Saturday, November 14, 2015

Not much hope for Allegiant: Chico Municipal Airport (KCIC) Butte County, California

Aside from the fact I love airplanes and anything aviation, it’s always fascinating to see what’s going on at the Chico Municipal Airport.

Or in this case, what’s not there.

Next month — on Dec. 2 — it will be exactly one year since Chico lost its only air passenger service. Directed by United Airlines, SkyWest Airlines discontinued service between Chico and San Francisco, saying it was a financial decision.

It’s been a blow to Chico and the surrounds whose travelers have had to find other ways to get out of town. There were plenty of problems with the Chico to San Fran flight, mostly caused by weather and delays at the other end.

Understandably, air passengers had to be sure their transportation was dependable, and hence many abandoned Chico for Sacramento.

The city, the Chico Chamber and others have been diligently exploring alternatives since, but there was a glimmer of hope recently.

I had heard that Maury Gallagher, CEO of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Airlines, might be in town. It would have been nice to have an airlines official in Chico no matter what, considering our loss, but Gallagher used to be a pretty firm fixture in Chico. He was one of the founders of WestAir Airlines, which was based in Chico. Earlier this year, he was scheduled to talk at Chico State’s Center for Entrepreneurship, but bowed out because of sickness.

I emailed Gallagher after hearing Allegiant mentioned last month during the AvPORTS presentation on the Chico airport. Last week I chatted with Jude Bricker, senior vice president of planning for Allegiant.

He said there’s not much interest in Chico. Actually, none.

Bricker went through issue after issue that Chico faces. Airlines are flying bigger planes, roughly in the 150-seat capacity, for cost efficiency. Chico would be hard pressed to fill that, even once a week, he said. Chico had issues filling the 30-seater that SkyWest flew in three times a week.

“We’re not in active negotiations (with Chico) and have no plans for service,” he told me.

What could we do to interest an airlines, I asked. A subsidy program or other incentive was the first thing he mentioned, and then some way to assure the airlines that passengers would come.

He mentioned Sacramento’s closeness as a hefty black mark against Chico.

But he didn’t rule everything out, saying he couldn’t speak for other airlines.

I can’t say I was surprise, but wouldn’t it have made a great column for me to announce some positive airline news? Maybe one day.

- Source:

Western Nebraska Regional Airport (KBFF) evacuated after unattended package reported

Flight Deck employees stand outside waiting to get the OK to resume work after an unattended package was reported at Western Nebraska Regional Airport. The Scotts Bluff County Sheriff's Department, Scottsbluff Police Department's bomb squad, Nebraska State Patrol and Scottsbluff Fire Department all responded to the unattended package report.

The Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Department and other first responders have responded to a report of unattended luggage at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport.

Also responding were the Scottsbluff Police Department’s bomb squad, Nebraska State Patrol and Scottsbluff Fire Department.

The airport was evacuated after unidentified luggage was located at the airport. 

According to Darwin Skelton, airport manager, the bag was not claimed by any person at the time and the Sheriff’s Department had to follow protocol and called in the bomb squad. 

There were around 15-20 people evacuated from the airport.

The agencies responded at about 3 p.m. Highland Road was closed due to reports of "possible radiation" in the package.

Flight Deck Restaurant will remain closed the remainder of the night due to the investigation. The airport also remains closed.

Vertex was also originally supposed to evacuate, according to a Nebraska State Patrol trooper at the scene, and scanner reports. But they were told to stay inside the building. 

- Source:  http://www.starherald.coml

New Iran airline ready for launch: Tehran Air

The new airline will be called “Tehran Air” and will be equipped with 11 aircraft - four Airbus 340 and seven Airbus 321 planes.    

Mohammad-Ali Ilkhani, the CEO of Tehran Air, has been quoted by the Persian-language news agency Tasnim as saying that the airline’s fleet is aged below 15 years old.

“Airbus 340 planes will be used for long-distance international flights,” Ilkhani said. “Airbus 321 planes will be used for domestic and regional flights,” he added.   

Ilkhani further added that the procedures to launch Tehran Air started about two years ago, adding that the planes have already been purchased over the same period. 

Iran is being coveted by international airlines as the Middle East’s biggest potential aviation market.

Nevertheless, its aviation fleet is believed to be dilapidated and in urgent need of renovation.    

