Monday, January 05, 2015

Piper PA-46-310P Malibu Mirage, N20DP: Accident occurred January 03, 2015 at Jack Brooks Regional Airport (KBPT), Beaumont, Texas

12 News 

BEAUMONT - Wendy Powell was aboard her family's single-engine airplane with her eight-year-old grandson Saturday evening, when her husband, David Powell, a Beaumont anesthesiologist, safely landed the aircraft with no landing gear.

The gear did not come down – so her husband had to land the plane on its belly.

"I could see the runway and we're just like you know, 300 feet from the hitting the runway with no landing gear,” said Powell. “One thought that went through my head is...okay…this could be it."

The FAA determined the malfunction an accident but continues to investigate the incident at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.

The Powell family hasn't found out exactly what caused the problem, and though they want to know what happened, they're just happy they returned home with no injuries.

"I just had this peace,” said Wendy Powell about her emotions before the landing. She said to herself, “God you're in control and we're all going to be okay."

She credits her family's miracle landing to a power from above.

Her family was returning from a vacation in Colorado and neared the airport, when her husband tried to release landing gear twice and even pulled an emergency lever to release it – with no success.

They scrambled for help, even calling their close friend, who happens to be the plane's mechanic, for advice. Unfortunately, even with the mechanic's help, the gear was not working.

After circling for 30 minutes, her husband David decided to land the aircraft on its belly as Wendy said she prepared for the worst.

"I took my grandson's hands who was crying and (saying) "are we gonna die, are we gonna die?” said Powell. “You know he's just petrified and I just took his hands and said you know what? We're going to pray. And I just asked God to put his hands around our plane and keep us all safe."

Metal screeched during a rough landing. A propeller blade and the plane's belly were damaged, but her family escaped in one piece.

“The first thing going through my head is 'we're alive!" said Powell.

She calls her husband her husband a hero.

"After the fact he's like, I just knew I had to make the best landing that I've ever made in my whole life,” said Powell. “And he did it."

The family's insurance company will repair the plane and the Powell's said this won't hold them back from flying again.

They'll fly commercially to Mexico later this month for a medical mission trip.

Story and Video:


Date: 03-JAN-15
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA46
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)


American Eagle Flight Turns Around, Comes Back to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW)

An American Eagle flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to El Paso had to turn around and return to the airport Monday afternoon after caution lights in the cockpit indicated a problem.

When it was initially reported, an official told NBC 5 a piece of the jet's rudder fell from the aircraft. 

A spokesperson for the airline now only confirms a possible mechanical issue and that they are investigating the incident.

AA Flight 5348 was an hour into the flight to El Paso International Airport when the plane was forced to turn around.

The pilot landed the jet, a CRJ-900ER, without incident shortly before 2 p.m. The pilot then taxied to Terminal B where all passengers were deplaned.

No injuries have been reported.

Story and Comments - First Officer at US Airways Express:

Frontier Airlines cancels service from Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN) to 5 destinations because of lack of demand

EWING — Frontier Airlines is discontinuing flights from Trenton-Mercer Airport to five of its 18 destinations, airline officials confirmed Monday.

As of Tuesday, Frontier Airlines will discontinue service to Nashville, Tenn., St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Cleveland because of lack of demand, Frontier spokesman Todd Lehmacher said in an email. Service to Cleveland ended last month.

"Trenton is still a relatively new market for Frontier with not a lot of historical route data since no airline had ever attempted such an ambitious schedule out of the airport. With some cities we are still finding what works and what does not. We never like to enter a market and then discontinue service but due to the high fixed costs of operating an airline, we can only fly where service makes economic sense," Lehmacher said.

"Overall, we have been pleased with the response that our low-fare service in Trenton has received," he added.

Seasonal flights to Detroit and Minneapolis will end Tuesday and will resume April 30. Seasonal flights to Cincinnati will also end, but airline officials have not announced a resumption date.

Lemacher noted that some of the services ended were to cold weather cities with “significantly reduced” demand during the winter months and that Frontier could return service as some point though there are no specific plans at this time.

Lemacher noted that recently Frontier has increased weekly flights to Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers.

“Frontier remains committed to the Trenton market,” he said.

County Executive Brian Hughes, a vocal supporter of Frontier and the airport, expressed confidence in the airline.

“These guy knows how to run an airline. I believe they have a bright future in Trenton,” Hughes said

Lehmacher said the new service between Trenton and Chicago-O’Hare set for April 15 would proceed as planned.

The move follows the cancellation of flights from Trenton-Mercer to the Bahamas. In addition, Frontier discontinued service from Trenton to New Orleans and Columbus, Ohio, in 2013 and 2014, respectively, Lehmacher said.

Frontier's domestic nonstop destinations from Trenton-Mercer Airport also include Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, Chicago-Midway, and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, St. Augustine/Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach in Florida.

Story and Comments:

After Naperville drone video, police chief questions use of the aircraft

Local law enforcement authorities are asking questions after a video of an aerial tour of downtown Naperville holiday lights captured from a drone aircraft surfaced online.

Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said he is consulting the city's legal department after the three-minute video posted on YouTube by user JPDrone came to his attention. Shot at night, a drone camera flies over City Hall and several downtown streets providing a unique view of seasonal decorations while cars and pedestrians move around city streets below.

