Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Robinson R22 BETA, N86EH: Incident occurred August 19, 2015 at Long Island Mac Arthur Airport (KISP), Ronkonkoma, New York

Date: 19-AUG-15 
Time: 23:30:00Z
Regis#: N86EH
Aircraft Make: ROBINSON
Aircraft Model: R22
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: Minor
Damage: Unknown
Activity: Personal
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Farmingdale FSDO-11
State: New York



A small helicopter with two men onboard crashed Wednesday night at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, officials said.

The flight instructor and student pilot had "no external injuries," but were taken to a hospital to be examined, said Robert Schaefer, the Town of Islip's airport commissioner.

"They were speaking. They were pretty calm," Schaefer said, describing both men as being in their 30s. Their names were not immediately available. Schaefer also said he could not immediately provide the name of the flight school or say whether the helicopter was based at the airport.

The accident occurred about 7:30 p.m. in a grassy "safe zone" about 150 feet away from two runways while the pilot was teaching his student how to hover in the R-22 helicopter, Schaefer said. Because of the distance from the runways, no flights were impacted, he said.

"They were hovering a foot or two off the ground, he overcompensated and it went on its side," said Schaefer.

The airport has notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board and both will investigate, Schaefer said.

Story, video and comments:

RONKONKOMA - A helicopter crashed at Long Island MacArthur Airport, according to the Town of Islip.

The town, which runs the airport, says the incident occurred at around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. A teacher and pilot were inside the Robinson R22 helicopter, hovering 1-2 feet off the ground, when it crashed between two runways on the field, officials say.

One person was taken to the hospital with a possible head injury.

News 12 is told that the helicopter was leaking fuel at the crash site. A hazardous materials team was called in to clean up the airport.

No flights were affected by the crash.

Story and comments:

Jodel D-120A, G-ASXU: 'Impounded' aircraft flies out of former Plymouth airport

Preparing to leave the former airport at Plymouth, pilot Martin Ferid said he was glad the "saga" was over.

A pilot who had his vintage aircraft "impounded" after an emergency landing three weeks ago, has flown home.

Martin Ferid made the precautionary landing at the former Plymouth Airport site on 9 August.

The site's leaseholder, Sutton Harbour Holdings (SHH), said it was an act of trespass and refused to allow the plane to leave, citing safety reasons.

An agreement was reached after assurances about liability insurance and the plane's airworthiness.

'Responsible company'

Mr Ferid, an experienced pilot and instructor, said he was relieved the matter had been resolved.

"Glad to have the airplane back and glad that this saga is over," he told BBC News.

"There's one good bit that's come out of it, because I don't think anyone else will take this stance again in an emergency situation."

Mr Ferid was en route from Cornwall to Kent in his  Jodel D-120A, G-ASXU,  when the deteriorating weather forced him to land.

His actions were in line with the Civil Aviation Authority-approved Strasser Scheme, endorsed by 98% of UK airfields.

SHH had previously insisted the plane could only be removed by road and concrete blocks were placed in front of the aircraft.

However following the intervention of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Charles Strasser, the founder of the Strasser Scheme, an agreement was reached.

The company confirmed the aircraft had left the former airport site "safely" just before 11:30 BST.

"Our position throughout this matter has been quite clear in that as a responsible company we had to be satisfied that any decision we made ensured that this aircraft was able to leave safely," a statement said.

A plane ‘impounded’ at Plymouth’s defunct airport for more than two weeks will be allowed to fly off on Friday after a lengthy wrangle following his emergency landing.

Airport leaseholders Sutton Harbour Holdings (SSH) originally told the pilot, who was forced to carry out the unscheduled landing on the defunct runway on Sunday August 9 after encountering bad weather, that he would have to remove his Jodel G-ASXU light aircraft by road and would not be permitted to fly out.

The company reversed its decision after outcry from the aviation community and after holding meetings with the pilot and his representatives.

Chairman Simon Miller has now confirmed it hopes to allow the Kent pilot to leave on Friday, weather permitting.

He also vowed for the company to review its policy when it comes to emergency landings at the airport and admitted it had been “a difficult period” for SHH.

The announcement about Friday’s take-off was made in a letter yesterday to aviation chief Charles Strasser, who wrote to SHH on Monday imploring it to come to a quick resolution.

Mr Strasser, the vice president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (AOPA), was instrumental in negotiating the Strasser Scheme during the late 1990s, whereby airports, including Plymouth’s while active until 2011, agree to waiver all charges for emergency landings or diversions.

He explained in a letter that the “hugely damaging PR” for SHH could be stopped by bosses “agreeing to let the Jodel depart”.

In reply, Mr Miller said he agreed that the emergency landing was “the best course of action” and added: “I very much hope he [the pilot] will be able to take off again from the airfield this Friday and be safely on his way.

“I will be asking our executive team to update the protocol which will be used for emergency landings at the former airfield,” he continued.

“Since Plymouth airport closed in 2011, this is the first such landing which has taken place to our knowledge and we will be far better prepared for such an eventuality on a future occasion.”

SHH wrote to the pilot and his representatives only days after the landing requesting costs and ordering him not to speak to the media about the incident.

It has since withdrawn requests for money, with Mr Miller saying “he will not be charged any fees whatsoever by our company”.

