Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sky is limit for business at Walla Walla Regional Airport (KALW), Washington

The Walla Walla Regional Airport’s two major lines of business, aviation and the business park, produced solid results in 2014.

On the aviation side of the ledger, passenger enplanements set a record with 36,272 boardings. This represents a 9.7 percent increase in boardings over 2013.

Passenger load factors, the percentage of seats filled for each flight, averaged 74 percent in 2014 up from 70 percent in 2013. Load factors are closely monitored by Alaska Airlines and our strong numbers have clearly moved Walla Walla from a marginally performing market to a strong performing market.

Area residents who are flying out of Walla Walla whenever possible are making a significant impact. Thank you!

Our goal now is to increase the number of flights. Not an easy assignment as Walla Walla is one of the smallest markets Alaska Airlines serves.

The national trend is that small markets are losing air service entirely to regional-based airports. Walla Walla is bucking that trend, thanks to our progressive community.

While more flights may be a tough sell, we are going to continue to pursue this goal.

The airport’s general aviation community — emergency medical operations, agricultural aviation operations, cargo operations, flight instruction and business and personal travel — is doing well. In 2014 there were 23,652 aircraft operations.

The airport continues to improve its aging infrastructure. The Port has invested $3.9 million during the past two years to rehabilitate large portions of the aviation ramp.

In the next few years, the airport plans to rehabilitate the main taxiway system leading to the airport’s primary runway at a cost of approximately $7 million. Funding for these projects comes primarily from Federal Aviation Administration grants.

The airport’s business park has never done better. The occupancy rate for existing buildings is well over 90 percent.

In 2014, four new buildings were constructed, all by private businesses. The airport offers land leases up to 50 years. This allows a business to use its limited capital to construct buildings that make its business more productive, thereby avoiding the capital outlay of purchasing real property.

The business park has become a vibrant and growing small business community, including wineries, distilleries, artist studios, lodging, coffee shop, bakery and a host of small manufacturing companies.

The airport’s wine incubator buildings continue to operate at full capacity. The goal of the program to graduate tenants within six years is being realized. The wine incubator program has also been expanded to allow for startup microbreweries. The first microbrewery tenant is Burwood Brewing Company.

The transformation of the airport began when the Port of Walla Walla agreed to assume ownership from the city of Walla Walla and Walla Walla County in 1989.

In 2001, the airport terminal building was completed at cost of $10.5 million. The main airport runway was reconstructed in 2003 at a cost of $6.4 million.

Dozens of buildings within the business park have been remodeled by the Port and/or its tenants. Dilapidated buildings have been torn down and the airport’s main entrance has been landscaped to improve the visual image of the business park.

Walla Walla has one of the most vibrant airport business parks in the state of Washington.

The Port Commission remains committed to enhancing both lines of business at the airport with targeted capital investments.

Jennifer Skoglund has been the manager of the Walla Walla Regional Airport since 2009. Previous to that she held various leadership roles at the airport dating back to 1999. She is a graduate of Washington State University with a degree in business administration. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Washington Airport Managers Association.

Original article can be found at:

Veterinarian seeks help flying elderly lizard for surgery • Specialized treatment in Florida, veterinarian says

SACO, Maine —Maine veterinarian Sandra Mitchell needs helping transporting a sick, elderly lizard to Florida. Beardie, a bearded dragon lizard, needs emergency cancer surgery.

“If this lizard does not receive surgery, she will undoubtedly die very soon,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said none of the major airlines will agree to fly the 8-year-old lizard onboard. The animal cannot be stowed as cargo either because it is too cold.

According to the websites of the airlines flying from the Portland Jetport, only dogs and cats and sometimes household birds are allowed onboard. Each airline has its own policy.

“The real shame of this situation is that the lizard is smaller than the average pet allowed on a plane, could not possibly escape from a typical cat carrier, makes no noise, has no smell, and would be wrapped in blankets for warmth and therefore would not even be visible to someone looking closely – much less trouble than the average pet on the plane,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said Beardie has liver cancer and the trip to Florida is for a specialized procedure.

Mitchell said other options include hiring a private pilot to travel to Florida or drive.

Story and photo:

Falcone v. Silver Airways Corp. et al

Case Number:    0:2015cv60146

Filed:    January 23, 2015

Court:    Florida Southern District Court

Office:    Ft Lauderdale Office

Presiding Judge:   

Nature of Suit:    Labor: Fair Standards

Cause of Action:    15:1938 Fair Labor Standards Act

Jury Demanded By:    Plaintiff


Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Objects To Santa Monica's Claim Over Airport In Federal Appeals Case

POSTED JAN. 24, 2015, 9:41 AM


Editor's Note: This is a Letter to the Editor from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which is as an organization the advocates the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation enthusiasts.

Dear Editor,

The City of Santa Monica’s efforts to absolve itself from an agreement with the federal government are obviously intended to restrict or end operations at Santa Monica Airport in violation of longstanding federal law and a specific contract it signed, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) argued in a federal appeals court filing Thursday.

That consequence – losing the availability of Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) -- the court filing argues, could have a detrimental impact on air transportation for thousands of South Californians.

The amicus brief filed jointly by AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association notes that the city took back control of SMO from the federal government after World War II under the U.S. Surplus Property Act (SPA).

That law determined that airports that were valuable to the maintenance of ‘”an adequate and economical national transportation system” could be transferred to local government, the brief stated, but only in consideration of the “acceptance of reservations, restrictions, and conditions of the Federal government.”

In 1948, the City of Santa Monica accepted the airport from the federal government, which had taken it over during wartime for aircraft production. The city regained control of the airport with the understanding that the airport would operate in perpetuity, which is what the SPA required and which was set forth in terms within the airport transfer agreement.

The SPA, the amicus brief argued, “Specified that surplus airport property be disposed of in such a manner so as to ensure that the property remained airports as needed for an efficient national transportation system, under the oversight of the Federal government and that airport property not be misallocated by transferees for other purposes.”

But the city’s actions today, the brief argues, “could have the ulterior purpose of restricting or closing SMO once its commitments to the federal government,” such as the acceptance of federal airport improvement funds, have ended.

