Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Incident occurred December 16, 2015 at Greenville Spartanburg International Airport (KGSP), Greer, South Carolina

GREER, S.C. —A commercial regional jet landed at Greenville Spartanburg International Airport after a "declared emergency" Wednesday afternoon, according to officials.

The crew of the regional jet reported an electrical smell in the cockpit, leading to the landing.

Emergency vehicles were called to GSP to prepare for the plane's arrival.

The plane landed safely just before 3:30 p.m.

Rosylin Weston, with GSP, said the jet was a Delta flight from Roanoke to Atlanta.

The emergency landing at GSP is categorized as a diversion, since that was not its destination.

"These are always nerve-racking," Weston said. "But the good news is we have a great team of first responders -- policemen, firemen -- who are trained to spring into action and they do. And fortunately today was good practice for them."

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A Delta airplane had to make an emergency landing at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport Wednesday afternoon.

A spokeswoman from GSP Airport says the plane was en route from Roanoke Virginia to Atlanta.

The pilot declared an emergency after someone found smoke in the cabin.

First responders were on standby at the airport in case they were needed.

No one was injured and the plane landed safely.


Raytheon (Beech) A36 Bonanza, N3189M, Snowbird Aviation Corp: Incident occurred December 16, 2015 at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (KAZO), Kalamazoo County, Michigan

Date: 16-DEC-15
Time: 16:24:00Z
Regis#: N3189M
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 36
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA FSDO: FAA Grand Rapids FSDO-09
State: Michigan




KALAMAZOO, MI – Officials at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport were checking into a small aircraft that was damaged and leaking fuel late Wednesday morning.

Emergency responders were dispatched to the airport at about 11:25 a.m. Upon arriving, they reported that a small plane was leaking fuel at the south end of the airport and its landing gear was collapsed.

No injuries were reported and no flames or smoke were visible.

There was no immediate word on whether the private plane was preparing to take off, or whether it had just landed.

The extent of the fuel leak was not immediately known.

Kalamazoo County Airport Director David Reid said passengers had exited the aircraft and a problem with its landing gear was initially reported. But he said he had no further details as of shortly before noon.

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SkyWest slates open house amid CEO transition

SkyWest CEO Jerry Atkin is retiring after more than 40 years at the helm of the St. George-based regional carrier. An open house is scheduled Friday to celebrate his pending retirement.

When SkyWest CEO Jerry Atkin landed a job with his relatives’ budding airline more than 40 years ago, he had no background in aviation and had only been on an airplane twice to interview as a prospective employee with an MBA and accounting degree.

Atkin’s ancestors helped pioneer Southern Utah but when it came time to go to college, he left his small home town with no real expectation of ever moving back.

“I had no idea that there’d be a way or a reason to come back to St. George, not because I wouldn’t have liked to, but there wasn’t a lot to come back to or a lot of things to do back then,” he said.

Then his uncle, Ralph Atkin, called and said, “I’ve got this little airline going down here. It’s really little and it’s got a little messed up, but I wish you’d come back and help me with it,” he said. “And I (thought), ‘Maybe I can go back to St. George.’”

On Friday, SkyWest will celebrate Atkin’s tenure and pending retirement with an open house at The Falls Event Center on Mall Drive.

Atkin was the youngest CEO to direct a regularly scheduled airline when he took over the reins from Ralph in 1975, two years into the company’s history. He has since been recognized as the longest-tenured CEO in the industry.

“We went from a little rinky-dink outfit that people just made fun of, to we are by far the most capable regional to any major carrier that we choose to work with or that chooses to work with us,” Atkin said last Thursday. “This has just been a lifetime experience for me. It’s just been absolutely fantastic. … An amazing journey of a lot of accomplishments (with) a lot of people who themselves have developed a lot. ... So it’s really been a blast.”

SkyWest’s planes now fly routes in every state every month except for Alaska and Hawaii. The airline provides St. George residents direct access to Delta and United airlines routes and it employs some 28,000 people and $3 billion worth of airplanes, according to Atkin and SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow.

“We carry one out of every 11 passengers that get on a flight in the United States that are not going international,” Atkin said.

“We’ve really hit some big marks, not that I care about the bigness part of it, but we are the biggest regional in the world. One of the biggest fleets of airplanes in the world,” he said. “(Our employees) have achieved that together.”

Sid Atkin
From small beginnings

SkyWest was forged in Ralph Atkin’s love of flying.

“He and some guys wanted to buy an airplane together because it was a little less expensive to get flying lessons if you owned the airplane instead of paying rent to somebody,” Jerry Atkin said.

When Ralph called, Jerry was so excited at the prospect of returning to St. George he didn’t give any thought to state of the company’s books.

“It’s probably a good thing I didn’t,” he said. “An airline sounded interesting to me. … (But) when I came, I thought I’d made the mistake of a lifetime because we couldn’t pay our bills, (the company) was broke. It looked hopeless. We couldn’t sell it.”

But the company’s 15 employees had a passion for flying, and that was infectious, he said. As they worked together to save the company and then make some progress, Atkin learned to fly and has since logged 45 hours in the air. But he stopped short of getting a license because he didn’t want the temptation of thinking he could do whatever he wants, he said.

