Monday, February 1, 2016

Stamford co.’s parts on new Boeing jet

Boeing flew its new 737 MAX single-aisle passenger jet for the first time, with the aircraft’s engines and airframe including components from Stamford-based Hexcel.

Chicago-based Boeing flew the 737 MAX at its final assembly plant in Renton, Wash., with the single-aisle aircraft having collected more than 3,070 orders to date including from American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and GE Capital Aviation Services, a Norwalk-based subsidiary of General Electric that leases aircraft to airliners. First delivery is scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.

Hexcel carbon fiber is used in fan blades and containment cases for LEAP-1 engines made by CFM International, a joint venture of GE Aviation and France-based Safran.

The nacelles that house the engines have an acoustic inner barrel designed with Hexcel’s Acousti-Cap technology, in which a permeable cap material is individually embedded into each honeycomb cell to create an acoustic septum. Hexcel said that reduces the noise “contour” of the 737 MAX engine by 40 percent next to older Boeing 737 aircraft.

The 737 MAX also includes systems from the UTC Aerospace subsidiary of Farmington-based United Technologies.

Story and photo:

Dramatic rescue at RAF Leeming during a routine training flight in a Hawk jet

An RAF pilot who lost his sight in the middle of a training flight was talked down through a safe landing by a comrade who flew behind him, it has been disclosed.

The dramatic rescue happened last week at RAF Leeming during a routine training flight in a Hawk jet.

The unnamed pilot radioed to base after he was suddenly lost vision because of a suspected medical problem while flying solo above North Yorkshire in the BAE Systems single-engine training jet.

At one point the pilot’s vision was so bad that commander’s considered having him eject into the North Sea because there was little chance he could land safely, sources said.

But the prospect of him suffering ejection injuries, as well as losing the plane led them to dispatch another pilot, Flt Lt Paul Durban, to try to talk him down.

Flt Lt Durban, a 39-year-old father of two who flew Tornados in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming an instructor at RAF Leeming, flew close behind the stricken pilot to talk him down.

A source said: “They think he had an infection in his eye and he just couldn’t see. The other pilot flew behind him and talked him down. They got him down safely and the plane is OK. Flt Lt Durban is fine too, though I think he was pretty exhausted.”

The RAF on Sunday confirmed the incident on January 28, but refused to comment on the condition of the stricken pilot. Sources said his vision was thought to have been affected by the sudden deterioration of an eye infection.

An RAF spokesman said: “During a routine training sortie on Thursday, one of our pilots temporarily suffered a partial loss of vision. To assist in the recovery of the aircraft to RAF Leeming, the pilot used the radio to request the assistance of a wingman and was promptly joined by another aircraft from the same squadron.

“The impaired pilot flew in formation back to RAF Leeming with the other aircraft where the pilot landed the aircraft uneventfully. Flying in formation, and conducting an approach to land as a formation, is a skill practised daily by RAF fast jet pilots.”

The RAF’s 100 Sqn use Hawk jets at RAF Leeming, near Richmond in North Yorkshire, to train forward air controllers and to act as enemy jets in practice missions. They are also flown by the RAF’s aerobatic team, the Red Arrows.

Story, video and photos:

Revealed: How packed holiday jet had near-miss at 1,500ft with rocket made from FIZZY DRINKS bottles

The Airbus A321 was leaving Birmingham Airport when the pilot spotted a UFO "very close" to the cockpit.

A packed holiday jet had a near-miss at 1,500ft with a rocket made from FIZZY DRINKS bottles, it has emerged.

The Airbus A321 flight was leaving Birmingham Airport when the pilot spotted a UFO from the cockpit.

It passed "very close" to the starboard side of the aircraft but did not make contact, said air safety body UKAB which investigated the incident.

In a report, it was described as "rocket shaped and the size of 2 x 2litre fizzy drink bottles."

The pilot said it passed just 100ft vertically and 200m horizontally from his aircraft.

It is believed the UFO was probably a DIY water bottle rocket sent up in to the air by an amateur enthusiast.

But is thought to be the first time any has reached such height as to encounter an aircraft.

Local rocketing groups were contacted by the UKAB and said there were no meetings held at the time of the incident at around 9.50am on August 18 last year.

By law, anyone wanting to fire a rocket which has a motive power exceeding 160 Newton-seconds has to contact Air Traffic Control.

Making water bottle rockets is a popular science experiment.

A large bottle is partially filled with water or another liquid and then compressed with a pump until the pressure fires it into the air.

The world record height reached for a water bottle rocket 2,723ft.

The air watchdog said it had ultimately been unable to trace the source of the rocket.

The near-miss was categorized as a Category B incident, the second most serious on the watchdog's scale.

Story and photos:

Nikon takes down plane photo after row

Nikon has taken down the winning entry to an amateur photography competition after a social media storm erupted over the obviously edited image.

Look Up, by Singaporean photographer Chay Yu Wei, appeared to capture a plane just as it flew over a building.

But Nikon and Mr Chay had to apologise after thousands pointed out the plane had very clearly been edited in.

