Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Passenger count down sharply as Branson Airport (KBBG) wraps up first year without major airline

Departures have been down sharply at Branson Airport in 2015, the first full year in which the facility has been without a mainline carrier.

Through the end of October, the number of people flying out of Branson Airport was down 76 percent compared to the same period in 2014, according to a News-Leader review. Depending on the month, between a third and a half of airplane seats left the facility unoccupied.

"By no means do we think the level of service we had this year was what's needed, but it was a good experiment in a way," Airport Executive Director Jeff Bourk told the News-Leader.

Branson Airport opened in 2009 and has been challenged by the consolidation of the airline industry, which has resulted in reduced competition among airlines and decisions by the largest carriers to focus on more profitable routes. Branson's last two mainline carriers left the market permanently in 2014. Southwest Airlines — which had been serving the city year round — pulled out of the market that June. Frontier Airlines' last flight from the market was Oct. 25 of that year; the airline had been operating seasonally from the airport and decided not to return to Branson, along with a number of other markets, in 2015.

The mainline carriers have been replaced by public charter flights, often under the Branson AirExpress brand. The flights have been operated by a number of different charter flight companies, such as Orange Air and Elite Airways, and Bourk's hope is they will demonstrate a demand for air service from Branson that will help attract a mainline carrier. Over the course of 2015, Branson Airport had service at times from Branson to Denver, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Cincinnati, New Orleans — typically three to four times per week, depending on the destination. Air service to New Orleans continued on to Cancun. Flights started at $99 one way to New Orleans and Cincinnati, increasing to about $150 for cities like Austin, and $199 for service to Cancun via New Orleans.

In total, through the end of October, Branson Airport had just over 14,100 "enplanements," an industry term that refers to boarding passengers. That compares to 58,259 in the same 10-month period period in 2014, according to publicly accessible financial documents. July saw the highest passenger count in 2015, with 3,303 enplanements. June and May were the next most popular months to fly out of Branson.

Depending on the month, enplanements accounted for 34 and 58 percent of total seat capacity, a statistic that is known as load factor. May was the month with the highest load factor at Branson Airport in 2015, while September was the lowest.

The last two months of the year historically have had minimal activity at the airport, given the seasonal nature of Branson as a tourism destination; in 2014, there were 1,460 enplanements combined between November and December. Earlier this year, the airport forecast enplanements for the latter half of 2015, as well as the start of 2016; it projected 4,012 enplanements in November and December, which would give the facility about 18,000 for the year. However, that may be optimistic thinking; enplanements ultimately fell short of the airport's projections in July, August, September and October.

Either way, enplanements will be at the lowest in the airport's short history. The facility, which is privately owned and operated, peaked at about 130,000 enplanements in 2013.

In an interview with the News-Leader last week, Bourk noted that Southwest and Frontier were part of a national network, which naturally resulted in a greater demand for air travel from Branson. But the charter service, he said, has been successful at continuing service to many cities that passengers were ultimately trying to travel from, and it will return in some form for 2016. The airport will likely announce specifics this winter.

Winning back a traditional carrier, however, remains a goal. In March, the Taney County Commission approved spending up to $500,000 to help lure an airline, to be paired with $1.5 million from other sources. The money, which has not been spent, is designated as "risk abatement"; it will be used to pay airlines if they moved into the market and fail to at least break even financially.

The only time a mainline carrier associated with Branson Airport this year was on March 31, when billionaire Richard Branson announced that Virgin America would start serving Branson as part of a series of investments in the city. But Richard Branson was just teaming with city and chamber officials for some fun and free publicity. The airport was forced to put out an all-caps notice to bondholders: "THE BOND TRUSTEE IS INFORMED BY THE COMPANY THAT THE ANNOUNCEMENT IS AN 'APRIL FOOLS' PRANK."

Because Branson Airport used tax-exempt municipal bonds to finance its construction, reports documenting the facility's finances are required to be publicly posted at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's Electronic Municipal Market Access website. Bondholders and airport management entered into a forbearance agreement in 2011, after the airport defaulted on payments, and in September the parties extended the agreement through June 2016. The outstanding principal amount of the bonds for Branson Airport and its related companies is $113.8 million. Interest on that figure added another $28.4 million as of Sept. 1 of this year.

Through the end of September, Branson Airport had operational losses of $2.4 million in 2015, after losing just shy of $424,000 in 2014. The September forbearance agreement included cash flow projections through March 2016, with operational losses each month.

"I think this year is definitely a building year, and we're looking ahead to 2016 and 2017, and building this air service network," Bourk said.