"Obviously, if they're flying over a public area, you have to ask if there's any risk to public safety, who's the operator and if he's abiding by the regulations set in place by the FAA," Marshall said. "There was a request from an individual who wanted to fly a drone camera overhead at Ribfest last summer, and we did not allow that."

The YouTube user, JPDrone, is John Pauly, a North Aurora hobbyist who is trying to launch a drone video business. Pauly, who works with two friends and uses two camera-equipped drones, said he has been making the videos in an attempt to get the word out about his startup. His first effort was in Geneva, where he said he was approached by police who were concerned about what he was doing.

"Since then, we always let the police know," Pauly said. "You can't be reckless with it, that's when you can get in trouble." He said he called Naperville police before doing the nighttime video, which he said was filmed from less than 200 feet above the city.

The concern comes at a time when officials are trying to educate the public on the safe use of the unmanned aircraft systems and federal authorities are mulling permanent regulations for the use of recreational and commercial drones.

"This is new technology that has outpaced regulation, and we're at the early stages of a bell curve," said Michael Toscano, President and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a nonprofit organization helping spearhead an educational campaign. "Look at the automobile. It took a while after its invention for us to realize we needed speed limits to keep them safe."

Although federal legislation directed the FAA to integrate commercial drones into the nation's aviation system by this September, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to be writing new legislation to overhaul aviation policy and mandates on drones before then.

In the meantime, the FAA's guidelines for non-commercial drones that weigh less than 55 pounds are that they be flown only during the daytime, stay in the operator's line of sight, fly no higher than 400 feet and keep at least 5 miles from any airport, according to information posted at, a site operated by enthusiasts in partnership with the FAA.

Scott Gerami, a real estate broker with Re/Max of Naperville, has been using drone video to market homes since 2011.

"It's a valuable tool for me, so we're going to be happy to comply with whatever rules or licensing are coming in the future," Gerami said. "A shot that's just 20 or 30 feet up in the air gives a totally different perspective of a house, as opposed to a ground-level photograph. I don't fly over or on top of things, over cars or certainly not when there are people below."

In addition to their commercial use for marketing real estate, drones are being used to video high school football games, assess damage following a catastrophe, survey agriculture acreage, and inspect pipelines, power lines and highway bridges.

"Drones can be used very productively for law enforcement if there's a lost child or senior citizen," Marshall said. "If we can get a camera up in the air, it can help locate missing people."

Story and photo:

Round-the-world trip faced bureaucracy, weather, other challenges

Matthias-Michael Geissler was joined by different friends and family members during each leg of his trip, including his wife Erica and daughter Hanna.
Courtesy of Matthias-Michael Geissler 

DURHAM —  It was a trip a year in the making. Matthias-Michael Geissler had always been a fan of traveling, and having the experience of close to 20 years of flying, he decided to take a trip around the world.

In total, he spent 169 days traveling to 24 countries over 31,795 miles. He left on May 17. He returned on Nov. 3.

Having made the trip before, only on a cruise ship in his younger years, the Bahama resident decided it was time to revisit the adventure.

The decision to go was the easy part for Geissler. It was once the traveling started that problems arose.

Geissler broke his trip into five legs. Each leg would get him to another part of the world, and it’d allow for new crew members and even family and friends to join him in his twin-engine aircraft.

But traveling takes time and money.

“Either you have money and no time, or time and no money,” Geissler said. About a year and a half ago he sold his company and that’s when the first inklings of the trip started to surface.

At first it was going to be a full family trip with his wife and three young daughters. After a lot of thought it was decided to be a trip he would make, and they’d join him on a later leg of the journey.

The first leg of the trip would take him from the U.S. to Europe. It’s also that first leg that would prompt Geissler’s first challenge – flying over open water.

“I had never been over open water for hours and hours and hours with a climate with ice,” he said.

For large commercial airplanes ice can just be an inconvenience, but for smaller planes like the one Geissler was flying it can cause major problems.

“So I was pretty nervous and excited about it,” he said.

Geissler was sidelined during the third leg of his trip when one engine on his 1973 Piper Aztec was having issues. He had to have parts shipped in from the U.S.

“I could fly with one engine, but that changes the flight dramatically,” he said.

He spent 10 days there before friends from the United States could bring in new parts.

During the trip he made the decision to land at smaller airports so he could see parts of the countries not many would get the see.

“I’ve seen many of the big destinations,” he said. “I was looking for the remote places, places the commercial airlines would not find much need to fly to because they’re too small.”

However, that posed a new problem for Geissler – how to get fuel.

“Half of the airports I landed in didn’t have gasoline,” he said. “We either had to ship it in, truck it in or actually literally bring it ourselves in a different container.”

The airports didn’t quite know what to do with Geissler and his aircraft, because a small plane like his isn’t often seen in those areas.

During his trip Geissler also experienced many weather phenomena that he wouldn’t have otherwise seen in North Carolina – like sand storms. Near Japan he experienced a typhoon and hurricane-like weather.

“There were about four or five times on my trip when I was really scared,” he said. “(One was) there was a very powerful thunderstorm … and we could not find our way to get through it.”

