Saturday, May 28, 2016

Luscombe 8A N72087: Accident occurred May 28, 2016 at Midland International Air and Space Port (KMAF), Midland County, Texas

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lubbock FSDO-13

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA269
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Midland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2016
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8, registration: N72087
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The pilot of a tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that during the landing roll, a gust of wind lifted the right wing "straight up into the air." The pilot further reported that she attempted to regain control, but the airplane continued to the left and impacted terrain next to the runway in a side load configuration, which resulted in a main landing gear collapse. The fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged.

The airport's automated weather observing system, about the time of the accident, reported the wind at 180 degrees true at 10 knots, gusting to 21 knots, for the landing on runway 28.

The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll in gusty crosswind conditions, which resulted in a ground-loop, main landing gear collapse and collision with terrain.

A single-engine airplane crashed Saturday at Midland International Air & Space Port, according to a report from the Department of Public Safety.

The DPS reported that one woman was injured with “non-incapacitating injuries” after a single-engine Luscombe rolled over after landing at Midland International. 

According to the DPS, Patricia Ann Reakes-Collins, 53, of Midland was the pilot of the Luscombe that was traveling north when it landed on runway 28 at about 12:15 p.m. 

A high wind gust lifted the airplane back into the air and forced it to fly on its left side. 

The airplane, according to DPS, crashed on its propeller and then rolled over partially onto the runway. 

The airplane came to rest upright, facing southwest.

The National Weather Service, in its 11:53 p.m. report, shows winds out of the southwest at 5 mph. However in its 12:53 p.m. report, the NWS said winds were out of the south at 12 mph, gusting to 24 mph.

Original article can be found here:

Privatizing the air traffic control system: Bag the union sweeteners

Kathryn's Report:

Legislation to remove the nation's air traffic control from the federal government is the right prescription for an antiquated system. But that doesn't require union sweeteners to make the medicine go down.

The Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act separates the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration, creating a federally chartered nonprofit corporation. In other countries such as Canada, these entities have effectively embraced changes in technologies that enhance safety.

But those advantages shouldn't be diluted by buying union appeasement, which sets a bad precedent, says James Sherk, The Heritage Foundation's labor policy expert.

Among concerns is a provision that allows for binding arbitration. Under existing law, the FAA can impose a contract if union negotiations reach an impasse, which the Bush administration did in 2006. But binding arbitration too often directly benefits government unions at a steep cost to the public.

Additionally, the new nonprofit agency would be released from the federal salary cap ($185,100). And a “quasi-private corporation would mean the president no longer could intervene to end a strike by firing the strikers,” Mr. Sherk points out.

These issues should be fixed by Congress in finalizing the legislation. And considering that the median air traffic controller earns $123,000 annually, there's no reason to artificially sweeten the union's pot.

Original article can be found here:

Alamosa's Commercial Airline Service Is On The Chopping Block: San Luis Valley Regional Airport (KALS)

Kathryn's Report:

Southern Colorado's remote San Luis Valley could soon lose commercial airline service.

The Federal Aviation Administration sent the San Luis Valley Regional Airport, just outside of Alamosa, a letter last week indicating their intent to terminate Essential Air Service for the area.

The EAS program was started after the federal government deregulated the airline industry in the late 1970s. It subsidizes flights to smaller markets that airlines would otherwise not serve.

But the FAA says too few passengers are using the service to warrant continuing Alamosa's subsidy.

The FAA's letter shows Great Lakes received a subsidy of $1.6 million in the 12 months ending last September to provide service to Alamosa. The FAA says 6,119 passengers used the service in that time period, equating to a subsidy of $268 per passenger. 

The FAA has a $200 "subsidy cap" for communities located fewer than 210 miles to the nearest hub airport of at least medium size -- Albuquerque is 198 miles away. 

Airport manager Francis Song said the airport is working on a letter of objection in an effort to keep its subsidy. Without that, he said, it would be "extremely difficult" to keep service.

"It's extremely important," he said. "We don't have a lot of methods of public ... transportation in or out of the valley."

Song said Great Lakes Airlines offers four flights on weekdays, two on Saturdays and three on Sundays from Alamosa to Denver. There are occasional flights to Farmington, N.M. as well.

But because of the number of passengers has slipped and a new FAA pilot certification rule, Song said Great Lakes often cancels flights and has reduced the size of its aircraft to just a nine-passenger plane. 

