Thursday, February 4, 2016

Executive AirShare brings a new jet to town

Executive AirShare Senior Director of Sales Paul Woodard talks during a media tour of the newest aircraft in the Executive AirShare fleet - the Embraer Phenom 300 at Atlantic Aviation, 7930 Airport Blvd., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Houston. 


Executive AirShare, a fractional aircraft ownership company, showed off its new Embraer Phenom 300 light jet based at Hobby Airport during a media event Thursday.

Executive AirShare has had a hub at Atlantic Aviation in Hobby Airport since late 2014, and it was flying in and out of the city well before then. But in December, the eight-passenger Phenom 300 became its first plane to be based full-time in Houston.

The company plans to also have a six-passenger Cessna Citation CJ2& and a nine-passenger Beechcraft King Air 350i based out of Houston. These planes were in the hangar Thursday.

"We have so many flights coming in and out of here every day and every week," said Jill Plumb, director of marketing and corporate communications. "It's one of our top destinations of our customer base."

Kansas City, Mo.-based Executive AirShare has eight to 10 Houston customers. In more mature markets, it generally has 20 to 30 customers.

Fractional ownership is similar to a timeshare. Customers buy part of one airplane but can fly on any plane in its fleet. The smallest share someone can purchase is 1/16 of a plane, which gets them 20 days of flying a year. As more of a plane is purchased, customers get more days to fly.

Executive AirShare provides the pilots, maintains and insures the planes, and handles scheduling.

"The benefit in fractional is you don't really have to worry about the airplane," said Paul Woodard, Dallas-based senior director of sales.

Story and photo gallery: http://www.chron.com



Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee, N26999: Incident occurred February 04, 2016 at Osage City Municipal Airport (53K), Osage County, Kansas

Date: 04-FEB-16
Time: 21:25:00Z
Regis#: N26999
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Wichita FSDO-64
City: OSAGE CITY
State: Kansas

AIRCRAFT ON LANDING, WENT OFF THE SIDE OF THE RUNWAY, OSAGE CITY, KS

http://registry.faa.gov/N26999


TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- A Jewell County pilot was not injured after his single engine plane was blown off the runway.

According to the KHP crash log, Brenden Wirth, 38, of Mankato was attempting a landing at Osage City Municipal Airport just after 3:30 p.m., Thursday, when a strong gust of wind blew his aircraft off the runway and onto a field.


Wirth wasn't injured, authorities say he was wearing a seatbelt.


Source: http://www.wibw.com

New TV series goes inside the yellow tape with Alaska’s plane crash investigators

National Transportation Safety Board investigators Brice Banning and Clint Crookshanks on scene near Ketchikan examining the wreckage of a sightseeing plane that crashed in Alaska on June 25, 2015. This is not one of the crashes featured in the new TV series.



From July to September of last year, a television crew from New York City embedded with the National Transportation Safety Board’s office in Anchorage.

Alaska Chief Clint Johnson said the crew got unprecedented access to seven different accidents around the state. When the general public was outside the yellow tape, the camera crew was inside.

“I think it’s very important to be very transparent (about) the way that we do our investigations. We are a public entity and I think the public has the right to be able to see exactly how we do our job,” Johnson said.

He said the goal of the agency is to investigate accidents and prevent them from happening again. The show is another way for the agency to get those messages out.

Alaska had about 80 airplane accidents in 2015, resulting in 22 deaths, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Smithsonian Channel is calling the series a documentary but according to Johnson, to get access the production company agreed to give NTSB some control over the final content. Johnson said he and members of top NTSB management in Washington, D.C., watched rough cuts of the series.

“We had the ability to be able to screen and view and add comments and remove some things to make sure it’s not only technically correct but above all, what we’re trying to do is be sympathetic to the families,” Johnson said.

Tim Evans, one of the show’s executive producers for the Smithsonian Channel, said the TV crew was rolling when NTSB talked with grieving family members. He said producers had to get permission to use the footage. They also conducted their own interviews.

All the crashes in the series involved fatalities, often of the pilot.

“The interesting takeaway on working with the family members is all of them were obviously deeply affected and grieving, but each one of them said, ‘You know, this person wanted to fly and they knew what they were getting into and it’s a terrible tragedy but they loved flying and they loved Alaska,’” Evans said.

Episode descriptions allude to information that hasn’t been released to the public. The description of the episode on last July’s Wings of Alaska crash that occurred between Juneau and Hoonah says, “recovered in-flight data reveals an unusual flight path, which might uncover the true cause of the tragedy.”

NTSB’s Johnson said that is accurate information, “It’s a factual data dump. We’re not saying what probable cause is and we’re specifically trying to stay away from that, but obviously the facts of the case will be portrayed.”

Johnson said the crashes in the series are still active investigations. Final reports are still months out. But any information and supporting documents revealed in the show will be released to the public prior to the show airing.

“We need to make sure that all that information is available to the public not only through the series but also through the NTSB website. That’s one thing from an administrative standpoint that we need to make sure we release beforehand and we’re in the process of doing that right now,” Johnson said.

