Friday, October 06, 2017

Horizon Air pilots make their frustrations public

Fed-up Horizon Air pilots say Alaska Air Group created the conditions leading to a pilot shortage that resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations.

Medford travelers have seen flights to Seattle cancelled and the Los Angeles route scrapped in recent months.

Horizon Air pilots, who fly Q-400 turboprops serving small and medium markets, took their frustrations public, sending an open letter to Alaska Air Group’s Chairman and CEO Brad Tilden and the company’s board. The letter is scheduled to run in a full-page advertisement in Saturday’s Seattle Times.

In a nutshell, the union said many pilots are retiring throughout the industry, while too few are joining the ranks, and Alaska wasn’t taking necessary steps to reverse the trend.

“We are deeply concerned about the future of our airline and the crucial service it provides to communities throughout the Pacific Northwest,” the letter signed by the Horizon Air Pilots Executive Council. “The high cost and lengthy training required to become a pilot have worsened the economics of our profession, making the career all but impossible for many aspiring aviators.”

Despite improved compensation, most aspiring pilots incur large student debts upward of $150,000. It also takes years as a low-wage flight instructor before qualifying for annual pay of $40,000 per year working for airlines such as Horizon, the pilots said. From there, it takes Horizon pilots 18 years to reach the maximum pay grade of $125,000.

Alaska created its own headwind as far back as 2012, said Greg Unterseher, director of representation for Teamsters Local 1224.

“The entire industry was moving one direction to accept pilots, while Alaska Air Group was going another direction,” Unterseher said. “Alaska always believed it would be able to attract pilots.”

Alaska converted all of its Horizon routes to Q-400s several years ago to reduce costs. But competitive factors came into play, and Alaska asked the union for a new contract. But the pilots didn’t flock to Horizon, as management had hoped.

“It was a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face,” Unterseher said.

Horizon management asked pilots to accept pay cuts and other concessions last year to compete with another airline for outsourced routes flying from Alaska Airlines. In return for concessions, Horizon and Alaska Air Group guaranteed the pilots Horizon would become the exclusive operator for more than 30 new regional jets.

“With the ink on the contract barely dry, Horizon became unable to adequately staff and operate the airline — precisely as we had warned,” the pilots wrote. “In effect, Horizon’s attempt to cut costs had backfired; the airline had lower pilot costs, yes, but lower costs also meant that the airline could not recruit and retain scarce pilots.”

Recently, Horizon announced service reductions, deferred aircraft deliveries, and that SkyWest would fly new aircraft on contract for Alaska Airlines, something the pilots said was a flagrant violation of their 2016 agreement.

Horizon pilots said short-term fixes won’t help, and Alaska needs to present a long-term plan. They said it was important to retain senior pilots and develop training for the next generation. The pilots also said Alaska needs to break from corporate orthodoxy that says the market will solve the problem.

“The market is not solving this problem,” they wrote.

Unterseher said community leaders in the Rogue Valley need to ask Alaska about its plan.

“Alaska’s inability to recognize market conditions was shown by Delta’s invasion of Seattle, and then having to make a defensive move and spend well above the market price for Virgin America,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Transportation Security Administration Issues Alert For Man Found Of Suspicious Activity, Posed As Pilot

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — TSA has issued a “Be On the Lookout For” Suspicious Activity after a man was found trying to gain access to restricted areas and aircraft at multiple airports, including in the Maryland and DC area.

They say Ahmed Olasunkahmi Salau, who also has gone by Ahmed Saluh, Ahmed Salan, and Martinez Davon Wells.

The TSA says earlier this month, Salau tried to gain access onto airport property to board a charter flight at College Park Airport.  He also reportedly made attempts to gain access at airports in Maryland and Virginia in September.

TSA says on September 22, Salau approached a flight instructor at Tipton Ft Meade Airport and claimed he was a Delta pilot and reportedly made flight time inquiries. The instructor recognized him from an alert released in July.

Salau was also reportedly found at Leesburg ProJet Aviation on September 29 asking about a NetJets aircraft. On September 29 and 30, Salau was reportedly at Frederick Municipal Aircraft and attempted to gain access to airport property by pretending to be a pilot.

TSA Office of Security Operations Compliance Division says Salau made several requests to board private planes at Dulles and Reagan in July.

The TSA says Salau was first reported last October, when he traveled aboard a commercial plane under a false name and date of birthdate. He also reportedly had a fake photo ID and was detected during a connection at Bush Airport in Houston.

Salau was witnessed at loitering airports in Missouri and Illinois from February to April 2017. In May 2019, TSA says Salau posed as a captain and then as a passenger and failed to produce proper ID and flight information.

The TSA says that Salau has a working knowledge of Federal Business Operations and should be prevented from entering restricted areas.

