Thursday, October 12, 2017

Red tape kills pilot's dream to build India's first 19-seater aircraft

Mumbai: A Mumbai-based pilot who was a proud example of the government's Make In India moment by building a six-seater airplane on the roof of a building, is a disappointed man now. His airplane was on display through the Make in India initiative in Mumbai. But the test flight is pending for the last six years because he hasn't got permissions from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA. The disappointed pilot, Amol Yadav is now planning to complete the plane's registration from a foreign country.

"If I have to register my Indian plane, which is the property of India, in America, then it's a fault of some people in DGCA. They don't value the creation because they themselves have no idea about it and that's why they aren't accepting it. This behavior of theirs is damaging the entire country. They haven't registered a single plane in the past 70 years; we should ask them the reasons behind this," he told NDTV.

Mr Yadav's endeavour has not come without challenges. He built the prototype without any help from the government and invested four crores from his pocket in developing the airplane. To do that, he had to sell one of his houses. But now he says there is little hope of him being able to test the aircraft in India.

"If you see American rules and regulations, they have clearly mentioned that we don't give design approvals anyway because it's an experiment and that's why for an experiment they cannot put any restrictions. If you put restrictions then how will anyone carry out experiments?" Mr Yadav asked.

The government had signed an agreement with Mr Yadav but now the government seems helpless as the pilot says the DGCA is delaying trial runs of his plane by denying him permissions to test it in flight.

"They have brought a new draft of rules and in this draft they have changed conditions. When I applied in 2011, they had set 1,600 kilograms limit on the plane weight, but in the new draft, now they have put a limit of 1,500 kilograms and now they say we won't accept and register any plane above 1,500 kilograms weight. What kind of games are these government officials playing?" Mr Yadav asked.

The DGCA did not respond to NDTV's queries on the matter.

At Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai in February last year, Capt Amol Yadav courted glory. A six-seater aircraft he made himself on the roof of his house was proudly displayed at a 'Make in India' program. He was a perfect icon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project to encourage manufacturing in India. 

Yadav will again take his aircraft to Bandra-Kurla Complex in a month, but for a different purpose. "I am giving myself a month's time. If I am not able to get funds, then I invite the people of Mumbai to a unique funeral where I will take my six-seater aircraft to Bandra Kurla Complex, where it was first showcased during the 'Make in India' week, and then take a hammer and break it down because our country doesn't like to encourage enterprise by the common man," Yadav says. 

How did Yadav end up at the anti-climax of his story? India's plodding babudom pushed Yadav's story to its sorry end. 

Yadav's aircraft is not just a cranky idea brought to life by an eccentric amateur. Yadav is now on the verge of completing his 19-seater aircraft, which would be the first to be built indigenously. That's something the National Aerospace Laboratories hasn't been able to achieve even after working for several years and sinking in crores of rupees. An indigenous 19-seater plane such as the one that pilot Amol Yadav built, would be a boost for India's aircraft manufacturing industry and help create jobs in the sector. Such aircraft would promote boost regional connectivity and airlines would find it viable to fly them to smaller airports instead of deploying 40- or 70- seater planes that are harder to fill for such destinations. 

For six long years, Yadav struggled with the bureaucracy to just get a chance to demonstrate his prototype to the government so that he could get necessary approval and work on commercialisation. 

After he applied to register his six-seater plane under the experimental aircraft category in 2011, DGCA, the aviation regulator, kept dilly-dallying. Red tape not only entangled his dream project, it strangled it eventually. In 2014, the regulator changed the rules under which amateurs can build planes. 

The new rules allow only planes manufactured by companies to fly. And that happened despite Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis offering him a tie-up with the government and even taking up his issue with PM Modi. 

"I felt very encouraged by 'ease of doing business' and the 'Make in India' initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi," said Yadav. "However, I have realised that while the PM may be passionate about these initiatives, for the rest of the bureaucracy, these are just slogans." Yadav's primary hurdle is DGCA, the regulator, which has stalled his endeavor. 

While Make in India is PM Modi's pet project, he is also focused on improving the ease of doing business. But Yadav is a veritable proof that government efforts on both lack substance.

MUMBAI: An Indian pilot’s quest to fly an aircraft that he built on the rooftop of his house has become so entangled in red tape that after waiting for almost six years for approvals – even with the involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office – the frustrated aviator is preparing to head to the United States with the project.

