Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grass fire near Brush Municipal Airport (7V5) under control

MORGAN COUNTY - Highway 34 and the Brush airport were closed temporarily due to grass fire Sunday morning, according to Colorado State Patrol.

The fire was under control by the afternoon.

Blowing smoke from the fire created limited visibility. 

The fire is just west of the airport runway.

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Accident occurred March 22, 2015 near Harnett Regional Jetport Airport (KHRJ), Erwin, Harnett County, North Carolina

ERWIN, N.C. (WTVD) -- A small ultralight aircraft went down in the tree line near Harnett Regional Jetport on Sunday, according to the Harnett County Sheriff's Department. 

The incident was not related to the jetport. 

The Erwin Fire Department said there is a grassy landing strip nearby that the pilot was trying to land on. 

The Fire Dept. said the pilot was the only person on board and he was not injured. 

The pilot told emergency crews he experienced engine problems.

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Sabre Trike: Fatal accident occurred March 22, 2015 in Woodward County, Oklahoma

A Sabre Trike crashed in a field south of Woodward Sunday afternoon. 

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Dennis Dale Baird, 56, of Woodward, died after the aircraft he was piloting went down in a field in Woodward County.

The OHP said according to an eyewitness report, the aircraft probably fell from the sky 80 to 100 feet. 

Baird was wearing a helmet, the OHP said.

Baird was taken by ambulance to Woodward Regional Hospital.

The Woodward Fire Department also responded to the scene.

The crash happened at 1:56 p.m. in the area of EW 44 and NS 204.

Cause of the crash is under investigation, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will be on the scene Monday to begin its investigation, OHP officials said.

Until then, the highway patrol will provide site security through the night.

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Norwalk-Huron County Airport (5A1) board boss gives facility a C-minus

Harry Brady believes there is a much potential at the Huron County Airport.

"Absolutely," said Brady, airport board president.

"First, we need to move out of the bickering stage and into progressing forward," he added.

The county commissioners currently are considering submitting a federal grant application. If those funds are approved, officials have said that money will go toward repairing the runway.

"The runway needs crack-sealing," Brady said. "That needs (to be) done. If we don't, we'll have to mill it down and totally repair it and that will be very expensive."

There are other areas in need of maintenance.

"I was just out changing light bulbs," Brady said about the runway lights.

"And, the main hangar building is in horrid shape," he said. "We could use that building for some real revenue possibilities, but first we have to put some money into it and repair it."

Brady said the roof leaks and there are drywall issues.

"Another more long-term goal is extending the runway into the 48 acres purchased at the west end," he said. "If we can extend the runway to 5,000 feet we can land the larger business jets."

The taxiways could also use work.

"The taxiways are so-so and OK for right now," Brady said. "We are finding some issues near the T-hangars with drainage and freezing."

Brady said the floors have been elevated due to freezing, causing issues with opening the doors.

"I found out that has been going on for several years and has never been fixed," Brady said. "One pilot had to put ramps there. That is something that needs addressed."

He said the airport recently lowered its fuel price from $5.79 to $5.50 per gallon, with the goal of being competitive.

Brady said he'd give the airport an overall grade of "C-."

"It's got a lot of wear and tear," he said. "Look around; you can see it's gone backward there.

"The airport used to host many more events. The main hangar had the museum and more airplanes and now we don't have the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) stuff going on and the Civil Air Patrol has moved out."


Meridian Aviation provides 'a memorable stop' for pilots: Meridian Regional - Key Field Airport (KMEI), Meridian, Mississippi

Thomas Meek, shop supervisor for Dean Aircraft Service at the Meridian Regional Airport, works on one of several planes the group routinely maintains.

When Tom Williams went about revamping Meridian Aviation, he wanted to make it a memorable stop for pilots.

Traffic at the fixed based operations, or FBO, has increased thanks in large part to renovations to the pilots and passengers lounge area, 40,000 square feet of enclosed hangar space, 23 open-air hangars and on-site aircraft maintenance by Dean Aircraft Service.

With its steady stream of available fuel for both corporate and military aircraft, Meridian Aviation is enjoying an emerging status as one of the regions best FBOs, said Williams, who is president of the Meridian Airport Authority and Meridian Aviation.

FBOs provide a myriad of services to general aviation pilots who fly private planes, which includes those used by businesses, corporations and individuals. Most airports that handle commercial flights also provide space for separate FBO providers. Meridian Aviation handles FBO services at Meridian Regional Airport.

At a minimum, most FBOs offer fuel for sale and have an office with bathrooms for use by visiting pilots. Many have hangar space where pilots can store their planes. Many offer amenities to entice pilots to land at their FBO.

Among other things, Meridian Aviation provides briefing rooms for strategy sessions, a courtesy car, plus free hot dogs, coffee and ice cream.

"We have this regular pilot now from Fort Smith, Ark., who takes his family down to Florida but always makes a stop here because as his kid tells it, 'This is the place with the ice cream,'" Williams said.

Meridian Aviation Manager Chris Sutton, who has been with the airport for 21 years, said the FBO isn't all about fun amenities. Meridian Aviation's computerized weather and flight-planning room provides a vital service, he said.

