Sunday, February 14, 2016

Commercial service won’t interfere with OSU flight school

Oklahoma State flight students, instructors and administrators at the OSU Flight Center are excited for the benefits commercial airline service will bring Stillwater Regional Airport.

They expect it to pay off in more ways than one.

Commercial airline service will only help improve the OSU flight school, said Lance Fortney, head of the OSU flight program.

“I think it’s great,” Fortney said. “I think it brings a lot of positive things to the area, including our flight program.”

Although there will be more traffic at Stillwater Regional Airport, it won’t get in the way of the flight school’s operations, said Jessica Dobie, an OSU flight instructor.

The twice-daily commercial service simply means the bigger planes will be around smaller ones a bit more, Dobie said. But instructors’ and students’ work won’t be disrupted.

The daily interaction between the student pilots and the professional ones could only help, she said.

“There’s always networking to be done, especially within aviation,” Dobie said. “Networking is key, really, to getting any kind of job. The fact that we’re flying in the same air space with a commercial airliner, it could be equally beneficial to be networking.”

OSU flight students earn their certified flight instructor license after 1,000 hours in the sky. Afterward, they are allowed to sign contracts with regional airlines, such as Envoy Air, the American Airlines subsidiary providing commercial service between Stillwater and Dallas.

Pilots work their way up the regional ranks before moving into positions with major airlines such as American, Delta and Southwest, Dobie said.

In recent years, Fortney said speculation has swirled around closing the Stillwater flight tower. He said commercial service likely means the tower will serve enough of a necessity to stay.

“When the FAA or other agencies look at airports, a lot of what they look at is what’s the traffic count?” Fortney said. “So anything that brings more of that, which is what commercial air service does, positions that airport better to not lose their air traffic controllers.”

Dobie said security measures have been heightened as well. She said OSU student-pilots won’t need to adapt to more than a few bigger planes in the air space and on the runways.

“I’m not expecting to see a whole lot of traffic increase,” said Adam Berman, a student-pilot. “I don’t think we’ll notice. If we do, it will probably be rare. You might see a jet fly in every once in a while, but I don’t think it will change anything for the Oklahoma State flight students incredibly.”

Two flights are scheduled each day to and from Dallas and Stillwater, and tickets are expected to cost about $275 for a round-trip flight.

A misconception between the Stillwater community and OSU is that planes other than those in the OSU flight program will be seen for the first time when Envoy planes touch down Aug. 23, Berman said.

Private planes often fly in and out of Stillwater Regional Airport, especially for game days. Along with Cowboy One, which carries OSU’s athletic teams, Berman said larger aircraft have been used before.

“If you want to come fly in for game day, it might not be practical to drive across the country and watch the Bedlam game,” Berman said. “But you can fly right up to Stillwater, hop out, and then you have opportunity for other services like rental car. The growth of the area can be profound.”

There aren’t many cons to the commercial program, Dobie said.

The fall, winter and spring months’ profit will have to make up the deficit that will from the summer when half of the Stillwater residents leave the city for summer break, which is a point of contention, but she said she believes it won’t be an issue.


Cessna 310N, N100SH: Incident occurred February 14, 2016 at Elmira Corning Regional Airport (KELM), Chemung County, New York

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Rochester FSDO-23


Date: 14-FEB-16 
 Time:     20:21:00Z
Regis#:     N100SH
Aircraft Make:     CESSNA
Aircraft Model:     310
Event Type:     Incident
Highest Injury:     None
Damage:     Unknown
Flight Phase:     LANDING (LDG)

City:     ELMIRA
State:     New York

BIG FLATS | A small plane pilot escaped injury after making an emergency landing at the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport on Sunday afternoon due to a landing gear malfunction.

The Cessna 310N did not sustain major damage.

“When they landed the landing gear collapsed,” Chemung County Director of Aviation Ann Crook said. “There were no injuries.”

The aircraft is based out of the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport and was returning to the airport when the incident occurred.

Upon landing, the plane wasn’t in danger of catching fire, Crook said, and crews removed the plane from the runway.

Airport emergency crews responded along with the county’s Airport Task Force, which includes local fire departments.

The incident did not delay any incoming or outgoing flights, although officials had to close the airport briefly in order to move the Cessna off the runway and assess whether there were any injuries, Crook said.