It has also emerged that an identical image was posted on Instagram by another photographer one year ago.

Singaporean photographer Lee Yik Keat, who posted that image, called it "the classic lookup". He told the BBC he could not tell if it was the same photo, but said he had always freely admitted his was a composite.

How the fake plane row unfolded

11 January - Nikon Singapore announces its monthly amateur photography competition on Facebook asking for people to "enchant us with your monochrome photography", with a trolley bag for the winner.

The terms of the competition say the photos must be original works, though doesn't specifically bar editing.

Mr. Chay, who Instagrams as @yuuuuuwei, uploaded his entry.

The following week - One user asks Mr Chay on his Instagram how long he waited for the plane to pass overhead. He replies "Not too long, I was lucky" with two smiling emoji.

28 January - Mr. Chay is announced as the competition winner. Nikon says he chanced upon some ladders while on a photo walk of Singapore's Chinatown and thought it was make an interesting shot. "Little did he expect to catch an airplane in mid-air."

Almost immediately, people began questioning the photo.

Running it through Photoshop and playing just slightly with the colour levels showed very clearly a white box around the plane, indicating it had been cut and pasted onto the shot. The plane itself also appeared pixellated.

Much of the anger fell on Mr Chay, with photographers turning on his Instagram to accuse him of deliberate fakery.

"There's nothing wrong with the photo, I know tons of IGers who puts a plane on it or photoshop many stars etc, the problem is you shouldn't have lied about waiting for it, there are many people out there who isn't stupid," said one user.
Another user observed: "He took a similar photo last year as well. Must have been really lucky and skilful to have captured such low-flying planes twice."

But there was also anger at Nikon for what was seen as poor judgement, and bad handling of the row.

"The problem lies with the judges. May be photo-enthusiasts who are overly zealous in the quest for an 'impossible' or 'wow' factor in the entries. Please keep it real and get real practicing photographers to be the judges. It may help Nikon's reputation in many ways," MY Lye posted on the Facebook page.

30 January

Nikon posts an apology, saying "we should not compromise standards even for a casual photo contest".

"We have made an honest mistake and the rousing response from the community today is a reminder to us that the true spirit of photography is very much alive."

But many replies are not happy.

"It is appalling that a maker of serious photography equipment takes photography integrity so lightly," says Darren Lim. "If you truly made an "honest mistake", then rectify it. Don't try to justify by labelling it as a casual contest."

Also that night, Mr Yu posts an apology on Instagram.

He says adding the plane had been a "playful edit" and was "not meant to bluff anyone". He says he had been joking about being lucky to catch the shot.

But he says he "crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition", and apologised to Nikon and the photography community.

Singapore's national airport, Changi, even got in on the act, posting this image with the hashtag #lookup on Facebook.

31 January

In response to more criticism of the competition and its initial PR reaction, Nikon issues a second apology, saying it will "do the right thing by our community and by the standards that are expected of Nikon, and as such, we will shortly be removing Look Up from our pages".

Thanking users for their "candour" and continue support, it apologises that this means their comments will also disappear.

1 February

Local media report that a very similar photo to Look Up was posted on Instagram almost exactly a year ago by Lee Yik Keat.

Mr. Lee tells the BBC he can't tell whether the picture was a copy or was inspired by his image, but that this method of making composite images "did not originate from me".

"I declared to my audience that it was two images into one edit and the tag was #putaplaneonit."

"I think this kind of editing is fine as long as it is declared, sometimes creative edits can spark other people's imagination so it can be useful. I think if he declared it was a composite and he wins it it is fine, however (if i am not wrong?) he did not inform Nikon upfront."

Memes roll in

Despite the anger, it's fair to say some photographers have had fun with the row as an opportunity to show of their photo editing skills.

Story and photo gallery:

Incident occurred January 30, 2016 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England

Panshanger campaigners Will Davis and  Jerry Larke at the gates of the Panshanger Aerodrome site.

A light aircraft made an emergency landing at Panshanger’s former airfield on Saturday, more than 15 months after it officially stopped operating.

A pilot who trained at the  North London Flying School when it operated the airfield was forced to land there because his Cessna C150 suffered a complete electrical failure, filling the cockpit with smoke.

Landowner Mariposa, which ended the club’s lease in September 2014, has suggested the Welwyn Garden City site for housing, although aviation enthusiasts have not given up hope of restoring an airfield on the site.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority told the Welwyn Hatfield Times there would be no obligation to report the landing unless it involved injury or damage.

Story and photo:

Day Trip Discoveries: Take advantage of value season at Future of Flight Aviation Center

You’ve likely heard of the Boeing Tour at Paine Field in Mukilteo – it’s one of the biggest visitor draws in the state of Washington. You may know it affiliated with the Future of Flight Aviation Center when that facility opened in 2005.

But have you taken the Boeing Tour and explored the Future of Flight Aviation Center? So many of us locals think we’ll take in this major attraction when relatives or friends visit… and then somehow that doesn’t happen.

