Thursday, May 26, 2016

US carrier, United Airlines, stops flights to Nigeria

Kathryn's Report:

United States carrier, United Airlines, will stop flying to Nigeria next month, ending operations on its only African route because of weakness in the energy sector and difficulties in repatriating money from tickets sold in the country.

This came barely six weeks after Spain’s national carrier, Iberia Plc, stopped flights to Nigeria, citing dwindling passenger traffic as the reason.

United Airlines said in a note to employees on Wednesday that the daily route from Houston to Lagos had underachieved for years but was kept alive because of its importance to Texas-based customers.

The last flight will be on June 30, 2016, after which Delta Air Lines will be the only major US carrier flying to Africa.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange policy has restricted the movement of foreign currencies abroad after the global slump in oil prices depleted the country’s foreign reserves.

Highlighting the reason for the US carrier’s exit from Nigeria, United Airlines’ spokesman, Jonathan Guerin, told Bloomberg, “Repatriation has been a significant issue, as has been the downturn in the energy sector.”

In an emailed statement to our correspondent, the Head of Press, Europe, Africa, Middle East and India, United Airlines, Mr. Kevin Johnston, said, “United confirms that it will discontinue its service between Houston and Lagos. The last departure from Houston will be on June 29 and the last departure from Lagos will be on June 30.

“We have regretfully taken this decision because of the route’s poor financial performance. We will contact customers with bookings for flights beyond those dates to provide refunds. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Passengers can still fly to Nigeria on United’s trans-Atlantic business partner, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, through a connection in Frankfurt. The Boeing 787 serving Lagos will be used on the San Francisco to Tel Aviv route, which will expand to daily in October from three times weekly, according to the airline’s note to its employees on Wednesday.

The International Air Transport Association said that funds belonging to foreign airlines, which had been trapped in the country due to the Federal Government’s policy on foreign exchange, stood at $575m (N113.28bn) as of March this year.

The association, which represents over 260 airlines attending to 83 percent of the global air traffic, made the disclosure at the IATA African Aviation Day programme in Abuja on Monday.

Original article can be found here:

Not-so-secret spy plane makes flight over Fresno County, California

Kathryn's Report: 

A U-2 airplane, formerly the apex of American military spy planes, makes a low-level flyover above Clovis Avenue and Fresno Yosemite International Airport at about noon Thursday. Pilot and amateur photographer Dean Kasparian of Fresno snapped a photo of the aircraft as he was driving on McKinley Avenue near Clovis Avenue, at the southeast corner of the airport. 

A U-2 airplane – a version of the secret spy plane made not-so-secret when one was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 – made a low-level flyover at Fresno Yosemite International Airport at about noon on Thursday.

Amateur photographer and pilot Dean Kasparian of Fresno snapped a couple of photos of the sleek aircraft as it approached the intersection of McKinley and Clovis avenues near the airport. The Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno Yosemite International confirmed that the airplane is a military U-2, and is not associated with the Fresno unit. But the wing was unable to confirm where the plane is based.

No other information on the plane was available.

Story and photos:

Taunton Municipal Airport (KTAN) lease agreement undergoing legal review

Kathryn's Report:

TAUNTON — It’s arguably anyone’s guess as to why a new and previously agreed-upon 20-year lease for plane owners and businesses at the city’s municipal airport is being held up.

“I don’t think it makes sense,” a frustrated Charles Malo of Rehoboth said as he returned to his seat, after asking for a status update on the so-called ground lease.

Malo, who said he’s in his 51st year as an active pilot at the East Taunton airport, was among a small group of airplane owners at City Hall on Oak Street attending Wednesday night’s monthly Airport Commission public meeting.

Taunton Municipal Airport Manager Daniel Raposa said City Solicitor Jason D. Buffington has been reviewing the lease agreement.

“It’s a matter of language,” Raposa said.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said, adding that “it possibly will have to be re-submitted for signatures.”

Commission chair Fred Terra said he’s hopeful everyone who agreed to terms of the lease will have the document by the end of June.

Jerry Field of Middleboro, another owner who keeps a plane at the airport, said lack of a documented agreement — for anyone who no longer needs a hangar and is looking for someone else to assume a lease — could make it “tough to sell.”

Field noted that he and others signed the leases months ago: “Why is it so complicated?” he asked.

The ground lease, which is based on square footage, affects not only those who use airplane hangars but also businesses that operate at the airfield.

Field and Malo are among a group of 10 who belong to the Wood Hangar Association, a name derived from the older-style wooden hangars they use for their aircraft.

Commissioners also said they continue to move toward establishing self-fuel capability so that pilots have more flexibility in terms of flying hours.

Raposa said the commission is considering applying for a grant that would fund 80 percent of the project.

