Thursday, August 24, 2017

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (KECP), Panama City, Bay County, Florida: Behind the scenes with the Transportation Security Administration

At Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, security workers screen about 1,750 passengers a day during the summer months and will scan over 1.38 million bags in a year, largely through a single TSA checkpoint.

WEST BAY — If it all goes according to plan, both passengers and their baggage should move through security checkpoints at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) with very little notice of the “robust security protocols,” in place, both seen and unseen.

On Thursday, officials with the Transportation Security Administration gave a behind-the-scenes look at the people, processes and technology in place to help keep passengers safe and detect potential threats to aircraft. Averaging about 14 flights a day and 22 flights on Saturday during the summer, the airport screens about 1,750 passengers a day during the summer months and will scan over 1.38 million bags in a year, largely through a single TSA checkpoint.

That being said, Petar Dimitrov, a TSA officer who has worked at ECP for about eight months, said most people get through the checkpoints in minutes with little to no disruption. Here’s what goes on at each stage of security screening and what technology is being used to detect threats.

Checked baggage

The life of a checked bag at ECP is a pretty good one. After being dropped off at the ticket counter, the bags are taken for a conveyor belt ride, like a lazy river but for luggage, through a series of rooms to be fed through explosive detection machines. Computer algorithms automatically sort the bags to prevent blockages, and if a bag doesn’t trigger any alarms, it shouldn’t be touched by another person until it’s time to be loaded onto the aircraft, according to Sari Koschetz, a TSA spokesperson.

If a bag does trip an alarm, it’s separated from the herd and taken into another room, where it’s run through another machine by a TSA officer. The officer can look at the x-ray image to determine if the alarm was just tripped by a harmless, everyday item, or they can remove the item, examine it and swab both the item and the inside of the bag for explosives residue.

If the item is prohibited — say, if someone has fireworks in their luggage (Koshetz says that’s a big problem during the Fourth of July) — then the airline is called. The airline then will call the passenger, who can either take the item back to their car if they’re local, or abandon it. The airline takes possession of abandoned items, which are regularly picked up by hazmat teams and disposed of.

Once the bags make it through the maze of conveyor belts, they’re dropped onto a luggage carousel, where they’re picked up by airline employees, sorted into carts and brought to their flights.

Passenger security

While their bags are moving through their own screening process, passengers begin their TSA experience at the security checkpoint, where they meet Dimitrov or one of his coworkers. At this point, passengers have already had their names checked against no-fly lists and will have their driver’s licenses scrutinized before entering the checkpoint. Dimitrov checks the picture on the license against the person standing in front of him, the name on the license against the name on the boarding pass, and uses UV light to check for security features embedded in the license.

If their driver’s license checks out, passengers move into the Advanced Imagery Technology body scanner. Unlike previous models, the scanners at ECP show TSA workers a generic white outline, with yellow rectangles marking areas that might conceal a threat.

“There are no privacy violations,” Koschetz said.

Koschetz also added that the machines are extremely safe, emitting significantly less energy than a cell phone. To demonstrate, she sent officer Tim Justice through the scanner with his badge and cell phone, which were both clearly highlighted with yellow rectangles. The items are then x-rayed and a pat-down conducted. At any point, Koschetz said, a passenger can request a private screening or a consultation with a screening specialist.

As the passenger moves through the scanner, their carry-on bags are x-rayed and tested for explosives. As with the checked luggage, if they cause an alarm, agents go through the bag and swab it for explosives. They also can swab passengers’ hands or clothing for explosives residue and can test liquids for explosives so they can be brought on the plane, even if they exceed 3.4 ounces.

Keeping the security line moving, especially during the peak travel months, is the priority of both ECP and TSA, and Koschetz advised passengers become familiar with what they can and can’t bring on the plane before they arrive at the airport to avoid holding up the line. Not to mention some items, like guns or explosives, can carry a hefty fine.

“You slow down the line for everyone else,” Koschetz said. “We do want to keep the process moving.”

Story, video and photo gallery:

Cozen O'Connor Faces Suit Over Flightless Airplane

A Delaware aviation company is suing Cozen O'Connor over a damaged airplane that never got repaired.

Blue Water Aviation Inc. and Aero Ways Inc. have filed a complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Cozen O'Connor, alleging legal malpractice. They are also suing their insurer, Global Aerospace Inc., alleging breach of policy and bad faith.

They're seeking damages to compensate for their inability to use a Bombardier Challenger CL-601-1A airplane since July 2013, as well as legal fees and punitive damages. Aero Ways had been leasing the plane from Blue Water when it was damaged.

