Monday, January 25, 2016

Darien, Fairfield County, Connecticut: Low Flying Helicopters Are Surveying Electric Transmission Lines

Darien police released this picture of a helicopter doing work for Eversource, the electric utility.



The Darien Police Department has been getting “hundreds and hundreds” of calls from residents concerned about low-flying helicopters in the past week, says Sgt. Jeremiah Marron, a department spokesman.

The choppers are surveying transmission lines with high-resolution cameras, according to a statement released by Eversource, formerly Connecticut Light & Power, and posted on the Internet by Darien Police. The project is “part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the power grid and increase reliability,” the utility said.

“Photographs collected during these flights will help build a more detailed record of structures, lines and other electrical equipment which will increase the efficiency of maintaining the electric system in Connecticut,” the statement reads.

The flights are expected to wrap up this week, Marron said. The utility statement said that for this week the helicopters will be flying as early as 7 a.m. and as late as dusk.

The chopper is also flying in Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk and Westport.

Eversource added: “The helicopter assigned to this project is black with a registration number N175JL.”

In a statement posted by police on Facebook, the department said: “Please don’t call the Police Department to report it. Thank you.”

Story and photo:   http://darienite.com

Westfield Technical Academy's first aviation maintenance class advised to take advantage of new opportunity

(LtoR) Westfield Mayor Brian P. Sullivan, U.S. Rep, Richard E. Neal, D-Ma., Westfield Technical Academy principal Stefan Czaporowski, state Sen. Donald F. Humanson Jr., R-Westfield and state Rep. John Velis attended the grand opening of WTA's new aviation maintenance program Monday. 


WESTFIELD - The first students to enroll in Westfield Technical Academy's Aviation Maintenance Technology program were advised Monday afternoon to take advantage of the opportunity now available.

Dignitaries from Boston to Washington D.C. were joined at the Smith Avenue campus Monday afternoon by more than 200 parents, residents, educators and aviation industry representatives for the grand opening of the new technology program.

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., noted that "right now there are 16,000 precision jobs unfilled in New England. Each of these represent an average salary of $66,000. This new program represents the future skill set for workers right here in Westfield today."

Mayor Brian P. Sullivan advised the 14 freshmen students, the Class of 2019, to "take advantage of this opportunity we are offering. Westfield has come together like never before to provide this opportunity. It was a tremendous amount of work by a lot of people in the city. And, it will be worth it because today we celebrate putting Westfield on the map."

State Sen. Donald F. Humason Jr., R-Westfield, who is chairman of the Massachusetts Aviation Caucus called the WTA aviation program "ground breaking."

And, state Rep. John Velis said "this program is a popular subject across the state, one which has the support to grow."

Other officials attending the open house included Federal Aviation Administration Regional Administrator Amy Corbett; MassDOT Aeronautics Division Administrator Jeff DeCarlo and Christopher J. Willenborg, executive director of the state's Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force who once served as director at Barnes Regional Airport and more recently state aeronautics director.

"Massachusetts has more than 50 companies involved in aviation maintenance. This program at WTA will make sure they have qualified workers for the growth in aviation and the school now plays a very important role in meeting the future needs of aviation," Willenborg said.

DeCarlo said "This is an outstanding opportunity for high school students and is the result of industry, academia and government working together. This is the beginning of a great positive momentum for education."

WTA principal Stefan Czaporowski and Aviation Maintenance instructor Galen Wilson said the program now has a total of 8 aircraft as instructional tools for the program.

The newest is a Q200 Quickee Aircraft, a composite trainer, Wilson said. That aircraft along with a single engine Cherokee were parked in the school parking lot and served as props for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The program occupies four classrooms at WTA along with a hangar, now undergoing renovation, at Barnes Regional Airport.

Aviation Maintenance Technology is the only program offered at WTA that requires enrollment in each of the four years students attend the high school. Freshmen enrolling must remain in the program during their sophomore, junior and seniors years at the school.

Freshman Keeley J. Meyer, 15, of Granville, is one of only two female students in the first aviation maintenance program class.

"My family has some aviation background and we talked about the program and the opportunities is offers during my freshmen exploratory weeks at the school. This is an amazing program. It will be hard but so far it is really enjoyable," Meyer said.

Story and photo: http://www.masslive.com

Tucson International Airport (KTUS), chamber work to lure more nonstops



Tucson airport chief Bonnie Allin really wanted to announce some new nonstop flights at the annual meeting of the Tucson Airport Authority on Monday.

