Thursday, December 22, 2016

Airline pilot admits smuggling $195,000 in cash, feds say

NEWARK -- A commercial airline pilot previously designated as "low-risk" under a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program admitted in federal court Thursday to smuggling more than $195,000 in cash into the United States.

Anthony Warner, 55, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Newark to a charge of bulk cash smuggling under an agreement with prosecutors, according the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors say Warner, of Dallas, Texas, was a participant in Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program intended to speed up the process of entry into the country for low-risk, pre-approved travelers.

But the Global Entry terminal at Newark International Airport wasn't functioning when he arrived on Jan. 10, according to prosecutors, so Warner instead presented his customs declaration to a CBP officer.

Inside a laptop bag, customs officers found $195,736 in U.S. bills wrapped in newspaper, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors say Warner, who was arrested by agents from Homeland Security Investigations, also had 10 rings, four sets of earrings and various jewelry of undetermined value.

Authorities say the drug-dealing outfit, run out of a laundromat, distributed between 330 and 992 pounds of cocaine.

Warner, who is scheduled to be sentenced on April 18, 2017, faces up to five years in federal prison and forfeiture of the seized property, according to prosecutors.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, whose narcotics units prosecuted the case, did not identify the origin of the seized funds.

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Investigation of near-miss at Calgary International Airport follows warnings

As Canada’s transportation watchdog warns of safety risks at airports, investigators are reviewing an incident in Calgary in which two aircraft got too close during takeoff.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a close call after an Air Canada plane was cleared for takeoff at the Calgary International Airport on the afternoon of Dec. 2. 

The aircraft had travelled less than a kilometre when the flight crew noticed a small Sunwest plane was crossing the same runway. The smaller aircraft had actually been cleared to cross the runway as it headed toward a hangar.

The Air Canada flight took off without incident, but the near-miss triggered an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board.

“We never want two aircraft on the same runway when someone’s on a takeoff run,” said Gerrit Vermeer, who is investigating the incident for the TSB, classifying the case as medium risk. “It shouldn’t happen.”

So-called runway incursions — incidents involving any vehicle or person in the path of an aircraft landing or taking off — have been flagged by the TSB as serious risks.

“Given the millions of takeoffs and landings each year, incursions are rare, but their consequences can be catastrophic,” the watchdog warns in its latest watch list for transportation safety risks.

The TSB believes these incidents occur too often in Canadian airports, with 2,041 cases reported from 2011 to 2015. Twenty-seven of them were considered serious, which means a collision was narrowly avoided or there was significant potential for a crash.

The TSB says these incidents will continue to remain on its watch list until airports reduce the number of these incidents and adopt new technology to mitigate the risks.

The watchdog says in its watch list report “few technological defences to alert flight crews and vehicle operators of runway conflicts have been considered or implemented in Canada.

“More leadership is required from Transport Canada, NAV CANADA, airport authorities, and industry to ensure they are making full use of technologies to maintain runway safety.”

The TSB found inadequate training was among the factors that led to a 2014 incident at the Calgary airport.

An Air Georgian aircraft was being taxied by company maintenance crews to a holding bay, having received initial instructions by the tower controller, when it crossed an active runway.

The other aircraft was already airborne, but the TSB launched an investigation, which also found the controller didn’t have a clear enough picture of where the Air Georgian plane was heading.

As a result of the investigation, the Calgary airport increased training requirements for crews that taxi or tow aircraft. It also required more vehicles to have transponders, devices that receive radio signals. 

The airport said in a statement Thursday it has taken other steps to improve safety, including more signs and increased visibility of painted lines.


New law designed to ease Canada-US travel by land and air


A new law that will make it easier for people to travel between Canada and the United States will be good for Vermont and other states, even some far the border, officials said Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was at the Burlington International Airport on Thursday. He marked the arrival of the first direct Porter Airlines flight of the season from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, located not far from that city's downtown.

The new Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act will make it possible for more U.S.-bound customers to clear U.S. Customs at airports, train stations and other locations before leaving Canada.

Similar legislation is now pending in the Canadian Parliament.

Leahy, a Democrat, was lead sponsor of the law recently signed by President Barack Obama. He said in addition to facilitating air travel between Burlington and Toronto, it also could help restore Amtrak passenger train service between Vermont and Montreal by setting up a preclearance facility at Montreal's Central Station for U.S.-bound passengers.

"We still have more work to do, but with President Obama signing this into law, we removed the biggest hurdle standing in the way of improved air and rail travel between our countries," Leahy said in a statement.

The U.S. currently operates preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Canada. The preclearance facilities allow travelers and cargo bound for the U.S. to be screened by U.S. Customs agents before entering the country.

