Monday, November 2, 2015

Icelandair eyes capacity growth of 18 percent in 2016

Icelandair plans to increase capacity by 18 percent next year by luring customers to a network of niche North American cities and tempting them with onboard wifi services, helping it compete on trans-Atlantic routes.

Icelandair flies between European and U.S. cities via its Iceland hub, which means it can use smaller, cheaper planes than other airlines on trans-Atlantic routes. It estimates it has a 2 percent share of the North Atlantic market.

"We are planning next year to grow 18 percent in terms of available seat kilometres," said Helgi Mar Bjorgvinsson, senior vice president of marketing & sales, referring to a standard measure of an airline's passenger carrying capacity.

That compares with an average annual growth rate of 15 percent over the last five years.

The airline is facing competition on Europe to North America routes from budget airlines such as Wow Air, a rival Iceland-based airline that also uses the Reykjavik stop-off model, and Norwegian, which offers low-cost direct flights.

Wow Air said on Monday it would add new routes between Reykjavík and Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2016.

Also from next year, Canada's WestJet will start flying direct routes from London Gatwick to Toronto and other cities at budget prices.

In an interview on Monday, Bjorgvinsson said flying to destinations like Edmonton, Denver, Seattle, Portland and Anchorage gave the airline access to niche markets that have fairly few direct flights to Europe.

Icelandair, which has a market capitalization of 171 billion Icelandic crowns ($1.3 billion), also competes through its hybrid low-cost but-full service offering, said Bjorgvinsson.

Unlike on some budget airlines, passengers do not have to pay to check in their bag, and from the end of this year, the whole fleet will be wifi-enabled, he added.


 - Source: http://www.reuters.com

Liberal opposition to jets at Billy Bishop airport a blow to Bombardier



The incoming Trudeau government, already facing a tough decision on whether to offer a $1-billion (U.S.) bailout to Bombardier, says it’s standing by a different political pledge that will end up hurting the Montreal aircraft maker and its troubled C Series plane.

The Liberals, who take office in Ottawa on Wednesday, confirmed Monday that they remain opposed to allowing jets at Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport – which would kill an order worth more than $2-billion to Bombardier.

Porter Airlines Inc. is prepared to buy as many as 30 of Bombardier’s C Series planes, but only if the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is extended. The federal government is one of three parties that will rule on whether that extension can go ahead.

Authorization for runway extensions necessary to accommodate jets would require renegotiating a tripartite agreement between Ottawa, Ports Toronto and the City of Toronto.

Asked to clarify the Liberal position Monday, Trudeau spokesman Daniel Lauzon provided a copy of a June 4, 2015, letter sent to Toronto Mayor John Tory and city council, signed by Toronto-area Liberal MPs and the chair of the Ontario Liberal caucus, that pledged never to do that.

“We have … pledged not to reopen the Tripartite Agreement,” the letter said. “The Liberal Party’s policies on the waterfront are as clear as they are forward looking,” the MPs wrote.

This Toronto pledge leaves the Liberals in an awkward position. Quebec’s Economy Minister Jacques Daoust on Friday said he will ask Ottawa to match a $1-billion lifeline for Bombardier when the Liberals take office Nov. 4.

A request to join a bailout package and the expansion of Toronto’s downtown airport are theoretically separate discussions, but a government that kicks in $1-billion to support an airplane program that has struggled to land orders will find it challenging to kill the Billy Bishop expansion plan at the same time and cause the cancellation of a major order.

The Liberal pledge Monday backs up a promise made by Adam Vaughan, who, while a Toronto councillor, MP in the previous parliament and during a successful re-election campaign, opposed the Porter proposal. Mr. Vaughan was re-elected in the central Toronto riding that includes the airport.

“The jet issue. We’ve made a promise. We will keep that promise. No jets on the waterfront,” he said during his victory speech on Oct. 19.

That pledge was made before the Quebec government agreed last week to inject $1-billion into Bombardier and take a 49.5-per-cent ownership in the C Series program.

It was also made before Mr. Daoust said he would be on the phone to the new federal industry minister half an hour after that person is appointed.

“If the federal government comes in, the notion of risk completely changes,” Mr. Daoust told Bloomberg last week.

Porter wants the three entities – the federal government, the City of Toronto and Ports Toronto – that control the island airport to agree to 168-metre extensions of both ends of the runway to allow the C Series to take off and land. Porter would offer flights from Toronto to Western Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

Porter’s order for 12 planes and options on 18 more is worth $2.3-billion at 2013 list prices, but is conditional on approval of the expansion.

The Liberal position on the Billy Bishop expansion and helping Bombardier financially is being closely watched in Quebec, where the party gained major ground in the federal election last month.

“It starts with Justin Trudeau,” said aviation consultant Robert Kokonis, president of AirTrav Inc. “Does he want to invest $1-billion? They went from extinction in [Quebec] to 40 seats. He’s talking about infrastructure, talking about job creation,” Mr. Kokonis said.

Bombardier has 243 firm orders for the C Series, which is two years behind the scheduled date of delivery to its first customer and more than $2-billion (Canadian) over the initial budget of $3.4-billion.

Porter spokesman Brad Cicero said Toronto City Council voted 44-0 to undertake a review of the airline’s proposal, including participation by all three members of the tripartite agreement that governs the airport.

“If after the full review is complete, and city council determines that it would like to proceed with the proposal, we believe that the federal government should consider the wishes of the people of Toronto when evaluating the proposal,” Mr. Cicero said.

- Story and comments: http://www.theglobeandmail.com

Pilot Michael Alger: 25 missions with Angel Flight

Michael Alger, 45, has racked up 25 missions for Angel Flight Southeast and is looking forward to more.




UMATILLA — Pilot Michael Alger flies with a purpose.

Alger, 45, has been flying missions through Angel Flight Southeast, a Leesburg nonprofit that helps patients get to medical care when it's not available in their area. He has flown 25 missions since December 2012.

"It's the best thing I've done with my pilot's license," he said. "I get a lot out of it. It's pretty significant to fly with a purpose, not just as a hobby for myself."

Alger, born in Eustis and raised in Umatilla, earned his pilot's license in 2001 in the midst of his career as a paramedic. His late mother supported his quest to fly and was his first passenger. In 2011, he bought a single-engine Rockwell Commander 112TC with a partner.

