Sunday, October 08, 2017

Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts: Man flies to every airport in the state

Pilot John Fiske stands next to one of the planes he flew in his successful quest to land at every airport in Massachusetts.

BEVERLY — Flying was something John Fiske dreamed about as a kid, but it got lost in the mix of day-to-day adult life.

About a decade ago, however, the longtime Beverly resident learned of a flying class at Beverly Regional Airport, and decided it was time to rekindle that dream.

Now, Fiske, 54, has had his license to fly for about eight years, and a personal goal under his belt — he’s landed in every public airport in the state, including Logan in Boston, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard’s station in Cape Cod, which isn’t open to the public. It’s a total of 40 airports.

Reaching this milestone wasn’t originally part of Fiske’s plan. 

“It just sort of happened,” he said.

But after realizing he had flown to 20 of the state’s public airports, he decided he wanted to touch down in all of them.

“I just kept going,” Fiske said.

In the summer of 2016, Fiske had only eight airports left. On a beautiful July day, he crossed four off his list: Westover, Southbridge, Chicopee and Westfield.

“That left me with four, all down in the Cape Cod area,” he said.

Fiske visited two of them on Aug. 16. He then completed his goal last weekend, visiting Martha Mills and Falmouth.

On flying into Logan, Fiske said there isn’t a specific area for small private planes to land — they use the same areas as the much-larger jets.

Fiske decided to go to Logan the day there was a Federal Aviation Administration youth exposition. He stayed for a bit, allowing the kids to check out the plane and then decided to fly the 12 miles home.

“I spent longer waiting at the runway for clearance than the flight,” he said. The flight is about 10 minutes, if that, while waiting for clearance took between 10 and 15 minutes.

Throughout his journeys, Fiske, a member of the North Shore Aero Club located at the Beverly airport, was able to borrow a couple of the club’s planes.

He said having the airport so close to home was convenient for learning how to fly, noting he probably wouldn’t have started taking lessons if he had to travel further.

Fiske said he has no goals yet for the future, adding that he’s flying with a friend and his son soon, and will continue to fly in his spare time.

“I don’t know what’s next,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (KBRD) protests Super Bowl flights over NFL players kneeling during national anthem

  An airport in Brainerd, MN, spoke out on Thursday against the NFL and the potential of incoming air travel for Super Bowl LII, to be held in Minneapolis, MN next year.

Brainerd Lakes Regional airport was meeting to discuss the increased Super Bowl air travel expected into and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

With the increased air traffic, a plan was needed for if flights had to be rerouted for inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Brainerd Lakes Regional airport was listed as one of the nearby airports that could receive the redirected planes.

At the meeting, commission member Jeff Czeczok made a motion to protest these flights that may come into Brainerd until the NFL enforces its rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games.

Nearly all commission members agreed with Czeczok’s statements, but the motion failed for lack of a second, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Czeczok, who says he is disgusted by what he sees happening in the NFL, called for defense of the national anthem.

“I just would like to remind the people sitting at this table that, you know, we have a national organization that has team members kneeling down during our national anthem,” Czeczok said.

Commission member Marty Johnson said he agreed. Johnson says he doesn’t have a problem with protesting, just not during the national anthem.

Johnson continued, claiming sponsors are pulling their support from the NFL and that players are taking advantage of the media attention.

“As long as the film crews and the media keep spotlighting the fact that this guy didn’t stand and this guy didn’t stand, they’re going to keep doing it,” Johnson said. “The media is the problem.”

NFL players are encouraged to stand for the national anthem, but there is no rule requiring them to according to the 2017 official NFL rulebook.

As of September, no NFL sponsors have ended their relationship with the NFL. Only a few advertisers have pulled broadcasts out of the NFL – all but one of them were local advertisers. 

Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colt's and the San Francisco 49ers, saying he was disgusted by the players who took a knee during the national anthem.

President Trump later took credit for Pence's departure, saying he asked his vice president to leave the game if protests happened during the anthem.