PortsToronto, which manages the airport, said in a statement that the Billy Bishop Airport is the sixth busiest Canadian airport serving U.S. cities with more than 400,000 passengers a year flying from there to the U.S.

When Porter Airlines' seasonal flights to Vermont arrive the passengers must go through customs at a different section of the airport and the plane must be moved before the Toronto-bound return passengers can get on. Once the details of the act are implemented, the U.S.-bound passengers would be checked by U.S. Customs officials before leaving Toronto, enabling the plane to arrive in Burlington as though it were a domestic flight.

Porter Airlines spokesman Brad Cicero said preclearance would benefit his airline at a number of U.S. airports, including small airports such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and larger airports.

It also would enable Porter to seek to expand to other U.S. domestic airports such as New York's LaGuardia Airport or Washington's Reagan National airport, Cicero said.

"It just really makes it a lot easier when you effectively operate as a domestic flight," Cicero said.


Boeing hands over 500th Dreamliner in record time

Boeing Co. is closing out its aircraft production year with another milestone for its 787 program.

The company said Thursday that it delivered its 500th Dreamliner twin-aisle jet on Tuesday at a ceremony in Seattle. The customer was Avianca S.A., a South American airline based in Colombia.

“Achieving 500 deliveries – the fastest to 500 for twin aisles – is a great accomplishment, made possible by the hard work and dedication of our employees and global suppliers,” said Mark Jenks, vice president and general manager of the 787 program.

Boeing makes the lightweight jets at plants in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. A slowdown in sales this year has the company rethinking a planned increase in the production rate - to 14 planes a month from 12 - by the end of the decade.

Uresh Sheth, the author of the "All Things 787" website, predicted earlier this week that the delivery of No. 500 was imminent. Avianca officials flew off in their new 787-8, the original and smallest model, on Wednesday, said Boeing spokeswoman Elizabeth Silva.

Through November, the planemaker had turned over a total of 489 commercial aircraft to customers, mostly 737s. Boeing does not break out numbers by production site, but Sheth reported that the North Charleston plant delivered 69 Dreamliners this year, including a "Dash 8" to Air Europa on Monday.

The Avianca handover was expected be the last of the year, as Boeing Commercial Airplanes is scheduled to go on its annual holiday break beginning Friday.

The 787 entered service about five years ago. The fleet is now operated by 48 carriers worldwide that have flown a combined 696,000 commercial flights over 1.7 billion miles with 133 million passengers on 530 routes, Boeing said.

The North Charleston plant marked a delivery milestone of its own earlier this year when American Airlines flew away in the 100th South Carolina-made Dreamliner. This month, Boeing celebrated the opening of a mammoth two-bay paint hangar, allowing all phases of 787 production to be completed at the local campus. 

Work also started recently on the newest and biggest jet in the Dreamliner stable. The new 787-10 will be made only at the North Charleston final assembly plant off International Boulevard. Sheth projected Thursday that the inaugural Dash 10 will be ready for its first flight around mid-March.


Looking for work? Tampa International Airport will hire 300 at a job fair in January

Tampa International Airport will host is largest concessions job fair to date on Jan. 4.

Airport concessionaires will fill 300 positions for nearly 40 new stores and restaurants opening inside the airport's terminals early next year. This is the fifth job fair the airport has hosted to fill new jobs during the airport's concessions redevelopment program. The airport is undergoing $1 billion in renovations this year and next.

The job fair is Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held in the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board room, which is located in the airport's main terminal.

Participants in the job fair include companies representing Ulele, Goody Goody, Burger 21, Cigar City, Fitlife Foods, Chick-fil-A and Illy Espressamente. Available positions are hourly and include openings for baristas, cooks, line cooks, cashiers, prep personnel, station attendants, logistics specialists and operations supervisors.

In addition, local company Happy Grasshopper is hiring for 25 positions in 2017 in Safety Harbor.

Happy Grasshopper, an email marketing company, is offering jobs in the sales, content writing, software and marketing fields. In the past two years the company has grown its workforce by more than 400 percent.


Opinion: The Aviation Industry Must Tackle the Stigma Around Mental Health

By Max Buerger 

Max Buerger is head of partnerships at aviation training company Alpha Aviation Group.

The psychological pressures today’s pilots face made stark headlines following the 2015 Germanwings Flight 9525 disaster, when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who suffered from depression, deliberately flew a plane into the French Alps. But the December findings from a Harvard University survey conducted in the wake of the incident indicate over 12 percent of commercial pilots suffer from depression, and over 4 percent are suicidal—likely eye-opening facts for passengers.

The estimation that a higher percentage of pilots than the average population suffer depression is well documented in the industry itself.

Research by the industry in recent years has highlighted a concoction of factors that can adversely impacts a pilot’s mental health—irregular schedules, constant time zone changes, extended periods away from home, severe fatigue and heightened responsibility.