The fourth leg proved to be one of the more difficult ones for Geissler because of the countries in which he was hoping to land.

He had planned to land in North Korea. After four months to get the permission to land there, six hours before he had to leave, he was assigned a military plane to escort him. He then lost permission from South Korea to fly over it for just 15 minutes.

After his hiccups in the Koreas he was moving on to Russia.

“You need five different permissions (in Russia),” he said. “I got all of them, then as I landed there they took one away from me.”

So he spent two weeks in Russia while he reapplied for permissions 16 times before he could leave. He stayed with local pilots and shared his experiences.

After Russia he was able to make his way back to the U.S. by way of Japan.

So after 169 days, he landed in Roxboro and had completed the journey.

“The trip was everything that I was hoping for and more,” he said.

He did his research before he left, and he knew to assume things – both good and bad – would happen.

“I think in retrospect, what I have done right was not to be pressured by time,” Geissler said.

Even though he experienced bureaucratic red tape from multiple countries, he was still able to enjoy his time with the citizens that helped him out.

“The people were the most wonderful,” he said. “They took me in.”

However, the journey wasn’t just about the story or the experience for Geissler. He also used his time to raise awareness for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

“It’s an easy choice. I have three young children,” he said.

When Geissler would stop in countries and talk with media outlets he’d spread the word about the hospital.

“In the end, we got a lot of awareness and interest,” he said. “We had people in many countries, and I was literally surprised about how much interest people had in our story and our trip.”

Even though the trip was a challenge, Geissler said it was rewarding, comparing it to the unknown challenges that everyone faces in life.

“Life can be challenging, and if you would know the challenges ahead, it would be more intimidating,” he said. 

Story and Photos:

NetJets Unrest Puts Warren Buffett in a Rare Pinch • Pilots Protest Against Pay, Benefits at Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets

NetJets pilots protest outside the Miami Beach Convention Center in December. Globe Photos/Zuma Press

The Wall Street Journal
By Anupreeta Das

January  5, 2015 2:22 p.m. ET

On a Saturday in mid-November, NetJets Inc. hosted several hundred of its wealthiest customers in the ballroom of the luxury Wynn resort in Las Vegas, where guests played poker alongside Warren Buffett with $950,000 in prizes at stake.

Outside, dozens of uniformed NetJets pilots picketed against the private-jet company. “Management greed is destroying NetJets,” read one placard. “Do pilots need to pay more for healthcare so you can fly cheaper?” asked another.

Labor unrest is unusual for a company owned by Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., where the prevailing image is that of a conglomerate with well-paid managers who oversee contented workers at more than 70 operating subsidiaries. But the drama playing out at NetJets illustrates the hard side of Mr. Buffett’s singular focus on returns. In the case of NetJets, the pressure to complete the turnaround of a business Mr. Buffett once called his “number one worry” is now spilling into public view.

The Las Vegas protest was part of a deteriorating labor situation that now has employees accusing management of illicitly accessing an online portal where NetJets pilots communicate. If the conflict isn’t resolved soon, it could become the latest headache from a company that has been a periodic source of worry for Mr. Buffett. In the 16 years that Berkshire has owned NetJets, the jet operator has never paid its owner a dividend, and its net worth is considerably less than the $725 million Berkshire paid for it in 1998, a person close to the company said.

Of course, some of the unrest is expected during bargaining season at NetJets, which has a history of testy negotiations. But because of the escalating tension and the company’s high-profile business, this fight seems to be garnering attention from investors.

“Perhaps this is standard posturing between labor and management, but it does appear to be getting more contentious,” said David Kass, a professor of finance at the University of Maryland and Berkshire shareholder. “And Buffett has said perpetual money or labor problems would be two reasons to exit a company.”

NetJets employees are protesting what they consider “unjustifiable cost cuts and overhead reductions in the face of increasing flight demand, record profits and a dramatic reduction in debt,” according to a letter sent to Mr. Buffett in March.

NetJets says it put forth a contract proposal for its pilots that asked for a “few reasonable changes” including modifications to the current health benefits and inclusion in an annual incentive program tied to company and individual performance. The company says its pilots are among the best-paid in the industry and that salaries and other benefits—including longevity pay, overtime and an “industry-leading” 401 (k) plan in which it matches 50% of employee contributions—wouldn’t change under the proposal for a new contract. 

The fight has worsened amid extended contract negotiations with multiple unions representing pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and others. NetJets, based in Columbus, Ohio, has about 6,200 employees, a majority of whom belong to unions.

In a December lawsuit, a union representing NetJets’s 2,700 pilots alleged that the company had illegally obtained confidential information posted to a password-protected message board used by pilots. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, also alleges that NetJets executives have unlawfully set up a Twitter account impersonating a pilot. The fake account, called “TwinkieTheKid,” allegedly baited pilots to endorse or participate in “unlawful job actions,” according to the lawsuit.

The talks haven’t yet interrupted service or resulted in customer cancellations, although some users have called to inquire about the labor problems, a person familiar with the matter said.