"That's when I decided I could do Angel Flight," he said.

Alger recalled his first mission. It was cancelled two days before the flight, but another mission still needed a pilot: A woman needed a lift from Leesburg to Okeechobee. Alger volunteered for the flight.

"I met the lady. Her name was Joan — it's my mother's first name," he said. "That was a very special moment for me."

Alger said Angel Flight does a lot for him on many levels.

"When you see someone who is dealing with something, it makes you grateful for your own life and not having to struggle with things that others have to," he said. "It helps you to count your blessings."

Alger said he always has wanted to help others.

After he graduated from Umatilla High School, he earned a degree in paramedic technology at Tallahassee Community College. In 1990, he returned to Lake, landed a job with Lake EMS and worked there for 12 years.

While a paramedic, he earned a degree in firefighting from Lake Technical Center. He switched careers to become a firefighter-paramedic with the Mount Dora Fire Department in 2003 and is still there today.

"I guess it's in my blood," he said of his service-orientated career. "It's very rewarding, very challenging at times."

Alger said his grandfather was a West Point graduate and had at least a 40-year military career. His brother served in the Air Force, and his late father was a navigator on a B-17 bomber in World War II.

"Lots of military in my family, a lot of military influence," he said. "I was going to join the military but decided to go the civilian route."

Alger said his father shared stories of his flights in the Army Air Corps and took flying lessons after the war. Father and son went to fly-ins and airshows often. A family friend, State Sen. Alan Hays, and Alger got a ride in it several times around the age of 13.

"I was hooked at that point," he said of flying. "I always kind of had it in my head that it would be something I'd like to do."

Alger spends his free time watching and going to Florida State football games. He's also working on the old family home in Umatilla. He has lived there with his five-year-old English bulldog Hannah, since 2010.

"It's an old house," he said. "There's a lot of stuff to be done with that. I'm chipping away at whatever I can."

At the moment, Alger is waiting to hear of his next mission with Angel Flight Southeast.

"At the end of the day when I do a flight, I think 'I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I just flew my airplane and helped someone in the process.' There's nothing better than that."

Angel Flight Southeast fundraiser

What: The 19th Annual Golf Tournament

When: Nov. 11

Where: Arlington Ridge Golf Club, 4463 Arlington Ridge Blvd., Leesburg

Time: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Call 352-326-0761 to support the event by purchasing a foursome or providing a sponsorship.

- Source:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com

Changes Coming to Security Checkpoints at Minneapolis-St. Paul International (KMSP), Minnesota



You may notice some changes the next time you board a flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The most noticeable ones are planned for security checkpoints in early 2016. Other less noticeable changes have already happened, partially due to a report—first published by ABC News in June—which found that Transportation Security Administration screeners missed 95 percent of the fake bombs and weapons that a testing team tried to sneak through the system.

"TSA in the past, recent past, likely was a little too focused on moving passengers through the line," TSA Federal Security Director for Minnesota Cliff Van Leuven told a Metropolitan Airports Commission committee at a Monday meeting.

Van Leuven detailed changes already implemented by the TSA, including an additional eight hours of training for every TSA agent and making sure no one goes through the PreCheck line without being pre-approved.

"We've got to detect the threat first and foremost," Van Leuven told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS after the meeting.

He said the changes could cause the airport's security lines to move a little more slowly, at least until some other planned changes go into effect.

Starting early next year, there will be two main security checkpoints in Terminal 1. The first is an already-existing six-lane checkpoint at the South end of the terminal. The second will be a brand-new, 10-lane checkpoint at the north end of the terminal, where restaurant Hot Dish was once located.

"I think it's going to take away some of that confusion as people come into the lobby on busy mornings or busy evenings and they can't figure out exactly where to go," Van Leuven said.

In the meantime, if that wait at security is a little longer than you'd like, now you know why. The TSA has both safety and speed in mind, but they say safety has to come first.

Story and video:  http://kstp.com

Transportation Security Administration finds record number of guns in carry-on bags


CHICAGO (WLS) -- Guns and airplanes don't mix, but every day at airports in Chicago and across the country, travelers try to bring guns through security.

Transportation Security Administration officers found a record 2,200 guns in carry-on baggage last year. Now, the number of confiscated carry-on guns made this past week a record week; Sixty-eight guns were found as travelers bags moved through airport X-ray scanners. They are among firearms, explosives, knives and other weapons that pose an increasing risk to air travelers.

"'I forgot' or 'didn't know it was in my bag' - that's the most two common excuses," said Kevin McCarthy, TSA.

Regardless of the reason, it is illegal to try to carry a gun onto a commercial aircraft. Nevertheless, this is the weekly haul for TSA. Pistols and revolvers - the majority of them loaded - and some with a bullet in the chamber ready to be fired.

The record 68 firearms seized by TSA last week has put the agency on a course to far exceed last year's record. The data steadily climbing year-to-year, even as more attention is focused on the fact that you can't bring guns on planes - and it isn't just guns.

Explosives - real and real-looking - are also found by federal security officers inside the carry-on bags of common travelers, along with knives and concealed weapons of all kinds. A stun gun cane was found on a traveler at O'Hare in mid-October.

These potential threats at 35,000 feet come as the aviation industry wrestles with questions about what actually happened to a Russian jetliner on Saturday. Investigators are picking through the wreckage of the plane that crashed from cruising altitude over Egypt, without a mayday call.

ISIS has claimed responsibility and U.S. counterterror officials seem to be leaning toward some intentional act. But so far, it isn't clear whether the Russian plane was doomed by an on-board bomb, or something else.

"We could say perhaps it was a bomb that made the airplane come apart. Or perhaps it was some unknown structural failure where the airplane just came apart. But right now we don't have any evidence that leads us one way or another," said Col. Stephen Ganyard, ABC News aviation consultant.

Metrojet Airline officials say technical faults or human errors couldn't have caused their Flight 9268 to crash. Russian officials say it's too soon to tell what caused the jet to plunge, killing all 224 people on board. But if it ends up intentional, authorities will be looking at the airport process in Egypt for baggage and passengers.

Story and video:  http://abc7chicago.com

No news on Lansing-to-DC route as deadline nears



DEWITT TWP. - It's been a month since daily flights to Washington D.C. from Capital Region International Airport ceased. It could be two more months before one of two competing airlines gets federal approval to take over the defunct route, far beyond the Nov. 5 decision the airport had originally hoped for.