Aero Ways retained Cozen O'Connor to recover for the airplane damages and resulting financial losses, after "a series of accidents" at the Bob Hope International Airport in California, the complaint said. The accidents left the airplane un-flyable, the complaint said, but Aero Ways' insurer, Global, said it would not fully repair the damage.

"Global was inclined only to approve a lesser repair that was analogous to hammering out a dent in a car door," the complaint alleged.

Aero Ways and Blue Water alleged that Cozen O'Connor gave poor advice—to sue the Bob Hope airport and the airplane maintenance company located there. Instead, the complaint alleged, the firm should have advised them to "aggressively pursue Global to make good on its duty to repair the aircraft."

"Cozen O'Connor's advice was inexplicable because, to the extent that Aero Ways was pursuing the lawsuit as a means to get the aircraft back into the air as quickly as possible, that goal was more likely to be achieved by Aero Ways aggressively pursuing coverage, or fixing the aircraft itself," the complaint said.

The firm also failed to explain that Blue Water's primary claim should be against Aero Ways, which was obligated by the lease to fix the plane, the complaint said. And, the plaintiffs alleged, Cozen failed to advise Blue Water that because the firm represented Aero Ways, representing Blue Water would be a conflict of interest.

When Global, the insurer, had a change of heart and offered to replace the broken plane wing, Cozen O'Connor requested an appraisal of the plane, the complaint said, which Global took as a rejection of the offer.

The plane still has not been repaired, the complaint said.

Daniel Harrington of Cozen O'Connor, who is representing the firm, declined to comment on the complaint.

Clifford Haines, who is representing the plaintiffs, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. Robert Williams of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, who is representing Global, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Original article ➤

Dixon Municipal Airport (C73), Lee County, Illinois: Board decides fill-ups won’t fix revenue issue

DIXON – The Dixon Municipal Airport Board looked into ways to boost fuel sales Thursday to help get the facility closer to breaking even, but decided that avenue was a no-go.

The goal during the past year has been to find ways to improve the airport and make it as self sufficient as possible, and the city spent about $25,000 on a consultant in 2016 to conduct a feasibility study on how to do that and to determine whether it was better off shutting it down.

Ron Price, principle of Florida-based QED Airport and Aviation Consultants, gave different combinations of options the airport could try, such as instituting different management styles and allowing third parties to build private hangars.

Included in all the recommendations was to pursue aggressive fuel pricing – basically, buying more, selling it for less and drawing a more pilots looking for the best bargain.

The problem with that is the airport already keeps prices down to compete with neighbors, and buying more wouldn’t necessarily translate into selling more unless it was heavily promoted, board member Dave Flenner said.

“It’s an impasse where there’s no real gain one way or the other,” board member Dave Flenner said.

The board discussed whether it would be worth it to have the city buy the fuel in larger quantities instead of the fixed-base operator Clay Breneman, owner of Breneman Aircraft Services who handles fuel sales, but there’s no guarantee of savings.

The airport sold about 6,500 gallons of fuel last year. To buy in bulk, it would need to order at least 8,500 gallons, which would probably save them around 10 cents a gallon, but that still wouldn’t be enough of a discount to draw pilots going out of their way to gas up, board member Brian Brown said.

Another problem: The fuel’s shelf-life is about 9 months.

Breneman said he would buy a full load if it would sell, but that’s not likely.

The board approved a recommendation to the City Council that there would be no gain for the aggressive fuel pricing model.

The board also ...

• Said talks about sharing grant funds with the Whiteside County Airport are still on hold and that Mayor Li Arellano Jr. is looking into whether a partnership could lead to economic development opportunities.

• Discussed moving forward with replacing the lighting on its main runway; the project will go to bid in October with most of the cost being covered by Federal Aviation Administration grant dollars.

• Discussed the possibility of having a flea market in front of the airport hosted by Amy Fenwick, owner of Roxie’s Boutique.

Original article can be found here ➤

Clark County, Washington: Sheriff's Office testing unmanned aircraft systems to fight crime

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — The Clark County Sheriff's Office showed off a new crime fighting tool Thursday - unmanned aircraft systems.

According to Deputy Jason Granneman, the aircraft will be used for very specific incidents. It won't be used it as a surveillance tool over the public.

"If we have an outstanding subject, if we have an armed felon that’s running from us, of course you can’t see everything from the ground, if you have that aerial perspective, we could see perhaps where that person ran to," he explained. "It’s very important for the public to know that we’re just not out flying these around just every day and doing massive surveillance. We use these for very specific applications."

They'll also use them during emergency situations.

"If we do have a shooting just occurred and we have somebody on the run, we’re going to put those up right away because there’s a real obvious public safety issue," Granneman said. "We’re not using them to just surveil the county because we have too many people and too much time, they’re going to be used very specifically."

