Saturday, June 4, 2016

Accusation against pilot delays flight at Myrtle Beach International Airport (KMYR)

Kathryn's Report:

A Delta Airlines flight was delayed for more than an hour Saturday afternoon at Myrtle Beach International Airport after a passenger accused the pilot of having been drinking.

Dozens of passengers had already boarded flight DL2019, which was scheduled to depart Myrtle Beach at 11:40 a.m. for Atlanta. Dozens more were waiting to board when security was called. The pilot and co-pilot and all the previously boarded passengers returned to the terminal.

The pilot spoke to the passengers waiting in the terminal, told them that he had been accused of drinking and that he had reported the accusation to his supervisor. He added that he took his job “very seriously.”

After a few minutes, the pilot left with his co-pilot and a woman in a yellow vest marked supervisor.

At about about 12:15 p.m., a Delta clerk announced to the terminal that the pilot had passed a test and the flight would depart at 12:40.

When the pilot returned to the terminal at about 12:25, he was greeted with a round of applause from the waiting passengers.

The pilot spoke to the passengers again, apologizing for the delay and telling them they would board as soon as possible.

The flight eventually was in the air at 12:55 and arrived in Atlanta at 1:45.

Original article can be found here:

King Salmon pilot accused of sexually abusing girl midflight

Kathryn's Report:

A 37-year-old King Salmon pilot faces charges of child sex abuse for incidents involving a teenage girl, some of which happened during flights over the Alaska Peninsula.

Robert J. May has been charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, as well as charges of reckless endangerment and reckless operation of an aircraft.

May is the owner and operator of RJ Aviation, an air taxi service based in King Salmon. State records show his business has been licensed since 2011.

The charges say May also made sexual advances toward another woman. Assistant District Attorney James Klugman urged people with relevant information to call the troopers in King Salmon.

Trooper Alfred Borrego wrote in the charges against May that he started an investigation in Oct. 2015 when he heard about "sexual improprieties" involving the business owner.

An initial alleged incident involved a female passenger from Minnesota. During a flight between King Salmon and Anchorage, May placed his hands on the woman's thigh, requested naked pictures of her, and also asked if she wanted to join the "Mile-High Club," the charges say.

Borrego continued to investigate and found May could have been involved in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Follow-up interviews with the girl uncovered incidents in King Salmon and Anchorage, and two on flights along the peninsula, according to the charges.

One of the in-flight incidents happened in May's Cessna 182, prosecutors said. The girl told troopers May "placed his aircraft on auto-pilot (and) entered the rear seat compartment of the aircraft where they both engaged in sexual intercourse …" the charges say.

During the most recent incident listed in the charges, May once again left the pilot seat and sexually abused the girl. He also is accused of filming part of that incident.

The five counts of second-degree sex abuse filed against May each carry a presumptive sentence range of five to 15 years, Klugman said.

Online court records show May made an initial court appearance at the Naknek Courthouse on Sunday. His bail was set at $100,000, and he is now in custody at the Anchorage jail, Klugman said.

The state is uncertain if it will move to seize the plane involved in the alleged abuse. Property forfeiture laws governing sex offenses allow for the seizure of things like computers and cameras, items typically associated with child porn, Klugman said. Prosecutors may opt to apply more general forfeiture laws, but not at this time, he said.

"That will depend on how things play down the road," Klugman said.

Original article can be found here:

Federal Bureau of Investigation planes circle Tucson, raising surveillance fears

Kathryn's Report:

A Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair that Keith Powell says “has a two-axis gimbaled camera/electronics pod mounted on the left hand side of the fuselage which most likely contains a visible camera, a thermal infrared camera, and a laser target designator. There appears to be additional electronics monitoring antenna as well.” It was tracked flying in a circular pattern over Tucson for several days.

Flight path of a Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair that flew a circular pattern over Tucson for several days. 

It was the buzzing that caught Keith Powell’s attention.

In late February or early March, Powell, an optical scientist at the University of Arizona, began hearing and seeing a small plane flying low over his Catalina Foothills home. No big deal — at first.

But days went by, then weeks and the same small plane just kept circling and circling over Tucson, with part of its flight path crossing over his home.

“The center of where they were circling was way far away from me, but the orbit was right over my house,” Powell said. “It was 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 and 6:30 to 10:30 every single day. That plane was flying over my house 80 times a day.”

Naturally, Powell got annoyed — and curious.

When he went searching, he discovered something others around the country have researched and discovered themselves. That buzzing mosquito of a Cessna, circling around and around over the city, belonged to the FBI.

Of course, this may sound like a wild-eyed conspiracy theory. It isn’t. Last year, a variety of news outlets investigated sightings of planes flying in circles over cities and uncovered a widespread pattern of planes registered to dummy companies that were in fact fronts for the FBI.

