Friday, September 22, 2017

Hastings Municipal Airport (KHSI), Adams County, Nebraska: Council mulls options for airport’s future

Members of the Hastings City Council spent more than half an hour during their work session Monday discussing what they want the Hastings Municipal Airport to be.

Councilman Paul Hamelink, who serves as a council liaison to the airport advisory board, requested discussion about the airport organizational structure at the work session.

“I think it’s something we want to look as an opportunity for economic development for the city,” he said. “For that to happen, we’ve been addressing issues of how we structure the city for other departments, and this is a good opportunity to do that (with the airport).”

One option would be establishing an airport authority. However, Hamelink said because an airport authority would operate autonomous of the city, that is something he opposes.

“Because I see this as an opportunity for economic development, it ought to involve things like Hastings Economic Development Corp., the chamber of commerce, those sorts of things,” he said.

The airport is currently overseen by the city’s engineering department.

Councilwoman Ginny Skutnik asked Hamelink if there are needs that are not being met.

Hamelink said it’s more like opportunities not being met.  

He would like to see the airport operate similar to the Hastings Museum or Hastings Public Library with a functioning board that’s under the umbrella of the city.

Councilman Butch Eley presented Nebraska municipal airport statistics courtesy of the airport advisory board.

Hastings is in the middle based on population of communities with an airport but is the only airport that does not provide aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, aircraft rental and fuel truck services.

“Which is why when people are flying into those other airports they are spending a lot of money on fuel at those airports,” he said.

Skutnik asked how many potential new businesses are asking for aviation services.

Mayor Corey Stutte said the city has had “quite a few” businesses he described as “near wins” that have flown into the community, assessing Hastings.

“If some of these businesses that would bring in 150-300 employees into our community actually happen, they’ll be shuttling people back and forth from their headquarters,” he said. “They would like to fly into Hastings versus Grand Island. From HEDC’s perspective, I do think they see it as an economic development opportunity.”

The area west of the airport is designated for use as an industrial park.

Because of the economic development potential with the airport, Hamelink suggested the city’s development services department might be the best department to oversee it with a part-time employee taking that oversight role.

Stutte asked Hamelink if the city needs a fixed-base operator to run the airport.

Hamelink agreed that would be a good move.

Stutte suggested the city put out a request for proposals for a fixed-base operator to run the airport.

“That doesn’t mean we’re necessarily committing to anything, but at least it gets us off of center where he have been sitting on this issue for the last year,” he said.

Hamelink questioned whether the city could put out a request for proposals if the airport oversight structure has not been identified.

City Administrator Joe Patterson said moving the airport under the oversight of the development services department would be quite a change with regard to city structure.

“It may have merit, but we need to do a lot more discussing and looking at how other cities are managing that resource,” he said. “We know where we’re at. The question is, what does our community need it to be? I’m not so sure we’ve done enough soul searching to really answer that question. Certainly, from what we’ve inherited 17 years ago (from the airport authority) to where it is now from a plant perspective is totally different.”

He said he would work on drafting a request for proposals for an FBO.

The council also went into executive session to discuss personnel.

Original article can be found here ➤

REVA: Air ambulance crew rescues pregnant military member after Irma

It was an unforgettable mission after an unprecedented storm.

“It is usually a lush, green, tropical island, and we broke out and it was completely brown. The trees were bare. There were no leaves,” said REVA pilot Ben Watsky.

REVA is a medical air transport service with a team based at Schenectady County Airport. After Hurricane Irma ripped through the Virgin Islands, Ben was part of a REVA crew called on to rescue a 35-week pregnant U.S. military member who was trapped in her home on St. Thomas.

“You could see the houses on the coastline and the cliffs, windows were blown out. Roofs were off their houses,” said Watsky.

The woman was flown to a hospital outside Washington, D.C. She and her then-unborn child were both believed to be in good health at the time.

“It was a situation that could’ve turned into a medical emergency. It wasn’t currently, but if she waited any longer, it probably would’ve been,” said Watsky.

The trip was made using one of REVA's new Hawker 800XP airplanes. Two pilots were on board with three medical personnel. The plane can make its way to the U.S. Virgin Islands and back without having to stop and refuel.