Mr Miller said insurance details had been finalised on Tuesday and all that was left to complete was an inspection of the plane for “airworthiness”.

“We know [the pilot] is an experienced flight instructor so his competence as a pilot has never been in questioned,” he added.


The pilot who was forced to land at Plymouth airport earlier this month amid safety concerns has been told to cover his aircraft while negotiations continue this week.

A fortnight has passed since the plane, a Jodel G-ASXU, made an emergency landing at the disused site, owned by Sutton Harbour Holdings.

While meetings between SHH, the pilot, from Kent, and his representatives look set to continue for a third week, discussions have now turned to the matter of insurance and the "airworthiness and indemnities" to allow the aircraft to safely depart.

The official statement, published on Sunday, made reference to the site's lack of air traffic control, though The Herald understands this is not a reason the plane remains grounded.

Cllr Nick Kelly, the Conservative representative for Moor View, has been liaising between the pilot and SSH and says, should agreements be met by the relevant parties, the plane could depart this Friday.

"That is, of course, entirely dependent upon the weather reports and if negotiations are successful this week," he said.

"In my view, that gives SHH and the pilot four days to get what is a relatively straightforward process sorted.

"I had actually hoped for this issue to have been solved by yesterday, but what we're all hoping for is the weather to clear up, the pilot to be able to fly off and then we can all wave goodbye as he goes.

"Discussions are still taking place, but I'd like to see this resolved as soon as possible. I can totally understand why this has taken as long as it has though, and I do empathise with SHH.

"But, we're not talking about a plane that is trying to take off from a farmer's field, are we?"

SHH, who closed the airport in December 2011, has been widely criticised by pilots from across the world and the general aviation community over their handling of the situation.

Jeremy Diack, who is the editor of aviation industry newspaper Flight Training News, has slammed the site leaseholders and has branded their statement as both "incorrect and misleading".

"The Jodel is privately operated and does not need a licensed airfield to depart from," he explained.

"This means there is no burden of responsibility placed on SHH for the provision of fire and rescue services, air traffic control or any other airport facility – not even a serviceable runway, although that is provided under the terms of SHH's lease with Plymouth Council.

"There is no legal burden placed on SHH to determine that the departure flight would be airworthy or insured either, although I understand such unrequired assurances have in fact already been provided. The legal burden is placed solely on the pilot and his insurers.

"The Jodel currently impounded at Plymouth is owned by a syndicate of 10 pilots. With a hull value of around £15k and operating costs of circa £50 per hour, it is an affordable and safe form of aerial transport.

"Earlier statements by SHH that it is 54-years-old and therefore potentially unsafe, demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge of how aircraft are maintained and regulated in the UK.

"If flight safety concerns are really the driving factor behind SHH's impounding of this aircraft, perhaps they could have provided shelter for it in the large, empty hangar behind it?"

SHH were unable to provide a comment in response to Jeremy's quotes or a potential departure this week.

Read more:

A concrete block has now been placed in front of the aircraft to prevent it being moved.

American Airlines Had Serious Close Call in Texas in June: Occurrence preceded tail strike accident in Charlotte last weekend

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 19, 2015 8:21 p.m. ET

As federal investigators rev up their probe of an American Airlines landing accident in North Carolina last weekend, it turns out that another of the carrier’s jets suffered a dangerous close call approaching a Texas strip in similar stormy weather two months earlier.

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it launched a formal investigation into why American Airlines Group’s Flight 1851, an Airbus A321 operated by US Airways, collided with approach lights on Saturday before striking and damaging the underside of its tail on the runway while trying to land at the Charlotte, N.C. international airport. Pilots reported experiencing a wind shear, or sudden and dramatic shift in wind direction, before climbing away and landing safely on the second try.

Nobody was hurt, but the accident prompted scrutiny from the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration, while also attracting the attention of outside safety experts. Accidents caused by such wind shear phenomena, typically associated with thunderstorms, are almost unheard of in the U.S. these days due to decades of targeted pilot training and installation of enhanced radars.

But on June 26, an American Airlines jetliner approaching Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport suffered a serious close call, also reportedly during wind shear conditions, and came within dozens of feet of touching down prematurely, according to people familiar with the details. There were no injuries and the aircraft wasn’t damaged, these people said.

Regardless of weather, cockpit crews are required to comply with safety rules at individual airlines, mandating landing pilots to execute a go-around if their planes aren’t stabilized during the final phases of the approach with the proper speed, altitude and orientation relative to the ground. Wind shear events, sometimes called microbursts, are notorious for suddenly pushing planes toward the ground during the final phase of an approach, when speed generally is low and engines are throttled back.

In last Saturday’s accident, the safety board said the single-aisle, twin-engine jet, which was immediately taken out of service, suffered “substantial damage following a tail strike.”

According to the safety board’s release, investigators will examine weather factors, airplane performance and pilot actions. The A321’s black box recorders, containing flight data along with cockpit conversations and voice communications, are being downloaded and analyzed at the NTSB’s laboratory in Washington.

Original article can be found here:

Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY) commission addresses Federal Aviation Administration concerns

The Federal Aviation Administration has set an October 15th deadline for several compliance issues to be addressed.

Members of the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission met last Thursday without their airport manager present.