Story and video ➤

Federal Aviation Administration operates safest air-traffic control system worldwide: Letters

Nation’s air-traffic control best in the world

I read with both interest and disappointment the Sentinel’s opinion on the privatization of the air-traffic control system in the United States (“Modernize air traffic control,” Sept. 30). As a general aviation pilot and active participant in the business of aviation in this country for 48 years, I think the Sentinel’s position is ill-informed and misses much of the reality of the situation.

The editorial painted an incomplete picture, leaving the reader to think the  Federal Aviation Administration is working in the age of typewriters and transistor radios. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration operates the safest and most-reliable air-traffic control system in the world with a near-perfect safety record. There’s a specific  Federal Aviation Administration mandate that affects all of aviation as of Jan. 1, 2020, upgrading all air-traffic control from a ground-based radar system to a satellite-based tracking system, called ADS-B.

Many operators have already complied and most of the rest of the fleet will be grounded in 2020 if specific requirements are not met.

The system is not perfect, and I am not usually an advocate of more government control, but the  Federal Aviation Administration is doing a remarkable job. Furthermore, asking the airlines to have responsibility of control of U.S. airspace is like asking Colonel Sanders to babysit your pet chicken.

Bradford Fuller 

Original article can be found here ➤

VERIFY: Do prisons have control over their own airspace?

IONIA COUNTY, MICH. - Multiple emergency responders were called to the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility near Ionia Wednesday night after several drones were spotted in the air inside the perimeter of the facility. 

None of the drones were captured and the pilots were not found.

It's been a continuing problem for the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Corrections as they try to keep a secure environment without having total control over the airspace over the facilities.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the power to control airspace in the United States. The agency currently does not have no-fly zones over prisons across Michigan. That means those who have obtained certification to fly drones commercially can legally fly their drones over prisons.

Leaders at the Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Corrections say they will attempt to charge those who fly drones over the prisons with a type of trespassing charge. There are still questions whether that criminal charge would stick considering there are few, if any, precedents in court regarding drone usage. 

"We're researching every defense that there is out there to combat drones and we have put some counter measures in place in prisons," Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Christian Clute said. "Unfortunately, though, there is not one antidote at this point."

He's referring to the inability of the Department of Corrections to control the airspace.  

The Michigan State Police acknowledges drones have sneaked contraband into their facilities.  In one case it was undetected for nearly two months. 

Inmates at Richard A. Handlon Correctional facility near Ionia received two packages dropped by a drone in late May. Other packages have been intercepted that contained tobacco, phones and marijuana.

Leaders at the Department of Corrections remind people there are severe penalties for people who would use a drone to smuggle items into the facility

In addition, Clute said people who fly drones, particularly hobbyists, have to understand flying a drone over the prison sends the facility into an emergency that can create safety issues for workers inside. The concern is the drones can upset prisoners who expect normalcy inside the prison, not to mention many other potential threats. 

In the worst case scenario, there are concerns somebody could use a drone to drop a weapon into the facility.

"They (drones) pose significant complications because they move so quickly, they're so small and they can carry a small payload," Ionia Co. Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Butler said.  "The ultimate concern is them dropping in a weapon of some sort."

That's why Michigan's government put together a task force to look at issues resulting from drone usage.  The Unmanned Aircraft Task Force has close to two dozen members and has met multiple times and is preparing to make recommendations and bring solutions to Gov. Rick Snyder's office and to lawmakers by December 

One result of the task force could be the recommendation of no-fly zones but that, we are told, could be met with resistance from the FAA refusing to let states regulate airspace. State leaders are trying to figure out what kind of control state lawmakers can exert.

One bit of good news is that some of the largest drone makers, including DJI, stop drone pilots from flying directly over prisons using the company's software. Pilots are forced to use the computer program to fly the drone and the program won't allow a drone to fly into certain areas including over prisons. 

Story and video  ►

UPS sues company pilots for leaking strategic plans for company's aircraft

ATLANTA (AP) — UPS suspects that one of its employees obtained secret business plans for its aircraft fleet and then posted them online, the shipping giant said in court records.

In a federal lawsuit filed this week, UPS said its strategic plans are highly confidential, and that a PowerPoint presentation containing the trade secrets was created and intended only for senior executives.

"At some point, an unknown UPS pilot wrongfully obtained a copy of the PowerPoint," UPS states in its lawsuit. Then, in late September, "the unknown UPS pilot posted statements on an online discussion forum about UPS' confidential strategic plans regarding its aircraft."

Now, the company is taking steps to identify whoever was responsible for posting the strategic plans on an internet message board frequented by pilots.

A judge this week gave the company permission to subpoena records from Yahoo Holdings Inc. for emails from a specific email address. It's requesting all emails sent to and from the address since Aug. 31.

UPS also plans to subpoena records from the Louisville, Kentucky-based Independent Pilots Association in order to get names, IP addresses and other information about people who made comments about the plans on the union's internet forum. It's also seeking information to identify anyone who clicked on a link to view the information.