"This is the place where they come to check flight plans and check the weather," Sutton said. "Weather is the number one thing for a pilot."

Williams said you never know who will drop in.

"We had Tony Bennett sit in our lounge while he waited on his ride," Williams said.

While some pilots will hang out at the FBO all day, most stay 15 to 20 minutes, just long enough to fuel up. And while amenities attract many pilots to a particular FBO, it is the gasoline that is the main commodity.

Small private planes, corporate jets and military aircraft all need fuel and some need lots of it. An army Chinook helicopter, for example, can require between 400 and 800 gallons per stop.

Williams said that in 2004, the airport had only nine employees and sold just 742,279 gallons of fuel. In 2013, the fuel purchased nearly tripled to 2,092,189 gallons, and the airport now has 13 employees.

The airport has three tankers, two that can serve jet fuel while the other serves Avgas. The FBO also offers self-serve gas for those who wish to save a few bucks.

Local flight instructor Troy Moore said he appreciates the growth that Meridian Aviation has experienced.

"I'm here just about every day," Moore said. "The old building that they use to have was pretty rough. This new pilots' area is really nice."

For Williams, the good reviews keep the pilots coming back.

"Our Airport Authority was created in 1992 and has never received any subsidy from the city of Meridian or Lauderdale County," Williams said. "Our annual budget is $7.8 million. We brought in $8.5 million last year and that net profit of $700,000 goes back into the facility."

Story and photo gallery:

Troy Moore, left, a flight instructor and pilot for Structural Steel, enjoys the fully stocked kitchen at Meridian Aviation.

Mark Allen, Line Service Tech, refuels a small rental plane at Meridian Aviation.

Stag group heading for party in Benidorm are booted off Ryanair flight by police after claims the group was ‘unruly and disruptive and left male steward in tears’

A stag party were ordered off a flight bound for Spain after they were accused of being 'disruptive' and reducing an air steward to tears because of their behavior. 

The group of 20 revellers from Wrexham in North Wales said they had paid more than £4,000 for the weekend break to Benidorm, in order to celebrate Wayne Roberts' wedding next month. 

After they made a male flight attendant cry, the pilot called the police and ordered the party to leave the plane - which was due to take off from Manchester Airport and fly to Alicante. 

Ryanair defended the decision and said it 'will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behavior at any time.'

The incident took place Friday, March 13, after the 20 strong group boarded the plane. Police were called, with some members of the group removed and others leaving voluntarily.

One of the group, Chris Jones, 32, who lost around £200, said : 'We had a bite to eat and a beer and got on the plane.

'No one was drunk. We were not wearing stag T-shirts or being loud or offensive. We took our seats and were talking in groups, as you do.

'About five to ten minutes later, we heard a whisper the police had been called to kick someone off. We had no idea it was us.

'We had been joking around, saying how embarrassing it would be for the person, and the next thing the officers came up to us and asked us to leave.'

They claim they received no warnings before being ordered off the flight.

According to the group, a male steward said he 'couldn't cope' with them and broke down in tears. 

Mr Jones added: 'The police did try reasoning with him but the captain then came out and put his arm round the steward and said he wouldn't fly with us on board.' 

He claimed police told them to go and book another flight because they were not overly drunk but there were none left that evening.  

The group went back to Wrexham in an attempt to salvage the celebrations.

The planned trip was meant to be similar to a previous stag party they had all gone on, when they travelled to Prague last year.  

It is understood every member of the party - including the 'devastated' groom, have now made formal complaints to the budget airline about their treatment.

A spokesman for Ryanair denied the group was treated unfairly.

He said: 'The crew of this flight from Manchester to Alicante requested police assistance prior to departure after a number of customers became disruptive during the boarding process.
'Police removed a number of individuals from the aircraft, while others disembarked voluntarily.

'Ryanair apologised to the other customers for the slight delay to their flight departure, but reaffirmed that the safety and comfort of its customers, crew and aircraft is its priority.

'Ryanair will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behavior at any time.'

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: 'Officers attended and, as requested, the group left the airplane in a peaceful manner.

'No offenses were committed.'

British visitors on a Spanish news website backed the airline's tough action.

Ken Devey wrote: 'Few beers down them and they forget they are not the only ones on board the flight. Good on Ryanair.'

Another Briton, Steve, said : 'Quite right too. I find noisy hen and stag parties on flights most annoying.'

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Malindo Air denies operation offenses, lodges police report

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22, 2015:  Malindo Air has rubbished as “fake” a statement allegedly issued by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) that stated the airline was a given a warning after having committed 90 offenses in its operations.

Malindo Air chief executive officer Chandran Rama Muthy said the findings were untrue and has lodged a report on the matter.

“There is no such thing on the 90 findings, it’s all not true. We will issue an official statement on the matter tomorrow.

“We have also lodged a police report on this, this morning. It’s a serious issue and is damaging,” he told The Rakyat Post.

In the alleged DCA statement circulated, it was claimed that Malindo Air was given a last warning by the DCA after the company’s operational license expired on Feb 28.

