Sunday, January 27, 2019

Piper PA-32RT-300T, owned by Stew Industries LLC and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, N39650: Accident occurred January 27, 2019 near Austin Executive Airport (KEDC), Texas

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Austin, TX
Accident Number: CEN19LA076
Date & Time: 01/27/2019, 1514 CST
Registration: N39650
Aircraft: Piper PA32RT
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 27, 2019, at 1514 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32RT-300T airplane, N39650, suffered a loss of engine power resulting an off-field landing and collision with a parked vehicle near Austin, Texas. The pilot received minor injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was owned by Stew Industries, LLC. and was being operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Austin Executive Airport (EDC), Austin, Texas, with an intended destination of Taylor Municipal Airport (T74), Taylor, Texas.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N39650
Model/Series: PA32RT 300T
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: edc
Observation Time: 1515 CST
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / -1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Unknown
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — A pilot of a small plane was forced to do a crash landing in Pflugerville shortly after taking off from Austin Executive Airport Sunday afternoon.

Austin-Travis County EMS first tweeted about the crash that happened around the area of 5500 Pleasanton Parkway just before 3:30 p.m. The area is just east of State Highway 130.

One person was on board and had minor injuries. 

A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety said the pilot took off from Austin Executive Airport, but the reason for the abrupt landing is unknown.

It landed in a residential area and hit a parked car, a spokesperson with the Federal Aviation Administration said. 

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the situation.

Story and video ➤

Cirrus SR22 GTS X G3, D-EUFO: Fatal accident occurred July 18, 2019 in Leutasch, Tyrolia, Austria

NTSB Identification: GAA19WA444
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, July 18, 2019 in Leutasch, Austria
Aircraft: CIRRUS SR22, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Austria has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a CIRRUS SR22 airplane that occurred on July 18, 2019. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Austria's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Austria.

Delaware State University receives funding for new planes

The state is helping Delaware State University purchase new airplanes.

DSU is receiving $3.4 million from Delaware’s Higher Education Economic Development Fund—a competitive grant program also available to the University of Delaware and Delaware Tech.

DSU is using the money to upgrade its flight school. It will replace its 11 Piper Warrior airplanes from the 1970s with 10 Vulcanair V1 single-engine aircrafts and one twin-engine Piper Seminole.

Retired Army Lt. Colonel and DSU Aviation Program Director Michael Hales says this is a game-changer for students looking to move from the school’s  program to jobs as professional pilots.

“It’s a training aircraft that has a fully electronic cockpit avionics and so we refer to that as a glass cockpit. The kind of instrumentation that is in the aircraft is typical of what you see in an airliner, just not as expensive,” said Hales.

Hales says DSU is getting a deal on the aircraft and the first planes will be at the University in April.

Hales adds the university has also approved the program to expand its fleet to 20 planes by 2028

“And that is a capacity game-changer for us because then it allows the aviation program to steadily grow to meet the demands that this pilot shortage that is going on has produced,” said Hales

He notes the university could now have an opportunity to become the first ever service center in the United States for Vulcanair,which is based in Italy.

Story and audio ➤

Ice causes closure of Presque Isle International Airport (KPQI)

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - Ice is to blame for the closure of the Presque Isle International Airport. Kathy McCarty spoke with the airport manager to find out what's being done to resolve the problem.

It wasn't Sunday's snow storm that created havoc at the airport, but rather the rain that made for icing conditions on Thursday.

"About 6 p.m. last night we had to close the airport. We did attempt to remove the ice by applying deicing chemical about 9 p.m. last night, and with all of the heavy rain, it simply just washed the chemical away without having any effect at all."

That required the airport to remain closed until 4 a.m. By that time, the rain had stopped and all of the water had turned to ice. This allowed officials to upgrade the rating for runway conditions, allowing some aircraft to land and take off. Scott Wardwell is manager of the airport. He says the Federal Aviation Administration regulates flights, based on runway conditions.

"That's enough for the Fed-Ex and UPS aircraft to operate but is not safe enough for passenger traffic."

Wardwell says last year the airport was closed several times due to conditions, something they've worked hard to address.