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N6691P: Accident occurred February 12, 2016 near Sturgis Municipal Airport (49B), Meade County, South Dakota

NTSB Identification: GAA16LA128
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 12, 2016 in Sturgis, SD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/06/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA24, registration: N6691P
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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

The pilot reported that he was conducting an instrument approach in instrument meteorological conditions. Upon reaching the decision altitude, the front seat passenger reported the runway was in front of the airplane. The pilot looked up from the instruments, but could not see the runway out the windscreen or the side window. Referring back to the flight instruments, the pilot noted that the airplane was level, but he was unable to determine the airplane's altitude and did not know where the airplane was in relation to the runway. The pilot then applied full engine power and began to climb the airplane; however, the airplane's right wing impacted a light pole. The airplane immediately pitched nose-down and descended into terrain. The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation, and that the accident could have been prevented if he had immediately executed a missed approach at the decision altitude. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to execute the published missed approach procedure in a timely manner, which resulted in collision with a light pole and subsequent impact with terrain.

On February 12, 2016 about 1215 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-24-250 airplane, N6691P, impacted a light pole and terrain while executing a missed approach at the Sturgis Municipal Airport (49B) in Sturgis, South Dakota. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a day, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of the accident at the airport and an IFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Jamestown Regional Airport (JMS) in Jamestown, North Dakota. 

The pilot reported that he was conducting the RNAV (GPS) RWY 29 instrument approach procedure. During the descent to the Decision Altitude (DA), he said that the autopilot system was engaged and that he encountered light ice at 4700 feet mean sea level. He reported that he kept the needles centered to the DA of 3530 feet, and the passenger in the front right seat stated that "the runway was in front of us." The pilot reported he looked up from the instruments, he did not see the runway, and the passenger stated that "we were above the runway." The pilot said that he looked out the side window and did not see the runway, and while returning his view to the instruments he noted that his airspeed was stable at 120 knots and the wings were level.

The pilot reported that he referred to the altimeter but was unable to determine his altitude and told the passenger that he did not know where he was. The passenger stated that the "runway was to the left," and the pilot stated he went full throttle and began to climb. He reported at the moment of applying throttle and beginning to climb, the right wing impacted a light pole located on the airport. He said that the airplane immediately pitched down, and he held the ailerons neutral and used "severe" rudder movements to keep the wings as level as possible. He said there was a "severe" left bank tendency. Just prior to impact, he "yelled to brace and we both crossed our arms in front of our faces and pulled our feet back from the rudders." The airplane then impacted terrain, coming to rest in a ditch about 950 feet to the north of the departure end of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.

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

As a safety recommendation, the pilot reported that "when the runway was not visible to the pilot in command at decision altitude, an immediate missed approach should have been executed." He also reported that "excessive head movement should be avoided at all times during the transition from instrument meteorological conditions to visual meteorological conditions."


The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was Ellsworth Air Force Base (RCA), about 21 nautical miles to the southeast, which reported at the time of the accident that the wind was 7 knots from 140 degrees, visibility was 1 statue mile, and a 200 foot overcast ceiling. The weather station also reported the presence of light drizzle and moderate mist.

The pilot reported that the weather conditions at the accident site were a variable wind condition, visibility of 0.25 statue mile, and a 500 foot overcast ceiling. He also reported that fog was present along with light ice. 

A photograph taken by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector at the accident site showed ice accumulation on the leading edge of the airplane's horizontal stabilizer in addition to fog present at the accident site.


The airplane wreckage was located about 950 feet north of the departure end of runway 29. The initial impact point was a 50 foot light pole located in the north corner of a ramp located on the airport, about 1,180 feet behind the airplane's wreckage to the southeast. The bottom of the fuselage exhibited damage consistent with impacting terrain. The airplane's right wing leading edge had an impact mark about mid-span, which was consistent with impact marks found on the light pole. The impact marks on the light pole were about 39 feet above the ground. The airplane's left wing, about 6 feet inboard from the wing tip was partially separated, which was consistent with the pilot's statement about both wings striking fence posts. 

The light pole was located in the north corner of a ramp, about 765 feet northeast of the departure end of the runway. An image is located in the public docket to illustrate the location of the light pole in relation to the runway.


The pilot reported that both he and his passenger had 3-point restraint systems available in the airplane and that they both utilized a lap belt only. The pilot reported that he and his passenger sustained head lacerations and that the passenger sustained serious injuries to her neck. 

