Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Boeing Plans Further Boost to 767 Output • Increase planned to accommodate previously announced 50-plane order from FedEx

The Wall Street Journal
By Jon Ostrower
September  9, 2015 4:14 p.m. ET

Boeing Co. said Wednesday that it is planning to raise monthly production of its 767 widebody jet to 2.5 in late 2017 to accommodate a previously announced 50-plane order from FedEx Corp.

The plane maker currently builds around 1.5 of the jets each month and had already outlined plans to boost this to two early next year. It will now raise output further to 2.5 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Boeing’s Everett, Wash., assembly line has built passenger and freighter versions of the 767 since 1981, and is gearing up to begin regular production of a heavily modified version to serve as a refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force, which plans to buy as many as 179 aircraft.

“The 767 has a very healthy backlog through the mid part of the next decade,“ Brad Zaback, vice president and general manager of the 767 program said. ”We are confident the market will support a long-term future for the 767."

Despite troubling signs for regional economic growth and receding air cargo traffic, FedEx in July announced a deal for 50 of the freighter variants and holds options to purchase 50 more.

Mr. Zaback said in an internal company memo that he expects the 767, the company’s longest-running large twin-jet program, to add employees as its production tempo increases.

“Increasing the production rate in 2017 provides the flexibility needed to address additional commercial orders while meeting all of our customer requirements,” said a Boeing spokesman.

Original article can be found here:

Des Moines International Airport (KDSM) considers privatizing new terminal

Privatization — or at least some kind of public-private partnership — is being discussed as a possible way for the Des Moines International Airport to pay for a new terminal.

Pitchmen from the consulting firm LPMG Corporate Finance visited the Des Moines Airport Authority Board on Tuesday to explain options for forming a public-private partnership.

Airport officials are open to the idea.

“I think there are enough potential benefits to keep researching it,” said Kevin Foley, executive director of the Des Moines International Airport.

Such an agreement could take several shapes, said Tim Wilschetz, a principal with KPMG. Options range from full privatization, in which a private company owns and operates the terminal and airfield, to a partnership in which a private company builds the terminal and sells it to the airport.

In Des Moines, one option is for a private company to build and own the new terminal and lease it back to the airport, Foley said.

That could save about 20 percent on construction, according to KPMG. A private company could finance the project quicker and start construction sooner, which would save money by limiting the impact of rising construction costs, the consultants said.

“If there is that kind of savings, then we need to take a look at it,” Foley said.

David Fisher, a retired corporate executive hired by the airport to find funding for the terminal, agreed.

“I think it is worth exploring and I think there could be tremendous savings,” he said.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and City Council member Christine Hensley, whose ward includes the airport, said the airport should research options to find savings.

Airport officials say the 67-year-old terminal is too small, becoming costly to maintain and isn’t configured for modern security and passenger needs. Airport traffic hit a record 2.3 million passengers in 2014 and it is projected to continue growing.

Plans call for building a larger, 14-gate terminal on the south side of the airfield and reconfiguring other facilities. The project is estimated to cost $420 million, with more than $300 million going into the terminal. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022.

The airport is still about $200 million short for the project.

Foley is skeptical of privatizing the operation of the terminal — “We already run a pretty lean operation” — and said he would recommend against privatizing the construction or operation of facilities outside the terminal such as parking garages, which generate a profit for the airport, and runway systems, which are largely funded by federal dollars.

“I would struggle to surrender any part of the airfield,” he said.

A number of airports in Europe and South America have been turned over to private operators, but the trend has been slow to catch on in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an airport privatization program in 1997. Ten airports have started the process, but only the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has become privately operated.

Union groups protested the privatization of that airport, saying it would result in job cuts and lower wages.

In Des Moines, union leaders say they’re leery of privatizing part of the airport.

“It’s a pretty large concern,” said Tom Hayes, business manager of Laborers Local Union 353, which represents about 25 workers at the Des Moines International Airport. “If you start privatizing, then you start taking away the public” control.

Foley said the airport has about a year before it will need to decide whether to pursue a public-private partnership or continue with the publicly funded terminal project as planned.


Kent State trustees OK a master plan for the university airport • Plan calls for the facility to operate as a flight-training school pending Federal Aviation Administration approval

The Kent State University trustees has approved keeping the university’s airport operating as a pilot-training facility with no changes to runway lengths or other assets.