American Airlines announced its bid for the D.C. route in August. Delta Air Lines threw its cap in the bidding pool in September, delaying federal approval.

In the meantime, the airport is suffering.

“We’re seeing drops in revenue,” said Chris Holman, a member of the Capital Region Airport Authority board. “In our business, we make our money by moving people in and out of the airport.”

It doesn’t help that the route opened up a month earlier than expected, after Sun Country Airlines terminated its lease with the airport in October. Combined with the loss of Allegiant Airlines in January, airport officials are anticipating a $1.2 million budget shortfall for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The airport expects the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration to approve the D.C. route by the end of the year.

Three airlines remain at the airport: Delta, United Airlines and Apple Vacations. Delta offers daily non-stop flights to Detroit and Minneapolis, while United provides daily non-stop flights to Chicago. Apple Vacations offers seasonal flights to Cancun, Mexico from December to April.

To make up for the loss in revenue, the airport has hiked user fees for the remaining airlines to generate an additional roughly $400,000 while taking roughly $750,000 from its reserves to break even, said Robert Selig, airport president and CEO.

Each day the airport goes without the D.C. route, it loses roughly $1,000 in landing fees, which cover operating costs.

That doesn’t include the $4.50 passenger facility charge the airport collects from each ticket sold, which goes toward capital improvements. When airplanes carry between 50 and 70 passengers in a flight each day, those missed flights add up quickly, especially for an airport that has seen declines in the number of passengers over the years.

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 September, the airport’s number of passengers totaled 257,440.

“If a customer leaves, the longer they are gone, the less apt they to come back,” Holman said.

When American Airlines announced its bid in August, it received an outpouring of support that included 1,200 letters and emails from government officials, business owners, special interest groups and residents in the region.

Now that the original deadline to fill the route won’t be met, government officials are writing more letters to pressure USDOT and the FAA to approve the bid quickly. Republican Congressmen Mike Bishop, Tim Walberg and John Moolenaar sent one last week.

“With Sun Country no longer servicing this route, a quick decision is crucial to ensure a lapse in service is as short as possible,” they wrote in an Oct. 28 letter addressed to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

The D.C. route would generate $16 million in economic impact annually for the region, according to a study by Trillion Aviation Inc., an airport consulting firm.

Delta’s bid for the route made for a longer USDOT and FAA approval process, requiring the agencies to hear lengthy testimonies from both companies.

“Delta would be the superior public interest choice,” Delta officials wrote in letter dated Sept. 15 to the FAA. “Unfortunately, due to its limited slot holdings, Delta is already sub-optimized at DCA (the D.C. airport) and cannot commence Lansing services without unacceptable harm to its current DCA network … Delta is in much greater need of exemption authority than American if it is to provide Lansing with nonstop service.”

American challenged Delta, claiming the company does not have Lansing’s best interests in mind.

“Only after American applied to preserve LAN-DCA service did Delta feign interest in protecting service to the nation’s capital for Mid-Michigan travelers, by filing a copy-cat application that proposed nearly identical slot times and equipment as American,” wrote Howard Kass, vice president of Regulatory Affairs for American Airlines in a response letter to the FAA dated Sept. 24. “The FAA should not permit Delta to effectively re-start this proceeding and prolong the evaluation of American’s exemption request for its own commercial benefit.”

JetBlue Airways also filed an objection to both the airlines’ bids, mainly to Delta’s.

”Delta, like American, has a large portfolio of historic DCA slots with which it could start DCA-Lansing service at any time,” JetBlue officials wrote in a letter dated Oct. 19 to the FAA. “In fact, Northwest Airlines operated DCA-Lansing shortly before its merger with Delta in 2008. After its merger with Northwest, Delta abandoned many DCA slots that were previously used for service to communities such as Lansing, but nonetheless Delta remains the second largest slot holder at DCA after American with around 50 daily departures.”

The airport has openly backed American Airlines because it is promising to offer more than Delta. American Airlines would offer a 7 a.m. flight from Lansing to Washington, D.C. and a 5:30 p.m. return flight daily, which would make it easier for lobbyists and business leaders to set up meetings and return home at a reasonable time, Holman said.

American Airlines would also offer three daily flights from Lansing to Chicago's O’Hare International Airport starting in early 2016. It would offer 33 connecting flights to states along the East Coast from Washington, D.C., and 115 connections worldwide from Chicago.

Delta also would offer one daily round-trip flight to D.C., but isn't proposing other connecting flights.

“We think American Airlines coming in will fit us best,” Holman said. “But now we’re losing passengers, losing fees, this hurts.”

Story and comments:  http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

Movassaghi, four others, appointed to new terminal committee: Lafayette Regional Airport (KLFT), Louisiana

 


A five-person committee has been appointed by the Lafayette Airport Commission to evaluate Statements of Qualifications for architecture and engineering firms interested in projects at the airport, including the building of the new terminal.  A request for qualifications will be issued in the near future and the committee will convene to review the RFQ before the airport commission approves it, according to a statement sent by the commission on Monday.

The committee consists of Lafayette Airport Commissioners Paul A. Guilbeau and Paul Segura, airport executive director Steven Picou, airport airfield manager Anthony Hebert and Kam Movassaghi of Lafayette-based Engineering and Management Consulting.

The committee's appointment comes weeks before the close of a 1 cent sales tax approved by voters last year. The tax began in April and ends on November 30.  An estimated $30 million is expected to be collected from the tax toward the new terminal.

“Lafayette Airport Commission policy requires one hired independent person who must be an engineer, airport planner or professional knowledgeable of the services required,” says Lafayette Airport Commission Chairman Matt Cruse in a statement. “Mr. Movassaghi certainly fits that description and the commission is pleased he has accepted the position. He has a keen interest in the airport and the things the commission is trying to accomplish.  His knowledge and years of experience will be invaluable as we move forward with the new terminal and other upcoming projects.”

Movassaghi recently retired as president of C.H. Fenstermaker & Associates and has served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Louisiana Lafayette.  He has held several engineering positions both in the United States and overseas and he has received 14 awards and honors related to engineering since 1992.

“I am very interested in being part of the process of evaluating Architecture and Engineering firms for Lafayette Regional Airport. I consider the opportunity a privilege and am happy to do all I can to make these projects successful,” says Movassaghi.