So visit now for your own enjoyment during these winter months – when the ticket price drops during the “value season” through March 31 – and the Boeing Tour and Future of Flight are much less crowded. Tour reservations are a virtual necessity during the June-September tourist high season; now you can be more impromptu, although reserving a specific tour time is always wise and saves on the ticket price.

The Boeing Tour is the only tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America. Here 747s, 777s and 787 Dreamliners are built. You watch the world’s largest jets being assembled in the world’s largest building (measured by volume: more than 472 million cubic feet, covering 98.3 acres – a footprint as big as 75 football fields!). Mist clouds actually used to form in the Boeing plant before a state-of-the-art air circulation system was installed.

The 90-minute tour begins with a short introduction film at the Future of Flight Aviation Center; then you board a shuttle bus to the nearby Boeing manufacturing plant. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll walk more than one-third mile through underground tunnels beneath the plant – part of the 2.3-mile labyrinth below the assembly floor. On the floor, employees often get around the huge building by using the 1,300 bicycles Boeing provides.

You’ll also walk up and down steep steps several times and ride an elevator 35 feet above the factory floor for a birds-eye view of the jets’ assembly stations. (With advance notice, special accommodations can be made for those who are physically challenged or in wheelchairs.)

From the overhead viewpoints, you’ll observe a truly remarkable operation employing 42,000 workers and learn fascinating factoids from your guide such as: 26 overhead bridge cranes operate on a total of 39 miles of ceiling track to transport wings, tails and other large parts to aircraft in the process of being assembled. Jets move along their respective assembly lines as these huge parts are fitted into place.

Children must be at least 4 feet tall to take the tour for safety reasons. Cameras and electronic devices, including cell phones, may not be taken to the factory; lockers are available at the Future of Flight.

Returning by shuttle bus to the Future of Flight Aviation Center, you can then explore its interactive displays highlighting commercial jet aviation. The 28,000-square foot gallery contains learning zones including Airplane Design, Materials, Flight Systems, Propulsion/Engines, Passenger Experience, Family Zone and Future Concepts.

Digitally design your own jet, then test and modify its flight worthiness. Stand next to a 30-foot-tall 747 tail to appreciate its tremendous size. Feel the composite material that makes up most of the revolutionary 787 Dreamliner. For an additional $8, take a virtual ride in the Innovator to far-away places such as Egypt and experiences such as the Battle for Iwo Jima and a Blue Angels’ flight.

A recent addition is the Family Zone with activities designed around the theme of aircraft manufacturing and assembly. Families can build simple aircraft models and use Lego (and Lego-compatible) pieces to design aircraft. A kid-sized airport and aircraft allow future pilots of all ages to practice their take-offs and landings.

Currently, the Family Zone is also home to a hands-on nanotechnology exhibit and new Bernoulli Table, which offers an interactive experience to teach the relationship between the velocity of air and the pressure it exerts.

Weekend Family Workshops are featured on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Each workshop includes an aviation story and a make-and-take project.

Maker Mondays, open from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the Gallery Maker Space, provide the opportunity to work on your own projects using 3D-modeling. Then print your project on the MakerBot Replicator. Makers under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is $5 per day plus $0.90 per gram for materials.


Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
8415 Paine Field Blvd. – Mukilteo, WA
Phone: 425-438-8100

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily year-round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Boeing tours begin at 9 a.m. and are offered on the hour; the last tour starts at 3 p.m.

Admission – Value Season (Jan 3 to Mar 31 & Oct 1 to Dec 19): 
$16 adult reserved/$18 walk-up; youth $9/$10 (age 15 and under)

Admission – Peak Season (Apr.1 – Sept. 30):
$18 adult reserved/$20 walk-up; youth $12/$14

Reservations are highly recommended as only a limited quantity of same-day, non-reserved tickets are available. 

Reserve at or phone 360-756-0086 or toll-free 1-800-464-1476 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Story and photos:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Torrance commission may block Lexus car lot near Zamperini Field Airport (KTOA), Los Angeles County, California

When a small plane took off from Torrance Municipal Airport on a Sunday morning in 1997, crashing into a three-story office building across the street and killing all four aboard, firefighters noted that only the day of the week prevented casualties on the ground.

About the same time, the local aviation community was fighting — successfully, it eventually turned out — siting a new Range Rover automobile dealership north of the former Ishibashi produce stand on Crenshaw Boulevard.

Doing so would encroach on a Federal Aviation Administration Runway Protection Zone, intended to ensure incompatible development doesn’t compromise public safety, Jim Gates, then president of the Torrance Airport Association, told the Daily Breeze at the time.

Almost two decades later, the TAA is fighting a virtually identical proposal: the expansion of a Lexus dealership that would put an auto sales lot partially within the same Runway Protection Zone that’s intended to protect people on the ground and provide a margin of safety for pilots in an emergency.

“According to the map presented at the public hearing on June 4, 1997, it is the very same property on which the Lexus dealer now wants to place the (sales) parking lot,” said Gates, who is now vice president of the TAA.

“It’s deja vu all over again,” he said. “Everybody has forgotten what happened 20 years ago.”

