Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lenawee County Airport (KADG) plans to buy more Lake Madison homes

ADRIAN -   An engineering firm is being hired to begin work on the possible acquisition of up to eight more houses at Lake Madison to resolve continuing litigation involving the Lenawee County Airport.

Lenawee County commissioners voted 6-2 Wednesday to contract with Lansing-based Mead & Hunt.

The company is to set up a process for making appraisals and lay the groundwork to acquire additional Lake Madison properties, said county administrator Martin Marshall.

A round of lawsuits over five houses near the airport at Lake Madison were concluded last year with the airport purchasing the entire properties. The litigation began with eminent domain action by the county commission to obtain easements to air space above the homes to maintain an object-free protection zone.

Another lawsuit was filed last year by four other Lake Madison home owners, claiming their property values have also been destroyed by a runway extension at the airport nearly 10 years ago.

The lawsuit claims the longer runway “invites larger, faster, lower-flying aircraft” to use the airport. Airport development plans calling for the eventual acquisition of easements over the property also make the houses “unmarketable,” according to the complaint.

Attorneys for the homeowners asked a judge to order the airport closed or that 1,000 feet of the runway not be used until the lawsuit is resolved.

Marshall said there are a total of eight houses in the Lake Madison subdivision that could be involved in court action and eventual purchase by the county. State aviation officials favor proceeding toward agreements with the property owners rather than engaging in lengthy litigation, Marshall said.

Lawsuits in the first round of litigation went on for seven years with multiple appeals.


Delta flight returns after smoke reported on take-off: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL), Atlanta, Georgia


A Delta plane heading from Atlanta to Japan returned to the Atlanta airport Sunday morning after a smoky odor was reported coming from the aircraft’s landing gear.

The Federal Aviation Administration told Channel 2 Action News that a pilot on another flight reported smoke coming from Delta Flight 95’s landing gear just after take-off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The Boeing 777 was carrying 291 people at the time.

A Delta spokesperson says the crew elected to return to Atlanta.

Upon return, the FAA says the aircraft flew at 7,000 feet to release fuel before landing.

“Pilots who return to an airport soon after departure may dump fuel to make the aircraft lighter before landing,” an FAA spokesperson said.

A Channel 2 Action News viewer took video of what appears to be fuel being dumped from the plane about five miles northwest of Fulton County Airport around 11:15 a.m. Sunday.

A Delta Airlines spokesperson denied that the plane dumped any fuel prior to its return to the airport.

The aircraft landed safely.

All passengers deplaned while airport firefighters and Delta technicians inspected the plane.

Delta says the aircraft was cleared to return to service around 1 p.m. Sunday.

The passengers re-boarded the same plane and took off for Narita Airport in Japan.

Story, photo and video:

Video shot by a Channel 2 Action News viewer appears to show the plane dumping fuel upon return to the airport

1 shot, 1 severely beaten at hotel near Chicago Midway International Airport (KMDW), Illinois

Four people are being questioned by police after a man was shot and another person severely beaten in at a hotel near Midway Airport early Sunday in southwest suburban Bedford Park.

Crews were called at 1:18 a.m. to a fight at the Residence Inn Chicago Midway Airport at 6638 S. Cicero, according to a statement from Bedford Park police.

Officers found two males in a third-floor hotel room, one with a gunshot wound to the lower leg and the other “beaten up severely,” police said.

Both were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn with injuries that weren’t thought to be life-threatening, police said. Their exact ages weren’t immediately available, but police said the man shot was an adult.

A handgun was recovered at the scene and four people of interest were being interviewed by detectives Sunday morning in connection with the shooting, police said.

Kathleen Sebastian, spokeswoman for the Residence Inn’s management company, said the hotel is cooperating with the police investigation.

“As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to provide further comment,” Sebastian said.

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UAS bill introduced again: Proposal would require a warrant to use unmanned systems for surveillance

GRAND FORKS — A bill introduced in the North Dakota Legislature that would require police to get a warrant before using an unmanned aircraft for surveillance is facing opposition from a local law enforcement official.

The proposal, House Bill 1328, would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using an unmanned aircraft to surveil people, as well as business or personal property, without first obtaining a warrant in order to gather evidence of criminal activity.

Warrants to conduct surveillance with unmanned aerial systems could only be issued in the investigation of a felony, and not “misdemeanors, traffic infractions or other non-felony violations of the law,” the bill states.

The bill’s primary sponsor, state Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, introduced a similar bill last session that passed the House. He said his goal is to protect civil liberties.

A number of exceptions are written into the bill, including using UAS for research and training, patrolling national borders, immediate danger to life or bodily harm, or a weather-related catastrophe.

“I think it’s a very important and very useful technology,” Becker said. “We’re not trying to hinder it.”

Al Frazier, Grand Forks County deputy sheriff and chief pilot for its UAS, said he has “serious concerns” about the bill.

“I won’t say it’s crippling to law enforcement that would like to utilize small UAS, but it would significantly reduce the usefulness of those aircraft,” said Frazier, who is also a professor at UND. “To read Rep. Becker’s bill, you would think that these would be highly effective surveillance tools that could be put up over locations for persistent surveillances and violate people’s constitutional rights. And the reality is none of that is correct.”

He said rapid changes in the western part of the state are stretching law enforcement resources, making UAS all the more important.

“In a state that is starting to experience big-city problems ... with gang members, prostitution, illicit drug use, we need more law enforcement assets to get those problems under control,” he said.