It also alleged that during the renewal process, DCA, in its audit of the company, found 90 alleged offenses committed involving flight operations, aircraft maintenance, engineering, pilot licensing and safety.

“The DCA is extremely dissatisfied with the matter and only issued a temporary license of six months, with the condition that all 90 offenses must be rectified immediately,” the statement purportedly by DCA said.

“DCA also informed Malindo Air that all passengers who will board its flights after Aug 31 must be told of the possibility of flight cancellations,” claimed the statement.


Copter leaving Hazleton Regional Airport (KHZL), Pennsylvania

A proposal for moving a Pennsylvania State Police aviation unit from Hazleton’s airport to the Avoca area is part of a restructuring plan that is intended to cut costs and improve the agency’s ability to respond to regional incidents, a state police spokeswoman said.

Having completed its lease agreement for space at Hazleton Regional Airport, state police turned to the Pennsylvania Department of General Services for soliciting proposals for hangar and office space within a one-mile radius of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

The move is part of a larger plan to relocate two of five state police aviation units, spokeswoman Maria Finn said.

“I can confirm that the decision has been made to move the PSP helicopter from Hazleton to the Avoca area,” Finn said in an email to the Standard-Speaker. “These relocations are based on cost savings and operational needs to more purposefully locate the (aviation units) across the state to better serve the citizens.”

Aviation units that are currently based in Hazleton and Altoona would be impacted by an “aircraft refresh” plan, with Hazleton’s unit moving to Avoca and the Altoona helicopter moving to State College, Finn said.

State police have five aviation units that will be “strategically placed” across the commonwealth when the plan is completed, she said.

City officials said recently that losing state police as a tenant would cost Hazleton Regional Airport approximately $20,000 annually in lease revenue and fuel sales.

Finn said Friday that a projected cost savings wasn’t available — and that she couldn’t guarantee the move out of Hazleton’s airport would save money.

“The cost savings is an overall statewide savings … not just the specific move from Hazleton to Avoca,” she wrote. “Not sure if that specific move is a cost savings.”

Dominic Yannuzzi, who works for Hazleton’s contracted engineering firm, and Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi fear the move out of Hazleton could be more expensive for state police. Moving to Avoca would require construction of an estimated $3 million hangar.

The city already has a hangar large enough to house a helicopter and an airplane that the Department of General Services has requested bids for on behalf of the state police, Dominic Yannuzzi said.

Bids were due 3:01 p.m. Friday, but Carl Beardsley Jr., executive director of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, said Friday there were no details about the bids or number of proposals submitted.

Information should be available this week, Beardsley said.

Plans originally called for the international airport building a $3 million hangar to meet the needs of state police. The airport secured a $1.5 million grant and the balance would have been backed by Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.

Luzerne County Council, however, voted down a resolution that would have essentially guaranteed money borrowed by the airport.

Rick Morelli, a county councilman and member of the airport joint operating board, said Friday that the airport board intends to move forward with private investors.

Like Beardsley, Morelli said he had no information about responses to the bid solicitation. Morelli believes at least three private investors were considering the hangar project.

State police would ultimately select a partner, but the deal would likely require approval from the joint operating board since the hangar would be built on airport property, Morelli said.

Hazleton city submitted a bid to continue housing the state police helicopter as it has for the past 40 years, Dominic Yannuzzi said. The bid also accounts for space for an office and airplane.

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Qantas's Jetstar Hong Kong venture down to one plane

Qantas Airways's troubled Jetstar Hong Kong joint venture is poised to begin operations with a single aircraft if it receives long-awaited regulatory approvals to fly.

The start-up airline on Friday sold two of its three remaining Airbus A320s to Chinese aircraft lease group CMB Financial Leasing for $US83 million ($106.7 million), in part to repay debt.

Hong Kong-based Shun Tak Holdings, which is a part-owner of Jetstar Hong Kong alongside Qantas and China Eastern, announced the sale. Jetstar Hong Kong had already sold six other aircraft in the initial fleet of nine A320s.

"As the establishment of Jetstar Hong Kong is taking longer than initially expected, the sale of aircraft under the aircraft sale agreements will optimize the fleet plan in the short term," Shun Tak told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. "The proceeds from the sale will be used for repayment of debt and for general working capital purposes of Jetstar Hong Kong."

Shun Tak, run by Hong Kong businesswoman Pansy Ho, has a one-third financial stake in Jetstar Hong Kong as do Qantas and China Eastern, but controls 51 per cent of the voting rights in a deal done last year to cement the Hong Kong leadership and governance at a board level.

Jetstar Hong Kong, which was initially launched in March, 2012, has been battling to prove it meets legal requirements for Hong Kong to be its principal place of business. Rival Cathay Pacific has argued the airline is ultimately controlled from Australia by Qantas. A hearing on the issue was held last month but no date has been set for a decision to be made by authorities.

"We expect to hear some conclusions [from the hearing] over the next few months," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said last month.

"That will determine whether the principal place of business for Jetstar Hong Kong is designated as being Hong Kong and we think that the management of Jetstar Hong Kong and the board of Jetstar Hong Kong have made a very good case and they clearly demonstrated that. We do believe that process will continue and we continue to be positive as the management and the board of Jetstar Hong Kong are."