Original article can be found here ➤

Boeing helped finance bailout of Monarch Airlines in 2016: Financial Times

(Reuters) - Boeing Co. had pumped in more than 100 million pounds ($130 million) into Britain’s now defunct Monarch Airlines, the Financial Times reported.

The capital infusion, through Monarch’s offshore holding company Petrol Jersey, was carried out in several tranches between October 2016 and March this year, the Financial Times said. 

The airline’s owner Greybull refused to comment on the details of the financing, saying that they were “commercially confidential”, Financial Times added. It denied that there had been anything secretive about the transaction.

“As a regulated body, all financing arrangements provided to Monarch were reviewed and approved by relevant authorities,” Greybull told the newspaper.

The Financial Times said Boeing had refused to comment.

Reuters could not immediately reach Greybull Capital and Boeing for comment outside regular business hours.

Last year, Monarch secured a 165 million pound lifeline from Greybull, enabling the airline to renew a key operating license and fund new aircraft.

The equity investment had been agreed only hours before its operating license was due to expire, allowing the airline, which sells flights and package holidays to tourist destinations, to keep flying. 

The 48-year-old airline had said that the investment would fund the replacement of its Airbus jets with more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft between 2018 and 2021.

The low-cost carrier, which collapsed last week, is the largest British airline to go bust affecting nearly 900,000 passengers in total. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Pentagon Takes Control of F-35 Cost-Cutting Push: The price of the combat jet has been falling, but some military chiefs are concerned about the pace and source of savings

The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
Oct. 8, 2017 8:00 a.m. ET

The Pentagon has taken over an effort to cut the cost of the F-35 combat jet, after rejecting plans proposed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and its partners, as it tries to make a program estimated to cost $400 billion more affordable.

The U.S. plans to buy more than 2,400 of the jets over the next three decades to replace much of its combat fleet. But after years of delays and overruns drew flak from lawmakers and Donald Trump, the military has been pressing suppliers to reduce the cost of producing and flying the F-35.

The aircraft’s sticker price has fallen in recent sales to the U.S. and other countries, in part because of a contractor-led effort launched in 2014 called the Blueprint for Affordability that invested $170 million to make the jets cheaper to produce.

Lockheed and the Pentagon announced plans in July 2016 to continue the program, with the company and partners Northrop Grumman Corp. and BAE Systems PLC investing another $170 million over three years in cost-saving measures. The contractors said the initial plan saved $230 million and could be worth $4 billion over the life of the program.

Some military chiefs, however, have expressed concern about the pace and source of savings. In January, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also ordered a review of the high-profile program.

The Pentagon opted this summer not to press ahead with the extension and instead last month gave Maryland-based Lockheed a $60 million contract to pursue further efficiency measures, with more oversight of how the money was spent.

“Using a contract vehicle instead of an agreement with industry provides the government with greater insights into the cost savings efforts,” said the F-35 program office, led since May by Navy Rear Adm. Mat Winter.

The F-35 leadership say they want more of the cost-saving effort directed at smaller suppliers that haven’t been pressured enough. A quarter of the initial $60 million is earmarked for projects outside the main three contractors. The Pentagon said it may boost its investment to $170 million if the initial efforts yield enough savings.

Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. that makes the engines for the F-35, is continuing a separate effort to reduce costs.

The Pentagon has also yet to approve a plan announced last year for the three main companies to spend $250 million over five years to shave 10% off the running costs of the F-35 fleet over its lifetime, which are estimated to be more than $1.1 trillion for the U.S. aircraft. Allies plan to buy another 500 jets.

That huge bill led the Pentagon to consult with logistics experts at companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to find potential savings. President Trump, who frequently criticized the F-35 on the campaign trail and before taking office, also held multiple direct discussions with Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson.

The company has pledged to aggressively drive down the costs of the F-35 program, which is central to its growth and already delivers almost a quarter of its sales.

Lockheed said the new arrangement won’t affect those efforts, even as the efficiency drive has been hampered by the Air Force cutting its planned annual procurement to around 60 jets from 80.