"We've mitigated that some with the runway chemical but certainly with heavy showers it minimizes the amount of chemical - the effect that that has. We actually applied over a thousand gallons to the runway."

Efforts continued Friday to remove the ice to enable aircraft to land safely.

"We've applied more chemical. We've scraped it, we've broomed it. It - with the sun especially, it seems to be loosening up. But as of 1 o'clock this afternoon, we're still - we're still fighting."

Wardwell says under FAA guidelines, they're not allowed to have more than 25 percent ice on the runway. They're getting close to that. He's anticipating cleanup will be far enough along to allow the arrival of tonight's scheduled flight, but safety is the top priority.

Story and video ➤

Trading a tractor for an airplane

At 63, Tom Hassenfritz of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa traded a tractor for an airplane.

The flight instructor asked Tom what he would do if he was going in for a landing and there was a horse in the middle of the runway. Tom thought for a moment and replied, “Well, I guess I'd do a go-around. The instructor said, “You'd better do it, because there is a horse on the runway.”

That was 40 years ago. Tom Hassenfritz of Mt. Pleasant was taking his in-flight test for a pilot's license at Hannibal, Mo. Tom received his pilot's license and bought a Cessna 182. But as his family grew, he became immersed in his farm implement business. When he found out what his life insurance was going to cost with a pilot's license, he decided it might be time to sell the airplane. Which he did.

Fast forward to this year. Tom is a wheeler-dealer in the farm implement business and has been known to trade motorcycles and snowmobiles for tractors. A customer of Tom's owned a 1976 Cessna 172M. Because of health issues, the customer couldn't fly anymore. Tom thought, “Hmm, maybe I could fly again.” Pilot's licenses never expire. Presto-changeo, Tom traded a tractor for an airplane. It even came with a spare engine.

The airplane was in Burlington and Tom lives in Mt. Pleasant. Tom was under the impression that all he would have to do would be to put some gas in the airplane and fly it to Mt. Pleasant. Wrong. The airplane hadn't been flown in two years and needed to have an annual inspection. It was finally impressed upon Tom that this was an airplane, not a tractor.

The inspections were done and Tom passed his pilot's physical. He looked up his old flight instructor and brushed up on his flying skills. There was no horse on the runway this time.

On his first solo flight, Tom sat at the end of the runway and asked himself, “Do I really want to do this?” A saying kept going through his head, “Takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory.” He held his breath and went for it.

The only problem was there was fresh snow on the ground, and everything looked different—he lost his perspective. His inclination was to panic, like when you have a scuba mask on and can't breathe. But he kept his composure and made it back to the airport safely. “Wing to the wind, rudder to the runway,” he told himself.

From that point on, his skill set returned. “Heck, flying is like riding a bike,” Tom thought. “You never forget.”

Tom would like to do one of three things: if the right person comes along, he will sell the airplane. Or, if the right person comes along he will form a club to share expenses. If no one comes along, he will keep the airplane.

It's the exhilaration of flying, up there above everything, looking down, the feeling of freedom, working with that edge, maybe, that he and most pilots love. Tom never rides in a big commercial aircraft without being in awe that it can even fly.

He invested in a GoPro, installed it on the dash of the Cessna, and studies his takeoffs and landings. According to his logbook, he's been up 20 times. Tom has plans to visit his brother in Minneapolis, his daughter in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and maybe even his sisters in Florida. Gulp.

During slow times at work, Tom calls the recorded airport message just to hear the voice. “Mt. Pleasant Municipal Airport Automated Weather Observation: One-niner-two-two, zulu, weather: wind calm, visibility one, drizzle, ceiling 600, overcast, temperature: one Celsius, dew point zero, altimeter two-niner-niner-two.”

“Shoot,” Toms says to no one, “It's too crappy to fly.

Original article can be found here ➤

Robinson R66 Turbine Marine, RA-07370: Fatal accident occurred July 22, 2019 in Mediterranean Sea near Gorgona' s Island, Livorno, Italy

NTSB Identification: ERA19WA236
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Monday, July 22, 2019 in Gorgona Island, Italy
Aircraft: ROBINSON R66, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Italy has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a ROBINSON R66 helicopter that occurred on July 22, 2019. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Italy's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Italy.