Airport room

In the meantime, slots at Hong Kong International Airport are becoming harder to obtain, with Cathay executives last week telling investors it is likely within 18 to 24 months no new spaces will be available. The Hong Kong government last week announced it would fund a $23.8 billion project to construct a third runway at the airport, but it is not due to open until 2023.

Jetstar Hong Kong, which has a management team in place, has been racking up losses as a result of its inability to fly while still needing to make payments on aircraft. China Eastern last year extended the venture a $US60 million loan. It is unclear whether the latest aircraft sales will be used to repay that facility.

Jetstar Hong Kong chief executive Edward Lau said the sale would not affect the airline's ability to launch, with the remaining aircraft being used to support a test flight with crew as part of its application for an Air Operator's Certificate. The airline had originally set a target of growing its fleet to 18 aircraft, and it is understood that hasn't changed either.

"Jetstar Hong Kong has the flexibility to ensure we can grow our fleet after commencing operations," Mr Lau said.


SAREX: Civil Air Patrol holds Search and Rescue Exercise

Michael Riemann (L) and Lt. Jack Marty

GAINESVILLE – When you fly 95-percent of the search and rescue flights in the United States, you need to be a well-oiled machine. Fine-tuning that machine was the order of the day Saturday at Gainesville’s Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport as the Civil Air Patrol readied for their latest SAREX.

SAREX is an acronym that stands for ‘Search and Rescue Exercise’, standard practice for the CAP.

“Today’s focus is going to be mostly on airborne photography,” Public Affairs Officer 1st Lt. Jack Marty explained. “Locating a target; being on that target within plus or minus three minutes of what was anticipated; taking the photographs and downloading those into a program.”

The Civil Air Patrol came into existence just days before the attack at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. American supply ships headed to Europe from our east coast port cities were being torpedoed by Nazi submarines, often within sight of our own shores.

Concerned civilian aircraft owners, pilots and mechanics decided to do something to help stop the deadly assault. According to Lt. Marty those early civilian sorties aloft spotted 173 U-boats, reported 17 floating mines, spotted 36 bodies, 91 ships in distress and located 363 survivors.

Today their mission is probably less dramatic, but nonetheless vital. Disaster relief, emergency transport and search and rescue operations are the most publicized activities but they also run a highly successful Cadet Program, preparing tomorrow’s leaders.

“We are a U.S Air Force Auxiliary (Unit), so this mission today…is being funded by the Air Force. At any given time in Georgia, we’ll have one to two SAREXs a month,” Marty said.

“Everyone here today is advancing their training,” Marty said as the main terminal at Gilmer Airport began to fill.

“A number of the people that we have here today…have had real-life incidents,” Marty said, welcoming new arrivals to the briefing room. He pointed out a man who helped in the recovery of NASA space program equipment; he nodded towards another man who was a part of the shuttle disaster recovery team; a third man, Marty said, participated in emergency efforts related to the BP Horizon oil spill off the Louisiana coast in April, 2010.

“The reason we exist, basically, is to provide a cost-effective alternative to the Air Force in search and rescue.”

Representatives from the American Red Cross were participating in the SAREX.

“We’re involved in supplying direct relief to individuals who have been affected by disasters,” said Michael Riemann, Disaster Program Manager for Northeast Georgia chapter of the Red Cross.

“Since the Civil Air Patrol has a role in disasters, we are working with them to find the most effective way to interact…to help people in need,” Riemann added.

Major Fred Koenig, Incident Commander, said that this SAREX would hone CAP member skills with the electronic aspects of reconnaissance and search and rescue efforts. “We want to spend as much of our allotment as possible and keep as many butts in the air today, flying and learning (as possible); that’s what we’re here to do today.” 

The early morning ground level fog was beginning to dissipate and as the sun began to warm the air, the promise of a beautiful spring day made everything seem idyllic; disaster the furthest thing from most peoples’ minds.

But the sound of the Cessna 172s cranking their engines reminded everyone that preparation is the best remedy for the unexpected things of life. SAREX was starting.

Story and photo gallery:

Major Fred Koenig

Preflight equipment check

Madill Municipal Airport (1F4) tabbed state’s ‘Top Airport’

The Madill Municipal Airport has been named Airport of the Year.

The award was presented earlier this month when the Oklahoma Airport Operators Association met for its annual conference in Tulsa.

David Sprouse, Madill Municipal Airport manager, said after hearing OAOA president and Ardmore Airport manager Chris Bryant announce that the top airport was located near Ardmore, he thought the Marshall County facility had a chance to win.

“With us being a small airport, you wouldn’t think we would win since there are more airports larger than ours around the state that are able to do more (projects). So, needless to say, I was very surprised and happy that we won,” Sprouse said.

Sprouse said the airport has undergone several improvements over the last couple of years that may have contributed to its selection as Airport of the Year, including a rehabilitation of the runway, taxiway and apron. However, he said he believes the recent renovation of a storage facility located at the airport into a pilot’s lounge may have been the deciding factor.