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport commission (MVAC) met last week and addressed what airport commission chairman Myron Garfinkle said are significant Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) non-compliance issues that stand to jeopardize future funding and the airport’s Part 139 status as a commercial airport if the findings are not addressed by an October 15 deadline.

Mr. Garfinkle and vice-chairman Robert Rosenbaum described the outstanding issues at an MVAC meeting on Thursday, August 13, after meeting a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) representative at the airport on August 11.

Mr. Garfinkle said after the annual FAA inspection in May, four areas were found to be non-compliant: the aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) building construction project, the wildlife management plan, employee performance, and runway markings. Two of the four areas, the wildlife management plan and runway markings, were deemed areas of significant non-compliance.

“The FAA made it clear that we have not made an effort to correct these non-compliance issues over a significant period of time, and in some cases in well over a year,” Mr. Garfinkle read from a prepared statement. Any further delay could put a grant request of $8 million dollars into jeopardy, he said.

He said the airport initially received funding in 2011 of over $850,000 to go toward plans and permits for the construction of the new ARFF building. The FAA expected 100 percent of the designs to be done within one year, but now, four years later, there has been little progress on the project.

Mr. Rosenbaum said the FAA representative said non-compliance issues in other airports were not necessarily unusual, but once uncovered there is typically due diligence to quickly correct them, which hasn’t been the case for the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. As a result, the airport is now under an October 15 deadline to address markings on the runway and create an adequate wildlife management program.

MVAC member Richard Michelson asked why the issues were not addressed in a timely manner. Mr. Garfinkle said he could not speculate on the past but going forward “we will do what we can to bring ourselves into compliance as quickly as possible.”

Commissioner Christine Todd, who tuned in to the meeting via video, looked for a clearer answer.

“Can we, with full and total confidence know that these matters are being dealt with in a swift and efficient manner so that the FAA will be satisfied within the timeframe they have set for us?” she asked.

“I can only answer that with the commitment that we will give you our best efforts,” Mr. Garfinkle responded. “There’s a lot of work to be done in order to get into compliance. I feel guardedly confident that we will do it.”

Thirty-plus hours

Airport manager Sean Flynn was not present at the meeting. In a telephone conversation with The Times on Wednesday, Mr. Garfinkle said that Mr. Flynn is on vacation. “He gave me notice that it was time for him to take a vacation, and I certainly respected that,” he said. “He’s got a lot of vacation hours built up, so he’s entitled to that.”

According to one source close to management who spoke on condition of anonymity, Mr. Flynn was asked to take time off unconnected to disciplinary proceedings.

Mr. Garfinkle acknowledged there have been challenges with management but said the vacation was a mutually acceptable decision. The commission did not ask Mr. Flynn to take time off, he said.

Mr. Garfinkle said he’s been working 30 plus hours at the airport for the past several weeks. Asked why he as a member of the commission, a body charged with policy making, was taking a management role, Mr. Garfinkle pointed to the time frame

“I feel there’s a tremendous amount of work that has to be addressed in the next few weeks and the next couple of months, and whatever I can do to help the staff accomplish that is what I feel I should be doing,” he said. “I wish I didn’t have the opportunity to do that. The fact of the matter is that these are things that need to be done.”

Asked why he felt obligated to address that work instead of demanding that airport management attend to it, he said he was not allowed to discuss employee performance. Despite that, he said he’s not attempting to fill a management role.

“During these particular circumstances, I feel I can help airport management,” Mr. Garfinkle said, adding that he is “a facilitator helping them with tools, helping them understand how to prioritize their time so that they can contact the right people and feel free to spend the budgeted money to accomplish the goals that are urgent right now.”

“If you want to call that management, you can,” he said.

Extreme punishment

Mr. Rosenbaum said in a phone call Wednesday that although Mr. Flynn is on vacation, he is still on the Island.  “He is not at the office,” he said. “He is on the Island and is available for any particular specific matters that may come up, but he is not actually at his office.”

He said that Deborah Potter, airport assistant manager, is filling in while Mr. Flynn is out. He said the length of the vacation “has not been determined at this point.”

Mr. Rosenbaum said he could not comment on whether the vacation was a decision made by Mr. Flynn or not.

He said that the loss of the airport’s Part 139 status would be an extreme punishment, although not inconceivable. “I’d say the nearer potential issue would be to lose funding for projects,” he said. “And then ultimately if these discrepancies continue over some period of time without being addressed, then I think the FAA may very well revoke the 139.”

He said one of the FAA’s main concerns, wildlife management, has to do with deer found within the perimeter fence. There haven’t been any sightings of deer on the runways or taxiways, he said, but their presence within the fence opens up the possibility of that occurrence.

Mr. Rosenbaum said the second issue, deteriorated runway and taxiway markings, is likely the result of snow and snow removal. “When you’re plowing the pavement, over time the markings tend to run down,” he said.

A third issue, employee performance, has more to do with staff training. Mr. Rosenbaum said training components for the staff were not being met.

Despite all of that, on Wednesday Mr. Garfinkle said that he felt upbeat about the attitude at the airport.

“We’re making remarkable progress,” he said. “Our focus is on getting into compliance before the deadline of October 15 and we’re focusing hard on doing everything we can.”