Company officials say in recent weeks, their entire fleet has been focused on the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. They’ve transported nearly double the normal number of patients for this time of year.

“We’ve also converted some of our aircraft to more of a cargo configuration,” said Philip Spizale, REVA’s chief sales officer.

In addition to its normal business, REVA is also delivering essential supplies to areas devastated by recent storms.

“Fly those over to Puerto Rico to where the people need it most, and then as soon as we have access, throughout the Virgin Islands where the hospital systems are going to be in dire need over the coming weeks,” said Spizale.

They’re giving back to the very communities that helped REVA get off the ground, allowing them to fly these lifesaving missions.

“It’s like no other flying job that you can do. Having the opportunity to fly these aircraft and go pick these patients up and help people interact one-on-one is absolutely rewarding,” said Watsky.

Story and video:

Incident occurred September 22, 2017 at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (KBUF), Cheektowaga, Erie County, New York

CHEEKTOWAGA – An American Airlines flight from Chicago made an emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport late Friday afternoon.

American Airlines flight 3299 was scheduled to land in Buffalo but declared an emergency after pilots noticed a problem with the plane’s hydraulic system according to NFTA spokesperson Helen Tederous.

The flight is operated by regional air carrier Envoy Air.  The Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-700 landed safely around 5:40 pm.  There were 62 souls onboard.

Original article  ➤

AeroCapital Flight Services: Charter flight company adds new Cessna Citation V at Pensacola International Airport (KPNS)

Richard Simpson, AeroCapital Flight Services vice president and general manager, talks on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, about the company's decision to add another Cessna Citation V to its fleet. 

By the start of November, AeroCapital Flight Services expects its second Cessna Citation V jet to be ready for charter flight services from Pensacola International Airport.

The company, which operates out of the airport's Innisfree Jet Center and launched in 2015, received the aircraft on Tuesday. In October, the jet will undergo an avionics overhaul and possibly an inspection from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Should the company receive all the necessary approvals, Rick Simpson, AeroCapital Flight Services vice president and general manager, said the jet should be ready by November with capabilities for nonstop flights on journeys as far as Northwest Florida to Northwest Texas.

"It seats nine passengers," said Simpson, whose company already owned a Citation V. "Roughly a range of about 1,400 nautical miles. Basically, from here to Lubbock, Texas, is the way I look at it, or to New York City, nonstop."

Since starting the company, Simpson said his customers have included the region's attorneys as well as celebrities who grew up in the area. The company also conducts medical flights to Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama, to assist in organ donations. Other flights have included transporting business professionals to locations such as New York City and San Diego.

Most recently, Simpson said AeroCapital Flight Services evacuated an attorney and the attorney's friend out of Tampa to escape Hurricane Irma. The company flew each individual on a separate flight to Cleveland.

Prices vary for the company's services. Simpson said it depends on the trip's distance and duration. The costs for the flight continue until the jet returns to Pensacola, and customers keep the company in the destination they are visiting overnight. Simpson estimated a trip to Las Vegas for a week could cost $35,000.

"The flight starts and ends here at our base in Pensacola," he said. "If we're just dropping you off, we're going to fly you there, but we still have to get the jet back. So you're still paying for that."

It is difficult to say how much charter flights contribute to Pensacola International Airport's operations. The airport does not track the number of corporate charter arrivals and departures separately.

Dan Flynn, director of the airport, said the flights are tracked as general aviation operations. But he said charter services such as those from AeroCapital Flight Services remain a key component of the airport.

"Corporate charter operations are an integral and important aspect of the overall air transportation alternatives available to the individuals who reside or do business in the region, as this activity provides business travelers an option to meet what may be unique requirements in terms of flight times or destinations," Flynn said.

Moving forward, Simpson anticipates the need for charter services to remain strong in the area. He pointed to his work in the region's aviation field prior to starting AeroCapital Flight Services. He previously worked for a helicopter transport company known as Heliworks.

During that time, he said he noticed a desire for charter services, and he believes that demand will continue.