“Many pilots, including those working for Big Tex Trailers here in the city, would fly in and not have anywhere to go while company executives were in their meetings. There were no restrooms, and sometimes, they would even stay in their aircraft for several hours, especially during really cold days,” he said.

Local pilots Larry and David McDaniel were extremely influential in getting donations to renovate the storage unit, Sprouse explained. Along with financial help from Big Tex Trailers, a major user of the airport, and the family of Dick Phillips, a long-time pilot in Madill who is now deceased, the city of Madill was able to convert that old storage facility into a nicely equipped lounge, complete with central air and heat and, more importantly, separate men’s and women’s restrooms.

As for any other airport projects on the horizon, Sprouse said a runway extension was one possibility.

“We would like to get to the point where our runway is long enough to bring in some of the larger, twin-engine aircraft,” he said, adding an extension would mean at least another 600 to 800 feet of runway pavement.

Original article can be found here:

Australia by air is safest, fastest way to go

By Larry Johnston

Australia is a big country. Very big.

That is the reason when my wife and I decided to visit, we took an air safari.

Self-piloted air safaris get to all of the destinations regular tours do, only quicker and without the tens of thousands of potholes Australia takes pride in. They are, therefore, more comfortable. Now you see the reason why I went this way.

Here is how our trip went:

We arrived in Brisbane in southeast Australia and were picked up by a member of the staff of Goana Air Tours. That night, we met our fellow travelers over dinner and an orientation for the 14-day trip. Orientation included sharing with us what we might see at our various upcoming destinations, as well as a more extensive warning about not touching things we didn’t know by name.

Australia, despite its beauty, is full of venomous creatures and plants. There are more things that can hurt you there than anywhere else in the world. In addition to poisonous snakes, just a few of the other deadly things there are crocodiles, jellyfish and seashells. Yes, seashells.

This didn’t phase me. I vowed to touch only one Australian native the whole trip: Foster’s Beer.

Beer brings me to a delightful aspect of the Australians. None of them is too pretentious to take a sip of beer. They are grounded and quite possibly the nicest people on the face of the earth.

The next morning, we preflighted our aircraft and took to the air westbound toward the Outback and the Warrumbungle National Park to see roaming kangaroos and beautiful exotic birds.

By the way, if you haven’t been there, much of the Australian Outback is very flat. This prompted one of pilots to remark over the radio, “This place is so flat, you could sit on your front porch and watch your dog run away for two days!”

We are going to leave our traveling heroes in the air now and continue our flight next week. Among our stops will be White Cliffs, where it is so hot the residents live underground. Follow us into the world famous White Cliffs Underground Hotel. You might need a flashlight. Caves are very dark.

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Columbia Regional Airport (KCOU), Missouri: City Council candidates offer their views on tax for new airport terminal

COLUMBIA — Candidates for three seats on the Columbia City Council in the April 7 election responded in writing to 10 Missourian questions about city government issues. Here is the question the Missourian asked about whether a higher lodging tax to help pay for a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport is a good idea. The responses appear in the order the candidates will appear on the ballot.

Would you support an increase in the city’s tax on hotel and motel rooms to help pay for a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport? Why or why not?


John Clark: No.

More people come to Columbia by other transportation means than air.

Expanded public transit is more important to sustainable and equitable economic development that will have a positive impact on jobs, income and our environment.

We should focus our efforts on creating a Central Missouri Regional Airport Authority (CMRAA), funded by multiple mid-Missouri entities.

Ask voters to approve a separate funding source for our portion of CMRAA costs.

Clyde Ruffin: I believe that Columbia will benefit tremendously by continuing to enhance the services that would be provided by a better equipped and more substantial airport terminal. Recent expansion efforts indicate that there is an emerging market for these services that would generate additional income for the city. As in all projects of this magnitude, I would assume that funding would have to be generated from several sources including federal and state grants, tax increases and the reallocation of city funds.

Rob Stewart: You should always tax the people that benefit the most. In other words you should tax people who are benefiting from the terminal, not people in hotels and motels. In many circumstances people living in hotels have nothing to do with the airport.

Rob Rasmussen: Currently the lodging tax is at 4 percent, one of the lowest statewide. It is reasonable to raise it. Community input should determine where we spend the additional money. I'm not opposed to enhancing the airport, I would want to weigh all of the options.

Sal Nuccio: No. I already hate the fact that hotels get to charge ridiculous amounts of tax on a room as it is, now the city wants to bend you over the barrel for a couple more bucks too ... Not right.

Jake Loft: At this time, I am unsure of an increase in the lodging tax to expand Columbia Regional Airport, but I do hold the position that we need to expand the airport to include more flights to destinations other than Dallas and Chicago. This could be done with a combination of things, ranging from charging for parking at the airport to restructuring the budget, expanding the airport needs to be a priority.

Dan Rader: Yes. It is my understanding that federal funds may be available to cover a significant portion of the costs of a new airport terminal. The city should issue bonds to cover the remaining portion of the costs, and the increased tax on hotel and motel rooms can be used to pay off the bonds. A functioning, respectable airport is crucial to our economic development and the perception that Columbia is a legitimate city.