For the aviation industry, the Harvard survey’s true value lies in its wider industry culture findings related to mental health. “There is a veil of secrecy around mental health issues in the cockpit,” argues Joseph Allen, one of the report’s authors. “We found that many pilots currently flying are managing depressive symptoms, and it may be that they are not seeking treatment due to the fear of negative career impacts.”

How accurate a picture does this survey truly paint? 

In the wake of the Germanwings disaster, the commercial aviation industry has been swift to implement changes, with greater investment in pilot-focused medical care and the expansion of voluntary peer support programs. This followed the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s decision in 2010 to allow, in certain circumstances, pilots taking antidepressants to fly as a means of encouraging those pilots suffering mental health issues to speak up without the fear of losing their job.

Certainly, progress has been made. As one pilot who suffered from depression, and who wished to remain anonymous, said: “While it is probably true that most pilots view many of the aviation medical professionals that they deal with as ‘looking for an excuse to ground them,’ at a regulatory level my experience so far has been exactly the opposite,” he argued. “Their [the medical examiners’] attitude seemed to be more along the lines of ‘let's see what we can do to get you back in the air.’”

However, clearly the industry must do more, especially in developing a wider culture of openness and understanding. Ultimately a two-pronged approach is required—to tackle the core issues driving pilot depression and stress, and the stigma for sufferers around speaking out.

The reality is that the certain aspects of piloting, such as long hours and schedule changes are simply part and parcel of the profession. However, ensuring that the industry is furnished with adequate numbers of pilots will go a long way to helping ease the strain, especially related to fatigue. Boeing predicts that, to meet growth and demand, the industry will require 617,000 more commercial pilots by 2035. The industry is working hard to ensure this demand is met; but this will of course take time, and is no quick fix.

The industry must also continue to ensure as much investment and emphasis is placed in its people as its physical infrastructure. In many aviation markets, especially those experiencing rapid growth (India’s aviation market is growing at 18 percent per year, for example), investment is geared towards the technology and facilities required to sustain this growth; however, leaders must ensure that this is not to the detriment of the people. In some countries, particularly the U.S., greater investment is already resulting in more trained physicians and better psychological testing but the sector must do more to guarantee this universally.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we must challenge and destroy the stigma for pilots surrounding mental health issues. This can only be comprehensively achieved via an industry culture change, and will be the collective responsibility of airlines, unions, pilot training academies and regulators. The message to our pilots must be loud and clear: suffering from mental health issues is OK; you are not alone; the industry will work with you, not against you, to get you back into the cockpit.

Fostering a wider conversation, and greater openness, about mental health issues will ultimately prevent pilots from suffering in silence. It will ensure pilots are aware that if they are depressed, support is there for them, and in many instances they will still be allowed to fly. And, most importantly, by giving our pilots the confidence to self-report, it will ensure greater mental and physical safety for us all.


GLO Airlines Celebrates 1st Anniversary of Airservice To Shreveport

Trey Fayard, Founder & CEO GLO Airlines

GLO AIRLINES ANNIVERSARY- December 14th marked the first anniversary of GLO Airlines providing non-stop passenger airservice between Shreveport Regional Airport  in northwest Louisiana and Louis Armstrong  International Airport in New Orleans.

Trey Fayard, founder and CEO for the airlines spoke with Red River Radio's Chuck Smith about why he decided to start the airline and what the response has been from the areas it serves.

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Piper PA-28-140, N9541W: Accident occurred December 22, 2016 at Shreveport Downtown Airport (KDTN), Shreveport, Louisiana

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA103
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 22, 2016 in Shreveport, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/13/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration: N9541W
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The pilot of the low-wing airplane reported that, during the approach in variable crosswind conditions, the airplane encountered a wind gust from the right for which he corrected and that he then continued the approach. He further reported that, about 10 ft above the runway, the airplane encountered another stronger wind gust from the right and he decided to go around. During the go-around, the airplane encountered yet another wind gust from the right; the right wing rose ,and the left wing dropped and contacted the ground. Subsequently, the airplane cartwheeled and came to rest on the left side of the runway.

The pilot reported there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
The local reported weather about the time of the accident included wind from 060° at 6 knots. The pilot landed on runway 32.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s inadequate compensation for crosswind conditions during the go-around, which resulted in a loss of airplane control.

The pilot of the low wing airplane reported that during the approach in variable crosswind conditions, the airplane encountered a gust of wind from the right for which he corrected and continued the approach. He further reported, that about 10 feet above the runway the airplane encountered another stronger gust of wind from the right and he decided to go around. During the go-around, the airplane encountered yet another gust of wind from the right; the right wing rose and the left wing dropped and contacted the ground. Subsequently, the airplane cartwheeled and came to rest on the left side of the runway.