In 2004, the trustees voted to close Kent State’s airport. But the Federal Aviation Administration rejected that decision because the airport had accepted grants requiring it to remain in operation. Since then, the airport has become a highly respected flight-training facility.

Aileen Maguire-Meyer of C and S Companies helped develop the new airport master plan. She says it is built around a growing need for new pilots and more flight training.

“There’s a change in the aircraft being used as well as schedules. The majority of the pilots who are there today are reaching retirement age. There’s also changes to the FAA’s requirements for pilot training -- so in general, an increased need for pilots."

There are more than 200 students in Kent State’s flight training program. The FAA must still approve the new master plan.

Story and audio:

Tallahassee International Airport (KTLH) sends support letters to JetBlue

Courting season continues for Tallahassee International Airport and JetBlue Airways.

As of Tuesday, 40 support letters for direct service to South Florida were mailed to the New York-based airline, and by Wednesday, nearly 10 more were sent to the airport. Business leaders representing a cross section of industries drafted letters indicating their number of employees and how often they travel for work, along with personal horror travel stories.

It’s clear leaders, not to mention residents, are indicating they want more service and the “Jet Blue effect,” which often occurs when the airline expands to a new market — causing a dramatic dip in fares, said TLH Aviation Director Chris Curry.

“We believe if we can bring a low-cost carrier like JetBlue into our region, we can generate traffic well outside of our catchment area (90-mile radius around the airport),” he said. “Letters of support continue to stream in every day.”

Last year, cities like Jacksonville and Savannah, Georgia, got additional JetBlue flights. Campaigns are common, but how each city approaches its courtship of JetBlue can differ dramatically. Some flood the airline with correspondence and pleas for service.

In addition to the letter writing campaign, the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and Visit Tallahassee are committing funds for an incentive package, the details of which have not been disclosed. Whatever the offer, the decision is solely the airline’s.

“We have a finite amount of planes, and we want to position them in locations where they can do the most good,” said Morgan Johnston, spokesman for JetBlue Airways.

“We certainly pay attention to customer demand in any new potential city and we‘re always examining new routes,” he added. “Our decision on a new route is based a number of factors around market demand, and not just that city but in any city.”

The Jet Blue effect won’t come easy or quickly. The process, including analysis, planning and execution, could take between eight months to three years, according to a JetBlue blog explaining its approach to expanding service.

“We often say that we “earn our right to grow,” which means that we deliberately limit our growth and select only the most attractive opportunities that are most fitting with our current strategy, resulting in a solid network that we can defend and build up, little by little, even in the face of economic challenges like high fuel prices.”

JetBlue carries more than 32 million passenger a year to 90 cities in the United States, Caribbean and Latin America. There is an average of 875 daily flights, the airline reports. The airline increased its Florida presence by adding more flights from Fort Lauderdale to Albany, N.Y., and Orlando. By January, service to Daytona Beach will be added.

Tallahasee Mayor Andrew Gillum said the airline would be a “game changer” in Tallahassee.

“This strong showing of community support should demonstrate to JetBlue that they can find a successful and profitable home here,” Gillum said of the letters.

“The (nearly) 50 letters from across our business community makes a very strong statement about the need to improve air service and lower fares in Tallahassee. Chris Curry is a dynamic leader at Tallahassee International Airport, but he can’t do it alone. We must use every tool at our disposal to win the fight to improve air service — so please keep those letters coming.”

Here's what some local leaders said in their support letters:

“As president of Florida State University, I am pleased to enthusiastically support the proposed service expansion of JetBlue Airways to Tallahassee International Airport (TLH), which would greatly facilitate the movement of students and faculty as they travel to and from the school.” — John Thrasher, former state representative and FSU president.

“As president of one of the two major research universities located in the Tallahassee area, I strongly believe that the regional community would greatly benefit from, and support, JetBlue service... Our university’s travel related business needs would vastly improve with JetBlue Airways non-stop service through the Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.” Elmira Mangum, president of Florida A&M University.

“My company spends on average 60 to 70 percent of our time traveling out of the Tallahassee International Airport. However, with the merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines, the service out of TLH has been reduced while the cost of flying has skyrocketed. As a result, I am now traveling to Jacksonville, FL (2.5 hours away), Tampa (4 hours away), and Orlando (3.5 hours away) for flights.” — Jenny Harris Frasure, senior partner of Innovation Costing Solutions LLC, a governmental financial consulting firm.