A spokesman for the pilots association said it will resist UPS' effort to get information about its members.

"We have no reason to believe that any UPS union pilot was involved in the theft," Brian Gaudet, a spokesman for the Independent Pilots Association, said in an email Friday.

The lawsuit blames "an unknown UPS pilot" for taking the information, but UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said Friday it doesn't know for certain who is responsible. The company presumes he or she was a pilot because pilots frequent the online forums where the information was posted, he said.

Separately, the company is also seeking information about people who posted on another internet site, , with the user names "Commando," ''UPSet," and "nightrider," court records state.

The company filed the lawsuit in order to find out who obtained the plans and posted them online, Gaut said.

"We know for certain that the presentation in question was inappropriately removed from the company," Gaut said. "And we know the information was inappropriately displayed in public internet forums."

There are no plans to pursue criminal charges, Gaut said, adding that the company's goal is to find out who posted the information.

Original article can be found here ➤

Stuart Powell given Kentucky Aviation Association’s highest honor posthumously

 Stuart Powell

LEXINGTON — Attendees of the 41st Annual Kentucky Aviation Conference witnessed a landmark award of achievement. The Kentucky Aviation Association (KAA), in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Aviation, presented the Excellence in Aviation Award posthumously to Mr. Stuart Powell. The Excellence in Aviation Award is KAA’s most prestigious award and recognizes a lifetime of achievement in aviation.  

This year, the KAA Board of Directors chose an individual that has demonstrated outstanding, exemplary leadership in advancing aviation in their community. Mr. Stuart Powell was Chairman of the Danville-Boyle County Airport Board for 49 years. He began his career in aviation at age 15 by pumping aviation fuel and cleaning plane windshields. By 16, he became qualified to fly a Piper J-3 Cub, a classic one-engine plane built between 1937 and 1947. His first solo flight took off from a once tiny airstrip that is now named Stuart Powell Field.

Powell was a true visionary, leading the growth and expansion of the airport and spearheading its improvement projects. Today, corporate jets fly in and out of Stuart Powell Field, which serves businesses in Boyle County and surrounding counties.

The Excellence in Aviation Award honors the lifetime achievements of Mr. Henry Ogrodzinski, known to friends and associates as Henry O. Henry was an advocate for aviation his entire professional life. He was a strong supporter of the nation’s aviation system and was a special friend to aviation in Kentucky. Henry was a past President and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Aeronautic Association, the Oversight Committee of the Airport Cooperative Research Program, and the Board of Nominations of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Henry attended and spoke at the KAA’s annual conference on many occasions.

In accepting the award, Mr. Powell’s daughter, Patti, stated: “I know my father would have been thrilled to have been here and share his enthusiasm for general aviation. Yet, he would have been humbled by this prestigious award that mirrors the devotion and passion that both he and Henry O. shared towards general aviation.”

KAA is a non-profit corporation and its purpose is to foster and promote aviation facilities, safety, industry, business, recreation and aerospace education in the commonwealth. KAA promotes discussion of aviation issues and opportunities through their conferences and membership interaction. KAA is strongly committed to the development of its membership, the commonwealth’s airports and the continued betterment of aviation.

Original article can be found here ➤

Macon-Bibb County, Georgia: Aerospace company closing, laying off 89 employees

Dozens of employees will be out of a job in Macon-Bibb County after a company did not renew their lease to stay open.

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority says the aerospace business, Bombardier, told them they did not have plans to stay, putting 89 people out of work and leaving other airport businesses to wonder what's next.

The Lowe family landed at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport 71 years ago and started Lowe Aviation. They refuel, store planes, run charter flights, and buy and sell aircraft.

Henry Lowe says Bombardier's departure leaves questions about the future of the refueling part of his family’s legacy.

“I can't tell you exactly, but, we just hope that someone else can take over the hangar so we can continue to provide service to them,” Lowe said on the tarmac Friday.

When we asked if Bombardier's closing would hurt his business, he said they would take a hit due to the refueling business.

“Well, it makes a big effect on it. It's certainly going to change what goes on here,” Lowe said.

Lowe says refueling Contour's new commercial flights in and out of Macon has helped, but he's not sure if it will make up for the lost business that Bombardier's closure will take away.

Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority Director Stephen Adams says they haven't lost faith in the airport.

“We believe that we have a lot to offer, it's a very unique asset for this community and we don't believe that this decision to close this facility by Bombardier is in any way an indicator of the airport or the community,” Adams said at the Authority’s office in downtown Macon.

Boeing left last October and erased more than a hundred jobs at the time. Now, Bombardier’s closure will leave 89 without work.

Bombardier opened at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in 2010 and initially hired 160 workers. Boeing operated in Macon for more than 35 years.

Adams says their number one priority right now is helping those employees find other work. They have already activated a rapid response team that Adams says is in communication with Bombardier management. The team will help look over resumes, refresh interview skills, and find new employment for the current workers.

