Saturday, December 19, 2015

Seaplane celebrates one year at Maroochy River

Cr Jason O’Pray and Pilot Shawn Kelly on the float of Paradise Seaplanes Wilga 80. The seaplane has been operating for one year at Maroochy River.

It has been one year in coming, but Shawn Kelly of Paradise Seaplanes was very pleased to be eating cake on Saturday at Maroochy River.

After a year of battling for a permission, the Sunshine Coast Council awarded a temporary permit to Paradise Seaplanes on 19 December 2014. The permit was extended to July 2016. They have since been awarded a permit for the next 3 year period to 2019 and are very grateful to Sunshine Coast Council for their support.

“We are very grateful to the local community who have shown overwhelming support for this new tourist attraction,” said Mr Kelly. “We have so many people who come up to us and wish us well, it has been heart-warming.”

“My husband and I live across the road from the Maroochy River – and are delighted whenever we see the seaplane landing or taking off on the river,” said Alicia Power of Bradman Avenue.

The business has grown to a two pilot operation in the short time it has been at Maroochy River and Shawn Kelly says are working their way to becoming an iconic attraction on the Sunshine. They have started well, boasting a 5 star Trip Advisor rating and a feature on ‘The Great South East’.

"Paradise Seaplanes is an integral part of the river life and a great ambassador for the Sunshine Coast," said Cr Jason O’Pray. "This is a MUST DO experience for every single Sunshine Coast local."


Pakistan International Airlines fined for letting female use male passport

DUBAI:- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) immigration authorities in Dubai have fined Pakistan International Airlines AED 5,000 for allowing a female passenger to travel on a male passport.

According to sources, a female passenger, Ms. Siddique, traveled on PIA’s flight PK 203 to Dubai on the 16th of December using a British passport.

Authorities in the UAE sent the passenger back to Pakistan via very next flight after it was discovered she had traveled on someone else’s passport.

Sources claim the passenger herself is a British Passport holder and accidentally had her son’s passport when she arrived at the Allama Iqbal Airport for her flight to UAE accompanying her husband.

It raises the question how immigration authorities in Lahore allowed a female to travel on a male passport while an internal inquiry has been launched against PIA staff for issuing a boarding card to the female passenger who did not have the required travel documents.


Piper PA-32RT-300T Turbo Lance II, N36402, RAD Aviation LLC: Fatal accident occurred December 19, 2015 in Bakersfield, Kern County, California

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report: 


NTSB Identification: WPR16FA041 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 19, 2015 in Bakersfield, CA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 32RT-300T, registration: N36402
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

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 December 19, 2015, at 1556 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-32RT-300T, N36402, impacted terrain following an in-flight breakup near Bakersfield, California. The airplane was registered to RAD Aviation LLC, and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot and four passengers sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed during the accident sequence. The cross-country flight departed Reid-Hillview Airport of Santa Clara County, San Jose, California, at 1435, with a planned destination of Henderson Executive Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

Preliminary radar and audio data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane departed San Jose, and initiated a climb to the southeast. The flight had been assigned a squawk code, and was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following. During the initial climb the pilot was provided traffic advisories from SoCal and then NorCal Approach, and reported that he would like to climb to 15,500 ft to stay above clouds. As the flight progressed, NorCal Approach began issuing advisories and vectors to aircraft in the San Jose area for a 10- to 15-mile-wide band of moderate to heavy precipitation. At 1502, the pilot made contact with Oakland Approach, and the airplane began to track south, leveling off at a mode C reported altitude of 15,500 ft. Ten minutes later the airplane began climbing, coincident to a commercial airplane (SkyWest 2955) approaching and descending 4 miles from the east at an altitude of 17,700 ft for an approach to Monterey Regional Airport. The controller received a conflict alert, and the pilot of the commercial airplane reported they were initiating a climb because their traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) had issued a resolution advisory (RA). The controller advised N36402 of the traffic conflict, requested that he maintain VFR, and asked if he was climbing. The pilot reported that he was "going to climb over the top of this (unreadable)," and reported that he would level off at 16,500 ft.

At 1516, the pilot requested a climb to 17,500 ft and direct route to Paso Robles, California. The airplane then abruptly turned east, and 5 minutes later began an arcing right turn towards the south in the direction of Paso Robles. About that time, the controller issued an advisory to VFR traffic for moderate to heavy precipitation south of the Panoche VOR, which was about 40 miles north of N36402, in the region of its earlier flight leg. At 1524, having reached Paso Robles, N36402 began a turn to the east, with the pilot reporting that he was turning towards Bakersfield. The airplane was then transferred to the control of Los Angeles Center. The airplane continued on track towards Bakersfield, and at 1537, about 55 miles west-northwest of Bakersfield, the controller relayed, "moderate precipitation from one to two o'clock to your 9 o'clock position, first group of cells begins in about 5 miles, and then there is a secondary line from north to south that begins in about two zero miles and extends one five miles." The pilot reported that he could see the clouds and would be watching them. Three minutes later he reported that he would be descending to 15,500 ft and shortly thereafter, the pilot of a Cessna 414 reported that he was over the Shafter VOR, and the cloud tops were at 18,000 ft. The pilot of N36402 asked for clarification of the Cessna's location, and the controller advised it was 30 miles to the east. The pilot responded, "Roger, just wondering when I can get over to their altitude and clear the clouds." The controller again alerted the pilot to areas of moderate to heavy precipitation along his route of flight, and the pilot asked if the controller knew how high the bottoms of the clouds were; the controller responded that he did not have that information, but was aware of light rime icing up to 19,000 ft to the southeast. The pilot responded, "Ok, we're going to deviate to the south and try and go through Barstow." Another airplane then reported cloud tops in the Palmdale area of about 21,000 ft and the controller reiterated this information to N36402, advising that it was in the direction that he was heading. The pilot responded, and the controller then provided another weather update, which indicated areas of moderate precipitation at the 11 to 2 o'clock position.