The pilot reported there were no pre accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

A review of local weather at approximately the time of the accident reported; wind direction 060 degrees true, at 6 knots. The pilot landed on runway 32.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A strong gust of wind is believed to be to blame for the crash of a small plane early Thursday afternoon at the Shreveport Downtown Airport.  It happened just after 2 p.m. 

Witnesses said the aircraft was caught by a strong gust of wind and tossed it over, sending it off the runway and into the grass.

The pilot suffered a minor abrasion to the head, but according to the Shreveport Fire Department, he was experiencing some difficulty breathing while in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. At last report, he was expected to recover. 

There was no one else on board the aircraft, which is a Piper PA-28-140 is registered to Martin J. Carter of Bossier City according to FAA records. 

According to Shreveport Director of Airports Henry Thompson, the pilot was doing practice approaches when it happened. 

One wing was broken off when the plane was bounced off the runway and the crash resulted in a fuel leak. Fire crews were called to contain the fuel leak and control hazardous emissions.

A preliminary report makes no conclusive determination of what happened. However, the fire department confirms that authorities believe that strong winds may have caused the aircraft to flip over landing topside-down and break a wing while the pilot was attempting to land the plane.

The airport is open with limited operation, according to Thompson. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Shreveport Airport Authority are investigating the crash.

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SHREVEPORT, La. -    The pilot of a small private plane was injured at Shreveport's Downtown Airport Thursday afternoon when the plane flipped as it was landing.  

A witness said the pilot of the Piper PA-28-140 had just touched down on the runway when the plane bounced and then flipped.

A preliminary report makes no conclusive determination of what happened.  However, authorities believe that strong winds may have caused the aircraft  to crash, breaking a wing while the pilot was attempting to land the plane.

The pilot, who was the only person on board, got out of the plane on his own. Shreveport firefighters converged on the crash site and were treating the injured pilot. He was taken to a local hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. 

Emergency crews reported that the pilot sustained a minor abrasion to his head and was experiencing some difficulty breathing while being transported.  In addition to performing life-saving procedures, fire crews were called to contain a fuel leak and control hazardous emissions.

The accident happened about 2:15 p.m.  The airport was closed to air traffic after the crash.

The plane was destroyed, the witness said.

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A strong gust of wind is likely the cause of a small plane crash at Shreveport Downtown Airport.

The crash happened shortly before 2:30 p.m.

Officials with the Shreveport Fire Department say a gust of wind hit the plane as it was landing that cause it to flip over. One of the plane's wings were ripped off. 

The pilot of the plane was the only person on board.

Fire crews treated him at the scene and he was taken to a local hospital with serious, but non life threatening injuries. 

Emergency crews reported that the pilot sustained a minor abrasion to his head and was experiencing some difficulty breathing while being transported.  

In addition to performing life-saving procedures, fire crews were called to contain a fuel leak and control hazardous emissions. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Shreveport Airport Authority are investigating the crash. 


A small, single-engine plane crashed at Shreveport’s Downtown Airport Thursday afternoon.

Shreveport Fire Department’s assistant chief Fred Sanders confirmed that the plane appeared to have crashed around 2 p.m.

The single person was on board and taken to a local hospital for treatment of serious injuries that fire personnel said were not life-threatening.

Circumstances surrounding the events leading up to the accident were not immediately available, but Sanders said one of the aircraft’s wings appeared to have sustained significant damage.

No smoke or flames were visible at the sight of the accident, and Sanders confirmed that only the single aircraft was involved in the incident.

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Boeing 777-35EER, EVA Air Corporation, Flight 015, B-16726: Incident occurred December 16, 2016 in Mt. Wilson, California

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this incident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration

Aviation Incident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: OPS17IA010
Incident occurred Friday, December 16, 2016 in Mt. Wilson, CA
Aircraft: BOEING 777, registration:
Injuries: Unavailable

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

On December 16, 2016, about 0125 pacific standard time (PST), Eva Air flight 015, a Boeing 777-300, registration B-16726, conducted flight below minimum vectoring altitude near Mt. Wilson, CA while receiving vectors from Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control after departing from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Los Angeles, California. The airplane was not damaged and there were no reported injuries to the passengers or crew. The flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 129 as a regularly scheduled flight from LAX to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), Taipei, Taiwan. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed.

An air traffic controller in San Diego who mistakenly routed a wide-body jet with 353 people aboard toward Mt. Wilson has been removed from her assignment amid an investigation into the incident.

The controller no longer is working air traffic after an EVA Air Boeing 777 that departed to the east from Los Angeles International Airport last Friday morning was ordered to turn left to the north, sending the aircraft over the San Gabriel Mountains at low altitude.