The six-part series premiers March 13 with an hour-long episode titled, “Juneau Flight Down.” Other episodes will feature crashes near Trapper Creek, Bethel, Kasilof, Iliamna, Knik Arm and Big Lake.

Story and photo:  http://www.alaskapublic.org

Cessna 421G Golden Eagle: Incident occurred February 03, 2016 at Yeager Airport (KCRW), Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia



CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Emergency responders were on the scene Wednesday evening after a small private plane skidded off the runway while taxiing at Yeager Airport.

The incident happened around 5:30 p.m., when a Cessna 421G six-seat plane was taxiing and skidded off track.

“Towards the very end of the taxiway, the aircraft abruptly went off into the grass to the right of the taxiway,” explained airport spokesman Mike Plante. “That’s unusual because to turn onto the runway you turn left. It went to the right of the taxiway to the right and all three wheels got stuck in the mud.”

Plante said neither of the two passengers on board were injured, and no apparent property damage was reported.

“The FAA will investigate what happened and determine if what happened was mechanical issue, pilot error or a gust of wind,” Plante said. “It could be any number of things this time. There’s no official explanation for why the aircraft departed the taxi-way and ended up on the grass.”

Heavy equipment was brought out to move the aircraft back onto the pavement of the runway, said Plante. He described the incident as one that was highly unusual.

“Normally if something happens it’s on takeoff or landing. This was on taxiing,” he said. “Until the FAA comes out with findings on what happened we won’t really know. It’s the first time in my memory that we’ve had something like that happen up there.”

Source:  http://wvmetronews.com

Allegiant Air: Incident occurred February 03, 2016 at Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE), Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

Allegiant's jet tire blowouts at LVIA don't require inquiry, federal board says





The blowouts of two tires on an Allegiant Air passenger jet arriving Wednesday at Lehigh Valley International Airport will not require an investigation, a federal transportation safety official said Thursday.

The Allegiant MD-80 jet carrying 152 passengers and a crew of six blew the tires under its left wing during its 5:46 p.m. landing on LVIA's wet runway, authorities said.

Coming in from Orlando, Fla., Flight 624 passengers felt two jolts from the blown tires, but officials said damage was minimal and no one was injured.

Terry Williams, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the Allegiant jet trouble Wednesday at LVIA was not significant enough to warrant a board inquiry.

"Our investigations are based on the amount of damage to the aircraft and injuries, that sort of thing," Williams said. "We're not doing anything with that incident that occurred yesterday. We are not investigating it."

Federal Aviation Administration officials might take a look at it, he said, but that was up to them. FAA officials did not comment Thursday.

An Allegiant Air spokeswoman said Thursday the jet's tires deflated moments after the plane touched down, and not the instant they hit the runway, as some early descriptions implied.

"The two tires on the aircraft left side deflated during roll out after the aircraft landed," Allegiant's Kim Schaefer said. "While the change may seem subtle, it is actually a very different scenario."

A passenger on the flight confirmed that the tires did not seem to pop the moment of touchdown, but briefly afterward.

"It wasn't exactly on touchdown," said the passenger, a Bethlehem man flying with his wife. "It was moments later. It was a big jolt. You heard the first tire go. And another jolt, you heard the second one go. We felt it and then we smelled it.

"Everybody was pretty calm," he said. "Nobody screamed, but everyone said right away, 'We blew a tire.'"

As the passengers smelled burnt rubber, a voice came over the cabin speakers to announce, "Obviously, we blew a tire. That's what that heavy smell is filing the cabin," the passenger recalled.

Before landing, each wing of the MC-80 jet extends a shock strut holding two tires. The nose gear also deploys its own two tires. On Wednesday, both tires blew out under the left wing.

Several passengers complained Thursday that the flight already was an hour late when it landed and, after the tire mishap, it took another hour or more for a bus to take many of them from the runway to the LVIA terminal.

Allegiant on Wednesday promised $100 vouchers – discounts for future flights – to passengers whose LVIA-to-Orlando Flight 625 later Wednesday was delayed by the tire problems of Flight 624.

On several online forums, passengers of Flight 624 asked why they also weren't offered $100 vouchers, considering they had the bumpy experience with the blown tires.

Shirley Tirpak, another Flight 624 passenger, on Thursday remembered noticing an odor of "burning brakes" when the plane was still on the runway at Orlando Sanford International Airport. She said she mentioned the smell to a friend on the plane.

Speaking for Allegiant, Schaefer said the airline saw no problem at Orlando.

"There were no indications of anything being wrong with the aircraft prior to departing [Orlando airport]," Schaeffer said. "Our maintenance team is still testing and examining the aircraft to determine the issue."

Allegiant's safety record has been under scrutiny recently. Steve Harfst, the airline's chief operating officer, resigned Jan. 15 after a series of emergency landings and mechanical problems.

The pilots union also has raised safety concerns. For more than a year, the company and pilots have been at odds over the safety and maintenance schedule for its planes.

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

Marine aviation plan outlines future of Cherry Point: Base could get A-5 training squadron

Cherry Point will continue playing a vital role in the service of the nation in the coming years, according to the recently released 2016 Marine Aviation Plan.

An expanding role of unmanned aerial systems and the possibility of an additional training squadron are highlighted in the plan, which outlays the aviation goals of the Corps for the next decade.

