Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Paratus Air: Cleveland helicopter tours offer unique view of the city

CLEVELAND - Looking for a unique adventure for the family or those out-of-town guests this holiday season? 

New helicopter tours of downtown Cleveland are being offered at Burke Lakefront Airport, giving many locals a bird's eye view of the holiday lights for the first time ever.

"Honestly, that's what keeps me going," says owner Steve Overy, owner of Paratus Air. "I really love seeing people get out of the helicopter with a big smile on their face. Most of them are nervous as can be getting in. They get out, and they love it."

The 26-year-old founded the company in 2012 and began offering similar high-flying tours of Put-in-Bay, where the company still operates seasonally.

Overy kicked off helicopter rides here in Cleveland about five weeks ago, and they are already giving tours 7 days a week.

"Our number one customer is families," says Overy. "Mom and dad, they bring their kids and they like to go see the Christmas light in wintertime, which is absolutely gorgeous."

Paratus Air offers two different tours. A shorter 5-6 minutes tour will take you around the downtown skyline and over the city's sports arenas. The longer version lasts 12-15 minutes and flies along the coast from Lakewood out to Lake County.

Tours cost $50-$100 per person.

In addition to tours, the company offers charter service flights and flight instruction for aspiring helicopter pilots.

For more information, visit or call 914-FLY-HELI. 

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CAT's eye for fog landings: Calcutta airport set to switch on advanced instrument landing system this winter

Dum Dum: Calcutta airport is ready to beat the fog this winter with its new Category III-B Instrument Landing System that enables a pilot to land an aircraft safely in low visibility up to 50 metres. 

An inspection on Tuesday by a two-member team from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) completed the final round of clearance for CAT III-B ILS to be switched on.

"The inspection of the runway lights, a crucial part of CAT III-B ILS, has been done and we expect to make it operational soon," airport director Atul Dixit said on Wednesday.

The number of lights on the centreline of the primary runway have been doubled as part of the upgrade from CAT-II to III-B. In the existing system, the lower visibility limit for a safe landing is 350 metres.

CAT III-B has been installed on the southern side of the primary runway because the wind blows from north to south in Calcutta during winter. This means aircraft landing from the southern side are doing so against the wind, which is the norm. A tailwind would increase the possibility of an aircraft overshooting the runway while landing.

The change in wind direction is the reason why, air traffic control officials said, residents of Ballygunge get to see more planes in winter than they do during the rest of the air.

In summer, aircraft mostly land from the northern side of the runway, which is why people living in Barasat and Madhyamgram see more flights arriving.

The CAT III-B system, which has been installed at a cost of Rs 130 crore, includes an advanced signalling mechanism and more lights on and near the runway and taxiways. In CAT II, there are approach lights along the threshold and centreline lights on the runway.

The gap between two lights along the centreline of the runway is 50 feet in the CAT II system. This gap is halved in the switch to CAT III-B.

The airport's primary runway is 11,900 feet in length. Centreline lights on the taxiways will guide pilots till the parking bays after landing.

Two units of a signalling instrument called runway visual range transmissometer have been installed on the primary runway. These instruments send signals to a receiver in the aircraft, guiding it to the runway.

In the CAT II system, a pilot is guided by the signalling system till 100 feet above the ground, when the runway isn't in sight. In CAT III-B, an aircraft can descend till 50 feet above the ground because of the advanced signalling system. Then the pilot would see the approach and touchdown zone-lighting system.

In Calcutta, flight schedules are usually disrupted most in December and January, when fog strikes.

CAT III-B is the second-most advanced instrument landing system available. No airport has CAT III-C yet.

Most airlines operating in India already have pilots who are CAT III-B compliant.

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Why hypersonic flights may not take off in Asia, and the plane makers who hope to change that

Hong Kong to Los Angeles in just two hours is what some supersonic prototype planes are promising, but with a price tag of US$100 million, it may not be commercially viable 

We live in the jet age. The global fleet of aircraft will double in the next 20 years, according to Airbus, and with the United Nations predicting that the world’s population is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, the aviation industry looks like it is in a good position for continued growth.

With such positive prospects on the horizon, why are aircraft going at the same speeds as when the jet age started back in the 1950s? Planes now fly further distances and for longer than ever before, but the speed-obsessed supersonic days of Concorde now appear as a footnote in history.

But, not so fast. There are now supersonic planes in the prototype stage that could travel from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in just two hours, or to Sydney in 2.5 hours, according to some of the manufacturers.

Some think it could revolutionise how we get from A to B, but there are technical and business reasons the supersonic age may yet elude us.
Supersonic means to go faster than the speed of sound – Mach 1 or 1,235km/h. It was first achieved in 1947 by American pilot Chuck Yeager in a Bell X-1 aircraft; however, there are now concept aircraft that could take passengers at speeds of more than twice the speed of sound, Mach 2.
Perhaps the most likely of those to fly commercially is the Aerion AS2. Designed by Nevada-based Aerion Corporation (in collaboration with Airbus), the AS2 supersonic business jet is expected to reach Mach 1.5 and can fit just 12 passengers.

So would a supersonic business jet like this find much of an audience in the Asia-Pacific region? “We have the resident billionaires in the region that have the inclination to own one,” says Jeffrey C. Lowe, managing director of Hong Kong-based business aviation services company Asian Sky Group. “But if you take the AS2, its range is just 8,797km, so it will not be able to fly the Pacific non-stop, which limits its appeal to the region in my opinion.”

The AS2 is the most advanced design concept at present. It began development in 2003. In May this year an engine deal was struck with General Electric, while Aerion found a customer – Flexjet – willing to buy 20 supersonic planes. “Aerion is the furthest along, yet it still faces substantial design, market and operational challenges,” says Lowe. Aerion expects the AS2 to fly by 2023.

However, there are a number of other supersonic planes in the prototype stage, and the finished versions of each could cost as much as US$100 million. Boom Technology’s XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, nicknamed ‘Baby Boom’, promises New York to London in three hours, cruising at speeds of Mach 2.2 (2,335km/h). That’s faster than Concorde. It’s supported by The Spaceship Company, a Virgin Galactic spin-off, and by General Electric once again, and carries 45 passengers.
Other contenders include HyperStar, which may have a top speed of Mach 5 for 20-36 people, and the Spike S-512, which travels at Mach 1.6 and carries 22 passengers. “Boom, HyperStar and Spike are all promising a lot, but are still in the scale-model testing phase, and have a long way to go,” says Lowe. Spike Aerospace is planning to unveil a supersonic demonstrator in 2018 ahead of the final design for its S-512.

There are journeys that would benefit massively from a supersonic surge. Even with a stop, the longest range routes, such as across the Pacific from the US to Asia and Australia, would make hugely significant time savings. Shorter journeys may not be so significant. “If you take China, the flight altitude for aircraft, their speed and flight corridor are all very limited and controlled, all of which will serve to box-in a supersonic aircraft,” says Lowe. “Flying Beijing to Hong Kong, a supersonic aircraft would have to get in line behind all the other commercial aircraft and chug along with them – so certainly not supersonic, and hardly even super.”

However, there is another big problem with supersonic air travel; when an object travels through the air faster than the speed of sound, it creates immense sound energy as shock waves at the front of a supersonic plane. In its wake, those sound waves combine to produce an audible double boom on the ground. “This is the big issue, and the challenge is to overcome it,” says Lowe. “All the manufacturers are taking different approaches.” He says some are trying to “eliminate” the sound, some are trying to “minimise” it, while some are trying to “change the laws restricting it”.

It’s the reason that Concorde only flew across the Atlantic Ocean, from London and Paris to New York, Washington and Barbados. Laws against supersonic flight by civil aircraft over land are now being reviewed, and though there’s every chance that supersonic jets will be allowed to fly overland, it’s likely that they will have to do so at less than supersonic speeds.

That’s not put off Nasa, who, with aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin, is developing its Quiet Supersonic Technology Preliminary Design (QueSST) X-plane – a successor to Yeager’s Bell X-1. Using software as well as altered wing shapes, it aims to reduce the sonic boom to a more palatable thump when it begins test flights in 2021.

A bigger doubt is the commercial viability of supersonic jets. “We now have aircraft that can fly 18 or 19 hours non-stop, and I’m unsure whether people would want to pay a premium to fly say, London to New York in two hours or less,” says Shukor Yusof from Malaysia-based aviation and economics research outfit Endau Analytics.

The development of super-quiet supersonic aircraft at last looks like it could create a new era of hypersonic travel – though it may remain a niche market for decades to come. “It’s a fantastic proposition, but it’s all about volume at the lowest fares these days – that is why AirAsia, Ryanair and easyJet are doing so well,” says Yusof. “I don’t know if the general public will buy into supersonic fights – we’re doing quite well with existing aircraft.”

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American Airlines maintenance base in Tulsa to get new engine work

An employee works on an aircraft engine at the American Airlines maintenance base in Tulsa. American Airlines announced Wednesday that the base will take over work on the CFM56-5B engine, which is currently being done in Brazil. 

A segment of American Airlines maintenance that is currently outsourced to South America will be coming to the Tulsa Maintenance Base beginning in October.

The Tulsa Maintenance Base, also known as Tech Ops- Tulsa, will take over work on the CFM56-5B engine, which powers a significant portion of the company’s Airbus narrow-body aircraft, David Seymour, senior vice president of integrated operations for American, said in a statement.

That maintenance is currently being done by GE Engine partners in Brazil, American Airlines spokeswoman Linda Brock said.

“Tech Ops-Tulsa is here for the long term,” Seymour said. “Much like the recent addition of another incremental B737 heavy check line, bringing the -5B to Tulsa builds on the goal of Tulsa performing high-volume, long-running work. When we can identify this type of work and move it to Tulsa, we will.”

Over the next several months, American will work with the TWU-IAM Association to evaluate how the work will be supported. Up to 80 positions will be needed in the existing engine shop to take on the additional work, although whether any of those positions will be new is unclear, Brock said.

“This announcement is great news for the American Airlines Tulsa Maintenance Base, which is the world’s largest commercial airline maintenance facility, and for the Tulsa community,” Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement.

“This exemplifies the quality of industry-leading heavy maintenance work performed by the employees at the Tulsa maintenance base. It means a significant increase in the amount of money American Airlines will spend with Oklahoma vendors.”

Tech Ops-Tulsa employs 5,200 people and handles aircraft overhaul and component and avionics repair. The 3.3-million-square-foot facility was founded in 1946.

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“This announcement confirms the commitment of American Airlines to the maintenance base and Tulsa area, thanks to the long-standing performance of the Tulsa technical operations team,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement. “American Airlines serves as a major contributor to our local economy, and we look forward to the continued partnerships with the aerospace industry in Tulsa.”

Seymour said Tulsa has established first-rate processes for the CFM56-7B program, bringing the turnaround time of a heavy-shop engine visit to a “world-class average of 53 days.”

Because of that expertise and with the 20-year contract with GE set to expire, he said the clear answer was to put the in-source option up against external vendors.

“The base has a world-class reputation for its industry-leading heavy maintenance engine processes and turnaround times, making Tulsa the logical choice for this additive engine work,” Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said in a statement.

“We are very pleased with this announcement and the opportunities it brings to the Tulsa region. We look forward to strengthening our long-term partnership with American Airlines.”

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UPS Adds Dozens of Flights a Week To San Bernardino International Airport During Holidays

San Bernardino, CA – The San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) has entered into an agreement with UPS to support growing seasonal demand for air cargo flights in the Inland Empire. UPS Airlines will operate up to eighteen flights each week during the holidays. The flight segments will include SBD-Louisville, Kentucky, and SBD–Rockford, Illinois, using Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft.

“This is our busiest time of year, and with the huge spike in holiday shipments, we need additional capacity to deliver for our customers. The flights from SBD will connect directly with Worldport, our main air hub in Louisville, and a regional air hub in Rockford, Illinois, connecting the Inland Empire to UPS’s worldwide network,” UPS South California District President Tom Cuce said. UPS expects to deliver about 750 million packages globally between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve, a five percent increase over 2016.

Carey Davis, Mayor of the City of San Bernardino and President of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, added “We are pleased to accommodate growing demand for air cargo in the Inland Empire and are happy to see UPS return to SBD with even more flights. UPS is already a major employer in the region, and will be hiring 200 people from our community to support these new flights.”

In recent years, SBD has made key investments to support air cargo activities which include tremendous expansion and development potential; SBD offers a competitive environment for air cargo companies and freight forwarders looking to grow their presence in Southern California.

About SBD

Located 60 miles east of Los Angeles, the SBD International Airport is located in the heart of a growing goods movement corridor surrounded by the I-10, I-210 and I-215 freeways where the Airport offers state-of-the-art facilities, specialized cargo equipment, and an attractive cost structure for air cargo activities. With a new air cargo facility located adjacent to 60 acres of aircraft ramp, air cargo operators are able to expedite deliveries to end users and consumers. The Airport’s location, combined with newly expanded and modern infrastructure, offers significant air cargo opportunities to the logistics industry.

To learn more about SBD International Airport visit:

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Tweed New Haven Regional Airport celebrates the start of American jet service to Philadelphia

NEW HAVEN — The latest era of commercial regional jets flying in and out of Tweed New Haven Regional Airport began Wednesday, as a fully booked , 50-seat American Eagle flight landed — a few minutes early — amid a fair amount of hoopla. 

A few minutes later, the same plane, a Canadair CRJ-200 regional jet, took off — on time and fully booked — on a flight to Philadelphia, an American Airlines hub that provides connections to destinations around the world.

All in all, it was a seamless beginning, unusual only in the sight — reminiscent of an earlier era when jets were something new — of a fire cannon salute to the plane as it arrived and took off, and city and airport officials personally greeting arriving and departing passengers and giving each a “goodie bag” of Tweed promotional swag.

The route until Wednesday had been served for many years by 37-seat Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops, flown first by US Airways Express and now American Eagle. American is phasing out the Dash 8s.

Tweed, which uses the booking code “HVN,” has not been served by commercial jets since Delta Connection’s short-lived service between Tweed and Cincinnati ended in early 2006 after less than two years in operation.

The jets will offer New Haven passengers a smoother and quieter traveling experience while also offering an additional 78 seats a day to and from Philadelphia, officials said.

Mayor Toni Harp called the return of commercial jet service to Tweed “a milestone for New Haven and its airport, a milestone for the residents of the entire region and a milestone for American Airlines, as well.”

New Haven “has a national and even global presence in many fields —certainly in higher education and healthcare and pharmaceutical research and technology and in culture and the arts,” Harp said. “To provide those who work in and seek to advance these fields, my administration has been working toward expanded airline service here at Tweed.

“We’re eager for a city with ... great people doing great things to have greater access to other major cities and their airports,” Harp said.

She said she was “very pleased by this development and we welcome American’s confidence about New Haven in this regard.

“Earlier this year, we followed through on a $5 million noise mitigation project to address the concerns of nearby homeowners,” Harp said. “These soundproofing efforts, coupled with new technology to produce much quieter jet engines, have ‘paved the runway’ for this new service from American with modern jets.”

Tweed New Haven Airport Authority Chairman John Picard said “the reason I got involved in Tweed is because New Haven and New Haven County needs Tweed — and Connecticut needs New Haven County and Tweed to continue to grow.”

He said he hopes “that this is just the first of many new milestones ... with more flights headed to different destinations. ... Let’s hope that this is just the first step of many steps,” Picard said.

“We are thrilled that American will be introducing jet service at Tweed-New Haven,” said Tweed Executive Director Tim Larson in a news release. “This upgraded service represents an improved and more seamless passenger experience for our customers and is a demonstration of American’s commitment to our growing market.”

“Really, it’s wonderful,” he said as he stood down on the tarmac after most of the passengers on the first arriving flight had disembarked. Tweed is hoping to use the upgraded service to try to attract additional service to other destinations, he said.

Tweed “could pick up (service to) DCA right now and fly four flights a day,” he said, referring to the market demand for flights to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Arriving and departing passengers gave good reviews to the jet upgrade.

Claire Chase of Minneapolis, who arrived on the initial flight that touched down about 12:25 p.m., gave the Philadelphia-to-New Haven leg of her trip the ultimate compliment by saying, “This was just like regular flying.”

Whenever she’s had to fly on a turboprop, “I know it,” Chase said. But her flight to New Haven “was very smooth, very nice.”

John Trasocco of West Haven, who flies frequently between New Haven and Los Angeles as part of his work in the film industry, said he personally had no problem with the turboprops.

But he said of the regional jet he flew in on Wednesday, “It’s nice. It feels much safer.”

Bob Boeke, who had just finished visiting his daughter in Orange and was waiting for a flight that would take him to Chicago via Philadelphia, said he was looking forward for what he expected to be greater comfort in the new planes American is using.

American’s jet service connects New Haven passengers to more than 21 countries and 115 destinations with one-stop connection in Philadelphia, the airport said in the release. Additional connections can be made from Philadelphia via American’s other hubs to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries.

Tweed is located about 15 minutes from downtown New Haven and offers “free Wi-Fi, no waiting, no lines, no hassle and a matter of minutes between parking in front of the terminal and reaching the gate,” the airport said in the release.

The airport’s goal is to eventually pave a 1,000-foot runway safety area — originally constructed with the understanding that it would not be paved — in order to extend the usable length of the runway to 6,600 feet.

That effort was stymied by a recent loss in federal court in a lawsuit that aimed to overturn a state statute limiting Tweed’s runway length to the current 5,600 feet. Tweed is appealing the decision.

American recently announced new summer seasonal service from Philadelphia to Prague, Czech Republic and Budapest, Hungary, as well as resumed service to Zurich, Switzerland. New Haven passengers can also fly to four new American domestic markets via Philadelphia, including Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; Omaha, Nebraska; and San Antonio, Texas.

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Jackson Hole Airport to expand parking for public: Travelers will get 53 more spaces come May

Travelers will soon have a little extra space for their vehicles when flying out of Jackson Hole Airport. 

That’s possible because of a downsizing of space allocated for rental cars, which are a major source of revenue for the airport.

The change won’t take effect until May. It’s happening as new contracts take effect for rental companies that operate out of the federal airstrip north of Jackson.

“In the new bid process we’re looking at reducing the rental-car-ready positions by 53 spaces,” Airport Director Jim Elwood said. “We’re going to put it into public parking use since we’ve had a lot of interest.”

The change in store is not dramatic. It will switch over two rows of rental car companies’ designated parking area, 19 percent of their total space.

Currently 280 spots are designated for rental cars, while public parking amounts to 350 spots. After the switch the split will be 227 rental car spaces and 403 for the public.

Wyoming statute requires that 20 percent of parking at all Equality State airports be free. Jackson Hole Airport meets that requirement by charging nothing for all parking during the day, Elwood said, even though no portion of its public spaces is designated as free parking overnight.

The overnight parking fee is $12 a night.

Parking at the airport is complicated by its lease with Grand Teton National Park, which allows for only about 29 of the property’s 533 acres to be developed. That space is already maxed out, so the airport would need an amendment to its lease to plow up more sagebrush to make way for pavement.

Given that challenge, the airport’s long-term conceptual master plan calls for subterranean parking.

“But in the short term we don’t see that,” Elwood said. “That’s probably more like a 15- or 20-year outlook.”

Historically, fees and rent charged to rental car companies have been as large a source of revenue for Jackson Hole Airport as any other source of income. Rental companies Hertz, Enterprise, Avis and their subsidiaries are currently permitted to do business.

Rental car income will likely make up a much smaller portion of the pie in the wake of the airport’s acquisition of Jackson Hole Aviation, the fixed-based operator the airport is in the process of buying. It’s possible that the reduction in rental car parking spots also could cut into income, though Elwood said that’s impossible to predict.

“We don’t really know what the bids will be until they open in January,” he said. “Then I’ll be able to answer that question.”

A meeting for prospective on-airport rental car concessionaires has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the airport. Companies have until Jan. 16 to bid on contracts that will be good through May 2021. For bid forms or contract documents contact Assistant Airport Director Michelle Anderson at

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No Explanation For Loud BOOM Heard In George, Iowa, Tuesday Evening

George, Iowa — KIWA has been receiving listener reports today (Wednesday) about a loud boom sound that startled residents in and around George about 8:30 last (Tuesday) night. 

One George resident we talked to described it as sounding like a shotgun going off, something very heavy being dropped, or even like an electrical transformer exploding.

KIWA talked to Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep who said he had asked his deputies who were working at the time, and they reported they had not only not heard the boom, but had not received any questions or complaints from folks in the George area.

We checked the electrical transformer angle, and were able to find no power outages in the George area beginning at that time.

KIWA reached out to the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard to find out if there were any of their F-16 fighter jets had been running training missions over northwest Iowa, and may have gone supersonic, creating a sonic boom. A spokesman for the 114th told us that none of the unit’s aircraft were flying Tuesday night. He added that even when they do fly, they are not permitted to go supersonic to avoid the surprise of a sonic boom for residents under their flight path.

After exhausting the various explanations we could think of, it would appear that Tuesday night’s loud boom near George will remain under the heading of “Unsolved Mystery”, unless, or until, someone comes forward with more information.

Original article can be found here ➤

What Will Tighter Airport Security Mean for You? A mandate to detect more weapons at TSA checkpoints means enhanced screening for more travelers through the holiday season and beyond

The Wall Street Journal
By Scott McCartney
Updated Nov. 29, 2017 11:19 a.m. ET

The Transportation Security Administration escaped Thanksgiving without major airport bottlenecks. But the agency still faces big challenges.

Screening changes are coming that may upset travelers already struggling with limited mobility, plus those with overstuffed carry-on bags. TSA plans to enhance screening of travelers in orthopedic casts or wheelchairs. In addition, more checkpoints will require travelers to dump all electronics, food and other items from bags so they can be X-rayed separately.

The big problem hanging over the airport security force is whether it can ever do well in Department of Homeland Security tests of its ability to find hidden weapons carried by travelers. In covert tests this summer, 80% of weapons went undetected. For several years, the tests conducted by the department’s inspector general have shown even worse results —90% or higher, bolstering the view of many travelers that TSA is ineffective.

“I’m afraid TSA is falling into a rut of trying to defend what they do rather than fix it,” says Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, (D., Miss.), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Specific results of the tests are classified, but the inspector general issues a public summary and more specific information usually leaks out. The inspector general did say eight classified recommendations were made to improve screening and TSA agreed with the suggestions.

TSA argues its ability to find bombs and other weapons isn’t as bad as the tests indicate and is improving. Up to Thanksgiving, TSA has already found more firearms in 2017 than all of 2016—an average of more than nine a day, the agency says.

TSA administrator David Pekoske notes that none of the DHS employees going through checkpoints for the tests are on any watch lists that would trigger secondary screening. “When we do preselect somebody for additional screening…our detectability rates are very high,” he says.

But the tests got the attention of the new administrator, on the job not yet four months. He’s looking at deploying more canine teams, which are very effective at finding bomb materials. He’s also trying to enhance training for screeners and is looking at speeding up the rollout of new, stricter procedures involving electronics and food.

“We are more secure now than we were before the test results came out,” Mr. Pekoske says.

In the past, embarrassing undercover testing has prompted TSA to tighten up screening at checkpoints, slowing the flow of passengers. In 2016, this led to very long lines and missed flights, culminating with a meltdown in Chicago with passengers stranded overnight before changes were made to speed up passenger flow.

Mr. Pekoske says there will be some tightening, but that shouldn’t slow checkpoints too much. One thing that’s helped: TSA’s trusted-traveler program, PreCheck, has added 2.2 million people in the past two years, bringing total enrollment to 5.7 million, TSA says. A total of 12 million people are eligible for PreCheck, including people enrolled in Customs and Border Protection programs like Global Entry. Moving more travelers to PreCheck lines speeds up regular lines and enhances security, TSA says.

Officials say the security testing revealed a vulnerability of weapons smuggled by those in orthopedic casts or wheelchairs. That means those people will get more enhanced screening, officials say, such as pat-downs and bomb-residue swipes. The added attention will likely infuriate some who already have plenty of difficulty navigating airports.

The longer-term solution, Mr. Pekoske says, is a wider body-scanning machine that could accommodate someone in a chair with a leg straight out. Such a machine is in development, he says.

As a result of the failing tests, TSA is also looking at speeding up the rollout of the enhanced carry-on bag screening, which began testing a year ago and started expanding to airports after the summer rush. The rollout likely will continue through March and April. That means there will be different rules in different cities at least through the winter.

Mr. Pekoske says the program, known at TSA as Enhanced Accessible Property Screening, or EAPS, has slowed down checkpoints as both screeners and travelers get used to new procedures. But he doesn’t expect significant increases in wait times.

Tests so far show that making people declutter bags does make screening more effective. Items inside bags are easier to see clearly on X-ray screens. Mr. Pekoske calls it “a significant enhancement to security.”

But TSA says it needs better technology at checkpoints, too. TSA is testing CT scanners at checkpoints in Phoenix and Boston. These scanners, similar to ones used to screen checked luggage, look inside bags from all angles, much like a hospital CT scan, and produce a clean 3-D image. Since they can measure the density of materials, they’d even allow TSA to drop restrictions on liquids.

Mr. Pekoske says the tests are going well and will likely be completed by next summer. A year from now the agency will start asking Congress for money to buy machines to replace the 2,200 X-ray machines at checkpoints. The technology is so promising, airlines have already ordered the first machines for their hubs and agreed to donate them to TSA to speed up deployment.

Mr. Thompson, the Mississippi congressman, says the CT scanners highlight a fundamental problem at TSA: It’s too slow with new technology. Other government agencies have funding to develop and deploy it. TSA has labs to evaluate what contractors develop and then goes to Congress to get funding for purchases, a multiyear process.

“I’m firmly convinced that technology is the way to go,” Mr. Thompson says. “In some instances, we’re too slow, and the bad guys are not waiting for us to get it right.”

TSA did get through the Thanksgiving rush smoothly. A check of 25 major airports on Monday found a few reports of long waits hitting 30 minutes to 45 minutes at some periods. But past holidays have seen way worse.

TSA says from Nov. 17 through Nov. 26, 98.1% of passengers waited under 20 minutes in queue for screening. On Sunday, the busiest day, about 5% of non-PreCheck passengers waited 20 minutes or more for screening, TSA says. Only 0.5% of PreCheck passengers waited that long.

Mr. Pekoske says TSA prepared for Thanksgiving and was well-staffed for the rush. The agency offered lots of overtime to officers, he says.

Lack of bids leaves fate of Airbus plane up in the air

The Legal Execution Department yesterday decided to call off the auction of a 270-seat Airbus aircraft. 

The future of the aircraft, which had been scheduled for auction with a starting price of Bt30 million, is now unknown after Legal Execution Department cancelled the auction after no bids were received. 

The Airbus plane became the first commercial aircraft up for bidding after it was seized in a civil lawsuit filed by the law firm Watson Farley and Williams Co (Thailand) against Asia Connect Airline and its executive Sakkarat Chanthraporn.

Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, director-general of the department, said the auction had previously attempted to sell the aircraft on five separate occasions but no one had submitted a bid despite a reduction of the starting price by about 70 percent, or Bt21 million. 

The department also decided to cancel the sixth auction scheduled for December 20. 

“The department will hold a meeting of creditors to learn whether they want to reduce the price or to continue the auction. For the time being, they have asked for 10 days to consider the next step,” she said.

The starting price of the aircraft was reduced during the five auctions in accordance with the department’s auction rules. 

A representative of Watson Farley and Williams had previously said the firm did not know what to do if no one wanted to buy the aircraft, as the defendants had said they had no other assets to pay their debts.

A winning bidder would also have to pay Bt10,700 per day in rent for the plane’s parking space.

That fee reached Bt4.2 million in September. 

The aircraft belonged to the air charter firm PC Air, which hit the headlines after the plane was impounded at Incheon International Airport in South Korea over a failure to pay fuel and airport fees, stranding more than 400 passengers. 

The aircraft last trip was from South Korea on January 13, 2016, after which it was impounded as the firm filed for bankruptcy. 

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APFT acquires stake in private air charter company

KUALA LUMPUR: Flight training provider APFT Bhd is acquiring a 20% stake in Aviation AI Inc, which intends to offer private charter air transport services, for RM3.2mil in cash. 

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday, the company said its unit APFT Services Sdn Bhd entered into a conditional agreement to buy the shares from Datuk Seri Teh Chee Teong, whose equity interest would decrease to 20%.

US-incorporated Aviation AI, presently dormant, owns a Gulfstream G-1159A private jet that it plans to operate from Redland Terminal Centre & Hangar Complex at Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport, Selangor.

APFT said Aviation AI acquired the aircraft in 2016 and had subsequently invested RM2.5mil to upgrade it for private jet charter. It expects to acquire more aircraft as and when the business grows.

The other shareholders of AAI are Redland Aviation Services Sdn Bhd executive chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Hassan (30%) and timber product maker NWP Holdings Bhd(30% stake to be acquired from Ismail). Ismail was formerly a corporate director of the Economic Planning Unit in Selangor.

On the rationale for the new venture, APFT said the main contributor to the group’s revenue currently was flight education and training but, due to various challenges, the group had been continuously making losses.

“Notwithstanding the above, the group is in the midst of conducting a review of its overall operations to identify and restructure business functions to improve its earnings,” the company said.

“Pursuant to the proposed acquisition, APFT Services will hold 20% equity interest in AAI. As such, the management has decided to capitalise on this opportunity to expand its fleet through the proposed acquisition.”

APFT said the target market for the private charter comprised public and private corporate customers such as government agencies and commercial entities.

APFT executive director Edwin Silvester Das recently told StarBiz that the company planned to expand into air charter services and sell non-profitable businesses in order to turn around.

The group has 25 single and twin-engine aircraft that can seat four to eight people, and three helicopters that could be used for the air charter services into the region.

Meanwhile, based of NWP’s announcement to the stock exchange, Aviation AI had inked into an aircraft management agreement with Ismail’s Redland Aviation Services in October last year to provide it with aircraft maintenance services, flight scheduling services, flight support services, management services and operating services.

The agreement is for a term of five years and may be extended for a period of three years if mutually agreed on by both parties.

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Spirit launching flights from Tampa International Airport to Los Angeles, Las Vegas

TAMPA — Spirit Airlines is launching daily, nonstop flights from Tampa International Airport to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the airport announced Wednesday. 

The routes will begin operating April 12 on Airbus A319s, which have 145 seats, and will continue year-round.

"This additional traffic not only adds more available capacity between TPA and LAX, but it also encourages competition in the market," said Kenneth Strickland, TIA’s director of research and air service development. "This traditionally results in better fares for consumers."

The flights are two of 11 new routes Spirit announced Wednesday.

Los Angeles is Tampa International’s 13th largest market, with more than 870 passengers a day flying between the two cities on Delta Air Lines. But TIA officials expect Spirit will appeal to budget-conscious leisure travelers.

"One of the big strategic priorities for us in the last couple of years has been expanding to the West Coast," Strickland said, noting that in the last year Tampa has added or announced upcoming service to four markets: San Diego, Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs and San Francisco, plus Seattle several years before. "With Los Angeles specifically, we’re very excited because it is our largest underserved market. The existing capacity isn’t enough to meet the demand in that market right now."

Las Vegas is Tampa International’s 15th largest market, with 814 passengers a day traveling between the two cities on Southwest and Frontier.

"Las Vegas is one of Spirit’s biggest markets, and as Tampa continues to grow, they want to be able reach that market," Strickland said.

Earlier this month, Spirit launched four other nonstop flights from Tampa International Airport to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Pittsburgh International Airport and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. It also is beginning a daily seasonal flight to Columbus, Ohio.

For a carrier like Spirit, adding two flights out of Tampa is a big investment, said executive vice president for marketing and communications Christopher Minner,

"This is going to have a major impact on our passenger projections for next year," he said, "and it’s a great vote of confidence from Spirit."

Original article can be found here ➤

Siddipet: Key parts from Kiran aircraft missing

Siddipet: Some important parts of Kiran Trainer Aircraft, which blew up on the outskirts of Duddeda village in Siddipet district on November 24, have reportedly gone missing. 

According to a source, some important parts like the pilot’s seat, weighing about a tonne, pilot’s helmet and parachute the woman trainee pilot used to eject herself to safety, and few other parts, went missing from the accident site. The source further said that the pilot seat weighing about a tonne is among the missing parts.

Following the directions of Air Force officials investigating into the crash, the local police released an alert message in Duddeda village and other surrounding villages requesting people to return the missing parts of the aircraft if they have picked them up by mistake. The police also sounded an alert that they would initiate stern action if anyone is found possessing them. They have also offered a cash prize to people who return the parts.

Since there are chances of the missing parts piercing into the earth, the Air Force officials have dug with an earth mover at one place, but found nothing.

Air Force officials arriving from Hyderabad, Bangalore and New Delhi have been at the crash site since last Friday and the investigating officials are allowing none into the accident site. They have marked the boundaries of the crash site spread over a 300 sq. km area with a red ribbon. With the assistance of local police, Air Force officials are collecting each and every part of the aircraft from the crash site and are preparing to shift the remains of the aircraft to the Air Force Station, Hakimpet.

Rashi Raina (24), the trainee pilot who ejected to safety minutes before the Kiran aircraft blew up in the air, is still undergoing treatment at a hospital at Air Force Station in Hakimpet.

Original article can be found here ➤

Russia Says It Helped U.S. Navy Save Face By Buzzing Aircraft

A Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Navy aircraft over the weekend to help America avoid a major international incident, the Russian military claims.

The Russian Su-30 fighter reportedly flew as close as 50 feet in front of the P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea on Saturday, causing “violent turbulence” the Pentagon was cited as saying by CNN on Monday. The U.S. military characterized the 24-minute interaction as unsafe.

A Russian air defense force commander said the Su-30 was scrambled to force the P-8A to change course as it was approaching the Russian border.

The U.S. Navy aircraft ignored the first signals, Major General Viktor Sevostyanov told the Defense Ministry-run Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper on Wednesday.

“Only then did the Russian fighter perform the maneuver,” Sevostyanov was quoted as saying.

“Our pilots, in fact, helped their American colleagues avoid an international scandal.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Presence St. Mary's partners with Superior Ambulance Service for helicopter service

KANKAKEE — Emergency patients in Kankakee County will soon have greater access to lifesaving assistance, thanks to a partnership between Presence St. Mary's and Superior Ambulance Service.

Beginning in December, Superior Air Transport Services will house an Air Med1 helicopter at the Greater Kankakee Airport. The helicopter is set to be unveiled at the airport Thursday morning, and will transport trauma patients and those with time-sensitive health issues to hospitals equipped to handle those specific cases. The partnership has been over a year in the works.

"When I came here, we reevaluated, we looked to see where our gaps were and what that next level was," said Presence St. Mary's EMS Coordinator Dave Nagel, who has been in his position for four years. "We saw that even though we do a great job at patient care, there were still needs for those folks who need special care, like burn patients, Level 1 trauma patients."

A Level 1 hospital can handle all types of traumatic injuries, something not all hospitals have the personnel or equipment to do. For trauma patients, that means a helicopter ride to a hospital in Chicago. The helicopters — one to start operation in December and another sometime in 2018 — fly around 135 mph, cutting down on time and greatly increasing a patient's chance of survival. Before partnering with Superior, St. Mary's had to request medical helicopters from Joliet or Chicago, often losing precious time.

The new helicopters won't be limited to transports between hospitals. Crews also will transport people from accident scenes.

"These helicopters are going to be a big help for the fire departments in the community as well, backing them up at scenes like industrial accidents and car accidents and out in the middle of nowhere when you get a farm accident or someone 30 minutes from the hospital is having a heart attack," said Nagel. "That brings those capabilities."

Each Air Med1 is staffed by a critical care paramedic and a critical care nurse. For Superior, which serves communities across Illinois and Northwest Indiana, Kankakee was the perfect choice after the company opened its first suburban helicopter base in DuPage around 10 years ago.

"Kankakee is a great operational base for us to go into Northwest Indiana," Superior Vice President Mary Franco said. "We have a very large operation in Northwest Indiana and we've been looking for a second base in the Chicago metropolitan area for the past few years. This is a great location for us to serve our existing partners and expand our business."

Last year, St. Mary's transitioned to contracting Superior ambulances instead of driving its own, part of a growing trend that saves hospitals money. On days when the weather prevents flying or all the helicopters are in use, Superior guarantees ambulance ground transport.

The number of emergency flights varies from month to month, from weeks with two or three patients transports to weeks without any. Soon, with these new helicopters, those patients will have a greater chance of recovery.

"Aligned with our region's outstanding set of fire and police departments, Superior is bringing a tremendous lifesaving resource right in our backyard," said Presence St. Mary's Hospital President Chris Shride. "While it's a resource none of us desire to need, for many families across our shared communities, it will be life changing."

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Remains of Rochester pilot shot down in WWII coming home for burial

This undated photo provided by the Department of Defense shows Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert Mains. The Pentagon said the remains of the American pilot shot down in Europe during World War II are being returned to his New York family for burial 73 years after he died. U.S. military officials said Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, that 1st Lt. Robert Mains, of Rochester, N.Y. was the 27-year-old pilot of a B-24 Liberator taking part in a raid over Germany in April 1945. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Pentagon says the remains of an American pilot shot down in Europe during World War II are being returned to his New York family for burial 73 years after he died.

U.S. military officials said Tuesday that Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert Mains, of Rochester, was the 27-year-old pilot of a B-24 Liberator taking part in a raid over Germany in April 1945.

His plane was shot down by enemy fighters near the German town of Ludwigslust. Only one member of the 10-member crew survived.

In 1997, a Pentagon team found aircraft wreckage. Other teams returned in recent years and found bone tissue that was identified as Mains’ using DNA samples provided by his family.

His remains will be buried Saturday in the Long Island hamlet of Wading River.

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Jazeera Airways to make order for new jets as part of expansion plan

The budget carrier in Kuwait, Jazeera Airways, sets plans to purchase new aircrafts to replace approximately 15 jets, in a bid to expand the company. 

The airways company is considering a variety of models from different brands to replace its jets, including the Airbus A320neo, the Boeing 737 MAX, Bombardier's CSeries, and Embraer's E2 narrowbody jets.

Rohit Ramachandran, Chief Executive of Jazeera Airways, announced the plans during an industry conference held in Dubai.

Although the Chief Executive would not comment on exactly how many aircrafts the company aimed to purchase, he did confirm that orders are likely to be placed by the end of 2018.

Financing for the new jets is yet to be established, but it is debt-free and has $100mn in cash reserves.

By February next year, two jets will be added to the Kuwaiti company’s selection of seven A320 aircrafts.

It is anticipated that an additional five or six leased planes will be added in the coming five years, stopping at 2022 when the company will start receiving deliveries of the aircraft order.

The carrier is currently expanding in South Asia, with new flights travelling to Hyderabad in India this month, with plans for journeys to neighbouring gulf nations and former Soviet states in Central Asia.

Original article ➤

Pilot International: Lawsuit settled

Newton City-County Airport

Pilot International, a former tenant at the airport, sued the city for damage to an aircraft, and for the depreciated value of the plane, after a city employee moved the aircraft and it was damaged during that move.

The damage to the aircraft was about $2,300. Pilot also sued for the decreased value of the plane, which was almost new. All told, the city was sued for $75,000.

At the time of the lawsuit was filed, Pilot was past due rent, and that amount ended up at nearly $14,000 before Pilot moved out of the airport.

The settlement would result in an insurance payment to Pilot of $15,000. When those funds are received, Pilot would be liable to pay $9,500 for a portion of the past due rent and fuel charges. The city would be responsible to pay a $2,500 deductible to the insurance carrier.

“We are waiving $4,400 in past due fuel and rent.  It also waives any future claims we have. The benefit is we receive $9,500 from Pilot for past due rent and fuel,” said Chris Towle, city legal counsel.

The commission voted to approve the agreement.

Original article can be found here ➤