The standard procedure for eastern departures from LAX is to make a right turn to the south shortly after takeoff and then head out over the ocean.

The wrong turn occurred about 1:30 a.m., shortly after takeoff, when responsibilities for air traffic control shifted from the LAX tower to approach control in San Diego.

The Taiwan-bound jetliner appeared to clear the 5,713-foot peak of Mt. Wilson by no more than 800 feet, according to website data cited by The Times. However, broadcast towers rise an additional 400 feet from the summit, potentially reducing the clearance.

Federal Aviation Administration regulations require aircraft to be at least three miles away laterally or 2,000 feet vertically above obstacles such as mountains.

Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman in Los Angeles, said the agency’s investigation of the incident will look into all aspects of the flight, including air traffic control, the actions of the pilots and just how close the Boeing 777 got to the rugged terrain of the San Gabriel Mountains before correcting its course.

Gregor described the incident as “highly unusual.” He declined to comment further, stating that a personnel matter was involved.

A spokesperson for the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. also declined to comment citing the pending FAA investigation.


Gun seizures soar 69 percent at Orlando airports

The amount of guns confiscated at Orlando's two major airports was up 69 percent as the airports entered the busiest travel season of the year.

The 83 guns collected at Orlando International Airport this year are up from 49 in all of 2015, said Sari Koshetz, Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman.

"We are going to stop the gun before it gets on the plane, but you've seen people fling their bags onto the X-ray belt — and with most of those guns being loaded, many with ammunition chambered," Koshetz said. "Our concern is an accidental discharge that could harm or kill someone."

Ten guns have been found at Orlando Sanford International Airport, up from six last year.

Theories differ for the reason behind the increase. Koshetz attributed the increase to travelers becoming less careful when they pack for a trip.

But Ahmed Abdelghany, associate professor of Operations Management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's College of Business, said the increase is more about ignorance regarding what is acceptable at airports.

The rate of increase doesn't match the increase of travelers or anything else," he said.

The number of guns getting to TSA agents at airport security is up 16.8 percent nationwide, Koshetz said. In total, 2,653 guns were collected last year. So far this year more than 3,100 have been collected. A bulk of the weapons found are handguns.

Three of the weapons found at Orlando International were collected during the last week, said Koshetz, including one Thursday morning.

Entering the year-end holiday travel season, which local airport leaders define as Dec. 16 through Jan. 5, an 8 percent increase in traffic was expected at Orlando International. AAA defines the holiday travel season as Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. AAA said this year's air travel, an increase of 2.5 percent over last year, is the fourth-highest volume of air passengers in the last 15 years.

Orlando International routinely ends up as one of the top 10 airports in the country with passengers bringing guns through checkpoints, Koshetz said. Right now, Orlando ranks No. 7 accounting for 2.6 percent of all guns collected so far this year.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport lead the nation in guns stopped at security checkpoints.

Of the 376 guns collected at Florida airports this year, Orlando International's collection accounts for 22 percent. Tampa International Airport ranks eighth nationally with 78 guns found in carry-on luggage so far this year. Koshetz said 275 guns were found by TSA agents in all of 2015 at Florida airports.

When a gun is discovered at Orlando International, the Orlando Police Department responds to the terminal, Koshetz said. Police take control of the firearm and decide if the passenger gets it back.

A fine of up to $11,000 may also be levied against the passenger by the TSA.

Last month, Florida lawmakers filed legislation that would ease restrictions on where and how guns can be brought into airports around the state.

House Bill 6001 would remove restrictions on bringing guns into a passenger terminal. Right now, guns are only allowed in sterile areas of an airport or if they're "encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft."

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this month.

Koshetz said the TSA does not comment on pending legislation. Abdelghany said he disagrees with proposed changes in Tallahassee.

"There are some people who are responsible for airport security," he said. "For the general public, you never know. Somebody can get angry."

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Sioux Falls Regional Airport celebrates millionth passenger milestone

Dan Letellier, Sioux Falls Regional Airport executive director, welcomes Justin Weise, of Sioux Falls, back to town as the Sioux Falls Regional Airport's millionth passenger this year Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016, at the airport in Sioux Falls. Letellier presented Weise with a basket filled with two roundtrip ticket vouchers from Allegiant Airlines, a $500 gift card and free parking. 

Justin Weise is one in a million.

After spending two weeks vacationing in Florida with his two children and fiancée, Weise returned home Thursday and was greeted as the millionth passenger this year to travel through the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.

“I’m surprised,” the 26-year-old said. “I never would have guessed coming home and being the millionth passenger.”

It was a surprise for Weise but for airport officials the milestone was a matter of when not if. The airport has seen steady growth for years but always fallen just short of a million passengers.