NetJets spokesman Thomas Hoyt declined to comment on the lawsuit. “We continue to be disappointed that the union continues to engage in theatrics when there is work to be done at the bargaining table,” Mr. Hoyt said in a statement.

Mr. Buffett hasn’t addressed the issue publicly. He too declined to comment but said in an interview: “In almost 20 years where my family and I have flown over 1,000 flights, I’ve never met a pilot who wasn’t professional or friendly.”

In Berkshire’s “owners’ manual,” where Mr. Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger , explain their business principles to the company’s shareholders, the two wrote that a money-losing business and poor labor relations are the only two reasons that would compel Berkshire to sell a company.

Although Berkshire, based in Omaha, Neb., has more than 330,000 employees globally, it has seen a handful of strikes in the nearly 50 years that Mr. Buffett has been at the helm.

Berkshire bought NetJets in 1998, after Mr. Buffett became a big fan of its business model. Founded as Executive Jet Airways more than 50 years ago, NetJets pioneered the concept of “fractional ownership,” where individuals can buy a share in a plane in exchange for flying hours.

NetJets took a major hit during the financial crisis as wealthy clients cut back on private flying, surviving only because Berkshire guaranteed its $1.9 billion debt load.

After big layoffs and furloughs in 2009, NetJets began turning around. Since 2010, NetJets has placed orders for as much as $17.6 billion worth of new jets from Bombardier Inc., the Cessna Aircraft Co. unit of Textron Inc. and others. In 2013, revenue grew by 7.5% to about $4 billion as it sold more plane shares.

In his 2011 annual letter to shareholders, Mr. Buffett wrote about the company’s evolution. “A few years ago NetJets was my number one worry,” he wrote. “Its costs were far out of line with revenues, and cash was hemorrhaging. Without Berkshire’s support, NetJets would have gone broke. These problems are behind us.”

Having shrunk its debt to about $500 million, according to a person familiar with the matter, the company continued to be profitable in 2014. Still, NetJets produces a tiny fraction of Berkshire’s total earnings, which stood at about $20 billion in 2013. NetJets’s profit rose 7% in 2013. Berkshire is expected to report its 2014 annual results in February.

Union officials say NetJets Chief Executive Officer Jordan Hansell told them that reduced compensation, weakened job security protections, increased health-care costs “are necessary because Berkshire” requires a greater return on revenue from NetJets.

NetJets says its contract proposal tries to strike a balance between achieving business targets while lowering labor costs without reducing pay. The company has pitched a modified health-care plan that will require union employees to contribute to premiums that they currently don’t pay. It also has offered to offset the increased cost to employees through lump-sum payments.

However, the two sides haven’t had much success at the bargaining table.

The Las Vegas protest was one of several informational events staged in 2014. Union members also picketed outside airports such as New Jersey’s Teterboro, frequently used by private-jet operators. At Berkshire’s May annual meeting in Omaha, pilots handed out fliers to attendees. Recently, they protested at Art Basel in Miami, an event that is popular with wealthy customers.

“We really don’t like this labor dispute,” said Pedro Leroux, president of the NetJets pilots union. “We just want the contracts to reflect what we bring to the table. The company says we have world-class pilots, so treat us accordingly.”

Story, Video and Photos:

A banner hangs near a NetJets jet in Omaha. NetJets, the aviation business of Berkshire Hathaway, has faced increasing labor unrest in recent months. Bloomberg News

Porter Airlines still investigating troubled Sudbury flight

Officials with Porter Airlines are continuing to investigate a Dec. 28 incident in which the pilot of a plane destined for Sudbury made an emergency landing after smoke was detected in the cabin of the airline.

Porter is also now investigating what is at least the third flight diversion for the airline in less than a week.

Saturday, a Porter Airlines flight from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to Montreal had to turn around and land again in Toronto after a washroom alarm sounded, according to media reports.

That followed the Dec. 28 incident in which Porter Flight 539, which left Billy Bishop for Sudbury some time after 7:30 p.m., was in the air about 15 minutes when people noticed smoke wafting into the cabin from air vents.

The 74 passengers on the flight to Sudbury were told by flight attendants to assume the crash position -- bent forward, head between their knees -- and brace for an emergency landing.

No one was injured when the pilot safely landed the plane at Toronto Pearson International Airport. A female passenger was treated for possible anxiety and two flight attendants were looked at as a precaution by medical personnel.

Porter continues to work with the aircraft manufacturer and other authorities as part of its investigation into the Sudbury incident, said a Porter spokeswoman.

"We will implement any findings that these investigations may suggest. We do not have any further information at this time," Robyn van Teunenbroek wrote The Sudbury Star.

It isn't clear if the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is involved in the investigation. A call to the board Friday wasn't returned and the Porter spokeswoman didn't mention the agency by name.

Sudbury Wolves' overage forward Nathan Pancel was on the diverted flight, along with teammates Sam Tanquay and Trenton Bourque. Pancel, 20, said all three were frightened when the cabin filled with smoke and passengers were told to assume the crash position.

Pancel admitted he prayed silently, as did several passengers out loud, in the tense minutes before the pilot made the emergency landing.

Another passenger, Rogers radio creative writer Chris Rivest, said he was nervous mostly because he wasn't sure how serious the situation was.