Getting bigger

After a little over a decade, SkyWest became a publicly traded company in 1986. The decision was born of the need to come up with more money – “flying airplanes is pretty capital intensive … and none of us had deep pockets,” Atkin said.

But SkyWest was still small and unlikely to draw investors. It had started with small planes that cost about $100,000, then made the leap to a plane worth $1.3 million in 1979. Then came an opportunity to acquire a competitor’s fleet with planes worth more than $3 million, Atkin said.

“But it needed a flight attendant. I mean it was a real airplane, relatively speaking,” he said.

So SkyWest dealt with the challenges of going public, including getting a “high-quality auditor” to go back through the company’s books, and establishing a corporate board with experienced members who weren’t family members. The public offering basically funded the new, larger twin-turboprop airplanes that were part of SkyWest’s fleet up until this year.

The public offering “also was a way people could put their money in if they wanted, and then if they wanted to get out there was a way to get out” – something difficult for a private company to manage.

SkyWest CEO Jerry Atkin, left, visits with one of the airline's pilots in Chicago earlier this year. 


SkyWest’s advances included occasional happy accidental accomplishments that could easily be described as luck.

Atkin’s first challenge was to help save the company, he said. As the company’s fleet grew and SkyWest went public and the company gained leadership stronger than it knew it had, it found an opportunity to partner with Western Airlines, well aware that the company was small and financially vulnerable.

“We knew we were taking a bit of a risk,” Atkin said.

But shortly afterward, Delta and Western agreed to a merger, and the Western brand was discontinued in 1987.

“It was the coolest thing we could have imagined,” Atkin said. “There could not have been a better outcome for us.”

Then small 50-seat jets became available to regional carriers in the industry and SkyWest acquired 10 worth $16 million each. The first four were delivered in 1994.

In the late 1990s, SkyWest made a “cold call” to United to discuss a potential feeder relationship. The resulting partnership gave SkyWest “the largest growth of a regional carrier ever in history,” Atkin said. The company’s size doubled overnight.

Acquisitions in 2005, 2010 and 2014 were just a continuation of what by that point had become a trend for success.

As the new CEO-in-waiting, Chip Childs, prepares to take Atkin’s place, Atkin said he’s only planning to spend more time with his family and to continue serving SkyWest as chairman of the board, which meets quarterly in St. George and Atlanta.

“I have lots of interests, but I’m not going to take on any new whatevers for at least a year,” he said. “But I’m not going to be sitting home watching TV, I can tell you for sure.”

If You Go

What: Reception honoring Jerry Atkin

When: Friday, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: The Falls Event Center, 170 S. Mall Drive, St. George

Information: Contact SkyWest Corporate Communications, (435) 634-3553.

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Trenton-Mercer Airport (KTTN) air traffic control tower gets funded another year

EWING — The air traffic control tower at Trenton-Mercer Airport was spared from the chopping block for another year after federal funding was approved this week, county officials announced.

The money was included in the Federal Aviation Administration's $154.4 million contract tower program that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday.

"Mercer County is appreciative of the congressional leaders who continue to recognize the vital significance of airports like Trenton-Mercer Airport and the necessity of funding contract towers," County Executive Brian Hughes said. "Millions of travelers far beyond the borders of Mercer County have grown to depend on Trenton-Mercer Airport."

The air traffic control tower was among the 189 contracted towers the FAA proposed cutting under 2013's budget sequestration.

Hughes appealed to the FAA and officials in Washington, D.C. to continue funding for the tower, citing the safety of local airspace and the detrimental impact it could have on the region's economy.

The airport has 80,000 takeoffs and landings per year.


Air Force contractors paid billions, fined millions

Since the beginning of 2014, Boeing Company has paid more than $41 million in penalties for alleged misconduct in contracts with the U.S. Air Force.

It’s one of six major federal contractors accused of misconduct in Air Force contracting since the beginning of last year — cases against Northrop Grumman, DynCorp International and Iron Bow Holdings are pending — according to a database from the Project on Government Oversight.

POGO has assembled a list of 206 major federal contractors who combined paid at least $92 billion to settle nearly 2,500 misconduct claims across the federal government since 1995.

Boeing was number four on that list with 63 instances of misconduct and $1.46 billion in fines. Meanwhile it reaped $19.6 billion in awards in 2014 alone.

How is this possible? Well, the website The Intercept found Boeing near the top of another list: lobbying expenditures. Boeing spent more than $16 million in the first nine months of 2015, making the company the second biggest spender on lobbying Congress this year.

POGO found several companies among the federal government’s largest contractors who racked up numerous findings of misconduct, and the Intercept found several of those were among the top lobbying spenders.

The two misconduct claims that cost Boeing $23 million and $18 million seperately over the last year alleged the company over-charged the Air Force in labor costs for the maintenance and repair of the C-17 Globemaster aircraft.

Boeing also repairs C-17 aircraft at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, including the one that caught fire in January.


The day death rained on New York: 55 years ago a midair collision sent a TWA jetliner hurtling into Park Slope

NEW YORK – It was a crisp, wintry day. A thin coating of snow covered the streets. It was the end of the week, just nine days before Christmas and the city was filled with the bright spirit of the holiday.  But that Friday, December 16, 1960, would be remembered as one of the darkest days in the city’s  history.

