Sunday, December 27, 2015

deHavilland DH-82A Tiger Moth, A17-272: Fatal accident occurred December 28, 2015 on Queensland's Gold Coast - Australia


The pilot involved in a fatal plane crash in Pimpama this morning has been identified as Ryan Campbell, who once held the record as the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world.

The 21-year-old from Merimbula piloted a Tiger Moth aircraft that crashed in bushland off Green Meadows Drv this morning, which claimed the life of 58-year-old passenger, Coutts Crossing resident Gary Turnbull.

Mr. Campbell is currently conscious in the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane with serious injuries.

​He has been working for Tiger Moth Joy Rides for less than a month as the operations manager.

It is believed the Tiger Moth joy ride was a Christmas present to Mr. Turnbull from his daughters.

Tragically one of his daughters was watching on from the Tiger Moth hangar when the aircraft crashed.

Police have confirmed Mr. Campbell dialed 000 to alert authorities of the crash himself.

Mr. Campbell made headlines in 2013 when he achieved the world record as the youngest pilot ever to fly solo around the world, and was also the first teenager to complete the feat.

He did it in 70 days, making 34 stops in 15 countries and spending 200 hours in the air.

He flew around the world in his plane Spirit of the Sapphire Coast, after working with adventurer Dick Smith and Ken Evers of Bendigo, who had also flown around the world.

Mr. Campbell spends his spare time talking to teens on school tours as a motivational speaker.

He also raises money to help get other youngsters involved in aviation as he worked at a local supermarket when he was 14 to spend his earnings on flying lessons.

Kenneth Evers, who flew around the world in 2010, nominated Mr Campbell for the Pride of Australia Young Leader Medal last year.

He also met the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, after he broke the world record when he was 19. ​


A man is dead and pilot is critically injured after a Tiger Moth plane crashed in a field at Pimpama this morning.

Emergency services were alerted to the light plane crash in a field off Green Meadows Rd just after 9am when the 21-year-old pilot called 000 himself.

The victim was a 58-year-old man from NSW and it has been confirmed his daughter witnessed the tragedy from a nearby hangar.

When emergency services arrived the pilot was trapped by his legs and hanging out of the plane.

He has been flown to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with severe leg, face, spinal and head injuries.

Critical care paramedic and first on scene Tash Adams said the pilot was in a lot of pain when help arrived.

“The pilot was conscious and stable when we reached him, but his injuries are critical,” she said.

Forensics and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority are investigating the crash.


One person is dead and another is trapped in the wreckage of a light aircraft that has crashed north of the Gold Coast.

The Queensland Ambulance Service received a call at 9.30am that the Tiger Moth had crashed near its base at Jacobs Well Road, Pimpama.

An ambulance services spokesman confirmed one man, 58, died in the crash and another, 21, was trapped by the legs before emergency service personnel freed him.

The man killed is believed to have been a passenger on a joy flight at the time while the 21-year-old man was the pilot.

He was taken to Princess Alexandra hospital in Brisbane with spinal injuries.

The circumstances of the crash are unknown but there were strong winds in the area at the time of the incident.

The plane came down in hard-to-access bushland in the Pimpama-Jacobs Well Rd area.

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Cirrus SR22, N5PF: Accident occurred December 27, 2015 near Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYV), Jefferson County, Wisconsin

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA069
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 27, 2015 in Watertown, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/20/2017
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N5PF
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot had spent several hours flying practice instrument approaches to various airports. He stated that he became distracted and failed to monitor the airplane’s fuel state. His normal habit was to alternate between the airplane’s wing fuel tanks every 30 minutes; however, he did not perform this action during the last hour of the accident flight. Shortly after takeoff to return to his home airport in night visual meteorological conditions, the airplane’s engine experienced a total loss of power. The pilot turned back toward the departure airport, but the airplane did not have sufficient altitude to complete a power-off glide to the runway. The pilot stated that he did not switch the airplane’s fuel selector following the loss of engine power. About 344 ft above ground level, the pilot activated the airplane’s airframe parachute system. The low-altitude activation resulted in an incomplete deployment of the parachute and a nose-down impact with the ground, during which the pilot sustained serious injury.

The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. Postaccident examination revealed that the airplane’s fuel system was intact. The right wing tank, which was selected, contained about 21 oz of fuel, and the left wing tank contained about 22 gallons. Therefore, the total loss of engine power was consistent with fuel starvation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s improper in-flight fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to switch fuel tanks after the engine lost power, and his delayed decision to activate the airframe parachute system, which resulted in his serious injury due to incomplete deployment of the system and the airplane’s improper attitude upon touchdown.

On December 27, 2015, about 1656 central standard time, a Cirrus SR22 airplane, N5PF, was substantially damaged during ground impact after departing from the Watertown Municipal Airport (RYV), Watertown, Wisconsin. The pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with a planned destination of Kenosha Regional Airport (ENW), Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The pilot flew multiple instrument approaches at various airports prior to his departure from RYV. Recorded data showed that about 4 minutes after departing RYV, the engine began to surge and subsequently lost power. The pilot attempted unsuccessfully to regain engine power and turned back to RYV. After recognizing his altitude was insufficient to glide to RYV, and with concerns of a forced landing in night conditions, the pilot deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). The fuselage was subsequently damaged during a nose down impact with the ground. 

Examination of the airplane revealed that the fuel system, from the fuel selector to the fuel tanks, remained intact, with no breaches noted. Twenty-one ounces of fuel were recovered from the right fuel tank system and the fuel selector was in the right tank position. The left fuel tank system contained about 22 gallons of fuel. The electric boost pump was connected to a battery and operated normally. No pre-accident anomalies were noted with the engine or engine-related components.

The airplane's non-volatile data was downloaded for the accident flight, which revealed that during the last departure climb, fuel pressure dropped, followed by a short rise in exhaust gas temperature (EGT) that rapidly decreased to zero. Fuel flow during the departure climb was about 30 gallons per hour (gph), before dropping and fluctuating between 1.5 and 11.5 gph for the last two minutes of the flight. 

Rocket extraction of the parachute from its enclosure to full line stretch typically takes about 1-2 seconds and complete parachute inflation typically takes about 4-6 seconds from initial activation. The accident airplane's reefing line cutters were designed to fire 8 seconds after the parachute extraction activates them. Once the reefing line cutters fire, the rear harness "unsnubs" (lengthens), which lowers the tail of the airplane into its optimized landing attitude.

The accident airplane's rear harness was found snubbed and still folded, with tack stitching present. The reefing line cutters were present in their Velcro enclosure and expended, which was consistent with the reefing line cutters firing after touchdown of the airplane. 

The airplane's non-volatile data was examined to estimate the CAPS deployment height. Based on a review of the airplane's longitudinal deceleration, indicated airspeed, pitch attitudes, and altitudes, CAPS activation was estimated to have occurred about 344 feet agl. CAPS activation at this altitude and descent profile was consistent with the incomplete CAPS deployment and nose down ground impact found at the accident site. 

Although the pilot's normal habit pattern was to alternate between fuel tanks every 30 minutes using the timer on the GPS, he became distracted and did not accomplish this action during the last hour of the accident flight. After the engine lost power, the pilot did not attempt to switch fuel tanks with the fuel selector, as directed by the Cirrus SR22 pilot operating handbook (POH) engine failure checklist. The pilot stated that his goal on future flights was a more regimented adherence to checklists and flows during distractions, as well as ingraining emergency procedures to muscle memory (e.g. switching fuel tanks with fuel selector). 

The airplane was equipped with a fuel caution light that illuminates if the fuel quantity in both fuel tanks falls below 14 gallons; the caution light does not illuminate if one tank is low (or empty) and the other tank contains greater than 14 gallons of fuel.

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA069
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 27, 2015 in Watertown, WI
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N5PF
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 27, 2015, about 1656 central standard time, a Cirrus SR22 airplane, N5PF, was substantially damaged during ground impact after departing from the Watertown Municipal Airport (RYV), Watertown, Wisconsin. The pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan, with a destination of Kenosha Regional Airport (ENW), Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

While enroute from RYV to ENW about 3,000 feet msl, the pilot stated the engine began to surge and subsequently lost power. The pilot attempted unsuccessfully to regain engine power and initiated a return to RYV. After recognizing his altitude was insufficient to land at RYV, the pilot deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). The fuselage was subsequently damaged during a nose down impact with the ground. 

At 1655, the weather observation station at RYV, located about 4 miles northwest of the accident site, reported the following conditions: wind 010 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 2,600 feet above ground level, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point minus 4 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.39 inches of mercury.

AIRCRAFT: 2006 Cirrus SR 22 N5PF 1548.7TT 

ENGINE M&M, S/N:  Continental IO-550 N42 S/N 689668 1548.7TT

PROPELLER – M&M, S/N: Hartzell PHC-J3YF-1RF SN FP4537B

AVIONICS: ACK 406 ELT, Two Garmin 430 (one Waas), Avidyne Autopilot and Primary Flight Display, GTX Transponder/GMA 340 Audio Panel

APPROXIMATE TOTAL HOURS (estimated TT & TSMO from logbooks or other information): 1548.7TT

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  CAPS Deployed at 500 feet – AC hit ground hard
DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES:    Substantial damage prop, gear engine, cabin and then tail was cut off for recovery

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:    Wisconsin Aviation- Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYV)   

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TOWN OF WATERTOWN, Wis. - A pilot suffered an injury to one of his ankles after his plane crashed Sunday afternoon in rural Watertown, according to a release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency crews were called to the area of Aliceton Drive and Ceasar Road in the town of Watertown at 4:59 p.m. on a report of an airplane crash. They found a Cirrus SR-22 in a plowed corn field.

The 67-year-old pilot, a man from Lake Forest, Illinois, was able to tell air traffic control he was having engine failure shortly after he took off from the Watertown Airport. He was flying to Kenosha.

The man was able to get out of the plane on his own. He was taken to Aurora Hospital in Waukesha with non-life-threatening injuries.

Ixonia fire and EMS, Jefferson County Emergency Communications and the FAA assisted at the scene.


WATERTOWN — Jefferson County sheriff’s officials on Sunday, December 27th were called out to the scene of a plane crash in Watertown. 

Sheriff’s officials say the small plane landed on Aliceton Drive near Caesar Road around 5:00 p.m.

We’re told the pilot, a 67-year-old man from Lake Forest, Illinois, was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says it appears the aircraft left the Watertown Airport shortly before 5 p.m., heading to Kenosha airport. Shortly after takeoff the aircraft was experiencing engine problems.

Officials say the pilot was able to make contact with Air Traffic Control and advise that he was having engine failure and had to make an emergency landing.

After the crash, the pilot was able to get out of the aircraft on his own. He sustained an injury to one of his ankles and did not appear to have any life threatening injuries. He was transported to Aurora Hospital in Waukesha for treatment.

No one on the ground was hurt.

We’re told the plane suffered substantial damage.


A small plane crashed in the town of Watertown Sunday evening.

It happened at approximately 5 p.m. in a cornfield near Aliceton Drive and Ceaser Road.

Authorities said the pilot, a 67-year-old man from Lake Forest, Ill., had just left the Watertown Airport and was heading toward the Kenosha Airport when the aircraft started experiencing engine problems.

He was able to contact Air Traffic Control and make an emergency landing.

After the crash, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said the pilot was able to get out of the aircraft by himself.

Officials said he was taken to the hospital with an ankle injury and is expected to be OK.

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Amazon using Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE) for secret pilot program

Online retail behemoth is conducting a secret pilot program that could change the way it moves packages around the globe, and Lehigh Valley International Airport is right in the middle of it.

The covert operation even has a cool name: Aerosmith.

According to sources, LVIA is among five airports Amazon is using to shuttle packages aboard cargo jets in what has become one of the industry's worst-kept secrets. Analysts say it's a potential game-changer that has the world's largest online retailer testing the waters for setting up its own delivery network to wean itself from FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service nationwide.

Anyone who was among the thousands of people guaranteed package delivery by Christmas two years ago, only to have an empty space under the tree, knows why Amazon is doing this, said Lora Cecere, founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights, a Philadelphia consulting firm that researches and analyzes the logistics industry.

UPS took the blame for being overwhelmed by a glut of late-arriving packages and bad weather during the 2013 holiday season blunder, but Amazon had to apologize to its customers and give refunds.

This year it was FedEx blaming the weather and apologizing for deliveries that didn't make it before Christmas.

"I really like what Amazon is doing with its Aerosmith project," said Cecere, who said she learned of it from a friend working at one of the airports in the program. "If you remember how they failed to deliver the past couple holiday seasons, it makes a lot of sense. It puts Amazon more in control of its destiny, and it also gives it an opportunity to cut its costs dramatically."

Amazon officials have not acknowledged that Aerosmith exists.

"We're actually not commenting on these stories," said Amazon spokesman Scott Stanzel. "We don't comment on internal workings and rumor and speculation."

In recent weeks, several industry publications — starting with online magazine Motherboard in November — have quoted anonymous sources who described an Amazon air cargo program run out of Wilmington, Ohio, by Air Transport Services Group.

Aerosmith figures to be very profitable for the struggling LVIA, which hired 60 full-time workers to handle what's grown to five cargo flights a day out of the airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. LVIA officials say the air cargo program, which started there in September, could net the airport more than $1 million next year.

Formerly known as Airborne Express, Air Transport has the world's largest fleet of converted Boeing 767 cargo jets. The company, through its subsidiary ABX Air, signed a deal with LVIA in September to fly cargo jets into the Lehigh Valley to deliver and pick up consumer goods. In September, ABX spokesman Paul Cunningham said the cargo was coming from a single client, but he declined to reveal the client.

Asked last week if the cargo flights into LVIA were part of the Aerosmith project, Cunningham said, "There seems to be a lot of speculation about that. Nothing has changed since [September]. I still can't discuss it."

However, a source directly involved in the project confirmed that the flights into LVIA are part of Aerosmith. Similar Amazon cargo flights by ABX are also running through airports in Tampa, Fla.; Ontario, Canada; and Oakland, Calif., according to the source. ABX's Wilmington airfield serves as the hub, while LVIA and other airports serve as the spokes, the source said.

The number of daily ABX flights into LVIA was two in September but increased to five this month because of the Christmas delivery rush, said LVIA Executive Director Charles Everett Jr.

At LVIA, the packages arrive by Boeing 767 cargo jets — the largest planes that fly into the airport — and are carted by airport workers to a warehouse just off the airfield, where they are loaded onto as many as two dozen tractor-trailers a day. Those trucks take the packages to warehouses outside Atlantic City; Baltimore; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va., and Allentown, said Everett, who wouldn't discuss Amazon.

Not coincidentally, there are Amazon warehouses in or outside each of those cities, including two in Upper Macungie Township said to employ more than 1,000 people during the busy holiday shopping season.

"Our contract is with ABX Air," Everett said. "We have signed a non-disclosure agreement not to discuss details that are not part of that contract."

It's clear what Amazon intends to do, said Marc Wulfraat, president of MWPVL International, a supply chain, logistics and distribution consulting firm in Montreal.

"They're trying to determine whether they can duplicate the hub-and-spoke air cargo operations run by UPS out of Louisville and FedEx out of Memphis. The only difference is they'd run it out of Wilmington," Wulfraat said. "Aerosmith is a great experiment and if it works I'd expect to see them roll it out in airports across the nation. This will change the landscape for outbound delivery."

Wulfraat and Cecere both suggested that by cutting third-party air carriers out of its chain — or at least reducing their use — Amazon could cut its delivery times by as much as a day.

Currently, if someone in Allentown orders a coffee-maker through Amazon, delivery can be done in as little as one day. With massive fulfillment centers across the nation, Amazon would ship from the closest warehouse that has the coffee-maker in stock. If it's within a few hundred miles, a truck and ultimately a delivery van would deliver the coffee-maker to the consumer's doorstep.

But if the coffee-maker is stocked at a fulfillment center more than an eight-hour drive from Allentown, UPS or FedEx would be used and the coffee-maker would be flown from one of their hubs to Allentown, where it could be moved by truck to an Amazon sorting center and then delivered to the consumer.

Under Aerosmith, which borrows the name from the famous rock group, that same package would instead be flown to ABX's Wilmington air hub before being flown to Allentown. The strategy would enable Amazon to ship in bulk more often and to bring more of that delivery chain under its control, Wulfraat said.

"They won't have to rely so much on the national carriers anymore," he said. "This will take volume away from FedEx and UPS."

Officials from FedEx and UPS declined to comment on Aerosmith.

"Amazon is an important customer to UPS," said UPS spokesman Steve Gaut. "We don't comment on our customers' plans, nor [do we] speculate on their impact to UPS."

"FedEx is a highly integrated global transportation network, in fact, one of three major delivery networks in the U.S.," Mike Glenn, president and CEO of FedEx Services, said last week during a company earnings call. "That's not likely to change in the foreseeable future."

Its own air cargo program also would have the potential to save Amazon a lot of shipping costs by allowing the company to pay a per-plane-load bulk rate, rather than a per-package rate. Even more important, it would enable Amazon to avoid what Cecere called the high cost of "dimensional pricing." Because Amazon has such a wide range of products but a limited number of box sizes, it's common for a small item such as a coffee mug to be packed in a box three times its size. The problem for Amazon, Cecere said, is that its third-party providers have started charging based on the size of the delivery, rather than the weight.

"FedEx is killing Amazon with its dimensional pricing," Cecere said. "With such a diverse line of goods for sale, Amazon just can't figure out how to avoid shipping boxes full of air."

Wulfraat said some analysts have speculated that Amazon is trying to break into the cargo delivery industry by building a full-blown network of trucks, planes and vans that would not only allow it to deliver its own goods, but to compete against UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service to deliver for others.

Those predictions are based on some of Amazon's moves in the past year. Earlier this month, Amazon announced that it purchased thousands of truck trailers that will be used to move goods between its massive warehouses. It will still need to contract or hire drivers with trucks to haul the trailers.

Wulfraat doesn't buy the total supply chain domination model some are predicting.

"These other operators have invested billions of capital into the science of moving product. Amazon can cut costs and get better control of its supply chain, but it'll never be able to eliminate the need for third-party help," Wulfraat said. "It will always need FedEx and UPS."

ABX is third-party help, but unlike those other national companies, its only task is flying freight. It owns no vans and does no home delivery. That gives Amazon greater control over a contractor whose focus, and financial viability, would rest with serving Amazon.

Each ABX plane at LVIA can carry up to 85,000 pounds of cargo, Everett said. That gave Amazon the capacity to deliver more than 400,000 pounds of packages per day on those five flights through the airport.

The flights add to a distribution network that is flourishing in the Lehigh Valley, whose strategic location near New York, Philadelphia and other major metropolitan areas makes it attractive for companies that move goods.

"The Lehigh Valley has become a key battleground in the e-commerce wars," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., adding he had no direct knowledge of Aerosmith. "When you consider that we're within [truck] delivery reach of 100 million consumers, I'm not at all surprised that LVIA is part of this pilot. That airport has become an important asset in these wars."

With regional airports struggling to increase passengers, Amazon's air cargo experiment presents a golden opportunity for LVIA to grow a new operation and the revenues that come with it.

FedEx has been running two flights a day through LVIA for years, but has its own package handlers to load and unload the planes. It pays LVIA only for landing fees and fuel.

Because ABX Air needed ground handlers to receive its planes and cargo handlers to move the packages between the planes and delivery trucks, the airport was able to hire them and charge ABX for the services. With three ABX Air flights a day into the airport expected through 2016, Everett projects LVIA to net $800,000 to $900,000 in profit from the deal for the year, but that was before the number of daily flights increased to five this month. Everett expects the flights to reduce to three after the Christmas delivery rush ends, but the potential is there for much growth, he said.

ABX Air's contract with LVIA runs through the end of 2016.

"We appear to be in the right location at the right time," Everett said. "We're going to do whatever we can to take full advantage of that."

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Air Force Looks Beyond Officers to Boost Drone-Pilot Ranks: Enlisted personnel will be allowed to operate RQ-4 Global Hawk, possibly other platforms in future

A U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk drone at a base in Qatar.

The Wall Street Journal
Dec. 27, 2015 6:02 p.m. ET

The U.S. military’s increasing demand for drones has forced changes in the Air Force’s “flyboy” culture over the years, plucking pilots out of the cockpit and sending some to high-tech desert trailers to operate remotely piloted aircraft, leaving their proverbial white scarves at home.

As the need keeps rising for drones and their valuable ISR—intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—due to the rise of Islamic State and other threats, the Air Force is embarking on yet another cultural shift. For the first time, it is allowing enlisted personnel, not just officers, to pilot some drones.

The Air Force historically has required drone pilots to be officers. But this month, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced a series of moves to alleviate some of the stress on the drone crews that operate craft such as the MQ-1 Predator and its advanced cousin, the MQ-9 Reaper.

A decision to open the career field by allowing enlisted personnel to operate drones has been much anticipated. Ms. James took a baby step, announcing that by next year, enlisted airmen could fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, a $130 million, 50-foot, unarmed and remotely piloted aircraft that plays a critical role in providing ISR around the world.

The move might pave the way for enlisted airmen to play a larger role in other drone platforms, officials said.

“As far as I’m concerned, the enlisted force can do anything, as long as they get the proper training to do it,” Ms. James said in a recent interview in her Pentagon E-Ring office.

The Air Force faced retention, morale and training issues as its limited force of drone operators—all officers—attempted to fulfill the demand for more operations.

Ms. James said the Air Force needed to be creative. “We need more people infused into the system,” she said.

The change comes as the U.S. military overall contends with budget and personnel cuts.

The Air Force move is a significant shift for a service that has appeared to resist it. Some in the ranks still worry that allowing enlisted airmen to fly drones could diminish the prestige of a job for which the Air Force was already struggling to create an allure. Many officers arrive with dreams of flying F-15s, F-16s and other, newer fighters, in the spirit of the World War I-era officer considered the father of the Air Force, Army Gen. Billy Mitchell.

But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and operations in North Africa and even as far away as Southeast Asia, have created a huge demand for the work of drone operators. With few, if any, troops on the ground in those places, the need for drones has only heightened. Now, virtually every military commander says that more drone capability is essential.

Over the years, the Air Force pushed pilots who already had become certified on conventional airframes like F-16 fighters into dark metal buildings in places like Creech Air Force Base, 50 miles from Las Vegas, to operate the remotely controlled aircraft over countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If there isn’t going to be a decrease in demand, and if there’s going to be continued pressure to cap the size of the force, then we have to look at options,” said Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for Air Combat Command, in Langley, Va. “This step to allow enlisted pilots to fly Global Hawks does that for us.”

The Air Force has about 970 pilots operating MQ-1 and MQ-9 drones and about 200 RQ-4 pilots.

Drone operations are conducted according to what the military calls “combat air patrols,” measured by the number of flights in a 24-hour period. The Air Force had been flying about 65 CAPs a day. But to address the stress on the force, officials requested a reduction to 60 CAPs a day.

At the same time, the Pentagon adopted a plan, now under way, to expand the number of CAPs to 90 a day by 2018. But that plan relies not just on the Air Force, but also on civilian contractors, Army drone operators and Special Operations Command personnel.

The Air Force will determine pay scales and review other issues in the next six months, a critical aspect of the implementation of a policy that touches on careers and culture. “The Air Force will continue to assess the proper compensation to maintain sustainable career fields,” an Air Force spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who headed the ISR directorate before stepping down in 2010, welcomes the decision to open the drone career field to enlisted personnel as long as operators get sufficient training. It follows a similar path as that of battlefield ground spotters known as joint tactical air controllers, he said. Once, so-called JTACs were seasoned officers, before the Air Force allowed junior officers to perform those duties. Ultimately, enlisted personnel were allowed to serve.

While he was on active duty, Gen. Deptula oversaw a 650% increase in demand for high- and medium-altitude drone operations, he said.

“There’s not a bigger [drone] fan than me,” said the former F-15 pilot.

Officials moved carefully to make sure they could effectively train enlisted personnel to fly drones, taking a deliberative approach that reinforced notions that the Air Force was resistant, even though other military branches have allowed enlisted personnel to fly them. But there’s a difference, Gen. Deptula said. The Army, for example, has long allowed soldiers to fly drone platforms such as the Raven. But “a Raven is 4 pounds and doesn’t drop anything,” he said.

Gen. Deptula also panned the idea that allowing enlisted personnel to operate drones is just a way to let the Air Force officer corps return to flying manned aircraft and the appeal of the fighter-pilot image and all it entails.

“No self-respecting pilot would ever wear a white silk scarf,” he joked.

Original article can be found here:

Flight delays increasing at Will Rogers World Airport (KOKC)

Will Rogers World Airport is reporting that delays and cancellations are increasing due to Sunday's winter storm.

With several afternoon departures still scheduled the airport warns that the departures will depend on when flights arrive from their originating destination as well as current weather conditions in Oklahoma City and at other airports.

The airport reports that several airlines are beginning to cancel arrivals in anticipation of snow and ice Sunday evening. Numerous cancellations are expected for Monday morning.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines are currently waiving change fees.


Equipment needed for Saugeen Municipal Airport (CYHS Hanover), Ontario, Canada

The Saugeen Municipal Airport is in need of some updated maintenance equipment.

Airport Commissioner Vice Chair David Schmidt says most of their equipment is 30 to 40 years old.

Some of the items on the wish list include a plow truck, a newer snowblower and a sweeper for the tractor as well as a new tractor.

Schmidt appreciates the fact that member municipalities are cash strapped and has decided to go about his request in a different way.

He is asking member municipalities to consider an equipment donation to the Airport.

Schmidt wants member municipalities to consider donating their old equipment to the Airport when they are in the process of updating their own with newer models.

He says the Airport will happily replace their 30 and 40 year old equipment with something 15 or 20 years old.

Schmidt says over the years, very little money has been set aside for infrastructure and equipment replacement.

He says holding the bottom line and keeping the budget as low as possible has always been their goal. 

Unfortunately Schmidt says they can no longer afford to put off these costs.

Schmidt adds they have a new Strategic Plan and they will begin to set aside capital funds.

The Saugeen Municipal Airport is a shared venture between the municipalities of Hanover, Brockton and West Grey.

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Denver International Airport (KDEN) says Sunday could be among busiest in airport history

DENVER - The Sunday after Christmas may be one of the busiest of the holiday season as well as one of the busiest days in history at Denver International Airport.

DIA said that preliminary forecasts show that Sunday, Dec. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 3, may both rank among the top-10 busiest days in DIA history, with more than 175,000 passengers during each of those days.

The airport said that on an average day, about 146,500 passengers travel through DIA.

Denver7 found security lines stretching beyond the typical security area back into baggage claim even at 7 a.m.

"With the winter holiday season upon us, we are working to provide a smooth and relaxing travel experience as people connect with family and friends around the world," said airport CEO Kim Day. "For the first time, the airport has set up lounge seating and cabaret tables in the center of the Great Hall along with the return of live musical performances, to help provide a more comfortable place to wait for arriving passengers."

This year's holiday "Wintertainment" series will include daily live musical performances through Dec. 30 in the center of the Great Hall on level 5, near passenger arrivals.

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American Airlines Pledges to Donate to Texas Tornado Victims

(NEW YORK) —  American Airlines has announced it is pledging $100,000 in donations to aid victims of the tornadoes that struck Texas on Saturday.

Eleven people were killed and dozens others injured after a series of tornadoes ripped through the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas late Saturday night.

In a press release, American Airlines said it was “pledging an immediate $100,000 donation to the local chapter of the American Red Cross as they assist those impacted.”

American’s vice president – DFW Hub Operations, Joe Taney, said “American and its employees stand ready to assist in the recovery efforts and we encourage our customers to join us by donating to the Red Cross.”

The airline also said that customers donating to the  Red Cross through the “American Airlines dedicated Red Cross website” will be “awarded” American Airlines AAdvantage miles. 


City’s top aviation cop used staff as personal helpers

KATZ: Has defended many of his actions

This is an excerpt from an internal city of Albuquerque investigation into allegations against longtime Aviation Police Chief Marshall Katz. (Investigative findings)

As the new administrative assistant to the city’s aviation police chief, Jennifer Fulton said she was insulted when her boss asked her to sew a button on his uniform pants. She said she was offended when, during another day at work, he asked her to pluck his eyebrows.

She said her answer to the requests was a resounding “no” but, over the next four years, city Aviation Police Chief Marshall Katz asked Fulton – and other aviation police employees – to perform other personal tasks that weren’t related to official city business, according to a newly obtained internal city report.

Last February, Fulton finally told Katz she’d had enough.

She complained to city administrators. And the city-commissioned private investigation that followed concluded there was “evidence to support he (Katz) used official resources, City letterhead, and City time for personal benefit,” according to the internal report obtained by the Journal last week.

While the investigation found no corroboration for the eyebrow-plucking claim, it did conclude that Katz dispatched his officers to handle police issues for his friends in other parts of the city, a practice that raised concerns of inadequate police staffing at the airport.

Katz, who has worked for the city as a law enforcement officer for 35 years, couldn’t be reached for comment for this story. His attorney John D’Amato told the Journal last week he has instructed his client not to talk about the case.

He is appealing a 90-day unpaid suspension imposed by the city in November. Under the suspension, city administrators allowed Katz to serve only 45 days of the penalty period, with the other 45 days held in abeyance for six months. Short of termination, a 90-day suspension is the maximum punishment allowed under city personnel rules.

“We’ve adopted a wait-and-see philosophy,” attorney D’Amato said, “because we don’t know exactly what proof the city has of these potentially libelous representations.” A hearing on the appeal is set for Feb. 22-23.

According to the 373-page investigative report, which included recorded interviews, Fulton alleged there had been “countless instances” over the past four years when Katz had her write personal letters for him on city time. He also summoned on-duty officers to Home Depot so he could use their military discount for a personal purchase, and put a flyer in employees’ work mailboxes soliciting funds for his daughter to go on an overseas school trip, the report quoted her as saying.

An incident last February spurred Fulton to file a complaint with the city. She contended Katz created a hostile work environment in retaliation for her refusing to continue to perform personal tasks that weren’t related to official aviation police business.

“It gets tiring to see him abusing his power,” Fulton told investigator Doug Shawn of Universal Investigation Services of Albuquerque.

While finding evidence to support a number of her allegations, the investigator didn’t sustain the hostile workplace/harassment claim, citing “a lack of documentation and/or testimony,” the report stated.

Fulton couldn’t be reached for comment last week. The city Human Resources Department said only she is on “inactive” status.

City officials in November said Katz had violated city policies that included “duty to the public, report of abuse, bribery, gifts and donations, and supervision of employees.”

The investigation found Katz sent his on-duty aviation police officers to Southwest Airlines offices at the Sunport to bring back cases of soda and snacks, which Katz kept in his office and some of which he consumed.

While some officers gladly complied, and said the refreshments were for meetings and parties at the airport, Fulton said other officers “were embarrassed to go ask a company for ‘handouts,’ so they refused,” the report said.

Katz also was found to have had aviation police, who are commissioned law enforcement officers, take reports and handle police calls for his friends and acquaintances at locations outside the Sunport area, the report stated. He also has sent his police officers to open the gates to allow his friends and family, and prominent businessmen to park in a secured airport employee parking lot, the investigation found.

Katz, who previously served as a sergeant with the Albuquerque Police Department, has been chief of the city’s Aviation Police at the Sunport for the past 13 years. His annual salary is about $93,000.

Fulton previously worked for more than three years as a secretary at APD’s Northeast Area Command.

‘He hates me’

According to a recording of Fulton’s interview with the private investigator last February, she decided she would no longer perform Katz’s personal tasks after Katz called her to come in from maternity leave and write a letter for him.

“I thought it was for work so, when I got to work and I did it, I was dumbfounded that it was a personal letter,” she told the investigator.

Moreover, Fulton said she became “extremely upset” that Katz called her on her personal cellphone to ask why the letter hadn’t been written yet.

“I told him it was completely inappropriate and that I would not be doing anything personal for him anymore and to stop asking me,” she told the private investigator. “And ever since then, I mean flat out, you can tell he hates me,” Fulton said.

After her refusal, she contended, Katz created a hostile work environment by having other employees perform her work. And he wouldn’t speak to her, she said. “I’m sitting there literally sometimes with absolutely nothing to do,” Fulton told the investigator.

One aviation police employee confirmed that police officers had been assigned by Katz to perform administrative and secretarial tasks.

“All Ms. Fulton does all day is talk on the phone and watch movies,” that employee was quoted as saying.

Since he found no evidence to support the eyebrow-plucking, investigator Shawn stated in his report that he didn’t ask the chief about the claim.

But other allegations, including “misusing aviation department resources for personal gain,” were sustained, the report stated.

In an interview with the investigator, Katz didn’t deny he may have asked Fulton to sew a button on his pants and reasoned that it “may be considered official work” because the button was for his uniform pants, the investigative report said.

He also admitted asking Fulton to type personal letters for him on city time, including one to a U.S. Coast Guard recruiter on behalf of a recruit and another to a creditor, the report stated.

Katz also confirmed he had Fulton type playlists for Katz’s jazz band, which had a contract to play concerts at the Sunport. “Since it was for the city, he did not see a problem with it,” the report stated.

Katz defended his actions involving the Southwest Airlines sodas and snacks, which he said are “donated and are used for retirement parties, promotions, pregnancies and stranded passengers.” He did admit taking some sodas home, but not often.

Katz denied he had stopped communicating with Fulton and said he didn’t recall Fulton confronting him about performing personal tasks or writing letters for him.

Put ‘officers in danger’

Aviation police, who are state certified, and are commissioned by the APD and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, help federal agencies ensure safety at the Sunport and its surrounding areas. For security reasons, the city doesn’t divulge the number of aviation police employees.

In the interview with the investigator, Katz justified sending his aviation police officers off-site to handle reports, saying the “APD is busy and sometimes can’t send an officer in a timely fashion.”

One aviation police sergeant told the private investigator that “officers are constantly being sent off site by Chief Katz to take reports.”

“They have to have five officers on duty at the airport at all times,” the sergeant said. So when officers are sent to other areas of the city to take reports, he said, “it puts the airport and other officers in danger.”

That sergeant also said that Katz told another aviation police officer to take a report “at a food place and then get something to eat for free.”

Katz sent another officer to a car dealership, where Katz had previously purchased a vehicle, to handle an embezzlement case. Another officer was dispatched to take a report on the theft of a gun in the South Valley, but that task should have been handled by APD or the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office since it involved a gun, the sergeant told the investigator.

Another aviation police officer was quoted as saying that, in his six years with the agency, “he has been asked by Chief Katz to take a report for a friend about 12 times.”

Regarding the secured airport employee parking lot, one aviation police supervisor was quoted as saying, “It is common knowledge around the department that Chief Katz lets his son, his daughter-in-law and some of his friends who own businesses park in this lot.”

On another issue, an information technology employee at the Sunport said Katz has had him work on computer laptops for Katz, his family and several of Katz’s friends.

“It was obvious that Chief Katz was taking advantage of him, so he had to tell Chief Katz he could no longer work on personal computers,” the investigative report stated, adding that the IT work wasn’t done on city time.

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Falcon Field Airport (KFFZ) terminal boasts upgrades

The terminal at Mesa’s Falcon Field reopened Dec. 12 after a 10-month, $2 million renovation to upgrade and expand facilities for pilots, passengers and the public.

The terminal project was the first of several planned improvements at the airport, scheduled to stretch into 2016. The additional projects carry a price tag of another $2 million.

The terminal at the airport in northeast Mesa was more than 40 years old. The renovation resulted in an increase to 5,600 square feet of usable interior space, from 3,560 square feet. Improvements were made in the lobby, public waiting area, pilot briefing room, conference room and rest rooms. Charging stations for electronic devices were also added.

The exterior of the building was modernized, Mesa city officials said in a press release. It features LED-lit lighted blue fiberglass spires inspired by aeronautic forms and runway lighting. The glowing arches are expected to make the building a landmark at night.

Exterior shade structures were installed, along with additional seating and new landscaping. Plans call for adding binoculars so spectators can better view the aircraft which use the airport.

A new mural pays homage to the airport’s historic past as a training base for British Royal Air Force pilots during World War II. A sidewalk is painted like a runway, designed to invite people to try out the free gliders they can request from airport employees inside the terminal.

The public viewing area is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

The new design is intended to send a strong message that Falcon Field is at the center of Mesa’s aerospace and high-tech industry, lead architect on the renovation Sandra Kukla said in a press release.

She described the terminal as “contemporary both inside and out,” but with design elements that invoke memories of the airport when it was used as a pilot training base.

In a press release, Mesa City Councilman David Luna said the improvements push Falcon Field to the level of other airport terminals in the Valley.

“They all have great terminals that are inviting to pilots,” Luna said. “Falcon Field is now at the top of that list and will be a destination for pilots.”

“We hope the aviation community and residents of Mesa will use and enjoy the new amenities of this much-needed facility,” Airport Director Corinne Nystrom said.

Mesa Mayor John Giles touted Falcon Field for its potential economic impacts to the city.

“The Falcon Field area has many opportunities for additional development and this upgraded terminal will help attract new business and general aviation users,” Giles said in a press release.

Future work at the airport includes a realignment of taxiway A, the installation of blast pads on both ends of the north runway to reduce dust particulates and the erosive effects of propeller wash and jet blast. And, a new aircraft washing facility will be built.

Falcon Field is owned by the city of Mesa. But, no money from the city’s general fund is spent on airport operations. Rather, the airport is self-supporting with revenue coming from user fees.


Air traffic misery after Texas storms

AUSTIN (KXAN) – At least a dozen flights out of Austin were cancelled Sunday after severe storms hit much of the state.

An American Airlines spokesman said of their eleven cancellations from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, two were headed to Chicago O’Hare Airport and nine were headed to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Weather has been a major problem with a line of strong storms stretching from Texas to the Midwest. More bad weather appears to be on the way.

Southwest Airlines also had two cancellations on Sunday. One flight was bound for Lubbock, where forecasters expect blizzard conditions.

Storms on Saturday in North Texas shut down DFW. American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein told KXAN at one point 60 flights were diverted from DFW. Feinstein said 17 of those jets went to Austin.

For passengers it was a frustrating, especially following the Christmas holiday. Some turned to social media to vent their frustration.

Several passengers wrote into KXAN’s ReportIt and called saying their flights were delayed for hours. One passenger also claimed they were on the tarmac for more than 6 hours. Neither ABIA officials nor the airlines confirmed such a long stay on the tarmac.

Most airlines avoid such lengthy tarmac delays since the implementation of what is known as the passenger’s bill of rights. Airlines can face heavy fines if passengers are kept on an airplane for extended periods of time. When that rule took effect in 2010, the number of  extended delays on the tarmac dropped from 664 between May 2009 and February 2010 to 16 between May 2010 and February 2011.


Replicas of Wright Brothers' planes bound for China

DAYTON, Ohio—The company handling licensing rights for the Wright Brothers trademark says two replicas of the brothers’ airplanes and early equipment have been sold to museums in China.

Wright Brothers USA LLC didn’t disclose terms of the deal it brokered. But the company’s CEO says two sets of the replicated planes and equipment will sell for close to seven figures each to Beijing Hangcheng International Investment Co.

The replicas are being prepared and built by Wright Aeroplane Co. in Dayton. The first set from the brothers’ early kite to the 1905 Flyer will be transported to China next month. The second set will be delivered in 2017.

The planes and historical curios will be displayed in museums and historical complexes in Xi’an and Chengdu.