Officials have said that Iran would need between 400-500 new aircraft worth at least $60 billion in the next decade.

They had also told the media that Tehran plans to place major purchase orders with global brands such as Boeing and Airbus.

Reports emerged in the media in early November that several domestic airlines have purchased 13 Boeing 737 aircraft.

The planes were reported to have been purchased by Nasim Air, a new airline based in the central city of Isfahan, Caspian Airlines and Aseman Airlines.    

Other reports say Iran has purchased planes from Russia, as well, but details on the reported purchases are yet to come out.  

- Source:

Unregistered, unknown make and model ultralight: Incident occurred November 14, 2015 near Everett-Stewart Regional Airport (KUCY), Union City, Obion County, Tennessee

Date: 14-NOV-15
Time: 22:49:00Z
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: Unknown
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Memphis FSDO-21
State: Tennessee


OBION COUNTY, TN (KFVS) -  The Obion County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of an ultralight aircraft crashing on Saturday, Nov. 14.

The aircraft was on its way to Everett–Stewart Regional Airport in Union City, Tennessee.

Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder said that something reportedly broke in the aircraft, causing the pilot to lose maneuverability.

The aircraft force landed on Airport Road in Union City.

The plane was removed and the road is now back open.

Authorities have not released the name of the pilot yet, but said he was transferred to Regional One Health in Memphis with a broken leg.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to begin investigating the cause of the accident on Monday.

- Story, video and photo gallery:

UNION CITY, Tenn. -- A ultralight plane crashed near an airport in Union City.

Josh Parish who lives right across the street from the airport saw the entire crash take place.

"My wife saw that a plane had gone down and she screamed and I wasn't looking the same way, I turned, then all of a sudden, the plane went down," said Parish

Being the only person near the scene of the crash, Parrish says his first instinct was to save the person in the crash
. Despite gasoline pouring from the engine, Parrish and his stepson tried their best to get the pilot from the plane.

"We tried to pick up the plane and I had my step son with me, and we were just trying to pick up the propeller and and hold the pressure off of him until the rescue squad got here," he explained.

The pilot was eventually airlifted to the nearest hospital. Other than the pilot, no one else was injured. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

Story and video:

Fairchild Air Force Base upgrades KC-135 air fuel tankers

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -- One of the oldest and rarest air fuel tankers got some upgrades earlier in November at Fairchild Air Force Base.

The KC-135 model has been around since the 1950s. Other Air Force bases are ditching this model for the new KC-46 aircraft. Fairchild officials said the KC-135 is not going anywhere anytime soon.

“They will have some kinks to work out in the beginning to get it to the point where it's completely reliable all the time and the 135 has been through those battles if you will," said evaluator pilot, Major John Chappelle.

Chappelle said this is the first aircraft out of the 30 on base to get the Block-46 upgrade, the newest in modern aviation technology.

Officials said the upgrade will give the aircraft a new internal system.

“We used to have a bunch of gauges right here, these are all of our engine instruments that's now computerized. So it's now more precise as to what we're actually getting out of it," said Major Chappelle.

They will also be getting a new autopilot system, improved displays and a new weather system. Chappelle said these upgrades will make the aircraft nearly invincible.

Fairchild officials said they might take the old KC-135s from other Air Force bases that are getting rid of them. They said they will find out if they get the new KC-46 model by 2017.

Story, video and photo gallery:

Rowan County, North Carolina, will consider banning drones in parks

Whisps of clouds hover over Dan Nicholas Park. Rowan County Commissioners will consider banning drones from all county parks on Monday. 


If you’ve got a drone, leave it at home when you’re visiting a Rowan County park.

County commissioners on Monday are scheduled to specifically ban drones from all county-owned parks. The measure appears on the commissioners’ consent agenda — used for items with unanimous agreement. County commissioners are scheduled to approve the consent agenda before the regularly scheduled public comment period. Safety is a reason cited by county officials for the ban.

Drone is a word colloquially used to describe unmanned aircraft. Most frequently, the word drone is used to describe quadcopters with cameras used for recreational or professional purposes. Filmmakers, for example, use drones as a relatively inexpensive way to capture aerial video.

Drones will join airplanes, battery operated toys, advertisements, liquor, fireworks and nude swimming as things banned in local parks. Visitors to parks would only be allowed to use drones with prior approval of county staff. Rowan Parks and Facilities Director Don Bringle said only clubs or groups hosting an event would be granted permission to use drones. Individual users would still be banned, Bringle said.

