Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Yellowstone Regional Airport (KCOD), Cody, Park County, Wyoming: Bids being accepted from airlines

Let the bidding begin.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is requesting bid packages from airlines interested in servicing YRA through the Essential Air Service program, according to a letter received by the Yellowstone Regional Airport board Sept. 7.

The main bidders for the contract are expected to be the same players as last go-around in late 2015: United Airlines and Delta subsidiary SkyWest, holder of the current contract.

In 1978, EAS was established in the wake of deregulation of the airline industry. Deregulation lowered ticket prices for customers but also threatened to leave isolated communities without air transport to hub cities as carriers got latitude to leave marginally profitable markets.

To prevent those pullouts, Congress created EAS, a federal subsidy which gives airlines flying to remote places a bonus for maintaining service.

Cody’s current EAS contract calls for SkyWest to be paid $1,076,100 over a two-year period ending in February 2018. In return for the federal payout, SkyWest has been contracted to operate at least 14 flights a week from YRA to Salt Lake City.

SkyWest’s EAS contract to service YRA is somewhat unique in that it is only in effect eight months of the year, because summer tourism brings enough travelers through the airport to support unsubsidized service between June and September.

Prior to SkyWest’s current EAS contract, which runs from March 2016 through February of next year, both United and SkyWest had EAS contracts for the airport, with each carrier responsible for seven roundtrip flights per week.

United’s hub-service connects to Denver International Airport. That airport provides more connection options for outgoing passengers than does Salt Lake City’s.

More than 1,500 commercial flights depart DIA daily, according to the airport’s website. Salt Lake City International Airport public relations and marketing director Nancy Volmer said for SLC, the number of daily departures is about 350.

In the last round of EAS-bidding two years ago, however, SkyWest made a lower ask for subsidy money, and DOT decided to award the contract exclusively.

Price point is not the only consideration DOT factors into the contract decision. Federal law also requires the DOT to give “substantial weight” to the recommendations of local officials – such as members of the YRA board, Cody City Council members, Park County Commissioners and state representatives.

After bidding is closed Oct. 16, DOT will field public comment for several weeks before making a decision.

“If the community has anything that they need to have put in the package, [DOT] will certainly take that into consideration,” airport operations manager Bruce Ransom told board members at their last meeting Sept. 13.

“The turn-around time for public comment is really short [compared to other comment windows],” YRA board member Bucky Hall noted. Hall is also president of Cody Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources, a nonprofit whose mission is to increase services to YRA.

As recently as April, the $175-million-a-year EAS program was under threat of elimination under a budget proposed by President Donald Trump, who called EAS wasteful. It was the latest challenge to EAS, which had program eligibility criteria tightened five years ago to limit participating airport numbers – and costs to DOT.

The program survived again, however, with Congress voting in May to keep funding in place, at least through 2020.

In Cody, CYAIR officers and YRA board members were part of the lobbying effort to get Wyoming’s congressional delegation to back off the cuts to EAS.

“They’re backing off [cutting EAS] pretty well because they got so much negative stuff from the commercial airport operators,” Hall said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of action on [EAS] at [this] week’s [Wyoming Airport Operators Association] conference,” YRA Chair Bob Adrian said.

“I’m looking forward to that.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Aviation museum welcomes P-3 Orion plane to collection

HICKORY — The P-3 Orion welcoming ceremony at Hickory Aviation Museum on Wednesday had been postponed six days due to Hurricane Irma. Yes, the storm would have kept people away. But let’s be honest, a P-3 probably could have handled it.

The model of plane has been used for anti-surface warfare and disaster relief, and the modified “Kermit” and “Miss Piggy” hurricane-hunter models were used to fly into storms.   

But the P-3 that arrived in Hickory on Wednesday focused on detecting submarines. And for museum curator Kyle Kirby, the plane’s focus is one of the reasons having one in Hickory is so special.  

“There’s no chance to survive a preemptive (submarine) strike, but these guys keep us safe at night,” Kirby said. “We’re bringing in a plane today that represents a whole interface of a bunch of people that proudly served this nation.”

Citizens, volunteers and government representatives gathered at the airport Wednesday to watch the P-3 fly over and around the Hickory Regional Airport multiple times before landing and becoming the 15th plane in the museum’s collection.

Nearly everyone at the ceremony spent the moments leading up to the flyover expressing their excitement, whether it was through telling old war stories or, in Kirby’s case, singing songs by The Beatles and The Band.

But for the Walden family, the excitement was of a different kind.

John Walden is a retired air traffic controller and the father of Lt. Cmndr. Trey Walden, the P-3 pilot who flew the plane from Jacksonville, Florida, to Hickory — a 1.5-hour flight. And Wednesday was the first time John ever saw his son fly.

