Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cayman Islands: Government warned about fire truck rollovers after 2005 incident

A Cayman Compass newspaper report published January 6, 2005 about a fire engine overturning near the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport. 

January 05, 2017

January 05, 2017



The Cayman Islands Fire Service was warned in October 2005 about the potential for its fire engines to tip over at relatively low turning speeds, the Cayman Compass can reveal.

The warning came after a police investigation of a rollover accident involving a T-2500 model fire engine at Owen Roberts International Airport in January 2005.

Police Constable Michael Caputo, a Royal Cayman Islands Police Service accident reconstructionist at the time, wrote a memo to the fire service’s aerodrome division on Oct. 17, 2005. He asked that his findings be passed along to all members of the fire service who operate the T-2500 and T-3000 engine models used in the fleet.

“The stability of these trucks are poor based on track width and height of center [of] mass and this is why the rollover speeds are so low,” Mr. Caputo wrote in the 2005 memo. “Attention must be given to the speed of the truck and the corresponding steering wheel position to prevent future rollovers.”

Fire service officials confirmed Friday that a T-3000 model engine was involved in the Cayman Brac airport rollover accident on Thursday.

The accident report from 2005 stated that the fire engines require three complete rotations of the steering wheel before the wheel “locks up” (meaning it can turn no further).

“This equates to rollover speeds of 36.4 mph (on the first turn), 26 mph (on the second) and 22.5 mph (on the third),” Mr. Caputo wrote. “This … tells me that the steering wheel position for the January 2005 accident was about one and a half turns for 30 mph rollover.”

The reason why the firefighter driving the engine during the 2005 crash was deemed not to be at fault is explained: “The (fire service) operations manual makes no reference whatsoever with regard to how to drive the fire truck or limits not to exceed to prevent a rollover.”

The investigation into last week’s accident at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport in the Brac that injured two firemen on board is ongoing.

A government statement sent in response to Cayman Compass questions indicate that the fire engine manufacturer, Oshkosh, is arranging to send one of its experts to assess the vehicle, which was bought in 2006.

The fire service conducts monthly mandatory speed tests of its trucks used for airport operations with the goal of achieving a two-minute response time to any point on the airport runway.

According to the government, the speed testing is done accordance with regulatory requirements that must be complied with by all Rescue and Fire Fighting Service providers at international airports.

The government statement also indicates that speeds between 65 mph and 69 mph can be reached during these speed tests.

“In the 12 years since the last airport-based fire truck accident occurred on the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport in January 2005, an average of 144 performance tests for speed have been conducted at that location and a similar number have been executed in Cayman Brac without incident,” the government statement issued Friday notes. “In addition to the monthly performance checks, the vehicles also undergo daily inspections as part of the shift handover.”
A fire truck flipped over during what was described by officials as a “mandatory speed test.”

Airport partially closed

Cayman Brac’s airport was still closed to jet traffic Monday and is expected to remain so until a new fire truck is shipped to the island to replace the vehicle that flipped over there on Jan. 5.

Smaller Twin-Otter and Saab prop planes which service the route between the Brac and Grand Cayman are still able to land and were deployed to minimize passenger disruption.

Air safety guidelines require at least two fire trucks to be on standby for a jet to be able to land, officials said.

Story, photos and comments:   https://www.caymancompass.com

St. Pete-Clearwater Airport posts record in passenger traffic in 2016

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport broke a record in passenger traffic in 2016, with a 12 percent spike over 2015.

A total of 1,837,035 passengers passed through St. Pete-Clearwater Airport in 2016, the Pinellas County airport's second consecutive record year and the fourth year in a row of double-digit passenger increases, according to a press release.

Passenger traffic in December increased by 13 percent on domestic flights and 18 percent on international flights, compared to the same month the year prior.

"We are delighted to welcome so many visitors to our destination and to serve our community with non-stop flights to 56 cities," said Tom Jewsburt, the director of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, in a statement.

The bump in traffic is credited mostly to Allegiant Air, which continues to grow as the airport's dominant carrier despite a slew of emergency landings both at the St. Pete-Clearwater airport and from flights leaving or headed to the region.

Allegiant offers service to more than 50 destinations in the United States from the St. Pete-Clearwater airport. The Las Vegas-based discount airliner will begin service to Cleveland on Feb. 15 and to Austin, Texas, on Feb. 17. Sunwing Airlines also resumes seasonal service to Halifax starting in February. Sun Country Airlines offers service to Gulfport-Biloxi from St. Pete-Clearwater. 