It was the day death rained from the sky when two passenger planes collided over the eastern edge of Staten Island – one, a propeller-powered TWA Super Constellation with 44 aboard, and the other a United DC 8 jet carrying 84 people.  The TWA plane crashed into a field on Staten Island, while the jetliner plummeted into the intersection of Sterling Place and 7th Avenue in Park Slope. The street was turned into a raging inferno.  Six people on the ground were killed instantly.  It was the worst civil aviation disaster to date in aviation history.

Hundreds of miles to the west, I was a fledgling reporter at a radio station in Columbus, Ohio.  I broke into regular programming with bulletins about the disaster in New York, where I had been scheduled to visit that weekend.

I quickly realized that I had an emotional attachment to the story.  Had it not been for a colleague’s drinking problem, I would have been on TWA Flight 266 that morning, a non-stop flight from Columbus, Ohio to New York.  I had been looking forward to spending a long weekend with my family, but my news director refused to let me leave on that Friday because he assigned me to cover the overnight shift of a colleague he suspended because he was drunk. “Leave on Saturday,” he said “and take an extra day Monday.”  I booked a seat on TWA Flight 266  for the following morning.

During my flight to New York, I could feel the anxieties overcome my body.  Despite the disaster, the number of the flight had not been changed.  Passengers gripped newspapers with bold headlines of the tragedy.  I scribbled notes during the flight, notes that are now yellowed and faded from age.  But the memories of that day remain quite vivid.

After picking me up at the airport, my parents drove me to the scene in Brooklyn.  I flashed my local Ohio press pass and police gave me access. The scene was surreal.  Twisted and mangled chunks of a once sleek airliner littered the street.  Parts of the landing gear lay beside a small tree, an overturned car was crushed. I walked across the water soaked and scorched carpet of the jet’s fuselage. Seats were torn from their mountings. There was a gaping hole at the Pillar of Fire Church that was struck by the plane as it plunged to the ground.  But out of the tragedy, there was one glimmer of hope…a miracle.  Stephen Baltz, 11, flying home alone to see his grandmother for Christmas, was the only survivor. A flight attendant grabbed the boy and held him in her lap as the plane hit the ground.  He was thrown from the plane and landed in a snow bank, badly burned, but still alive.  As I was standing amid the wreckage, absorbing the magnitude of the disaster, a producer with CBS  who  I had gone to college with, informed me “The boy has died.”

As I looked around, I felt the grief that had overwhelmed us all that day. Long before the days of cell phones, I looked for a phone booth  so I could file a report for my radio station back in Columbus.

55 years later I still reflect on that day---the devastation, the anguish on the faces of   emergency workers still at the scene. And I will never forget the contrasting cheers of my colleagues in Columbus who toasted me at the company Christmas party that fateful day, delighted that my weekend plans had been changed because a colleague got drunk and I had to work his shift.

Each anniversary serves as a reminder of how fortunate I was to not be on Flight 266 that day.  And  more than five decades later I try to avoid flying anywhere on December 16th .

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Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG) to get seaplane charter service to Fort Lauderdale

Tropic Ocean Airways, a private seaplane company, will bring commercial service back to Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, according to the company's website.

The South Florida-based airline's website lists flights available to and from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The company's CEO, Rob Ceravolo, will be at the airport in St. Pete Thursday to make an announcement with officials from the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Tropic Ocean Airways has a fleet of seaplanes and private jets that land in tropical destinations usually only accessible by boat or helicopter. The company offers private charter services to Florida coastal destinations, the Keys and the Bahamas.

Ceravolo, a former Navy Top Gun fighter pilot, founded the company in 2009. In addition to private charter flights, Tropic Ocean offers cargo and freight services and yacht charter services.

Tropic Ocean operates out of a Sheltair, a private terminal in Fort Lauderdale International Airport and the Miami Seaplane Base, a cruise ship port channel. The company says that passengers don't have to wait in long security and customs lines when they fly on their chartered planes. They offer free parking at the terminal in Fort Lauderdale, too.

There are four planes in the company's fleet, according to the Tropic Ocean website; three are seaplanes and one is a private jet that seats nine travelers.

It is unclear at this time when service will begin, but the company's website cites flights from St. Pete to Fort Lauderdale next April priced at $249 each way.

The Tropic Ocean service comes just a few days after Raven Air, another private charter company based in Marco Island, announced it would offer direct flights to the Florida Keys from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Albert Whitted is credited as being the birthplace of commercial air service, with National Airlines (which eventually merged with Pan-Am,) offering service there beginning in 1934.


Pocatello ranked among top airports in nation

POCATELLO — Those traveling for the holidays may want to consider flying out of the Pocatello Regional Airport.

The online trip calculator Travelmath recently analyzed 322 airports in the U.S. using information gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics from January to August, and it ranked some of the country’s smallest airports among the best. Canyonlands Field Airport in Moab, Utah, came in first, but Pocatello wasn’t far behind at No. 6.

“Overall, Western states including Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska dominate the list of the top 20 airports, suggesting that the country’s best airports are located mostly in the West,” according to “All but six of the top 20 top-ranked airports were also the least busy (less than 1,000 flight volume) — in other words, the country’s smallest airports are also its top ranked.”

