Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cessna T303 Crusader, HK-4677G: Accident occurred June 20, 2015 near Alto Baudó, Colombia

 Nelly Murillo is put on a trolley as she and her baby arrive in Quibdo, Choco department in Colombia on June 24, 2015, after the aircraft in which they were traveling crashed four days earlier in the forest

Bogota (AFP) - A mother and her infant son who disappeared in a plane crash in the dense jungles of northwestern Colombia several days ago were found alive and well in what authorities called a "miracle."

Nelly Murillo, 18, and her son Yudier Moreno, not yet one year old, were near the site where the Cessna 303 crashed on Saturday in thick brush.

"It's a miracle. It is a very wild area and it was a catastrophic accident," Colonel Hector Carrascal, commander of the Colombian Air Force in Antioquia department, told AFP on Wednesday.

"His mother's spirit must have given him strength to survive."

Murillo and her baby were taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital with minor injuries, said Carrascal, adding that he was stunned they were alive.  

"The lady has injuries and minor burns and apparently the child is unharmed," the Colombian Air Force said in a statement.

The plane's pilot, Captain Carlos Mario Ceballos, died in the crash and rescuers found his body in the aircraft.

They discovered the doors of the plane ajar and suspected that survivors may have clambered out.

A 14-person search-and-rescue team scoured the dense forest for several days before finding the mother and child.

The plane was traveling between Nuqui and Quibdo in northwest Colombia when it crashed.

Investigators were looking at the cause.

Original article can be found here:

Work at Davenport Municipal Airport (KDVN) underway as expansion plans move forward

The Davenport Municipal Airport is making way for more customers. Along the way, roads will be relocated for a runway expansion. 

 “Right now what they’re doing is they’re taking the building right down to its skeleton,” said Davenport Airport Manager Thomas Vesalga.

A rebuilt hangar is just the first step along the way. Heart of America group is giving a hangar at the Davenport Municipal Airport a fresh face, and is spending $400,000 on the work. Airport officials say it’s that kind of investment that could attract more businesses.

“They’re going to see this new building, they’re going to see the improvements we’re making around the airport, and they’ll come to us and want to build their own hangars. And as they do, we’re hoping for a snowball effect that more and more corporations will come,” Vesalga added.

Those improvements include extending the runway by 1,600 feet. Right now there are 28,000 take offs and landings every year at the airport.

“With that, we’ll be able to bring in larger aircraft and we’re hoping to be able to attract bigger businesses. Aircraft for cargo capabilities, business jet refurbishing companies,” said Vesalga.

The expanded runway means rerouting will take place on Slopertown Road as well as Buttermilk Road north of the airport. The airport will have to use federal money to buy private land in order to expand the runway. Negotiations with those landowners have already started.

The entire project is expected to be finished by 2021.

Story and video:

Pilot landing in Des Moines reports laser strike on jet

DES MOINES, Iowa —A scare for a Delta pilot flying into the Des Moines International Airport on Tuesday night.

Authorities are investigating a laser strike on the aircraft.

The flight from Minneapolis was on approach to land when the pilot said a bright green laser light burst into the cockpit. It was the only flight to report the problem.

Delta pilot Donald Julius steered clear of the possible threat, coming from the ground possibly near the Iowa State Capitol building. It was fixed on the aircraft for about 25 seconds as the pilot ducted to prevent eye damage.

Des Moines Airport Executive Director Kevin Foley said that this is not the first time an aircraft was attacked here by a bright green laser.

He believes the aircraft was intentionally targeted, as the number of incidents reached a record last year with nearly 4,000 laser strikes on airplanes across the country.

The FAA said this is a very serious crime.

The FAA is asking for everyone's help with this case and urges you to call police if you see anyone beaming a laser to the sky.

The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for pointing a laser beam at a jet.

Story and video:

Missing Dornier 228 exposes aviation safety loopholes

 By Capt Mohan Ranganathan

On March 8, 2014 the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean, and there has been no trace of it despite a massive search operation.