Weise, who received two free round-trip vouchers from Allegient Airlines and a $500 gift card, said he isn’t a frequent flyer and that this was only his third trip aboard an airplane. He and his fiancée will be planning another trip now that their tickets have already been taken care of.

Dan Leterllier, executive direction of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, said they’ve been eyeing the milestone for several years now. He said despite the numbers getting off to the slow start at the beginning of the year, they were still able reach the record.

Airport officials said they’ve seen about a 3 percent annual growth in passengers travelling through building each of the last six years. In 2015, the airport saw 980,000 travelers and sees an average of 1,750 daily seats and 150 weekly flights, according to airport officials.

This was the first time they hit 1 million.

Leterllier attributed reaching the milestone to the growing population in Sioux Falls and more people traveling to the city to use the airport as its departure destination.

“We’ve looked at this the last couple of year and have been getting closer and closer,” Leterllier said. “Along with the recent changes and terminal updates at the airport, this is a big milestone for (the airport).”


Gerald R. Ford International Airport announces new restaurants, retail offerings

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Gerald R. Ford International Airport will be looking more and more like the airport for Beer City, U.S.A.

The airport and restaurant company HMSHost announced they have reached an agreement to open a new marketplace and brewery after the security checkpoints.  The new area is part of the airport’s Gateway Transformation Project.

The marketplace will feature Michigan-themed merchandise and the restaurant, Prospect Hill Brewhouse, will feature Founders beer and sandwiches.  Two new Starbucks will also open at the airport, one before and one after security.  A restaurant called The Local@GRR will open on Concourse A and a second restaurant will open on Concourse B.  The airport says a Firehouse Subs and a Burger Federation restaurant are also in the works.

Prospect Hill is set to open in the summer of 2017.  The other outlets will open later.


Cessna 140, N72826: Accident occurred December 22, 2016 Capers Island, Charleston County, South Carolina

FAA Flight Standards District Office: Columbia, South Carolina


Date: 22-DEC-16
Time: 18:12:00Z
Regis#: N72862
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 140
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Authorities are responding after a small Cessna plane made an emergency landing Thursday on Capers Island. 

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office and other emergency personnel were called to the beach shortly after 1 p.m. Sheriff's Maj. Eric Watson said no injuries have been reported and investigators believe the plane had mechanical trouble. 

Watson said the plane landed on two wheels but flipped over.

The came to a stop upside down on the beach, according to Anthony Kozak, an operations unit controller for the U.S. Coast Guard. The two people inside are "alive and well," he said. There were no reports of pollution.

The undeveloped barrier island is located north of Isle of Palms and Dewees Island. It is about 3 miles long and only accessible by boat. 

It's believed that the Cessna had a mechanical problem that forced it to land, said Paul Campbell, who heads the Charleston County Aviation Authority. The plane took off from Mount Pleasant Regional Airport.  

The Cessna was not receiving air traffic control service, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. 

A search of the plane's N number showed that it took off around 8:25 a.m. somewhere near Edenton, N.C., flew 16 minutes and landed in Plymouth, N.C., according to 

A search on the FAA's website revealed that the plane is a Cessna 140, which was manufactured in 1946. Its registration was listed as pending to a Hertford, North Carolina, resident.  


New Jersey Man Writes 'I Was Stupid' After Alleged Sex Abuse on Flight

A New Jersey man allegedly sexually abused a woman on a long-haul flight and then wrote her a note that said, "I was stupid."

Ganesh Parkar, 40, had a seat in business class for a Dec. 21 Air India flight from Mumbai, India, to Newark, New Jersey, but before takeoff he moved to a seat near a woman in economy class, authorities said.

Although the row was not full, he moved to a seat right next to the woman after takeoff, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

She fell asleep and awoke to find a blanket she had placed over her had been pulled down. She pulled it back up and fell asleep again — waking up to find the blanket off and Parkar's hand inside her shirt, court papers allege.

"What the hell are you doing?" she yelled, then got up and told a flight attendant what happened.

Parkar allegedly followed the woman until ordered to return to business class. He then made repeated requests to speak with the victim, authorities said.

"During the remainder of the flight, defendant Parkar wrote two short notes to the victim in which he, in sum and substance, apologized for a 'moment's stupidity' and stated, 'I acknowledged I was stupid,'" an FBI agent wrote in the complaint.

Parkar was due to appear in federal court Thursday afternoon. He faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.


Salisbury's enterprise zone expanded to Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico County Regional Airport

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day announced that the Maryland Department of Commerce has expanded the city’s existing enterprise zone to encompass the Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico County Regional Airport.

The city of Salisbury and Wicomico County applied jointly for the expansion which adds 1,000 acres to the current 4,220-acre zone. The airport and airport business park have hosted Perdue Farms, Maryland State Helicopter, FedEx and the Humane Society of Wicomico County, but there are still available facilities for lease, as well as 85 acres of developable land in the newly expanded zone.