Springfield-Branson National Airport anticipates record year

Passenger totals at Branson Airport stand in stark contrast to its neighbor an hour to the north.

Through the end of October, Springfield-Branson National Airport had 384,240 enplanements. Spokesman Kent Boyd told the News-Leader this week the airport expects to finish 2015 with about 450,000 enplanements, which would top the previous record of 443,893 set back in 2005. On average, flights were 88.6 percent full.

When talking with the public, the airport generally focuses on total passengers, which includes enplanements and deplanements. The airport expects slightly over 900,000 total by the end of the year; it had 888,738 passengers in 2005.

Springfield-Branson is served by four airlines: Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Those carriers provide nonstop flights to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando, Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers and, as of Nov. 5, Charlotte.

The newly added flights to Charlotte, a hub for American, have the airport optimistic for 2016 totals. The flights are expected to increase total passenger count by about 36,000 over the course of the year. In November, air service consultant Michael Boyd (no relation to the airport spokesman) said he expects Springfield-Branson to have more than a million passengers come 2020.

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Flare pots used to light Pangnirtung, Nunavut runway after electrical outage • Rain 3 weeks ago played havoc on electrical system

The airport in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, found an old-time solution to a uniquely northern situation last weekend when its lighting system went down. Crews used flare pots to light the runway so planes could land. 

The airport in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, had to revert to an old-time solution to a uniquely northern situation last weekend when its lighting system went down.

Flying into Pangnirtung can be a challenge at the best of times. The community of 1,500 people lies on a strip of land at the edge of a fiord; its runway cuts through the middle of town. On top of that, the community currently gets about three hours of daylight, with the sun setting before 1 p.m.

So when an electrical problem plunged the runway's lighting system into darkness last weekend, it created a big problem for planes trying to land in the community.

These flare pots lit the way when Pangnirtung's runway went dark last weekend.

Keewatin Air Captain Joel Pensivy piloted his King Air 200 into Pangnirtung on Saturday for a medevac.

"For us to be able to conduct that medevac that night they had revert to an emergency procedure — they put a flare pot candle burner at each runway light."

Flare pots are a throwback to the pioneering days of bush pilots, when they were often used to light remote landing strips. But they aren't so common these days.

"It means the guy's gotta be aware of the flight being inbound, and getting out there to light the pots," said Todd McKay, Nunavut's director of airports. "And then again to stick around until he can to extinguish them at the end of the trip."

There's a little bit more work involved, but it did maintain flights,' says Todd McKay, Nunavut's director of airports.

McKay said the pots came in handy, but they require a lot of time and attention.

"There's a little bit more work involved, but it did maintain flights and that's what kept the community going for the weekend."

McKay suspects ground water from rain several weeks ago affected the wiring of the lighting system. Electricians were flown in and dug into the frozen gravel runway to fix the system.

By Tuesday the runway's lights were fully operational again. 

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Proposed Bill Would Toughen Screenings for Airport Workers

Sarasota, Fla - A U.S. Senator from Florida says all airport workers should be required to go through a tougher screening process in this age of terrorism.

Senator Bill Nelson points to reports that an Egyptian airport worker may have planted the bomb that caused a Russian aircraft to crash...killing all 224 people on board.

Big changes that would dramatically increase screenings of all airport workers are a step closer to becoming reality.

"We take the safety and the security issues very, very seriously," said Rick Piccolo, CEO of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, "and we want our passengers to have an enjoyable experience, but also a very safe and secure experience."

Some of the big changes being proposed by Senator Nelson include allowing the Transportation Security Administration to conduct more thorough background checks of all airport employees, also a continuous criminal check of workers through the FBI database would be implemented.

"The world is changing and we need to adjust quickly and nimbly to adjust to the changing threat levels," said Piccolo.

Many people we talked with at the airport in Sarasota are all for this including Denise Stromdahl who was visiting the area from Pennsylvania.

"I think that's a good idea," said Stromdahl, "I think they should go through the same screening as we do."

Matt Fintak is here from Buffalo, he tells us that anything that prtotects him and his family is something he backs 100 percent.

"Considering all the things going on in today's day and age, anything that will prevent terrorism or an act of terrorism is all good," said Fintak.

This bill now heads to the Senate Commerce Committee.


Piper PA-38 Tomahawk, Airtime Aviation Holdings Ltd, G-BNDE: Fatal accident occurred August 20, 2014 in Benthill Farm, Buckingham, UK

Family of pilot who crashed after death threats 'may never know' exactly how he died 

An inquest into the death of Muhammad Naviede recorded a narrative verdict after a coroner ruled out suicide

Muhammad Naviede 

The wreckage of the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk in which Mr. Naviede died.