One of the engines on the twin-engine plane was shut down using standard procedures, said a Porter spokeswoman. Rivest and a fellow passenger noticed one of the plane's propellers wasn't revolving during the crisis, he said.

Another flight out of Billy Bishop airport Dec. 28, Flight 723 bound for Washington, also had to be diverted. It landed in Williamsport, Penn., after smoke filled the cabin of that aircraft.

"The safety of our passengers continues to be our number one priority," said Porter in a statement issued after the two incidents.

On the weekend, Porter spokesman Brad Cicero told CTV News that the airline was looking for a "specific cause" for the alarm sounding on the Montreal flight Saturday.

Original article can be found at:

Fog no excuse for troubles Lahore airport faces

  • Installation of Category IIIB ILS system or any other updated system could resolve fog-related flight delays
  • CAA’s regulatory functions have been compromised because of commercial profits and conflicts of interest of top executive’s corporate interests and that of concerned ministry

By Malik Tariq Ali

Flight operations are disrupted every winter when RVR [Runway Visual Range] drops below 350 meters due to thick fog which literally shuts down Lahore airport for all aircraft. The Lahore airport has been equipped with ILS Category II system but the situation could be better managed by replacing it with Category IIIB ILS, which is also installed at the Delhi airport, which faces similar low visibility due to fog aggravated by pollution.

Indian Civil Aviation has sanctioned up-gradation of another airport at Kolkatta with ILS Category III on primary runway, making it the second in subcontinent to do so. This will enable aircraft to land when visibility drops to 50 meters, with work scheduled to start in February 2015 at the cost of $19 million or Indian Rs. 120 crore, a fraction of the cost of B737-800.

Lahore airport has ILS Category II, enabling aircraft equipped with required instrumentation and auto land capability to land with RVR of 350 meters. PIA’s induction of latest technology aircraft, B777, A320, etc., equipped with auto land facility becomes redundant if the aircraft cannot depart or land from the country’s major airport at Lahore. Almost 79 percent of aviation traffic in Pakistan originates from northern hubs.

Following the opening of more direct routes overflying former Soviet Union airspace, all international traffic from South Asia, Australia, etc., tend to use this more economical and shorter route overflying Pakistan’s northern airspace.

The ILS Category III system requires an advanced signalling system with more lights on, and near, runway and taxiways, an upgraded Ground Movement Guidance (GMG) system, than current ILS category II systems on Runway 36 R, which spans a length of 10,000 feet at Lahore. This will involve provision of runway centre line lights with gaps of 7.5 meters, from current 30 meters, on active runway and taxiways, guiding aircraft to designated parking bays and two units of signalling instrument called Runway Visual Range Transmissometer, without disrupting current flight operations at peak hours. Updated localizer system antennas installed on opposite sides of approach direction provide horizontal guidance, while glide slope antennas located within 750 to 1250 feet from the beginning of approach end displaced from its axis by 400 to 600 feet, offer vertical guidance. The ILSIII C system offers landing in zero visibility.

The only impediment to future upgrading of existing airports is if the area in its vicinity is not under its jurisdiction. When Narita Airport was built to cater for expanding international flights for Tokyo, numerous villages were acquired for miles around, unlike Pakistan, where housing societies that never existed, mushroomed near an airport.

CAA  Pakistan is one of the most profitable state owned enterprises, with billions of rupees generated from taxes levied on passenger and cargo, along with landing charges, parking fee, etc., and for services such as provision of navigational facilities for flights both landing or overflying Pakistan airspace. Its primary function is that of a regulatory body, acting on behalf of the ICAO, to ensure that airline operators, their flight and maintenance crew licensing, ground and cargo handling agencies, and airports designated for commercial aviation operation, are monitored to comply with laid down international standards for flight safety.

FAA regulations require regulator to have trained, skilled and experienced professionals serving as inspectors, with no conflict of interest, receiving no benefits from airlines that are under their regulatory control to ensure strict compliance, and levy penalties on any operator or staff employed by them as deterrence.

CAA’s regulatory functions have been compromised because of commercial profits and conflicts of interest of top executive’s corporate interests and that of concerned ministry. Its policies and functions are moulded by private airlines and ground/cargo handling agencies, instead of CAA regulating them. It was expected that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would make structural changes, providing professional management on merit with integrity, following the decision to create a separate ministry of aviation, with a powerful independent regulatory CAA to enforce flight safety ensuring revenue paying passengers of quality service. Instead, he chose to appoint a controversial person, who was court marshalled from PAF, owns a ground-handling agency, and is a beneficiary of sub-contract for construction of the new Islamabad Airport.

CAA is required to not only regulate airlines, but also airports, navigation aid facility providers, ground/cargo handling agencies, licensing of flight and technical crew and their medical fitness surveillance, check for provision of emergency equipment on board aircrafts, and availability of fire fighting and other emergency equipments such as hydraulic systems for ballooning aircrafts which have crashed or collapsed on runways and taxiways on 24/7 basis.

The problem with CAA Pakistan is that all of them come under administrative control of DG CAA and hence the conflict of interest. It is because of this that credible accident investigation has never been conducted for numerous major fatal air crashes or accidents within our airspace.