At 1550, the controller asked if the pilot would like to file an IFR clearance to Henderson. The pilot responded in the affirmative, requesting an altitude of 15,000 ft. Two minutes later the airplane began a left turn to the north, and a short time later the controller advised he was ready with the IFR clearance. The controller provided the clearance, and the pilot read it back; however, the airplane had now transitioned to a northeast track. The controller asked if the pilot was turning northbound, and the pilot stated, "Roger, I just took a heading off of Bakersfield and I'm going to change it to the current IFR." The controller then asked the pilot twice without response to turn 10 degrees right to avoid traffic, followed by a request to fly a heading of 095. The pilot responded, however, rather than turning right, the airplane began a climbing left turn to 315 degrees reaching an altitude of 15,600 ft, 40 seconds later. The controller than asked the pilot to make an immediate right turn to 095, however, by this time the airplane had now descended to 13,800 ft and was on an eastbound track. A few seconds later the pilot reported, "air traffic control Lance 402 mayday mayday mayday," followed 20 seconds later by another mayday call. The controller provided vectors to Bakersfield, however, no response was received, and 10 seconds later at 1556:10, the last radar target was recorded indicating the airplane was at an altitude of 11,200 ft. The controller asked multiple aircraft in the vicinity if they could see or contact N36402, however, they responded negative, with one pilot reporting that the area was enveloped in clouds.

The airplane had fragmented in flight, with the majority of the components coming to rest in an almond orchard, directly below the last radar target, about 9 miles southwest of Bakersfield. The orchard was at an elevation of 345 ft msl, and the debris field was 1/2 mile long and 700 ft wide, on a north-south orientation. The engine and forward cabin were located in an irrigation ditch at the southernmost point of the field. Cabin seats, baggage, and the vertical stabilizer were located about 800 ft north, with both wings and multiple cabin roof fragments a further 400 ft downrange. Debris consisting of shredded sections of cabin sheet metal and both the left and right side of the stabilator were located a further 700 ft north; the left aileron was the last component in the path. All primary airframe and flight control components were accounted for at the site.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land issued in July 2012. He did not hold an instrument rating. Review of his flight logbook revealed a total flight experience of 269.5 hours as of December 9, 2015. He documented 3.1 hours of simulated instrument time as part of his training for the private certificate in 2012, along with 0.8 hours of flight experience in actual instrument conditions during two IFR training flights in February 2014; these two flights were his only documented actual IFR experience.

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Fresno FSDO-17

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Jason Thomas Price, his wife Olga Dahlan, and their three children — 9-year-old Olivia, 10-year-old Mary and 14-year-old John.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators search a field for debris from an aircraft crash in Bakersfield on Sunday.

GILROY -- Jason and Olga Price loved flying together to their favorite vacation spots, often with their three children strapped into the passenger seats of a high-performance aircraft he and a few of his pilot friends kept at Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose.

The entire family of five died over the weekend when the plane crashed into a Bakersfield almond orchard on a holiday flight to Nevada.

Federal aviation officials and local authorities in Kern County had not officially identified the victims by Monday afternoon, but a grieving brother, neighbors and a family friend told this newspaper they were the Price family from Ousley Drive in a modest Gilroy neighborhood.

"They were a wonderful family and dear close friends. They were loved by many," said friend Rich Whites, who was looking forward to a visit from the Price family upon their return.

Jimmy Dahlan, who was at the house Monday, confirmed that his sister, Olga Dahlan Price, and her husband, Jason Thomas Price, perished along with their three children -- 9-year-old Olivia, 10-year-old Mary and 14-year-old John.

Jeremy Gomez, a neighborhood boy, said that John was already following in his father's aviation footsteps and taking flight lessons at Reid-Hillview.

The tragedy less than one week before Christmas has attracted hundreds of sympathetic posts on Facebook.

The Prices were flying Saturday afternoon from San Jose to Henderson Executive Airport in a Las Vegas suburb, where they were to visit friends in Las Vegas.

The plane descended quickly from 15,000 feet and Price apparently lost control of the aircraft during its steep descent. Federal investigators were still combing through debris and flight recordings Monday for the cause of the crash, including bad weather as a possible factor. Earlier Saturday, aviation authorities warned of icing above 5,000 feet.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Jason Price was an engineer at Genesis Solutions, had served as a machinery technician in the U.S. Coast Guard in the late 1990s, and offered disaster and humanitarian relief as a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol.

