 9.4 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to Mebaa. 


University of Maryland drone test site open for business

The pickup truck speeds down the runway of the airfield here on the Eastern Shore, a small, unmanned aircraft in its payload. And then the aircraft takes flight, banking over the heads of the spectators.

After years of planning, the University of Maryland's drone test facility is open for business.

Unmanned aircraft systems are most familiar to Americans for their use in war to scout, spy and kill. Privacy groups have watched warily as law enforcement has started to experiment with them.

But there is a growing interest among businesses eager to employ them to deliver goods, monitor agriculture and measure environmental conditions, among other applications, and the Federal Aviation Administration is encouraging research into how they might safely be introduced into U.S. airspace.

Matt Scassero, director of the University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site, talks after the first test flight of the Talon 240 drone from Crisfield Airport.

The University of Maryland launches a Talon 240 drone from Crisfield Airport in a test flight.

But strict flight rules bar private companies from flying drones. Matt Scassero, the former Naval aviator who heads the test facility, says its aim is to "give industry a place to go."

Companies will be able to partner with the university to get their projects airborne, Scassero said; plans already are being put together to assess fish populations in the Chesapeake Bay, to examine power lines in Southern Maryland and to perform other jobs that humans find too "dirty, dull [or] dangerous."

On Friday, Scassero's team launched a Talon 240 drone — which, with its 20-foot wingspan, looks like an overgrown model airplane — from the Crisfield-Somerset Airport. Before the flight, the aircraft wiggled its wings and tail like a fledgling considering its first leap from the nest.

Scassero, a Naval Academy graduate, narrated the inaugural flight for the assembled dignitaries and reporters. Updates crackled over a walkie talkie; when word came that the team had hit a test objective, Sasscero pumped his fist to himself.

Despite the successful demonstration, would-be drone pilots still face obstacles to getting airborne.

Congress has directed the FAA to develop rules and policies that will allow drones to safely share the skies with manned aircraft. The University of Maryland site, and others like it around the country, are designed to give regulators more information to make their decisions.

For now, each location and unmanned system requires a separate FAA authorization to operate. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has permission to fly an agricultural research drone at only one of two farms it owns, and the test site team will have to submit fresh applications for future projects.

The FAA is considering a rule that would provide more flexibility for those who want to fly small drones at low altitudes. But Michael Toscano, head of a drone industry group, said it might be two years away. Regulations for larger aircraft, such as the one flown by the university on Friday, are likely more distant.

"With any revolutionary or disruptive technology it always outpaces the [regulations]," said Toscano, the president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. "You don't write laws for things you don't know about."

Privacy concerns are another barrier. Drones can stay aloft for long periods, and can monitor a wide area. The University of Maryland drone beamed pictures of the Bay shore back to a television screen at the airport.

Under the current flight restrictions, few organizations are flying drones in Maryland. The University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland Eastern Shore are the only groups to have applied for authorizations recently, according to a list the FAA released to freedom of information group Muckrock. The Navy and the Maryland National Guard fly some systems in Southern Maryland.

Still, there is great interest in flying and manufacturing unmanned aircraft in Maryland. On Friday, state economic development Secretary Dominick Murray called the potential of the technology "unbelievable."

The state's nascent drone industry includes two main components: the companies that design and make the systems in the Baltimore area — including UAV Solutions, Inc., which makes the Talon — and the facilities to fly them in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

Researchers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Southern Maryland are working on several sophisticated systems. They recently received two giant MQ-4C Triton aircraft, drones with the wingspan of a Boeing 737 that the Navy wants to use for long-range surveillance missions.

Researchers at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are looking at how drones can be used to support a concept known as precision agriculture, which involves targeting fertilizer only at the parts of a field that need it. Chris Hartman, one of the researchers, said getting the drone airborne and operating its sensors is only part of the work — the team then needs to figure out how to interpret the data and use it to make farming decisions.

On the other side of the Bay, the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative is interested in using drones to inspect its infrastructure and investigate downed lines in remote areas.

"If we were able to find out in a faster amount of time the extent of damage ... that helps us," spokesman Tom Dennison said.