On June 9, the Coast Guard's Dornier aircraft also went missing off Tamil Nadu coast, raising serious concerns, not relating to just the defense forces but also for civil aviation. How are the two interlinked? The MH370 victims' families from Tamil Nadu were not even contacted or taken care of by the country's civil aviation authorities.

The recent appeal of Deepa Lakshmi, wife of flight deputy commander Subash Suresh who was on board the missing Dornier aircraft, to prime minister Narendra Modi exposes the lack of concern and compassion on the part of aviation officials. It is obvious that the system, both in civil and military aviation, lacks the human touch.

In the MH370 event, the aircraft reportedly flew close to 200km from Port Blair before flying south. It was not discovered because there was no working radar in the Andamans during night. Thus, government claims about secure borders and high vigilance levels lie exposed.

In this context, I would like to highlight a report submitted by a former member of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council more than four years ago.

He reported that in case an aircraft crashes into the sea, there was an agreement with the Coast Guard at Trivandrum. Chennai airport does not have a facility to carry out search and rescue operation.Coast Guard also asked for 30 to 45 minutes advance notice during office hours and 60 to 90 minutes advance notice during non-working hours, he reported. This is unacceptable as the safety of passengers and their rescue in water depends on the speed of response.

Initial reports about the Dornier indicated that the ATC radar tracked it at 9,000ft, about 130km south of Chennai. There was a sudden drop of altitude of about 200ft before the aircraft disappeared from the radar screen.  A drop of 200ft is possible with a sudden loss of power on one engine, based on the levels of experience of the pilots. The question is: "Did they lose an engine or did the engine explode?" Reports of an explosion and fireball noticed by local fishermen add credibility to this theory . The Dornier aircraft must be carrying satellite communication equipment as they do fly at very low altitude over waters, to keep constant touch with the base station. The sudden stoppage of signals can be confirmed from Immersat and the Naval authorities must be aware of where the last signal came from. If the aircraft was destroyed by an explosion, there will be debris close to that position. Our inability to mount a successful search and rescue operation - in not-so-deep waters -stands exposed and it is for the government to address this on a war footing. Mere words won't help. Immediate proactive action is required to develop regional systems for search and rescue operations.

(The author is an aviation expert)

Original article can be found here:

Ride-sharing takes to the skies

Ride-sharing services are reaching cruising altitude — at least for high flyers.

Two firms with South Florida roots have created apps that allow celebrities, wealthy entrepreneurs and other high-net-worth travelers to fly private at a fraction of the price of buying or even chartering a private aircraft.

On some routes, the price is about the same as a last-minute refundable first-class seat on a commercial plane. On the popular Miami-to-New York run, for instance, a one-way seat costs around $1,000. Well, after the initiation fee.

And flying private means no winding check-in lines, unpredictable cancellations and other hassles that can go with commercial flight.

“Aviation wasn’t meant to be that way,” said Sergey Petrossov, the founder of Miami-based Jet Smarter, a service-oriented technology company seeking to make private jets accessible to more consumers. “It’s supposed to be a fun experience. We’re trying to bring aviation back to its roots.”

Both Jet Smarter and locally funded Wheels Up recently launched apps to facilitate filling empty seats on private charters. JetSmarter has a jet shuttle service from Fort Lauderdale to New York, while Wheels Up lets members who have chartered a jet offer empty seats up to other members. JetSmarter’s most popular route out of South Florida is to New York and includes free helicopter transfers to Manhattan, while Wheels Up flies frequently to New York; Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, and Augusta, Georgia.

In and out of South Florida, Jet Smarter charters 5 to 10 flights a day, while Wheels Up charters 10 to 20.

“People who have reached that level want to hang out with each other,” said Justin Firestone, one of Wheels Up’s founding partners and a Miami-native. “You don’t get Six-Pack Joe on the airplane.” The New York-based membership service is backed by South Floridians including Yankees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez, catcher Mike Piazza (who played briefly for the Marlins), entrepreneur Melissa Krinzman, Chico’s former CEO Scott Edmonds and tycoon Thomas Oakley.