That didn’t pan out, but airport officials and local business leaders are working very hard to get airlines to add new flights from Tucson to New York, Mexico and other priority destinations, Allin said at the meeting at the Arizona Inn.

“We are closer today than since 2008 to having nonstop service to New York and to Mexico,” said Allin, president and CEO of the airport authority.

Tucson and other smaller airports have suffered from diminished flight service as the airlines have consolidated and cut seats to stay aloft.

But Allin noted that last year Tucson saw some seasonal flights return and others added in 2015, including new Delta Air Lines service to Los Angeles International Airport, new nonstop service to Chicago O’Hare on United, and the resumption of seasonal nonstops to Seattle on Delta, Houston Hobby (Southwest), Minneapolis (Delta) and Portland (Alaska).

Overall, the number of available seats is up about 7 percent from last year, but the total number of passengers fell about 2 percent, mainly due to Southwest’s decision to drop one of its four Las Vegas nonstops, she said.

Still, progress on some routes is slow despite the Tucson airport’s air service incentive program, which gives airlines fee waivers and marketing support worth up to $1.4 million each for new, long-haul domestic and international flights, or up to $1 million for short-haul domestic routes.

The incentives have helped TIA add one flight, a Portland flight Alaska added in 2013, while work continues on other priority destinations such as New York, Washington, D.C., Albuquerque and Canada.

“We’ve learned after years of working with the airlines that you have to be persistent and patient,” Allin said.

The airport has been working closely with a potential start-up carrier in Mexico on flights to Hermosillo and Guaymas, but that has not been finalized, Allin said.

Local officials were pushing hard to get a new flight to the New York area in time for the winter season, but that won’t likely happen until next winter, Allin said.

The airport says local officals have been in close contact with three airlines on potential New York routes.

The effort to secure new nonstops to New York City, or nearby airports such as Newark, is being spearheaded by an “air-service task force” of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has amassed $3 million in member commitments for a fund as a “minimum revenue guarantee” to attract new flights by making up any revenue shortfall to the airlines.

Bill Assenmacher, who was elected to the Tucson Airport Authority board Monday, has led the chamber’s effort with Chamber president and CEO Mike Varney.

Assenmacher, CEO of the metal fabrication firm CAID Industries, said in an interview the chamber has been courting several airlines for New York-area flights, including JetBlue and American at JFK International Airport and United at Newark, New Jersey.

“We’re literally the largest city in the world that doesn’t have service to New York,” he said.

Chamber members are excited about adding United flights because the airline is expanding service to Europe, Assenmacher said. But talks stalled last year after United’s CEO stepped down and his replacement had a heart transplant, he said.

The revenue-guarantee fund is something the chamber can provide that the airport can’t offer because of its reliance on airline fees, Assenmacher noted.

“We really believe it can be a game-changer,” he said.

Chamber members, including local auto dealers and resorts, have committed money to the revenue-guarantee fund, Assenmacher said, declining to name the donors.

The guarantee funds would only be tapped if new flights fell short of expected revenues, Assenmacher said, adding, “We don’t want to use this money.”

Allin said the major problem remains competition from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, noting that about a million people drive from Tucson to fly out of Sky Harbor, though it can be faster and, with added expenses, about the same cost to fly from Tucson.

“We have a lot of people who drive to Phoenix to take a flight to San Diego,” she said.

TAA board changes

Tony Finley, chief financial officer for Long Cos. was elected 2016 chairman of the Tucson Airport Auhority, replacing Steve Cole;
David Goldstein, president of Diamond Ventures, was elected vice president;
Lisa Lovallo, a regional vice president of Cox Communications, is secretary;
Taunya Villicana, managing partner of Affinity Wealth Management, is treasurer
New members for 2016 are: Bill Assenmacher, CAID Industries; Bruce Dusenberry, Suddath Relocation Systems; Kathy Ward, GV Strategic Advisors

Source:  http://tucson.com

New England airlines in talks to replace Block Island flights

New England Airlines founder and pilot Bill Bendokas.



WESTERLY, R.I. -- The owner of New England Airlines, which runs scheduled service between Westerly State Airport and Block Island State Airport, said on Monday that he has spoken with state officials about taking over summer service between T.F. Green Airport and Block Island.

Because of a nationwide pilot shortage, Cape Air has ceased all of its summer-only service at T.F. Green, including federal-grant-backed service that allows travelers on major airlines to book flights from anywhere to Green, and then transfer seamlessly to Block Island.