Before the two companies left, the airport had an economic impact of more than $100 million back in 2015.  

But Lowe says he's staying optimistic.

“So, hopefully we'll have other aircraft come in and take their place,” Lowe said.

Local employees at Bombardier’s office at the airport said they could not comment and told WMAZ to contact the company’s main office. The main office has not returned our request for comment.

Adams says companies have been in contact with the County about filling Boeing’s empty former facility. He said the County also expects to move forward with plans to expand the runway so larger planes can land in Macon. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Wheels Up finds altitude in private jet marketplace

Access to the elite world of private jets has been widening with a number of fractional ownership and jet-sharing companies finding their wings in the marketplace. Unlike some of its competitors, Wheels Up is a tech-enabled company that owns its fleet. Members gain access to the fleet to use when and where they want.

Before founding Wheels Up four years ago, the leadership team ran Marquis Jets, which was later sold to Columbus, Ohio-based NetJets.

The key to Wheels Up’s early success has been the purchase of it its fleet of “flying SUVs,” the King Air 350i, the company’s executives say. By owning the fleet, Wheels Up was able to lower the cost of flying in an eight-seater airplane by 50 percent, further opening up the ultra-rich world of private aviation to the merely wealthy — and increasingly, to corporations. Wheels Up specializes in two-hour-or-less flights; South Florida members typically use it for intra-state service, flights to the Bahamas and Caribbean, including Cuba, and to cities throughout the eastern seaboard.

In the past four years, Wheels Up has added more than 4,000 members, and it is generating about $300 million in annual revenue, company founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said. Initial memberships cost $17,500 for an individual, $29,500 for a corporation, and less than that yearly to continue membership.

Wheels Up, which is based in New York City, is opening its first physical Florida office, in Coral Gables, to be led by Wheels Up partner Justin Firestone. The company has raised about $200 million in funding, including about $117.5 million announced Friday, valuing the company at more than $1 billion, the company said. Its equity investors include T. Rowe Price and Fidelity, as well as Miami-based Krillion Ventures and former baseball stars Alex Rodriguez and Mike Piazza. KKR is an investor on the debt side.

“We are setting the business up to be a public offering in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Dichter in a phone interview.

With Serena Williams among its ambassadors, Wheels Up has a 80-plane fleet, including 65 King Airs, and plans to have more than 100 planes by the end of 2018.

Justin Firestone, a founding partner with Wheels Up, will lead the company’s new Florida office, which will be located in Coral Gables.

The Miami Herald followed up with Firestone, who is based in Miami, to discuss Wheels Up’s Florida plans and the industry. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

Q: Your team has a great deal of experience in private aviation. What got you interested in this market?

A: What I’ve always liked about private aviation is the idea of being able to sell access to the most precious commodity; the gift of time. When I entered the private aviation industry nearly 20 years ago, there were really only two options, buy your own aircraft or charter one when the owner wasn’t using it. Wheels Up changed this by broadening the aviation marketplace and providing a private aviation solution for people that truly value their time.

Q: What did you learn from one of your first private jet businesses, Marquis Jet, and how does Wheels Up differ?

A: We learned that 80 percent of private flights in North America are less than two hours, so we created a model that addressed the largest available market of flights at a price point that is about 50 percent less than what I was selling in my past life. Between 30 percent and 35 percent of new Wheels Up members were previously flying commercial. We see an addressable market of 1.5 million U.S. households, which will support sustainable growth. We like to say that Wheels Up is more Netflix than NetJets. Wheels Up is a membership model more like Costco, Amazon Prime, or Netflix.

We looked to further democratize the private aviation industry with a disruptive price point and create the most economical way to fly private. With Wheels Up, you pay an initial membership fee and then a nominal annual fee to stay current.

Q: One big differentiator from your competition, including Fort Lauderdale-based JetSmarter, is that you own your fleet, which is certainly capital-intensive. Why did you choose to do that?

A: Owning the fleet allows Wheels Up to provide flexibility, consistent service and safety. Also, partnering with Textron Aviation, one of the strongest brands in the business, gives Wheels Up exclusivity on the King Air 350i in a fleet format.

Q: What are some of your other differentiators from your current competition?

A: Wheels Up is redefining the industry by making private aviation more accessible by eliminating unnecessary costs and hourly commitments often associated with other privation aviation programs. Because we have a members-only fleet of King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS, we can offer guaranteed access to our members with as little as 24 hours’ notice which provides unparalleled flexibility and convenience.

The cutting-edge Wheels Up app allows members to seamlessly book flights, manage their accounts, participate in ride-share opportunities and select Hot Flights, a vast selection of one-way “empty leg” flights that are posted daily to the app and updated in real time.

Our members also have access to Wheels Down, a collection of signature events and private meet-and-greets, as well as a platform of value added member benefits.

Q: Why did you choose the King Air 350i?