Idaho Falls Regional Airport came in at 28th.

David Allen, manager of the Pocatello airport, agreed that there are advantages to flying out of smaller airports, which have fewer flights and, subsequently, fewer problems. And they have some perks, too. Pocatello offers free parking, complimentary coffee and a business work station, he said.

“Smaller airports offer overall better service,” he stated. “Pocatello, for example, is well known by our regular flyers for friendly service. We know our travelers; they’re our neighbors. Pocatello also offers the convenience of flying from home. We are minutes away from your front door, not hours.”

Travelmath looked at criteria including the percentage of cancelled and delayed flights, taxi time, average fare and TSA claims.

Not every small airport was ranked toward the top of the list — Columbia Regional Airport in Missouri came in at No. 317 overall. Still, the study found the higher the air traffic, the more airport rankings suffered. More than half of the 20 lowest-ranked airports serviced more than 10,000 flights.

“Some of the country’s busiest airports are located in major cities, and, surprisingly, many of these well-known airports rank at the bottom of the list,” according to, which adds that the three major airports in the New York City area all ranked in the bottom 10.

Although smaller airports often have premiums and limited daily flight schedules, Allen says they can also save people money and time when the cost of trying to get to another airport is taken into consideration.

“My advice is to check the fares at Pocatello each time you are booking a flight,” Allen said, adding that the prices can vary. “You may want to visit our website to better understand the true costs of driving to Salt Lake City so you have something to compare the premium against.”

Travel agents can also help people save money, he said.

Allen noted that there were 26,000 passenger boardings at Pocatello in 2014, up 12.5 percent from 2012, and numbers appear to be up slightly this year as well.

“We have gone out of our way to make the airport attractive, comfortable and interesting from the moment a traveler takes the interstate exit until they board the aircraft,” he said, adding that they have a newer parking area, a covered breezeway leading to the terminal, the Kizuna Japanese Garden, a new gate waiting area and a new passenger boarding bridge. “We’ve added amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a book swap from the Friends of the Marshall Public Library, a business work center and a military display on loan from the Bannock County Historical Museum.”


Robinson R44 Raven II, EI-DDA: Serious incident occurred August 18, 2014 near Cork Harbour, Ireland

A helicopter which made an emergency landing in a field near Cork Harbour last year suffered catastrophic in-flight engine failure, a report has found.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) said the most likely cause of the incident was the deterioration over time of a key engine component in the Robinson R44 Raven II aircraft, which in turn triggered substantial engine damage during the training flight from Cork Airport on August 18, 2014.

However, investigators said they were unable to determine why the engine’s number three small -end bushing had deteriorated to such an extent.

There were no injuries in the incident and the AAIU said there are no safety recommendations arising out of its investigation.

The commander and a student pilot departed on a training flight on the day and were over Cork Harbour when the pilot reported to air traffic controllers that there was a vibration in the helicopter.

He made a mayday call and started an autorotation — using airflow rather than engine power to land — and selected a large field for the emergency landing.

However, as he came in to land at just 500ft above the ground, he was forced to make two adjustments to his flight path to avoid cables, a hedge and some trees, before landing heavily but upright, and sliding to a stop in the field.

Both crew walked away uninjured.

On receipt of the pilot’s written report, the AAIU said it became clear the incident was more serious than was first thought, and an investigation was launched.

It found the engine’s number three con rod had fractured in flight, causing significant secondary damage to the number three and four cylinder barrels, and to the crankcase.

The report said it appeared as if the number three small end bushing had deteriorated over time until an excessive amount of clearance formed between it and the engine’s number three piston pin.

This excessive clearance triggered a sequence of events during which the con rod was overloaded and failed. Subsequently, flailing of the failed con rod parts caused extensive secondary damage to other parts of the engine. The AAIU said the reason for the deterioration of the number three small end bushing could not be determined.

The report found that the same aircraft and the 2003-built engine had an event involving a loss of oil pressure in September 2009. The engine was overhauled after that incident and the work recorded in the aircraft’s maintenance records, which were found to be in order.

The AAIU also said there were no reported problems with the engine at the time of last year’s incident.



SERIOUS INCIDENT: Robinson R44 Raven II, EI-DDA, Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, 18 August 2014: Report 2015-021


The helicopter was on a training flight from Cork Airport. During the en route phase, in the vicinity of Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, the Pilot felt vibration accompanied by low rotor Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) warnings. The Pilot broadcast a “Mayday” transmission to ATC and made a successful autorotation(5) into an agricultural field. There were no injuries. The Investigation found that the helicopter’s engine suffered a gross mechanical failure and the engine sustained substantial damage during the event.

(5) Autorotation: A procedure in which a helicopter rotor is driven solely by the relative motion of air acting on its rotor blades as the helicopter descends without engine power.

Better times ahead for Singapore Airlines group

It has been a slow year for the Singapore Airlines (SIA) group.

Since April, when the group consolidated operating numbers for all four passenger arms - SIA, SilkAir, Scoot and Tigerair - overall year-on-year capacity has grown for just four out of eight months.

The biggest jump in capacity, measured by the number of seats offered multiplied by distance flown, was 1.3 percent in October.