Source:   http://www.tampabay.com

Sikorsky Orders Safety Checks on Choppers: An S-92 operated by CHC Group suffered a malfunction when landing on an oil rig in December



The Wall Street Journal
By ROBERT WALL and  DOUG CAMERON
Jan. 10, 2017 12:19 p.m. ET


Lockheed Martin Corp. said Tuesday that it was ordering inspections of the global Sikorsky S-92 helicopter fleet following an accident in the U.K. last month, disrupting use of a workhorse for the offshore oil and gas industry.

Sikorsky issued a safety alert for the S-92 but isn’t grounding the fleet, which is widely used to carry energy workers and supplies as well as for search and rescue operations and transporting VIPs.

Lockheed Martin also is supplying a heavily modified version that will be used for the new presidential helicopter fleet that serves as Marine One, with the first due to enter service in 2020.

The move poses another challenge for helicopter operators such as Bristow Group Inc. that already wrestle with a downturn in demand because of low energy prices and the aftermath of a fatal crash involving an Airbus SE Super Puma helicopter off the Norwegian coast last year.

HeliOffshore, which represents companies involved in North Sea offshore helicopter operations, said the Sikorsky safety alert “will disrupt the offshore oil and gas industry in the short term.”

Sikorsky ordered the extra checks after an S-92 operated by CHC Group Ltd. suffered a malfunction on landing on an oil rig Dec. 28. Nobody was hurt in the hard landing, which is still under investigation.

Last year’s Super Puma crash led to the fleet’s grounding, leaving operators to scramble to replace the capacity usually provided by the model that was a mainstay of offshore operations. The problems with the Airbus helicopter forced operators to lean more heavily on the Sikorsky model.

Sikorsky said it would take around two days to complete the 11-hour inspections. It said it was working closely with customers and authorities to determine the cause of the problem. Operators have been instructed to inspect the tail rotor of their S-92s before returning them to service.

The British Airline Pilots Association, which represents many of the pilots laid off because of reductions in services in the North Sea, said it wanted “to see these checks carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible so that North Sea and Search and Rescue operations can return to normal.”

Those flying the S-92 also should complete more frequent inspections until a software fix is provided, Britain’s air safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, said.

Shares in Bristow were recently down more than 3% at $18.77. The stock had doubled since early November as rising oil prices raised the prospect of improving demand. The company uses the S-92 to support the energy industry and to provide search and rescue services for the U.K. government.

A Bristow spokeswoman said checks on its aircraft would take about six hours each and would have “minimal impact” on its operations.

CHC, the second-largest offshore operator, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.

The downturn has prompted operators to cancel or defer some new orders, affecting manufacturers such as Lockheed, Airbus and Leonardo SpA.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

Council OKs Houston Memorial Airport rental policy

The Houston City Council has unanimously adopted a policy governing the rental of hangars at Houston Memorial Airport. The vote came last Tuesday night during a closed session.

The matter has stirred controversy among hangar users at the airport on the western edge of Houston. An earlier decided ordinance was revoked, but discussion continued to linger on the direction desired by the six-member council. 

The new policy goes into effect upon expiration of any hangar agreements already in place. The council and its airport committee will oversee the rent charges based on the condition of the hangar and square footage. 

The council also set the monthly fee for new hangars at the airport at $165. 

Source: http://www.houstonherald.com

Three generations of pilots fly on board Weber's final flight






Three generations of pilots were aboard the Dec. 28 Delta flight from Minneapolis to Portland and back to celebrate the career of one Hastings pilot. Steve Weber, a Hastings native, piloted his last flight before retiring with some special guests on board. Weber's 93-year-old father Wally, a former pilot, and and his 26-year-old son, Brian, who is also a pilot, were on the flight along with some other immediate family members.

The flight left Minneapolis at 11:30 a.m., landed in Portland for about an hour and then returned to Minneapolis at about 7:30 p.m. Brian got to sit in the jump seat in the cockpit with Steve.

Brian said it was a significant moment for him to ride in the jump seat because many people can't do that unless they work for Delta or another airline.

But the fact that there were three careers of pilots from one family made Steve's last flight even more unique and memorable.

"It was very special...it's unusual," Steve said.

Steve began his career working at Western Airlines in 1979 until it was bought out by Delta Airlines in 1986. He's been with Delta ever since.

Steve said he grew up being intrigued by flying planes because Wally was a pilot for Northwest Airlines. Wally worked at Northwest Airlines for 39 years until retiring as a captain. Northwest Airlines eventually merged with Delta Airlines in 2008.

Wally said it was really important to him that he be on Steve's last flight.

"What's unusual about this whole thing is the fact that I lived long enough to see my son follow in my footsteps (and) retire," Wally said.

Steve agreed, referring to himself and his father as bookends. Wally, as the patriarch of the family, is the start because he was the first in the family to get into flying airplanes; Steve retiring as a captain is at the other end of the shelf.