And don't call it a drone!

"Drones typically, people kind of have the connotation to the military. and so we don’t fly military drones ," Granneman explained. "In fact, the UAS devices that we use, any one of you can buy."

Story and video ➤

Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (KJVL), Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin: Airport seeks $750,000 to replace 60-year-old hangars

JANESVILLE -- Ron Burdick has been asking for a replacement for 60-year-old airplane hangars at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport for five years. So far, county leaders have said no.

The latest proposal is for a $750,000 structure to replace a metal building with an asphalt floor from the 1950s.

The hangars are storage areas for small, private airplanes -- one-engine or small two-engine planes, said Airport Manager Ron Burdick.

County Administrator Josh Smith said he has not recommended a new hangar in the two budgets since he became county administrator, but it's too early to say what he might decide for the 2018 budget.

The problem is cost. Given the lease rates for plane storage, the payback on a construction loan could be upwards of 50 years, Smith said.

Burdick said any calculation of costs should include revenue from plane storage over the decades.

“How many times have they paid for themselves?” he said.

Burdick reached out to businesses that might be interested in taking over the hangar business, as has happened elsewhere, but so far: “nothing like a high degree of interest,” Smith said.

“I think it would be great if we had somebody from the private sector to do that, but we haven't found it, yet,” Smith said.

The hangars are called T-hangars because of the airplane-shaped spaces where eight to 10 planes are stored, Burdick said.

Burdick's plan is for a new hangar to be built to the southwest of two hangars that were built in 1980. The airport has two other hangars, built in the 1950s, and one of those would be torn down once the new hangar, with the same number of storage units, is ready.

The new hangar would have a concrete floor, heat and rest rooms. The old ones are metal sheds with asphalt floors that are crumbling, with no heat and no rest rooms, Burdick said.

Keeping the hangar temperature at 45 degrees would remove the need to preheat engines before use, Burdick said.

The old buildings are “just a metal box,” and the metal is rusting, Burdick said.

A new hangar would feature larger storage spaces because planes' wingspans have grown over the years, Burdick said.

The four 10-unit T-hangars bring in $109,800 a year when all spaces are leased, Burdick said

Current rental rates for 20 smaller units is $216 per month. Ten medium-sized units go for $230 per month, and 10 large units cost $253 per month.

Those are rates dictated by the market based on square footage, Burdick said.

The monthly rate in the proposed larger hanger would be about $307, or $3,693 a year, Burdick said.

Getting the private sector to build hangars for small planes is difficult, in part, because businesses would have a hard time recouping their investment, and they would be competing with the county's older, smaller, lower-priced units, Burdick said.

The county has discussed selling its hangars, but the income from leasing the land is considerably lower than the income from the hangar leases, Burdick said.

On the other hand, selling the hangars would reduce county maintenance costs, Burdick said.

The airport is “viewed largely as an asst by the local business community,” Smith said.

Smith noted SC Aviation, which provides private jet charters, expanded with a $37 million investment in 2015.

“It's a positive asset to the community, and with the economy improving, I think business out there improves as well,” Smith said.

At the same time, the airport has maintenance needs, including an expensive reconstruction of the runways, which probably will be needed “within the next several years,” Smith said.

If the county doesn't go for Burdick's plan when the budget is considered this fall, “then we'll get to put it on another year,” Burdick said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Piper PA-18AS-125 Super Cub, N1905A: Fatal accident occurred August 23, 2017 near Port Alsworth, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Jason J. Walkush:

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA049
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 23, 2017 in Tyonek, AK
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18, registration: N1905A
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 23, 2017, about 2245 Alaska daylight time, a tundra tire-equipped Piper PA-18 airplane, N1905A, was destroyed after impacting remote tree-covered terrain while en route to Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska about 31 miles northwest of Tyonek, Alaska. The pilot, the only occupant, died at the scene. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 visual flight rules personal flight. Dark night, visual meteorological conditions were reported at the Kenai Municipal Airport, Kenai, Alaska about 8 minutes after the accident time, and no flight plan was filed. The Kenai Municipal Airport is located about 44 miles southeast of the accident site. 

The flight originated from a remote airstrip in mountainous terrain near Telaquana Lake, located in the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. 

In a conversion with the wife of the pilot on August 28, she reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) that the purpose of the flight was for a solo sheep hunting trip. The pilot departed from Merrill Field on August 19 about 1630 and arrived at the remote airstrip about 1930. The wife reported the length of the hunting trip was open ended, with no set return date. On August 23, about 2100 the pilot contacted the wife via a satellite phone and asked her to retrieve various weather information. The wife instructed the pilot to call her back in about 5 minutes and she would provide him the requested weather information. The pilot never called the wife back. About 2220, the wife reported that she received a text message from the pilot stating he was flying over Kenibuna Lake and he should be home around 2300. 