North Central West Virginia Airport (KCKB) could soon have new tenant, board learns

Potential tenant
Scott Yoak of Aerospace Specialties speaks to the Benedum Airport Authority Wednesday about possibly relocating his business to the local airport.

BRIDGEPORT — The industrial park at North Central West Virginia Airport soon could have a new tenant.

Scott Yoak of Aerospace Specialties said he wants to bring his company, which focuses on sheet metal services for vintage aircraft, to the local airport. Yoak said Aerospace Specialties is currently based out of Lewisburg.

Yoak spoke with the Benedum Airport Authority during the board’s monthly meeting at the airport terminal in Bridgeport on Wednesday.

Aerospace Specialities employs three technicians and would be looking to add five technicians over the next five years, Yoak said.

Yoak said he wants “to relocate to an airport that would allow us to grow.”

Aerospace Specialties would look to lease property at the airport and construct its own facility, Yoak said.

Board members seemed receptive to the idea of having a new tenant. They instructed Airport Director Rick Rock to begin negotiating with Aerospace Specialities to work out an agreement for the board to consider at its next meeting.

Also Wednesday, the board took steps to upgrade the airport’s snow removal equipment, which Rock has said will be necessary to ensure continuity of service moving forward.

The board voted to accept funding through the Federal Aviation Administration to purchase a snow plow. The funds would come out of the Airport Improvement Program, which provides grants to small airports that exceed 10,000 enplanements in a year, according to Rock.

At the recommendation of airport engineer Chad Biller, the board also voted to move forward on acquiring a snow blower. The equipment will take about a year to manufacture, Biller said, and would need to be purchased using next year’s round of Airport Improvement Program funds, which have not officially been approved.

Each piece of equipment will cost roughly $500,000, according to information provided to the board.

In other business:

— Biller informed the board that an updated master plan for the airport is complete and will be submitted to the FAA by next week.

Once the federal agency has had time to review the plan and make recommendations, it will be returned to the board for final approval, Biller said.

— The board discussed a proposed agreement to lease airport property along W.Va. 131 to the City of Bridgeport. The city has a desire to make use of the property, which is near the Bridgeport Recreation Complex.

The board concluded that it would best to have board member Mike Romano and City Manager Kim Haws work together to fine-tune a draft lease agreement and then return with further recommendations.

— The board decided to form a committee to review security issues with the airport’s hangar gates and return with recommendations for action.

— The board authorized travel expenses for two separate trips for airport officials. Rock requested to travel to Washington, D.C., along with other airport managers to discuss issues related to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program.

The board also authorized Shawn Long, the local Allegiant station manager, to attend a conference for station managers at Allegiant Air’s headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.

— Rock provided a number of updates to the board, including the latest enplanement numbers. Through July, the local airport reached 15,657 enplanements, up from 13,653 through the same period last year, according to Rock.

Rock remarked on the success of Allegiant’s direct flights from North Central West Virginia Airport to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which were offered this summer.

“The yield has been amazing,” Rock said. “Unless something tremendously bad happens, Myrtle Beach at North Central West Virginia Airport will be starting back next year, no doubt about it.”


Director's update 
North Central West Virginia Airport Director Rick Rock provides an update to the Benedum Airport Authority during a meeting at the airport terminal in Bridgeport Wednesday.

Southwest and Delta are in a fight that the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to break up

The federal government has had to get in the middle of a feud over gate space at Dallas' secondary airport.

It's a fight that could be repeated in New York and Washington D.C. as lawmakers there look to remove limits on flights from smaller airports.

The competition in Texas comes after the end of a rule that prohibited airlines flying from Dallas Love Field Airport to travel long distances – beyond nearby states.

Called the Wright Amendment, it was enacted to promote Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when it opened in 1979. With the rule now defunct—and fresh off a $500 million face lift—Love Field is poised to become more than just a regional hub.

Delta Air Lines wants to expand its service from Love Field. Currently the Atlanta-based carrier, which also has a large presence at Dallas Fort Worth just 16 miles away, leases gate space from Southwest. But Southwest, which operates 18 of the airports 20 gates, wants to kick Delta out completely.

This has prompted the FAA to step in, notifying the City of Dallas last week that by not providing reasonable accommodations for Delta, it could possibly be in breach of federal obligations as operator of the airport.

In a “notice of investigation” delivered to city officials the agency writes: 

“The FAA is initiating an investigation to determine whether the City, by failing to grant or otherwise act on the request of Delta Air Lines for accommodation at DAL has violated its Airport Improvement Program grant agreements with the FAA.” 

Why does Delta want space at Love Field?

Love Field’s proximity to Dallas' Central Business District is key to understanding the competition, says Alex McIntyre, a Dallas-based reporter for Airways News, who has been closely following the expiration of the Wright Amendment.

“Love Field is a really attractive location because it’s close to the city center, so it’s going to attract a lot more people than an airport 30 minutes out,” said McIntyre. “Secondly, it’s close to a really high-end market."

According to Zillow real estate data, home values in the zip code directly next to the airport average $460,600, compared to $164,200 for the metro area as a whole.

Delta declined comment for this story, and has not released any specifics about destinations for additional flights. Currently Delta operates five flights a day through gates subleased by Southwest, all to Atlanta. Southwest also declined to comment.