Nate Brown: Not until other funding methods are explored. For example, what if the city built a new terminal that included retail/hotel, which could help pay for the new terminal? (Accommodations for Missourians who would find it easier to drive to/fly out of COU than travel to STL or KCI.) Or charge for parking? Let’s look at other alternatives before raising the hotel tax, which could hurt us when competing with other cities for conventions.

Chad Phillips: I would support an increase in the city’s tax on hotel and motel rooms to pay for a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport because our airport is essential to our growth and economic success. Without a new terminal, it will be extremely difficult to attract airlines and support new business at the Columbia Regional Airport.


Michael Trapp: At 4 percent, our lodging tax is one of the lowest in the state. Our hotels, motels, restaurants, and airport are mutually beneficial and help to create jobs. The hoteliers must be partners in any venture involving the lodging tax. With added flight capacity, there is clear need for a new terminal. Along with a sports authority and support for sports tourism, increased support for the airport could be a boon for Columbia and the region.

Paul Love: I would confer with the local hotels and motels to get their opinion. The tax was placed on those businesses with the idea that it would benefit those businesses by bringing more people to Columbia to stay, thereby increasing revenue. Take a poll of those and ask if they believe that a new terminal will increase their business or hurt their business.


Ryan Euliss: I would be in favor of the tax, but before I voted in favor of putting it on the ballot I would want to know what will happen to the current funds the airport is getting from the transportation sales tax. If the tax is for additional revenue to improve the airport above and beyond the money they are currently getting than it is a good tax because it guarantees the money will go there.

Betsy Peters: Yes. Mayor McDavid’s efforts to enhance air service to Columbia should be applauded. If we can continue to expand air connections, we will be able to justify the investment in a new terminal. Some federal funding may be available, but increasing the local lodging tax — currently near the lowest rate in the state — perhaps coupled with formation of a regional airport authority are obvious solutions that must be explored.

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Pilot-trouble hits Jet Airways again

Trouble is brewing again in private carrier Jet Airways as some of its subsidiary airline JetLite's pilots have quit, serving notice to the management alleging change in service conditions. 

JetLite was originally Air Sahara before being acquired by Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal in 2007 and operated as budget arm till November last year. But in December, the two carriers were integrated into one to operate under one single full-service brand. 

"Some JetLite pilots have recently quit the airline and have sent a notice to the management after their service conditions were arbitrarily changed in the wake of the merger," Jet Airways sources told PTI here today. 

These pilots have demanded that they should be relieved from job immediately as the six-month mandatory notice period was no longer applicable on them, the sources said. 

As per the DGCA norms, a pilot has to serve his employer for six months after putting in papers. 

However, the Jet Airways sources said the situation in the airline is somewhat similar to Air India, which is fighting a legal battle with its pilots over integration issues. 

"The management has altered the service conditions on its own, which is a violation of the contract rules. Therefore, the mandatory notice period norm does not apply in such case," they said. 

A Jet Airways spokesperson confirmed the development but refuse to share details. 

"We do not wish to comment on the details as it is an internal matter," the spokesperson said in an e-mail statement to PTI. 

As part of integration, the Jet Airways management had given JetLite pilots an option to join the parent brand with certain riders like a common seniority and posting to any location in the country. 

Original article can be found here:

Why Are Asia’s Planes Crashing All Over the Place?

Everyone who has died flying commercial in the past year was flying aboard airlines from the East. Safety may not be able to keep up with demand.

The last place in the world where you would expect the government to announce the creation of a new airline would be Malaysia. After all, the state bankrolls Malaysia Airlines, stricken financially by the loss of Flight 370 and the destruction of Flight 17 over Ukraine.

But this week they unveiled a new carrier called flymojo—a name reflecting the informality of budget airlines rather than the pomp of a state flag carrier.

The reality is that they had little choice. Everybody in Asia wants to fly, and fly cheaply and frequently. The Malaysians’ only way to protect their domestic market was to copy the competition.

But across Asia this race to meet an unprecedented demand for air travel is seriously straining the oversight of airlines and the systems needed to ensure world-class safety. The numbers are worrying. In the last 12 months 492 people have died or gone missing, presumed dead, flying in Asia on Asian airlines. That’s significantly more fatalities than the world totals for 2011 (372), 2012 (388), and 2013 (173).

To be sure, it’s become almost obligatory when looking at air crash statistics to point out how safe flying really is: the odds of dying in an air crash have been estimated at 1 in 11 million, against 1 in 3.1 million in a shark attack, and 1 in 5,000 in a car crash.

But the Asian numbers have a specific story to tell that makes the larger picture irrelevant.

The total of 492 fatalities comes from just four crashes: 239 people lost on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370; 162 fatalities on Air Asia Flight 8501, which crashed into the Java Sea; and 91 in two crashes involving the Taiwanese commuter airline TransAsia.

Such a high toll in so few crashes is unusual because one of the most striking advances in airplane safety has been the survivability rate in crashes—often well over 50 percent of the passengers. For example, when an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 made a violent crash landing at San Francisco in 2013, of the 291 passengers only three died and the cabin was successfully evacuated before the airplane was gutted by fire.