The ripple impact of fog-induced delays disrupted schedules at Lahore airport, which were further aggravated by mismanagement of PIA, private airlines and CAA itself. Disruption of flights from Karachi and Islamabad cannot be blamed on Lahore fog; neither can the complete disarray in international and domestic operation that has haunted passengers for the past three years, nor the pilferage of revenues and fleecing of pilgrims by the nexus of corrupt marketing executives in connivance with few travel agents.

On 30 December, Lahore airport already congested after its master plan was slashed during the Musharraf tenure, restricting space for international departure, arrival and transit lounges. It was clogged and overcrowded by passengers of numerous flights trying to catch flights delayed for days after a respite in fog. A Shaheen airline flight coming from Karachi suffered a metal fatigue failure when its landing beam and strut ruptured while landing at Lahore’s primary runway 36 Right installed with ILS Category II and a length of 10,000 feet.

Question arises why an aged B737-300 was given permission by CAA in violation of the National Aviation Policy, which restricts age of induction of fleet for grant of AOC and registration of aircraft. Within hours, a PIA flight PK 758, operated by B777, while landing on secondary runway with a length of 9,000 feet, touched down far off beginning of runway, which in spite of maximum braking resulted in nose wheel touching end of active runway, making it difficult for aircraft to turn around on its own. The B777 recommended minimum runway length is 7,500 with capability to come to stop with maximum landing weight within 5,700 feet approximately.

PIA, the national flag carrier, suffering from the mediocrity and incompetence of successive managements had been enduring schedule disruptions ever since former DMD AVM Niaz decided to cancel procurement contracts for essential technical spares from a variety of manufacturer recommended vendors to a single vendor located in remote part of UK. This led to a rise in technical delays, due to non-availability of spares, culminating in the imposition of partial ban by European Union in 2007.

Reports about fires erupting in the brakes of a brand new B777 on landing during 2005 -2006 in Europe were investigated by a manufacturer, only to discover that the grease being used was substandard, not capable to withstand the high temperatures of friction generated by braking.

Even the imposition of ban and warning of surveillance after it was lifted, did not deter the PPP government from appointing a crony pilot on the payroll of PIA as DG CAA between 2008 to 2012, and later as MD PIA, replacing another crony who had been found guilty of gross financial indiscipline in pilot recruitment by a committee appointed by Ministry of Defence, headed by AVM Mushaf Ali Mir.

Under MD Capt Nadeem Yusafzai PIA again cancelled the spare parts procurement from a variety of vendors located along its route to a single unknown vendor located in Dubai, which resulted in half the fleet being grounded and a massive increase in maintenance cost.  Such blatant conflicts of interest damaged CAA’s regulatory capacity and credibility. So acute was the situation that it was discovered in 2011-2012 that numerous flights of non-scheduled and private airlines landing at Karachi were not documented and landing/parking fee amounting to billions was pocketed by corrupt Karachi airport CAA executives under the very nose of DG CAA who sits there. There is no record of load and cargo manifest of these flights, compromising national security in a country facing terrorism.

- The writer is an aviation expert

Original article can be found at:

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N6591H, Marquette County Flying Club Inc: Accident occurred January 05, 2015 at Sawyer International Airport (KSAW), Marquette, Michigan

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Marquette County Flying Club Inc:

NTSB Identification: CEN15CA097 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 05, 2015 in Marquette, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/07/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N6591H
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot planned a local afternoon flight, which included takeoff from a runway covered with patchy snow and ice. Throughout the morning and afternoon prior to the accident, surface wind observations were westerly at 5 to 12 knots.

During takeoff roll on the northerly runway, the pilot stated he encountered a gust of westerly crosswinds and the airplane yawed to the left. Unable to maintain directional control, the pilot aborted the takeoff. The airplane subsequently impacted a snowdrift on the left side of the runway and came to rest inverted. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot did not maintain directional control during takeoff on the snow and ice covered runway in gusting crosswind conditions.

No one was injured in a single-engine plane accident at Sawyer International Airport this afternoon - and airport officials say the facility is open to private and commercial air traffic.  

Airport officials say the pilot was the only one onboard the Cessna 172 about 3:30 this afternoon when a gust of wind caught the tail of the plane as it was getting up to speed to take off. 

The plane turned sideways and went into a snowbank.   

The runway was closed for about three hours. 

Airport and emergency crews were on hand, righting the plane and cleaning up debris - in frigid temperatures hovering around zero.

East Hampton gains control of airport operations

The East Hampton Town Board did nothing, and action was taken.

What seems like a contradiction actually means that East Hampton has gained control over its airport and can address the issue of helicopter’s buzzing East End communities. This power was gained by not applying for grants from the Federal Aviation Administration in the new year.

FAA grants, accepted by East Hampton in 2001 for infrastructure and other expenses at its airport, came with quid pro quos in the form of “grant assurances.” This meant the airport would be open to aircraft traffic around the clock throughout the year, and the town could not discriminate against types of planes or helicopters using the facility. But federal control ended on December 31.

Those on Shelter Island, in Southold and South Fork communities who have complained for years about excessive noise at all hours of the day and night from spring through fall, now have reason to hope it might be a quieter 2015.