Sunset on the day of the accident was 2137; the end of civil twilight was 2227.

About 2245, the U.S. Air Force Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal. 

On August 24, a U.S. Air Force HH-60G helicopter was dispatched to the 406 MHz ELT coordinates and confirmed the location of the wreckage about 0625, located in remote-tree covered terrain about 1 quarter mile south of the Chakachatna River. On August 24, the NTSB IIC and the Alaska State Troopers traveled to the accident site via helicopter. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for future examination of the airframe and engine.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Update - Aug. 25., 3:45 p.m.:

On Friday, at approximately 3:25 p.m., the State Medical Examiner's Office identified the deceased pilot as 35-year-old Jason Walkush of Anchorage, according to the Alaska State Troopers. Additionally, AST says next-of-kin have been notified.

According to NTSB's Clint Johnson, the body was recovered Thursday evening. And now, the investigation has entered the "wreckage recovery phase," he said.

In the upcoming week, Johnson said NTSB will attempt to arrange a helicopter recovery of the plane wreckage. From there, he said the parts will be dropped off in either Anchorage, or Wasilla, where the investigation will continue.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Update - Aug. 24., 4:05 p.m.:

NTSB received notification of a plane crash, between Tyonek and Port Alsworth, at approximately 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to NTSB Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson. He confirmed the death of the pilot, after the Rescue Coordination Center arrived on scene Thursday afternoon.

More specifically, the plane crashed about 50 miles west of Tyonek, near the east end of Chakachamna Lake, according to Johnson.

The identity of the pilot is not being released currently, as AST is still working on notifying next-of-kin, said Johnson. He was able to confirm that the pilot was the sole occupant of the plane.

Additionally, Johnson described the downed Piper PA-18 as being personal-use.

"Things are very preliminary at this point," said Johnson. "We're tying to put those pieces of the puzzle together, but we just started the investigation."

While NTSB does not yet know how, or why, the plane crashed yesterday evening, Johnson did explain that rescue teams were able to locate the aircraft, because the plane emitted a "406 ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) hit."

By tomorrow morning, Johnson is hopeful that investigators will have more information about the crash.

"State Troopers and NTSB are actually on scene, as we speak right now," Johnson told KTUU. "They will be there pretty much all day recovering the remains and also starting our initial investigation."

This is a developing story and will be updated with further information.

Original Story - Aug. 24, 12:47 p.m.:

A plane has crashed between Tyonek and Port Alsworth and trooper helicopters are en route to locate the sole occupant aboard.

The plane went down sometime on Wednesday and did receive a search and rescue call overnight.

"There's a lot that we don't know right now," said Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Bureau.

"Probably about three minutes ago, the trooper helicopters took off to head to the crash site," Johnson said Thursday afternoon.

Right now, the identity and condition of the pilot and sole occupant are not yet being disclosed. The damage to the plane is not known.

The plane in question, a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, is "a very very popular aircraft in Alaska," Johnson said.

The cause of the crash is not immediately available, but Johnson noted that weather in the region is not favorable and has slightly slowed the investigation.

While the general area of the crash is known, investigators do not have a concrete location of the downed aircraft. The plane's flight path and departure location are also not available at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤

Lawsuit claims Hawaii airport lights harm imperiled seabirds

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the state today claiming it’s failing to address the harm to imperiled seabirds caused by bright lighting at its facilities in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Earthjustice said in a press release that the state Department of Transportation has failed to address injuries and deaths of three species of seabirds — the threatened Newell’s shearwater and the endangered Hawaiian petrels and band-rumped storm petrels — at state-operated airports and harbors on Kauai, Maui and Lanai.

The seabirds are attracted to the bright lights, but become disoriented and circle around them, then fall to the ground from exhaustion or crash into nearby buildings.

Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm, filed the suit on behalf of conservation groups Hui Ho‘omalu i Ka ‘Aina, the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i and Center for Biological Diversity following a breakdown in discussions last October with federal and state wildlife agencies over an islandwide habitat conservation plan on Kauai.

“It is incredibly saddening to know how endangered these seabirds have become,” said Marjorie Ziegler of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i. “They are integral parts of our island ecosystem and native Hawaiian culture. We hope this lawsuit will finally spur our government to take the necessary steps to protect them.”

Original article ➤

Air Canada chief highlights what not to do in a media interview

Air Canada's profits and share price have been flying high. Can you blame CEO Calin Rovinescu—who saved the airline from crashing back in 2009—for wanting to avoid talking about anything negative? 