Yet in the four recent Asian crashes there were no survivors in the two most serious crashes, 405 people in total, and a very low survival rate in the remaining two crashes.

There are other unusual factors. In the case of AirAsia Flight 8501 something went wrong at cruise altitude—and fatal accidents very rarely happen in cruise (statistically the average is 9 percent) and the largest loss of life, on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, also involved so far unexplained events at cruise height.  

The two TransAsia crashes involved the same type of airplane, turboprop ATR-72s, and in far more familiar circumstances, one during descent and landing (57 percent of accidents) and the other immediately after takeoff (24 percent of accidents).

It remains up to investigators to finally determine the cause of each of these crashes, and each will have its own distinct characteristics. However, there is such a striking geographical concentration here that it raises an increasingly urgent question: Are the crashes just an unlucky statistical spike or symptomatic of something serious that is being unheeded? More specifically, is the air safety regime in the Asia-Pacific region equal to the demands being made of it?

First, it’s important to understand that air crashes cannot be looked at in isolation. They most always reflect the quality of the infrastructure supporting air travel in the region where they occur.

Each year the body overseeing world aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), conducts an audit of the performance of regional aviation infrastructure. This covers eight categories that are fundamental to safety: legislation, organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation (air traffic control) and airports.

The system supporting commercial air travel in North America has a score of 93 percent. The worst performer is Africa, with 41 percent (Africa has by far the largest number of airlines on the European Union’s blacklist of airlines banned from flying into Europe). Asia scores 68 percent, which is a lot better but there is a huge difference in the demand for air travel in Africa and Asia.

In Asia the explosive growth of budget airlines is being driven by a vast emergent middle class – in Indonesia alone the number of airline passengers is predicted to grow from the current 85 million to 270 million by 2034, and 42 percent of world-wide deliveries of new airplanes in 2014 went to the Asia-Pacific region.

And we are now able to see that new airplanes can be delivered far faster than a mature regime for the management and safety of air travel can be. The oversight of aviation in Asian nations varies widely in quality. One of the most pressing problems is the availability of adequately experienced pilots.

There are growing concerns about a worldwide shortage of pilots but the situation has become acute in Asia. It is estimated that by 2033 the region will need a mind-boggling 216,000 more pilots, an increase of 41 percent.

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Why do birds keep crashing into planes?

Most birds are idiots. They fly into airplanes, smash into cars, and fling themselves at pigs with reckless abandon.

Over 11,000 birds smashed into airplanes in 2013 alone, and those collisions create more havoc than simply flattened animal carcasses and clouds of feathers: Bird strikes in the air have killed at least 255 people since 1988. On U.S. highways, about 80 million birds — some of them endangered — die every year when beak meets windshield.

Now scientists are pecking away at the mystery behind why birds — experts at evading predators and dodging tree trunks — keep on crashing into planes and cars. In a recent study, scientists played videos of speeding trucks in front of cowbirds and monitored the birds' individual response times. The researchers found that the birds easily escaped vehicles traveling up to 60 miles per hour, but at higher speeds they were utterly helpless — often beginning to fly away only after the virtual truck had already run them down.

In sum: "Brown-headed cowbirds in our study usually managed to respond quickly enough to avoid virtual collisions during simulated low-speed vehicle approaches, but they were often overwhelmed by high-speed approaches," according to the paper.

It turns out that cowbirds gauge their risk of death-by-truck based on distance, not speed. When the vehicle appears to be about 100 feet away, the birds instinctively begin to fly off. For dodging predatory hawks (or cars in the slow lane), that strategy might work. But at higher speeds, these birds barely stand a chance.

The findings mesh nicely with a similar study conducted last year on turkey vultures. In that study, the researchers had no sentimental ties to their avian subjects — they drove a real pickup truck directly at birds and tried to pick them off. Those hapless vultures managed to escape the pickup only when it was traveling less than 55 mph.

Modes of transportation are only getting faster, and bird collisions are becoming more common and more costly. Passenger jets typically take off at about 150 mph, far too fast for birds to avoid. A bird strike on Southwest Airlines recently forced the crew to land after flames began shooting out of the engine. And US Airways Flight 1549, which famously landed in the Hudson River back in 2009, was felled by a flock of Canadian geese. Private pilots, especially of small aircraft, are also desperately trying to avoid birds with a death wish.

The scientists suggest that pulsating lights on airplanes might give the birds a better shot at detecting aircraft from afar. Pilots also have in-flight strategies for dodging birds with a death wish. "Avoid areas such as marshlands and landfills because birds like to congregate near them," writes the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. "Also, avoid flying beneath a flock of birds. When birds sense danger in the air they have a tendency to dive."

And on the ground, scientists say we should slow down, especially when driving near conservation areas. Because nobody wants an endangered species to go extinct on their bumper.

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Thai Air jet suffers bird strike while landing

KATHMANDU, MAR 22 - A Thai Air aircraft suffered a bird strike on its right engine while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport on Sunday afternoon.

No major damages were caused when the right engine of the Boeing 777 ingested the bird at around 1:35 this afternoon. The plane has now been grounded and engineers from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal are inspecting the plane to assess the damage caused by the bird hit.