A: When Wheels Up made the initial order to start this business, we placed a $1.4 billion order with our partner Textron Aviation for 105 King Air 350i aircraft that gave us exclusivity of the aircraft in a fleet format. The King Air 350i is a flying SUV with unmatched comfort, range and efficiency and a disruptive hourly price point. The unrivaled short field capabilities of the aircraft gives members access to more airports, landing them closer to their destinations. The King Air 350i offers the ideal aviation solution for the majority of private flights, which we know are less than two hours in duration.

Q: What kind of job creation does Wheels Up support?

A: We are proud to say Wheels Up is made in America. Textron Aviation manufactures the King Air 350i in Wichita, Kansas, and also operates one of their largest U.S. factory service centers in Orlando. Many of our 325 pilots are full-time Florida residents, and much of their simulated training happens at Flight Safety International learning centers across the state.

Lastly, the impact we have on private jet terminals is significant as we fly into hundreds across the state of Florida.

Q: You are opening your first physical office in Florida soon, in Coral Gables. Why is Florida, and in particular South Florida, a good market for Wheels Up and the industry?

A: South Florida has been one of the fastest-growing markets for Wheels Up along with the Northeast corridor, Texas, mid-Atlantic and Southern California. With approximately 500 of our nearly 4,000 members located in Florida, we’ve seen a nice mix of leisure travelers looking to getaway to the Bahamas for the weekend and business travelers looking to fly routes like Boca Raton to Tallahassee, Tampa to West Palm Beach, etc.

Q: What’s on the near horizon for Wheels Up?

A: We are looking to close 2017 strong with over 4,000-plus active members, an over $300 million run rate in revenue, 86 percent retention rate and over 85 airplanes in our fleet. As we expand our fleet and introduce more cutting-edge technology, we can disrupt and redefine the space, allowing us to bring private aviation to more people than ever before.

Q: Where do you see your market going in the next five years? And the next 10?

A: By the end of 2020, our goal is to reach 10,000 members with a fleet of approximately 250 aircraft. We also project being the largest private aviation company in the world by number of members. By 2025, the goal is 30,000-40,000 members with 300-400 aircraft.

Plans are underway for Wheels Up to expand into Europe, and we are positioning ourselves for a Wheels Up IPO in the next 12 to 18 months, provided the market conditions are right.

Q: What are a few of your most unusual or memorable flight requests over the years?

A: Flying the former first lady [Michelle Obama] to a speaking engagement just a few weeks after she left office — and no longer had access to Air Force One — and making sure there was enough room to fit the NHL’s Stanley Cup on board a flight are two of my favorites. Wheels Up is always ready!

Read more here ➤

Trade Ruling Sets Up Debate Over Boeing ‘Harm’: U.S. Commerce Department backs Boeing on Bombardier pricing, seeks 80% tariff on Canadian jet imports

The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
Updated Oct. 6, 2017 3:30 p.m. ET

U.S. trade officials on Friday ruled that Bombardier Inc. unfairly discounted sales of a new jetliner, setting up a battle as to whether Boeing Co. suffered any harm from competing with its Canadian rival.

The Commerce Department ruled in favor of a complaint from Boeing and said it would add an 80% tariff to imports of Canadian jets carrying 100 to 150 passengers, hitting the new Bombardier CSeries jet. The department last week slapped a proposed 220% duty on aircraft imports including the CSeries after finding the Canadian company received unfair government subsidies.

Boeing launched the complaint against Bombardier earlier this year but has been widely criticized by much of the global aerospace industry as it also receives government subsidies and has discounted prices of its own aircraft to secure sales.

An independent U.S. trade body still has to rule on whether Boeing suffered any harm from Bombardier’s tactics when the Canadian company won a big sale of 75 CSeries jets last year to Delta Air Lines Inc. and unsuccessfully bid to sell planes to United Continental Holdings Inc. Boeing claims it had to lower its own price to win the United deal.

Delta, which reports earnings next week, has said it is confident the proposed tariffs will be rejected because no U.S. companies produce aircraft the same size as the Bombardier jet. The Canadian company also has refuted Boeing’s claim about the price agreed with Delta.

Montreal-based Bombardier said in a statement that the Commerce Department’s decision was an “egregious overreach” and “misapplication” of trade law that is designed to “block the CSeries aircraft from entering the U.S. market.”

The company urged the U.S. government to reject Boeing’s efforts to “tilt the playing field unfairly in its favor.”

Canada also attacked the decision Friday. “Boeing is manipulating the U.S. trade remedy system to prevent Bombardier’s new aircraft, the CSeries, from entering the U.S. market, despite Boeing’s admission that it does not compete with the CSeries,” foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

The twin Commerce Department rulings have inflamed a simmering trade spat with Canada, with the U.K. also criticizing Boeing’s stance. Bombardier has a large aerospace plant in Northern Ireland. Canada and the U.K. also have said the issue threatens future military purchases from Boeing.