Prior to 2009, it was one damn thing after another for Air Canada. The few years after its 1987 privatization saw record losses, union battles and a hostile takeover bid. Then came bankruptcy protection and pension plan woes. Through it all, the Montreal company's shares swooped and dived, from a high of $20.75 in May, 2000, to a low of 5¢ in August, 2004, as creditors loomed. After a corporate restructuring and rebirth through an IPO in 2006, its shares started at $19.75, only to plunge below a dollar in spring 2009. Finally, Air Canada's board hired the man who'd led its restructuring to restore order. Calin Rovinescu immediately began cutting costs and revamping systems. The stock stumbled back below a dollar in 2012, but in the years since, it has steadily climbed above the clouds, with soaring profits and a share price to match. All that success, however, has come at a time when air travel feels increasingly stressful. Growing delays and disruptions have left many passengers, including some Air Canada customers, feeling overcharged and underserved. 

But in the glow of his financial triumphs, Air Canada's CEO would rather not dwell on the negatives. Or even hear about them, apparently.

It’s not uncommon for some executives to lash out during a media interview.

Leaders who do so are used to being in control and get angry when they’re challenged. Unfortunately for Air Canada’s chief executive, Calin Rovinescu, it’s also not uncommon for reporters to punish executives for unappealing tones.

On Tuesday, Canada’s The Globe and Mail published an interview in which reporter Trevor Cole asked a series of seemingly fair questions about the airline. Rovinescu’s tone shifted when the executive didn’t like the turn of questioning, prompting him to answer sarcastically and defensively through the remainder of the interview. 

The full article is behind a pay wall, but I’ve excerpted a few key exchanges below:

You feel good about how Air Canada deals with [overbooking]. Can we talk about that case last April when the 10-year-old boy was bumped?

No. I’m not getting into specific customer dynamics with you, Trevor. And that’s not what I expected this interview to be about, and I’m happy to end it here if that’s—I’m not getting into discussions with respect to specific customer experiences.

By threatening to end the interview, Rovinescu suddenly shifted the headline away from his airline and toward his own refusal to engage meaningfully on a topic consumers are concerned about: how they’re treated by air carriers. Rovinescu was soon punished for that decision.

Cole recognized that his interview with the chief executive might come to an abrupt end if he stayed on that topic, so Cole shifted his line of questions:

Let’s talk about the disruptions coming from things like climate change. What is Air Canada doing to deal with this new reality?

Short of being able to control the weather, I don’t think there’s a lot we can do. I think that you will see some extreme weather situations which will result in disruptions.

You’re saying there’s nothing you can do to plan around that?

No, that’s not what I’m saying. There is a tremendous amount of planning that goes on through a complex operating system. But being able to control the weather is not within our business plan.

Rovinescu gave two sarcastic answers here—and Cole’s follow-up question was spot on. In Rovinescu’s first answer, he did appear to say there wasn’t much Air Canada could do. When pressed in a follow-up question, he gave an opposite answer.

Then Cole brought up a near-disaster that is currently being investigated: In July, an Air Canada plane carrying 140 passengers almost landed on a busy taxiway at San Francisco International Airport , where four other full planes were lined up.

Can you talk to me about pilot error? Just in terms of—

Trevor, I’m not sure I’m loving the direction of your interview here. I thought we were talking about a more generic dynamic around what the airline has achieved.

This experienced chief really thought the interview would solely be a puff piece about “what the airline has achieved” without any focus on Air Canada’s imperfections?

To refuse to answer a question about public safety rather than reiterating his commitment to work internally and with investigators to learn what happened and how to prevent it from reoccurring was a bad decision.

Reporters ultimately have control over the final edit, and Cole—appropriately, in my view—made the CEO pay for his responses. Here’s the end of the article’s introductory paragraph:

All that success, however, has come at a time when air travel feels increasingly stressful. Growing delays and disruptions have left many passengers, including some Air Canada customers, feeling overcharged and underserved. But in the glow of his financial triumphs, Air Canada’s CEO would rather not dwell on the negatives. Or even hear about them, apparently.


Perhaps Cole told Air Canada’s PR staff that this would be a positive profile and then surprised Rovinescu with tougher questions.

If so, who cares? An executive’s job is to speak through the reporter to his or her customers and other stakeholders, not react to a reporter’s questions—particularly those that are fair. Rovinescu’s staff could have protested with the reporter after the interview, if they decided to do so.

Perhaps the reporter had a nasty, biting tone. Again, who cares? Readers would never hear it in a print piece—and in writing, Cole’s questions seemed fair.

If Rovinescu had given even bland responses to the reporter’s tough questions, he could have kept more of a focus on his airline than his tone. Instead, he reacted to Cole’s questions instead of answering them—and by doing so, unnecessarily increased the negative tone of the article. 