- Source:  http://www.theadvertiser.com

General aviation terminal nearing completion at Blackwell Field Airport (71J) Ozark, Dale County, Alabama

Blackwell Field Airport Director Stephanie Blankenship and Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell pose for a photo with plans for the airport's new terminal. 

 

OZARK—First impressions haven’t always been the best ones at Blackwell Field Airport in Ozark.

But 15 years after the initial plans to improve the airport grounds and make it visible from U.S. 231, the airport’s facelift is finally underway.

Gencon Associates of Dothan has begun work on a general aviation terminal for business use at the airport that is expected to be completed by this coming summer. Stephanie Blankenship, the airport’s director of Aviation Services, said the terminal is expected to have a reception area, lobby and large and small conference room equipped with video conferencing and smart board capabilities. A kitchen and break area, pilot’s lounge for flight planning, as well as storage and the airport director’s office are also within the plans.

The outside of the terminal is intentionally similar to the exterior of the Alabama Aviation Center nearby.

Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell said the terminal will be available for meetings and community events.

Blankenship said the total project cost will be $3,615,843, most of which is funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. The City of Ozark matched the funds with $822,767, and the Alabama Department of Transportation contributed $337,013.

Blankenship said the recent improvements took place after analyzing what the airport’s strengths were and where there are areas for improvement.

“Overwhelmingly our areas of improvements related to the services we offered to our pilots and the flying public,” she said.

Blankenship said a taxiway with lighting, as well as site work for the aircraft parking apron and vehicle parking lot, has already been completed at the airport.

The paving of the entranceway to the terminal from U.S. 231 and the paving of the aircraft parking apron and vehicle parking lot is expected to be completed by the summer.

Blackwell was city clerk when Ozark leaders laid out plans for a terminal 15 years ago.

“This is something to be proud of, to see something you planned 15 years ago come to a completion phase,” he said.

“This is as much for the community as it is for aviation.”

Blankenship said there are no intentions to build a commercial terminal.

“The airport is a part of economic development that we use to attract large corporations because many times your airport is the first thing they see,” she said.

“If they can’t see that you’re caring for your airport, how can you convince them that you’re taking care of your city?

- Source:  http://www.dothaneagle.com

Quebec Inc’s red ink: Taxpayers likely to lose big in backing Bombardier’s CSeries program

Alain Bellemare, president and Chief Executive Officer Bombardier Inc., right, and Quebec Economy Minister Jacques Daoust shake hands after a news conference Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Montreal.



Taxpayers are likely to lose big by backing Bombardier’s CSeries program, as they usually do when government takes a flyer in business

 
The Quebec government has just announced that it is going to invest $1.315 billion in a limited partnership with Bombardier in order to acquire a 49 percent stake in the new CSeries aircraft program.

Quebec taxpayers would be well advised to return to their seats and fasten their seatbelts, because this a very high risk investment. Experts are in general agreement that airlines have ordered far too many planes in recent years, and that these investments could be threatened in case of an economic downturn.

Although it’s too soon to pass judgment on this particular bailout plan, Quebec’s past experience with “state capitalism” is hardly encouraging. Becoming part-owner of an aircraft manufacturing program for a plane which has yet to see the light of day, if it ever does, and which seems to interest no other manufacturer, is in fact perfectly emblematic of the province of Quebec’s public investment in private companies.

Among the many failures of this kind of interventionism, some will recall the General Motors plant in Boisbriand. In 1987, the provincial government of Robert Bourassa and the federal government of Brian Mulroney jointly signed off on a $220-million interest-free loan, reimbursable starting in 2017. Alas, the factory closed its doors on Aug. 29, 2002. If this money had simply been invested in the market, it would have earned around 10 per cent annually.

Others will remember the Gaspésia fiasco, which saw the government sink $145 million in the Chandler pulp and paper company in the early 2000s. Another example is the Electrolux plant in l’Assomption, which closed despite a financial contribution of nearly $5 million from the Quebec government, less than half of which was ever recovered.

Already back in 1993, former Caisse de Dépôt et Placement manager Pierre Arbour estimated the total cost of the failed attempts to save Steinberg and Brascade-Noranda, as well as the difficulties of Domtar around that time, at $1.7 billion. Through its investments in private companies, the Quebec government has a long history of financial fiascoes. Whereas politicians do not hesitate to highlight the number of jobs concerned every time they advance funds, all of these botched projects have been costly for taxpayers, without actually saving any jobs in the end.

Of course, in certain cases, the assistance seems to have worked. There is the case of Paccar, for instance, in Ste-Thérèse, which benefited from a $23.5-million loan from Quebec and Ottawa. In other cases, the government recovered the sums invested, like when Hyundai had to close its plant in Bromont and reimbursed the $50 million of public assistance it had received.

Quebec isn’t the only Canadian province that has made shoddy investments. In 1987, Newfoundland and Labrador invested in the Sprung Greenhouse, with high-tech hydroponics, a debacle which cost taxpayers $22 million. British Columbia’s $450-million fast ferries scandal also deserves a mention.

The federal government, which Bombardier hopes will also invest in its CSeries program, already has a bad history with airplane investments. The world’s first photographic survey plane was ordered in 1926 by the Department in National Defense. The Canadian Vickers Velos was a float plane that couldn’t fly… or float, for that matter. The project was abandoned after the prototype sank twice. Royal Canadian Airforce Flight Lieutenant R.S. Granby wrote that “it is considered that this aircraft is most unsuitable for any operation.” It has been nominated as the ugliest plane in the world, and was apparently known as “The Dead Loss” by its factory workers.

Bombardier searched for private partners within the industry, but was unable to conclude an arrangement with Airbus, Boeing, or other manufacturers. This doesn’t seem to be due to a lack of liquidity, either; Airbus launched a one-billion-euro share buyback program last week. This should have sent a strong signal regarding the actual commercial potential of the CSeries planes. The government is investing in a product on which the private sector has already rendered its verdict, and for which there is heated competition. Besides the already much more popular Boeing and Airbus models in the same category, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China unveiled Monday morning a jet plane that will compete directly with the CSeries. If taxpayers had had the choice, it is very likely they would have chosen a less risky investment.