“Business needs your services. But there is also a hunger among those of us in this region who like to travel. I am convinced JetBlue would be welcomed with open arms.” — Marjorie Turnbull, president of Turnbull Consulting and former county commissioner and state representative.

“Read the article in the Democrat today! Tallahassee NEEDS more options for flights to South Florida. $400 is a ridiculous fee to fly. Our students would be off the road, and not to mention the seven-hour drive. Southwest Airlines would be a great addition, too.” Dorothy Fulcher Meigs, resident.


Congressman Sam Farr announces second grant for Hollister Municipal Airport (KCVH) runway

Congressman Sam Farr today announced a $5.8 million grant had been awarded as a second grant allocation toward fixing the Hollister Municipal Airport's runway.

Farr's office made the announcement about the grant and noted how the work is expected to start after next February's Super Bowl in Santa Clara. It came after an announcement on a separate $3.1 million grant earlier this year to get the project off the ground.

According to the full announcement:

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., announced today that Hollister Municipal Airport was awarded a $5.8 million FAA grant to continue repairs of the main runway. The airport began a major runway renovation project earlier this year and this grant will provide the funds necessary to finish the project.

“San Benito County offers a first-class travel experience and now we will have a brand new runway to smoothly welcome visitors,” said Rep. Farr. “The Hollister Airport is an important part of our local economy. Any investments we make modernizing the airport will benefit the entire region.” 

Last October, Rep. Farr joined with local officials to present the airport with a $3.1 million grant to begin the runway renovation project. Those funds were used to repave 2,400 feet of the runway. The new grant will be used to completely repave the remaining 6,250 foot main runway. Sections of the current runway date back to World War II.

“We are grateful of Congressman Farr and the FAA for the continued support of the City of Hollister and the Hollister Municipal Airport runway project,” said Mike Chambless, “Hollister Airport Director. “Congressman Farr has been instrumental in assisting the Hollister Municipal Airport in the realization of its development potential.”

Due to the airport’s proximity to Pinnacles National Park, air traffic is expected to increase in the coming years as more visitors travel to the region. The airport also expects to see more flights this February during the Super Bowl held in nearby Santa Clara.

The City of Hollister owns and operates the Hollister Municipal Airport and hosts a number of airport-related businesses. The airport is also the location of the CalFire Air Attack Base, which plays an important role in suppressing wildfire in six counties.

Construction is expected to begin after the Super Bowl in February and should be completed in the summer. The grant will cover 90% of the construction cost for the new runway and the airport will provide the remaining amount.


Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N8075P, Air Ads Inc: Accident occurred July 04, 2015 in Carlsbad, California

The crash-landing of a small plane on Carlsbad State Beach that injured a 12-year-old boy was most likely due to pilot error and an empty fuel tank, according to a report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Piper PA18, registered to Air Ads Inc., out of Gillespie Field in El Cajon, lost engine power while towing an advertising banner on the Fourth of July. It crashed on the crowded beach near Cannon Road, then flipped over by the waterline.

According to the report, which includes factual findings and a probable cause determined by NTSB officials, the pilot of the single-engine plane, Luke William Kanagy, most likely failed to “manage the fuel system properly,” and the lack of fuel resulted in engine failure.

Previous reports suggested that the engine malfunctioned during flight.

Kanagy was not injured in the accident, but the plane struck Nicholas Baer, 12, who was on the beach at the time. Baer suffered a concussion, a sizable gash to his head and a damaged skull. He underwent emergency brain surgery at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Doctors later reported that the surgery was successful.

The report, which was released last week, comes in the midst of a lawsuit, filed by Nicholas’ family in San Diego Superior Court, against Kanagy, the banner advertising company Air Ads, and its owner James Oakley.

Attorney David S. Casey Jr., who is representing Nicholas’ family in the suit, said the final report helps prove that the boy’s injuries are directly due to Kanagy’s negligence.

“He just ran out of gas. It’s something that should never have occurred,” Casey said. “It’s a clear error on behalf of the pilot.”

NTSB investigator Howard Plagens, whose analysis of the plane and crash site was used to compile the report, said the aircraft had two fuel tanks, one on the left and right. The plane was also equipped with a fuel selector valve, which allows the pilot to switch fuel tanks when one is running low during flight.

Plagens said there was fuel in the right tank, but the plane’s selector valve was pointing to the left tank, which was empty.

