Thursday, December 27, 2018

San Bernardino International Airport (KSBD) continues economic development

The San Bernardino International Airport saw several significant developments bring increased air traffic and aviation-related business this year.

According to reports made by Aviation Director Mark Gibbs, 2017 was the third year of dramatic growth with 2018 projected to continue the trend.

Since 2014 the airport’s aircraft activity has grown from 29,344 operations (takeoffs and landings), to 40,217 in 2015, 47,780 in 2016 to 57,639 in 2017. This year’s numbers will not be available until early 2019.

Air cargo saw great gains as the airport signed contracts with FedEx and UPS this year. UPS increased its flights during the busy holiday season from four a week in 2016 to 18 flights a week in 2017.

In June, the airport signed a 10-year, $25,000 per month lease (with 5-year extension option) to bring FedEx to the airport’s Hangar 795.

The hangar required extensive remodeling and the installation of cargo sorting equipment, which was completed in time for FedEx’s Oct. 1 move-in date.

The airport also saw growth in several of the aviation-related businesses taking residence on or near the airport.

Unical MRO, aircraft disassembly and parts services, resides in 250,000-square-feet of hangar space and 42 acres of parking and storage space, and is in the process of expanding its footprint by 24 acres.

The airport’s steady growth in flight activity necessitated upgrading the airport’s FAA airspace status to Part-139 Class I. The new commercial airspace status required the airport to meet new regulations for emergency preparation, training and qualification.

To meet these requirements the airport, with San Bernardino County Fire, held its first live mass-casualty emergency simulation on Feb. 28.

The simulation took months to organize and tested the preparation and cooperation of approximately 300 first responders from more than 20 local agencies.

The exercise simulated an airliner crash on the runway with the assistance of paramedic students portraying victims with varying degrees of injury.

The simulated exercises will now be held once every three years, per Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Original article can be found here ➤

Madison Police Department: Invasion of Privacy Report

Madison, Georgia --  On December 18th an invasion of privacy report was filed at James Madison Inn, West Washington Street. 

According to reports, a man said someone was flying a drone over the hotel. 

Reports state that the complainant sent an employee outside and the employee located the drone pilot at Town Park. 

The complainant said the drone pilot was the son of an attorney who is currently involved in a lawsuit against the hotel complex. 

The complainant advised officers that there was both a hot tub and skylights on the roof of the hotel and that the drone flights and assumed photographs or video taken during the flights instituted an invasion of privacy. 

The drone pilot’s Federal Aviation Administration license was photographed and given to officers. 

Original article ➤

Evolution Jets: Promised Greater Binghamton Airport (KBGM) air charter service so far a no show

A charter airplane service that leased a hangar at Greater Binghamton Regional Airport has yet to get off the ground.

The delay by Evolution Jets is blamed on a pilot shortage affecting the aviation industry.

"In our last conversation with them they had indicated that they were really busy flying as they were having difficulties recruiting pilots, and therefore haven't yet had the time to grow the Binghamton operations that they had anticipated," said David Hickling, Broome  County aviation commissioner.

Almost a year ago, County Executive Jason Garnar hailed the announcement of the new charter service at the underused airport as the beginning of a turnaround.

But 11 months after, the hangar on the north end of the airport remains silent.

"They moved equipment, furniture, and they are paying rent," Hickling said. "Since then, activity in Hangar 1 has been slow."

Hickling said the Austin, Texas-based air charter service, has been paying rent on the 28,000-square-foot hangar since Aug. 1. But operations at the site have yet to begin, and the adjacent parking lot is empty.

“Binghamton is a great location for our business model," said Evolution Jets owner and CEO Jamie Thomas at the time of the announcement last February. "From this location, we can reach numerous large metropolitan markets very easily." 

Twenty jobs, including maintenance personnel and pilots, were expected to be created by the Evolution Air charter service. The company is leasing the hangar for five years, with three options for renewal. 

An Evolution Jets website has been "under construction" for several months, and its last posting on its Facebook page was Oct. 30.

Since the departure of American Airlines and United two years ago, the sole remaining commercial carrier at the air field in the Town of Maine is Delta, which offers service — two to three flights daily — to Detroit.

Evolution Air was only to provide air charter service and no commercial operations.

At the time of the announcement, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, cited the announcement as proof that action by the New York legislature was reinvigorating air charter service in the state.