Read more here:

Punta Gorda, Florida: Program hopes to combat pilot shortage

PUNTA GORDA, Florida  -  New aviation training has landed in Punta Gorda, while the United States continues to see a drop in commercial airline pilots. 

The program through Western Michigan University is located on the Florida Southwestern State College campus on Airport Road. It features a brand new flight simulator identical to the front of a commercial airplane. 

Advanced technology like this is being used to attract a new generation of commercial pilots. Boeing, a leader in the airline manufacturing industry, predicted that the United States would see a shortage of 617,000 commercial pilots by 2035. 

"There's a huge need to fill that gap, and so there's going to be a big hiring boom probably for the next 10-15 years," said Nicole Johnson, a WMU recruitment manager. 

James Parish, Charlotte County Airport Authority CEO, said the commercial airline industry is losing many pilots due to retirement. 

"The Federal government increased the pilot retirement age to 65 a few years ago. That group of pilots is about to time out," he said. 

WMU is still taking applications from anyone in Southwest Florida who is interested in taking its four-year Bachelor of Arts aviation program.

Story and video ➤

Great Bend Municipal Airport (KGBD), Barton County, Kansas: Runway project off the ground - First steps in $8M rehab underway

The first step in what will be a nearly $9 million renovation of the Great Bend Municipal Airport’s main north-south runway is now underway as engineering crews are at the facility doing preliminary work, airport Manager Martin Miller said.

For the next two weeks, the teams will drill and take core samples and survey for elevations, he said. This will determine design requirements for the runway. 

The Great Bend City Council in July authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign authorization for the design and bidding phase for the reconstruction of most of the airport’s runway 17/35, and to sign the pending Federal Aviation Administration grant offer covering most of the project cost.

The authorization is between the City of Great Bend and Burns and McDonnell of Wichita as the general contractor. The terms and scope are already approved by the FAA, which will pay 90 percent of the $546,840 fee covering the south 5,500 feet of the runway, leaving the city with a $64,644 bill. 

However, airport Manager Martin Miller said the runway, which dates back to World War II, is 7,851 feet long. This makes it the longest landing strip in central Kansas and among the longest in the state.

In other words, this leaves 2,351 feet not covered by the FAA funding. So, the city will be responsible for 100 percent of the $9,960 lighting design and the estimated $132,000 reconstruction of the remainder, Miller said. 

But, there may be some cost-saving options and there may also be Kansas Department of Transportation money available. This will make finishing off the runway cheaper, while still meeting  stringent safety standards.

However, that is all down the road. The design and bid work has started , and the firm has 270 days to complete it, he said. 

There will be a subsequent grant to cover the actual $8 million removal and replacement construction costs. The city will cover 10 percent, or $800,000, of that sometime next year.

After that, the city will finish up the rest of the runway. 

Miller said portions of the runway will remain open throughout this multi-year project so the facility will still be functional, albeit not at full capacity. “It will be painful no matter what we do.”

Miller admitted this is a pricey endeavor. But, it is important to maintain the runway at its full length.

The long runway, Great Bend’s central location and low fuel prices here make the airport an ideal stop for cross-county pilots. This is especially true for the larger planes that require more room for their take-offs.

Now, Centerline Aviation (the fixed-base operator that sells fuel) pays the city about $26,000 per year, fuel taxes bring in about $17-20,000 annually for Great Bend and sales taxes generate another $2,3000. A lot of this might evaporate with a shorter runway and less traffic, Miller said.

In addition, aircraft, like the B-29 that flew in for the Air Show, could not use the airport with a reduced landing strip.

The city’s Airport Advisory Board endorsed this project.

Original article ➤

Opinion: Peninsula Airport Commission - Applying civic lessons

(NOTE: The thoughts expressed in the following are mine as a Hampton private citizen and taxpayer and should not be construed as reflecting the opinion or position of the Hampton City Council or City of Hampton.)

I am deeply concerned by the seemingly cavalier attitude expressed by Sandy Wanner, interim executive director of the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. Given the $4.5 million loan guarantee to People Express that is the subject of the present controversy, as well as the State audit that revealed the lack of oversight by the individuals who comprised the Peninsula Airport Commission at that time, it is totally unacceptable to be quoted as saying, “I don’t have any concern (about the fees). I am not dismayed by the payments we are making for the value we are receiving.”

The perceived attitude of, “Why should I be concerned about how much and how this money is spent, after all, it’s not my money?” is the primary reason many taxpayers believe elected officials and government employees live in an alternate universe.