Still, he said, the service is vital to the impoverished area.

"If it gets cut, it's going to be a severe detriment to our valley's capabilities to attract and maintain businesses in the area," Song said.

Pueblo also is part of the EAS program and also exceeded the $200 subsidy cap. But they received a reprieve because of a lapse in service last year.

Original article can be found here:

Robinson R44, N921ES: Accident occurred May 28, 2016 at Kestrel Airpark (1T7), Spring Branch, Comal County, Texas

Flying Helicopters Inc:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA San Antonio FSDO-17

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA283
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Spring Branch, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/22/2016
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N921ES
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, he was hover taxiing the helicopter in a confined area, after refueling. He reported there was a large tree to the southwest of his position and a light pole to northeast of his position. He recalled that he began to taxi to the northwest; away from the light pole, but "a significant left quartering wind" about 9 knots gave him "a hard time controlling the tail". He reported that he did not feel that he could turn the nose into the wind in the confined area and decided to climb vertically to avoid obstacles. He reported that he ascended, encountered a wind gust, and the tailboom yawed to the right and struck the light pole. The helicopter descended, impacted the ground, and came to rest on its left side. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, the main and tail rotor systems.

The pilot reported that there were not any mechanical anomalies or malfunctions with any portion of the helicopter that would have prevented normal flight operations.

The nearest weather reporting station was two miles north-northwest. The meteorological aerodrome report about the time of the accident reported the wind was out of 160 degrees true at 11 knots. 

FAA-8083-21A, Chap. 11-20 para. 2 states:

Weathercock Stability (120–240°)

In this region, the helicopter attempts to weathervane, or weathercock, its nose into the relative wind. Unless a resisting pedal input is made, the helicopter starts a slow, uncommanded turn either to the right or left, depending upon the wind direction. If the pilot allows a right yaw rate to develop and the tail of the helicopter moves into this region, the yaw rate can accelerate rapidly. In order to avoid the onset of LTE in this downwind condition, it is imperative to maintain positive control of the yaw rate and devote full attention to flying the helicopter.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain helicopter control while hovering in gusting tailwind conditions, resulting in the tailboom striking a light pole and impact with terrain.

BULVERDE, Texas - The Comal County Sheriff’s Office has reported that a helicopter crashed at Kestrel Airpark, just north of Bulverde.

The crash happened just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The pilot, 69, was trying to land and refuel the aircraft when a tailwind pushed the tail into a light post.   

The man was taken to Stone Oak Methodist Hospital with minor injuries.

The Department of Public Safety is investigating the crash and the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.

Original article can be found here:

Rutan VariEze, N80681: Fatal accident occurred May 28, 2016 in Santa Paula, Ventura County, California

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report: 


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Van Nuys FSDO-01

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA118
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Santa Paula, CA
Aircraft: MOORE JOSEPH O VARIEZE, registration: N80681
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 28, 2016, about 1515 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur built Moore VariEze airplane, N80681, reported a total loss of engine power and impacted power lines before coming to rest in a lemon orchard in Santa Paula, California. The owner/airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed in the postcrash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight that departed the Santa Paula Airport (SZP), Santa Paula, California, about 1500. 

Two ground witnesses reported observing the airplane flying overhead, and heard the engine sputtering. The airplane was descending, and dropped out of their view as it passed behind a hill. The airplane came back into view in a steep left turn, which both witnesses estimated to be at least 45 degrees. The airplane struck power lines, and then then impacted the ground. Both witnesses reported hearing an explosion, and then seeing fire erupt from the accident site.

An ear witness to the accident reported that after the airplane took off, the pilot radioed him that his engine had quit. There were no further communications between the pilot and the ear witness.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site. Examination of the wreckage site revealed that the airplane had struck power lines about 162 feet from the final resting point of the airplane. The debris path was along a magnetic heading of 325 degrees. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of 140 degrees. The entire airplane was located at the accident site.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Two people who were killed in an airplane crash between Santa Paula and Ventura on Saturday have been identified as Edgar Friederichs, 61, and Matthew Boutell, 21.

The Ventura County Medical Examiner said Friederichs lived in Castaic while Boutell was from Thousand Oaks.

Friederichs was piloting a single-engine VariEze aircraft when it crashed in an orchard near the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road north of Foothill Road on Saturday afternoon.

The National Safety Transportation Board is leading an investigation into what caused the home-built aircraft to crash.