With the expansion, the county will continue to promote industrial and commercial growth to help create new jobs, reduce unemployment, and support ancillary businesses and increase the tax base.

"Connecting Maryland's second busiest commercial airport to Salisbury’s rapidly growing business core using this critical Maryland incentive is an important step in facilitating access for new businesses looking to become a part of the Salisbury Metro Area – the fastest growing job market in the northeast United States and an increasingly popular location for employers and talent alike,” said Day.


For 2nd day, Alaska volcano eruption sparks aviation alert

ANCHORAGE (AP) - For the second straight day, the Alaska Volcano Observatory issued its highest alert level for aviation when a volcano erupted with a towering ash cloud in the Aleutian Islands.

Observatory volcanologist Robert McGimsey says Wednesday afternoon's eruption of the Bogoslof volcano was "almost a carbon copy" of an eruption 24 hours earlier.

He tells The Associated Press that both eruptions prompted the highest alert level and both were downgraded hours after the events.

Tuesday's eruption sent ash and steam 34,000 feet into the air, while Wednesday burst went 1,000 feet higher. Officials say both volcanic explosions were also short-lived.

The observatory said early Thursday that it was reducing the alert level because there had been no recent volcano activity.

The volcano is located on an island of the same name in the Bering Sea about 850 miles southwest of Anchorage.


U.S. and Europe to Work on Enhanced Satellite Navigation for Aircraft: Planes would be able receive signals simultaneously from U.S. and Europe systems, resulting in safer skies

The Wall Street Journal
Dec. 22, 2016 12:52 p.m. ET

Aviation authorities are moving to improve the accuracy and reliability of satellite navigation by enabling aircraft in the future to simultaneously rely on separate orbiting systems run by the U.S. and Europe.

Such proposed changes, recently endorsed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s top outside technical advisers, set the stage for major changes in how pilots will use space systems for precise position data and flight routes. The upshot would be safer skies due to more exact information about locations of planes and reduced likelihood of gaps or hacking of signals by making more satellites available to users.

For the first time, formal plans envision airliners, business jets and even some private planes processing signals at the same time from both Global Positioning System satellites operated by the U.S. Air Force and Europe’s still-unfinished Galileo constellation.

By taking preliminary steps to develop joint standards, U.S. and European experts are moving toward installation of common equipment over roughly the next decade on both sides of the Atlantic. They say the move provides added protection against satellite malfunctions, hostile jamming and other potential hazards that could disrupt ubiquitous, space-based navigation signals that are essential to the aviation industry.

“It is a big deal, and we’re trying to move quickly” to establish a joint schedule for setting technical standards for interoperable aircraft receivers, according to consultant George Ligler, one of the U.S. technical experts leading the effort. “It would make the entire global navigation satellite system more robust,” he said in an interview following a meeting of the FAA advisory group’s top policy committee in Washington last week.

Ultimately, some experts predict the strategy could help strapped government budgets by reducing the need for GPS and Galileo—currently operating more than half of its proposed fleet—to launch spare satellites into orbit or take other steps to assure signal redundancy. In effect, the aim is to have each satellite system serve as a backup for the other. “Pretty much everybody would like to have it,” Mr. Ligler said, adding that it could take until 2025 or 2027 until standards are adopted and common receivers are manufactured and installed on large numbers of airliners. Some industry officials have advocated a faster phase-in of such equipment.

Currently, there is no production of technology certified for routine aircraft use that is able to receive signals from both constellations at the same time.

In a statement, the European Global Satellite Navigation Systems Agency, which runs the civilian-controlled Galileo constellation, said it and the European Union have committed to work with the U.S. to develop prototype receivers intended to rely on multiple constellations.

After more than 15 years of development and various setbacks, 18 of Galileo’s proposed 30 satellites are now in orbit. Newer than the GPS fleet, the system aims to provide more precise location information for aviation and many other users.

The current discussions with the U.S. don’t entail common emergency search and rescue signals.

Progress on satellite-based navigation upgrades could be blocked by engineering challenges or continued delays by the two sides swapping detailed technical specifications. The timetable approved by the U.S. panel calls for final approval of minimum operation standards by 2022, but work schedules and progress benchmarks still have to be coordinated with European counterparts.

Industry experts have predicted it could take half a dozen years for widespread adoption of the anticipated receivers. The FAA and European safety officials would have to take action to make that happen.

U.S. aviation officials have considered negotiating similar agreements with China and Russia, each of which have their own satellite systems for airborne navigation. But American experts have complained that those governments balked at divulging technical data needed to pursue common arrangements.