The 2016 Marine Aviation Plan indicates that the Marine Corps is exploring expansion of the F-5 training program, which could mean additional aircraft for Cherry Point, along with Marine Corps air stations Beaufort, S.C., Yuma, Ariz., and Miramar, Calif. The program allows for pilots to train for air-to-air combat situations.

The Marine Composite Training Squadron concept calls for six F-5 training jets and six turboprop training aircraft at Cherry Point. The number of aircraft would be tailored to training requirements and future study my affect the numbers and the types of aircraft in the units.

“As the F-35 footprint grows, so will the demand and need for adversary training,” said Maj. Clark Carpenter, public affairs officer at the Pentagon. “The F-5 fills this critical role by simulating adversary aircraft in a training environment.

“The Marine Corps does not yet have an estimate on the number of F-5 aircraft or the increase in personnel that would be necessary to support an adversary element in Cherry Point. This information is dependent on F-35 transition timelines. We continue to plan for this critical move to ensure our aviation element remains ready to support our role as America’s premier expeditionary force in readiness.”

There is a steady increase in operations for Marine Unmanned Aerial Squadron 2 at Cherry Point, under the plan. The RQ-7 Shadow platform will be phased out by the end of 2016 as the MQ-21 Blackjack is used in greater numbers through 2024. The unmanned aerial vehicle reserve component, VMUT Fleet Replacement Detachment currently at Cherry Point, will become a fully operational Fleet Replacement Squadron for the MQ-21 Blackjack, according to the plan.

Unmanned aerial systems will also play a larger role in electronic warfare in the future. According to the plan, the Marines have played a large role in ground-based sense and avoid systems for unmanned aerial systems, and Cherry Point had the first certified system of this type.

The Marine Joint Strike Fighter Squadron geo-location chart continues to indicate 94 aircraft for Cherry Point, including four squadrons of 16 aircraft, two squadrons of 10 aircraft and one reserve squadron of 10 aircraft. The plan is from the 2010 Basing Record of Decision resulting from two Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter environmental impact studies, though an asterisked note at the bottom of the page states “basing plans are subject to change and further environmental analysis.”

The schedule for the transition of Cherry Point’s AV-8B Harrier squadrons to F-35Bs remains in place. According to the plan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 223 will be the first Cherry Point squadron to transition in 2023 and 2024, followed by VMA-542 in mid-2023 to mid-2025, both squadrons having 16 planes each.

Then, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, which now is an F/A-18 squadron based at MCAS Beaufort, will transition to F-35B and move to Cherry Point in late 2024 to late 2026, with 16 planes.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 231 at Cherry Point will transition from Harriers to F-35Bs from mid-2026 to mid-2028, with 16 planes.

Simultaneously, another MCAS Beaufort-based F/A-18 squadron, VMFA-115, will move to transition to F-35Cs from mid-2026 to mid-2028, with 10 planes.

Some 18 months later, at the beginning of 2028 through the end of 2029, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 will leave MCAS Iwakuni in Japan and transition to F-35Bs at Cherry Point with 10 planes.

The seventh JSF squadron for Cherry Point would be Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 112, a reserve squadron from MCAS Eagle Mountain Lake at Fort Worth, Texas, from 2031 to 2032 with 10 planes.

According to the plan, all Harrier squadrons on the East Coast will be consolidated at Cherry Point by the year 2021 and will continue service until VMA-231 transitions to F-35Bs by the middle of 2028.

The deactivation for Cherry Point’s four electronic warfare squadrons of EA-6B Prowlers is still the same, with VMAQT-1 standing down this year, VMAQ-4 standing down in 2017, VMAQ-3 standing down in 2018 and VMAQ-2 ending service in 2019.

The 2016 plan calls for no changes through 2026 in Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, which has a fleet of 15 KC-130Js at Cherry Point.

In the coming years Cherry Point will see a laydown of some simulators and creation of newer simulators for newer platforms. An RQ-7 Shadow simulator will be replaced in 2017. HH-46 simulators will also be disposed of in 2017. Simulators for the EA-6B will begin shutting down in 2017, with the last three shut down in 2019. AV-8B Harrier pilots will get a new simulator this year, along with four new simulators for the KC-130J this year, 2017 and 2020. Four new simulators for the F-35B will be built in 2023, plus two more planned for 2024 at Cherry Point.

The two C9B transport aircraft currently attached to Marine Transport Squadron One will be transitioned to Fort Worth in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Marine Corps has plans to replace the jets with C-40A aircraft as soon as they are available.

The plan calls for the deactivation of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 during 2016. The squadron has 18 AH-1 Cobras and 12 UH-1 Hueys and is based at New River, part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The squadron stood up in April 2008.

At New River, a new MV-22 Squadron Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 212 will begin standing up in 2019 and be ready in 2020.

Source:  http://www.havenews.com

Ranchers and Ellsworth at odds over range flight safety: Despite the fact that flight info is on the internet, some can't seem to find it

RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Expansion of an Air Force training facility has some ranchers worried how it will impact their operations.