“The government’s decision to fund this next phase of cost-reduction initiatives is a testament to their confidence in our ability to deliver the cost savings, based on the success of the original Blueprint for Affordability projects,” said Jeff Babione, Lockheed’s F-35 general manager.

The latest cost-saving push is part of a plan to reduce the price of the F-35A model—the plane used by the U.S. Air Force and most overseas allies—to around $80 million by 2020, after adjusting for inflation. Officials estimated that 75% of the target is tied to efficiencies gained from higher output, with the balance coming from efforts like the Blueprint for Affordability program.

Lockheed is currently negotiating a deal with the Pentagon for an 11th batch of jets, which it hopes to conclude by the end of the year. The last sale, agreed on in January, priced the F-35A at $94.6 million each, a 7.3% drop from the previous batch. That price was broadly in line with the Pentagon’s price target before Mr. Trump took aim at the program.

However, critics say the claimed prices don’t capture the full cost of the jets once additional modifications, added later, are included.

“There’s very little transparency about it,” said Dan Grazier, of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog.

Original article can be found here ➤

Federal grant awarded for Hagerstown Regional Airport (KHGR) equipment

A federal grant recently awarded to the Hagerstown Regional Airport will be used to purchase a new rotary plow.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen recently announced the $875,000 from the Department of Transportation.

The new equipment will be used to clear the airfield and keep the airport open in adverse weather conditions.

The Washington County Commissioners last month accepted a bid for a new multipurpose airport rotary plow, airport runway broom with air-blast system and carrier vehicle from Wausau Equipment Co. Inc. of New Berlin, Wis., for $639,767. Wausau was the lowest bidder of four responding companies.

The airport earlier received a grant for a new aircraft deicing truck, but none of the bids received met specifications, according to Airport Manager Phil Ridenour. Specifications have been revised, he said, and the truck will be rebid. Ridenour said any leftover funds from the new grant might be applied to the deicing truck if the costs are higher than the funding in place.

“These funds are a federal investment in Washington County, and all the businesses and residents who depend on our regional airports for trade and transportation,” Cardin, D-Md., said in a statement. “Ensuring our local airports are safe and able to meet demand is critical to keeping our economy moving. I will continue working hard to ensure all our regional airports have the resources they need.”

“Regional and general aviation airports connect Maryland businesses with opportunities up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” added Van Hollen, D-Md. "“Hagerstown Regional Airport is crucial to growing our economy and is a great resource for our local communities. This grant will help the airport continue to expand opportunities for Maryland’s businesses, and I’m committed to ensuring that all of our local airports have the funding they need to move our economy forward.”

Original article ➤

No plans at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (KSTL) to allow non-passengers in gate areas

Last month, Pittsburgh International Airport began allowing non-passengers to go through security checkpoints to get to flight concourses during off-peak travel times.

The federal Transportation Security Agency approved the program, making an exception to nationwide restrictions limiting access to ticketed passengers imposed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But don’t expect a similar change anytime soon at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Lambert’s director, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, said Pittsburgh’s program offers some opportunity to review the idea but that there are no plans to seriously consider it here.

“I’m not even sure (the federal government) is even open to looking at it beyond this trial,” she added.

A TSA spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, said there are no plans to expand the program to other airports.

Pittsburgh officials sought the change to help drum up more business for their Airmall, which in addition to typical airport shops and eateries has stylish outlets such as Hugo Boss and Armani Jeans without other locations in that metro area.

Since 911, the mall has been behind the security checkpoints and thus limited to ticketed passengers, airport employees and, in recent years, people staying in an adjoining hotel.

The change also lets relatives and friends of airline passengers accompany them to their gate or to greet them when they arrive — a once-common practice just about everywhere.

The program allows the non-passenger access only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Non-passengers have to go to a counter, show an ID and get a pass. They then go through the TSA screening line like passengers, who are given priority.

TSA previously had let Pittsburgh do the same thing for a single day during each of the past three Christmas holiday seasons.