The Carlsbad crash is one of more than 25 accidents involving banner planes in California over the past two decades, based on a San Diego Union-Tribune review of Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB records in August.

The cause of the California accidents vary. About a quarter were due to engine failure. More than half occurred while cruising or maneuvering the aircraft, records show, and 62 percent resulted in injury or death.

Aviation experts say banner flying isn’t necessarily dangerous, but planes do fly at low altitudes — usually above crowded areas.

Casey said Nicholas is still recovering from the accident, but he’s able to participate in sports again, which is “a step in a positive direction.”

Oakley, owner of Air Ads, said he could not comment on the accident or the report because of the pending lawsuit, but confirmed that Kanagy is no longer an employee with the company.

According to the most recent FAA Airmen Certification Database, Kanagy is licensed to fly commercially and is a certified flight instructor of single-engine planes.

Messages to Kanagy seeking comment went unanswered.



NTSB Identification: WPR15CA207 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 04, 2015 in Carlsbad, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/17/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N8075P
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that he was towing a banner along a beach when the engine gradually lost power, and applying carburetor heat had no effect. A forced landing was initiated on the beach, and during the landing roll the airplane struck a person before it nosed over into the surf. The engine mount, right wing, and right rear lift strut were substantially damaged. 

Postaccident examination on site revealed that the fuel selector valve was in the left tank position. A follow up examination determined that no fuel was visible in the left fuel tank site gauge inside the cockpit area. The right wing filler cap was removed, and fuel was observed in the right tank. Fuel drained from the sump at the rear of the right tank, but nothing drained from the sump at the rear of the left tank. No fuel drained from the gascolator on the firewall. The operator reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to manage the fuel system properly during a banner tow operation resulting in a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

FAA  Flight Standards District Office:  FAA San Diego FSDO-09

SAN DIEGO – The family of a 12-year-old boy who suffered a serious head injury when he was struck by a small plane on a Carlsbad Beach filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the plane’s owner and its pilot.

The lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court was filed against El Cajon-based Air Ads Inc., company owner James Oakley and the 23-year-old pilot, James William Kanagy, according to a news release. 

Nicholas Baer was struck by the small plane as it made an emergency landing on Carlsbad State Beach on the Fourth of July. Baer was bodyboarding with some friends when the Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub dove towards the crowded beach and crashed. The single-engine plane, towing an advertising banner, landed upside down in shallow water. The plane grazed Baer on the way down. 

"I was kind of transitioning to skim boarding, and then... I don't know, I guess the plane just came down," Baer said in an interview with ABC News last month. 

Baer was taken to Rady Children's Hospital for treatment of a gash to his head, a concussion and skull damage. He underwent surgery and was admitted to an intensive care unit. He spent only four days in the hospital. Physicians have said they expect Nicholas to make a full recovery. 

Kanagy was uninjured in the crash. He told investigators the aircraft lost power for unknown reasons while towing an advertising banner over the coastline.

The family’s attorney, David S. Casey Jr., alleges that the crash was caused by negligence on behalf of the pilot and owner. 

“It is simply reckless to land a plane on a crowded beach, even in the event of engine failure,” Casey said in the news release. 

Casey states that the pilot violated a federal code that requires the plane to keep a 500-foot distance from people on the ground. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Story and comments:

CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Nicholas Baer, 12, of Carlsbad.

Nicholas Baer, 12, planned to spend his Fourth of July body boarding with friends at Carlsbad State Beach, but plans changed about an hour into the visit. There’s been a plane crash, a family friend told the boy’s mother on the phone. 

“I think he got hit in the head by the propeller,” the friend said.

The aircraft was a Piper PA18 towing an advertising banner, and a federal report about the crash is expected this week. Meanwhile, U-T Watchdog decided to check and see how common such crashes are.

Accidents involving “banner towing” are tracked by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Records show that there have been 25 aircraft accidents involving such planes in California over the past two decades, and more than 62 percent resulted in injury or death. Four accidents occurred in San Diego, and eight in Los Angeles County.

Aviation experts say banner flying isn't necessarily dangerous, but planes do fly at low elevations — usually above crowded areas — and the drag from towing a banner can put strain on the single-engine planes, which are typically used to fly advertisements.

In May 2012, a Cessna 150 towing a banner crash landed in San Diego Bay because of a mechanical malfunction. No one was injured.

