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
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