Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tweed-New Haven Airport (KHVN), New Haven, Connecticut: Runway expansion project on hold

NEW HAVEN >> Tweed New Haven Regional Airport’s bid to pave one of the two runway safety areas at the end of the 5,600-foot main runway is on hold until a question of whether the federal government will be the project’s sponsor is resolved, officials said Wednesday.

The issue is in limbo pending a meeting that U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, has set up between Tweed officials and Federal Aviation Administration officials in Washington, D.C., Tweed New Haven Airport Authority Executive Director Tim Larson said Wednesday.

New Haven officials, led by Mayor Toni Harp, want to pave one of the runway safety areas to create a longer usable runway for takeoffs in an effort to make the airport more attractive for additional air service.

But a state bill that would have appropriated $2 million for the job died in committee last winter, but raised the hackles of some who felt it violated a 2009 “Memorandum of Understanding” between the city and East Haven that said Tweed would not pave the safety areas.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo wrote a blistering letter in July, accusing Harp of keeping him out of talks about the bill. Maturo said he found it “disconcerting” that there was “no collaboration by the authority, legislators or the city of New Haven with East Haven.

Larson told the authority Wednesday that while Tweed has signed a $450,000 contract with Hoyle Tanner & Associates Inc., to do engineering work, “right now we’re in a holding pattern ... trying to get the FAA on board so we won’t have to go do things over again.

“Our hope is to get the FAA to pay for it,” Larson told the authority. The problem is that the FAA says it doesn’t currently have funds available for the job, he said.

The other option would be to go through state channels and try to get the state to pay for it, he said.

“We’re at the point where we have to determine who will be our sponsor on this,” he said.

Tweed has spent about $54,000 of its own funds so far, said Chuck Kurtz, vice president for engineering and development for Avports, the company that manages Tweed on contract for the authority.

A key component of the preparation for any work on the runway safety areas is an environmental impact assessment and, at this point, “we’re in the part of the environmental assessment that calls for a (National Environmental Policy Act) review,” Kurtz said.

But “we’re at a standstill” because “usually the federal agency is the sponsor of the project,” he said.

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Bell 407, Med-Trans Corporation, N445MT: Accident occurred January 02, 2013 in Clear Lake, Iowa

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA122
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in Clear Lake, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/12/2015
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER 407, registration: N445MT
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

GPS tracking data revealed that, after departure, the helicopter proceeded westbound about 600 ft above ground level (agl), following a roadway. About 6 minutes after liftoff, when the helicopter was about 3/4 mile south of the accident site, it turned right and became established on a northerly course. The helicopter subsequently turned left and appeared to be on a southerly heading at the final data point. Shortly before beginning the left turn, the helicopter entered a climb, reached an altitude of about 1,800 ft agl, and then entered a descent that continued until impact. Weather observations from the nearest Automated Surface Observing System, located about 7 miles east of the accident site, indicated that the ceilings and visibility appeared to be adequate for nighttime helicopter operations and did not detect any freezing precipitation. Although an airmen’s meteorological information advisory for icing conditions was current for the route of flight, and several pilot reports of icing conditions had been filed, none of the reports were in the immediate vicinity of the intended route of flight. Witnesses and first responders reported mist, drizzle, and icy road conditions at the time of the accident. It is likely that the pilot inadvertently encountered localized icing conditions, which resulted in his subsequent in-flight loss of helicopter control. A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed no preimpact failures or malfunctions. The engine control unit recorded engine torque, engine overspeed, and rotor overspeed events; however, due to their timing and nature, the events were likely a result of damage that occurred during the impact sequence. Evidence also indicated that the cyclic centering, engine overspeed, and hydraulic system warning lights illuminated; it is also likely that their illumination was associated with the impact sequence. Further, the engine anti-ice status light was illuminated, which was consistent with the activation of the anti-ice system at some point during the accident flight.

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

The pilot’s inadvertent encounter with localized icing conditions and his subsequent in-flight loss of helicopter control.


On January 2, 2013, at 2057 central standard time, a Bell Helicopter model 407, N445MT, impacted terrain near Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot and two medical crew members sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to Suntrust Equipment Leasing & Finance Corporation and operated by Med-Trans Corporation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on a company flight plan in accordance with Part 135 of the aviation regulations. A flight plan was not filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. The flight originated from the Mercy Medical Center, Mason City, Iowa, about 2049, with an intended destination of the Palo Alto County Hospital, (IA76), Emmetsburg, Iowa.

A witness located about 1 mile south of the accident site, reported observing the helicopter as it approached from the east. He noted that it appeared to slow and then turn to the north. When he looked again, the helicopter appeared to descend straight down. He subsequently went back into his house and called 911. He described the current weather conditions as "misty," with a light wind.

A second witness reported that he was working in his garage when he heard the helicopter. He stated that the sound of the helicopter changed as if it was turning, followed by what he described as a "thump" and then everything was quiet. He subsequently responded to the accident with the Ventura Fire Department. He reported that there was a coating of ice on his truck windshield that the wipers would not clear. He decided to drive another car to the fire stations because it had been parked in the garage. He was on the third fire truck out of the station and as they were waiting to cross Highway 18 at Balsam Avenue, they observed a Clear Lake police car, also responding to the accident, slide through the intersection. They informed dispatch to advise following units to expect slick road conditions. He noted that there was a haze in the air, which was evident when looking toward a street light; however, he did not recall any precipitation at the time.