The muted growth was due mainly to slowdowns at Tigerair and the premium parent carrier. Meanwhile, the group's long-haul budget arm, Scoot, and regional subsidiary, SilkAir, continued to grow. Last month for example, Scoot, which has been taking delivery of its new Boeing 787 aircraft, grew its capacity by more than 42 per cent compared with November last year.

SIA and its subsidiaries are carrying more passengers than before and filling up more seats per aircraft. This has a positive impact on the bottom line, analysts said.

UOB Kay Hian's K. Ajith said: "By managing capacity, SIA has been able to improve average passenger loads for the last five consecutive months, which is positive.

"Codeshare deals with partner carriers have also likely helped. Every flight has a break-even passenger load factor, so anything above that translates into earnings."

Last month, industry think-tank Centre for Aviation named SIA's chief executive Goh Choon Phong Asia-Pacific Airline CEO of the Year. The center noted his successful implementation of several major new strategic initiatives that have positioned the SIA group for future growth despite competition from low-cost carriers and Gulf carriers. This includes starting Scoot and joint-venture airline Vistara in India, as well as partnerships with other carriers such as Lufthansa.

SIA plans to launch new destinations when its Airbus 350s start arriving next month. It has ordered 67 aircraft, including four ultra- long-range ones, which will fly non-stop from Singapore to the United States in 2018.

Republic Polytechnic's head of the diploma in aviation management programme, Mr H. R. Mohandas, said: "SIA is on the right track but it takes time for strategies to bear fruit. There is huge potential, for example, in recent moves by the group to align the operations of all four carriers. A strong home carrier with all four arms working as one will ultimately benefit Changi Airport and seal Singapore's status as a premier air hub."


Mile High Club Website Owner: Sex on Plane Not a Nuisance • "The potential for being arrested adds to the mystique," according to proprietor Phil Kessler

Causing a ruckus on commercial flights is a serious offense, punishable by up to $25,000 and possible jail time. But, while most would view these penalties as a deterrent, some find it alluring.

Phil Kessler owns and operates the Mile High Club, a website that allows airline passengers to brag about their sexual encounters on commercial flights. Kessler says his group has millions of members around the world and maintains that the Mile High Club does not create a nuisance for the flying public.

Kessler said the possibility of being arrested "kind of adds to the experience," but he emphasized club members should be considerate of other airline passengers.

"Hopefully they won’t take up too much time if they use the lavatories so that it doesn’t create a line," he said.

Many in the airline industry have a different point of view. A recent NBC Bay Area investigation found a spike in complaints from flight crews about unruly passengers who make their jobs more difficult. Incidents ranged from assaulting flight attendants, to sex in lavatories.  

Highlights from NBC Bay Area's interview with's Phil Kessler:

KESSLER: There’s millions of members. Over the course of time and multiple countries. We hear stories from people all over the world.

What is the goal of the Mile High Club?
KESSLER: The goal of Mile High Club is to provide an opportunity for bragging rights for people who claim to be members.

How did you become the owner?
KESSLER: A friend of mine was a colonel in the Air Force. He retired and he owned the trademark and copyright for the Mile High Club. He was the first to do that back in 1984. In '96 he decided to retire and asked if I might be interested in taking over the operation of the mile high club. And I purchased it from him and set up the website and the rest is history.

Potential consequences for joining the mile high club?
KESSLER: Depending on how annoying they may be, they could run into a problem with the Air Marshal. It’s not legal. If they’re disruptive and they’re causing problems for other passengers, they could -  I think they could be arrested. I think that probably adds to the mystique because of the potential for being arrested. It kind of adds to the experience I think.

Do members pose a security risk?
KESSLER: When you’re flying and you’ve got several hours and you’ve had a few drinks and you’re bored you know then you get creative. And I think the excitement of having the opportunity to match up with your partner is compelling, but I don’t think it poses any security threat.

Do members create a public nuisance?
KESSLER: The people that are interested in qualifying need to be considerate of other passengers. And do their qualification in the privacy of some of the areas of the airplane rather than in the seats so they’re not bothering other people. And hopefully they wont take up too much time if they use the lavatories so that it doesn’t create a line.

Have the airlines made changes for Mile High Club Members?
KESSLER: I think the airline has taken the step to sanitize the blankets for example, and they probably do that with the pillows as well. Other accommodations, I don’t think, except for virgin that provides sleeping quarters and privacy rooms I don’t think other airlines are inclined to do that.

Why do people join?
KESSLER: The mystique of qualifying on an airline as a member of the Mile High Club is because its frowned upon and it’s kind of an exciting experience so if the airline was to sanction it. It would probably reduce the compulsion.

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Man indicted in alleged attack on Southwest passenger who reclined her seat

A man accused of choking and punching a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco because she reclined her seat has been indicted for the alleged attack, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Lawrence Wells, 54, is charged with assault causing serious bodily injury after he allegedly hit the woman about 10 minutes into the flight Oct. 18.

Wells, a Bay Area resident, was arrested Wednesday in Los Angeles, where he was expecting to only answer to a citation for the incident, authorities said. He was scheduled to be arraigned in the afternoon and would probably post bail, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Flight 2010 left L.A. International Airport about 10:30 p.m. and landed back at the airport about 15 minutes later because of a “rapidly escalating situation” involving two passengers who weren’t traveling together, Southwest said in a statement.