The East Hampton board hasn’t just been waiting for the calendar to turn over, however, but has commissioned noise analysis reports and come up with a plan to finance airport operations without federal money.

The volume of traffic to and from New York City to East Hampton increased dramatically last summer because of an improving economy and also through phone apps and ride sharing, providing cheaper flights to the Hamptons for the weekend and trips back to the city.

According to airport records, from January to September 2014 there were 22,350 take offs and landings at the East Hampton Airport, and over the same time frame there were 22,700 complaints logged about excess noise. About 15 percent of the complaints came from Shelter Island residents.

But now, with government in control of the airport, restrictions on aircraft companies is front and center on the town’s agenda. Restrictions could include outright bans on helicopters and limited airport operating hours.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who has been a strong advocate of curbing low flying aircraft in Shelter Island’s airspace, said this was good news, “liberating the East Hampton Town board to respond to some of our needs.”

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, who has been among the leaders of the opposition to noisy choppers, said he’s pleased East Hampton will no longer be subject to FAA restrictions.

“I do think for the first time, East Hampton is listening,” Mr. Russell said, admitting it has been “so frustrating for me” through the years to be fighting a battle and seeing no progress.

Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who won a seat on the East Hampton board in November 2013 running on a platform of curbing excessive noise, and who is the board’s liaison to the airport, said she was looking forward to “having a plan put in place over the next few months and see restrictions effected for the 21015 season.”

One problem the town must face is that local control means local funds to run and maintain the airport. Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said East Hampton can meet that obligation, pointing to a detailed financial report that recommends, among other initiatives, requiring paid parking at the airport, negotiating leases with rental car companies and leasing additional hangar space and other property along with improving the collection of landing fees.

The town’s financial report states that even without any of the revenue enhancement ideas being explored, the town could “generate sufficient cash flow from airport operations and properties to pay debt service on bonds to finance $5.1 to $8.5 million of capital expenditures …”

This means, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said, that “right now we think the airport generates enough funds to cover any capital or maintenance projects we need to move forward with over the next few years.”

Battle lines are being drawn, however, between those calling for restrictions on aircraft and strong advocates for the status quo.

“The town’s decision to force local taxpayers to pay for airport upkeep instead of using federal funds is as flawed as the numbers in their supposed noise study,” said Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesman for the Friends of East Hampton Airport Coalition, which includes the Eastern Region Helicopter Council — a pilot’s organization — along with aviation companies. “On one hand, the town says it will pay for the airport through an increase in taxes on the aviation community. On the other, it says it will dramatically cut the number of landings, thus significantly cutting revenue. You can’t have it both ways as it makes absolutely zero economic sense. This is just not solid planning and should be deeply troubling for local taxpayers.”

One area of agreement by both sides is that the issue will most likely be settled in court.

Two East Hampton residents, Peter Wolf, an author and expert on land uses, and Kenneth Lipper, a former deputy mayor of New York City, have hired a top Manhattan law firm to make a case for banning all helicopters and seaplanes from the East Hampton Airport.

They’ve been paying Cravath, Swaine & Moore, an international law firm with more than 100 attorneys, to make the case that East Hampton can ban the choppers and seaplanes; require all aircraft to meet an established noise level standard; and restrict takeoffs and landings to four hours a day.

In a six-page opinion, citing legal precedents, attorney David Greenwald of CS&M concluded that the restrictions “reflects a reasonable and non-arbitrary approach to the reduction of noise pollution and does not improperly discriminate against aircraft or aircraft operators …”

Supervisor Dougherty said East Hampton was wise to put information on the airport’s future before the public “to beef up the litigation case. Pilots are tough birds, but they lost a strong ally in the FAA.”

The East Hampton Town Board has scheduled a February 3 work session to discuss the issue.

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Pilots have encountered drones six times in the past seven months in Massachusetts

In the past seven months, there have been six incidents in Massachusetts involving close encounters between drones and pilots of various aircraft, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The data was released last November as the FAA continued to review regulations around drones, which have been become increasingly popular among hobbyists. The FAA had previously said it would release new rules governing drones this year, but that plan has since stalled. The agency that regulates the American civil aviation industry now says it won't have drone rules set until 2017 at the earliest.

The FAA said it receives about 25 reports per month from pilots who have seen unmanned aircraft or model aircraft operating nearby. The reports range from unmanned aircraft sightings without impact to other pilots and aircraft, to on a few occasions, pilots altering course to avoid an unmanned aircraft, although the reports in Massachusetts only involve sightings of the aircraft.

In some cases, the incidents were reported to the FAA and the Massachusetts State Police, but the results of the investigation were not immediately available.

Here are the six incidents, three of which took place in Boston (most of these took place in the summer):

Oct. 31, 2014 2:56 p.m., Bedford: The pilot of a Piper aircraft reported a white drone at 2,700 feet near Bedford. No conflicts were reported. The local police department was contacted via 911.

Aug. 28, 2014, 6:58 p.m., Falmouth: The pilot of a Gulfstream reported a drone with "green lights" at around 7,500 feet in the air 25 miles from Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station.