Olga Price's Facebook page indicated she once attended the former Blackford High School in San Jose.

Story and video:

Price was an engineer at Genesis Solutions in Gilroy, had served as a machinery technician in the U.S. Coast Guard in the late 1990s, and offered disaster and humanitarian relief as a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. --   A desperate pilot calling for help as a wife and three children scream.

NBC Bay Area has confirmed the people in that plane were Jason Thomas Price, his wife Olga Dahlan, and their three children: Olivia, 9, Mary, 10, and John, 14.

That was the last radio call before the Kern County Sheriff's Office found the aircraft in pieces across an almond orchard in south Bakersfield.

Here's a look at the final minutes of that flight.

The final flight of N36402 originated in San Jose at 2:36 p.m. Saturday.

Using radar tracking obtained through Flight Radar 24, which sources publicly available information including the radar transponder on private aircraft, we can follow the plane as it maneuvers south into the Central Valley.

Just after crossing Interstate 5, at around 3:53 p.m. Saturday the plane had an altitude of 14,700 feet with a speed of 171 knots. Then the Piper PA-32 suddenly accelerates over 70 knots to 243 knots, while climbing to an altitude of 15,500 feet.

The following was taken from Air Traffic Control recordings.

Pilot: "Air traffic control, N402, mayday, mayday, mayday."

Seventeen seconds later, a second, more urgent plea from the pilot is the final transmission from the aircraft.

Pilot:"N402, mayday, mayday, mayday."

The plane disappears from radar at 3:55 above southwest Bakersfield.

Two minutes later, air traffic control asks a nearby aircraft if they have a visual on the piper.

Atc: "November zero four delta, are you able to see any traffic off your left-hand side, about 1-0 miles?"

Nearby pilot: "negative, he's out that would be in the clouds. I saw his transponder go off...uh, that scared me a little bit."

The speed of the aircraft, roughly 280 miles per hour, is over 100 miles per hour faster than the recommended top speed for a piper cherokee.

The sudden acceleration and climb, combined with the mayday calls, suggest the pilot lost control of the aircraft, something the planes co-owner, Terry Pickard, suggested to 17 news on Sunday.

Pickard also said there was an indication the aircraft broke apart in flight.

The stress of turning a nearly 40-year old plane, travelling much faster than intended, could be enough to tear parts of the plane apart, and would explain the sudden loss of radar contact, as well as the quarter-mile long debris field described by officials.

Story and video:

The brother-in-law of the family of five who died in a plane crash near Bakersfield this weekend identified the victims as Jason Thomas Price and his wife Olga Dahlan, and their three children, Olivia 9, Mary 10, and John, 14.

BAKERSFIELD --   A Gilroy family, flying out of San Jose, died Saturday afternoon when their small private plane crashed into a Bakersfield almond orchard, killing both parents and three children.

Aviation and local authorities did not officially identify the victims, but a grieving family friend told this newspaper they were Jason and Olga Price, two daughters and a son. The Prices were flying from San Jose’s Reid-Hillview Airport to Henderson Executive Airport in a Las Vegas suburb, where they were to visit friends in Las Vegas, according to a family friend.

“They were a wonderful family and dear close friends. They were loved by many,” said friend Rich Whites, who was looking forward to a visit from the Price family upon their return from Nevada.

Radar shows that the plane was flying in excess of 250 mph — extremely fast, even for the high-performance Piper PA32 Turbo Lance aircraft — when Price hit trouble and called in his first panicked Mayday to the Federal Aviation Administration.

An FAA website suggests that they turned immediately toward Bakersfield Airport upon sensing trouble. The plane missed FAA locational “vectors” while descending, suggesting they had gone far off their intended course.

The plane descended quickly from 15,000 feet and Price apparently lost control of the aircraft during its steep descent. A second Mayday, with an audible alarm, was called moments after the first.

Debris was scattered for one-quarter of a mile, according to Lt. Bill Smallwood of the Kern County Sheriffs Department.

On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration was looking for what caused the crash.

The National Weather Service reported rain and clouds in the area when the plane went off radar. Earlier in the day, aviation authorities warned of icing above 5,000 feet.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Jason Price was an engineer at Genesis Solutions in Gilroy. On her Facebook page — where there was a full-color photograph of the five family members — Olga Price indicated she once attended the Blackford High School in San Jose. Jason led teams and served as a machinery technician in the U.S. Coast Guard in the late 1990s as a machinery technician and also offered disaster and humanitarian relief as a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol.

Bakersfield pilot Brad Pinnell called the weather “marginal, but flyable.” Price had just filed Instrument Flight Rules because of poor visibility and precipitation.

“The two most likely culprits would be tail icing or a structural failure,” Pinnell said.

“There were conditions for icing present earlier in the day at the level they were at, it could be suspected,” said Pinnell, who canceled a flight to San Luis Obispo earlier in the day due to the weather.

The plane is a seven-seat high-performance 1978 fixed wing single engine, using a reciprocating engine.

The owner of the plane, according to FAA records, is RAD Aviation LLC of San Jose. A woman who answered a number listed for that address would only say that her husband used to be part owner of the plane but sold his share.

Read more here:

A family of five from Gilroy, California were killed Saturday when their private plane took off from a small San Jose airport and crashed south of Bakersfield as the family was poised to attend a holiday party, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and a relative.

Jimmy Dahlan, the brother of one of the victims, spoke exclusively with NBC Bay Area on Sunday night. He identified the crash victims as Jason Thomas Price, his wife Olga Dahlan, and their three children — 9-year-old Olivia, 10-year-old Mary and 14-year-old John. All had lived in Gilroy.

Dahlan was too emotional to provide any other comment on the family or the crash.

Price built maintenance and data programs, according to his LinkedIn page, which says he also worked for Genesis Solutions as a principal reliability engineer and at Chevron as a reliability consultant. According to LinkedIn, Price volunteered in the Air Force Auxiliary providing disaster and humanitarian relief.

"On behalf of GenesisSolutions and its employees, we express our deepest sympathy and condolences for Jason Price and his family," Bill Thompson, the director of  Genesis Solutions sales and marketing said in a statement.

"Jason was an associate of our organization and a valued and loved team member, friend, and contributor to our customers and the maintenance and reliability professionals we serve. We are mourning this tragic loss."

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the single-engine Piper PA32 around 4 p.m. as it was flying from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose to Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Sheriff's officials found aircraft debris scattered across a quarter mile in an almond orchard, near Panama Lane and South Allen Road, hours after the pilot sent a mayday call and the plane disappeared from radar, authorities said.
Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were on scene Sunday morning, trying to determine the cause of the crash.

A search and rescue crew located the debris around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, about three hours after receiving an alert from the FAA about a missing plane that was last detected an estimated 10 miles south of the Bakersfield, Kern County Sheriff's Cmdr. Shaun Beasley said.

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford said it was rainy and cloudy in the Central California area around the time the plane went off radar.

Per Kern County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Mark King, the coroner's office has recovered the bodies and was in the process of formally identifying them.

Story and comments:

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford said it was rainy and cloudy in the Central California area around the time the plane went off radar.

In this photo provided by the Bakersfield Californian, investigators work near a scene of an aircraft crash in Bakersfield, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. Rescuers pulled multiple bodies from the wreckage of a small plane that crashed on Saturday into an orchard in central California after vanishing from radar, local and federal authorities said Sunday.

Sheriff's officials found aircraft debris scattered across a quarter mile in an almond orchard, near Panama Lane and South Allen Road, hours after the pilot sent a mayday call and the plane disappeared from radar, authorities said.

The plane took off from a small San Jose airport and crashed Saturday south of Bakersfield, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Department.

Xiomara Garcia, 11, and Tiana Castro, 14, look over a poster they created to honor their neighbors, the Price family, in Gilroy, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Piper PA-32RT-300T Turbo Lance II around 4 p.m. as it was flying from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose to Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Previous accident:
NTSB Identification: WPR10CA342
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 09, 2010 in Sedona, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA32RT, registration: N36402
Injuries: 4 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.

The pilot reported that he had flown the approach at a shallow angle causing him to lose sight of the runway lighting system during the landing flare. During the flare the airplane drifted to the left resulting in the left main landing gear touching down in the dirt next to the runway. Subsequently the airplane veered to the left, and struck a runway sign. The pilot reported that he was unaware that he had struck the sign and was able to correct back to the center of the runway. The remainder of landing roll and taxi were uneventful. The damage to the underside of the left wing and the sign was not found until the following day. The pilot reported that there were no known mechanical malfunctions or failures prior to the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain runway alignment during approach and subsequent loss of directional control during landing.

Evansville Regional Airport (KEVV) to hold meeting on noise issues

Evansville Regional Airport plans to have a public meeting next month to update its neighbors about the noise impact of airport operations.

Over the summer, the airport authorized engineering and design firm CHA Companies to conduct a sound study — an analysis of noise readings taken at locations on and around airport property. That data is then plugged into a computer model to produce a contour map that shows noise levels in different areas.

The airport will have a meeting to share study findings at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at Christian Fellowship Church, 4100 Millersburg Road.

"We'll have more information to give the public at that point," Airport Executive Director Doug Joest said Monday at an Airport Authority Board meeting.

"It's not the final chapter, but it should have the (study) results."

Evansville Regional Airport previously completed a sound study in 2010. But the airport has added additional flights, and some larger aircraft, since that time. It has also completed a major construction project that shifted its main runway closer to residential areas just north of the airport.

After receiving some noise complaints from neighbors, the airport decided to do a new sound study to determine the impact of the increased air traffic.

About 50 people attended a public meeting on the topic in July, shortly after the airport announced it would conduct a new sound study.

Most of the people who attended that meeting lived in Malibu Estates, a subdivision just off Indiana 57 near the airport. Those attendees said airplane noise affected their sleep and ability to hold conversations.

Next month's meeting won't offer the final word on the topic, Joest said.

One yet-unknown factor: Whether the Federal Aviation Administration will provide money to mitigate noise issues. Generally, noise must reach a certain decibel threshold before the FAA gets involved.

By the time of next month's meeting, Joest said, the airport won't likely know whether FAA funding may be available.


Sunday Interview with Richard Howell, Columbus Airport (KCSG) director

These are excerpts from the Sunday Interview with Richard Howell, Columbus Airport director. You can find the complete interview in the Sunday print edition of the Ledger-Enquirer or online Sunday morning at

Richard Howell, director of the Columbus Airport, talks to reporter Alva James-Johnson for the Sunday Interview.

Richard Howell moved to Columbus in 2013 to turn around the struggling Columbus Airport.

Today, Howell, a licensed pilot, oversees a $4.6 million budget and 42 full- and part-time employees.

He sat down with reporter Alva James-Johnson and talked about his background, aviation career and the airport's current state of affairs.

Here are excerpts from the interview, with the content and order of the questions edited slightly for length and clarity.

Tell me about your background.

I grew up in California, and I stayed there until I was about 18 years old. I relocated to West Virginia where my father was living, and I lived there and went to school. So, actually, I started going to school at Marshall University for about four years. And then I decided to go into the Air Force in 1980. ... I was a security policeman for a year, and I was actually the one guarding the airplanes. ... I did 12 1/2 years in the Air Force, and when I got out, I was an E-7 master sergeant. ... I was responsible for about seven U.S. Air Force (airfields), both in the United States and overseas.

What happened after the Air Force?

Most of the time they tell you, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." And by being in Colorado Springs, the Air Force was actually a tenant of the Colorado Springs Airport. So working in the flight line and stuff, I got to know the city airport manager and director of operations and things like that. ... When it's all said and done, I got my first check from the city of Colorado Springs four days after I got my last check from the United States Air Force.

I was there for six years as an operations agent, and then I decided I wanted to move on to do some other stuff. So I got the job in Albany as their airport director there. ... When Sept. 11 happened, of course, they shut everything down, and everybody had to be recertified before you could start commercial flights again. The (Atlantic Southeast Airlines) station manager at that time told me ... ours was the first airport in the ASA system to get recertified. They had 65 destinations at that point in time, so we're real proud of that.

How did you get back to California?

After that I just took the job as director of aviation in Waco. There I built a lot of stuff. I built a new fire station. I built two additions onto the terminal, planned up a runway extension, and things like that. By that time, some family issues were coming up, and it really (became) necessary that my sister or I be in California. She lives in Oregon.

The San Luis Obispo job came open, which was 90 miles from where I grew up in Santa Barbara, and so I took that job, and I was there for five years.

How is Columbus different from California? Besides the weather.

... The (Metropolitan Statistical Area) for Columbus is almost as big as the county was in California. But when it comes right down to it, I'd probably say that Columbus is so much more proactive about where they want to go, what they want to do, and the things they've done in the last 10 years with the whitewater and everything else that they've done to develop the community. And they're always talking about doing those types of things.

They talk about those things in California, too, but with the laws in California, things like that just make it so difficult to get work done. It's tough to do business in California. And all I'm really doing is running a business. It just happens to be an airport, but it really is a $4 million business. So it's really nice, and the (Federal Aviation Administration) in this part of the country is so easy to work with. And, of course, they contribute a lot to us every year. It's really kind of nice. I enjoy it here. It's been a lot of fun to be back in this area.

This airport has been a struggling airport, wouldn't you say?

... For the most part, Columbus (Airport) has had its ups and down. Of course when this building was built back in the '90s, I think, there were five carriers in the market then. They were planning on getting more, and of course, it didn't play out that way.

That all being said, they were able to retain the air service. When I was in Albany, there were two carriers in this market, US Airways and Delta's been here forever. American came into the market a couple of years before I got here; they left -- I got here in October of '13, they left in June of '13. Looking back ... it wasn't so much that Columbus was a bad market for American, it was just the competitive nature of the market.

... In June of '13 the American Airlines management, which was a bankruptcy management, was looking to the merger, which was going to take place in October, November. When they were looking at that, they rolled out their route map, and said. "OK, where are we strong? Where are we weak? Because we have to have strong systems so we can get federal approval for the merger." American did really, really well between here and Dallas. Actually, while they were here, Dallas became our No. 1 destination for passengers. But what was happening, Delta was cutting their fares going to like Los Angeles and Seattle and things like that. American was matching that going out of Dallas, so they really weren't making a lot of money for a passenger that was going from Columbus to, say, Seattle. ... That was a weakness, and it just became a business decision that they decided to go ahead and jump the market.

Right now, I think the airport has a lot to offer another carrier. The (Columbus Airport) Commission received a three quarters of a million dollar grant from the Federal Department of Transportation last year as a revenue guarantee. The problem we are running into right now has nothing to do with Columbus -- it has all to do with the pilot shortage that's going on out there in the market. There just aren't enough pilots to fly what the carriers want to fly, and I actually had that discussion with American about six weeks ago. They'd love to come here, but they just don't have the pilots.

What carriers do you have here currently? Is it just Delta?

Yeah, Delta's going four times a day to Atlanta.

What has business been like for Delta these days?

Business has been good. ... We're doing a rates and charges study. We're actually going to try to cut their rates a little bit. The rates we've been collecting have been to amortize the debt service on this building. We just paid this building off in November of '13. It was a $5 million dollar bond that the airport had to pay off. ... We're also looking at what we can do for the other side of the commercial service airport as well as the general aviation side. We're trying to improve services to our other tenants that store their airplanes here. We've got a project coming up next year to renovate runway 1331, which generally, for the most part, is a general aviation runway. The small planes use it because it's short. We're going to spend about $2.3 million dollars on that to get that renovated.

We're looking at other things we can do that have been kind of postponed over the years to bring things back. We've got money in the bank. The audit this year looked really good. The airport's not doing bad financially. ... We're not even struggling to keep air service. I've met with the Delta folks. They don't have any intentions of going anywhere. We're struggling to get more air service, but there's probably 250-260 airports out there in the United States that are struggling with the same thing we are.

Richard Howell is the director of the Columbus Airport.

With so many people driving themselves to Atlanta or using Groome Transportation, how is it that you are able to do so well financially?

People still like to fly, and people like the idea that they can walk in, that they can park their car, they can walk into this building, and they can go through the screening checkpoint, and they're in the system. They don't have to deal with whatever is going on at Atlanta or wherever else. And they get on the airplane, and if they time it just right, they can do that in a half hour. Now, it takes you a half hour to walk from the parking lot in Atlanta to get to the terminal if you're outlying, or catch the ferry, or catch the bus, or whatever it is, from the outlying lots. If you've done Groome, then you do better, but then you've got a 30 or 45 minute wait in line to get through the checkpoint. People go through the checkpoint here in 10, 15 minutes. Boom. You're on the airplane.

What percentage of the market would you say that you're capturing?

We're capturing 9 percent. ... The market generates about 3,200 passengers a day, and we see about 300 if we're lucky. And 91 percent of them are going to Atlanta. We did a study right after I got here in January '14 to capture that data.

You mentioned the $750,000 grant from last year, and that's to be used to try to recruit a new airline. Can you say specifically how those dollars are being used?

Right now they're not being used at all. ... We applied for the grant as a revenue guarantee for a new carrier. Specifically we are looking for a carrier to take us to Charlotte (N.C.) We feel that would be a good choice for us because we have a lot of traffic going to New York and (Washington) D.C., and so the money is waiting there to be used as a revenue guarantee to a carrier.

The cost to bring a 50-seat (regional jet) into this market is probably going to cost about $3 million dollars a year for the carrier to operate the flight. ... At some level whether it's a low factor level or whether it's a profitability level, the carrier can come back and say, "Hey, you know we're a little short, so we would like to take some of the cash?" So we would be able to give them the grant money in that regard so they would be able to make themselves whole, while they're developing the service. That would last for probably about a year.

Have there been other carriers that you've approached besides American?

I've spoken to nine different carriers in the last two years.

None of them have decided that this is where they want to be?

No. ... Well, some of them you didn't really fit the mold. We're also looking for Florida as a destination. We've talked to a number of carriers about service into Florida. Actually, I think one of them is coming to visit us after the first of the year to take a look at the airport.

What other types of services do you provide here?

The Columbus Airport Commission also owns and operates Flightways Columbus, the (Fixed Base Operator). The FBO on an airport is the entity that does the fueling. They're the ones that move airplanes around. They do, sometimes, light maintenance on the aircraft. But all the fueling for Delta and things like that takes place from my people. We do it. Every drop of fuel that's sold on the airport is revenue to the commission, and so that's a big moneymaker for us, too, because we pump a lot. We pumped about 800 thousand gallons, I think, last year.

... Then, of course, we generate rents from our hangars. We've got a number of corporate hangars here that pay rent. We've got the rental cars. They pay concession fees to us. The parking lot pays a concession fee to us. Who am I forgetting? FAA, their traffic control tower, they pay rent. TSA pays rent.

... We are self-sustained. The only money we get from the Consolidated Government is $40,000 a year. And the reason we get that is because the Constitutional amendment that created the commission back in 1968 said they had to give it to us.

When you were first hired, you said that you saw an opportunity to double, triple or quadruple the number of passengers in the foreseeable future. Is it taking a little longer to do than you expected?

Yeah, and that was because of the pilot shortage, (which) came to pass because in 2013 the U.S. Congress passed a new law that said, "Any person operating an airplane in a commercial ... for hire, you know, so like our regional jets, have to have a minimum of 1,500 flight hours to qualify for that position." The day before that it was 250. What we've run into is that if I was 18 again and wanted to be a pilot -- from one day to the next, the investment that I was going to have to make for my training probably went up about a $100,000.

At the same time, because most of the regionals are carrying for the majors under contract -- you know the Deltas and the Uniteds and the Americans -- their ability to pay salaries is fixed by what they get from the carrier. For a starting salary for a regional pilot for a first officer flying, say, one of these Express Jets CRJ2s is about $20,000 a year. If I've got a $100,000-plus in debt, if you will, because I had to get my 1,500 hours of flying time, a $20,000 a year job just isn't very appealing to me. There are a lot of people out there that had to rethink whether they wanted to be (commercial) pilots. ... Then at the same time, the FAA changed the crew rest hours from 8 hours, I think, to 12 hours. Overnight for the carriers, their costs went up a third just simply by virtue of they had to have another set of crews to fly that plane while the other crew was in crew rest for another four hours.

It's been a real challenging time for especially the regional carriers, because the main line guys are whole because they are drawing their pilots from the regional carriers.

So, on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you say that the airport is doing?

I'd say we're probably a good solid 6, 6 1/2. There's a lot of room for growth, there's a lot of potential. We've got a lot of real estate we can develop. We've been working with the Chamber to see if we could bring somebody on into to the airport, aeronautical or non-aeronautical. ... We're not at our max potential, which is why I wouldn't rate it any higher. But even at 6 1/2, we're not struggling. ... Budget-wise we're whole. We're paying our bills. We're taking care of our employees.

What are your views about the potential for a rail service between Columbus and Atlanta?

... I sit on the Mayor's commission for that. Of course, the big thing is going to be the money. But I think for the airport itself, it could be a real good deal. We were talking, and 90 percent of my customers are going up the road to Atlanta now. If a high speed rail were to come into Columbus -- our consultants and I have done a study on it, we've taken a look, and we've compared what happened in Europe to what could happen here.

... The short version of what we see as happening is Columbus would be a prime location for the low cost carriers -- the Spirits, the Jet Blues. I think there are a couple others out there. ... They could be very interested in operating here because they could operate from Columbus at a much lower cost, because our costs are lower than Atlanta, and they would have the ability to draw customers out of Atlanta on the rail, just like people are driving up the road now. In my opinion, we would lose Delta. ... They're not going to be able to compete with a $32 fare.

... Having two or three airlines going to numerous destinations out of Columbus, then it becomes, as the mayor quoted it a couple years ago, we would actually be the sixth runway to Atlanta. It's doable.

Are you expecting a lot of traffic for the holidays?

As a normal rule, airports this size, what they end up doing is we will probably see people, but they will cut back on frequencies a little bit, especially on the holiday itself. We aren't like the big hubs where you'll see a lot of traffic. We do get a little boost the week of, and a couple of days after, but for the most part it should probably be business as usual for us.

What about military families, do you have a lot of them using this airport?

We do see a lot of military going through the airport. ... A lot of our traffic is graduates from Fort Benning courses. ... Thursdays and Fridays are big days for us.

There have been some problems in the past with flight delays, and misplaced baggage, and those kinds of concerns at this airport. Have those situations improved?

Well, I think so. As I was indicating, it came from the DOTs consumer travel bureau that Delta completed like 99.9 percent of their flights in October/November. They are really looking at that. They went a hundred days this year without any cancellations whatsoever. So I really think a lot of people say, "Oh, I don't fly out of Columbus because I get to Atlanta and there are not enough people on the airplane, so Delta cancels the flight." Well, that's not so much the case, anymore, whether it actually was or wasn't back in the past.

Do you have any tips for people traveling during the holidays?

Yeah, remember the 311 rule when you go through the checkpoint. Don't be carrying the pies and the juices, and all that. You're only allowed three ounces, and it's got to go in that little bag. But I think probably the thing I would tell people is what I've told people ever since the first year I was an airport director: Pack your suitcase, pack your carry-on, pack your patience.


Name: Richard Howell

Age: 59.

Hometown: Born in San Francisco, Calif.; grew up in Santa Barbara.

Residence: Columbus

Job: Columbus Airport director

Previous Jobs: Operations agent, Colorado Springs Airport; airport director, Albany, Ga.; director of aviation, City of Waco, Texas; and director of airports, San Luis Obispo County.

Military Service: Twelve-and-a-half years in the Air Force; last assignment, command airfield manager for Air Force Space Command.

Education: Associate degree from Community College of the Air Force and bachelor’s in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Family: Wife, Deborah, three children, three grandchildren and two dogs.

Story and video:

Report: Customs helicopters patrolling U.S./Canada border in Bad Axe

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, center, talks with U.S. Border Patrol officers near a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter in 2009 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township. 

BAD AXE, MI — The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency had helicopters flying over Bad Axe on Friday, Dec. 18, according to a media report.

The Huron Daily Tribune on Saturday reported the spokesman for the agency confirmed the helicopter activity and said the pilots were conducting routine missions while patrolling the international border with Canada.

Spokesman Kris Grogan told the Tribune residents should not be concerned by the activity.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson said he did not receive notice of the helicopters and received "several inquiries" about them from residents, the Tribune reported. He said he contacted an aviation unit in Detroit, the Tribune reported.

"I wasn't satisfied with their answer to say the least, but I was told (the helicopter) was taking photos," he said, according to the Tribune. "I made them well aware that people are concerned, especially with what's going on in the media."


BAD AXE — The helicopters hovering over Bad Axe Friday were flying routine missions while patrolling the international border with Canada, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said in an email Saturday.

The helicopters are assigned to the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch Selfridge ANGB in Harrison Township, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Officer Kris Grogan.

"The Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch is responsible for more than 1,000 miles of international border with Canada, which is patrolled by both aircraft and vessels," Grogan said in the email.

Grogan says there is no reason for concern for residents.

"We also have not fielded any other calls from residents," Grogan's email states.

However, at least one local agency did.

“We had several inquiries about the helicopter and who it belonged to,” Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson said Friday.

Hanson said he called the Aviation Unit in Detroit to gather more information as to why the helicopter was in the area and what its purpose was.

“I wasn’t satisfied with their answer to say the least, but I was told (the helicopter) was taking photos,” he explained. “I made them well aware that people are concerned, especially with what’s going on in the media.”

The sheriff said he was never made aware or given any notice the helicopter would be in the area taking photos.

The Tribune also contacted an aide of U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who said the office hasn’t gotten any calls from constituents regarding the flyovers, and on Friday was checking to find more information. The office had not responded to an email Saturday seeking an update.

Congresswoman Miller is vice chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and chairs the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.


Spitfire at sunset

This Spitfire is expected to fly high in Tauranga skies on January 23 in the first of two Classics of the Sky afternoon airshows. 

What do classic aircraft and big trucks have in common? Not a lot usually, but visitors to Classics of the Sky - Spitfire at Sunset can expect to see both at the same event.

Organizers of Classics of the Sky – the Tauranga City Airshow – are excited about a new format for 2016.

Instead of hosting a two-day airshow during one weekend, for 2016 organizers feel it's time for change.

There will now be two afternoon airshows – one in summer and one in autumn – and each will have an associated event or special attraction.

The first airshow is on Saturday, January 23, 2016, and the second airshow Saturday, March 19.

Described as “family picnic-type events”, the airshows are scheduled for mid-afternoon to evening, with static and flying displays, food stalls and children's entertainment. Air displays will start late afternoon and continue until evening.

Each airshow also has a specific aviation theme. January 23's theme is Spitfire at Sunset, with the closing air display expected to be a Spitfire.

There will be a mix of classic aircraft, sports aircraft, military aircraft and gliders, along with local NZ Police teams and other displays.

The Mount Truck Show will be held at the same venue on January 23 in association with the airshow.

Previously held at Baypark, the Mount Truck Show organizers were looking for a venue with more space at the same time as Classics of the Sky organizers were looking for an event to combine with.

For more information, see and Facebook pages for Classic Flyers NZ, Classics of the Sky Tauranga City Airshow and The Mount Truck Show, email or phone 07 572 4000.


‘A long way to go for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd new aircraft engine’

The latest milestone in aircraft engine development that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd unveiled, counted with its other helicopter engines project, may be two new tiny steps which, however, may be no match for the giant gap that exists for indigenous aero engines, experts in the field say.

The projects that the premier military aircraft maker has embarked on will be respectively for small jets and trainer planes; and light helicopter projects. Engine development technology being extremely complex as it is, India is still a far cry from propelling the bigger fighter planes with its own engine. It could be a new quest 25 years after the DRDO’s Kaveri engine for Indian light fighters failed to rev up.

HAL on December 14 trial-ran the HTFE-25 - the engine that can potentially power its basic trainer plane and perhaps business jets - in the presence of the Defence Minister. Around October this year, it initiated the design of the second one, HTSE-1200, meant for 3-tonne to 6.5-tonne helicopters.

They stand for Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine and Hindustan Turbo Shaft Engine.

The two projects are expected to reach fruition by around 2020-21 and would meet HAL’s upcoming projects - the HTT-40 trainer; the Light Combat Helicopter, the Light Utility Helicopter and the future ALHs (Advanced Light Helicopters), a senior official said. The ALH is now powered by the Shakti engine of HAL and its French partner Turbomeca.

Calling the engine’s debut run a speedy achievement, Ashok Baweja, who was HAL's Chairman during 2004-09 is and now CEO of QuEST Global Defence, said, “Developing an engine is almost as challenging as making an aircraft fly. This is the beginning. The real challenge will be in extensively running [HTFE-25], quickly getting it qualified and certified, may be within two years. And once certified, it has immense [market] potential.”

Government officials have often said various agencies would need 4,000-6,000 helicopter engines by the end of this decade. . Considering the huge requirement, Mr. Baweja said the larger HTSE-1200 being pursued for light helicopters would also be a potent product; “We have never done this 1200-kW-class engine before.”

Comparing the HTFE-25 progress to conquering a hillock before a mountain, K. Tamilmani, DRDO's Director-General for Aeronautical R&D, said it was a desirable baby step as “we are nowhere in engines globally”.

An engine for the fifth generation concept, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, for example, he said, could be at least a decade away and perhaps made in a partnership.

Indigenous engine technologies, Dr. Tamilmani remarked, are essential; India, in spite of its aircraft manufacturing maturity, cannot claim self-reliance in aeronautics without its own engine.

Future focus should be on aiming for multiple engines and pooling of diverse capabilities.

Mr. Baweja also said the old and now stalled DRDO effort, the Kaveri GTX-35VS engine, which did not make it as intended into the LCA fighter, should also be somehow completed.