New England Airlines owner Bill Bendokas told The Providence Journal that he is considering the Green-to-Block Island service.

"It depends on the numbers," he said. "How much did they have to lean on the grant support?"

If the service can't be profitable without the grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, Bendokas said it wouldn't be worth running the service short-term.

Bendokas said that the pilot shortage is also an issue. He normally has eight pilots year-round and doubles that number to handle summer demand. That has become more of an issue in recent years, he said.

Other logistics of the industry, such as aircraft availability, may also pose and obstacle, Bendokas said.

"It's not like flipping a switch," he said. "It's just not that simple."

He suggested that operating charter flights, rather than scheduled service, between Green and Block Island might make more sense financially.

He said his talks last weeks with the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, the state agency that runs Green and five smaller state-owned airports, including Block Island and Westerly, were only preliminary.

Source:  http://www.providencejournal.com

Florence County, South Carolina: Sheriff's Office helicopter trial underway

Dusan Fridl (center) and Hemming Hemmingsen (left) on the first day of trial Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The two were indicted in April for unlawfully flying a helicopter allegedly owned by the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. Also pictured is Patrick McLaughlin, Fridl and Hemmingsen's defense attorney.


FLORENCE, S.C. – A trial involving the two pilots arrested by Florence County deputies for flying a helicopter allegedly owned by the sheriff’s office began Monday.

Dusan Fridl and Hemming Hemmingsen were indicted in April on felony charges for unlawful entry of an aircraft that was allegedly owned by the Florence County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the incident.

The Lake City pilots were arrested after flying the Bell OH58A helicopter, now known as Raptor 2, on April 6 without permission from the FCSO.

Fridl and Hemmingsen pleaded not guilty to the charges, and previous motions to dismiss the charges were turned down by the court.

The pilots maintain they were authorized to fly the aircraft for preventative maintenance purposes and that the machine was not officially signed into ownership of the FCSO until April 7. The defense says the Lake City Police Department had ownership of the helicopter at the time of flight.

Attorney Rick Hoefer, the state’s representative, said Monday during his opening statement that “the defendants think they were entitled to going into the aircraft, using it and removing equipment from it.”

Hoefer called two witnesses to the stand: Lake City Administrator Shawn Bell and former Lake City Police Chief Jodi Cooper.

Bell said after Fridl and Hemmingsen’s first maintenance flight in January 2015, he told the pilots not to fly it again for liability and insurance reasons.

Cooper said he was aware that Bell had wanted the aircraft grounded for insurance reasons, but to his understanding, it was allowed to be taken up for preventative maintenance purposes.

Fridl and Hemmingsen operated under the jurisdiction of the LCPD and worked for the Lake City Municipal Airport. Fridl is the chairman of the airport’s commission and, according to Cooper, played a major role in Lake City’s acquisition of the helicopter.

The pilots helped LCPD acquire the helicopter through the Department of Defense’s military surplus 1033 program.

Patrick McLaughlin, defense attorney for Fridl and Hemmingsen, said previously that the FCSO did not like the idea of a competing air unit and that pressure was applied to LCPD to give up their helicopter.

“The burden of proof is on them (the state),” McLaughlin told jurors Monday. “The defendants are not on trial, the state is.”

Circuit Court Judge Thomas Russo presided over the proceedings. The trial went into recess at 4:30 p.m. and will continue 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

If convicted, Fridl and Hemmingsen could face sentences up to 10 years.

Story and photo: http://www.scnow.com

Incident occurred January 25, 2016 at Abilene Regional Airport (KABI), Texas



ABILENE, TX

A twin-engine airplane skidded off the runway just before lunch Monday at Abilene Regional Airport.

According to Operations Manager Don Green, the small plane with two people on board skidded off the runway at 11:30 after it landed when its nose gear collapsed at the front of the plane.

The runway was shut down for about 30 minutes while the plane was towed to Abilene Aero.

Green said the plane had taken off earlier in the day from Abilene Regional Airport.

There were no injuries.

Sources:  

http://www.everythinglubbock.com

http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com

Wittman Tailwind W-8, N1983T: Accident occurred January 24, 2016 at Big Bear City Airport (L35), San Bernardino County, California

http://registry.faa.gov/N1983T

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA121
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 24, 2016 in Big Bear, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/05/2016
Aircraft: GLINES KENNETH TAILWIND W 8, registration: N1983T
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, during his approach at a non-towered airport at night, he made the descent to what he thought was the runway, but realized that it was actually the taxiway, and "slipped" right, to what he then perceived to be the runway. Upon touchdown, the airplane ground looped and nosed over. The pilot had landed and nosed over in the safety area to the left of the runway. 

The pilot reported that he had been flying for the preceding 12 hour period, and conceded to having exceeded his personal endurance limitations. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings. 

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

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadvertent landing off the left side of the snow-covered runway, resulting in a ground loop and nose over.





An experimental aircraft was found on its roof Monday morning, Jan. 25, at Big Bear Airport.

The pilot of the plane, authorities say, was nowhere to be found.

That is until later in the morning, when the pilot called airport and San Bernardino County Sheriff's authorities to tell them that the plane crashed about 7:30 p.m. and that nobody was hurt, according to an airport news release.

Airport authorities did not release the pilot’s name Monday. 

Plane registration records show the plane is registered to Robert Earhart of Dallas, Texas.

Airport maintenance worker Ryan Goss said the pilot attempted to land on the runway, but was unable to turn on the airport's lights. The lights are "pilot-controlled" and can be turned on by keying the microphone five times.

The plane missed the runway, and hit snow.

The wheels, which had been deployed, dug into the snow and caused the plane to flip over.




Following standard procedures, the airport temporarily closed after the plane was found and Federal Aviation Administration, police and fire authorities were contacted. 

Goss said he and other Airport workers have never come across a situation where a plane crashed and the pilot was nowhere to be found.

About 10 a.m., FAA officials gave the airport approval to remove the plane from the runway area. Airport staff, using its own equipment, righted the plane up on its wheels and towed it away. Debris was cleaned up and the airport opened back up by 10:30 a.m.

Story and photo:  http://www.pe.com



A single engine airplane crashed at Big Bear City Airport sometime during the night. The pilot apparently walked away, then drove off the mountain.

The aircraft was discovered early Jan. 25 when airport personnel arrived to open the airport. As part of the opening routine, a sweep of the grounds, including the runways, is made, according to Dustin Leno, Big Bear airport manager. Staff discovered the plane on the northwest edge of the airport, just off the runway. There was no one inside, and no sign of the pilot, officials said.

The runways were immediately shut down, and emergency personnel notified, along with the FAA. According to Leno, the FAA advised the airport not to move the aircraft as the pilot was missing.




The pilot, whose name has not been released, called the Big Bear City Airport around 9:30 a.m. Jan. 25 to notify them of the accident, according to Leno. The plane, which is described as a single engine high-wing tail dragger, possibly a kit plane, was found upside down. The plane is registered out of Dallas, Texas.

Once the pilot was identified, the FAA gave permission to move the aircraft. Big Bear City Airport was re-opened by 10:30 a.m.

It's unknown exactly what happened, or when the accident occurred. It's also unknown if the pilot sustained any injuries in the crash, and whether he drove himself off the mountain.

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.bigbeargrizzly.net

New medical checks for display pilots after Shoreham air crash: Tougher risk assessments for air shows could see some events cancelled this summer, the Civil Aviation Authority says



Air display pilots will have to tell doctors during medical checks if they perform demanding aerobatics, under new rules to tighten safety after the Shoreham air crash.

Organizers will also have to complete stricter risk assessments that could see some shows near railways and busy roads cancelled, according to a new report by the Civil Aviation Authority.

A 41-page CAA action report after Britain’s worst air show crash in more than 60 years has unveiled a list of new safety measures for air show organizers and their pilots.

Measures after the August 22 crash that killed 11 include temporarily keeping a ban on vintage military jets performing aerobatics at air shows.

Tony Rapson, head of general aviation, said the CAA had looked at “every aspect of civil air display safety” after the crash.

He said: “In 2016, no air show will go ahead without being subject to an enhanced risk assessment, and having to comply with tighter requirements for training, oversight and notification.”

Under the news rules, organizers will have to reduce the risks to nearby roads, congested areas and infrastructure such as railways. Mr. Rapson said the new rules could mean organisers decide to cancel their shows.

He said: “Inevitably there’s a potential that some organizers will choose not to have shows this year.

“With the enhanced risk assessment there could be a number of locations where they cannot mitigate the risks. Safety has to be our priority.”

Shoreham has already decided it will not hold a show this year, out of respect for the victims.

The CAA said it would enhance requirements for the "skill and health of display pilots". Changes will include new medicals for pilots, with specialist doctors taking into account the physical demands of the aerobatics they are performing.

A new medical certification for display pilots will be “based on the type of aircraft being flown, the maneuvers the pilot intends to fly in displays and the risks consequent on these two factors”.

The new scheme will focus on “the increased physiological strain associated with flying under high levels of g-force, particularly during aerobatic maneuvers.”

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is still looking at what caused a 1950s era Hawker Hunter flown by display pilot Andy Hill to plough into the A27. An interim report has found the plane had expired ejector seat parts and an out-of-date technical manual. The CAA said the ban on aerobatics by vintage jets put in place immediately after the crash would remain until the AAIB findings.

Thousands of people had gathered at Shoreham Airshow to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain when the 1950s Hawker Hunter crashed into a busy bypass, hitting at least four cars – including a wedding limousine.

Mr Hill, a 51-year-old former RAF officer, had been performing a loop when he failed to pull up in time and smashed into the A27 in a fireball of burning fuel and wreckage.

He miraculously survived the crash and was dragged from the burning plane.

Story, video and photo gallery: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

FlySafair Boeing 737-400, ZS-JRE: Loss of cabin pressure - two flights

A FlySafair flight had to turn back on Sunday evening due to a loss of cabin pressure - the airline's second incident in a few days.

"Flight FA103 departed from Johannesburg to Cape Town at 20:16 on 24 January 2016. As the aircraft reached approximately 32000 feet, Captain Lawrence Banda and First officer Charles Peck noted that the air pressure wasn't stabilizing as it should and that the aircraft was experiencing a very gradual loss of pressure," the airline said.

The flight crew reduced speed, lowered altitude and manually released oxygen masks as a precaution while the plane returned to Johannesburg.

This is the second time an incident of a similar nature has occurred on one of the airline's flights in a few days.

"A similar incident occurred on Friday morning where flight FA202, also from Johannesburg to Cape Town, returned to Johannesburg, with a gradual loss of cabin pressure," the airline said.

However, FlySafair said that preliminary investigations indicate that the two issues were not related despite them taking place on the same plane.

Passengers were given meal vouchers and a refund for their bookings. Most elected to fly later that evening on another flight.

However some passengers took to social media to express their frustrations, with some saying that the oxygen masks were not working properly and that there was smoke in the cabin.

Kirby Gordon, FlySafair's VP of Sales and Distribution, told iafrica.com Travel that at this stage all systems appear to have been working "perfectly fine".

"I think the thing to keep in mind is that people are in a distressed situation and often don't always remember back to the messages shared at the beginning of the flight," Gordon said.

"For example, some people can be under the impression that the masks did not work because the bags didn't inflate - but that's a normal element of their operation - the bags don't always inflate, [and] on post inspection the systems have all been found to have worked perfectly," he said.

"Similarly there have been concerns raised because of smoke - again this is a normal aspect of the functioning of this system as oxygen generators do let off a degree of heat when they kick into action and there can be some steam etc that rises off the devices, especially seeing that they are seldom activated."

While investigations are ongoing, no system faults have been found. Crew actions were also said to be "by the book".

"Our focus for now has been on our passengers, ensuring that they are looked after and that they get to where they need to be. We've also issued full refunds on all bookings," Gordon told iafrica.com.

Original article can be found here: http://travel.iafrica.com

Transaero airline files two lawsuits against Rosaviation, demands $7.6 mln

MOSCOW, January 25 (RAPSI) – One of the most troubled Russian airlines, Transaero, filed two lawsuits with the Moscow Commercial Court against Federal agency of air transport (Rosaviation), according to materials available at the court’s website.

In the first lawsuit Transaero demands 595 million rubles ($7.6 mln) from Rosaviation, in the second lawsuit the airline asks the court to find Federal agency’s actions illegal. Latter lawsuit also lists airlines “Aeroflot” and “Russia” (part of the Aeroflot group) as third parties. Both lawsuits have not been reviewed yet.

After Transaro stopped operating the flights, Rosaviation distributed the air routes between other airlines, including the largest one, Aeroflot.

Transaero found itself unable to pay its debts estimating 250 billion rubles ($3.5 billion). Government-approved plan of transferring 75% of company’s shares to Aeroflot failed. Its problems resulted in a large number of flight cancels and delays.

In October, Sberbank and Alfa Bank filed bankruptcy petitions against the troubled airline. The Commercial Court of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region initiated a bankruptcy procedure against Transaero on December 16.

Original article can be found here: http://rapsinews.com