Pilot Doug Cooper said the time has come for Taunton to follow suit with other airports that already provide pilots with self-fueling capability.

“It would be as if there was only one gas station in the city open from eight (a.m.) to five (p.m.),” Cooper said.

The commission formally adopted a motion for extended summer hours of operation Thursday through Saturday. Instead of closing at 5 p.m. the airport this summer will be operate those nights until 8 p.m.

Original article can be found here:

US unions claim Norwegian Air International is using Irish registration to lower safety: Irish Aviation Authority rejects US pilots’ criticism of airline

Kathryn's Report:

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) says claims by US pilots’ unions that a Dublin-based airline’s work practices could compromise safety are “false and highly misleading”.

US unions such as the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (Swapa) claim Norwegian Air International is using its Irish registration as a flag of convenience to hire cheap labor, undermining both employment standards and safety.

However in a submission to Washington’s department of transportation, supporting Norwegian’s application for a permit to fly to the US, the IAA dismisses such claims as false and highly misleading.

No corroboration

The authority said that, with no corroboration and a flagrant disregard for the facts, the Swapa attacked Norwegian’s safety and Irish regulatory oversight. It also ignored a determination by the Federal Aviation Administration that Irish safety satisfies both US and international standards.

The airline is a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, which established it in the Republic to benefit from EU-US air transport treaties, as the company plans to offer low- cost transatlantic flights, beginning with services to Boston from Cork and Shannon.

However, opposition from unions and politicians delayed its application for a US foreign carrier’s permit by two years.

Original article can be found here: http://www.irishtimes.com4

Even A Small Airport Like Missoula (KMSO) Recommends Arriving Two Hours Early

Kathryn's Report:

Missoula Montana is not Chicago, or New York, or Los Angeles, but authorities still recommend that travelers arrive at the airport at least two hours before any flight.

Deputy Director at Missoula International Airport, Brian Ellistad said the process of airline check-in and getting through the TSA security screening stills takes time, even at a smaller airport like Missoula.

“Sure, holidays like Memorial Day are busy, but summers are the busiest at the Missoula airport,” Ellistad said. “Our summer holidays are much busier, but really, it’s business as usual every day, just a big uptick in travel.”

With a record number of travelers in 2015, over 350,000, Ellistad said he expects a double digit increase again for 2016.

“What you see in the media doesn’t really happen here in Missoula,” he said. “But the old days of ‘oh…the airplane is flying over the house, better get to the airport’ are long gone. You still have to get here two hours prior, mainly due to the airline check-in process. We really have many more flights than we have in the past. We have Delta, United, Alaska, Allegiant and Frontier recently restarted their seasonal flights to Denver on May 4th.”

Ellistad said the TSA screening process is the same in Missoula as it is everywhere else in the country.

“Liquids and gels still get pulled out, laptops get pulled out, shoes get taken off, unless you’re signed up for pre-check,” he said.

Unfortunately the opportunity to be pre-checked has come and gone for the summer, however, once you get it, the pre-check is good at any airport in the country.

“They’ll be back here in mid-September to do the pre-check process again,” he said. “If you’re pre-checked, it costs $85, you get to leave the laptop and all the gels and liquids in your bag. With the pre-check, they do a background check on you with fingerprints. It’s nice for the return trip if you’re coming through a larger airport, that’s where it really makes a difference.”

Ellistad said there will be more personnel visible to the public at the airport this summer to answer questions for travelers.

Story and video:

Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport (KSBY) ready for holiday weekend traffic

Kathryn's Report:

SALISBURY, Maryland -

A manager at the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport says they're prepared for the surge of holiday travelers this weekend.

Although airport management is not concerned with long lines right now, they say they may see more passenger traffic next summer and the years after.

We're told American Airlines, a parent company of Piedmont Airlines, has plans to retire some of their smaller planes and replace them with fifty-seat passenger jets.

Bob Bryant, manager at the airport, says they encourage travelers to arrive at the airport no earlier than one-hour before departure.

"Once you get on the aircraft in Salisbury and you fly to Charlotte and Philadelphia, you entered those airports on the secured sides and you don't have to go through security again," he says.

The airport is located at 5485 Airport Terminal Road in Salisbury.

Story and video:

Virginia Western Community College takes flight with new Star Flight Training aviation partnership

Kathryn's Report:

ROANOKE, Va. (WBDJ7) A new partnership between Virginia Western Community College and a Roanoke flight school aims to put students in a first class seat on the path to success.

Thursday the college hosted an open house at Start Flight Training at the Roanoke airport. The classes will be non-credit and offered through Virginia Western's Workforce Solutions program.

A ground school class is open for registration and will start this summer.

"What we're in the business to do is to try to serve the needs of business and industry, and the airline industry is one we want to try to support," Virginia Western Community College President Robert Sandel said.