Wheels Up flies on a fleet of 35 new King Air 350i turboprops. Round, aqua-tinted windows dim the cabin. Pull-out drawers are filled with bottles of Fiji water, San Pellegrino, Hill Family wine and Aviano tequila. The nine passenger seats are nappa leather. A one-time family or corporate membership fee starting at $17,500 and annual fees from $8,500 plus the cost of flight time. The service also offers flights on its fleet of nine-passenger Citation/XLS jets. Both planes can pick up passengers from any airport in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

If members wants to lower their cost, they can post empty seats on a flight on the Wheels Up app. When all the seats are taken, a trip on the King Air 350i from Miami to New York — which typically costs about $11,850 — drops to about $1,320 per person. If available seats don’t fill up, a member can cancel the flight without penalty.

With JetSmarter, travelers pay $8,500 per year plus charter fees. That cost includes its new weekend JetShuttle from Fort Lauderdale to New York on Friday and back on Sunday. A charter costs about $10,000 from Miami to New York for members — about $1,250 per person — and $13,000 for non-members, or $1,625 per seat. Flights are on eight-seat leased jets.

Until the 1990s, the only way to fly privately was to buy a jet or charter one. NetJets, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, popularized fractional jet ownership. That company does not have any plans to explore ride-sharing, according to a spokeswoman.

Miami-based Unity Jets, isn’t planning on expanding into jet-sharing either because, president Kevin Dieman said, turning a private jet into something like a bus “really takes away the private jet experience.” Unity Jets is a private jet brokerage firm that began as a trip-by-trip alternative to fractional ownership.

After years of flying on fractionally owned jets, Joseph Kubicek, co-founder of Envision Realty Group, became a Jet Smarter member about six months ago. Envision has offices in New York and in Miami Beach, so the jet shuttle service was “icing on the cake,” he said.

“It’s still private air travel, it’s just sharing a jet with a few people you may not know,” Kubicek said. “Along the way, it’s also social. If anything, it’s an added feature.”

The by-the-seat sharing concept is the latest twist on expanding the private aviation market, said Brian Foley, an aviation industry market analyst with Brian Foley Associates.

“I don’t think any company really has the secret sauce,” Foley said. “Rather, what you’re seeing is just companies that are finding little niches.”

The opening of the market will give those with the discretionary funds to fly private more choices and, Foley said, an opportunity to escape the “hell” he called flying commercially.

“The best salespeople for these types of programs aren’t the charters or the [new] companies, the best salespeople are the commercial airlines,” Foley said, “because they have made flying so miserable for the general public.”


Two companies with South Florida ties are offering empty seats on private charters for costs similar to flying in a first-class commercial seat. Here’s the breakdown flying from South Florida to New York City, one way:

▪ JetSmarter, From $1,250 per seat, one way to New York for members paying $8,500 per year, $1,625 for non members. On scheduled weekend jet shuttle, the cost is $1,845 one way for nonmembers but free for members. Flying time: 140 minutes.

▪ WheelsUp, From $1,320 one way, after a one-time initiation fee ($17,500 per family) and $8,500 annual fee in subsequent years. Flying time: About 3 hours.

▪ Refundable first-class commercial ticket: About $850 one way. Flying time: about 3 hours.

Original article can be found here:

Who will employ pilots trained in Kenya?

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 23 – As the country marks IATA Aviation day, John Ng’ang’a a locally trained pilot, is less concerned.

“I trained in a local aviation school in the country. However, I cannot find the job that I trained for since graduation,” he says.

He is not alone.

Young people are graduating yearly from Kenyan aviation institutions, but the availability of jobs for them in the industry is a major challenge.

“I am not the only one who remains unemployed. I have friends who graduated a year ago and are still tarmacking,” he says.