“We were able to demonstrate that it works” without creating any security problems, said airport spokesman Bob Kerlik.

But the new policy was attacked by the president of American Airlines’ flight attendants union, Bob Ross. He called it “a terrible precedent” that hurts aviation security.

Since the new policy began last month, Kerlik said, about 150 non-passengers a day have asked for the special passes. He said the waiting time for security lines during the affected periods had usually been less than five minutes.

Meanwhile, Farbstein of the TSA said non-flyers at most airports can apply to an airline for a special “gate pass” to accompany an elderly person or young child to their flight.

Freight charters increase at Lambert

Underpinned by the auto and aerospace industries, Lambert says it’s experienced a big upswing in cargo freight activity this year.

The airport says it’s had a 30 percent increase in freight charter flights so far this year, compared with the same period last year.

The average weight of cargo on flights has increased by almost four times, to 45,982 pounds, the airport said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Fully Outfitted Gulfstream G600 Makes Debut At NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition: Customer-Centric Cabin Delivers Ultimate Flexibility, Comfort And Functionality

SAVANNAH, Ga., Oct. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today debuted its fully outfitted Gulfstream G600, revealing a versatile cabin that exemplifies the company's commitment to exceeding customer expectations for customization, flexibility, comfort and craftsmanship. The unveiling took place at the 2017 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas.

"The G600 cabin, like that of its sister ship, the Gulfstream G500, is the most functional, flexible and comfortable in business aviation," said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. "In the three years since our G600 cabin was on display at NBAA-BACE, we received considerable customer feedback and have incorporated many of those suggestions into our first production G600."

The G600 has the longest cabin in its class and can be configured for up to four living areas, including the option for a fixed bed. Divans that convert into beds are also available for those who want to take advantage of the G600's long legs. At Mach 0.85, the aircraft can fly travelers 6,500 nautical miles/12,038 kilometers.

The G600's flexible cabin allows for a high level of customization. The aircraft has forward and aft lavatories and a full-size galley that can be located forward or aft. The galley features an optional steam oven, an interchangeable beverage maker and a refrigerator that can be positioned above or below the counter. Flooring options, including stone, can be chosen for the entry, vestibule, galley and lavatories.

Design features in the G600 cabin include three all-new mission-focused seating styles for enhanced comfort, reduced fatigue and ease of use. Material finish options for furniture and interior elements, such as bulkheads, add to the customization and versatility available.

The G600 is designed to seat up to 19 passengers. Once aboard, they can work, dine, relax and sleep.

The cabin enables passengers to stay connected through satellite communications and various high-speed internet options, including Jet ConneX. The aircraft's cabin management system allows passengers to control lighting, window shades, temperature and entertainment options with touch-screen devices.

The G600 features industry-leading cabin sound levels, the lowest cabin altitude and 100 percent fresh air, which reduce fatigue and increase mental awareness. The G600 has 14 panoramic windows that let in an abundance of natural light.

The G600 at NBAA-BACE will continue to serve as the testbed for the G600 cabin well into 2018. Gulfstream anticipates receiving G600 type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2018 with customer deliveries slated for later that year.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), designs, develops, manufactures, markets, services and supports the world's most technologically advanced business-jet aircraft. Gulfstream has produced more than 2,600 aircraft for customers around the world since 1958. To meet the diverse transportation needs of the future, Gulfstream offers a comprehensive fleet of aircraft, comprising the Gulfstream G280TM, the Gulfstream G550TM, the Gulfstream G500TM, the Gulfstream G600TM, the Gulfstream G650TM and the Gulfstream G650ERTM. Gulfstream also offers aircraft ownership services via Gulfstream Pre-Owned Aircraft SalesTM. We invite you to visit our website for more information and photos at

More information about General Dynamics is available at

SOURCE Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

Original article can be found here ➤

Safari Helicopters marks 30 years of flying

Paul Matero, Safari Helicopters' chief pilot, talks about Hawaiian history as he takes a group on a helicopter tour of the island.