The cause of an airplane crash which killed a convicted fraudster who had been receiving death threats may never fully be explained, an inquest has heard.

Muhammad Naviede, 60, died in August 2014 when his leased Piper PA-38 Tomahawk aircraft span into a field moments after he sent a text message saying: "I'm in a plane out of control and it's going down."

Investigators found the aircraft did not enter its fatal spin until two minutes after the message was sent. Mr Naviede had also told members of his family and a solicitor that he had received death threats in the weeks before the crash at Padbury, Bucks.

But after hearing from more than 20 witnesses, Richard Hulett, the Buckinghamshire Coroner, told a jury he was not satisfied there was sufficient evidence to consider suicide as a possible verdict.

Instead the jury recorded a narrative verdict which said that the evidence did not sufficiently prove exactly why the aircraft entered its fatal spin.

Mr. Naviede was an experienced pilot who should have been able to regain control of the aircraft when it went into the spin near the village of Padbury.

An Air Accident Investigation Branch report said the text message he had sent was “unusual” because the aircraft continued in level flight for more than two minutes after it was sent.

The text was sent to Mr Naviede's brother Pervaiz, whom he had tried to call from his mobile phone moments earlier.

The message required him to write 148 characters within 25 seconds, something the AAIB said "would require considerable dexterity, especially in an aircraft that may have been out of control”.

At an earlier hearing Bob Moxon Browne QC, representing one of Mr Naviede's life insurers, said jurors should be given a direction to consider unlawful killing in the case.

Emails sent by Mr. Naviede to those close to him showed reference to the threats, he said, although there were no direct examples of the threats themselves.

Mr. Moxon Browne said at the time: "If someone says someone threatened you and in two weeks you are dead, you'd want to put that to the jury."

But the jury was not invited to consider such a verdict.

Jim Morris, a specialist aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell and former RAF pilot, who is representing the family, said: “Unfortunately, the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk that he was flying was not required to be fitted with a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) or a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) which made the task for the AAIB to determine the causes difficult, if not impossible.

“It is clear from the contents of the AAIB report and the evidence heard at the inquest that there are a number of realistic possibilities which could explain the chain of events which, amongst other things, included a possible loss of engine power due to carburettor icing.

“Unfortunately, we will never know exactly what happened in this tragic accident but the inquest has given Mr Naviede’s family some element of closure and has reinforced their view that the accident was caused by Mr Naviede’s loss of control of the aircraft – possibly as a result of a loss of engine power."

Mr. Naviede, who once had a personal fortune estimated at £117 million, was the brother of the former Government race advisor Nighat Awan, who once entertained Cherie Blair at her home in Cheshire.

He was the former head of the trade finance company Arrows, which collapsed owing more than £100 million to overseas banks and other creditors in 1991.

In 1995, a jury at the Old Bailey convicted him of seven charges of fraudulent trading, obtaining property and services by deception and making false statements to obtain bank facilities. He was jailed for nine years.


NTSB Identification: CEN14WA475
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in Benthill Farm, Buckingham, UK, United Kingdom
Aircraft: PIPER PA-38-112, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On August 20, 2014, about 2000 hours universal coordinated time, a Piper PA-38-112, United Kingdom registration G-BNDE, impacted terrain near Benthill Farm, Buckingham, United Kingdom. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight itinerary is under investigation and has not been determined at this time. 

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). This report is for informational purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained from the government of the United Kingdom.

Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:
Air Accidents Investigation Branch
Farnborough House
Berkshire Copse Road
Aldershot, Hampshire
GU11 2HH, United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0) 1252 510300

2016 Atlantic City airshow returns to A.C. • This event is FREE to the public

The 2016 Atlantic City Airshow will return to the skies above the free beaches lining the Boardwalk in Atlantic City on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

GEICO will return as the presenting sponsor of next year’s event, which was announced by Greater Atlantic City Chamber President Joe Kelly, the show’s organizer.

“We are excited to welcome back the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and Geico to the 2016 airshow,” Kelly said. “The show also returns to the August midweek timeframe, allowing us to bring these breathtaking performances in front of the large summer crowds,” he added.

The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, or "Thunderbirds," is the air demonstration squadron of the United States Air Force (USAF). The Thunderbirds are assigned to the 57th Wing and based at Nellis AFB, Nevada.

The Thunderbirds perform aerial demonstrations in the F-16C Fighting Falcon. They also fly two F-16D twin-seat trainers. Much of their displays alternate between maneuvers performed by the diamond, and those by the opposing solos.

