Thursday, October 5, 2017

Brown tree snake program inspects over 200 flights and accompanying cargo

Canine handler Joe Cruz and detector canine Meena approach one of the five commuter flights that arrive from Guam daily. 



(Office of the Governor) — In September, the Brown Tree Snake or BTS Interdiction Program, under the Department of Lands and Natural Resources-Division of Fish and Wildlife, inspected over 210 flights, maritime vessels and accompanying cargo to the commonwealth.

According to acting Secretary for Lands and Natural Resources Augustin Kaipat, the interdiction program uses canine detection teams to screen arrivals and cargo from Guam, maintains snake surveillance trapping in and around the air and sea ports of entry for the early detection of BTS, ensures adequate program capacity to initiate a rapid response to potential BTS sightings, and coordinates on-going BTS public awareness and outreach program within the CNMI.

Brown Tree Snake program coordinator Kevin Donmoyer noted that in September over 200 aircraft inspections for arriving commercial aircrafts on Saipan holding over 177,000 pounds of cargo were completed, with over 21 vessels inspected on Tinian and Rota.

“Airports in the CNMI are operated by an ever changing and expanding number of international commercial carriers, but the Brown Tree Snake Interdiction Program is only concerned with domestic flights inbound from the island of Guam. These carriers include Star Marianas, Cape Air (United), Delta, Arctic Circle Air, and Micronesia Air Cargo. Commercial aircraft inspections are crucial which means that inspections are also done for sea vessels and military vessels as well,” Donmoyer said.

Donmoyer added that flights are met by a BTS detector canine and handler, who inspect cargo and locations on the aircraft where BTS have been known to hide such as within landing gear. He shares that in the event a canine and handler are unavailable, non-canine trained staff perform a detailed visual inspection of the aircraft and cargo.


Brown tree snake trapper and canine handler Kevin Kapileo checks the condition of a snake trap.


“Our goal is to inspect 100 percent of arrivals and cargo from Guam, even ones categorized as low risk. Our current inspection rate is close to 98 percent,” he said.

Acting Secretary Kaipat further added that in terms of military flight inspection, airports are used for staging and refueling of U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft.

“The island of Tinian also possesses a Military Use Area as part of the international airport and the North Field training area, which makes up two thirds of the northern portion of the island, where trainings and exercises regularly occur. Most military vehicles and cargo deploy directly from Guam, making them a significant BTS hazard for the CNMI. Prior to departing Guam vehicles and cargo are required to be inspected by USDA Wildlife Services, but the Brown Tree Snake Program also performs secondary searches upon arrival in the CNMI,” he said.

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres expressed that the Brown Tree Snake program has been key to safeguarding our ecosystem and our community.

“It is important to recognize the efforts of our personnel who have for years maintained this program, and continue these inspections. In the past, we’ve heard of snake sightings and we’ve been so fortunate to say that our commonwealth is brown tree snake free and that our bird population is thriving. As Customs continues its crucial inspections that help our economy and prevent the influx of drugs, BTS’ perseverance has helped preserve our current bird habitat and ecosystem,” Governor Torres said.

Donmoyer added that after inspections, trapping is the second line of defense against brown tree snakes.

“Traps can catch snakes that may have been missed by canines and handlers during inspections. Permanent snake traps are installed at all airports and seaports within the CNMI. Occasionally temporary traps are installed, but this is usually special-case scenarios such as military exercises or rapid response actions,” Donmoyer said.

He added that the program houses a mouse colony in which traps are baited with a live mouse which is kept alive by a block comprised of paraffin wax mixed with bird seed for food and a potato to supply water.

The last snake to be trapped outside of Guam was on Rota in Aug. 2014. The last BTS found on an aircraft in the CNMI occurred in 2000 on Saipan.

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

Stop turkeys from being dropped from plane at Arkansas festival, lawmen are urged



Animal-welfare activists are trying to ground "The Phantom Pilot" before live turkeys fall from the sky during the annual Yellville Turkey Trot festival Oct. 13-14.

Rose Hilliard of Bruno said she went to the Marion County sheriff's office Monday to file a complaint about the 50-year tradition of tossing turkeys from a low-flying airplane.