Newport News Councilwoman and airport commission member Sharon Scott is correct in asking for a delineation of the activities for which the commission was billed. Moreover, she deserves the full support of the other commission members in her pursuit of transparency and accountability.

After all, it was the absence of transparency and accountability that brought us to this point.

Donnie R. Tuck

Original article ➤

Burlington International Airport (KBTV), Chittenden County, Vermont: Seeking Williston’s support for airport regionalization

City leaders in South Burlington are leading a charge to band together Chittenden County communities to take ownership of Burlington International Airport. The mayor of Burlington, the airport’s current owner, opposes the idea.

South Burlington City Councilor Tom Chittenden and City Manager Kevin Dorn presented the case for regionalization Tuesday to Williston Selectboard members, asking them to sign a resolution to create a commission to study a regional governance model for the airport. “As a taxpayer, I would like to see Williston have a voice in this enterprise,” resident David Cranmer said. The city councils in South Burlington and Winooski have signed onto the resolution. Williston Selectboard members tabled consideration of the resolution to a future meeting. Board member

Ted Kenney said that, throughout his service on various town and school district governing boards, he could recall no adverse effects to Williston residents with the way the airport is currently run. “I don’t know how any of this will affect Williston if there is a regional governance model,” he said. “There are a huge amount of unknowns … I am very cautious of unintended consequences.”

Chittenden argued that a governing structure that regionalizes authority would give communities affected by airport operations recourse to affect change and address concerns. Currently, authority rests solely with the mayor of Burlington and the director of aviation, whom the mayor appoints.

Chittenden noted that the airport is outside Burlington city limits and funded primarily by the Federal Aviation Administration, rather than Burlington taxpayers. A regional governing board would free the airport of Burlington city regulations and increase its bonding authority, he said.

It would also decrease friction between the City of Burlington and its surrounding communities and open the door to input from the State of Vermont, he said. “We effectively have this critically important piece of economic development infrastructure that is managed by one person answering to the mayor of Burlington,” Dorn said.

“It wholly impacts neighborhoods outside (Burlington) boundaries, yet we have no say what goes on there. “If the neighboring communities band together and sign this resolution, then (Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger) will see the value of forming this committee.”

Weinberger wrote a letter earlier this month to Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire outlining his opposition to the regionalization proposal. He said city ownership is common throughout the country and that the airport has thrived under it.

He also said airport management works with neighboring communities to address questions or concerns and makes decisions with the “entire region’s economic future in mind.” “No clear case has been made, or I suspect can be made, that regionalization will strengthen our airport,” he wrote. “… There is a real risk that regionalization done wrong, or for parochial reasons, could actually weaken one of the region’s most successful economic drivers.”

McGuire plans to invite Weinberger to a future selectboard meeting to present his case in person before the selectboard decides whether to sign onto the resolution. Winooski Mayor Seth Leonard also weighed in with a letter to the Williston Selectboard, saying Winooski “has lost faith that the current governance model is sustainable.”

“This is about recognizing that operational and strategic decisions that are made at the airport have far greater impacts on our communities than they do on the community that is currently making all of the decisions,” he wrote. “We are not seeking to undermine the airport,” Leonard concluded, “we are seeking to strengthen it.”

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Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (KITH) receives extra $289,000 federal grant to pay for upgrades

Representative Tom Reed has issued a press release today announcing that the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport will receive $289,216 for improvements to the facility, coming from the US Department of Transportation. 

According to the release, the money is to "rehabilitate the airport apron where aircraft are parked, fueled and boarded. It will also cover installation of new apron flood lighting and perimeter fencing."

"Airports are a vital part of our national transportation infrastructure as well as an important driver in our regional economy," Reed was quoted as saying in the release. "It is important that they have the funds necessary to operate in a safe and efficient manner, and this grant will help Ithaca Tompkins Regional to continue to do that."

Airport manager Mike Hall said the money is "supplementary federal funding," through the Airport Improvement Program. It applies to work that was already completed last year, and that this additional funding is meant to cover complications the airport ran into during the completion of said updates which incurred further expenses than was initially budgeted. 