Jack Gillum, a native Tucsonan who used to work at the Star and now reports for the Associated Press in Washington, D.C., led the most sweeping journalistic investigation last year. A year ago, Gillum and his AP colleagues found that the FBI had been flying over 30 cities in 11 states across the country during a previous 30-day period.

Some of the planes are bristling with surveillance equipment, they found: video, audio and, at times, cell-phone tracking equipment. But the FBI said the planes aren’t doing bulk collection of information.

When I asked FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Ram on Friday about what the planes have been doing over Tucson, she responded this way via email:

“Without commenting on specific flights, I can share that the FBI routinely uses aviation assets in support of investigations targeting specific individuals and, when requested, in support of state and local law enforcement. We do this in accordance with the Attorney General guidelines and the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.”

This is, of course, small comfort. The regular patterns of flight times and paths that Powell observed suggested something more routine than, for example, watching a specific suspect move about the city. Powell said the circles over his house lasted from early March to late May.

He wasn’t the only Tucsonan puzzling over the flights.

Tucson musician Glenn Weyant noticed similar flights last year. Both Weyant and Powell used the same website to figure out why they kept hearing and seeing small planes circling over Tucson —

That’s a website that tracks flights according to their position on radar all over the country. It lists the identification number of each plane, the model of the aircraft, its owner, altitude, flight speed and direction, and in the case of commercial flights, the origin and destination.

When Powell figured out who was behind the annoying overflights, he did one of those only-in-America things: He called the FBI and complained. Two days later, the flights stopped appearing on the website, though they continued over his house for a few weeks.

On the website, there was a difference in the planes that Weyant initially saw last year and what Powell saw this year. Last year’s circling planes were actually shown on as being registered to the Department of Homeland Security.

The FBI flights that caught attention in March were registered to a front company called NBY Productions. That’s one of the names that was turned up in last year’s journalistic investigations.

Weyant is especially perceptive to sound. He’s the man who has played the border fence, sculptures around town and otherwise revealed the sounds of everyday life as a soundscape of our world. He’s pretty deep.

Unsurprisingly, he heard the federal planes and turned them into music. ”Under Tucson Skies Circling,” his composition, is a sort of menacing combination of the buzz of the Cessnas accompanied by cello and overlaid by an artificial voice reading a letter denying his Freedom of Information Act request about a specific DHS flight.

“I’ve listened to them more than is probably normal,” he told me last week. “I’m not a big conspiracy theory person. I realize we live in a military town near the border. But I’ve noticed over the years planes circling.”

Weyant is not convinced by government assurances that the flights target specific individuals. Perceptively, he points out that in nature, when you’re being circled you’re being stalked. Think of hawks, vultures and sharks.

Then there are other data points to consider. Last month, a San Francisco television station revealed the FBI has planted microphones and recording devices in bus stops, outside courthouses and elsewhere.

If you’re like me, you still want to believe that they’re acting in our interest. That they’re tracking criminals, smugglers, aspiring terrorists. But with planes circling and microphones scattered around the cities, you have to wonder.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst on privacy and technology for the ACLU, explained the broad context when we talked Friday.

“During the Cold war, the United States built up an extensive surveillance operation aimed largely outward at the Soviet Union and other nation states,” Stanley said. “What we’ve seen in recent years is that the surveillance machinery has turned inward.”

“Inward” means “on us.” What they can detect, I’m sure, would boggle our minds. How they are using those powers — for us, or against us — is something we ought to demand that they tell.

Original article can be found here:

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II: Incident occurred June 04 2016 at Topeka Regional/Forbes Field Airport (KFOE), Shawnee County, Kansas

Kathryn's Report:

A military aircraft safely made an emergency landing at Forbes Field Saturday afternoon after suffering an unknown mechanical fault.

The Public Affairs Office of the 190th Air Refueling Wing, based at Forbes, said in a phone interview the aircraft, an A-10 type, landed without incident as a precaution following notice to the crew of a mechanical problem. 

The emergency did not cause any injuries, the office said.

Air National Guard personnel moved the aircraft to a civilian hangar operated by Million Air Topeka for an inspection to determine the cause of the fault, the public information office said.

Original article can be found here:

City waits patiently for needed Stockton Municipal Airport (MO3) repairs

Kathryn's Report:

While the grass alongside the runway was cut, the grass and brush next to the parking area and away from the runway has been left to grow.

Repair work at the Stockton Municipal Airport, which includes patch and seal work could not begin soon enough for Mayor Mary Norell and Bill Seitz, a member of the city’s airport board.

The runway, taxiway and ramp areas are in immediate need of repairs. There are serious cracks in the pavement, weeds growing in the cracks, uneven pavement and rough pavement.