They are praised for their combined accuracy and precision.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, the U. S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and the GEICO Skytypers will perform. The Atlantic City Airshow will also feature one of only four USMC mv-22 osprey demonstrations for 2016.

“The Atlantic City Airshow continues to be one of Atlantic City’s biggest free summer events,” said CRDA Executive Director, John Palmieri. “With community and city-wide participation at all levels, the show attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees and is a cornerstone of our strategy for major non-gaming tourism drivers for Atlantic City."

Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) is the host airport for the Atlantic City Airshow. The majority of performers take off and land via the airport, though the show takes place over the beach.

The Atlantic City Airshow is a community partnership between the Greater Atlantic City Chamber; the City of Atlantic City; the 177th Fighter Wing of the N.J. Air National Guard; South Jersey Transportation Authority; FAA William J. Hughes Tech Center; The Atlantic City International Airport; David Schultz Airshows, LLC; the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and many others.

For more information on the 2016 Atlantic City Airshow, visit, and continue to check the Atlantic City Airshow Facebook page at


Brewer Aviation will sell refurbished planes at a third of the cost

John Brewer has had his commercial pilot's license since 1967 but has spent the last 28 years in the tourism industry.

A new business at the Charlottetown airport is hoping to land customers by selling and refurbishing old planes — stripping them down to their bare bones to rebuilding them from scratch.

Brewer Aviation is the brainchild of John Brewer, who's operated a tourism business in Cavendish for almost 30 years. Brewer is also an aviation enthusiast who is returning to his passion for flight.

Brewer, who has been a licensed commercial pilot since 1967, said general aviation aircraft can be very expensive, starting at $500,000 and running up to $1 million — before the U.S. exchange rate.

"We can buy an older airplane, which is basically the same design as the newer ones, and we can refurbish them and put them on the market for roughly about a third of the cost," Brewer said.

"You know, who's got $500,000 or $1 million to spend on something basically just for fun?

"That way they can get into it for probably $150,000 to $200,000 — and if you get two or three guys in it, it's not that expensive."

Deryck Hickox has worked on a number of plane restoration projects but is excited to be doing it full-time with Brewer Aviation

Always on the hunt

The company is looking for planes from the last 35 to 40 years.

"Airplanes are different from cars ... They don't have to deal with salt and every minute has to be recorded  — and regular inspections," he said.

"Old airplanes are really very good airplanes."

Brewer Aviation's first project a 1946 Aeronca Chief purchased in Quebec. The plane had been vandalized – the fabric on the wings was slashed but there was no structural damage.

Aircraft maintenance engineer Deryck Hickox, who has worked on some high-profile restoration projects, came out of retirement to work with Brewer Aviation.

These wings from the Aeronca Chief were vandalized and will have to be re-covered during the restoration process.

Passing on knowledge

​Hickox has taken several teenagers under his wings to restore the Aeronca. They've taken it down to the frame, and will now get work sandblasting, priming and painting.

"This one is a choice piece for a restorer to get because all of the original pieces are still with the airplane and they're all in very restorable condition. So it will look like a new 1946 Aeronca Chief when it's done."

Hickox is also looking forward to passing along what he knows to his proteges.

"When I started, the old fellas — and I'm now one, unfortunately — taught me how to do fabric covering because it was dying at that time, and that's 50 years ago.  It's still dying and the new people coming along don't get any contact with it," he said.

"I'm hoping that I can get some of them interested enough so that they'll carry on and do what I'm doing now."

This is the frame of a new plane being assembled from a kit at Brewer Aviation.

In flight this spring

In addition to restoration work, Brewer Aviation will also service private aircraft and do major rebuilds. They're also the Maritime agents for a company called Just Aircraft, based in South Carolina, that sells kits to build a plane.

The company hopes to have the Aeronca — and their first plane from a kit— ready to fly in the spring.

"Spring time it is," said Brewer. "Everything in aviation comes alive in the spring."

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Damaged private jets to remain grounded for two months

Eight corporate jets and charter planes, damaged in the Chennai deluge last week, will remain grounded for two-three months for inspection and overhaul.

While companies can claim insurance for damages to spare parts and components, charter companies will take a hit as loss of revenue is not covered under insurance policies.

Planes belonging to TVS Motors, Sun TV, Kalyan Jewellers and Joy Jets (charter firm belonging to Joy Alukkas group) have been impacted due to the flooding. Damages to hull and spares are estimated to be around Rs 200 crore, according to a senior executive from  a public sector insurance company.

Chennai-based United India Insurance, among other insurance companies, has been involved in the process of assessing the claims through insurance surveyors and loss assessors.