However, another bookend will have to be added as a new beginning because Brian will be joining Delta as a pilot next month, transitioning from working at another airline. It will be like Steve is "symbolically passing the baton," Brian said.

As for Steve, now that he has retired, he said he will be doing some farming and working on airplanes. And although he isn't actively looking, he said would do some side flying if something came along. For him, flying isn't just a job, it's a hobby and "it's just a fun thing to do as a family."

Source:  http://www.hastingsstargazette.com

Pilots would take breathalyzer before they fly out of New York airports under bill by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz



ALBANY - A state lawmaker from Brooklyn wants to make sure boozed up pilots don’t get the chance to fly out of New York airports.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat, said he will introduce legislation to require pilots departing from New York airports to take a breathalyzer test before they get behind the controls.

"The life and safety of pilots, flight attendants and the flying public must be protected,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz cited recent media reports of pilots flying drunk as the reason for his bill, including incidents in which an American Airlines pilot flunked two sobriety tests before his flight from Detroit and an Alaska Airlines pilot who flew a commercial plane from California to Oregon and back again while reportedly drunk.

Ortiz is known as one of the Legislature’s most prolific bill writers. He’s previously proposed legislation that, among other things, would have banned restaurants from using salt in their food and required skiers to wear crash helmets.

Source:  http://www.nydailynews.com

Smaller Airports Get the Attention of International Carriers



WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — For as long as airlines have been crossing the oceans, airline passengers have had to go to big city airports to catch their overseas flights.

So users of the nation’s 53rd-busiest airport, in this small town in the suburbs of Hartford, were surprised this fall when Aer Lingus, the flag carrier of Ireland, began flights to Europe.

“It puts us into a different class of airport having that,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the airport, Bradley International. “There are not a whole lot of airports this size that have trans-Atlantic service. It put us on the map.”

Warwick, R.I., with an even smaller airport, may soon have the same bragging rights. T. F. Green Airport, just outside Providence and about 90 miles from Bradley, is negotiating for European flights with the low-cost carrier Norwegian.

“Smaller airports are the next coming thing,” said Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of Norwegian, which is also talking to Stewart International Airport in Orange County, N.Y., about starting European-bound flights.

In 2016, a record 18,000 city pairs were connected by air, according to the International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group. “We’ve seen the addition of 700 new routes this year,” said Brian Pearce, chief economist and director with the association. The growth has been particularly noticeable in the United States, Mr. Pearce said, but was also significant in Europe and Asia.

While many of the new routes, like All Nippon Airways’ Tokyo-Mexico City flights and Air India’s Delhi-Madrid offering, linked large metropolitan areas, the growth in midsize city connections disrupted long-set patterns. John Grant, a senior analyst with OAG, an aviation data provider, said the new interest in smaller airports has several roots, among them a boom in the number of air travelers, new low-cost carriers offering long-haul flights and congestion at the biggest airports.

“Many markets are already saturated in terms of frequency,” Mr. Grant said. “There are only so many times you can fly into New York and London a day.”

New technology also plays a role as huge airliners, with 400 or more seats, are eclipsed in popularity by aircraft of a more moderate size.

“Apart from a few large markets, large aircraft could only be flown when they had a feed of passengers from other markets that would then travel onwards to intercontinental destinations,” said Floris de Haan, head of aviation practice for Ortec, a consulting firm based in the Netherlands.

In the last five years, the companies manufacturing the two biggest airliners, the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380, have introduced smaller, more fuel-efficient long- and medium-range airplanes that are just right for connecting smaller cities.

The 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was critical to Norwegian’s decision to begin low-cost flights between gateways in the United States and Norway in 2013. The airline has configured the aircraft to carry 291 to 344 passengers. Mr. Kjos says his airline is now relying on delivery of four even smaller Boeing 737 Max aircraft, with 180 seats, to expand its route map.

“The Max, that’s a single aisle that can fly on routes to secondary cities,” Mr. Kjos said of the plane and others like it with 100 to 230 seats. “You will see a lot of low fares and a new segment of people start flying.”

Airlines find more savings on the ground as well. Layover hotel rates for flight crews, landing fees and fuel prices are usually lower at smaller airports. For passengers, the costs of parking, car rentals and other travel services are usually less than at major airports.

There is also a reduction in the hassle factor. Security lines are more manageable, and immigration lines on arrival at major airports can sometimes take more than an hour to clear. Avoiding that is a benefit nearly on par with eliminating the long drive to New York or Boston.

“There was a lot of business heading into Europe having to drive two to three hours,” said Mike Rutter, chief commercial officer for Aer Lingus. That was an important consideration, Mr. Rutter said, because 80 percent of the traffic the airline would need for a profitable route would have to come from Hartford-area businesses. Officials at the airport told Aer Lingus that 23 area companies were spending $40 million on trans-Atlantic travel each year.