"General aviation operations are beginning to thrive as more planes are being based at New York airports like ours," Lupardo said in February.

Original article can be found here ➤

Med Flight rescue mission aborted, pilot injured after someone shined laser pointer at helicopter

A Med Flight helicopter takes off from the scene of a three-vehicle crash on Highway 33 east of Interstate 39 in August

A UW Med Flight pilot aborted a rescue mission on Christmas in southern Wisconsin and suffered an eye injury after someone shined a laser pointer at the helicopter.

The helicopter was attempting to land in Pardeeville to pick up a 17-year-old boy injured in an all-terrain vehicle crash when someone on the ground aimed a strong laser pointer at the rotorcraft, the Columbia County Sheriff's Department reported Wednesday.

The pilot, who was using night vision equipment, was injured and had to return to the UW Med Flight home base for treatment. Meanwhile, the crash victim, who suffered a head injury and broken bones, was taken to a hospital by ground ambulance.

While searching for the suspect with the laser pointer, a Columbia County Sheriff's deputy encountered unseen ice and suffered a lower leg injury that will keep him out of work for a while, said Lt. Wayne Smith.

"It's alarming because obviously, it's a serious injury if Med Flight is called," Smith said of the ATV crash victim. "They weren't able to treat the person, and now the Med Flight pilot got injured and so did a deputy. It just compounded itself."

The crash involving a side-by-side utility vehicle happened around 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Town of Scott, north of Pardeeville. UW Med Flight couldn't land at the crash site, so the victim was taken to Chandler Park in Pardeeville.

While the helicopter was trying to land at Chandler Park at 5:53 p.m., someone shined the laser pointer, injuring the pilot. The Med Flight helicopter couldn't land and returned to UW Hospital in Madison.

The park has been used previously as a landing zone for UW Med Flight, said Frank Erdman, UW Health critical care transport manager.

"When we're approaching that sort of landing zone, we take a couple of passes to see if there are any hazards or obstructions. While the pilot was doing that maneuver, he noticed the laser, which actually struck him in the face and eyes a couple of times," said Erdman.

Also on board were a flight physician and registered nurse who saw the laser's light but it did not hit them in the eyes. The pilot, UW Med Flight's only one, told Erdman he saw spots after his eyes were hit by the laser pointer. After returning to Madison, the pilot was treated and returned to duty on Wednesday.

If the suspect is caught, he or she could face federal charges of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, which is punishable by a maximum five years imprisonment and $250,000 fine, plus state felony charges of obstructing emergency or rescue personnel.

"Not only do we urge people not to do this, it's illegal to do so," said Smith. "Aside from that, it's just common decency and care for fellow humans."

The primary hazard of aiming laser lights at aircraft is from interfering with a pilot's vision especially during critical phases of a flight such as takeoff and landing, according to 

The FAA reported more than 5,000 incidents involving laser pointers and aircraft in the United States in 2015.

A 2016 study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology reported that laser pointers cannot permanently damage a pilot's vision. However, though no air accidents have been blamed on lasers pointed at aircraft, pilots have reported pain, spots in their vision and disorienting flashes.  

UW Med Flight transports 1,000 to 1,200 patients annually and flies in a 125- to 150-mile radius of Madison, though sometimes the crew is called to handle patients and incidents farther away.

"Even though (laser pointers) seem fairly innocuous, they can be dangerous especially when pointed at the eyes," said Erdman, adding that this was the first time a UW Med Flight mission was affected by them.

Columbia County Sheriff's detectives were working Wednesday to find the person who aimed the laser pointer. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 293-8477 or Columbia County Detective Sgt. A.J. Agney at (608) 742-4166, extension 3318.

Original article can be found here ➤

The Bill Coming Due for Airlines: U.S. airports plan to invest a record amount on infrastructure projects, likely resulting in higher fees for airlines

The Wall Street Journal 
By Jon Sindreu
Dec. 26, 2018 9:55 a.m. ET

Costs are a key concern for airline investors, who have fretted about pilot shortages, union disputes and oil prices over the past year. But there’s a less obvious bill that they will likely face in 2019: Higher airport fees.

Over the past decade, air travel has grown much faster than the economy. Yet U.S. airports’ spending on infrastructure fell 24% between 2013 and 2017 compared with the previous five-year period, according to North America’s Airports Council International.

Now the infrastructure needs to catch up. Airlines, as well as local governments and federal agencies, will invest $100 billion in U.S. airports over the next five years, ACI estimates, more than at any point on record. Hub airports—those used to connect flights—will spend the most, because that’s where U.S. airlines have focused their expansion.

As a result, the fee paid by U.S. airlines to airports for each passenger will increase 19% between 2017 and 2020, a report by brokerage Cowen predicts.

Admittedly, airport costs add up to just 2% of U.S. airlines’ total costs, on average. Fuel and labor are the key expenses, contributing more than 30% each.

Yet some airlines are more exposed: Airport fees account for 4% of costs for ultralow cost carriers such as Allegiant and Spirit, which also find it harder to pass extra costs onto consumers. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are expanding in airports that are undergoing large renovations and are about to become more expensive.

There’s also the risk that the final bill ends up larger than investors anticipate, even for big legacy carriers like Delta Air Lines , United Airlines and American Airlines. Of the $100 billion of planned infrastructure spending, only 63% will be used to expand capacity, the ACI believes. That means higher investment may be needed for many years to come.

A lot of resources will go to refurbishing old terminals, which have dragged down consumer satisfaction in many of the U.S.’s major hubs. A clear example is New York’s LaGuardia Airport, which could be in a “third-world country,” as then Vice President Joe Biden said in 2014. It often ranks near the bottom of airport rankings, including a recent Wall Street Journal one.

Works to refurbish LaGuardia started in 2016 with an $8 billion budget. Costs per passenger for airlines could increase 37% by the time the works are done in 2023, Cowen estimates.

It may be more exciting to track the price of crude every day, but airline investors should also take a close look at the number of cranes around airports.

Original article can be found here ➤ 

Incidents occurred December 26, 2018 at University of Illinois-Willard Airport (KCMI), Savoy, Champaign County, Illinois

SAVOY, Illinois (WICS/WCCU) — Inbound jet engine failure is the call that came in around 9:30 Wednesday morning.

Within an hour, a second call came in.

Two different emergency landings at the University of Illinois Willard Airport is unusual.

Airport staff said emergency landings like this don't happen often at a small airport like Willard and it’s more common at larger airports because of outgoing and incoming traffic.

The small jets can handle about four to eight passengers and both were headed south.

Airport staff said the pilot made an announcement to passengers that there was an engine issue and the plane will land at the nearest airport, so buckle up.

"Both aircraft landed with no problems and they're having mechanics look at the issues to see what the issues are and always it's an abundance of caution that they go ahead and declare an emergency and land, because they get a warning in the cockpit and they don't really know what that warning means,” said University of Illinois Willard Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey. “So they go ahead and take it as serious as possible."

Cossey said anything like a drop in oil pressure, a voltage regulator light going off or fuel interruption indicator could trigger an emergency landing.

Flightstar mechanics will check the engine and make necessary repairs, re-certify the aircraft for flight and the airline puts them back in service.

Flightstar mechanics said the cause of the emergency landing stays in-house and they wouldn’t release specifics.

Willard Airport receives these type of calls maybe three or four times a month, according to Cossey.

These were private aircraft, so owners found other means of transportation and continued their trip.

Original article can be found here ➤

From Tardy to On-Time: Spirit Airlines Tries to Shed Old Image: Fliers still have gripes, but CEO says, ‘We’re shedding some of the negatives we earned’

The Wall Street Journal
By Alison Sider
Dec. 27, 2018 9:00 a.m. ET

Spirit Airlines Inc.,  once the most likely to show up late or cancel a flight, is trying a new tactic: punctuality.

Spirit was on time more often than any other U.S. airline in October, according to the latest available government data. This year its flights have been on time nearly 81% of the time, besting rivals including American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc.

Fliers still gripe about Spirit to the federal government at a higher rate than they do about almost any other airline. But the complaint rate in the first nine months of this year was down 75% from the same period in 2015, the first year the government tracked such figures for Spirit.

Spirit’s business remains based on the idea that fliers will choose the cheapest fares over reclining seats, seat assignments or water. Its strategy to charge for anything beyond a ticket brings in around half its revenue and still irks many passengers. The data, however, suggests the airline is starting to turn around a reputation for providing terrible customer service.

“We’re shedding some of the negatives we earned—justifiably earned—five or six years ago,” said Chief Executive Bob Fornaro.

Spirit told investors in November that it expects to notch year-over-year unit revenue growth of 11% in the fourth quarter, more than triple what Delta Air Lines Inc. is anticipating. Spirit’s shares are up more than 28% this year, while most other airlines’ stocks have languished.

The airline, along with other low-cost counterparts, also has helped set fares across the industry. Spirit’s rapid expansion into places such as Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, for example, quickly pressured airlines including Southwest, American and United to often match its bargain-basement prices.

As many big airlines have also started charging fees for extras like checked luggage and seat assignments, some fliers are willing to give Spirit another look.

“How much worse can Spirit be? Let’s give it a try,” Judi Anderson, 70, said when she was looking for an inexpensive fare from Florida to New Jersey this year. She and her husband brought their own bottled water. “It was bare bones, and that’s what we expected,” she said.

For years, Spirit’s former chief executive, Ben Baldanza, argued that cheap fares were the best form of customer service. He said Spirit’s customers needed to lower expectations.

But its network grew faster than its fleet, straining operations. Just 69% of its flights arrived on time in 2015. Chronic delays and cancellations mean overtime costs for crew as well as hotels and new flights for stranded passengers.

The reputation for shaky service became a burden, as competitors aggressively slashed fares to match Spirit prices. Unit revenues, a closely watched metric of how much it takes in to fly a passenger a mile, took a hit. Spirit shares fell from a high of over $84 in 2014 to around $40 by the end of 2015.

In early 2016 Spirit’s board decided to make a change at the top, bringing in Mr. Fornaro, a board member who previously ran discounter AirTran Airways, before Southwest Airlines bought it in 2011. He vowed to make Spirit’s pricing more transparent and slow the airline’s growth to make the airline more reliable and mend relations with customers.

Spirit retrained flight attendants and other employees and tempered some of the most draconian policies, like charging customers $100 for showing up with a carry-on they hadn’t paid for in advance. It charges $65 now. Spirit tied executive bonuses more closely to on-time performance and reductions in customer complaints.

To start running on time more regularly, Spirit adjusted how it schedules aircraft and crew, including building in more time for some flights and turnarounds as a buffer against the unexpected. “Spirit had to slow down to go fast,” said Jose Caiado, an analyst at Credit Suisse.

Earlier this year Spirit and its pilots agreed to a new contract, which raised pilots’ wages, aligns more closely with industry standards and gives the carrier more flexibility in scheduling.

Some things are unlikely to change. Spirit’s seats are close together and don’t recline, which makes room for extra rows. The airline charges extra for everything from carry-on bags to water. Unlike major carriers with dense networks of interconnected hubs, Spirit operates just one flight a day or fewer on many of its routes, and passengers can be left in a lurch. Spirit still bumps more fliers than other carriers, according to government figures, though the airline said it recently made changes to address that problem.

Blakely Sanford, a tax accountant from San Diego, said the last leg of his flight home from a cruise in November was delayed multiple times before being canceled. He and the other passengers were told they wouldn’t be able to fly out until the following evening.

“They offered to let me sleep on the airport floor,” he said. He got a refund and rented a car to drive home. “I don’t care how cheap it is, I will never again go on Spirit,” he said.

Others are reconsidering the airline. Friends of Csonka Ferguson, 41, convinced her to give Spirit another shot for a one-day trip a few months ago. “It was just seamless,” she said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N17SJ: Incident occurred December 27, 2018 at Sugar Land Regional Airport (KSGR), Houston, Texas

Anson Air LLC

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- A small plane slid off a runway in Sugar Land Thursday and hit a sign.

Authorities responded to reports of a plane crash at Sugar Land Regional Airport around 1:20 p.m.

Officials say the plane slid off the runway and struck a sign in the grass.

The pilot reportedly refused treatment from EMS, and is up and walking around.

The runway is back open after being closed for a short period of time, and the National Transportation Safety Board is checking out the incident.

Original article can be found here ➤

SUGAR LAND, Texas - A plane slid off a runway and hit a sign at the Sugar Land Regional Airport Thursday afternoon.

The incident involving a Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP happened at about 1:28 p.m. 

One person, a pilot was on board, but was not hurt, according to Sugar Land spokesman Doug Adolph.

The airport remains open. 

Original article can be found here ➤