Zemarcuis Scott: Famous Dex Says He'll Pay Fines, Court Fees and More For Fan Who Tried To Steal A Plane

Last month, a very very dedicated fan who previously tried to steal a plane to go see Famous Dex in concert got sentenced to five years of felony probation. Since the news went viral based on Zemarcuis Scott's crazy stunt, obviously Famous Dex got word of the fan dedication and told TMZ how he plans on doing something about it.

"Nowadays the internet there's so much bullcrap that I thought it was fake," Famous, born Dexter Gore Jr., told the publication. "It was really real. That being said, I'mma fly him out. I'mma put him in the nicest, biggest hotel in LA. I'mma get him, no tickets to the show, but he's gon' stand next to my DJ. So that means he's gon' come in with me. I'mma fly him out to LA and take him shopping."

Read more here ➤

TEXARKANA -- An 18-year-old man arrested July 4th after attempting to steal a commercial jet to fly to a rap concert pleaded guilty Thursday and received a five-year term of felony probation.

Zemarcuis Scott appeared before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones late Thursday afternoon with Managing Public Defender Jason Mitchell and pleaded guilty to attempted theft of property and commercial burglary.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black said Scott received five years of probation on each charge, to run concurrently. Scott must pay a $1,000 fine, court costs and participate in any mental health treatment deemed necessary by the probation department. Black said Scott is not allowed on Texarkana Regional Airport property while he's on probation.

Scott intended to take an American Eagle twin-engine jet from Texarkana Regional Airport in the early hours of Independence Day to see rapper Famous Dex perform in Illinois, according to a probable cause affidavit and psychological evaluation report.

Airport security personnel had noticed Scott jump a fence onto the property about 2:30 a.m. and immediately called police.

When Texarkana police officers arrived, Scott was sitting in the pilot's seat of the small commercial plane.

Scott told investigators that he wasn't concerned about his lack of training as a pilot and believed that operating the aircraft was just a matter of pulling levers and pushing buttons.

He also told investigators that he had been thinking about stealing a plane for about a month and had been watching the twin-engine jet since 10 p.m. July 3rd.

At a hearing in August at which Scott pleaded innocent to attempted commercial burglary and attempted theft of property, Mitchell asked the court to order a mental evaluation for Scott to determine if he was competent to stand trial.

In a report filed December 21st in Miller County, a psychologist with Southwest Arkansas Counseling and Mental Health Center found that Scott is competent.

Original article ➤

de Haviland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, C-FBBG: Fatal accident occurred July 11, 2019 in Hawk Junction, near Wawa, Ontario, Canada

NTSB Identification: GAA19WA459
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, July 11, 2019 in Hawk Junction ON-Canada
Aircraft: DE HAVILLAND DHC2, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Canada has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a DE HAVILLAND DHC2 airplane that occurred on July 11, 2019. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Canada's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Canada.

"It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of two of our Hawk Air Family. Pilot, Adam Hobbs and co-worker, Bob Gregorini died in a plane crash shortly after take off from Hawk Lake July 11. Mary and I will do our best to fulfill our obligations for this season. Thank you for all your condolences at this difficult time." -Hawk Air

Hawk Air, a remote fly-in fishing charter located in Wawa, has released some more details on Thursday's fatal plane crash in Hawk Junction.

The company has identified two of its employees as victims in the July 11 crash.

In a Facebook post, it says pilot Adam Hobbs and co-worker Bob Gregorini died in the incident that happened shortly after taking off from Hawk Lake.

Ontario Provincial Police confirmed that two people were on board the plane when it crashed.

A small plane, owned by Hawk Air, crashed just outside of Wawa Thursday morning leaving no survivors.

CTV News has learned that at least two people in the De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane, both men, have been killed, including the pilot.

It happened near a power substation in the small town east of Wawa around 9 am July 11.

Algoma Power attended to assist with the resulting power outage in the area. 

Transport Canada has been contacted and will be attending the scene. The OPP Forensic Identification Services Unit (FISU) is also assisting with the investigation.