Boeing on Friday gave no indication of backing off.

“This determination confirms that, as Boeing alleged in its petition, Bombardier dumped its aircraft into the U.S. market at absurdly low prices,” the company said in a statement.

A final decision on any U.S. duty is expected next year.

The World Trade Organization this week opened a separate front on Bombardier, convening a panel on Brazil’s complaint that the jet maker received illegal subsidies, harming rival Embraer SA, which makes similar-sized aircraft.

Bombardier said it is in full compliance with trade rules, adding that Canada plans to defend the company and the country’s aerospace industry in the matter. The WTO has been the usual venue for complaints about aerospace subsidies, including a long-running spat involving Boeing and Airbus .

—Jacquie McNish contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here ➤

Incidents of drunken pilots are very rare

You may be ready for a stiff drink when you get on an airplane — but that doesn’t mean your pilot should join you.

According to Quartz Media (, approximately one out of every 1,300 pilots attempt to fly while drunk.

Toward the end of 2016, two reports surfaced that likely resulted in a few worried travelers. Two commercial airline pilots, 8,400 miles from one another, were removed from their scheduled flights on suspicion of intoxication.

On New Year’s Eve, Calgary police arrested a pilot for budget Canadian carrier Sunwing Airlines who was about to fly 99 passengers to Cancun, Mexico. The crew reported he was “behaving oddly” and passed out in the cockpit. Police allege his alcohol level was three times the legal limit, according to

A few days earlier, a pilot for Indonesian carrier Citilink reportedly delivered slurred announcements while the plane, scheduled to travel from Surabaya to Jakarta was still on the ground. Footage later surfaced of him struggling to get through a security checkpoint. The airline fired the pilot and two of its executives resigned.

Incidents of drunken pilots are rare, especially considering there were 35 million scheduled flights in 2016.

In August 2016, however, two United Airlines pilots were arrested in Glasgow, Scotland airport on suspicion of drinking before a flight to Newark, New Jersey. In August 2015, a co-pilot for Latvian airline Air Baltic was sentenced to six months in prison after admitting to have indulged in whisky and beer.

In the United States, pilots are subject to a blood-alcohol limit of 0.04 percent, half the legal limit for drivers in many states. That’s the same limit as for other critical jobs, such as air traffic controllers, ambulance drivers, and some ship captains.

But pilots aren’t required to take a breathalyzer test before boarding their assigned plane each time. Instead, pilots are tested randomly or if there is reasonable suspicion. Of 13,149 tests on pilots for alcohol intoxication on commercial pilots in 2015, most of them random, only 10 failed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

As alcohol affects the body long after it is consumed, the FAA also cautions hangover symptoms such as headache, stuffy nose, upset stomach and dizziness can also be impair a pilot. The FAA warns pilots that cold showers, drinking black coffee, or breathing 100 percent oxygen cannot speed up the elimination of alcohol from the body. The FAA also requires pilots to stop drinking at least eight hours before the flight, or “from bottle to throttle.” The standard is also required in Canada and Europe.

Yet for all these protective measures, the main defense against a drunk pilot is the eyes and ears of crew as well as the passengers themselves.

Cabin crewmembers are encouraged to report any suspected intoxication of a pilot or other crewmember. Passengers can reach out to the cabin or the airport’s ground staff if they have any concerns.

The FAA also operates a whistleblower program.

Pilot intoxication can bring criminal charges in the U.S., where pilots that try or succeed in flying drunk can face up to 15 years in prison.

The FAA says it doesn’t have any planned changes to the current system to catch intoxicated pilots. It claims the numbers are extremely low and this nation’s pilots take fitness to fly and professionalism very seriously.

Original article can be found here ➤

Piper PA-34-220T Seneca V, N4136D, registered to Echo Bravo LLC and operated by the pilot: Accident occurred October 06, 2017 near Aurora Municipal Airport (KARR), Sugar Grove, Kane County, Illinois

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Springfield, Illinois

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Sugar Grove, IL
Accident Number: CEN18LA008
Date & Time: 10/06/2017, 0706 CDT
Registration: N4136D
Aircraft: PIPER PA 34-220T
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 6, 2017, about 0706 central daylight time, a Piper PA34-220T airplane, N4136D, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing in a corn field following a loss of engine power on its right engine. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane received substantial damage to its fuselage, and both wings. The aircraft was registered to Echo Bravo LLC, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight was originating from the Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR), near Sugar Grove, Illinois, and the Wichita Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport (ICT), Wichita, Kansas, was the intended destination.

The pilot reported that the pre-flight inspection and the pre-takeoff engine checks revealed no anomalies. He stated that shortly after takeoff, the airplane yawed to the right. The airplane entered the clouds about 1,100 ft msl and became more difficult to control. He stated that he lowered the nose to increase airspeed and the airplane exited the cloud layer in a nose down, right wing low attitude. He stated that he corrected the attitude and landed into a corn field.