On Wednesday, the county’s Airport Land Use Commission will decide whether to uphold a staff recommendation to overturn the city’s approval of the dealership expansion because it is inconsistent with policies regulating development around airports that are “intended to minimize public exposure to excessive noise and safety hazards.”

“The proposed project would convert open/vacant industrial land, which is generally considered compatible with airports, to retail land, a use found incompatible with airports due to safety concerns and high noise levels,” states a commission staff report.

“The project introduces auto dealership employees and customers into a portion of the RPZ that is currently vacant, open and fenced off to prevent any access by people for nonairport purposes.”

Lexus currently uses the site at 24777 Crenshaw Blvd. for its parts and service department.

But dealership executives told city officials they have outgrown the present sales site on Pacific Coast Highway and would like to consolidate operations on Crenshaw.

Auto sales are the city’s top source of sales tax revenues.

In turn, sales tax revenue is the largest contributor to the city’s operating budget, bringing in more than 26 percent of all sales tax revenues the city collects and growing 2 percent in fiscal year 2014-15, municipal officials said last May.

That month, the Torrance Planning Commission approved the expansion of a 35-foot-high building and a sales lot. The sales lot is partially within the RPZ; county officials want it relocated.

Contrary to the county’s position, city officials said the expansion would be compatible with existing uses and steps would be taken to ensure “the proposed development is not detrimental to public health and safety.”

But the TAA appealed the ruling and brought the issue to the attention of regulatory agencies that took a closer look at the project.

Regulatory concerns include:

• A possible violation of the county’s land use policies that “prohibit projects that would affect safe air navigation.”

• That the project’s “proponent will need to obtain additional FAA review and approval for details of the project that have not yet been included in the FAA notification.”

• The planting of five trees that can reach 50 feet in height require an FAA determination that “safe air navigation” would be unaffected.

Terry Barrie, chief of the Office of Aviation Planning under the state Department of Transportation, wrote a letter to the city saying that the city had “not accurately represented the FAA’s obstruction analysis program.”

Contrary to the assertion of city officials, Barrie added, the FAA has “not issued any kind of preliminary clearance for the project.”

“Approval of this project presents a potential hazard to people and property on the ground and exposes the city to greater liability from aircraft accidents,” he wrote.

City staff acknowledged receiving, but did not respond to, a request for comment Friday from the Daily Breeze.

The TAA noted that at least three aircraft crashes have occurred within the RPZs around Zamperini Field at Torrance airport.

And the group cited a U.S. Air Force study that found 75 percent of all aviation accidents within 10 miles of an airport occur in an RPZ, which is why the FAA advises that the zones should be “clear of all facilities supporting incompatible activities.”

“Other government agencies should not need to force the city of Torrance to protect its citizens — the city has a responsibility to maintain a safe airport and a safe community,” the TAA said in a statement on its website. “If approved, this plan would put Lexus employees and the public in a dangerous area.”

Original article can be found here: 

NTSB Identification: LAX97FA328
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Sunday, September 21, 1997 in TORRANCE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/18/2000
Aircraft: Beech C23, registration: N543JL
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

Witnesses reported that after takeoff, the airplane never climbed beyond 150 to 200 feet above ground level. One witness reported the airplane's rotation and initial climb were normal until it achieved 100 feet, then it began to pitch nose up until the witness could clearly see the tops of the wings. The airplane then rolled to the right and descended vertically. The airplane collided with a three-story commercial office building about 2,000 feet from the departure end of the runway and was partially consumed by a postimpact fire. An audiocassette re-recording from the airport noise-monitoring site was examined to document any engine or propeller sounds that could be heard during the takeoff. A video recording that was recovered from the accident aircraft was also examined to document the takeoff distance and airborne pitch attitude/flight path of the airplane. The video recording began just as the aircraft was taking the runway for departure and appeared to continue uninterrupted until the airplane crashed. The audio track of the video was examined to document any engine or propeller sounds heard during the takeoff. Engine rpm was derived from both the audio track of the video recording and the noise-monitoring recording. The engine speeds derived from the video recording were between 2,250 and 2,430 rpm. Engine speeds derived from the noise monitoring station started at 2,750 and decreased to 2,510 rpm. Directly above the monitoring station there was no alteration in the measured frequency due to the Doppler shift. No dramatic changes were observed in the frequencies associated with the aircraft's engine. Examination of the engine did not disclose evidence of mechanical malfunction.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The failure of the pilot to attain and maintain adequate airspeed during the initial takeoff climb, which resulted in a stall/spin and subsequent collision with a building.

Central Coast airports prepare for Super Bowl 50 air traffic: Watsonville Airport, Monterey Regional Airport expect rise in private jets

WATSONVILLE, Calif. —As Super Bowl 50 draws closer, the number of private jet reservations on the Central Coast is expected to rise.

Two private jets were seen flying in and out of the Watsonville Airport Sunday, an unusual sight for the small airport.