Bombardier would also have made less risky choices, if not for its longstanding relationship with the political authorities. Since its management knows very well that the Quebec government will never let the company go bankrupt, it can allow itself the luxury of gambling on much riskier operations and products than it otherwise would. Why be prudent when it’s clear that taxpayers will be the ones picking up the tab should things go wrong?

If the Quebec government wants to turn the page on financial fiascoes, it will sooner or later have to put an end to its subsidies of big business. Which means that someday, Bombardier will have to learn how to fly with its own wings.

Original article can be found here:  http://business.financialpost.com

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Raytheon (Beech) A36 Bonanza, N3BE, Valley Motors Inc: Fatal accident occurred October 29, 2015 near Russellville Regional Airport (KRUE), Pope County, Arkansas

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Little Rock, Arkansas
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Valley Motors Inc:   http://registry.faa.gov/N3BE

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA024
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Pottsville, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/16/2017
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY A36, registration: N3BE
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


The commercial pilot and three passengers departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight in instrument meteorological conditions that included a ceiling of 200 ft agl. About 1 mile from the departure end of the runway, the airplane impacted a ridge that was 216 ft above the airport's elevation. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Damage to the airplane and to the trees at the accident site was consistent with controlled flight into terrain with the engine operating at a high power setting. Performance calculations indicated that the airplane had the capability to attain and maintain the minimum required IFR departure climb rate to safely clear terrain on takeoff from the departure runway.


Toxicology tests identified terazosin in the pilot's blood, as well as pravastatin, ranitidine, terazosin, and salicylate in urine; however, these medications do not cause drowsiness or affect judgment or executive function and are not considered impairing. Although the pilot had history of arrhythmia and his autopsy found one area of severe coronary artery disease, it is unlikely these medical conditions contributed to the accident sequence.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to maintain a sufficient climb rate during departure in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 29, 2015, at 0754 central daylight time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company A36 airplane, N3BE, impacted terrain shortly after departing from the Russellville Regional Airport (RUE), Russellville, Arkansas. The commercial-rated pilot and three passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Valley Motors, Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with a planned destination of McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A mechanic at RUE noticed the airplane taxi out and depart normally from runway 7 with the engine sounding "excellent." A fixed base operator employee observed the airplane's takeoff to be normal with no engine anomalies. Two witnesses east of the airport heard the airplane on departure. One perceived the engine to be "cutting out," and the other noticed the engine "sputtering."

An airport surveillance video camera recorded the airplane depart from runway 7 at RUE, which has a field elevation of 404 ft mean sea level (msl). The airplane subsequently impacted a ridge about 1 mile from the runway's departure end at an elevation of 620 ft msl. A postimpact fire consumed most of the airplane.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 65, held commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument ratings. On his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman medical application, dated February 23, 2015, the pilot reported 12,716 total flight hours. Pilot logbooks were not available for examination during the investigation. According to other pilots who had worked with him during his career, the accident pilot had worked as a flight instructor and flown for multiple Part 135 operators for over 25 years. The pilot had extensive experience flying out of RUE.

On his most recent FAA medical application, the pilot listed previously reported medical conditions that included thyroid cancer and thyroid removal (1979), gastroesophageal reflux disease, atrial fibrillation causing fainting (2004), and chronic kidney disease. He also reported using the following medications: terazosin, amiodarone, calcitriol, pravastatin, ranitidine, levothyroxine, and lisinopril. Terazosin, brand name Hytrin, is used to treat symptoms from an enlarged prostate gland and to help control blood pressure. Amiodarone, brand name Cordarone, is an anti-arrhythmic drug used to prevent recurrence of atrial fibrillation. Calcitriol is a prescription form of Vitamin D and is used to treat deficiencies or problems managing calcium balance due to kidney or parathyroid disease. Pravastatin, brand name Pravachol, is used to treat high cholesterol. Ranitidine is an over-the-counter medication, brand name Zantac, and is used to treat heartburn. Levothyroxine, brand name Synthroid, is a replacement thyroid hormone. Lisinopril, brand names Prinivil and Zestril, is a blood pressure medication.

At the time of his most recent FAA medical examination, the pilot provided information from his cardiologist regarding his heart condition and received a time-limited special issuance second class medical certificate. The medical certificate was limited by a requirement for corrective lenses and marked, "not valid for any class after February 29, 2016."

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane, a Raytheon Aircraft Company A36, serial number E-3300, was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on February 7, 2000. The airplane was equipped with a Continental IO-550-B engine, serial number 684769, and a Hartzell 3-bladed aluminum-hub propeller. The airplane's Honeywell avionics suite included a Bendix/King KFC 225 Automatic Flight Control System and Garmin 430W/530W navigation systems. The airplane's last annual inspection was performed on June 1, 2015, at a total airframe time of 722.3 flight hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0753, the weather observation station at RUE reported the following conditions: wind calm, visibility 4 miles, overcast clouds at 200 ft above ground level (agl) with mist, temperature 12° C, dew point 11° C, and altimeter setting 29.92 inches of mercury.

At 0819, the weather observation station at RUE reported the following conditions: wind 010 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 3/4 miles, overcast clouds at 200 ft agl with mist, temperature 12° C, dew point 11° C, and altimeter setting 29.93 inches of mercury.

The pilot used the Direct Users Access Terminal System (DUATS) to obtain electronic weather briefings and accessed the system three times between the evening before the accident and the morning of the accident. The last access, at 0518, included a low-level weather briefing for a flight between Russellville, Arkansas, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The briefing included observations of IFR conditions at RUE and observations from several other stations en route of marginal visual flight rules to IFR conditions in mist.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane collided with treetops in a rural area and then struck a stone retaining wall and the slope of a hill. The airplane came to rest 282 ft beyond the first tree strike on a heading of 310°. The engine separated from the airplane and was found lying in an inverted position uphill from the airframe.

The propeller was separated from the engine, the propeller spinner was crushed aft, and all three propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub. Multiple tree limbs and branches that displayed diagonal sharp cuts and black paint transfers consistent with propeller strikes were found at the base of pine trees.

All six engine cylinders remained secured to the crankcase. The right-side cylinders sustained significant thermal damage, which partially melted the rocker covers and destroyed the ignition leads. The left-side cylinders sustained very little thermal damage. With the bottom sparkplugs removed, the cylinders were examined using a lighted borescope. No anomalies were noted with the cylinder barrels, pistons, cylinder heads, valves, or valve seats.