“Aircraft owners are staring at the possibility of huge losses in terms of repairs, loss of business, increased insurance premiums and hundreds of utilization hours lost on these assets worth millions,” said Jayant Nadkarni, president, Business Aircraft Operators Association.

Ravi Menon, executive director, Air Works, which provides maintenance services to the business aircraft owners, said: “These are unusual circumstances and maintenance work on the impacted aircraft will be anything but routine. We are in touch with engine and component manufacturers to understand the level of engineering checks which need to be carried out. A complete integrity check would be required to assess the damage to engines, landing gear, wiring and components. It may take at least two months for some of these aircraft to get air worthiness.”

“Our business is down 50 percent as one of our two Embraer jets is grounded after floods,” said Captain Asif Punathil, head (operations) of Joy Jets. According to him, engine, components and landing gear would require an overhaul and the aircraft might  remain out of service for next three-six months. The avionics compartment in the jet are situated  above the baggage hold of aircraft which was submerged  in the water. “As the airport boundary wall collapsed river water gushed in and this could contain effluents and sewer impacting the engines. We are in touch with manufacturers to assess damage,” he added.


Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL) unveils temporary runway

Micheal Reisman, deputy executive director of development and operations at Asheville Regional Airport, speaks during the official unveiling of a new temporary runway Wednesday morning. Board members and staff of the airport, Tina Kinsey, Matthew Burrill, K. Ray Bailey and Lew Bleiweis, stand next to Reisman on the temporary airstrip.

A new temporary runway at Asheville Regional Airport will be commissioned into service Thursday morning.

The runway will temporarily replace the existing airstrip, which has been in service since the airport opened in 1961, until a permanent one is built in late 2017 or early 2018.

The temporary runway is 7,000 feet long and 100 feet wide, which is slightly narrower and shorter, and sits adjacent to the old runway.

It is being dubbed a temporary runway because it will used for all commercial, general aviation and military flight operations for a two-year period of time.

Michael Reisman, deputy director of development and operations, said the pavement strength and type of aircraft the temporary runway can support matches the permanent runway.

Airport officials said travelers should not notice a difference with the transition, other than the possibility of slight more aircraft taxi time.

The four-phase project, slated for completion in 2018, will result in a new permanent runway, with the temporary airstrip being converted into a taxiway on the west side of the airfield, according to a news release from the airport.

The project will also open up more than 40 acres of land for aeronautical development.


Incident occurred December 09, 2015 near Kennedy International Airport (KJFK)

QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- Another passenger flight was struck with a laser overnight.

The pilot of a Skylink Express flight reported the laser strike at about 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The plane was at an altitude of about 1,500 feet and about 4 miles northwest of Kennedy airport when the laser was reported.

It was coming from Ontario, Canada, and was landing at JFK. The plane landed safely.

A Federal Aviation Administration statement said the crew of Skylink Express Flight 9742 reported a green laser that illuminated the Hawker Beechcraft B1900 aircraft.

No injuries were reported. The plane is a 19-seat, twin-engine turbo prop. Other planes in the area were alerted.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the New York City Police Department were investigating the incident.


Porter Airlines' proposal to bring jets to island airport dead in the water: PortsToronto says it will not complete studies requested by City of Toronto last year

The proposal by Porter Airlines to bring jets to an expanded island airport is officially dead in the water.

On Tuesday, PortsToronto, the owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, said it will not complete a series of studies requested by city council last year.

"PortsToronto will complete the technical work currently underway, but will not proceed with further public engagement-related activities pertaining to the Porter Proposal to introduce jets," the agency's CEO Geoffrey Wilson said in a statement. "As such, the studies will not be finished."

The agency said that in April 2014, it undertook three studies - "an Environmental Assessment, Preliminary Runway Design and Master Planning Exercise – to inform the discussion on the Porter Proposal" at the request of the city.

PortsToronto's decision follows last month's announcement by Transport Minister Marc Garneau that his government would not amend the tripartite agreement, which governs what kind of aircraft can take off and land at Billy Bishop, to remove the prohibition on commercial jets there.

One of the groups that had been protesting against Porter's proposal, NoJetsTO, welcomed the news.

"Today the pro-jets camp moved from denial to acceptance by pulling the plug on the expansion study," the group's chairman Norman Di Pasquale said. "The airport expansion study was flawed and pointless; by ending it the Port Authority for once did the right thing."

PortsToronto said it would continue to focus on the airport's current operations "in order to benefit our passenger base, fulfill the airport's potential and serve Toronto's economic interests, all the while ensuring appropriate fit with its waterfront surroundings."

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