Monday, August 29, 2016

Santa Rosa airport hangars expand; Napa charter flights take off

Dan Drohan, CEO, Solairus Aviation

Not too long ago, chartered jet travel was only for the affluent traveler, with easy-to-reach airports, quiet terminals, no lines or long waits, reliable departure times, and a peaceful flight.

Local airports are starting seeing an uptick in charter travel, with the advent of charter membership travel in Napa County, offering more convenience and lower fares, and a new corporate hangar, and the arrival of a new charter airline in Sonoma County this fall.

“Flying a chartered aircraft is a cool business tool, we see it all the time. If you fly a commercial airline, you are on their time. It limits you as a business person. A chartered plane flies on your schedule,” said Josh Hochberg, owner, Sonoma Jet Center, located at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

Hochberg said he is seeing an increase in both individual and business flying. Sonoma Jet Center, which manages and services private airplanes, recently completed a new 21,000-square-foot hangar, exclusively for a local corporate tenant. Cost of the hanger was $4 million, and Hochberg emphatically stated he plans to build more hangars in the future, for both individual and corporate tenants.

KaiserAir also manages and services private airplanes at the Sonoma Airport and in Oakland. They also offer charter service. While most of the travel out of Oakland is for business, in Sonoma, travel is about half business, half leisure, said Gregg Rorabaugh, vice president, KaiserAir ground services and administration.

“In Sonoma, the population growth is creating an opportunity for businesses to purchase their own aircraft,” he said, adding KaiserAir has expansion plans there.

Negotiations are also underway with another charter company to be based at the airport, pending an October decision, according to Jon Stout, airport manager. The company, which he declined to name, is currently seeking permits for a 14,000 square foot hanger.

In 2015, across nationwide private aviation segments, market analyst Argus reported a flight activity increase of 2.9 percent and projects a similar size increase moving forward into 2016.

A survey carried out by industry magazine Corporate Jet Investor found that nearly one in four (23 per cent) of private aviation companies said that the growth of membership schemes and online charter is fueling demand for jets, while companies are becoming increasingly likely to opt for jet membership scheme for business travel.

While quality used to be the major driver in the charter flight marketplace, now, it’s also price. And while paying $4,500 an hour (or more) for a private plane is still relatively common, upstart companies are now allowing travelers to book single seats rather than entire planes—making charter travel relatively affordable, and especially attractive to those who fly for business.

San Diego-based Surf Air offers an all-you-can-fly club memberships within a specific region. Members pay a flat-rate monthly rate to fly regularly-scheduled flights on six-eight-seat single-engine turboprops between a group of cities at fixed departure times. Customers get guaranteed reservations for a certain number of flights and space-available ones for the rest of the month. After a $500 fee to join, members pay a monthly fee of $1,750.

A one-time trial flight is available for $500 one-way or $1,000 round-trip.

Members can book flights by smartphone and need arrive only 20 minutes before flight time to be checked in by a concierge.

Founded 2013, Surf Air flies 17 daily flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Membership also includes choice of flights to Napa, Burbank, Hawthorne, San Carlos, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Truckee, Carlsbad, Monterey, Sacramento, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas.

Though these clubs focus primarily on frequent business travelers, they are starting to broaden their appeal by adding leisure destinations and sometimes offering guest passes and discounted memberships for families.

Last year, Surf Air expressed interest in flying to Sonoma, from Los Angeles County and San Carlos in the South Bay but instead opted to fly to Napa. The airline flies weekends between Los Angeles and Napa, for mostly leisure travel, according to company spokespersons. Passenger loads vary from month to month, as visitors travel for seasonal events.

Although companies like Surf Air make charter service more affordable for the average flyer, luxury private charters, with prices in the thousands of dollars per hour, are still flourishing.

Based in Petaluma, Solairus Aviation manages about 100 business and individually owned aircraft nationally, and 25 between Sonoma and Napa.

Solairus provides each client with a team of four staff members, offers catered food service, and special orders, whether it’s take-out from Burger King or top shelf whiskey.

“We don’t play on price. We are the most expensive in town. We believe we’re worth it,” Drohan said.

Between 2014 and 2016 Solairus flew 228 flights out of Napa, where it has a base, and 22 out of Sonoma, where it doesn’t.

Since starting in 2009, the company has had “rocket ship” growth rate, Drohan said.

In 2015, Solairus expanded its office space in Petaluma by 20 percent, along with opening a new office in Purchase, N.Y. The company has 35 locations around the country, most of which are small offices in private hangars.

“Many are surprised that a global player in a big industry is here in little Petaluma,” Drohan said.

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Passenger tries to open Alaska Airlines door during flight

An Alaska Airlines flight on its way to Seattle made an emergency landing Monday in Minneapolis after a passenger tried to open a rear-door midflight.

The Boeing 737 was on its way from JFK Airport in New York.

KIRO 7 News reached out to Alaska Airlines about the incident. 

"We did receive reports that this passenger attempted to access a door at the rear of the aircraft. The passenger was unsuccessful as it is physically impossible to open an aircraft door while the aircraft is pressurized and inflight," spokesperson Halley Knigge said.

The flight resumed shortly after police escorted the disruptive passenger off the jet.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police told KIRO 7 News that officers questioned him and determined he presented a danger to himself.

The passenger was taken to Fairview Southdale Hospital.

An airport spokeswoman says that it is possible this is a possible medical situation so it is not releasing his name at this time. 

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Rocky Mountain Wings RIDGE RUNNER MDL II, N851DR: Incident occurred August 28, 2016 in St. Charles County, Missouri

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA St. Louis FSDO-62


Date: 28-AUG-16

Time: 19:15:00Z
Regis#: N851DR
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Missouri 

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • The pilot of an ultralight, experimental airplane crashed in a St. Charles County soybean field Sunday after his engine cut off while he was attempting to land.

Upon landing, the airplane's landing gear collapsed, causing the aircraft to spin out of control. But the pilot walked away without injury, said Val Joyner, spokeswoman for the St. Charles County Police Department.

“Of course, he was shaken,” she said.

The crash occurred near Portage Road. Joyner said she didn't have the pilot's name or where he had begun his flight.

Cessna 182R Skylane, N54BK: Incident occurred August 26, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Miami FSDO-19


Date: 26-AUG-16
Time: 21:15:00Z
Regis#: N54BK
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Florida

Beech D17S Staggerwing, N67550: Accident occurred August 27, 2016 in Pauls Valley, Garvin County, Oklahoma

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Oklahoma City FSDO-15


Date: 27-AUG-16
Time: 14:10:00Z
Regis#: N67550
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 19
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Oklahoma

Beech 90, N22FS: Incident occurred August 26, 2016 in Santa Ana, Orange County, California

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Long Beach FSDO-05


Date: 26-AUG-16
Time: 03:24:00Z
Regis#: N22FS
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 90
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
State: California

Mooney M20K, N95442: Accident occurred August 02, 2017 in Skiatook, Oklahoma -and- Incident occurred August 26, 2016 in Justin, Denton County, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA472
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 02, 2017 in Skiatook, OK
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRCRAFT CORP. M20, registration: N95442

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

Aircraft force landed in a driveway.

Date: 02-AUG-17
Time: 21:48:00Z
Regis#: N95442
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fort Worth Texas

Aircraft force landed in a field.

Date: 26-AUG-16

Time: 18:30:00Z
Regis#: N95442
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20K
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Texas

Piper PA-18-150, N7184B: Accident occurred August 27, 2016 in Kenai, Alaska

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA456
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 28, 2016 in Kenai, AK
Aircraft: PIPER PA18, registration: N7184B

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


Date: 27-AUG-16
Time: 19:55:00Z
Regis#: N7184B
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA18
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Alaska

Cessna 172RG Cutlass, N6223V: Incident occurred August 27, 2016 at Bridgeport Municipal Airport (KXBP), Wise County, Texas



Date: 27-AUG-16
Time: 20:30:00Z
Regis#: N6223V
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Texas

Piper PA-28R-200, Flight Safety Alaska Inc. dba, N3091T: Incident occurred August 27, 2016 in Anchorage, Alaska


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03


Date: 27-AUG-16
Time: 01:40:00Z
Regis#: N3091T
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28R
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: None
Activity: Instruction
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Alaska

Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion, IJH Farm Inc., N10HX: Incident occurred August 27, 2016 in Midland County, Texas


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lubbock FSDO-13


Date: 27-AUG-16
Time: 00:49:00Z
Regis#: N10HX
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 210
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Activity: Other
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Texas

De Havilland Canada BEAVER DHC-2, Tikchik Narrows Lodge Inc., N698TK: Incident occurred August 27, 2016 - Kvichak River, Igiugig, Alaska


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03


Date: 27-AUG-16
Time: 00:45:00Z
Regis#: N698TK
Aircraft Make: DE HAVILLAND
Aircraft Model: DHC2
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Alaska

Rans Coyote S-4, N8024J: Accident occurred August 27, 2016 in Clarksville, Red River County, Texas

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Dallas FSDO-05

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA339
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 27, 2016 in Clarksville, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: RANS COYOTE S 4, registration: N8024J
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 student pilot was conducting a local, solo, personal flight. He reported that, while flying over his home about 1,700 ft above ground level, the engine “sputtered,” and the tachometer decreased to between 1,300 and 1,500 rpm. The student turned the airplane around and proceeded back toward the airport; however, the airplane continued to descend and was not able to reach the airport. The student conducted a forced landing, and the airplane landed hard in a field. 

A postaccident examination of the engine revealed that the fuel pump impulse line was deteriorated and had disconnected during the accident flight. The carburetor fuel bowl was dry with no evidence of fuel. The most recent engine maintenance was completed about 9 months before the accident, and the fuel pump impulse line was not mentioned in the logbook entry. The accident is consistent with a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation, which resulted from a deteriorated and disconnected fuel line. 

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

The total loss of engine power due to a deteriorated and disconnected fuel line, which resulted in fuel starvation and a subsequent hard, off-field landing. 

On August 27, 2016, about 1500 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Rans Coyote S-4 airplane, N8024J, experienced a loss of engine power and performed a forced landing in a field near the Clarksville/Red River County Airport-J D Trissell Field, (LBR), Clarksville, Texas. The student rated pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries and the airplane sustained substantial damage. 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 accident location and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight departed LBR about 1445. 

The pilot reported that he planned to fly over his home and then return to the airport. While flying above his home about 1,700 ft above ground level (agl), the engine "sputtered" and decreased to 1,300 to 1,500 RPM. The pilot turned the airplane around and proceeded back toward the airport. The airplane continued to descend and the pilot noted that with the available power and altitude, he could not make it back to the airport. He then selected a large field surrounded by trees for the forced landing. The airplane cleared the trees and landed hard in the field. 

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported that the airplane came to rest 0.55 nautical miles northwest of LBR runway 17. Ground impact marks were observed about 50 ft in front of the airplane. Continuity of all flight controls was confirmed. The fuselage frame was bent and twisted and the fabric cover was torn. The left wing was distorted upward near the wing strut attachment point. The landing gear was collapsed. The fuel tank behind the seat was at least ½ full and the header tank was full. The fuel selector valve was set to OFF, the mixture control was reduced half way, and the throttle control was full forward. 

The airplane has been retained for further examination.

Ian Stirling: Scots building tycoon who died in plane crash left £6.5 million in his will • Rockwell Commander 114B, 2-ROAM, fatal accident occurred December 03, 2015 in the Irish Sea off Blackpool, Lancashire, UK

A Scots building tycoon who was killed when his plane went down over the Irish Sea left £6.5 million in his will.

Ian Stirling was flying solo from his home on the Isle of Man to Blackpool when the aircraft disappeared from radar.

The 73-year-old had been due to land at Blackpool Airport, but a major search and rescue operation was launched after the plane failed to arrive.

The Rockwell Commander plane was later discovered buried deep in the seabed, but Mr. Stirling’s body could not be recovered.

Mr. Stirling crashed into the water after encountering stormy weather in December last year.

He served as a director with Bridge-of-Allan building company Allanwater Developments before his son David took over the multimillion-pound business.

His published will has now revealed he had an estate totalling £6,558,526 at the time of his death.

He ordered it should be passed to his widow Elizabeth. The couple have three sons, David, Mark and Jamie.

Legal papers show his fortune was made up of properties worth £2.25m shares in Allanwater Developments valued at £3.2m and personal effects totalling £150,000.Mr Stirling also had about £900,000 of other investments.

A memorial service was held for him in Dunblane Cathedral in January and was attended by family and friends.

At the time of the accident Mr Stirling’s family had told of their hopes he would be found.

A spokesman said: “Ian was an experienced pilot who had flown this route many times. We are obviously in shock at what has happened and hoping against hope that he may be found alive.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their love and support at this difficult time and we would ask to be left alone to come to terms with what has happened.”

An inquest later recorded a verdict of accidental death and coroner Alan Wilson said the businessman’s family had taken the decision that they would prefer his remains were left in the downed plane.

Mr. Wilson said it was unusual to hold an inquest without a body, and could not offer a cause of death, but said he was satisfied Glasgow-born Mr Stirling remained inside the aircraft.

The inquest came soon after an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said the plane’s cockpit was likely breached when the plane crashed at a dangerously low speed and acute angle.

Mr. Stirling was reported missing on December 3 after he failed to return to Blackpool Airport. He was described as an “experienced pilot” and had been flying a Rockwell Commander aircraft when it disappeared from radar three miles off the Isle of Man shortly after 9am. Investigators believe he crashed in the Irish Sea during poor weather conditions. 

He was the only person on board the light aircraft and was a regular flyer on the route.

Search teams later recovered debris off the Lancashire coast and found traces of a fuel spillage, but Mr Stirling has never been found.

The businessman was understood to split his time between the Isle of Man and his home in Stirling.

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NTSB Identification: CEN16WA051
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, December 03, 2015 in Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Aircraft: ROCKWELL 114, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On December 3, 2015, about 0911 hours universal coordinated time, a Rockwell model 114B airplane, United Kingdom registration 2-ROAM, impacted the Irish Sea while on approach to the Blackpool Airport, Lancashire, England. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed the Ronaldsway Airport on the Isle of Man.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). This report is for informational purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained from the government of the United Kingdom.

Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:
Air Accidents Investigation Branch
Farnborough House
Berkshire Copse Road
Aldershot, Hampshire
GU11 2HH, United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0) 1252 510300

Broadcaster Apologizes to Military for Outdated Plane Crash Story

MNTV’s online apology “to the public and the military” after the outdated news broadcast. 

RANGOON — Myanmar National TV (MNTV) has apologized after old news about a Burmese military fighter jet crash two years ago was broadcast on a news bulletin on Sunday evening, drawing strong public criticism from the military.

MNTV is a free-to-air channel under Shwe Than Lwin Media Co. Ltd, chaired by U Kyaw Win, who is believed to have enjoyed close business ties with the former government and the ex-military regime. The plane crash happened on June 11, 2014.

The military’s True News Information Team said that, by broadcasting the outdated news without stating when the crash happened—and by using an unverified Internet source whose intent was unknown—the news story “could lead to misunderstanding among the public.”

“On behalf of the Defense Services, we strongly condemn [the broadcast] and call upon officials to take necessary action,” read the statement.

Shortly afterwards, MNTV issued an apology on the air and via its official Facebook page.

“We broadcast old news from 2014 about the MIG-29 UB fighter jet crash […] from an incorrect source. We deeply apologize to the public and the military,” the apology read.

The source was the Central News Bureau, a local news agency based on Facebook, which has also apologized via the MNTV’s Facebook page, stating that they had sent MNTV the story prematurely, while the news was still awaiting confirmation.

“The editorial team published it in a rush, as breaking news, without any ill intention. For this fault, we apologize to the military,” CNB said.


Gulfream GVI (G650ER), LFG Aviation Inc. Trustee, N720LF: Frank Lowy joins Paul Little, Tim Roberts in Gulfstream 650 club

Frank Lowy's new Gulfstream 650ER. Grahame Hutchison


Well we promised two months ago that you'd know when we do. So here goes:

Westfield patriarch Frank Lowy has taken delivery of a brand spanking new private jet. His new Gulfstream 650ER touched down in Sydney on Friday afternoon. If someone warned us we could've organized a water cannon and confetti! 

Short of spending $250 million on a Boeing Dreamliner (as the Arabs do for sport), Gulfstream's extended range model (recommended retail price: $86 million) is the duck's guts of private flying. Unlike the 550 or Bombardier's Global Express, it can fly direct between Los Angeles and Australia's east coast (no stopping in Hawaii).

Which is exactly what Frank did last week, having overnighted on Wednesday in the City of Angels (presumably at son Peter's Beverly Hills compound). On Wednesday morning the new plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, following the family's triumphant opening of Westfield at the new World Trade Centre in downtown Manhattan.

The Lowys have been buying and selling more planes of late than we've taken turboprops to Canberra. Last month, Westfield bought two Gulfstream 550s (a bargain at $66 million) – one based in LA for Peter and the other in Sydney for his brother and co-chief executive Steven. Frank's eldest brother (and budding rock star) David, uses a third 550 owned by the family's private office LFG. In June, Frank put his old 2006 Global Express on the market, with an asking price of $US19.8 million ($26.3 million). Yep, the Lowy hangars are now pure Gulfstream. It's like defecting from Ford to Holden – not a decision to be taken lightly.

Australia's other 650 owners are Melbourne billionaire Paul Little and LA-based Multiplex heir Tim Roberts, neither of whom would be seen dead refuelling in Honolulu.

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