The South Dakota Stock Growers Association, who represent more than a thousand ranchers, has sent a letter to Ellsworth Air Force Base Col. Gentry Boswell requesting additional flight information for exercises being run in the Powder River Training Complex.

The letter states that they feel Ellsworth has not met their commitment in providing easy access to private pilots who operate within the boundaries of the complex.

The Air Force response:

The Federal Aviation Administration requires all licensed pilots to review and be aware of any Notices to Airmen, or NOTAMs, pertaining to their flight path, prior to flying. These NOTAMs, including those concerning flights from Ellsworth AFB, can be found on a website maintained by the FAA, at https://sua.faa.gov, or at https://pilotweb.nas.faa.gov, or by calling 1-800-WXBRIEF at any time. The https://sua.faa.gov website in particular provides real-time airspace activation information and is an excellent resource for pilots seeking information on the Powder River Training Complex status.

In addition, members of the base have been in constant communication with many of the ranchers, communities and organizations impacted by the PRTC over the years leading up to its ultimate approval by the Federal Aviation Administration March 24, 2015. Efforts to mitigate the impact of the complex and inform those under the new area have only increased since the 28th Bomb Wing began flying operations in the airspace September 2015. We are committed to being good neighbors with those in the local and regional communities. We will continue to work with these organizations and expand our reach to make sure all applicable parties receive the information necessary to safely operate in the airspace, and to limit our interference while ensuring we continue to train and prepare to be ready to provide combat airpower, anywhere in the world at any time.

Information on the new airspace complex, including a brochure for pilots looking to fly in the area, a map of the space, and methods to find flight information can be found on the base website at www.ellsworth.af.mil/prtc.asp. In addition, the 28th BW Public Affairs office can be reached from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at 28bw.pa@us.af.mil for additional questions and coordination not directly associated with flight details.

According to the Executive Director for the Stock Growers Association Silvia Christen, that information is critical to keep both military and civilian pilots safe in the sky.

"It's a real safety concern for us because, like I said, those ranchers need to be up in the air on a daily, sometimes twice a day basis to check their operations, and without that information, critical information out where those big military aircraft are, it just leaves us concerned that there is a safety concern there", said Christen.

She adds that the association fully supports Ellsworth's mission in the area and wants to provide the best training opportunities for Air Force pilots, and the goal of the letter is simply to improve the dialogue between the military and the ranching community.

Story and video:  http://www.kotatv.com

Delta stands alone among airlines in air traffic control fight

Delta is the only major U.S. airline that is opposing a plan from House Republicans to separate the nation's air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The proposal, which calls for the creation of a new nongovernmental organization that would take over air traffic control from the FAA, has created divisions in the airline industry at a time when lawmakers are debating a new aviation funding measure. 

Delta has said the independent air traffic control proposal would amount to a privatization of the nation's flight navigation system, which the company has said will result in higher air fares for U.S. passengers.  

"We oppose privatizing U.S. air traffic control or any other attempt to remove air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)," Delta's Senior Vice President of Flight Operations Capt. Steve. Dickson said in a statement. 

"The current U.S. ATC system is safer, has fewer delays and is more cost effective than any privatized or separated ATC alternative in the world," Dickson continued. 

Most other U.S. airlines are supporting the proposal to separate air traffic control from the FAA. 

“A more efficient system with proper governance, funding and accountability will bolster our nation’s first-rate safety record and result in more choice, more direct trips, lower fuel consumption, reduced emissions and fewer flight delays," said Airlines for America President Nicholas Calio, who represents most major carriers besides Delta. 

"We share [House Transportation Committee] Chairman [Bill] Shuster’s goal of seeing more air traffic controllers hired, making our system even safer, and most importantly, making flying better – and at no additional cost – for the traveling public," Calio continued. 

Backers of the proposal to separate the nation's air traffic control from the FAA have said that creating an independent organization to oversee flight navigation would modernize the U.S. aviation system, bringing it line with countries like Canada that have set up similar non-profit agencies. 

“The United States has led the world in aviation since pioneering this modern mode of transportation. We have the safest system in the world, and we will continue to do so under this bill,” said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the transportation committee. “But our system is incredibly inefficient, and it will only get worse as passenger levels grow and as the FAA falls further behind in modernizing the system.”

Democrats quickly assailed the plan, vowing to put forward “targeted amendments” to the bill that would address the “real problems” at the FAA. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the transportation committee’s ranking member, said the proposal would “tear apart aviation programs, risk unnecessary duplication and complexity, and ultimately cost money for taxpayers and travelers.

“This privatization proposal gives a private corporation the power to tax the American public to pay for safe operations, and it hands over a public asset worth billions of dollars to a private corporation for free,” he said. 

Other aviation groups in Washington that represent non-commercial flight operators have also mobilized against the plan to separate air traffic control from the FAA. 

“NATA cannot support the legislation’s proposal to create a federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation,” National Air Transportation Association President Thomas Hendricks said in a statement. 

“A user-fee funded ATC corporation, controlled in perpetuity by a board of industry insiders, will place general aviation in constant peril, starve rural America of access to cutting-edge technology, and saddle the traveling public with ever increasing fees,” he continued.   

Delta's Dickson agreed, saying "uprooting the current system would do nothing to modernize our airspace. 

"Separating ATC operations from safety oversight to address funding challenges is reckless, and we believe the more that is known of the details of this proposal the more opposition it will face," he said. 

Lawmakers are scheduled to mark up the FAA bill that contains the independent air traffic control proposal in a hearing that is scheduled for next week.

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

All-you-can-fly airline to begin in Jacksonville

Elliott Mintzer, owner of aircraft charter service Boomerang Air, stands beside a King Air turboprop plane that his clients can charter from his location at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine.   



A St. Augustine company is launching a new airline with service between Jacksonville, Atlanta and Charlotte.

It’s called My Sky and it’s a based on a monthly subscription instead of each flight. Think of it as all-you-can-watch Netflix or an all-you-can eat buffet geared to the passenger who flies often.

Elliot Mintzer, the company’s founder, said it will work like this:

The airline will start off flying three times a day, Monday through Friday, from each city. An individual subscription starts at $1,750 month. For that, you can fly as often as you want, but you can only have two reservations on the books at a time.

If you have a round trip to Atlanta booked, once you’ve flown up there, you’ve used one of the two reservations and can make a new one.

Four reservations at a time will cost $2,250 a month and six will be $3,000 a month.

The corporate rate is $3,750 a month for six reservations at time but can be used by various employees. Additional reservations are $1,250 a month.

Mintzer said the airline will use Pilatus PC-12 turboprops, which seat eight passengers.

My Sky will use Jacksonville Executive Airport at Craig Field, DeKalb Peachtree Airport northeast of Atlanta and Concord Regional Airport northeast of Charlotte.

Mintzer said he’s planning to begin service once the company gets 90 individual and 10 corporate memberships in each city. He expects that by summer at the latest.

The business is not unique. Several similar airlines launched last year: Beacon in the Northeast, Surf Air in California and Rise in Texas.

“Think about the business travel going from Jacksonville to Atlanta once a week,” Mintzer said. “He’s going to spend $2,200 to $2,400 a month on Delta, especially if he’s booking seven days or less.”

Checking on Delta’s website Wednesday, the lowest price for a roundtrip flight to Atlanta on Thursday and back on Friday was $628.

On My Sky, Mintzer said, a passenger can book as late as two hours before the flight.

My Sky was founded in 2009 as a marketing, management and consulting aviation firm. But Minzter is also the main pilot for Boomerang Air Charter. Both are based at Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine.

Story, comments and photo:  http://staugustine.com

Spirit Airlines, Airbus A320, N632NK: Incident occurred February 03, 2016 in Los Angeles, California

Date: 03-FEB-16
Time: 11:50:00Z
Regis#: N632NK
Aircraft Make: AIRBUS
Aircraft Model: A320
Event Type: Incident
Damage: Unknown
Activity: Commercial
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Aircraft Operator: NKS-Spirit Airlines
Flight Number: NKS709
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA El Segundo (Los Angeles) FSDO-23
City: LOS ANGELES
State: California

N632NK SPIRIT AIRLINES FLIGHT NKS709 AIRBUS A320 AIRCRAFT WHILE AT THE GATE ON PREFLIGHT INSPECTION REVEALED HORIZONTAL STABILIZER LEADING EDGE WITH UNKNOWN DAMAGE, AIRCRAFT TAKEN OUT OF SERVICE, LOS ANGELES, CA

SPIRIT AIRLINES INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N632NK

Spirit AeroSystems Set to Adjust to Jet Makers’ Output Changes: Company’s production of components for Boeing and Airbus make it bellwether of supply chain health



The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
Feb. 3, 2016 1:48 p.m. ET

Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. said Wednesday it was well placed to adjust to planned changes in output by the world’s two largest jet makers, calming investors who remain nervous about a potential oversupply of aircraft.

The company’s production of large components for Boeing Co. , Airbus Group SE and the big engine manufacturers make Spirit a key bellwether of the health of the aerospace supply chain ahead of large planned increases in output.

Spirit Chief Executive Larry Lawson said it wouldn’t need to construct a new factory to expand production of fuselages for the Boeing 737 as the aerospace company boosts monthly production to 47 and then beyond to 52 and eventually 57.

His comments on an investor call came as Spirit reported a quarterly profit alongside 2016 guidance that was broadly ahead of analysts’ expectations, even though it incorporated planned trims in Boeing’s output this year as it prepares to introduce new airplane models.

Boeing’s surprise announcement last week that deliveries would fall this year from 2015’s record level added to existing pressure on the shares, which are down 17% this year, the second-worst performer on the Dow Industrial benchmark index. Airbus shares have lost 14% in 2016.

“We haven’t seen a slowdown in demand,” said Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith on a separate investor call.

Spirit Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Kapoor said discussions with Airbus and Boeing remain fluid over production changes, but declined to give further details.

The company produces fuselage parts for the Airbus A350, and the European plane maker plans a big boost in production this year to more than 50 jets. The company delivered 14 of the planes last year, one fewer than planned when a component supplier failed to meet commitments.

