Sunday, March 25, 2018

Incident occurred March 25, 2018 at T.F. Green Airport (KPVD), Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island

WARWICK, R.I. — Safety personnel assembled at the runway Sunday night for the landing of a United Airlines flight from Chicago that reported trouble with its landing gear.

Roads near the airport were closed to traffic for about a minute, Warwick police Lt. Joseph Petrarca said.

The flight landed without incident at 9:20 p.m., two minutes after its scheduled arrival, said airport spokesman Bill Fischer.

The problem was in the nose-wheel steering, so the aircraft had to be towed to the gate. It was carrying 53 people, Fischer said.

No other flights were affected, Fischer said, and mechanics were inspecting the plane.

The flight had been scheduled to end at Green.

Original article  ➤  http://www.providencejournal.com



WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A plane landed safely at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick Sunday night.

53 people were on board the United Airlines flight from Chicago.

It was scheduled to land in Rhode Island, but had a reported problem with nose gear, according to Rhode Island Airport Corporation spokesman Bill Fischer.

We’re told, the plane landed without incident, but there was a steering issue once on the ground and it had to be towed to the gate.

The plane is now being inspected by mechanics.

Crews from the Warwick Fire Department had been staged at the airport, but were cleared once the plane landed, according to fire officials.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://wpri.com

Free skydives offered to firefighters, first responders in gratitude for work during Sonoma County wildfires

Jim Kracke, a captain with Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority, squeezes into a plane with tandem instructor Robby Soria. 



One after the other, Sonoma Valley Fire Captain Jim Kracke and firefighter Max Psaledakis hurled themselves out of a plane Sunday afternoon, 10,000 feet over Novato beneath clear blue spring skies.

Psaledakis, 18, nailed the landing. A perfect step one, step two, onto the landing area at Gnoss Field.

His dad, fellow Sonoma Valley firefighter George Psaledakis, yipped and hollered as he watched his return to Earth, filming the landing on his smartphone before heading over to give the teen a hug.

Kracke looked on from down the field, rubbing his ankle. His landing came about a minute before, and wasn’t quite so picturesque.



A good sport about it nonetheless, within minutes he was back to cracking jokes, all three firefighters discussing whether Max Psaledakis, a senior at Sonoma Valley High School, should perhaps consider a career as a smokejumper, the highly trained wildland firefighters who parachute into remote areas.

The trio were at Gnoss Field Saturday as part of a thank you to first responders, put on by Skydive Golden Gate owners Michael and Kate Knight — grateful that firefighters saved their Sonoma home when the October wildfires threatened their neighborhood.

Tandem skydives with the year-old company are usually $199, plus an extra $120 for a video and picture package, but the Knights wanted to give them away to first responders for free.

“It’s all we have to give,” Kate Knight said.

In all, 23 first responders and family members signed up for the skydive sessions, put on all day by Skydive Golden Gate.

“I said to Max, ‘well, I’m 59, so I’ve kind of seen and done everything,’” George Psaledakis said. “I feel fulfilled in life, and I said there’s one more way to fulfill my life.”

The two Psaledakis men and Kracke were together on the initial call the night of Oct. 8, responding together to a fire reported on Nuns Canyon Road. The night spiraled from there.

“We get maybe one or two structure fires a year, and that night we had a choice,” George Psaledakis said. “We had to pick and choose which ones we thought we could save. It was crazy.”

“Four days straight, no sleep,” Kracke said.

Sunday was their first time skydiving, and other than Kracke’s slight misstep, all went according to plan.

As part of the day, Gnoss Field Community Association pilots offered up their planes to the first responders, too, giving aerial tours of the burn scars in Sonoma and Napa counties.

The Psaledakis men climbed onboard a Cirrus SR22 piloted by Novato resident Rick Beach. Why did Beach volunteer? “It’s payback,” he said.

Flying north along Highway 101, he punched in the GPS coordinates for Glen Ellen, where the Psaldedakis men live. It would mark the end of a loop that took the firefighters over some of the most devastated parts of the North Bay, including Coffey Park, Mark West and Fountaingrove — their scraped lots and charred landscape clearly visible from the air.

“A lot of emotions,” George Psaledakis said, hovering over Fountaingrove. “It’s pretty sad. I had survivor’s guilt for a few weeks.” 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.pressdemocrat.com

ArgenTech Solutions: Company wants to train commercial drone pilots at Concord Municipal Airport (KCON)

A company that trains corporate and government clients to operate drones wants to set up shop at the Concord Municipal Airport to help figure out how unmanned vehicles can work alongside piloted aircraft. If the plan goes through, this would be one of the first such operations in the country.

ArgenTech Solutions, a nine-year-old firm based in Newmarket with operations overseas, has received permission from the city council to rent out a portion of one hangar, both to house drones and to set up a training facility. It still needs permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones inside the airport’s controlled airspace.

“It’s an emerging technology, and we’d love to be at the front of it,” said David Rolla, who manages the airport for Concord Aviation Systems, which leases the airport from the city.

In a November presentation to the Concord Airport Advisory Committee, Rita Hunt, a former aviation planner with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation who works for ArgenTech, said the firm had looked at other small airports but “the layout and location of the Concord airport is more compatible to their business plan.”

According to minutes of the meeting, the company wants to house a training program at the airport for “professional pilots, military or commercial operators.” Drones would be flown “an estimated six to eight days per month” and no research and development is planned, they said.

The Airport Advisory Committee approved the idea, as did the Concord City Council.

ArgenTech declined to give details of its plans or timeline beyond this statement: “We are in the development stages of a program that would provide commercial UAS (unmanned aerial system) services and professional UAS training opportunities to public safety entities, as well as companies interested in entering into UAS market. The focus of these trainings and services will be the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System and advanced aeronautical training for UAS operators.”

Corporate statements aside, ArgenTech has it ssare experience in New Hampshire drone training.

“If anyone knows how to do this, how to fly and create a training area over there at an airport, it’s ArgenTech,” said Jim Cloutier, who owns a drone-photography businesses and teaches the drone-operator certification program in UNH’s professional development system. ArgenTech has participated in that UNH program in the past, he said. “ArgenTech has wanted to do this for a while.”

Carol Niewola, senior aviation planner with the state Department of Transportation, said the FAA is trying to streamline the application for waivers like the one that ArgenTech needs because companies are clamoring to set up in or near airports.

While no operation like this exists in New Hampshire, and she knows of none in the country, Niewola said the proposal didn’t surprise her.

“The technology is advancing so fast. It’s just a matter of the rules and the agencies like us keeping up with them,” she said.

An internet search finds a couple of instances around the country of drone companies wanting to set up at small airports like Concord Municipal, but none of them appear to have been put in place just yet.

ArgenTech not only trains drone operators but helps develop drones and related equipment and contracts for maintenance and field operators for a range of services. According to press releases, these include remote sensing for scientific climate-change research on the Arctic coast of Alaska, helping the British Navy arrest drug-smugglers in the Indian Ocean, and partnering with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the production of a long-endurance drone for research observation that lasts days, weeks or more.

Long-endurance drones are usually fixed-wing aircraft, like a small airplane, rather than the design used by hobbyist drones which are like small helicopters with multiple rotors. Fixed-wing drones need some sort of runway, which may be part of the reason that ArgenTech wants to come to Concord.

“They’re going to sell the equipment, the training, the follow-up and whatever needs to go with it,” Cloutier said.

The company’s website says that since 2011 it has provided “60,000 hours of frontline field services to the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as drone-based imaging to markets as diverse as agriculture, digital mapping, and oil and natural gas.”

However, mixing drones and airports is not easy because of safety concerns.

Under FAA rules, recreational drone operators should let the airport know when they’re flying within 5 miles of it – a radius that covers most of Concord – but that notification rarely happens. Concord Airport does not have a control tower.

Rolla, the airport manager, noted that ArgenTech doesn’t deal with hobbyists.

“I think the big difference is that at the commercial level, the people are pilots. They’re abiding by all the rules and regulations that normal pilots would be in a piloted aircraft. The fact that they happen to be standing behind a computer screen doesn’t make a great difference,” he said.

Original article ➤  http://www.concordmonitor.com

Florida Department of Corrections investigates after drone drops contraband at Panhandle prison

A package of contraband covered in grass clippings that was dropped by a drone at a Panhandle prison is one of the most recent examples of inmates using advanced technology to smuggle illegal items behind prison walls.

Authorities are investigating two confirmed drone drops at Florida prisons in the last 30 days. One of those drops was discovered at a Panhandle prison after correctional officers spotted the drone, which was delivering a cellphone and tobacco.

The Florida Department of Corrections declined to specify at which institution the drop happened and would only confirm it happened at a prison in the Northwest region of the state.

But FDC said using drones to smuggle contraband into prisons is a growing problem.

"We know that drones are a real issue," FDC spokeswoman Michelle Glady said earlier this week, adding that aside from the two confirmed sighting, there have been several other suspected drone-related drops.


A drone incidents fact sheet provided by the department says the drone was observed by a correctional officer, who saw it successfully deliver contraband inside of the prison.

The correctional officers immediately responded to the area where the drone was spotted and found the package, which contained a cellphone with accessories such as chargers, earbuds and a SIM card, and several grams of tobacco.

The package was covered with dead grass clipping in an apparent attempt to camouflage or conceal the package.

Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, said he was made aware of the drone issue during recent tours of area facilities. Broxson recently told the News Journal that he has spent the last several months touring prisons across the state to try to find a way to curb a recent spike in inmate deaths.

He said he has learned drugs and other contraband often lead to violence inside the prisons, either through the erratic behavior that drug use can cause or through issues like gangs or debts.

"It's really a high-tech operation and the fact they're obviously coordinating with people outside to drop these items is scary," Broxson said.

Glady, the FDC spokeswoman, said drone usage is plaguing prisons across the nation, and most corrections departments are trying to keep up with new technology.

"We've had two confirmed sightings this year, which doesn't sound like a lot, but in years past, it was completely unheard of," she said.

Lawmakers proposed legislation at this year's session that would have added prisons and county jails to the list of sites where drone usage is prohibited, but those bills did not pass.

Both Senate Bill 624 and House Bill 471 successfully went through multiple subcommittees before dying and being withdrawn from consideration March 10.


Assistant State Attorney James Parker, who primarily covers Santa Rosa County where Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and Blackwater River Correctional Institution are located, said he is aware of cases across the state where drones have dropped contraband, but his office is not currently investigating of those any cases.

He said if a case does come forward, his office would aggressively pursue a conviction under the charge of introducing contraband into a correctional facility.

Parker said the most common items dropped by drones are drugs or cellphones, and smuggling those would lead to a second-degree felony charge that could carry up to a 15-year sentence.

"It doesn't matter what means you use, whether it's high tech or an unsophisticated manner, they all come under that same statute," Parker said.

Glady said the department foresees some issues in investigating drone smuggling operations because it can be difficult to determine contraband was dropped by a drone unless correctional officers spot the device in action. Also, a drone operator does not need to be close by to work the device.

Glady said any drone-related contraband cases will be investigated by the department's Office of the Inspector General and forwarded to the State Attorney's Office.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.pnj.com

United States pilot shortage reaching 'crisis,' meaning fewer flights, destinations for airports like in Fargo, North Dakota



FARGO — The airline industry has been sounding the alarm for years about the nationwide shortage of pilots. It's a growing problem fueled by a mix of factors, including federal aviation rule changes, mandatory retirements and economic reasons.

Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of the Municipal Airport Authority at Fargo's Hector International Airport, says the shortage is approaching a crisis level.

The industry could be short 16,000 to 20,000 pilots over the next three to five years, he said, with airports in rural areas in the crosshairs for losing service. "Small communities around the country, if they aren't, should have been put on notice some time ago," Dobberstein said.

Larger communities are feeling the effects as well.

Dobberstein is concerned about Fargo's airport losing flights on short notice due to a lack of pilots. He said the shortage is preventing Fargo from getting additional flights to hubs in Minneapolis, Chicago, Dallas and Denver.

It's also standing in the way of nonstop service to Seattle, daily service to Atlanta and the return of service to Salt Lake City, he said.

Trans States Airlines flies on behalf of United Airlines as United Express in and out of Fargo, Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston.

Chief Operating Officer Fred Oxley said he'd like to hire at least 100 more pilots at Trans States.

He has 10 idle aircraft sitting on the ground, getting no production while the expense to maintain them adds up.

"It's not going to get better, it's going to get worse," Oxley said.

New rules and retirements

Jim Higgins, chair of the University of North Dakota Department of Aviation in Grand Forks, studies industry trends and helps put out a "Pilot Supply Forecast" on request.

In 2009, the U.S. Air Force asked the department to look at the future pilot supply.

When the data was first analyzed, Higgins said, they thought they'd made a mistake because every model predicted a cataclysmic pilot shortage sometime in the future.

"It was met with pretty widespread skepticism, especially because we were in the throes of a pretty bad recession," he said, adding that many pilots were on furlough at the time.

Then in 2013, a new Federal Aviation Administration rule took effect, creating a much longer timeline for pilots to get certified.

It was the result of a deadly accident four years prior, when a regional aircraft stalled and crashed on its approach to Buffalo, New York, killing 50 people.

The new rule required co-pilots of passenger aircraft to receive more training — 1,500 hours worth of flying time rather than the previous 250 hours.

Another big factor in the dwindling ranks is the aging of the pilot population.

In the U.S., pilots must retire at age 65, and many are at or near that age, Higgins said.

As they retire, major airlines will continue pulling talent from regional airlines, leaving those carriers to scramble to find qualified people to fly their planes.

"They will basically take up all of the regional pilots that are flying today, so there's this huge gap," Dobberstein said.




Freshmen courted for pilot jobs

UND's Aviation Department hopes its graduating students will help fill that gap.

Chief flight instructor Jeremy Roesler said he has about 900 students on the flight schedule and 170 flight instructors on staff.

The school's on pace for record freshmen enrollment in commercial aviation, with 693 students admitted for this fall, compared with 511 students in 2017 and 388 students in 2016.

Those students will be courted by airline representatives, just as first-year students are now.

"The amount of facetime the airlines are coming here to town and other schools is way up," Roesler said.

Most regional airlines are even giving conditional job offers to pilots before they reach their required number of flying hours, he said, in order to secure them early.

Another favorable development for pilots is better pay.

Higgins said aviation graduates can expect entry-level wages from $70,000 to $80,000, up dramatically from $25,000 to $30,000 just three years ago.

Third-year UND student Josh Sanchez hopes to become a corporate pilot, then earn a PhD in aerospace engineering so he can design and test future aircraft.

He said the schooling is tough, but with a lack of pilots, the timing is good to enter aviation.

"The end goal is flying airplanes, so in the end, it's all about that," Sanchez said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.inforum.com

Tobias MacDonald: Ladner man receives Decoration for Bravery; Cessna 172S Skyhawk, C-GFAM

Tobias MacDonald was recognized for his bravery with a medal from the Governor General.




Ladner’s Tobias MacDonald received a Decoration for Bravery from the Governor General in Victoria Wednesday.

He was part of a group of people who helped pull two individuals from a crashed and burning Cessna 172S Skyhawk in Crawford Bay in 2014. One of the victims died from the crash.

“There were flames everywhere,” he recalled.

MacDonald, 42, was outside barbecuing when he heard the plane crash. The plane had crashed onto a golf course and was upside down and on fire while he and other rescuers worked to free the two people onboard.

“My biggest memory is one of the tires popped maybe a few feet from my head, from the flames. It went ‘BANG’ and scared the hell out of me,” he said.

MacDonald, who teaches cooking at Vancouver Community College, was in Crawford Bay, which is east of Nelson, for his mother’s memorial.

He received a medal and certificate at the ceremony in Victoria.

“It was a huge honor,” he said.

“Decorations for Bravery recognize people who risk their lives and choose to defy their own instinct of survival to try to save a loved one or a perfect stranger whose life is in immediate danger,” the Governor General’s website explains.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.newwestrecord.ca

DuBois Regional Airport (KDUJ) continues to show signs of growth

DuBOIS — Compared to this time last year, the number of passengers flying out of the DuBois Regional Airport is up by nearly 59 percent, according to statistics discussed at a meeting of the Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority Friday.

Five hundred and sixty outbound passengers have been recorded at the airport so far this year, compared to 353 by last February.

The number of airline landings recorded at the airport for that same span of time are also up by about 63 percent. One hundred sixty-nine landings were recorded by February of last year, while 276 have so far been recorded this year.

At Friday’s authority meeting, Airport Manager Bob Shaffer credited those figures to the increased frequency of flights offered by Southern Airways Express. Southern took over as the airport’s essential air service provider from Silver Airways last January.

“They really seem to be doing the job for us and doing a good job, as evidenced by these numbers,” Shaffer said.

The airport will also soon accept bids for new radio equipment upgrades, Shaffer told the board, and a federal survey of possible airport obstructions was also recently completed.

The survey suggested that some trees around the airport be trimmed or removed, though authority member Dave Brennan remarked that they did not pose a safety risk. Brennan said most of the trees identified by the survey were located on property the airport does not own, but that property could be purchased with financial assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Original article  ➤  http://www.thecourierexpress.com

Air Canada Express, Embraer ERJ-175LR, C-FUJA: Incident occurred March 25, 2018 at Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD)



An Air Canada flight made an emergency landing in Washington, D.C. after pilots found smoke in the cockpit on Sunday evening.

Flight AC 7618 took off from Toronto Pearson International Airport around 5 p.m. and was destined for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, but made an emergency landing at Washington Dulles International Airport. All 63 passengers and four crew members exited the plane on the tarmac and were not injured, according to a spokesperson for Sky Regional, which operated the Air Canada flight.

David Brown was a passenger on the flight and he told the Star that the plane was in the air for about an hour when the crew announced there would be an emergency landing. He said 15 minutes after the announcement, the plane had landed and evacuation slides were deployed on the front and back of the aircraft.

Brown said he and the other passengers were escorted to another terminal while baggage was taken off the plane. He said an Air Canada official told the passengers that they woud be given taxi vouchers for the remaining travel distance.

“I’m just glad to have landed safely,” Brown told the Star over the phone. He said he was on vacation in Toronto with his wife and 16-year-old son.

“Everything was calm, but when we got off the plane that’s when the emotions came, but we’re all fine.”

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.thestar.com



An Air Canada flight from Toronto to Washington, D.C., made an emergency landing Sunday evening due to smoke reported in the aircraft. 

Air Canada Express flight AC7618 landed at Washington Dulles Airport and was evacuated. 

The plane was to land at Reagan National, another Washington-area airport about 38 kilometres away. 

Sky Regional, which operated the flight on behalf of Air Canada, said in a statement that all 63 passengers and four crew members were unharmed after exiting the plane on the tarmac.

Passenger David Brown told CBC Toronto that the incident happened shortly after 6 p.m. ET and it took about 15 minutes to land the plane after one of the captains announced there was smoke in the cockpit.

"We smelled a slight burning odour, but there was no smoke or fire in the cabin," he said. "Passengers were calm and quiet after the flight attendants said we would be making an emergency landing and went through procedures." 

Passenger Dennis Molinaro said the smoke was coming through the vent above his seat about halfway through the flight.

"There was some worried looks on the flight attendants' faces up front, and there was a little bit of a haze closer to the cockpit," he said. "We were a little worried. Then we got the announcement we were going to make an emergency landing, and it was the scariest thing I've been through."

He said other passengers were frightened, but composed through the experience.



Landing was orderly, passenger says

"Everybody was pretty calm and we got out, everybody was orderly getting out." Molinaro said. "Everybody was in the field and relieved and hugging and calling people."

He says the staff was "incredibly professional" through the emergency landing.

"They were composed the whole time. They kept everybody together organized, calm," Molinaro said. "

[The firefighter] said it was the most orderly emergency landing he had ever seen."

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said authorities are working to determine the cause of the smoke and are working with ground staff to tow the aircraft off the airport runway. 

The incident has closed one runway at Washington Dulles Airport, but other runways are open. The MWAA says the airport is otherwise operating normally. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.cbc.ca

Lack of spare parts hampers F-35 program

Congressman Matt Gaetz: “While we’ve not been late in graduating any pilots yet, I’ve been told that we are rapidly approaching the inability to accomplish the mission.”

EGLIN AFB — Problems with repairing parts and acquiring spare parts for the F-35 Lightning II could jeopardize pilot training for the next-generation stealth fighter jet, according to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Without a quick solution for the spare parts issue, “Eglin will begin missing pilot graduation goals,” said Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, whose congressional district includes Eglin Air Force Base.

The issue has also attracted the attention of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

In a Thursday email, the senator’s press office said Rubio’s staff “recently met with the commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base to discuss the maintenance and availability issues the wing is facing.”

The email noted that Rubio “will work with the Air Force to find a solution to ensure F-35 pilot training continues to grow in Florida.”

Eglin is one of two F-35 training sites, the other being Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base. The spare parts problem, comprising both a shortage of parts and problems with the quick repair of broken parts, has been widely reported in the aviation press.

Aviation Week & Space Technology reported recently that maintenance personnel at the 33rd Fighter Wing “are constantly battling for parts.”

The Aviation Week & Space Technology quoted Gaetz from a March 7 hearing of the Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

“We’ve gotten report after report that the parts are not available to ensure that we’ve got capable aircraft to meet the training syllabus,” Gaetz told the subcommittee, according to the magazine story. “While we’ve not been late in graduating any pilots yet, I’ve been told that we are rapidly approaching the inability to accomplish the mission.”

Gaetz said Friday the availability of spare parts for the F-35 has become such an issue that, on occasion, when a part is sent in from Eglin for repair, the repaired part may be sent to an aircraft elsewhere that might have a more immediate need for repair.

Neither Eglin’s main public affairs office nor the public affairs office at the 33rd Fighter Wing responded directly to requests for comment last week. The main public affairs office referred calls to the 33rd’s public affairs office, which referred questions to the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command in Texas. Emails and phone calls to the Air Force’s main public affairs office had not produced any answers as of Friday, although the office indicated in an email that “a couple of folks are working your questions.”

The Air Education and Training Command sent a similar email late Friday afternoon.

Additionally, neither the military’s F-35 Joint Program Office in Washington, D.C., nor Lockheed-Martin, the contractor for the F-35 program, responded to requests for comment.

According to Gaetz, the Department of Defense and Lockheed-Martin “have lightly pointed fingers at each other” in assessing blame for the problems. Gaetz said that in his estimation, there are two approaches needed to address the issue: establishing F-35 “parts depots” at locations around the country to ensure that parts are readily available when needed, and cutting down on the bureaucracy of parts acquisition and repair.

Gaetz said the federal spending plan approved by Congress late last week includes funding to address the F-35 the problem in the way he outlined.

“There is a plan to resolve this problem,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.newsherald.com

Federal Flight Deck Officers

Thousands of United States airline pilots carry guns in the cockpit. Why do they do it - and how are they trained?

Every year, hundreds of American pilots head to Artesia, New Mexico, to learn new skills.

The training lasts 56 hours, spread across five days. Up to 48 people are in each class.

They are normal pilots, working for normal airlines: Delta, for example, or United, or Southwest.

But they're not learning about new planes, or new rules. They're learning how to shoot hijackers.

Seventeen years ago, in the space of 74 minutes, four American planes were hijacked. The date was 11 September 2001.

A year later, the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act was passed, allowing US pilots - working for US airlines - to carry guns in the cockpit.

The first class of Federal Flight Deck Officers, as the gun-carrying pilots are known, graduated in April 2003. Classes have run ever since.

Despite that, the program isn't widely-known. Last month, when talking about teachers having guns, President Trump said "a lot of people don't understand" that some pilots are armed.

So what are the chances of your pilot packing heat?

The US government does not reveal how many pilots are armed, only saying "thousands" have been trained. The names of those involved are kept secret.

The BBC spoke to one American pilot who estimates around one in ten of the United States' 125,000 commercial pilots is armed. "Maybe less," he says.

The programme is voluntary. Training is free - as is the gun - but armed pilots aren't paid extra. Most people in Artesia take annual leave to be there.

"I've met hundreds of them," says Eric Sarandrea, deputy director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, which oversees the programme. "The first words out of my mouth are thank you."

Sarandrea - who was working across the street from the World Trade Center on 9/11 - says the majority of FFDOs are, like him, ex-military (he spent four years as a US army paratrooper).

"They are patriots," he says. "They're concerned about the safety and security of their passengers. They really take it to heart."

Training begins in the classroom, before moving to a shooting range. Students learn to shoot from seating and standing positions, and prepare for hijackers trying to steal their gun.

The pilots are trained not to be drawn out of the cockpit - "They want that door bolted shut, get the aircraft on the ground," says Sarandrea - and they also learn the rules on storing the guns.

Inside the cockpit, pilots carry the guns in a hip holster. Outside, they must be transported in locked boxes.

"Their [the pilots'] authority lies within the flight deck," says the deputy director. "They can't be walking around to the stores or the malls with the firearm on their person."

Armed pilots must be in it for the long-haul. After graduating in New Mexico, the FFDOs have training every six months. And, every five years, there's a two-day refresher.

All this, and not an extra cent in their wages.

"There's not much we can do for them apart from say thank you," says Sarandrea. "We send them a certificate of appreciation every five years. When they retire, we give them a memento."

A US plane has not been hijacked since 9/11, so an FFDO has never used their weapon deliberately. (In 2008, a pilot shot a hole in the cockpit while trying to stow his gun).

But globally, there have been 55 plane hijackings since 2001.

In the US, some high-risk flights - those going to risky places, or carrying passengers on watch-lists - have armed air marshals. The marshals, who have at least four months' initial training, stay in the cabin.

The armed pilots are another layer of protection, and a cheaper one. In 2013, the pilots' union Alpa said it cost the government $17 to put an FFDO on a flight - compared to $3,000 for a marshal.

Sarandrea says both air marshals, and armed pilots, are an important deterrent for terrorists who dream of another 9/11.

"I stay in touch with counterparts around the world, and we believe there's a cycle to it," he says. "With Isil, and Al-Qaeda, there's a fixation on aviation. For me - and it's a personal opinion - it's the crown jewel [for terrorists].

"Get on board an aircraft, take control of it, you'll be the number one terrorist organization in the world."

No other countries arm their pilots, as far as Sarandrea knows, and some countries don't accept armed pilots on their territory. But most do.

"If you want to be on the visa waiver programme [allowing easier access to the US] you need an air marshal agreement in place," he says. "For the most part, we don't have a challenge."

But what about passengers who object? People who don't want guns in the cockpit? Travellers who worry about an armed pilot with mental health problems, or worse?

"The TSA [the government agency] is very strong on perpetual vetting," says Sarandrea.

"Anyone with access to aviation or transportation, there's continual vetting that goes on. And we don't just work closely with the FFDOs - we also talk to the airline.

"So if an airline says 'Hey, we have a challenge with this employee,' they know who their FFDOs are, so they will contact us.

"If there's a concern, we pull them out of the air, and we take their equipment. We do that very quickly - no matter where they are in the world."

The pilots' unions support the programme - the main one, Alpa, wants the government to increase funding from around $20m to $25m a year - and the courses are over-subscribed.

Bill Cason has been a pilot for more than 20 years, and is president of the Federal Flight Deck Officers Association - although, because of the programme's rules, cannot say whether he is an FFDO himself.

Cason says the volunteer officers represent "what is best in our national character". The training is rigorous, Cason says, in order "to deter, and ultimately defeat, another 9/11 style attack against the flying public and our precious cargo".

And that 74-minute period, on a September day 17 years ago, will not be forgotten soon.

"It's still something that's in the back of the pilots' mind," says Sarandrea. "They think 'I might have to be concerned with this'. And you never know."

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.bbc.com

Boeing completes Dreamliner family with first 787-10 delivery

NORTH CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) - Boeing Co delivered its first 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines on Sunday, rounding out a family of lightweight jets on which the U.S. planemaker is betting its future.

The handover took place in front of hundreds of Boeing workers as a band played loud rock-and-roll at the South Carolina plant where the carbon-composite jet is built.

The new Dreamliner was parked on the tarmac at the delivery center in front of a line of about 10 787 airplanes in various stages of completion.

Singapore Airlines, which expanded its order for 787-10s to 49 jets last year, plans to introduce the jet on services to Osaka, Japan, starting in May.

The 787-10 is built exclusively at the North Charleston plant due to its large size, which prevents the transfer of sections to Boeing's factory outside Seattle. Unlike the Washington state assembly lines, the plant, which has about 7,000 workers, is not unionized.

The aircraft, which sells for $326 million at list prices, completes a line-up of three models starting with the 787-8 which debuted in 2011. All boast carbon-composite fabrication materials, fuel efficiency and new state-of-the-air filtration systems with higher levels of humidity in the air for long-distance flight.

The 787-10's range is 6,430 nautical miles (11,910 kilometers).

At 223 feet long (68 meters), the aircraft is 18 feet (5.5 meters) longer than the 787-9 and seats around 330 passengers, 40 more than the 787-9 and 88 more than the 787-8.

Europe's Airbus competes against the 787-10 with its A330neo, an upgraded version of its most-sold wide-body aircraft with fuel-efficient engines and a new cabin.

Both jets are designed for shorter flights compared with other mid-size wide-body planes, tapping into the rapid growth of trade within Asia as well as across other regions.

But after brisk initial sales, orders for both models have slowed, with Airbus selling 214 of its A330neo.

The 787-10 has 171 orders, about 13 percent of the total of firm orders for the 787.

The mid-sized 787-9 is the most popular variant and competes mainly with Airbus's new-generation carbon-composite A350.

The 787 and A330neo are locked in a fierce battle for sales and profits in the market for jets with around 300 seats.

Boeing looks poised to win a hotly contested order from American Airlines , beating competition from the A330neo, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. 

Original article ➤  http://www.businessinsider.com

Resolution asking the Air Force to cancel the basing of F-35s in Vermont

Burlington, Vt. - On Town Meeting Day Burlington voters said yes to question number six– asking the City Council to request the cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35 at the Burlington International Airport. Now, nearly three weeks later, an F-35 matter is on the Burlington City Council agenda.

On Monday evening City Councilors will be voting on a resolution to send to the Secretary of the Air Force.

Councilor Joan Shannon is sponsoring the resolution.

"The purpose of the resolution is to be responsive to the will of the voters,” Shannon said. “The voters about 55% said that they were in favor of the question."

The resolution recommends the cancelation of the F-35 and requests quieter and safer equipment for the Vermont Air National Guard instead. There is also a series of questions included in the resolution.

James Leas has been following the F-35 debate closely and opposes the F-35 basing in Vermont. He said the resolution has good questions, but is confused as to why they are being asked now.

"It kind of adds things and takes things away so the request to the Air Force isn't quite what the voters are asking,” Leas said.

Leas was concerned the questions would lessen the original requests of the ballot question, but Shannon wanted to get it all done in one resolution.

"I think that it's part of the compromise to do both and I don't think we need to wait around to get the answers to our questions in order to move forward reflecting the will of the voters,” she said.

The Council asks that the Secretary of the Air Force send a written response related to the requests no later than May 1, 2018. Shannon said this request is non-binding.

Original article ➤  http://www.mychamplainvalley.com

Boutique Air to add 3 more planes to Greenville’s fleet

GREENVILLE, Mississippi (AP) — A small airline is planning to increase its fleet of planes that serves a city in Mississippi.

Boutique Air operates one plane in Greenville, with flights to Dallas-Fort Worth and Nashville, Tennessee. If the plane requires maintenance, its other flights to and from Greenville can be delayed or canceled.

The Delta Democrat-Times reports that Greenville Mid-Delta Airport director Lee Owen recently met with the CEO of Boutique Air, Shawn Simpson. The airline will have three planes available for the airport in the next month and a half.

Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons asked Owen during a public meeting last week why flights are canceled. Owen said most cancellations happen because of mechanical problems or crew members requiring rest, although some have been caused by weather.

Original article can be found here ➤  http://www.fresnobee.com

Officials investigate after laser pointed at U.S. Coast Guard helicopter



PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- Investigators are trying to figure out who pointed a laser at a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter last week, forcing the crew to abort its mission.

Any time Cmdr. Hans Goversten with the U.S. Coast Guard takes the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter out, he performs a thorough check to look for any inconsistencies.

"Ever single flight we go on, we'll look around this aircraft," Goversten said.

On Wednesday night, he and his team had just left the air station in Port Angeles to do some practice approaches after returning from a training flight in Bellingham.

They were about 1,000 feet up, a mile or two away, when someone pointed a green laser at them from the ground.

"It's almost like being inside of a club," Goversten said.

They immediately turned right and aborted their mission.

"The laser came in on the right side of the aircraft, came in through, and hit him directly in the eye," Goversten said.




The eyes of Govertsen's co-pilot and flight mechanic were both hit before the helicopter returned safely to the ground.

Goversten hates to think about what could have happened had they been in the middle of an actual search and rescue mission.

"Our mission is to take are of other people, and so if we can't do that one...then we can't take care of their loved ones who are out in the water, who find themselves in harm's way, who find themselves in bad weather."

The crew contacted police and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Investigators believe the laser came from somewhere between 4th and 8th Streets on the east side of Lincoln in Port Angeles.

Fortunately, none of them suffered permanent damage to their retinas, but one of the pilots will be grounded for several more weeks.

"If any one of the crew members had taken a laser that was a category 3 or higher straight into the retina, we would have caused damage that's permanent at that point," Goversten said.

At this point, investigators don't know if one person or a couple of people might have been behind this.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal crime that could lead to several years in prison. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://komonews.com

Low flying planes bring complaints to Pitt Meadows Airport (CYPK)

George Miller is the new Pitt Meadows Regional Airport Manager.



Neighbors of the Pitt Meadows airport complaining about planes buzzing low over their houses got a sympathetic ear from the airport manager and city council.

Pitt Meadows council recently dealt with a low flying incident that happened at YPK last summer. Council reviewed correspondence to former airport manager Elvio Pecchia, which included a public complaint.

“I am reporting a very irresponsible maneuver by a pilot in a yellow bi-plane that flew over our homes at approximately 7:05 p.m. this evening [July 16] far below the altitude [100 feet or lower] that is considered safe, and at a speed of approximately 228 mph as it flew over our homes,” wrote the complainant.

“This pilot needs to be grounded for what he has just done. It was unbelievable. It completely frightened the seniors living here, the farm animals, our neighbourhood dogs and all of us.”

The committee also noted two other incidents: on Aug. 18 and Sept. 4, low-level passes were made by jet aircraft that caused concern because they were low, fast and noisy.

Pitt Meadows resident and former member of council Ken Joyner said the air traffic used to come and go from the airport via the west, flying over the Port Coquitlam industrial area. He said that Pitt Meadows used to approach the issue from a position that if air traffic is constantly flying over residential areas, one day an aircraft will come down in the residential area. He said that approach has changed in recent years.

“Aircraft are flying low over the residential area, and helicopters are flying everywhere,” he said. “They were never supposed to come that low over the housing area.”

He said air traffic is also coming into the airport late at night.

“I am concerned for the quality of life for the people of Pitt Meadows,” Joyner said.

George Miller, acting airport manager, said the pilot’s actions on July 16 were inappropriate, and the pilot had been spoken to.

He called it “a very justified complaint and the immediate follow-up and fallout was handled inadequately.”

He was not the airport manager at the time.

“One saving grace of this incident of poor airmanship is that it made our deficiencies clear,” wrote Miller. “Most have been addressed satisfactorily and the remainder will be fixed. At present, there is no preferred published procedure for runway departures to avoid noise sensitive areas and no depiction of these areas in the Canadian Flight Supplement.”

The supplement is an industry publication for pilots covering all airports in Canada that gives them procedures to follow.

“A respectful, pro-active and accurate response to noise and low-flying complaints is most important to building and maintaining a high regard for the airport within our community,” wrote Miller.

Mayor John Becker noted the complaint was a good test of the airport advisory committee, which brings issues to council to review.

He said the flight path over the Pitt Meadows airport will be better defined, so pilots know the area that was subject of the complaint is not to be part of the regular flight path.

Original article  ➤  https://www.mapleridgenews.com



A wannabe Red Baron pulling aerial stunts in a biplane over houses is just one example of recent nuisance flying in Pitt Meadows, say locals.

Since it opened in 1963, the small Pitt Meadows Regional Airport has been used by pilots of private planes, flight school students, helicopter pilots and even commuters.

But nearby residents, such as former city councillor Ken Joyner, say low-flying, noisy aircraft are aggravating residents.

They come in at all hours of the day, he says. Some of them fly too low and look like they're just clearing the tops of nearby trees. Larger aircraft shake the windows. And, he says, local people feel disrespected.

"I think there should be some responsibility of the airport and the airport personnel to think about the quality of life of the people living here now," Joyner said. "That, I think, is being thrown out the window."

The mayor, as well as the airport's new manager, say that some pilots taking off from the airport need to straighten up and fly correctly in order to better respect the community.

Risky biplane flight

According to a Transport Canada report, one incident involved an old biplane buzzing over homes while blaring its engines and performing a steep bank while only 30 to 60 metres in the air.

The plane cut a tight 180-degree turn toward the airport, which caused a resident to email a complaint to the airport, raising concerns that the speed and altitude of the manoeuvre could have caused the plane to stall out and crash.

"It completely frightened the seniors living here, the farm animals, our neighbourhood dogs and all of us," the complainant wrote. "This pilot needs to be grounded... It was unbelievable."

Mayor John Becker agrees the incident is unacceptable.

On Tuesday, city council called on the airport to reprimand the pilot involved. Becker said Wednesday that this has been done.

Mayor says incidents unacceptable

Becker says sometimes there are aircraft that stray from assigned flight lanes and fly too low over homes.

And he says when people move to the area, they need to expect a certain level of airport noise and activity.

"But incidents like these go beyond what our residents can really be expected to tolerate and they need to be stopped," he stated.

Around the time the airport opened, Pitt Meadows had fewer than 2,300 people. Today, the population is approaching 19,000 and the area to the airport's north and west has become increasingly developed.

He says the bothersome barnstormers aren't causing issues of safety, however, as much as they are simply not being good neighbours to the growing residential population.

'Poor airmanship'

George Miller, the airport's acting general manager, says communication could solve many of the issues.

He was not manager at the time of the July biplane incident but agreed it "was a very justified complaint and the immediate followup and fallout was handled inadequately."

"It was just a case of poor airmanship. He flew low and over a built-up area," he said. "It's just not a very wise thing to do."

MIller, the former manager of Langley Regional Airport and Canadian Forces veteran, says he wants the airport in Pitt Meadows to be a better neighbour.

That means listening to residents and updating documents for pilots that spell out where and how to fly in Pitt Meadows.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.cbc.ca 


Public complaint
Narrative:

Aviation Incident Report#15141: A Beech 17 departed Runway 27L at Pitt Meadows, BC (CYPK) and passed over homes just west of Pitt Meadows Regional Airport at a low altitude and steep angle of bank while emitting loud engine noise. The aircraft passed over residences along Ford Road Detour, executed a small radius 180 degrees turn and then travelled east back toward the airport. According to Webtrack5 the altitude of the aircraft was 100 to 200 ft when making the small radius turn over the residences. The 180 degree turn with a measured diameter about 250 feet was entered at a reported speed of about 123 mph.