Seitz said the facility is on a list of patch and seal work to be completed this year by contractors hired by the Missouri Department of Transportation. As the work schedule moves forward on similar projects across the state, the contractors will come to Stockton.

The project is being funded primarily by MoDOT, 90 percent, with the city required to fund 10 percent of the cost — $21,000.

Norell said the city has been allocating $7,000 a year in its budget for the project and now has reached $21,000 which will cover the city’s 10 percent project requirement.

“This is why we need the patch and seal,” Norell said of the cracks, weeds and other problems with the pavement. “There should never be cracks for weeds and rocks to appear as this can harm aircraft.”

Seitz pointed out the cracks and the serious problems which can occur. He said uneven pavement on the taxiway and runway plus the cracks are a serious safety issue because it shakes the planes as they try to conduct a proper takeoff or a safe landing.

Seitz said airport board members and the city would prefer to do a complete improvement which would lead to a major replacement of the runway and taxiway, but it would be “10 times the cost of doing what we are going to do, the patch and seal. We can’t afford that (major pavement replacement).”

Seitz said the city has limited funds, other concerns and places where it needs to spend money so the repair project is the best option for the city.

“The airport is and will be important for the future of Stockton,” Norell said, indicating the city is looking to do whatever it can to make the airport a positive asset which can be used to help the city develop.

Seitz said work has been completed on a new fuel tank, fuel lines and a credit card payment system called swipe and go.

He explained the new tank holds 1,000 gallons of fuel, enabling the city to sell fuel which is an added attraction to the facility. Seitz said several pilots left Stockton after it stopped providing fuel. Last year. The city stopped the sale after contaminated fuel was discovered in the tank and maintenance staff could not determine the cause.

Additionally, city and state officials discovered several hundred gallons of fuel were missing and unaccounted. Cedar County Sheriff Leon Dwerlkotte was asked to investigate, and Norell said she has not heard from Dwerlkotte on the case.

“I’ve not heard anything about it; the sheriff is handling it,” she said.

The city will be giving the old, abandoned fuel tank to Caplinger Mills Volunteer Fire Department, Seitz said, after the repair work is completed.

Trees on private property north of the runway led the Federal Aviation Administration to prohibit instrument landings at Stockton Airport. Seitz said the city could try to move forward to remove the trees or install a lighting system called PAPI — a precision approach path indicator. PAPI uses red and white lights to assist pilots in their approach and landing.

The city will likely go with the lighting system, despite the expense. The safety concerns currently facing city officials and airport board members has the lighting system high on the agenda, but financial issues make the acquisition a matter for the future — perhaps two to three years, Norell said.

“I perceive there is a lot of good feeling,” Seitz said between the city and airport board members. “We are ultimately looking to develop a good working relationship.”

Seitz said the five-member airport board, new mayor and revamped board of aldermen with two new members are getting along well.

He then said he understands the pressures from across the city on a budget with limited resources.

“You can only do what you can afford to do. I’m happy with what we have. You have to be thankful for what you have and work with city officials. So yes, I’m happy with what we have,” Seitz said. “We’d like to do better, but don’t try to do something you can’t do. We’re thankful for what we have.”

Seitz talked about issues which cropped up in the past, several years ago, that drove potential business and existing plane owners away from Stockton and the county. He then expressed hope about positive changes in the future. He said Norell’s strong record of success in business will make a difference, and he said he and the board are enthusiastic about working with the new mayor.

Developing existing airport property and building new hangars is a dream for Seitz, but the cost will require a partnership or private-public arrangements involving the city and investors. He said the business and benefits including tax revenue, would be a significant boost for Stockton. The airport has seven hangars, with six fully occupied.

An ongoing matter which continues to be in front of airport board members and those who have planes based at the Stockton airport is the high grass.

Grass next to the runway and taxiway was recently cut; but back away from the runway, toward the gate and across the rest of the airport property, grass and weeds are very high, several feet.

Seitz said it is not a hazard; still, it creates a concern the airport is allowed to violate city ordinances regulating grass maintenance and height in addition to an overall negative appearance for those who use the facility.

Norell said, “the city does take care of it,” but cited recent rains which have kept city workers from regular grass cutting efforts. Seitz defended the city saying it does not have the personnel to keep the grass cut as most people would like for it to be cut and maintained.

Original article can be found here:

Man walks again with exoskeleton after Perris skydiving accident

Kathryn's Report:

Skydiving is often referred to as "human flight," but it turned into a nightmare for Jeremy Newman.

He spent his Memorial Day weekend skydiving in Perris 19 years ago and that day changed his life forever when he fell to the ground at 100 mph.

"I'm a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie and I love the feeling of the rush," he said.

That adrenaline rush is why Newman is in a wheelchair today. That Memorial Day weekend, Newman was going with a more experienced diver. But Newman wanted to go faster, which he said led him to "ego malfunction No. 1"

He said he reached up and grabbed the outside lines of his parachute, quickly yanking them in. It worked and Newman ended up traveling faster through the air, but it led to what he calls "ego malfunction No. 2."

"I reached up and tried to do the same thing again, trying to collapse another set of endsails and my entire canopy collapsed. When that occurred, I'm now coming down in a streamer," he said.

When a malfunction such as a streamer happens, divers are taught to instantly deploy their reserve parachute.

But Newman had a quick flashback of his childhood where he was being teased for being overweight, which resulted in him not wanting the instructor to question if he was messing around too much in the dive.

"The altimeter is on my wrist...I'm looking at it at an angle. So when I'm looking at it at an angle, it's not giving me the precise altitude that I was at. So I went to pull my reserve shoot, but it was too late - hit the ground at 100 mph," he said. "I didn't know if I was dead or alive. I knew that I couldn't move and I wasn't really breathing."

Newman flatlined twice: once in the helicopter and again after the emergency surgery to repair the ruptured valve in his heart.

Time was of the essence for Dr. Michael Del Rio. He spent 13 hours repairing Newman's aorta. Dr. Siegel did a majority of Newman's 27 surgeries. But after everything was OK, Siegel ended up hiring Newman as a personal trainer.

"I don't want to destroy his optimism and his enthusiasm. I don't think he'll ever be able to have full function of those legs ever again," Siegel said.

Last month, Newman was fitted with an exoskeleton with re-walk technology. He was on his feet again, walking for the first time since his accident.

Newman has a long road ahead, but he continues to move forward.

"I'm actually grateful for having hit the ground at 100 miles an hour," he said. "I honestly believe that hitting the ground at 100 miles an hour saved my life. Because I truly believe if I had not hit the ground, I would either be dead or in prison."

Story and video:

No flights canceled in first week: McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport (KMCK), Red Willow County, Nebraska

City of McCook Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff, left, and Boutique Air Captain Vinnie Veruchi of Sedalia, Colo., meet for the first time just prior to takeoff Thursday morning.

Boutique Air First Officer James Taylor of Denver, Colo., preps the Pilatus PC-12 for luggage.

McCOOK, Neb. -- Commercial air service at the McCook airport is already seeing marked improvement with new provider Boutique Air. Airport officials confirmed this morning no flights were canceled this week.

Avoiding spring-time cancellations might be considered a minor achievement in some airport circles, however, it's a big step forward from the three flights cancelled just last week at the McCook airport under the previous airline.

Boutique Air took over commercial air service at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport June 1 and Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff indicated Thursday he was very pleased with the airline thus far. Potthoff said there were a lot of positive indicators, in addition to the airline prioritizing the restoration of confidence in the flight schedule.

Individuals wanting to book a flight or gather more information concerning flights into or out of McCook should visit the Boutique Air website at or call the reservation line at 1-855-268-8478. Tickets can be purchased at the McCook airport terminal, Monday thru Friday from 4 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 4 a.m. - 6:30 a.m.

There is not a local airport number to call for flight information at this time.


Pilot fatigue, error raised in ‘overrun’ on Chicago O'Hare International Airport (KORD) runway

Kathryn's Report:

The pilots of a United Airlines plane that slid off the end of an O’Hare Airport runway last December had been awake for 23 hours or more and had spoken of feeling “fatigued” even before departing Seattle for Chicago with more than 160 passengers on board, newly obtained Federal Aviation Administration records show.

The pilots of the Boeing 737 also thought they were landing on a different, longer runway at O’Hare and might have made a series of braking errors while trying to bring the jetliner to a stop on a landing strip “obscured by snow,” according to a two-page FAA document.

The paperwork — released by the federal agency in response to a public records request — doesn’t cite a cause for the runway “overrun,” which United says could be the result of a number of factors, including “runway conditions.”

“It is a very small piece of a larger investigation,” FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory says, describing the document as “non-decisional.”

The FAA says the incident, which didn’t result in any injuries or major damage to the plane, remains under investigation.

The incident was one of three similar overruns at O’Hare on the same runway last winter. There have been at least nine “excursions” from O’Hare runways and taxiways since 2010, city records show.

It was a snowy morning, with temperatures in the 20s, when United Flight 1977 touched down on Runway 9 Left/27 Right a little after 7:30 a.m. Dec. 30. The runway, which stretches 7,500 feet, opened in 2008 as part of O’Hare’s ongoing expansion and reconfiguration.

An FAA air-traffic controller had cleared the United jetliner for landing and said “braking action” was reported as “good” — meaning not too slippery, according to a copy of radio transmissions.

But soon one of the pilots reported, “Be advised, braking action was nil” — meaning the jet’s tires weren’t catching on the pavement very well.

The aircraft slid off the end of the runway, according to records from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s city Department of Aviation, which operates O’Hare and Midway airports.

City crews had been standing by to conduct a “friction” test and, if necessary, clear snow and ice.

The FAA record says the captain of Flight 1977 was awake for 25 hours “at the time of the incident,” and the first officer — the second pilot — had been awake for 23 hours.

“Crew discussed being fatigued at length prior to departure from [Seattle] but felt compelled to complete the mission,” the document says. “Crew discussed napping as a fatigue-mitigation strategy en route.”

Also, according to the FAA document:

• The pilots “thought they were landing on the longer of the parallels [runways] but in fact were landing on the shorter.”

• The pilots might have “inadvertently selected” a less-powerful brake setting and did not account for the runway being “obscured by snow.”

• “Despite being fatigued, [the] Captain decided to hand fly” the plane from 10,000 feet to arrival, rather than rely on the autopilot.

The FAA requires pilots to have a “10-hour minimum rest period prior to the flight duty period,” with “an opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep within the 10-hour rest period.”

“Rest” doesn’t have to mean “sleep,” though, aviation experts say, and an “opportunity” for sleep also doesn’t necessarily mean actual snoozing.

FAA rules put great responsibility on pilots to not fly if they’re overly tired, according to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Bill Waldock, a pilot who created the university’s aviation safety programs and teaches accident investigation.

Before takeoff, pilots “have to positively affirm that they are fit for duty,” Waldock says.

The FAA document doesn’t say what rest the United pilots got. But it does say that one or both of the United pilots “will receive” training in, among other things, “cold-weather ops” and “fatigue risk management.”

United spokesman Charles Hobart declined to discuss that. He would say only that the airline is still conducting its own “internal review” and that “there may be other contributing factors involved,” including “possible runway conditions,” the weather and air-traffic control.

Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans wouldn’t comment.
Original article can be found here:

The nastiest feud in the airline business has reached soap-opera-worthy levels

Kathryn's Report:

The runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Qatar Airways' inaugural flight to Atlanta this week wasn't just the airline's first trip to the world's busiest airport. 

It was a foray right into the backyard of its most vocal critic.

For the past two years, Qatar Airways and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines have been engaged in a very public feud over allegations that Middle Eastern carriers — which are a major threat to the US carriers' international business — are violating international agreements. 

The complaint, which Delta has championed, is that Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad are unfairly supported by subsidies in violation of the US's Open Skies agreements with their governments.

In Atlanta, the feud has taken on soap-opera-like characteristics, including name-calling and collateral damage, including funding for a landmark theater in Atlanta.

On Tuesday, 517 passengers on board Qatar Airways Flight 755 were caught in the middle.

After a 14-hour flight from Doha, the Qatari Airbus A380 superjumbo landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Once there it did not have a gate available for the passengers to deplane.

Even though Atlanta's airport hosts more than 100 million passengers a year, few travel using the double-decker Airbus jet, and the airport has only one gate capable of handling the gargantuan airplane. And the gate just so happened to be occupied by Delta Air Lines at the time.

So the Qatari jet was eventually towed to a remote parking area where passengers were offloaded onto buses. It's a procedure rarely undertaken at the vast airport in nonemergency situations.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

But there's more

This story isn't just as straightforward as that. Yes, Delta was occupying the only gate Qatar could use. And Delta — which has been feuding publicly with Qatar — wasn't going to give it up.

But it turns out that Qatar knew perfectly well in advance of the flight's departure that it wasn't going to get the gate. 

Qatar has no intention to fly the massive A380 to Atlanta on a regular basis. And in fact, the Atlanta flight was originally scheduled to be operated by a 259-seat Boeing 777, which is the aircraft that'll make that flight on a regular basis, and can fit at any number of gates in Atlanta.

But Qatar decided in April that it was going to fly the A380 for the inaugural flight, no doubt a way to make a dramatic entrance.

Although Qatar alerted the airport almost six weeks ahead of the flight, it was less than the 60-day notice period required to change an A380's gate allocations. 

"Due to the sheer size of the aircraft, time needed to service and short advance notice the Airport was given, aircraft operations would have been significantly disrupted and would have displaced four or five other aircraft," Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport spokesman Reese McCranie told Business Insider.

And, in a letter sent to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker the day before the flight, Atlanta airport's interim general manager, Roosevelt Council, warned the airline that a gate would not be available between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Flight 755 landed a 4:03pm.

So Qatar was prepared.

"We knew before the flight that we did not have a gate available," vice president for the Americas Gunter Saurwein told Business Insider. "So we flew in our best people from around the country to help manage the turnaround of the plane."

Still, on Friday, Al Baker, the Qatar Airways CEO, called Delta "wicked" and its actions an "absolute violation of the air services agreement," Bloomberg reported. In addition, Al Baker accused Delta of obstructing his airline's handicapped and elderly passengers as well as its general check-in process.

Open Skies

"Delta in no way acted to obstruct Qatar’s ability to park its aircraft at an Atlanta gate," the airline said in an emailed statement. "Delta offered solutions to allow Qatar to use the gates while ensuring our own schedule remained accommodated during a heavy traffic period at the international terminal."

As messy as the spat may seem, it was simply the latest salvo in the dispute between two of the world's leading airlines.

While Qatar has been crowned the best airline in the world three of the last five years, few airlines have been as profitable and well managed as Delta has been over that same time.

Over the past few years, Delta — along with American and United — has lobbied the US government to reexamine and potentially renegotiate the bilateral agreements that allow airlines to fly freely between the US and the Middle Eastern nations of Qatar and the UAE.

Of the three US carriers, Delta and its management have been the most outspoken on the issue. In April, Delta's newly minted CEO, Ed Bastian, reaffirmed the airline's stance that Qatar and its fellow Middle Eastern Airlines have received more than $42 billion in illegal subsidies over the past decade.

Delta's attempt to curtail Qatar's growth in the US obviously does not sit well with Al Baker.

Earlier this year, the Qatari CEO said that his airline's move into the Atlanta was designed to "rub salt into Delta's wounds" Reuters reported.

Collateral damage

And in May, Qatar celebrated the launch of the Atlanta route at the city's historic Fox Theater with a party headlined by Jennifer Lopez.

In response, Delta Air Lines announced that it will no longer sponsor the Atlanta landmark.

"When the CEO of Qatar first told the world that they would be flying to Atlanta, what he told the world was that he was going to start a flight from Doha to Atlanta … to rub salt in the wounds of Delta," the airline's chief legal officer told the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Kelly Yamanouchi. "So we were very surprised and disappointed when we learned that the Fox Theatre ... were hosting the coming out party for Qatar."

With Qatar now making daily flights to Atlanta, grab some popcorn. There's bound to be more fireworks. 

Original article can be found here:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Capella FW-2TR XLS, N418DS: Accident occurred June 03, 2016 in Alamo, Hidalgo County, Texas

Kathryn's Report:

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

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA207
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 03, 2016 in Alamo, TX
Aircraft: SMITH Capella FW2TR, registration: N418DS
Injuries: 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 June 3, 2016, about 1020 central daylight time, a Smith Capella Aircraft FW2TR (XLS) airplane, N418DS, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Alamo, Texas. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local flight departed about 1000.

According to the pilot, he was preparing to return to the airport when the engine lost power. The airplane was at 2,500 feet above ground level and the pilot continued towards the airport looking for a place to land. As he approached the airport his options diminished and during the forced landing to a smaller field the airplane hit a tree.

ALAMO – An experimental plane with a 98-year-old pilot crashed in south Alamo.

DPS troopers, EMS crews, and firefighters are at the scene. The first responders checked on the pilot. He only had a slight cut on his wrist.

The pilot was identified as Dick Smith. He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he built the plane himself and usually flies in the area. Smith said he was in the Navy and has been flying for 70 years.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane is a fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft or an experimental aircraft.

Smith said he made the call to the traffic control just before he crashed in a tree.

“I was in Edinburg playing around, practicing landings and having fun and headed home. The engine quit on the way home,” he said.

DPS Lt. Johnny Hernandez said preliminary information suggests engine failure. They’re waiting for FAA officials to arrive and determine the cause of the crash.

The accident happened on Whalen Road, between Ridge Road and Moore Road.

According to FAA regulations, experimental aircraft certificates are issued to pilots in a few categories such as training, to market surveys and air racing.

“Requirements of the FAA for a pilot’s license with endorsement of commercial pilot. So this is something that is very, very interesting to see a gentlemen or a person, still meeting the basic requirements physically for a commercial pilot’s license,” Emergency Management Coordinator George Garret said.

The FAA added there is no age limit to fly. It all depends on how the person feels and if they have a pilot license.

They are continuing their investigation how the plane crashed.

Story and video:

Incident occurred June 02, 2016 in Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa: '$10,000 reward for anyone providing information that leads to an arrest and conviction'

Kathryn's Report:

Chief Flight Nurse Bryan Williams describes an incident which occurred Thursday night where the Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa helicopter was targeted by three lasers from the ground while in flight to pick up a patient. Williams said while the pilot was distracted, no one was injured and the crew continued to its destination.

MASON CITY — A Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa helicopter was the target of three lasers Thursday night, aimed by someone on the ground.

The pilot was distracted but neither he nor two crew members were injured, according to Chief Flight Nurse Bryan Williams. The incident occurred about 9:30 p.m.

The ’copter had just taken off and was over the north end of downtown Mason City, said Williams, en route to pick up a patient. Contrary to social media reports, there was no patient aboard, he said.

“It is very dangerous,” said Williams. “It has the potential of blinding someone or at the very least distracting the pilot or crew.”

Williams has been with Mercy for 20 years and chief flight nurse for 17. This is the first time in his career an incident like this has occurred, he said.

As per law, a report has been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration and will be turned over to the FBI for investigation because it is a federal offense, said Williams.

Anyone arrested and convicted is subject to a $250,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

Also, said Williams, there is a $10,000 reward for anyone providing information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

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Rex Damschroder looks to fly WWII plane to France

Kathryn's Report:

Rex Damschroder of Fremont says the layers of paint on his DC-3 tell the story of the plane's many different uses over the years.

FREMONT- Under a small hangar at the Fremont Airport sits a ragged, weathered DC-3, a plane that Rex Damschroder acknowledged has a colorful history with its prestigious military background and decades of use in various commercial pursuits.

Built in 1943, the plane earned its place in aviation history during World War II as part of the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion, as it transported paratroopers to northern France at Normandy.

Damschroder, the airport's operator, wants to fix up the DC-3 for a return trip to France in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and a re-enactment of the invasion. It's a mission that Damschroder, a longtime pilot, knows will be difficult but feasible, provided he can raise the estimated $250,000 needed for the plane's restoration and trip.

"You change the engines and paint it up and it's a feasible airplane," Damschroder said.

The DC-3 that flew over Normandy with paratroopers on D-Day has been at the airport since 1988. It has lived a post-military life that's included stints as a plane for parachute jumpers and as a show plane at the Kings Island amusement park.

Damschroder said one man who had worked on the plane told him there were rumors that it had been used for drug dealing at one point.

When Damschroder's DC-3 was built, it originally was a C-53D. It was converted to a DC-3 after the war, Damschroder said, before it became part of the 8th Air Force and was used to carry paratroopers and tow gliders.

He said the plane could probably hold up to 30 paratroopers per trip.

"It wasn't built for cargo. It was just for paratroopers," Damschroder said.

Gene Damschroder, Rex's father, bought the plane in 1988 and flew it to the Fremont Airport, where it has been ever since.

In restoring the plane, Damschroder started by stripping the paint. A closer look this week showed multiple layers of paint from the plane's past, evidence of its multiple owners in the decades after the war. Damschroder wants to strip it down and repaint it in its original Army green D-Day colors.

The interior needs some work and Damschroder said he hasn't started restoring the DC-3's cockpit.

Since it's been at the Fremont Airport, the plane has sat in a hangar. Damschroder said the plane's engines are tested yearly and are in working condition.

A small trail of oil could be seen on the ground under one of the plane's engines on Wednesday. Damschroder said it was common for older engines to leak oil and that it wasn't an issue with the plane's flying capability.

"Dad actually flew the plane. It's all here and it does run," Damschroder said.

Like any plane from the World War II era, it's hard to find parts for a DC-3.

Driving home the point, Damschroder showed off a rusted rudder in his airport office that fell off the plane.

He said he drove to Topeka, Kansas, to find a replacement for the rudder.

Damschroder, a former state legislator and longtime local political figure, has been flying planes for 50 years.

As he walked around the DC-3 and described some of the paint stripping that's been done on the plane's exterior, Damschroder said there are three major challenges involved with his project: get the plane looking right, get it flying and raise the money needed for its restoration and flight to and from France.

Organizers of the flight to Normandy want to get 25 DC-3s to make the trip, Damschroder said. He described the 75th anniversary as possibly the last time a living DC-3 crew member would be alive to commemorate the D-Day invasion.

As for the plane, Damschroder said the DC-3 has no life limit, provided it receives the proper maintenance. The plane's wings don't move and it hasn't been corroded by saltwater, he said.

"It can go on for eternity, if you can take care of it," he said.

For the trip to France, Damschroder plans to fly the plane there for the D-Day re-enactment.

He said he had flown as a ferry pilot when he was younger and made 23 Atlantic Ocean crossings, ferrying planes across the ocean through Greenland and Iceland. On the 2019 trip, one of the big issues will be raising enough money to pay for the fuel needed to get the plane to and from France, Damschroder said.

After the DC-3 returns from France, Damschroder said he would eventually like to turn the plane into a local "flying classroom" where students could come to the airport and learn about D-Day and World War II.

His father was a Navy pilot, and Damschroder said the trip to France would be an adventure, as well as a way to salute World War II and its impact on American history.

"I think it was one of the largest, greatest wars of all time," Damschroder said.

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Fired Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL) exec threatens legal action

Kathryn's Report:

The former head of the Atlanta airport, fired by Mayor Kasim Reed two weeks ago, has hired a law firm known for wrongful termination suits and whistleblower cases.

Miguel Southwell, who was general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International, retained Parks Chesin & Walbert to represent him, according to a letter to Reed’s office from attorney Lee Parks.

The letter says Southwell was told his dismissal was due to recent long lines at the airport. But it suggests the mayor’s office wanted more control over contracts to be awarded during an upcoming wave of construction and remodeling projects.

“It is inexplicable that you would claim that the long lines at the security check points were the reason for Mr. Southwell’s termination when you knew the solution (which was sent to you for review) was days away from implementation,” the letter said.

“Is it a coincidence that the termination came on the eve of the award of some of the most lucrative contracts in the airport’s long and difficult history of patronage-based awards?”

Reed in a written statement responded: “Miguel Southwell is struggling to rescue what remains of his career and this is evident in the fact that he is now making false statements against my Administration and me.”

Reed said Southwell “never filed a complaint or made the false allegations he now makes today while unemployed. Mr. Southwell was an at-will employee and served at the pleasure of my appointment, according to state law. This is a desperate attempt to salvage his reputation.”

Southwell led the world’s busiest airport for two years and has been replaced on an interim basis by its chief financial officer, Roosevelt Council.

At a press conference after the ousting, Reed voiced concern about long Transportation Security Administration lines and other issues at the airport but declined to give specific reasons for firing Southwell, citing concerns about potential litigation.

The letter from Southwell’s lawyer said the firm is “initiating an investigation” into the termination and asked for documents and other information from the city. Parks’ letter said “we hope the City will participate in settlement discussions or mediation at the conclusion of our investigation.”

Southwell was “given just thirty minutes to make a major career decision and then ‘bull rushed’ out the door when he refused to resign, according to Parks’ letter, dated May 31. Southwell, who made $221,000 a year, was offered three months severance, the letter said. It said he did not have a chance to clean out his office or pick up personal belongings.

The letter cited other tensions between Reed and Southwell, alleging Reed last year “made a statement to Mr. Southwell that you (Reed) thought he went out of his way to be independent of you, provided examples, and also made a statement to the effect that, ‘You worked in Miami. I thought you knew how things work,’ that can only be interpreted as a blunt reference to Miami International Airport’s own long and difficult history of patronage-based awards.”

Southwell began his airport career in Atlanta but spent time at Miami International before returning to Hartsfield-Jackson.

The Atlanta airport is embarking on a massive $6 billion expansion and renovation. Some contracts have been held up over disagreements on terms and timing.

The letter from Southwell’s attorney said airport managers got “direction from senior officials of the City’s Procurement Department to take a number of actions that would impact the award of active procurements of concession and construction contracts … by causing the contracts to be awarded to companies other than the highest-ranked bidder…”

It said such directions came “from the ‘second floor’ or ‘the Mayor.’”

Mark Trigg, an attorney representing the city, responded to Parks, writing that “the implicit suggestion in your letter that there was any connection whatsoever between the termination of your client’s at-will employment and the airport’s procurement process is ridiculous, defamatory and has absolutely no basis in fact.”

Trigg’s firm, Greenberg Traurig, also represented the city in lawsuits challenging airport concessions contract awards several years ago.

Other recent issues at the airport include differing opinions on how deals should be structured between the airport, City Hall, and the many businesses that operate out of Hartsfield-Jackson including Delta Air Lines, contractors and taxi drivers. Issues have included concerns about contracting delays, cancelled procurements and disqualifications.

Parks’ letter said Reed also saw Southwell’s insistence on fingerprint checks for ride-share drivers as an obstacle in the mayor’s desire to have Uber X and Lyft pickups approved.

Trigg’s letter said the city will preserve documents as requested in the letter, but added: “If your client and your law firm truly believe that your client has a cause of action against the City, then file a frivolous lawsuit. You can rest assured that it will be vigorously and aggressively defended.”


“Is it a coincidence that the termination came on the eve of the award of some of the most lucrative contracts in the airport’s long and difficult history of patronage-based awards?” — Letter from Miguel Southwell’s attorney to Mayor Kasim Reed

“Miguel Southwell is struggling to rescue what remains of his career and this is evident in the fact that he is now making false statements against my Administration and me…This is a desperate attempt to salvage his reputation.” — From Reed’s public response

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