“That’s why I wanted to come up and get up in the tower and try to film this, but we’ll see how it goes,” John said about 30 minutes before the plane landed. “This is really cool stuff here, for me. And (Trey) is excited, too. He doesn’t get very excited, but he’s excited about this.”

But although excitement is sometimes an uncontrollable emotion that comes with nerves, Trey Walden did not express it, as the cool, calm and collected pilot gracefully flew and landed the plane with ease.

Walden then turned around the plane and drove it between two fire trucks. The trucks showered the plane with water, a ceremony that is done when a plane completes its final flight. The plane has been active in the military since 1969, Kirby said.

“For our taxpayers, you hear all these stories about the military,” Kirby said. “I don’t know how many years that is right off the bat — 47, 48 years of service to the United States military. That’s pretty good return on our taxpayers’ money. And it’s served the country all over the world.”

When the plane finally parked and the roaring engines stopped, roaring applause took its place as Walden walked down the plane’s stairs to the runway and greeted his family.   

Before citizens were allowed to board the plane for a tour, a short ceremony was held on the runway, during which Hickory Mayor Jeff Cline gave a key to the city to each crew member.

Multiple people spoke during the ceremony, including Walden, who gave some background on P-3 models.

The planes have been flown by the military since 1962 and were used in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  

“It has really been a worldwide asset that we’ve used,” Walden said.

Because P-3 missions can take up to 12 hours, 11-person crews are used on the plane, which can fly from 200 feet above the water to 31,000 feet in the air, he said.

The retired plane finished with 19,417 flight hours, Walden said. That’s not including the 1.5 hours the trip took on Wednesday.

And that trip would not have been possible without Stan Lenharr, Kirby said. Lenharr, the P-3 configuration manager for the United States government, is the one who was able to get a P-3 to Hickory, Kirby said.

There are only about six other places people can view a P-3 on display, he said.  

“This makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up — that’s how proud I am,” Lenharr said during the ceremony. “For all you folks and your friends and family and your kin from way back, come look at it.”

And the planes at the museum may be fun to look at, but before the ceremony, looking out at the planes and the people gathered on the runway, Kirby suggested people come to the museum for another reason.

“I think we’re doing one of the greatest things for the community,” Kirby said. “Bring your kids out here and let them know the sacrifice. The air we’re breathing right now, the free air, and the sound of freedom we’ll hear in a minute, it ain’t free.”

Story and photo gallery ➤

Air Force unit assists in boater, pilot rescues

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — When a boat or aircraft is in distress, a tenant unit at Tyndall Air Force Base can help with search and rescue efforts.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), which falls under the umbrella of the First Air Force (AFNORTH), helps agencies across the country search for stranded boaters and pilots using distress beacons, which activate after stressful g-forces or other adverse conditions. The beacon pings a satellite, which goes through several systems before sending a signal to a mission control center that alerts the AFRCC.

If that signal falls within AFNORTH’S jurisdiction, which includes most of North America, the Tyndall unit can coordinate with regional first responders or send military aircraft to help save a life.

“If it’s on land or the 49 continental states, it comes to us,” said AFRCC Assistant Director of Operations Sarah Hedrick. “We can also support the Coast Guard with rescue operations.”

The AFRCC has individual agreements with each state about when and how it can help so the federal government doesn’t step on the toes of state efforts. Generally, the center only helps if requested or permitted.

Their specialty, Hedrick said, is helping outdoor travelers who get stranded on mountains or in caves, which AFRCC calls “confined space and high angle” rescues. Hedrick recalled one instance when the unit helped an Idaho couple whose small aircraft had crashed into the side of a mountain. The AFRCC tracked them down through a personal locator beacon and called the Idaho Transportation Department.

“They sent their police aircraft there,” Hedrick said. “That was an interesting way to take our office’s capabilities and combine it with law enforcement there.”

Some of the forensic tools the AFRCC uses include infrared tracking, radar and cellphone data analysis. About 20 people work for the unit. On Wednesday, several of them kept busy on the operations floor.

“I find it very rewarding to work to make sure people get the help they need,” Tech Sgt. Jacquelyne Huie said from her computer. “If people get stuck on a mountain in Colorado, we can help.”

Huie has been with AFRCC for almost four years and said in her tenure, the group also has helped rescue people from the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes, the rescued people have called afterward to say thanks.

And as technology makes society ever more interconnected and more people get back to exploring nature, the AFRCC is staying busy. In 2016, the AFRCC worked almost 8,000 incidents — an average of 22 a day — and made 354 saves. Since the unit’s activation in 1974, its members have made more than 16,670 saves.

Hedrick said the unit also is getting more fluke distress calls lately from people testing the beacons, which are quickly picked up because of advancing technology. Still, “This month, I expect to exceed 8,000 incidents” for the year, Hedrick said.

But even when the pace of work gets hectic, Hedrick said she remains grateful for her role in bringing people back from the throes of isolation and danger.