"We can provide the technical training, they can provide the students, and together we will provide highly educated, highly trained students for the workforce," Star Flight Training General Manager Jon Beard said.

Star Flight Training said demand for airline pilots is its highest in 60 years and pay is very competitive.

Story and video:

Ready for takeoff: Steve Wright - Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (KBRD), Crow Wing County, Minnesota

Kathryn's Report: 

Steve Wright smiles as he talks about the positives of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport this week. Wright became the new director of the airport on May 2. 

The sun was shining Tuesday afternoon as Steve Wright examined a new Kodiak Quest airplane on the apron at Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

Wright took over as airport director on May 2 after serving as airport properties manager at General Mitchell International Airport near Milwaukee, Wis., for 10 years.

As he opened the doors of the aircraft and looked around inside, a smile was plastered on his face. Though well into a career in aviation management, he looked like a youngster bitten by the flying bug getting his first look in a cockpit.

His interest in aviation indeed started early, when his family flew to California out of the same airport in Milwaukee where he would work years later. He was fascinated by all the moving parts involved in making an airport run. It led him to writing school reports on flying and even creating a makeshift cockpit in his childhood closet.

"There's been guys who graciously took me up in their airplanes ... and got me hooked into flying," Wright said.

He took pilot training in high school and went on to St. Cloud State University for its aviation program. He went to college wanting to become a pilot. While he was there, he learned about airport management, which would allow him to spend his days at an airport and still keep a reasonable schedule.

"It's been a good niche career, to be in aviation, to be around airports," Wright said. "And still be able to go home every night."

The pilot to airport manager transition is a common one for many current airport managers, Wright said. They love aviation, but still love being involved in the community and want to remain close to home.

"It's a good mix, it's a good balance," Wright said.

Building Brainerd

The Brainerd airport features two new runways and a new terminal building, Wright said. It's safe and in wonderful shape. What intrigued him about Brainerd then was the possibility for economic development.

"What's it going to look like in 20-30 years, and what do we need to do?" Wright asked. "That process is going to be an exciting time."

Commercial aviation has changed since the days when Northwest Airlines was able to fly 30-seat aircraft out of Brainerd, Wright said, which allowed for multiple daily flights. Now, the airport needs to fill a larger aircraft from SkyWest Airlines, which means less flights per day. The airport currently receives a Small Community Air Service Development grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which helps it provide air service.

"The goal is to be able to not have to rely on those grants," Wright said. "The goal is to be able to fill your aircraft up."

Many airlines have decided to move away from using 50-seat airplanes, Wright said, a contrast from past practices. The mentality used to be "an airplane up in the sky makes money," he said. As the economy slowed down and fuel prices rose, smaller airplanes no longer made money, so airlines switched to larger airplanes and focused on larger hubs.

"It's worked well for the airlines, the airlines are breaking profits," Wright said. "It's actually healthy for the airlines to be breaking profits, but it's hurting these small communities like Brainerd."

Even though many airlines are moving toward less frequent regional flights on larger airplanes, some airlines are now looking at the old model of more frequent flights on smaller airplanes, Wright said. Part of his job will be researching these options, if the time comes when Brainerd can't fill a larger, 75-seat airplane.

"Thinking outside of the box, are there those possibilities?" Wright asked.

There's no U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in Brainerd, but Wright is exploring the possibility of adding it, in order to make Brainerd an attractive stop for Canadian flights.

"It's just one of those tools in the toolbox that makes an airport attractive," Wright said.

Wright is also looking into improving the airport's use of technology, specifically databases and metrics to track what's going on at the airport. When the airport begins looking at its long-term air service, it will need to have the data showing where its passengers are going.

"The more knowledge that we have, we can take that to the various airlines...that are available to us," Wright said. "The most support that we can show where they can fill their airplanes, the better service we will get."

The airport has a good relationship with its tenants, Wright said. North Point Aviation, the airport's fixed-base operator, is top-notch, he said. They've found a niche market in selling the Kodiak Quest, which when combined with fuel sales, helps the business support itself.

"It's a very healthy environment for an aviation business," Wright said. "That's a very good plus for Brainerd, is the diverse mix of activity here."

Brainerd is in a unique geographic position, Wright said. People can drive to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and fly from there, he said, but they have to contend with increasingly long Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint lines.

"You really can travel easy when you fly out of Brainerd," Wright said.

Wright was already familiar with the Brainerd airport when he started, so he wasn't surprised by anything. He commended the city of Brainerd, Crow Wing County and the Airport Commission for "a job well done on developing a good, solid airport with very safe runways."

Directing the action

Wright, like all accredited airport executives, is trained across all the things involved in making an airport run. This includes procedures, operations, maintenance, safety, administration, finance and compliance.

An airport director wears multiple hats, Wright said. He has to ensure the safety and efficiency of the airport, as well as work the community to develop the airport. Sometimes his job is simply making sure the runways are plowed and free of snow during the winter.

"In the end, we want to be singing off the same page," Wright said.

A big part of an airport director's job is working with the Federal Aviation Administration. Wright said his past experience working with the federal aviation authority has been positive.

"You really don't appreciate bureaucracy until you're in bureaucracy," Wright said with a chuckle.

When it comes to running an airport, there are different layers of bureaucracy, Wright said. There are the local layers, with city and county governments. There are state layers, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Office of Aeronautics and Aviation. Finally, there are the federal layers, which include the FAA. Because aviation frequently crosses state and national boundaries, it makes sense to have a healthy level of oversight, he said.

"When you see it from that big-picture perspective, it makes a lot of sense, of why they need all the information that they need," Wright said. "You want the freedom to do what you want to do, however, when you do have those safeguards in place, it does make for a very solid system."

Past project

Before his time in Milwaukee, Wright served as airport manager at Willmar Municipal Airport for five years. It was during a time of big change for the airport, which was at the tail end of a relocation project spanning two decades. The city needed to relocate its airport in order to install a precision instrument approach into the runway, which wouldn't fit at the old airport site.

"(It's) a necessity if you're wanting to attract corporations or airline service into your community," Wright said. "They really need to be able to operate into your airport when the weather's bad."

Wright came in during the construction portion of the project, after about 20 years of planning had occurred. He presided over the project, which took the better part of 5 years and required multiple federal and state grants.

In Willmar, Wright learned it takes a community to run an airport. Brainerd has a diverse mix of people using the airport, from recreational pilots to commercial airlines to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources air tanker base.

"That takes a diverse mix of people caring about this airport and promoting the use of this airport," Wright said. "It does take a community, it does take partnerships."

His time in Milwaukee was on the administrative side and dealt heavily in the revenue coming into the airport and the tenants who were partnering with the airport.

"The experience here in Brainerd I can see is a mixture of the two," Wright said.

It's only been a few weeks, but Brainerd is everything Wright and his family wanted, he said. His wife and five sons were able to move with him when he started. His sons range in age from 11 months old to 11 years old, so it's been great for them to "wear off energy" outside, he said with a laugh.

"We're happy to be in the northwoods again," Wright said. "It's God's gift to this planet."

Original article can be found here:

Wine air: Allegiant Airlines announces Phoenix-Sonoma, California flights

Kathryn's Report:

PHOENIX — California’s wine country just got a whole lot closer to the Arizona desert.

Allegiant Airlines announced service Thursday between Sonoma, California and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

“Allegiant is looking forward to giving Northern California travelers additional options to visit Phoenix,” Jude Bricker, Allegiant chief operating officer, said a in press release. “The service announcement was well received by Sonoma-area travelers and we are excited for this flight to take off.”

The airline will operate flights two times per week. Tickets are available on Allegiant’s website.

“Sonoma County is a traveler’s dream, with its beautiful resorts and spas and, of course, the breathtaking Highway 1,” Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams, who is chair of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, said in the same release.

As a celebration of the new route, the airline said it will offer special one-way fares as low as $49. The tickets must be purchased by June 2 for flights no later than Aug. 28.

Original article can be found here:

Bristow Sees Drop in Energy-Related Work, Might Cancel Some Helicopter Orders: CEO Jonathan Baliff says uncertainty forces company to withhold full-year profit guidance

Kathryn's Report:

The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
Updated May 26, 2016 2:39 p.m. ET

The world’s largest operator of helicopters expects energy-related work to decline further and on Thursday said for the first time that it may cancel some orders for new aircraft.

Bristow Group Inc. ’s Chief Executive Jonathan Baliff said continuing uncertainty had forced it to shelve plans to provide full-year profit guidance, as oil and gas companies cut back on exploration and production, reducing demand for helicopter flights.

Even with benchmark oil prices moving above $50 for the first time this year, Bristow shares recently have fallen 27% in price on Thursday and have declined almost 80% over the past year.

Helicopter operators’ business is a leading indicator of activity in the energy industry, and Houston-based Bristow is one of two companies serving the global market ferrying workers to and from offshore energy platforms. The other, CHC Group Ltd , filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

Bristow derives three quarters of its revenue from the energy industry, and its revenue from that sector fell 29% in the fiscal fourth quarter to Mar. 31. The company swung to a loss of $33.4 million in the fourth quarter from a profit of $15.8 million a year earlier.

Mr. Baliff said Bristow was “kind of seeing the bottom” in the latest quarter, with a pickup in activity in the North Sea and Asia, though it also saw additional softness in the Gulf of Mexico. The pace of decline in the company’s revenue from the energy industry in fiscal 2016 was expected to slow in the current financial year.

Bristow and rivals have been cutting costs, shedding staff and parking helicopters in response to the energy market’s downturn, as well as diversifying into areas such as search and rescue services.

The company operates a fleet of 296 helicopters made by units of Airbus Group SE, Leonardo SpA, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Textron Inc. ; It has another 28 of the aircraft on order, as well as options to acquire 14 more.

Bristow plans to return some helicopters to lessors when leases expire and has been in talks with manufacturers to defer some deliveries, but Mr. Baliff said during a post-earnings’ call with analysts that cancellations were a possibility.

With overcapacity in the helicopter services industry running by some estimates at around 20%, some pressure has been released by the grounding of the Airbus EC225 model helicopter in some countries, following the fatal crash of a CHC-operated aircraft in Norway last month.

Bristow said it had grounded 20 EC225s in the U.K., Norway and Australia and said Brazilian energy company PetrĂ³leo Brasileiro SA had also parked seven flown by another operator.

Mr. Baliff said Bristow was flying other helicopter models for longer and taken some out of storage to make up the shortfall.

Original article can be found here:

Intruders breach U.S. airport fences about every 10 days

Kathryn's Report:

Under pressure to prevent people from sneaking onto runways and planes at major U.S. airports, authorities are cracking down — not on the intruders who slip through perimeter gates or jump over fences, but on the release of information about the breaches.

A year after an Associated Press investigation first revealed persistent problems with airports’ outer defenses, breaches remain as frequent as ever — occurring about once every 10 days — despite some investments to fortify the nation’s airfields. As Americans focus on the wait in ever-longer security screening lines inside terminals, new documents show dozens more incidents are happening outside perimeters than airports have disclosed.

At the same time, leaders at some airports and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration are saying some of the 345 incidents AP found shouldn’t count as security breaches, even when intruders got deep into secure areas.

Was it a perimeter security breach in March 2015 when a woman walked past a vehicle exit gate at San Francisco International Airport and onto the tarmac, where she tried to flag down a jet for a trip home to Guatemala? No it was not, said the airport and TSA officials, who also tried to suppress information about the case. Nor did they label it a breach when a man, following voices only he could hear, drove through a San Francisco security gate and asked a worker fueling a plane when the next flight was.

After discussing intrusions openly at first, officials at several airports and the TSA started withholding details, arguing the release could expose vulnerabilities. Following a two-year legal struggle with the TSA, AP has now used newly released information to create the most comprehensive public tally of breaches.

The count shows that an intruder broke through the security surrounding one of 31 major U.S. airports on average every 13 days from the beginning of 2004 through mid-February; since 2012, the average has been every 9.5 days. Many intruders scaled barbed wire-topped fences or walked past vehicle checkpoints. Others crashed cars into chain link and concrete barriers. AP’s tally is of breaches at airports that handle three-quarters of U.S. passengers; it’s an undercount because several airports refused to provide complete information.

While several intruders had guns or knives, the TSA and airports have been more focused on stopping weapons that passengers or baggage handlers try to sneak onto planes.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people sometimes try to jump over fences to see what they can get away with,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said in a brief interview. It’s impossible for airports and local law enforcement to keep everyone out, he said, so “the question is: What’s your ability to detect it and … what might you do to mitigate that happening in the future?”

The AP began its investigation in 2014 after a 15-year-old climbed a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport and scrambled into a jet’s wheel well. No one knew it happened until he emerged after the plane landed in Hawaii.

Last spring, AP reported there had been at least 268 breaches from the start of 2004 through early 2015 at San Jose and the nation’s 30 busiest passenger airports. This update identified 77 more breaches through mid-February, including 41 incidents that airports told TSA about, but not AP.

Airport officials stress that the miles of fences, gates and guardhouses protecting their properties are secure and say many intruders who get through are quickly caught. They point out that no case involved a known terrorist plot.

Perimeters are not “a gaping vulnerability,” said Christopher Bidwell, vice president of security at the advocacy group Airports Council International-North America. And the problem is not even as bad as airport and TSA records suggest, he said, because some intruders were detected immediately.

“Their ability to do anything nefarious isn’t really there,” Bidwell said. “It’s being neutralized because they are actively being surveilled.”

But video cameras and guards don’t always spot intruders.

After eluding security and reaching parked planes at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, one intruder warned an airport worker in December that he “better not say” anything. Authorities never found the man, though they did arrest three others at different times in 2015, including one man who managed to drive his vehicle in with a convoy entering the airfield during a visit by Pope Francis.

The four intrusions were the most at JFK in any year.

Aviation security consultant Jeff Price said the TSA and airports have not done enough to address gaps in perimeter security.

“The straight-up honest answer as to why it’s not being vigorously addressed? Nothing bad’s happened. Yet,” Price said.

Altogether, there were at least 39 breaches nationwide in 2015, which also was the annual average from 2012 through 2015. The low was 34 in 2013 and the high 42 in 2012, when incidents spiked after several years hovering around 20 breaches.

Through mid-February, the large airports with the most known incidents were in San Francisco (41), Las Vegas (30), Philadelphia (30) and Los Angeles (26). New York’s JFK ranked 10th, with 12 breaches.

Police reports suggest many of the trespassers were disoriented, intoxicated or delusional. Some came on skateboards and bikes, while others commandeered vehicles on the tarmac. One man got into a helicopter cockpit and was preparing to take off.

Some were caught immediately, others not for hours. Five intruders brought knives and one had a loaded gun.

In one incident, Philadelphia airport officials said last year that an intoxicated woman waited for someone to drive out of a gate in April 2012, then walked through. This year, new records described a far more dangerous situation: The woman had just stabbed the driver of a tractor-trailer hauling $1 million of Jack Daniels whiskey in an attempt to steal it. When an airport police officer confronted her, she grabbed his gun and pointed it at his head before he wrestled it out of her hands and arrested her.

One month earlier, also in Philadelphia, a man rammed his SUV through a gate and sped down a runway at about 100 mph as a plane carrying 43 people was about to land.

AP won an appeal to learn about airport breaches in Philadelphia through the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, but the city appealed that decision in state court before settling the case and providing details about incidents from 2004 through early 2015. This year, the airport first refused when AP sought an update, then would provide only the total number of breaches in 2015 and early 2016, with no other details.

Not everyone has withheld information. Airports including Miami, Las Vegas, San Jose and Portland, Oregon, have been relatively transparent, sending details of breaches and even in some cases surveillance videos.

Instead of prioritizing perimeter security, airports have focused on other vulnerabilities, partly due to scrutiny from Congress.

TSA workers are under pressure to do better after they failed to catch government investigators sneaking fake explosives and prohibited weapons through scanners. Another concern is the “insider threat,” prompted by arrests of workers in several airports whom authorities say used their security clearances to traffic guns or drugs.

Airport officials would not discuss how much they are spending on fortifying perimeters, but some airports that added security in the past year saw fewer intruders.

After Las Vegas finished putting razor wire atop its 15 miles of fencing not far from the Strip in early 2015, breaches dropped from eight in 2014 to one in 2015 and one so far this year. Officials in Miami and Phoenix said they increased patrols along each of their 13 miles of fence. Breaches in Miami fell from four to three between 2014 and 2015, though in Phoenix they rose from two to three.

Since AP published its initial findings, a half-dozen airports and the TSA have started to withhold all video surveillance footage and other details they previously released — and deny that some incidents were “security breaches” at all.

TSA did not respond to detailed questions about its changing standards. In a statement, spokesman Richard Ades wrote, “The serious nature of the current daily threat to global aviation, by an enemy that is determined to attack us, demands that we be judicious in releasing information.”

Incidents the TSA did not classify as breaches include a man jumping an airport fence in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and climbing onto a jet, and a man caught running near planes in Atlanta after hopping a security gate.

Last year, San Francisco had the most perimeter security incidents that TSA insisted were not breaches — including the woman on the tarmac and the man who drove through a gate.

San Francisco airport officials said they felt unfairly singled out as the airport with the most breaches. Spokesman Doug Yakel said he suspected other airports were not as forthcoming, making his look worse than it should.

This time, San Francisco asked TSA whether five 2015 incidents were security breaches and the agency excluded them all. AP uncovered details of three, all of which qualified as breaches under the tally’s methodology.

AP considered an incident a perimeter security breach if someone reached a secure area by going over or under a fence, slipping through a gate, crashing a car into a fence or gate, cutting or passing items through a fence, or using fraudulent security credentials. Three dozen incidents that airports or the TSA provided did not meet the criteria, so they were not included.

Since last spring, the San Francisco airport has increased patrols, added lighting and closed-circuit cameras, and fortified two checkpoints with electric gates that slide open and closed, Yakel noted. Before, the gates had just an arm, which intruders simply walked past.

Original article can be found here:

Boeing enhances air safety with upgraded display for pilots

Kathryn's Report:

SEATTLE -  A heads-up display, or HUD, is a piece of glass that can be flipped down in front of a pilot's eyes, but behind an airplane's windshield or wind-screen. 

On it, are all of the instruments that normally a pilot would have to look down to see.  The HUD displays data such as airspeed, compass direction, altitude and a lot more. These days, HUDs are even making it into cars, allowing a driver to see speed without having to divert his or her eyes from the road.

Now Boeing is upgrading its HUD displays with new software that can allow a pilot to fly in extremely low visibility.  On landing, the pilot will see a display showing an extended line of lights leading him or her to the runway.

Read more here:

This New Tech Makes A Prop Plane Feel Like You’re Piloting A Private Jet

Kathryn's Report:

Every experienced pilot will agree that flying a small turboprop plane can be a handful, literally. “There’s a bit more stress involved in operating a turboprop, which can make it tough to calmly enjoy the views on takeoff,” says pilot Brad Mottier. “If I were to fly a turboprop today, like the ubiquitous King Airs, I’d have to worry about a whole bunch of factors, like temperature, speed and torque, that I’d be managing with multiple operational levers. It’s a lot of work compared to jet-powered private jets, which use single throttle.”

But Mottier has a solution. A team of engineers working at GE Aviation’s Business and General Aviation and Integrated Systems, the unit Mottier runs, developed and recently tested in flight for the first time a control system that allows pilots to fly everything from crop dusters to turboprop-powered private planes with the ease of a private jet.

Mottier says the system, which GE calls electronic engine propeller control (EEPC), is the first in the world to combine engine and propeller operations into a single system. It stops pilots from worrying about multiple levers and gives them more time to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. “From a pure cockpit operability standpoint, pilots will now be able to push for takeoff and not worry about temperatures, speeds or torque,” he says. “They just fly the plane, knowing they are getting maximum performance from the engine.”

Read more here:

Grumman G-164A, N963X: Accident occurred July 31, 2015 in Emmett, Pottawatomie County, Kansas

Kathryn's Report:

IUKA, Miss. (WTVA) -- A loss of engine power led to the crash landing of a plane in Tishomingo County last July.

A report released by the FBI says the plane, piloted by Aubie Pearman of Tupelo, had just taken off from the Iuka Airport enroute to Mesquite, Texas.

At an altitude of around 600 to 800 feet, Pearman reported noticing a drop on one of the gauges and the engine began to run rough.

He turned the aircraft in an attempt to return to the airport, but the engine lost power and he was forced to make a hard landing on a road near the airport.

The plane suffered damage to the wings, stabilizer, firewall, landing gear and propeller.

Pearman and a passenger on the plane suffered minor injuries.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation showed a brass bushing attached to a fuel pump failed because of overload stress.

Original article can be found here:

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA330
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Friday, July 31, 2015 in Emmett, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/16/2016
Aircraft: GRUMMAN G-164A, registration: Emmett is a city in Pottawatomie County, Kansas
Injuries: 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 commercial pilot was conducting an agricultural application flight. The pilot reported that, while making a spray run, he heard a loud “bang” and saw a puff of smoke emanate from the upper right side of the engine, followed by the propeller seizing. He made a forced landing in a field, and the airplane collided with some bushes and then nosed over. 

Examination of the engine revealed several loose cylinder stud nuts and hold-down bolts that appeared to have been pushed up on the cylinder skirt. Several of the studs, particularly the No. 4 cylinder stud, were stretched and looked to be nearly pushed out of the engine crankcase. One cylinder was almost separated from the crankcase. 

Examination of the airplane’s maintenance logbooks revealed that the engine had received a major overhaul more than 8 years before the accident. The records indicated that, since that time, inspections of the cylinder heads and the cylinder hold-down studs had been conducted in compliance with two Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness directives. The engine was last inspected about 3 months before the accident. During this inspection, maintenance personnel checked the cylinder bases and heads for cracks and loose studs; however, they did not detect that the cylinder nuts and hold-down bolts were not properly secured. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The engine failure due to several loose, damaged cylinder stud nuts and hold-down bolts. Contributing to the accident was maintenance personnel’s failure to detect that the cylinder nuts and hold-down bolts were not properly secured during the engine’s most recent inspection.

On June 31, 2015, about 1130 central daylight time, a Grumman G-164A, N963X, impacted terrain after the engine lost power near Emmett, Kansas. The pilot, the sole occupant on board, received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Precision Aerial Ag LLC of Seneca, Kansas, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from Wamego, Kansas approximately 1100.

According to the pilot's accident report, he was making a spray run when he heard a loud "bang," saw a puff of smoke emit from the upper right-hand side of the engine, and then the propeller seized. He made a forced landing in a brome field, collided with some bushes, and nosed over. Examination of the engine on-site by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed several loose cylinder stud nuts and hold-down bolts that appeared to have been pushed up on the cylinder skirt. Several of the studs – number 4 cylinder in particular -- were stretched and looked to be nearly pushed out of the engine crankcase. One cylinder was about to separate from crankcase.

Examination of the engine maintenance logbook revealed the engine had received a major overhaul on February 13, 2007. On March 10, 2010, Airworthiness Directive (A.D.) 99-11-02 was complied with by inspecting the cylinder heads. On March 2, 2011, February 22, 2012, May 30, 2013, and May 13, 2014, A.D. 56-06-02 was complied with by inspecting the cylinder hold-down studs. On July 15, 2014, the engine and propeller were removed due to a blower bearing failure. On August 10, 2014, after the engine and propeller were reinstalled, and again on March 18, 2015, the cylinder bases and heads were checked for cracks and loose studs. At the time of the last inspection, the tachometer read 6,730 hours, and the engine had accrued 506.68 hours since major overhaul.

The accident site was located at 14624 A4 Road, Emmett, Kansas.

Rolladen-Schneider LS3-A, N63761: Accident occurred May 25, 2016 in Blairstown, Warren County, New Jersey 

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA261
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 25, 2016 in Blairstown, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2016
Aircraft: ROLLADEN-SCHNEIDER OHG LS3, registration: N63761
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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

According to the pilot, prior to a cross-country glider flight, his preflight weather assessment led him to believe that he would find thermal lift near the ridge enabling him to climb. He reported that when he arrived at the ridge he did not find any thermal lift activity and his circumstance seemed "urgent and imperative" to find an off airport landing area. He recalled that very high trees outlined the 300 meter field where he elected to land. He reported that he made two descending, spiraling patterns over his selected landing site. He recalled that he made a final turn into the field, however the glider's outboard left wing struck several trees and spun the glider counter-clockwise and it impacted the ground. The glider sustained substantial damage to the empennage and the left wing and canopy.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical failures or anomalies with any portion of the glider during the flight that would have prevented normal flight operations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees on final.

A plane helps lead authorities in Warren County on May 25, 2016, to a glider crash in Hardwick Township. The injured pilot was rushed to treatment via Atlantic Air Medical.

Authorities in Warren County respond May 25, 2016, to a glider crash in Hardwick Township, and rush the injured pilot to treatment via Atlantic Air Medical.

A glider pilot was airlifted for treatment after suffering a broken back in a crash Wednesday afternoon in Warren County, according to New Jersey State Police.

It occurred about 1:30 p.m. in woods along a field off Shannon Road in Hardwick Township, in the area of Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco.

The pilot, 47-year-old New York City resident Pierre Grellet-Aumont, was attempting an emergency landing when the wing of the unpowered aircraft clipped a tree and went down, police Sgt. First Class Gregory Williams said.

Another pilot witnessed the crash and observed the wreckage on the ground. State police sent a helicopter to help direct rescuers to the crash, but canceled the craft after a tow plane from a nearby glider port in Blairstown Township got responders to the injured pilot.

Grellet-Aumont was taken by North Warren EMS to an Atlantic Air Medical helicopter for transport to Morristown Medical Center, according to Williams.

The Federal Aviation Administration was contacted, and the National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator to the scene to begin a probe into the incident, Williams said.

National Park Service Police, New Jersey State Park Police and the Blairstown Hose Co. also assisted at the scene.

Williams said the glider was a 1979 Rolladen-Schneider OHG LS3-A.

Wednesday's crash follows a small-plane crash last week in Sussex County, also in northern New Jersey, after which the pilot was pronounced dead.

Original article can be found here:

Beech V35, Metro Flyers Ltd, N149G: Incident occurred May25, 2016 in Denton, Texas

Kathryn's Report:

Date: 25-MAY-16
Time: 20:08:00Z
Regis#: N149G
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 35
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fort Worth AFW FSDO-19
State: Texas



Beech V35, N149G:  Accident occurred  September 08, 2012 in Decatur, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN12CA618
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 08, 2012 in Decatur, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/22/2013
Aircraft: BEECH V35, registration: N149G
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

After landing at the destination airport, the pilot attempted to retract the flaps, but accidently raised the landing gear instead. As the airplane began to settle, the pilot attempted to extend the gear, but was unable to do so before the airplane collapsed onto the runway and slid along its belly. An examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the left wing. The pilot reported that he had less than 1 hour in the accident airplane make and model. He further stated that he used a technique he had developed to land a different airplane, where the flap and landing gear levers were in opposite locations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inattention during the landing roll, which resulted in retraction of the landing gear instead of the flaps.

After landing at the destination airport, the pilot attempted to retract the flaps, but accidently raised the landing gear. As the airplane began to settle, the pilot attempted to extend the gear, but an unable to do so before the airplane collapsed onto the runway and slid along its belly. An examination of the airplane revealed that that the airplane had substantial damage was sustained to the left wing. The pilot reported less than an hour in type, and utilized a technique he had developed to land a different airplane, where the locations of the flap and gear levers were in opposite locations.

Cessna 152, RTWP Aviation LLC, N184AK: Incident occurred May 21, 2016 in Olive Branch, DeSoto County, Mississippi

Kathryn's Report:

Date: 21-MAY-16
Time: 14:13:00Z
Regis#: N184AK
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 152
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: None
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Jackson FSDO-31
State: Mississippi