"I saw a need for a private jet service here," he said. "That's what made us decide to go ahead and do it."

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

Incident occurred September 21, 2017 at Jefco Skypark Airport (MT41), Whitehall, Jefferson County, Montana

WHITEHALL - A small, single-engine airplane struck a house near Whitehall after the pilot lost control while taxiing on a runway Thursday afternoon.

Jefferson County Sheriff Craig Doolittle confirmed the crash Friday afternoon.

The sheriff said the plane never got off the ground during the incident that happened about 4:30 p.m. at Jefco Skypark near Whitehall.

The home was unoccupied at the time of the accident and no major injuries were reported.

The plane went through one wall and into the home.

The Montana Highway Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

Original article can be found here ➤

Federal Aviation Administration faces partial shutdown as authorization approaches expiration

The authority tasked with regulating the nation's aviation industry is facing a partial shutdown as its authorization to do so expires next Saturday.

To avoid such a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress must pass either an extension of the old piece of legislation or pass an entirely new bill.

But how did we get here? What does it mean? Would air travel come to a halt? ABC News breaks it all down:

Your flights would still operate, but many FAA employees would be furloughed

If Congress fails to pass any kind of reauthorization by Sept. 30, thousands of nonessential FAA employees will face a temporary leave of absence and airport construction workers.

While the construction workers are furloughed, government-contracted projects at airports and FAA facilities intended to increase traffic capabilities will be delayed.

The government will also be unable to collect on airfare taxes, potentially surrendering hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in a matter of weeks.

Airlines will continue to fly safely and passengers are unlikely to see any tangible difference in their flying experience if Congress doesn't pass a reauthorization before October.

Many FAA employees, like air traffic controllers and safety inspectors, would continue to work through the partial shutdown.

Nevertheless, representatives and those in the industry alike are calling the reauthorization a "must-pass" piece of legislation. In addition to furloughing thousands of Americans, it would significantly hinder the FAA's modernization program called NextGen, a project the agency has already spent $7 billion on.

The last time the FAA operated without congressional reauthorization, The Washington Post reported the agency was losing an estimated $30 million a day.

A short-term extension is needed after lawmakers couldn't agree on a long-term plan

The FAA currently operates under a 2016 extension of a 2012 three-year reauthorization, which expires Sept. 30.

The house is scheduled to vote on a six-month extension next week after senators and representatives could not agree on a long-term total reauthorization.

President Donald Trump declared privatizing the FAA's air traffic control responsibilities a formal legislative priority back in June; an agenda for years pushed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster.

Shuster and Trump claim their push to spin the country's air navigation system into a nonprofit corporation is part of their broader plan to modernize infrastructure across the board, but they've struggled to get enough of Shuster's colleagues on the hill onboard.

Democrats have formed a united front in opposition to the privatization plan, but it's Republicans giving Shuster the biggest headache.

Members of Congress and the Senate from more rural areas of the United States believe such a corporation would favor the country's largest airports and airlines, ignoring the needs of the general aviation community and smaller airports.

“This is a tough sell in states like my state of Mississippi, where small airports are very concerned about where this will leave them," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., at a hearing.

While Shuster wants to push a short-term path extending through the end of 2017, Democrats on the hill are demanding a slightly longer version.

“We will not support less than six months,” ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said last week.

Original article can be found here ➤

Barnwell Regional Airport (KBNL), Barnwell County, South Carolina

A fire in a main hangar of the Barnwell Regional Airport heavily damaged the structure and five planes.

Seven aircraft were inside the hangar at the time of the blaze. Three were destroyed while two more will likely be totaled, said P.F. Beck, chairman of the airport commission. Two others were not damaged as they were in the other end of the hangar.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 911 dispatch toned out firefighters from Barnwell Rural, Hilda and Long Branch fire departments. Responders reported flames, explosions and heavy smoke which poured out of the building. Barnwell Rural Fire Chief Jessie Elmore said firefighters had to “break into each hangar unit because the fire distorted the metal so much.”

Emergency personnel indicated the fire was under control within an hour of the first call but were still securing all aspects of the scene.

The airport is located off U.S. Highway 278.

EMS and Emergency Preparedness also responded, but no injuries were reported.

No one was inside the hanger at the time of the fire and “none of the planes had been flown in several days,” said Elmore. The planes were privately owned and the owners were renting space in the hanger.

The cause of the fire is under investigation as the State Law Enforcement Division has been called in to “try to figure out what happened,” said Elmore.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control was called in over worries fuel could have leaked outside, but the scene was cleared, said Elmore.

Original article  ➤

Pilot sentenced for transporting marijuana in his Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N422PC

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N422PC:

Wayne Douglas Brunet

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin pilot will have to spend 37 months in federal prison and pay a fine after he tried to distribute marijuana using his plane.

Wayne Douglas Brunet, 65, was sentenced Friday on a charge of possession with intent to distribute between 50 and 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Authorities arrested Brunet March 20 at the Llano Municipal Airport after they found $5,400 and about 206 pounds of hydroponic marijuana inside 15 duffel bags in his plane. According to a statement from the U.S. States Attorney’s Office, officials became suspicious after they noticed his flight pattern from Oregon to Texas.

They tried to arrest him at two other airports, but both times he spotted authorities on the ground and didn’t land. He tried to run when he landed in Llano, but officials caught him.

Along with serving time in prison, he must pay a $5,000 fine and be on supervised release for three years after he gets out of prison. The judge also said he had to forfeit his 1969 Piper PA-30 as well as the $5,400 in cash and $3,000 in prepaid cards found inside it.

Original article can be found here ➤

NTSB Investigating Collision Between Drone, U.S. Army Helicopter

Damaged rotor blades on the Army UH-60 helicopter. 

(Photo: FAA)

WASHINGTON — (Oct. 5, 2017) The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Sept. 21 collision between a civilian drone and an Army UH-60 helicopter east of Staten Island, New York.

At approximately 7:20 p.m. Sept. 21, the drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, and the helicopter collided.  The Army helicopter sustained damage to its main rotor blade, window frame and transmission deck.  A motor and arm from a small drone, identified as a DJI Phantom 4, were recovered from the helicopter. The NTSB was notified of the incident Sept. 22 and began its investigation that day. In the following days investigators were able to identify and subsequently interview the drone operator. The drone operator also provided flight data logs for the incident flight.

The NTSB is investigating the incident because the drone was a civilian aircraft. DJI and the Federal Aviation Administration are participating in the investigation. The Army is conducting a mishap investigation.

The NTSB’s investigation is ongoing and investigators are reviewing air traffic control radar data, flight data from the helicopter, the flight data logs provided by the drone operator and FAA airspace and temporary flight restriction documents.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) – A Fort Bragg 82nd Airborne helicopter was forced to land after it was hit by a civilian drone over New York City Thursday night, officials said.

The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. in “congested airspace” and involved a UH 60 Black Hawk that was being used to support security at the United Nations, a Fort Bragg official told CBS North Carolina.

The damaged helicopter was near Midland Beach at an altitude of 500 feet and was alongside another Black Hawk when the incident happened, according to

The helicopter, which has been grounded since the incident, sustained damage to the main blade and windows. No one was injured.

The Black Hawk was able to land in New Jersey at the Linden Airport, officials said. WNYW reported that part of the drone was later found in the Black Hawk’s oil cooler.

The drone was operating illegally, according to the New York Post.

Repair parts were sent on Friday and Fort Bragg officials expect to have the helicopter repaired by mid-day Saturday.

The FAA was notified about the incident, which officials said was an accident and that the Black Hawk was not targeted.

It’s unknown who was operating the drone.

Original article can be found here ➤

MIDLAND BEACH, Staten Island (WABC) -- An Army Black Hawk helicopter was struck by a drone at approximately 500 feet over a residential neighborhood on Staten Island.

The helicopter, based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., was in New York City for the United Nation patrol.

A piece of the drone bounced off the rotor and became lodged in the aircraft.

The pilot, who was not injured, was able to land the helicopter at Linden Airport in New Jersey.

The military is investigating the incident.

Story and photo gallery ➤

NYPD makes daring aviation rescue on commercial tanker High Courage

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- After a worker fell Thursday on the commercial tanker High Courage, police exhibited some courage of their own, initiating an aviation rescue to aid the injured man.

A call came in around 1:20 p.m. that a 24-year-old had fallen on the vessel, requiring medical assistance, police said.

The NYPD's Aviation Unit immediately launched two helicopters and arrived at the ship, which was located 16 miles off Breezy Point, Queens, approximately 20 minutes later, police said.

Pilot Detective Christopher Maher maneuvered a helicopter into position over High Courage as Emergency Services Unit medic Detective Mel Maurice descended toward the deck of the vessel, police said.

Once on deck, Maurice stabilized the victim quickly and prepared him to be airlifted. The man was strapped to a stretcher and hoisted up to the helicopter.

"As we were going up I was making eye contact ... and letting him know it was OK, everything was going to be all right," Maurice said at a press conference Thursday, according to the New York Post. It's satisfying to know you helped somebody."

The victim was then transported to Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze, in stable condition, police said.

Story and video ➤

GE Shocks Private-Jet Industry That Preaches `No Plane, No Gain'

Imagine if Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg announced he was unplugging from the internet to save time. That’s how private-jet industry executives feel about General Electric Co.’s cost-cutting move to sell the bulk of its corporate fleet.

GE’s plan to shed five company-owned planes flies in the face of the boardroom axiom that such aircraft are time- and money-saving tools, not luxury items. GE sells jet engines to planemakers and will have a large presence next month at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual conference, where the motto has been ‘No Plane, No Gain.’

Savings from selling corporate jets will be minimal, and using higher-cost charter flights risks winding up as more expensive, industry consultants and brokers said. GE won’t raise much cash by selling aircraft into a used-jet market in which prices have been declining for several years, they said.

“I guess they forgot what business they’re in,” said Janine Iannarelli, president of Par Avion, a Houston-based plane broker. “It makes no sense.”

Savings Strategy

GE says cost-savings go beyond just the jets, as they’ll eliminate spending related to facilities overhead, maintenance and crew. The company is also cutting down on travel overall, relying more heavily on video conferencing for internal meetings, said Jennifer Friedman, a company spokeswoman. Employees have more options to travel on commercial airlines after the company moved its headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Connecticut.

“By reducing our corporate air services, we will see significant operational cost savings,” Friedman said in an emailed statement.

The business-aircraft industry is already sensitive about its image, especially after the public outcry that erupted in 2008 when auto executives flew their corporate jets to Washington to seek bailout money from Congress. Former President Barack Obama often railed against tax breaks for private planes.

John Flannery, who took over as chief executive officer of GE last month, is seeking to follow through on predecessor Jeffrey Immelt’s plan to cut $2 billion of costs by the end of 2018. Flannery is also trying to reverse this year’s biggest stock slide on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That’s only the latest example of how GE has lagged the market: The share price has dropped 40 percent in the last decade, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 64 percent.

Jet Sharing

GE isn’t abandoning private aviation altogether. It will keep two small, short-range planes at its aviation unit for quick site visits, and own equity in a few larger jets shared by several owners. Fractional companies, such as Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s NetJets, sell a portion of a jet in exchange for hours of flight.

Scuttling the flight department is probably more of a symbolic move than a large contributor to cost cuts, said Pete Agur, founder of the aviation consultancy VanAllen Group. When executives at a company like GE rack up more than 250 hours of private fly time in a year, it’s less expensive to own and operate a plane than to use charter or fractional services.

“In the short term, it’s going to have some benefits,” Agur said. “Long term, there’s no way a global company can operate only with the airlines or only with commercial options, including fractions.”

GE’s jet-engine unit will keep a HondaJet, a small five-passenger plane with a cabin height of 4 feet, 10 inches -- not big enough to stand up for most people. GE will take delivery of a second HondaJet in January, said GE spokesman Rick Kennedy. GE makes the engine for the HondaJet.

“GE Aviation is actively using small-business jets to achieve efficiency by traveling between its more than 40 sites in the U.S.,” Kennedy said in an emailed statement.

Less Flexibility

Those small HondaJets can’t cover all GE’s needs to visit customers, suppliers and factories across its far-flung operations, said Steve Varsano, founder of The Jet Business, a London-based broker. Corporate jets provide more flexibility than commercial flights, allowing executives to hit multiple cities in one day or to push back takeoffs if meetings run late. The private meetings held on a corporate plane can’t be done on commercial flights, said Varsano, who said he was “shocked and surprised” at GE’s announcement.

GE could have a hard time selling the two Bombardier Inc. Globals and three Challenger 605s that it owns, said Connie Marrero, an executive vice president at plane broker Freestream Aircraft. There are 15 pre-owned Global XRS aircraft available on the market now, and in the last six months only one has been sold, she said. Eighteen Challenger 605s are on the used market, and the average number of days they’ve been up for sale tops 280.

Those planes won’t move quickly “unless you aggressively price, in which you’re taking a significant loss and hurting the rest of that pre-owned market,” she said.

It’s unusual for a large, global company to eliminate its flight department, Agur said. It’s more common for fleets to be shrunk or planes changed depending on business conditions.

“In the long term, I wouldn’t be surprised to see GE back with aviation services when life gets better,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cape Air battered by uncertainty

HYANNIS — The rain and wind from Tropical Storm Jose all but shut down transportation by air and sea on the Cape and Islands this week — but for Cape Air, the bigger transit woes remain centered in the Caribbean.

Just days after taking to the skies again following Hurricane Irma, the airline was shut down by Hurricane Maria and remains grounded in its substantial Caribbean operations until at least Sunday.

“We are really going through some challenging times for our organization,” Cape Air president Linda Markham said during a Thursday gathering of employees.

Company spokeswoman Trish Lorino said the airline’s Caribbean operations, with a hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had just resumed Sept. 15 to allow inter-island transport for the first time since Irma knocked out services to much of the region.

“We were coming around and trying to resume a more regularly scheduled operations” when Maria hit, she said.

The damage was more concentrated in Puerto Rico than it was for Irma, she said. Reports from Cape Air staff in the region indicate that the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport was “relatively unscathed,” Lorino said, but the surrounding areas have sustained significant damage.

Markham said she spoke with the company’s regional director in San Juan, who said there was “lots of devastation.”

On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker met with company founder and CEO Daniel Wolf, a former state senator and 2014 gubernatorial candidate. The governor’s public schedule highlighted that Cape Air has been an employee-owned small business in Massachusetts since 1989.

After their private, 20-minute discussion, Baker was welcomed with applause by nearly 150 Cape Air employees in the company’s hangar, which was filled with its fleet aircraft to ride out the remnants of Jose.

What should have been a celebratory occasion, however, was tinged with anxiety and uncertainty about the status of the company’s employees in the Caribbean, many of whom have not been heard from in the storm’s aftermath.

Before the storm, most of Cape Air’s Caribbean fleet was moved out of harm’s way and flown to Curacao, but the crews and pilots remained. Cape Air offered seats on the planes for its employees to evacuate, but most opted to stay.

Managers in the region have been provided with satellite phones, Lorino said, and Cape Air shipped 20 generators and 50 boxes of clothing and supplies ahead of the storm to help its staff members get back on their feet. Employees are also able to donate to a fund via payroll deductions to help Cape Air employees in times of need.

“All of our hearts are with them,” Wolf said.

Cape Air serves eight cities in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. Lorino said during the peak season, Cape Air has about 100 flights a day in the region; during this typically slower period, that is down to around 65 a day.

“Even though we’re headquartered here, this is a huge operation for us in the Caribbean,” she said.

A companywide conference call is planned for Friday to assess operations in the Caribbean. Wolf said he plans to visit in the next few weeks, but not sooner because he does not “want to show up and be part of the problem.”

“Their safety and security is our priority,” Markham said of their Caribbean employees. 

Story and comments:

Drones Restricted on Superior National Forest

The Forest Service recognizes that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, are a tool that can provide exciting new options for the public to explore the National Forests and are a tool for the agency to accomplish its mission.