“It’s a pretty incredible feeling,” she said.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Danville Regional Airport (KDAN), Virginia: City council mulls fee hike on airplane hangars

Danville City Council will consider increasing non-commercial hangar rental fees at Danville Regional Airport.

Transportation Director Marc Adelman proposed raising the rental fees by $25 per month - $300 per year - during City Council’s work session Tuesday night.

Maintenance costs for the airport’s hangars have increased and a survey of other airports in Virginia and North Carolina showed Danville’s total fee requirements are much lower on average, Adelman said.

The fee increase would offset those higher maintenance costs, he said.

“These hangars are 20 years old or older and are requiring more and more maintenance,” Adelman said Wednesday.

City councilmen informally agreed during the work session to put the proposal on the agenda.

About $100,000 was spent last year rehabilitating the hangars at Danville Regional Airport.

Total revenue currently generated by the 35 non-commercial hangars is $83,940, and will be bumped up by $10,500 if the fee increase is imposed. Total revenue from rental income from all properties – including the 35 non-commercial hangars – is $125,162.64.

So, while the fees will cover some hangar maintenance, tax dollars also cover the upkeep.

Mayor John Gilstrap said the increase would be unfair to owners of smaller aircraft kept at the airport and that he will vote against it.

“I don’t see any consistency or fairness in the fee structure at all,” Gilstrap said Wednesday.

Under the fee structure, an 80-foot-by-80-foot corporate hangar requires a fee of $1,015 per month, while the smaller-sized t-hangar in an older unit with sliding doors is $125 per month. With the $25 increase, the renter with the smaller plane would see their rate increase by 20 percent but the one with the corporate hangar would see a roughly 2-percent increase, Gilstrap pointed out.

The airport has a total of 36 aircraft in its 35 non-commercial hangars. Averett University has seven aircraft – which would not be affected by an increase – at the airport.

There are two corporate airplanes at the airport, Adelman said.

Discussion whether to increase the fees could have easily waited until January or February when city officials talk about the next budget, Gilstrap said.

The city has numerous fees including those for cemeteries, garbage collection, recreation and other items, “if we pull those out and discuss them one at a time, we’re going to fill our entire schedule discussing nothing but fees,” he said.

Fees should be discussed as a whole, with councilmen bringing up particular fees if they need to be addressed, he added.

It would be more fair to charge hangar renters per square foot, Gilstrap said.

Councilman Gary Miller said he is in favor of the increase. It’s a small hike, he said, that won’t cost the airport any renters of the hangars, which need to be maintained.

“You have to make improvements to keep your hangars up and in good condition,” Miller said.

He disagreed that the fee increase would be unfair to owners of smaller planes.

“No matter the size of the plane, you’re renting a space,” Miller said.

Parking fees for cars in larger cities aren’t based on how big or expensive your car is, he added.

Hangar rental fees for a t-hangar at Shiloh Airport in Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, are $248 per month, according to Adelman’s comparison. Tuck Airport in South Boston is $135 per month for a t-hangar, and $270 per month for corporate-shared two small aircraft.

A t-hangar at Blue Ridge Airport in Martinsville is $120 per month.

With the increase, Danville’s total fee requirement for both hangar rent and the personal property tax rate on aircraft would be far less than all other airports annually due to the current tax rate on aircraft, Adelman said.

A proposal to increase the airplane personal property tax rate failed in City Council this past spring.

The current lease term for hangar tenants at Danville Regional Airport goes through Dec. 31. The lease calls for providing tenants with a 60-day advance notice of a proposed lease fee increase.

Original article can be found here ➤

Bay area pilots deliver supplies to Florida Keys, first crew to arrive

Clearwater, Fla. - Terry Power has had a few days to recoup after delivering disaster supplies to the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma hit.

Power, with help from Operation Airdrop and Tampa Bay Aviation, took five shipments of supplies that varied from water, food, chainsaws late last week. 

"The plane itself holds 450 pounds worth of cargo," he said, all of it besides him and a co-pilot were supplies. 

Operation Airdrop is a group of volunteer pilots that started after Hurricane Harvey, people volunteering their time to help deliver relief in timely fashions. 

Power says the group confirmed his shipment was the first to arrive in the Keys after taking off from Clearwater Airpark. 

"We were the only airplane on the entire field when we landed in the afternoon," said Power. 

Power did flights through the weekend before wrapping up to return to his day job as a retirement plan consultant with The Platinum 401K, LLC.

However, Bay area pilots aren't done helping yet, owner of Tampa Bay Aviation Laura Taylor plans to deliver another round of supplies on Thursday. 

Taylor and her husband own the aviation company that conducts flight training, private charters and aerial tours. 

She tells us the supplies they were given went to the roof of where they were storing the donations from Bay area residents. 

"It's incredible," she said. 

Taylor plans to take the supplies Thursday morning to another part of southwest Florida that was hit hard too. 