"A lot of people do come in here because we are in between Santa Cruz and Monterey and we are a little cheaper with a lot of things, so it's a nice spot where people can just fly in and not have to deal with a lot of the bigger traffic, big jets and stuff like that," Watsonville airport spokesperson Elgin Cawaling said.

But with Super Bowl 50 one week away, airport officials said they're getting ready for more VIP guests flying in.

To prep for the crowds, the airport brought in a new jet fuel truck for private jet customers.

The NFL is predicting another 2,000 to 2,500 private planes will enter Central Coast airspace, and those aircraft will need places to land.

Monterey Regional Airport is also ready. It has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration's reservation system that forces private jets to reserve spots for landing and taking off.

"We're really excited, looking forward to it and we're ready. We've been meeting on a weekly basis and just preparing for this busy time, but it's a good time of year for it," Monterey Regional Airport spokesperson Jennifer Hickerson said.

For local pilots, airports recommend reserving flight times early through the FAA if you plan to fly during Super Bowl weekend.

"So we are just working to notify local pilots that if they plan on flying during that time, they would need to make arrangements with the FAA to make sure they have a spot available for them to take off and land," Hickerson said.


Reports: Drunk man puts passenger in chokehold on Jacksonville-bound flight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man was restrained and later removed from a plane after he got into a disagreement on a flight to Jacksonville Sunday.

Video from a passenger shows authorities escorting a man with his wrists restrained from flight 715.

A passenger tells Action News Jax the man was drunk and unruly, and put a fellow passenger in a chokehold.

The passenger said the man was subdued by five people and restrained with zip ties.

JetBlue confirmed authorities removed a man from a plane after a disagreement and provided a statement:

"On January 31, a customer disagreement occurred on JetBlue flight 715 while en route from DCA to JAX. Authorities met the aircraft after it landed safely in Jacksonville. Additional questions should be addressed to law enforcement officials."

Story and video:

Tourist helicopter flights in New York City to be reduced

The city is slashing in half the number of tourist helicopter flights that will be allowed to take off next year, following complaints from Manhattan residents.

The agreement, announced by the Economic Development Corporation on Sunday, will eliminate 30,000 flights a year. It includes all trips on Sundays, as well as over Governors Island. It will go into effect by Jan. 2017.

Some City Council members had proposed banning the helicopter trips altogether.

Downtown Manhattan residents had been complaining for years that the helicopters were too noisy, and ruining their quality of life.

For the remaining flights, the helicopter companies will remain at their East River base at Pier 6 in lower Manhattan.

“The nonstop din of helicopters has been a major quality of life issue for New Yorkers living near heavily trafficked routes,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

The EDC will continue to monitor the companies’ activity, and can make future changes to their flights.

The Helicopter Tourism and Jobs Council, which advocates for the industry backed the agreement.

“This agreement will allow tour operators to continue providing good jobs for New Yorkers and more than $50 million in annual economic impact to the City,” said deputy director Sam Goldstein in a statement.

Original article can be found here:

County wants $400k from land sale: Madison Municipal Airport (52A), Morgan County, Georgia

After discussing the county’s latest audit, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) is inquiring about a $400,000 land sale with the City of Madison. About two years ago, the county agreed to sell a 14-acre parcel of land on Bass Road for the airport expansion project in the amount of $400,000. “It has been almost two years that they have promised us this,” said Commissioner Ellen Warren. “I really think we need to look into this.” The county had expected to have the money by now, noting the county was about $145,000 in the red for fund balance use in the fiscal year 2015, believing the city would have paid for the land already. “Revenue was below expectation,” said Michael Lamar, county manager. “But if we had gotten a $400,000 pay out from the land sale, like we were assuming, that wouldn’t have happened…We could make up the difference with the reserves from our fund balance and we did, but at the same time, there is a certain expectation of revenue…We understand that any land sale involving federal dollars will be difficult but now it’s transcending multiple fiscal years.” Chairman Donald Harris sent a letter to the City of Madison, requesting an update on the situation.

“On behalf of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, I am respectfully requesting an update on the much earlier agreed upon Bass Road land transaction. I certainly realize and understand any land sale involving federal monies is a convoluted undertaking but the fact that it’s fast approaching two years in finalizing this matter seems somewhat excessive by any reasonable measure,” wrote Harris. But according to the city, it’s up to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to award the city with the money to pay for the land sale. The airport expansion is being funded through a federal grant with the FAA, which takes time, said City Manager David Nunn. “This is not a debt,” said Nunn. “When the money becomes available, we will set a closing date on the land, and issue the money to the county right away.” “This is how it goes with federal money,” said Nunn. “It takes some time coming down to us and it just hasn’t happened yet. I wish it had happened already. But it’s definitely imminent and it’s closer than it has been.”


This company detects aircraft cracking and its shares are up 287 percent this year

Delta Air Lines is using Structural Monitoring System's sensors to detect fatigue on some of its aircraft.

It is every airline's worst nightmare: an undetected crack developing on an aircraft that leads to an extreme event in flight, such as the explosive decompression of Aloha Airlines flight 243 that swept a flight attendant outside the Boeing 737 to her death in 1988.