This could effect other airports

Love Field wasn’t the only airport with distance restrictions. New York’s LaGuardia and Washington Reagan both have destination limits of 1,500 and 1,250 miles respectively.

“Those are two airports that are similarly contested,” said McIntyre. “At Love Field we’ve seen that repealing the Wright Amendment has done a lot for the competitive nature of the airport.”

Washington Reagan falls under the authority of congress due to its proximity to the District of Columbia, and many lawmakers have publicly supported a lift on the distance rules, as they mostly affect flights to western states.

Similar ideas are in motion in New York, where distance restrictions were imposed on LaGuardia Airport to promote the new Idle wild Airport, now known as John F. Kennedy International, which handles a majority of the regions international traffic.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, LaGuardia's governing body, were mulling a possible change to the perimeter restrictions "to determine whether it remains in the best interest of the region’s air travelers.”

If the opening of Love Field to long-haul is seen as a success story, it could add fuel to efforts to repeal similar restrictions at other airports. 

Who will win?

Southwest originally told Delta to be out by July 7. That deadline was later extended to September 1.

Federal law prohibits any single airline from having exclusive use of an airport that receives federal money. Records show Love Field was awarded $8.9 million in FAA grants in 2014.

The City of Dallas declined to comment on the impending FAA investigation, but the notice says officials must respond by September 9, about three weeks from now.

In a suit filed in U.S. District court last month relating to this ongoing skirmish, the city voiced support for Southwest, writing that “the City believes that Southwest will prevail on the merits over Delta.”

Story and comments:

Incident occurred August 16, 2015 in the Wind River Mountain range, Wyoming

Search & rescue members stage with the helicopter for a short-haul extraction of two plane crash survivors. 
Photo courtesy Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. 

by Sublette County Sheriff’s Office

On August 16, at approximately 1000, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a plane crash in the Wind River Mountain range.

A second plane, which had been flying with the downed aircraft, was able to circle the crash site, providing detailed information of the location.

Tip Top Search and Rescue members were activated for a short-haul mission in order to extract the two passengers. 

Both men were successfully extracted from the crash site and transported to St. John’s Medical Center where they received care. 

The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.


SCSO contract helicopter takes off during short haul mission to rescue two plane crash survivors. 
Photo courtesy Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.

TTSAR member Milford Lockwood takes off with emergency equipment during a rescue mission on Mammoth Glacier. 
Photo courtesy Sublette County Sheriff's Office.

Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II, C-GSKC, Carson Air: Fatal accident occurred April 13, 2015 in the North Shore Mountains near Vancouver, BC, Canada

The man piloting a cargo plane that crashed on the North Shore mountains earlier this year was intoxicated, the BC Coroners Service revealed Wednesday.

Captain Robert Brandt, 34, and first officer Kevin Wang, 32, both died on impact after the Carson Air aircraft plummeted into a heavily wooded area on Coliseum Mountain the morning of April 13.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board, but the Coroners Service said post-mortem toxicology tests show Brandt was drunk, with a blood alcohol content of 0.24 percent.

That's three times the legal limit for drivers, but pilots are held to stricter standards. Under Canadian aviation regulations, crew members are barred from being under the influence of alcohol, or even drinking within eight hours of the start of a flight.

No other substances were detected, and no drugs or alcohol were found in Wang’s system.

The TSB said part of its investigation will involve determining whether anyone at Vancouver International Airport, where Brandt and Wang departed from minutes before the crash, knew the captain was intoxicated.

The two men, who were both residents of the Vancouver area, were the only people on board.

Bill Yearwood, TSB regional manager of aviation, said the agency is still months away from issuing a final report into the crash.


FedEx hosts airline summit on NextGen

FedEx convened an industry summit Wednesday to help airlines prepare their command and control centers for a technological quantum leap: a switch from radar to satellite-based tracking of commercial flights.

Had the system been in place, authorities would have been alerted that a GermanWings pilot had set his autopilot on collision course with a mountain, and it might not be a mystery what happened to a Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished from radar.

The summit, which drew more than 50 airline officials and vendors from the U.S. and beyond, is a logical extension of FedEx's role as an incubator for the Federal Aviation Administration's overhaul of air traffic control technology, known as NextGen.

The Memphis cargo giant has participated in trials or been an early adopter of changes including text-messaged flight directions, reduced separation between jets on takeoff and landing and more efficient spacing of planes on taxiways.  NextGen is designed to improve safety and efficiency by helping air traffic controllers direct more planes in the same airspace.

FedEx's summit focused on educating control center personnel on the FAA's plan to require aircraft flying 10,000 feet and above to have onboard technology to broadcast data gathered by global positioning satellite (GPS) devices starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Randy Girolamo, FedEx Express senior manager global operations control, said the conference, held in a training room next to the nerve center that directs about 650 FedEx aircraft, was attended by officials from British Airways, Air Canada, Caribbean carriers and domestic carriers Delta, American, United, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska and others.

The technology, called an Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast system, funnels information such as GPS coordinates, plane speed, altitude and weather into the FAA air traffic control system. The data includes settings on autopilot and other instruments, which would have provided a warning, if not a different outcome, for the GermanWings pilot who killed himself and 149 passengers.

"The information will be available to operational control centers to have better insight into where physically the airplanes are," Girolamo said. "So will air traffic control, which will improve their efficiencies in the air space and safety in the air space."