Chris Miller, Natascha Schmidt, Christian Sawer, Caroline Kennedy and Dave Kennedy, from left, wave from the Safari Helicopters' bird after their air tour of Kauai.

Safari Helicopters' staff members Kellie Asai-Lau, Julissa Calderon and Hakela Medina-Farias, left to right, pose for a photo during office work.

Jake Lugar, left, and Sherill Dean, drivers for Safari Helicopters, mug for the camera at the Lihue Airport heliport.

LIHUE — Seeing the Garden Isle from a chopper was the pinnacle of experiences for Chris Miller of Oakland, California, who got his birds’ eye view of Kauai with Safari Helicopters.

Even compared to boat rides bordering the Na Pali Coast, Miller said the helicopter tour was the best.

“From the boat it’s hard to grasp how big everything is, but on a helicopter up the cliffs and over the ridges, it shows the scale of it all,” Miller said.

Natascha Schmidt and Christian Sawer, from Germany, were equally as thrilled to make it into the air on their Kauai vacation, and snagged a spot on the Safari helicopter after a different company canceled their scheduled trip due to rain.

“It was awesome,” Schmidt said. “It’s our last day here, and we tried to book an open-door tour yesterday but it got canceled.”

The group was one of hundreds that have cruised Kauai’s skies with Safari Helicopters, which celebrated its 30th year in business on Oct. 1. It is the second-oldest helicopter business, next to Jack Harter Helicopters.

Controlling the cockpit was the company’s chief pilot, Paul Matero, who entertained guests with bits of history and cinematic tidbits as they cruised over places like the Huleia River, where Harrison Ford rope swings into the river in the first “Indiana Jones.”

The island’s geography, myths and legends, as well as information on native plants were all on tap.

He also took passengers over Waimea Canyon, along the Na Pali coastline, and into Mount Waialeale, where life-giving waterfalls cascade into lush greenery.

“It’s awesome to be able to share this beautiful place where we live,” Matero said. “I do this (pilot with Safari Helicopters) because they let me.”

Safari Helicopters was founded in 1987 and it is still a family owned and operated company. It’s one of the first operations on Kauai to use the A-star B2 helicopter and was part of introducing choreographed music along with tours.

The company also partners with Keith Robinson to offer eco tours, helping educate visitors about the indigenous and endangered plants and animals of Kauai, and offers free flights for local kupuna.

Safety is another of Safari Helicopters’ pride points, and the company has a clean safety record.

Preston Myers, owner of Safari Helicopters and one of the company’s first pilots, said safety is of the utmost importance, and he hires pilots that are of the same mindset.

“There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots,” he said.


Story and photo gallery ➤

Ernest A. Love Field (KPRC) manager leaves quietly; Prescott on verge of filling position

Prescott Municipal Airport Manager John Cox quietly left his position in August, and now, the city manager said, new candidates are being interviewed.

Cox was hired in July 2014, and brought 20 years of aviation management and airport development experience at various-sized airports to the job.

He had most recently served as the design and construction manager at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, where he was responsible for managing more than $40 million in development annually.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Cox said he’d left the job for family reasons.

“It was just a personal decision that my wife and I made. We still had our house down in Phoenix, and she was still working there, and it just got pretty difficult for her and I to keep in contact with each other,” he said. “Some weekends we saw each other, and some weekends we didn’t.”

But, Cox added, he enjoyed managing the airport.

“I loved Prescott. The stakeholders at the airport … I loved working with all of those stakeholders, and I think they’re just a first-class group of people.”

City Manager Michael Lamar said, “The assistant (airport) manager, Jessie Baker, has been handling things on a day-to-day basis. She hasn’t been named the interim (airport manager), but she’s quite capable and seems to be handling things on a day-to-day basis without much problem.”

Lamar said the city was interviewing candidate to fill the position now.

City Human Resources Director Mary Jacobsen said the number of potential candidates had “probably” been whittled down to two, but “we have not let other applicants know that they may or may not be in the running. It’s a very fluid process.”