US carrier Delta Air Lines, which has an average fleet age of 17 years - more than double that of Qantas - has become the first airline to use technology developed by locally-listed Structural Management Systems (SMS) in Perth to monitor aircraft structural fatigue with an array of sensors.

SMS shares have risen by 40 percent to $1.47 since it received approval in late December from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing for its technology after a test program with some of Delta's 737s.

Overall, SMS shares have risen by 287 percent over the last 12 months, compared with a 10.1 percent fall in the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index over the same period.

The FAA and Boeing approvals mean SMS has the only commercially-approved technology for on-aircraft monitoring of cracking and structural fatigue in the world. The sensors are placed on the aircraft and help provide early warning of any developing cracks.

SMS managing director Toby Chandler said the technology worked on aluminium and composite airframes and therefore could be employed on commercial aircraft from all manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier, as well as on helicopters.

He said the initial FAA and Boeing approvals meant it should be much faster and easier to gain additional approvals for various types of applications on aircraft in the future.

"Going forward the ability to identify new applications which would be done in partnership with operators and [aircraft manufacturers] will be simpler," Mr Chandler said. 

"For Delta and a lot of operators, the long term iteration for our technology will be to have the [manufacturers] delivering new aircraft with structural health monitoring systems installed at the point of sale."

For the customer, the cost of the sensor arrays, which are manufactured in Canada, is typically at most up to $US20,000. That is significantly less than the typical loss of revenue from an airline grounding an aircraft for a mandated inspection under an airworthiness directive related to fatigue.

The SMS technology has been approved by Boeing as an alternate maintenance program to conventional inspections.

Mr. Chandler said SMS has had programs underway with Airbus and Embraer for some time to develop sensors appropriate for use on those aircraft.

SMS is working to develop a business model that centres on licensing the technology rather than just selling the physical equipment.

He said this year would prove key for the company, which listed more than 10 years ago but has not been in a position to broadly commercialise the technology until now.

"We are now going to move into a much more proactive commercial phase," Mr Chandler said. 

The company had $482,000 of cash as of December 31, but it has already warned investors it plans to undertake a capital raising of around $1.5 million later this year to help it hire more employees in North America and Europe.

Based on its current market value of $146 million, that would involve minimal dilution to existing shareholders, including Mr Chandler.

Mr. Chandler sold $3 million of shares in the company in January alongside smaller sales by two other directors, but he still holds a 5 per cent stake and said he has no plans to sell further shares anytime soon.

Read more:

Air India crew member caught stealing in-flight food

The stolen items recovered from an AI crew member. 

It was quite a catch for officials at the Chennai airport who seized milk cartons, coffee boxes, in-flight meals, juice packets, cashew nuts, whiskey bottles and much more from an Air India (AI) cabin crew member whom they had been patiently waiting for following a tip-off.

Despite airline’s new chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani warning of strict action against those caught pilfering, not much seems to have changed in the national carrier. On January 27, AI’s vigilance officials had received a tip-off about a woman cabin crew member arriving from an international flight (AI 274) from Colombo.

When the member’s baggage was screened, vigilance and customs officials could not believe what they saw.

“It appeared that she had brought with her anything and everything she could lay her hands on inside the plane,” said a senior official. “She has been taken off the roster and an inquiry has been ordered,” said an AI spokesperson.

An official said, “She had operated the Chennai-Colombo-Delhi flight with a night halt at Delhi and did Delhi-Colombo-Chennai. She was caught after she landed in Chennai.”

Aviation expert Rajji Rai said, “Anything on board is company property. It’s high time Air India had a zero-tolerance policy on anybody caught stealing.”

The aviation ministry had informed Parliament of several cases a couple of years ago, which included a flight purser being caught by customs at the Delhi airport while trying to take out 372 mini liquor bottles from the aircraft and missing caviar tins costing Rs 20,200 from a special charter flight found in possession of catering officer among others.

Story and photo:

Cessna 172R Skyhawk, 30 West LLC, N35079: Accident occurred January 31, 2016 at Merritt Island Airport (KCOI), Brevard County, Florida

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA114 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 31, 2016 in Merritt Island, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/05/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N35079
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.

The student pilot reported that during landing on his third solo flight, the approach to the runway was high and fast, and that during touchdown, the nose wheel touched first resulting in a porpoise. 

During the porpoise, the airplane drifted to the left and the pilot elected to abort the landing. He advanced the throttle to full power, which increased the yaw to the left. The airplane exited the runway to the left, impacted a ditch, and nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left lift strut, empennage, and fuselage.

The student pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot's improper flare which resulted in a porpoise, runway excursion, and nose over.


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Orlando FSDO-15

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA114 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 31, 2016 in Merritt Island, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N35079
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.

The student pilot reported that during landing on his third solo flight, the approach to the runway was high and fast, and that during touchdown, the nose wheel touched first resulting in a porpoise.

During the porpoise, the airplane drifted to the left and the pilot elected to abort the landing. He advanced the throttle to full power, which increased the yaw to the left. The airplane exited the runway to the left, impacted a ditch, and nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left lift strut, empennage, and fuselage.