Ground radar, a mid-20th century technology, reports planes' positions about once a minute, forcing controllers to allow more space around planes that can travel 400 to 500 miles an hour. A GPS-based system reports every 10 seconds or so.

"It's about safety and efficiency, which is good for the airlines, it's good for the passengers and it's good for the cargo carriers," Girolamo said. "If you have a safer and more efficient air space, that's a good news story."

Doug Snow, a FedEx global operations control specialist, said some countries where FedEx flies, including Vietnam, Singapore and Australia, already require the new technology.

FedEx's newest planes, Boeing 777s and Boeing 767s, come equipped with the technology, and the company is addressing upgrade issues for older aircraft.

FedEx Express officials anticipate meeting the 2020 mandate, said senior vice president flight operations Jim Bowman.

"We've been an industry leader in this. We've proposed a lot of technical solutions. Our aircraft are, percentage-wise, better equipped than probably any other passenger or cargo carrier, because we see the safety value and we see the efficiency value, so I do not see any problem with FedEx complying with the rules, and we'll probably get there quicker than most carriers," Bowman said.

Bowman believes 2020 could be a defining moment for NextGen.

"When will that tipping point be where the majority of aircraft or a great number of aircraft have this and you can actually shut down some of the ground-based radar, shut down some of the navigation aids? I think we'll be close to a tipping point in 2020, I really do," Bowman said.

"The FAA is making great progress, the industry has embraced the NextGen concepts, but quite frankly there has to be a business case for an airline to do it, and I think the FAA has realized that," Bowman said. "They're coming around to the notion that there has to be a value provided, in addition to safety, for us to go out and spend a lot of money on these expensive avionics."


Capital Region International Airport (KLAN) urges support for American Airlines bid

Members of the Capital Regional Airport Authority joined Lansing officials and business leaders to urge the community to support American Airlines’ bid to begin service from Lansing to Washington D.C. once Sun Country discontinues its flights in October.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity to fill the void left by Sun Country and bring in new, expanded travel options,” said Chris Holman, who chairs the CRAA.

American Airlines would offer daily, nonstop service from Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Nov. 5 if the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation approve its application. It would also offer three daily flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, starting in early 2016.

“Sun Country leaving is not a positive, but we can turn it around into something good,” said Howard Kass, American Airlines’ vice president of Regulatory Affairs.

With American Airlines’ service, passengers could fly to D.C. in the morning and fly back home that night.

“Having American Airlines replacing Sun Country requires a big effort,” Kass said. “The letters and phone calls (to Washington) really help.”

The airport reached its peak traffic in 1997 with 720,365 total passengers. By 2009, the first full year of the recession, those numbers had plummeted to 265,967 but steadily crept back up to 418,850 in 2013. In 2014, the number dipped again to 376,912 passengers.

As of July, the airport’s number of passengers totaled 200,737.

More than 500 Lansing area-businesses and residents have already expressed support through phone calls and letters to the FAA and USDOT through

Holman said businesses in Virginia have also reached out to regulators because they see business opportunities in Lansing.

“D.C. is a top travel destination and this opens up global market opportunities for us,” said Tim Daman, president and chief executive officer of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. “That quality air service is a cornerstone. We believe it’s essential for our people to continue to invest here and grow in our region.”

Story and comments:

Admission free for September 19th Fremont County Open House/Airshow: Fremont County Airport (1V6), Penrose, Colorado

Friends and family, food, fun and aircraft in flight will make up the third annual Open House and Airshow on Sept. 19 at the Fremont County Airport, 60298 U.S. 50, in Penrose.

Admission is free to the event that will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Helicopter rides and food vendors will be available for an additional charge.

The show will have several new features this year, according to event organizer Jim Woolworth.

Because the Airshow and Open House will be the same day as Florence's annual Pioneer Day parade and celebration, shuttles will run every 30 minutes between the Fremont County Airport and Pioneer Park in Florence so people can take part in both events. The buses, provided by Raft Masters, will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The day kicks off with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m hosted by the Penrose Volunteer Fire Dept. All attractions, booths, food vendors and displays open at 8 a.m. The classic cars review and local aircraft fly-in reviews begin at 9 a.m. and helicopter rides will be available. An aircraft flyover will be featured at 10 a.m. during the Pioneer Day parade in Florence.

At 11:30 a.m., there will be a live auction and 50/50 raffle. The auction will feature a DR-1 tri-plane swing, propellers signed by show performers, the original artwork for the airshow poster by Rudl Mergelman and other airplane specialty items.

There will be two runway drag races during the show that begins at noon by Lanier Henry's 2000 HP Dragster and Don Nelson's Sukhoi 26 aircraft. Also featured during the show will be Skydive flag jump, National Anthem; the Renegades - precision formation team; Don Nelson - Sukhoi aerobatics; Gary Rower - Super Stearman Aerobatics; Chris Murphy - RV4 Aerobatics; and Steve Bergevin - Giles G-202 Aerobatics.

"We will have a powered paraglider and a paraglider demonstration in the airshow itself," Woolworth said. "They have a pretty interesting routine they do with this — they fly around some pretty extreme maneuvers."

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for seating.

"We will try to open up as much hangar space as we can along the frontline so they can move out of the sun, put their lawn chair up and watch," Woolworth said.