One person aboard tweeted that the dispute was over a passenger reclining a seat.

Comedian Mark Curry, who hosts a radio show in San Francisco, told the Bay Area's KNTV-TV that he awoke to the victim's shouts.

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"The woman was saying he grabbed her neck. 'He choked me, he choked me! He hit me in the head!'" Curry told the station.

Southwest described the incident as a “physical altercation by one passenger against another,” and said the pilot opted to declare an emergency on the flight to give it priority to land over other inbound flights.

The jet returned to a gate where law enforcement was waiting. Wells was removed from the flight, and the remaining 136 passengers continued their journey to San Francisco just after midnight.


San Diego County Considers Expanding McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ)

San Diego County will study a plan to extend the runway for Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar airport so it can accommodate larger planes and even small commercial airlines.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to approve the staff-recommended CD-III Modified Classification Option in the new airport 20-year master plan.

The plan received the most public support out of three proposed designs.

Supervisors unanimously voted to have staff examine the feasibility of extending the runway by 800 or 900 feet. The cost of the proposed expansion is estimated to be between $80 and $104 million.

Some North County neighbors argued against the plan, raising concerns about increased traffic noise and pollution, but airport officials say those concerns will be studied in the EIR.

San Marcos resident Ray Bender said the board should not rely on recommendations of a consultant.

“You have an independent obligation to look at the economics, to look at the engineering,” Bender said suggesting the addition of more planes to Carlsbad may not bring economic benefit to the county.

Vista resident Stephanie Jackal questioned how the proposed extension will impact those living east of the airport. She asked the board to include consideration of noise impact of approaching aircraft to the master plan.
Public input will be taken during the EIR process, county officials said.

Part of the proposed expansion could mean moving the airport to the north. Supervisor Bill Horn said those pilots who may be inconvenienced should consider relocating to Fallbrook, Borrego or French Valley.

“This is a big huge commercial driver and we’re planning an airport for the next 50 years, if not 100 years,” said Horn. “It’s no longer a little small airport that you can fly in and out of with your Cessna 210.”

Several of the supervisors pointed out that the vote was just the beginning of the process and that more public input would be possible during the EIR process.

The EIR could take at least six months to complete then airport officials would need final approval from the board before construction could begin.

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FAA's new drone rule will help engender responsibility: Editorial

In March, the pilot of a nine-passenger Cessna C-208 flying southeast of Portland International Airport reported to air traffic controllers the appearance of "a stationary object, possibly a white UAS quad copter," hovering off to the right. It was far enough away for the pilot not to definitively identify it as a drone, but the small object was holding its position at the same altitude as the Cessna: 2,200 feet.

"No evasive maneuvers were taken," a log kept by the Federal Aviation Administration shows.

The same month, the pilot of a small Grumman American AA1 plane flying at 4,000 feet above PDX reported to the FAA that a black drone was hovering above PDX at an estimated 4,300 feet – not close enough to the Grumman to trigger alarm but reportable as a surprise. "(The pilot) did not have to take evasive maneuver to avoid the drone," the FAA's summary report shows. "The drone was very small.... The pilot thought it might have four rotors."

The list of drone sightings by private and commercial airline pilots nationally shows airspace near airports to be crowded. It's ample evidence of the necessity of the new rule, announced this week by the Federal Aviation Administration, that all lightweight drones – from a half pound in weight up to 55 pounds – be registered as aircraft subject to regulation by the federal government. The rule is aimed at the burgeoning recreational drone market, increasingly affordable to weekend duffers, and it applies to operators aged 13 and above.

"Unmanned aircraft operators are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the unveiling of the new rule. His euphemistic comments were plain, however, in the meaning: An off-course drone could, without intending it, bring a plane down, and folks should know before operating a drone of its lethal potential.

Separately, designers of jet engines, who historically have fed birds into spinning rotors to establish an engine's capacity to withstand off-course flying things, are reported to be considering the drone test. And the fear of drone use by terrorists lurks, taking root in America's use of large bomb-carrying drones to remotely destroy war zone targets.

The FAA's new civilian requirement is hardly onerous: Registration showing ownership details, and requiring a $5 fee, is completed online, with the result an identification number is issued for application to the drone for sight verification. A recreational drone is never to leave the line of sight of its operator, meanwhile, and rules requiring small drones to keep clear of airports by a distance of 5 miles and which prohibit flight at altitudes above 400 feet remain in place.

As sensible as it is, the rule provoked a divided reaction. Drone manufacturers and drone user groups protested the rule as burdensome, while others complained the rule could curb freedoms – as if the air space were up for grabs. That's unfortunate. Drones are exploding in the marketplace as a preferred recreation, with, federal officials say, the sale of hundreds of thousands of them anticipated this holiday season. Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Nobody occupying the skies above should feel untraceable for it. Lives depend on it.

This is to say nothing of the separate but unresolved and complex issue of personal privacy – or the threat posed to citizens by remotely operated "eyes in the sky" – as inexpensive drones are increasingly equipped with video capability capturing immense fields of information. For less than $150 at WalMart, for example, it is possible to buy a four-prop helicopter that allows live streaming to the base station while recording video or still images.