Frazier said local law enforcement has used small UAS primarily on areas where a crime has already occurred, looking for lost people and assessing erosion damage. One notable case of the technology’s use in law enforcement occurred in 2011, when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection unmanned aircraft was used to assist the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department in the arrest of a Lakota farmer. The department used a military-style drone in June 2011 to ensure a family was not carrying any weapons before going to their farmstead and arresting Rodney Brossart.

While Becker said there’s not an existing problem with police using UAS for surveillance, he said the technology has more capabilities than officers on patrol.

“What we’re doing is trying to make things clear on what should be done and the proper way to handle things,” Becker said. “The new technology brings in a gray area.”

But Frazier said there’s existing case law that shows when a warrant is needed in an aerial search. He cited the U.S. Supreme Court case of Florida v. Riley, in which an officer saw a marijuana growing operation from a helicopter 400 feet above ground, an observation that led to a search warrant.

“We don’t have cases that indicate that you can do warrantless searches at a lower altitude than that,” he said. He suggested Becker fall back on that case, “and say if a search is going to occur at less than 400 feet of an area that has a reasonable expectation of privacy, then a warrant is necessary.”

Becker said the bill make may the use of UAS more difficult for law enforcement “in the same sense that you have to go to a judge and get a search warrant before you go into someone’s house or into their backyard.”

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Efforts to lure airlines paying dividends at Tampa Bay’s airports

CLEARWATER — The list of U.S. and international cities with flights into the Tampa Bay area’s two airports seems to grow every few months.

Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Richmond, Va. and Tulsa, Okla. are among the domestic cities with direct flights on Allegiant Airlines starting this year at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, one of the budget carrier’s busiest destinations.

Across the bay at Tampa International Airport, direct air service from Europe and Latin America continues to expand with aviation giants such as Edelweiss, Copa Airlines and, recently, Germany’s Lufthansa.

Airport officials and tourism leaders have invested serious time and money in luring these airlines, both large and small, in recent years. They say it already is paying off in the scores of new travelers that now have easy access to Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“It’s the destination that drives this market,” said Noah Lagos, director of the St. Pete-Clearwater airport in Clearwater.

In 2006, the tourism appeal of the area’s beaches drew a nascent Allegiant Airlines to make Pinellas County one of its first destinations as the leisure air company expanded from its Las-Vegas base, Lagos said.

The airline has grown rapidly in the past decade and will fly non-stop to 41 U.S. cities this year based on routes that already have been announced, with more additions expected.

The airport enjoyed the second-busiest year in the county-owned facility’s history last year, with 1.24 million passengers flown here primarily by Allegiant, which accounts for 95 percent of all passengers.

Lagos this year fully expects to break the 2004 passenger record of 1.3 million and suspects there will be even more new routes announced before the end of December.

“There are more to come, I know that. I don’t know when those announcements are going to be and I don’t know what they are,” he said.

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Tampa International Airport in the past three years has opened up global markets by capturing several top international carriers that previously showed interest only in Miami and Orlando.

Raising the profile of the Tampa Bay area with airline executives and tour operators in Europe and Latin America has been a key goal for CEO Joe Lopano since taking charge in 2011.

“People are now starting to understand Tampa-St. Pete as a wonderful destination, one that really hasn’t been discovered before. When I first got here, that became our prime objective: to create awareness of this area,” he said.

Since 2010, international air traffic at Tampa has gone up by 53 percent and the new airlines like Panama-based Copa and Swiss carrier Edelweiss have enjoyed high passenger loads — between 75 and 90 percent capacity — prompting them to add more flights, according to airport officials.

Both airports have had strong backing from tourism agencies, economic development officials and chambers of commerce on both sides of the bay as they’ve pitched their destination to airlines around the country and world.

With both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties enjoying record visitation and hotel bed tax collections in the past couple of years, agencies are pooling their resources to bring more travelers here, regardless of whether they choose to head to the beach or to Busch Gardens.

“We always come together when we’re trying to lure an airline,” Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada said.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board raised $1.2 million from local business and tourism industry sources for a one-year financial incentive package to entice Copa Airlines to fly into Tampa, linking the area with the airline’s hub in Panama City that connects with 50 destinations.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater alone has committed $200,000 in both the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years in a marketing deal with Copa, and the agency has offered similar support to other new airlines in recent years.

The agency has more than doubled its annual budget for air service development and marketing since 2012, devoting more than $559,000 in 2015.

Since Copa began flying to the area in December 2013, Latin American visitors to Pinellas County’s beaches have increased by nearly 50 percent, and VSPC has hired full-time staff to travel the region and promote the destination.

“It raises the profile of the destination within the entire region because we have a talking point: You can get here directly now. And that does create interest from other airlines,” said VSPC Director David Downing.

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Following the success of the Edelweiss flight from Zurich to Tampa that started in 2012, Germany’s Lufthansa will begin providing service in September from Frankfurt, one of the busiest hubs in Europe.

It’s difficult to quantify exactly how much incoming tourism a given airline route generates, and business travel also accounts for a good share of passengers coming and going to Latin America and Europe, says Lopano.

“Once we become established as destination of leisure, we also become a target for business opportunities,” said Lopano.

A case in point was a trade mission to Chile in December attended by the mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg, along with business leaders and county commissioners from both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

While Allegiant Airlines historically has focused on leisure travel from smaller markets, the company’s offering of convenient, direct flights from mid-sized cities such as Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh opens the door for growth in low-cost business travel, Lagos said.