Aug. 23, 2014, 3:36 p.m., Boston: An Air Wisconsin flight reported a "small metallic" drone passing the opposite direction at 1,000 feet while approaching the runway at Logan Airport. Massachusetts State Police dispatched a helicopter but didn't find any sign of a drone.

Aug. 9, 2014, 2:15 p.m., Worcester: A plane encountered a drone at 3,500 feet, 500 to 1,000 feet off the right side of the aircraft. No evasive action was required. The pilot described the drone as being "4 to 5 feet in length, gray in color.

July 21, 2014, 7:53 p.m., Boston: A pilot reported a drone with a 10 to 15-foot wingspan passing 1,000 to 1,500 feet below heading southbound. No conflict was reported.

May 30, 2014, 5:15 p.m., Boston: A pilot of a MedFlight helicopter leaving Tufts Medical Center reported a drone at 500 feet. No evasive action was taken.


Canadair CL-600-2B16, N666CT: Incident occurred January 04, 2015 at Wilmington International Airport (KILM), North Carolina

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A plane safely made an emergency landing at the Wilmington International Airport Sunday afternoon.

According to Gary Broughton, the airport's Operations Director, the aircraft first circled the airport to burn fuel, which is common in emergency landing situations.

Broughton said the aircraft reportedly was experiencing nose gear problems. He said it was only an Alert 1 warning, which means the problem was not very serious. He said the pilot decided to return to ILM around 2 p.m., upon noticing the gear problem.

The plane was headed for White Plains, NY.

He said the aircraft was a twin engine jet with tail number N666CT. The jet was from the Polygon Air Corporation which is an aircraft rental service out of Westchester, NY.

There were 12 people on the plane during the landing. Multiple emergency response units were on standby until the plane landed.

Original article can be found at:


Kenton County, State Auditor Disagree On Allowing Ohio Residents to Vote at Airport Board: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (KCVG), Covington, Kentucky

Seated at his new perch in the judge-executive's seat, Kris Knochelmann presided over his first Kenton County Fiscal Court meeting on Monday morning and presented the proposal crafted by a task force he launched to restructure the Kenton County Airport Board which oversees the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

Though the seats were somewhat rearranged, the tenor and debate was much as it was left in December when Steve Arlinghaus, whom Knochelmann defeated in a Republican primary seven months ago, presided over his final meeting. Commissioner Jon Draud emerged Monday as a committed opponent to Knochelmann's airport plan just as he had been throughout the previous year.

In October, Knochelmann announced the formation of a task force to evaluate the governance of the airport. Currently, the 7-member Kenton County Airport Board has all the voting power and is entirely appointed unilaterally by the Kenton County Judge-Executive. There is an 11-member advisory board that does not having voting authority and whose members are appointed by some surrounding governments.

That would change under the plan presented Monday. The advisory board would be scrapped and the voting board would be expanded to include eleven members: seven appointed by Kenton County, two by Boone County, one by Campbell County, and one by the Kentucky Governor.

There would be no seats for Ohio residents as proposed by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen whose special examination of the Airport Board's expenditures, hiring practices, and structure was presented in a press conference where he was joined by Knochelmann, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, and Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore. Though any change would require legislative approval in Frankfort, Edelen also recommended an 11-member board with 3 members each from Kenton, Boone, and Campbell Counties, one appointed by the Kentucky governor, and then one from the Ohio governor, Hamilton County, and the City of Cincinnati. 

Knochelmann had publicly supported the possibility of adding Ohio members and said Monday that he would still like to see that, but legal opinion locally prevents it, he said. The possibility that appointing Ohio residents to the board was illegal was first discussed in October at a Kenton County Mayors Group meeting where Arlinghaus circulated a proposed resolution for each city to consider opposing structural changes to the airport board. Arlinghaus had appointed two Ohio residents to voting roles at the board. Draud said that he thought it was illegal.

"You have to take an oath of office that you live in the state," Draud said at the time. "For me, it amazes me that the state auditor doesn't know more about the state constitution and he's in a state position. If the Kentucky General Assembly wants to change the constitution, then they can allow people from other states to be on the airport board. I can't understand the absurdity of making that recommendation."

Knochelmann said at the time that then-County Attorney Garry Edmondson was looking into it and "thought it was an issue".

On Monday, the conclusion was that Ohio had to be excluded.

Edelen disagreed. In a statement issued to The River City News, the auditor said that his office's general counsel had throughly researched the issue and concluded that Ohio residents can serve. He said the Attorney General's office agrees. 

"In addition, Kentucky law does not require KCAB members to take either the Constitutional oath or any other oath," Edelen said. "Various statutes require certain public servants to take the oath, including code enforcement board members, planning commission members and school board members. No statute – including the one used to establish the KCAB – requires a local air board member to take the oath. Further, because the General Assembly would have to approve any change in the KCAB structure, any ambiguities in the law could be addressed in that legislation, as was done when it established the board that oversees the Ohio River Bridges Project between the states of Kentucky and Indiana."

"But as I have said from the beginning, I believe change needs to come from the local level. I would encourage local officials to reexamine this matter and understand that this is nothing more than an effort to derail much-needed reform at CVG in order to preserve status quo and contain political power among a small faction of individuals in Kenton County."

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