Mr. Dillon, of Bradley airport, said those figures were crucial, not just for Aer Lingus but for other airlines talking to the airport, including Norwegian.

As the Aer Lingus flights began this fall, a number of travelers in the terminal stopped to examine the large emerald green poster on display. “Aer Lingus, Your Gateway to Europe,” it read, listing European capitals, including Milan and Paris, that are reachable after a change of planes in Dublin.

Hartford does not have the same cachet for Europeans flying to the United States. Katherine Burke of Ireland, who visits her adult daughter in Connecticut twice a year, usually travels through New York and then makes the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Milford. In November, she arrived at Bradley knowing little about the area, except that she would be at her daughter’s house in less than an hour.

“Most U.S. cities if you say the name to British people, they will think of something famous associated with that place,” said Ralph Anker, the founding editor and chief analyst of anna.aero, a British website specializing in airline routes. “But certainly, in the U.K., Hartford really doesn’t create any instant associations.”

To address that challenge, Bradley Airport has budgeted about $3.6 million for a three-year marketing effort, while the State of Connecticut has given Aer Lingus revenue guarantees of up to $4.5 million a year for two years while it establishes its route.

Smaller airports frequently offer these kinds of economic incentives to attract airlines. Norwegian, WOW Air of Iceland and other carriers have also received them.

Even with financial help, though, one factor remains critical. “Most people don’t fly for the pleasure of flying,” said Mr. Pearce, the airline economist. “It’s to go on holiday or to do business. An airline has to think that people are going to fly between these two cities for a reason.”

Original article can be found here:  http://www.nytimes.com

Monday, January 9, 2017

Embraer ERJ-145XR, N15116, Trans States: Incident occurred January 09, 2017 at Hector International Airport (KFAR), Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FARGO

N11137 TRANS STATE FLIGHT LOF4269 EMBRAER EMB145 AIRCRAFT ON TAKEOFF SUSTAINED UNKNOWN DAMAGE TO THE MAIN LANDING GEAR, NO INJURIES, FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA 

Date: 09-JAN-17
Time: 12:30:00Z
Regis#: N11137
Aircraft Make: EMBRAER
Aircraft Model: EMB145
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: COMMERCIAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 121
Aircraft Operator: TRANS STATES
Flight Number: LOF4629
City: FARGO
State: NORTH DAKOTA



FARGO — The takeoff of a United Express commuter jet flight to Denver from Fargo was safely aborted Monday, Jan. 9, after the plane blew two tires, a Hector International Airport spokesman said.

About 6:30 a.m., United Express Flight 4629, a 50-passenger Embraer 145, was rolling down the runway for takeoff when two right rear tires blew on the landing gear, said Airport Authority Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein.

The crew then aborted the takeoff and returned to the gate, he said. No one was hurt, he said.

"It does happen. It's not frequent, but it does happen on occasion," Dobberstein said of tire blowouts.

Flights are being found for passengers on board with Delta, American or United, "wherever they have the space available," Dobberstein said.

That could be complicated because a winter storm is dumping heavy snow on Denver, and the same storm could affect flights out of Chicago and Minneapolis Monday afternoon and evening, he said. He urged airline passengers to monitor their flight schedules and be in contact with the airlines on which they've booked flights.

Dobberstein said operations are continuing normally at Hector International, though the runway was closed down for about 20 minutes as airport crews searched for and removed debris from the mishap, and swept the runway to prevent other planes from being affected by foreign object damage.

Dobberstein said the United Express jet is still being repaired and the cause of the mishap is under investigation.

Source:  https://www.wday.com

Huntleigh USA: Passenger service agent alleges aviation company failed to pay overtime

HOUSTON — A Houston woman is suing an aviation business, alleging violation of workers compensation acts in failing to pay overtime.

Mary L. Thomas, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed a class action complaint Dec. 13 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Huntleigh USA Corporation, alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to the complaint, Thomas, a passenger service agent, was compensated below the minimum wage for all work she performed and was denied overtime wages. The plaintiff alleges Huntleigh USA did not pay wages for uninterrupted meal breaks and refused to pay overtime.

Thomas seeks trial by jury, an order certifying this case as a collective action, all unpaid wages, liquidated damages, attorney fees, court costs and expenses and all other equitable relief. She is represented by attorney Trang Q. Tran of The Tran Law Firm in Houston.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case number 4:16-cv-03648

Source:  http://setexasrecord.com

'People smuggling' pilot says he only landed with illegal immigrants so they could use the toilet: Algirdas Barteska landed his aircraft carrying three Albanians at a private members’ flying club

Cessna 172RG Cutlass RG,   172RG-0115 INC TRUSTEE,  N15NH:   http://registry.faa.gov/N15NH

Algirdas Barteska was convicted for people smuggling. 