Amol Yadav, a pilot with a private airline who lives in Mumbai, thought he had everything going for his dream. He built a six-seater aircraft, which was featured in the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, on the terrace of his Charkop home. He had the backing of the Maharashtra government, which, impressed with his efforts, offered him land and funds to build 19-seater planes. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had even apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the project.

Yadav is now on the verge of completing his 19-seater aircraft, which would be the first to be built indigenously. That’s something the National Aerospace Laboratories hasn’t been able to achieve even after working for several years and sinking in crores of rupees.

Yet with his prototype a few months away from completion, Yadav is exasperated. His six-seater plane hasn’t taken off, which means his 19-seater aircraft project will be held up. All his efforts have been throttled by regulatory hurdles.

While the Maharashtra government has tied up with Yadav and plans to allot him land, it firsts wants a demonstration of the six-seater in flight. However, the aviation regulator has consistently refused to register Yadav’s aircraft over the years, effectively denying him the ability to demonstrate it can fly. Directorate General of Civil Aviation, according to the Maharashtra government, has created road blocks for the project even after the PMO put in a word. 

Not surprisingly, Yadav is disillusioned, especially in the context of the government’s attempts to make doing business in the country easier and the ‘Make in India’ programme, aimed at encouraging local manufacturing and increasing jobs.

“I felt very encouraged by ‘ease of doing business’ and the ‘Make in India’ initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Yadav. “However, I have realised that while the PM may be passionate about these initiatives, for the rest of the bureaucracy, these are just slogans.” Yadav’s primary hurdle is DGCA, the regulator, which has stalled his endeavour.

After he applied to register his six-seater plane under the experimental aircraft category in 2011, DGCA kept dilly-dallying. In 2014, the regulator scrapped the experimental aircraft clause, would have enabled amateurs to build planes, from the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), a set of regulations for the sector. The new rules allow only planes manufactured by companies to fly.

To resolve the issue, Fadnavis met Modi on April 14 in Nagpur and briefed him about Yadav’s aircraft. Following the discussions, the chief minister wrote to the PM about Yadav’s application pending with the DGCA. “He followed up regularly only to know that in July 2014, DGCA arbitrarily deleted this entire set of regulations making it impossible for anyone building experimental aircraft to apply for the same. It is not known why such a step was taken,” Fadnavis wrote.

Fadnavis met Modi again in New Delhi in the last week of April, following which Sanjeev Kumar Singla, the PM’s private secretary, was called in and asked to get involved with the DGCA.

Still, the DGCA refused to budge. In fact, the regulator uploaded a new draft CAR on August 28 with provisions that would ensure that no one in the country could hope to build an experimental aircraft.

One revised provision stipulates the maximum weight of a new aircraft should not exceed 1,500 kg, just below the 1,600 kg Yadav mentioned in his application. This is unusual because in countries that encourage aircraft manufacturing such as the US, there are no weight restrictions. The DGCA also states in several places that aircraft should be built as per minimum standards, without specifying what those norms are.

ET sent Singla two detailed questionnaires regarding the status of Yadav’s application, which he forwarded to DGCA for a response. DGCA joint director general Lalit Gupta contacted this reporter on September 26, saying he was calling to respond to the questionnaires sent to Singla. ET tried to get in touch with JM Thakkar, public relations officer in the PMO, seeking Singla’s comments.

However, there has been no response. ET sent DGCA 17 questions related to the matter, including one on why it scrapped the provision for approval of experimental aircraft. The regulator did not answer most of the queries and said it was only following the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency. ET checked the ICAO rules, which don’t ask any member country to deny registration to anyone building an aircraft.

DGCA told ET it is in touch with Yadav and other stakeholders to frame a new CAR. However, Yadav said that the DGCA, in discussions with him, reiterated that his aircraft would not be permitted to fly.

Now, Yadav has approached the US Federal Aviation Administration to register his aircraft there.

“I wanted my aircraft to have an India registration, but in our country innovation is considered to be a crime. So I am arranging for funds to take my aircraft to the US to get registered there. The whole process takes less than a month, compared to the six years that I have wasted here,” said Yadav.

“I am giving myself a month’s time if I am not able to get funds, then I invite the people of Mumbai to a unique funeral where I will take my six-seater aircraft to Bandra Kurla Complex, where it was first showcased during the ‘Make in India’ week, and then take a hammer and break it down because our country doesn’t like to encourage enterprise by the common man,” said Yadav.