“We’ll consider an organized event, but not an individual,” Bringle said.

He used the Rowan Aero Modelers Society as one example of a group that could receive special permission to fly remote control aircraft.

He said adding drones to the county’s parks regulations is mostly just a clarification on rules already in place.

“A few years ago, there wasn’t such a thing as drones,” he said. “For words sake, we wanted to specifically add them to protect ourselves from liability in the case of an accident.”

County Commissioner Judy Klusman noted that Rowan County’s rules for parks already included a definition that could be applied to drones. The current rules ban remote control airplanes and “flying machines.”

In recent years, drones have exploded in popularity. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration estimates up to a million drones will be sold during the 2015 holiday season. The popularity, however, has led government entities to draft rules and regulations to control the unmanned aircraft.

Rowan County wouldn’t be the first to ban drones. The most notable ban is the National Parks Service, which outlawed the unmanned aircraft in 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration started a task force to draft drone registration requirements. As a result, recreational users could be required to register drones as part of the government’s regulations. The deadline for the task force’s recommendations are Nov. 20.

For Rowan County, it’s important to be proactive about the rise in drone usage, said County Commissioner Craig Pierce.

“Unfortunately, people learn to fly drones by trial and error,” Pierce said. “With inexperienced people using them, they could fall out of the sky, into a public area and hurt somebody. Because it’s on county property, we could be liable. And, would the drone operator have insurance coverage? Of course he doesn’t.”

Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds mentioned potential privacy concerns as an added consideration when banning drones.

County owned parks include Dan Nicholas on Bringle Ferry Road, Dunn’s Mountain Nature Preserve on Dunn’s Mountain Road, Eagle Pointe Nature Preserve on Black Road, Ellis Park on Old Mocksville Road and Sloan Park on Sloan Road.

Pierce said the county wouldn’t attempt to prevent people from using drones by banning them in county parks.

“A county park just isn’t the place to fly,” he said.

The recommendation to ban drones came from Rowan County’s Parks Board. When asked about the ban, Bringle said he proposed the idea to the Parks Board.

“Right now, our rules and regulations do not allow remote control airplanes to be in the park because of liability issues,” Bringle said. “Drones are remote control devices as well.”

- Story and comments:

‘Passengers were screaming and we could hear glass smashing’: Aer Lingus flight attendant sues over landing in which plane ‘bounced’ three times

Cassandra Reddin, Woodlands, Ratoath, Co Meath pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of her HIgh Court action for damages. 

A flight attendant has told the High Court she thought “we were all dead” when an Aer Lingus plane from Malaga allegedly bounced three times as it landed at Dublin Airport.

Cabin crew member, Cassandra Reddin said passengers were screaming, duty free products in overhead baggage smashed and alcohol poured down on passengers during the incident in 2009.

Ms. Reddin, who was travelling on the Airbus 320 from Malaga to Dublin, claims she suffered back and neck injuries when, she alleges, the plane landed in a heavy, dramatic fashion with an alleged excessive rate of descent.

Opening the case, Finbar Fox SC, for Ms. Reddin, said the downward force generated during the landing was consistent with a wholly inappropriate and excessive rate of descent.

“Safety documents shot out of their pockets; duty free broke in the overhead baggage and alcohol leaked into the cabin.  There was a degree of chaos and stress on board,” he said.

“The simple option would have been to go around and have another go. The plane was swaying from side to side. It should have been clear to the pilot to go around and try again.”

His side contended, with one second before touchdown, the rate of descent was three to four times what it should have been.

Ms. Reddin (33), Woodlands Manor, Ratoath, Co Meath has sued Aer Lingus over alleged injuries allegedly suffered when the EI582 flight landed at Dublin Airport on November 19th, 2009.

She alleges failure to adequately supervise the landing of the plane by a co-pilot. She also claims she suffered soft tissue neck and back injury and whiplash and had nightmares afterwards where she woke up screaming.

Aer Lingus denies all the claims.

In her evidence, Ms. Reddin said the cabin crew were instructed to secure the cabin for landing at 30 minutes before landing instead of 10 minutes.

