Tuesday, December 1, 2015

30 new hangars planned at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL)



Nearly a decade after first proposing a major addition to Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport, Windsor developer Martin Lind is back with new plans for the airport.

Lind presented preliminary plans to the new Northern Colorado Regional Airport Commission last week that propose building about 30 hangars and two large commercial buildings on roughly 50 acres.

If approved by the commission, which now oversees the municipally owned airport, the airport would lease land to Lind and his company, Water Valley.

Whether the project moves forward rests on the ability to negotiate favorable lease terms — a minimum of 50 years — with the commission, Lind said.

"The critical question is can we get a lease that entices private development on public land," he said. As airport governance changed from Fort Collins and Loveland city councils to a regional airport commission, Lind said the business model sought to entice private equity.

"We're honoring that business plan with this proposal," he said. "We're hoping we can get a recommendation from (airport) staff in the near future that is positive."

If that happens, Water Valley would serve as the master developer, lease the land from the airport and then go into the market to find aviation-related parties to build or lease existing space.

The airport has seen significant growth in its amount of corporate and business users within the last three years, necessitating more hangars, airport manager Jason Licon said. The airport currently owns 40 of the roughly 200 hangars on site. All of the hangars are leased.

"The airport has doubled its corporate aviation," Licon said. "That trend has really grown, so the amount of space available for those types of users is maximized with what currently exists. Water Valley is trying to capture the market demand that has shown growth over the last few years."

To entice corporate traffic to the airport "it has to have world-class facilities," Lind said. "Safety and reliability is No. 1. You can't have a $50 million jet and have a hangar door that's broke so you can't get in or out. We just don't have any facilities."

The airport has seen no private investments in 30 years while the area around the facility has seen "billions of dollars of private investments," Lind said.   "It isn't that the area isn't growing and in need of corporate travel; it just simply has been hard to do that. We're hoping to change that."

Lind's plan would be phased in as the market demands.

If the project were to go forward, Lind said he hopes to make a hard marketing push next year. "If it's delayed too long we will miss another year and I will be like a Labrador puppy and a butterfly and I will go chase after something new."

Developing part of the airport has long been on Lind's wish list. Prior to the recession, he had plans to develop 225 acres in two parcels north and east of the airport . He envisioned aviation-related businesses such as airplane or parts manufacturers, new engine technology companies and services including high-end hangars. He also wanted to add a fixed-base operator, or FBO, that would provide fuel, oxygen, catering and even a restaurant.

Plans stalled when the economy took a nosedive and Lind sold a portion of the property.

- Source:  http://www.coloradoan.com

Former stealth pilot: Unmanned aircraft taking over more pilot roles

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE —

A former test pilot of America’s most advanced stealth fighter jet says unmanned aircraft will take over more and more roles pilots once did, but the era of humans in the cockpit hasn’t passed into history.

“You see ever increasing capabilities from the unmanned vehicle,” said Paul Metz, 70, a Springfield native. “I don’t think the day of the pilot in the airplane is over, but certainly there are tasks now that are being taken over by the unmanned vehicles that would previously be done by a human pilot.”

In “risky areas,” UAVs might be flown to avoid the loss of a pilot, added the former Air Force aviator who flew combat missions in Vietnam.

The Ohio State University and Northeastern High School graduate was Lockheed Martin’s chief test pilot flying the F-22 Raptor. Metz was set to talk about the stealth fighter jet’s history at a Dec. 1 lecture at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force’s latest generation fighter jets, the F-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, are the only high-tech fighters in the U.S. fleet capable of surviving the most heavily defended enemy airspace ringed with advanced surface-to-air missiles, modern fighters and airborne early warning systems, Metz said.

“The reality is that we could find these weapons anywhere in the world facing us and they are so potent that the conventional fighters simply cannot penetrate into enemy airspace without suffering massive losses,” he said.

“I would offer for your consideration Syria,” he said. “The Russians moved in there very quickly and they can move in all of those high-tech weapons so we could face a formidable threat anywhere in the world today.”

Metz flew the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-23A Black Widow II prototype in the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition and later flew an early test model of the F-22A. The YF-22 and YF-23, both prototypes, competed in a fly-off to land an Air Force fighter contract to replace the F-15 Eagle.

The Air Force said both jets met the competition’s requirements. The F-22 was chosen in 1991.

Metz declined to comment on which plane was best. “The answer is no one knows because no pilot was allowed to fly both of the prototypes, the YF-22 and the YF-23, so nobody ever made that comparison,” he said.

But, the pilot added, both advanced fighter jets had “superb” handling capabilities. “They feel right, they fly right, they’re very forgiving so both airplanes were marvels of the aeronautical art.”

Both the F-22 and the YF-23 are in the museum’s collection. The YF-23 is temporarily off public display until a new gallery hangar opens next June.

The Air Force initially targeted buying 750 of F-22s, but the Pentagon slashed the number to 187 and ended production of the fifth-generation fighter.

Stealth significantly reduces the ability to spot the jet on radar, observers say. The F-22 has a “super-cruise” mode and thrust-vectoring engines to maneuver at angles in flight conventional fighters can’t reach.

“The F-22’s key to success is not to do any of those maneuvers,” the test pilot said. “It remains hidden, by its low observable nature, and it simply shoots and destroys other airplanes and they never even see it.”

Source:  http://www.mydaytondailynews.com

Compass Airlines gives first-year pilots 40 percent raise: Agreement raises first year, First Officer pay to one of the highest in the regional airline industry

Compass Airlines Raises First Year Pilot Pay to $35.81 per Flight Hour 

Compass Airlines has agreed to increase pay and benefits for some of its 720 pilots.

The contract amendment hikes pay 40 percent for first-year first officers from $25.54 per flight hour to $35.81, a spokeswoman said. The new contract also gives four paid hotel stays per month to commuting pilots, who had none before the change.

The changes took effect Nov. 1 after the Minneapolis-based carrier and its pilot union agreed to open the May 2014 contract for amendments.

Compass Airlines CEO Rick Leach called the new deal "mutually beneficial."
"This agreement gives Compass the tools it needs to remain competitive in the regional airline marketplace," he said in a news release.

"The recent mediated settlement agreement has addressed a number of issues that will improve all our pilots' quality of life," Compass Air Lines Pilots Association group leader Anthony Zerafa said in the joint statement.

Compass pilots fly Embraer 170 and 175 regional jets for Delta Air Lines Inc. as Delta Connection and American Airlines as American Eagle. Based out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the carrier has crew bases in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Compass says it averages more than 220 daily North American flights serving more than 4 million passengers a year. The carrier is adding 20 Embraer 175 aircraft to its fleet this year, which it expects will increase passenger traffic by 36 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Source:  http://www.bizjournals.com

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Compass Airlines is pleased to announce that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for its pilot group has been amended to increase first year, First Officer pay to $35.81 per flight hour. 

An additional highlight of the amended CBA is the provision of four paid hotel stays per month for commuting pilots.  The amendment also gives Compass the flexibility to quickly raise first year pay in response to market conditions.  The agreement was reached as part of a voluntary mediated settlement of a number of outstanding issues between Compass Airlines and its pilot group, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

"We are delighted that the global resolution process has resulted in an agreement that is mutually beneficial for both parties, and allows us to move forward with an amended agreement that increases compensation for Compass pilots," said Rick Leach, Chief Executive Officer of Compass Airlines.  "Additionally, this agreement gives Compass the tools it needs to remain competitive in the regional airline marketplace."

Anthony Zerafa, the leader of the Compass ALPA pilot group said, "The recent mediated settlement agreement has addressed a number of issues that will improve all our pilots' quality of life. We are dedicated to continue working on behalf of all of our pilots to ensure Compass' continued success."

The amendments to the contract are effective immediately.  

About Compass Airlines

Compass Airlines serves over 4 million passengers annually, averaging over 220 daily departures to destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Compass operates a fleet of Embraer 170/175 aircraft on behalf of American Airlines (as American Eagle) and Delta Air Lines (as Delta Connection), and is in the midst of major growth, adding 20 Embraer 175 aircraft to its fleet in 2015.  This growth is projected to increased passenger traffic by 36% between 2015 and 2016.  Headquartered in Minneapolis, Compass has crew bases in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle.

SOURCE:  http://www.prnewswire.com

Lasers pointed at 2 aircraft in Palm Beach County: Delta flight targeted near Lake Worth inlet

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Federal investigators are trying to track down the people who pointed lasers towards aircraft flying over Palm Beach County Monday night.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Delta flight headed to Palm Beach International Airport was one of the targets.

The flight was coming in from LaGuardia Airport in New York, according to the FAA.

Authorities say the Boeing 717 was flying over Lake Worth around 9:30 p.m. when it was targeted by the laser.

The other incident happened to a U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 helicopter.

According to the Coast Guard, the helicopter was flying near Lake Okeechobee when it was targeted Monday night around 8:30 p.m.

The pilot had to undergo a medical evaluation, but was not injured.

Authorities say if a pilot encounters a laser strike, they can suffer temporary blindness. It could also lead to permanent damage to someone's vision.

Josh Duggan has been a helicopter pilot for fifteen years and also pilots Chopper 5.

Three years ago, he says his chopper was targeted by someone with a laser pointer while working in Ohio.

"When you're in the air and the laser's pointed at you, you don't know exactly how it's going to hit you or how powerful it is," he says.

He says helicopter pilots can easily maneuver themselves away from the laser, but it's not as easy for a commercial pilot.

Both pilots were not injured Monday night.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, it is a 3rd degree felony to point a laser toward an aircraft.

If someone is injured, it is considered a 2nd degree felony, and if an aircraft were to crash because of a laser it's considered a 1st degree felony.

The NTSB, FAA and FBI are all aware of the crimes that happened in Palm Beach County Monday night.

According to the FAA, there have been 26 cases of this happening so far at PBIA this year, and a total of 465 across the state.

Story and video:  http://www.wptv.com

Regional Airlines Seek Reduced Minimum Pilot-Experience Mandate: Goal is to raise safety bar while fixing “a broken pipeline” that is already producing too few acceptable applicants

The Wall Street Journal
By ANDY PASZTOR
Updated Dec. 1, 2015 4:42 p.m. ET


U.S. regional airlines are seeking to persuade regulators to roll back minimum-experience requirements before many future co-pilots are hired, while proposing to significantly enhance training and supervision once they start flying passengers.

The initiative, which hasn’t been reported before, lays out a potential alternate path to the cockpit for starting aviators, including time sitting in airliner jump seats as observers, more-frequent proficiency checks by carriers, beefed-up stall-recovery training and a year or more of formal mentoring by senior pilots. Primary elements of the plan were laid out in draft documents and interviews with officials of the Regional Airline Association, the trade group advocating such changes.

With regional carriers pledging to step up both initial and recurrent training programs for new co-pilots, or first officers, the goal is to raise the safety bar while fixing “a broken pipeline” that is already producing too few acceptable applicants, according to Faye Malarkey Black, the association’s president.

“We want all new pilots to be better trained,” she said in an interview Tuesday, adding that proponents “want to see this as an industrywide solution” that is “safer because we leave nothing to chance.”

Aiming to challenge the currently mandated 1,500-hour flight time standard for all U.S. airline pilots -- perhaps the most controversial issue confronting the country’s carriers -- the association over the past few months quietly assembled a package designed to alleviate what its members describe as a worsening shortage of would-be first officers.

Expected to be formally presented to the Federal Aviation Administration after more details are hammered out, the current proposal doesn’t specify alternate flight time requirements for candidates who would participate in individual airline-run programs. At this point FAA policy makers—as well as an agency-sponsored labor-industry advisory committee—appear opposed to dramatic reductions in mandatory experience for average new cockpit hires.

Under provisions previously endorsed by lawmakers and regulators, former military pilots and graduates of four-year college or university aviation programs already can cut minimum-experience requirements by hundreds of hours.

The proposal takes a different tack than another recently disclosed attempt, by JetBlue Airways Corp., to recruit students without any cockpit experience and immerse them in airline-style training to show proficiency can be achieved with far fewer hours than the FAA and Congress now demand.

In the U.S., fledgling pilots usually pay to log hours in smaller aircraft in order to apply for an airline job and then receive training on specific commercial aircraft. But like other critics of the existing regulatory structure, regional airline leaders have argued many prospective pilots are discouraged by the fact that it typically takes several years and often more than $120,000 to build up the necessary hours.

“I don’t think I have a single carrier that has not been impacted” by dwindling pilot availability, said Ms. Black, whose association represents some two dozen regional carriers across North America. They operate roughly half of all passenger flights nationwide.

Details of the package called ACE, standing for air carrier enhanced training, have been disclosed in briefings to lawmakers and regulators.

The plan takes students with time in small airplanes and then subjects them to a training technique widely relied on by foreign airlines but traditionally shunned in the U. S: requiring trainees to sit in jump seats as a way to become familiar with cockpit practices and air-traffic control procedures.

In addition, new co-pilots would be subject to proficiency checks every six months, rather than today’s typical annual schedule. They would fly passengers under the direct supervision of senior captains, called check airmen, for twice as long as they generally do; and would be subject to continuing evaluations by regular captains—and data would be collected from these assessments -- during their first year of employment.

The ACE package also includes more training emphasis on hot-button safety topics such as improving manual flying skills, responding to high-altitude stalls, recovering from extreme upsets and better understanding aerodynamic and human factors principles.

But the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest North American pilot union, remains opposed to wholesale reductions in experience for entry-level aviators. President Tim Canoll has said that preserving the 1,500-hour mandate is one of ALPA’s top priorities. And for years, union leaders have strongly urged FAA officials to resist industry pressure to lower that threshold.

According to Ms. Black, regional carriers gradually have changed some training regimes to reflect greater knowledge and causes of recent accidents. “It is a collaborative effort” with labor and regulators, she said, and “we’ve done some due diligence” to pave the way for the eventual final proposal.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

FOX21 debuts first drone cleared for media use in Colorado

KXRM/FOX21 News recently announced the debut of their drone, SKYFOX21. The 4K (4 times the resolution of high definition TV) drone is the first federally sanctioned quadcopter aircraft cleared for media use in Colorado. The drone, SKYFOX21, is a DJI Inspire 1 model and provides 360 degree views from aloft. THE FAA granted Media General, FOX21’s parent company, the ability to fly the drone. 

Media drones must be operated by a licensed pilot alongside a trained observer, in KXRM’s case, usually a station camera operator, and requires strict adherence to Federal Aviation Administration standards and guidelines. Piloting SKYFOX21 is Josh Kimmel, a licensed pilot who has gone through rigorous training and has met all FAA regulations.

I recently met with Kimmel and FOX21 news director Joe Cole. Kimmel showed me the drone and gave a quick demonstration on how it works. Surprisingly, all he used to pilot it was a small iPad attached to a remote device slightly larger than an Xbox controller. Despite both the drone and the controls being relatively petite, Kimmel was able to manipulate SKYFOX21 with great precision. Cole later answered some questions about the station’s plans for the drone. His answers are below. 

Gazette: How often have you used the drone since your first broadcast with it on Nov. 16?

Cole: So far we have used the drone three times. Our first flight was in Black Forest to show all of the snow in that area after the first big snow storm of the season. We also worked with The Broadmoor to fly Seven Falls. The video from Seven Falls exploded on our Facebook page with over 111,000 views and 2600 shares and still counting. 

Gazette: Will you always point out to the audience when it's used? 

Cole: Yes. Anytime we use the drone video, viewers will be able to tell because we will have our SKYFOX21 drone logo in the corner.  

Gazette: Is it cost prohibitive to use it for things that aren't quite as "news" heavy, like the Balloon Glow? Or are you planning to use it sparingly, like for fires or major events? 
Cole: The main operating cost to the station will be paying our commercial pilot. We have already used the drone for a grass fire in El Paso County near Yoder. We plan to use the drone whenever we feel it adds something to a story. Our goal is to give unique perspectives only FOX21 can offer by using the drone.

Gazette: Do you have any restrictions on how it can be used either by the FAA or a media organization?

Cole: SKYFOX21 will stay well clear of people and structures without their prior consent. We only fly below 200 feet above ground level. The aircraft must be controlled by our licensed commercial airplane pilot and he or she must be assisted by a visual observer to maintain safe flight at all times. A NOTAM (notice to airmen) must be filed with the FAA in advance to provide adequate warning to manned aircraft. We must also keep a log with the FAA on all of our flights. We cannot fly at night. Amateur operators do not have the same strict rules we have.

Gazette: Will law enforcement have an issue with you using it at a crime scene?

Cole: At the fire in El Paso County the sheriff deputies asked us to not fly directly over the fire since it was active and considered a potential crime scene. We intend to work with law enforcement any time a crime scene is involved. We are going to be extremely responsible with the drone. Our pilot is also extremely conscientious of the rules, because he can lose his license if he violates the rules.

Gazette: Can you use it in real time or does its video have to be tape delayed?

Cole: We can go live in the air with the drone. 

Gazette: What are the expenses to run it? What are its dimensions (height, weight)?

Cole: The main expense was the purchase price ($8,000). Expenses going forward will be routine maintenance and paying our pilot. It’s 17.24 x 17.75 x 11.85 inches. It weighs about 6.5 pounds.

Gazette: Do you anticipate other local stations getting their own drones? 

Cole: FOX21 is the first station in Colorado and one of just a handful in the nation to operate their own drone. The legal hurdles are significant and it requires significant planning and resources. As restrictions are relaxed and costs come down, commercially operated drones will become more common news gathering tools. The FAA granted Media General, KXRM FOX21’s parent company, the ability to fly this specific drone for news gathering purposes.

Source:  http://gazette.com

McCook Regional Airport (KMCK) advisory board prefers Boutique

McCOOK, Neb. -- City leaders hope a new airline can reverse the decreasing trend in commercial passenger counts facing McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport in recent years. The Airport Advisory Commission unanimously supported awarding the bid for essential air service at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport to Boutique Air, Monday afternoon, after reviewing proposals from three airlines.

Boutique Air received glowing reviews from airport staff working with them in Alliance, Nebraska.

"They said the pilots were nothing short of outstanding," said Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff while recapping his findings to the advisory commission.

Staff members at the Alliance airport said the airline experienced minor growing pains after taking over commercial air service but told Potthoff, "if anything, they are running ahead of schedule."

Potthoff said he was also encouraged by reports the airline was willing to add flights if passenger counts warranted and worked with the airport to achieve the most efficient flight schedule. Boutique also hinted at the possibility of charter service from McCook to eastern Nebraska in addition to the daily flights to Denver, Colorado, according to Potthoff.

The commission's recommendation will now go to the McCook City Council during a meeting scheduled on Dec. 7, with a recommendation due from City Council to the Department of Transportation by Dec. 17. The air service contract between the airport and Great Lakes does not expire until June of 2016, although Boutique Air's proposal indicates the airline could begin service 60-90 days after selection as the EAS carrier for McCook.

The commission reviewed proposals received from Boutique Air, Aerodynamics Inc. and Great Lakes Aviation. All three airlines proposed two-round trip daily flights to Denver with fares less than $100 one-way.

City Manager Nate Schneider said the city was excited to have three separate bids although he admitted to having anxiety related to the bid from Great Lakes. Great Lakes is the current commercial air service provider at the McCook airport and has been for several years.

Schneider said inconsistent service has led him to believe it's probably time to move in a different direction. He said city staff reached out to Great Lakes in recent months, stemming from concerns raised by the Airport Advisory Commission, and he didn't believe they even received a response from the airline.

Commission members seemed to agree it was time for a change and indicated it was difficult to trust portions of the Great Lakes proposal given the airline's service level and ticket prices in recent years.

Schneider said both the ADI and Boutique bids were viable options, although, he said the ADI bid may be unrealistic given the expense involved and lack of time for budgeting and research.

McCook is a Part 139 Class 3 airport and would need to meet requirements of a Class 2 airport, and possibly a Class 1, to accommodate the 50-passenger regional jet proposed by ADI, according to city staff. The change would require the purchase of a larger crash truck for the airport as well as additional emergency response staff stationed at the airport on a regular basis, according to McCook Fire Chief Marc Harpham.

Harpham estimated the new crash truck to cost $750,000 and said the additional staff stemmed from a 3-minute response time requirement for Class 1 airports. He said there were other expenses to consider as well, including $48,000 in foam and dry chemicals that would be required.

Schneider said grant funding could be available that would offset the expense of a crash truck but there wasn't time to research those options before a decision needed to be made. He also said the Environmental Protection Agency would require an environmental study related to noise levels as part of the classification change, which Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff estimated to cost another $45,000. Schneider also said such a change might necessitate the hiring of an airport manager.

A variety of obstacles made the ADI bid difficult to envision at this point-in-time, said Schneider, adding it could be something to consider in the future. Airport Advisory Commission President Richard Stull voiced his agreement. Stull said he liked the proposal but didn't think the city was prepared to undertake the cost at this time.

Schneider said the only calls he had received from area residents were in support of going with the ADI passenger jet service, which he said he had no problem looking at for the future.

"We need a couple of years to even plan and make sure it's feasible. A twenty day decision just seems foolish to me," said Schneider. Schneider also raised concerns relating to the 2-year nature of the contract and possibility of the city investing in the airport only to have ADI decide the contract wasn't worth renewing.

 Source: http://www.mccookgazette.com

S. Korea clears Brazilian-made jet for passenger service

SEJONG, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday cleared a Brazilian-made regional jet for passenger operations here so it can start commercial flights in the first half of 2016.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said an aircraft and engine safety validation certificate has been given to Embraer S.A.'s EMB-145EP twin-engine jet.

"The plane with a range of 2,800 kilometers and able to carry 50 people will be operated by Korea Express Air," a ministry official said. "The air passenger service company will use Yangyang International Airport as its hub, with initial flights to connect Yangyang to Gimhae and Gwangju."

He said the EMB-145EP is also the first plane made in the South American country to be approved in South Korea. Almost all planes flown by South Korean carriers are made in the United States or Europe.

The ministry said the Korea Institute of Aviation Safety Technology reviewed paperwork and data related to the aircraft, as well as checked the aircraft's manufacturer to make certain all measures have been taken to ensure the plane can be flown safely.

Once the regional aviation administration issues separate airworthiness and air operator certificates (AOC), the plane will be able to start passenger service.

Airworthiness checks see if a plane meets performance requirements to operate safely, while the AOC reviews the ability of an airline company.

Initially, Korea Express Air plans to bring in one aircraft, but this could increase if there is more demand.

"The regional jet can enhance the convenience of people using small regional airports," the ministry said.

It said once the new planes go into operations the government will beef up monitoring and oversight to make certain the planes fly safely and meet all flight operating rules.

Source: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr

Switzerland to launch 24-hour air police service

By 2020, the Swiss army will have two F/A-18 jets ready to take off, fully armed, within 15 minutes at any time of the day or night. The initiative follows a 2009 Senate motion to guarantee the availability of air police services. 

The Swiss defense ministry announced Tuesday that the new project, dubbed PA24, is expected to create 100 new jobs and cost CHF30 million ($29 million) – mostly in employee salaries. The main air base will be the Payerne Airfield in the canton of Vaud.

The ministry stated that the air police service will have two main charges: to intercept aircraft that seriously violate traffic laws or the sovereignty of Swiss airspace, and to carefully monitor and control “diplomatic clearance” for aircraft from foreign states.

PA24 will be launched in four stages beginning in 2016, when the two jets will be made available Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, 50 weeks of the year. By 2017, the planes will be available every day of the year, and by 2019, their standby window will be extended to 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Finally, in 2020, the air policing service will be at the ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Long-standing plans

In February 2014, the Swiss Air Force made international headlines when it failed to intervene in an incident that culminated in a hijacked plane landing in Geneva at 6:02am, because it occurred “outside of office hours”. In the end, Italian and French jets had to be summoned to escort the plane, which had been diverted from its original course from Addis Ababa to Rome by an Ethiopian Airlines pilot attempting to seek political asylum in Switzerland.

However, the PA24 project is not a response to the 2014 event. Rather, it follows a motion approved by the Senate in 2009, which allocated funds to the Air Force to guarantee the availability of police services outside normal working hours.

Source:  http://www.swissinfo.ch

Air Force planes at Skiatook Municipal Airport (2F6) to be restored

An effort is underway to provide a face-lift for the two United States Air Force jets that have been displayed at the Skiatook Airport for many years.

“Due to time and weather the aircraft have lost their luster and are in bad need of cleaning, painting, some minor structural repairs, and new decals” said Gary Lanham. The aircraft, T-33 Trainer and T-37 Trainer, belong to the National Museum of the United States (NMUSAF) at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. They are on loan to the Skiatook Municipal Airport, which must be renewed every two years.

Reid (Bill) Williams, a local Skiatook citizen initiated an effort to address this concern. “It just made me sick to drive by those planes every day and see them in that condition,” said Williams.

After an evaluation of the aircraft by two Air National Guard technicians, recommendations were provided in writing. SMSgt Reese Skinner and SMSgt Andrew Shipman provided the evaluation. SMSgt Skinner is the primary person responsible for the many static displays at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base. A report and summary of needed actions were delivered to Brad White, Skiatook Public Works Director.

After a review with city leadership authorization was given to proceed with the project beginning with a planning meeting recently conducted. The team currently consists of Bill Williams, Brad White, Gary Lanham, Kevin Paslay, and Shawn Martin. More are likely to join the team as particular skills sets are identified.

The team pledges to complete the needed repairs and restoration at no cost to the city. Work will be done over the spring with plans to be completed by October 2016.

Source:  http://www.tulsaworld.com

Houston County commissioners go on a spending spree

PERRY -- The Houston County Commission spent a lot of money Tuesday, including funding for new buildings, vehicles and equipment.

The biggest expenditure was a $2.6 million contract with International City Builders to construct a fire station on Ga. 247 and two hangars at the Perry-Houston County Airport. One of the hangars is for a Georgia State Patrol helicopter unit and the other is for private planes.

The new fire station will be located next to Perdue Farms south of Bonaire.

Also the county approved funding for a new John Deere 300G excavator for the road department costing $237,430 from Flint Equipment Co. of Macon. The road department also got three new Ford F-350 crew cab trucks for $27,954 each from Perry Ford.

The sheriff's office got a new Ford F-250 truck for its bomb-sniffing dog unit. The truck, coming from Allan Vigil Ford in Morrow for $26,994, is paid for with a state grant.

The water department got a new Ford F-150 XL truck with an 8-foot bed for $20,451, and two new Ford F-150 XL trucks with 6-foot beds for $20,225 each. Brannen Motor Co. of Unadilla was the low bidder.

The fire department got $148,611 in new equipment, including defibrillators, trauma bags and thermal imagers, for two new fire trucks the department is getting.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said excavation work has already begun on the three buildings. With the approval of the contract, he said the buildings should start going up in January.

The fire station and Georgia State Patrol hangar are expected to take about a year to finish. The hangar for private planes should be finished sooner.

That hangar has been needed due to a backlog of people who have been seeking to keep their planes out of the weather. Rental fees will generate revenue for the airport.

Read more here: http://www.macon.com

Opinion: Hartford Should Promote Brainard Airport (KHFD) — A Great Urban Asset

Mayor-elect Luke Bronin has said he wants to explore economic development opportunities in the city's South Meadows, among other places, a step that is likely to revive a discussion of the future of Brainard Airport.

With the city's unemployment rate the highest in the state, Mr. Bronin is right to make jobs a top priority and to put everything on the table. The more effort and imagination that can be applied to job creation, the better. The question with the Brainard property is how it will best serve the city's economy.

We think its highest and best use is as an airport, but with better marketing and a higher profile.

For at least three decades, off and on, Hartford politicians have toyed with the idea of trying to close the historic 201-acre airport and using the land for some kind of economic development. It might be illustrative to look at why that hasn't happened.

Brainard, the state's busiest general aviation airport, is designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a "reliever airport," which, as the name suggests, means it is to relieve congestion at commercial service airports such as Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.

Were Brainard to close, some of its general and corporate traffic would presumably move to Bradley, adding congestion at a time when the Connecticut Aviation Authority is trying to expand commercial service at the larger airport.

Corporate

According to its most recent business plan from 2012, about 15 percent of Brainard's air operations are corporate. Corporations like the in-town airport for time-sensitive delivery and transport of key personnel.

Brainard has accepted FAA funds to upgrade the facility. Were it to close, grants would have to be returned. That would be about $4 million today and $9 million by 2019, according to the Connecticut Airport Authority, which owns the airport.

Brainard is an economic engine, if not exactly a Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1000G. The airport employs about 160 people, two-thirds of them full time, at more than a dozen aviation-related businesses, and has an overall economic impact of $44.9 million, according to the business plan. The state police helicopter is based at Brainard, Hartford Health Care's Life Star helicopter uses the airport, and it is the site of Connecticut Aero Tech, a state vocational training school for aircraft mechanics.

And yet it seems like a well-kept secret, stuck off by itself, hard to get to, not well signed, known only to the aviation community. We've heard of people who've gotten to Brainard thinking it was Bradley.

Promote It

Perhaps this relative anonymity is because the city has never, at least in recent memory, embraced, promoted and marketed the airport.

For example, state law allows for the creation of airport development zones around airports. These extend enterprise-zone tax incentives to manufacturers and related businesses that acquire or develop property in the zone and that create jobs.

Bradley has such a zone, and so does Waterbury-Oxford, but not Brainard-Hartford. It should. There is developable land near Brainard, with easy access to the highway as well as the airport.

Also, the airport should be promoted for special events. Pro golfers use it for the Travelers Championship. In 2007 and 2011, the city, the Connecticut Convention Center and Brainard hosted the annual three-day summit of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, many of whom live within easy flying distance.

This is the time to get the airport on the front burner, in part because the airport authority is effecting a land swap with the Metropolitan District Commission that will allow a slight expansion of the main runway, thus allowing slightly larger jets to land there.

An urban airport is an asset that cannot be easily replicated. Let's use it to boost our urban economy.

Source:  http://www.courant.com/opinion