Montgomery Road in Hawk Junction, Ontario, remains closed (other than to local traffic) and will remain so for several hours. OPP is reminding motorists to please avoid the area while the investigation is ongoing.  There has been a plane crash in Hawk Junction, a small town just outside of Wawa, three hours north of Sault Ste. Marie.

de Havilland DH.82a Tiger Moth, N54556: Fatal accident occurred July 21, 2019 in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom

NTSB Identification: GAA19WA460
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Sunday, July 21, 2019 in Hythe, Kent-UK, United Kingdom
Aircraft: DE HAVILLAND DH82, registration: N54556
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of United Kingdom has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a DE HAVILLAND DH82 airplane that occurred on July 21, 2019. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of United Kingdom's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of United Kingdom.

After grounding all flights, California Pacific Airlines now faces lawsuit

CARLSBAD, California - After grounding all flights to repair their aging fleet of planes amid a so-called pilot shortage, California Pacific Airlines is now facing a lawsuit from a former mechanic.

The lawsuit alleges the mechanic warned his superiors that one of CPA’s jets had issues with lubrication and, in his estimation, “is not safe to fly and is a serious flight risk.”

He brought his concerns forward despite feeling “immense pressure to remain quiet,” according to the lawsuit.

He claims his warning was ignored and the plane remained in operation. Two days later, he says he was fired after having received an angry text from one of his superiors.

10News reached out to CPA’s founder, Ted Vallas, but has not received a response.

Meantime, an employee who did not want to be named told 10News that he has been furloughed indefinitely. He said he was supposed to get paid on January 15th, but has not received his check yet.

In an interview with 10News in early January, Vallas said they were hoping to resume flights in February.

But their booking website remains closed and the employee says they have received no word from managers if, or when, they would ever be coming back to work.

Original article can be found here ➤

Robinson R22 Mariner, RA-1789G: Fatal accident occurred July 14, 2019 in Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Oblast, Russia

NTSB Identification: ANC19WA041
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Sunday, July 14, 2019 in Moscow, Russia
Aircraft: ROBINSON R22, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On July 14, 2019, at 1551 Moscow time, a Russian registered Robinson R-22M helicopter was destroyed after impacting terrain after takeoff from the Shevlino landing site, Moscow region, Russian Federation. The helicopter was privately owned and operated. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Russian Federation Interstate Aviation Committee. This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Russian government. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from: 

Russian Federation
Interstate Aviation Committee
22/2/1Bolshaya Ordynka Str.,
Moscow, 119017, Russia
Tel.: (1) 495-953-12-44

Marines and Seabees are camped out on Catalina Island, repairing decaying runway at Catalina Airport (KAVX)

CATALINA ISLAND — For more than two weeks Capt. Nicole Stockham has overseen a company of Marines and more than a dozen Navy Seabees tasked with rebuilding a decaying, 77-year-old runway at Channel Island’s Airport in the Sky.

The Marines and Seabees are living in tents near the airport nestled in the hilly interior high on the island. The only access is a winding narrow road bordered in places by eucalyptus trees that act as barriers to steep drop-offs. There are dramatic views of the town of Avalon, which draws 1 million tourists annually, and the Pacific Ocean.

Each day about 100 Marines — combat engineers, heavy equipment operators and surveyors — start at sunrise, go to a  briefing, grab chow and get to work on the 3,000-foot runway. Their mission: to build a new runway guaranteed to last at least 70 years. The project is expected to be completed by the end of March.

“I’m very happy and proud of the Marines and what they’re doing,” said Stockham.

The Marine and Navy encampment is similar to an operating base typically used during worldwide deployments or on humanitarian aid missions. Tents are filled with cots, there’s a chow hall, there are power generators, maintenance facilities and communication systems.

Since early January, about 100 Marines and 14 sailors (Seabees) have worked on the runway. They have excavated earth, surveyed the site and prepared forms for concrete-pouring.

By Friday, Jan. 25, five large concrete slabs had been poured, with 119 more to go. The effort by the Marines and Seabees is a first in California and critical to Catalina Island and its public airport.