“It got very bumpy and the plane was swaying from side to side. I was very frightened. The gear was down and the plane was rocking from side to side. The plane bounced off the runway three times. Passengers were screaming and we could hear glass smashing and alcohol was pouring on the passengers.”

She said she told everybody to sit down but her voice was shaking and a passenger told her she was not very reassuring. She said she thought the plane was not going to stop and would be off the runway.

“I thought we were all dead, that the airplane was not going to stop. I was shaking.”

Ms. Reddin said, after they landed, the senior cabin person instructed her “not to mention what happened on the bus back to the terminal because the co -pilot was mortified”.

She said she cried the whole evening at home afterwards and was in shock. The next day, she could not move her neck and also later suffered panic attacks. She now works in the social media section of Aer Lingus, she said.

The case before Mr. Justice Michael Hanna continues.

- Source:

Aviation maintenance program to provide skilled workers

Bill Davis, left, and Kyle Cook, right, will soon be teaching an aviation maintenance program at George Stone Technical Center. The program is expected to begin accepting students in January. 

The inner workings of aircraft have always fascinated Michael Cook. So much so, the 18-year-old wants to work on airplanes for a living.

The Booker T. Washington High senior wants to become one of the first graduates of George Stone Technical Center's new aviation maintenance program scheduled to start in January. Cook plans to enroll in classes next fall and graduate in a few years with airframe and power plant certifications that can guarantee him a job starting at $15 to $18 per hour.

Aviation maintenance technicians perform aircraft inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They also service, maintain, troubleshoot and repair aircraft engines, auxiliary power units, propellers, rotor systems, power train systems, and associated airframe and systems-specific electrical components.

In the U.S., there are nearly 117,000 aircraft mechanics and service technicians who earn an average of $58,850 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Florida has the third-highest number of aviation mechanics and service technicians in the U.S. – 10,360 – who earn $56,550 a year, the BLS reported.

And with VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering expected to bring 300 new jobs with an average annual pay of $41,000 to Pensacola in 2017, there is a need for the highly-skilled workers in Northwest Florida. The company, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., will perform repair and maintenance of heavy-transport category aircraft, like passenger airliners and cargo planes.

Michael already knows of the demand for qualified technicians.

"My uncle has worked in the field for 30-plus years. He's been all over the world and now works in Japan. He's made a really good living," said Michael, who is enrolled in Washington High's Aviation Maintenance Career Academy. The career academy will give him a head start because the Escambia County School District and George Stone have an articulation agreement where high schoolers can earn clock hours toward certification. When Michael enrolls in the technical center next fall, he already will have earned 150 clock hours.

Bill Davis, who along with Kyle Cook are George Stone's aviation maintenance instructors, said a majority of the current workers are facing retirement in the next 10 years.

"The average age of someone working in the field is 54, so there's not only a high need for these trained in aviation maintenance workers in the U.S. but worldwide as well," he said.

Waiting list for classes

So far, more than 100 people are on a waiting list for the January classes. However, only 50 students will be accepted. The FAA limits classes to 25 students per instructor.

In order to qualify for the program, students must take and pass the TABE exam.

"Students enrolled in the program are required to meet the basic skills level – a 10th-grade threshold for reading, math, language," said Stephen A. Brooks, George Stone's assistant principal. "But the program can appeal to everyone – from those fresh out of high school to those 62 or older or even former military. There is no limit on the demographics."

The program initially will train students on airframe, which focuses on the airplane's mechanical structure – fuselage, wings, some electrical systems, etc. In fall 2016, the technical center will offer the power plant training where students will learn to work on engines, turbines, etc.

To earn an airframe certification, students must complete 400 clock hours of general study and 1,000 clock hours of training. Power plant certification requires an additional 650 clock hours. Tuition for the program is $2.89 per clock hour or $4,046 for the general study and airframe and $1,878.50 for power plant training. Students, however, are required to purchase tools, books and other supplies.

"The airframe component can be completed in about a year and a half, with the power plant taking another six months or so. ... And after a couple of years, an aviation maintenance technician can earn $25 to $30 an hour," Cook added.

Students who enroll in January must be veterans or pay their own tuition. The program will not be certified for Pell grant funding, until after FAA approval. An FAA inspection is scheduled for Thursday.

Students also will train on two donated airplanes – a Piper Cherokee from Ferguson Field and a T39 from the U.S. Navy. A Georgia man also donated a Lancair Air Legacy kit plane.