The Clearwater airport’s tagline “Tampa Bay the Easy Way” is meant to underscore its distinctiveness from its much larger neighbor across the bay for both business travelers and vacationers – a quick walk from a surface parking lot to the terminal, short lines and 50 direct flights with no layovers in big airport hubs.

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Although Tampa’s airport has received a lot of press in recent years by landing big international flights, tourism officials say St. Pete/Clearwater’s rapid growth into a multitude of new markets in the United States and Canada should not be overlooked.

“A lot of times, sure, there seems to be bigger stories in international or more well-known brands internationally, but pound for pound, it’s really hard to beat what Allegiant has brought to the table,” said Downing.

That’s in part because about 30 percent of the air company’s revenue comes from vacation package bookings, combining cheap airfares with hotels and rental cars, which translate directly into overnight hotel stays.

Lagos budgets for two new flights a year at the airport, but that’s been consistently low in the last several years.

Aside from Allegiant’s routes, the airport also serves three Canadian cities seasonally with Sunwing Airlines, a flight to Gulfport, Miss. and recently announced service to Key West and Ft. Lauderdale on Silver Airways, while a large share of daily traffic comes from corporate aviation, U.S. Coast Guard flights and UPS cargo planes.

The airport will conduct a two-year master plan study starting in 2017 to consider future needs and is in the process of making terminal and parking improvements.

Tampa International just began the first phase of construction on a massive master plan renovation and expansion project.

“We’ll be good for a few years,” said Lagos.

“There’s going to be a decision of what this airport becomes when it grows up.”

Original article can be found at:

Cheap fuel may curtail new aircraft orders

PARIS – Sharply falling oil prices are a welcome boon to airlines, saving billions of dollars in monthly fuel bills for a highly competitive industry that last year eked out an average profit of just $6 per passenger.

But what is good news for the airlines raises questions for the world’s largest jet makers, Boeing and Airbus, which have been riding a wave of demand for the latest fuel-efficient jets, driven in large part by the stubbornly high price of oil.

The companies’ total backlog of unfilled orders stands at more than 12,000 aircraft, valued at close to $2 trillion and enough to keep their assembly lines humming for more than eight years.

That is, unless the current drop in oil prices represents something more significant than a short-term imbalance of global supply and demand, some analysts warn. A main concern is that carriers could delay orders in hopes of saving money by keeping their older, fuel-guzzling jets flying for a few more years.

“What has propelled the market to record growth are two factors: cheap cash and expensive fuel,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group in Washington. “Now something has changed.”

“We can’t yet predict if it will last or how the air carriers will react,” he continued, “but I think now would be an excellent time for caution.”

Combined with low interest rates and recent efforts by some governments to clamp down on carbon emissions from aviation, the increase in jet orders, which began before the 2008 financial crisis, has lasted nearly a decade, longer than any previous boom cycle in the jet age.

Both big plane makers continued to pad their already hefty order books in 2014. Airbus said on Tuesday that it secured purchase contracts for a net 1,456 jets last year, down slightly from 1,503 planes in 2013, and that it delivered 629 in 2014. Last week, Boeing reported 1,432 net orders in 2014, up from 1,355 a year earlier, and 723 plane deliveries for the year – an industry record.

Boeing and Airbus each control roughly half the market for airliners with more than 100 seats.

Gains in fuel efficiency have topped the manufacturers’ lists of selling points for their newest generation of commercial jets. They include recently upgraded versions of short-range workhorses like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, as well as lightweight, wide-bodied models made from carbon fiber like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350, which will formally enter service with its first customer, Qatar Airways, this week.

But forecasts suggest that oil prices, which have fallen by more than half over the past six months, to less than $50 a barrel, will be significantly lower this year than in recent years.

In a short-term energy outlook published in December, the Energy Information Administration in Washington slashed its 2015 outlook for the average price of Brent, the international benchmark for crude, to $68 per barrel, compared with an average of $94 in 2014 and $98 in 2013.

The main factors behind the drop in oil prices, economists say, are a sharp increase in production by non-OPEC producers like the United States and other new sources, and slowing economic growth in some parts of the world – in particular Asia, the fastest-growing region for air traffic.

Weaker growth, in addition to the influx of new planes and a flood of new low-cost players in the air travel market, has already translated into a glut of available airline seats across parts of Asia, driving down ticket prices there.

“You are beginning to see the effects of overcapacity on airline profitability,” said Nick Cunningham, an aerospace analyst at Agency Partners, a London brokerage firm. While the wave of airline mergers in the United States has made this trend less apparent there, he said, the tendency is growing more pronounced in the rest of the world.

“You can’t keep on adding capacity without bankrupting the industry,” Cunningham said.

Falling oil prices may exacerbate the overcapacity problem by tempting airlines to lower fares in a bid to grow market share, said Adam M. Pilarski, an economist and senior vice president at Avitas, an aviation consulting firm in Chantilly, Virginia. That not only reduces the cash that airlines have available to pay for new planes they have ordered, he said, but also increases the odds that financially shaky carriers will delay or cancel orders — or not survive long enough to take delivery of their jets.

“Manufacturers know that when they sell a plane today for delivery in nine years, by then the environment might change,” Pilarski said. “The airline may change its mind, or it might not even be in business anymore.”

Last month, Airbus filed a lawsuit against Skymark, a struggling Japanese budget carrier that canceled a $2 billion order for six A380 superjumbo passenger jets in July. Airbus’ claim, filed in a British court, seeks unspecified damages. The plane maker has not said whether it has found another buyer for the planes.