The magnetos remained secured to the engine, and the ignition harness remained attached to the magnetos. The bottom sparkplugs displayed very little wear and little-to-no combustion deposits when compared to the Champion Aviation Service Manual (AV6-R). The magneto's drives were intact, and impulse couplings could be heard and felt during manual rotation of the drive shafts. Sparks were observed on the distributor block towers during manual rotation of the left magneto. Sparks were not observed during manual rotation of the right magneto. The right magneto's housing cover was removed, and it was noted that the capacitor was thermally distorted and a portion of the capacitor's wire insulation was partially melted exposing some of its wires. When the right magneto's drive shaft was rotated with the capacitor removed, a spark was observed across the points as they opened.

The crankshaft was manually rotated, and continuity was confirmed from the propeller flange to the accessory end and out to each piston and each cylinder valve train. The left-side cylinders all produced thumb compression during crankshaft rotation. Due to thermal damage, thumb compression could not be obtained on the right-side cylinders.The engine-driven fuel pump sustained thermal damage, and it was disassembled with no anomalies noted. The throttle body and fuel metering unit were separated from the engine, and the throttle valve was near a full open position. The mixture cable remained attached to the mixture control lever, and the throttle lever was fractured near the cable attach area but remained attached to the throttle shaft. The fuel inlet screen was removed from the metering unit, and although some black debris was found on the screen, it was not obstructed.

The fuel manifold valve remained attached to the engine, and residual fuel was found in the manifold valve body. The fuel injector lines remained attached to the fuel injector nozzles, which remained secured to their cylinders. All the nozzles were clear of debris except for the No. 1 nozzle, which contained dirt and debris.

The left and right flap actuator extensions corresponded to a flap retracted position. The landing gear actuator was in a retracted position, and the landing gear emergency extension hand crank was in a stowed position. The airspeed indicator was thermally damaged with the pointer indicating 120 knots. No anomalies were noted with the flight control system, vacuum pump, or attitude gyro. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

According to the autopsy report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner Division, the pilot's cause of death was multiple blunt injuries, and the manner of death was accident. A focal area of 70% narrowing by atherosclerotic plaque was identified in the left anterior descending coronary artery. Aside from this one area of severe coronary artery disease, the examination of the heart was unremarkable.

Toxicology testing performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory identified terazosin in blood, as well as pravastatin, ranitidine, terazosin, and salicylate in urine. Terazosin, pravastatin, and ranitidine are described above and had been reported to the FAA. Salicylate is a metabolite of aspirin, an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drug.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

At maximum gross weight, the airplane's climb rate was calculated to be 1,150 ft per minute, based on full engine power and 100 knots indicated airspeed. The minimum required IFR departure climb rate to safely clear terrain on takeoff from runway 7 at RUE was calculated to be 835 ft per minute at 100 knots ground speed and 955 ft per minute at 120 knots ground speed.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

On December 1, 2014, the pilot started a 5-day King Air 200 initial simulator training course conducted by SIMCOM Aviation Training. After the fourth day of this training, the pilot voluntarily withdrew from the course at the recommendation of his instructor. The instructor stated that the pilot's performance was below standards due to frequently "falling behind the aircraft" and task saturation issues, especially during instrument procedures.

From February 2015 until July 2015, the pilot flew a King Air 200 as second-in-command. The pilot-in-command of these flights stated that the pilot's multi-tasking abilities and situational awareness were a weak area, including an episode when he landed with the brakes engaged, which blew both main tires. He further stated that the pilot tended to have instrument fixation issues, struggled to use the flight director properly, and sometimes did not reference the attitude indicator enough during critical phases of flight.

Other pilots familiar with the pilot's earlier flying career stated that he was a very competent, conscientious, and skillful pilot. A pilot who flew at the same company that employed the accident pilot several years before the accident stated that the pilot flew at this company for 20 to 25 years without failing a check ride.

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA024 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Pottsville, AR
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY A36, registration: N3BE
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 29, 2015, at 0754 central daylight time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company A36 airplane, N3BE, impacted terrain after departing from the Russellville Regional Airport (RUE), Russellville, Arkansas. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Valley Motors Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with a destination of McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

An airport surveillance video camera recorded the airplane depart from Runway 07 at RUE, which has a field elevation of 404 feet mean sea level (MSL). The airplane subsequently impacted tree tops in a rural wooded area about 1 mile off the departure end of Runway 07, at an elevation about 620 feet MSL. A post-impact fire consumed the majority of the airplane. 

At 0753, the weather observation station at RUE reported the following conditions: wind calm, visibility 4 miles, overcast clouds at 200 feet above ground level with mist, temperature 12 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.92 inches of mercury.


Wesley Harris, Julie Harris Lefevre and Robert Harris.


The Arkansas State Medical Examiner confirmed on Tuesday the identities of the four victims in the Oct. 29 plane crash in Pope County.

A press release issued by the Pope County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday identified the victims as Phillip Cowger, 65, who was the pilot, and three passengers: Robert Harris, 48, Wesley Harris, 43, and Julie Harris Lefevre, 41.

Cowger's funeral is scheduled for today. Funeral services for Robert Harris, Wesley Harris and Lefevre took place Tuesday. 

Although the victims were previously named by various media outlets, family and friends, they were not officially confirmed prior to Tuesday.

The deceased were all on board a single-engine aircraft that took off from the Russellville Regional Airport at approximately 7:54 a.m. on Oct. 29, bound for Nashville, Tenn. The plane impacted hilly terrain three miles east of the Russellville airport. After the impact, a fire broke out and consumed all but about a third of the aircraft.

A 911 call was placed at 8:14 a.m. Authorities arrived on the scene at 8:24 a.m. All four occupants from the plane were recovered, and all were deceased when authorities located them.




Julie Harris Lefevre

Wesley Harris



Robert Harris



Philip Bost Cowger


Obituary: Philip Cowger

Philip Bost Cowger age 65 of Dardanelle died Thursday, October 29, 2015. He was born March 31, 1950 to the late John Philip and Sarah Frances Bost Cowger. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Dardanelle, a 1968 graduate of Dardanelle High School and a 1974 graduate of Henderson State University with a B.A. Degree in Business. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Cowger of Dardanelle; two daughters, Scarlet Cowger Evans (Danial) of Morrilton, Sarah Cowger of Plano, Texas; one brother, John W. Cowger (Cathey) of El Dorado; one nephew, Alan Cowger; one niece, Amber Cowger both of El Dorado; two grandchildren, Guyler and Xander Evans of Morrilton.