The coroner's office said the cause of death was undetermined as of Wednesday afternoon. Officials could not say when they would have a cause of death.

The airplane had taken off from Santa Paula Airport before the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Bob Hirsch, 62, a pilot who has a hangar next to the one Friederichs used at Santa Paula Airport, said the two had known each other since meeting at a picnic when they were boys.

"I was 6 years old at the time and our fathers worked for the same aerospace company," said Hirsch, as he fought back tears during at interview at his hangar on Tuesday.

Hirsch said Friederichs "was very meticulous and took extremely good care of his airplanes."

"He was probably as well rounded in aviation as anyone could be," Hirsch said.

Hirsch stayed in touch with Friederichs throughout the years.

"We lived parallel lives in many ways," Hirsch said, as he recalled working at Santa Monica Airport as a young man fueling aircraft, a job Friederichs also held there.

Friederichs went on to become a licensed aircraft mechanic and later an aeronautics engineer, Hirsch said.

Among the many projects Friederichs worked on, was the development of the MD-80 for McDonnell Douglas, a passenger jet that Hirsch flew when he worked as a commercial pilot. Hirsch is retired from American Airlines.

Hirsch eventually bought a hangar at Santa Paula Airport and later rented it to Friederichs. Friederichs ended up buying the hangar from Hirsch, he said, while Hirsch bought an adjacent hangar.

"Edgar didn't have to prove anything when it came to aircraft," Hirsch said. "He just knew it."

He said Friederichs quickly developed a reputation at Santa Paula Airport "for his deep knowledge of aircraft and flying."

Friederichs was flying a VariEze at the time of the crash, a homemade aircraft that takes some skill to pilot, Hirsch said.

Witnesses told investigators that the aircraft was in distress before going down, Kevin Donoghue, a sergeant with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, said Saturday. They also said the aircraft's engine started cutting out and the plane got tangled in power lines before crashing.

"He was looking for a place to land," Hirsch said. "Unfortunately, he didn't make it."

A preliminary report on the crash should be ready within the coming week to two weeks, Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the NTSB in Washington, D.C.

The report will be available online. A more comprehensive investigation also is being conducted. Such investigations take an average of 12 months to complete, Knudson said.

Those first to the crash site on Saturday afternoon said they saw flames and heavy smoke coming from the orchard where the plane went down.

Two people died Saturday afternoon after a small airplane crashed about halfway between Ventura and Santa Paula, officials said.

The Ventura County Fire Department said it responded just after 3:15 p.m. to the report of the downed aircraft near the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road, north of Foothill Road. Upon arriving, crews reported flames and heavy smoke rising from the orchard where the plane crashed.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said preliminary information indicated the single-engine, home-built VariEze aircraft crashed with two people aboard and then caught fire.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said there were reports before the plane crashed that it was in distress. He said that as the engine started cutting out, the plane apparently got tangled in power lines and ultimately crashed.

Information about the two dead people was not available.

Dennis Rosenberg, a game warden with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, is a pilot and was listening to the aircraft frequencies on a portable radio when he heard about the crash as he was driving in the area.

“I heard all the pilots were out this way trying to find it,” Rosenberg said. He continued to listen to the radio traffic, thinking, “If I can find it, maybe I can get out there and help out,” Rosenberg said.

The warden called sheriff’s dispatchers for an accurate location and was able to get to the scene in a black pickup with his agency’s emblem on the side.

But Rosenberg said he didn’t do much of anything because fire crews were already on the scene.

A few hours after the crash, yellow police tape cordoned off part of the lemon orchard that held larger debris. Sheriff’s officials were securing the debris field, estimated at about 100 yards, until officials with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board arrived to investigate the crash.

As law enforcement officers waited for federal officials and staff from the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office, they were blocking Aliso Canyon Road at Foothill Road, limiting traffic to those who lived in the area or had business there.

Among the vehicles being allowed in were electrical utility repair trucks.


The VariEze is a “canard”-style home-built aircraft. The design later evolved into the Long-EZ, the type of aircraft that crashed and killed singer-songwriter John Denver as he flew it in 1997. According to Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, here are some specifications for the VariEze:

• Crew: One

• Capacity: One passenger

• Length: 14 feet 2 inches

• Wingspan: 22.21 feet

• Wing area: 53.6 square feet

• Empty weight: 580 pounds

• Maximum takeoff weight: 1,050 pounds

• Fuel capacity: 24 gallons

• Maximum speed: 195 mph

• Cruise speed: 165 mph

• Stall speed: 55.5 mph

• Range: 850 miles

• Rate of climb: 1,600 feet per minute

Story and video:

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (KABC) -- Two people died when an experimental aircraft crashed and burst into flames in an orchard in Santa Paula, officials said.

The crash was reported at 3:17 p.m. in the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road, just north of the city of Ventura. Fire officials said the plane was fully involved in flames when they arrived and two people were declared dead at the scene.

The FAA described the plane as a VariEze, am experimental aircraft first designed by Burt Ratan in the 1970s. The agency said the plane caught fire after crashing with two people on board.

Another pilot in the area reported hearing the pilot of the experimental aircraft report engine failure and say he planned to try an emergency landing.

Original article can be found here:

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) — Two people have been killed in the fiery crash of a small plane in a Southern California orchard.

Ventura County fire Capt. Mike Lindbery says the crash was reported at 3:17 p.m. Saturday and arriving units found it engulfed in flames. 

The victims were deceased at the scene.

The site is in the agricultural Aliso Canyon area between the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula.

There's no immediate information about those who were aboard, the type of plane or its flight.

There are three civilian airfields in the region.

Fuel leaks at Northern Colorado Regional Airport (KFNL): Crews contain 1,000 gallons from spreading

Kathryn's Report:

Emergency crews used "lots and lots of kitty litter" and absorbent pads to prevent as much as 1,000 gallons of jet fuel from spreading off concrete at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport on Saturday, said Ned Sparks, division chief with Loveland Fire Rescue Authority.

The leak from a tanker truck was discovered and emergency crews were called at about 7:25 a.m. Various health and safety agencies remained on scene for hours before cleanup started just before 1 p.m.

"It's just a little bit of a mess, but we're doing out best to follow the rules and clean it up the best we can," said Jason Licon, airport director. "We have full confidence it'll be cleaned up (Saturday)."

A worker using a tanker truck to fill the fuel tanks on airplanes Saturday morning noticed that jet fuel was leaking out of the truck onto the pavement, Sparks said. He called for help, and crews from several agencies responded.

First, crews tried to turn off the valve, but that didn't work, so plan B was to bring in another tanker truck and transfer the fuel into that empty tank, explained Loveland Fire Rescue Authority Capt. Eric Klaas, who was the incident commander on scene. That process took several hours, and the actual cleanup began about 1 p.m.

A faulty valve is believed to be the cause of the leak, which spilled fuel onto a concrete area at the airport. Estimates of the leak ranged from 600 to 1,000 gallons.

Emergency crews from Loveland Fire Rescue Authority and Poudre Fire Authority used absorbent pads and four 55-gallon drums of kitty litter to contain the spill on the pavement and prevent it from spreading to nearby dirt, according to Sparks.

Officials called for a remediation company to clean up the fuel.

Meanwhile, emergency crews and health experts with the city of Loveland and Larimer County Department of Health and Environment were monitoring the situation.

The risks were the potential of the fuel catching fire and spreading to nearby dirt, and then leaching into the soil and potentially the groundwater, noted Darrick Turner, senior environmental specialist with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

"It's a flammable substance," Turner said. "When you have it in an uncontained state, we're a little nervous about that."

However, the amount was relatively small and crews were able to keep it contained without any major health issues, officials said.

Crews on scene were from Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Poudre Fire Authority, Windsor Fire, Loveland Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, city of Loveland, Northern Colorado Regional Airport, Larimer County Deparment of Health and Environmental and Thompson Valley Emergency Medical Services.

Because the fuel was contained to a concrete area, Licon does not anticipate any lasting or long-term damage to the airport. The airport was able to open throughout the cleanup with only the jet center closed.

"We're still operating," Licon said just after noon on Saturday. "Aircraft are flying as we speak."


Seattle burlesque performer: Airline did not allow me to board plane because of my short shorts

Kathryn's Report:


A woman is upset after she says she was not allowed to board a plane bound for Seattle because of her short shorts.

Burlesque performer Maggie McMuffin leaves it all on the stage in her shows in Seattle.

But she says a recent bout with airline JetBlue has left her feelings bruised.

 "I felt very disrespected," she told KIRO 7 News.

On May 18, she was at the Boston airport waiting to catch a connecting flight to Seattle.

She flew from New York to Boston earlier that day wearing a long-sleeve sweater, thigh-high socks and short shorts.

She says she had been standing by the gate for about 45 minutes when a gate lead approached her.

"Told me that she was really sorry for bringing this up but just what I was wearing was not appropriate and the flight crew had discussed it and the pilot had decided that I needed to put something else on or I would not be allowed to board the flight," she said.

Her shorts were deemed too short.

She says she didn’t have any other clothes with her and offered to tie the sweater around her waist, and even asked for a blanket but was not allowed.

She says she was offered to be booked on another flight.

She felt forced into searching the airport and finally buying $22 sleep trunks just to get home.

She questions the subjective rules since she went through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint and was not questioned during her first flight.

“I was told it was the pilot's final say so these are official rules that can be broken," she said.

KIRO 7 News asked JetBlue to respond. The company’s spokesman released this statement:

“The gate and on board crew discussed the customer’s clothing and determined that the burlesque shorts may offend other families on the flight. While the customer was not denied boarding, the crew members politely asked if she could change. The customer agreed and continued on the flight without interruption.

We support our crew members’ discretion to make these difficult decisions, and we decided to reimburse the customer for the cost of the new shorts and offered a credit for future flight as a good will gesture.”

KIRO 7 News asked if she would have still been allowed to board had she decided not to change.

Spokesman Doug McGraw said he could not speak to a “hypothetical.”

Maggie says she made no mention of her occupation before or after the confrontation.

Asked if she looks back and sees any possible problem with her outfit, Maggie responded:

“I've seen people online that say this looks like underwear because of the shape but I have walked around in outfits like that before," she said.

 “I feel like it’s just a symptom of our patriarchal society that women are sold scantily clad things and if we choose to wear them we can be punished for that.”

Maggie did get a credit of almost $200 from JetBlue and a refund for her sleep trunks, but she wants the pilot to apologize, a clear dress code for airline passengers and a cash or a larger refund on the flight.

According to a CNN report in 2011, JetBlue “warns that it can remove passengers whose clothing is lewd, obscene or patently offensive.”

Story and video:

Wendler sells T-hangar: Steamboat Springs Airport (KSBS)

Rocky Mountain Commercial Brokers, or RMCB, an exclusive network of independent commercial real estate brokers, has announced the sale a 1,054 square-foot “T” hangar located at 3675 Airport Circle.

The seller was Colorado Orthopedic Outreach, and the purchase price was $90,000.

“This is an end unit location that provides easy aircraft maneuvering," said Ron Wendler, of Colorado Group Realty in Steamboat, who represented the seller, "The T hangar can accommodate both high wing and low wing aircraft at the same time. The unit is well insulated, has good lighting and wonderful views. All hangars at the airport are on a ground lease.”

Wendler noted that the Steamboat Springs Airport offers services aviation fuel, oxygen service, aircraft parking, passenger terminal and lounge, aerial tours/sightseeing, aircraft charter, catering, courtesy transportation, Learn to Fly programs and free courtesy cares for pilots.


U.S. airports ‘grossly underfunded,’ need updating

Kathryn's Report:

(CNN) — Travelers across the U.S. have complained about the lengthy security lines at America’s airports, but the problems at these airports run deeper, and critics are saying the country’s airports are grossly underfunded.

The troubles facing America’s airports goes far beyond the security checkpoint.

“People are going through airports that are built in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, so the airport structures can’t accommodate them,” said Kevin Burke of Airport Council International.

Decades ago when U.S. airports were built, there were more than 62 million travelers. Today, that number has grown, but capacity has not — more than 750 million passengers are expected to fly this year.

Also in need of updating is the FAA’s air traffic control system. “Our flight times, and what we schedule our times to be, are longer than they would be if we had a more efficient air traffic control system,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker.

Airports like New York’s LaGuardia and LAX in Los Angeles have ranked as some of the country’s worst in the past because of outdated terminals.

“These terminals are old. They’re kind of falling apart and we really, really needed to upgrade them,” said Mary Grady of Los Angeles World Airports. “But that’s difficult to do when you’re really constrained for space.”

Funding is finally coming through in some major cities, but at smaller airports like Kansas City, which lacks amenities and space for passengers, they’re still looking for the cash.

“We have new aircraft for example that are now flying in the United States where gates that don’t accommodate an A-380,” Burke said. “Somebody has to pay for that.”

In the U.S., funding comes from airlines, states, local municipalities and the federal government.

But it’s a much simpler funding process in other parts of the world. In South Korea, Incheon International consistently ranks as one of the best in the world. It’s heavily funded by the government.

The airport has entertainment, high end retail, computer stations, showers, spas, an onsite hotel, and the terminals are massive.

Congress regulates a tax capped at $4.50 on passenger airfare and a $9 tax for roundtrips. That money goes to airports for construction projects, but the fee hasn’t been raised to account for inflation in 16 years.

“It’s not a fair fight.” Burke said. “Their governments recognize the importance of airports. Our government says it does, but they need to show it by increasing funding for us, and looking at us as an economic engine for local communities.”

Burke said an estimated $75 billion needs to be invested in airport infrastructure over the next five years to even compete with airports around the world.

Story and video:

'Soft target’ airports: World’s terrorists continuing to display fixation with aviation

Kathryn's Report:


Words like “outrageous” and “unacceptable” get thrown around a lot in Washington for things that usually merit a lesser form of indignation, but the mess in airport security lines deserves all that and more.

Even before this weekend’s traditional start of the summer travel season, airline passengers have had to wait 90 minutes or longer, and tens of thousands have missed flights, before they could get through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.

This isn’t just maddening; it’s dangerous. Herding hundreds or thousands of travelers into slow-moving lines in enclosed spaces is an invitation to the sort of “soft target” terrorism that happened at the Brussels airport in March, when jihadists walked into a crowded terminal and set off explosives.

What makes it even more outrageous and unacceptable is that everybody who should have seen this coming — Congress, TSA and the airlines — not only ignored or couldn’t grasp the impending catastrophe, they made it worse. The number of airline travelers went up. The number of screeners went down. Voila! Endless lines.

Congress, which now has the nerve to act huffy and point fingers, foolishly cut funding for the TSA. In 2011, TSA’s budget was $7.7 billion. Just keeping the agency even with inflation — never mind the predictable increase in airline passengers in an improving economy — would have required $8.2 billion this year. Instead, Congress provided $7.4 billion.

But the TSA also had a hand in its own woes. TSA officials overestimated how many people would sign up for its PreCheck trusted-traveler program, and it stopped diverting some non-PreCheck passengers into the speedier lines after an inspector general report found that screeners weren’t catching weapons and other contraband.

Meanwhile, airlines have persisted in charging hefty checked-baggage fees that make them pots of money but shift the bag burden to security lines and airplane cabins. When more and more people try to avoid the fees by dragging overstuffed, oversized suitcases through the checkpoints, is it any wonder that the checkpoint lines grow longer and longer?

Most airlines also deserve special shame for refusing to enforce their own baggage-size rules, as well as the “one plus one” rules that limit passengers to one carry-on bag and one personal item. TSA Adminstrator Peter Neffenger told USA TODAY’s Editorial Board this week that only two airlines do a good job, though he declined to name them or the laggards.

Adding to the problem: clueless passengers who do dumb things such as “forgetting” they have guns in their carry-on bags. In just one week in April, TSA screeners found a record 73 guns, 68 of which were loaded. And it’s not only guns; even a “forgotten” water bottle can stop the line.

What to do? Belatedly, everyone is in crisis mode, scrambling to find more money, hire more screeners, shift bomb-sniffing dogs to the biggest airports, and promote PreCheck enrollment. The airlines could help be part of the solution by agreeing to Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson’s suggestion that they waive fees for the first checked bag during the summer travel crush. But the carriers have refused, just the way they initially refused to cut fares when the price of fuel, their biggest single expense, dropped dramatically.

The bad news for frustrated fliers this Memorial Day weekend is that the crisis took a long time to build, and it won’t go away overnight — especially with the world’s terrorists continuing to display a fixation with aviation.


City Council OKs Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08) annexation

Kathryn's Report:

COOLIDGE — The City Council approved an ordinance annexing Coolidge Municipal Airport into the city limits after other efforts over the years hit roadblocks.

Interim City Manager Rick Miller gave highlights of the annexation at the Monday council meeting after many of the finer points were covered at a public hearing on May 9.
“We’ve already held the public hearing on the annexation,” Miller said. “In the prior item, we had the council review and approve the infrastructure services plan.”

The annexation becomes official 30 days after the vote. 

Two landowners are affected by the annexation, one being the Central Arizona Project, which is not subject to taxation. The other property owner is the city of Coolidge.

“There’s no property here that has any value because it was not assessed,” Miller said.