Such cancellations have so far been rare. But some analysts worry that a sustained drop in oil prices could prompt some airlines to defer delivery of new planes, as it reduces the incentive to replace older fuel-guzzlers, at least in the near term.

“Let’s say you are an airline and you had a plan to replace a certain number of planes this year because they are really expensive to operate,” Pilarski said. “Suddenly, these costs go down substantially, and you say, ‘Now I can wait another year or two.’”

He continued: “In the short term, I would expect to see a decline in retirements.”

Any prolonged slowdown in the overall replacement rate could put the brakes on Boeing and Airbus delivery rates, analysts said. A study published last year by Ascend, an aviation consultancy based in London, found that about 50 percent of all new jet deliveries over the past five years had been for replacement purposes rather than growth, up from a long-term average of 43 percent since 1990.

Despite the prospect of a sustained period of lower fuel prices, plane makers are showing few signs of concern.

“They may decide to hold on to older planes a little longer,” Darren Hulst, Boeing’s director for market analysis, said of airlines. “But they will still need new aircraft to continue to grow and take advantage of the tailwinds in the operating cost environment.”

Referring to the lower projected fuel usage of coming jets like the Boeing 737 MAX or the A320neo, he added: “20 percent savings is 20 percent, no matter where the oil price settles.”
Fabrice Brégier, the chief executive of Airbus, said on Tuesday that with future oil prices impossible to predict, airlines would be wise to keep buying aircraft with lower fuel consumption. But he also emphasized that Airbus could weather any decline in orders.

“We have almost 6,400 aircraft in the backlog,” BrĂ©gier said at the company’s headquarters in Toulouse, France. “So we could, in principle, even sustain no orders for three to four years.”

That is a view shared by some airline executives, who say their fleet investments will not be swayed by a short-term drop in oil prices. Over the past year, for example, Ryanair, one of Boeing’s largest and fastest-growing customers, placed orders for 275 of Boeing’s new 737s for delivery through 2024, with an option to buy 100 more.

“I don’t worry too much about the short-term fluctuations in fuel,” Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, told analysts in November.

Although he conceded that lower fuel bills on its existing fleet of 300 planes had lessened the operating cost advantage of new planes “around the edges,” O’Leary emphasized that investing in a more fuel-efficient fleet now “is a huge unit cost advantage for us in five years’ time that nobody else will have.”

- Original article can be found at:

United States asks for a no-fly zone over Rajpath during Obama's visit on Republic Day, India says No

India has rejected the US request for a no-fly zone over Rajpath for the Republic Day parade where President Barack Obama will be the chief guest.

US secret service had asked Indian authorities to impose a no-fly zone around Rajpath during the Republic Day for Obama's security but Modi government denied it arguing that it is a tradition on Republic Day to have a fly past. Rajpath otherwise has a no fly zone for commercial flights.

Obama's visit between January 25-27 is regarded as a sign of expanding ties between the two nations.

Air Force One, Obama’s plane – equipped to protect Obama even from nuclear attack.It also operates as an airborne military command centre, with secure global satellite communications and TV studio facilities allowing the president to address the nation from the air.

It also operates as an airborne military command centre, with secure global satellite communications and TV studio facilities allowing the president to address the nation from the air.

Obama's entrounge includes:

Six aircraft, carrying security staff President’s cavalcade, with 30 cars. One of them might be the Cadillac One, among the world’s most high tech cars. Marine One helicopters Air Force One, Obama’s plane – equipped to protect Obama even from nuclear attack. 

Delhi Police today held meetings with sleuths of US Secret Service and top police officials of neighboring states to chalk out a coordination plan and identify possible challenges in order to ensure fool-proof security during the coming Republic Day parade where President Barack Obama will be the chief guest.

According to sources, officials of the US Secret Service discussed the overall security set-up for Obama's visit and also sought a certain details regarding the hotel where he would stay, routes he will travel and the places he will visit.

They have also asked access to CCTV cameras installed on all the routes to be travelled by the US President and several emergency exit routes were also finalized for Obama's entourage.

In a related development, an interstate co-ordination meeting aimed at strengthening cooperation and coordination in order to address various issues related to policing in NCR was held under the chairmanship of Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi today.

The main objective of the meeting was to share terror- related intelligence and inputs about various extremist outfits and their designs, besides curbing criminal activities in NCR region and having better coordination on all aspects of policing in view of the coming Republic Day and Delhi Assembly elections. Senior officers of Delhi Police and their counterparts from Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Rajasthan and J&K attended the meeting,"said a senior police official.

During the meeting, Bassi stressed on increasing police presence, intensive and co-ordinate checking at vulnerable points, tenant verification, guest house checking and sensitization of cyber caf? owners, second-hand car dealers,transporters, property dealers, cycle sellers, chemical dealers and STD/ISTD PCO booth owners.

"He also instructed to keep a watch on open area for flying of para-glider, micro-light aircraft, sharing information, conducting raids and concerted action against inter-state criminals particularly those involved in heinous offences, repeat offenders and gangs etc in order to strengthen measures of counter terrorism," said the official.   

Delhi Police requested for sharing of advance information regarding the visit of protected persons. The police chief also sought cooperation for creation of digitized databank for fingerprints of criminals operating in North India.

Original article can be found at:

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office: Toothbrush was ‘buzzing’ item at Palm Beach International Airport that prompted evacuation

WEST PALM BEACH — UPDATE: 11:25 a.m.: The buzzing item has been identified as a toothbrush.

Barbera praised the ticket agent for being alert.

“Can’t be safe enough these days,” she said.

