Saturday, November 26, 2016

Robinson R44, VH-ZNZ: Fatal accident occurred November 18, 2016 in Mount Windsor National Park, west of Daintree, far north Queensland, Australia

NTSB Identification: WPR17WA027
Accident occurred Friday, November 18, 2016 in Mount Windsor, Australia
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 18, 2016, at 1244 local time, a Robinson R44 II, Australian registration VH-ZNZ, collided with terrain near Mount Windsor, Australia. The helicopter was destroyed by a post impact fire. The pilot sustained serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The flight was operated under the pertinent civil regulations of the Government of Australia.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Australia. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by the Government of Australia. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

P.O. Box 967, Civic Square
Canberra A.C.T. 2608
Tel: +612 6274 6054
Fax: +612 6274 6434

UPDATE: POLICE have confirmed a 25-year-old Kewarra Beach man as the victim of a fatal helicopter crash near Mount Carbine, northwest of Cairns.

The plumber was contracted to Queensland Parks and Wildlife and had been conducting maintenance work at remote area facilities on Cape York when the tragedy occurred about 12.45pm yesterday.

The pilot, a 43-year-old from Marlborough in central Queensland, suffered extensive injuries in the crash.

Up to 50 people were involved in the land and air search for his passenger in an area known locally as Mt Windsor and described by Far North Police District Duty Officer Sen-Sgt James Coate as “extremely harsh, inhospitable, very difficult to get to”.

The man’s next of kin have been informed.

“They’re absolutely distraught as you can probably imagine,” said Sen-Sgt Coate.

“At this stage it’s unknown (what caused the crash), the aircraft itself will be subject to significant forensic examination, hopefully that will lead us to a cause.”

A report is being prepared for the Coroner.

UPDATE: POLICE searching for a 25-year-old man missing after a helicopter crash north of Cairns yesterday have found a body inside the wreckage.

An aerial and land search has been underway in the Mount Carbine area since emergency services received an EPIRB distress call from the single-engine Robinson R-44 helicopter about 1.30pm yesterday.

About 10am today, search crews found a body after a further search of the wreckage.

The 43-year-old pilot remains in a serious condition at Cairns Hospital.

Cairns police will address the media this afternoon. More to come.

UPDATE: POOR weather conditions have hampered the search for a man believed to be missing after a helicopter crashed in dense rainforest north of Cairns yesterday.

The Rescue 510 helicopter left Cairns about 11pm last night to resume an aerial search but was unable to reach the crash site near the McLeod River Crossing, about 30km from Mount Carbine, due to a low cloud base and poor visibility.

Ground teams were able to push closer by vehicle and they stayed in the area overnight to continue the search this morning.

Police, SES workers and other government agencies have also joined the land search for the man in his 20s.

Police say their inquiries have established the man is believed to have been with the pilot during the day, however, it is unknown if the man was on-board when the helicopter crashed.

The 43-year-old pilot remains in hospital in a serious condition.

EARLIER: AUTHORITIES are still unsure if a second person was on board a helicopter which crashed in dense rainforest near Mt Windsor, west of Cape Tribulation, yesterday afternoon.

The pilot, believed to be in his 40s, was found conscious next to the wreckage of his aircraft at about 2.30pm.

He was flown to Cairns Hospital with serious injuries and was in a critical condition last night.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokeswoman said it was still uncertain whether there was another person on board.

The Rescue 510 helicopter crew returned to the crash scene about 5pm last night to conduct another search for the passenger.

Emergency services received a EPIRB distress call about 1.30pm from the single-engine Robinson R-44 helicopter from an area west of the Daintree, near the McLeod’s River Crossing.

The pilot was flying from Cardwell to Weipa, on Western Cape York.

Rescue 510 helicopter senior pilot Phil Frost said the man might have lit a fire to attract the attention of rescue crews.

He was flying over the crash area but could not see wreckage when he spotted smoke through the trees.

“Due to the dense forest up there I couldn’t see anything,” he said.

“As we approached an area I saw a puff of smoke and we winched an officer down to locate the survivor.

“I’m assuming this guy has heard us overhead and lit a fire.

“At first he was conscious and talking but he soon went downhill. He’s not very well at the moment.”

“The pilot was supposed to drop a guy off but when we picked him up he was too dazed to remember whether the passenger was on board at the time.”

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Delta pilots oppose larger regional aircraft, in blow to Embraer -sources

MONTREAL, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc pilots are expected to keep existing rules in their new labor contract that prevent the U.S. No. 2 carrier from flying aircraft above a certain weight on regional routes, in a blow to Embraer SA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd , whose latest models exceed that limit.

The pilots' new labor contract will keep what is known as a "scope clause," which restricts planes heavier than 86,000 pounds and with more than 76 seats from being flown on regional routes, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Voting results on the new contract are expected on Dec. 1.

The clause effectively protects well-paid pilot jobs at major airlines, as it prevents the carrier from using bigger planes on outsourced regional routes, which generally pay less well and have inferior working conditions.

When planemakers such as Brazil's Embraer and Japan's Mitsubishi designed their latest regional jets, with heavier but more fuel-efficient engines, they expected the scope clause to have loosened, but unions have managed to hold on to it.

Delta's vote will follow similar decisions by unions at American Airlines Group Inc and United Continental Holdings Inc earlier this year and in 2015.

