Thursday, November 16, 2017

Reno Air Races: We are not actively seeking a move to Las Vegas

The Reno Air Racing Association moved to ease concerns about its marquee event on Thursday, saying that it is not actively seeking to move the National Championship Air Races away from the Biggest Little City.

The concern arose from a statement sent to the Reno Gazette Journal by the organization on Wednesday that it was exploring other potential sites besides Reno for the event, including Las Vegas.

The statement indicated that it was looking at options due to concerns about potential development around Reno-Stead airport, which is where the Reno National Championship Air Races are held each year.

“We don’t want to leave at all,” said Tony Logoteta, chief operating officer of the Reno Air Racing Association, in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon. “The last thing we’re trying to do (with the statement) is to create additional concerns.”

The Reno Air Racing Association says it released the Wednesday statement after getting calls from concerned fans, sponsors and partners about a KRNV News 4 report from earlier this month that indicated it was exploring alternate sites for the Reno Air Races, including Las Vegas.

“We would be remiss as an organization if we didn’t explore long-term contingency plans for the potential impact the development of the Reno-Stead Airport could ultimately have on our event if their development plans come to fruition,” the Reno Air Racing Association said in the original statement sent to the RGJ. “One of those contingencies, unfortunately, has to be looking at alternative locations.”

The statement, however, ended up causing friction with the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which says it felt blindsided by the release. The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which oversees Reno-Stead Airport and the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, issues the airport license for the event and has been a longtime partner of the Reno Air Races.

The development cited by the Reno Air Races involve a 20-year master plan that the airport authority has been working on for many years. Priorities listed in the plan include improving infrastructure for ground transportation and parking, modernizing terminals and baggage handling, and airfield enhancements for runways and taxiways.

The greater Reno-Sparks area has been experiencing robust growth in the last few years with the arrival of high-profile companies such as Tesla, Apple and Switch. The growth has helped the region recover from the worst recession in its history but has also led to housing affordability issues with home values reaching record prices this year and Reno placing among the top areas in the nation for rising rents.

The growth is also putting pressure on the area’s infrastructure, which is one issue that the airport is attempting to address with its master plan. Improved infrastructure and development is especially important for Reno-Stead Airport, which still gets subsidized by Reno-Tahoe International Airport,  said Brian Kulpin, vice president of marketing and public affairs for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority. The Federal Aviation Administration prefers airports to be self-sufficient, Kulpin said.

In response to concerns by the Reno Air Racing Association about potential projects near the race site, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday morning that there are no immediate plans for development at Reno-Stead Airport. Although the authority has an agreement with developer Michael Dermody of Dermody Properties, any development that could impact the Reno Air Races has to come before the airport board for approval and will take at least two years to go through.

“There are no bulldozers, no surveyors, no ribbon cutting, no groundbreaking and no development plan that has been brought to the airport authority regarding Reno-Stead Airport,” Kulpin said. “We also have 5,000 acres at Reno-Stead so there’s a lot of room out there (to incorporate development as well as the air races).”

The Reno Air Racing Association has known about the airport’s master plan for seven years so the airport authority is surprised that the group is raising an issue about it now, Kulpin said. RARA worked with the RTAA on its 2010 master plan for Reno-Stead Airport, including the incorporation of its race courses with any future development in the area, according to Kulpin.

The Reno Air Racing Association confirmed that the airport has shared its plans with the organization which includes development that could run in conjunction with the annual aviation event. Although major development is not imminent, it still presents a concern, the association said.

“Depending on how quickly those plans come to fruition, they could potentially impact the ability of RARA to stage the National Championship Air Races in the future due to development that could encroach on our race courses,” the Reno Air Racing Association said.

Moving the event would represent a blow to a community that has hosted the races for 54 years, especially if it moves to rival city Las Vegas. Numbers from the Reno Air Racing Association estimate that last year’s event generated $91 million in economic impact for the region.

Next year’s race is scheduled to take place from Sept. 12 to 16 at Reno-Stead Airport. The airport authority, however, has yet to hear from the Reno Air Racing Association after it extended an offer to RARA for a two-year license last January, Kulpin said. The license covers the 2018 event and adds an extra year to give event organizers a one-year buffer. Usually, both organizations are deep into license negotiations by this point in time, according to Kulpin.

The mention of a potential move to Las Vegas was especially a sore spot for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which says it was caught by surprise by RARA’s comments to the press.

“The airport authority has had a 54-year partnership with RARA and we are shocked and dismayed that never once have they approached (the RTAA) to talk to us — not a phone call, not a text, not an e-mail,” Kulpin said. “Instead, we learned about their concerns through the media.”

The timing of RARA’s talk about moving to Las Vegas was also described by the airport authority as a curious coincidence. Kulpin pointed out that Reno Air Racing Association vice chairman Mary Beth Sewald was recently named president and CEO of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. The Glenn Group, which is the media firm that represents RARA, also has an office in Las Vegas and does not stand to lose from a potential move to Las Vegas, Kulpin said.

Meanwhile, the Reno Air Races has been facing challenges since the horrific crash that occurred during its 2011 event, according to Kulpin. The crash caused severe injuries to some attendees and was followed by a drop in attendance and loss of sponsors. Event organizers have spent the following years recovering from the 2011 crash.

“We as an airport were out there saving lives alongside them (after the crash) so we thought we had a stronger partnership than what we’re seeing today,” Kulpin said. “If they need to go to Las Vegas because they’re looking for more money, then be honest about that.

“Don’t make us the scapegoat.”

Valerie Glenn, principal of The Glenn Group, said her company’s satellite office in Las Vegas is a non-factor in the Reno Air Racing Association’s decision to explore other potential sites. The Glenn Group remains headquartered in Reno and continues to be a strong advocate for the region, Glenn said.

“The fact that we have an office in Las Vegas is a moot point,” Glenn said. “The National Championship Air Races has been a huge part of this community for 54 years … and as a Northern Nevadan, I’d hate to see it ever have to leave the area.”

Reno Air Racing Association COO Logoteta, meanwhile, says it was never the organization’s intent to make it sound like it was actively seeking to move the event. Logoteta says the organization is relieved to hear about the safeguards regarding any proposed development at the site and described the airport authority as a valued partner that it looks forward to continue working with.

Logoteta declined to say whether communication between both groups has been bad, but says both organizations definitely need to get together and work through the current issue.

“I can’t really speak to the past but we’re looking forward to sitting down and working with them in the future,” Logoteta said.

Despite its frustration with how things unfolded with RARA, Kulpin says the airport is always willing to talk with its partners as well.

“We don’t want to do anything to make the air races go away,” Kulpin said. “We will talk to anybody who comes to our door.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Trustees no longer see reason to wait to close historic Horace Williams Airport (KIGX)

UNC-Chapel Hill trustees say they want to close the Horace Williams Airport regardless of whether the university someday goes through with plans to build its Carolina North satellite campus on the property.

The airport is responsible for “significant annual financial” losses for UNC-CH, requires more than $1 million in runway repairs and isn’t serving any university operation these days, they said in a resolution they approved Thursday.

They acknowledged that their vote was advisory, as the authority to actually follow through on the idea rests elsewhere. The N.C. General Assembly has blocked prior closure attempts, despite former Chancellor James Moeser’s 2002 determination that shutting down the airstrip was “in the best interests of both the university and the community.”

But the next formal step for UNC-CH is to ask the Federal Aviation Administration to approve the closure, trustees Chairman Haywood Cochrane said.

As for political backing from the General Assembly, and the UNC system Board of Governors, “I think we’ve got the right amount of support” for the move, he said.

“I think we’ve in good shape there,” Cochrane said. “There could always be a surprise, but they’ve been very willing to listen to the reasons why we think it’s appropriate to close it.”

He added that the airport hasn’t been part of the university’s “core mission” since 2011, when the fleet of airplanes that belongs to the Area Health Education Centers moved from Horace Williams to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The latest push to close Horace Williams surfaced in September, thanks to administrators in UNC-CH finance office. They contend the field is costing the university $7,000 a month to operate.

The airport’s long been a flashpoint in town-gown relations, with neighborhood activists and town leaders alike arguing that its presence is too much of a safety risk.

Prevailing winds generally dictate that airplanes take off to the west, toward Carrboro and the pastures near the Calvander crossroads.

But occasionally, they flip and compel takeoffs to the east. There, the flight path takes planes over Phillips Middle School and Estes Hill Elementary School. There’s little to no vacant land nearby a pilot could use for an emergency landing in the event of a mechanical failure or other emergency at low altitude.

University officials say they worry about “increasing liability” because of the proximity of the schools and the town’s residential development.

Trustees in 2005 joined Moeser in recommending the field’s closure, but at that time they said the move should only occur when UNC-CH was ready to start development of Carolina North. To date, no such development has occurred, thanks in part to the 2008 recession and more broadly because the university hasn’t had the money to go through with the project.

Despite the university’s position and the town opposition, the field’s always had a good bit of political support, most recently from the likes of former state Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.

Advocates of retaining it note it’s far from uncommon for small airstrips to operate in the shadow of major airports like RDU, offering a base to private pilots who’d otherwise have to compete with the airlines for parking and air space.

Apodaca’s also questioned the university’s economic argument, noting that UNC’s own moves to cut down on the number of planes based there reduced the field’s customer base. Moeser terminated a long-standing basing arrangement between the airport and a local flying club, and the move of AHEC reduced the number of operations further.

Horace Williams Airport dates from the 1930s, and has some national history behind it because it served as a U.S. Navy pre-flight school during World War II. Former President George H.W. Bush trained at the school before serving as a torpedo-bomber pilot in the Pacific, and former President Gerald Ford was a ground-based physical fitness instructor there.