UPDATE: 11:05 a.m.: Palm Beach County authorities have re-opened the third floor of Palm Beach International Airport following an evacuation this morning.

Teri Barbera, spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement that authorities were called to the airport at around 9:30 a.m. when a passenger attempted to check in a piece of luggage.

The agent at the ticket counter heard a buzzing sound and alerted deputies. The bomb squad was called to investigate and the third floor was shut down while authorities checked the bag.

Barbera said the passenger is cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.

ORIGINAL: 10:09 a.m.: Part of Palm Beach International Airport has been evacuated this morning as authorities investigate a suspicious item.

The third floor was evacuated because of a buzzing bag, according to Teri Barbera, spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Both sheriff’s deputies and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue’s bomb squad are on scene.

Original article can be found at:

With Air Koryo, getting there is half the risk • North Korea’s airline is at bottom of rankings for almost everything

North Korea’s Air Koryo once again ranked last in an annual survey of world airlines, despite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s order for it to improve its services. 

In the latest survey by Skytrax, a U.K.-based consultancy providing airline and airport reviews and rankings, Air Koryo was at the bottom of 600 global air carriers for the fourth consecutive year.

The survey reviewed various categories from the age of aircraft to inflight meals and language skills of the crew. The North received the lowest grade in most areas.

Established in 1950, Air Koryo is the state-owned national flag carrier of the North. One of the first direct orders issued by the young North Korean leader when he assumed power was to do something to improve Air Koryo. 

In May 2012, only a few months after he took power, Kim issued an order to improve the quality of the inflight meals and modernize the cabin crews’ uniform during a visit to Pyongyang Sunan International Airport.

Kim, who spent his youth in Switzerland, apparently had high standards. 

Due to the North’s economic woes, Air Koryo operates obsolete aircraft introduced by the Soviet Union in the 1960s. It has a fleet of 64 aircraft. No new acquisition has been made over the past 20 years.

The poor condition of the aircraft was publicized recently when a trip by Kim’s special envoy to Russia was disrupted. Choe Ryong-hae, a secretary of the Workers’ Party, and his entourage left Pyongyang for Russia on Nov. 17, 2014, but came back to the North due to the plane’s malfunction. After repairs, the aircraft left the country later that evening. 

Air Koryo operates international flights to destinations in Asia and Europe. It has offices in China, Russia, Thailand and Germany as well as sales agencies in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Italy, Austria and Germany. 

Passengers often criticize the inflight meals. They said the bread, coffee and meat are substandard, as main ingredients are largely produced in the impoverished North. Photos of a hamburger provided as an inflight meal have been posted by Air Koryo travelers on social media to substantiate their complaints. 

For duty free shopping, the only products offered are North Korean liquors, cigarettes and needlecraft work. Reading materials on flights are the propaganda photo booklet Choson, the Workers’ Party’s newspaper Rodong Sinmun and English-language Pyongyang Times. No imported magazines and newspapers are offered.

JoongAng Ilbo reporters flew the airline on domestic routes in the North for reporting in the past.

The trips often provided illustrations of how the airline tries to save money on operational costs. 

During a trip from Pyongyang to Wonsan, the pilot of a small propeller plane turned off the engine on the runway shortly after landing to save on fuel, the JoongAng Ilbo reported. A military truck approached, tied a rope to the plane’s landing gear to tow it to the terminal. 

North Koreans explained to the JoongAng Ilbo reporter that the pilot and flight attendants would be walking home from the airport, an hour’s trek.

Although Air Koryo is a nominally civilian airline, it is supervised by the North’s military.

Kang Ki-sop, the director-general of the country’s General Civil Aviation Administration, is a three-star general. 

South Korean intelligence officials said General O Kuk-ryol, who served as the Air Force commander, has a strong influence over Air Koryo. 

Air Koryo’s main hub is Pyongyang Sunan International Airport, which is also undergoing modernization on the order of young leader Kim. The airport, located about 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the capital city’s center, was reconstructed after the Korean War. 

Renovations were in their final stage, but Kim ordered them redone after he inspected the site last November last year, expressing his disappointment. 

“It appeared to be a copy of an airport in another country,” Kim was quoted as saying by the North’s media. “Do it again with the Juche [self-reliance] 

Original article can be found at:

New facilities coming to Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport (KLBX), Angleton, Texas

ANGLETON – Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport (LBX) hosted a Holiday Open House recently at the Airport’s headquarters in Angleton, Texas. Exciting news was presented at the event by Western LLC, a Houston-based real estate development and design-build firm. Western LLC announced their plan to develop new privately owned corporate and executive aviation facilities at LBX. The new aviation facilities will be built-to-suit with flexible floor plans, available for sale or for lease, and will be designed to accommodate a wide range of executive and corporate aircraft based on clients’ needs.

The Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport is owned and operated by Brazoria County and is located in the south-central area of the county just three miles south of Angleton. This general aviation airport is situated only a half mile to the west of Texas State Highway 288, which provides direct access to Houston within a brief 45 minute drive. 

This great location has resulted in the Texas Department of Transportation – Aviation Division (TXDOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to designate LBX as the general aviation reliever for the congested Houston area airports. As the greater Houston suburbs continue to grow, especially toward the south and southwest, LBX has become more heavily relied upon to be this reliever for business jets and turboprops. Western LLC’s aviation development at LBX will increase the efficiency of assisting this increase in air traffic that has come into the Brazoria County area.