Pilots' opposition to relaxing scope clauses is a problem for Embraer's E175-E2 regional aircraft that is to be delivered in 2020, and Mitsubishi's MRJ90 jet, slated for delivery in mid-2018, which both exceed the weight limit.

UBS downgraded Embraer to a 'sell' rating this week after it resumed coverage, citing risks from the scope clause pushback at American, Delta and United. Analyst Darryl Genovesi said it was unlikely the carriers would fly the E2 on only mainline routes, due to higher costs.

"This puts the viability of the E175-E2 at risk since most of the demand for it originates at those three airlines," Genovesi wrote in a note to clients.


Regional carrier SkyWest Inc, which operates flights for Delta, among others, is the launch customer for the E175-E2, with 100 firm orders.

Embraer spokesman Nicolas Morell Gonzalez said its existing E-175 dominates the 70-seat market where it holds 84 percent of market share and the Brazilian planemaker would continue to sell that jet past 2020 if scope clauses do not change.

However, he said, "Embraer believes scope clauses will eventually be relaxed in the future as fuel prices increase and airlines look for more efficient products."

A Mitsubishi spokesman was not available for comment, outside normal business hours in Japan.

In September, the company said it is working with customers to address weight issues for the MRJ90, which is about 600 kilograms (1323 lbs) too heavy.

U.S. pilot unions have taken an increasingly hard line on higher salary demands and are making fewer concessions to U.S. carriers.

Their current stance against changing scope clauses could, however, be a boon for Embraer's Canadian rival Bombardier Inc , which sees it as an opportunity to boost sales of its CRJ-900, which fits current weight limits, one of the sources said.

Mesa Air Group Inc Chief Executive Jonathan Ornstein said he will not purchase new planes that do not comply with existing scope clauses as he does not believe the current limits will be changed in the near future.

Instead, the Arizona-based regional carrier will buy more current generation E-175s, along with additional CRJ900s to replace 38 regional jets being phased out over the next four years.

"I don't think there's any chance the pilots will change their weight requirements. Zero," Ornstein said. 


Public Hearing Held to Receive Comments About Proposed South Central Regional Airport

The South Central Iowa Airport Agency held a public hearing to receive comment about a proposed regional airport in northern Mahaska County.

Those in favor and against the project spoke in the George Daily Auditorium at Oskaloosa High School. Among the 14 speakers, there were those who were pro-airport including Pella Mayor Jim Mueller and Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt, who both said the combination of the two airports would improve efficiency in the region, and Mueller cited safety concerns with the current runway in Pella. Representatives from Pella Corporation and Musco Lighting also discussed the importance an improved airport has on the local economy, and how air travel benefits organizations like theirs.

Those opposed included a lawyer representing some of the families possibly impacted by eminent domain, who brought up concerns with the environmental assessment, the language included in a 28E agreement between Pella, Oskaloosa, and Mahaska County, and the potential of establishing an airport in Otley. Mahaska County Residents and Board of Supervisor Mark Doland also expressed their opposition, and Doland emphasized his desire to end the 28E agreement voted on in 2012. Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio was opposed to the project due to the site’s proximity to three regional airports, including the one located in his home city.

The next step is for an environmental assessment to be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration, along with the oral and additional written comments. The FAA will decide whether or not the South Central Iowa Airport Agency can move forward with plans to construct a regional airport that replaces the Pella and Oskaloosa city airports. 


Jack Rempe

Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio

David Batman

OSKALOOSA — More than 100 people gathered in the George Daily Auditorium to learn more about the proposed South Central Regional Airport and to also provide comments for the Federal Aviation Administration’s environmental assessment of the project.

The proposed regional airport, which has been in the planning stages since 2012, would cover 582 acres in Mahaska County north of Highway 163. The project would include four large hangars, five box hangars, a terminal, two runways and multiple other support buildings.

The public hearing was held by the South Central Regional Airport Agency, the organization managing the project, and included time for members of the public and interested parties to speak for three minutes on the project.

The airport plan is being jointly managed via a 28E agreement between Pella, Oskaloosa and Mahaska County. If the plan goes as expected, airports in Oskaloosa and Pella would be closed.

Only 13 people signed up to make comments for the FAA review, including numerous people in favor of the airport plan and several others who said they were opposed to the plan.

One speaker against the project was Jack Rempe, who along with his wife Tami own a Century Farm that has been in their family since 1881. The couple grows corn and soybean on their land while renting out the historic farmhouse. Both said they are appalled at the prospect of losing their family farm and they do not see the need for the regional airport.

“You quietly have had a 28E agreement passed without the landowners even knowing this, you have tried many times to construct an airport with the public overwhelmingly letting you know they are against it. Yet you decide to take on the job to do the dirty work or corporations,” Jack Rempe said. “Did any of you say or think once, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t do this to these people?’ Right now farming of these acres employs hundreds. We already know you have a no-care attitude about the families that it will impact—Century Farms and a Heritage Farm that will be destroyed.”

Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt addressed the hearing, and said the city is in full support of the airport project for a multitude of reasons.

“Closing two individual city airports for the benefit of sharing one is a win-win for the communities, in addition to helping the FAA in the sense that it would be supporting one less airport that would be safer and more efficient,” Krutzfeldt said. “I think we can agree that the economic sustainability of a region requires a blend of services available for both citizens and businesses, good highways and airports are part of that.”

Area resident Jimmy Carter said he also opposed the project, and said he was also frustrated by the three-minute time limit for comments, especially considering the project would have such an impact on the community.

“I’m just frustrated, I guess,” Carter said. “What I think is, this is a Pella problem, not an Oskaloosa problem. If Pella has a problem, I feel they need to step up to the plate and fix it. This is not an Oskaloosa or Mahaska County situation.”

Pella Mayor James Muller spoke in favor of the airport project, and said he has been involved in the discussions to upgrade or relocate the Pella airport for more than 10 years. Those options, he said, are not viable which is why there is a need for a regional airport.

“One of the primary responsibilities of an effective and responsible government is provide safe and efficient infrastructure for the benefit of our community,” Muller said. “A re-designed airport will provide the entire area with a safe, convenient and efficient municipal facility. A new regional airport will provide our local businesses with permanent, safe access to efficient air travel. It will also position this region as a forward-looking business friendly area that will allow our industries to compete with other companies for customers nationwide. It will provide a critical municipal service.”

Representatives from several area companies spoke at the public hearing, expressing those company’s support of airport project, including Musco Lighting and Pella Corporation.

Beth Danowsky, who identified herself as an employee of Musco Lighting, said the company supported the project because it would be beneficial to the firm’s employees and customers. And, she added, the company’s success would in turn be beneficial to the community because the firm employees local residents and the economy would be helped.

Myron Linn spoke as a representative of the Pella Corporation, which he said is fully favor of the proposed airport for numerous reasons, including safety issues at the current Pella airport as well as saving tax dollars by closing two other airports and having one airport.

“Pella Corporation considers the regional airport to be an essential tool for operating our business and manufacturing headquarters in rural Iowa,” Linn said. “It is essential to move forward with this plan. The Pella Corporation employs over 7,000 people nationwide, many of them who use the airport.”

Opponents of the project who spoke at the hearing decried what they feel as the improper taking of long-held family farms—including two Century Farms and one Heritage Farm—as well as hundreds of acres of prime farmland. Other objections included the closure of 220th Street and the potential for adjacent development such as a housing plan, a hotel or other commercial establishments.

The Rempe family, as well as five other area families directly impacted by the proposed project, have hired attorneys from the Dickey & Campbell Law Firm in Des Moines to represent them in opposition to the plan.

Attorney Gary Dickey Jr. addressed the hearing on behalf of the families, and said there are at least four major reasons why the project’s environmental assessment is deficient, including a lack of public transparency, no proof of the economic benefit of the airport, the under-valuation of prime farm land and the failure to examine the possible construction of the airport in Otley.

“These are Century Farms, with some of them with as much as 150 years in the same family,” Dickey said. “As the FAA knows, if this project doesn’t go forward, Pella will go proceed with its own airport in Otley.”


Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey, targeted for 450-home development

MEDFORD — For over five decades, the Flying W Airport has been a haven for aviation enthusiasts who feel at home in the skies.

But the future of the airport on Fostertown Road appears to be up in the air, as the tiny concrete airstrip and its substantial acreage are being targeted for transformation into a large housing development that would help satisfy the township's affordable housing requirements for most of the next decade.

No sale of the airport and its 150-plus acres has been announced, but a proposed 450-unit development at the property was part of a settlement agreement negotiated by Medford and the Fair Share Housing Center, a Cherry Hill-based affordable housing advocate.

The agreement, which was approved by the Township Council on Nov. 15, calls for the development of 298 affordable homes and apartments by 2025. Ninety of the affordable units are expected to be located within the future Flying W development, according to the agreement.

The airport's owner, John Cave, declined to speak in detail about any future plans. He insisted that no deal has been finalized to develop the property, which straddles the Lumberton border.

"We have no agreement with the township. It's way early," Cave said last week. "This is a long, long way off."

Township officials said a final agreement with the owners must still be negotiated, but the mayor and solicitor said the owners informed them of their intention to shutter the airport.

"The landowner approached us and indicated to us they would like to close the airport and redevelop the property," Mayor Jeff Beenstock said last week. "That's their prerogative. It's their property, and they have the right to do with it what they choose."

The airport has become a fixture since it was created in 1964 by William Whitesell, a former airline pilot who bought the former farm in 1961.

The facility, which includes a restaurant, banquet room, motel and airplane-shaped swimming pool, has enjoyed a rich history and in its heyday hosted many celebrities. The late Sally Starr, a former country singer and television cartoon show host, even worked there as event director for a short time in the early 1990s.

The airport has also had a long history of owners and financial troubles, beginning with Whitesell, who was forced to close and sell it in 1972 due to a bankruptcy. The property reopened in 1984 and was sold several more times until Cave purchased it in 1996 for $2 million.

A total of 105 aircraft are based at the airport, including 96 single-engine planes, six multi-engine planes and three helicopters, according to Federal Aviation Administration operations data.

The runway is too small for most commercial fights, but it's one of the state's most popular destinations for recreational fliers.

"It's a popular place," said Mike Johnson, a mechanic at the helicopter school on-site. "It gives you a place to fly into, and it's convenient because you don't need a car. You've got food, entertainment and lodging in one place."

Cave, who has invested in numerous repairs, renovations and upgrades at the airport during his 20 years as owner, confirmed that there have been discussions about development at the site, but he declined to say if either a developer or the municipality had made an offer to buy the land.

"I listen to everything in front of me," Cave said. "Information costs nothing."

Lumberton officials also reported having a meeting with the owners to discuss ideas for potential development on the Lumberton portion of the property, which is where the restaurant and banquet hall are.

"They've only had one preliminary meeting with the owners on their development plans or ideas they're thinking of, but there has been no other talks," Lumberton Township Administrator Brandon Umba said last week. "They just wanted to spitball ideas to us."

Medford officials said Cave and his son indicated that their intention was to keep the restaurant and pool, which is on the Lumberton side. It was not clear if additional homes would be built on that side.

Medford's agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center specifies that 360 market-rate homes and 90 affordable units would rise on its side of the airport property. However, it also said that development was still subject to negotiations, and that the township reserved the right to substitute another site for the Flying W project provided it offers a realistic opportunity for 90 more affordable units.

The other 208 affordable units specified in the agreement would be divided among three other planned developments in town.

One project, Hartford Square, is planned at Route 70 and Hartford Road and would consist solely of 70 affordable homes for low-income seniors, veterans and disabled residents.

A second development would be built around the Hartford Square community and would consist of a mix of 174 market-rate single-family homes and townhouses and 48 affordable apartments.

The third development, Arc Wheeler, is proposed off Evesboro Road near the Evesham border and would include 210 market-rate homes and 90 affordable units.

The plan is still subject to Superior Court approval due to the court takeover of affordable housing compliance from the state Council on Affordable Housing. The takeover stemmed from COAH's failure to craft rules and quotas for how many low- and moderate-income homes towns must zone and plan for.

Municipalities need housing plans certified by the court to be protected from lawsuits by developers and nonprofits forcing them to approve low-income housing if a judge decides there isn't adequate housing available or planned.

Since the high court's order, hundreds of towns have been involved in litigation over the number of affordable units they need, with Fair Share acting as an intervener.

Beenstock said he believes that the township's housing plan is a sound one, and that redeveloping the airport as residential housing is a "legitimate purpose" and would help satisfy the legal requirement to provide adequate affordable housing.

Many other towns have struggled with the same mandate, with some rehabbing or buying existing homes and then subsidizing them as affordable units.

"What we tried to do was satisfy our obligation under the law in the least intrusive manner we could. I think we've done that with this plan," Beenstock said.

The township also plans to increase the capacity of its sewer plant to accommodate the additional homes being planned. However, the mayor said those upgrades would be funded by the eventual Flying W developer.

Beenstock said "time would tell" if the loss of the airport would be a disappointment.

"I'm not a pilot myself, but my wife's father was, and he has fond memories of that airport," he said. "For me, it's a property whose owner is interested in redevelopment that's a legitimate purpose."

Johnson said the helicopter school has been at Flying W for at least 10 years. If the owners do close, he guessed that they might relocate to nearby South Jersey Regional Airport, less than 3 miles away in Lumberton. Many of the aircraft owners at Flying W would also likely end up at that airfield, which is owned by the state but operated by Cave.

Red Lion Airport in Southampton is another nearby destination where planes might relocate, Johnson said.

"Nobody is going to like it if it closes," Mike Johnson said. "It's a small community here; we all know each other and help each other out. Some of us would end up going separate ways."

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Robinson R44 Raven I, RA-04195, Heli Crimea: Fatal accident occurred November 28, 2016 in Vinogradnoye, south of Alushta, Crimea

NTSB Identification: ERA17WA062
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Monday, November 28, 2016 in Vinogradny Township, Russia
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44, registration:
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 28, 2016, about 0638 universal coordinated time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, Russian registration RA-04195, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Vinogradny Township, Russia, while enroute from Yalta, Russia, to Crimea, Russia. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Aviation Committee of Russia.

Further information can be obtained from:

Interstate Aviation Committee
22/2/1 Bolshaya Ordynka Str.
Moscow 119017, Russia

Tel.: (7) 495 953-5251
Fax: (7) 495-953-1145

This report is for informational purposes and only contains information released by the Russian Government.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport plans prompt new push on noise

College Park city councilman Ambrose Clay poses measures aircraft noise as a jet passes overhead near Hartsfield-Jackson International. He pushed for a recently approved airport noise referendum calling for Congress to direct the FAA to develop a new noise exposure measure. The referenda also calls for federal funding for new noise insulation to help affected residences.

As the Atlanta airport launches an expansion that will allow for more flights, expanded cargo operations at night and eventually a sixth runway, some residents who live nearby say relentless growth is making their lives miserable.

“The noise is excruciating,” said Burness Davis, who lives in the Clayton County community of Conley. “It’s just horrible. It affects us daily.”

College Park residents voted this month in favor of a referendum to urge Congress to direct the Federal Aviation Administration to develop new noise exposure measures and authorize new funding for insulation in affected areas.

“We don’t want to shut down the airport,” said city councilman Ambrose Clay, a leader in the effort. “We’re not coming out with torches and pitchforks. We’re just trying to get noise insulation for our neighbors.”

Hartsfield-Jackson International already handles nearly 2,500 arrivals and departures daily, with a takeoff about every 45 seconds during busy periods.

In some of the most affected surrounding areas, where cheap apartment rents are the main draw, noise can disrupt sleep, affect small children and prompt residents to regularly shout in conversations to be heard over the roar of jet engines.

The city of Atlanta, which owns and operates the airport, is determined to maintain its position in the industry and is taking the first steps in a $6 billion master plan modernization and expansion.

Prior expansions have cleared out entire neighborhoods, such as Mountain View to the east of the airport. The latest plan would put the sixth runway on the existing airfield, rather than having to significantly expand the airport footprint and displace residents, but it still is expected to require the clearing of hotels southwest of the airport.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also wants to attract more cargo flights at night, when the airport is now mostly quiet. The airport is building new cargo facilities on the south side of the airport.

To Davis, cargo is an unwelcome nighttime visitor. “When do we get a rest? Because we can’t sleep at night,” she said.

Not their problem

Most residents who live next to the airport are not constituents of Reed or Atlanta City Council members.

“That’s the crux of the whole battle,” said Mike Flannagan, a landowner and developer in Sterling, Va., who previously owned apartment developments in College Park. “There’s nobody in the city council of Atlanta that’s got to look a College Park resident in the eye and say, ‘Hey man, how am I doing?’ ”

Flannagan sued Atlanta over airport noise issues and lost, withdrawing his lawsuit last summer and selling his properties, ending a five-year fight.

“The noise down there is ridiculous … Everybody down there that’s living in the affected area, they’ve been beat,” Flannagan said. “I would never come back and buy anything on the south side of I-20.”

People who live around airports benefited from newer, quieter aircraft from 1975 through 2000, according to the FAA. But, “Most of the gains from quieter aircraft were achieved by 2000,” the agency says. Future fixes will likely have to be done through policies on development around airports and operational procedures.

A recent noise study Hartsfield-Jackson found little change to be made in the “noise contours” that determine what areas are eligible for noise insulation. The airport says it’s “too early to tell” what the effect of the sixth runway will be on noise.

The airport used to conduct noise monitoring around Hartsfield-Jackson, installing 16 noise monitors in 1996 after a series of hearings for the airport’s master plan at the time.

The airport recently commissioned for the removal of the devices, which are spread around East Point, Hapeville, Atlanta, Forest Park, College Park and unincorporated Clayton, Fulton and DeKalb counties, because the equipment hasn’t been used for years and cannot be used for FAA noise studies.

Hartsfield-Jackson has an ongoing noise insulation program, gradually adding new windows, doors, air conditioning and other measures in homes, offices and apartments. Insulation projects cost about $10-$15 million annually, with 80 percent covered by the federal government. Hartsfield-Jackson said it insulates a few hundred apartment units a year.

“We take the concerns of nearby residents seriously,” Hartsfield-Jackson said in a written statement.

But many older homes around Hartsfield-Jackson had noise insulation done in past decades, which prevents them from qualifying for upgraded insulation or to account for the tremendous increase in flights since then.

Insulation offensive

The referendum approved by College Park voters aims to spark a new insulation offensive. Councilman Clay is a member of a N.O.I.S.E., the National Association to Insure a Sound Controlled Environment, a coalition of local elected officials working to mitigate airport noise.

“We’re getting a lot of traction that I never thought we would get,” Clay said.

The College Park vote, he said, is “effectively a petition that somebody can take to Congress and say, ‘Hey, there’s a little town in the Atlanta area that is heavily pushing for you to change this standard.’”

Clay aims to ride a wave of growing frustration nationally. Improved satellite-based technology allows aircraft to be spaced more tightly — which can increase noise and has led to complaints around the country.

A Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus has formed, with members including U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta. Among their goals: A study to measure the health effects of prolonged exposure to high levels of aviation noise.

Some say residents who live near airports and complain about the noise should have known what they were in for.

A recent report by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University said a majority of “not in my backyard” complaints about airport noise come from “a small number of loud objectors.” For example, one residence generated 6,852 of 8,760 complaints about noise at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in 2015, the report said.

Hartsfield-Jackson, which has logged 143 noise complaints so far this year vs. 107 for all of 2015, said about half of the complaints it receives come from two people.

The Mercatus report contends: “It would be a mistake to allow the preferences of a vocal but minuscule minority of citizens, however sympathetic their circumstances, to impede much-needed improvements in aviation.”

Davis, the Conley resident, sees it differently as Hartsfield-Jackson expands.

“I know they want progress. Everybody wants progress,” she said. “I just don’t think they’re considering the people that they’re affecting doing this.”

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Massachusetts lawmakers decry loud JetBlue landings at Logan International Airport

Members of Massachusetts’ Congressional delegation are asking JetBlue to retrofit its older aircraft with noise-reducing equipment to make their descent into Logan International Airport less disruptive.

The Nov. 21 letter to JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes repeated a September request made by Milton’s board of selectmen asking the airline to install “vortex generators” that would reduce a high-pitched whistling sound emanating from aircraft during landing.

“Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa — and most recently, United Airlines — have voluntarily retrofitted, or have developed plans to retrofit, their series A320 aircraft with vortex generators,” the letter stated. “We ask JetBlue to thoroughly evaluate the Milton board of selectmen’s request.”

Philip Stewart, a spokesman for JetBlue, said the airline had received the letter and would respond to the request after a full review.

In recent years, noise complaints from Milton and other communities in the Boston area have surged as a result of a new navigation system deployed by the Federal Aviation Administration that concentrates more planes into narrower flight paths.

The FAA began rolling out the new GPS-based navigation system in 2013, saying it could plot takeoffs and landings at Boston’s Logan Airport more precisely, improving safety and efficiency.

The letter to JetBlue, signed by US senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and representatives Michael E. Capuano and Stephen F. Lynch, said numerous communities have recently experienced increased airplane noise.

Noise-reducing vortex generators should be considered for JetBlue’s Airbus A320 series aircraft built prior to 2014, the letter said. Retrofitting would involve mounting small air flow detectors on the underwings of aircraft, it said.

In October, also under pressure from federal lawmakers, the FAA and the Massachusetts Port Authority — which operates Logan — said they were creating a task force to investigate flight patterns and noise problems.

Researchers, led by R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, are currently studying alternatives for Logan landings. Possibilities include planes flying into Logan at higher altitudes, over the ocean, or in airspace above a major highway.

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New cargo carrier coming to Stockton Metropolitan Airport

STOCKTON — A new cargo carrier soon will be flying its planes into Stockton Metropolitan Airport.

Earlier this month, airport officials announced Atlas Air had been issued a permit to fly into the transportation hub.

The New York-based company has recently agreed to fly 20 aircraft for Internet retailer, which currently operates four flights a day out of Stockton with American Transport Services Group, Inc., of Wilmington, Ohio.

Deputy Airport Director Ron Elliott said it is unclear when Atlas Air will begin flying out of the hub or how many flights it will operate.

With the holiday season approaching, Elliott said at least one additional flight a day could be added.

“Right now we’ve got a bit of a space problem,” Elliott said Wednesday. “Our aviation ramp is too small for (Atlas Air), and they said if we could double the space they’d double the number of flights in and out of here.”

To that end, Elliott said the airport recently added a project to design and engineer ramp expansion plans to its capital improvement program. Plans are anticipated to be approved within a year, he said.

The current aviation ramp, which is roughly four acres of concrete that surrounds several major businesses inside the airport, can accommodate only two cargo planes as they make their way to the airport’s runways, Elliott said.

The airport was recently awarded a $2.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to resurface the 50-year-old ramp, which officials said had turned to crumbling asphalt and posed a safety issue.
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If the ramp expanded, Elliott said, there is potential to attract more cargo carriers to the airport.

“A lot of these carriers have seen how well Amazon is operating here, and how our location is in great proximity to (Amazon warehouses in) Tracy, Mountain House and Patterson,” he said. “(Amazon) was operating out of Oakland before, and this gives them a break from going over the Altamont every day.”

Once Atlas Air begins operations, Elliott said it is anticipated that employment could increase by approximately 100 jobs at the airport. Revenue is also expected to increase by as much as $800,000 as well, he said.

While Amazon operates four flights out of the airport a day, a recent pilot strike at ABX Air, a subsidiary of American Transport Services Group, has reduced the number of flights to three, Elliott said.

ABX Air is working to stop the strike as soon as possible, according to

Atlas Air is a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, which serves commercial and military clients. It has locations in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, as well as throughout Europe, Asia, and South America.

For more information about Atlas Air, go to For more information about the airport’s agreement with Atlas Air, go to

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City hopes federal grant will help secure Lawrence Municipal Airport from wildlife hazards

While most hazards for pilots may be thought to come from the sky, city leaders are hoping to prevent those that come from the ground at the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

A 2012 Federal Aviation Administration study found a substantial wildlife population in the immediate vicinity of the airport — including badgers, deer and coyotes — and recommended the city install a wildlife fence.

“Based on the animal population and the potential for conflict, the study concluded a fence was necessary,” said Chuck Soules, public works director for the city.

Soules said the fence could prevent an accident should an animal run across the runway when a pilot is taking off or landing.

“If an airplane hits an animal, who knows what could happen,” he said.

The airport has a 5,700-foot runway and averages more than 100 daily flight operations of single-engine, twin-engine and business jets, according to the city’s website. However, the cost of installing a wildlife perimeter fence is substantial — well over a million dollars. Now a few years since the recommendation, funding for such a fence may be on its way.

Pending congressional approval, the city is set to receive a more than $1 million federal grant toward the installation a wildlife fence at the airport. The city’s finance director, Bryan Kidney, said the city has received “some preliminary award language” from the FAA, but nothing can be known for sure until the grant is awarded and funded by Congress in the spring.

The airport is located about three miles north of town on U.S. Highway 24 and covers nearly 500 acres. The City of Lawrence has owned and operated the airport since 1929.

If funded, the federal grant would cover 90 percent of the cost of the $1.3 million fence. The city has already budgeted its share of the cost — about $130,000 from the airport fund — as part of its Capital Improvement Plan for next year. Updates to the plan, including an updated estimate for the city-paid portion of the fence, were presented to the City Commission this month.

Soules said plans for the fence would be ready to go forward if the congressional funding is granted. He said the fence would be made of chain link, be approximately 10 feet high and surround all the operations of the airport.

Soules said there is currently no fencing at the airport, but that he doesn’t know of any collisions between planes and animals. Nevertheless, he said securing the perimeter of the airport’s operations could prevent an accident from occurring.

“We’re trying to mitigate having the accident before it actually happens,” he said. 


Preparing for Super Bowl, St. Paul Downtown Airport seeks to broaden its appeal

Joe Harris closes his eyes and sees a bustling future for his St. Paul Downtown Airport. A busy restaurant in the terminal, students and airport tourists lazing on a new outdoor plaza, listening to flight controllers' voices over loudspeakers. Bicyclists and kayakers, getting off nearby trails and the Mississippi River and heading inside the castle-like 1939 terminal to grab a bite.

"We've been asleep," said Harris, airport manager for two years. "But the airport has always been active. We want the people of St. Paul to understand who is taking off and landing at Holman Field."

Most commercial air travelers will never use this airport, which was built in 1926 and later named for the late barnstormer Charles "Speed" Holman. But it's plenty busy, with more than 60,000 private and corporate flights taking off and landing each year. It will be really busy come the 2018 Super Bowl, when NFL owners and big shots will use it to fly more than 100 small jets into and out of the Twin Cities.

Because of that, Harris' dream isn't far off. He expects that a gutted, plastic-draped space in the terminal building will become a restaurant, primarily for pilots and crews of all those corporate jets, by the day of the big game. A new plaza and a new canoe and kayak landing at the nearby river should soon be ready as well.

"There's just a lot of energy behind St. Paul right now," Harris said of an airport that hosts flight operations for 3M, the Minnesota National Guard, the State Patrol, United Health and U.S. Bank. It has hangars filled with more than 100 corporate aircraft and a couple hundred aviation workers. "The people here want to showcase St. Paul and raise the profile."

Corporate destination

Harris' ambitions started about January 2015, when Holman Field hosted Hockey Day in Minnesota, with players entering a temporary rink on the tarmac through a Chinook helicopter. It was then that Harris and his bosses at the Metropolitan Airports Commission started enjoying the attention that came with greater visibility.

Because of St. Paul's 6,700-foot runway, it can accommodate Gulfstream jets that can reach Asia and Europe and South America on a single tank of fuel, said Gary Schmidt, director of reliever airports for MAC. That makes St. Paul the place for multinational companies to launch their international corporate travel.

The 5,000-foot runways at Flying Cloud and Anoka aren't long enough for such flights, meaning St. Paul is the region's top "reliever" airport to divert corporate travel away from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. That improves wait times for commercial flights at MSP, he said.

"St. Paul gets more than 70 percent of the corporate flights now," he said.

That runway and a $45 million flood wall completed in 2008 — allowing St. Paul to stay open despite surging Mississippi waters — have encouraged businesses to invest millions in hangars and other facilities at the airport. Adding even more amenities for the crews of those flights is a good thing, Harris said.

Officials with companies such as Minnesota Jet, which staffs and services jets owned by local corporations, and Signature Flight Support, with more than 200 facilities catering to private travel worldwide, agree with him.

Reaching future pilots

"The beauty of St. Paul is it's just as close to downtown Minneapolis as MSP, and it's easy in, easy out," said Geoff Heck, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Signature. "And any airport with its visibility raised is good for the industry. Getting more people down there and getting them involved is huge."

It has been decades since St. Paul's 540-acre airport that was once home to Northwest Airlines was more than an afterthought for many. But Heck and others say the airport's growing profile with the broader public could mean increased interest in aviation by young people. And that leads to more future pilots and mechanics.

Steve Hurvitz is vice president and project director of the Learning Jet, a former Federal Express airplane parked at St. Paul and renovated to serve as a classroom for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. The plane, with working jet engines, also is used to teach Minneapolis Community and Technical College students.

Last year, Hurvitz said, the program taught 2,000 students. This school year, 2,500 will participate, and next year 3,000.

"Our goal is to get kids interested in the basics of flight, the things they have to know," he said. "At the St. Paul airport, we think it's a perfect fit. It's a little jewel that no one knows about."

That won't be true much longer, if Harris gets his way.

He hopes that the Super Bowl and coming basketball Final Four help stamp the airport in people's minds. After that, he said, a new restaurant and other amenities will bring them back. Talks have begun with two prospective restaurant operators, he said. It's been 16 years since the terminal housed a place to eat. And a restaurant could provide much-appreciated catering for long-haul flights.

Now, he said, it's time to make it happen again.

"The more the public understands us, the more we all benefit," Harris said. "We want to be woven into the fabric of the St. Paul experience."


Air Tractor AT-401, N4539B: Carburetor Fire

AIRCRAFT:   1990 Air Tractor AT-401, N4539B, Serial #: 401-0763

ENGINE: M&M, S/N:  Pratt & Whitney  R-1340 AN-1, Serial # 23988

PROPELLER:  M&M, S/N:  Hamilton Standard 23D40/6533A-18, Serial # 211972

APPROXIMATE TOTAL HOURS (estimated TT & TSMO from logbooks or other information):

ENGINE:  TTSN: Unknown, Overhaul 10/02/11 (Tulsa)  TSMOH 616

PROPELLER:    TTSN: Unknown,  IRAN: 692

AIRFRAME:  9763                    



DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES: Extensive damage firewall forward, instrument panel, gear and wings
LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:   Dawson Aircraft, Clinton Arkansas         

REMARKS: Airframe shows its age and hours, damage to left flap and elevator trim tab. The aircraft has been disassembled for transportation to the storage facility. 

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"Speed limit enforced by aircraft" no more because of budget woes, but signs remain

The signs on Virginia interstates read “Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft” – but look up and you won’t find an eye in the sky.

That’s because the Virginia State Police have lacked the money to fund the program for more than seven years.

Yet the signs remain.

It still perplexes new residents and visitors. What are these aircraft? Helicopters? Planes? Drones? Fighter jets or assault helicopters (as one popular online joke satirizes)?

The State Police get frequent inquiries about the signs, said spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

You likely won’t see planes, helicopters or drones monitoring speeders from above in the near future because budgets and staffing remain tight for the State Police. But those 425 signs erected around the state aren’t coming down either.

A Williamsburg resident recently asked the governor and a U.S. senator’s office about the signs. Neither, he said, had an answer.

He emailed The Pilot to see if the newspaper could find out why “Virginia wastes tax money maintaining a system of signs that are simply lies.”

The signs stay up because they’re legally required to be there, and, technically, the aerial program is still on the books if funding becomes available. It’s not just a scare tactic to deter speeders, officials say.

It would take more money to remove the signs than to let them be. VDOT says it costs little to nothing to maintain a sign that lasts up to 25 years, unless it’s damaged.

Drive along I-64 between the Greenbrier Parkway and Battlefield Boulevard exits in Chesapeake or I-664, north of Virginia Rte. 164, and you may notice a horizontal white line across the interstate. Then, a quarter-mile later, you’ll see another one. They’re strategically placed in problem areas around the state.

They’re easy to miss at 65 mph, but not hard to spot from above (or the Google Maps satellite view).

They’re also the key to how aerial surveillance caught speeders.

The planes are equipped with VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder) units, devices that measure the time it takes a vehicle to travel between those two lines painted on the highway. That information is then used to calculate the vehicle’s speed.

If the driver was speeding, the trooper in the air radioed to one of three or four troopers on the ground, who would pull the vehicle over.

“Where we found it effective was getting that person who is whizzing in and out of lanes, going way over the speed limit,” Geller said. “Those individuals are easy to spot from the air and its truly the most effective way to get that aggressive driver.”

One reason the program is no longer used is money. The aerial operations used a Cessna plane that cost more than $150 an hour, plus a pilot, a trooper trained to use a VASCAR unit and at least three or four cars on the ground to pull over speeders or reckless drivers.

The planes were mainly used on holidays with heavy traffic. One Labor Day in 1999, troopers caught 42 speeders in three hours. In December 2008, they nabbed 14 speeders in four hours.

Troopers issued more than 5,000 tickets statewide between 2000 and 2008 using the program, according to an Associated Press story. Only 87 tickets were issued between 2008 and 2012.

And its unlikely there will be any more for a while.

“We have no plans to do them in the future,” Geller said.

The latest hot topic: drone use that could potentially make the aerial operation cheaper.

While Virginia changed its law in 2015 to allow law enforcement to use drones, it still requires a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to monitor traffic conditions. Drones can’t be flown over crowds or moving vehicles without permission from the FAA, says Matt Waite, a drone expert at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The State Police have no plans for that any time soon.

“We don’t have the money for it right now,” Geller said. “We’ve had discussions to see if there’s possibly a benefit to the public, but mainly for search and rescue operations.”


Beaumont man's jet lands in Volo Museum collection

When Beaumont businessman William "Hat" Watkins, Jr. bought a 60-year-old Fouga CM-170 Magister French military fighter jet in 1997 at the age of 62, he didn't tell his family. Not even his wife.

He knew they'd be upset, said Lorraine Watkins Davenport, Watkins' daughter.

The family didn't learn about the jet until the next year, when Watkins was in a minor plane accident involving a different aircraft, said Davenport.

"His friend said, 'That's going to delay you from that jet,'" said Davenport. "That's when we found out."

When Watkins passed away in 2012 at 76, Davenport said the family was conflicted about what to do with the jet.

It sat in storage at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport until last summer, when Davenport discovered the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois, while watching an episode of "Small Town, Big Deal." The museum specializes in rare and unique cars.

Davenport said she consulted with her family, and they decided to donate her dad's jet.

"There are some things that are worth much more than money," said Davenport. "We were much more comfortable with this."

Davenport said her father was the co-owner of Batesville, Mississippi-based ACI Building Systems, Inc., which required him to travel frequently.

"He was impatient and didn't want to go to the airport," she said. "He started learning how to fly and fell in love with it."

Stig Lunde, a pilot who used to fly with Watkins, said Watkins spotted the jet in a "Trade-a-Plane" magazine. A few days later, they traveled to New York to check it out. Watkins bought it.

"She was a beautiful bird, and we fell in love right away," said Lunde.

Lunde said they flew the jet to Batesville several times. But he said they stopped because the jet - which could reach a maximum speed of 440 miles per hour - burned through fuel so quickly that they had to stop in Louisiana each way. After that, he said, they would fly the plane around the region occasionally, and it spent most of the time in the hangar.

Brian Grams, director of the Volo Auto Museum, said the two-seat French military jet with twin engines was built in the late 1950s. Fewer than 1,000 were made, he said.

The jet will join the Volo Museum's collection of classic and unique cars, including three Batmobiles and a Scooby Doo van, and two other aircraft - a Huey helicopter from the Vietnam War-era and a replica of a Harrier jet from the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger film "True Lies."

Grams said the biggest challenge was figuring out how to move the jet cross-country. He said it took him three weeks to locate DeLand Barnstormers, a Florida-based business that specializes in dismantling and transporting planes. He then had to wait two months for an opening in their schedule.

"If you've got a car, I know how to get it no matter where you are in the world, no matter if you're in the desert. But a plane is another thing," Grams said.

Deland Barnstormers broke the jet down into five pieces - a body, two wings and two rear panels. It arrived at the museum at the end of October.

Grams said the jet will go on display in a few months, after the museum builds a structure for it. The museum plans to put a plaque next to it to share Watkins' story and his love of the jet.

"We are so excited that our father's jet is going to be seem by so many," Davenport said. "He loved that jet."