On Friday, the Talon returned safely to the ground, flopping onto the runway on its belly before being hauled back onto the pickup truck.

The crew drove the drone, which has the strutting Terrapin logo of the University of Maryland on its tail, over to the airport terminal, where it basked in the glory of a successful flight.

Story, Video and Photos:

Serving a nation: Three who served in Civil Air Patrol receive posthumous honor

Norma Kraemer on Thursday holds the Civil Air Patrol jacket of her late husband, Vern Kraemer, in front of Vern’s American Tri-Wing airplane on display at the Rapid City Regional Airport. On behalf of her late husband, Norma is accepting the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday in Washington, D.C., in honor of his World War II contributions to the Civil Air Patrol.
Sean Ryan, Journal staff 

The three brave men with Black Hills connections had one mission: Keep America safe. 

 One of the three survived despite once flying his plane upside down in fog. Another was sure he had sunk a German U-boat. The third spent part of World War II towing a target so U.S. military pilots could sharpen their shooting.

Earl Wilkinson, Vernon Jeffries and Luverne "Vern" Kraemer, all skilled and unselfish pilots, technically were not servicemen in World War II and their unheralded contributions brought little recognition, until now.

They joined a fledgling outfit called the Civil Air Patrol, and even before Dec. 7, 1941 — 73 years ago today — the day on which Japan dragged the United States into the war, CAP pilots, all civilians, already were flying the coastlines of America, scanning the waters for German ships and submarines.

This week, Wilkinson, Jeffries and Kraemer will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 10, in the Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

The golden medallion stands for national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions, and has been presented to war heroes, actors, authors and entertainers, as well as pioneers in aeronautics, space, exploration, science and medicine.

Protecting the homefront

The Civil Air Patrol was founded Dec. 1, 1941, just six days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, according to Major Bruce Kipp, public affairs officer for the South Dakota Wing of the CAP. From March 1942 to August 1943, members of CAP’s coastal patrols, flying their own or borrowed planes, flew 24 million miles, over the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to ward off German U-boat attacks against U.S. shipping, Kipp said.

In a press release Kipp said CAP pilots spotted 173 U-boats and attacked 57. They escorted more than 5,600 convoys, and 65 CAP pilots were killed on duty.

According to their descendants, the three men with local ties loved flying and were proud of serving their country.

Aviation love affair

Each day, hundreds of travelers at Rapid City Regional Airport walk past an American Tri-Wing airplane suspended from the ceiling of the terminal. That versatile craft was built in 1952 by Vern Kraemer who, at 27, was among the first CAP members and flew hundreds of missions before settling in Rapid City and becoming a sought-after airplane mechanic.

Kraemer died in June 2012, at age 95, but his widow still sees him flying in the clouds.

“This man was Mr. Airplane,” said Norma Kraemer, a 65-year-old pilot and aviation historian who lives near Rapid City. “Vern spent his whole life in aviation. That’s all he thought about was airplanes.”

Kraemer was taught to fly by Clyde Ice, the iconic Spearfish pilot who was the first inductee into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame and who, in 1927, gave Charles Lindbergh tips before he flew from New York to Paris.

In the early days of World War II, Kraemer was in Atlantic City, N.J., making daily reconnaissance flights along the East Coast, escorting oil tankers and freighters ferrying critical war supplies.

“We really had undefended coasts,” said Norma, who wrote and published “South Dakota’s First Century of Flight" in 2010. “Germans would surface in their submarines at night and use their guns to strafe shipping.”

Eventually, Kraemer and his colleagues attached depth charges to the undersides of their aircraft to attack the U-boats.

“What Vern did was very dangerous,” she said. “Flying conditions on the Atlantic were awful, and they would often fly 150 miles out to sea. His closest scare was when he found himself upside down flying in his plane in a fog. Weather was the biggest enemy they had. Luckily he had the proper instrumentation to get himself back upright. This was not like flying to Wall Drug for breakfast.”

Although Norma will be in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to accept Vern’s Congressional Gold Medal, the timing, she said, is all wrong.

“Most of these people in CAP in World War II are now pushing up daisies,” she said.