The student pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

Brevard County Fire Rescue crews are at the site of a small aircraft that apparently flipped over near the runway of the Merritt Island Airport.

The pilot, the sole occupant of the aircraft, was not injured and refused further treatment from paramedics at the site, officials reported. 

Investigators say the Cessna 172R Skyhawk overturned while making a landing on Runway 11.

The incident happened about 10:22 a.m. today along the 900 block of Airport Boulevard after the aircraft apparently skid along the grass and overturned.

No fuel leaks were reported and the incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The National Transportation Safety Board will review the pilot's statement along with the plane's instrumentation to determine what caused the incident.

An investigation is ongoing.

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AIRCRAFT:   2001 Cessna 172R N35079, s/n:17281061 - Current tach 5840.8

ENGINE:   Lycoming IO-360-L2A ,  S/N: L-27185-51A

PROPELLER:  McCauley s/n: QF001

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

ENGINE(S):  1013.4 TT at last annual inspection on Feb 13, 2015 tach 5568.9, Current tach 5840.8

PROPELLER:  2353.0 SMOH at last annual inspection on Feb 13, 2015, tach 5568.9, Current tach 5840.8

AIRFRAME:  5568.9 TT at last annual inspection dated Feb 13, 2015, tach 5568.9, Current tach 5840.8

OTHER EQUIPMENT:  (2) KING KX155A NAV/COMM, KING KT75C transponder, KING KAP 140 auto pilot

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  On January 31, 2016, N35079 ran off the runway during landing, flipped over, and came to rest in a drainage ditch

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES:   The damage includes but may not be limited to:
Both wings are damaged
Flaps and ailerons are damaged
The firewall is warped
The propeller is bent
The engine suffered a prop strike inspection and was immersed in water
The tail is twisted and almost separated.
Horizontal stab and rudder are damaged
The windows are broken

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:        Merritt Island, Florida    

REMARKS:  Logs are in the custody of SIAI, Ormond Beach, FL.

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Essential Air Service struggles in some towns, soars elsewhere

John Nord, manager of the Devils Lake Regional Airport, shows the latest equipment the airport acquired recently. 

DEVILS LAKE—Commercial airline service is approaching cruising altitude in Devils Lake, but it remains all but grounded in Thief River Falls, where the community continues to struggle with airline reliability.

Commercial airline passengers—counting those both arriving and leaving—totaled 5,104 in Devils Lake in 2015. That's nearly double the number in 2013, and a 76.7 percent increase over 2014.

"We're moving in the right direction," said John Nord, Devils Lake Regional Airport manager. "We had our busiest December ever with more than 600 passengers."

Meanwhile, Thief River Falls Regional Airport continues to fly against a strong economic headwind.

Unofficially, just 2,127 people flew in or out of Thief River Falls in 2015, according to airport records. That's barely half the number the airport recorded in 2013.

Even though ridership was low last year, it pales in comparison to the 734 passengers in 2014, when Thief River Falls was without commercial passenger service from February through September, airport manager Joe Hedrick said.

"Our service has been kind of trending down for a decade or more," Hedrick said. "I've been attributing that to poor service, whether that's due to mechanical issues, routing or staffing."

Small airports, regional airlines

Several small airports in North Dakota and Minnesota, including Devils Lake, Jamestown and Thief River Falls, have struggled with commercial airlines much of the past five years since Delta and Mesaba airlines stopped serving the cities.

The airports are part of the federal Department of Transportation's Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes airlines to provide commercial passenger service to connect smaller airports with medium-size and large hubs.

EAS funding comes from two sources: overflight fees, those charged to all foreign aircraft flying over U.S. soil; and congressional discretionary appropriations, which come from user fees charged to each passenger ticket.

When Delta and Mesaba bowed out, Great Lakes Aviation, a regional airline based in Cheyenne, Wyo., submitted successful bids for the service to the three cities, as well as for Brainerd, Minn., Watertown S.D., Mason City and Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Iron Mountain, Mich.

However, Great Lakes' record has been often unreliable, with frequent schedule delays and canceled flights since the airline first started serving the region in 2012.

Devils Lake's total passenger count dropped dramatically from 5,488 in 2011 to 2,998 in 2012, 2,667 in 2013 and 2,889 in 2014, according to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

Jamestown had a similar slide, from 5,689 in 2011 to 3,861 in 2012 and to 2,672 in 2013, before rebounding to 3,788 in 2014.

Cloudy conditions

Thief River Falls had 4,792 passengers in 2011, when the city was served by Mesaba Airlines. That number increased to 5,699 in 2012, when the transition from Mesaba to Great Lakes occurred. However, just 4,175 passengers flew with Great Lakes in 2013.

Great Lakes suspended service to Thief River Falls between February and September 2014, when the annual total plummeted to 734.

Great Lakes has been struggling with a pilot shortage since a federal law took effect in 2013 that requires regional airline first officers—co-pilots—to have 1,500 hours of flying time, rather than 250 hours under previous regulations.