Boost For Manufacturing Sector

An indigenous 19-seater plane such as the one that pilot Amol Yadav built, would be a boost for India’s aircraft manufacturing industry and help create jobs in the sector. Such aircraft would promote boost regional connectivity and airlines would find it viable to fly them to smaller airports instead of deploying 40- or 70- seater planes that are harder to fill for such destinations. More flights to smaller cities would in turn promote tourism in these areas. Such planes are also useful as private and business charter aircraft, which are used by wealthy individuals and companies. 

Story and comments ➤

Wallingford Planning and Zoning Commission approves new aircraft hangar at Meriden Markham Municipal Airport (KMMK)

WALLINGFORD — The Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday approved a 3,844-square-foot aircraft hangar to be built on Wallingford property at the Meriden Markham Municipal Airport.

Jonathan Gavin, who owns United Concrete in Yalesville, received approval to construct the hangar, which he said will be used to store aircraft he flies for business.

The commission voted 4-0 to approve a special permit modification to a previously approved application from the city of Meriden. In 2006, the city received approval from Wallingford to construct 41 new aircraft hangars on the Wallingford side of the airport. Not all of those 41 approved hangars have been constructed to date, but Town Planner Kacie Costello said the approval is still valid because the city has “kept up with their extensions.”

Costello said it made sense to approve Gavin’s new hangar as a modification to the previously approved application because that application was approved with certain conditions, including a condition that prohibits more than 50 aircraft from being stored on the Wallingford side at any given time. Town officials wanted the same conditions to apply to the new hangar.

“Since we already have this existing approval, from an administrative standpoint, it made more sense to add onto that, rather than have this one new hangar supersede the old plan because that’s not the intention,” Costello said.

The municipal airport is located along the Meriden-Wallingford line at 213 Evansville Ave. Portions of the airport extend into Wallingford. Gavin’s hangar will be 62 feet x 62 feet and will be located in Wallingford. He said the hangar will only be used to store aircraft and is large enough to store up to two or three aircraft.

Costello said she didn’t have any concerns about the new hangar. The Planning and Zoning Commission did not raise any notable concerns before approving the application. A public hearing was also held prior to the approval. Economic Development Commission member Jim Wolfe, who spoke in support of the application, was the only member of the public who spoke.

Gavin said he first learned to fly at the airport as a teenager. He currently owns one other hangar at the airport located on the Meriden side.

Gavin called the Meriden airport an “unpolished gem.”

“It’s a great place. It’s gotten a little quieter, but it used to be a vibrant place. When I was a kid, I used to go there and they had a restaurant there and there’d always be 20 to 30 guys on a Saturday if it was a nice day. That’s what got me into flying,” Gavin said after the meeting. “I think it’d be great for Meriden and Wallingford if (the airport) would be better utilized for commercial. I can’t see why this airport doesn’t take off. It’s reasonably located near the highways. When I was a kid it seemed like there were a lot more planes. I can’t explain it.”

Gavin expects the new hangar will be built in the next couple months. 

Story, photo gallery, comments ➤

Transportation Security Administration officers demonstrate new security rules at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (KBUF)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The next time you fly out of Buffalo Niagara International, be prepared to do things a little differently when you’re going through the TSA screening area. New procedures are now in effect.

One of the biggest changes now requires passengers to remove their cell phones and other electronic devices from their bags. Those electronics have to be placed in a separate bin for screening through the x-ray machine.

“We need all electronics the size of a cell phone or larger placed separately in a bin — nothing on top or below — like iPads, Kindles, even children’s electronics like the Leapsters and other things that the children have,” explained TSA Training Instructor Karen Murphy.

TSA reps demonstrated all of the new procedures during an event at Buffalo Niagara International on Thursday morning, showing how the changes will help them better see everything passengers are trying to take on planes, while helping declutter bags for easier screening.

Now, passengers will be required to place bags directly on the belt to go through the X-ray machine. Shoes will also go directly on the belt instead of in a bin.

Laptops still need to be removed from bags and placed in bins by themselves. No paper or cords can be above or below your computer as it goes through the scanner.

TSA officers in some cases may also ask you to remove denser items, like thick books, from your bags for easier screening.

All of this, TSA leaders say, is important for everyone’s safety. “Terrorists are out there. They’re evolving, they’re dedicated, they’re determined, and so is TSA,” said Bart Johnson, federal security director for TSA. “We’re determined to stay ahead of the threat, evolve to the threat, meet the threat head on, and make sure that the traveling public gets there not only safely, but also there on time.”