Although Norma said she’ll treasure the bronze replica of the gold medal, she may not keep it.

“Maybe it’ll find a home at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth" Air Force Base, she said. "We’ll see. Who knows? I might enjoy it for awhile.”

'They definitely tagged it'

Vernon Jeffries grew up on farms in Iowa and Minnesota and, as a young pilot, volunteered for the CAP and also wound up in Atlantic City, flying aircraft armed with depth charges.

After his CAP service, Jeffries taught pilots in the U.S. Army Reserve, then he managed an airport in Blue Earth, Minn., sold planes, cars and trucks, crop-dusted and, in 1953, started a new career in therapeutic massage, which he practiced in Hot Springs and Rapid City until retiring in 1984. Jeffries died in April 2004, but his son said he always took pride in his CAP service.

“If he were still alive, he would be so proud of this honor,” said David, a lieutenant colonel in the South Dakota Wing of the CAP. “He was always upset that the Civil Air Patrol didn’t get recognition for what they did. They were actually combat war veterans. We lost quite a few airplanes during the war, and as combat veterans they got little recognition and no VA benefits.”

In a phone call from Arizona last week, David credited his father with introducing him to aviation when he was just 14. David served 26 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1991 as a master sergeant.

A New Underwood resident when he is not snow-birding in Arizona, David said his father rarely talked about his World War II service.

“He told one story of an encounter with what they thought was a Nazi submarine, and they thought they got it,” David said. “They didn’t get credit for sinking a submarine, because no one was captured and there was no real evidence. But they used the oil slick from the sub as a navigation checkpoint for the next six months. So, they definitely tagged it.”

David can't make the Washington trip, but said he’ll be there in spirit.

“I am very, very proud of him,” David said, choking up. “I’m proud of the fact he voluntarily set aside years of his life to do what he could in support of our country with almost no remuneration whatsoever. I would have expected our government to recognize the activities of that band of men and women long before this, before most of them had died."

Profound respect for a grandfather

Earl B. Wilkinson, was reared in Truman, Minn., served as an infantryman in World War I and grew interested in aviation in the early 1930s.

During the Great Depression, Wilkinson bought his first open-cockpit airplane, built a hangar and carved out a dirt airstrip in an alfalfa field, according to his grandson, Tom Senesac, of Rapid City. Wilkinson eventually upgraded and sold his old plane for a Lambert Monocoupe, which he flew until the summer of 1942, when joined the fledgling Civil Air Patrol in Atlantic City.

He mainly flew coastal patrols, along with some tow target work with the 22nd Tow Target Squadron, until August 1944, Senesac said. Wilkinson died in December 1954, at age 56, from a blood clot he may have developed following a shop accident.

“I never knew him, and I never got to meet him,” Senesac said. But hours of research, family stories and Wilkinson’s log books instilled in Senesac a profound sense of respect for his grandfather's CAP service.

“He left his Chevrolet dealership to serve his country while at the same time his son was serving in the Navy,” Senesac said. “A lot of people answered the call back then, just left their children and their families behind, and served their country. And they didn’t do it for the pay. They ate bananas and lived in Quonset huts and rode bicycles. They didn’t have much.”

Flying was his grandfather's passion.

“You could tell the guy loved to fly,” Senesac said. “He studied flying, stunt flying, and he was very proud to have flown in the CAP. He even had a thick sterling silver bracelet made that says, `Capt. Earl B. Wilkinson.’”

While Senesac, once a member of the Rapid City Wing of the CAP, cannot attend the ceremonies, he said the medallion will find an honored place in his home.

“I plan on putting it in a shadow box with mementos like his dog tags, photos of him flying, and things that are dear to the family,” Senesac said. “This will give him recognition that he answered the call, that he made a difference, that he served his country. Maybe someone will remember him.”

Story and Photo Gallery:

  Courtesy Norma Kraemer 
First Patrol Force, Atlantic City, N.J., pose for a group shot on Aug. 31, 1943, the last day of Atlantic City Squadron #1 of Civil Air Patrol. Commander was Major Wynatt Farr, seated in the center of the picture. The three planes in the picture left to right are a Fairchild 24, a Grumman Widgeon and a Waco. Vern Kraemer is kneeling at the lower left of the picture.