A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector examined the airplane after the accident. The examination did not reveal any preimpact anomalies regarding the airplane engines. The right engine could be rotated and compression and suction were felt on all cylinders during rotation. Further examination of the right engine revealed no anomalies. The FAA Inspector removed the fuel injection servo and the fuel injection distribution valve from the right engine and had them tested at a certified repair station. The functional and visual inspections did not reveal any anomalies and all test parameters were within service specifications. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/11/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 09/17/2017
Flight Time:  2300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1100 hours (Total, this make and model), 2180 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 38 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 12 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N4136D
Model/Series: PA 34-220T 220T
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1999
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 3449101
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/17/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4751 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 60 Hours
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2622 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
Engine Model/Series: LTSIO-360 -2B
Registered Owner: ECHO BRAVO LLC
Rated Power: 220 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: ARR, 712 ft msl
Observation Time: 0652 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / 16°C
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 300 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 70°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Mist
Departure Point: Sugar Grove, IL (ARR)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Wichita, KS (ICT)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 0700 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation: 712 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 33
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5503 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None

Latitude, Longitude: 41.771944, -88.475556

NTSB Identification: CEN18LA008 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 06, 2017 in Sugar Grove, IL
Aircraft: PIPER PA 34-220T, registration: N4136D
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 October 6, 2017, about 0706 central daylight time, a Piper PA34-220T airplane, N4136D, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing in a corn field following a loss of engine power on its right engine. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane received substantial damage to its fuselage, and both wings. The aircraft was registered to Echo Bravo LLC, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight was originating from the Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR), near Sugar Grove, Illinois, and the Wichita Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport (ICT), Wichita, Kansas, was the intended destination.

A Geneva couple endured a harrowing experience shortly after embarking on a trip to Arizona in their Piper Seneca plane. Pilot Edward Bonifas, 58 and his wife Carmella Bonifas, 65 began their ascent at the Aurora Municipal Airport when they suddenly encountered an emergency, forcing Bonifas to land in a corn field located a half-mile west of the airport, south of Scott Road. Kane County Sheriff’s Deputies, Sugar Grove, Aurora, Big Rock, Elburn and Sugar Grove Fire Department’s responded to a call of a plane down at approximately 7:10 a.m.

Kane County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Pat Gengler said the tall corn stalks obscured the plane wreckage from first responders. Although the pilot was able to communicate with first responders through his cell phone, they were still unable to locate the couple. “An Aurora Fire Department Ladder Truck was used to get a view from above the field,” Gengler said. A thick morning fog however, continued to prevent firefighters from finding the plane. Police say Bonifas was able to see the ladder and was able to direct fire fighters using an ATV to locate he and his wife.

“The pilot advised that he had just taken off from the Aurora Airport and was flying to Arizona when he experienced some sort of emergency in the air.  The FAA and NTSB are conducting their investigation into the exact cause of the crash,” Gengler stated. In an interview, Gengler noted the couple had thankfully missed a row of power lines not far from their crash. Authorities said both Edward and Carmella did not sustain any injuries and were cleared to leave the scene after paramedics checked them out. Police say the crash remains under investigation.

Original article can be found here ➤

SUGAR GROVE – A plane went down west of the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove this morning.

At about 7:10 a.m., Kane County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Sugar Grove police and the Sugar Grove Fire Department responded to the area of the airport for a report of a small plane that had landed in a nearby corn field

The pilot and his wife were unharmed, but left pretty shaken up, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Office spokesman, Lt. Pat Gengler.

“The pilot was in contact with people, so we knew he was OK,” Gengler said.

Emergency personnel on scene originally had a hard time locating the pilot and the plane, because the unharvested corn obscured the line of sight, according to Gengler. An Aurora Fire Department ladder truck arrived on the scene; the pilot was able to direct the fire personnel to where he was in the field after seeing the ladder truck.

The fire department was able to get an ATV and drive out to the scene to pick up the pilot and his wife. They were brought back to an ambulance where it was determined they didn’t need any medical treatment, according to Gengler.

Gengler stated that shortly after the plane took off from the Aurora Municipal Airport on its way to Arizona, the craft experienced some type of failure, which is still undetermined. The pilot put the plane down into the field.

“We really don’t know what happened in the air that caused him to go down,” Gengler said. “We’ll wait for the federal authorities to come out and put all those pieces together.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will examine the aircraft and interview the pilot to determine the cause of the accident, according to Gengler.

He noted that this could have been much worse.

"There is a set of power lines right there," he said. "When the pilot went down, he missed the power lines. He was able to put it down into the corn field.

“If he clipped those power lines or if it was the other direction where there are houses … this could have been a lot worse,” Gengler said. “The fact that the plane went down with two people in it [who were unharmed] speaks to his skill as a pilot.”