Though he wasn’t a pilot, Ford also has the distinction of having crashed in an airplane there, at least once and maybe twice.

He was on a plane that was destroyed in a bad-weather heavy landing late in the war, after he returned to the U.S. after serving as an aircraft-carrier navigation officer in the Pacific. And he’s said to have wrecked a Piper Cub he and a couple of friends acquired during their stay in Chapel Hill in hopes of learning to fly on their own.

Cochrane said the presidential ties and the airport’s history have come up when he’s been lobbied him to retain it.

But “I’ve said we’re not keeping it because of the past,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Former United Airlines pilot pleads guilty to running prostitution ring

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Former United Airlines pilot Bruce Wayne Wallis appeared before Harris County Judge Jim Wallace to plead guilty to running a prostitution ring.

The judge gave Wallis five years' probation. He could have faced up to 20 years in prison if found guilty at trial.

"Even though what you did is certainly despicable, you didn't endanger, as far as I know, anyone's lives. You didn't force anyone to do anything that they didn't want to do," Wallace said.

As part of the agreement, Wallis agreed not to ask that his commercial pilot’s license be reinstated while he is on probation. 

He also must complete 150 hours of community service and pay a $2,000 fine.

The judge allowed him to keep his flight school open. If he successfully completes the probation, he will avoid a criminal conviction.

"I think that he recognized that while there was a crime committed, that Mr. Wallis should have an opportunity to make a living and contribute, so we're happy with the result, absolutely happy with it," defense attorney Dan Cogdell said.

Wallis was arrested in 2016 in one of the 17 raids across Houston in connection to a prostitution ring. Prosecutors said the ring involved 20 female prostitutes at more than six brothels.

"We're hopeful that he will learn his lesson and that he'll move on from there. It's been a long road to get us to this point. There's been a lot of work and difficulties and there's been a lot of harm that's taken place. I'm glad we're getting to an ending point," prosecutor Lester Blizzard said. 

Story and video ➤

Huntingburg Airport (KHNB) offers prep course for commercial drone operation

For aspiring drone entrepreneurs, the Huntingburg Airport accelerated ground school classes in December will provide the preparation needed to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s required test for commercial drone operation.

The airport has offered the ground school in the past but recently, Airport Manager Travis McQueen determined the class which prepares students to take the FAA exam to become a pilot will also prepare them for the Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems test. The test is a requirement to operate a drone commercially.

The airport is working with Aviation Seminars, a test prep company, to offer the two-day course Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3, at the airport. Afterwards, students will be prepared to take the required tests from the FAA to obtain a pilots license as well as the drone operator test.

According to McQueen, the 60-question test is comprised of questions taken from a pool of more than 900 potential questions. The minimum passing score on the exam is 70 percent.

“It will be hard if you do not understand the material,” McQueen said.

If interested, registration can be completed online at

Original article ➤

Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts: FedEx 1291 aircraft crew reports laser incident

METHUEN — Authorities are investigating after the crew of a cargo plane reported seeing a blue laser shining into the aircraft while flying over Methuen Wednesday night.

The crew of FedEx 1291 reported the laser was illuminating the Boeing 757 aircraft at 9:42 p.m. Wednesday, investigators said. No injuries were reported, according to an Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The plane was en route to Memphis International Airport from Portland International Jetport in Maine.

The FAA notified Methuen police and Massachusetts State Police, and will investigate, the agency said.

Methuen police said they were contacted by Boston Air Traffic Control about a plane that had reported a laser strike. Other area towns were contacted as well, as it was not clear where the laser originated from, police said.

Cruisers were put on alert, but Methuen police said that nothing came of it Wednesday night.

The FAA said lasers can temporarily blind a pilot, interfere with a flight crew's operations and jeopardize the safety of passengers, particularly during take-off and landing.

Instances of lasers being pointed at aircraft, whether purposefully or accidentally, have been on the rise for years. Statistics compiled by the FAA show there were 3,894 laser incidents affecting aircraft in 2014 alone, the most recent data that is available.

The FAA announced in 2011 that it would begin imposing civil penalties against people who point a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft, up to a maximum of $11,000 per violation, according to an FAA press release. It has been a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft since 2012.

The FAA has also issued guidelines for state and local police to help identify and report unauthorized laser strikes against aircraft.

Original article can be found here ➤

Incident occurred November 16, 2017 at Eugene Airport (KEUG), Lane County, Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene Airport evacuated a concourse and pushed a plane away from the building after air traffic controllers announced an emergency on board the plane Thursday, Eugene Airport officials said.

Delta Flight 5805 was scheduled to depart for Seattle. The evacuation happened after a report of a possible fire in the back of the plane.

"There's wasn't any live fire, just smoke," Casey Boatman with the Eugene Airport said.

Compass Airlines operates the plane, providing regional service for Delta.

"Aircraft technicians encountered a smoky odor while performing maintenance work on a Compass Airlines aircraft parked at a gate at the Eugene, Oregon airport," Compass said in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution, local authorities were called to the aircraft. There were no customers on board the aircraft at the time. Those customers scheduled to fly on Delta Connection flight 5805 have been re-accommodated on an alternate flight."

The evacuation order has since been lifted. The airport is returning to normal activity.

The airport suggested travelers check with their airlines for current flight information.

No passengers were on board at the time of the emergency.

The aircraft was parked at Gate A2 at the time.

Firefighters and law enforcement were called to the airport at 1:10 p.m., according to dispatch logs.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the A Concourse was evacuated and the aircraft was pushed away from the building," the Eugene Airport said in a statement.

Original article can be found here ➤

Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow II, N5381F: Accident occurred November 16, 2017 at Orlando Melbourne International Airport (KMLB), Brevard County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA053
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 16, 2017 in Melborne, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28R, registration: N5381F

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

Aircraft on landing, went off the runway into a ravine.

Date: 16-NOV-17
Time: 20:02:00Z
Regis#: N5381F
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

A plane that landed safely at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport went off the runway Thursday afternoon, an airport spokeswoman said. 

The pilot of the Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow II was hospitalized as a precaution, airport spokeswoman Lori Booker said. 

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate how the mishap happened. 

The plane landed about 3 p.m. 

The plane is owned by Stephen J. Winter of Mansfield, Massachusetts, according to the  Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot's name was not released Thursday. 

The runway was briefly closed as airport officials inspected it for damages. 

Original article can be found here ➤

MELBOURNE --  A small plane made a hard landing at the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport on Thursday afternoon.

Airport officials said the Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow II was badly damaged after the hard landing, skidding off the runway just after 3 p.m.

It's unclear what caused it to go down. 

The pilot was the only person aboard and was OK. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The plane remained on the side of the runway a couple of hours later, moved so airport operations could resume. 

Airport officials said the decision was made to leave the plane where it is until the Federal Aviation Administration could get there in the morning to investigate.  

Original article can be found here ➤

Winnebago County Board dumps long-disputed Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) plan for cheaper remodel

OSHKOSH – A controversial plan to replace an aging Oshkosh airport building crumbled in a budget meeting last week when the Winnebago County Board passed a no-frills alternative to demolish much of the building. 

For more than four years, the county board has been debating what to do with Wittman Regional Airport's dilapidated terminal building, which houses airport offices and a car rental service, but has stood largely empty since commercial flight service fled Oshkosh years ago. 

By a 26-2 vote, the county board voted Nov. 7 to budget $1.1 million toward tearing down much of the terminal and repairing its leaky roof. Three members abstained and five were absent. The vote likely discards a $5.5 million plan to replace the old terminal with a new one, a proposal that the county board has been debating for years. 

It's an issue that dredged up conflict on the county board and led to the resignation of board member Kenn Olson and Airport Director Peter Moll. Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris said details of the plan need to be addressed, but the board was clear in rejecting the initial plan to build a new terminal. 

"I think maybe it’s a starting point," Harris said of the new terminal plan. "This is not something I want to fight the board on." 

Wittman's terminal has deteriorated in the years since commercial flights stopped running from Oshkosh. It is plagued by a roof that leaks and rising heating and cooling costs. 

During budget hearings last week, the county board set aside $1.1 million in the 2018 budget to tear down and fix up part of the terminal. The move drew praise as a prudent alternative to the costlier plan to build a new terminal, while supporters of the new building cautioned it 

"Let’s show what fiscal responsibility really means," Supervisor Bill Wingren said. "Let’s support building a terminal for $1.1 million instead of $5.5 million."
Dispute leads to resignations

While some supervisors praised last week's decision, the bitter fight forced two officials out of county government in the process. 

In early October, Kenn Olson, an aviation committee member, stepped down, blaming infighting and a long-running vendetta against the airport director as factors that contributed to his resignation.

Olson said suspicion of Moll led board members to stonewall the pricier terminal plan, then caused the facilities committee to meddle in the planning process. 

"They claim that (Moll) lies, that he cheated the county out of money," Olson said ahead of Moll's resignation. "They were just holding things up. This has never been done for any other county building project. It tells you they are not going to be happy until the airport manager is gone." 

Moll announced his resignation in an email to the county board just before he was due to field questions from board members about the airport's 2018 budget. He will remain in his post until February, and will help search for his successor. 

Moll did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday, and declined to elaborate on his decision to resign in an email to a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter Nov. 7.

"Some members of the board have been very critical of Peter (Moll)," Harris said. "I think that probably had an impact of board’s support for the airport." 
Path to terminal plan

The county's initial solution for Wittman's terminal was to tear it down and build a new, smaller one suited to corporate travelers and private planes. It would have cost about $1 million to demolish the existing building and some $4.5 million to build a new one, which would leave land open for development nearby. 

But the plan hit a series of roadblocks at meetings last winter. Some criticized the plan for failing to detail how much the county would charge the terminal's tenants during a meeting in December. 

Then, at a meeting in February, emails surfaced that showed Moll had failed to seek state aid for the new terminal.  

That revelation caused the county board to put the project on hold indefinitely. Supervisor Guy Hegg moved to require that the board revisit the plan only after a new airport director had been named. But the county's attorney blocked that measure; the board doesn't have the power to hire and fire officials. 

In the months after, the county's Facilities Committee, led by Supervisor Bill Roh, began working on an alternative plan. It's a move that Bob Warnke, chairman of the county's Aviation Committee, said felt like an overreach. 

"To me it was a very unethical way of doing things," Warnke said. "I wish they could have gone ahead with the whole plan and got it over with."  

The new plan consolidates airport staff into the west end of the airport terminal with tenant Basler Flight Service and tears down the east end. Supporters expect demolition to cost about $900,000, and repairing a leaky roof to cost some $200,000. 

Though the county's vote last week allocates money for the plan, there are unresolved details. The county board must decide how the project affects parking, who will demolish the building and other particulars. There's no outlined plan, either, for what to do with Hertz, which would be displaced by the plan. 

Roh said it's up to the county's aviation committee and airport staff to figure that out. 

"That’s micro-managing," Roh said. "We don’t care what they do with parking spaces. That’s up to them. Those are minor details."

Story and comments ➤

Boeing 737-800, N8626B, Southwest Airlines: Incident occurred November 15, 2017 at Tampa International Airport (KTPA), Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Flight SWA411:  Aircraft on departure sustained damage to horizontal stabilizer due to birdstrike. No injuries. Landed without incident.  

Southwest Airlines Company:

Date: 15-NOV-17
Time: 14:26:00Z
Regis#: SWA411
Aircraft Make: BOEING
Aircraft Model: B737
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Aircraft Operator: SOUTHWEST
Flight Number: SWA411

Cessna 172RG Cutlass, N6102R, South Florida Aviation Group LLC: Accident occurred November 15, 2017 at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (KOPF), Miami-Dade County, Florida

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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

South Florida Aviation Group LLC:

Location: Opa Locka, FL
Accident Number: ANC18LA009
Date & Time: 11/15/2017, 2007 EST
Registration: N6102R
Aircraft: CESSNA 172RG
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

On November 15, 2017, about 2007 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172RG retractable landing gear airplane, N6102R, sustained substantial damage during landing at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (KOPF), Miami, Florida. The airplane was registered to South Florida Aviation Group, LLC and operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 when the accident occurred. The certificated commercial pilot and safety pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to practice instrument approaches for an upcoming certified flight instructor instrument (CFII) check ride. Just prior to intercepting the glideslope for the ILS 9L approach into KOPF she moved the landing gear selector to the down position, verified that the gear down and locked light was illuminated, set the flaps to 20 degrees, and completed the before landing checklist. About 500 feet above ground level (AGL), the GPS blinked, and radio communications were lost. The safety pilot set the transponder to squawk 7600, and switched to the number two radio, but was unable to reestablish radio communications with air traffic control (ATC). About 150 feet AGL, the lights on the instrument panel blinked. The pilot then selected flaps to 30 degrees and configured the airplane for landing, while the safety pilot, once again, attempted to reestablish communications with the ATC tower. The pilot sated that she then moved the landing light switch to the on position, and immediately lost all electrical power. After receiving a green light gun signal from the tower, she continued the approach and visually verified that the main landing gear was extended. Upon touchdown the right main landing gear collapsed, and the airplane departed the runway sustaining substantial damage to the right horizontal stabilizer. The pilot stated that no electrical or landing gear warning lights were illuminated for the duration of the flight.

The closest weather reporting facility was Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (KOPF), Miami, Florida. At 1953, an METAR from KOPF was reporting, in part: wind from 020 °at 5 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, clear; temperature, 75 °F; dew point 70° F; altimeter, 29.93 inches of mercury.

A detailed wreckage examination is pending. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N6102R
Model/Series: 172RG NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KOPF
Observation Time: 0053 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 21°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 20°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Opa Locka, FL (OPF)
Destination: Opa Locka, FL (OPF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:  None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 25.907500, -80.278333 (est)

Vans RV-6A, N164BC: Incident occurred November 15, 2017 at Simsbury Airport (4B9), Hartford County, Connecticut

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Windsor Locks

Aircraft on taxi, struck a runway light.

Date: 15-NOV-17
Time: 19:03:00Z
Regis#: N164BC
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV6
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)

Board of Aviation official sends email to city council, manager, warning of potential fallout from city’s recent decision: Titusville Airport (6G1)

A regional engineer for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Aviation sent an email to the City of Titusville on Tuesday in response to the city terminating the Titusville Airport Authority’s lease of the airport.

City Manager Larry Manross sent a letter to the airport authority, dated Nov. 6, stating that the city would be running the Titusville Municipal Airport, effective immediately.

In response to the city’s announcement, Dave Parker, regional engineer for PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation (BOA), sent an email to all members of city council and Manross on Tuesday; and in it, he said when airport owners or sponsors, planning agencies or other organizations, including city or county-controlled airports, accept funds from FAA-administered airport financial assistance programs, they must agree to certain obligations (or assurances).

The Titusville Municipal Airport is within Parker’s geographical region in the northwest quadrant of Pennsylvania.

His email further states, “If this is a temporary lease termination to replace it with another lease agreement, then there are no issues of concern with the BOA. I would be in remiss if I did not caution you on the consequences, intended or otherwise, on the results of this course of action that effectively separates the Airport Authority from the airport permanently.”

He added that issues between the City of Titusville and the airport authority are not the concern of the BOA, however, issues related to operational control, obligations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the state, grant assurances and general compliance requirements with federal aviation regulations are the direct concern of the BOA.

Parker said there are three possible courses of action, moving forward. 

The first is to either change from an airport authority to a city-controlled airport, and the second course of action is the intent to close the airport permanently.  The third option is maintenance of the status quo, with respect to control.  

Operational considerations

According to Parker, the airport authority is the legal recipient of a variety of aviation grants from the state and from the FAA, administered through the state as part of a block grant program. Acceptance of these grants obligates the airport to both state and federal grant assurances that legally must be adhered to generally for a period of not less than 10 years for some project types, 20 years for others and in the case of land acquisition, in perpetuity.

“With respect to operational control of the facility, if you intend to replace the authority chairman who is also the de facto manager,” Parker told the city, in his email, that Licensing Specialist John Logan needs to be notified for the licensing point of contact change.

In the email, Parker discussed the administration of the grants.

“As to the administration of the aviation grants, at a minimum, a new authorized official in the Dot Grants System must be established to accept, process, and administer grants. Other positions will need to be assigned within the Dot Grants Program,” Parker said. “Airport planning is a function that plans and programs projects into the future, and also will require new registration with any new members having planning roles for the Airport Capital Improvement Program, the ACIP. PennDOT utilizes the Joint Automated Capital Improvement Program (JACIP) to electronically collect, evaluate, and communicate 12- and four-year plan data with funding eligible airport sponsors. JACIP also stores airport and project information that is used in the evaluation and selection of airports’ funding requests.” 

Transfer considerations

Parker said that all of the above information will be useful in the functional operation of the airport. 

“However, an actual transfer of the airport from the Titusville Airport Authority to the City of Titusville is much more complicated,” he said. “Your city solicitor must contact PennDOT’s Office of Chief Counsel to prepare the Assumption and Assignment Agreements to assume obligations to the FAA and the state, set forth the parameters of the legal transfer and other legal requirements,” he said, adding that no costs associated with this type of transfer are reimbursable by the state or FAA, and all costs are solely borne by the City of Titusville.

Parker said that transfer of the airport from an airport authority to a city/county-controlled facility also entails direct involvement of the FAA. 

This includes, but is not limited to, a complete and thorough compliance review, flight checking the airport, which will “certainly result in unintended consequences,” largely related to newly determined obstructions to air navigation, as well as numerous other irreversible issues. 

“A simple name change of an airport can trigger this review and based on past experiences, the BOA strongly advises against a course of action such as this, but the decision rests solely with the asset owner. Other airport operators refer to this as the Pandora’s Box option in retrospect so please be certain this is the course of action you wish to pursue,” he said.

In the email, Parker states that the Federal Compliance Issue of Revenue Diversion is an important consideration that needs to be clearly understood in a transfer from airport authority to a city. 

“The mere fact that the airport is an asset owned by the City of Titusville does not permit the city to divert assets such as cash, equipment purchased through aviation grants, fuel sales revenue and harvesting of materials including, but not limited to, timbering operations and mineral extractions, and transfer of those to the city’s General Fund,” he said. “Separate and distinct airport accounts must be maintained. All airport derived revenue must reside with the airport.” 

“All revenues generated by the airport, if it is a public airport, will be expended for the capital or operating costs of the airport, the local airport system, or other local facilities which are owned or operated by the owner or operator of the airport and directly related to the actual transportation of passengers or property.” 

According to Parker’s email, the Titusville Airport Authority is the current sponsor of the Titusville Municipal Airport. In order to ensure that the airport continues to be eligible to receive federal financial assistance from the FAA, prior to the apparent dissolution of the Airport Authority, another sponsor must be identified to take over operation of the airport and assume the its federal obligations under the grant assurances.  

According to an attachment in Parker’s email, the Titusville Airport Authority’s grant history shows that $3,043,365 in projects was leveraged with $234,404 of local share funds, “a testament to the effectiveness of the existing airport authority,” he said.

The grants were broken down as follows: federal — $1,966,118.16; state — $842,843.13; local — $234,404.13. 

“These grants have obligated the airport to stay open through the next 20 years,” Parker said. “Failure to operate the facility, whether under the city control or existing authority, would result in the FAA and state’s request for repayment for any outstanding grant obligation.

“Lastly, based on the lease termination letter and [The Titusville Herald newspaper article published Nov. 10], the FAA has recommended we freeze all grants and permit no further drawdowns of funds pending resolution of this matter, and the BOA agrees with this action,” Parker added. “Therefore, since only one grant is currently open, no drawdowns against the ‘expand snow removal equipment building for grant identifier ABG-2017-Titusville AA-00024’ will be approved.”

Titusville resident and airplane owner concerned

The Herald’s story also reported that the city will not re-appoint airport authority President Jim Kuhn after his term expires on Jan. 1. 

The five-member authority is comprised of volunteers.

In addition, others also volunteer their time at the airport. 

One of those volunteers is Titusville area resident John Shaffer and he is concerned about the airport’s future.

Shaffer said he has had his airplane housed at the airport for about 17 years.

He said he rents the property from the airport and owns the hangar that houses his plane.

Additionally, Shaffer said he pays real estate taxes for his hangar to Venango County. 

“We were supposed to get the money from the county,” he said. “Tax money is collected and the money should go back to the airport, that’s never happened.”

Shaffer said the pilots who have hangars at the airport don’t pay as high a rate of real estate tax because the hangars they own are used for airplanes.

“Venango County is requiring hangar owners to pay real estate tax,” he said, adding that between 90 to 95 percent of the hangars are located in Venango County, and “most of the airport is in Venango County.”

According to Shaffer, the property, about 200 acres, where the airport is located, was originally owned by the McKinney family; and they donated the property to the City of Titusville.

“[The airport is] definitely an asset to the community,” Shaffer said.

He said that in the 20 years he has been involved with the airport, he has never had any problems with the Titusville Airport Authority, and added that the city taking over the airport is not good.

As for the grants, Shaffer said the grant money is out there.

“You apply and sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t,” he said. “The first nice tractor we got, we got through grant money, and the equipment is immaculate.”

Shaffer said the only money coming in to operate the airport is from gas wells on the property and the rent the pilots pay for use of the property where their hangars are located.

“The city gives the airport $2,000 a year,” he added.

Shaffer said he recently spent 300 to 400 hours volunteering to help patch the runway, and his work was appreciated.

“They mowed around my hangar,” he said.

Shaffer said he believes the city should keep Jim Kuhn on the Airport Authority.

“Part of that $70,000 (funds in the authority’s account) is $30,000 to $40,000 rent from Jim to be out there,” he said. “That facility is out there for everybody to use.”

Revisiting last week’s statement from airport official

In a statement released last week, Larry Weldon, Airport Authority secretary, said Manross and Titusville Mayor Esther Smith identified five rules the authority did not comply with.

According the Manross’ letter to the authority, many articles of the lease agreement of March 24, 2003, have not been adhered to — for example, failure to provide timely annual audits to both the city and the state, hiring of employees, and applying for grants and constructing buildings without city council approval, among other rules.

Weldon said the city offered no method of remedy or correction, but just terminated the lease in the best interests of the citizens of Titusville.

He said in the statement that the accomplishments of the authority over the past 29 years have been completely discounted because they were not accomplished in exact accordance with the various rules. 

Weldon added that from the authority members’ impressions, “it seems that what the airport authority members view as significant accomplishments over the past 29 years are actually serious violations in the eyes of the mayor and the city manager. We have been working with the mayor and the city manager since March of this year and all of the issues in their notice to terminate our lease were currently being discussed and we had asked them for clarification.”

Weldon further stated that for the past eight months, the mayor and city manager have been attending the meetings of the airport authority and much of the discussion has surrounded the city and the authority revising the 2003 lease between the authority and the city. 

“Under the pretense of working with us in drafting a new workable lease and by laws, the mayor and city manager have actually been gathering documentation of any violations under the existing lease before entering into a new lease,” he added in the statement.

Weldon said that for about three months, the authority members have been asking the city manager how the review of the new lease was coming, but no progress was being made. 

“The mayor sent us emails saying that she needs to review it over and over again,” he said. “We were anticipating that the new lease and by-laws would have different covenants in it, as the city manager and the mayor assured us during several meetings that the new lease could be written that would permit more flexibility.

“It gives the appearance to the authority members that the mayor and city manager feel that ‘form’ simply trumps all of the Airport Authority successes, and that the city is not required to offer any explanation to the authority or the public for their action.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Pitkin Board of County Commissioners OKs submission of airport analysis to the Federal Aviation Administration

The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the final environmental analysis (EA) for the proposed quarter-billion-dollar, two-pronged expansion of the Aspen Airport.

Specific components of the EA, almost three years in the making, include aircraft noise, air quality, climate, socioeconomic conditions and surface transportation, among many other things.

The two major components of the proposed expansion are an expanded runway and a new terminal building.

According to the EA, the plan, culled from 18 options, is to shift the airport’s lone runway 80 feet to the west, widening it to 150 feet and strengthening it to allow up to 150,000 pounds of landing weight.

All three of those components are necessary, according to the EA, to accommodate a new generation of jets that will soon replace the smaller planes currently landing at the airport.

“In 2014, under the Air Service Study, coordination with air carriers indicated that the existing aircraft currently serving Aspen Airport under the 95-foot wingspan restriction are being phased out of the commercial service fleet and being replaced by aircraft with larger wingspans and higher seat counts by 2028,” the EA states. “Other than the CRJ-700 which is being phased out, no existing or future aircraft meet three important criteria: 1) the 95-foot wingspan, 2) the current weight limit and 3) can operate out of Aspen Airport with the current airfield configuration.”

As far as the need for a new terminal, the EA states, “Despite previous terminal expansion measures in 1986-87, passenger demand at the Aspen Airport has outpaced facility capacity, putting a strain on facilities and roadways during peak activity periods. Also, the current use areas are not configured in an efficient manner, resulting in some spaces that are oversized and many spaces that are undersized to fulfill their intended function. As the building continues to age, the recurring costs to keep the facility in good repair will continue to increase without major investment in newer and more efficient building systems.”

A presentation team led by airport administrator John Kinney told the commissioners that there have been no commitments from airlines concerning actual aircraft types or flights.

Kinney stressed that the new regional jets that would be utilizing an upgraded Aspen Airport, though larger than planes currently using the airport, are generally quieter.

He also noted that there are a slew of federal regulations that cannot be usurped by local authorities, such as altering existing curfews, restricting flight paths, restricting the size or weight of aircraft within the 118-foot wingspan limit, restricting individual aircraft noise levels or developing local air-quality standards different from those established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The environmental analysis states that no significant noise or air-quality impacts would occur as a result of the proposed project relative to federal thresholds.

“Analysis looked at reasonably foreseeable conditions and fleet mix, including larger aircraft, and determined that no mitigation is required,” the EA states. “However, there are options to include potential non-required reduction measures, such as [a] noise wall, preconditioned air hook-ups, etc., in final design that could reduce noise. These elements would be examined during design phase. The airport cannot restrict aircraft from flying in and out of [Sardy Field], as it is a public-use airport.”

There were plenty of diverse opinions stated during the public comment period.

Warren Klug, general manager of the Aspen Square hotel, stressed to the commissioners that, since the airport is the lifeblood of Aspen’s tourist economy, they should approve the process of forwarding the EA to the FAA.

Aspen Village resident Ellen Anderson disagreed, saying “it’s really time — past time — that Pitkin County had an honest discussion [about] how much is enough? How many beds, how much traffic on the highway, how many people coming through the airport? Because, heretofore, the answer has always been ‘more.’ I think it’s time we really looked at that and maybe consider that the answer is no longer ‘more.’ Because I’m kind of seeing that we’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

“The only place better than here is the place this used to be,” she said.

Phil Holstein, a member of the Woody Creek Caucus, said he feels that the airport expansion will negatively impact the quality of life in the Roaring Fork Valley for years to come.

Innkeeper Charley Case suggested that failing to upgrade the airport would put Aspen’s tourism industry at a competitive disadvantage. “If we can’t use modern, up-to-date aircraft, we will have second- and third-tier operators coming in,” he said.

Aspen developer John McBride pointed out that, when these proposed airport upgrades are completed, the airport will be done.

In the end, after stressing that submitting the EA to the FAA for consideration is not the end of what will surely be a long and arduous design and implementation process, the commissioners voted to do just that. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Charleston County Aviation Authority meeting for first time since state Sen. Paul Campbell's arrest

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) -  The Charleston County Aviation Authority meets Thursday for the first time since CCAA executive director and state Sen. Paul Campbell was arrested for DUI earlier this month. 

CCAA deputy director and COO Jim Peacher confirmed that Campbell is planning to attend the meeting,  As of Thursday morning, Campbell was still listed as the director of the CCAA on the airport website

He was arrested the night of Nov. 4 for DUI after crashing into another vehicle. The jail records state Campbell lied to police when he allegedly changed spots with his wife in the car, which the crash victim also believes is true.  She has also since sued Campbell for motor vehicle negligence. 

The South Carolina division of the National Action Network has also called for Campbell to step down from his position with the CCAA. 

The authority has an 11-member board. It also owns and operates the Charleston International Airport along with two other airports in the region according to the airport website

Officials also plan on discussing previously announced plans to build a new parking deck as well as a debrief from a January shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. 

Original article can be found here ➤