R-66 helicopter rides will continue from 2:30 to 5 p.m., and a musical postlude will be at 3 p.m. Teachers will be offered a plane ride through the Wings Over the Rockies' Teacher Flight program, and a hospitality tent will be set up for event sponsors, where they can enjoy a refreshment and meet the performers.

Other confirmed attractions and booths will include a vintage car display; face painting; "Behind the Scenes" backdrops for photo taking; a hands-on STEM lab by the Civil Air Patrol; balsa planes, model rockets and pedal planes; Weisbrod Aircraft Museum; and the Experimental Aircraft Association's build display.

Attendance wasn't tracked the first year of the show, but Woolworth estimated it to be about 500 people or less. Last year's attendance was about 2,000, and organizers hope for about 3,000 this year.

The main event sponsors are the Royal Gorge Route Railroad and Armstrong Consultants.

For more information, call 784-3816.

If you go

What: Fremont County Open House/Airshow

When: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 19

Where: Fremont County Airport, 60298 U.S. 50, Penrose

Cost: Admission is free. Helicopter rides and food vendors are an additional fee.

More info: Call 784-3816

Fremont County Open House/Airshow at the Fremont County Airport

7-10 a.m. Pancake Breakfast by the Penrose Volunteer Fire Dept.

8 a.m. All attractions, booths, food vendors and displays open

9 a.m. Shuttle runs start between the airport and downtown Florence; classic cars review; local aircraft fly in review; and helicopter rides.

10 a.m. Pioneer Days parade in Florence (includes aircraft flyover)

11:30 a.m. Live auction and 50/50 raffle

Noon Airshow will begin, featuring Skydive flag jump, National Anthem

Renegades - Precision formation team; Don Nelson - Sukhoi aerobatics; Drag Race No. 1 - 2000 HP Dragster vs Sukhoi 26 Aircraft; Gary Rower - Super Stearman Aerobatics; Chris Murphy - RV4 Aerobatics; Steve Bergevin - Giles G-202 Aerobatics; Drag Race No. 2 - 2000 HP Dragster vs Sukhoi 26 Aircraft.

2:30-5 p.m. Helicopter rides, other local attractions at airport.

3 p.m. Musical Postlude.


Board: End of probe will allow Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT) to move forward

The end of a criminal investigation into activities at Grand Junction Regional Airport gives airport officials greater leeway, board members said at their monthly meeting Tuesday.

“Now that we are out from under DOJ’s watchful eye, we are going to become more aggressive,” airport authority Chairman Rick Wagner said during the first board meeting since prosecutors abandoned the criminal case.

A federal civil investigation is still continuing into airport activities, Wagner said, adding that he couldn’t discuss it further.

Nearly every action that the board has taken in the last 21 months has been colored by the investigation, causing the authority to take, or refrain from, certain actions, Wagner said.

Once the airport receives documents seized in the criminal investigation, it can act on several matters on which it has been paralyzed, Wagner said.

One of those is the dispute with Shaw Construction over payment for work done so far at the unfinished building at the airport.

The airport will be able to “deal more directly and completely” with Shaw once it has its records back, Wagner said.

Among the things the authority can more freely discuss is the fence that borders much of the airport, which was a flashpoint in disputes between airport tenants and management under Rex Tippetts, who was fired after the FBI raided airport offices in November 2013.

The Federal Aviation Administration has told the airport it wants $500,000 it contributed toward construction of the fence returned, Wagner said.

At the same time, the airport is continuing discussions with the Transportation Security Administration about the fence and changes the airport wants to make to its perimeter-security system.

The FAA now contends that the fence is noncompliant, but the TSA won’t allow it to be removed, Wagner said. “The irony, if it is irony, is not lost on us,” Wagner said.

Officials remain hopeful they can win TSA support for a new security system, said Steve Wood, who heads the airport’s security solutions committee.

The board also discussed an audit committee’s finding that the airport has been carrying on its books a 2011 GMC Denali pickup that was sold to Tippetts in 2012, before the federal investigation began.

Documentation of the sale was taken in the FBI raid, said authority member Rick Langley, so officials don’t know the amount Tippetts paid for the truck, when it was sold, where it is now, or other details.

Had the criminal investigation not been dropped, the board would not have discussed in public the finding about the truck, Wagner said. 


Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT) chooses new manager

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority Board chose a new airport manager at their meeting Tuesday night.

The board decided on David Fiore. He is the president of a consulting business in Eagle, an attorney, and a pilot.

Fiore has worked in airports in Oklahoma, Fort Wayne, and San Franciscio. He beat out more than 60 applicants for the manager position at GJT.

Fiore replaces Rex Tippets, who was fired last year after the FBI launched an investigation into the airport's financial situation.


Small panel door from American Airlines plane lands on North Carolina golf course

MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration says a panel door from a passing plane crashed onto the Green Meadows Golf Course in Mount Holly Wednesday morning.

The panel door came crashing down onto the green around 8:20 Wednesday morning. The panel was approximately 15 inches by 16 inches and was located just behind the wing on the belly of the aircraft. It covered the hydraulic servicing area, which is not a pressurized area of the aircraft. It would not cause a flight safety issue.