The plane.



A pilot attempted to drop off a family of illegal Albanian migrants but was thwarted on the runway, a court heard as a judge warned British airfields are “defenceless” against people smugglers.

Algirdas Barteska, a former flying instructor from Lithuania, was arrested on June 24 last year after Border Force personnel were forced to chase him down a runway as he tried a daring ‘drop and run’ mission involving three Albanian migrants at a private member’s flying club in Seething, Norfolk.

As Border Force staff attempted to prevent the 60-year-old trafficker from escaping, Barteska continued with his takeoff procedure undeterred, forcing his pursuers to bang on the cockpit window in order to bring the Cessna light aircraft to a halt.

Once detained, Barteska was found carrying €5,000, which he claimed had been his payment from the family for smuggling them into Britain from Germany.

Presiding, Judge Stephen Holt sentenced Barteska to six years imprisonment, adding that his crimes fell into “the more serious category” and should be considered a deterrent to others planning similar operations.

“Small airfields, particularly in Norfolk are just defenceless,” he added.

“There just isn’t the manpower and there has to be a deterrent aspect. In my judgement there are dozens of small airfields in East Anglia which are extremely vulnerable to this sort of people smuggling.”

The airfield’s staff were originally alerted to Barteska’s activities earlier last year, after he was seen by a member of the public making two test flights to the airfield in May.

Records of the plane were logged and an alarm was later raised when its transponder showed that it had reentered British airspace on June 24, after departing Dinslaken in Germany with the Albanian family.

It later emerged that Barteska had filed a flight plan to Nottingham airport but had made no mention of his passengers.

When questioned at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, Barteska said he had been hired to fly the family to the UK in his employer’s Cessna because they had been interested in buying the light aircraft, adding that he had been forced to make an unscheduled landing in order for the mother and daughter to use the airfield’s toilet facilities.

He also claimed that he was unaware that his passengers were not permitted to land in the UK, adding that he was attempting to takeoff in order to complete his flight to Nottingham.

However, a jury took just over two hours to return a guilty verdict for three counts of assisting people smuggling, which Barteska will serve concurrently.

Judge Holt also singled out Barteska’s employer, Finnish businessman Kristia Tieda - who runs a business in Helsinki purportedly offering people assistance with immigration - as “the principle figure in the people smuggling operation.”

Asked whether British authorities were working to arrest Mr Tieder - whose Cessna light aircraft was registered to a US trust company - prosecutor John Farmer said that his whereabouts were currently unknown, but that steps were being taken to uncover his location.

Commenting on the case, Adam Hutton, chief immigration officer in Immigration Enforcement's Criminal and Financial Investigations Team, said: "Barteska has 43 years flying experience.

"It stretches credulity to believe that someone with such a background could genuinely believe he was entitled to bring three people into the UK without establishing whether they had the right to enter the country.

"The reality is that he agreed to deliberately try to circumvent the UK's immigration controls in exchange for money.

"Barteska's offences struck at the very heart of immigration control and his conviction today sends a clear message that this kind of criminality will be severely dealt with."

Story, photos and comments:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk

United States Pilots See Close Calls With Russian Jets Over Syria: As planes share crowded airspace fighting parallel wars, militaries struggle to minimize threat of an accident

A U.S. F-15 Strike Eagle fighter flies over the Euphrates River in Iraq. 



The Wall Street Journal
By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS and  GORDON LUBOLD
January 9, 2017 11:16 a.m. ET


One night this past fall, a U.S. radar plane flying a routine pattern over Syria picked up a signal from an incoming Russian fighter jet.

The American crew radioed repeated warnings on a frequency universally used for distress signals. The Russian pilot didn’t respond.

Instead, as the U.S. plane began a wide sweep to the south, the Russian fighter, an advanced Su-35 Flanker, turned north and east across the American plane’s nose, churned up a wave of turbulent air in its path and briefly disrupted its sensitive electronics.

A Russian Su-35 Flanker fighter shadows U.S. F-15s as they refuel over Syria in September. The photo, taken by a camera on one of the American planes, shows the Russian pilot far closer than the three-mile safety limit set in a 2015 U.S.-Russian agreement.


“We assessed that guy to be within one-eighth of a mile—a few hundred feet away—and unaware of it,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Birch, commander of the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group, a unit based in the Persian Gulf.

The skies above Syria are an international incident waiting to happen, according to American pilots. It is an unprecedented situation in which for months U.S. and Russian jets have crowded the same airspace fighting parallel wars, with American pilots bombing Islamic State worried about colliding with Russian pilots bombing rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Russian warplanes, which also attack Islamic State targets, are still flying daily over Syria despite the recent cease-fire in Moscow’s campaign against the anti-Assad forces, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The U.S. and Russian militaries have a year-old air safety agreement, but American pilots still find themselves having close calls with Russian aviators either unaware of the rules of the road, or unable or unwilling to follow them consistently.