The FAA has published Advisory Circular (AC) 21-34 Shoulder Harness – Safety Belt Installations (1993). This AC discusses the benefits of utilizing a shoulder harness and states in part:

Accident experience has provided substantial evidence that use of a shoulder harness in conjunction with a safety belt can reduce serious injuries to the head, neck, and upper torso of aircraft occupants and has the potential to reduce fatalities of occupants involved in an otherwise survivable accident. 


Instrument Approach Procedure Minimums 

The FAA has published FAA-H-8083-15B Instrument Flying Handbook (2012). This handbook discusses instrument approach procedure minimums and states in part: 

Pilots may not operate an aircraft at any airport below the authorized minimum descent altitude (MDA) or continue an approach below the authorized decision altitude (DA)/decision height (DH) unless:

1. The aircraft is continuously in a position from which a descent to a landing on the intended runway can be made at a normal descent rate using normal maneuvers;

2. The flight visibility is not less than that prescribed for the approach procedure being used; and

3. At least one of the following visual references for the intended runway is visible and identifiable to the pilot: Approach light system, threshold, threshold markings, threshold lights, runway end identifier lights, visual approach slope indicator, touchdown zone or touchdown zone markings, touchdown zone lights, runway or runway markings, and runway lights.

Missed Approaches 

FAA-H-8083-15B Instrument Flying Handbook also discusses missed approaches and states in part:

A missed approach point is formulated for each published instrument approach and allows the pilot to return to the airway structure while remaining clear of obstacles.

Pilots should immediately execute the missed approach point:

1. Whenever the requirements for operating below DA/DH or MDA are not met when the aircraft is below MDA, or upon arrival at the MAP and at any time after that until touchdown;

2. Whenever an identifiable part of the airport is not visible to the pilot during a circling maneuver at or

above MDA; or

3. When so directed by air traffic control.

NTSB Identification: GAA16LA128
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 12, 2016 in Sturgis, SD
Aircraft: PIPER PA24, registration: N6691P
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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 12, 2016 about 1215 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-24-250 airplane, N6691P, impacted a light pole and terrain while executing a missed approach at the Sturgis Municipal Airport (49B) in Sturgis, South Dakota. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a day, instrument flight rules personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident at the airport and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Jamestown Regional Airport (JMS) in Jamestown, North Dakota. 

The pilot reported that he was conducting an area navigation global positioning system (RNAV GPS) instrument approach to runway 29. During the descent to the decision altitude, he reported that the passenger in the right seat could see the runway, but he could not see the runway from the left seat. He stated that as the airplane descended closer to the decision altitude, he became "disoriented." The pilot stated that he "looked out to the left and then forward" and that he was "unable to understand the instruments and compute his altitude and airspeed."

The pilot reported he executed the missed approach procedure and that the airplane "settled and drifted." The airplane impacted a light pole and then impacted terrain, coming to rest in a ditch about 1000 feet to the northwest of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing.

STURGIS, S.D. - A quick thinking father saved his daughter -- and himself -- Friday in a plane crash near Sturgis in nasty weather.

Reese Kor of Piedmont was flying his daughter home from the University of Jamestown in North Dakota. Ice pellets and fog caused him to rethink his approach and he pulled up but hit a power line pole.

He managed to keep the Piper PA-24-250 Comanche level as it crash landed about half a mile from the Sturgis Municipal Airport.

Kor and his daughter Sidney sustained only minor head injuries.

Sidney Kor said she was never worried during the tense moments. "I had complete faith in my dad," she said. The FAA and the Meade County Sheriff's office are investigating the crash.

Reese Kor, of Piedmont, was the pilot of the light plane that crashed Friday afternoon near the Sturgis Municipal Airport.

A press release issued late Sunday morning from the Meade County Sheriff's Office identified both the pilot and the passenger, Sidney Kor. The release said, "The extent of their injuries (is) unknown at this time."

Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane is registered to Reese Kor, of Piedmont.

The release said the plane crashed at about 12:20 p.m. Friday as it was "attempting to gain altitude due to unsafe landing conditions caused by weather."

The right wing of the plane, a Piper 24, apparently hit a power pole, Tony Molinaro of the FAA said at the scene. The two people in the plane were taken to Sturgis Regional Hospital. A source at the hospital Sunday evening told a reporter to call Rapid City Regional Hospital on Monday for information on their conditions.