A pilot located at the Mason City Municipal Airport (MCW) reported that he saw the helicopter fly overhead and estimated its altitude as 300 feet above ground level (agl). He was leaving the airport at that time and noted there was a glaze of ice on his car. He added that the roads were icy as he drove out of the airport and onto Highway 18. He commented that he had flown into Mason City about 1830 and encountered some light rime ice while flying through a cloud.

GPS tracking data depicted the helicopter at the medical center at 2049:44 (hhmm:ss). After liftoff, the helicopter proceeded westbound along Highway 18 about 1,800 feet mean sea level (msl). The helicopter passed just south of the Mason City airport at 2052:44. About 2056:09, the helicopter entered a right turn, becoming established on a northbound course about 10 seconds later. The helicopter simultaneously entered a climb, ultimately reaching approximately 2,995 feet msl at 2057:04. About one minute prior to reaching the apex of the climb, the helicopter entered a left turn, which continued until the helicopter was established on a southbound course. The final tracking data point was recorded at 2057:14. The final data point was located about 774 feet north of the accident site, with an associated altitude of 2,723 feet msl. The published field elevation of the Mason City airport was 1,214 feet.

The helicopter impacted a harvested agricultural field. The main wreckage came to rest along a line of trees and bushes separating the fields. The debris path was about 100 feet long and was oriented on a 246-degree magnetic bearing.

Full narrative:


VENTURA | A trial date has been set for a lawsuit involving the Mercy Air Med helicopter that crashed on Jan. 2, 2013, near Ventura killing three people.

The helicopter was carrying pilot Gene Grell, nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau and paramedic Russ Piehl. They were on their way to pick up a patient in Emmetsburg when the helicopter crashed into a farm field.

Lair-Langenbau's husband, Jay Langenbau; two minor children; and her parents Gerald and Karen Lair, filed the lawsuit in Cerro Gordo County District Court in July 2013. It was moved to federal court the next month.

The defendant in the case is Med-Trans Corp., Lewisville, Texas, which operates the helicopter service under contract to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. The family is alleging negligence on the parts of Med-Trans Corp. and Grell for taking off in icy conditions.

The lawsuit had been on hold until the helicopter wreckage and a factual report were released by the National Transportation Safety Board. The wreckage was released in January 2014 and the report on Aug. 11, 2014.

The factual report stated that the helicopter was not equipped to fly in icy conditions. A probable cause has not been released yet.

A jury trial has now been set for Nov. 9, 2015, in the U.S. Courthouse, Sioux City.

The suit claims Med-Trans knew that Bell 407 helicopters were not safe to operate in certain weather conditions, including icing.

Also, the suit says Med-Trans is liable for the actions of Grell who, the suit claims, did not properly assess the weather before taking off, failed to abort the flight when he knew of the icing conditions, improperly flew the helicopter and failed to maintain control over it, and failed to obtain proper weather data prior to the flight.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for the alleged wrongful death of Lair-Langenbau, punitive damages sufficient to punish and deter Med-Trans from further wrongdoing, court costs of the plaintiffs, and any further relief the court deems appropriate.

- Source:

Special Delivery From Korea to the Poconos

Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County-A helicopter delivered an aircraft weighing over six-tons to the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County on Wednesday.

The twin engine plane that is no longer used, but in the past it flew in several missions in Korea.

Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard picked it up at the Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport - where it has been stored for the last month. 

The aircraft will now be on permanent display at the Army Depot.

- Source:

Congested airport ramps risky before and after flights

Cesar Valenzuela died Feb. 21 at Los Angeles International Airport when he was thrown from his tow tractor while hustling to pick up airline baggage. The 51-year-old father of four was found pinned beneath one of the vehicle's tires.

"I just felt like I was in hell at that moment," Ulbita Ramirez, his partner of 24 years and mother of his twin sons, said of being notified of his death. "They were told if the plane was late, it would cost them a lot of money. They always would be rushed."

Valenzuela's employer, Menzies Aviation, was fined $77,250 by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety lapses, including not having a seat belt on the vehicle.

Valenzuela's death illustrates the safety risks on airport ramps, often congested areas around terminals where planes are parked, baggage is loaded and unloaded, tanks are refueled and catering is delivered. He was one of 99 people killed in airport ramp accidents since 2001, according to data compiled by the Service Employees International Union.

Airport ramp deaths and injuries aren't tabulated by the government because they could be investigated by one of three agencies, depending on the circumstances: the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Ground accidents are a serious problem, costing airlines an estimated $10 billion in 27,000 incidents worldwide each year, including personal injuries and damaged aircraft and facilities, according to airline data analyzed by the Flight Safety Foundation, an industry-sponsored group that researches aviation.

One of the scariest incidents occurred Dec. 26, 2005, when an Alaska Airlines MD-83 was bumped by a baggage cart at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

As the plane climbed to 26,000 feet with 142 people aboard, p​assengers heard a loud bang before the cabin depressurized, according to the NTSB investigation.

The NTSB found a 12-inch-by-6-inch hole in the fuselage and determined the probable cause was that the baggage handler inadvertently damaged the bulkhead by bumping into it.

To improve safety beyond the requirements of its broader airport operations manual, a global airline group published a Ground Operations Manual in 2011 on the best ways for contractors to secure a plane, bring baggage, food and fuel trucks close to the fuselage, and load a plane. Voluntary participation in the safety program is growing at nearly 200 airports worldwide.