Much is yet to be done as drone traffic thickens. A presidential memo was issued in February directing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to address privacy, accountability and transparency issues arising from private and commercial drone use in the National Airspace System. Separately, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a stickler on privacy issues, cosponsors a bill in Congress now in committee that would require the federal government to obtain a warrant before conducting aerial surveillance in the U.S. – a rational measure that protects privacy while demanding responsibility in drone use.

For now, however, it's enough that anyone putting a flying object up in the sky avoid anonymity and do so accountably. More and more difficult rules are in the making. This one, judging by the reports of pilots at major airports, is a no-brainer.

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Port, Alaska Air and Boeing press ahead on biofuels at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA)

Resky Killion, a fueler at Sea-Tac International Airport, fills tanks on the wing of an Alaska jet before its flight to St. Louis, Mo.. The Port of Seattle, Alaska Air and Boeing announced Wednesday they would collaborate on a study of the infrastructure needed to use aviation biofuels for regular flights from Sea-Tac.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is taking another step toward powering everyday flights with sustainable aviation biofuel after the Port of Seattle, Boeing and Alaska Airlines agreed to study practical issues such as whether the airport’s existing network of giant tanks and underground pipes can be used for biofuels.

The $250,000 study, paid for by the port, will assess the costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver a blend of biofuel and conventional jet fuel to aircraft at Sea-Tac. The three contributors say that infrastructure is a crucial step toward routine biofuel use in the future: Another key issue is how to get biofuels to the port..

“We need to get the infrastructure developed so when there is a supply we can get it into the aircraft, but we also need someone to come along and produce it at commercial quantity and market rates” said Joe Sprague, senior vice president of communications and external relations at Alaska Airlines. “Our view is if we show the demand by the airlines, we show the infrastructure readiness on the part of the airports, than hopefully we can get the fuel producers to come on board as well.”

The partners say their long-term plan is to incorporate “significant quantities of biofuel” into Sea-Tac’s fuel infrastructure, which is used by 26 airlines and more than 380,000 flights annually at the airport.

Currently fuel is piped underground from an adjacent fuel farm to the airport and into airplanes. The study will determine if the existing infrastructure works for biofuels or if new storage facilities or additional piping would be needed.

“It really is an absolutely necessary step in order to have a regular commercial quantity of biofuels available here at Sea-Tac,” said Sprague.

Aviation biofuels are not currently being produced in Washington and must be imported by truck, rail or barge. The study will also explore the most effective way to get biofuel to the port.

Boeing will provide expertise on developing a regional biofuel supply chain to serve the airport.

“It is not easy to develop an entirely new fuel supply for aviation, but we are committed to do this on a global basis, and first in the Puget Sound,” said Sheila Remes, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of strategy, during a news conference at Sea-Tac’s fuel farm.

The study is expected to be complete by late 2016.

Alaska Airlines was the first airline to fly multiple flights using blend of aviation biofuels made from used cooking oils and waste animal fat in 2011, and next year it plans to fly the first commercial flight on alcohol-to-jet fuel, Sprague said.

Additionally, as a partner with the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, Alaska plans to fly a demonstration flight next year using a new aviation biofuel made from forest-industry waste. Both those fuels must first be certified, however.

The airline industry has some strong emission production targets over the next several years.

“Really, at the end of the day, the only thing that is going to help us really achieve the industry targets is the use of alternative fuels, and the best bet is a biofuel,” said Sprague.

For the Port, aviation biofuel is key to meeting its goal of reducing aircraft-related emissions at Sea-Tac by 25 percent.

Boeing has active biofuel projects in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“[Sustainable aviation biofuel] reduces CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent on a gallon per gallon basis compared to petroleum,” Remes said. “That is good for our customers, our employees, the Puget Sound community and the planet.”


Boeing 777-236ER, British Airways, G-VIIO: Accident occurred September 08, 2015 at McCarran International Airport (KLAS), Las Vegas, Nevada

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office
General Electric
Air Accidents Investigation Branch

NTSB Identification: DCA15FA185
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 129: Foreign operation of BRITISH AIRWAYS PLC
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 08, 2015 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: BOEING COMPANY BOEING 777-236, registration: G-VIIO
Injuries: 1 Serious, 5 Minor, 164 Uninjured.

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

On September 8, 2015, about 1613 pacific daylight time (PDT), British Airways flight 2276, a Boeing 777-200, equipped with two GE90-85B engines, registration G-VIIO, experienced a #1 engine uncontained failure during takeoff ground roll on runway 7L at McCarran International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, Nevada. The #1 engine, inboard left wing, and a portion of the left and right fuselage sustained fire damage. Resulting fire was extinguished by airport rescue and fire fighting. The 157 passengers, including 1 lap child, and 13 crew members evacuated via emergency slides on the runway. There were 5 minor injuries and 1 serious injury as a result of the evacuation. The airplane was substantially damaged. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 129 and was en route to London - Gatwick Airport (LGW), Horley, England.

Following an uncontained engine failure and fire as a British Airways 777 jet took off in Las Vegas last September, the Federal Aviation Administration is initially mandating inspections of a small number of in-service engines. These are expected to be completed this week.