“Rarely, if ever, do they respond verbally,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, who flies combat missions in a stealth fighter. “Rarely, if ever, do they move. We get out of the way. We don’t know what they can see or not see, and we don’t want them running into one of us.”

Complicating the aerial traffic jam, the Russian planes don’t emit identifying signals, flouting international protocols.

The Russian Ministry of Defense didn’t respond to written requests for comment on the actions of Russian pilots over Syria.

The aerial anxiety adds to bilateral tensions between the U.S. and Russia, already rising over Moscow’s increasingly assertive role in propping up Mr. Assad, its alleged interference in the U.S. presidential campaign and its earlier seizure of Crimea. In this environment, American commanders worry that a collision could become a flash-point.

“If an aircraft crashes, it is statistically more likely that it’s some type of mechanical problem that caused that crash, rather than someone shooting down an airplane,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Manning. “But in the fog and friction of war, people will be predisposed to conclude there’s some type of malign activity that took down that aircraft.”

In 2015, U.S. and Russian commanders signed a four-page memorandum of understanding intended to keep their warplanes from crashing into each other or shooting each other down.

Now senior military officials at the Pentagon are pushing to boost the communications and coordination between the two militaries. Under the proposal, three-star generals at the Pentagon would routinely discuss Mideast operations with their counterparts in Moscow. One impetus for the Pentagon effort is the belief that President-elect Donald Trump may want to increase cooperation with Moscow in the region, senior military officials say.

For the moment, day-to-day efforts to avoid a midair catastrophe go through Col. Manning, a Russian speaker who works out of Al Udeid air base in Qatar. Col. Manning has three scheduled calls a week with his Russian counterpart, a colonel based in Syria, to clear airspace for both militaries’ operations. Most weeks they have impromptu talks daily. When combat operations are especially intense, the two colonels might talk 10 times a day, as they did last month, when U.S. aircraft destroyed 168 tanker trucks delivering oil for Islamic State.

In addition, a senior Pentagon civilian leads a video teleconference on Syria every six to eight weeks with her Russian counterpart.

Air Force technicians at a Persian Gulf base prepare 1,000-pound bombs for airstrikes against Islamic State.


One of the most serious mishaps so far was caused by the U.S. In September, an American airstrike intended to hit Islamic State militants in Deir Ezzour, Syria, killed dozens of Syrian government troops instead.

The incident highlighted vulnerabilities in the colonel-to-colonel hotline. The day of the strikes, Col. Manning was away from the Qatari base that houses the American air operations center. After the strikes began, a Russian officer called on the hotline and asked to speak to another U.S. colonel he knew. That American wasn’t available. The Russian hung up, and 27 minutes passed before the Russians called back to warn the Americans they were bombing the wrong target, according to U.S. defense officials.

At the time, the Russian military issued a statement saying: “If the airstrike was caused by erroneous coordinates of targets, it is a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia [on] its actions against terrorist groups in Syria.”

Col. Manning said the current coordination efforts are making the war safer.

“We continue to assess that the Russian have no intent to harm coalition forces in the air or on the ground,” he said. “Because we believe there is no malign intent towards the coalition forces, we’re able to de-conflict.”

But things look different from the cockpit, and U.S. pilots say the Russians sometimes seem to be pushing the limits just to see if they can get away with it.

It’s a situation further complicated by the soup of aircraft conducting combat missions, including Americans, Russians, Syrians, Australians, Britons, Danes, Turks, Emiratis, Saudis and Jordanians. On any given day, there are usually 50 to 75 manned and unmanned coalition aircraft over Raqqa, the Islamic State stronghold in Syria, and another 150 or so over heavily contested Mosul, Iraq, according to one U.S. radar officer. The 64-member coalition—Russia is not a member—had conducted more than 51,500 sorties against Islamic State, two-thirds of them by U.S. aircraft, as of mid-December.

The 2015 agreement between the U.S. and Russia led to negotiation of what Americans call the “rule of threes.” Pilots should keep at least three nautical miles of separation horizontally, or 3,000 feet vertically. Should they get closer, they’ll remain for no more than three minutes.

“We’ve agreed to coexist peacefully,” said Gen. Corcoran.

But the Russians are prone to ignoring the conventions of air safety, according to the American pilots. Planes world-wide carry transponders that emit a four-digit code allowing air-traffic controllers to identify them, a practice called squawking. Russian planes over Syria don’t squawk, and they appear as an unidentified bleep to allied radar installations.