Since then, the airline has stopped providing local air service to about 20 of the 48 cities, including Watertown, that it served before the law went into effect, according to a report in Wyoming media. Watertown Regional Airport remains without commercial service.

Great Lakes resumed service to Thief River Falls in 2014 only after it obtained a new operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration that allowed the company to reduce the number of seats in its aircraft from 19 to 9. That reduction allowed the airline to hire pilots with less than the new minimum flying standard.

When Great Lakes' contracts were set to expire in 2014, all three cities invited other airlines to submit bids.

Western connection

SkyWest Airlines, headquartered in St. George, Utah, won the contract for Devils Lake and Jamestown, while Great Lakes was the lone bidder for Thief River Falls.

It also serves, in partnership with Delta Airlines, the Minnesota EAS airports of Bemidji, Brainerd, Chisholm/Hibbing and International Falls, with connections to Minneapolis.

Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport had been part of the EAS program for several years, as its passenger numbers skyrocketed during the most recent western North Dakota oil boom. The airport's annual passenger total increased from 5,403 in 2006 to 58,843 in 2014, before dropping to 41,846 last year. The EAS contract ended in 2013.

SkyWest, which operates in Devils Lake and Jamestown under a partnership with United Express, provides 50-passenger jet service between Devils Lake and Denver flying seven days a week for a total of 11 round trips. Afternoon flights are nonstop, while others make stops in Jamestown.

Ridership has been increasing steadily since the airline arrived in the city in mid-2014.

"I attribute it to the direct jet service to Denver," Nord said. "Our numbers dropped in half when Delta left."

Delta had provided jet service to Minneapolis-St. Paul with stops in Grand Forks.

New suitors

With Great Lakes' contract set to expire in July, the Thief River Falls Airport Authority solicited other airlines to submit bids late last year.

At least two regional commuter airlines—San Francisco-based Boutique Air and Air Choice No. 1, based in the St. Louis area—have indicated they intended to vie for the service, airport manager Hedrick said.

The deadline for submitting proposals was Friday.

Thief River Falls also commissioned a study to determine the extent of the airport's lost passenger service potential.

The study, conducted by Mead and Hunt, a firm from Coppell, Texas, determined that Thief River Falls was capturing just 3 percent of the potential inbound and outbound air travelers in its prime market area, or true market estimate in 2015.

Rather than Thief River Falls, 38 percent of the airport's potential passengers were flying in or out of Fargo's Hector International Airport, while 30 percent were using Grand Forks International Airport. Another 25 percent were flying out of Minneapolis/St. Paul International, with 4 percent using Bemidji Regional Airport.

"We would like to capture some of that business," Hedrick said. "But we have to have reliable service."

Airport improvements

Nord said Devils Lake's passenger numbers would have been higher in 2015 had it not been for equipment malfunctions that forced cancellation for some flights—twice for a week at a time.

The FAA installed a new Automated Weather Observation Station in November.

"It as an obsolete system," Nord said. "Pilots have to know what the weather conditions are in order to land or fly out of the airport."

The Devils Lake airport also has made significant improvements in recent years.

The federal grants were $8.3 million to extend the main runway by 1,826 feet to 6,400 feet, $743,000 for a new aircraft rescue and firefighting fire truck, $528,367 for a runway safety area construction project and $85,000 to develop a new wildlife hazard assessment and wildlife management plan.

All four grants provided 90 percent federal funding, with the state and city splitting the remaining 10 percent.

Looking for more

The improvements, plus the jet service to Denver, have raised the Devils Lake airport's profile in the region.

Nord said Devils Lake is becoming competitive with other airports in the region—Grand Forks is about 90 miles to the east and Minot is 120 miles to the west.

As of this past week, a round-trip ticket between Devils Lake and Denver was $262 if purchased about three weeks in advance. That's about half the cost of Grand Forks-to-Denver flights.

In addition, Devils Lake offers free airport parking, he said.

"We are catching on with some of the folks who are outside of our market area, from Grand Forks, Rugby and Minot areas," Nord said, adding the Devils Lake-Denver route is particularly popular with UND hockey fans, who normally fill the planes when the Fighting Hawks play in Colorado.

"Things are going well," Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson said. "But for some reason, many people from here still drive to Grand Forks. Our biggest challenge is to get our local people to fly out of here. Hopefully, we can convince them to look here first."

Annual airline passengers (boarding and arriving) at airports in federal Essential Air Service program.

North Dakota

Airport 2015 2014 2013

Devils Lake 5,104 2,889 2,667

Jamestown 8,642 3,788 2,672

*Dickinson 41,846 58,843 35,125

Source: North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

*No longer qualifies for Essential Air Service Program.


Airport 2015 2014 2013

*Thief River Falls 2,127 734 4,175

Bemidji ** 23,439 22,819

Brainerd ** 17,160 15,654

International Falls ** 16,328 15.796

Chisholm/Hibbing ** 11,617 11,669

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

* Unofficial local airport 2015 data.

** Estimates unavailable.

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