The FAA says the panel door belonged to a US Airways/American Airlines Air Bus, AA Flight 1910. The aircraft, which originated from Dallas/Fort Worth, lost the door on approach to Charlotte-Douglas.

A golf course employee said that US Airways arrived and retrieved the piece before the FAA arrived on scene to investigate.

American Airlines released a statement about the incident Wednesday afternoon.

"American Airlines Flight 1910, operated by US Airways, from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Charlotte (CLT) lost a small panel door prior to landing in CLT. The panel has been recovered, and no one was injured. The Airbus A321, operated by a crew of six, was carrying 146 passengers and landed at 8:44 a.m. ET. We have reported this incident to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)."


CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  A small door from an American Airlines flight fell from the plane as it was preparing to land in Charlotte and landed near some golfers on a course in Mount Holly.

According to American Airlines, Flight 1910 was landing in Charlotte from Dallas when it lost a small panel door prior to landing.

A WBTV viewer says he was golfing with two other men at the Green Meadows Golf Course when they saw an object "falling from the sky, twirling around in circles and land approximately 40 yards to the right of the green" near the 7th hole. It happened around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the golfers called the organization.  American Airlines representatives say they notified the FAA as well.

The panel has been recovered, and no one was injured.

The Airbus A321, has 146 passengers on the plane and landed safely 20 minutes after losing the panel.

According to American Airlines, the panel door covers the hydraulic servicing area, which is not a pressurized area of the aircraft. It would not cause a flight safety issue.


Corporate aircraft from four different locations parked at Pleasanton Municipal Airport (KPEZ), Texas

By Leon Zabava

Leon Zabava        
On Tuesday, August 11, around 1:30 in the afternoon, I noticed four corporate aircraft parked at Pleasanton Municipal Airport. While speaking with the pilots I realized they came from four different airports in the state. They were from Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Decatur, Texas. 

One of the pilots was a lady from France who came to the U.S. 16 years ago. 


Jerry Lunsford, pilot flying out of Redbird Airport in Dallas said, “Some of us pilots are in the oil and gas related industry down here, referring to the four pilots at Pleasanton Municipal Airport. Dial Lubricants, the company I’m the pilot for is in bulk oil and diesel distribution. Also gas distribution where customers have a yard and need that for their bulk fuel operation. Dial Lubricants has many other products that relate to the fleet trucking industry and the oil and gas industry.”

Lunsford said, “I flew out of Redbird Airport (KRBD) (a reliever field for general aviation and Dallas Love Field Airport).”

When asked how long he had been flying, he responded, “Since 1965. I received my training in the Military Club in the Navy out of Charleston, South Carolina. I accomplished most of my ratings on my G.I. Bill when I got out the service. I have my own personal airplane, a Cessna 310, but I’m flying the Cessna 414 for this corporation.”

The Cessna 414 is an American light, pressurized, twin-engine transport aircraft built by Cessna. It’s a turbo-charged piston, reciprocating plane. The Cessna 310 is an American six-seat, low-wing, twinengined monoplane that was produced by Cessna. It was the first twin-engine aircraft that Cessna put into production after World War II.

“We fly into the Eagle Ford Shale about two times a week and land here at Pleasanton Municipal Airport,” said Lunsford who grew up in Tyler, Texas. He’s been flying since he was about 21 years old. 


Celine said, “This is my first time flying into this airport (Pleasanton Municipal Airport). She was flying out of Austin Executive Airport (KEDC) that opened in 2011. When asked, she said, “The plane I’m flying is a Cessna 340.” The Cessna 340 is a twin piston engine pressurized business aircraft that was manufactured by Cessna.

“I’m flying for Hellas Construction. They do synthetic turf installation in Texas and all over the country: football fields, tennis courts, etc. We came back for a checkup at an area field,” said Celine, “I’ve been flying for 16 years.”

When asked, she said she had been flying planes since the early age of 19. She came to the United States from France. “After getting my license, I did flight research for a while. I’ve done some work for FedEx,” Celine mentioned.

She was aware of the story I did previously about Hellas Construction when their Chief Pilot, Mark Eby, flew a Merlin IVA Swearingen Metroliner into Pleasanton Municipal Airport, Tuesday, December 9, 2014. He was accompanied by Co-Pilot Jerry White.


Kyle said, “I’m a pilot for an oilfield construction company. We’ve flown here about ten times over the last several months. So, you could say, we come in here quite a bit. We flew to Pleasanton that day from the Decatur Municipal Airport (KLUD).”

Kyle continued, “I grew up in Llano, Texas and learned to fly while in college at Tarleton State University. I did additional ratings and certifications at flight schools in Abilene and Georgetown, Texas.”

When asked how long he has been flying, Kyle said, “A little over nine years - will be ten years in February (2016). Kyle said, “I’ve been flying since I was 19, maybe 18, somewhere around that age.”

Kyle was piloting a Cessna 425 Conquest. The 425 Conquest plane version was the first turboprop powered aircraft designed by Cessna and was meant to fill the gap between their jets and piston-engine aircraft.


Mack said, “I’ve been flying 27 years, more or less. I’m flying for an individual who owns the airplane. When asked if he had flown into Pleasanton Municipal Airport before, he said, “Yes, quite a few times. I say probably about six times a year. I flew out of Fort Worth.” 

Story and photos: