Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lawsuit seeks to stop Bowman Field tree cutting

Federal Aviation Administration also rejects call by federal advisory council to come up with a better mitigation plan to offset historical impacts from cutting.

Plans to remove or trim trees near Bowman Field will have no significant consequences on the environment or historical character of the leafy neighborhoods, parks and golf courses near its runways, the Federal Aviation Administration has concluded.

Whether the pronouncement ends a five-year controversy remained unclear Wednesday afternoon, as critics of the tree cutting filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the chainsaws at bay.

Although the Louisville Regional Airport Authority had already decided to go ahead with the purchase of new airspace easements and tree cutting without the FAA's blessings, the announcement Wednesday was welcomed anyway by local officials.

"We feel really good about that," said Charles T. “Skip” Miller, the authority's executive director. "There's been a lot of work and energy put into that program." While Miller had earlier this year complained about the slow pace of the FAA, he praised the federal agency Wednesday by saying he was pleased with its effort.

Environmental and other relevant concerns have been addressed sufficiently by the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, said Kathleen Bergen, FAA spokeswoman. "The environmental review process is complete and the (airport authority) may proceed with the project," Bergen said.  That conclusion scored a big win by the authority over some of its airport neighbors, who have argued that environmental and historic reviews were insufficient.

"Clearly, the environmental assessment was inadequate," said attorney Tom FitzGerald, with the Kentucky Resources Council, who represents the group Plea for Trees.

"The FAA has violated ... laws in failing to evaluate prudent and feasible alternatives to harming public parkland and historic properties and undertaking all possible planning to minimize harm to these resources," FitzGerald claimed in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

One of the problems, FitzGerald has said, is that a "reasonable" alternative of routing planes to nearby airports during low visibility was not evaluated.

The Plea for Trees lawsuit against the FAA and the LRAA claims both failed to make up for the "losses to the community from the permanent removal of extensive tree canopies."

The airport authority last week said its field work would resume this week, with tree cutting to occur this winter, with or without the FAA's approval and completion of the environmental review, and Miller said on Wednesday the authority would respond "appropriately" to any legal challenges.

Airport officials have long cut and trimmed trees near the ends of the general aviation airport runways but five years ago in December, they told neighbors they needed to expand the cutting to safely maintain the airport's function including in dark or low visibility conditions.

Carol Kaufmann, who lives near on the runway approaches, and one of three individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said airport officials have tried to buy airspace above her home to cut two trees. "I'm holding out," she said, adding that her trees and others in the area provide homes for many different kinds of birds and cooling shade.

She said she fears airport officials are trying to clear the Bowman approaches to drum up more corporate jet business and turn Bowman Field into more of a regional airport. "I would like to keep the character of the neighborhood."

Miller said the authority has the ability to purchase the airspace easements from unwilling sellers through the power of eminent domain.

"We will try to not use it," he said. "We are engaged in discussions with a number of residents out there."

Airport authority officials have said they have no plans to add a runway or extend the two existing runways at Bowman Field or allow larger or heavier aircraft to use the airfield. The FAA  said the goal of the project is to restore airport conditions to the way they were in 2012, allowing for nighttime instrument approaches.

The studies looked at a few different alternatives, including doing nothing, or putting lights on trees, and agreed with a plan to acquire easements on 44 properties and trim or replace 104 trees that penetrate or are within ten feet of penetrating the airspace.

But bid documents actually identify 195 trees total with 138 of them to be removed, 53 to be trimmed and four to be transplanted. That's on top of other tree removal and trimming done since 2011 under existing airspace easements. Airport officials have said they are removing more trees at residents' request.

They have offered homeowners a two-for-one replacement, but with shorter growing trees.

Miller said LRAA has offered additional mitigation to Louisville Metro Parks, promising to provide five new trees for every tree removed. He said the authority is willing to replace each tree removed from a city right of way three new trees.

But in what is sure to be a controversial finding, the FAA also has rejected the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's earlier conclusion that the tree cutting would have no adverse impacts on the historical character of the neighborhoods near the airport. It argues that there is a "natural cycle and historic pattern of residential subdivisions" that "includes a change in the mixture of tree species, age and height as trees mature and are removed and replaced."

The historic preservation council in a Nov. 3 letter urged the FAA and local airport officials to develop a more robust plan to offset damage to the historical character of neighborhoods. But the FAA, in justifying its position, argued that the cutting would not eliminate all the mature trees in the neighborhood - rather, "that selective trimming of taller trees would be in keeping with the historic character, and would not be cumulatively or foreseeably adverse."

The Plea for Trees lawsuit calls the FAA decision to disregard the advisory council's recommendation "arbitrary and capricious and otherwise inconsistent with law."

FAA officials did not immediately make the full environmental assessment available.

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SkyWest announces fleet, contract changes and charges

ST. GEORGE – SkyWest Inc. announced Tuesday additional fleet transitions and contract updates designed to reduce SkyWest’s long-term fleet risk and enhance its ability to respond to changing partner needs.

SkyWest’s ExpressJet operation expects to transition to flying primarily dual-class aircraft in its CRJ operation by removing its CRJ200 aircraft from service over the next year. The removal of the CRJ200 aircraft reduces ExpressJet’s future required investment in its 50-seat fleet and is expected to improve the airline’s operating efficiency by eliminating an aircraft type from its platform.

SkyWest also announced Tuesday that ExpressJet and American Airlines have agreed to place 12 dual-class CRJ700s into service under a multiyear term. These CRJ700s had been scheduled to be removed from service under a previously-disclosed early lease return arrangement.

Additionally, SkyWest and Bombardier entered into a termination agreement covering Bombardier’s residual value guarantee agreements on 76 CRJ200 aircraft owned by SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet. Bombardier agreed to pay SkyWest $90 million by January 2017 along with certain other consideration in exchange for the release. Both the required sale of each aircraft and the cost to SkyWest of returning the aircraft to midtime condition were points of risk and uncertainty for SkyWest that this termination agreement eliminates.

As a result of the expectation to remove ExpressJet CRJ200s from service and the Bombardier RVG termination agreement, SkyWest is evaluating its total 50-seat CRJ200 fleet and related long-lived assets for impairment in Q4 2016.

SkyWest currently anticipates it will record a noncash impairment charge in Q4 2016 estimated to be in the range of $440 million to $490 million (pretax) on its CRJ200 aircraft and other 50-seat aircraft assets, net of the $90 million in cash proceeds from the Bombardier termination agreement.

“Streamlining our fleet and taking early settlement of Bombardier’s RVG obligations reduce both our overall risk profile and the future investment that would have been required in the CRJ200 fleet,” SkyWest President and CEO Chip Childs said. “These moves strategically position us to continue to deploy our capital against our best investment opportunities and are expected to help improve future liquidity and fleet flexibility.”

SkyWest Inc. is the holding company for two scheduled passenger airline operations and an aircraft leasing company. SkyWest’s airline companies provide commercial air service in cities throughout North America, with more than 3,100 daily flights carrying nearly 57 million passengers annually.

SkyWest Airlines operates through partnerships with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. ExpressJet Airlines operates through partnerships with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Based in St. George, Utah, SkyWest continues to set the standard for excellence across the regional industry with unmatched value for customers, shareholders and its more than 19,000 employees.


An earthquake in Polk County? Nope, just sonic booms from jet fighters

Residents in Polk, Lincoln and Columbia counties who expressed concern about a potential earthquake Monday night can rest easy. It wasn't an earthquake -- we checked -- but likely a result of Air National Guard training in the area.

Between 9 and 10 p.m. Monday night, viewers alerted KGW to loud booms that shook windows, rattled walls and were felt in Dallas, Independence, Lebanon and Lincoln City.

We looked into it and found no evidence of any earthquakes in the area. A local media report, however, tipped us off to Air National Guard training that was taking place along the Oregon coast.

The sonic booms from the fighter jets may have been responsible for the loud sounds that shook residents' homes and nerves Monday night. A spokesperson for the Air National Guard told KGW's Christine Pitawanich that the sound of the jet fighters can travel far, depending on the weather.

The Air National Guard spokesperson also confirmed that both the 142nd and 173rd Fighter Wings of the Air National Guard were conducting training last night and will continue training the next couple nights off the Oregon coast.

She wouldn't divulge the exact locations where they will be flying, but said that the 142nd flies off the coast between Astoria and Tillamook.


Cessna 172N Skyhawk, Caribbean Aviation Training Centre, N101KA: Fatal accident occurred November 10, 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica


NTSB Identification: ERA17WA049
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, November 10, 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N101KA
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 18, 2016, about 1335 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172N, United Stated registration N101KA, operated by the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre, was destroyed when it impacted a building in Greenwich Farm, Kingston 13, Jamaica. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The local flight was conducted under Jamaican flight regulations.

This accident investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Jamaica. Any further information pertaining to this may be obtained from:

Civil Aviation Authority
4 Winchester Road
Kingston 5
Tel.: (876) 960-3965 / (876) 920-2280
Fax: (876) 920-0194

This report is for information purposes, and contains only information released by the Government of Jamaica.

Pilots from Caribbean Aviation Training Centre (CATC) at the thanksgiving service for the life of Danshuvar Gilmore.

If his time had come to die, he wanted to know that he had fulfilled his dream, lived his passion of becoming a pilot.

Nineteen-year-old Danshuvar Joshua Gilmore of St Ann did that, albeit shortlived, and more.

Captain Errol Stewart, founder and CEO of Caribbean Aviation Training Centre (CATC), told the gathering at the Ocho Rios Baptist Church on Saturday that student pilot Gilmore and two other victims of the November 10 plane crash in Kingston, Romone Forbes and Jonathan Worton, died protecting lives, as they were trained to do.

The Cessna 172 aircraft crashed in Greenwich Town, avoiding any casualties on the ground.

Stewart hailed this and announced that the CATC would be awarding three scholarships in their honour.

He also said he would make representation to the Ministry of Transport to have the three victims officially recognised by the nation by having them included on next year's list of awardees for national honours, a comment met with rousing applause from a packed church.

Despite the rain, hundreds of persons turned out at the service of thanksgiving for the life of Gilmore, the last to be buried of the three victims of the tragedy.
Still looking smart in his uniform, while lying in his coffin, which was finished in two tones of blue, his favourite colour, Gilmore did one final act.


He brought together people from all walks of life, from schools he attended, relatives from overseas, friends, government ministers, and well wishers.

Transport Minister Mike Henry and Shahine Robinson, member of parliament for St Ann North Eastern, were in attendance. So, too, were relatives of the other two crash victims.

Chief Education Officer Dr Grace McLean brought greetings on behalf of Education Minister Ruel Reid and pledged to "continue to offer our support".

Danshuvar's mother delivered the eulogy, describing how she hoped his passion for flying would have disappeared with the years as she dreaded the thought of him doing aviation lessons.

The passion never did. But he got to do what he really loved.

Among the touching tributes printed in the programme, Danshuvar's older sister, Abigail, wrote, in part: "One half of me just disappeared ... God, please take this pain away from me."

But the Gilmore family and, indeed, the families of the other victims would have taken great comfort from the sermon delivered by the Reverend Jonathan Hemmings, who implored the brokenhearted to wait on God.

"This experience does not represent the last time you would have heard from God, so wait on God," Hemmings told the family. "As far as this is concerned, you have not heard the last from God as it relates to Danshuvar."

Student pilots from CATC were among the pall-bearers, carrying the coffin from the church to the hearse, which took the body to its final resting place at the St Ann's Bay Cemetery.

Ramone Forbes

Hundreds turned out on Sunday for a thanksgiving service at Boundbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland for student pilot Ramone Forbes, who died at hospital following a plane crash on November 10.

Forbes, a former student at Titchfield High School, died from injuries he received in the crash that also claimed the lives of his flight instructor, 30-year-old Jonathan Worton, and another student pilot, 19-year-old Dansheer Gilmore.

Tears flowed as Forbes was fondly remembered for determination, dedication, and passion for not only becoming a pilot, but also the active role he played at Priestman's River Seventh-day Adventist Church, as a youth leader, deacon, and a Pathfinder.

"We are very proud of the strides made by our young people," Pastor Adlai Blythe said.

"Forbes was a part of the graduating class of Master Guides last June. He was a very active young man at home, his church, and across at North East Jamaica Conference (NEJC)."

Founder and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre (CATC), Captain Errol Stewart, labelled all three victims as his sons, who he claimed were destined for a bright future.

"I lost three sons, and it is not easy picking up the pieces," he said.

"However, the joy for me is that the Almighty selected three of my finest pilots. For this reason, I am happy as they went on to the Almighty airline. When he came to CATC, all I saw was a bright smile on his face. From that day on, Forbes was referred to as 'Smiley'. Let us, instead, reflect on the joy and passion that he has left behind," Stewart added.

According to Stewart, a scholarship will be launched in honour of Forbes, and a past student of Titchfield High, who shared the same pain, passion, vision and love for aviation, will be selected for the scholarship.

Ramone died just two weeks shy of his 18th birthday. He grew up in the rural district of Castle in Priestman's River, Portland. As early as three years old, he developed a love and interest in aircraft.

Forbes' aunt, Judith Miller, in delivering the eulogy, stated that he was fascinated with aircraft and testified that while in high school, he used his book covers to make toy planes.

"While enrolled at CATC, he was the youngest in his class. He enrolled at The Mico University College as a computer science student in 2016, but it was never his dream as he would always maintain that he was a pilot, not a teacher," she said.

Following the service, the procession made its way to the Commodore Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

The Health Ministry is reporting that the third victim of the Greenwich Town plane crash is alive, though critically injured.

Earlier, the police and the Fire Department had reported that the third victim was pronounced dead at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).

However, the chief medical officer Dr Winston De La Haye told The Gleaner a short while ago that the patient, a student pilot, is alive.

"He became conscious enough to give a history to doctors at KPH. He's now sedated with burns to 60 per cent of his body, bone fractures, eye trauma and obviously inhalation injuries from any fumes he is likely to have inhaled," De La Haye said.

He said the patient is expected to go to the Intensive Care Unit.

The flight instructor and another student were pronounced dead on the scene.

The aircraft burst into flames on impact and also ignited a house.

The police say the small aircraft crashed sometime after 1 o’clock this afternoon on Seaview Lane in the community.

The Transport Minister Mike Henry told a Caribbean Maritime Institute graduation ceremony that the plane had just taken off when it crashed.

He says the plane belonged to the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre.

Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller in whose South West St Andrew constituency the crash happened visited the scene expressing regret at the incident.

A woman claiming to be a relative of one of the victims who turned up at the scene was crying uncontrollably. 

In the meantime, the Civil Aviation Authority has launched a probe into the incident. 

Head of Communication Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, has confirmed that three persons died in a small plane crash which occurred on Thursday off Marcus Garvey Drive in the community of Greenwich Farm.

Lindsay also revealed that of the three persons killed, one was initially rescued by brave residents who pulled him from the wreckage, however, he later succumbed to injuries while receiving medical treatment.

She also noted that the fire department was still on the scene carrying out cool-down operations, after several small fires erupted in the aftermath of the early afternoon crash.

The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) and other agencies are reported to be on the scene attempting to secure the area for investigations.

Naples Airport officials look at possible expansion


Could more commercial flights be headed to Naples?

That's just one of the questions the Naples Airport Authority hopes to have answered in an update to their master plan. They'll ask the board on Thursday for permission to submit a million-dollar grant application to the FAA to pay for it.

Chris Rozanskly, executive director of the Naples Airport Authority, said the master plan "...helps you to identify where we're at today, trends in the industry in aviation and travel in general, how our facilities compare to the needs we have today and up to 20 years down the road."

A professional consultant would lead the study, which could take up to two years to complete. Rozanskly said there would be plenty of chances for public input. 

What are the chances for expansion? "It has to be measured with the needs of the community. If we identify some trends that call for expansion, we would look at how to do that in a responsible way," he said.

Naples resident Trevor Tibstra lives near the airport and said he hopes the expansion happens

"It's really not an issue; you're standing right next to the airport right now, and you don't hear anything," Tibstra said.

"It's not loud, you see them go by, you see the little ones playing around, too. It's actually kind of neat to watch them," said Darlene Stacey, another who lives nearby.

The master plan was last updated in 1997. If the grant is approved, they hope to start the study late next year. 

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In a shift, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority encourages board members to travel

Four years after an ethics scandal put a halt to their expensive trips and gourmet meals, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board members voted Wednesday to introduce a new set of guidelines that encourages them travel more — not less.

Under the new directive, board members are encouraging one another to attend up to three conferences a year and join professional or industry associations that will “further enhance access to information on industry norms, trends and developments.” Those who attend meetings or conferences will be required to submit reports to the authority.

“If we can’t travel, we can’t serve our stakeholders as well as we would like,” said Caren Merrick, who chaired the committee that proposed the changes. She said that allowing board members to attend conferences and industry meetings is in line with “best practices” of other similar boards of which she has been a member.

Wednesday’s action is a significant shift for the board, which tightened travel rules in the wake of a 2012 scandal surrounding lavish spending habits of some members. Even though the board’s composition has largely changed, many new members remain reluctant to travel at the authority’s expense, Merrick said.

“The board felt we should encourage travel within reasonable boundaries,” said board chairman William “Shaw” McDermott, who voted in support of the change, along with nine others. Two board members, Joslyn Williams and Bob Lazaro, abstained from voting.

McDermott said that despite the change, he did not anticipate a significant increase in the 17-member board’s travel budget, which is roughly $80,000 annually. The airports authority is funded through rates, fees and taxes charged to airlines and passengers.

In 2012, a scathing federal inspector general’s report cited questionable travel expenses by board members: a $9,000 business-class ticket booked at the last minute to an aviation conference in Prague and $4,800 in meal expenses, including lobster dinners, at another conference in Hawaii. The report also found that there were no rules governing how often or how much board members could spend on travel related to the airports authority.

In response, the board passed new rules that limited how much they could spend on meals, forced them to pay for their own alcohol and required the board chairman to approve any travel. As a result, board travel was sharply curtailed.

An analysis earlier this year by The Washington Post found that in 2015, three board members attended out-of-town conferences. Other board members received reimbursements because they live outside of the D.C. area, and others billed the authority for mileage or in-town travel expenses. In all, board members spent $36,000 — less than half of their $80,000 travel budget.

MWAA’s board of directors oversee a quasi-public agency that manages Reagan National and Dulles International airports as well as construction of the $5.8 billion Silver Line rail project that will extend Metro service to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County. It has an annual budget of $2 billion, and its revenue comes from airport concessions and passenger fees, not tax dollars.

Its members serve six-year terms and are appointed by the governors of Virginia and Maryland, the D.C. mayor and the president. Board members do not receive compensation for their service. The federal statute that created the airports authority requires that the board include representatives from Maryland and the federal government.

McDemott said as part of an effort to be transparent, yearly audits of board travel expenses will be conducted by MWAA’s office of audit.

Even so, while board members are encouraged to share information about their trips with their colleagues, the guidelines appear to discourage them from speaking to the media.

“The Airports Authority’s Media Relations staff should be consulted before providing any statements to the press regarding Board Member conference travel and professional association memberships and other licenses sponsored by the Airports Authority,” the new guidelines state.


Plane Training: New business caters to those who want to fly

Miranda Maleki, owner of Plane Training

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA-TV) - There's a new business in KOTA Territory that will appeal to any of you with an itch for flying.

Instead of having to travel to get a commercial pilot license, you can now do it more affordably and closer to home at Rapid City Regional Airport.

"I love it," says Miranda Maleki, owner of Plane Training. "I love what I do. It's fun to watch your students succeed."

"It's really fun to watch people who've thought about flying their entire lives, finally do it and succeed at it," says Maleki.

Miranda Maleki is a flight instructor with her fleet of four planes in her new business called Plane Training. She's the daughter of WestJet's Don and Lynda Rydstrom.

Student John Arneson started at a flying academy but it was too expensive. His dream is still to fly. He just passed his instrument check ride and highly recommends the flight school to others.

"I would encourage it absolutely," says Arneson. "Just to even get that private pilot rating, to understand what aviation is all about. It makes you more comfortable even when you fly an airline to have some sort of idea what's going on. I would say there's no reason not to go for it."

Plane Training is a big investment for Miranda, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Her biggest expense is insurance.

Arneson is one of about ten current students. It can be a pricey pastime. The training for a private pilot license alone can run between $7,000 and $10,000.


Helicopter manufacturer reaches settlement with Navy crash victims

NORFOLK,Va. (WVEC) -- It's been nearly three years since a tragic Navy helicopter crash in the Atlantic killed three local crew members.

Tonight, the aircraft's manufacturer has agreed to settle wrongful death and negligence claims by the widows of the three airmen and a survivor of the crash.

Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has agreed to settle wrongful death and negligence claims in a lawsuit filed over the January, 2014 crash of a Navy helicopter that killed three crew members on an exercise 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, during routine mine countermeasures training.

"A fire erupted in the upper left hand side of the aircraft, just behind the cockpit, resulting in thick black smoke," said Navy Captain Todd Flannery in September, 2014.

The original Navy report said there was a fireball, the crew became disoriented, and they only had about 20 seconds before their MH-53 hit the ocean. The problem began with a fuel line. There was an eruption of some kind, and the fuel came into contact with these electrical wires. The arc or surge came into contact with the fuel line that had become chafed.

The mishap prompted the Navy inspect each and every one of the service's 28 Sea Dragons and all 149 Sea Stallions.

A Virginian-Pilot investigation found that those inspections were not sufficient, and, a new round was ordered.

The commodore of Helicopter Sea combat wing Atlantic Commodore told 13News Now in April, 2015, that the objective was to get it right.

 "Aviation is inherently dangerous," Captain Pat Everly. "But we owe it to the men and women who operate it, and those who work on it to make sure we're providing a safe aircraft."

The MH-53-E Sea Dragon is the Navy's oldest and most maintenance-intensive helicopter. The one in question dates back to the 80''s.

Sikorsky has reached a "settlement in principle" with the widows of the three crewmen and a survivor of the crash, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed and await approval of a judge.

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Orlando International Airport disputes name of Orlando Melbourne International Airport

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Orlando International Airport told Channel 9’s Field Sutton that it’s willing to sue the city of Melbourne and its airport for adding Orlando to the airport's name.

Last year, it became the Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

OIA commissioned a study to find out whether customers are confused. Airport leaders in Orlando claim flyers are showing up in the wrong place. They said the report from the research company proves people are landing in Melbourne thinking they've touched down ready for business at the convention center or a vacation at the theme parks.

Airport leaders said they can’t release the study to Eyewitness News because it is private and they might use it to sue the Melbourne airport.

Officials with OIA call Melbourne’s name change false advertising.

"We are exceedingly protective of the traveling public not being confused,” said Frank Kruppenbacher, board chair of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

The GOAA board approved a plan for OIA to go through mediation with Melbourne's airport and then turn to a lawsuit against Melbourne if mediation fails.

"It could cause a lot of confusion for people who didn't know the area,” said Esther Nesbitt, a traveler.

Melbourne's city manager sent a statement to Eyewitness News.

"We at city hall learned about this today. We will be investigating this and are certainly interested in an amicable resolution."

That's what OIA is hoping for too.

"We always try and figure out a way to amicably resolve the matter. If you don't amicably resolve it then you plant your feet and say, 'OK, we'll get it resolved,’” said Kruppenbacher.

The executive director at the Melbourne airport sent Eyewitness News and OIA a letter.  It reads in part, "...domestic and international passengers utilize both of our facilities for access to Central Florida and the greater Orlando area. We believe that consumers should have options when making traveling decisions to best suit their needs..."

Read the full letter here.

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Southwest Airlines flight diverts to Panama City Beach due to passenger medical issue

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP)-- A Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Orlando had to divert to Panama City Beach Wednesday due to a passenger with a medical condition.

Southwest Flight 3016 from Phoenix to Orlando landed at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) north of Panama City Beach at 2:35 pm central standard time.

A passenger, reportedly in their 80s, fell ill during the flight. According to scanner traffic, CPR was in progress on the plane while it was headed to ECP.

No other information is available right now. The flight did land safely. It's scheduled to continue it's trip to Orlando at 3:20 pm central standard time.


Air Tractor AT-802A, Rebel Ag Pty Ltd, VH-NIA: Fatal accident occurred November 21, 2016 W of Narromine, NSW, Australia

NTSB Identification: WPR17WA026
Accident occurred Monday, November 21, 2016 in Trangie, Australia
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR AT802, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 21, 2016, approximately 0830 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (ESuT), an Air Tractor AT-802A, Australian registration VH-NIA, collided with terrain about 15 nautical miles south of Trangie, Australia. The pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries.

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

Australian Transport Safety Bureau
P.O. Box 967, Civic Square ACT 2608
15 Mort St., Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory
Telephone: +61 2 6274 6471
Fax: +61 2 6274 6434

Collision with terrain involving an Air Tractor AT-802A, VH-NIA, 31 km W Narromine, NSW, on 21 November 2016

Investigation number: AO-2016-157Investigation status: Active


8 December 2016

The ATSB has completed the on-site phase of the investigation into the collision with terrain involving an Air Tractor AT-802A aircraft, registered VH-NIA, which occurred near Narromine, New South Wales on 21 November 2016. That phase included:

examining the aircraft wreckage

recovery of a mobile phone, propeller assembly and the aircraft engine and associated components for possible further technical examination by the ATSB
interviewing a number of witnesses.

The investigation is continuing and will examine the:

weather affecting the flight

preparation for and conduct of the flight

aircraft maintenance records

pilot’s records and history

operator’s processes

recovered items, components and mobile phone.

21 November 2016

The ATSB is investigating the collision with terrain involving an Air Tractor AT-802A aeroplane, registered VH-NIA, which occurred 33 km west of Narromine, New South Wales on 21 November 2016. The pilot was fatally injured and the aeroplane was destroyed by the impact forces and post-impact fire.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will:

collect and review aircraft and pilot documentation, including maintenance records

review the operation and flight

review the weather conditions affecting the flight

interview the operator, maintainer and any witnesses.

Witnesses are asked to call the ATSB on 1800 020 616.

2.06pm: Police have confirmed a fatal plane crash in Narromine on Monday Morning. The accident took place after 8am this morning. NSW Police attended the scene between 8.20 am and 8.30am.

The accident took place between 30kms and 35kms west of Narromine on the Dandaloo road. 

It was a single-engine aircraft. The pilot, a 55 year old male, died at the scene. He was the only person involved in the crash

Police believe he is not local to the area. Police also believe he was aerial spraying and the cause of the accident is unknown. 

Inspector Mark Dixon said the police are investigating the incident with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

10.59am: Trangie Fire and Rescue and HazMat Dubbo attended the crash scene this morning. Both crews assisted the Rural Fire Service. HazMat Dubbo attended to clean up a small fuel spill and check for other fuel or chemical spills at the site. Both crews received the call at 8.20am. 

10.33am: Early reports suggest there was a fatality and the light plane was a crop duster.

10.19am: The crash site is on Dandaloo Road, 30 to 35kms west of Narromine. Take care when using the Dandaloo Road, it is still opened to traffic.

EARLIER: A small plane crash has taken place on Dandaloo Road in Narromine at 8.20am this morning. 

Police, Ambulance, Volunteer Rescue Association, Fire and Rescue NSW, Haz Mat and NSW Fire and Rescue have attended. 

Pig on patrol: Bacon Bits getting job at Albany International Airport

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Travelers at the Albany International Airport are going hog-wild over the newest member of the airport team, and not just because he has his own Facebook page.

Wednesday morning, travelers at the Albany International Airport were greeted by a celebrity and though he has a big snout, he wasn’t snooty at all.

Meet Bacon Bits, the therapy pig.

“The purpose is to relax people and calm them, de-stress them,” said Director of Albany International Airport’s Canine Ambassador Program Helen Chadderdon. “It breaks their train of thought when they’re trying to get through the check point or once they get through.”

She is referring to the canine ambassadors program at the Albany International Airport but on Wednesday, Bacon Bits became the first porcine to join the program.

“Bacon Bits is a perfect match for the public, he loves people, he wags his tail, he’s friendly,” Chadderdon said.

Bacon Bits was gifted to Terry Hutchinson when she was recovering from being ill. She likes to say they obviously ran out of flowers, cards, and boxes of candy, but her recovery gift has become a gift for others. Together the two visit 65 different facilities and nursing homes each year delivering smiles.

When Hutchinson met one of the canine ambassadors at a Halloween parade, she reached out to the airport right away.

“I thought it was a little, you know, I was like, ‘Oh, okay,’ you know, ‘but let’s look at it,’” Chadderdon said.

It only took one interview with the 101-pound charmer and he was in.

“I couldn’t believe how lovable and friendly he was,” Chadderdon said. “He was in my office and wagging his tail and I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is great.’ Terry was wonderful; Bacon Bits was wonderful, so here we are today.”

At just 20-months-old, the little guy has years to continue to wag that tail, spread that love and prove once and for all that everything is better with bacon.

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Everbody Has a Story: Close call having to land airplane on road just after takeoff in Alaska

By Dave Campbell, Battle Ground

In 1962, I was eagerly awaiting my “short timer” calendar to run out. After my original release date from active duty Army had been extended in late November 1961 by the actions of the Soviets in Germany, I was ready to get back to civilian life. I’d had enough excitement during my service to last a lifetime.

I had bought a light, two-seat aircraft — a Cessna 140. It was with the thought that I would get more experience and additional ratings, perhaps even enough to fly commercially. I had been talking with Eric, my former roommate, about taking a trip to Alaska in my plane after we both got out of the Army, especially since his release date was a few weeks after mine and he also was a pilot.

We made plans that we would meet up at Fort Lewis on his last duty day and fly up to Alaska. We managed to successfully cross the border and spent the first night at Dawson Creek, B.C., camping under the wings of the plane inside sleeping bags and mosquito nets. The whine of mosquitoes frustrated by that stupid net kept me awake for quite a while.

The next morning was frustrating for us to try to find someplace to get breakfast. We ending up not getting anything until the next time we stopped for gas, in Prince George.

We eventually got to Fairbanks, where we made friends with the local fixed-base operator who let us stay in a trailer for the night. The next day, after a thankfully good breakfast at the airport greasy spoon, we took off for Circle, a town just north of the Arctic Circle.

About 10 minutes after taking off, we suddenly noticed that the oil pressure gauge read zero! How could we both have missed that when I started the engine? With no oil pressure, that engine would have only a few more minutes of life.

Looking around for a place to land, we only had one choice: the road just below. It was kind of narrow with trees on both sides, but we didn’t have much time to look for a wider spot. At least if the plane got wrecked, I was flying this leg and couldn’t blame Eric.

I managed to land on that road, but on the rollout the left wing tip caught an alder, neatly removing the wing tip light, swinging us gently to the left and bumping over a low bank. The propeller gently swung to a stop between a couple more small alders. We sat there for a minute, amazed, and then jumped out to look at our predicament.

We got hold of the main gear and heaved that plane back up on the road and pushed it a few hundred feet to a wider spot that I could have landed in. A few minutes later, an Alaska Highway Department guy came along and offered us a ride down the road to a telephone. Eric rode down to call for a mechanic — who after a while flew up, landed easily in the wide spot and checked out my plane. He found a plugged filter, reassembled it and started the engine. No problem, good oil pressure. He flew Eric back to Fairbanks, and I followed in my plane.

The wing needed a patch and both wing tip lights needed to be replaced, but the only real damage was to my wallet.


Agusta A109A-II, One Zero Nine-FTO Inc Trustee, N109W: Fatal accident occurred November 19, 2016 near Induno Olona, Varese, Italy

NTSB Identification: ERA17WA060
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Saturday, November 19, 2016 in Varese, Italy
Aircraft: AGUSTA SPA A109A II, registration: N109W
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 19, 2016, at 1316 universal coordinated time, an Augusta A109 A II, N109W, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while navigating near Varese, Italy. An Italian passenger was fatally injured and the Italian certificated pilot and Swiss passenger were seriously injured. The flight departed Lugano Airport (LSZA), Lugano, Switzerland, at 1312.

This accident investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV) of Italy. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo
Via A. Benigni, 53-00156
Telephone: +39 06 82 078 229
Fax: +39 06 8273672

This report is for informational purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained from the Government of Italy.

Tragedia a Bisuschio, in una zona boschiva, nel primo pomeriggio di oggi, sabato 19 novembre.

Un elicottero, un AW109 di colore nero proveniente dall’aeroporto di Lugano Agno è caduto schiantandosi nella zona boschiva del Monte Minisfreddo, in località Passo del Vescovo, tra Bisuschio e Arcisate.

Tre le persone a bordo, il pilota, un imprenditore svizzero, e una donna di nazionalità italiana. I due uomini sono rimasti feriti gravemente, mentre la donna, Stefania Fendoni, una quarantenne della provincia di Sondrio, è morta nell’incidente.

L’allarme è stato lanciato dal pilota del velivolo, nel primo pomeriggio, e immediatamente sono partite le squadre di soccorso. Sul posto una quarantina di persone, tra soccorritori del 118, Vigili del fuoco, squadre del soccorso alpino e protezione civile, oltre alla polizia locale di Bisuschio, e ai Carabinieri.

La telefonata di soccorso ha permesso di localizzare la zona dove il velivolo è precipitato, poi le comunicazioni si sono interrotte, facendo temere il peggio per la sorte dei tre passeggeri. Elicotteri hanno sorvolato a lungo la zona, mentre le squadre di soccorso si avventuravano a piedi sulla montagna.

Le operazione di soccorso si sono presentate subito molto difficili: il mezzo infatti è precipitato in una zona impervia, sul monte Minisfreddo, a quota 800 metri sotto a un costone roccioso sul versante affacciato verso Bisuschio, mentre sulla zona nebbia e nuvole basse limitavano la visibilità dei soccorritori italiani e svizzeri che sorvolavano in elicottero la zona.

I passeggeri dell’elicottero sono stati individuati poco dopo le 18 in località Passo del Vescovo,  recuperati attorno alle 19 da un elicottero della Rega, dopo essere stati raggiunti via terra dagli uomini del soccorso alpino.

Trasferiti in ambulanza sono stati trasportati in ospedale, uno a Lugano e l’altro a Varese. Entrambi, secondo le prime informazioni, sono rimasti coscienti per tutto il tempo, nonostante le gravi ferite riportate. Il corpo della donna deceduta è stato trasportato fino al campo base da un mezzo dei Vigili del fuoco.

Ancora ignote le cause dell’incidente, sarà l’inchiesta tecnica di Civilaria a stabilire se si è trattato di un guasto del velivolo o di un errore tecnico. Di certo le condizioni meteo non erano favorevoli nella zona di confine, tanto che questa mattina l’aeroporto di Lugano Agno, da dove è decollato l’elicottero, era stato chiuso per la scarsa visibilità.

AGNO - Miracolato due volte. Il ticinese coinvolto nel tragico incidente di ieri a Bisuschio si era già salvato nel 2010 da uno schianto analogo. Il passeggero dell’elicottero è un 69enne finanziere di Agno, inizialmente le autorità italiane avevano fornito erroneamente l’età di 42 anni. Già nel 2010 l’uomo possedeva un Agusta AW109 nero, lo stesso modello di quello a bordo del quale è decollato sabato da Agno, nonostante le avverse condizioni meteo. E, il 28 febbraio di quell’anno, si schiantò sul passo del Bernina. Anche in quell’occasione, come si legge sul rapporto dell’Ufficio d’inchiesta sugli infortuni aeronautici, furono le avverse condizioni atmosferiche a causare l’incidente. Il finanziere ticinese, il pilota italiano e il terzo passeggero uscirono miracolosamente illesi. 

Inchiesta in Italia e in Ticino - Contro il pilota dello schianto di sabato (che non è il medesimo del 2010) è nel frattempo stata aperta un'inchiesta per omicidio colposo in Italia. Lo stesso fascicolo, come riporta la Rsi, è stato aperto anche in Svizzera. In entrambi i casi, però, si tratta di una procedura intesa a proseguire le indagini. In particolare per permettere l'autopsia della vittima. 

Sarà operato - Il 69enne è stato ricoverato ieri all’Ospedale di Varese con una frattura al bacino per la quale dovrà probabilmente essere sottoposto a un intervento chirurgico. Sebbene non dovrebbe essere in pericolo di morte, la prognosi rimane riservata. Nell’incidente, purtroppo, ha perso la vita una 40enne italiana, mentre il pilota, anch’egli italiano, è rimasto ferito ma non rischia la vita.

Incidente in barca - Nel 2005, invece, in Costa Smeralda, l’imprenditore malcantonese ebbe un incidente in barca. Con il suo yacht stava navigando quando urtò una bagnante statunitense uccidendola. L’uomo fu assolto dall’accusa di omicidio colposo in quanto non poteva immaginare la presenza della donna.

El Al Boeing 767-300, 4X-EAM, performing flight LY-30: Incident occurred December 21, 2016 in Toronto, Canada

NTSB Identification: ENG17WA007
Incident occurred Wednesday, December 21, 2016 in Toronto, Canada
Aircraft: BOEING 767, registration:
Injuries: 224 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On Dec. 21, 2016, an ElAl Boeing 767-300ER, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 turbofan engines, registration number 4X-EAM, while climbing through 13,000 ft. from Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Toronto, Canada, experienced a loss of power of the right hand engine with associated vibrations and a subsequent yawing motion of the airplane. It was reported that passengers saw fire from the engine. The engine was shut down and the airplane landed uneventfully at YYZ.

The State of Israel Ministry of Transport, Aviation Incidents & Accidents Investigation is investigating the incident. As the state of manufacture of the airplane and engines, the NTSB has designated a U.S. Accredited Representative under the provisions of Annex 13 to the Convention of Civil Aviation to assist the AI in their investigation. 

All inquiries concerning this accident should be directed to the State of Israel Ministry of Transport, Aviation Incidents & Accidents Investigation.

Oklahoma City police release video of fatal airport shooting that left Michael Winchester dead

OKLAHOMA CITY - Police announced they have closed the investigation into the fatal shooting at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City on Nov. 15.

They also released surveillance video of the shooting from the airport. 

Michael Winchester was shot and killed as he left his job at Southwest Airlines and walked to the parking lot.

The suspect was identified as Lloyd Dean Buie. Police said Buie, 45, was a former employee of the airline and that retaliation was a likely motive for the shooting. Buie was found dead in the parking garage as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Oklahoma City Police Department Captain Paco Balderrama said Buie was seen on video arriving at the airport on Nov. 11 and parked his red truck on the second story of the parking garage. He was seen leaving the airport by taxi.

Buie returned to the airport by taxi on Nov. 15 at 10:19 a.m. He is seen on video smoking a cigarette while casually walking in the garage at 10:24 a.m. At roughly 12:46 p.m. is when Winchester was shot. His murder is not captured on video. Winchester is see walking from right to left on the video at 12:46 p.m. About one second after he exits the frame, he is shot. Shortly thereafter, a crowd is seen gathered, followed by emergency personnel. 

Approximately 35 to 40 minutes later, a second gun shot was heard. The second shot, Balderrama said, was Buie killing himself.

Balderrama said it is uncertain if Winchester was the intended target and that Buie could have been looking for anyone with authority.

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Eagle County Regional Airport director named to head Colorado Springs Airport

EAGLE COUNTY — Greg Phillips, executive director of aviation at the Eagle County Regional Airport, has been named aviation director for the Colorado Springs Airport, starting Jan. 30.

Phillips, 59, has 12 years of experience in airport management, including almost five years in Eagle County, where he brought five new routes including service to Toronto, Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. He previously was director of the Pangborn Memorial Airport in East Wenatchee, Washington, and had been deputy director of the Missoula International Airport and airport manager for the Bend Municipal Airport in Oregon.

“Greg brings strong relationships with many of the airlines that serve the Colorado Springs Airport, and has displayed a strong track record of success in a variety of aviation-related capacities, including airport operations and project management,” said Mayor John Suthers. “The Colorado Springs Airport is on an impressive growth track and we are confident that Greg is the right person to continue that trend.”

About Phillips

Phillips holds an engineering degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served as a helicopter pilot and Army Ranger. After leaving the military, Phillips worked as an engineering project manager for Boeing Co. and was an engineer and project manager in the Airports Division of the Federal Aviation Administration, where he was responsible for public airport construction and grant funding for all public airports in Oregon. He was later promoted to deputy program manager for the agency’s project team overseeing the design and construction of Denver International Airport.

He serves as president of the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives and was named Oregon State Airport Manager of the Year in 2006.

Phillips replaces Dan Gallagher, who resigned in October to become director of aviation business and finance with the Massachusetts Port Authority.

“I started my Army career at Fort Carson, so it feels like I’m coming full circle to return,” said Phillips, adding, “my focus will be on air service and business development to continue the great work that Dan Gallagher has done.”


Greg Phillips, executive director of aviation at the Eagle County Regional Airport, has been named aviation director for the Colorado Springs Airport, starting Jan. 30.

Phillips has 12 years of experience in airport management, including four years in Eagle County. He previously was director of the Pangborn Memorial Airport in East Wenatchee, Wash., and had been deputy director of the Missoula International Airport and airport manager for the Bend Municipal Airport in Oregon.

"Greg brings strong relationships with many of the airlines that serve the Colorado Springs Airport, and has displayed a strong track record of success in a variety of aviation-related capacities, including airport operations and project management," said Mayor John Suthers. "The Colorado Springs Airport is on an impressive growth track and we are confident that Greg is the right person to continue that trend."

Phillips holds an engineering degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served as a helicopter pilot and Army Ranger. He has also completed advanced education in leadership and employee development.

After leaving the military, Phillips worked as an engineering project manager for Boeing Co. and was an engineer and project manager in the Airports Division of the Federal Aviation Administration, where he was responsible for public airport construction and grant funding for all public airports in Oregon. He was later promoted to deputy program manager for the agency's project team overseeing the design and construction of Denver International Airport.

He serves as president of the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives and was named Oregon State Airport Manager of the Year in 2006.

Phillips replaces Dan Gallagher, who resigned in October to become director of aviation business and finance with the Massachusetts Port Authority, based at Boston Logan International Airport with responsibility for budget, air service and business development for Logan and two nearby airports.