Memorial services will be held at 2:00P.M., Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at Cornwell Chapel in Dardanelle with Jim Benfer officiating. Visitation will be held Wednesday, 1:00P.M. to 2:00P.m. at the chapel prior to the service.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Newell Carter, Doyle McIntyre, Leslie Teaff, Paul Horney, Andy Berkmeyer, Bob Burris, Dwight Talbert, River Valley Pilot Association.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 188, Dardanelle, Arkansas 72834.

Arrangements are by Cornwell Funeral Home and River Valley Cremations in Dardanelle. Online Guest Book and Condolences at www.cornwellfuneralhomes.com.

Philip Bost Cowger:   http://www.cornwellfuneralhomes.com

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Funeral services are set for Tuesday, November 3rd in Russellville for three of the four people who died in a small plane crash on October 29.

Robert and Wes Harris along with Julie Harris Lefevre will each be memorialized at 1st United Methodist Church. The siblings as well as the pilot Phillip Cowger died in the crash shortly after taking off from Russellville airport.


Source: http://www.thv11.com

Obituaries: 


Julie Harris Lefevre:  http://www.humphreyfuneral.com/Julie Lefevre


Wes Harris:  http://www.humphreyfuneral.com/Wes Harris


Robert Griffin Harris:  http://www.humphreyfuneral.com/Robert Harris


Aviation lawyer ‘took off’ with clients • He represented the families of victims in both the MH370 and MH17 disasters .... Now his former firm is suing him



Shine Lawyers is suing a former employee for $665,000 who allegedly took six clients when he left the firm.

Aviation law expert Joseph Wheeler allegedly breached confidentiality clauses when he took the clients, all of whom have relatives who died in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 and MH370 disasters, The Courier Mail reported.


Lodged in the Brisbane Supreme Court, Shine’s statement of claim says he asked them to transfer files to his new business, International Aerospace Law & Policy Group, where he was acting as an agent for Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.


“Shine funded Wheeler to travel nationally and internationally including to Malaysia, China and Canada to meet with relatives of the victims of the plane crashes and to publicize to relatives and other experts in aviation compensation matters Shine’s expertise in such matters,” the claim said.


According to Shine, the clients represented a commercial opportunity with an estimated 50 percent chance of attracting a further 30 contracts from family members relating to the disasters.


Wheeler denies the allegations, his defense indicating that information on the family members was public and that the clients’ decision to follow him was made by them.


A hearing date has not yet been determined.


- Source:  http://www.australasianlawyer.com.au


https://www.shine.com.au/service/aviation-law

​Drone in near-miss with Vans RV6 flying 2,000ft above Northants - UK

A drone being flown above the permitted height limit nearly collided with a light aircraft flying at 170mph over Northamptonshire, air safety investigators have found.

The UK Airprox Board, set up to enhance air safety in the UK, has published a report into an incident which happened 2,000ft (610m) up in the air above Byfield, on May 30.

It details that the pilot of a Van's RV-6 two-seater aircraft had to take 'evasive action' after spotting the drone, which flew past the left-hand side of his aircraft just 50ft away.

The pilot described the drone as a 'red and yellow, three-rotor drone', which was the 'type that can be easily bought in shops and not a commercial surveillance type vehicle'.

The pilot described the drone as one with three rotors, although the board feels it was likely to be a four rotor and that this indicated the drone was flying at the same level as the aircraft.

But although he reported the near-miss, the drone could not be seen on radar and the operator could not be traced.

The UK Airprox Board branded the risk rating a "category B", meaning the aircraft's security was compromised.

The report stated that, according to air safety regulations, drones of this type are not allowed to be flown above 1,000ft.

The report went on to state: "The Board thought that, although it might just be possible for an observer to be able to see a drone at a height of 1300- 1400ft, it would be impractical to judge separation from other aircraft with any degree of accuracy (drone operators were also required to keep 50m away from any third parties, including other aircraft).

"Flying drones above 1000ft was, in any case, contrary to existing CAA regulations; the issue being whether this had been done knowingly or unknowingly. The Board also acknowledged the difficulty in policing and enforcing the regulations; unfortunately, the short battery life of drones means that, with a typical flying time of approximately 15 minutes, it is difficult for the police to respond and catch drone operators flouting the regulations."

Discussing which category to place the incident at, the report concluded: "Although there was no radar data to measure the exact separation, the Board thought it was clear from the pilot's report that this was a fairly close encounter, and they assessed the risk as Category B, safety margins had been much reduced below the norm, but not quite to the point where separation had been reduced to the minimum."

- Source: http://www.northampton-news-hp.co.uk

Airprox report: http://www.airproxboard.org.uk/docs

The RV6 pilot reports that he had just switched to a listening watch on the Sywell frequency when he saw the red and yellow, 3-rotor drone.  He reported that it was the type that can be easily bought in shops and not a  commercial  surveillance  type  vehicle.    He  took  evasive  action  and  the  drone passed down the side of the aircraft and under its left wing.

AIRPROX REPORT No 2015084
Date: May 30, 2015
Time: 1135Z
Position: 5210N 00114W
Location: Byfield, Northampton

WINAIR three wise men sent home without compensation

Elvis Queely, Michel Carter, and Jeff Oliver, the employees that were fired.



PHILIPSBURG:   The court of First Instance ruled in favor of Windward Islands Airways N.V (WINAIR) on Friday giving the company all rights to dismiss three of their top employees without compensation after they were caught using the company’s intellectual property while working for WINAIR to establish their own airline.

The case brought against the three employees individually was to grant WINAIR the rights to terminate the employees without compensation. 

The court ruled in favor of WINAIR citing that the three employees were disloyal to their employer when they used the company’s information to form their own company which would be in competition of the national airline while working for WINAIR.

WINAIR also brought another case against the three top employees namely Michel Carter, Elvis Queely, and Jeff Oliver. 