Original article can be found here ➤

A Geneva man and his wife were uninjured after their plane had to make an emergency landing in a cornfield west of Aurora Municipal Airport Friday morning on their way to Arizona.

Kane County Sheriff's Department Lt. Pat Gengler said authorities were called at about 7 a.m. for a report of a the Piper Seneca propeller plane that crash-landed in an unharvested cornfield west of Dugan Road and south of Scott Road in Sugar Grove.

"The pilot was actually, I believe, talking to the tower when he landed by cellphone," Gengler said. "He had no idea where he was and we couldn't see him from the road."

The Aurora Fire Department responded to the area and extended a large ladder from the truck to look for the fallen plane, Gengler said. The pilot was able to see the ladder and rescue crews used an ATV to fight their way through the tall corn to bring the couple to safety, Gengler said.

The couple were evaluated at the scene and allowed to go home, Gengler said. They had planned to fly to Arizona today, with the first stop after departing to be an airport in Kansas to refuel and continue their trek west, Gengler said.

"The fact that they walked away from the scene is pretty cool," Gengler said. "The corn can dissipate a lot of energy."

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

Original article can be found here ➤

An Aurora man and his wife were unhurt early Friday after the man landed his small plane in a cornfield shortly after takeoff from the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove.

Kane County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Pat Gengler said the pilot took off about 7 a.m. Friday and developed some kind of problem with the aircraft almost immediately. He managed to get the plane up over some utility wires, and then land in the middle of a cornfield west of Dugan Road and south of Scott Road.

“He went up and over,” Gengler said.

The pilot and his wife were on their way to Arizona, he added, flying a Piper Seneca.

Within less than an hour, the Sheriff’s Department had sealed off the section of Dugan Road just north of the intersection with Wheeler Road, and the Federal Aviation Administration was on the scene.

Gengler said the Sheriff’s Department will send out more information later today.

Original article can be found here ➤

Louisville's new UPS jet is the largest made in the US

If you've seen an extra long, white and brown-tailed jumbo jet flying over Louisville in the past week, you weren't imagining that it's really huge.    

UPS air operations in Louisville just took delivery of the largest jumbo jet made in the United States on Sept. 29, and it will begin carrying cargo in a week or two. For now, it has been cruising from Louisville International Airport on proving runs. 

It's the first of 14 Boeing 747-8 freighter jets that the shipper ordered a year ago, UPS spokesman Jim Mayer said.

The bulk purchase is part of a broader push by the company to enlarge its global reach and boost capacity on its busiest routes. Two more of the -8's, as they're called, will arrive this fall in time for the holiday peak season starting at Thanksgiving.

UPS, FedEx and other shippers are investing billions of dollars to modernize and enlarge package handling hubs in an e-commerce industry valued at $500 million. They're also are buying aircraft to boost capacity in their networks.

When the Boeing contract – with an option to buy 14 more later – was announced last fall, UPS chairman and chief executive David Abney said the "investments will help enable customers to expand their presence in new and existing markets..."  

The new jets join the current fleet of 500 aircraft, which will allow the company to reassign its next smaller jumbos, the 747-400's, to its high-traffic routes and enlarge capacity. The Louisville-based aircraft fly from here to Anchorage, Alaska, and then on to hubs in Asia, including Hong Kong, Mayer said.

At 64 feet tall and 250 feet long, the craft is 20 feet longer than the 747-400. It can carry up to 307,000 pounds of cargo – 34 shipping containers on its main deck and 14 in the lower compartments. That amounts to about 16 percent more capacity than the 747-400.

UPS wouldn't disclose the value of the 14-jet contract, but airline experts estimate the retail list price of a single -8 at about $379 million.

UPS probably got a far sweeter price because demand for both of the four-engine Airbus 380 and the Boeing 747-8 has lagged. It's far more fuel efficient to fly twin-engine models for long distances now, said Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly, which analyzes the airline industry. 

Plus, commercial carriers also are freeing place in the lower holds to transport cargo. That's decreased the need for mega-freighters. All in all, "I'm sure UPS got a very good deal," Kaplan said.  

Residents of Audubon Park and Old Louisville, who have complained for years about airport noise levels and emissions, may feel they'll be the losers once the new jumbos take flight.

In the last week, the mayor and Audubon Park homeowners have raised the alarm over more frequent flights over Preston Highway – which airport officials said has been necessitated because of short-term work on runways.

UPS offered reassurances: A sleeker wing design and General Electric's new engines cut carbon emissions from the 747-8 by 16 percent. Noise levels have been trimmed by 30 percent, compared with the 747-400 and the MD-11. 

Mayer said having one large freighter jet, instead of two or three smaller aircraft flying in and out of the local airspace, helps reduce overall noise and pollution.

Nonetheless, he said, they try to have their flight take off to the south and also approach from over the landfill between Fern Valley and Outer Loop as often as possible to avoid disturbing residential areas.

Original article can be found here ➤