"Safety is the No. 1 issue," said Joseph Suidan, head of ground operations for the creator of the manual, the International Air Transport Association, which represents 240 airlines worldwide.


The Government Accountability Office found the lack of a comprehensive safety program for airport ramp areas stems from the divided responsibilities for areas around planes. Airports and airlines control the areas immediately around the gates, where accidents are investigated by OSHA or the NTSB, while the FAA oversees taxiways and runways.

Greg Raiff, CEO of consultant Private Jet Services, which lines up chartered planes for clients, said cost pressures have tightened training, reduced down time for planes, increased the length of shifts for ramp workers and moved toward part-time workers with higher turnover.

"All of that leads to increased incidents, reduced training, reduced confidence in those teams," Raiff said.


In January 2012, a Southwest Airlines baggage-cart driver died at Washington's Dulles International Airport when his tug was struck by a passenger shuttle bus, according to the OSHA investigation.

After the accident, the airport added strobe lights to the passenger buses, put safety reflectors on all four sides of ground-service vehicles and required drivers to use seat belts in vehicles that have them, said Rob Yingling, a spokesman for the authority overseeing Dulles and Reagan airports.

"We discuss all incidents, regardless of severity, and based on these discussions, we devise and implement safety improvements," Yingling said.

In August 2010, a Delta Air Lines worker died after falling off his baggage tug in Atlanta. The airline reached an agreement with OSHA in April 2012 to have seat belts on 6,000 vehicles and to ensure that 16,000 workers use them – long before Valenzuela's death.

Ramp accidents can also cause serious injuries. In October 2012, a US Airways worker in San Francisco was hospitalized with a broken left femur and ankle after falling 10 feet onto the tarmac from a jet bridge after another worker moved the bridge away from the plane.

After the incident, the airport changed its rules to require a guide-person be present for any jet-bridge movement, according to spokesman Doug Yakel. The airport has a team that holds monthly safety meetings, investigates incidents, leads training in activities such as ramp driving and issues citations and fines for violations, he said.


NTSB investigators found workers cutting corners to move planes on the tarmac, including at least two incidents since 2008 when crews were struggling to remove tow bars that became stuck on nose wheels after tugs pushed planes away from gates.

In May 2011 in Los Angeles, a United 757-222 fractured a worker's foot after he asked the pilots to release the plane's parking brake – even though the company's flight manual cautions crews not to do that.

Even without injuries, accidents can take planes out of service for repairs and inspections.

In August 2014, a runaway baggage cart pierced the side of a Southwest Airlines 737-700 in Salt Lake City. The last section of a Delta bag cart had jarred loose while passing over a utility-tunnel cover.

The airport raised the concrete cover to make it flush with the tarmac and cautioned tug drivers about speed and keeping carts connected, according to spokeswoman Barbara Gann.


Despite the lack of coordination, airports and airlines have taken steps to improve safety.

Alaska Airlines has reduced the number of ground-damage incidents to 1.02 per 10,000 departures this year, compared with a rate of 3.61 in 2005 when the plane depressurized, according to spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.

"This has been achieved by putting in place and auditing thousands of procedures every month to ensure our flights and the people who work in our operation are safe at all times," Egan said. "The aim is to discourage rushing and empower employees to stop, when necessary, to ensure that everything is safe moving forward."

After the Alaska incident, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport became the first U.S. airport to adopt international ground-crew standards from the International Air Transport Association, according to airport spokesman Perry Cooper.

The airport also developed a safety program to analyze why incidents are happening at a specific gate or other location and to remedy the problem, Cooper said.

The airline group IATA created its global manual for ground operations after noticing the confusion that could result from 100 airlines at an airport each having their own rules for how to park planes or service them, Suidan said.

"That complexity is very dangerous," Suidan said. "When you have a large aircraft, you have a lot of ground-support equipment around. It makes it like a traffic jam, almost like on the highway."

So far, 195 airports worldwide are participating in the program, and 157 ground-service companies are on a registry as performing the best practices.

"If you hit an aircraft, say it," Suidan said. "Don't be shy, because that could create a major problem."

The Service Employees International Union and Menzies Aviation reached an agreement announcing a partnership to promote safe working conditions with training programs, vehicle inspections and better communications between workers and the company based in Scotland.

"All stakeholders – the union, the government, airlines and airports -- need to come to the same table and come across with something that we can move to the whole industry," said Valarie Long, SEIU's executive vice president. "We see glimmers of hope."

Original article can be found at:

Letters To The Editor: An airport with many neighbors - Montgomery County Airpark (KGAI), Gaithersburg, Maryland

“First came the airpark . . .” is the response often proffered when neighbors complain about the Montgomery County Airpark [“Suburban sprawl swallowed airpark,” front page, Dec. 15]. Many seem to neglect the fact that it was the airport that brought jet airplanes to the neighborhood. Jets — such as the one involved in a Dec. 8 crash — came after the houses.

I have lived near the airpark for more than 25 years. It used to host biplanes and, on occasion, a hot-air balloon or two. I once woke up to find an errant balloonist had landed outside my bedroom window. The neighbors gathered with their coffee to watch.

Jets don’t land outside your bedroom window. 

Move the jets to Frederick Municipal Airport.

We may find out pilot error caused the Dec. 8 crash, but burning jet fuel made it a tragedy. 