“This allows us to partner with the community and do something extremely helpful,” said Lt. Col. Duncan Buchanan, with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which commands the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 working on the project. “This will allow them to use the runway for years to come. This is the first time a Marine Corps unit in recent memory has built a runway in California.”

Win-win project

The runway project, a public/private partnership between the Marines Corps, the U.S. Navy and the Catalina Island Conservancy, is a win-win. The $5 million project began with 500 tons of equipment being delivered in mid-December and troops coming over on Jan. 2. The program is part of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training Program and matches community needs with military training opportunities.

For the conservancy, one of the state’s oldest land trusts, the project saves the island’s runway. Over the years, it has required frequent patching costing the conservancy about $250,000 a year. In September, the California Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division told the conservancy that it needed a long-term repair plan to continue to operate the airport as a public airport.

For the Marine Corps, officials say the partnership provides a unique opportunity to plan, train and deploy Marines to execute a construction mission that tests critical skills. The Marines, expert at working with concrete, are being supported by the Navy Seabees, who typically are tasked with construction work such as facilities, schools, hospitals and on bases. Some Marines involved in the project will go on to construction projects at 29 Palms or overseas.

“This is extremely important,” said  Lt. Col. James Bauch, commanding officer of the MWSS-373. “We work with concrete but what we do tend to do are smaller projects. Some Marines here were in Iraq and Afghanistan and used concrete to fix craters on runways to support operations against ISIS.”

These expeditionary runways typically include leveling dirt and laying interlocking metal planks. The runways and airfields are temporary.

“We looked at this project and our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and realized we need more experience with concrete to support Marine aviation,” Bauch added.

The project is also providing an opportunity for the Marines and Seabees to collaborate using their various specialties.

“These are all citizen soldiers,” Bauch said. “They are all direct representatives of our society and every single part of the country. It’s how they come together, maintain a sense of humor and get the mission done.”

The airport’s history

Catalina’s airport was built in 1941 by William Wrigley. It was carved out of the surrounding landscape by leveling two mountaintops and filling in the remaining canyon to create the main runway. The airport got its name from its location as one of Catalina’s highest points, an elevation of 1,602 feet.

During World War II, the airfield and the island were leased to the U.S. government to serve as a front line in the defense of the nation’s West Coast. The Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner to today’s CIA, used the island as a secret training base for intelligence agents, and the airport’s runway was covered with debris so enemy aircraft would not be able to use it as a base.

After the war, the airport was opened for public access in 1946. The conservancy took ownership and responsibility for the airport’s operations in 1972, and has managed it as a general aviation airport, said Tony Budrovich, Catalina Island Conservancy president and CEO.

More than 7,000 flights come into the airport each year, about 30 percent of those providing mail service and FedEx and UPS deliveries to the island’s 4,000 year-round residents. The island also is a popular tourist spot.

Officials closed the main runway on Monday, Dec. 10. Only a limited number of flights are allowed to land on an alternate runway.
The idea for the project

The joint rebuild project began more than two years ago with an idea from a Navy pilot, who was flying his own aircraft on his day off and landed at the airport.

“He said this runway has a lot of years on it,” Budrovich said. “And asked if we had ever considered a partnership with the Navy.”

The conservancy talked to the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps about the project and for the next 18 months, the conservancy worked with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Navy personnel and the I Marine Expeditionary Force to develop the plan.

“They loved what they’re getting and we loved what we’re getting,” Budrovich said.

In the encampment

Navy Seabee Lt. Michael Brown, a Navy reservist, was overseeing the Marines’ work on Friday.

“When you go overseas, it’s harder to get resources,” he said, explaining the 500 tons of equipment, trucks and supplies that traveled from Miramar by caravan to the Port of Los Angeles and then over to Two Harbors, from where they were trucked up the steep and narrow winding roadway.

“On an island, it’s much more limited and mimics environments that are not here in the U.S,” he said.

Brown, who works as a mechanical engineer for Siemens in Allegany, N.Y., explained that he and other Seabees, familiar with construction, are helping the Marines who are not as familiar with the scale of this project.

Recent rain, along with cold temperatures and fog have made the work more challenging.

“It was cold and the wind was slapping the tent all night,” he said. “There have been times where there’s been a constant fog and it chills you to the bone. I came here thinking I’m going to an island in the Pacific and it will be warm and I brought jeans and T-shirts but every night I put on my fleece. Up here, there’s no wind block.”

He also got a chance to take in a bit of the island, including visits to Avalon where he checked out shops, the museum and the casino. While there he also met locals.

“It’s been amazing how when we’re walking around they come right up to us and thank us and are appreciative of what we’ve been doing,” Brown said.

For Stockham, who has deployed to Afghanistan, the project has been a valuable tool to teach her Marines about future deployments.

“One of the good things about this concrete project of this scale is that all the Marines get their hands in it,” she said. “Having several days in a row and seeing the whole process work rather than doing a tiny skill is a huge takeaway from this.”

This deployment, she said, ranks among the best she’s experienced.

“We have fresh fruit, hot meals and showers,” she said. “My morning commute, I walk out of my tent and go to the next tent. There’s no drive.”

Story and photo gallery ➤

CATALINA, California  (KABC) --  U.S. Marines and Navy Seabees have taken over the Airport in the Sky on Catalina Island, living on the grounds for three-and-a-half months.

They're not training for combat, but instead rebuilding the runway.

"This is a great opportunity for the Marines. We're used to working on expeditionary runways, filling potholes of that nature. We're creating a 3,000-foot-long runway, 60 feet wide, 5 inches deep. When you look at situations around the world like the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami that wiped out the runway, it's an opportunity for Marines to get better at flexing our humanitarian muscle," said Zachary Bodner, a Marine working on the Catalina runway project.

The project is also a huge win for the airport's aging runway.

The Airport in the Sky is an important part of Catalina's infrastructure, supporting the 4,000 full-time residents, 1 million visitors, and 2 million pounds of freight that pass through. The runway sees 14,000 takeoffs and landings a year.

"We found that they had a unique need. They needed to have practice and experience building a runway which they had not done since the '60s in a complete form and we had a need to rebuild our runway," said Tony Budrovich, the president and CEO of the Catalina Island Conservancy.

Budrovich says all of the island's mail and overnight deliveries pass through the airport. The new runway is expected to last up to 75 years.

"When the Marines got involved, we narrowed this project to a 3.5-month project. When we were talking to outside contractors we were talking a year so we're very proud of this relationship we have working with the Marines and Navy Seabees and the efficiency with which they can do work," said Budrovich.

While the project is underway, the runway is only open to commercial aircraft. Private aircraft will be able to land again on Catalina in April.

Story and video ➤

Flying Dot Org Inc: Aviation school ready to take flight as pilot shortage grows co-founder Melissa Pensiero tours John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport’s main hangar Friday, January 25, 2019, with Nulton Aviation General Manager Mark Monroe (left) and airport manager Thomas Keyes.

Chad and Melissa Pensiero want young people considering career paths to know the sky is the limit.

The Somerset County natives have launched, a nonprofit organization to promote interest in aviation-related careers and support training. 

“My husband and I have a vision,” Melissa Pensiero said. “We want to provide something worthwhile to kids to give them encouragement and get them into the exciting career of flying. It’s fun, it’s exciting and it can take you to a lot of different places.”

Chad Pensiero is a professional pilot for United Parcel Service. Last week, he was in Europe. 

“Our mission is to inform, enlighten and provide financial assistance to anybody who wants to pursue a career in aviation,” Melissa Pensiero said at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

A growing shortage of qualified pilots has airlines, air freight providers and industry leaders exploring new approaches to recruitment and training. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing estimates that 790,000 new civil aviation pilots, 754,000 maintenance technicians and 890,000 cabin crew will be needed over the next 20 years.

Many experienced pilots are reaching retirement age at a time when demand for aviation service is exploding. 

In the past, airlines and aviation businesses relied on former military pilots to fill their aircraft crews. But due to the use of drones and the military’s own recruiting challenges, there aren’t as many pilots in the military as there used to be, Melissa Pensiero said. 

“I don’t think kids look at aviation as a career,” she said. “They need the doors opened.” has leased a Johnstown airport hangar for its base of operations. Plans are to open an office there and display aviation information and equipment. 