“It’s fair to say we have almost no data on the Chinese system,” Mr. Ligler said. And for Russia’s evolving satellite constellation called GLONASS, which is switching to new frequencies, he said, “we don’t have the details of what the new signal structure will be.”

Satellite navigation systems are sources of national pride and military capability, with certain operational variables considered classified.

The GPS consists of 31 satellites able to transmit radio signals from specially-designed orbits more than 12,000 miles above the earth. Every user is guaranteed to have access to signals from at least four satellites at any instant.

Despite updates and revised designs intended to protect the constellation from interference, experts continue to worry about jamming and what is called “spoofing” of GPS signals, when phony messages are sent potentially confusing users.

While proposed U.S.-European standards are being developed, other global satellite systems such as Aireon LLC are slated to be deployed to expand real-time surveillance. Backed by a number of air-traffic control providers from Canada and Europe, Aireon will use 66 low-earth orbit satellites to allow controllers to reduce separation between aircraft and help airlines more effectively avoid bad weather.

—Robert Wall contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here:

Hawaiian Airlines launches Haneda-Kona service

NORTH KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaiian Airlines on Wednesday launched its new non-stop service between Haneda and Kona International Airports, bringing flights from Japan back to the Big Island for the first time since 2010.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Big Island Mayor Harry Kim welcomed HA 852 -- the first Hawaiian Airlines flight from Haneda – shortly after noon. 

The Haneda-Kona service, offered three times a week, is the latest in the airline’s international network, following the July launch of daily service between Narita and Honolulu.

In April, Hawaiian applied for the slot at Haneda, making the case to the U.S. Department of Transportation that flights between Hawaii and Japan are the most traveled and most beneficial to the U.S. economy, also adding that this particular service would open up Hawaii’s largest unserved international market.

The DOT approved the slot in May.

Haneda is one of the most sought after airports for U.S. carriers as it is closer to downtown Tokyo than Narita, but international flights from this airport are scarce.

This new service is expected to generate $56 million in annual visitor spending. The airline has also hired nearly 35 employees in Kona for the new flight operation.


Boone County Airport Board of Directors gives Southern Airways a southern welcome

The Boone County Airport Board of Directors met Tuesday and welcomed Southern Airways as essential air service provider. Seen here are (from left) airport manager Judy McCutcheon, Dr. Lynn Keener, chairman Bob Reynolds, Tom Benton and Dr. Lad Brooks.

The Boone County Airport Board of Directors met Tuesday and enthusiastically accepted the Department of Transportation’s decision to have Southern Airways fulfill the essential air service contract for the next two years.

Southern Airways CEO Stan Little has already paid for lease space with the airport and plans to add signage after the first of the year.

“We at Southern are thrilled to be bringing air service back to Harrison and Boone County. Judy McCutcheon and her staff are consummate professionals, and working together, I have no doubt that we can make the Dallas and Memphis routes a huge success,” Little said.

“Our low-cost fare structure, starting at $39, means that passengers can make affordable and convenient connections to over 300 cities worldwide, including one-stop flights within the Southern Airways network to Nashville, Destin, and Jackson, Mississippi, through our Memphis hub. Plus, with our new website and booking tool launching in January, these connections will be even easier for folks in Harrison to book.”

Little is hoping to have tickets on sale by Jan. 10 and is optimistic about offering services by Jan. 31. The new website will include Harrison in the daily connections to Memphis and Dallas.

Board member Tom Benton said, “Southern was in all of our top three choices and they are a good solid airline. So let’s get the ball rolling with them.”

The board thanked airport manager Judy McCutcheon for all the time she spent on the phone and hosting the seven airlines who made proposals.

Last month Bob Reynolds asked a committee to review McCutcheon’s salary and make a proposal at the December meeting. After an executive session to discuss personnel, the board voted to give McCutcheon a $4,000 bonus.

“We know that airport directors like ours could be making at least a third more in salary and she could work anywhere. But Judy loves this airport and Harrison. She has often not accepted county-wide raises when she knew the money wasn’t in the budget,” Benton said.

“I’ve known Judy since back in the Skyways days. If there’s anyone who loves this community more than me, it could only be Judy. She’s been airport manager 26 years,” Dr. Lynn Keener said.

“This board has their own budget and sometimes we barely break even,” Keener continued. “So there’s been many years when Judy has been a very valuable employee that has been very underpaid. And at times when Boone County employees who would get a 3-percent raise, she wouldn’t take hers because she knew we didn’t have it in the airport budget.”

Chairman Bob Reynolds added, “And Judy didn’t, and wouldn’t ask for this. She is even embarrassed that we are discussing it.”

McCutcheon agreed about the embarrassment and said emphatically, “I don’t want to be having this discussion.” The board and the crowd laughed at her discomfort. McCutcheon said “Thank you and Merry Christmas everyone,” and the board adjourned the meeting.