Montgomery County should rethink the airpark.

John Moran, Laytonsville

The article “Suburban sprawl swallowed airpark” quoted a former Air Force tower controller saying that the Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 “banked too sharply, losing lift, and crashed directly down.”

The Dec. 10 Metro article “Plane pitched and rolled before hitting house” stated that the flight recorder warned the pilot for 20 seconds of an imminent stall because the aircraft was moving too slowly. 

Twenty seconds is a very long time in a plane for a warning.

If the pilot did bank sharply and the plane stalled, the plane would have crashed within seconds.

Perhaps the pilot had a medical emergency during landing, such as a heart attack or stroke.

James Blasic, Potomac

- Source:

NTSB Identification: DCA15MA029
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 08, 2014 in Gaithersburg, MD
Aircraft: EMBRAER EMB-500, registration: N100EQ
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 8, 2014, about 1041 Eastern Standard Time (EST), an Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100, N100EQ, impacted terrain and houses about 0.75 miles short of runway 14 while on approach to Montgomery County Airpark (GAI), Gaithersburg, Maryland. The airline transport rated pilot and two passengers were fatally injured as well as three persons on the ground. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and ensuing fire. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and the flight was operating on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The airplane was registered to and operated by Sage Aviation LLC., of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The flight originated from Horace Williams Airport (IGX), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with GAI as its intended destination.

 (The audio was posted by news helicopter pilot Brad Freitas)

Flying an Airplane for an Hour Exposes Pilots to as Much Radiation as a Tanning Bed: Airplane windshields allow UV radiation to enter the cockpit, giving pilots a dose similar to dangerous levels found in tanning beds

The daily commute for airline pilots could be the equivalent of riding to work in a tanning bed, suggests a new study. Airplane windshields can block some ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in sunlight, but a significant amount passes directly into the cockpit. This puts the crew at risk of developing melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer.

In the study, published in JAMA Dermatology, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, compared the level of UV radiation in the cockpit of a general aviation turboprop airplane with the dose produced by a standard tanning bed.

Almost an Hour of Flying Equals 20 Minutes of Tanning

The researchers took measurements in a plane at several elevations in San Jose, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. While the plane’s windshield blocked most of the UV-B radiation, it allowed UV-A radiation, which is the same type produced by the tanning bed tested, to pass through.

“Pilots flying for 56.6 minutes at 30,000 feet receive the same amount of UV-A [cancer-causing] effective radiation as that from a 20-minute tanning bed session,” the authors write in the paper.

Most commercial aircraft fly at this altitude, where the level of UV radiation is double that found at ground level. UV radiation reaching the cockpit can also increase when the plane flies over thick cloud cover or snow fields, which can reflect up to 85 percent of the UV radiation.

The greater UV-A radiation exposure in the cockpit results from the design of the airplane’s windshield. Tests have shown that plastic and glass windshields can block most of the UV-B radiation. However, up to 54 percent of UV-A radiation is able to get through the windshields, with plastic blocking more of this type.

Strong Link Between UV Rays and Melanoma

The link between UV-A radiation and melanoma is well established. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime. Excessive exposure to UV radiation is a preventable cause of melanoma. People who live closer to the equator, where the sun is more intense, and those who use tanning beds are at an increased risk.

In previous research, published in JAMA Dermatology, an analysis of 19 studies showed that pilots are twice as likely as the general population to develop melanoma and 42 percent more likely to die from it. 

Additional research has found that this increased risk exists even when taking into account the pilots’ other sun exposure, including their history of sunburns, use of tanning beds, and numbers of sunny vacations.

The new study, however, is the first one to directly test the level of UV radiation that pilots are exposed to in the cockpit. Because only one plane was tested, though, the researchers suggest future studies be conducted on more types of aircraft. This could establish safety guidelines that would limit UV exposure for pilots.

“We believe that better UV protection on aircraft windshields is necessary to offer cabin crew a hazard-free work environment,” the authors write. “We strongly recommend the use of sunscreens and periodical skin checks for pilots and cabin crew.”


Robert Hamilton: Engineering leader retires, will be very active in community

Robert Hamilton, co-founder and former CEO of Gewalt Hamilton Associates Inc., has retired after a successful 40-year career, but the civil engineer is far from stepping away from his many passions. 

Hamilton, who with his partners, turned his two-member engineering consulting firm into a thriving business with 80+ employees, has long been known for his technical expertise, engaging and infectious personality, inspirational leadership style and dedication to community service.

The Lake County resident will fill his retirement days with activities that reflect those traits, as he spends more time coordinating internships for low-income minority students from Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep; sharing his love of flight by offering free airplane rides to children through the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program (397 rides to date); and providing free air transportation for Angel Flight, an organization that connects volunteer pilots with patients who are financially distressed or in a time-critical, non-emergency situation (108 flights to date). In addition, Bob serves on the Board of Advisors for the University of Detroit-Mercy, his undergrad Alma Mater. 

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Beech 58P Baron, N4618M

Vincent Salzano, left, and Armando Salzano were sentenced Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in federal court in downtown Baton Rouge after officals say they were caught in October 2013 trying to transport 70 pounds of cocaine on a small airplane, stopping in Baton Rouge to refuel.
 (East Baton Rouge Parish Jail)

 Baton Rouge Police officer Luke Cowart and K9 Roux assisted in the search of the plane and found 10 kilos of cocaine, which hadn't been located in the initial search.