According to reports from the NTSB that conducted an investigation of the incident, “both occupants reported that they did not have time to troubleshoot, due to low altitude.”

Incident records show that advertisements in the air can also distract surrounding pilots. Following a 2003 incident near Pearland, Texas, a pilot admitted to NTSB investigators that he was distracted while landing by banner towing activity adjacent to the runway. The pilot landed at the edge of the grass runway and struck a ditch, causing substantial damage to the plane.

Cities including Huntington Beach and San Francisco have attempted to ban aerial ads in recent years for safety reasons or aesthetic purposes, but dropped the efforts in fear of lawsuits or pressure from the FAA, which regulates all flight activity.

The cause of other California accidents vary. About a quarter were due to engine failure, records show, and more than half occurred while cruising or maneuvering the aircraft.

“Cars quit on a freeway. Cars sometimes fail to start,” said Barry Bardack, chief flight instructor for the Golden State Flying Club at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. “Airplane engines have an amazing ability to revive mid-air, but they also occasionally fail.”

Air Ads owner Jim Oakley declined to comment on the crash or identify the man flying the aircraft, but said the pilot was licensed to fly commercially and had the required qualifications to tow banners.

Oakley said his staff tends to be young, about 26 years old, since banner towing is a way for aspiring pilots to rack up flight time and advance to a career flying commercially.

Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the FAA Pacific division, said in an email that the agency requires all pilots or companies to meet certain standards before banner-towing flights can take place. An inspector will examine banner attaching devices or hitches to ensure that release cable mechanisms are functioning.

All pilots must have successfully completed a banner towing training program, have a reliable record of past flight experience and be able to demonstrate a sample banner pickup to FAA inspector, Gregor said.

“The most challenging part is picking up the message. Not towing it,” Oakley said. “It’s the part that creates the most excitement for a pilot.”

Planes usually take off without the banner, loop back around to the airport, and align the plane in between two poles, where the banner tow rope is suspended. If done correctly, Oakley said, a hook behind the plane will latch on to the rope and begin pulling the banner into the air.

On December 31, 2006, a pilot at Gillespie Field missed the banner tow line, pitched upward and then went into a nose-down spiral. According to incident reports, witnesses said the plane spun more than one and a half times before colliding with the runway. The pilot was killed.

In July 2013, a pilot was conducting a low fly-by for ground crew to inspect the banner. After the pass the plane began to climb and airspeed deteriorated. The airplane stalled, hit wires and crash-landed on a hillside in Long Beach. The pilot suffered minor injuries.

Lee Anne Lardy, projects manager for San Diego County airports, said pilots or companies must be approved by the FAA and have proper insurance to receive a 10-year license with the county. Information pertaining to the license must also be updated each year.

Two companies, Air Ads and Aerial Sign North Inc., are the only companies licensed with the county, Lardy said.

The Watchdog used data collected from the NTSB and FAA and reviewed accidents categorized as banner tows under the purpose of flight. The review found 191 banner-related accidents between April 1995 and July of this year. Florida reported the most accidents at 51. California had the second most with 25, followed by New Jersey and South Carolina.

In the Carlsbad crash, officials at the scene reported that the single-engine plane lost power while towing a banner advertisement over the holiday crowd on the beach near Cannon Road. It was registered to Air Ads Inc. out of Gillespie Field.

The pilot wasn’t hurt, but the boy suffered a concussion, a sizable gash to his head and a damaged skull. He underwent emergency brain surgery at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Doctors later reported that the surgery was successful and the boy is recovering well.

Original article can be found here:

CARLSBAD (CBS 8) -   Bob Griscom, an aviation expert and lifelong pilot who served 25 years as an aircraft accident investigator with the FAA, says if the pilot had decided to land in the water instead of the beach, he may not have survived.

Bob says that unlike larger planes, the landing gears on smaller planes are not retractable.

"When you hit the water, it’s as if the landing gear hit a brick wall, then the airplane will pitch forward," says Griscom. "The windshield will immediately get a face full of ocean and the pilot will very likely become unconscious very quickly and the airplane sinks and he drowns."

Bob Griscom says the FAA and NTSB will now be investigating why the engine quit and they will be taking a closer look at the pilot, including his conduct the day before the flight.

"They will also find out how much sleep the pilot had the day before and whether he was out partying, whatever it might be," says Griscom. "They will look into all of those factors."

Story and video: