Thursday, December 03, 2015

Opinion: Look to Chino for airport-housing harmony

By Mark DiLullo

As a pilot with more than 17,000 flight hours and the owner of one of the largest private aviation operations in San Bernardino County, Threshold Aviation Group, I’m confident that the planned project by Diversified Pacific can peacefully – and more importantly, safely – coexist with the current operations at the Redlands Airport.

At my company’s home, Chino Airport, we experienced a situation similar to what is happening in Redlands, but on a much larger scale because the airport is busier and the homes in question were located even closer.

After moving from our original location at the Ontario Airport 10 years ago, we were surrounded mainly by dairy operations.

Eventually, a very large, master planned community of about 10,000 homes was proposed 1,400 feet south of our runway. This project is now building out and, to this day, we operate with homes approximately one quarter of a mile from our front door.

Despite this, we have had very few issues with the surrounding neighborhoods – none that could not be worked out by people of goodwill and understanding. 

In fact, members of the community join us for our air shows and our annual Hope, Love & Charity event, in addition to our wine tastings and tours.

This proactive approach has built a positive relationship between Threshold, the airport in general and our homeowner neighbors.

Personally, I feel it’s a better approach than the one recently developed by some airport supporters who oppose the Diversified Pacific home development.

A careful review of the facts will demonstrate that the developer is in full compliance with the city planning policy – a policy that allows for housing in that precise location. In fact, the developer is building at a lower density than the city’s General Plan allows for at that location.

There are also full disclosure statements that the homeowners must review and sign as part of the home buying process; these statements notify them that they are buying a home near an operating airport.

Because of Redlands’ rich history in citrus growing, the developer has dedicated eight acres of the project to a new orange grove.

So what can and should the pilots’ response to the further development of the community surrounding them be? Work with the city and the development company and, if necessary, alter flight paths.

The property that is flown over by aircraft out of the Redlands Airport does not belong to the pilots, so it is difficult to argue that their rights are being compromised. Why not fly the helicopters in the north traffic pattern away from land intended for residential development for more than 25 years?

The north portion of the airport is optimal for airplanes and helicopters, and the property naturally slopes away from the end of the runway, providing more altitude for takeoffs and landings and a riverbed in the event of an emergency. Also, airplanes and helicopters routinely operate in the same traffic pattern with separation provided by altitude. They often do it here at the Chino Airport.

In densely populated areas such as Southern California, aviation is going to be surrounded by development. The land is simply in too high-demand to leave open space. Those in the aviation community need to accept this fact and work with the communities where they operate, like we have done with our neighbors.

It is my belief that this approach will eliminate the need to pick a fight, and will lead to many more happy landings.

Mark DiLullo.

Original article can be found here:

Piper PA-46 Mirage, N546C, Golf Whiskey LLC: Accident occurred December 03, 2015 in Mammoth, California


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA069
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 03, 2015 in Mammoth, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA 46-350P, registration: N546C
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, he checked the winds via his onboard weather reporting device during the run-up, and he stated that the 25 knot wind sock was about ¾ full just moments before the takeoff roll. He reported that during the takeoff roll the airplane encountered a significant wind gust from the right. He stated that the wind gust forced the airplane to exit the left side of the runway, the landing gear collapsed, and the airplane collided with metal pylons which surrounded the wind sock. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, fuselage, horizontal stabilizer and elevator. 

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical failures or anomalies prior to or during the flight that would have prevented normal flight operation.

According to the Airport/Facility Directory, the Airport Remarks state:

Airport located in mountainous terrain with occasional strong winds and turbulence. Lighted windsock available at runway ends and centerfield. With southerly crosswinds in excess of 15 knots, experiencing turbulence and possible windshear along first 3000´ of Runway 27.

The reported wind at the airport during the time of the accident was from 200 degrees true at 22 knots, with gusts at 33 knots, and the departure runway heading was 27.

According to the pilot operating hand book the maximum demonstrated crosswind component for this airplane is 17 knots. The crosswind component during the time of the accident was 26 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to takeoff in high crosswind conditions resulting in the inability to maintain an adequate crosswind correction, consequently failing to maintain directional control and departing the runway, and subsequently colliding with fixed airfield equipment.

On December 3, San Diego residents Jerry Black, along with his passenger Larry Gallego, crashed in Black’s Piper Mirage airplane into a field at Mammoth Yosemite Airport (seven miles from Mammoth Lakes).

According to police and Sierra Wave Media, while attempting to take off, high winds forced the plane into the field’s “segmented circle” — a near-the-runway circle of metal signage used as a traffic-pattern aid for aircraft. One of the plane’s wings was torn off.

In an interview with Mammoth Lakes Police Department officer Grant Zemel, he said Black sustained minor injuries to his head but medical aid was not needed.

A light winter storm was predicted for December 3, bringing erratic wind speeds, reportedly at 35 knots (about 40 MPH), at the time of the crash.

Zemel believes Black turned into the gusty wind for take-off, then the wind stopped, and he assumed it would burst again. “That’s my guess,” said Zemel.

The airport was reopened at 2:30 p.m., two hours after the incident. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the accident. 

The airport’s manager says Black’s insurance company will eventually pick up the wreckage for repair or salvage.

The airport runway paralleling Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierras is often subject to heavy eastwardly crosswinds coming off the Sierra Nevada mountain range from the west. 

Mammoth’s commercial flights from LAX, San Diego, and San Francisco on Alaska and United Airlines are often canceled or delayed when winter storms approach. 


Mammoth Lakes, CA – At approximately 12:35 PM on Thursday, December 3, 2015, the Mammoth Lakes Police Department received a call reporting an airplane down at the Mammoth Yosemite Airport (KMMH). 

 Mammoth Lakes Police Department, along with Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Long Valley Fire Department, Mono County Sheriff’s Office, and airport personnel responded to the scene.

A Piper Mirage attempted to take-off from the runway with winds estimated at approximately 35 knots. 

On board was the pilot, Gerald Black, and his passenger, Lawrence Gallego – both of San Diego. 

The pilot sustained minor injuries when the aircraft hit the ground and plowed through the segmented circle at mid-field.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of this accident and will be conducting their investigations into the crash. 

The Mammoth Yosemite airport re-opened at 2:30 PM.

Officers/Agencies Involved:  Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Long Valley Fire Department, Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Mammoth Yosemite Airport Personnel.  


Allegiant: Pilots not negotiating in good faith

After months of insisting contract negotiations were making progress, Allegiant Air's chief operating officer sent a harshly worded letter this week to the airline's 500 pilots accusing their union of negotiating in bad faith.

"It is clear that (the union) remains uninterested in finding common ground, and uninterested in working with us to reach a deal that will give each of you a substantial pay increase, enhance benefits and greater opportunities for growth," said Allegiant COO Steve Harfst.

"The union continues to pursue a perplexing strategy of attempting to inflict economic harm on Allegiant and our team members, instead of advancing negotiations," he said. "We take the negotiations process very seriously. But we are increasingly concerned that (the union) representatives remain singularly focused on harming Allegiant and its employees."

The letter marks a change in tone by Allegiant in negotiations, though the company said it still does not agree with union officials who portray negotiations as being at an impasse. Such an impasse is a necessary step for pilots to receive federal approval to strike.

Harfst said in the letter both sides entered a mediation session Tuesday but that the Teamsters union, representing pilots, indicated it was not ready to talk. Later in the day, the union then presented proposals identical to those presented two months earlier, Harfst said.

Those proposals had apparently been rejected by the airline, which had already made "substantive responses" to them. Harfst did not provide detail in the letter about what the proposals were.

Union officials, meantime, criticized the airline's portrayal of negotiations.

"Allegiant executives continue to try to shortchange pilots and passengers while building company profits," the union said. "Time and again, Allegiant has brought proposals to the bargaining table that are non-starters because they undermine standards across the industry and will continue to result in high turnover at the company. We need Allegiant to get serious about a contract that recognizes the work of the pilots and prioritizes retention for an experienced team."

The union has previously asked the National Mediation Board to withdraw from negotiations. The board has not granted its approval, though it does not comment on pending mediation and has not said why it will not declare that negotiations are at an impasse.

A withdrawal from negotiations due to an impasse would allow outstanding contract issues to be decided by a neutral arbitrator. But if neither side agrees to third-party arbitration, the union has said, it might clear the way for a strike.

Any labor unrest that interrupts service would certainly have a large impact on St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, where 95 percent of passenger traffic is carried by Allegiant. The airport forecasts a record 1.6 million people will use the airport this year.

More than 98 percent of Allegiant's 473 pilots voted in January to authorize a strike, but a walkout was later blocked by a federal judge. The union has indicated that a release from negotiations by the National Mediation Board could clear the way for an eventual strike, assuming the sides refused to go to arbitration.

- Source:

IASCO Flight Training, Inc: New owners committed to stay in Redding, California

IASCO flight school student Burt Bai prepares a plane for storage after a training flight on Thursday.

REDDING, California - The Chinese company that purchased IASCO in Redding in March is working to rebuild the flight school.

On Tuesday, the Redding City Council approved a five-year lease agreement with IASCO for hangar/office space at Redding Municipal Airport.

IASCO plans to use the space, formerly occupied by Redding Aerotronics, for aircraft maintenance. The flight school had been doing its maintenance at Redding Jet Center before it signed the lease for the 3,200-square-foot hangar, Redding Support Services Director Rod Dinger said. The lease includes 9,100 square feet of apron.

It signals IASCO’s commitment to stay in Redding following speculation about the future of the school’s operations here after news that the company was for sale.

“We are pleased they are dedicated to stay here and rebuild the operation,” Dinger said. “... We were concerned over the reduction in activity.”

New CEO Luke Zhang has told Dinger that IASCO plans to add 170 students by August and is in the process of hiring more instructors and bringing on more aircraft.

News surfaced about a year ago that the local ownership group that purchased IASCO in 2012 was negotiating to sell the school. It was believed that a Chinese company was looking to buy IASCO.

The local ownership group included former State Sen. Maurice Johannessen, former SECO Manufacturing President Paul Ogden and Redding Distributing Co. President Dave Jensen. They paid $3 million for the 53-year-old firm that has operated in Redding since 2009.

Now IASCO is a subsidiary of Jiutian International Flight Academy (JTFA), based in Qingdao, a large port city in China’s eastern province of Shandong.

Zhang said JTFA was established 10 years ago and was looking to grow its operations overseas when it discovered IASCO was on the market. JTFA’s president visited Redding in October 2014 and started negotiating a deal.

“We are renting a new hangar because we are going to have more business here. We need a larger space to operate,” Zhang said.

IASCO’s enrollment has plunged from more than 150 students in 2011 to fewer than 30 today. Four years ago, the school had 55 staff members and now has about 30, Zhang said.

Zhang does not know why IASCO’s business fell off so much, only that the new owners are working hard to market the school again and build it back up. IASCO will continue to lease space in the Lockheed Drive building owned by Redding Distributing.

Ogden, one of the former owners, said the school was having problems before his group sold.

“We just had the wrong management in there. That is about all I can say,” Ogden said.

Ogden is happy to hear the new owners are staying in Redding and working to rebuild the program, which means more jobs.

Jensen of Redding Distributing didn’t necessarily agree with Ogden regarding poor management.

“I don’t know if we spent as much time and oversight that we probably should have done,” Jensen said. “We weren’t perfect in what we did but I think we left the business in good standing.”

In April 2014, IASCO and Central Washington University signed a five-year contract for IASCO to provide flight training services to the university’s aviation program. But the deal was in limbo while IASCO was in the process of being sold.

Zhang said IASCO and Central Washington University worked things out.

Sundaram Nataraja, chair of Central Washington’s aviation department, said IASCO provides the university with a fleet of 14 planes, 16 flight instructors and three mechanics to train students at Bowers Field in Ellensburg, Washington. There are 120 students enrolled in the program.

IASCO’s instructors are knowledgeable about Federal Aviation Administration rules and safety procedures, Nataraja said.

“Although we have had some difficulties with regard to availability of required number of aircraft and instructors to meet the needs of our students last year, as a school, we are happy with the current level of IASCO services,” Nataraja said in an email.

Meanwhile, in Redding, IASCO will pay $1,700 a month for its space at the airport and the rent is subject to a 3 percent annual escalation until it reaches $1,913 a month in the final year. The lease expires Dec. 1, 2020.

For Dinger, keeping IASCO in Redding is more than just having a flight school.

“It’s not just the economic impact at the airport,” Dinger said. “It is the impact on the community because of all the ancillary activity, the (students’) living expenses, the transportation, the goods they buy.”

Under the former owners, IASCO had contracts with four Chinese airlines. Going forward, the school will rely on its parent company, JTFA, to set up contracts with airlines, Zhang said.

Story and photo gallery:

Certified Flight Instructor Kellen Meyer (left) with IASCO flight school student Burt Bai talk after a training flight Thursday at Redding Municipal Airport.

Airport Manager's Tenure Marked by Controversy from the Start: Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

Sean Flynn became manager in 2005. 

It was a 10-year tenure that began and ended in controversy, with enough plot twists in the middle to fill a Victorian novel.

Sean Flynn, then acting manager, was named manager of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport in December 2005.

The appointment followed a nationwide search led by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission with the assistance of the professional headhunting firm Bennet Yarger. The airport commission interviewed five candidates for the manager position, including Mr. Flynn. All had experience in managing small regional airports. In the end the professional search team recommended four of the five candidates for the job; Mr. Flynn was not among the recommended candidates.

Among other things — and unlike the other four candidates — he had not provided the search firm with proper releases to solicit comments from references. As a result, the search firm said it could not guarantee Mr. Flynn’s performance.

In the end the majority of the airport commission decided to appoint Mr. Flynn anyway, citing what they termed the Island factor: his Vineyard residency and familiarity with Island life.

According to information provided as part of the application process, Mr. Flynn graduated from Northeastern University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice supervision and management.

He became a private pilot in 1991 and a commercial pilot in 1992. From 1991 to 2000 he worked as a manager at Island Transport, an Oak Bluffs bus company that was partly owned by his father. In 2000 he was named assistant manager at the airport. In May of 2005 he was named acting manager following the resignation of manager Bill Weibrecht. At the time a lawsuit brought by Mr. Flynn and Mr. Weibrecht against the Dukes county commission over a salary dispute was pending. Mr. Weibrecht had resigned his post because of the dispute.

Meanwhile the lawsuit that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Weibrecht had brought against the county hung over the two commissions like the sword of Damocles, amid a tangle of politics and legal maneuvers that were heated, complicated and costly on all sides. There were numerous disputes and skirmishes, but the central issue involved control of the airport. The county commission appoints the airport commission, but beyond that, confusion and disagreement reigned over how much autonomy the airport had. Along the way resignations, new appointments and accusations flew between the county commission, whose members are elected by voters at large, and the airport commission, whose members are appointed by the county commission.

In 2005, a superior court judge ruled that the airport had autonomy in managing its own affairs, save the fact that the county commission was the appointing authority for the airport commission. Treble damages were awarded, although a year later the monetary portion of the case was adjusted and damages were significantly reduced. In the end the intramural legal battle cost more than $600,000 in taxpayer money.

“We’re ready to go forward, finally,” said Norman Perry, a member of the airport commission at the time.

In December 2005 the airport commission voted 4-3 to appoint Mr. Flynn as permanent manager.

Seven years later the airport was in the spotlight again amid mounting problems. Mr. Flynn became embroiled in a tangled workplace dispute involving an employee. Beth Tessmer, who had worked in operations, filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination following discipline and dismissal by Mr. Flynn. The dispute remains unresolved.

In the summer of 2014 Mr. Flynn was involved in a domestic disturbance that resulted in police restraining orders between him and his wife. Following an executive session by the airport commission to discuss the matter, Mr. Flynn was granted an eight-week medical leave of absence. He later returned to the job.

Six months later, in February 2015, the airport commission renewed Mr. Flynn’s contract and gave him a 20 per cent raise. The new contract, with a starting annual salary of $138,800, ran for three years. It also contained terms that were more favorable to Mr. Flynn than under his previous contract in the event of termination or dismissal from his job.

Meanwhile, the county commission, concerned about emerging problems at the airport, made an unsuccessful effort to enlarge the size of the airport commission. After that tactic was thwarted by a judge, the commission successfully used its authority to replace three members of the airport commission. Mr. Flynn briefly blocked attempts by the newly-configured commission to hold meetings by refusing to post the meetings.

The controversy was soon ironed out and the appointments of the three new commissioners were confirmed, and Myron Garfinkle, one of the new appointees, took over as chairman of the commission.

In August Mr. Flynn took an unscheduled two-week vacation. Mr. Garfinkle announced that the commission was negotiating an amicable separation with the manager and that he would not return to work. At the time it was revealed that the airport had been flagged by the Federal Aviation Administration for a series of deficiencies during an annual spring inspection.

In September Mr. Flynn was placed on paid administrative leave.

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Airports Authority of India may resume flights on usable part of runway

CHENNAI: Hapless passengers who continue to be stranded at the Chennai airport may soon find a way out of the city , as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is considering operating flights on just 5,000 feet of the total 12,000 foot-long runway that remains usable. 

Airport officials are planning to resume operations on Sunday while Air India started evacuating those who wished to fly to Bengaluru and Hyderabad on Thursday . Meanwhile, the Navy's base at Arakkonam is serving as the makeshift airport for supplying relief material as well as for bringing in National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams. 

Sources said airport officials and airlines are conducting a series of meetings to chalk out plans. "The entire operational area of the airport, including the runway is flooded. Water from Adyar river is flowing into the airport from Meenambakkam village and Cantonment area," said a senior officer, seeking anonymity . 

The campus of Indian Oil Corporation and air traffic control block are also flooded and it is doubtful if the water could be drained out by Sunday , he said. "That is why we are thinking of operating the usable portion of the runway ," he said. 

Passengers were taken by bus to Tambaram air force station from where they were flown to INS Rajali in Arakonam using a Hercules transport plane. Air India then operated a few flights from Arakonam naval base to Bengaluru and Hyderabad. This was, however, a temporary measure to help stranded passengers who wanted to travel urgently out of the city. "It is not possible to shift all operations to Arakonam as commercial airliners' requirement is different," said an official. The air traffic control of Trichy provided support for the Chennai airport due to the shutting down for flights which were diverted. 

With the airport at Chennai closed till December 6, the flights to the city from Trichy , Coimbatore and Madurai remains cancelled.Air India Express that was supposed to fly from Chennai to Singapore via Trichy was suspended with more than 160 passengers waiting here. 

Meanwhile, limited commercial flight operations are likely to start from the Rajali naval air station in Arakkonam, near Chennai, on Friday , the civil aviation ministry said on Thursday . Briefing the media, civil aviation secretary R N Choubey said a plan is being made to operate at least six flights on Friday and Saturday to be operated from Rajali naval base. He added that Air India, IndiGo and SpiceJet have indicated they would operate flights. 

The proposal is for limited commercial flight operations only and not for evacuation of people, Choubey said. Minister of state for civil aviation, Mahesh Sharma said the proposed flights from the Rajali naval base would offer tickets at low prices. "The airlines will charge Rs 1,000 for destinations in the South and Rs 2,000 for destinations in the North for these flights," Sharma said. 

Flight grounded after co-pilot refuses to fly 

Chennai: As the national carrier rose to face the crisis in Chennai, a thoughtless act on the part of one of its pilots has resulted in several passengers getting stranded at the Chennai airport. 

An Air India aircraft is also stuck at the airport because of this since December 1.

Air India's AI 967 Chennai-Trivandrum-Sharjah flight had to be cancelled on December 1, the day the torrential rain started, after a co-pilot refused to operate stating it would lead to infringement of his flight duty time by 10 minutes in Sharjah.

By the time, the airline arranged another co-pilot, the airport was shut down.

Sources said the co-pilot was "well within his duty period to operate up to Trivandrum and Air India would have had one more aircraft at its disposal if he had done so. 

He could have also operated to Sharjah by invoking a provision in the regulations as the DGCA permits extension of duty time limitations in case of exigencies."


Incredible images reveal US Navy seaplane lost in Pearl Harbor attack

Archaeologists from NOAA and the University of Hawaii have released incredible images of a U.S. Navy plane sunk during the opening minutes of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 1941.

Just minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor, aircraft from the Japanese Imperial Navy bombed the nearby U.S. Naval Air Station on the east coast of Oahu, NOAA explained in a press release. Some 27 Catalina PBY "flying boats" on the ground or moored on Kāne‛ohe Bay were destroyed in the attack.

A University of Hawaii dive team attempted to photograph the wreck of a Catalina PBY-5 in 1994 but was thwarted by the murky waters of Kāne‛ohe Bay. An attempt by a local sport diving group, Hawaii Underwater Explorers, met with limited success 14 years later.

However, in June, with better visibility and using improved camera equipment, a team of students from the University of Hawaii Marine Option Program returned to the wreck and conducted a detailed archaeological survey, NOAA said. The effort was coordinated by Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime archaeologist with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The plane, which is protected by the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004, rests in three large pieces at a depth of 30 feet. Van Tilburg explained that while the precise identity of the aircraft remains unknown, it is possible the crew died while attempting to take off in the face of the attack.

"The new images and site plan help tell the story of a largely forgotten casualty of the attack," Van Tilburg said, in the press release. "The sunken PBY plane is a very important reminder of the 'Day of Infamy,' just like the USS Arizona and USS Utah. They are all direct casualties of December 7."

"This sunken flying boat is a window into the events of the attack, a moment in time that reshaped the Pacific region," said June Cleghorn, senior archaeologist at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. "Understanding this site sheds light on the mystery of the lost PBYs and honors the legacy of the Navy and Marine Corps Base in Hawaii."

Catalina PBY seaplanes were used as long-range patrol bombers by the U.S. military. NOAA notes that the strike on the planes’ Oahu base was a significant loss, adding that the bombers could have followed the Japanese planes back to their carriers.

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Cessna 172: Incident occurred December 02, 2015 near Chehalis-Centralia Airport (KCLS), Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington

The Federal Aviation Administration received a report Wednesday night of a green laser hitting a plane near Chehalis-Centralia Airport.

A Cessna 172 was executing a missed approach at Runway 16 when it was hit with a bright green laser that appeared to be directly below the plane, according to Allen Kenitzer, regional public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot reported the incident to Federal Aviation Administration air traffic personnel, Kenitzer said. 

No injuries were reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported the incident to the Chehalis Police Department at 5:49 p.m. Wednesday, advising that the incident occurred about 6.5 miles south of the airport, in the area of Pleasant Valley and Berry roads.

The plane was traveling at 3900 feet.

A deputy from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded, but did not find the source of the laser.

Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a violation of federal law and presents a safety risk to pilots, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.


Sentencing for former chairman of Foothills Regional Airport (KMRN) continued, again

The sentencing of the former chairman of Foothills Regional Airport has been continued once again.

Randy Hullette was scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10 at the federal courthouse in Asheville. However, his attorney, Sean Devereux, again filed a motion to continue his client’s sentencing.

This is the third time a federal judge has signed off on continuing Hullette’s sentencing.

As with previous times the sentencing has been continued, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger granted a motion on Wednesday to seal the documents.

Before Reidinger signed off on the continuance, a conference about Hullette was held in Reidinger’s chambers on Wednesday that included government attorney Don Gast and Devereux, according to court documents.

Hullette pleaded guilty to witness tampering and embezzlement on Aug. 21, 2013, and is facing a maximum 30-year sentence.

The FBI raided the airport in June 2012. The warrant included records from the airport involving former airport manager Alex Nelson, former operations manager Brad Adkins and Hullette. The investigation revealed the three defrauded the airport of at least $100,000.

Nelson was sentenced in February 2014 to three years in prison and three years supervised probation. He also was ordered to pay $179,781.51 in restitution. Nelson reported to prison in Beckley, W.Va. June 9, 2014.

After reporting to prison, Nelson filed an appeal to his sentencing to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, saying he had questions about the process.

Nelson’s appeal was dismissed in December.

He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to conspiracy, embezzlement and money laundering.

Adkins, who also pleaded guilty in September 2012 to public corruption conspiracy and embezzlement, was sentenced June 3, 2014 to time served, four months of house arrest and three years supervised release; had to pay a $200 assessment; and jointly pay, along with Nelson, $85,305.59 in restitution.

It’s unclear whether the case will be considered closed after Hullette’s sentencing. The original FBI search warrant called for seizing any files, records or information related to Hullette Aviation, Burkemont Service Center, RANMAC, Inc., Jeffrey Rose, Grady Rose Tree Service, Jimmy “Ron” Gilbert, Gilbert Grading and Construction, Simon Roofing and Parton Lumber.


Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (KMSP) Throws Switch On Giant Solar Farm

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sunny skies at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are not just good for takeoffs and landings — it will now mean producing electricity for the sprawling complex.

A giant solar grid, comprised of 8,705 individual collector panels, is now turning sunshine into three million watts of power.

“We have a guaranteed amount of energy that will be produced by the system ever year for the next 20 years,” Dennis Probst, the executive vice president of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said.

When you drive up to Terminal One’s parking structures, you will notice more than cars perched atop the red and blue ramps. There is a massive steel structure that is supporting the airport’s own electrical generation grid.

“This is, for the moment at least, the largest solar array, photovoltaic array in the state of Minnesota,” Probst said.

MAC just flipped the switch on the $25-million solar farm.

“When we started talking about doing a solar project out here, we wanted to do an iconic project,” Probst said. “Something that was meaningful and that would be visible to the public in terms of our commitment to it.”

The array of interconnected solar panels will gather enough energy to supply roughly 20 percent of the airport’s electrical needs.

Generating three megawatts of power will mean less greenhouse gasses released by coal-burning power plants. It is the equivalent of removing 1,400 passenger cars from the roads for a year.

“Solar is a great energy cost-effective option now,” Holly Lahd, Fresh Energy’s electricity markets director, said.

She says it is the kind of commitment to cleaner, more sustainable energy that has other states green with envy.

“Our statewide goal is around 300 to 400 megawatts by the year 2020, and we’re poised to meet or exceed that by the end of next year,” Lahd said.

Yet beyond the environmental, it also makes economic sense.

“Of the $25-million investment made today to build this, that is worth $35 million in energy savings to us over the life of the project,” Probst said.

This is the first phase of the airport’s commitment to solar energy. The airport will begin construction on a solar array roughly half the size at Terminal Two in the spring of 2016.

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Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (KXNA) approves step to add parking

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport officials moved forward with plans to expand airport parking, approving construction of a three- or four-level garage during Wednesday's board meeting.

The airport's board considered two options for the project, selecting a two-phase plan that will provide 1,200 parking spaces at an estimated cost of $23.1 million. The first level of the parking garage would be reserved for car rental companies, while the remaining levels will be for public use.

Scott Van Laningham, the airport's executive director, said construction of the parking garage would begin by late next year. The project could be completed in 2017 or 2018.

The second phase of the plan would include construction of an additional three-story garage for rental car space. The project is estimated to cost an additional $22.1 million, provide 864 parking spaces and move rental car operations into their own garage.

- Source:

Despite turbulence, low-cost carriers still important for Singapore Airlines: CEO

SINGAPORE: Massive growth potential in the no-frills budget travel business means that the segment remains important in Singapore Airlines’ strategy moving ahead, chief executive Goh Choon Phong told Channel NewsAsia, even as the premium carrier’s push into low-cost territory has not exactly been smooth sailing.

Rising incomes in Asia have enabled more people to fly for the first time, thereby fueling the rapid expansion of low-cost carriers (LCCs) in the region. Singapore’s flagship carrier first entered the segment in 2004, with a stake in Tigerair. But the budget short-haul airline has had a bumpy ride thus far, posting losses in five of the past six quarters, underscoring the challenges of operating in an increasingly over-saturated market.

Despite that, the immense potential for growth continues to render the space attractive to players.

“If you look at the growth of LCCs in this part of the world, we are looking at strong double-digit growth, [compared with] full-service carriers which are in the lower single-digit area. Beyond that, the ability to have such a vehicle in the group gives us flexibility and nimbleness in tapping new markets,” said Goh, who has been at the helm since 2011. 

To illustrate this, the chief executive raised the example of China, where budget carriers have doubled the points which SIA serves in the rapidly growing market. 

“For ourselves and SilkAir, we serve 12 points in China but if you add the points served by our two LCC subsidiaries, it is 24 points. Those [additional] points wouldn’t have been feasible to serve commercially using a full-service carrier,” he added. 

As such, SIA is making a renewed push into the segment by launching a takeover offer for Tigerair last month, with the aim of delisting and privatizing the money-losing budget carrier. Goh believes that the delisting, should it be successful, will be essential in furthering the integration of Tigerair and its fully-owned long-haul budget carrier Scoot. 

SIA has been enhancing cooperation between its budget units, allowing members of its mileage programme, KrisFlyer, to earn miles when they take Tigerair and Scoot. The two low-cost airlines are also attempting to increase efficiency by offering passengers seats on each other's planes. 

Industry watchers seem to agree with SIA’s latest move. “The proposed acquisition of the remaining stake in Tigerair is a long overdue move which will improve the group’s overall position, in particular the outlook for long-haul LCC subsidiary Scoot. Better late than never. And it is not too late,” analysts from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) wrote in a note dated Nov 10. 

Pushing other boundaries

Apart from the exponential rise of budget carriers, SIA is also feeling the squeeze from intensifying competition from Middle Eastern carriers. 

In response, the Singapore carrier broadened its reach into new territories such as a pilot training tie-up with European plane maker Airbus, and overseas partnerships which Goh noted are seeing “early results which are encouraging.” 

One of which is a wide-ranging partnership that will see the airline cooperate on key routes between Singapore and Europe with German carrier Lufthansa. The agreement was announced last month. 

Despite a shaky macro-economic outlook, the European market remains pivotal for SIA, Goh said. In addition, the collaboration will be able to tap into the existing networks that both carriers have in their home markets and “bring together two huge markets that will [generate] a lot of potential.” 

Another venture that is closer to home is Vistara – the new India-based airline which is SIA's collaboration with India’s Tata Group. The full-service carrier first took to the skies in January, with flights between New Delhi, Mumbai and the western city of Ahmedabad. 

India's aviation sector has grown at breakneck speed in recent years, thanks to the country's booming middle class and low air travel penetration rates. But intense price competition, exorbitant operating costs due to high airport and fuel taxes, as well as strict regulations make India a tougher environment than most other markets.

However, Goh remains optimistic. 

“The Indian market is growing double digit in terms of air traffic movements. It is a huge market and is underserved. We think that Vistara will be able to tap into this potential once it has established itself and constraints on operations are removed such as the 5/20 rule,” he said.                                                              

The rule bars Indian airlines from flying overseas unless they have operated domestically for five years and own a fleet of 20 aircraft. As such, Vistara is currently restricted from operating internationally. 

The chief executive is positive that that aviation rule will be relaxed soon. “The government is actively doing a review of the civil aviation policy and the one crucial part of that is the 5/20 rule. We are hopeful of an encouraging outcome.”

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FOX 8 I-Team investigation brings security changes at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport (KCLE)

CLEVELAND, Ohio- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found changes at Cleveland-Hopkins Airport days after an I-TEAM report raised questions about security issues.

We saw workers replacing a door behind the Southwest Airlines ticket counter. Installing a heavy-duty lock on it, too.

Last week, we noticed a door there left open, and it didn’t even have a handle on it. A worker told us that the door got padlocked at night, and it was left unlocked during the day because crews were doing construction on the other side of the door.

Airport management did not know about the door problem until the I-TEAM exposed it.

Meantime, we also raised questions about a door nearby marked ‘restricted area’. Multiple employees sometimes go through that door although not everyone swipes an ID card.

Now the airport has made sure all of the doors behind the ticket counter area are marked ‘employees only’. The airport did that to help avoid confusion or alarm. We’re told most of those doors lead only to offices or employee break rooms. One door also leads to other parts of the airport, but to get anywhere else requires more swipe cards and codes.

Airport Director Frank Szabo told the I-TEAM, “We are aware that airlines are still the number one target of terrorists. We’ve been briefed on that on a daily basis. So we want everyone at the airport to feel safe.”

And travelers tell FOX 8, with so much talk of terror, they want to be confident only employees are in the right areas.

Tyrone Bilal said, “That’s a big concern. I just put my family on a plane to Miami, so I would be very concerned about who’s back there.”

Szabo added, that new door just installed had to be ordered.

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Taking all the risks: Kentucky State Police Det. Josh Howard fulfills his time with policing, activities

Courtesy photo KSP Det. Josh Howard takes advantage of some free time flying an airplane.

Being a police officer is not for everyone. Each day, officers leave home with a state of mind that it could be their last day on earth. They take great risks when they walk up to a car on the highway or respond to fight complaints and domestics. These are risks the average person will not do.

Kentucky State Police Det. Josh Howard is one of those risk-takers of the many in Harlan County. He has been in law enforcement for 12 years and is well-known for his smile and kindness to people.

Howard, 35, has always had the mindset to help people. Early in his life he was a volunteer with the Harlan County Rescue Squad and local fire departments. He then began his work career in 1999 with Mountain EMS as an EMT. He’s had work stints with Knox County EMS, Bell County EMS and is currently part-time with Harlan EMS.

Beginning his police career in 2003 with the Evarts Police Department, he went on to work for the Harlan Police Department that year before taking a job with the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office in 2007.

Howard maintained a position at the sheriff’s office until 2012 and was a well-known K-9 handler with the popular shepherd, Dasty. The duo made the news often for their work around the county.

Joining the state police in 2012, Howard currently holds the position of detective, and says he enjoys helping people.

“Policing allows me a chance to give back to the community. It allows me a chance to help people in need, and be there for people in a time of need. It also allows me the opportunity to represent the victims of crimes and hold people responsible for their actions,” Howard said.

He said all cases are important to him.

“My goal is to work hard – give 100 percent daily to make not only Harlan County, but eastern Kentucky a safe and enjoyable place to live,” Howard said.

Post 10 Commander P.J. Burnett said Howard is an “excellent investigator.”

“Det. Howard is an outstanding trooper, who is assigned to detective status,” Burnett said. “With Det. Howard’s diverse law enforcement background he has become an excellent investigator who has brought several high profile cases to successful conclusions. He is a tremendous asset to Post 10.”

Howard is a 1998 graduate of Harlan High School, attended Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College and Department of Criminal Justice training.

Other volunteer services over the years include assistant coaching for pee wee football and assistant coach for Cumberland Redskins football for the fifth/sixth-grades.

In his spare time, he said he loves spending time with family and enjoying outdoors and watersports. He also has a knack for aviation.

“I enjoy spending time flying airplanes and being involved with aviation,” Howard said. “Flying is a good stress reliever, and a way to get away and free your mind from all the bad things going on in the world.”


Kentucky State Police Det. Josh Howard is this week’s Behind the Badge participant. 

Career change puts wings on Georgia airplane mechanic

Endeavor Air First Officer James Reeves visits a vintage aircraft he helped restore at the Delta Flight Museum.

Long-term Hapeville resident James Reeves, 53, is in the approach corridor for fulfilling a dream he has held for 10 years – that of flying Delta jets, and not as a passenger as the famous airport sign urges. 

The native of Ariton, Ala., a small farming community in southeast Alabama, served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years, mostly as a reservist, earning a Meritorious Service Medal and two associate degrees in aviation maintenance.

After graduating from technical college in Alabama as a licensed airplane mechanic, he entered military service in 1984 and became head of the Robins Air Force Base ground crew working on the Boeing Stratotanker, an aerial refueling aircraft.

“I held several maintenance positions consisting of structural repair, hydraulics, avionics and line maintenance,” Reeves said. “As a line maintenance tech I was not responsible for any one system, but all of them when the aircraft had a problem during day-to-day operations.”

After the base, he began a 20-year stint with Delta Air Lines, at which a mechanical problem he solved on a Birmingham flight helped him earn the company’s Outstanding Customer Service Award for his avionics expertise.

“To navigate from one point to the next, the aircraft uses the avionics system, which I also maintained during my career at Delta,” Reeves said. “Most all the controls necessary for flight are either electrically or hydraulically controlled. Some are also pneumatic, which I was also responsible for as a maintenance technician.”

As a structural repair technician, he was responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of the airframe of the aircraft. 

“This consisted of repairs and modifications to the exterior and interior of the aircraft structure,” Reeves said. 

Midway through his Delta career, eight years before retiring from the Air Force, he experienced a life-changing moment at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta.

“In 1998 I finally had the opportunity to take an introductory flight in a Cessna 172,” he said about a single-engine propeller plane. “I fell in love with the experience and have been flying ever since, literally as well as figuratively.”

Reeves that same year racked up the flying and studying time needed to earn a private pilot’s license and bought his own Cessna 172, which he still has. 

“I think flying exhibits a feeling of freedom which can’t be duplicated anywhere else,” he said.

Reeves said his interest started before taking off at Dobbins.

“From the beginning of my aviation maintenance career, I’ve been fascinated and thrilled with the concept of flight,” he said. “I had been around airplanes and flight crews all my professional career, but the opportunity for a flying career always seemed to be just out of reach.”

Making the leap from private to commercial pilot seemed unattainable, Reeves said, due to family obligations and working 40 hours a week instead of being able to study full-time.

“I chose to continue to my job as an aircraft mechanic and pay for the training as I went along,” he said. “This route of course took longer, but through dedication and support from others I was able to achieve my goal in 10 years.” 

Some of that support came from Reeves’ avionics boss at Delta, Henry Desso.

“One of the qualities I admired about him was his desire to be the best of the best,” Desso said.

In 2008, Reeves was able to pin on a first officer badge, flying commuter jets for Pinnacle Airlines, now Endeavor Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta.

“Leaving a secure job as a Delta Air Lines mechanic to become a first officer at a regional airline required a substantial financial sacrifice, which Mr. Reeves was willing to take,” said Desso, who helped Reeves schedule professional aeronautics classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., Desso’s former employer.

The separation didn’t take; in October, Reeves received a conditional job offer to be employed by Delta as a pilot. 

“This is an amazing opportunity for me, because it was a very hard decision for me to leave Delta to pursue my flying career after 20 years of being employed there as a mechanic,” Reeves said. “It was a great company to work for and I am looking forward to returning and finishing my aviation career there as a pilot.”


Incident occurred December 03, 2015 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA), Seattle, King County, Washington

SEATAC, Wash. - A baggage loading machine at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport caught fire but it was quickly put out.

Dave Arnold, a spokesman for Virgin America, says the loader was being used to put luggage on Flight 784 to Los Angeles on Thursday morning when it momentarily caught fire.

He says there were no injuries to guests or crew and no damage to the aircraft. He says the small fire was quickly extinguished by crews.

The aircraft was inspected and cleared by maintenance technicians. The flight departed to LAX at 12:05 p.m., less than 30 minutes late, airport officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Virginia Tech research probing question: What dangers do drones pose for airlines?

Walter O'Brien is an expert on Unmanned Aircraft Systems. He is also an engineer at Virginia Tech with expertise in the design and operation of aircraft engines. 

BLACKSBURG – Produced by a Virginia Tech professor, the computer simulation of an eight-pound drone crashing into a commercial jetliner engine vividly shows a potential danger.

The drone destroys a chunk of the engine’s blades.

Whether a drone actually could bring down a commercial plane would depend on the size of the drone, and the question requires further study, researchers said. But the dangers, they said, are real.

Far less clear are the legal boundaries for drones as their use soars and the hazards multiply.

In 2013, the FAA had licensed 327 drones to fly, but the agency expects that number to balloon to 30,000 by 2020, according to a report from the Medill National Security Zone at Northwestern University.

The global civilian drone market has hovered at just under a $1 billion since 2014, but that industry is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2024.

Virginia Tech is at the forefront of drone research and development. Working through the Blacksburg-based Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, the school is one of six federally approved drone test sites in the U.S.

Study of the dangers is increasing at Tech and elsewhere across the country. The computer simulation of the drone hitting the jet engine, produced by Virginia Tech mechanical engineering professor Javid Bayandor, is an example.

"Quite honestly, I think it's late in coming," Kevin Kochersberger, another Tech mechanical engineering professor, said of the latest research. "It's probably something we should have looked at a few years ago. It would help manage the public's perception of the danger. The public really has no basis for finding the true risk without having the data.”

Research drones are heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Private use by hobbyists is far less regulated, while operating a commercial drone without an FAA exemption is banned.

"We expect to issue our final rule for small UAS this spring," FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said about regulations the agency has long worked on to not only allow, but better police all private drone use.

In the meantime, the FAA offers guidelines that hobbyists “are strongly encouraged to follow:” Flying the machines no higher than 400 feet, remaining at least five miles away from airports unless contacting the control tower first and steering clear of people and stadiums.

"Outside of 'stay away from the airport and (fly) below a certain altitude,' there's no federal aviation regulations that address operation of unmanned aircraft,” Kochersberger said about hobbyist use.

There have been no reported drone strikes on commercial aircraft, but FAA records show the number of close calls between drones and pilots by August this year was nearly triple the total for all of last year. There has been a total of 650 sightings as of Aug. 9, up from 238 in all of 2014.

The FAA so far has channeled its safety efforts largely through education on where drone flight is allowed, the agency said in an emailed statement. "Know Before You Fly" and "No Drone Zone" are the two safety campaigns the agency has directed hobbyists to.

Projects at Tech involve the testing and flying of drones. Over the summer, the aviation partnership oversaw the drone delivery of medicine to a remote medical clinic in the largely rural corner of Southwest Virginia. It was the first FAA-approved flight of its kind.

Research like that being conducted by Bayandor and others can help show the true risk posed by drones, Kochersberger said.

"This is data that will help resolve some of that uncertainty,” he said. “It will be a piece of the story that tells you what the potential damage to an aircraft can be and what the risk is."

The FAA has granted more than 2,200 exemptions for commercial drone operations since September 2014. Without an exemption, commercial operators can’t put their drones into the national airspace.

The FAA has also so far initiated 24 enforcement cases for people flying drones, settling half with violation findings, according to the agency.

In October, the FAA proposed a $1.9 million civil penalty against a company that conducted dozens of unauthorized flights over Chicago and New York despite warnings that the activities were not allowed.

"This sends a clear message to others who might pose a safety risk: Operate within the law or we will take action," Salac said.

Jayson Firebaugh, a commercial airline pilot who operates a small drone business on the side in Blue Ridge, has an FAA exemption to do work, which he said involves using the aerial footage to produce tourist videos and taking photos for real estate firms.

Firebaugh expressed support for the research at Virginia Tech and for tougher regulations on hobbyists.

“It’s basically the wild west right now when it comes to hobbyist use of drones,” he said. “I would say the biggest threat is the uneducated person who doesn’t do their homework and doesn’t understand how dangerous this item could be.

“It’s the uneducated who are going to end up flying them and getting them in the way of commercial airlines. It’s only a matter of time.”

Some manufacturers, however, have looked at ways to self-regulate their products to promote safety, Firebaugh said.

For example, global technology company DJI’s Phantom 3 Professional model comes with a technology that disables prevents the user from flying their drone past the designated airport boundaries, said Firebaugh, who himself saw the function in action during a his own exercise a few months ago.

The FAA plans to require operators to register drones, which could lead to greater enforcement, the agency said.

Until then, the largely undefined risk remains.

Bayandor said he still needs to run further tests with his simulation.

FAA requirements stipulate that aircraft be built to withstand foreign objects.

"They have to be tolerant to bird strike or runway debris and large-size hail," Bayandor said. "You can't fly an engine unless it's been approved by the FAA for those kinds of foreign objects."

Because the machines are relatively new, federal aircraft manufacturing standards don't necessarily address the potential impact of drones.

Three years ago, Bayandor’s group began researching the impact of birds on aircraft engine. The team then added drones to their work.

Drones are harder than birds, heightening the risk. Drone battery packs themselves could explode on impact, Bayandor said. He said he also is studying what could happen if a drone hits a helicopter rotor.

Bayandor said he hopes the FAA will look at his group’s work when they decide to establish drone regulations, and he plans to relay the research to manufacturers so they can build "friendlier" unmanned aircraft.

"There needs to be more information," he said.

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