Challenges Await Year Two of American Airlines-US Airways Merger: CEO Doug Parker Talks About Preparations for Hardest Part of Integrating Two Big Airlines

The Wall Street Journal
By Jack Nicas

Dec. 6, 2014 1:00 p.m. ET

After cruising through the first year of the new American Airlines Group Inc. since its merger with US Airways, Chief Executive Doug Parker is preparing for the hardest part of integrating two big airlines: year two.

One of American’s biggest jobs for 2015 is joining employees of the two carriers under single contracts, and that is already proving difficult, with strains emerging recently between the company and its pilots and flight attendants.

The other is shifting US Airways data and systems over to American’s computers, a task that historically has led to system meltdowns that disrupted operations in other airline mergers.

“So far, so good, but this is at least a two-year process and the big things happen in the second year,” Mr. Parker said in an interview. “It’s early and we have a lot of work to do.”

On Monday, American intends to unveil plans for a series of investments in its planes and facilities, including new seats on older jets, Internet connections on more international flights, as well as upgraded passenger lounges and kiosks.

The improvements are part of a $2 billion spending plan from now through 2017 to refresh the airline’s aging fleet and keep up with the competition, which is also spending big on new seats and technology.

American is set to receive more than 500 new aircraft through 2022, replacing many existing planes. The upgrades focus on older aircraft that are sticking around, such as 35 Boeing Co. 757s that are getting lie-flat business-class seats and 93 Airbus Group NV A319s that are getting all new seats and power outlets for fliers.

The upgrades also include in-flight Internet on the company’s 757s and 767-300s, plus 400 new kiosks in gate areas for customers to secure last-minute upgrades and reprint boarding passes.

Mr. Parker, the former CEO of US Airways, started pushing for a merger shortly after American filed for bankruptcy protection in late 2011. American’s then-CEO, Tom Horton, resisted a merger, so Mr. Parker went to American’s employees and secured their support.

Now dealing with those employees is proving to be one of the most difficult steps in integrating the airlines. Last month, 24,000 flight attendants from the two carriers narrowly rejected a joint labor contract. Under rules in their merger contract, federal mediators will now help decide the attendants’ new agreement by February, which is likely to be less lucrative than the offer they rejected.

Meanwhile, American last month agreed to negotiate past a deadline it set for contract talks with pilots. Management can send negotiations to binding arbitration, but that process is likely to take months and could delay the integration if it doesn’t begin soon.

American’s labor negotiations are unusual because the company already agreed to interim accords with many employees before the merger, including special rules on how to reach true joint contracts.

“We’re trying really hard not to draw lines in the sand, but we all know we can’t let [negotiations] delay integration,” Mr. Parker said. “There’s no need for this to go on much longer.”

Mr. Parker has stressed that labor harmony is crucial to a successful integration. United Continental Holdings Inc. has still yet to reach joint contracts with all of its employees since the 2010 merger between United and Continental Airlines.

In the first half of 2015, American expects to receive recognition as one airline from federal regulators and merge its frequent-flier loyalty programs.

In the second half, American will shift US Airways’ reservations system, which stores and handles all its data on operations, employees and customers, over to American’s system. The transition is an enormous undertaking that airlines in past mergers have done all at once, often creating disruptions when things go wrong. Mr. Parker said American would instead meld the systems gradually to mitigate risk.

When American and US Airways merged a year ago, many observers wondered whether eight hub airports—five from American and three from US Airways—were too many for one network. Mr. Parker rejected the argument and has stuck to that stance after seeing the hubs work together for months. “Each of the hubs are doing better now than before,” he said, adding that he expects none of the cities to lose their hub status.

Mr. Parker said the most surprising thing of the past year was how many things needed improving at American once he arrived from US Airways. He said the carrier was inefficient and accepting of common issues, such as broken seats and frequent delays.

“As we looked under the hood, there was more opportunity than we thought there was going to be,” he said. “That’s all good. Those are all things we know how to fix.”

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