Lamar declined to comment on Cox’s tenure as airport manager.

Original article can be found here ➤

Pakistan International Airlines: United States-bound flights to continue

KARACHI: Denying the reports of discontinuation of flights to the United States (US), The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson on Sunday said that the airline service will continue its flight operations to the US.

The spokesperson, while talking to a leading English daily, said that PIA is running two flights to New York every week and this will continue until a formal decision is taken. He, however, added that the airline service was also deliberating on devising an effective strategy to reduce the cost of operating US-bound flights.

He also said that New-York bound flights were required to make a short stopover at the Manchester airport due to a requirement by the US authorities to clear the necessary security checks. He also acknowledged that ‘economic viability’ was one of the major reasons the airline was facing issues in continuing the flight operations to the US.

On the reports of discontinuation of flights to the US, the spokesperson said that there is no truth in such reports and a further decision will be taken in a few days.

On a question about whether the flights will continue to New York, he said that it was premature to say anything about it and if there is any such decision made, it will be informed in a day or two. He also denied the reports of possible retrenchment in PIA and said that no layoffs had been made, not even in the past despite heavy losses.

He clarified that the transfers and postings of staff based on the requirements and need of the job were a routine matter and not a part of retrenchment.

Earlier, there were reports that the PIA will stop flights to the US and cut jobs from October 31, after which the airline will no longer book US-bound flights through its reservation system.

It was reported that the airline was expected to cut more than 500 jobs under the latest plan and the officials had taken this decision due to heavy losses the country’s flagship carrier was incurring—the losses were estimated to be over Rs1.25 billion annually.

Original article ➤

Laughlin-Bullhead International Airport (KIFP) awarded $8.3 million grant

BULLHEAD CITY – Laughlin-Bullhead International Airport has been awarded an $8.3 million worth of FAA grants for upcoming planning and construction projects.

The money will be used for an Airport Drainage Master Plan, General Aviation Apron Rehabilitation, Commercial Apron Rehabilitation, and new construction of a Commercial Remain Overnight Apron.

“The FAA continues to invest in our airport and our community through construction grants,” said Jeremy Keating, airport director at Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport. “While previous airport projects have added additional runway/taxiway length and improved safety, these upcoming projects are focused on maintaining our existing infrastructure and constructing additional commercial aircraft parking.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in early November. Work during the project will be performed during daylight hours with nightly work when needed for safety.

Funding for all scheduled projects include $8.3 million in Federal Airport Improvement Program funding, $300,000 in local Passenger Facility Charge revenues and $300,000 from the Arizona Department of Transportation Aviation Fund. All projects are anticipated to be completed in late 2018.

Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport now has daily service to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on American Airlines.

Original article can be found here ➤

Kraus-Anderson completes first phase of Falls International Airport (KINL) project

INTERNATIONAL FALLS—The Bemidji office of Kraus-Anderson has completed construction of the new $10 million (Phase I) passenger air service terminal building at the Falls International Airport in International Falls, according to a press release.

Phase I, which replaced approximately two-thirds of the old terminal, is part of a two-phase project designed by architecture, planning and interiors firm Alliance to construct a new 17,894 square-foot replacement terminal building.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for 1 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The newly completed construction features new arrival and departure services with check-in ticketing counters and kiosks, a secured gate lounge, baggage handling, a passenger boarding bridge, a TSA screening area, car rental services and a public lobby/waiting area.

Phase II of the construction, a separately funded project, will complete the full replacement of the old terminal and provide new space for U.S. customs processing, the Weather Bureau office, TSA offices and am Airport Commission conference room. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring and is expected to be completed March 2019.

Original article can be found here ➤

New U.S. helicopters mark major change for Afghan air force

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Senior Afghan and American officials welcomed the arrival of new U.S.-made military helicopters on Saturday, beginning a process that will radically transform the young Afghan air force.

While the plan for new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters has been in the works for some time, it forms a major part of the U.S.-led military coalition’s training efforts, which were expanded under proposals approved by President Donald Trump in August.

“It’s a modernization of their program that will allow them to project power throughout Afghanistan,” said Lieutenant Colonel Trent Alexander, a U.S. military adviser to the Afghan air force. “While transitioning to the Black Hawk will not be a quick task, it will not be a difficult task.”

At a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani formally accepted the first new helicopters, calling it a “historic day” that would allow the air force to better respond to the demands on the security forces.

The Russian-designed Mi-17 helicopters that currently form the backbone of the Afghan air force worked well for crews used to Russian equipment, but deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington meant that the Americans were unable to provide new parts and aircraft to replace the overworked aircraft.

“The Mi-17 was a great aircraft and it brought the Afghans the ability to be capable, however, with the introduction of the UH-60 they are now sustainable,” Alexander said.


The Black Hawks will cost the American government almost $8 million a piece, officials said, after a process that completely refurbishes and upgrades U.S. Army surplus aircraft.

So far only two training Black Hawks have arrived, with the delivery of several additional helicopters delayed by the U.S. military’s humanitarian response to hurricanes in the Caribbean.

Retraining an Afghan pilot to fly the Black Hawk takes about five to six months, said Alexander.

Members of the first class of six pilots said they were excited over what they view as more modern helicopters.

“Black Hawks are manoeuverable because they are smaller than the Mi-17, so will be more capable during fighting, carrying soldiers, or cargo,” said one pilot, Zabihullah Dorandish.

The Afghan pilots are expected to begin flying their own missions in the Black Hawks by early next year, officials said.

A Twitter feed attributed to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid warned that the aircraft would do nothing to change the war.

U.S. and Afghan leaders “should remember that our fight is not based on technology but is an ideologically motivated fight”, he said in one Twitter post. 

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After 2 years and $2 million, Camdenton Memorial Lake Regional Airport (KOZS) hopes for Federal Aviation Administration grant

After roughly two years of negotiations and with a total price tag of over $2 million, the City of Camdenton has now acquired all 11 pieces of property necessary to expand the municipal airport runway.

After roughly two years of negotiations and with a total price tag of over $2 million, the City of Camdenton has now acquired all 11 pieces of property necessary to expand the municipal airport runway.

Expanding the runway is seen as a key component to attracting additional corporate jet traffic and has been touted by city officials as a future significant economic booster to the city and region. But now they must play the waiting game as federal officials decide whether or not to continue funding the project in the upcoming years.

Discussions of extending the Camdenton Memorial Lake Regional Airport runway from 4,000 to 5,000-feet has been going on since before 2007, but picked up in recent years when the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Aviation Division and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a 90/10-percent federal to local funding agreement in 2012.

The total overall project cost is expected to be roughly $7-million dollars and take approximately two years. The 192-acre airport that sits approximately three miles from the center of the city, located off of Old Route 5, had its runway expanded from 3,000 to 4,000 feet in 2002.

“This is something that I’ve been waiting for some time to say that this is the last piece of property we need to purchase for the airport extension,” Mayor John McNabb said, referring to the property that was purchased for $115,000.

Camdenton has essentially paid for all the properties up front, but receives 90-percent of the total costs reimbursed by MoDOT, leaving a 10-percent local match. The City has also had to require all necessary avigation easements.

Two budget amendments approved by the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday reflected revenue increases related to those funding mechanisms. A total of $215,290 worth of transportation fund revenues were provided in grant funds to offset land purchases as well as a total of $330,500 for the purchase of more properties than anticipated.

“What it boils down to in our transportation fund we bought more pieces of property than we had anticipated at the beginning of the year,” City Clerk RenĂ©e Kingston said. “We did get the revenue to offset at the 90/10, so it just makes our funds look good for the auditors.”

City Administrator Jeff Hancock said now is the time for officials and aldermen to lobby their congressional delegation for FAA funding approval. Hancock said he has already been in discussions with members of Congress and the Senate and foresees sending out more letters seeking support of Missouri representatives.

“Now there’s no reason the FAA should not fund this project,” Hancock said. “We really need to get this funding to start the project next year.”

The first phase of the project is dirt work around the airport and newly purchased properties to make way for the expansion.

Other improvements:

Camdenton has received additional federal funding for the Apron Overlay Project and expects that work to be completed before the July 2018 Porsche Parade event. The project is scheduled to start April 2018.

The airport’s apron, or parallel taxi, is where a majority of the air show events are held each year and has deteriorated over the years, becoming a concern for aircraft traffic. Dedicated in 1949, the airport underwent renovations in the 1990s before recent upgrades were made in the 2000s.

In December 2016, the board approved an agreement for a 90/10-percent match grant through the Missouri State Block Program for the amount of $61,650 that required a total of $6,850 in local transportation funds to cover the design work for the apron overlay.

In 2008 and 2009, the airport installed an Automated Airport Weather Station (AWOS), making it legal for corporate jets to land and takeoff, added precision approaches using vertical GPS to the runways, and installed a wildlife fence to prevent mainly deer from running out on the runway.

Approximately five years later, the airport was officially renamed the Camdenton Memorial Lake Regional Airport and around that time began planning the Veteran’s Memorial Monument which was finished in September 2016.

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Skywriter sends loving message to Southern Nevada residents

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — An unknown skywriter sent a message to Southern Nevada when he piloted his aircraft to paint two hearts with a plus sign in between.

The artwork appeared in the southern sky about 1:45 p.m.

It was noticed by many residents, several quickly sending Facebook messages to News 3.

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Aircraft laptop ban could have cost Emirates half of its United States business, airline president says

Emirates airline could have lost as much as half of its business to the United States had it, Dubai Airports and security not rallied together to effectively manage the laptop ban, the head of the carrier said.

Sir Tim Clark said the ability to meet the conditions of the ban within 96 hours and avoid disruption of travellers is an example of how collaborative and innovative thinking can work for the aviation industry.

The carrier's president was speaking during an opening address of the Avsec aviation summit in Dubai on Sunday.

“When the new protocols were first announced, airlines, airports and other stakeholders were caught by surprise. And we had just 96 hours to implement the directive,” Sir Tim told an audience of aviation and security industry figures.

The directive was issued by the Trump administration for a number of airports in the Middle East and North Africa in March over of concerns that explosives that could be concealed in laptops and tablets. It was lifted in July for Emirates and Etihad, among others.

Sir Tim said the ban "affected us probably more than any other airline". Emirates cut flights on five US routes at the time.

“Each day, we connect thousands of passengers from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, to 12 cities in the US," he said.

“For us, the new electronics ban protocol was hugely disruptive and we could have lost up to 50 percent of our loads to the US, if not for the swift and collaborative response from all the aviation stakeholders here in Dubai."

The airline collaborated with the airport, police and other security operators to meet the deadline by complying with the new directive.

The ban ultimately resulted in a dip on routes to the US by as much as 20 percent.

He said the airline they came up with a solution to allow travellers use their electronic devices on their flights to Dubai, while in transit at the airport, and all the way until the moment they boarded their US-bound flight.

“We found a way to collect these devices at the boarding gate, and then pack, secure, and place anything larger than a phablet into the hold, to be returned to their owners on arrival in the US," he said.

He said this kept customers happy, and all the more understanding of the circumstances.

“Dubai led the way, and other airlines and airports soon followed suit.”

The issue was followed by yet another challenge.

“We were given 21 days to put in place increased explosive trace detection screening and 120 days to comply with a number of other security measures," he said.

In response, all concerned aviation stakeholders worked together to procure new screening technology, and deploy trained personnel.

This “success story”, he said, illustrates how even under pressure, collaborative efforts could lead to the best outcome.

“We believe that as an industry, we should take a proactive approach to anticipating and addressing the threats and challenges of the future," he said.

Original article can be found here ➤