In that case WINAIR wanted the court to prohibit them from using the company’s intellectual property, recruiting staff from the company, and to order them to return all intellectual property they have in their possession from the company. WINAIR asked the court to impose a daily fine starting from $10,000.00 per day to a maximum of $1M. The court dismissed that case.

The three employees Oliver, Carter and Queely were first suspended then fired after they informed their bosses that they were involved in providing consultancy work for person that are interested in launching a new airline that will compete with WINAIR. 

The “three wise men” as they are famously known as told their employers that instead of being paid for their services they were given shares in the company. 

The three senior staff members were working together with a former employee that was fired from the company for alleged theft, that person Rolando Brison opened his own company which a marketing agency and also a business partner in the new airline that will soon be established if they managed to obtain a license to operate.

Story, comments and photo:  http://www.smn-news.com

Vietnam Veterans' Voices: Rich White flew combat missions as helicopter pilot



As a Huey helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, Rich White has both proud and terrible memories of his 21 months of service in the Saigon area.

He took heavy fire during combat missions, and came within seconds of crashing in a rice paddy after an equipment failure. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving the life of a two-star general by evading ground artillery with quick reflexes. He has been able to help younger veterans with their struggles to cope with their experiences.

However, his time in the war came with a price. Many of his friends were killed. Once, when he flew home, he was walking through the airport in his dress blues when a teenage girl came up and spit on his uniform and called him a "baby killer."

White, a man of strong Christian faith, doesn’t have any proof that he ever killed anybody, but he did fire into treelines to suppress enemy fire. His experiences led him to develop post-traumatic stress disorder nearly 40 years after the war, mainly triggered by watching movies in which families have to deal with the aftermath of the death of a loved one.

White, who lives with his wife in the Seeley Lake area, was just a 23-year-old kid who had always dreamed of flying airplanes when he volunteered for the Army in 1966.

He was assigned to the 187th Assault Helicopter Company – the Blackhawks –and began flying combat missions after four weeks of “ash and trash” (non-combat) missions.

Q: What was it like to take fire during a combat mission?

A: This one time we were hauling the South Vietnamese Army. We did not like it because in ’67 they had so many Viet Cong infiltrators in their units that they always knew where we were going, what was going to happen, everything. So we had this body language thing. If they were sitting there drinking Cokes and eating candy bars, nothing’s gonna happen all day long. But if they’re cleaning their weapons, getting extra ammo and extra grenades, you know you’re going to step into it. So we picked them up that morning and they were all getting extra ammo and we thought, "Oh man." So we’re doing search and destroy and we do six inserts that day, all over this place, leapfrogging. The gunships are checking the LZ. Nothing’s happening.

So end of the day, we go to pick them up in a combat formation. The idea is the greater firepower on the heavier side can hit the Landing Zone. The troops are on the ground, ready for the pickup, and it’s 6-foot-high elephant grass. And we’re down to 30 miles an hour and about 100 feet over the troops. We’re settling into the grass and we start taking fire through the helicopter. And lead calls, "Get out of here, the LZ’s hot!" and helicopters are zigzagging all over the place. We’re going out the other side. Our seats are armored and we wear ballistic helmets, which can stop a small round. But I start crouching down in my seat and I look over at my co-pilot and he’s doing the same thing and he’s looking at me and we both start laughing hilariously. The crew in the back thought we had flipped out. It was one of those funny moments.

Q: Did you develop PTSD after the war?

A: I came home knowing that I lost three friends over there. Over the years, I had gone to several schools and talked to kids about being in Vietnam and everything, and it didn’t seem to pose a problem. But in 2010, I started having, I found out later, PTSD. Forty years after the fact. There’s a very good counselor in town that has done a lot of work with PTSD. I said, "What’s wrong with me that it happens after 40 years?" He goes, "Rich, for anybody that’s been in combat, it’s not if it will happen, it’s when." Some have it immediately after combat, others it’s later. There’s no rhyme or reason for it.

Part of the therapy for that was to join the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. When you join, you have access to a website of names and addresses and you can find out where guys were at. And the three I knew I had lost turned into a dozen friends that I had lost. I didn’t know that had happened. Five of them were friends I flew with all the way through flight school and the rest were guys that I got to be friends with in the units we flew in. So that was something to work through.

Q: Was it therapeutic to attend events with the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association?

A: They had an event in California, and my wife and daughter went to that with me, and it was really special. They do a lot of work helping veterans get back on track. A lot of those guys have been through a lot. They had a Missing Man Dinner. There were 1,100 people there. They had a single small table with a place setting and a rose on it and that was almost enough to get you to break down. But then the New York Police Department bagpipe band came in playing "Amazing Grace," and everybody lost it.

- Read more here:   http://missoulian.com

Transportation Security Administration to offer program for expedited security clearance at Yeager Airport (KCRW), Charleston, West Virginia

West Virginia air travelers will soon get the chance to sign up for a Transportation Security Administration program that allows them to leave on their shoes, belts and light outerwear, and keep laptops in their cases as they pass through TSA airport security checkpoints.

From Nov. 9-13 at Charleston’s Yeager Airport, the TSA will operate a temporary enrollment center for its PreCheck program, an expedited screening option now available at more than 150 airports and involving 12 airlines, including four (Delta, United, American and US Airways) operating at Yeager. The enrollment center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in Yeager’s ticketing lobby.

Successful applicants will receive a TSA “Known Traveler Number,” or KTN, which they should enter when booking flight reservations, either online, by phone to an airline reservation center, or with travel agents. The KTN can be entered in participating airlines’ frequent flyer profiles and stored for future bookings.

The program is open to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. TSA charges a nonrefundable $85 application fee, which covers five years of expedited check-in service. The fee can be paid at the time of application by credit card, money order, company check, certified check or cashier’s check. Cash or personal checks will not be accepted.

Citizens born in the United States should bring either a passport, enhanced driver’s license, birth certificate with an official seal or a certified copy of a birth certificate to the enrollment center. Fingerprints will be taken of those applying at the center. Persons who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses may not be eligible to apply. To pre-enroll and schedule an appointment for the program at Yeager, find information about documentation needed by naturalized citizens, or learn about disqualifying criminal offenses, go to www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply. Walk-in applicants are also welcome, according to the TSA.

Successful applicants will receive their KTNs via U.S. Mail within a few weeks of applying.

- Source: http://www.wvgazettemail.com