That action, AOPA and NBAA argued, “Would entirely contradict both the overt purposes of the Surplus Property Act and the transfers made pursuant to that law.”

The City of Santa Monica initially sued over SMO in federal court in October 2013, claiming that it was not fully aware that the Federal government had a continuing expectation of the City’s compliance with the conditions of the 1948 transfer agreement concerning the airport. A U.S. district court judge threw out the city’s initial case as being filed too late to challenge something that they’ve known about for over 65 years, leading the city to appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court, where the AOPA-NBAA amicus brief was filed.

On appeal, the city has again argued that it did not know that the conditions of the 1948 agreement were still in force, and that, in any event, a 1984 settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration over aircraft traffic at SMO extinguished any rights the federal government had under the World War II-era statute.

AOPA and NBAA have argued that the city was well aware of the 1948 transfer conditions, and that it waived its right to object to that agreement long ago.

“The city’s claim of ignorance at this late date about the effect of the plain and recognized language at issue amounts to a transparent and parochial effort to selfishly achieve a city objective without regard to how it would effectively weaken the national air transportation system that has been planned, established and nurtured to serve the nation’s public,” the brief states.  

Steve Hedges, AOPA

Article and Comments:

Jacksonville International Airport (KJAX) still trying to overcome decline in flights, passengers • Recession, airline consolidation caused many mid-size airports to lose flights in recent years

The check-in counters at Jacksonville International Airport have illustrated the turmoil in the airline industry over the past decade.

When Delta Air Lines fused with Northwest Airlines in 2008, so did their counters. Same with United Airlines and Continental Airlines, which merged in 2010, and Southwest Airlines and AirTran, in 2012. Some airlines left when they cut flights to Jacksonville, and a newborn airline, Silver Airways, has moved in.

As the airport’s check-in area has been transformed, so has its air service. Passenger traffic at Jacksonville International is still below where it was before the recession, despite a gain in the past year. Like many other medium-size airports, it was hit by a whirlwind of economic forces in recent years, including the recession, the high cost of oil and the consolidation of airlines, which has lost it some flights and thinned its crowds of passengers.

During the recession, passenger traffic at Jacksonville International fell from 6.3 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009, according to data from the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, a government agency that owns and manages the airport. And it has dropped more since then: In 2014, 5.3 million passengers passed through its terminal.

The airport has added several new flights in the past decade, including ones to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati that are set to begin in February and another to Pensacola that will take off in March. But it has lost routes to Cleveland; Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Norfolk, Va.; and Indianapolis, and others have become less frequent. In December, the airport averaged 90 departures per day, down from 96 during that month in 2010 and 120 in 2007.

But Jacksonville International hasn’t been hurt as badly as many other medium-size airports, according to FAA data, airport officials and analysts of the aviation industry.

“Jacksonville doesn’t seem that bad,” said Sarah Stock, who analyzes the aviation industry for ICF International, a consulting firm. “They’re down a little bit, but not nearly as bad as some other airports of their size.”


About three years ago, Jacksonville International began offering incentives to airlines to entice them to bring more flights to the airport, said Steve Grossman, executive director of the aviation authority. When an airline adds a flight, it receives money to market the route and a waiver of fees it would otherwise pay to the airport. Last year, incentives cost the aviation authority about $600,000.

Incentives have become common among airports competing for new flights. Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and even the behemoth Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have their own programs.

“Airlines are looking to serve markets that will make them the most money. They don’t really care what city it’s in, they just want to make the most money,” Grossman said. “If you don’t offer those, and other airports do, it will work against you.”

Incentives aren’t the only tool at the airport’s disposal. Every year, it publicizes its nonstop flights on billboards and in print and radio ads in an attempt to attract passengers. Airport leaders also meet with major airlines to persuade them to add flights. They’ve been pushing for routes to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco; a West Coast flight is “the key,” Grossman said.

In its competition with other airports, Jacksonville International has advantages and disadvantages, analysts said. It has plenty of business passengers — “business traffic is the staple of our airport,” Grossman said — but fewer tourists than many other major Florida airports.

That can be a curse and a blessing. Grossman pointed out that Jacksonville International isn’t hurt as badly when an economic slowdown causes Americans to forgo vacations.

But the lack of tourists means that Jacksonville International has fewer routes — and higher fares — than cities like Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, said Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly, a trade publication. In the second quarter of 2014, Jacksonville’s average fare was $389, Orlando’s was $309 and Fort Lauderdale’s was $300, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Jacksonville is kind of caught in between — it doesn’t have that international marketing cache in terms of a destination, but it’s not a big originating market,” Kaplan said, referring to the size of its population.

Because Jacksonville isn’t a hub, it has fewer routes but a wider range of airlines than a medium-size hub would have, Stock said. The airport also benefits from being relatively far from competing airports. Some Jacksonville residents will drive two hours or more to Orlando to board nonstop international flights, but the numbers are fewer than in a part of the country with a higher density of airports, such as the Boston area, she said.

“One of the things that impacts small and medium hub airports is, ‘What are the alternative airports?’ With Jacksonville, the way it’s placed, it’s hard to leak to too many other airports,” she said.


The economic malaise that followed the recession is partly to blame for the decline in passenger traffic at Jacksonville International in recent years, analysts said. A large part of the decline was caused by mergers that have rocked the airline industry in recent years.

When the airlines consolidated and eliminated some of their hubs, many of their routes became obsolete, Kaplan said. That’s why Jacksonville lost its route to Memphis after the merger of Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines in 2008, and its route to Cleveland after the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines in 2010, he said.

“In a more fragmented airline industry, those Cleveland and Memphis flights were necessary because those airlines, which no longer exist, needed flights to their hubs to connect passengers onward,” he said.

“Once Delta and Northwest merged, all of a sudden Delta doesn’t really need those Memphis flights anymore.”

Between 2010 and 2013, the number of passengers boarding planes at Jacksonville International fell by 7.5 percent. But many other mid-size airports saw declines: 4.7 percent in Cleveland, 32 percent in Milwaukee, 29 percent in Cincinnati, 3.9 percent in West Palm Beach and 14.9 percent in Tucson, according to FAA data.

“Obviously, any time your passenger traffic goes down it’s a concern, but it didn’t reflect anything specific to Jacksonville,” Grossman said.

Some data suggests that Jacksonville airport is on an upswing. From 2013 to 2014, the airport’s passenger traffic rose from 5.1 million to almost 5.3 million, according to data from the aviation authority. It averaged 90 departures per day in December, up from 83 during that month in 2013.

The recovering economy has helped turn things around for airports like Jacksonville International, analysts said. If the economy keeps improving, and the price of oil stays low, airlines could continue to add flights.

“It’s not going to be all of a sudden all this crazy new service, but it would be putting back the marginal flights that have been trimmed,” Kaplan said.

Jacksonville International has a long-standing plan to add a new wing, “Concourse B.” A model near one of the airport’s food courts shows it branching out between Concourse A and Concourse C, with 15 bridges to connect planes to their gates. The plan will move forward if the airport needs more capacity, spokeswoman Debbie Jones said.

For his part, Grossman is optimistic about getting flights to the West Coast, as well as routes to Central America and the Caribbean. He’s also talking with airlines about bringing back routes to Birmingham and Norfolk.

“And who knows? With the opening in Cuba, we’ll see,” he said.

Story and photo gallery:

Boeing pushing Congress for more efficient airplane certification process

Ray Conner, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, wants the Federal Aviation Administration to focus more on engines and flight systems and less on kitchens and bathrooms.

Conner testified this week before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure about the need for more efficient certification of Boeing’s airplanes, including the 787 Dreamliner the company makes at its North Charleston campus and in Everett, Wash.

There’s often a duplication of efforts between FAA inspectors and Boeing’s in-house inspection team — which has full FAA training and authority — when it comes to certifying parts of an airplane, such as the galley and lavatories, that aren’t crucial to the plane’s ability to fly safely, Conner told the committee.

The current system is “not nearly as efficient as it could be, and that causes disruption in our production system, it causes disruption into the value stream of our suppliers and it causes disruption to our customers as well,” he said.

It’s a complaint that resonates with some members of Congress as they work on an FAA reauthorization bill that focuses on streamlining the certification process. FAA’s current authorization expires at the end of September.

“I’ve seen over and over and over again in my two years here in Congress how government regulation too often, in the name of protecting the public, makes us less competitive and actually does very little to protect the public,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican from South Carolina’s 7th District.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said he sees “a lot of FAA activity that has nothing to do with safety.”

Boeing has about 1,000 engineers and inspectors on its payroll that have the FAA’s authority to certify certain components of an airplane. The “organization designation authority” program, or ODA, which has been in place at Boeing for six years, is supposed to let the FAA focus on flight-risk aspects while leaving such things as aesthetics to the Boeing inspectors.

Too often, Conner said, the FAA has been reluctant to give up its oversight of things that aren’t directly related to safety.

“I would just say it’s an inordinate amount of time that’s spent on seat certifications, on interior certifications, on lavatories, galleys, these kinds of things that I think we have the capability to do a very good job,” Conner told the committee. “We’re highly trained in these areas. These are things we deal with every single day and we have a full, ongoing commitment.”

The duplication of efforts is delaying Boeing’s ability to get airplanes to customers, Conner said, and hurting its competitiveness.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the committee’s chairman, questioned whether the current certification process puts Boeing at a disadvantage to rival Airbus, which has a more streamlined process to get its products certified.

“Airbus utilizes delegation to a larger extent than we do,” Conner said. “They’ve taken advantage of a greater portion of the delegation in the areas of interiors, the things I just spoke about.”

Gerald Dillingham, director of civil aviation issues at the Government Accountability Office, said some FAA inspectors have been slow to adapt to new ODA policies.

“Part of the explanation is that when you go to an ODA and you start to assign those kind of inspection responsibilities outside of the FAA, we’re talking about a significant cultural change from the way the agency has been doing business for eons,” Dillingham said. “It takes time for that to be in place. We’re at the point now where change is possible and change within a relatively speedy time.”

The FAA has been trying to force that change, according to Dorenda Baker, the agency’s director for aircraft certification service. It already delegates about 90 percent of its certification activities, she said, and it audits each ODA program at least once every two years to ensure the private-sector investigators are matching the FAA’s safety standards. FAA inspectors now must document those occasions where they retain certification authority and explain why they took that action.

Congress will study how to improve the certification process in the months leading up to the FAA’s reauthorization. Conner told committee members he’s confident the federal agency is moving in the right direction.

“We have enough resources between the FAA and ourselves to make this happen,” Conner said. “It’s how we use those resources in the most effective way possible so that we can ensure that we maintain a safe and compliant product while still being efficient enough to compete in the highly competitive aerospace industry.”

Story and photos:

Mooney M10 Cadet, N9522V, M10 Aviators LLC: Incident occurred January 24, 2015 at Kirbyville Airport (T12), Jasper County, Texas

Regis#: N9522V 
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M10
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
State: Texas


Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Houston FSDO-09


 Jasper County- The Department of Public Safety received a phone call of a plane crash at 1:50 pm Saturday at the Kirbyville Airport in Jasper County.

The pilot, Stacy Moore, 37, of Slidell, Louisiana, and her father Anthony Moore, 66, were not injured in the crash.  

DPS says Moore took off from the airport in a Mooney M-10 Cadet aircraft. He experienced strong crosswinds and lost control of the plane. The plane crashed near runway 31.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.

Original article can be found at:

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -  A private plane crashed at the Kirbyville Airport in Jasper County at 1:50 p.m. Saturday afternoon, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The pilot of the plane was identified as 37-year-old Stacy Moore. The passenger was his father, 66-year-old Anthony Moore. They are both from Slidell, Louisiana. 

The pilot says strong crosswinds caused him to lose control of the plane which crashed near runway 31. 

According to Trooper Stephanie Davis, there are no confirmed injuries at this time.    

Davis says authorities are interviewing the pilot for additional details. 

Flytenow grounded: Federal Aviation Administration shuts down ride-sharing for air travelers

 The federal government has blocked efforts to expand the "ride-sharing" models pioneered by Uber and Lyft to the flying public.

The Federal Aviation Administration says "flight-sharing" -- when online services connect private pilots with passengers willing to split the cost -- is against the law. But one startup is fighting back, CBS News' Don Dahler reports.

Pilot Matt Voska said he helped launch Flytenow to make flying more affordable.

The concept is simple. Pilots post flight plans to the website, and passengers offer to pay some of the fuel and other costs - something allowed long before the Internet came along.

"It's typically done on bulletin boards, like at the airport, so a pilot will say, 'Hey, I'm flying to Martha's Vineyard next week, anyone wants to come with, here's my number,'" Voska said. "So we said OK, let's just take that same concept and we'll put it online."

But the FAA said not so fast. By accepting paying passengers through websites like Flytenow, the agency believed the small planes were essentially operating as commercial airliners but without the scrutiny and oversight commercial airlines receive.

In August, an FAA lawyer wrote, "The website is designed to attract a broad segment of the public interested in transportation by air."

Tal Reichert, a pilot for almost 11 years, signed up with Flytenow in March.

"This is just people sharing their hobby and their passions," Reichert said. "This is not commercial aviation. It is impossible for a pilot to make a living flying through Flytenow. Every time a pilot flies for Flytenow, the pilot must pay at least their own share of the expenses."

The decision stalled Flytenow's business as well as other flight-sharing services like AirPooler and, which had been cleared by a different FAA official in 2005.

While pilots can still share costs, a problem now arises if they use the Internet to find passengers, said Flytenow's attorney, Jon Riches. He sued the FAA earlier this month.

"The FAA has been very vague in this case and put private pilots in a very difficult position in not knowing which of their communications are lawful and which aren't," Riches said.

Reichert hopes the federal lawsuit will prompt the FAA to reverse course.

"I love flying," he said. "I much more enjoy it when I can share it with someone else. The world looks completely different from above, and this is amazing."

Story, video and comments:

FBI: All clear given after bomb threats on Atlanta bound planes

ATLANTA — UPDATE: FBI Special Agent in Charge says both aircraft have been swept and cleared. They are finishing searching the last pieces of luggage. So far, he says nothing suspicious has been found. 

The FBI says they plan to sweep online feeds and WiFi from the planes to track down who made the threats.


Bomb threats are causing delays at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Channel 2's Mark Winne learned that NORAD fighter jets escorted two airline flights into the airport due to credible threats of bombs on board.

The Atlanta airport told Winne that Delta flight 1156 from Portland, Oregon, and Southwest flight 2492 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were affected by the threats.

Channel 2's Mark Winne confirms the threats were made on Twitter.

Both planes have landed safely and are sitting on the taxiway waiting to be swept by the Atlanta police bomb squad.

FBI officials say the passengers on both flights will be interviewed and searched before they are allowed to leave the area.

Sources told Winne all air traffic south of runway 27 left is being halted so there will be delays.

Southwest Airlines released the following statement Saturday afternoon:

"Due a security situation, the aircraft operating Flight 2492 was taken to a remote area of the airport where Customers and the aircraft are being rescreened. Our number one priority is the Safety of our Customers and People. We cannot comment on the nature of the security situation." 

Delta PIO Morgan Durrant told Channel 2 Action News there is always an ongoing concern about security. He said he couldn't comment on the threats.

He said Delta flight 1156  was taken to a taxi way of the airport to have officials sweep the plane for security . He said the plane was inbound to Atlanta from Portland. He said they would re-book passengers that needed connections.  He is working to find out how many people were on the flight.

“Credible” bomb threats were made over social media Saturday against two flights bound for Atlanta, an airport spokesman said.

The flights landed safely after being escorted into Atlanta by military fighter jets.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport spokesman Reese McCrainie told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at 3 p.m. that both flights — Delta 1156 and Southwest 2492 — had landed and were sitting on a taxiway waiting to be swept by the Atlanta police Bomb Squad.

McCranie would not say how the threats were received, only that, “we believe the threats to be credible.”

While authorities have not yet verified the threatening tweets, someone calling himself “King Zortic” first posted messages to Delta on Twitter that said, “I have a bomb on one of your planes, but I forgot which one when I left the airport. Can you help me find it?,” and “It was from Portland to Atlanta, I forgot the flight number, though. It was something like DL156 or DL 1556 I forgot the order.”

Another tweet read, “It was smuggled through one of the back entrances because the airport didn’t have much security around one of the entrances so the bomb is at the back of the plane. Everyone will know when it’s detonated.”

Messages later were sent to Southwest Airlines from the same Twitter account read, “A bomb was placed on SWA2492. It will be detonated at a random time of my choosing,” and “If anything happens to me I’ll make sure that more flights are targeted. I strongly suggest you don’t try anything stupid.”

FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that NORAD scrambled military fighter jets to escort the two planes to Atlanta after the threats were made.

The passengers were being removed from the planes, and Runway 27L has been closed, McCranie said.

The passengers were taken off the Delta flight, arrived from Portland, Ore., first, and at 4:45 p.m., passengers were being taken off the Southwest plane, which arrived from Milwaukee, Wisc. Bomb-sniffing dogs were seen checking the passengers and their carry-on bags as they deplaned.

Witnesses reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles on the tarmac, and the Federal Aviation Administration said just before 3 p.m. that departing flights were experiencing gate holds and delays of up to 30 minutes due to a bomb threat.

In recent days, unfounded bomb threats have been made against Delta flights bound for Raleigh, N.C., and Tel Aviv.

Story, video and photo:

Passengers are taken off a Delta plane on a taxiway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after a bomb threat was received against the flight. WSB-TV photo.

On cloud nine: High-fliers are discovering the joys of single-engine aircraft

For hobby pilots in Pune, nothing compares to the magic of being airborne in a single engine aircraft. The pure joy of defying the pull of gravity to fly into clear blue skies is an experience they wish to relive over and over again. But in India, where recreational flying is yet to catch on, the hobby isn't so easy to pursue.

"Even getting a pilot's license can be a struggle," rues Vikas Achalkar, an architect in his 40s. Achalkar decided to give the activity a try two years ago, and soon got hooked. He remembers the time he flew a Cessna 172R solo for the first time last year. "I had to overcome my vertigo to achieve the feat," says Achalkar, who got goosebumps while taking off from a runway in Baramati. Achalkar learnt flying from the Baramati-based Academy of Carver Aviation.

In aviation, the ultimate test for a rookie pilot is to successfully fly an aircraft solo for the first time. However, only after spending considerable amount of time and money was Achalkar confident enough to fly a plane singlehandedly.

His confidante in the pleasures and challenges of piloting an aircraft was fellow city-based recreational flying enthusiast, Sameer Belwalkar. Before they got a chance to sit inside a cockpit, Achalkar and Belwalkar had to familiarise themselves with air law, rules and regulations.

Moreover, both had to make their way through reams on meteorology, navigation and aeronautics. "Imagine studying the nuances of flying in your 40s," laughs Achalkar. But with each other's help and support, both finally cleared the written tests two years ago.

They also had to clock 40 hours of flying to become eligible to get a private pilot license (PPL). "The effort we put into practicing flying was totally worth it," smiles Achalkar.

Interestingly, most people have been drawn to give recreational flying a go in their late 50s and 60s. Swapnil Baheti, a flight instructor at the Academy of Carver Aviation, tries to explain why. "One thing that's common about these individuals is their urge to do something different in life," says Baheti.

Another reason perhaps is that flying for pleasure is an effective stress buster. "These extremely busy individuals, who come to us to learn flying, lead very hectic lives. But when they take off skyward, all the cares of this world are left behind," Baheti adds. "I can't describe the feeling of being completely in tune with the aircraft and one's environment in words," smiles Belwalkar, a real estate developer.

Achalkar and Belwalkar are now planning to pool in money to buy their own private single engine aircraft. "Contrary to what many people think, a single engine aircraft doesn't cost millions. A secondhand airplane can be bought for Rs 60 lakh," mentions Achalkar. According to him, a secondhand aircraft is as good as new. "An airworthy airplane is equipped with parts in top condition. The aircraft may look old, but its engine is duly changed periodically," he explains. The most popular ones are the models produced by Cessna, an American aircraft company and Diamond's single engine aircrafts manufactured in Austria. The model used by Achalkar and Belwalkar is a Cessna 172R, a four-seat light aircraft owned by Carver.

But recreational flying comes with a price. Pursuing a course towards getting a PPL can cost anything around Rs 6 lakh and takes a few months to complete. Chartering a single engine aircraft can cost as much as Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000 per hour. Also, dealing with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is a hassle as it's yet to fully meet the needs of hobby fliers. The complaints against DGCA are many: flying enthusiasts claim DGCA's website is difficult to navigate and that it's not updated regularly. Sometimes, if somebody buys a new single engine aircraft, DGCA isn't aware of the model and getting licenses becomes a time-consuming procedure. (DGCA officials were not available for comment when contacted.)

Yet, there are people like Vishwas Bhisey, an entrepreneur, who decided to pursue recreational flying despite the difficulties. He owns a single engine airplane manufactured by Diamond Aircraft. For aircraft owners, it's a totally different ballgame— the plane has to be parked in a hangar at Academy of Carver Aviation — besides being maintained by aircraft maintenance engineers. The most senior and experienced pilot among the group, Bhisey got into recreational flying back in 1986.

Bhisey is so seasoned, he says he doesn't rely much on his aircraft's equipment while landing, which is the most critical moment for any pilot. He flies purely by instinct, and explains that with time it's possible for anybody to fly like him. "I resumed flying in 2008 after a long break. I realised in my 50s that I wasn't going to live forever. Now, I am making the best use of my time flying my Diamond," says Bhisey.

According to Baheti, Achalkar, Belwalkar and Bhisey treat Carver in Baramati like their second home. Sometimes, they even insist on wearing a pilot's uniform while flying although PPL holders are exempted from wearing one. And as one would expect, the boys have a gala time once they are inside an aircraft — flying around Baramati — and whenever time permits, to places like Shimla, Kolkata and even Lakshadweep. Once they reach their destination, they land to refuel before resuming flying.

All the hobbyists agree that having spouses and children, who are supportive of their hobby is a plus point. "If you look at it, the time we spend on flying is borrowed from the time we should have spent with our family," says Achalkar. The activity is pursued at least once or twice a month with gusto, and on days when they aren't practising their flying skills, they can't wait to head back to Baramati.

The variables these budding aviators have to deal with while flying is truly mind-boggling. "But we have to perform no matter what. Whether it's observing wind speed, stabilising an aircraft or dealing with a stray cow that appears on a runway out of nowhere while landing, flying is risky business," says Belwalkar. So why would anybody want to take a risk? "Flying an aircraft isn't as far-fetched as it's made out to be. Yes, it is expensive, and you have to deal with the weather and authorities, but at the end of the day it's all worth it when the sky is the limit," smiles Belwalkar.

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New Bedford Regional Airport (KEWB) a bright spot among wetland quagmires • Airport works with state, consultants on broad project

Matthew Elia, New Bedford Regional Airport's assistant manager, talks about the wetland conservation that the airport has taken on with recent updates. PETER PEREIRA/THE STANDARD-TIMES

NEW BEDFORD — As an assistant airport manager and a pilot himself, Matt Elia’s eyes light up when he talks about the revamped runway that opened last fall at New Bedford Regional Airport. But Elia gets equally excited when he’s talking about the enormous environmental work that made the runway possible.

“This is brand-new, state-of-the-art wetland,” Elia said, standing on the edge of a bowl-shaped wetland site not far from the glistening runway.

The wetland’s ice-covered surface was surrounded by light green, straw-like matting, with woody debris and rock features scattered around to replicate a natural environment.  The site, the size of a few basketball courts, is twice the footprint of an adjacent light station that guides planes on and off the runway.

Elia said different teams of consultants designed the site, built it and monitored its construction, all in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration.  

“The whole time, there were multiple levels of oversight,” he said.

Elia said the FAA required the airport, which recently completed a multi-year expansion and upgrade of its 5,400-foot Runway 5, to follow all state environmental requirements. That meant extensive wetland work. Wetlands account for a significant portion of the 850-acre airport site just off Route 140.

Driving around the airport in a yellow pickup Wednesday, Elia pointed out — on the other end of the upgraded runway — how engineers rerouted a stream and built a small dam to optimize the flow of water through wetlands covered in tall, wheat-like reeds called phragmites.

The airport and its massive wetlands, which required a state variance due to their size, could be viewed as a rare success story in a state riddled with wetland replication woes.

The revent investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting said “the state’s landscape is pocked with hundreds of examples” of failed wetland replication efforts. 

Developers failed to follow through with requirements, wetland sites were attempted in highly unsuitable areas or myriad other problems arose, the investigation found.

But wetland issues don’t arise in SouthCoast as much as might be expected in a coastal region, though, according to local conversation workers who say most projects in the area are on a small scale or don’t require much replication.

“We don’t have too many projects that involve wetlands filling — we have some, but not many,” said Sarah Porter, conservation agent for the city of New Bedford.  “The project that had the biggest wetlands impact was New Bedford Regional Airport.

“New Bedford is pretty built out, so a lot of our projects are just buffer zone projects, where people are proposing to work within 100 feet of a wetland area,” Porter added.

Both Porter and Michael O’Reilly, environmental affairs coordinator for the Town of Dartmouth’s Conservation Commission, said most of the required wetland work they see is done during construction, with close monitoring.

“We’ve had reasonably good success with our wetland replications,” O’Reilly said last week.

O’Reilly said his department has seen 15 or 20 wetland projects in the last two years, “mostly very small.”

“The maximum amount of wetland alteration that’s allowable (under normal permitting) is 5,000 square feet,” he said.

O’Reilly added that the mantra for wetland conservationists is “avoid, minimize, mitigate” — meaning don’t build near wetlands if you can avoid it, and work to create the smallest possible impact if you can’t.

More environmental decisions are coming onto the airport’s radar — Elia said plans to improve a taxi way and add green space islands are under way for next year. The city’s Conservation Commission gave a solid review of those plans at a meeting last week, Elia said.  

Elia said the airport has a mantra, as well — “Environmentally Working Better,” a play on “EWB,” the airport’s call letters.

“We’ve really adopted it,” he said, explaining that the meaning extends beyond wildlife concerns to working environment, airport environment, and so on. “It plays a role in every decision we make.”

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DuBois Regional Airport (KDUJ) Authority approves land sale

REYNOLDSVILLE - Members of Clearfield and Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority approved the sale of two parcels of land at yesterday's meeting.

Cactus Wellhead has purchased a 5.05-acre piece of property located adjacent to the section it currently owns at a cost of $126,250. The company, which was the first to purchase property in the airport's air commerce park, manufactures pressure controlled equipment used in natural gas drilling and production operations. Its parent company is located in Houston, Texas.

The authority will retain all mineral rights to the property. The land covenant associated with the acreage allows buildings to be constructed on the parcel provided they are in keeping with the airport's zoning restrictions.

The second piece of land is located across from the air commerce park along state Route 830. The 5.21-acre parcel has both a large wetland and a stream running through it and is not suitable for building. Corbin Holdings LLC, an adjacent property owner, is buying the acreage at a cost of $6,600 - the land value as determined by certified appraisal. The authority and Corbin will equally share the mineral rights with the property.

Robert Shaffer, manager, said the Corbin Holdings LLC land purchase has been in negotiations for a year while requirements for the sale established by the federal Aviation Administration were being met.

Approving the sale were Jeff Bellmore, Jay Chamberlin, Gene Mineweaser, Judy Mitchell, Rick Wise and Joe Varacallo, members. Joe Barber and David Stern were absent. A vacancy currently exists on the board.

The declining number of passengers utilizing the airport was discussed, with members stating they want to develop a plan for bringing travelers back. About 1,000 less used DuBois Regional Airport in 2014 than in 2013, with the total number for the year at just more than 4,000.

Shaffer said to continue with essential air service, where the cost of flights is federally subsidized, the airport must maintain a level of 10,000 passengers per year.

Mineweaser asked whether the authority could seek a grant for marketing the airport as it received several years ago when it hired a marketing coordinator and offered rebates to those flying out of the airport. He said the authority was able to track what type of traveler was utilizing the airport through a survey associated with the rebate, adding he thinks it is important to know who is using the airport for traveling.

Shaffer said the grant is still available but the pot of money is much smaller and the authority would need to come up with a new plan for spending any grant funds received.

Varacallo said he would like the authority to create a 3 to 5- year business plan and include plans for marketing and building passenger numbers. He volunteered to be part of a committee to develop a plan.

Shaffer said former authority member, Loren Bishop, is working to create an advisory group that could assist the authority in making the airport more progressive and productive.

Members approved extending a line of credit for $300,000 for three years with Community First Bank at an interest rate of 3.25 percent. Chamberlin, who is employed by the bank, abstained from the vote.

The money will be used to pay for any projects to be paid for with federal or state grants. Shaffer said using the line of credit allows the contractor to be paid while the authority waits for reimbursement from federal or state agencies.

The authority will pay the interest on the money used with income from its passenger facilities charge.

A decision made by the authority's executive committee to purchase property insurance coverage and an inland marine policy from Traveler's Insurance through Matson Insurance Agency, Brookville, was ratified by members. The cost is $28,971, about $1,150 less than the amount paid last year.

The authority held a reorganizational meeting prior to yesterday's business meeting ratifying the nominating committee's recommendation to elect Wise, representing Jefferson County, chairman and Mitchell, representing Clearfield County, assistant secretary/treasurer.

Both were approved by unanimous vote.

They join Jefferson County representatives, Barber as vice chairman and Chamberlin as secretary/treasurer. The other authority members are Bellmore, Stern and Varacallo, representing Clearfield County, and Mineweaser, representing Jefferson County.

A vacant seat representing Clearfield County currently exists.

Members approved retaining Robert Hanak of DuBois, solicitor; and GAI Consultants, DuBois, engineer.

Members also ratified all actions taken by the authority in 2014.

The authority's next meeting is Feb. 27 at 8:30 a.m. at DuBois Regional Airport's conference room.  

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Feds to reject ADI as airline for Pierre, or anywhere

Federal officials plan to not only deny Aerodynamics Inc.’s bid to start providing scheduled commercial flights to several cities, including Pierre, but also to revoke its authority to fly charters, which is its main business.

The proposed sweeping rejection of the troubled ADI announced this week by the Department of Transportation throws Pierre’s plans to improve its air service into doubt but also appears to threaten ADI’s ability to continue its current business.

It’s a proposal and can be appealed, but the “tentative conclusion” could become final within three weeks, according to the document posted Jan. 22 on the federal regulations website under the name of Brandon Belford, assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at DOT.

“Our review of the record in this case indicates that ADI does not possess the managerial competence necessary to oversee its current charter and proposed scheduled passenger operations, nor does it have the proper compliance disposition and regard for the laws and regulations governing its services,” said Belford.

Attempts Saturday by the Capital Journal to reach Scott Beale, principal owner and CEO of ADI, were unsuccessful.

Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill, who led the effort that recommended ADI as an alternative to Great Lakes Aviation, which provides flights daily to Minneapolis and Denver, said she received an email Thursday from an official of the federal Department of Transportation.

 “I wasn’t entirely surprised,” she told the Capital Journal Saturday. “I am pulling together my internal staff to take a look at this in further detail on Monday. We will discuss this Tuesday at the city commission meeting.”

 The DOT wants an idea by Friday how city leaders want to move forward, she said.

Over the past year, Gill has said Great Lakes Aviation, which provides several flights a day from Pierre to Minneapolis and Denver, has a record of such poor service, including canceled flights, that an alternative was needed. She and the other four city commissioners recommended ADI to the DOT by a Dec. 3 deadline.

Great Lakes officials, as well as other airline observers, say new federal rules in late 2013 requiring much more training for pilots has led to a pilot shortage affecting many airlines.
Gill said Saturday she assumes Great Lakes will continue to provide air service to Pierre, at least for the near-term.

“It’s better now than it was a year ago,” she said of Great Lakes’ service.

Over the past year, ADI has mounted a two-pronged application to DOT: asking to be certified to provide scheduled interstate air service, which it hasn’t done before; and also to be awarded federal subsidies under the Essential Air Service program, for proposed flights to several small cities in Nebraska, Ohio, Colorado as well as Pierre.  Obviously the EAS subsidies questions depended on ADI, which has a history of charter service, being approved for scheduled commercial flights.

 That means the DOT announcement affects not only Pierre but also several other Midwest and Western communities who have been dealing with ADI.

Just a few days ago, ADI applied for federal subsidies for providing service to Pueblo, Colorado.

In the past year, it has sought EAS subsidies to start flights to cities in Mississippi, but lost the bid.

It applied for EAS subsidies for flights to several Nebraska towns, including Scottsbluff, which would be the one-stop hop on the proposed Pierre-Denver flights; and several in the Youngstown, Ohio, region.

City leaders in those communities had urged DOT to approve ADI, just as Pierre leaders did.

Gill said she’s not second-guessing her support for ADI.

The DOT process for Pierre meant city leaders received proposals from two airlines other than ADI, Gill said. Boutique Air of San Francisco proposed using an aircraft too small to fit the needs of Pierre’s hunting and tourism demand, Gill said. The other proposal came from Great Lakes, but since the company’s service was seen as the reason for seeking an alternative, Gill said it wasn’t recommended to DOT.

ADI, with 50-passenger jets, seemed the way to go, Gill said. “We did know all the way along that financial stability issue was a question.”

But determining ADI’s fitness was the federal government’s role, not the job of the Pierre city commission, she said.

“Our job was to look at the services presented to us. We did our job. The federal government did their job as well.”

The DOT’s process is quite public, with many of the documents, including emails, posted on the website,  It was clear from the exchange of emails that DOT officials became increasingly unhappy with the information Beale and his attorneys were providing.

According to the DOT’s Belford, it was only through media reports in November that DOT learned that a federal jury in Virginia last summer had found Beale guilty of defrauding a former partner and investor of $500,000 by giving false promises of purported contract for services. That, as well as Beale’s history of bankruptcy filings, raised questions for DOT about his financial wherewithal as well as an apparent “disregard for the law.”

Beale told the Capital Journal two months ago that he disagreed with the federal court decision in the Virginia case, ordering him to pay his former partner $500,000 as compensation for the loan plus $100,000 in punitive damages. 

Beale filed for personal bankruptcy several months ago in Ohio after the Virginia verdict, listing liabilities of $5.9 million and assets of only $22,000. He told the Capital Journal that filing should not affect ADI’s financial fitness.

DOT said the federal court finding of fraud looks bad and said Beale’s poor response to DOT’s request for financial information was made worse by not telling them about the court case.

“The court found that Mr. Beale committed fraud while soliciting funds for ADI from an investor and expended those funds in a manner which was not consistent with the agreement between the parties,” Belford wrote in the DOT post Jan. 22.

“Mr. Beale’s actions indicate a disregard for the law. Thus, Mr. Beale’s ownership and positions of influence at the air carrier raise serious questions as to ADI’s ability to satisfy the Department’s requirements that an air carrier must possess a positive compliance disposition and the requisite competency to oversee its operations. Exacerbating this issue is the fact that ADI failed to notify the Department regarding the outcome of this . . .”

Beale, on ADI’s website, touts the company’s 54 years of excellent service. But 50 of those years happened in Michigan before he got involved in 2011 and little of the former company still exists.

With none of the previous employees or equipment, Beale moved the corporate headquarters to the Cleveland area, where he lives, and the operations base to near Atlanta. He said he’s leased five Brazilian-made 50-passenger jets.

Belford lines out ADI’s eventful recent history: it ceased flying Oct. 15, 2012, under Beale’s leadership, “due to financial pressure” and filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 7, 2013, emerging from bankruptcy Aug. 12, 2013. ADI filed a request with DOT March 12, 2014, to resume its charter operations and got oral approval April 25 for such service. On June 25, ADI sought a new thing: a certificate to fly “interstate scheduled” flights between Youngstown and Chicago. Other applications followed. But it wasn’t until November that DOT learned, through news reports, that Beale had been found guilty of fraud in July by the federal jury in Virginia, Belford said.

DOT wants Pierre to decide by Friday how it wants to move forward, Gill said. She said she doesn’t think the city will file any appeal of the DOT proposal about ADI. Gill said she’s quite certain that in the short term, DOT will order Great Lakes to continue its air service to Pierre. The questions going forward will include whether to ask for another round of applications from other airlines or keep working with Great Lakes, she said.

“There aren’t a lot of airlines offering to come to Pierre,” she said. “If Great Lakes remains, we will work with them. We have got to have air service here people are willing to use. 

That’s where we have to get to.”

 “We need commercial air service in Pierre . . . and we will work with whatever airline is here to make that happen,” she said.

 It might appear Beale did not expect such a sweeping denial from DOT.

On Jan. 14, he announced the hiring of Mickey Bowman, a 37-year veteran of the regional airline business and explained in a news release why he named Bowman, who had been working for him as a consultant.

“Currently in our industry we are subject to the larger carriers controlling the commercial aviation markets. 

A direct side-effect from that evolving structure is leaving smaller cities with fewer and fewer options for air travel. Mickey has helped to identify those markets and begin the conversation on what alternatives can be created to ensure citizens in small and rural towns have access to larger connecting airports. Mickey has successfully gone out and met with those people and key local figures to leverage his experience and connections and pair it with ADI’s Embraer product. The result will be a new cost-effective option and restored faith by future travelers. These projects will now connect travelers to larger cities in the states and ultimately the world.”

Bowman said, “I feel ADI is in the right place, at the right time with the right equipment and I look forward to helping launch an airline operation with the same high standards that ADI has accomplished in its prior charter and corporate shuttle programs.”

Original article can be found at:

Ministry of Home Affairs bans business jets for 3 days

Although US President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet industry leaders Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has banned business jets from flying in and out of New Delhi during his visit. This is the first time that civilian airspace has been blocked for business and general aviation aircraft — planes operated by non-scheduled or charter — for a three-day period around Republic Day.

A senior official of the Civil Aviation Ministry said, “A NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) has been issued banning all non-commercial flights out of Delhi till January 28.” The MHA directive restricts aircraft weighing less than 7,000 kg from flying between January 25 and January 27. The only exception has been made for Governors and CM who can fly in lighter aircraft in this period after MHA clearances.

Security agencies have extended the no-fly zone to a radius of 400 km to cover cities such as Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow and Amritsar till the border with Pakistan this year. Previously, the no-fly zone used to be limited to a 300-km radius.

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Japan: Shortage of pilots felt as ‘doctor copters’ take off

The number of flights undertaken by “doctor helicopters” in fiscal 2013 hit a record of more than 20,000, according to the Japanese Society for Aeromedical Services.

The doctor helicopters, or air ambulances, carry doctors and nurses with medical equipment to places where medical help is required or transport patients in cases of emergency. The helicopters have achieved significant results such as improving the patient survival rate by offering prompt primary care and shorter transportation time, and are also expected to be utilized in case of large-scale disasters. On the other hand, there are issues triggered by the increasing demand, such as costs and a shortage of pilots.


In December last year, a hotline call from a fire department rang at Nippon Medical School Chiba Hokusoh Hospital in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture. A helicopter was requested for a man in his 60s, in Ichihara, who was suspected of suffering a stroke. Staff including a doctor and a nurse ran to a heliport. Three minutes later, the helicopter took off, and another 18 minutes later, it landed about 37 kilometers away in a school field in Ichihara. The patient, who had been carried to the schoolyard by ambulance, was put in the helicopter and transported to a medical institution in the city, receiving primary treatment.

The hospital introduced the doctor helicopter in October 2001. It was mobilized 1,053 times in fiscal 2013, or about 2.3 times as often as in fiscal 2002. Takanori Yagi, 44, a doctor at the hospital, said, “Patients’ lives and whether they suffer any permanent damage depend on how soon doctors can treat to them.”

In April last year, Yagi hurried to the scene where Sakiko Kawabe, 20, a university sophomore, had an accident while riding her motorcycle to a part-time job. The doctor treated her as she complained of abdominal pain in the helicopter as it returned to the hospital. Though Kawabe’s internal injury was serious, it was treated successfully thanks to surgery conducted without delay. She has recovered sufficiently to go about her daily life without difficulty.

Kawabe looked back at that time, saying: “If it had not been for the helicopter, I might have died. The emergency staff who requested the helicopter and the doctors at the hospital saved my life.”

43 helicopters in 36 prefectures

The government began considering introducing doctor helicopters following the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, in which land traffic networks were disrupted, according to HEM-Net, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization that promotes an emergency medical network of helicopters and hospitals. Trial operations started in 1999, and the helicopters went into full service in 2001.

A survey by HEM-Net shows that the introduction of doctor helicopters raised the patient survival rate by more than 30 percent compared to conventional emergency care involving transport over land, and the number of patients who fully recovered increased by about 50 percent. Currently, 43 helicopters are deployed in 36 prefectures. According to the Japanese Society for Aeromedical Services, which promotes the introduction of doctor helicopters, the number of flights undertaken in the nation soared from 2,302 in fiscal 2002 to 20,632 in fiscal 2013.

Akitsugu Kohama, 76, chairman of the society, said: “The number of flights mobilized has been increasing as the necessity of doctor helicopters becomes widely recognized, and as coordination between fire services, which request helicopters, and medical institutions, as well as cooperation among neighboring prefectures are facilitated.”

More pilots urgently needed

Such growing demand for doctor helicopters raises a new issue.

The central and prefectural governments pay annual operational costs of up to about ¥200 million per helicopter, and hospitals entrust their helicopter operations to private companies. In many cases, however, the increased number of flights means greater fuel costs, and companies cover the excess.

“The business is operated at a loss, but we continue it, considering the public interest,” said an employee of a flight company.

The supply of pilots for doctor helicopters is also tight. As doctor helicopters, which sometimes must land in urban areas, need to be operated with a high level of skill, pilots are required to have at least 2,000 hours of flying experience, according to guidelines by the All Japan Air Transport and Service Association Co. It also costs more than ¥10 million to acquire a helicopter pilot’s license. These factors contribute to a shortage of young pilots.

“There will likely be a growing shortage of pilots due to a lot of postwar baby boomers reaching retirement age and such,” said a person in charge of doctor helicopters at the association. “It is essential that a system to train young pilots gets established.”

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