"They are being told a crime is going to be committed," she said. "I would hope they would do the right thing and arrest and prosecute."

Hilliard was referring to The Phantom Pilot, who has hinted on his Facebook page that he will fly again this year.

"Turkey Trot is around the corner," according to the Aug. 30 Facebook post. "Keep flying, my friends, and I will see you there!"

Then, Sept. 28, he posted an aerial photo of the Yellville town square with the words: "Drop zone established. Payload release has been authorized."

Hilliard said Marion County Sheriff Clinton Evans, who took office in January, can end this tradition.

"I just want it to stop," she said. "This is not a nice, community thing. The festival is wonderful, but cruelty to animals doesn't need to be a part of it."

Evans said a deputy has been working on Hilliard's complaint. The sheriff expects to receive the deputy's report Friday.

If an investigation is warranted, Evans said, he'll ask the Arkansas State Police to do it so there will be no conflict-of-interest allegations.

Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the state police, said the agency doesn't normally open misdemeanor criminal cases in the immediate jurisdiction of a local law enforcement agency.

Gemma Vaughan, an animal-cruelty caseworker with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the state police has repeatedly told the organization that this case falls under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's office.

"We have gone to the Arkansas State Police numerous times over the course of many years," she said.

David Ethredge, the prosecutor for Arkansas' 14th Judicial Circuit, said his office can't prosecute a case unless it first receives an affidavit or misdemeanor citation from a law enforcement agency.

According to Arkansas Code 5-62-103, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Upon a fourth conviction within five years, cruelty to animals becomes a felony in Arkansas, and the guilty party is ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Hilliard, who describes herself as an animal-rescue person, said she isn't directly affiliated with PETA.

But Vaughan said people who are directly affiliated have filed similar complaints with the sheriff's office.

"The use of live animals in this event makes Yellville seem as backward as you can get," she said. "The turkey drop is a throwback to a sorry time when human beings were bone-ignorant of animals' feelings."

The identity of The Phantom Pilot isn't always revealed, but Dana Woods, a Mountain View pharmacist and alderman, admitted last year that he has been The Phantom Pilot for about 15 years. Newspaper photographs in 2015 revealed the identification number of Woods' single-engine 1959 Cessna 182B. He flew again as The Phantom Pilot last year.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration met with Woods and determined he wasn't doing anything that violated their rules because turkeys were being "released" from his plane as it flew over Crooked Creek, which is two blocks south of the Yellville square, where the festival is held.

It's legal to drop objects from airplanes as long as they don't damage people or property on the ground, said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the FAA in Fort Worth.

But animal cruelty isn't the FAA's jurisdiction, he said.

Woods didn't return voice mail or text messages left for him Tuesday and Wednesday.

It's not clear on The Phantom Pilot's Facebook page who the pilot is. There have been different Phantom Pilots over the history of the festival.

According to a Roller Funeral Homes obituary for Harold C. Mears of Harrison, who died in July at the age of 84, he was "one of the first Phantom Pilots of Yellville's Turkey Trot."

For more than 50 years, during the annual Yellville Turkey Trot festival, an airplane flies by and several live turkeys are dropped -- at the beginning released over the crowd and now over the creek.

Most of the turkeys glide to a landing and are then caught by people at the festival, who sometimes have them for dinner during the holidays. Last year, about a dozen turkeys were dropped from Woods' plane, and two of them reportedly died on impact.

There were no airplane drops of turkeys from 2012-14. Woods resumed the practice in 2015. He said the hiatus wasn't because of outside pressure. During that time, turkeys were tossed from the roof of the Marion County Courthouse or from a stage in front of the courthouse.

In a March 15 letter, Trevor Smith, a "legal fellow" with the PETA foundation, asked Evans to charge Woods and any accomplices with cruelty to animals.

Vaughan said PETA was informed in April that it needed to make that complaint in person, so a PETA representative did that in July, but the organization has yet to hear back from the sheriff's office.

She noted that Evans wasn't sheriff when the festival was held in 2016.

This will be the 72nd annual Turkey Trot festival. A logo on the Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce's website shows a turkey in a tunic and laurel leaf crown, striking a Julius Caesar pose. Above the turkey's head are the words "I came. I trotted. I conquered."