Nor do the Russians usually answer “guard calls,” urgent summons on a common emergency radio frequency. In one eight-hour shift on Dec. 11, for instance, the crew of a U.S. radar plane, called an AWACS, made 22 such calls to some 10 Russian planes and received not a single response. A few of the Russians approached within five miles of allied aircraft.

The controller aboard the AWACS scattered U.S. planes to keep them clear of the Russians. “We’ve had several co-altitude incidents,” the officer said, referring to planes flying too close together.

Russian pilots have sometimes broken their silence when contacted by a female air-traffic controller.

In early September, a female U.S. air-surveillance officer spotted an unidentified plane approaching allied aircraft over Syria. “You’re operating in the vicinity of coalition aircraft,” she warned the pilot.

A heavy Russian accent emerged through the static: “You have a nice voice, lady. Good evening.”

Brig Gen Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, returns from a bombing mission.


“Some of the closest calls I’m convinced they don’t know we’re there,” said Gen. Corcoran.

That’s not always the case. In September, an Su-35 shadowed an American F-15 fighter as it ended a bombing run over Syria and pulled up to a tanker plane to refuel. The U.S. pilot filmed the Russian running alongside the American planes, about a mile-and-a-half away, said Col. Birch.

At times, Russian planes plow through tightly controlled groupings of allied aircraft over Raqqa. Russian bombers, flying to Syria via Iran, have crossed Iraq and disrupted allied flight patterns over the battlefields of Mosul.

Lt. Col. August “Pfoto” Pfluger, a stealth-fighter pilot, witnessed such an incident over Iraq in August. He compared the Russians’ behavior to jumping out of the stands at a professional football game and bolting onto the field.

“You just don’t do that,” he said.

—James Marson and Noam Raydan contributed to this article.


Original article, video,  photo gallery and comments can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

Cessna 175B, N8148T: Accident occurred January 06, 2017 at Lampson Field Airport (1O2), Lakeport, Lake County, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA119 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 06, 2017 in Lakeport, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/07/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 175, registration: N8148T
Injuries: Unavailable

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 reported that he attempted to start the airplane but that “the starter did not engage the flywheel.” He affirmed that he turned off the master switch and exited the airplane. He reported that he was alone when he pulled the propeller through, and the airplane started. The unoccupied airplane rolled across the tarmac and collided with the empennage of a parked airplane. Substantial damage was sustained to the left wing spar. 

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to secure the airplane before pulling the propeller through, which resulted in the airplane rolling and subsequently colliding with a parked airplane.

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N8148T 

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA119
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 06, 2017 in Lakeport, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 175, registration: N8148T
Injuries: Unavailable

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 reported that he attempted to start the airplane but "the starter did not engage the flywheel." He affirmed that he turned off the master switch and exited the airplane. He reported that he was alone when he pulled the propeller through and the airplane started. The unoccupied airplane rolled across the tarmac and collided with the empennage of a parked airplane. Substantial damage was sustained to the left wing spar.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Southwest Airlines, Boeing 737-700, N452WN: Incident occurred January 08, 2017 near Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), California

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO:   http://registry.faa.gov/N452WN

FAA Flight Standards District Office: LOS ANGELES

N452WN SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FLIGHT SWA3356 BOEING 737 AIRCRAFT ON CLIMBOUT, SUSTAINED MINOR DAMAGE TO PASSENGER WINDOWS FROM A BIRDSTRIKE, NO INJURIES, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.  

Date: 09-JAN-17
Time: 05:57:00Z
Regis#: N452WN
Aircraft Make: BOEING
Aircraft Model: 737
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: COMMERCIAL
Flight Phase: INITIAL CLIMB (ICL)
Operation: 121
Aircraft Operator: SOUTHWEST
Flight Number: SWA3356
City: LOS ANGELES
State: CALIFORNIA

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, Cylinder Shop Inc., N907WA: Accident occurred January 07, 2017 at North Perry Airport (KHWO), Hollywood, Broward County, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA111 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 07, 2017 in Hollywood, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/04/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N907WA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 solo student pilot reported that, during his ninth landing of the day, the nose gear collapsed, and the left wing dipped down striking the runway. Subsequently, the airplane exited the runway to the right. 

The Federal Aviation Administration inspector who responded to the accident reported that the distance from the first point of impact to the final stopping point was about 320 ft. He added there were indications that the right aileron and wing tip contacted the runway first. There was also a sheared nose gear hub pin/bolt found 35 ft from the initial point of impact.

There were multiple impact points along the debris path, and the second point of impact was the left wing tip, indicated by the blue-and-white paint markings from the wing tip on the runway. 

The third impact was the airplane’s nosewheel assembly. The runway showed markings left by the tire on the surface for about 20 ft. The markings also indicated an extreme side load on the tire. The wheel/tire hub assembly was found at the end of the tire mark with one of the nose strut forks.