The program becoming a reality was a joint effort between the school district, City of Pensacola, FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance, Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and other entities.

The school district has already invested heavily into the program. Michelle Taylor, director of workforce education for the school district, said $500,000 in targeted funds and other workforce monies were used to establish the airframe training.

"We estimate approximately $1 million will be invested for both the airframe mechanic and power plant mechanic programs. Aviation maintenance education is particularly expensive because of the tools needed to instruct students," she explained. "For instance, if you're teaching students about jet engines, you must purchase jet engines and they cost upwards of $100,000 each."

The school district also spent $30,000 for computers for the Washington Career Academy where 22 ninth- through 12th-graders are enrolled. The academy started this year, the students were recruited during the 2014-15 school year.

"Our challenges are to continue to invest at the high school level and acquire equipment for students to get that hands-on exposure so they can understand what the work is really like," she said, adding the Career Academy is using an online curriculum.

"But the curriculum needs to be more than that so we are making plans to acquire actual tools. We know the best way to engage high school students in technical education is to put the tools in their hands, and have them practice and perform the task."

Taylor added VTMAE also wanted assurance there would be skilled workers to fill the new positions.

"VTMAE (representatives) sat down with school district employees and FloridaWest representatives and asked if we were able to make the commitment to provide training that would serve as a talent pipeline for them," she said. "And we said 'Yes,' because we know that bringing these skilled high-wage jobs to the area will benefit our students and our K-12 parents.

"Economic and workforce development work hand-in-hand to contribute to community development, and we know that a higher socioeconomic status correlates with higher student achievement."

The deal to bring VTMAE here included $8 million in incentives from the city of Pensacola and $11.6 million from the Florida Department of Transportation. Construction is scheduled to begin in January on a $37 million VTMAE facility - a 160,000-square-foot building that will expand the company's presence on the Gulf Coast. The company's Mobile, Alabama, operation opened in 1991 and currently employs about 1,500 workers.

Longterm diversity

Scott Luth, CEO of FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance, described the aviation maintenance program as an educational investment that will serve as a catalyst for private-sector investment for the region. In addition to VTMAE's expansion, he noted there several other companies that need skilled aviation maintenance workers.

"We have a good concentration of existing companies that support aircraft maintenance and repair," he said, listing Heliworks and Marianna Air Motor in Pensacola and L-3 Avionics System in Tallahassee. "....Having an educated workforce will be instrumental to the long-term diversity of our economy."

Luth said the aviation maintenance program was the result of a gap analysis performed three years ago that looked at targeted industries for Northwest Florida.

"An airframe and power plant training program was one of those needs that resulted from that analysis," he said. "....Overall we're very fortunate to have an educational partner that is willing to make the investment to meet the needs of our private sector."

Taylor said the school district is dedicated to helping improve the local economy.

"Workforce education is driven by the economic needs of the community so we are committed to always providing the best possible opportunities for our students for future employment. We know when we bring a new business to the community, it will lift the standard of living for those employed in these high-wage high-skills jobs," she said.

By the numbers


Estimated number of aircraft mechanics and service technicians in the U.S.


Average annual starting salary of aircraft mechanics and service technicians.

1,400 hours

Time required to earn an airframe certification.

650 hours

Additional time required to earn power plant certification.

- Source:

Robinson R22 BETA, N7058Z: Accident occurred November 14, 2015 in Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas FSDO-09

Aviation Accident Factual Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA040
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 14, 2015 in Sugarland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2017
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N7058Z
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot stated that, while approaching the landing site at the conclusion of the 50-minute flight, the helicopter’s main rotor experienced an overspeed condition. The pilot reduced the throttle but was unable to reduce the rotor rpm, and he initiated an autorotation to a field. The pilot reported that the helicopter's rotor had oversped about 2 weeks before the accident. A 50-hour inspection after the previous overspeed event did not reveal any anomalies. A postaccident visual examination of the helicopter by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration did not reveal any anomalies, and the reason for the overspeed of the main rotor system could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The overspeed of the main rotor system for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.

On November 14, 2015, about 0950 central standard time, a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, N7058Z, experienced a hard landing following an autorotation near Sugarland, Texas. The private rated pilot sustained minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to Jerry Trimble Helicopters and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan.

According to the pilot, after flying for about 50 minutes the main rotor rpm over-sped, and went to the top of the gauge. The pilot reduced throttle but was unable to get the rotor rpms within limits, so he initiated an autorotation. The pilot maneuvered the helicopter to an open field location and landed hard. After the initial impact, the helicopter rolled on to its left side. The tail boom was severed from the fuselage during the impact, and was displaced about 150 feet from the fuselage.

The pilot reported that the helicopter's rotor had over sped about 2 weeks prior to the accident. A 50-hour inspection of the helicopter did not reveal a reason for the main rotor over speed. The pilot suspected a mechanical malfunction resulting in an over speed of the rotor system. A visual examination of the helicopter by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration did not reveal any anomalies.

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA040 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 14, 2015 in Sugarland, TX
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N7058Z
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 14, 2015, about 1025 central standard time, a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, N7058Z, experienced a hard landing during an autorotation near Sugarland, Texas. The private pilot was seriously injured and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to Jerry Trimble Helicopters and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan.

According to initial information provided by the pilot.  The helicopter was retained for further examination.

MISSOURI CITY, Texas -- A helicopter crashed in front of a house Saturday morning in Missouri City.

Officials with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office responded to the crash Saturday morning in the 5400 block of Pecan Pass Court in the Sienna Plantation subdivision.

Authorities say the pilot -- who was the only person in the plane -- was not injured.

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Airline updates council on plans for Florida Keys Marathon charter service

Fort Lauderdale-based air charter service Tropic Ocean Airways hasn't grounded plans to bring its planes to Florida Keys Marathon International Airport but it is taking longer than expected.

General Manager Ryan Custureri and his crew gave a presentation to City Council Tuesday on how the company plans to operate once it sets up at the airport (pending Monroe County Commission approval). A start date wasn't discussed but flight times and potential economic benefits were.

"I think overall our goals are aligned. The community is expanding rapidly, we're expanding rapidly hopefully it'll work out for everyone," Custureri said.

Plans call for having flights from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport to Marathon Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Flights would begin and end on the mainland, leaving Fort Lauderdale around 3 p.m. and returning around 4. Hours and days may be changed to meet demand.

Cost of the flights was not discussed.

A nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan EX will most likely be the aircraft of choice, leaving from a private terminal at Sheltair Aviation Services in Fort Lauderdale.

While Custureri and his team are optimistic about their proposed operation, past airline service in Marathon has been short-lived.

Delta Airlines had flights from Atlanta to Marathon in February 2007 but stopped five months later, saying the runway is too short. Startup carrier Gator Air came in March 2008, advertising twice-daily flights from Marathon to Fort Lauderdale for $59.

Monroe County suspended the Gator after numerous passenger complaints and a Federal Aviation Administration investigation for posting subcontractor Aztec Airways' flight schedule on its website. Aztec had a 135 certificate, which limited the company to four flights a week to any given market.

Custureri said he believes his company could generate more than $1 million for Marathon through tourist dollars and employment.

Also at the Marathon airport is an under-construction U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for an international port of entry. Thomas Henderson, assistant director of airports for Monroe County, said the facility is considered "substantially completed."

"Customs will start moving in their IT equipment and actually start taking possession of the facility," Henderson said.

Henderson said while the construction may be complete, the office won't go into operation until it's cleared by Customs officials from Washington, D.C. They're scheduled to visit Dec. 1 and make an assessment on when it will become operational.

"I wish I could give you guys a firm date but once it's handed over to Customs, it's in the hands of the federal government," Henderson said.

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Citywide drone ban proposed in Springfield, Illinois

Springfield aldermen will soon decide whether to altogether ban drones from operating within the city.

In a proposed ordinance filed with the city clerk's office Friday, unmanned aircraft systems would be prohibited, but model aircraft that are used for recreational purposes would be allowed, with some restrictions.

The Federal Aviation Administration is finalizing its rules on drones, and if passed, the local regulations may need to be tweaked to fall in line with the FAA rules once those are on the books.

But in the meantime, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said he wanted to put in place local rules, which could be loosened or reduced in the future if there's a need.

"It's a way to get the discussion going," Langfelder said. "But I think something needs to happen."

Chris Johnston, who has a Decatur-based business called CJ Aerial Photography, said he's done quite a bit of work in Springfield and wants that to continue, so a drone ban would have a definite impact.

Johnston photographed the progress of recent construction at Memorial Medical Center and works in Springfield on various projects for clients somewhat frequently.

"It would definitely put a wrench in my operation if drones were banned there," Johnston said.

The proposed drone ban first came up during Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting, when Langfelder said he saw a need for local restrictions due to privacy and safety concerns. At that time, city officials said they were mulling a drone ban up to a certain altitude, but the filed ordinance would be a broad prohibition of the unmanned devices.

Drones that are used by law enforcement and emergency response agencies would only be permitted in the city "as allowed by state or federal statute, provided notice is given to the chief of the Springfield Police Department."

Recreational model aircraft wouldn't be included in the ban as long as they don't carry cameras or listening devices for surveillance, they're flown within sight of the operator, the operator maintains constant control of the device, it's only flown above a property where the operator has permission, and it's within 100 feet of the ground.

Under the proposed restrictions, model aircraft would be prohibited, however, from operating on or above city-owned properties and other public properties, including Lake Springfield, and would have to stay a "safe distance" from power lines.

Ward 8 Ald. Kris Theilen raised the drone issue at Tuesday's meeting after receiving a call from a concerned constituent who saw from a boat on Lake Springfield an unmanned device flying near the City Water, Light and Power plant.

Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin hasn't heard much concern from the public about drones flying over the city, but he guessed the newly proposed ordinance will likely generate some discussion.

Aldermen are slated to discuss the proposal at their Nov. 24 committee of the whole meeting, and the ordinance would be up for a final vote next month.

Dan Lohmar, who uses an unmanned aerial device as a hobby, said he's usually flown it over sparsely populated areas. He said he can understand officials wanting to see a ban in the city. But he suggested that for experienced operators who have a specific reason for using a drone in the city, there should be an exception.

"If there's a ban, I understand," Lohmar said. "It's a privacy issue. I get that."

Story and comments:

North American SNJ-5, N3770P: Incident occurred November 14, 2015 at Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport (KRVS), Tulsa, Oklahoma

Date: 14-NOV-15
Time: 16:00:00Z
Regis#: N3770P
Aircraft Model: SNJ
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: Minor
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Oklahoma City FSDO-15
State: Oklahoma


Airport operations were temporarily halted Saturday morning after a North American SNJ-5 plane tipped onto its nose and injured its pilot.

Tulsa police officers were called to the Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport, 8605 S. Elwood Ave., about 10 a.m. to respond to a single-engine aircraft accident on one of the airport's runways, police said.

The North American SNJ-5 flipped onto its nose while taxiing down runway 31, police said.

Emergency Medical Services Authority responded to the crash, and the plane's pilot received a minor head injury during the accident but was not transported from the scene, police said.

The plane was returned to the hangar after airport management completed an incident report, and the airport returned to normal operations, police said.

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Indigenous Defense Fighter jet canopy accidentally ejected by pilot in Tainan

Two air force pilots earlier this month escaped injuries when an Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) aircraft at the Tainan Air Base sustained damage when a cockpit canopy was accidentally blasted off.

Ministry of National Defense officials on Thursday confirmed that the incident took place on Nov. 2, when two pilots from the 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing squadron were conducting pre-flight checks for an IDF jet fighter training mission.

It was reported that the mission’s co-pilot, surnamed Chen (陳), had violated safety procedures by pulling out an insertion pin which was part of the cockpit’s canopy ejection mechanism.

According to the ministry’s report, Chen accidentally pressed an ejection button after pulling out the insertion pin, triggering a detonation which blasted off the cockpit’s canopy.

The system is designed to rescue pilots by ejecting the cockpit seats and canopy in a mid-flight emergency.

The Taiwan-made two-seater IDF jet features a two-piece, port-hinged canopy made of transparent acrylics and “Mark 12” ejection seats by British manufacturer Martin Baker Aircraft Co.

According to an eyewitness, a loud explosion was heard as the canopy blew open and scattered on the runway, as aircraft maintenance crews hit the ground to take cover from the blast.

The pilots and maintenance crews were not hit by the blast, and no other injuries were reported, an air force official said.

It is estimated that the aircraft would be grounded for about 12 months as a replacement canopy — which is expected to cost NT$3 million (US$91,570) — is manufactured.

After the accident, all training exercises at the 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing squadron were canceled, while the co-pilot in question has been suspended pending an investigation on the incident, the ministry said.

According to IDF safety procedures, only the head of the maintenance crew can pull out an insertion pin after they have completed a complete safety check.

One-hundred-and-thirty IDF aircraft were built by Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp and entered air force service between 1994 and 1999.

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Robinson R44 II, Concho Aviation LLC, N449MC: Accident occurred November 13, 2015 in Alpine, Brewster County, Texas


NTSB Identification: CEN16LA039 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 13, 2015 in Alpine, TX
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N449MC
Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 13, 2015, about 1630 central standard time, a Robinson Helicopter model R44II, N449MC, was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain near Alpine, Texas. The pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries. One additional passenger sustained minor injuries, while the fourth passenger was uninjured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Concho Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an aerial observation flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from a private ranch.

The pilot did not have any recollection of the accident sequence itself. Passengers noted that they were conducting wildlife surveys at the time of the accident. They reported that the pilot was maneuvering when the low rotor speed warning activated. The pilot reportedly attempted to regain rotor speed; however, his efforts were unsuccessful and the helicopter subsequently impacted some trees and then the ground.
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lubbock FSDO-13


A helicopter crashed in Brewster County on Friday afternoon.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson tells us it happened just after 4:00pm.

The helicopter was doing a deer count at the Yarborough Ranch, about 24 miles south of Alpine.

We're told people inside the helicopter spotted some wild hogs and began shooting.

As the helicopter turned around to continue and pursue the hogs, it lost control.

Sheriff Dodson says it crashed into a tree in very rough terrain.

Four people were on board the helicopter.

Two people were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The two others were able to walk away from the scene, but were taken by private car to the hospital.

The Federal Aviation Administration will be on scene Saturday to investigate.


Rebuilder reunites veterans, memories

Three veteran airmen of World War II got their wings back Tuesday, thanks to an aircraft restoration firm at Chino Airport.

John Minech, 94, Robert Vanderhagen, 93, and Raymond Holmes, 95, had heard through the grapevine about the Douglas A20 Havoc being restored at Chino Airport by Aero Trader.

The warbird restoration and maintenance company, operated by Carl Scholl of Chino and Tony Ritzman of Ontario, had been working on the old bird for about seven years. They flew it for the first time in July and it became the subject of an article in Air Classics magazine.

Capt. Minech, Lt. Vanderhagen and Lt. Holmes, all of Southern California, accompanied by family members, had an emotional reunion with the warbird at Aero Trader’s hangars. All three had flown A20s during World War II, when 6,000 were built.

Capt. Minech served in the Ninth Air Force in Europe. Lt. Vanderhagen and Lt. Holmes served in the same outfit, the Fifth Air Force in the Pacific, but did not know each other. Lt. Holmes’ granddaughter lives in Chino.

Lt. Vanderhagen spent the morning and early afternoon at Aero Trader, Mr. Scholl said. Capt. Minech and Lt. Holmes arrived later and remained for a couple hours each. All three witnessed the A20 taxiing, taking off and flying, Mr. Scholl said.

A fourth Army Air Forces veteran, Charles Jerman, 98, was unable to attend Tuesday’s reunion but had seen the restored aircraft a few weeks earlier.

Lt. Jerman served in the 15th Air Force in Italy, was shot down and imprisoned by the Germans, according to his unpublished book.

The A20 restored by Aero Trader is the only one flying in the world, Mr. Scholl said. To restore it at Chino Airport was appropriate, he added, because many A20s were scrapped there at the conclusion of the war.

Chino Airport was then known as Cal Aero Field, a pilot training base.

Douglas built the A20 in Santa Monica.

The owner of the restored A20, collector Rod Lewis of Texas, is expected to take delivery next week, Mr. Scholl said. Mr. Lewis, owner of Lewis Air Legends, acquired the A20 several years ago and hired Aero Trader to restore it to World War II configuration.

Mr. Scholl said he is beginning restoration work on a second A20.

“Tuesday was a salute to our veterans by giving these airmen and their families the opportunity to see the plane they flew and remember the times they spent defending our great nation. None of these four men ever thought they would see an A20 fly again in their lifetime. That day also represented the resurrection to flying condition of a plane that could have met its fate at the scrapper’s hand at Chino, but did not,” Mr. Scholl said.

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