The crews have all been paying for resources out of their own funds, "it's costing at a minimum $1,300 to do a roundtrip to the Keys just to bring the basic supplies," she said. 

Taylor said they aren't taking public donations of supplies, but will accept donations of fuel to help transport the supplies. 

To learn more, go to Tampa Bay Aviation.

Story and video ➤

Jefferson County Airpark (2G2) to hold open house

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio — The Jefferson County Airpark is encouraging residents to come take part in its upcoming open house.

From Sept. 30-Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., parents, children and anyone interested can tour the airpark.

Aircraft will be on display, flight instructors will be available, as well as scheduled plane rides for kids 8-17.

Officials with the airpark are proud of their facility, and want to share it with the community.

"This is the Jefferson County Airport, one of the best airports in Ohio and the whole surrounding area,” said Dave MacMillan, airport staff. “It's a gem. It's a great place. Aviation is a great hobby, a very challenging hobby. It's a great occupation, and most people don't know about it, so we want to raise the veil and let people in on aviation."

Original article can be found here ➤

Young cancer patient gets to experience feeling of flying on helicopter trip

Gunship Helicopters Nik Davison and his dad, Calvin, get ready to go for a helicopter ride.

Gunship Helicopters checked off a bucket list item for Nik Davison, a 10-year-old cancer patient, second from left, by taking him for a helicopter ride. Joining him for the ride were, from left, pilot Matt Fahnestock, Areeya Davison, Calvin Davison, Joshua Davison, Angie Davison, Cydney Davison and Kris DeAngelis.


A Boulder City business recently helped a 10-year-old cancer patient check an item off his bucket list.

Nik Davison was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November 2016 and has always wanted to ride on a helicopter.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the air,” he said.

Nik has flown in an airplane before but never a helicopter and said that he believed it was the best way to experience the feeling of flying and having air rush past him since people do not have superpowers and cannot fly.

He and his family live in Henderson but are friends with Carmela Saenz, employee at Gunship Helicopters/Vertical Aviation LLC in Boulder City.

“My family has known the Davison’s for several years now,” she said. “A few months ago Angela (Angie) Davison (Nik’s mom) posted some of Nik’s bucket list on Facebook. After coordinating with her, we were able to get him a gift certificate for the flight on his birthday in July. Unfortunately it was too hot to fly him the past few months. But now that the weather is cooling off we were excited to finally give him his flight.”

On Sept. 14, Nik was able to fly and said that it was awesome feeling the wind rush by and the air in his lungs, as well as seeing how small the people were on the ground. He also enjoyed flying over the Colorado River.

“Anybody that has had cancer, especially a 10-year-old boy, your heart goes out to them and you want to do something for them,” said Bob Fahnestock, one of the helicopter company’s owners.

He added that Nik is “extremely brave,” and he wanted to take the minds of him and his family off the situation for a little while.

Nik’s mother said that the best of the experience was getting to put a smile on her child’s face.

“Cancer’s hard,” she added. “It’s hard on the whole entire family but especially hard on the kid who has it.”

Nik is almost finished with his active chemo treatment and will soon begin maintenance chemotherapy.

Gunship Helicopters/Vertical Aviation LLC offers a helicopter door gunner experience to the general public, giving people an opportunity to shoot a gun from a moving helicopter in a private 70-acre shooting range in the Mojave Desert.

Original article can be found here ➤

Beechcraft 99, Wiggins Airways: Incident occurred September 20, 2017 at Northern Maine Regional Airport at Presque Isle (KPQI), Aroostook County, Maine

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Maine

Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 20-SEP-17
Time: 13:42:00Z
Regis#: WIG1046
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 99
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: MAINE

UPDATE: The airport has just re-opened. However, the main runway is still closed. The owners of the aircraft are currently on their way to Presque Isle to take care of the aircraft.


At approximately 11:00 Wednesday morning there was an emergency landing at the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle. A United States Postal Service Carrier was flying a Wiggins aircraft when he realized that his landing gear was not working.

The pilot, Eric Albright contacted the airport where all of the emergency departments were put on alert including the Presque Isle Fire and Police department. Albright, did a flyby to determine what exactly the situation was underneath the aircraft. Albright flew around until all of his fuel was gone and then made his emergency landing.

The fire department laid down foam so there was no fire or smoke. Albright was the only person on board and was taken to The Aroostook Medical Center to be checked out but is presumed to be okay.

At this point in time the Northern Maine Regional Airport is closed. Kim Smith who is the Public Information Officer says they do not know when the airport will reopen, but it is closed until they are able to get the airplane off of the runway have everything secure.

Smith says if people do have flights scheduled for today to call ahead for more information on their flight.