President of Western LLC, Brad Henderson, presented the new development at the Holiday Open House on December 9th and was pleased with the support for their new development. Western LLC has worked closely with LBX airport officials in designing this new development to ensure it maximizes the airport’s potential as well as meets the growing demand that Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport has experienced. Jeff Bilyeu, the Aviation Director at LBX, expressed his anticipation for the new development stating “Brazoria County is very excited to partner with Western LLC to bring added hangar opportunities and facilities development at our Airport. Western will bring new options for our tenants and will drive prospective customers and tenants to our airport over the coming months.”

To learn more about this development, you can visit WWW.WESTERNLLC.NET. Western LLC is currently taking reservations and expects these units to be filled quickly. To reserve your unit, please email your interest to LBX@WESTERNLLC.NET.

Western LLC provides one-stop development and design-build services and are with you every step of the way from concept to completion. Western LLC offers a convenient and affordable option to aircraft owners and operators in the area who are seeking high quality hangars for their aircraft investment with the least hassle.

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Plane makes emergency landing in Luxembourg field

There was drama in Schieren, just south of Ettelbruck, on Sunday afternoon when a small plane was forced to make a landing in a remote field.

Two helicopters, a Luxembourg Air Rescue and a police, flew to the scene where the pilot had announced earlier via radio that he was attempting an emergency landing.

Luckily however, none of the three occupants, including the pilot, were injured in the incident.

Just why the pilot was forced to take drastic action and land in a field, is not known at this stage.

Original article can be found at:

Cuba travel loosens, no licenses needed

Key West International Airport may be a port of entry to Cuba, but no one is able to provide the 90-mile ride to the communist country.

"We currently do not have any authorized air carriers that can actually provide that service," Monroe County Director of Airports Don DeGraw said.

President Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro announced last month that the U.S. and Cuba are re-establishing diplomatic ties after half a century, which includes easing travel restrictions.

Americans who want to travel to Cuba now don't need to apply for a specific license as long as they meet criteria under one of 12 categories, which includes family visits, educational activities and humanitarian projects. But it seems that pretty much anyone could make a case for traveling to Cuba using one of the 12 categories, and there is no way to check it since paperwork is no longer needed.

Even travel agents who want to provide air service to Cuba won't need a specific license from the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control to do so. Nonetheless, for the Southernmost City and any other city, an air carrier still needs U.S. and Cuban approval to fly to Cuba, according to DeGraw.

In February 2014, Miami-based Mambi International Group partnered with flight operators Air Marbrisa and Air Key West to provide flights from Key West to Havana. The service lasted about six weeks.

DeGraw said there have not been any recent inquiries into flights to Cuba, but that could potentially change.

"We're interested to see what the exact consequences of this action will do here," DeGraw said. "Currently, air carriers do need the operating approval. If that starts loosening up, permits become less onerous, who knows what will happen and how that will open up commerce."

No matter how you get to Cuba, there's one thing you can't do: Commit acts of tourism even though it's believed many people will do just that.

Since no licenses are needed, the U.S. government will rely on a sort of honor system where travelers will self-certify that they are, indeed, qualified to travel.

In practice, what it means is that more Americans than ever will start trying to book trips to the communist island, which is closer to Miami than Disney World and has been virtually off-limits for half a century.

"This is the most exciting news we've heard ever since we started doing this 15 years ago," said Tom Popper, the president of Insight Cuba, which takes U.S. visitors to the island on what are known as people-to-people exchanges. "It's a huge change and a positive development for Cuba and a positive development for U.S. and U.S. business interests."

Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates in Washington, D.C, said increased U.S. tourism is bound to fill Cuban government coffers. Many of the high-end hotels and restaurants that tourists are drawn to are owned by the military. If the White House had mandated that visitors could only frequent privately run hostels and restaurants, the regulations might not be as problematic, he said.

Among the raft of changes announced Thursday, the U.S. government will no longer set limits on how much travelers can spend in Cuba and will allow the use of U.S. credit and debit cards. 

Original article can be found at:

Airbus A320-232, N583JB, JetBlue Airways: Incident occurred January 17, 2015 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK), New York

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Imagine taking off in a plane at full speed to all of a sudden have it stop just as quickly. That is what happened to passengers aboard JetBlue flight 1295 as it took off from JFK Airport Saturday night on its way to Austin, Texas. 

"We were heading full speed down the runway, and the plane came to a screeching stop," says passenger Brandon Card.

Caribbean Airlines Flight 526 was right in the path of JetBlue's plane

"The people came on the intercom and said 'yeah, we almost collided with another plane," said passenger Krista Hollis, "when they said that collision would have been inevitable if we hadn't braked, I was like, 'what?!'"

Radio transmissions between the tower and both planes show the tower contacted the Caribbean Airline pilot at least twice with no answer. There were tense moments as the JetBlue pilot aborted his takeoff moments before a potential deadly disaster could have taken place.

Aviation expert JP Tristani tells Eyewitness News that the Caribbean plane should not have been on the runway.

"No aircraft that is taxiing has the right of way without clearance from the ground operator," Tristani said.

Passengers aboard the JetBlue flight eventually made it to Austin, Texas, several hours late, but more than happy to be safe.

"They gave us a hundred dollar voucher, we had beer and wine and whatever we wanted on the plane," added passenger Anna Greenwood, "free movies - it was fine, they took good care of us."

JetBlue says that Caribbean Airlines was NOT authorized to cross the runway at the time.

JetBlue is not sure how close the two aircraft got to each other.

Original article can be found at:


Rhode Island Airports closed, travel advisory in affect for freezing rain


The National Weather Service reports T.F. Green Airport, North Central Airport in Smithfield and the Heliport in downtown Providence will be closed for air traffic until 10:15 a.m. today due to freezing rain conditions entering the area.

The freezing rain advisory remains in effect until noon on Sunday. The NWS said that although accumulations will be light, travel will be difficult and several accidents have already been reported across the state as a cause of the unpredicted weather pattern.


Captain Doron: Luscombe chasing the first sunrise of 2015 (preheat)

Published on January 17, 2015

Pilots, airports unhappy with Air Force expansion

DICKINSON, N.D. -- The U.S. Air Force has approved the proposed 12.7 million-acre expansion of the Powder River Training Complex that would cover parts of southwest North Dakota, southeast Montana and western South Dakota, setting up the plan for final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The decision comes less than two months after the Air Force finished an environmental impact study on the proposed military airspace expansion in late November.

If approved by the FAA, the expanded training area would be the largest Air Force training space in the continental U.S. Under the plan, the military airspace would double, increasing from 9 to 21.7 million acres. In all, the proposed training area would span from the Crow Indian Reservation in southeast Montana to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in south-central North Dakota and from Sundance, Wyo., in the south to Amidon, N.D., in the north.

On Friday, U.S. Congressional members from North Dakota and South Dakota touted the Air Force's decision as a win for the U.S. military and Minot and Ellsworth Air Force Bases while thanking Air Force officials for meeting with local pilots and airport administrators from the region to address people's concerns about the proposed expansion.

"Today's Record of Decision opens the door for better training for Minot's B-52s, while limiting the impact on civilian flights in southwestern North Dakota, which was a concern we worked to address," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement. "I appreciate the Air Force's commitment to working with us to find a solution that addresses concerns raised by general aviation and airport administrators. Also, I have requested that the Air Force continue working with local aviation interests as the range comes into use."

But while federal officials believe the plan is needed to serve the U.S. military, some people from the region remain unsatisfied with the plan, arguing that the expansion is a federal overreach that expands the military airspace even though the existing space has served the Air Force for years, throughout numerous wars.

"Unless I am missing something, I just don't get this," said Roger Meggers, an aviator from Baker, Mont., who has led the opposition against the plan.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said the language in the Air Force's final proposal allows for flexibility to receive more input from impacted communities.

"Our country is made strong by our families, our businesses and our national security forces that keep us safe," she said in a statement. "That's why it's crucial that we keep our rural towns healthy, and our local economies thriving by continuing to secure the access of our pilots, airports and businesses need to do their jobs throughout this expansion in Powder River."

Regional delays

Opponents to the plan have said they are concerned about flight delays from more than 30 airports in the region and possible declines in corporate flights to those airports.

Officials at the Baker and Bowman Municipal Airports have said they are concerned about a possible drop in traffic at the airstrips, which have both made substantial improvements in recent years to accommodate increasing corporate flights in and out of the region. Officials in Bowman are expected to complete construction on a new $14 million airport in May.

Air Force officials and congress members have said the plan would rarely cause delays in air travel besides the 10 days out of the year when the Air Force would run large-scale exercises involving roughly 20 aircraft at a time.

"I hear a lot from local stakeholders about their concerns with this expansion, and worked with the Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration to address them," Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement. "I'm pleased by the Air Force's accommodations to the concerns raised, and hope for successful implementation which provides adequate training and enough flexibility to ensure minimal impacts on other uses of the airspace."

But local pilots and congressional members from Montana point out that the plan would allow the Air Force to use the airspace for smaller operations 240 days out of the year.

"We were hoping our new airport would attract more flights," said Rodney Schaaf, president of the Bowman County Airport Authority. "We just hope this Powder River plan doesn't drive away business."

Schaaf said the Air Force has told him that the plan would only cause minimal delays at the Bowman airport, but he questioned what a minimal delay was -- whether it meant a couple of minutes or several hours.

The Bowman County Airport Authority had hoped the plan would have been amended to exempt low-altitude flights in Bowman County, but he said that hasn't happened.

Safety concerns

Those in opposition to the plan have also raised concerns about the safety of small-plane pilots that would operate under see-and-avoid flight plans, which requires those pilots to simply avoid camouflaged military jets flying at high speeds.

In response to those fears, Miranda Ballentine, the Air Force's assistant secretary for installations, agreed that the Air Force would not perform such operations until better in-flight communication among military, civilian and commercial pilots was established in the region, according to a news release from Sen. Hoeven's office.

According to the release, it could take months for that communication equipment to be installed.

Local pilots, who had not heard anything about the in-flight communication before Friday, said the upgraded in-flight communication is a start, but added that they have asked the Air Force to improve radar coverage in the area too.

"As far as I'm concerned, nothing has changed for us," Schaaf said. "The little glimmer is that communication system."

According to those pilots, there are areas in southwest North Dakota and southeast Montana where a plane cannot be picked up on radar until it is at 8,000 to 10,000 feet in the air. They said that fact remains a concern considering that most small plane pilots fly lower to the ground and the military would be conducting training runs below that altitude range.

"Yeah, there is still a concern," said Dave Helland, a pilot that operates out of Bowman.

Helland said he and the other local pilots will continue to fight the expansion plan. He said there is an upcoming town-hall meeting in Rapid City, S.D., next Friday, which he said amused him considering the Air Force has already made its decision.

All of the congressional members who support the plan have said they will be monitoring the project closely to make sure the Air Force ensures local airports and communities are not adversely affected.