Spirit reported fourth quarter profit of $138.3 million compared with a loss of $106.2 million a year earlier, with adjusted per-share earnings of 95 cents falling seven cents short of consensus. Sales rose 2% to $1.61 billion.

The company forecast revenue of $6.6 billion to $6.7 billion in 2016, in line with last year when it delivered “shipsets” of components for 763 Boeing jets and 632 Airbus planes. Mr. Kapoor said the 2016 guidance reflected higher deliveries for the Airbus A320 and A350 programs and “steady” rates on the Boeing 737 and 787 jets. Deliveries related to the Boeing 777 and 747 and Airbus A330 are expected to decline from last year.

Separately, Mr. Lawson said he had no “imminent’ plans to step down, though Spirit continued to beef up its executive team and normal succession planning. A media report last week said the company was seeking a chief operating officer as part of a potential succession plan for the CEO.

—Jon Ostrower and Robert Wall contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

Cessna 172S, N1955L and Cessna Skyhawk, N499DR: Accident occurred February 03, 2016 at Gillespie Field Airport (KSEE), El Cajon, San Diego County, California

SORBI AVIATION INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N499DR 

SORBI AVIATION INC: http://registry.faa.govN1955L 

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA063A 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 03, 2016 in San Diego, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N499DR
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA063B 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 03, 2016 in San Diego, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N1955L
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 3, 2016, about 1130 Pacific daylight time, A Cessna 172S, N499DR, impacted a parked, occupied Cessna 172S, N1955L at the Gillespie Field Airport (SEE), San Diego/El Cajon, California. Both airplanes were occupied with one certified flight instructor (CFI) and one student pilot; no one was injured. N499DR sustained minor damage, and N1955L sustained substantial damage to the fuselage structure and rudder. Both airplanes were registered to Sorbi Aviation Inc., and were operated by the California Flight Academy as 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flights. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and neither airplane had filed a flight plan. Both airplanes were on the California Flight Academy parking ramp preparing for their local flights. 

The CFI from N499DR reported that after completing a thorough preflight they hand towed the airplane out from its north facing parking spot and turned it towards the east. They started the engine and it idled between 800-1000 RPM. While listening to the airport's automatic terminal information service (ATIS) the airplane started to move with a right turning tendency. The CFI stated he did not notice it at first, but when he did, he stepped on the brakes; however, the airplane increased its right turn and struck a parked, occupied, airplane (N1955L).

The CFI of N1955L reported that the student pilot and he were preparing for their flight, with the airplane's engine off, when they suddenly felt a jolt and heard the sound of metal on metal. They turned in their seats and observed that another airplane (N499DR) had struck the aft fuselage of their airplane. 

N499DR has been moved to a secure location for further examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA San Diego FSDO-09

Council not willing to risk airport safety for solar field project

Montevideo, MN  --  

Despite approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Geronimo Energy (based in Edina) to build a field of solar panels in designated airport safety zones, the Monte­video City Council moved not to sell Geronimo any city land at Monday night’s meeting.

The goal of the project is to bring a clean, cheap source of energy to supplement Monte­video’s existing power grid.

The proposed site of the solar field is just northwest of Walmart. The Monte­video-Chip­­pewa County airport is about one half-mile northwest of the site. This half-mile stretch contains the airport’s A and B safety zones which are almost completely devoid of buildings. There are tight restrictions on what can be built in these zones in case of a plane crash or emergency landing.

The A zone is the closest to the airport and the most restrictive as to what can be built there. The B zone can allow a few small buildings, but for the most part is meant to be left empty.

“There’s no worse place to build than an A or B zone,” said Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones.

The FAA approved Geronimo to build the solar field despite the proposed location being roughly one-third in zone A and two-thirds in zone B. The size of the solar field and minimal amount of employees who would be working on site deemed it acceptable.

The city was also concerned the reflected light from the solar panels would interfere with pilots going to and from the airport. Patrick Smith, Geronimo’s director of permitting, was present at the meeting said they conducted a glare study at the site which was reviewed by the FAA. Both fixed-tilt and sun tracking panels were deemed to not be hazardous by the FAA. Smith said using a sun tracking system keeps the panels perpendicular to the sun at all times, which will eliminate much of the glare.

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Federal Aviation Administration Holds Private Meeting In Wichita On Airport Weather Observations

Airport Director Victor White and Senior Weather Observer Joe Rosner before the private closed-door meeting began.




•  Listen Listening: http://kmuw.org

A team from the Federal Aviation Administration was in Wichita Thursday to go over a plan to shift weather reporting from trained observers on the ground to air traffic controllers at Eisenhower National Airport.


About 20 local aviation leaders attended the closed-door meeting inside the terminal at Eisenhower airport. Media were not allowed to hear the presentation.

The FAA wants to end the Contract Weather Observation Program at Eisenhower and at 56 other mid-size airports across the country.

The CWO program has been serving a crucial role at Wichita’s airport for decades. The issue is that under the FAA's new plan, people in the towers would rely on sensors for weather data and may not be able to accurately determine conditions like freezing rain near the surface.




Professionally trained and certified weather observers provide hourly updates on current conditions to an automated computer system that feeds weather data to the airport and National Weather Service office. Six people work at the Wichita office covering shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many contract weather observers are meteorologists or have specialized military weather training.

Senior weather observer Joe Rosner was at the meeting and says the FAA recognizes there could be a safety hazard of untimely and inaccurate data.

"Some of the data that comes on the sensors is not going to get to the pilots in time, or they are not going to be able to check it in time, and so it may be untimely," Rosner says.

Rosner says the agency used metrics to determine that the hazard is minimal and had a low possibility of creating an accident.

An agency report from August says air traffic controllers would not be allowed to leave the tower to do observations, and the controllers would make directing air traffic a priority over weather reporting functions.

If the FAA’s change goes through, the air traffic controllers at Eisenhower would rely on an Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) located near the airport’s main runway for current conditions. The sensor gathers real-time weather data such as the temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure.




The weather observers not only augment this system, but they also correct the data routinely, as the sensor can’t detect weather conditions such as freezing rain, cloud ceiling levels or lightning.

Airport director Victor White says he’s concerned that this transition could create a safety issue.

"There’s so many limitations on those automated sensors," White says. "There are types of weather that the airlines will not be able to obtain here."

Local air traffic controllers and pilots were at the meeting.

Sen. Jerry Moran’s office says neither the senator nor his staff were notified about the meeting.

Moran issued a written statement calling the FAA’s plan “hugely concerning.”

•  Listen Listening: http://kmuw.org

Story, audio and photo gallery:  http://kmuw.org


Incident occurred February 03, 2016 at Tulsa International Airport (KTUL), Oklahoma

Here is a statement released by the University: 
"TU athletics officials confirmed that a charter airline carrying the University of Tulsa men's basketball team today encountered mechanical difficulties and returned safely to Tulsa International Airport. The team was enroute to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for tomorrow nights basketball game at Temple. The plane departed TulsaAir at approximately 3:15 p.m. and returned at approximately 3:40 p.m. The team will leave today on a commercial flight to Philadelphia. The men's basketball team is scheduled to play at Temple in Philadelphia."



TULSA — An airplane made an emergency landing at Tulsa International Airport, Wednesday afternoon.

TIA's Personal Information Officer tells Tulsa's Channel 8 that an emergency alert was sent out on a plane due to the engine not working properly.

The plan was carrying over 30 passengers and landed just fine.

Tulsa's Channel 8 confirmed that TU men's basketball team was on the plane.

The team was heading out to a game, they're getting ready to leave on a commercial flight. 

Story and video:  http://ktul.com

Pentagon’s top weapons tester airs major list of grievances against F-35 program



The Pentagon’s top weapons tester has condemned aspects of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in a new report, raising questions about the $1.5-trillion effort’s ability to meet its already slipped production schedule, synthesize information on the battlefield and keep aircraft available to fly.

The 82-page report was distributed to Congress last month, and released publicly this week. It was completed by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation. He reports directly to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, and carries out independent assessments for both Carter and members of Congress.

The report raises serious questions about whether the Pentagon should initiate a three-year “block buy” of up to 450 fighter jets beginning in 2018, something that was floated last year in the Defense Department as a way to save money. Doing so would drive down the cost of each single-seat, single engine aircraft and increase fielding of the jet to both the U.S. military and international partners like Australia and Britain, defense officials said.

“Depending on the timing, it is possible a commitment to the ‘block buy’ would be made before operational testing is complete,” the report said. It added that there are still “significant discoveries requiring correction before F-35s are used in combat,” and questioned whether buying a large number of aircraft so soon would motivate the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, to “correct an already substantial list of deficiencies in performance, a list that will only lengthen as… testing continues.”

The top officer leading the F-35 program, Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, said in two-page response that everything in Gilmore’s report is accurate, but that it “does not fully address efforts to resolve known technical challenges and schedule risks.” It’s the F-35 joint program office’s job to do so, Bogdan said.

“As a reminder, the F-35 program is still in its developmental phase. This is the time when issues are expected to be discovered and solutions are implemented to maximize the F-35’s capability for the warfighter,” the general said. “While the developmental program is 80 percent complete, we recognize there are known deficiencies that must be corrected and there remains the potential for future findings. Our commitment to overcoming challenges is unwavering.”

The F-35 program currently calls for the fielding of 1,763 aircraft to the Air Force, 680 to the Navy and Marine Corps, 138 to Great Britain, 100 each to Australia and Turkey, 60 to Italy, 37 to the Netherlands, 52 to Norway and 30 to Denmark, according to figures released by Lockheed Martin. The majority of those are conventional F-35A models, with the Marine Corps buying a short-takeoff version known as the F-35B and the Navy buying a version for aircraft carriers known as the F-35C.

Gilmore’s report found that analysis of the fleet of F-35s that have been fielded between August 2012 and October 2015 “showed a weak rate of improvement of approximately 5 percent growth per year,” but noted that it was not consistent on a month-to-month basis. Each of the services also must send the current fleet of F-35s to receive modifications due to a variety of flaws in the initial aircraft design.

“Some of these modifications are driven by faults in the original design that were not discovered until after production had started, such as major structural components that break due to fatigue before their intended lifespan, and others are driven by the continuing improvement of the design of combat capabilities that were known to be lacking when the aircraft were first built,” the report said. “This ‘concurrency tax’ causes the program to expend resources to send aircraft for major re-work, often multiple times, to keep up with aircraft design as it progresses.”

The report also questioned “significant deficiencies” in a laboratory that was established to compile information known as mission data files so that the F-35 can operate in combat. The facility, known as the U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory, was established at Eglin Air Force Base with $300 million promised, but “has still not designed, contracted for, and ordered the required equipment — a process that will take at least two years, not counting installation and check-out,” Gilmore’s report said.

“Unless remedied, these deficiencies in the USRL will translate into significant limitations for the F-35 in combat against existing threats,” the report added.



Another concern raised is the F-35 program’s inability to develop a simulator that will allow the military to complete initial operational testing. Known as Verification Simulation, or VSim, it is supposed to test the jet for a wide range of combat missions. In August, the mission was moved with a “sudden decision” to a similar simulator proposed by Naval Air Systems Command. Doing so, Gilmore’s report said, again complicates future F-35 testing.

Pierre Sprey, a defense analyst who was involved with designing the A-10 attack jet and F-16 fighter jet, said Wednesday that he is surprised at the amount of candor in Gilmore’s report. He noted that it was released in what is likely Gilmore’s last year as the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, considering his position is a political appointment and President Obama leaves office early next year.

“This document is probably the most extraordinary review of any weapon that has come out of the DOT&E office,” Sprey said. “The fact that this escaped from the Pentagon is extraordinary… You really need to get a sense for what it takes to put out something as critical as this in the face of a 1.3- trillion dollar monster.”

Sprey said the real measure of an aircraft’s reliability isn’t the amount of flight hours it has flown in total, but the amount of sorties it can complete in a day. The U.S. military typically expects modern aircraft to complete one flight per day, and some foreign militaries fly two or three. Gilmore’s report notes that F-35s so far have typically flown about one mission every five days.

Sprey and a few other defense analysts with the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information, a Washington think tank, met with a handful of reporters Wednesday, and released an analysis of Gilmore’s report that said it is likely the F-35’s final suitability for combat likely will not be known until at least 2022.

The think tank also raised serious questions about the shift away from the VSim program at Eglin, noting that more than $250 million has been spent on it. It was cancelled in favor of the new version proposed by the Navy last year after Lockheed Martin requested more money. The shaky situation with the simulator “threatens to derail the entire F-35 testing program,” the analysts found.

Story, comments and photos:  https://www.washingtonpost.com

North American P-51C Mustang, N61429, American Air Power Heritage Flying Museum: Accident occurred February 03, 2016 at Dallas Executive Airport (KRBD), Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board: http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary  -  National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

American Air Power Heritage Flying Museum:http://registry.faa.gov/N61429

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Dallas FSDO-05


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA133
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 03, 2016 in Dallas, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/05/2016
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN P 51, registration: N61429
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The pilot reported that he landed the airplane with the landing gear retracted, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage.

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

The pilot further reported that this accident could have been prevented with a "higher degree" of diligence to checklists.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to extend the landing gear prior to landing, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage during landing.













The pilot of a World War II-era P-51C Mustang is OK after making an emergency belly landing at Dallas Executive Airport Wednesday morning.

Dallas-Fire Rescue confirms the plane landed at about 10:30 a.m. with its gears retracted.  The plane apparently skidded off the runway  and onto a grassy area where the prop detached from the plane's body.

The P-51 is a single-seat fighter and was being piloted by Bill Shepard, who was not injured in the emergency landing.

Shepard was landing back at Dallas Executive for a special event in honor of Black History Month when the emergency occurred, according to the Commemorative Air Force, who owns the plane and is based out of the South Dallas airfield.

"Earlier today, the CAF Red Tail Squadron's P-51C experienced a gear-up landing at Dallas Executive Airport,” said Stephan C. Brown, president and CEO of the CAF. “Pilot and Squadron Leader Bill Shepard was uninjured. The aircraft sustained substantial damage, but we will start the restoration process shortly. As with the Tuskegee Airmen she honors, this airplane will 'Rise Above' to 'Triumph Over Adversity' and fly again. We appreciate the many messages of concern received today."

Records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration indicate the aircraft was built in 1942 and that the owner is the American Air Power Heritage Flying Museum, the former name of the CAF. 

The P-51C was donated to the CAF in 1988 and was restored as a Red Tail over a period of several years. It was christened the Tuskegee Airmen and returned to the skies in 2001. In 2004 the plane suffered an engine failure and crashed, killing pilot Don Hinz, according to the CAF's online documentation of the aircraft. Following the fatal crash the aircraft was once again "restored rivet by rivet" before flying again in 2009.

CAF spokesman Adam Smith said the pilot was on a regular proficiency flight when the incident happened. He told NBC 5 they plan to again repair the aircraft and get it flying.

Officials have not given any other details on what may have gone wrong with the aircraft or why a belly landing was necessary. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Officials with the city of Dallas tweeted that a crane will be used to remove the damaged aircraft from the airfield and that the runways should reopen to traffic at about 1:15 p.m.

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.nbcdfw.com