This is regardless of the money that he and his colleagues parted with to study.

For instance, to get a private pilot’s license from the Kenya School of Flying, a student parts with a minimum amount of Sh1, 044,260 while getting a commercial pilot’s license costs over Sh2.7million for the one year course.

But even with the high fee structure, students from local schools are more probable to get jobs with smaller airlines in Kenya which pay less than what their colleagues working for the national carrier get. The stripping off of accreditation of aviation schools in the country does not help the case either.

Kenya Airways, on its part, widely recruits trainees from South African schools such as 43 Air School in Port Elizabeth.

The school, which is by far the largest on location training fleet in the Southern Hemisphere and the largest live on campus facility on the continent, trains for the private, general commercial, airline and military sectors. Hence Kenya Airways’ preference for the school.

And the carrier goes to great length to see its staff train there.

In 2011, the carrier sent 45 of its Ab Initio Recruits to the school which is equally expensive.

According to a 2011 Facebook post on the company’s wall, trainee pilots received a student loan worth Sh5.4 million each from Co-operative bank payable upon the program completion and a guaranteed permanent job upon return.

The industry
Regardless of employment challenges, the aviation industry is promising.

“Africa is set to be one of the fastest-growing aviation regions over the next 20 years, with annual expansion averaging nearly 5 percent,” said International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Tony Tyler when marking Aviation Day.

More so, IATA projects African Airlines to post a collective profit of US$100million for a net margin of USD 1.59 per passenger, the thinnest of all regions which, although profitable, is relatively poor performance.

The US$80billion industry supports over six million jobs on the continent.

The 2011 report by IATA states that in Kenya, the industry employs forty six thousand jobs in Kenya with thirteen thousands jobs being directly supported by the sector, seventeen thousand from indirect supply chain of the sector and sixteen thousand jobs supported through the spending by the employees of the aviation sector and its supply chain.

“The demographics and economics of Africa’s fast-growing nations will lead to tremendous demand for air travel. But Africa’s aviation system needs to be ready,” Tyler says.

Tyler calls onto African Governments to open their skies. This will see liberalization of international aviation markets which would minimize government intervention while also adjusting regime under which military and other state-based flights maybe permitted.

To illustrate, a study commissioned by IATA in 2014 shows that an extra five million passengers a year would be generated through liberalizing the air markets between just twelve key African countries.

Hence IATA’s push for more African countries to open their skies by implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision.

But the industry is facing its own challenges.

For starters, there are ill-conceived regulations, which according to Tyler are dragging the industry’s progress.

“Taxes and charges on infrastructure and fuel are much higher in Africa than the global average. Over taxing fuel and air fare in an attempt to make high revenues is dragging the sector backwards,” he said.

He further explained that these types of taxation mean fewer flights within, into and out of the continent compared to other continents.

“We as IATA therefore urge governments to remove these taxes and put regulations that are friendly to players in the sector.”

Other challenges faced in the sector include poor safety oversight, restrictive air-services agreements and inadequate and costly infrastructure.

The national carrier has at the same time faced its fair share of problems with continuous losses over the last couple of years. This is reflecting badly on the industry in Kenya seeing that the carrier employs thousands of people directly and indirectly.

Kenya Airways also has to beat international carriers especially those from oil-rich countries such as Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways which generally have better packages that include more journey times, smoother connectivity and are perceived safer.


Aviation is however taking a new course locally.

For instance, private investors have been buying charter planes and rendering them to small local airlines guaranteeing them constant revenues.

Property developers are also using airstrips to add value into their property.

“Having an airstrip adds value to our golf course and property in general,” said General Manager of Vipingo Ridge Mike Round-Turner during a press event earlier this year.

He is not alone. Developers are simply taking advantage of a good property and increasing its value by adding an airstrip alluding that the place is in deed of high value.

The aviation industry has also seen considerable investment locally from politicians who use them during political campaigns.

Original article can be found here: