Sunday, January 7, 2018

Flights at Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC) diverted, canceled as Dense Fog Advisory issued for parts Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Weather Service has issued a Dense Fog Advisory for several northern Utah counties Sunday, and flights in and out of Salt Lake City have been diverted or canceled as a result.

As of around 8 p.m., 23 outbound flights and 21 inbound flights have been canceled for Sunday night and Monday morning. Delays are averaging in excess of 90 minutes, and another 23 flights into Salt Lake City have been diverted.

Airport officials said passengers should check with their airline regarding delays and cancellations.

The warnings include Box Elder, Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele and Weber counties—and the warnings are in effect until 8 a.m.  Monday.

According to the NWS, areas of fog are expected to become more widespread Sunday night, and in some areas the fog will lower visibility to a few hundred feet.

The fog is expected around Great Salt Lake and across northwestern and west-central Utah Sunday.

Those driving in the affected areas are urged to use caution. The NWS says drivers may experience fog along I-15 from the Idaho border south to Cove Fort and along I-80 from Salt Lake City to West Wendover.

The fog also put a hold on plans for a dive team to enter Great Salt Lake Sunday to confirm an object found in the water is a missing airplane out of Ogden.

Original article can be found here ➤

Man who flew drone during Wanaka fire named

Jorge Eduardo Riquelme Cruz, of Chile, appears in the Queenstown District Court this afternoon. 

A Chilean man who allegedly flew a drone near helicopters fighting a huge fire near Wanaka last week has been named.

Jorge Eduardo Riquelme Cruz, 34, appeared before Judge Mark Callaghan in the Queenstown District Court this afternoon.

He was arrested on Wednesday last week after allegedly operating a Mavic drone near eight choppers fighting the out-of-control blaze on Mt Alpha.

Police say the actions of the drone pilot forced the aircraft to be grounded for 15 minutes.

Riquelme Cruz was charged with operating an unmanned drone in a manner causing unnecessary danger to firefighting pilots and their helicopters, and reckless disregard for the safety of firefighting helicopters likely to cause danger to the pilots and aircraft.

A request by duty lawyer Louise Denton for a sentence indication was turned down by Judge Callaghan.

He was remanded on bail without plea until January 29.

Original article can be found here ➤

Air New Zealand warns public about free flight scam

"We are aware of a scam message being circulated asking you to take part in a survey to win flight tickets. This message is not from Air New Zealand and we advise anyone who receives this, not to engage. Below is an image of what the message looks like." -Air New Zealand   

Air New Zealand is urging customers not to respond to a scam message offering the chance to win free flight tickets.

The airline made a statement on Facebook on Sunday warning of the scheme, which advises people they have been selected to take part in a survey which could win them two free tickets.

"We only have 120 tickets remaining so hurry up," the message reads.

Air New Zealand said it was aware of the scam message being circulated and advised people to ignore it.

"This message is not from Air New Zealand and we advise anyone who receives this not to engage."

The airline could not be reached for comment.

Original article can be found here ➤

Pakistan International Airlines has flown into oblivion, but its new chief executive officer wants to steer it back

KARACHI:   Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) epitomises everything right and wrong about the country. From a national pride, able enough to be a role model for other airlines, to a loss-making state-owned entity that is often the subject of debate, and embarrassment, the company has travelled a long way.

Among its several achievements was its instrumental role in establishing what is now among the world’s top airlines. Emirates will forever remain indebted to PIA’s jets and crew as it ascended into glory, while Pakistan’s national carrier flew into oblivion.

Currently, PIA has become a burden on Pakistan’s fiscal operations. The year 2004 was the last financial cycle PIA enjoyed a net profit, which amounted to Rs2.3 billion. Its share price at the end of December that year was Rs13.7.

Since then, PIA’s accumulated losses have soared to reach Rs319.10 billion by the end of March 2017. At the same price, its share price has plummeted to Rs4.53, a massive 67% plunge.

Issues in delivering quality service and involvement of a few staff members in unprofessional, unethical and unlawful activities have hampered its reputation.

But there is a change in the air. The government has recently handed over the wheel to new hands.

Nawaz Sharif, then prime minister, appointed Musharraf Rasool Cyan as PIA’s chief executive officer who took charge in September 2017 and projections on the airline’s future performance are gaining traction.

In a maiden and exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Cyan says the airline’s turnaround will occur in the next 24-30 months.

“It is an exciting organization,” Cyan said, admitting there was work to do as he said it. “There is lot to be done here. It requires proper economic planning, reforms, and a lot of management.”

The airline seems to have hit issues because of a backlog of issues, said Cyan, adding that the failure to take decisions has made the situation worse.

For example, it has taken some of the aircraft on lease at a higher price than the one prevailing in the market and its IT system remains outdated and obsolete when compared with other players.

It has yet to upgrade softwares at several departments including engineering, reservation, flight planning, for efficient use of fuel, and upgrading cabin environment for passengers. It is not using the latest ‘data analytics’, which the modern aviation industry and other businesses are using to snatch market share.

“I am fixing these things immediately. The benefit of this (data analytics) is that sales have improved in the last three months and revenue has picked up. Then we have started the process of eliminating losses,” he said.

New routes

The CEO said the company has carried out analysis of which routes are causing the most losses, while studying potential ones where a market could be gained.

“As a business, this is our commercial planning. This year, we are going to apply this and minimise losses.”

Cyan said PIA will fly on new international routes in 2018, including Al-Qassim in Saudi Arabia, Guangzhou in China and one more destination in the region, which may be Mashhad in Iran.

On the other hand, it is considering suspending or reducing the number of flights on some routes. The reduction in flight frequency could be seen on the route to Muscat and Kuwait.

Flights to Dubai and Toronto are also incurring losses, but the airline is confident that the routes could be made profitable. Cyan also said Toronto is going to become a connecting flights’ destination for PIA to North America.

“Almost all the North American airlines fly to Toronto,” he said.

Suspension of flights to New York, which was causing PIA a loss of Rs1.5 billion per year, was part of the exercise. Passengers may now travel via Toronto where PIA has increased frequency of flights to five a week.

“Redeployment of the aircraft from the loss-making New York route to Saudi Arabia has started earning a profit,” the CEO said.

PIA flies to around 109-110 destinations around the world every day, including the local ones.

Similarly, aircraft selection will be made according to distance and booking of seats on flights, he said.

Recovery plan working

With the realignment and restructuring, PIA has gradually started recovering. “PIA made additional sales worth Rs1.5 billion in November (2017). They rose to Rs8 billion from Rs6.5 billion (in November 2016). Similar is the situation seen in December 2017.”

Under its project named V1, which means velocity of the aircraft before taking off, the airline has decided to improve services across the board in the next 24 months and generate an ‘operating profit’.

As per the five-year business plan presented to the government, PIA would break even in the third year and would generate profit before tax in the fourth year. “Four to six per cent profit is (considered) a healthy profit in the aviation industry,” he said.

“This is all to be achieved in the given timeframe subject to legacy debt (around Rs200 billion) not to be counted for the time being,” he said, adding PIA is in talks with the government for putting the legacy debt on the side.

Right now, PIA is managing a 36-aircraft fleet. “We aim to take the total number of aircraft to 44 in the next three years,” he said.

Privatization, lay-offs not on cards

Cyan said privatisation of the airline and employees’ lay-off are no more on the agenda. “I have asked the government about its plans for privatization and it replied in the negative,” he said.

He also spoke against the open skies policy and demanded a level playing field.

During his doctoral studies, Cyan took case studies of turnaround of Continental Air of the US and Malaysia Airlines. “CEO of Malaysia Airlines had no aviation industry experience. But he managed to turn around the airline.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Papua New Guinea: Aviation safety factored into Budget

The government is committed to supporting aviation to rural communities and to ensuring flying in Papua New Guinea is safe and this has been reflected in the Budget for 2018. 

David Tong
Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander, P2-ISM, North Coast Aviation: Fatal accident occurred December 23, 2017 between Yalumet and Saidor Gap in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea

This utterance from National Planning Minister Richard Maru comes in the wake of the December 23, 2017 aircraft crash in which pilot David Tong died.

Maru said PNG had some of the most challenging terrain and unpredictable weather faced by pilots anywhere in the world.

"The health and well-being of our people in rural areas is dependent on the services of the dedicated men and women flying aircraft into remote towns and villages, to take essential supplies and services to these communities."

Maru said the government and people were very appreciative of pilots who continued to serve the rural communities by providing much-needed goods and services that can only be delivered by air transport.

"Therefore as a government we reorganize the essential and important role that airlines and pilots play in our development."

"The Rural Airstrips Agency also provides essential services to these communities through the training of local communities to build and maintain rural airstrips. Without this service many communities would not be able to be reached by air."

Maru said that on behalf of the government and the people of Papua New Guinea, "I extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Tong's family, friends and colleagues for your loss. Comforting thoughts are difficult at a time like this, especially when a young man, early in his flying career, has passed away in tragic circumstances. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this very difficult period."

He said the search for the aircraft was severely hampered by cloud on the ridges and valleys surrounding the accident site.

"I commend the personnel involved, particularly the air and ground search parties, for their dedication to this very sad search and recovery mission. I am aware that North Coast Aviation worked tirelessly with other aircraft operators and rescue teams, and government agencies in very hazardous conditions."

He said all relevant government agencies continue to provide assistance, and a thorough investigation of the accident will be conducted by the PNG Accident Investigation Commission (AIC).

"The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the aircraft manufacturer have committed to assisting the AIC's investigation," Maru said.

Story and photo ➤

'Pants on Pants': Engineer designing new airplane for Cirrus Aircraft, creates new snow pants design

Jeffrey Xu, an engineer who moved to Duluth from Shanghai to design a new airplane for Cirrus, describes how his dislike of the cold weather drove him to design his own easy-on, easy-off snow pants he calls "Pants on Pants." 

Experiencing his first winter after moving from Shanghai to Duluth, Jeffrey Xu wondered why Minnesotans put on jackets, but then leave their legs vulnerable to the elements when they're out and about.

"I knew it's cold. But until you feel the cold ..." Xu said with a laugh. He explained, "It's something that really puzzles me. People here, they have the attitude that they just want to tough it out."

Exiting a building and getting into a frigid car is the coldest moment, he said. It's like his body goes into cold shock, he said, showing in a chair how he keeps his body raised off the cold car seat until the seat warmers kick in.

"That takes, like, three minutes and that's a — every time — very long, long three minutes," he said.

Xu, an engineer designing a new airplane for Cirrus Aircraft, asked his coworkers how to keep his legs warm while he's going to and from work or running errands. Their response was to "walk fast."

He found long johns to be too warm while he's inside at work and snow pants were too cumbersome to wear going to and from work. He wanted something that could be a "jacket for the legs," where he could just put it on and zip it up while standing, without having to sit down and slide it over his shoes. But he couldn't find anything on the market that exactly matched what he was looking for.

Instead of just dealing with the cold, Xu set out to find a solution. He designed a pair of snow pants that he can put on as quickly as a jacket when he's walking out the door. An engineer with two master's degrees and a doctorate from Stanford University, he approached the idea like an engineer and spent more than a year designing, testing and retesting the pants until every detail worked to his satisfaction.

"To make this into a product, it's a huge decision. ... I'd do all kinds of fatigue tests, so on the Velcros, I would just hand pull them on and off and on. What can they withstand? Four-hundred times or 1,000 times? And those snaps, how long are they going to last? But it's a lot of fun," he said, laughing.

Jeffrey Xu demonstrates how to put on his "Warmthology" snow pants invention, also known as "pants on pants."

The end result was a pair of snow pants he calls "Warmthology," although he noticed that the nickname "pants on pants" is more popular. The pants wrap around the waist and zip up the legs, while zippers on the front and back provide access to a wallet and keys in your pockets underneath, he explained. In under a minute, he put the snow pants on while balancing on one foot and raising his other foot, which was in a cast, injured in his recent first attempt at sledding.

He began a Kickstarter campaign, and it's not only Americans buying into the pants — he's had inquiries from Iceland and Norway.

Duluth resident Nancy Knezevich said she was intrigued when she heard about the pants and now owns a pair of them. She enjoys being outside, but gets cold easily due to a medical condition and she said the pants work well to keep her warm. She used them Sunday to walk the half-mile to and from church and they're useful when she doesn't have a chair to sit down on to put on snow pants over her shoes, she said.

The best part of the pants "is staying warm," she said. "Very ingenious, very intrigued and very impressed. Quite impressed with them."

Winter in Duluth

Xu arrived in Duluth in November 2015 to design a new airplane for Cirrus. The airplane industry is small and it's not often that a chance like that comes around, he said.

"You can start a design from a clean sheet of paper. In the general aviation industry, it's a very rare opportunity that you can do something like that," he said. "Cirrus asked me to join and I said OK, it's a rare opportunity and I would like to come here."

He grew up in an area of China where the daily weather is more like the weather in Miami. In Shanghai, where he lived before Duluth, it snows once every few years and melts within an hour, he said. The San Francisco area was also warm while he was attending Stanford.

Designing a pair of pants was new to him, but he said he's someone who likes to research and try new things. He's still exploring what to do with his new pants design — whether to have someone handle the sales or license the design to sell it to a company. He also has other innovations he'd like to focus on, he said. He doesn't like to scrape frost off his car windows in Duluth and, not liking the existing windshield covers on the market, he created a cover that goes over his car's windows and mirrors to keep the frost off. He said he has found dealing with Duluth's cold weather to be inspiring for his creativity.

"They said 'necessity is the model for innovation.' For me to survive here, I use my creative power to control the weather," he said, laughing.

Steps to completion

He said he began his snow pants project by first defining "convenience" as putting on pants while keeping both feet on the ground. He then started drawing and testing the drawings by creating each design.

"That's the good thing about being an engineer. Engineers know how to test new ideas cheaply," he said.

He created his first design out of a pair of pajama pants, learning that the placement of the zippers didn't work, he said, adding, "I learned a lot with the first pair." Subsequent designs tested different zipper placements, styles and different materials to ensure that the pants were convenient, warm, light and flexible. He started adding in zippers for pocket access and powder skirts around the pants' bottom to keep snow out.

He went through 20 versions of the pants before deciding on the completed pair he has on Kickstarter, he said.

Meanwhile, his coworkers were asking about the invention and he realized there's a market for a pair of snow pants like he was designing.

"It's not just me. Everybody feels cold and I think this is physiological, but its universal," he said.

Story, video and photos ➤

Breast exams for private pilot license • Doctor to face public discipline hearing for allegedly sexually abusing patient

Pending Hearing

Summary: Allegations of Dr. Thicke’s professional misconduct have been referred to the Discipline Committee of the College. It is alleged that Dr. Thicke engaged in the sexual abuse of Patient A, and/or disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional conduct, including by touching her breast in a sexual manner and/or by conducting an inappropriate and unnecessary breast examination.

Notice of Hearing:

Dr. Brian Thicke, 88, is accused of groping a female patient's breasts. He denies his conduct was inappropriate or sexual in nature.

Prominent Brampton physician Dr. Brian Thicke, patriarch of the famous Thicke family, will now face a public discipline hearing for allegedly sexually abusing a patient, after Ontario’s medical regulator at first dismissed the complaint against him in secret.

A spokesperson for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has also confirmed that “in addition to the pending discipline hearing, Dr. Thicke is under investigation,” but did not provide further details.

As reported by the Star in November, a panel of the regulator’s inquiries, complaints and reports committee — made up of doctors and members of the public — dismissed a complaint made against Thicke by Lisa Fruitman, who alleged Thicke groped her breasts on two occasions, in 1993 and 1995, during a physical examination that was required to receive a private pilot’s license.

(The complaints committee operates behind closed doors and reviews documentary evidence, but does not hear from witnesses.)

After Fruitman appealed to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, a civilian body, the committee was ordered to review the complaint after the board found the decision to take no further action was “unreasonable.”

The review board criticized nearly every finding made by the committee in its initial decision not to send the matter to discipline, pointing out, among other things, that Transport Canada has indicated that a breast exam was never a requirement for the pilot physical.

After being ordered to review the complaint, the college’s complaints committee chose to send it to a public discipline hearing.

Fruitman told the Star in a statement she was grateful the case is at last being sent to a public hearing, noting she first complained to the college three years ago. She said she hopes the process will be expedited given that Thicke is 88.

The discipline proceedings, which have yet to be scheduled, will be heard in public in front of a five-member panel of the college’s discipline committee, also made up of doctors and members of the public. Discipline hearings hear directly from witnesses. If found guilty of sexual abuse, Thicke would most likely lose his license.

A notice of hearing, dated Dec. 13, 2017, is now posted on Thicke’s profile on the college’s online public register. It outlines that Thicke allegedly engaged in sexual abuse of a patient and/or disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct by “touching her breasts in a sexual manner and/or by conducting an inappropriate and unnecessary breast examination” on two separate occasions in 1993 and 1995.

Thicke’s lawyer, Paul-Erik Veel, said Thicke had no comment. A designated civil aviation medical examiner for pilots, Thicke previously denied through his lawyer to the complaints committee that his conduct was sexual or inappropriate.

According to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board’s decision ordering the complaints committee to review Fruitman’s complaint, Thicke’s lawyer told the committee that “it was possible that he conducted a physical examination of the applicant,” but had no recollection of Fruitman and no medical records related to her.

“He stated the examinations performed in such circumstances were comprehensive physical examinations, which could have included a breast examination, as was the standard practice at the time,” reads part of the board’s decision, summarizing Thicke’s position to the college complaints committee.

Once dubbed Brampton’s “most valuable physician” and feted at a gala in 2011 by former Brampton mayor Susan Fennell, Thicke is the father of the late actor Alan Thicke, and grandfather of singer Robin Thicke.

Robin Thicke spoke of his grandfather last week in an interview with Inside Seneca magazine before a show at a Niagara Falls, N.Y., casino, saying the elder Thicke is a pilot and had taken him flying over the falls.

Brian Thicke retains an active license to practice medicine, according to his CPSO profile. He also continues to have privileges at Brampton Civic Hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson who declined further comment.

Critics have described as “chilling” the way the complaints committee initially handled Fruitman’s complaint against Thicke, and it raised further concerns about how Ontario’s medical regulator deals with sexual abuse complaints behind closed doors.

If not for Fruitman’s decision to appeal, it would not have become public that Thicke has faced a similar accusation in 1994. The complainant in that case went to the police, and Thicke admitted to officers to doing breast exams for pilot licenses for the last 38 years, according to a police report.

The police took no further action in that case, finding there had been “no intent” to commit sexual assault.

In its decision to send the complaint back to the CPSO complaints committee, the review board noted that while Thicke may not have had medical records about Fruitman, the committee did have in front of them her entire Transport Canada medical file, which confirmed she saw Thicke on the dates in question.

Yet the committee made no mention of the medical file in its initial decision to take no further action. The board found there was also no evidence to support the committee’s finding that a full physical examination including a breast exam was the “standard of care at the time” regarding the pilot physical.

The information before the complaints committee was “unambiguous” that a breast exam was not required for a private pilot’s license, the health review board said.

Story and photo ➤

Taiwan calls for talks with China on aviation issues

Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) Taiwan is calling for discussions with China on issues related to aviation management in the Taiwan Strait, in the wake of China's recent unilateral activation of four aviation routes close to the median line of the strait.

Last week, China reneged on a 2015 cross-strait agreement with Taiwan and unilaterally activated four new aviation routes in the Taiwan Strait -- a northbound path on the M503 route and three east-west extension routes called W121, W122 and W123.

The M503 at its nearest point is only 7.8 km from the centerline of the strait and close to the Taipei Flight Information Region, while the W122 and W123 are close to Taiwan's offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen, respectively.

China's move to open the four flight routes without prior negotiation with Taiwan has sparked concerns in Taipei about potential intrusions into domestic flight routes to and from Matsu and Kinmen.

Detailing such concerns, Lin Kuo-shian, director-general of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), said Xiang'an International Airport, under construction on China's southeast coast, is just 10 kilometers from Kinmen.

The Xiang'an airport in Xiamen, which is being built to ease congestion at Gaoqi International Airport in the same city in Fujian Province, is scheduled to be completed in 2020, he noted.

If the new airport begins operations without prior cross-strait negotiations, it will have a huge impact of air traffic in and out of Shang Yi Airport in Kinmen, as it is even closer than the Gaoqi airport, Lin said.

Expressing similar views, another CAA official Shiue Shao-yi said it is essential for civil aviation authorities in China and Taiwan hold discussions on flight route controls and other relevant issues before the Xiang'an airport opens.

He declined, however, to comment on aviation experts'speculations that when the new airport opens, a new flight route will be launched from Xiang'an to link with Taiwan's domestic routes to and from Kinmen.

It is not yet clear what routes Xiang'an airport will use, Shiue said. 

Original article can be found here ➤

St. Louis prosecutors seize $1.8 million, Raytheon Hawker 800, Ferretti Yacht “Navigante" and Pershing Yacht “Panacea" linked to Venezuelan men


ST. LOUIS • Federal prosecutors here are in the process of seizing a plane, two multimillion dollar yachts and more than $1.8 million from two men linked to allegations of money laundering in Venezuela.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says that a Raytheon Hawker 800 aircraft, a 100-foot 2014 Ferretti Yacht dubbed “Navigante” and an 82-foot 2015 Pershing Yacht named “Panacea” were among the assets bought by Venezuelan nationals Hjalmar Gibelli-Gomez and Fabrizio Della Polla De-Simone.

Both have consented to the seizure and admitted the money laundering, a Dec. 22 filing in U.S. District Court in St. Louis says, adding that the assets were bought with profits from an illegal scheme to swap Venezuelan currency for U.S. dollars on the black market.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Casey declined to comment on details of the case but did say, “This was great work by the (Drug Enforcement Administration) and IRS investigators that worked on the case.”

No lawyers are listed for Gibelli and Della Polla in federal court here, and neither could be reached for comment.

Prosecutors say that Della Polla was majority owner of a poultry farm, and Gibelli is the president of an insurance company. Della Polla submitted false and inflated invoices worth more than $11 million through Gibelli’s insurance company to obtain U.S. dollars at a preferred rate through a government commission with authority to sell dollars to certain groups for limited purposes.

The Venezuelan government enacted currency controls to prevent capital flight by citizens seeking to avoid economic, political and social instability, the filing says.

Between October 2011 and April 2015, $173 million was wired into an account at Wells Fargo Advisors, which is based in St. Louis, and $160 million was wired out, spread out among more than 650 wire transfers, the filing says.

Gibelli bought the plane for $1.8 million in July 2012, using funds from the Wells Fargo account, and then paid $130,000 to a Florida company to customize it, the filing says.

The plane was seized by the U.S. government on Oct. 16, 2016.

Gibelli used $2.8 million from Wells Fargo and $4.5 million from another account in 2013 and 2014 to buy the Navigante, and Della Polla paid $6.8 million for the Panacea in 2014, the filing says.

Officials seized the Panacea in Miami on Oct. 28, 2016. Investigators tracked down the Navigante on the island of Bonaire on Sept. 11, 2017, and it has since been moved to the U.S., the filing says.

Lilly Ann Sanchez, a Miami lawyer who spent 12 years as a federal prosecutor and rose to chief of major crimes, said forfeiture cases like the one in St. Louis have become common since the Venezuelan financial crisis and Venezuela’s efforts to control inflation by keeping currency in the country.

In the last 10 or 12 years, she said, there has been a “huge swing” in the bolivar that can cost the wealthy dearly.

“One day they’ll have a million dollars, the next day ... they’ll have $100k,” she said.

That provides a lot of incentive for people to use unlicensed money transfer businesses, which can take fees of 10 to 15 percent, she said.

“So there’s a lot of money to be made, very, very quickly,” she said.

Sanchez said there are a lot of forfeiture cases being filed in major cities in Florida, Texas and New York with connections to a large number of Venezuelans.

She said that in some cases, prosecutors will seek the arrest of a person allegedly laundering money if the person travels to the U.S. or a country that will extradite the person to the U.S. Or they may agree not to prosecute if someone consents to the forfeiture of the assets.

Story and photo ➤

Coast Guard suspends use of Beaumont Hospital landing site after resident complaints: Crews are being told to use Dublin Airport for transfers to Beaumont Hospital, adding up to 20 minutes onto the journey for the patient

The Coast Guard's helicopter service has suspended the use of the designated landing site for Beaumont Hospital after complaints from local residents.

For the last number of years, a football pitch close to the hospital has been used as a landing site by both the Coast Guard helicopter service and the Air Corps to deliver patients to Beaumont, which is the country’s national centre for neurosurgery.

The Coast Guard was involved in 20 incidents which involved a drop-off at the site in Beaumont in 2017. However has learned that following complaints from local residents, Coast Guard helicopter crews are now being diverted to Dublin Airport instead.

In a post on its Facebook page back in November, the Beaumont Woods Residents Association, which represents people living in the Beaumont Woods estate beside the site, said it had made complaints about the helicopters landing “in such close proximity to our homes and our children”.

The association said the proximity of the helicopters “raises serious safety concerns”.

The complaints also referenced “the frequency of the helicopters and how traffic comes to a standstill as passersby stop to check this out”.

The association said it was “only a matter of time before someone gets knocked down, running across the road to see the action”.

“Or worse still, there’s a wobble on landing and a crash.”

One member of the association told that they had been given the impression the use of the football pitch would only be temporary, after the on-site heli-pad at the hospital was replaced with a staff car park.

However, it has been years now and the hospital has not replaced the landing site on its grounds.

“It’s right on our doorstep,” he said. “People have been very patient and haven’t complained for many years, but the take off and landing of a helicopter is quite dangerous. It’s landing next to a school, to houses and there is an autism school nearby as well, so that can be disruptive for the children there.”

“Obviously the work they [emergency services] do is very important and we don’t want to hinder that, but the safety has to be looked at.”

Addressing residents on the Facebook page in a comment in November, Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath said he had made representations to Health Minister Simon Harris and had “highlighted the serious safety concerns”.

“I am waiting for a response and you have my support,” he told them. Labour TD Brendan Ryan and Sinn Féin TD Denise Mitchell have also recently questioned the minister about the issue.

‘That’s adding on time’

The association later received a letter from Coast Guard operations manager Gerard O’Flynn to confirm that helicopter landings beside the housing estate had been suspended, pending the completion of a suitability survey.

A spokesperson for the Coast Guard confirmed to that its helicopter service had suspended use of the football pitch at Mercy College, Beaumont, as a designated landing site on 25 November 2017.

They said the Coast Guard has been in correspondence with the local residents association on the matter.

Air Corps crews have not been directed to stop using the site, despite the complaints.

One emergency services source told that the use of Dublin Airport instead of the football pitch beside the hospital could negatively impact on the level of care the patient receives.

“Suppose you have a serious head injury and now you have to go the airport, that’s adding on at least 15 or 20 minutes getting someone from there. It can be tricky trying to get the ambulance in and out of security and then there’s traffic in Dublin. If it’s a critical case you’re adding on time.

‘Nobody wants it stopped’

Although residents of the Beaumont Woods estate are opposed to the use of the site by helicopter crews transporting patients to the hospital, residents in other areas around the football pitch have expressed concern that the Coast Guard has decided to stop using it.

Des Maguire, chairperson of the Beaumont Residents Association, which covers the whole Beaumont area, told that his association had not made any complaints like those made by the other residents association.

“Ours is by far a bigger and more representative association, it’s been around for 21 years and we do discuss these things at our AGMs. While there are certain concerns say about the safety, nobody wants the thing stopped,” he said.

“The hospital is very much part of who we are here and it’s an integral part of the community. We are very much aware that every time the helicopter comes here it’s landing in here for a very particular reason – mostly for head injuries where every minute counts. Nobody in our association wants to stop that or to take away any chance a patient has of living.

Beaumont Hospital declined to comment on the decision to suspend use of the nearby site or the impact this is having on patient care.

Story, comments and photo ➤

Steinhoff International to Sell $25 Million Gulfstream Jet as Funds Ebb

Steinhoff International Holdings NV, the South African retailer laid low by an accounting scandal, is selling one of its more high-flying assets as it seeks liquidity to keep itself alive.

The owner of United Kingdom discounter Poundland and bedding supplier Mattress Firm in the United States is in discussions with a potential buyer of a 2006 Gulfstream G550 private jet that’s shuttled executives around the world, according to a person familiar with the situation. The luxuriously appointed aircraft previously had a price tag of about $25 million.

The plane was put up for sale after the company announced on Dec. 5 that it had uncovered accounting irregularities, the person said. The disclosure prompted a plunge in the share price of Frankfurt- and Johannesburg-listed Steinhoff, along with the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste and Chairman Christo Wiese. Steinhoff on Thursday said it’s seeking “significant near-term liquidity” for some of its business units.

Steinhoff said it took delivery of the jet in April last year. It was advertised by Global Jet, an operator of business aircraft, for $24.75 million in 2016. The sale brochure shows the interior fitted out in cream-colored leather seating, wood paneling and a marble-and-brass bathroom.

The plane, certified for 16 passengers, left Frankfurt on Dec. 3 to fly to South Africa and was last tracked in Cape Town on Dec. 7, according to online flight logs. The jet also made stops in Johannesburg, Vienna and Dublin last year. It’s registered with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Steinhoff, by email, confirmed plans to sell the jet but declined to comment further, saying all of its corporate information is being communicated via the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s news service.

Racehorses Sold

In addition to wiping more than 11 billion euros ($13 billion) off the company’s stock value, the accounting scandal has taken a steep toll on the wealth and lifestyle of some of its principals. Wiese, the largest shareholder, has seen his net worth cut by more than half, to $2.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Jooste has sold some racehorses.

Steinhoff said in a December presentation that lines of credit were increasingly being withdrawn or suspended and it sold a stake in South African investment holding company PSG Group Ltd., raising about $345 million.

The retailer on Friday said it sold the Vienna flagship store of the Leiner furniture brand to a company controlled by Austrian real estate investor Rene Benko. Neither the buyer nor the seller disclosed financial details.

The Amsterdam-registered retailer has said it will restate earnings for 2015, 2016 and 2017, with figures for prior years also “likely” to need restating.

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Jet fuel spill at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (KFLL), Broward County, Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Hundreds of gallons of fuel spilled out on the ground at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Sunday afternoon.

According to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, a JetBlue plane was being refueled when the jet fuel leaked onto the ground.

Hazmat teams arrived to the scene to secure excess leaking fuel and oversee foam operations.

The spill did not affect airport operations.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Hundred of gallons of jet fuel spilled Sunday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, officials said.

Battalion Chief Michael Kane, a spokesman for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, said the spill occurred around 1 p.m. at gate E10 as workers tried to refuel a JetBlue aircraft.

A good portion of the fuel flowed into a storm drain, which contained most of the spill, Kane said.

The Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue hazardous materials units were on hand to clean up the excess fuel, Kane said. The units were also overseeing foam operations, which suppress harmful vapors.

No one was hurt because of the spill, Kane said.

Gregory Meyer, a spokesman for the airport, said the spill did not affect any flights. He said the plane was empty when the spill occurred. 

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Guyana Civil Aviation Authority summons Fly Jamaica

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The management of Fly Jamaica Airways has been summoned to a meeting with officials at the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) following reports of an increase in flight cancellations and delays in recent weeks.

According to News Source Guyana, GCAA Director General, Egbert Field said the meeting is likely to take place in the coming week.

In recent days, scores of passengers have been left stranded as the airline cancelled a number of its flights and delayed others.

It's reported that problems started just before the Christmas holidays as both of the airline's planes went out of service for maintenance.

New Source Guyana reports that Fly Jamaica leased another aircraft to clear the backlog of flights but also encountered several delays with those flights as the Christmas and New Year travel season picked up.

The problems have prompted passengers to take to social media.

In an effort to address concerns, Fly Jamaica on Friday apologized for problems with its service, stating that the airline has been experiencing some operational setbacks that have resulted in its schedule service being affected.

“Fly Jamaica Airways' aircraft are currently undergoing scheduled and unscheduled maintenance checks. As a result, we have and continue to engage third party entities to assist with our operations. Unfortunately, several of these third-party entities are also experiencing difficulties due to the adverse weather conditions in North America”, the airline said in a statement posted on its website.

The airline indicated that it is working “assiduously” to restore regular operations.

Fly Jamaica falls under the Wings Aviation company and operates scheduled flights from Guyana to Kingston (Jamaica), Toronto (Canada) and New York (USA). The airline also recently received the green light to begin operations to Cuba.

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Skydive City: Fatal accident occurred January 07, 2018 in Zephyrhills, Pasco County, Florida

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. — Zephyrhills police have identified the skydiver that died Sunday afternoon following a hard landing as Joshua Butzke, 26, from Connecticut.

Butzke is the latest fatality at Skydive City following the November 13 death of Kurt A. Tracy, 36. Tracy died after his parachute and backup failed to open, according to General Manager of the facility TK Hayes.

"They hit the ground at full speed and were killed on impact, instantly," said General Manager TK Hayes.

Hayes says neither the main parachute or reserve were pulled.

“It rattles people, that is a bad statistical run for us we are not normally like that,” Hayes said. “It sure wakes people up around the drop zone. The sport is serious and small problems can turn into big ones quickly.”

Butzke was relatively new to skydiving. Experienced jumpers will have as many as 5,000 to 10,000 jumps under their belt. Hayes said Butzke had 85 recorded jumps.  He made 13 of those at Skydive City, according to Hayes.

“We provide the airplane rides for you and you can go have some fun but having said that as well when you do stupid stuff we have Safety people we go talk to you and will ground you if you are really being reckless,” Hayes said.

They don’t have an exact cause for the hard landing that claimed Butzke’s life but believe he had some sort of equipment failure.

”He deployed his parachute at a normal altitude, he was flying straight. Somewhere, around we guess, 800 to a thousand feet the parachute began a very very steep spiral all the way to the ground.  He was he dealing with a problem with the left toggle,” Hayes said. “That parachute was in a very severe left diving turn when he hit the ground. And we know that he entered into that for four or five revolutions which doesn’t automatically happen on its own. We are pretty sure he was dealing with some kind of problem.”

Hayes said Butzke hit the ground at a high rate of speed. He was immediately rushed to an area hospital where he died a short time later.

Zephyrhills police said the accident is still under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration will send someone out to Skydive City to make sure there were no issues with his plane.  

The United States Parachute Association said most of the deaths each year are preventable.  

Out of nearly 4 million jumps in 2017 there were 24 deaths.  In 2016, there were also 24 deaths.  

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Joshua Butzke

ZEPHYRHILLS — Joshua Butzke never shied away from adventure — from skydiving to scuba diving, even cage diving with sharks.

He loved "traveling and experiencing things," said his sister, Eva Wein on Monday.

On Sunday, the 25-year-old, who was visiting from Connecticut, died from injuries he sustained in a skydiving accident at Skydive City, according to the Zephyrhills Police Department. The parachuting center is at Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

Butzke jumped from the plane at 13,500 feet and opened his parachute at about 3,500 feet, according to David "T.K." Hayes, general manager of Skydive City. Somewhere between 1,000 feet and 800 feet above the ground, the open parachute began spiraling, which caused a hard landing and "devastating" injuries, Hayes said.

Butzke was on his second day skydiving with the center, Hayes said, and had jumped 13 times over the two days. Butzke was licensed to skydive in New York in 2017, according to Hayes.

He was on his 85th jump ever, and was jumping with one other person when his parachute spun out of control, Hayes said.

Butzke’s sister was with family members on Long Island Monday. She called her brother "just a truly wonderful person."

"He loved his family with everything he had," Wein said. "He lived for his nephews. He lived for his family. Nothing in the world was more important to him."

Wein said she texted Butzke two hours before his last jump.

He was a financial planner for three years in Norwalk, Connecticut, according to Wein. He was born and raised in Port Jefferson Station, New York.

Officers responded about 4:20 p.m. Sunday to a call about a parachutist down at the business at 4241 Sky Dive Lane.

Butzke was taken to East Pasco Medical Center, officers said, where he was pronounced dead about 5:10 p.m. from injuries related to the fall.

It is unclear what caused Butzke’s parachute to spin, Hayes said, but the Federal Aviation Administration will look for clues during its investigation. He expects officials to arrive Wednesday.

"I don’t know that we’re ever going to be able to come to an exact conclusion," Hayes said Monday. Skydive City closed Sunday after the incident, but skydivers were back out on Monday.

In early November, an experienced, 36-year-old parachutist died at Skydive City.

The FAA will investigate the latest incident along with the Zephyrhills Police Department, authorities said. 

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Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N733CL, C F Images LLC: Incident occurred January 07, 2018 in Lafayette Township, Sussex County, New Jersey

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Teterboro, New Jersey

C F Images LLC:

Aircraft landed in a field due to engine failure.

Date: 07-JAN-18
Time: 20:45:00Z
Regis#: N733CL
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172N
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Jan Schneider was inside his house reading a book on Sunday afternoon when a single-engine plane made an emergency landing in a nearby field.

Schneider, though, heard nothing -- and had no idea what had happened until about two hours later when a New Jersey State Trooper knocked on his front door.

On Monday, Schneider walked about a quarter-mile to the field, located on a neighboring farm just beyond the borders of his 24-acre property on Van Sickle Road.

The Cessna 172N Skyhawk was still there, and did not appear to be significantly damaged.

"It looks like you could put some gas in it and fly it out of there," Schneider said.

The pilot and passenger were unhurt in the landing, which happened at about 3:45 p.m. Sunday, State Police spokesman Lt. Ted Schafer said.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said an engine problem was reported and that the agency is investigating.

Schafer said the pilot took off from Essex County Airport for flying practice, about 30 minutes before making what authorities described as a "hard landing."

The field is located about 8 miles from Sussex Airport in Wantage.

Schafer said the only damage was to the front landing gear.

Removing the plane might prove challenging, Schneider said, as the impromptu landing strip is bordered by woods on one side and at the edge of a cornfield.

Of the pilot, Schneider said, "He probably just glided it in."

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LAFAYETTE -- A Cessna 172N Skyhawk made an emergency landing in a field off Meadows Road Sunday afternoon, according to state police.

Lt. Ted Schafer said the pilot reported that his Cessna 172N Skyhawk lost power and he attempted to coast the plane into an open field.

The pilot was able to land successfully with only minor damage to the front nose wheel.

The occupants of the plane -- identified as Ilya Kipnis, 22, of Brooklyn, New York and Auraham Kohen, 42, of Demarest, New Jersey -- were not injured, Schafer said.

The pair had departed from Caldwell Airport at 2:15 p.m. and were doing some flying practice over the Lafayette area.

After the electrical or mechanical issue and subsequent emergency landing, troopers responded at about 3:45 p.m. and transported the pair to the barracks in Frankford where they were picked up by the aircraft owner, Schafer said.

The plane, tail number N733CL, is registered to C.F. Images LLC out of Fairfield, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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