Johnson says the new procedures may cause a few small delays as people get used to the changes. TSA officers will be stationed in front of the x-ray machines to talk the traveling public through the new processes and help streamline the experience.

Travelers are urged to arrive at the airport 90 minutes before their scheduled departure to make sure they can get through security and onto their planes on time.

Story and video ➤

San Bernardino, California: Man arrested after pointing laser at Sheriff's helicopter

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 1:10 a.m. a Sheriff's helicopter was on patrol over the City of San Bernardino. While on patrol, the crew (a pilot and flight officer) was struck multiple times by a purple laser. Using the FLIR camera, the crew was able to locate the subject in a backyard of a residence and directed officers to that location.

San Bernardino Police Department responded to the residence and contacted a male and a female who were the only two subjects at the residence. The crew was able to rule out the female subject as a suspect. After an investigation, the male who was later identified as Christopher Flora, 37, was arrested for a violation of Penal Code Section PC248, a felony.

Flora was transported and booked at the West Valley Detention Center. He is being held on $25,000 bail.

Original article can be found here ➤

Bradford Regional Airport (KBFD) numbers remain strong, but waiver still needed for subsidy

Departures from Bradford Regional Airport during September remained strong, according to a report Wednesday to the airport authority.

Ryan Dach, Southern Airways Express Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager, reported departures numbered 345 while 345 arrivals were recorded for a daily average of 13.24 passengers. Ninety-one percent of the scheduled flights operated. Dach said, "Our University of Pittsburgh at Bradford numbers remain strong, and there is a lot of that traffic now."

Mark Cestari, who was recently promoted to Southern Airways Express chief commercial officer, attended the meeting, and noted the short distance the Robert Morris University is to the Pittsburgh International Airport. He also provided an airline update. After experiencing tremendous growth and faced with a pilot shortage, Cestari said of the airline, "We're off the pace of last year, but with an accelerated process, there 15 new pilots in the pipeline. Two local pilots are coming online."

Cestari said SAE has encouraged the St. Bonaventure University students to use the Bradford Regional Airport as part of the low-fare airline's Campus Connect. SAE also plans to introduce Community Connect, a discount program designed for county employees in McKean and Warren counties.

Efforts are being made to capture a larger share of the traveling public, as well as the business market.

Airport Manager Alicia Dankesreiter, pointing to Oct. 1 as the start of the federal fiscal year, said it is important that enplanements increase.

Dankesreiter said the U.S. Department of Transportation reviews airports every two years to determine if they meet the requirements to stay in the Essential Air Service, the program that provides federal subsidies to airlines that serve small and rural commercial airports. A data entry error showed that Bradford 's average passenger count of 8.7 fell under the EAS minimum of ten and the per passenger subsidy exceeded the required $200, resulting in the airport receiving a termination letter. The correct data showed average daily passenger traffic at Bradford was actually more than 13, but the per passenger subsidy was $238.

"Our daily average passenger counts will have to increase to 16 in order to meet the $200 figure," Dankesreiter said.

Dankesreiter said the airport will cite the correct figures in seeking a waiver from the EAS eligibility requirements. "That means we must justify what we're doing to reach the $200 figure."

In another item, Dankesreiter said the McKean County state police barracks are to be located on airport property at Airport Road. Miller Brothers Construction Inc. of Schuylkill Haven, is the general contractor. Groundbreaking is slated for May 2018 with occupancy set for December.

Brian Wolfel, engineering manager for GAI, the airport authority's engineering firm, reported on several airport projects. After considering several options, it has been decided to install an electric operated door at one of the hangars. The project will go out for bids later this month. The crack sealing and repainting of Runway 14/32 is also part of future work.

Facilities manager David Thomas said the airport's triennial evaluation meeting recap has provided all parties in that emergency drill in August with recommendations for any improvements in future drills.

Five new firefighting outfits have been ordered, Thomas added. "The new bunker gear were ordered due to our current units reaching their five-year date of service," he said. "They will extend our wearable date code out to ten years rather than the five years, which was provided by the current proximity gear."

Original article can be found here ➤

SuperTanker finally helping fight California fires

Firefighters battling the deadly wildfires in northern California’s wine country haven’t had much good news, but the arrival this week of the only 747 supertanker in the world falls into that category.

The modified Boeing 747 owned by Colorado-based Global SuperTanker Services, LLC, flew six flights over fires in Napa and Sonoma counties on Monday. The aircraft can fly 600 miles per hour and drop 19,200 gallons of fire retardant over an area more than a mile long and 200 feet wide. It refills in 30 minutes.

As recently as June, it appeared that the plane would not be allowed to fly firefighting missions in the United States. The U.S. Forest Service offered a contract for tanker aircraft that could drop water or fire suppressant over wide areas, but the contract barred planes that could hold more than 5,000 gallons.

That left out the supertanker, despite its recent record of success fighting fires in Chile, Spain and Israel. Without a contract from the U.S. Forest Service, states would not be reimbursed for the cost of using the 747. It costs $50,000 a day to have the plane on stand-by, and $15,000 per flight-hour.

The supertanker isn’t new. The fire retardant system on the 747 was first used in 2009 to fight fires in Alaska, and it was fully certified by the Interagency Airtanker Board for a Call When Needed contract from the U.S. Forest Service in 2013.

However, the company that developed the system, Evergreen, went into bankruptcy. Global SuperTanker purchased the hardware and the intellectual property in 2015 and installed the system into a newer version of the 747. The new plane flew its first mission in November, 2016, in Israel.

In June, red tape effectively grounded the plane in the U.S. when an interim approval from the Interagency Airtanker Board, atypically brief at only six months in duration, expired. But on July 25, the same day that this news organization’s editorial page called for an end to bureaucratic delays holding up the use of the plane, the IAB issued a new 17-month interim approval, and federal certification followed soon after.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection put the plane under contract, and on August 31, with 19 fires burning in California, the supertanker was called from Colorado Springs to help. In its first week, the plane made 13 flights and spread 219,000 gallons of fire retardant in 21 separate drops.

Among its other stops, the plane flew to Riverside County to help fight the Palmer fire that burned more than 3,800 acres in San Timoteo Canyon west of Beaumont and south of Redlands.

The supertanker isn’t right for every situation, but the plane is unmatched in its ability to get to fires quickly and drop a larger volume of retardant. The next largest-capacity tanker, the DC-10, holds a maximum of 11,600 gallons.

Global SuperTanker CEO Jim Wheeler calls the plane “a force multiplier for the fire departments.” That’s certainly what’s needed in northern California right now.

The catastrophic wildfires in the wine country have now killed at least 21 people, and many more are missing. Over 73,000 acres have burned and more than 3,500 buildings have been destroyed. Every available weapon is needed in this battle, and it’s good news that the supertanker is now in Cal Fire’s arsenal.

Original article can be found here ➤

New airline service between Oakland and Los Angeles promises faster travel

OAKLAND — A growing airline that promises a way for passengers to ditch long security lines and crowds at baggage claim is offering a new flight between Oakland International Airport and the Hollywood Burbank Airport. 

JetSuiteX — a division of private jet operator JetSuite — is launching its “private for public” service in mid-November at the airports. Travelers will be able to access the flights at private terminals in each airport, allowing them to skip the normal security lines and instead arrive at the airport about 20 minutes before departure.

“JetSuiteX was created to be the ultimate travel hack for time-starved travelers, especially those going between LA and the San Francisco areas, who are tired of waiting in line after line, just to wait some more,” said Alex Wilcox, founder and CEO of JetSuiteX, in a news release. “Our customers get to arrive refreshed when they skip things like spending more time in an airport than in air, getting herded through lines or feeling the discomfort of boarding a plane with 100 other people.”

The flights will depart three times a day on every day except for Saturday. For prices that start at $129 each way, travelers can bring up to two pieces of luggage totaling 50 pounds, have “business class-style leg room,” and free cocktails and snacks, according to JetSuiteX.

The service will also add to the Oakland airport’s growing list of nonstop destinations.

“(The airport) is in the midst of an extended period of passenger traffic growth, made possible in large part by a significant increase in nonstop destinations served,” said airport director Bryant Francis in a statement. “Introducing new charter-style flight options at Oakland dovetails with our goal of offering more choices to the growing Bay Area customer base, many of whom live closest to (the airport). We hope JetSuiteX’s new local service proves to be both popular and successful.”
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JetSuiteX drew attention last year when it debuted the first commercial travel service — to Burbank and Las Vegas — that Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport had seen in decades. For travelers near the airport who aren’t squeamish about flying on a smaller, 30-seat jet, the service could deliver passengers to Los Angeles or Las Vegas quicker by allowing them through a shorter security process at private terminals instead of the typical TSA lines.

JetSuite also launched a non-stop flight between San Jose and Burbank earlier this year, jetting between private terminals at Mineta San Jose International Airport and the Hollywood Burbank Airport twice a day except for Saturdays.

Up-to-date schedules can be found at

Original article can be found here ➤

IRVINE, Calif. and OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- JetSuiteX announced today that it will jet to the heart of the Bay Area with service between private terminals at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport and Oakland International Airport starting in mid-November. Traveling from Hollywood/LA to the Bay Area gets easier than ever with JetSuiteX, with which travelers can ditch plane pain (and SFO fog!) and avoid long security lines, cattle-call boarding and baggage claim crowds.

"JetSuiteX was created to be the ultimate travel hack for time-starved travelers, especially those going between LA and the San Francisco areas, who are tired of waiting in line after line, just to wait some more," said Alex Wilcox, founder and CEO of JetSuiteX. "Our customers get to arrive refreshed when they skip things like spending more time in an airport than in air, getting herded through lines or feeling the discomfort of boarding a plane with 100 other people."

Director of Aviation at Oakland International Airport, Bryant L. Francis adds, "We are so pleased to welcome JetSuiteX to the growing list of options available to our customers. OAK is in the midst of an extended period of passenger traffic growth, made possible in large part by a significant increase in nonstop destinations served. Introducing new charter-style flight options at Oakland dovetails with our goal of offering more choices to the growing Bay Area customer base, many of whom live closest to OAK. We hope JetSuiteX's new local service proves to be both popular and successful."

Residents of San Francisco, Oakland and surrounding Bay Area communities can jet between private terminals saving up to an hour on each end of their trips. JetSuiteX combines the benefits of the private ground experience – arriving just 15-20 minutes before departure and avoiding lines, waiting, cattle calls and baggage carousels – with the scheduled service, affordable price and by-the-seat booking of commercial air travel. JetSuiteX also services the rest of the San Francisco Bay and other West Coast destinations, with flights between Concord/East Bay (CCR), San Jose (SJC), Burbank (BUR) and Las Vegas (LAS).

JetSuiteX will serve Oakland with three-times daily round-trips every day except Saturday. Up to date schedules can be found at All in ticket prices start at $129 each way, including up to two pieces of baggage (up to 50lbs total weight), business class-style leg room and complimentary cocktails and snacks on-board and in the lounge.

About JetSuiteX

JetSuiteX began offering public charter service in April 2016 with regular flights between select West Coast markets. JetSuiteX provides the speed and comfort associated with private jet travel but for the price of a traditional airline seat, including:

Flight departures

30 seat regional jets, each with legroom comparable to domestic airlines' business class service;
Free seat assignments;
A spacious, soundproofed cabin interior covered in soft leather, and
Free drinks and snacks. JetSuiteX's luxuriously appointed E-135 jets can also be chartered for group trips, corporate events or other travel. 

For a custom quote, contact JetSuiteX at 800-IFlyJSX. For information, please visit


Original article can be found here ➤

Delta passenger claims edible marijuana made him punch flight attendant

Joseph Daniel Hudek IV has issued an excuse for why he lost control on a Delta flight this summer: He was high.

Hudek, who was arrested in July for trying to pry open an exit door on his flight from Seattle to China, and also for assaulting the passengers and flight attendants who tried to restrain him, told a federal magistrate judge on Tuesday that he consumed edible marijuana before the flight, which caused his outburst.

"My understanding is that it was legal to buy and consume marijuana in [Washington] state," Hudek wrote in an affidavit, per the Tampa Bay Times. "After purchasing the edible marijuana, I ate it."

"I have never had a remotely similar incident in all my times of flying on an airplane," he added.

Hudek’s doctor, too, attested in an affidavit that cannabis could induce "paranoia, confusion, hallucinations and combativeness" in users.

This, along with other statements from Hudek’s friends, family and two more physicians, was evidently enough to persuade Magistrate Judge James Donohue, of Washington, to release Hudek, 23, to the custody of his mother in Tampa, reports The Seattle Times.

There’s a catch, however. Hudek is not allowed to fly back to Tampa, and must instead drive or travel by train. He is also not allowed to use marijuana.

Hudek first made headlines this summer, after causing a disturbance aboard a July 6 flight from Seattle to Beijing. Authorities say Hudek left his seat about an hour into the flight, while the plane was over the Pacific Ocean, just northwest of Vancouver Island. He then entered the restroom, exited to ask a question of the flight attendant, re-entered the restroom, and later re-emerged with his shirt off, according to documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. He then lunged for the exit door, screaming, “I want to get out!”

Flight attendants and passengers tried to subdue Hudek as he actively fought them off, punching a flight attendant and hitting another passenger on the head with a wine bottle. A crew member also claimed to have broken a wine bottle over Hudek’s head, which apparently didn’t faze the 23-year-old.

"Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full liter red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, 'Do you know who I am?' or something to that extent," remembered a flight attendant shortly after the incident.

Hudek was eventually restrained by several passengers and crew. He was handed over to police at the Port of Seattle upon landing back at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, and charged with interfering with a flight crew.

Hudek is due back in court for a trial on Feb. 22, 2018. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for assault, and up to 10 years for other charges, reports The Seattle Times.

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George Schmidt: One of Vermont's Pioneering Aviators

Rutland, Vt. - At This Place in History, we visited the Vermont State Fairgrounds in Rutland. Vermont Historical Society’s Executive Director Steve Perkins talked about one of Vermont’s pioneer aviators.

“We are going to talk about one of Vermont’s pioneering aviators and a somewhat tragic story. Take yourself back to 1913 so the grounds look like this and you have this brand new invention the airplane circling overhead and hundreds of people from all around the state are coming here to see these daredevils flying planes,” said Perkins.

“George Schmidt is a guy who grew up in Rutland, the son of a German immigrant baker ran the Marble City Bakery here in town, had an aptitude for mechanics, but really he got this bug for flying really at an early age. He was eleven years old when the Wright brothers in 1903 made that first air flight and the next year the kid is playing with gliders and little airplanes, and by the time he was eighteen he was building his own gliders, pulling them behind automobiles on this very race track in Rutland,” added Perkins.

“He really loved to fly, dropped out of technical school because he wanted to go fly an airplane. He took lessons on learning how to fly an airplane and ended up finding a business partner and creating a company to do exhibition airline flights. They were based out of New York City in Brooklyn and they barnstormed all over the United States flying airplanes at fairs and festivals. He wanted to be the first guy to fly an airplane in Vermont he wasn't a few came before him. So he said, “I'm going to be the first guy to fly an airplane in my hometown in Rutland at the Vermont State Fair”. He couldn't quite do it, his airplane didn't work so he was beaten. But in 1912 he came here and flew an exhibition flights all around this airfield,” said Perkins.

“He went on a barnstorming tour of the Caribbean in the winter of 1912 and 1914 kind of the northern coast of South America and his real claim to fame was he was the first aviator to fly from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, of course, he did that flying over the Islands of Panama, there is a record for him for flying over that,” added Perkins.

“He came back in the fall to do another stunt that he did here in Rutland and that was to do the first airmail delivery in the state of Vermont. The post office set up a little remote post office at the fairgrounds. People could bring their letter. He took it up to his airplane and then dropped it on roof or next to the remote office next to Rutland City. So there was air delivery from the fairgrounds. One trip through in 1913 ended in tragedy. It was the second day of flying at the fair on September 2nd.He’s flying and a young lawyer from Rutland flying with him. We’re not sure exactly what happened but he lost control and in front of hundreds of people the plane crashed on the fairgrounds. George was crushed by radiator and lawyer survived the crash. He was the first air fatality in the state,” said Perkins.

Story and video ➤

Southwest Airlines to Launch Hawaii Service: Discount carrier hopes to begin new route next year in its latest expansion

The Wall Street Journal
By Austen Hufford
Oct. 12, 2017 9:52 a.m. ET

Southwest Airlines Co. said it wants to launch service to Hawaii next year, in the latest service expansion for the discount carrier.

The move by Southwest, which will begin selling tickets for flights to the state, is another example of how the budget airlines are continuing to challenge full-service carriers. 

Discount airlines have also competed against major carriers for their longer routes, including those between North America and Europe.

At the beginning of October, Southwest launched scheduled service using its newly acquired Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, allowing for increased flight range.

Discount carriers, like Southwest, have dominant positions in many of the world’s most important markets. 

These budget-friendly airlines have driven down prices across the industry.

Southwest is seeking an authorization for extended operations from the Federal Aviation Administration, a requirement for flights between the Hawaiian islands and the continental U.S.

Service details of the new flights will be announced later.

The Dallas-based airline serves more than 115 million customers a year.

Original article can be found here ➤

Flying High Isn’t the Time to Buy Europe’s Largest Airline: Lufthansa’s deal for Air Berlin’s assets effectively creates a local airline hegemon in Europe’s largest economy

The Wall Street Journal
By Stephen Wilmot
Oct. 12, 2017 9:54 a.m. ET

A year ago, Lufthansa looked in deep trouble. Europe’s largest airline by sales had no finance director; demand was weak following terrorist attacks; costs were rising; a long-simmering dispute over pilot pay forced it to cancel thousands of flights; budget carriers like Ryanair were aggressively targeting its German heartland; European airline consolidation looked as remote a prospect as ever. Last October the shares slipped below €10 for the first time since 2012.

The picture now could hardly be more different. Thursday the shares jumped above €25 for the first time since the dot-com era as the company agreed to buy more than half the planes of bankrupt Air Berlin, the second-largest German airline, for a bargain-basement €210 million. This effectively creates a local hegemon in Europe’s largest economy, with dominant positions in all its key cities. Analysts see an echo of the M&A wave that has transformed the profitability of U.S. airlines.

Just as importantly, Lufthansa signed a five-year deal with its pilot union Tuesday that provided for a 15% reduction in cockpit-staffing costs and lower pension liabilities. A framework agreement was announced in March, ending months of strikes, but the two sides needed the summer to hammer out details.

Lufthansa also has relished the troubles of Ryanair, the largest European airline by passenger numbers. The Ireland-based budget carrier has been forced to cancel thousands of flights and up pilot pay after a change in rostering policy and high staff turnover left it short of crew. Last month, Lufthansa’s budget operation Eurowings ran an ad headlined “O’Deary!”—a jibe at the expense of Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary.

Can Lufthansa keep up the good news flow? One doubt concerns the European competition authorities, to which the Air Berlin AB1 43.56% deal is likely to be referred. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has presented herself as a consumer champion in rulings on European wireless-carrier mergers, as well as a tax watchdog for U.S. tech giants. Wrangling over remedies may knock Lufthansa off its current cloud.

Another question is whether Lufthansa’s deal with pilots actually improves cost performance. Investors may lose faith in management if the punchy headline numbers don’t translate into a noticeable step-down in unit costs over the coming quarters. The company’s August update implied that unit revenues would fall faster than nonfuel unit costs in the second half. Investors have been happy to shrug that off as savvy expectation-management; they will be disappointed if the company merely matches this guidance.

Lufthansa’s latest deals should bring lasting improvements, but sentiment toward airlines is notoriously volatile. Those looking to invest are probably better off waiting until the skies cloud over.

Original article can be found here ➤

Air Tractor AT-402B, N80060: Accident occurred October 11, 2017 in Brawley, Imperial County, California

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Brawley, CA
Accident Number: GAA18CA010
Date & Time: 10/11/2017, 1600 PDT
Registration: N80060
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 137: Agricultural 

The pilot of a tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll in crosswind conditions, a gust of wind abruptly lifted the right wing. The pilot attempted to correct with control inputs but was unsuccessful. The airplane continued to veer to the left and came to a stop in a canal.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The automated weather observation system about 13 nautical miles from the accident site reported that, about 7 minutes before the accident, the wind was from 160° at 4 knots. The pilot reported that he landed to the east.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 45, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/12/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/07/2017
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 4100 hours (Total, all aircraft), 300 hours (Total, this make and model), 3800 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 270 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N80060
Model/Series: AT 402B B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 402B-1355
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/04/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 7000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time:  190.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: PT6-34AG
Registered Owner: BANK OF UTAH TRUSTEE
Rated Power: hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KIPL, -58 ft msl
Observation Time: 2253 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:  13 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 235°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 12000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 34°C / 1°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, 160°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.73 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:  Brawley, CA (NA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination:  Brawley, CA (NA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1555 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Airport Information

Airport:  Private Strip (NA)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt
Airport Elevation: -127 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:  2400 ft / 120 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  Full Stop; Straight-in 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  32.960278, -115.366944 (est)

Cessna 421B, N4MU, UCC Air LLC: Incident occurred October 11, 2017 at Lakefront Airport (KNEW), New Orleans, Louisiana

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Aircraft landed and the gear collapsed.


Date: 11-OCT-17
Time: 16:28:00Z
Regis#: N4MU
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C421
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Piper PA-28R-200, N191BC: Incident occurred October 11, 2017 at South Valley Regional Airport (U42), West Jordan, Salt Lake County, Utah

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 11-OCT-17
Time: 22:35:00Z
Regis#: N191BC
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: UTAH