This is the second sizable grant the airport has received this year, following February's announcement of a $250,000 state grant for marketing purposes. The airport, which served 200,000 people in 2016 while hosting three airlines, was also under consideration for $40 million in state funding which would possibly reshape the waterfront and allow the airport to take steps toward becoming serving internationally. Hall said they have continued to their application, but a final decision on that grant has not yet been made public. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Cessna 310I, N8170M, Videre Aviation LLC: Accident occurred August 24, 2017 near South Valley Regional Airport (U42), West Jordan, Salt Lake County, Utah

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors Group; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Videre Aviation LLC:

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA187
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 24, 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT
Aircraft: CESSNA 310I, registration: N8170M
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 August 24, 2017, about 1400 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 310I, N8170M, experienced power fluctuations from both engines during takeoff from the South Valley Regional Airport (U42), Salt Lake City, Utah. The pilot subsequently made an off-airport landing to an open lot. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, sustained minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to Videre Aviation, LLC., and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial photography flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

The pilot was not available for an interview, however, he had reported to his representative, that during takeoff initial climb from runway 16, the airplane did not accelerate as usual, and insufficient runway remained for landing. The airplane was not able to climb, and both engines had fluctuations in power, RPM and fuel flow. The pilot completed the emergency checklist, and feathered the left propeller due to the yaw of the airplane. Adequate airspeed could not be maintained for continued flight so the pilot initiated a forced landing to an open lot about one mile south of runway 16. During the forced landing, the airplane struck two power poles. A postaccident fire ensued and approximately one acre of the lot was burned.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

WEST JORDAN — A 26-year-old pilot walked away with minor injuries after his plane crashed in an industrial area Thursday.

The man took off from the South Valley Regional Airport. About 2:10 p.m., the twin-engine Cessna experienced an unknown problem, according to West Jordan Deputy Fire Chief Reed Scharman.

The plane went down in an industrial park near 8540 S. 4050 West, hitting a power pole and lines as it went down. That started a 5-acre brush fire. The aircraft hit the ground in an open field and skidded for about 300 feet before it was stopped by a concrete wall that circles Atlas Rigging and Transfer and an electrical generator.

No one on the ground was injured.

When emergency crews arrived, the pilot was standing outside his plane, Scharman said. He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for cuts to his head and burns on his neck, he said.

What caused the plane to go down was unknown Thursday. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting the investigation, Scharman said.

Original article can be found here ➤

A small plane that crashed in West Jordan on Thursday afternoon took out power lines and left hundreds of people without power, but the pilot suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The twin-engine plane had taken off from South Valley Regional Airport and crashed during takeoff at 2:10 p.m., according to airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer.

As the plane went down just south of the airport, near 8600 South and 4000 West, it hit a power line, which sparked a grass fire, Volmer said.

The 26-year-old male pilot was taken to Intermountain Healthcare with a head injury that is not life-threatening, she said.

The fire has since been extinguished by the West Jordan Fire Department, Volmer said. Officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

According to Tiffany Erickson, a spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power, more than 400 customers were without power at about 2:30 p.m. because the plane ”tore some lines down.”

The outages occurred in West Jordan between 8500 South and 9000 South and between 4000 West and 4150 West, Erickson said.

A Rocky Mountain Power crew restored power to all except 41 customers just after 3:20 p.m., Erickson said. Power was expected to be restored to the remaining customers by 11 p.m., she said.

The nature of any injuries in the crash was not immediately known.

Original article can be found here ➤

WEST JORDAN, Utah — A small plane crashed Thursday afternoon near 8600 South and 4000 West in West Jordan, and video from the scene shows a field fire that erupted after the crash.

A dispatcher told FOX 13 the crash was first reported around 2:20 p.m.

The pilot and sole occupant of the aircraft suffered injuries not believed to be life-threatening. The pilot, a 26-year-old male, was transported to Intermountain Medical Center with minor head injuries.

The plane struck a power pole as it came down, which started a small field fire. The fire has been extinguished.

The aircraft did not hit any buildings, and no injuries beyond those suffered by the pilot have been reported.

Rocky Mountain Power states that about 400 customers were without power in the area of the crash due to the downed lines, but as of about 3:30 p.m. power had been restored for about 363 of them. The remaining 41 customers are expected to have their service restored by 11 p.m.

A spokesperson for Salt Lake City International Airport says the twin engine aircraft took off from South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan. It was not immediately clear where the plane was headed or what caused it to crash.

Other photos taken at the scene show scorched grass, and firefighters from the West Jordan Fire Department are responding to the scene.

Original article can be found here ➤

WEST JORDAN, Utah, Aug. 24, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — First responders are on the scene of a West Jordan plane crash.

The twin engine aircraft went down about 2:10 p.m. near 8540 S. Farm Road, West Jordan.

Witnesses told Gephardt Daily the plane had just taken off from South Valley Regional Airport when it seemed to lose power, crashing into a power pole and taking down a two block stretch of electrical wires.

The plane then crash landed into a nearby industrial park, skidding into a fence at the back of the Atlas Rigging and Transfer Company while starting a small field fire.

Police say the plane’s lone occupant was a 26-year-old pilot who managed to walk away from the crash. He was ultimately transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray in fair condition.

Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the crash. Their investigation is continuing.

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