Original article can be found here ➤

Robinson R22 BETA, N7514S: Accident occurred September 20, 2017 at Long Beach Airport (KLGB), Los Angeles County, California

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach, California
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered to Spitzer Helicopter LLC
Operated by Revolution Aviation

Location: Long Beach, CA
Accident Number: WPR17LA211
Date & Time: 09/20/2017, 1309 PDT
Registration: N7514S
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On September 20, 2017, at 1309 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R22 Beta, N7514S, landed hard and rolled over following a forced landing at Long Beach Airport (Daugherty Field), Long Beach, California. The student pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter LLC, and operated by Revolution Aviation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. The local flight departed Long Beach about 1307. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The student departed earlier in the morning with his instructor from their operational base in Santa Ana. They planned to fly to Long Beach Airport, where the instructor would disembark, and the student would perform a series of solo maneuvers and flights in the traffic pattern. After arriving at Long Beach and landing on helicopter pad 1 they performed a pedal turn, to determine how the helicopter would perform in the wind, and then departed for a flight in the traffic pattern. After landing, the instructor got out of the helicopter, and waited on the grass area adjacent to the pad. From there he watched the student perform a series of low hovering maneuvers, all of which progressed uneventfully. Once complete, the other helicopter's in the area had departed, and they both agreed that the student should depart and perform one circuit in the traffic pattern, and then land on pad 3, which was a larger pad, that the student was more familiar with.

The departure and landing were uneventful, and once on the ground, the student and instructor gave each other the "thumbs-up", and the student departed for another flight in the pattern. The instructor reported that the flight in the pattern appeared normal, and during the landing approach the descent path and speed were appropriate. However, as the helicopter approached the pad, it started to slow down. He thought the student was going to land just short of the pad, however, the nose then began to yaw to the left and right by a few degrees, and the helicopter suddenly began to descend. He described the descent as rapid and uncontrolled, as if the helicopter had lost all lift. The helicopter then hit the ground slightly left side low, and rolled onto its side.

The student recounted similar observations, reporting that as he began to approach the pad at an elevation of about 40 ft, the helicopter started to shudder, and then the low rotor RPM horn sounded. He reacted by immediately lowering the collective control and initiating an autorotation, and just prior to striking the ground, he pulled back on the cyclic control.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N7514S
Model/Series: R22 BETA BETA
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Revolution Aviation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLGB, 31 ft msl
Observation Time: 2019 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots, 170°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Long Beach, CA (LGB)
Destination: Long Beach, CA (LGB) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 33.819722, -118.151389

A flight training operation went awry on Wednesday when a helicopter crashed as it was landing at Long Beach Airport, causing the chopper to flip onto its side.

Only the pilot was on board, and he was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries, authorities said.

Long Beach Fire responded to the incident at approximately 1:09 p.m., according to fire spokesman Jake Heflin, who said a training pilot in his 40s was flying the aircraft at the time.

Just before the incident, a flight instructor was on the ground observing the student pilot who was practicing “pattern work,” a process that helps pilots determine their landing order, he said.

The crash occurred at Pad 3 on the northeast part of the airport, said airport spokeswoman Cassie Chauvel.

Operations at Long Beach Airport did not experience any disruptions, Heflin said. The helicopter, a Robinson R22, sustained substantial damage.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is still ongoing. 

Original article can be found here ➤ 

A man in his 40s was hospitalized with minor injuries this afternoon after he crashed his helicopter during training operations at Long Beach Airport, according to the Long Beach Fire Department.

The incident was reported at 1:09PM, said LBFD spokesman Jake Heflin.

The man, identified as a student pilot, experienced an incident during the training that resulted in the Robinson R22 helicopter crashing and sustaining substantial damage, Heflin said.

He was the sole occupant of the helicopter while his instructor was outside observing him, Heflin added.

Original article can be found here ➤

General Electric to Shut Down Its Corporate Jet Fleet: Executives to use charter services as new CEO John Flannery moves to slash costs

The Wall Street Journal 
By Thomas Gryta and  Mark Maremont
Updated Sept. 20, 2017 4:32 p.m. ET

General Electric Co.  executives will have to find new ways to fly around the globe.

The conglomerate is grounding its corporate fleet of jets and preparing to sell them, as new GE chief John Flannery continues to look to slash costs at the industrial giant.

Mr. Flannery is cutting spending in GE corporate operations, including unwinding the internal airline for corporate executives, effective Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the situation. GE will still operate some helicopters and other aircraft, while using charter services as needed.

GE owns several business jets, federal records show, including at least two Bombardier Challenger aircraft. Its pilots for decades have shuttled executives to business meetings and operations around the globe, racking up hundreds of hours a year.

The company has required its chief executive to use private aircraft for all travel, including personal travel, for safety and security purposes, but the board recently changed that policy to allow for charter and commercial flights. With profits under pressure and sales pinched by weakness in parts of the company, Mr. Flannery is looking for ways to save.

”As we have said, we are executing on a plan to take out $2 billion in cost by the end of 2018,” a GE spokeswoman said. “As part of that effort, starting today, we are reducing the Corporate Air Transport services and will use charter companies as needed.”