"Over the past two years, and particularly in the past two months, I've been pressing the U.S. Air Force to make sure its plans protect the interests of North Dakota's airports, businesses, ranchers, tribes and local communities," Heitkamp said. "As this process continues, I'll continue to make sure that as we work to improve the Air Force's training abilities, we also keep our local communities protected, too."

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Spirit of St. Louis descends to floor for upkeep

WASHINGTON » Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, one of the most treasured aircraft at the National Air and Space Museum, has been lowered to the floor for its first conservation treatment in 22 years.

For decades the single-engine aircraft has been suspended from the ceiling and seen from afar. Early Thursday it was carefully lowered to the floor. Now visitors are getting a close look at the historic plane and can better imagine what it must have been like to fly.

The Spirit of St. Louis "is a flying fuel tank" that carried 451 gallons of gas, said Curator Robert van der Linden. Two large fuel tanks take up the nose of the aircraft, leaving no room for a front windscreen for Lindbergh to see through. Instead he relied on side windows, a periscope and compass headings and calculations to carry out his 33 1/2-hour flight.

For the next eight months, the aircraft is expected to be in full view to the museum's millions of visitors as conservators repair cracks in its fabric skin and search for other damage. The lightweight fabric exterior, common for aircraft of the 1920s, has become dry and brittle with age. The fabric covers wooden wings and a fuselage made of steel tubing.

"Even though you can't touch it, you're a lot closer to it, and it somehow seems a lot more personal," said Van der Linden, chairman of the museum's aeronautics department.

Lindbergh became a hero of flight in 1927 when he made the first solo trans-Atlantic flight, flying nonstop from New York to Paris. When the 26-year-old pilot landed in Paris, a crowd of more than 100,000 was waiting to greet him. Many swarmed the aircraft, tearing off pieces for souvenirs. The French air force helped to quickly make repairs.

After the famous flight, Lindbergh flew across the United States on a celebratory tour and then on to Central America and South America. Small flag symbols were painted on the nose of the Spirit of St. Louis to represent each country he visited. The last flag is from Cuba, dated 1928.

Lindbergh presented the plane to the Smithsonian that same year, and it was displayed in the Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall as an international symbol of the advances in aviation technology.

The plane will eventually be hoisted again to its high perch in the museum's Milestones of Flight Hall, which is being re-imagined to provide more stories about the people, politics and business behind aviation achievements.

"The airplane itself, the Spirit of St. Louis, is a very straightforward aircraft," Van der Linden said. "What made it special was the flight, the fact that Lindbergh by himself and at that time an unknown air mail pilot conquered the Atlantic."

Editor's note: Charles Lindbergh spent the final weeks of his life at his secluded Maui home and is buried in a small church graveyard in Kipahulu.

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Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, one of the premier artifacts at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., sat on the ground floor of the museum Thursday after being lowered for the first time in more than 20 years to have conservation work done, giving visitors a rare chance to see it up close. Lindbergh made the first solo trans-Atlantic flight and landed in Paris in 1927.

India harassing our national airline: Pakistan

NEW DELHI: In this winter chill in India-Pakistan relations, there's another storm quietly building up. Pakistan has alleged that its national carrier PIA is being harassed by Indian authorities for "illegal" purchase of properties in violation of RBI guidelines in an attempt, it said, meant to force PIA to shut its India operations and prevent people to people contacts.

The properties in question, 4 flats on Barakhamba Road, house the main PIA office in India. After it was served a notice by both RBI and ED, PIA has now replied saying that the flats, along with parking plots, were purchased in 2005 as per the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property in India) Regulations and that a declaration of the acquisition was filed with RBI within the stipulated 90 days.

This, PIA claims, was even acknowledged by RBI then. The same declaration was made by Citibank through which the payment for the properties was made. PIA has asked RBI and ED to immediately withdraw their notices "in larger interests of people from both countries'' saying these were hampering its operations here.

PIA operates a weekly flight to Lahore and Karachi from Delhi and twice to Karachi from Mumbai. It has had its office in India since 1976. ?PIA, according to Pakistan, will not give in to any "intimidation" and will not stall operations until it is specifically asked to do so by India.

Pakistan officials said that the visa of PIA's chief here had not been extended and that even his mobile phone had been disconnected by indian authorities. "It reflects a malafide intent to stop PIA operation and cause a blow to people to people contact. If PIA shuts down, people in northern India may still travel to Pakistan through Wagah but it will greatly inconvenience those in other parts of the country," said a Pakistan official.

PIA and Pakistan government officials are wondering as to why this issue of violation of RBI guidelines? has come up only 10 years after the purchase of the flats. The obvious inference on their part is that the development may be related to the change of dispensation in India with the Narendra Modi led government taking a more hardline position on issues related to Pakistan.

The first notice to PIA was sent in November 2014. Indian government officials said they had nothing to do with the notice to PIA. According to Indian officials, it is Pakistan which has consistently glossed over the significance of connectivity and better people to people ties by not fulfilling its promise to grant India non discriminatory market access, in return for India's MFN status to Pakistan, and open Wagah border for trade.

Indian officials said it was Pakistan which had delayed the signing of a motor vehicles agreement which would have facilitated free movement of commercial vehicles across Saarc countries. While India cancelled the foreign secretary-level talks last year after Pakistan high commissioner decided to meet Hurriyat leaders, PM Nawaz Sharif's adviser Sartaj Aziz again said last week that Pakistan was not going to hold any dialogue with India without Kashmir on agenda.

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