Additionally, there were seven gouges in the runway surface from the propeller striking the ground. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the firewall.

The student pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
The weather observation station at the accident airport reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was 220° at 14 knots, gusting to 20 knots. The student pilot landed on runway 28L.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot’s improper landing flare in gusting crosswind conditions, which resulted in a hard landing. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Miramar, Florida

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Cylinder Shop Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N907WA


NTSB Identification: GAA17CA111
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 07, 2017 in Hollywood, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N907WA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 solo student pilot reported that during his 9th landing of the day, the nose gear collapsed, and the left wing dipped down striking the runway. Subsequently, the airplane exited the runway to the right.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector who responded to the accident reported that the distance from the first point of impact to the final stopping point was approximately 320 ft. He further reported there were indications that the right aileron and wing tip contacted the runway first. There was also a sheared nose gear hub pin/bolt found 35 ft. from the initial point of impact.

There were multiple impact points along the debris path, and the second point of impact was the left-wing tip, indicated by the blue and white paint markings from the wing tip on the runway. 

The third impact was the airplane's nose wheel assembly. The runway showed markings left by the tire on the surface for about 20 ft. The markings also indicated an extreme side load on the tire. The wheel/tire hub assembly was found at the end of the tire mark with one of the nose strut forks.

Additionally, there were 7 gouges in the runway surface from the propeller striking the ground. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the firewall.

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

The weather observation station at the accident airport, about the time of the accident, reported the wind at 220 degrees (true) at 14 knots, gusting to 20 knots. The student pilot landed runway 28L.

Learjet 55, YV3179: Incident occurred January 07, 2017 in Miami, Florida

FAA Flight Standards District Office: SOUTH FLORIDA

AIRCRAFT ON LANDING, WENT OFF THE RUNWAY WITH A BLOWN TIRE, MIAMI, FLORIDA 

Date: 07-JAN-17
Time: 15:55:00Z
Regis#: YV3179
Aircraft Make: LEARJET
Aircraft Model: 55
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: MIAMI
State: FLORIDA

American Airlines, McDonnell Douglas MD-82, N70425: Incident occurred January 06, 2017 at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (KORD), Illinois

AMERICAN AIRLINES INC:   http://registry.faa.gov/N70425

FAA Flight Standards District Office: CHICAGO

AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT AAL2319, REGISTRATION NOT REPORTED, ON LANDING, GEAR DOORS STRUCK THE RUNWAY, AIRCRAFT TOWED TO THE GATE, NO INJURIES, DAMAGE UNKNOWN, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 

Date: 06-JAN-17
Time: 00:24:00Z
Regis#: AAL2319
Aircraft Make: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS
Aircraft Model: 80
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: COMMERCIAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Aircraft Operator: AMERICAN AIRLINES
Flight Number: AAL2319
City: CHICAGO
State: ILLINOIS

Mitsubishi MU-2B-40, NCP Coatings Inc., N48NP: Accident occurred January 07, 2017 in Niles, Michigan

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

NCP COATINGS INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N48NP

FAA Flight Standards District Office: GRAND RAPIDS


Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA074
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 07, 2017 in Niles, MI
Aircraft: MITSUBISHI MU 2B-40, registration: N48NP
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 7, 2017, at 1506 eastern standard time, a Mitsubishi MU-2 airplane, N48NP, departed the left side of the snow covered runway after landing at Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport (3TR), Niles, Michigan. The private rated pilot was not injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight departed Smyrna Airport (MQY), Smyrna, Tennessee, and 3TR was the intended destination. 

The pilot stated that he did not find any Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs) concerning the runway not being plowed. The pilot was cleared for the RNAV 33 approach to 3TR. When the airport was in sight, the pilot circled over the runway and activated airport lights in order to clearly identify the runway. The landing was uneventful until the pilot retarded the power levers into beta range and the airplane made an unexpected left turn then exited the runway. The airplane spun and came to rest in the snow covered field on the left side of the runway. 

The airport snow plow operator stated that he checked the runway conditions on the morning of the accident and noted a light dusting to ½ inch of snow in some areas, but the pavement was still visible. He left town and returned about 1530 at which time he heard about the accident and observed two or more inches of snow on the runway. 

At 1454, the automated weather observation station at South Bend International Airport (SBN), South Bend, Indiana, located about 9 miles south of the accident site, recorded: wind from 250 degrees at 14 knots, 6 statute miles visibility, haze, clouds overcast at 3,700 ft, temperature 12°F, dew point 5°F, and a barometric pressure of 30.47 inches of mercury. Remarks: unknown precipitation began at 1428 and ended at 1438; snow ended at 1428. 


The airplane was retained for further examination.