GE disclosed that it spent $258,000 on personal jet travel for former CEO Jeff Immelt in 2016, counting only the “incremental” costs of the flights such as fuel and crew travel expenses. The company spent another $75,000 on personal travel for other top executives, it said.

The move marks a change from recent plans. When it relocated from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston, the company negotiated with city and state officials to secure parking at Logan International Airport for one executive jet and one helicopter, according to the agreement. The company also requested hangar space at nearby Hanscom Field that could fit six business jets, the documents show.

New CEO John Flannery has been looking for ways to cut costs.

Mr. Flannery is trimming staff at the corporate level and recently delayed part of the construction of GE’s new headquarters complex in Boston, a relocation initiated by Mr. Immelt.

Mr. Immelt, who stepped aside on Aug. 1, pledged to boost cost-cutting earlier this year after talks with activist investor Trian Fund Management LP, which has been frustrated by missed profit goals at GE.

GE doesn’t just own business jets; it also supplies engines and other parts used on some business jets. The company also makes jet engines for commercial planes, and its GE Capital division has a large business of leasing aircraft, though it sold the unit that rents corporate jets in 2015.

In July, GE told investors they would have to wait until November to hear the new boss’s strategy for boosting results, but investors haven’t been waiting in selling their shares. The stock is down 23% this year amid a surging broader market and has lost 15% in the last three months alone.

Mr. Flannery, who formerly ran GE’s health-care unit, is meeting with small groups of investors and visiting the business units of the roughly 300,000-person company. He has said he would look at every aspect of the company and its strategy, although he won’t consider reducing its dividend.

Original article can be found here ➤

General Electric Co.’s cost-cutting plan is claiming a high-profile victim: the company’s corporate-jet fleet.

Under new Chief Executive Officer John Flannery, the manufacturer is turning the page on an era when it would hand top bosses the keys to its private aircraft. Starting Wednesday, flights will be scaled back and replaced as needed by charter services, the Boston-based company said in an emailed statement. GE intends to sell the jets, it said without providing fleet details.

The straitened approach to air travel shows how Flannery is considering all options as he seeks to shore up earnings and reverse this year’s biggest stock slide on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The cuts are part of of GE’s two-year plan to eliminate $2 billion in expenses -- a target Flannery’s predecessor, Jeffrey Immelt, agreed to in March after talks with activist investor Trian Fund Management.

“GE is currently undergoing perhaps the most far-reaching reassessment in its history,” Nicholas Heymann, an analyst at William Blair & Co., said in a note to clients. “Management under new CEO John Flannery is enacting a structural reorientation of GE’s culture to likely be more cost conscious, transparent, and decentralized.”

Cost reductions are poised to rise as high as $1.4 billion this year, surpassing the $1 billion target, Heymann said. Next year’s cuts are likely to reach as much as $1.7 billion, fueled in part by “expanded workforce reductions” and “exiting peripheral businesses,” he estimated.

CEO Travel

Like many other large businesses, GE has required its CEO to use the company’s aircraft both for business and personal travel for security reasons, according to its proxy statement. Immelt tallied up $257,639 for personal trips in 2016, his last full year on the job. That figure doesn’t include business travel. The CEO is now permitted to fly on charter or commercial flights after a change to company policy.

During the last three calendar years, top managers spent a combined total of $1.4 million on personal trips on company planes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

GE, which manufactures jet engines, owns six corporate jets and two AgustaWestland helicopters, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The company has three Challenger 600s and two Global 5000s, which are all made by Bombardier Inc. It also owns a HondaJet, a light plane for which GE developed the powerplant.

The six corporate jets would fetch a combined total of about $70 million, according to valuations from Aircraft Bluebook based on average equipment and the year made. Values can change depending on the number of flight hours, equipment and whether the aircraft has an engine-maintenance program.

Flight Costs

The annual flight and fixed costs based on 423 flight hours, a common benchmark, are about $1.75 million for each of the Challengers and about $2.5 million for each Global, according to data from the Conklin & de Decker aircraft cost evaluator. The HondaJet’s annual fixed and flight costs are about $560,000 for the same flight time.

GE also has an equity share of five corporate aircraft, including three Gulfstream planes, that are owned by fractional jet operator NetJets Inc., a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The remaining two of the five fractionally-owned planes are an Embraer SA Phenom 300 and a Cessna Citation Excel, FAA records show.

Under an agreement signed with Massachusetts and Boston last year, GE was granted access to parking for an executive jet and helicopter at Logan International Airport and offered a hangar site for six corporate planes at Hanscom Field.

Original article can be found here ➤

3 times experimental planes have crashed in Clark County, Ohio

Some aviation enthusiasts who do not have their pilot licenses have turned to home-built ultralight aircraft to fly.

To fly a plane without a license, a person’s aircraft must follow the ultralight aircraft criteria: weigh less than 254 pounds, limit to five U.S. gallons of fuel, maximum speed of 55 knots and contain a single occupant, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Any aircraft that exceeds the above criteria must have an operator that has a pilot certificate.

Here are a few instances in which those ultralight planes have been involved in injuries or even death:

September 17, 2017:

A Springfield man will undergo back surgery after the plane he was flying crashed into a fence in Pleasant Twp. James “Doug” Lewis, 46, crashed his ultralight on Sunday afternoon in the 6200 block of Pleasant Chapel Road. 

His wife Linda told this newspaper this was his first flight after recently purchasing the aircraft.  Everything was going well until it came time to land, she said. 

“He was afraid he wasn’t going to have enough room, so he was going to make a pass and come back,” she said, “and upon trying to make the pass, he crashed.”

Linda Lewis (left) and Doug Lewis (right) stand in front of the ultralight aircraft that crashed on September 17, 2017.

 February 19, 2017: 

A 24-year-old Wilmington man was piloting a homemade plane when it crashed in a field near I-70 in Harmony Twp. 

Jordan Spier, who had a pilot’s license, was the only occupant of the Macleod homebuilt fixed wing single-engine experimental plane and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

He had taken off from his uncle’s private airstrip in the 300 block of Titus Avenue before crashing shortly before 5 p.m. 

 July 22, 2016:

A husband and wife died when their experimental aircraft crashed in a cornfield in Harmony Twp.

Relatives said the couple were flying to Michigan from Georgia when Levon King’s RV-9A aircraft went down as heavy rains and lightning rolled through the area. Authorities said they are still collecting information and it’s not clear what role, if any, weather may have played.

The couple was just seven miles east of Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport when they crashed. 

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Hiller UH12D, N97TH, registered to and operated by Wyoming Helicopters Inc: Accident occurred August 23, 2016 in Cokeville, Lincoln County, Wyoming

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA330 
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 23, 2016 in Cokeville, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/14/2017
Aircraft: HILLER UH 12D, registration: N97TH
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot was conducting an agricultural spray run in the helicopter when he felt a “bump” in the cyclic. The helicopter began to shake violently, and the pilot tried to conduct a forced landing; however, the skid caught on bushes and the helicopter impacted terrain.  A control rotor cuff was located about 150 ft from the main wreckage.  Examination of the component at the NTSB materials laboratory found a fatigue crack starting at the cuff’s bolt hole and progressing until the part separated from overload.  A review of maintenance records revealed that the cuff was overhauled at 988.7 hours and had accumulated 131.9 hours since overhaul.  The rotor cuff was subject to an airworthiness directive (AD) which required repetitive inspections, though the investigation was unable to determine whether the AD had been complied with. The investigation also noted ambiguity with the wording used in the AD; it was unclear whether the part was subject to replacement at 225 hours total time in service, or if the 225-hour replacement was only applicable to components without known service history.  The accident is consistent with an in-flight separation of the control rotor cuff due to fatigue failure.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
Failure of the control rotor cuff due to fatigue.  

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA330
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 23, 2016 in Cokeville, WY
Aircraft: HILLER UH 12D, registration: N97TH
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 23, 2016, about 0745 mountain daylight time, a Hiller UH-12D helicopter, N97TH, impacted terrain near Cokeville, Wyoming. The pilot received minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged during the accident. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Wyoming Helicopters, Inc., Boulder, Wyoming, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an agricultural flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time.

The pilot reported that he started a spray application run and was about 15 ft agl (above ground level) and at 50 mph when he felt a "bump" in the cyclic control. The helicopter began to shake violently and the pilot tried to slow the helicopter down for a landing. However, the helicopter's skid caught on some bushes, and the helicopter rolled over, coming to rest on its side. During the accident, the tail boom and right skid tube were torn from the fuselage and the rotor head separated from the mast. An outboard section of the rotor cuff/paddle was located about 150 ft from the helicopter wreckage. The rotor cuff's spar had separated near a bolted part of a joint.

The separated section of the rotor cuff was sent to the NTSB materials laboratory in Washington D.C. for examination. The examination found fatigue cracks, starting at a bolt hole, that progressed around the rotor cuff spar tube.

The specialist's full materials laboratory factual report is located in the docket for this accident.

A review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness directives (AD) notes AD 97-10-16 applicable to the Hiller UH-12 helicopter. The AD requires (in part) that the control rotor blade spar tube be inspected "… for corrosion or cracks, or elongation, corrosion, burrs, pitting or fretting of the bolts holes…" "During the annual inspection, not to exceed 100 hours and every 100-hours, thereafter." 

The AD also specifies for helicopters with cuff part number 36124:

(d) For cuffs, P/N 36124, without a complete prior service history, within the next 25 hours TIS, unless already accomplished within the last 25 hours TIS prior to the effective date of this AD, and at intervals not to exceed 50 hours TIS, perform a dye penetrant inspection of the cuff in accordance with paragraph G of the Accomplishment Instructions of Hiller Aviation Service Bulletin, No. 36-1, Revision 3, dated October 24, 1979. If a crack is discovered, remove the cracked cuff from service prior to further flight. A cuff for which the prior service history cannot be documented cannot be used as a replacement part. Remove from service all cuffs prior to the accumulation of 225 hours total TIS since April 7, 1977.

A review of the helicopter's maintenance records indicated that a rotor cuff (part number 36124) was installed on February 11, 2013 with a component total time of 988.7 hours, and 0 since overhaul. A component listing dated September 28, 2015, noted the helicopter's Hobbs time of 1,093.3 hours. At the time of the accident, the Hobbs meter read 1,225.2 hours; 131.9 hours had accumulated on the part since the September 2015 listing. The pilot reported that the helicopter was on an annual inspection program, and its last 100-hour inspection was done on August 5, 2016.

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA330
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 23, 2016 in Cokeville, WY
Aircraft: HILLER UH 12D, registration: N97TH
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 23, 2016, about 0745 mountain daylight time, a Hiller UH-12D helicopter, N97TH, impacted terrain near Cokeville, Wyoming. The commercial rated pilot received minor injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged during the accident. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Wyoming Helicopters, Inc., Boulder, Wyoming, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an agricultural flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported that on the day of the accident the pilot had completed several agricultural flights. The pilot then was cleaning the spray system by it with flushing with water, on a final flight. During the flight, when the helicopter was about 10-15 ft off the ground, a control rotor cuff separated from the helicopter. The helicopter impacted terrain. The helicopter came to rest on its side/roof, and the tail boom had separated in the crash. The cuff was located about 50 yds from the helicopter wreckage. 

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Spirit Airlines, Airbus A319-100, N505NK: Incident occurred September 18, 2017 at Detroit Metro Airport (KDTW), Michigan

Although it will take weeks to figure out what went wrong, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident with a Spirit aircraft that dropped pieces of the plane in residential areas after experiencing engine failure.

According to the FAA, the flight took off Sept. 18 from Detroit Metropolitan Airport headed for Atlanta.

When it began having engine failure shortly after departure, the pilot returned to Metro Airport and landed the plane without incident.

Pieces of the plane were found and collected on the runway.

Officials thought the debris was contained just to that particular location.

That proved not to be the case as residents along the short flight path began contacting the FAA about finding pieces from the airfield.

“The FAA is interested in collecting these pieces so we can determine if they came from an aircraft, and if so, if they came from the same aircraft,” a statement from the administration said.

The investigation, according to the FAA, is being conducted to determine what happened and why, so steps can be taken prevent such events from occurring again.

The statement, the investigation was launched as soon as the administration was notified of the aircraft’s engine failure

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Spirit Airlines flight that resulted in plane pieces landing in the yards of metro Detroit residents.

On Monday evening, a Spirit Airlines flight from Detroit to Atlanta had to return to Detroit Metro Airport after experiencing engine failure, according to the FAA. The flight was able to land without any incidents, however, in the process, some pieces from the plane landed in the yards of nearby residents. 

The FAA sent investigators to look into what went awry the following day. Part of their investigation will include looking at pieces that landed in the yards.

"It's hard to speculate, we will determine the cause of the incident," said Tony Molinaro a FAA spokesperson based out of Chicago.

Molinaro said the investigation should be concluded in the coming weeks.

One Spirit passenger on the flight that had to be re-routed Monday told the Free Press in an email that the flight was "about 5,000" feet in the air  when there was "a large bang and the plane started to shake and shutter."

The passenger said the right engine was on fire, sparking and losing metal.

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ROMULUS (WWJ/AP) – The mystery behind metal objects the fell from the sky in metro Detroit has been all but solved.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the fragments found by residents in a Dearborn Heights neighborhood earlier this week are most likely parts of the engine of a Spirit Airlines jet.

The FAA said it’s still investigating after the pieces were found in residential yards, not far from Detroit Metro Airport.

A Spirit Airlines flight from Detroit to Atlanta returned to the airport after experiencing engine failure Monday evening. The flight was able to land without incident, and pieces from the aircraft were initially thought to be contained to an airport runway.

One passenger on the flight told the Detroit Free Press in an email that the flight was “about 5,000” feet in the air when there was “a large bang and the plane started to shake and shutter.” The passenger said the right engine was on fire, sparking and losing metal.

No injuries were reported.

The FAA says it’s “interested in collecting these pieces so we can determine if they came from an aircraft, and if so, if they came from the same aircraft.” FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the investigation could last several weeks.

An email requesting comment was sent to Miramar, Florida-based Spirit Airlines.

Original article can be found here ➤