Low visibility may have contributed to the crash of a small plane near Sturgis just after noon Friday.

Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the FAA was investigating the crash, which occurred just across Alkali Road north of the Sturgis Municipal Airport, estimated at about a half-mile from the airport runway.

"While making an approach, a Piper PA-24-250 Comanche aircraft struck a (power) pole with its right wing," Molinaro said.

Molinaro said he did not know to whom the aircraft was registered.

Two people, a man and a woman, were taken by ambulance to Sturgis Regional Hospital following the crash.

Neither the names of those involved nor their conditions have been released.

Susan Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, said that visibility at the time of the crash, at 12:22 p.m., would have been about a quarter-mile.

“It was fine until about 7:30 a.m., then the fog started rolling in as the winds switched to the east,” she said.

Precipitation, in the form of freezing ice pellets, was falling in the area at the time and the temperature was 26 degrees.

Meade County Deputy Chris Williams confirmed the aircraft was coming from the east, but had no other details.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to visit with the pilot yet,” Williams said at the scene.


STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - Federal aviation officials are trying to determine what led a small plane to crash near Sturgis.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro says the Piper 24 struck a power pole about half a mile from the runway at Sturgis Municipal Airport.

A man and a woman were taken by ambulance to Sturgis Regional Hospital following the crash. Police say the two are in ''fair'' condition. Their names have not been released.

Authorities say the two were attempting to land at the airport in low-visibility conditions.

National Weather Service meteorologist Susan Sanders says visibility at the time of the crash would have been about a quarter of a mile.

Impounded US Cargo Aircraft Owners Claim Harare Airport Death Stowaway: Western Global Airlines, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, N545JN

WASHINGTON—  Western Global Airlines of Estero, Florida, the American corporate owner of a cargo jet impounded in Harare on Sunday after a bloodied body of a man was discovered aboard during a refueling stop, says the person was a stowaway though authorities in Zimbabwe are still investigating the incident that has grabbed world attention.

Western Global is privately owned by James K. Neff and Sunny Neff.

A statement from the owners said the MD11 aircraft, en-route on Sunday to Durban, South Africa, from Munich, Germany, was carrying a “diplomatic shipment” for the South African Reserve Bank.

It expressed its condolence over the death saying, "We are saddened that a person has lost his life by stowing aboard one of our cargo aircraft. As compared to other forms of transportation, stowaways on airplanes are rare, but almost always result in fatality. In most cases airport security prevents this from happening but it should never be attempted for any reason.”

The company acknowledged that it was working “closely with the Zimbabwean authorities as they fully investigate this situation. We appreciate their professionalism and the care they have shown our crew, our cargo and our aircraft. Along with our customer, Network Airline Management, we express our condolences and support the efforts of the Zimbabwean government. We also appreciate the dedication of our crew, the patience of the South African government while awaiting its shipment and the engagement of the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe.”

US embassy spokesperson, Karen Kelly told VOA Studio 7 that they are referring all questions to the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean Republic Police spokesperson, senior assistant commissioner Charity Charamba said investigations are still under way and it’s a long process.

Charamba added that the post mortem is being done in Zimbabwe.

The South African Reserve Bank says it is still "working closely" with relevant authorities to have a consignment of its bank notes, which were detained at Harare International Airport, released and transported to South Africa.

Charamba said she can only focus on the investigation into the cause of death and not the money, believed to millions of rands.

The statement added that Western Global Airlines is in continuous contact with its crew and when cleared to do so; “they will complete the last leg of this charter."

The Western Global Airlines aircraft in question is leased to Network Airline Management, a logistics provider, which was engaged to deliver a diplomatic shipment of South African currency from Munich, Germany, to Durban on behalf of the South African Reserve Bank.

The company says, “All necessary documentation for the flight and its cargo was in order and in compliance with international law.”

The aircraft departed Munich, Germany's airport, on February 13, 2016, with a crew of three pilots and a mechanic as well as two passengers traveling as couriers for the diplomatic shipment.

The aircraft made a refueling stop at Zimbabwe's Harare International Airport approximately nine hours later. During the refueling process, ground crew attending the aircraft noticed unusual streaking on the nose gear and upon further investigation; a deceased male was discovered in a compartment adjacent to the wheel well.

At present, the identity or nationality of the deceased is not known.  It is not clear when or how the deceased accessed the aircraft and Western Global is working with authorities to back trace the aircraft's route of travel.

The company has confirmed that its normal service, safety and security inspections “which meet or exceed all security, maintenance and operational standards  were performed by its maintenance personnel prior to the flight and that cockpit crews conducted exterior walk-arounds prior to departure.”

But the company says, “The area where the body was found is an area not visible to these inspections and there is no indication the stowaway's presence affected the operation of the aircraft.”

How common are stowaways? Since 1996, there have been 105 stowaways on 94 flights worldwide, according to the Federal Aviation Administration in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network.

More than 76% of those attempts resulted in deaths, the FAA says. The FAA's numbers reflect stowaways in the wheel wells, nose wells and other unpressurized areas.

The statistics don't include people who sneak into the cargo compartment or passenger area.

Stowaways in wheel wells, as in the most recent case, have to contend with freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and the risk of being crushed by the plane's wheels.


M48545 LLC:

A cargo plane carrying millions of South African rand has been grounded at Zimbabwe’s international airport after ground staff spotted blood dripping from it and discovered a man’s body.

The plane, owned by Florida-based Western Global Airlines, is understood to have been transporting large sums of cash from Munich in Germany via Belgium and Nigeria and was bound for the seaside town of Durban in South Africa when it stopped in Harare for refuelling.

“The jet crew was questioned and they said they hit a bird in the air. But then a search was made and the body of an adult male fell out,” a source told African News Agency.

A spokesman for the South African Reserve Bank suggested the body belonged to a “stowaway” and expressed the hope its money would be released soon.

Local reports said four crew members had been arrested: two Americans, a Pakistani and a South African. An airport source told The Telegraph that two couriers had remained on the plane since the discovery on Sunday, reluctant to leave its valuable cargo.

Images circulated on social media showed a charred body protruding from a flap on the outside of the aircraft. Officials with face masks stand to one side on a hydraulic platform and Zimbabwe Republic Police tape is visible. A Zimbabwean aviation source told The Telegraph the body fell out of the flap when security staff began searching for the source of the blood.

Pradeep Maharaj, Group Executive for the South African Reserve Bank's currency operations, would not confirm whether SARB employees were on the craft.

“The South African Reserve Bank is aware of an aircraft carrying a SARB consignment that stopped in Harare and was detained following the discovery of an unidentified body that is presumed to be a stowaway on the aircraft,” he said in a statement.

“The SARB is working with the relevant authorities to ensure that the cargo is released and transported to South Africa.”

David Chawota, chief executive of Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, said the case had been handed over to the police. “The plane, which is owned by Western Global Airlines, has been grounded at Harare International Airport since Sunday,” he said. “The cargo in the plane belongs to the South African Reserve Bank."

He declined to give further details about the plane’s cargo, citing “security concerns”.

The plane is believed to have requested a “technical landing” in Harare after being denied the right to land in Mozambique.

"The matter was reported to the authorities at the airport and the plane was impounded while the body was taken to patholog ists,” the Herald quoted an aviation source as saying.

Harare International Airport was previously the venue for another multinational drama when, on March 7 2004, British mercenary Simon Mann and 69 others were detained on the tarmac after their Boeing 727 was searched and found to be carrying £100,000 worth of weapons and equipment.

Mann and his colleagues were put on trial in Zimbabwe accused of plotting to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea. He was later extradited to that country and jailed but was released under a presidential pardon in November 2009.

Western Global Airlines did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.


The Western Global Airlines cargo plane impounded by security services at the Harare International Airport yesterday after the handling staff discovered a bleeding corpse aboard.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe yesterday impounded a chartered MD11 trijet cargo plane owned by Western Global Airlines stashed with millions of South African rands and a dead body after it asked to land in Harare during a flight from Germany to South Africa.

During routine refuelling airport staff noticed blood dripping from the plane, the dead body found, and the alert given. Investigations were still in progress last night.

Western Global Airlines is based in southwest Florida in the United States of America.

The plane was flying from Germany to South Africa when the captain asked for a technical landing at the Harare International Airport after an initial request to land in Mozambique was turned down.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe general manager Mr David Chaota confirmed the incident last night.

“Yes, it is a Western Global Airlines plane and now the case is being handled by our security ” he said.

South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Vusi Mavimbela confirmed the incident last night but would not give details.

“I spent the better of the day at the airport,” he said. “I am aware of what you are saying but I cannot comment now because there are investigations that are still going on.”

Sources close to the matter told The Herald last night that the plane was destined for South Africa.

“The plane requested for a technical landing which was granted by the airport authorities,” said the source.

“Upon refueling, the airport attendants discovered that there was blood dripping from the plane. When they checked to try and ascertain where the blood was coming from that is when they discovered a suspended dead body in the plane.

“The matter was reported to the authorities at the airport and the plane was impounded while the body was taken to pathologists.”

Unconfirmed reports say the crew included two Americans, a Pakistani and a South African. The whereabouts of the crew were unknown last night.

The nationality of the dead person could not be established by the time of going to print, nor any details of how he died.

Western Global Airlines operates a fleet of 16 MD11 freighters, a modern stretched upgrade of the old DC10, according to its web site.

The private cargo line is owned by James and Sunny Neff and advertises that it has a good range of customers, including FedEx. It said aid agencies chartered it to fly staff and supplies into West Africa last year to fight the Ebola epidemic.

The last time Zimbabwean civil aviation authorities impounded a foreign plane was in 2004, when the authorities arrested a planeload of 64 mercenaries who wanted to take part in a coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Efforts to get a comment from the police were fruitless as police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba’s mobile phone went unanswered.


Coast Guard to use retro colors on 16 helicopters, planes

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) - Workers at a logistics center in Elizabeth City will paint 16 search-and-rescue helicopters and airplanes in color schemes from the past as part of the Coast Guard's celebration of 100 years of aviation.

The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reports ( the choppers and plans will be painted at the Aviation Logistics Center.

The center's commanding officer says one color scheme is a deep blue with a combination of light gray and a touch of yellow, in honor of the amphibious "flying boat" aircraft that's traced back to the 1930s.

One is a bright yellow, in honor of the 1950s forerunners of the modern search-and-rescue helicopters. The third is predominantly white with orange trim, in honor of H-65 search-and-rescue helicopters when they first appeared in the 1980s.

Information from: The Daily Advance,

Aircraft group gives award to student pilot

SOUTH SIOUX CITY | Local Chapter 291 of the Experimental Aircraft Association has awarded 14-year-old Kevin D. Faria a Matching Funds Award for 2015.

The award will pay 50 percent of all expenses to not only attend ground school but also pay for aircraft rental and instructor expenses. Chapter 291 is based at Martin Airport in South Sioux City.

The chapter has been giving an award to a deserving young student pilot over the last six years. Previous awards paid for them to complete the Martin Aviation Ground School only. This year the chapter decided to go further and select a student who shows great promise in continuing in an aviation career by awarding a Matching Funds Award. This award is estimated to be $4,000.

Faria is a student at Bishop Heelan in Sioux City. According to Chapter 291 President Rick Alter, Faria intends to pursue his pilot’s license at Martin Field, and after college he plans to follow his father’s career by joining the Navy and becoming a Naval Aviation Flight Officer.


Military flyers invited to Camano to swap stories over lunch

CAMANO ISLAND — Bob Blank is rallying veterans who have taken to the skies for their country.

The Camano Island man is starting a new group on the island for former military pilots, no matter when they served, where they served or what they flew. He wants to start monthly lunch meetings where the pilots can stop by the Camano Center for a $6 meal and good conversation.

The idea is based on a group Blank was part of in Prescott, Arizona, before he moved to Camano Island last year. In Prescott, up to 100 former pilots would gather each month at the local Eagles club and swap stories about their time in the service and their adventures since. It was a good way to meet people who already shared similar interests and insights.

“These guys are pretty interesting and they usually have stories to tell,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe the stories you’d hear. Too many near death experiences.”

Blank, 81, is a former Navy pilot. He was stationed on Whidbey Island from 1957 until 1964, where he worked with the Heavy Attack Squadron. During the Cold War years, the squadron trained pilots, bombardiers and crewmen to be ready for long range nuclear strikes.

“We flew all sorts of things,” he said. “We had some strange planes here when we were getting things going.”

Blank is working with the Camano Center on starting the pilots group. The first meeting is planned there March 17 at 11:30 a.m. The center is located at 606 Arrowhead Road.

The plan for the first meeting is to have lunch and write up a list of initial members, then start talking about possibilities for the group’s future. It may be that people want to expand the group beyond pilots to include others who served in the skies, such as navigators and crewmen, Blank said. He’s also not sure how far reaching the group will be, whether it will draw only Camano Island and Stanwood veterans or if others may want to come from farther afield.

He’s hoping to get a good-sized group, and asks that anyone interested call him at 425-210-7109. He plans to talk to other veterans organizations in the area to drum up interest, too.

“I’ve still got to get ahold of the American Legion and borrow an American flag,” he said. “We can’t have our meeting without that.”


Frigid temperatures causing delays to JetBlue flights at Logan International Airport (KBOS): Fueling operations limited due to cold

BOSTON —Delays at Logan International Airport are being connected to the winter temperatures affecting the region.

A "taste" of frigid air arrives as an Arctic air mass from the North Pole overspreads the area Saturday, prompting wind chill warnings across Massachusetts.

JetBlue Airways is operating with delays in Boston and according to a spokesperson, it is due to the extreme winter temperatures. 

A spokesperson said fueling operations have been limited due to the extreme winter weather.

“We are working closely with our fueling business partner to ensure that we are servicing aircraft efficiently and safely,” read the statement.

The spokesperson said customers traveling through Logan Airport can check their flight status at or on their mobile app.

Logan Airport is reporting temperatures at zero as of around 10 this morning. A wind chill warning is in effect until noon Sunday.  


Airlines make it too hard to file a complaint, lawmaker says

Air travelers may be more upset about airline service than we know.

More than 56 million people flew on U.S. commercial flights in November and only 1,300 filed complaints with the federal government. That's a rate of one complaint for every 43,000 passengers.

That rate may be hard to believe, given the shrinking of airline seats and the expansion of passenger fees over the last few years.

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Los Angeles) believes that the number of complaints are relatively low because airlines have made it too hard to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Under 2012 federal law, all airlines must post on their website information to help unhappy passengers file a complaint with the federal agency. A complaint can be made through a hotline (202-366-2220) or using an online complaint form.

But finding such information on an airline website isn't so easy. When Hahn's staff sought the information on the website for Spirit Airlines, they found it buried on page 48 of a 51-page legal document called the “Contract of Carriage.”

On American Airlines' website, the complaint information is at the bottom of a page titled “Consumer Service Plan.” At Delta Air Lines' website, the complaint information is near the bottom of a page titled “Travelers With Disabilities.”

“I searched for the hotline number myself on different airline websites and couldn't find it anywhere,” Hahn said. “If I can't find it, I am assuming many other fliers can't find it either, and the data demonstrates that.”

To address the problem, the lawmaker filed an amendment last week to a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, requiring that the airlines post the complaint information on a prominent place on their websites.

In response to the amendment, American Airlines said: “We comply with all current regulations and will continue to do so.”


Watchdog: Too few air traffic controllers where needed most

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are too few fully qualified controllers at more than a dozen of the nation's busiest air traffic facilities stretching from Atlanta to Anchorage, according to report released Tuesday by a government watchdog.

The 13 airport towers, approach control facilities and en route centers have fewer fully trained controllers than the minimum number established by the Federal Aviation Administration specifically for each facility, Transportation Department's inspector general said.

The FAA considers the facilities fully staffed because controllers still in training are used to fill the gaps. But the report says there is great variation among trainee skill levels and readiness to work on their own.

It typically takes about three to five years for a trainee to become fully qualified. Many trainees need fully qualified controllers to sit alongside and watch while they direct air traffic, ready to step in if there is a problem. Other trainees have reached a level of proficiency where they're able to work alone.

The report also questions the validity of the minimum staffing levels the FAA has assigned to the facilities, finding fault with the agency's methodology.

The report comes as member of Congress gear up for a fight over whether to spin off air traffic control operations from the FAA and place them under the control of a nonprofit corporation made up of airlines, airports and other aviation "stakeholders." Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is expected to introduce a bill within the next few weeks. The concept has the support of most of the airline industry with the exception of Delta Air Lines. But key House and Senate Democrats, as well as some business and general aviation groups, are opposed.

The inspector general's office recently said in a separate report that spending on air traffic control operations has doubled over two decades, while productivity has declined substantially and efforts to improve performance have been ineffective.

Managers at some the 23 key facilities examined in Tuesday's report cited a higher number of controllers needed to fill all work shifts than the FAA's designated minimum number of personnel for that facility.

"As a result, there is still considerable debate and uncertainty regarding how many controllers FAA actually needs for its most critical facilities," wrote Matthew Hampton, assistant inspector general for aviation.

Some managers agreed that trainees contribute to handling the workload, while others indicated that meeting on-the-job training requirements limited the contribution of trainees, the report said.

The 13 facilities where there were less than the designated minimum number of fully trained controllers are the Anchorage tower/approach control, Atlanta approach control, Chicago approach control, Chicago's O'Hare tower, Denver approach control, Dallas approach control, Houston approach control, New York's John F. Kennedy tower, New York's approach control, New York's high altitude traffic center, Las Vegas' approach control, Miami's tower, and Albuquerque's high altitude traffic center.

For example, at the New York approach control facility, where handling air traffic is notoriously demanding, there were 150 fully qualified controllers even though the minimum set by the FAA was 173. There were also 53 trainees.

The FAA data on staffing levels is from October 2014. The report doesn't explain why more current data wasn't used.

Responding to the report, the FAA said in a statement that it is expediting transfers of controllers "from well-staffed facilities to those needing additional personnel." The agency also said it has recently concluded research on how controllers do their jobs that will help improve overall staffing standards.

Further complicating the picture is the large share of fully qualified controllers who are eligible to retire. At the O'Hare airport tower, for example, 24 of the 48 fully qualified controllers were eligible to retire. At the airport tower in Miami, 30 of the 80 fully qualified controllers were eligible to retire.

Under FAA rules, any controller who has worked directing air traffic for 25 years is eligible for retirement benefits. Any controller over age 50 who has worked a minimum of 20 years is also eligible for retirement benefits. The FAA has set 56 as the mandatory retirement age for controllers, but most controllers retire before that.

The FAA doesn't consider the retirement situation at specific facilities when estimating how many new controllers it needs to hire, but rather uses a national forecast of retirements, the report said.

"FAA does not have the data or an effective model in place to fully and accurately identify how many controllers FAA needs to maintain efficiency without compromising safety," Hampton wrote.


Taunton Municipal Airport (KTAN) improvements could include small eatery, locker room

Taunton Municipal Airport commissioners and managers meet with representatives from Fennick McCredie Architecture of Boston to review administration building plans.

TAUNTON — Plans continue to take shape for a new, one-story administration building at the municipal airport, possibly including a small eatery and a locker room with showers.

Janna Kauss, of Boston-based architectural firm Fennick McCredie, and a colleague met Friday morning with several airport commissioners and managers, including commission chairman Fred Terra and Dan Raposa.

Kauss, whose company’s building projects include aviation-related designs, said there are 13 smaller airports around the state. Taunton’s airport is being improved at least a year ahead of schedule.

Word came recently from administrators with the Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation’s aeronautics division that the state would pay 95.5 percent of the estimated $4.7 million to complete the Taunton airport project. It will be up to the municipal airport to pay for the remaining 4.5 percent, or about $237,000. The new building will be about 5,500 square feet.

Commissioners Jan Boboruzian, and vice chairman Bob Adams, said after the meeting that the upgrades could make the Taunton airport a destination and bring more commercial business into the East Taunton airfield.
“We have to get back to that,” Boboruzian, Terra and Adams agreed.

“It’s a good airport,” Adams said. “It’s safe and secure.”

The restaurant would be on the smaller and cozier side, similar to a well run mom-and-pop eatery with good food at reasonable prices. It would not be a large chain, Boboruzian explained.

A new administration building, built to meet ADA requirements, could lead to other business operations from the airport on Westcoat Drive, such as a flight school.

Raposa said earlier, after a meeting where city councilors, residents and local pilots expressed concerns about how the airport is run, that he is aware not all are happy with the airport’s operations.

In particular, this includes members and supporters of the Taunton Municipal Airport Pilots’ Association.

“It’s a small minority,” Boboruzian said Friday, after the meeting. “They’re not the majority that they claim.”

Story and photo gallery:

Aerial shot of the Taunton Municipal Airport.

Aerial shot of the Taunton Municipal Airport.

Aerial shot of the Taunton Municipal Airport.