Flight TG 320 had arrived from Bangkok.  It was scheduled to fly to Bangkok at 1 pm. Passengers scheduled to fly on the jet have been left in the lurch as the engineers have not cleared the jet to make the return flight.

The US-made Boeing 777 is one of the largest passenger carrying jet flying to Kathmandu.

Bird strike is a persistent problem at the country’s only international airport with a 52 percent incidence of bird strikes occur in TIA as compared to other airports. According to experts, aircraft are significantly at risk during take-off and landing as 90 percent of birds fly below an altitude of 2,000 ft.

Three months ago, a Jet Airways aircraft had to make the emergency landing after suffering a bird hit on its engine while landing.


By any other name, it remains The Masters

When Richmond County sheriff’s Col. Robert Partain came before the Augusta Commis­sion proposing an ordinance that would restrict drone traffic during an upcoming “international event,” commission chambers became an echo chamber.

Partain said unmanned aerial vehicles flying in restricted airspace have become a big concern that needs to be addressed locally because of the “international event” coming to the city.

Though Commissioner Ben Hasan noted that Par­tain was “making a reference to what we know as the Masters Tournament,” some commissioners paid no heed.

“I think that that issue needs to be addressed with the ‘international event’ coming up shortly,” said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.

Commissioner Wayne Guil­­foyle said they had to protect people who fly drones as a hobby and those coming to the “international event.”

Partain said state and federal legislation is being proposed and adopted to restrict drones because of the threat of terrorism, not only at an “international event” but also a smaller one that would bring attention to Augusta.

Guilfoyle suggested banning drones temporarily and waiting for FAA regulations, so they could make sure “this international event is taken care of.”

Finally, Commissioner Bill Lockett said he agreed with what had been said about this big “unidentified event.”

“I guess we all know what it is, but I would fully support some of the comments by my colleagues to cover a specified time,” he said.

Lockett said he’d also like commissioners to include both airports for the big “unidentified event.”

“So I think if we had this big ‘unidentified event’ at both airports for a temporary period of time, that would be great,” he said.


South Bend moves foward with international ambitions

Mike Daigle, executive director at South Bend International Airport, stands Thursday in front of the area where the future general aviation facility and federal inspection station, otherwise known as U.S. customs, will go.

SOUTH BEND -- Only a few minor design details are left to complete.

Then, South Bend International Airport will begin accepting construction bids for its new general aviation and federal inspection facility, otherwise known as border customs.

Plans call for a 12,600-square-foot addition, including an elevated walkway to take international passengers from the plane to the terminal. The former Concourse C and some garages and storage areas will be remodeled to create the rest of the 26,000-square-foot passenger processing station, which will be able to handle 200 international passengers an hour.

If all goes well, construction could begin in late summer and would take about 11 months, said Mike Daigle, executive director at the airport.

"We've been at this now since late last summer," he said. "We didn't want to go so fast that we were causing or making mistakes along the way."

The design process is complicated because it involves the airport, the design firm, and three federal agencies -- the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Every aspect of the space's design and function -- for example, how the custodial staff will get into the station to clean it and which agency will control each security camera -- has to be approved and agreed upon by all parties.

When the airport announced its name change last April, Daigle said that two airlines had already shown interest in potentially offering routes to Mexico and the Bahamas. Since then, he said, a travel and tour package operator also has shown some interest. Once the project is complete, the airport will renew those discussions and examine the potential of other international destinations.

The new general aviation facility is being built to allow personal and corporate aircraft access to the federal inspection station as well.

"Doing business is an around-the-world proposition these days," Daigle said. "We believe if you don't have the ability to do that both commercially and corporately, then it's going to be a problem."

An airport study showed that in a 12-month period about 70 internationally registered aircraft -- mostly from Mexico, Ireland and Canada -- flew into South Bend. Some of those planes could have flown all the way to South Bend without stopping, Daigle said, but had to land somewhere else to go through customs.

"They may have bought gas, picked up lunch or spent the night before coming here," he said. "The community lost those dollars because we didn't have the service available."

And that number doesn't include U.S.-registered aircraft that fly into South Bend, he said, pointing out that the South Bend region has a number of companies that do international business.

Whirlpool Corp., which is headquartered in Benton Harbor, has operations all over the world, including in Italy, China, Mexico and Brazil. Its executives and teams fly out of the country two or three times a month, said Rich Belisle, director of the company's business travel center.

"Having an option closer to home would be nice," he said, explaining that depending on where the company's plane is flying from, it might stop in Alaska or Maine to go through customs. "We see using it routinely just because of its proximity to our major operations."

In the future, the airport also hopes to use the new facility to process international cargo for area business. Currently, Daigle said, cargo from the West Coast gets shipped to Chicago and sits for several days until it clears customs and can be delivered.

"We hope to take it directly from the shipping yard in Chicago and bring it to South Bend," he said. "It will save local companies time and reduce operating costs."

The airport authority expects to receive some federal and state funds for the project, Daigle said. But until the construction bids are awarded, the overall cost and grant eligibility are unknown.

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