However, the Forest Service wants to ensure the public understands there are restrictions on the use of drones on the National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and that there are federal penalties for illegal use.

The purpose of these restrictions is to provide for the safety of air operations, protect natural resources, and protect the rights of other citizens.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has primary authority over drones and other UAS. The following are some key FAA regulations for the use of drones, but drone operators should check for additional guidelines on the FAA website or at an FAA office.

· Individuals and organizations may fly UAS for hobby or recreational purposes in compliance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of Public Law 112-95).

· UAS must be flown below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.

· UAS are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport”; as such they cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated Wilderness Areas.

· UAS are not permitted to fly in areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in place. The FAA website has information regarding current TFRs.

· Operators may never fly a UAS over or in close proximity to any fire operation (wildfire or prescribed). UAS flights over fire operations disrupt aerial firefighting operations and create hazardous situations.

In addition, Executive order 10092 prohibits the use of UAS as well as manned aircraft, within 4,000 feet above the BWCAW unless otherwise permitted by the Forest Service for specific purposes authorized by law, such as search and rescue. Operators using drones for commercial purposes over national forest system lands are required to request and obtain a permit from the Forest Service through the local Forest office.

The Forest Service regularly flies aircraft at low altitudes to perform natural resource management. The operator of an UAS has a responsibility to be aware of these flights and to take the steps necessary to avoid any interference with them. Unauthorized aircraft create an extreme risk for these agency operations. A bill has been introduced in Congress (HR 1138) which would make it a felony for UAS operators to interfere with fire management.

The FAA restrictions regarding UAS and the Executive Order protecting BWCAW air space apply to everyone, including private individuals, news media, and commercial operations.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cessna 180 Skywagon, N9624B: Accident occurred September 22, 2017 at Danbury Municipal Airport (KDXR), Fairfield County, Connecticut

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Bradley, Connecticut

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA550
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 22, 2017 in Danbury, CT
Aircraft: CESSNA 180, registration: N9624B

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

Aircraft nosed over on landing.

Date: 22-SEP-17
Time: 15:00:00Z
Regis#: N9624B
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 180
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

DANBURY, Conn. (WTNH)– No one was injured after a plane crashed nose down on a runway at Danbury Municipal Airport on Friday morning.

Danbury Fire says at around 10:30 a.m.,firefighters responded to Danbury Airport where they found a Cessna 180 Skywagon nose down on Runway 35.

The pilot, Jeffrey Butler, was the only person on board and was not injured when he attempted to land the plane.

The Fire Department was able to assist in righting the aircraft before it was towed off the runway. The airport was closed for a brief time while emergency crews responded to the scene.

The incident is under investigation by the FAA’s Flight Standards District Office out of Windsor.

Story and comments

DANBURY — Around 10:30 a.m. Friday, the Danbury Fire Department says that they were dispatched to Danbury Municipal Airport for a reported “aircraft incident“.

When crews arrived to the airport, they found a Cessna 180A down on Runway 35.

The pilot, Jeffery Butler, was the only person on board at the time and was not injured. Butler was attempting a landing.

The fire department righted the aircraft, then it was towed away.

The airport was shut down for a brief time to allow emergency vehicles to access the plane.

The plane is registered to Butler, and is based at Reliant Air in Danbury.

The incident is being investigated by the FAA’s Flight Standards district Officer out of Windsor Locks.

Original article can be found here ➤

DANBURY, Conn. — Danbury police and firefighters responded to a report of a plane making a "rough landing" at Danbury Municipal Airport on Friday morning.

When Danbury fire units arrived after 10:30 a.m. Friday, they found a Cessna 180A nose down on Runway 35, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta said in a statement.

The pilot, Jeffrey Butler, was the only person on board at the time, and he was not injured while attempting a landing, Omasta said.

The Fire Department used its Ladder Tower to assist with righting the aircraft, which was nose down on the runway, he said.

The plane was then towed off the runway. The airport was shut down for a brief time to allow emergency vehicles to access the Cessna aircraft and reopened soon after.

The plane is registered to Butler and is based at Reliant Air in Danbury.

This incident is being investigated by the FAA’s Flight Standards District Office out of Windsor Locks. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Deregulation of airline safety rules can still keep skies safe: Bureaucracy, cost can be reduced without harming passengers

By Cass R. Sunstein

The Trump administration has a real opportunity to deliver on its promise to streamline the regulatory state.

That opportunity comes from the proposed elimination of more than 50 regulations imposed on the airline industry — many of them designed to protect safety.

Air safety has been a sensational success story.

In the U.S., commercial accidents have been at very low levels for years. In 2016, more than 40,000 Americans died in motor vehicle accidents.

By contrast, not even one American died in airline crashes from scheduled domestic carriers.

The most recent fatal accident was more than seven years ago, in early 2009.

Market forces are a big reason. A crash is international news, and it’s horrible for business. Airlines have every incentive to ensure safety.

Regulation is also part of the picture.

The top priority of the Federal Aviation Administration is safety — as reflected, for example, in a 2011 regulation designed to reduce the risks associated with pilot fatigue.

If the airline industry feels overburdened by regulation (and it does), it is because the government mandates precautions, in the form of requirements that may not do a lot of good, but that are based on the idea of “better safe than sorry.”

Though it has not made the list public yet, the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, which advises the FAA, is finalizing its recommendations to eliminate unjustified or outmoded regulations.

One of its big targets is what behavioral economist Richard Thaler calls “sludge” — burdensome reporting and paperwork requirements that impose real costs and do no good.

Fortunately, the White House can use the Paperwork Reduction Act to eliminate duplicative or outmoded requirements that are not increasing safety.

On this count, the Trump administration might well be able to get some quick wins.

Harder questions are raised by regulatory requirements that are admittedly costly, but that might be reducing risks.

One example is the FAA’s highly prescriptive training requirements — directing, for example, that before co-pilots can fly commercial passengers, they must have 1,500 hours of flight time.

Another example is the ground testing that the government has long mandated to ascertain whether airplanes have structural integrity, and whether they can continue to survive a lot of flights (“fatigue tolerance”).

The committee is calling for cutting the 1,500-hour minimum requirement partly to reduce pilot shortages in rural areas.

The panel also recommends a significant increase in flexibility.

Instead of mandating ground tests, the government should allow airlines to use engineering analysis, inspections of older planes and computer simulations.

These recommendations present real tests for the Trump administration, and it will encounter those same challenges whenever agencies seek to eliminate regulatory restrictions.

The first challenge comes from prevailing executive orders, which direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of their actions, and to proceed only if the benefits justify the costs.

In recent years, many deregulatory decisions have clearly been a good idea, because they have had significant benefits (reducing economic burdens) and essentially no costs.

Some of the FAA advisory committee’s recommendations could save hundreds of millions of dollars. But would they decrease safety?

The answer is not obvious.

For many safety regulations, both costs and benefits are not so hard to calculate; for example, regulators might know that each year, a food-safety rule will prevent a certain number of deaths and illnesses.

For airline safety regulations, the assessment is often a lot harder.

If such rules make any sense at all, they will reduce risks, but it’s really tough to know whether they will actually save lives during a year or even a decade — meaning that it is also tough to know whether repealing them will cause any harm.

The good news is that the advisory panel recommendations can be used to start a process from which public officials can learn a great deal.

If the FAA thinks that the suggested changes are reasonable, a smart next step would be to issue, very soon, an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, by which it signals its potential interest in repealing specific regulations, and asks members of the public for comments.

If the agency does that, it will get a ton of responses.

Some of them will be interest-group fare — predictable and essentially useless.

But some of them will be filled with facts, offering evidence that (for example) 1,500 hours of flying time is really no better than 750 hours, or that ground tests provide valuable information that computer simulations and visual inspections just can’t provide.

Along with its independent analysis, such comments will give the FAA a pretty good sense of whether to go forward with some or all of the committee’s proposals.

And that’s where the Trump administration has an excellent opportunity.

If it seeks to get rid of regulations that are outmoded or imposing unjustified burdens, a careful, systematic response to those recommendations could well provide a model for deregulatory efforts over the coming years.

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