A father and son arrested in Baton Rouge last year while trying to transport more than 70 pounds of cocaine on a small, private airplane were sentenced December 17th, 2014 in federal court to serve a total of seven years in prison.

Officials say the men, Vincent Salzano, 57, and Armando Salzano, 33, both of Denver, were caught with the drugs while fueling up at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport on their way to transport 30 packaged bundles (72 pounds) of cocaine to Atlanta from McAllen, Texas.

The pair was convicted of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The elder Salzano was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge to five years in prison, with another three years on supervised release and a $5,000 fine, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Walt Green's Office. The son was sentenced to four years in prison, two years of supervised release and a $30,000 fine.

Both were also ordered to forfeit any and all property used to commit the offense, presumably including the Beechcraft 58P Baron they touched down in Louisiana. 

A third passenger, Mohammad Nekouie, was initially arrested in the case, as well. But charges against him were later dropped. Nekouie is Vincent Salzano's son-in-law.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reportedly notified Louisiana State Police prior to the arrests that an aircraft with a suspicious flight pattern was going to land at the airport. Officials met the plane when it landed, searched the plane and discovered 71.8 pounds of cocaine, according to records. 

At the time of the incident, the Baton Rouge Police Department said Officer Luke Cowart and K9 officer Roux assisted in the search, finding 10 kilos, or about 22 pounds of the cocaine, which hadn't been located in the initial search.

The indictment says on October 8th, the elder Salzano met with "other individuals" and boarded his private plane to Atlanta. The following day, he allegedly flew from Atlanta to the McAllen area, where he deplaned, left the airport and obtained the drug bundles. He and "another individual " boarded the plane and intended to fly back to Atlanta but were arrested upon refueling in at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. 

McAllen is located on the western side of the southern tip of Texas and shares a small border with Mexico.

Sun Country adds flights for Citrus Bowl

When the University of Minnesota’s football team lands a spot in the prestigious Citrus Bowl, people take notice. That includes the staff of Sun Country Airlines.

The Mendota Heights-based carrier announced Wednesday that it is adding flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Orlando International airports for people heading to the New Year’s Day bowl game.

The added flights from MSP to Orlando are scheduled for Dec. 31 and the morning of Jan. 1. Extra flights will return to MSP on Jan. 1, 3 and 4. The Jan. 1 return flight is a red-eye that departs at 11:30 p.m., landing in the Twin Cities at 1:45 a.m. on Jan. 2. These flights are in addition to regularly scheduled Sun Country flights between the two locations.

Shortly after the announcement, a round-trip with an outbound seat on the Jan. 1, 6:15 a.m. flight and returning on the red-eye flight that evening rang up at $373. Costs for other sequences were similar.

No need to bring the gold and maroon scarves and wool caps. The average high on New Year’s Day in the Orlando area is 68 degrees; the average low is a balmy 49 degrees.

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Field of Green? With an influx of new businesses, the county airport prepares for takeoff: Richmond Executive – Chesterfield County Airport (KFCI), Richmond, Virginia

Its turbines roaring, an olive drab HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter of the Virginia Air National Guard revs up its blades as a small Cessna lines up for takeoff in the distance. Assorted on the tarmac are several sleek corporate jets – some capable of transoceanic travel – available for hire.

The site is Chesterfield County Airport, but if one is a corporate aviation dispatcher looking on a website, it pops up on the screen as Richmond Executive Airport. The name shift is part of a 3-year-old branding campaign to lure civil and general aviation travelers as the Richmond area ramps up with more multinational companies.

“If you are a corporate aviation dispatcher in Van Nuys, California, and your client wants to fly in to the Richmond area, he’s not likely to recognize the Chesterfield name,” says Woody Carr, chief information manager of the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority.

To most Chesterfield residents, the airport at state Route 288 and Iron Bridge Road is the same old strip with the same name that it’s always been – a place where singlepropeller aircraft and small jets come and go. It’s also known for its occasional air shows and exhibits of vintage World War II combat aircraft. The official name is still the Chesterfield County Airport.

But three years ago, a survey by the National Business Aviation Association in Washington, D.C., showed that commercial aviation dispatchers, perhaps the most important players in determining what airport private corporate fliers choose, had little idea where Chesterfield was. If they wanted to go to Richmond, they would often simply go to the much larger Richmond International Airport.

Hence the county, economic development officials and Dominion Aviation, the fixed-base operator, which provides services at the airport, got together and created the new name, “Richmond Executive Airport,” with a spiffy black-and-white logo. They use it online and peddle it at conferences and conventions favored by commercial aviation players, especially dispatchers.

“We’re trying to attract all types of aviation,” says Patrick Driscoll, airport administrator. “We’re interested in attracting more corporate jets and we’ve been designated a ‘reliever’ airport to take off stress at Richmond International.” The airport is now home to about 120 private aircraft, including 13 corporate jets operated by Dominion. The Virginia State Police operates its aviation unit there and the Virginia Air National Guard keeps about five helicopters, including three Black Hawks, on site.

Expanding corporate traffic is an important challenge since the airport will be extending its runway from 5,500 feet to 6,300 feet by 2019. That won’t be enough to handle large commercial jetliners, but it will let long-range corporate jets such as Gulfstreams and Cessna Citations take off and land with more fuel (shorter runways have weight restrictions). Thomas T. “Mike” Mickel, president of Dominion Aviation, says that’s important because corporate executives traveling across the country would prefer to do so in nonstop flights.

Whether it is called “Chesterfield” or “Richmond Executive,” the airfield does have some clear advantages. Its location next to Route 288, just a few miles from Interstate 95, gives travelers easy access to downtown Richmond and the Short Pump and West Creek business corridors west of Richmond. It’s a quick drive to some new businesses in Chesterfield, such as the Amazon distribution center and the proposed, $2 billion paper mill by Chinese firm Shandong Tranlin on the James River.

Longtime real estate developer Sidney Gunst, one of the masterminds behind Innsbrook in the late 1970s and a private pilot, has been flying out of the Chesterfield airport for 25 years. He sees the branding campaign as a bright idea. “A lot of outer-ring airports have done this to promote economic development. It’s a good idea,” he says, adding that he’s seen an uptick in corporate jets at the county airport recently.

The only other general aviation airport in the metro area is in Hanover, which is slightly smaller in size, but just as accessible from western Henrico and downtown Richmond. But for businesses south of the James, the Chesterfield airport has the superior location and is far more accessible via I-95.

But not everyone is sold. George Hoffer, an economics professor and transportation expert at the University of Richmond, says he isn’t certain that Chesterfield would have much of an advantage over Richmond International for corporate travel. Richmond International “isn’t that congested now and has the services. I would think [the Chesterfield airport] would only be competitive on price for landing fees and services,” he says.

Chesterfield may hold the hole card there. Richmond Jet Center, a fixed-based operator at Richmond International, says it costs $200 in landing fees to bring in a high-end Citation V jet. At Dominion Aviation in Chesterfield, landing fees are waived if the plane picks up fuel. The airport can handle international flights as well (U.S. Customs agents can be called in to handle incoming flights).

The branding campaign hasn’t produced clear results yet. Mickel says there has been a marginal increase in corporate traffic at Chesterfield. But he adds it is important to see progress in the long term. “We are now just getting back to levels before the economic downturn,” he says.

If the current run of company recruitment continues, the Richmond Executive Airport, aka Chesterfield County Airport, is bound to get busier, especially if far-away dispatchers in Omaha or other spots recognize it as being in the greater Richmond area.

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Beech A36 Bonanza, N1097Z: Incident occurred December 17, 2014 at Johnson County Executive Airport (KOJC), Olathe, Kansas

Event Type: Incident

Highest Injury: None


Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Lockheed Martin settles $1.3B class action lawsuit over 401k

Lockheed Martin has agreed to settle an eight-year-old class action lawsuit over 401K funds on the eve of a trial.

The lawsuit alleged losses of about $1.3 billion for a class of around 120,000 employees, according to court documents. Lockheed employees Anthony Abbott and Eric Fankhauser, of Illinois, were the representative plaintiffs in the suit, represented by St. Louis attorneys at Schlichter, Bogard and Denton.

A bench trial had been scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Dec. 16 before U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan in East St. Louis.

On that morning, a note was filed on the case docket saying, “The parties having announced they have reached a provisional settlement, today's Bench Trial is CANCELLED.”

The lawsuit alleged that Lockheed mismanaged the retirement plans, paying excessive administrative fees and “used a higher-cost version of the American Century Growth Fund than was available.” It also alleged that plan administrators failed to recover indirect compensation that the plan bookeepers received.

The company has been fighting the lawsuit since it was filed in 2006 and denied any breach of its fiduciary duty. The latest time period outlined in allegations was 2008, according to a judge's order that summarized the facts of the case.

Lockheed’s website says it currently employs about 113,000 employees worldwide. The company has about 11,000 employees in Florida, including more than 6,000 in the Orlando metropolitan area. The company’s Missiles and Fire Control facility in South Orlando alone employs thousands.

A spokeswoman for Lockheed confirmed that the company reached an agreement to settle, but details of the settlement were still being finalized.


Crash confirms residents’ worst fears: Years ago, possibility of air disasters was considered remote

It was only a matter of time, some residents say.

The small jet that crashed into a Gaithersburg neighborhood last week — killing the three people on board as well as a mother and two young children who hid in a second-floor bathroom after debris set their house ablaze — was on approach to land at the Montgomery County Airpark.

But first, it flew over several residential developments that weren’t there when the airport opened in 1959.

“Too much development has been allowed near the airport and something like this was inevitably going to happen,” said Rosemary Arkoian, one of six residents from the area surrounding the airport who sit on the county’s Airpark Liaison Committee, which also includes representatives from the County Council, the county planning department, local business, pilots and the airport itself.

The committee was established in 1990 to provide a forum to discuss issues and concerns about the airport.

Arkoian, who lives north and west of the airport, said she moved to the area in 1978, before many neighborhoods had been built.

The Hunters Woods development, where the crash occurred, was built in about 1982, according to the Montgomery County Planning Department.

Several areas of eastern Montgomery Village, including the Holly Pointe, Meadowgate and Ashford neighborhoods, were built between 1982 and 1997. Other neighborhoods, such as Partridge Place and Whetstone, were built in 1976 and 1970, respectively. None of the neighborhoods in the area existed when the airport was built in 1959.

The last master plan for the Gaithersburg area was written in 1985, said Glenn Kreger, the planning department’s current division chief for the area that includes Gaithersburg and the airport.

At the time, concerns regarding the airport were primarily due to noise, said Kreger, who was not one of the plan’s authors. Crashes were considered, but they weren’t believed to be likely, he said.

The plan itself, which can be read on the planning department’s website, calls for nonresidential uses in the areas most heavily impacted by noise from the airport, and explains that “while the likelihood of planes crashing into homes is extremely remote, development in the vicinity of the Airpark should, if possible, provide contiguous open space for possible emergency landings.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has said he wants a review of the airport and its operations, telling Montgomery Community Media on Thursday that although the recent crash was an unusual incident, he wanted to see if there were lessons that could be learned from the incident.

Howard Layer, who chairs the liaison committee, said the recent crash raised the same concern he’s had since moving to the area in 1966: there was residential zoning in place too close to the airport. That shouldn’t have been allowed, Layer said.

Safety concerns have been accompanied by complaints about airplane noise, particularly from small aircraft whose pilots practice “touch and go” landings, where a plane touches down and then quickly takes off again.

The flight pattern requires these pilots to take a right turn over East Montgomery Village at a relatively low altitude, meaning residents in those areas get the brunt of the engine noise, said Jeff Zyontz, who is the County Council’s representative on the liaison committee.

Layer said he believes the people have a legitimate complaint, and that in summer low-flying craft are common.

But such flight patterns don’t seem to have had any bearing on last week’s crash, said Keith Miller, executive director of the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, which runs the airport.

The position of the plane — a two-engine jet that seats six — was consistent with a final runway approach before landing; the plane would have been in that position, relative to the runway, regardless of the airport’s flight patterns, Miller said.

Miller said the authority was working with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, and that the investigation needed to be given time to proceed.

“I think our thoughts and prayers are out to all the families involved,” Miller said, adding that the outpouring of support was “amazing.”

The plane, an Embraer Phenom 100, was flying in from North Carolina. Michael Rosenberg, 66, David Hartman, 52, and Chijioke Ogbuka, 31, all from Raleigh, N.C., were on board the plane, and all three died of multiple traumatic injuries, according to county police.

The three people in the home — Marie Gemmell, 36, and her sons, Cole, 3, and Devin, 1½ months — died of smoke inhalation after one of the plane’s wings catapulted into their house and set it on fire.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, released Tuesday, said that the jet was operating on instrument flight rules due to “marginal visual meteorological conditions,” meaning the weather was making it difficult to clearly see outside of the plane.


NTSB Identification: DCA15MA029
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 08, 2014 in Gaithersburg, MD
Aircraft: EMBRAER EMB-500, registration: N100EQ
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 8, 2014, about 1041 Eastern Standard Time (EST), an Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100, N100EQ, impacted terrain and houses about 0.75 miles short of runway 14 while on approach to Montgomery County Airpark (GAI), Gaithersburg, Maryland. The airline transport rated pilot and two passengers were fatally injured as well as three persons on the ground. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and ensuing fire. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and the flight was operating on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The airplane was registered to and operated by Sage Aviation LLC., of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The flight originated from Horace Williams Airport (IGX), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with GAI as its intended destination.

Russia on 'near miss': Swedes high on pot

Russia's ambassador in Copenhagen says the Swedish authorities should lay off the weed, while adding that Danish and Swedish officials are on "a very dangerous path".

Russia's ambassador to Denmark on Wednesday made light of Swedish concerns over a Russian military jet's alleged near-miss with a passenger plane, suggesting Swedish authorities may have smoked too much cannabis.

"The Swedish authorities also recently said there was a submarine in their waters. There wasn't," Mikhail Vanin, Russia's ambassador in Copenhagen, told the Berlingske daily.

"Now they say again that they have seen something. I'm afraid the Swedes visit Pusher Street very often," he said, referring to the Christiania neighbourhood in Copenhagen known for its cannabis trade.

Swedish military said that a Russian military jet on Friday nearly collided with a commercial passenger plane south of the Swedish city of Malmö, shortly after taking off from Copenhagen International Airport.

Swedish and Danish fighter jets were scrambled in response to the Russian plane which came dangerously close to the passenger jet at less than nine kilometres (six miles), according to the Swedish military. Russia replied that their plane was "more than 70 kilometres" (43 miles) away.

The incident happened amid growing concern in the Baltic region over signs of more assertive Russian behaviour, including Russian planes simulating an attack on Bornholm and regularly skirting or violating the air space of neighboring countries.

Sweden and Denmark summoned Russia's ambassadors on Monday to protest the incident.

The Russian ambassador admitted Russian planes were patrolling the area more frequently than they used to, but said that was probably "a response to Nato's activities and escalation in the region."

"I'm sure that if Nato reduces its activities in the region, we will do the same. Do not provoke the Russian bear," Vanin said.

Sweden's claims were part of "a very well orchestrated campaign" to portray Russia as "a very dangerous neighbour", he said.

"But it's a very dangerous path that Swedish and some Danish campaigners have embarked on," he added.

Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, has said there is evidence that a mini submarine entered its waters in October, but that it hasn't been possible to confirm the vessel's nationality.

In September, Stockholm lodged a protest with Moscow after the incursion of two Russian fighter planes into the Nordic country's airspace.

Original article can be found at:

Team begins probe into plane emergency: Flybe de Havilland Dash 8-400, G-FLBC, flight BE-130

The aircraft will be examined by an Air Accident Investigation Branch team. ©Pacemaker

Fire crews, police and paramedics attended the scene on Tuesday evening as the Flybe flight, with 76 passengers and four crew on board, prepared to land at Belfast International after the captain declared a full emergency.

Before it was diverted it was heading for Belfast City Airport before the fire broke out in the engine.

The plane landed just before 7pm and passengers evacuated via steps at the front of the plane but some had to jump a distance from the back emergency exit, with the help of fire officers.

No one was injured in the incident but one person required further assessment in hospital.

Passengers told UTV the ordeal was "terrifying and nightmarish".

One passenger was Eddie Spence, who said he remembered a banging noise and a jolt that went through the plane halfway through the journey.

"That was then followed up by three or four further bangs and at that point there was like a sudden loss of power then through one of the engines on the left hand side," he said.

"When I turned to my left I could see the flames coming out of the engine, probably stretched back to five or six rows behind."

A spokesperson for the AAIB said it was aware of the incident and is investigating.

A team from the branch is expected at the airport shortly.

John Palmer, director of operations at Flybe said on Wednesday said the cause of the fire was not yet known.

He added that the crews did an "excellent job" in ensuring the safety of passengers.

"The 2400 is quite a small airplane and the majority of the passengers left by the steps, but we did open one of the rear doors, so that people could exit via the rear door, which is normal operating procedure, and it's standard practice that they take the small jump onto the tarmac," he told the Frank Mitchell Phone-In.

He added: "I've been in this industry some 25 years and fortunately this is a very, very unusual event."

Alan Whiteside, operations manager at Belfast International Airport also praised the crew for the way they handled the emergency.

"It was bad weather and windy as well as having one engine on fire," he said.

"The passengers handled themselves absolutely admirably the whole way through the evacuation."

Responding to concerns over lack of communication with passengers following the evacuation, he added: "The issue in those times immediately after that kind of incident, is getting information you can pass on.

"The engine was actually still burning when the aircraft landed, the fire crews assisted in evacuation to get the passengers away from the aircraft first, and then they continued and applied dry powder and other media to continue to extinguish it.

"From that point on, there are a load of things that need to go through, the AAIB need to advised, you need to get permission from them to be able to do anything with the aircraft."

A statement released from Flybe on Tuesday stressed that "at no time was the safety and well-being of passengers compromised".

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Liberty University's aviation program now FAA certified

Students at Liberty University's School of Aeronautics can fly without leaving the ground. Flight simulators helped the school receive Federal Aviation Administration certification. 

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'Dream Machines' Celebrates 25th Anniversary in 2015 with 'Extreme Attractions': Half Moon Bay Airport (KHAF), California

“It’s a landmark year and we plan to make it more spectacular and fascinating than ever ..." organizers said.

The following was submitted for publication by Miramar Events:

To help celebrate their 25th anniversary event in a big way, organizers of the popular Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show announced Tuesday arrangements are underway to bring back some of the extreme/active attractions as well as pay special tribute to show founders at their 2015 event scheduled to be held on Sunday, April 26 at Half MoonBay Airport.

“We’re proud to say 2015 will mark our 25th annual Dream Machines Show,” said event Chairman Chad Hooker. “It’s a landmark year and we plan to make it more spectacular and fascinating than ever as well as celebrate the legacy of our first quarter-century with tributes to show originator Bob Senz and the late Eddie Andreini, both of whom were instrumental in founding and nurturing what has grown into one of Northern California’s most unique and beloved events.”

Show organizers have a contractual agreement in place with San Mateo County for the 2015 event that will permit the return of freestyle motocross shows, unimotorcycle drags, monster truck rides and military aircraft flyovers all of which were major attractions and spectator favorites but for the last two years were not permitted.

“Our organizing committee and charities appreciate the support and assistance we have received over the years from the Board of Supervisors, airport officials and the FAA, and we’re grateful they have worked with us to permit the return of these active attractions,” said Hooker.

The Dream Machines Show is a treasured community-based event. It serves as a critical source of funding for the Coastside Adult Day Health Center and participating community service groups, provides a major seasonal boost for coastside visitor-serving businesses, and is the signature annual event showcasing Half MoonBay Airport.

Original article can be found at:

U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Man Stranded On Bahamas Island

An American man adrift at sea for five days and subsequently stranded on an uninhabited island in the Cay Sal Bank was rescued by the US Coast Guard on Monday, Coast Guard officials said yesterday.

Larry Sutterfield, 39, a native of Illinois, had initially set out from the Florida Keys on a camping trip when he was pulled out to sea.

He had been on an island in the Cay Sal Bank for about a day when he was found by chance by Coast Guard officials on routine patrol in the area. 

Video shot by the rescue crew showed the man emerging from a small tent on the island and waving frantically to attract their attention.


Published on Dec 16, 2014

MIAMI — A man who was stranded for approximately six days is safe after the Coast Guard rescued him off an island in Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas, Monday night.

Rescued was Larry Sutterfield, 39, a U.S. citizen.

During a routine law enforcement patrol, a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew spotted a fire and a man waving his arms in distress on a Cay Sal Bank island. The aircrew quickly dropped a VHF-radio, food and water to the man who then stated he was stranded after his dinghy was disabled and drifted to the island.

Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore who arrived on scene and took the stranded man safely aboard and transferred him to Coast Guard Sector Key West where local emergency medical services were watiing. No major medical concerns were reported.