Following an uncontained engine failure and fire as a Boeing-built British Airways 777 jet took off in Las Vegas last September, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is initially mandating inspections of just six specific engines of similar age, configuration and usage flying in the U.S.

The FAA airworthiness directive, set to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, requires an inspection of three metal disks in the innards of the six GE-90 engines, and replacement of the parts if any anomaly is found.

GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said only one of the six engines listed by the FAA remains to be inspected and that one will be done this week.

Kennedy said GE anticipates inspecting a second small set of engines once the first set of inspections is complete, and it expects another FAA airworthiness directive to make this mandatory.

The required ultrasonic inspections are conducted without removing the engines from the wings of the jets.

In the Sept. 8 incident, a metal disk in the high pressure compressor section of the engine core broke apart explosively on take-off, shooting out hot metal fragments that pierced the engine, the pod surrounding the engine and the wing of the airplane and igniting a serious engine fire.

The pilot aborted the take-off, slammed on the brakes and ordered an evacuation. All 157 passengers and 13 crew on board were able to exit safely on emergency-escape slides from the right side of the aircraft as fire engulfed the left side.

The engine involved in this first uncontained failure of any GE-90 was one of the first built for the initial 777s after 1995.

About 400 engines of this early GE-90 type are now in service on 167 airplanes. More recently built 777s have a different configuration.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is in charge of the accident investigation, has not released any information on whether the initial inspections turned up any anomalies.

A pre-publication copy of the FAA mandate states that the root cause of the initial crack in the disk that broke apart is still unknown but that once this is determined, “we might consider additional rulemaking.”

Original article can be found here: 

Work is nearing completion on the British Airways Boeing 777 that caught fire after an aborted takeoff in Las Vegas in September, but airline officials aren't saying when the plane will be flown from McCarran International Airport.

A construction tent that had been placed over the hull of the wide-bodied jet has been removed. An aluminum alloy skin patch appears to have been placed on the port side of the aircraft. The port-side jet engine that had been removed last year has yet to be replaced.

"Safety is always British Airways' first priority," a spokeswoman for the London-based airline said in an email. "A team from Boeing is carrying out the repair work, which will be certified to the same high standards as if the aircraft was brand new. The aircraft will resume flying once stringent checks have been completed."

The spokeswoman said no timeline has been set for when the aircraft would resume flying.

While parked at McCarran, British Airways is paying $375 a day in fees and by the end of February, the bill would reach more than $53,000.

The jet, a twin-engine Boeing 777-200ER, was scheduled to fly as British Airways Flight 2276 from McCarran to London's Gatwick International Airport on Sept. 8.

Midway through its takeoff run, before the plane lifted off the ground, the jet's left engine experienced an uncontained failure that started a fire. Debris spewed out of the engine and onto the runway.

The pilot shut down the engine and aborted the takeoff and while McCarran's emergency response crews sped to the burning plane, the plane's 157 passengers and 13 crew members began evacuating on emergency slides.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report in October said the "left engine and pylon, left fuselage structure and inboard left wing ... were substantially damaged by the fire."

Officials reported 14 people suffered minor injuries, most of them as a result of a rough ride down the emergency chutes. The runway was closed for four hours.

Aviation experts initially said they expected the plane's insurers to declare the aircraft a "hull loss," meaning that it was too damaged for repair and that it would be disassembled for parts.

In December, the airline determined that the plane's damage was suitable for repair so a plan was established to bring repair crews to McCarran to make the jet airworthy.

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The British Airways Boeing 777 that aborted a takeoff at McCarran International Airport with 157 passengers and 13 crew members aboard in September will fly again.

A representative of the London-based airline said Wednesday that crews would be dispatched to McCarran and that work would begin "shortly" to repair the aircraft's hull to make it airworthy.

Noting that "safety is always British Airways' top priority," a company spokeswoman said in an email, "The airframe was inspected by a team of highly experienced engineers from Boeing who concluded that the damage was limited and suitable for repair.

"A team from Boeing will carry out the repair work, which will be certified to the same high standards as if the aircraft was brand new," she said.

She did not give a timetable for repairs or when the plane would be flown, but the work is expected to begin next month.

The company did not elaborate on the repair process or how much it would cost to fix it.

While parked at McCarran, British Airways is paying $375 a day in fees and by the end of 2015, the bill will reach about $31,000.

The jet, a twin-engine Boeing 777-200ER, was scheduled to fly as British Airways Flight 2276 from McCarran to London's Gatwick International Airport on Sept. 8.

Midway through its takeoff run, before the plane lifted off the ground, the jet's left engine experienced an uncontained failure that started a fire. Debris spewed out of the engine and onto the runway.

The pilot shut down the engine and aborted the takeoff and while McCarran's emergency response crews sped to the burning plane, passengers began evacuating on emergency slides.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report in October said the "left engine and pylon, left fuselage structure and inboard left wing ... were substantially damaged by the fire."

Officials reported 14 people suffered minor injuries, most of them a result of a rough ride down the emergency chute. The runway was closed for four hours.

Aviation experts said they expected the plane's insurers to declare the aircraft a "hull loss," meaning that it was too damaged for repair and that it would be disassembled for parts.

Wednesday's email from the company was the first indication that British Airways would instead put a different engine on the plane, repair the hull and fly the plane to a maintenance facility for additional work.

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