The festival features music, food and a parade. It also includes a Miss Drumsticks pageant, in which "the winners are chosen while their faces and upper bodies are hidden," according to the chamber's website at yellville.com/TURKEY-TROT.html.

The chamber wants animal-welfare activists to stop "threatening" people in Marion County over the turkey drop, according to a letter on the website. The chamber, the city and the county have nothing to do with the turkey drop, according to the letter.

"They certainly have a big role in organizing the event," Vaughan said of the chamber. "They have sponsored this for many years. They have the ability to end this practice."

Whether wild turkeys can fly has been a central issue of the turkey-drop debate, which received more attention after a 1978 episode of the television show WKRP in Cincinnati in which turkeys were dropped from a helicopter as a Thanksgiving promotion and hit the ground "like sacks of wet cement."

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly," said Gordon Jump, who played WKRP manager Arthur Carlson on the TV show.

Wild turkeys can fly at speeds up to 55 mph, but they usually fly from treetop to treetop, at an altitude of less than 100 feet. Woods said last year that the turkeys were released at an altitude of about 600 to 700 feet over the creek.

Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, a professor of poultry science at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said that altitude would be enough to cause stress to the birds. She called the turkey drop a "horrific act of abuse."

http://www.arkansasonline.com

Air Supremacy: Court Finds that Federal Aviation Regulations Preempt City Drone Regulation

Written by:
Morrison & Foerster LLP - Class Dismissed

[co-author: Reid Gardner*]


On September 21, 2017, the District of Massachusetts ruled that Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) preempt many of the restrictions that the City of Newton, Massachusetts, imposed on drones within its airspace. Although the decision is not binding on other jurisdictions, the ruling is a good indication of how other federal courts may see the same issue, and highlights—again—the tension between local and federal interests in regulating drones. The Singer v. City of Newton decision states that the FAA has exclusive responsibility for establishing safety requirements for all navigable airspace in the U.S., including low-level drone flying. Singer could be read as shutting the door on the possibility of cities establishing broad localized drone regulations for themselves. However, even Singer left open the possibility that cities or states could regulate some aspect of drone operations, especially if the locality worked in conjunction with its federal counterparts.

The Lawsuit. Dr. Michael S. Singer, a medical doctor and professor at Harvard, filed suit against the City of Newton challenging four provisions of a city ordinance that restricted the use of small unmanned aircraft (or drones) within city limits. Although the FAA already regulates drone flights in airspace below 400 feet above ground level or within the 400-foot radius of a structure, Newton sought to further regulate its own airspace by:

(1) requiring registration with the City for all drones;

(2) requiring the express permission of property owners to fly drones above any private property;

(3) requiring the prior permission of the City to fly drones above public land; and

(4) banning drone flight beyond the operator’s visual line of sight.

Notably, each of these aspects is expressly contemplated by Part 107—the rules set forth by the FAA to govern drone operations. Accordingly, the Singer court struck down each of these provisions as impermissible encroachments into areas of FAA responsibility. The court found that the FAA is intended to be the exclusive regulatory authority for drone registration; that cities may not wholesale eliminate drone use over their airspace absent prior permission; and that the FAA has already adopted safety regulations that anticipate flying drones beyond line of sight with the help of a visual observer. Any future regulation by Newton would therefore have to be more narrowly constructed and avoid these areas of conflict with FAA regulation.  The Singer decision, at bottom, was a clear application of conflict preemption, and leaves open the larger question of to what extent a city could regulate drone operations that aren’t expressly covered by the FARs.

The Reasoning. In regulatory arenas that are traditionally occupied by the federal government, state or local governments may only regulate where the rules do not conflict with federal rules. Additionally, if Congress intended the regulating agency to “occupy the field,” state and local governments may not impose any additional regulation in that area. This is known as “conflict preemption” and “field preemption,” respectively.

In this case, the court found that Congress intended the FAA to develop a comprehensive plan for airspace safety. Based on this finding, the court stated that the FAA has exclusive control of much of the field. Because the FAA declared its intent to be the exclusive registration authority for drones, states and localities are unlikely to be permitted to require additional registration. The court also found that aviation safety — both in terms of aircraft navigation and protection of individuals or property on the ground — is an exclusively federal area of regulation. Therefore, the court held, local governments may not impose their own registration requirements, nor develop their own comprehensive airspace management system.

Importantly, the court stopped short of declaring that the FAA occupies the entire field of airspace regulation. Both the FAA and the Court acknowledged that regulation of airspace in furtherance of specific functions of local governments may be permissible; indeed, the FAA expressly recommends that local governments consult with it when enacting drone restrictions of “flight altitude, flight paths; operational bans; or any regulation of the navigable airspace.” The FAA also acknowledges that some of the traditional powers of local governments implicate drone regulation, such as “land use, zoning, privacy, trespass, and law enforcement operations.”  The FAA and the court thus acknowledged that some drone laws, and in particular those in the areas and government functions listed, might not be preempted by FAA regulation. This latter finding is consistent with decades of precedent that permits localities to decide where aircraft take off and land, despite such a local regulation having an effect on aircraft operations.

The Implications. The most immediate impact of this ruling for the drone industry is that it may make patchwork regulatory requirements around the country less likely. This decision does not affect the FAA’s process for commercial drone registration, drone operation requirements, or the FAA’s waiver-application process for drone use. It also does not affect the FAA’s long-established systems for managing controlled and restricted airspace. It does restrict to some degree what cities that want to impose additional drone requirements may be allowed to do. At least to the degree of Newton’s drone ordinance, the court found that cities cannot impose extensive local regulations that could be seen as interfering or conflicting with the FAA’s drone regulation scheme.

The concern for the FAA is that it may continue in many ways to lag behind in the regulation needed for this quickly evolving field. Proper regulation will help encourage new contributions to society by the drone industry, and ideally also help to assuage growing public concerns regarding safety and privacy related to drone use. As it stands, Congress and the FAA cannot necessarily rely on local or state lawmakers to do that regulatory job for them.

*Reid Gardner is a first-year associate in our San Diego office and has not passed the bar yet.

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

Boeing Deal Targets Flying Taxis: Proposed acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences could pave way for fleets of pilotless flying taxis



The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
Updated Oct. 5, 2017 9:48 a.m. ET

Boeing Co. on Thursday said it plans to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., a maker of aerial drones and pilotless flying systems in a move the company said could pave the way for fleets of small flying taxis.

Virginia-based Aurora is a specialist in autonomous systems that allow military and commercial aircraft to be flown remotely, including technology that automates many functions, and has been working with Uber Technologies Inc. on a new vehicle that would take off and land like a helicopter.

Flying taxi-style concepts have attracted interest and funding from technology and aerospace companies, though face big hurdles including regulations that would allow fleets to operate alongside commercial airliners and other air traffic, as well as batteries to keep them aloft for several hours.

The purchase of Aurora would also expand Boeing’s reach in the new field of electric-powered aircraft.

Boeing’s venture capital arm also this year invested in Zunum Aero, a Washington state-based startup that on Thursday unveiled its plan for an electric-hybrid regional passenger jet.

“These types of technology are helping pilots today and are a steppingstone to pilotless aircraft,” said John Langford, Aurora’s founder and chief executive, in a live-streamed interview.

Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief technology officer, said the work on autonomous systems also had potential benefits for a host of other industries looking to leverage the potential of so-called machine learning, where computers improve from experience.

The proposed Aurora deal marks Boeing’s second acquisition in less than a year involving autonomous systems following last December’s purchase of Liquid Robotics Inc., a maker of ships and undersea vehicles, and adds to a portfolio that includes aerial drone maker Insitu.

Terms for the proposed purchase of Aurora weren’t disclosed. The firm has more than 550 staff and will be run as an independent unit in Boeing’s engineering and technology business.

Aurora also produces composite parts for aircraft and other vehicles. Boeing is looking to produce more of its own parts as part of an insourcing strategy to reduce costs and potential disruption in its supply chain.

Boeing has been considering further acquisitions as part of the push to expand sales at its newly formed services arm to $50 billion over the next several years from around $14 billion at present.

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

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N7892P, Twin Oaks Airpark Inc: Incident occurred October 05, 2017 at Stark's Twin Oaks Airpark (7S3), Hillsboro, Washington County, Oregon

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

Aircraft on landing, gear collapsed.

Twin Oaks Airpark Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N7892P

Date: 05-OCT-17
Time: 21:20:00Z
Regis#: N7892P
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA24
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: HILLSBORO
State: OREGON





Two people were injured after a small plane crash landed at an airport in Hillsboro, officials said Thursday. 

A pilot, who was accompanied by an instructor, came up short when landing and hit the edge of the runway at the Twin Oaks Airpark, Washington County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray said. 

The plane went back up before hitting the runway again hard, Ray said. 

The pilot was licensed and was working towards an advanced certification, Ray said. 

The instructor and pilot suffered injuries that were not life-threatening. 

Firefighters responded to the crash at about 2:35 p.m., Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue officials said in a tweet. 

The airport, located on River Road, is privately owned and operated, according to its website. 

Story, comments, photo gallery ➤ http://www.oregonlive.com





Two men were injured when a small plane they were flying crash-landed at the Twin Oaks Airpark on Thursday afternoon just south of the rural Washington County community of Farmington.

At 2:29 p.m. Washington County Sheriff's deputies responded to report of a plane crash.

"When we got here, we saw that the plane had a student and an instructor," said Sheriff spokesperson Bob Ray. "It wasn't a new student, from what we know. They were getting their advanced certification."

According to Ray, the plane — a small single-engined aircraft — came into the runway too low and clipped the hillside on the southwestern corner of the airpark complex.

The impact sheared off two of the airplane's wheels. The pilot quickly pulled up, then dove back into the ground — hard, Ray said.

The instructor walked away from the site of the crash, Ray said, but the student needed medical assistance. Both were transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Ray said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the crash, and there was no evidence of impairment. The FAA will investigate the crash, he said.

An employee at Twin Oaks Airpark confirmed the incident was under investigation, but declined further comment.

The airport, which includes almost a dozen hangars for personal aircraft, is a base for Oregon Flight Training and TNG Aviation, another flight school.

Ray said he expects the airpark to be closed for the new few hours. 


Original article ➤ http://www.pamplinmedia.com

Stoddard-Hamilton Glasair Super II RG, N248ST: Incident occurred October 05, 2017 near Santa Ynez Airport (KIZA), Barbara County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California

Aircraft shortly after takeoff, crashed into a fence.

http://registry.faa.gov/N248ST

Date: 05-OCT-17
Time: 17:43:00Z
Regis#: N248ST
Aircraft Make: GLASAIR
Aircraft Model: SUPER 11
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: SANTA YNEZ
State: CALIFORNIA





A single-engine airplane lost power while taking off and crashed into a field just outside of the Santa Ynez Airport on Thursday morning. 

At about 10:43 a.m., Santa Barbara County Fire responded to the Santa Ynez Airport for a report of a plane that went down. When units arrived, they found a single-engine aircraft with just one pilot on board and no other passengers, according to County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni. 

The plane reportedly lost power while taking off and crashed through a barbed wire fence, ending up on a field at the west end of the airport, Zaniboni said. The pilot was able to self-extricate and suffered no injuries; however, the plane incurred some damage and had a small fuel leak. 

Crews remained on scene attempting to unload the fuel from the aircraft and stop the leak, Zaniboni added.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have been notified and will work to tow the aircraft away from the field and back into the hangar at the airport. 

Original article can be found here: http://santamariatimes.com





SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - No one was hurt Thursday morning after a small plane was forced to make an emergency landing near the Santa Ynez Airport.

At about 10:43 a.m., Crews with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded to the Santa Ynez Airport for a report of a plane crash.

The single-engine plane had lost power while taking off from the airport and crashed through a barbed wire fence before ending up in a field on the west end of the airport, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni. The plane was reportedly 50 feet up in the air when it lost power.

The pilot was the only one on board at the time of the incident. He self-extricated from the Glasair experimental aircraft and was not hurt.

The small aircraft suffered damage and there was a small fuel leak due to the emergency landing. Fire crews worked to stop the leak.

The NTSB and the FAA were notified of the incident and are on their way to the airport. They'll be towing the plane from the field to a hangar at the Santa Ynez Airport. 

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

Dornier 328-300, N406FJ, Ultimate Jetcharters LLC: Incident occurred October 04, 2017 at Cincinnati Municipal Airport (KLUK, Cincinnati, Ohio

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cincinnati, Ohio

Aircraft experienced a birdstrike. Returned and landed without incident. No injuries. Damage unknown.

Ultimate Jetcharters LLC:  http://registry.faa.gov/N406FJ

Date: 04-OCT-17
Time: 21:28:00Z
Regis#: N406FJ
Aircraft Make: DORNIER
Aircraft Model: J382
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: CINCINNATI
State: OHIO

Unruly patient forces landing of ShandsCair helicopter

Helicopter safely landed in Belleview after patient reportedly hit medical workers.

BELLEVIEW — A ShandsCair helicopter had to make an emergency landing in Belleview early Wednesday morning after a patient was unruly with the medical team on board, according to the local authorities.

When a sheriff’s deputy arrived at Belleview High School, the flight team — a pilot and two medics — said the patient grabbed a member of the medical staff and punched him. The patient, a 66-year-old man whose name was not released, also hit the other medical worker, according to the deputy’s report.

The deputy was told that the patient also grabbed equipment inside the helicopter.

Marion County Fire Rescue officials were then called to the scene. They transported the patient, who was calm when the deputy got to the location, to Ocala Regional Medical Center. ShandsCair personnel accompanied MCFR officials to the hospital.

The altercation was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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

Jet fuel tank targeted by Las Vegas shooter will soon be inspected: McCarran International Airport (KLAS), Clark County, Nevada


Bullet holes marked as evidence on a fuel tank near the site of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. The tank was struck by gunfire, October 1, 2017.





The giant jet fuel tank struck by rifle fire during the deadly Strip mass shooting has been drained and McCarran International Airport officials are close to hiring a safety expert to inspect it.

Airport officials hope to hire the consultant by the end of the month, spokesman Chris Jones said Thursday.

“We believe we are already fulfilling industry best practices in terms of the security and safety of the tanks, but whenever something happens, its prudent to assess and reevaluate,” Jones said.

The fueling system, which supplies small aircraft users nearby, has “remained functional,” Jones said.

But Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week that the 43,000-barrel tank and an adjacent twin tank, “need another layer of protection” in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting across the street from the Mandalay Bay.

The Review-Journal reported earlier this month that the shooter had fired at the tanks from his 32nd -floor Mandalay Bay room, striking and penetrating one of the tanks but causing no fire or explosion. Experts have said it is virtually impossible for rifle fire to ignite jet fuel.

Richard Brenner, the Clark County Fire Department’s expert on hazardous materials, said Thursday the tanks present a “low potential for a problem” and are designed to withstand “extreme forces.”

Undergound pipelines from the tanks carry the fuel to nearby pumps, he said.

Two bullet holes on what is known as Tank 202, along with black powder burns and markings from investigators, were still visible Thursday near the top of the tank, which airport officials said was partially filled at the time of the shooting. Only one bullet made its way inside the tank, officials said.

Lombardo said the gunman may have tried to create an explosion or diversion by firing at the tanks before he sprayed the crowd of 22,000 at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 were injured, and the shooter later killed himself.

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who announced a Democratic bid for governor this week, was the first to call for a security review of the jet fuel tanks, which are about 1,100 feet from the Las Vegas Village venue where the festival was held. The tanks, which are surrounded by a chain-link fence with barbed wire, sit on airport property and are operated by Swissport Fueling, which has declined to comment.

“We have to minimize the risk as much as we possibly can,” Giunchigliani said Thursday. “Who would have thought that a massacre like this would have occurred, let alone the individual had cased everything up to the point of knowing where our fuel tanks are located?”

Several airplane hangars belonging to prominent corporations are near the tanks.

https://www.reviewjournal.com






Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said Thursday she would seek a security review of the jet fuel tanks targeted Sunday by Las Vegas Strip mass murderer Stephen Paddock.

Giunchigliani, the commission’s vice chair and a possible candidate for governor next year, made her comments in the wake of a Wednesday Review-Journal report that Paddock used his Mandalay Bay hotel room to fire bullets at the circular tanks.

“This is something I will raise as an issue for us to take a look at now that we know it’s a potential safety hazard,” she said.

Also on Thursday, McCarran International Airport officials confirmed the Review-Journal’s report that a jet fuel tank was struck by gunfire the night Paddock killed 58 people and wounded almost 500 at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival across the street before taking his own life. The outdoor Las Vegas Village venue, where the festival was held, is about 1,100 feet from the fuel tanks.

In a statement released to the newspaper, spokesman Chris Jones said airport officials were informed by local and federal law enforcement that one of the tanks was “struck by rifle fire during the tragic shooting event that occurred in Las Vegas the evening of Oct. 1.”

Jones said airport management learned that two rifle rounds struck a single 43,000-barrel fuel tank just east of the Mandalay Bay.

“One round penetrated Tank 202, which was partially filled with jet fuel,” the airport statement said. “A second round was found lodged within the same tank’s outer steel shell, and did not penetrate. This tank was subsequently evaluated by experts who found no evidence of smoke nor fire.”

Jones said the tank is being drained and will be reinspected and repaired.

A knowledgeable source said this week that both of the bullets struck near the top of the tank.

Several airplane hangars belonging to prominent corporations are near the tanks, which sit on property owned by the airport. The tanks are operated by Swissport Fueling, the company that runs the jet fuel operations for the airport.

The Review-Journal reported Wednesday that FBI agents had inspected the tanks and took measurements of the line of fire from Mandalay Bay. A team of forensics experts were brought to Las Vegas from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Paddock, a 64-year-old Mesquite resident, had broken two windows in his 32nd-floor suite, one in line with the concert site and the other with a direct view of the fuel tanks, a knowledgeable source told the newspaper.

“Airport fueling has not been compromised,” Jones said late Wednesday. “It’s functional.”

In Thursday’s statement, Jones said McCarran’s fuel storage system meets all structural and safety requirements set by the National Fire Protection Association.

“The airport’s tank farms are designed to include a combination of manual and automated fire suppression systems to ensure the utmost public safety,” he said. “Contrary to speculation, there is almost zero likelihood gunfire damage could trigger a fire or explosion.”

But jet fuel expert Andrew Grant told Forbes on Thursday that a bullet could ignite jet fuel in a storage tank.

“Various conditions would have to be present, but yes, it could be possible,” Grant told the magazine.

Swissport officials did not respond to Review-Journal inquiries. The FBI has declined to comment.

Story and photo gallery:  https://www.reviewjournal.com



Las Vegas Strip mass murderer Stephen Paddock used his Mandalay Bay hotel room to fire bullets at jet fuel tanks Sunday night, a knowledgeable source told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The bullets left two holes in one of two circular white tanks. One of the bullets penetrated the tank, but did not cause a fire or explosion near the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, another knowledgeable source said late Wednesday.

The tanks are roughly 1,100 feet from the concert site, where Paddock killed 58 people and wounded almost 500. Several airplane hangars belonging to prominent corporations are also near the tanks. 

Within the past couple of days, a construction crew repaired the holes, and FBI agents inspected the tanks and took measurements of the line of fire from Mandalay Bay, the sources said.

Paddock, a 64-year-old Mesquite resident, had broken two windows in his 32nd-floor suite — one in line with the concert site and the other with a direct view of the fuel tanks, one source said.

The bases of private aircraft companies are also close to the tanks, which sit on property owned by McCarran International Airport.

“Airport fueling has not been compromised,” McCarran spokesman Chris Jones said late Wednesday. “It’s functional.”

The tanks are operated by Swissport, the company that runs the fueling operations for the airport, according to McCarran spokeswoman Christine Crews. They primarily are used to provide fuel to the private aircraft operators.

A Swissport official could not be reached for comment.

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Breault declined to comment. “We can’t comment on an ongoing investigation,” she said.

A source knowledgeable about airport operations said jet fuel is hard to ignite and tanks like those across from Mandalay Bay have mechanisms in place to prevent fires.

Mike Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation consultant, echoed those words.

“A machine gun is not going to blow up a tank of fuel,” Boyd said. “Jet fuel itself sitting there in a big wet pile is very hard to ignite. You have to be a very amateur terrorist to think anything like that.”

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