Although the nonprofit may eventually get its own plane, Pensiero said there are no plans to start a flight school. expects to work closely with Nulton Aviation’s flight school and its partnerships with area colleges. 

Airlines and air cargo companies may step forward to support the local organization’s mission, she added. Lockheed, for instance, has developed an aviation-themed science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum that could bring to area elementary schools. 

At this month’s airport authority meeting, Chairman James Loncella said the mission of promoting aviation fits well with the authority’s push to expand the use of Johnstown’s airport. 

“The airport authority has been amazing,” Melissa Pensiero said. “This airport has such potential. Everybody wants to see it back in its glory.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Changing market, changing pitch at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (KPHF)

A changing market and a new sales pitch are sparking airline interest in Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, executive director Michael Giardino said after an invitation earlier this month to talk to a large, western U.S. regional carrier.

But that market change makes some of the airport’s past efforts to woo air service simply unrealistic, he told the Peninsula Airport Commission this week.

That means the discount carrier that airport officials had so long hoped would lure travelers from Richmond and South Hampton Roads probably isn’t in the cards.

Neither, Giardino said, is a direct connection to New York.

“New York is saturated,” he said. “And point-to-point opportunities for ultra low carriers have been picked off.”

In recent months, for instance, discount airlines have started or announced new services from Norfolk or Richmond to Nashville, Denver, Orlando, Sarasota, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

So these days, Giardino and his staff focus on boosting service from Newport News to hub airports.

Their pitch is simple, and has two basic parts.

First, a new study shows more than 4,000 Peninsula residents a day are driving to other airports to catch flights.

Second, the Peninsula’s strong and growing corporations generate a lot of business travel. Giardino said the airport in Rochester, N.Y., where he used to work, has boosted flights by 10 percent despite a sliding economy. So he said the Peninsula, with a shipyard that’s hiring and an economy powered by long-term government contracts, ought to be able to attract airlines.

That pitch won him a coveted invitation to that western U.S. carrier’s headquarters earlier this month. It’s one of several airline headquarters he’s been invited to in recent months, as airlines take a fresh look at Newport News.

That carrier — Giardino didn’t want to name it — operates more than 400 aircraft, and has built a more than 2,000 flights-a-day business in large part by running connecting services for three of the Big Four airlines.

At the same time, Giardino and his staff are pressing two of the Big Four, American and Delta, which already link Newport News to Atlanta, Charlotte and Philadelphia, to expand services and maybe add other hubs.

He’s been chasing United for connection to its hubs — “I’ll even talk to Southwest Airlines,” though it killed off Newport News’ connections to New York and Boston after it acquired AirTran in 2011, he said.

Giardino is meeting monthly with Elite Airways, which had hoped to operate a Newport News to New York service.

Elite canceled those plans out of concern that business would be hurt by controversy over the former airport administration’s use of public money to pay off debts of a failed start-up company, People Express. Elite proposed flights to Myrtle Beach last year, but never attracted enough interest to begin the service.

“They’re still very interested in us,” Giardino said. “We’re working on city pairings they might want to look at.”

The airport’s other big sales effort is local, tackling the impression that it costs more to fly from Newport News than other airports, marketing director Jessica Wharton said.

“We’re saying: ‘Check us first,’ ” she said, adding that fares out of Newport News are often lower than other nearby airports.

In fact, Giardino said the one time he’s paid more to fly from Newport News was to make that flight this month to pitch that western carrier.

Original article can be found here ➤

Aircraft Investors Should Be More Grounded: The uncomfortably low rents airlines pay for planes should be a red flag for investors

The Wall Street Journal 
By Jon Sindreu
Jan. 25, 2019 6:19 a.m. ET

Aircraft have been highfliers for investors over the past few years. Now, it looks like time for a landing.

With more airline passengers than ever globally, demand for planes has surged. Plane makers Boeing and Airbus have orders for the next seven to 10 years.

However, aircraft are now bought almost as much by leasing companies as airlines. The rise of lessors has been funded by the same flood of money that has lifted illiquid assets like leveraged loans, as money managers have hunted for better investment returns in a decade of ultralow interest rates.

The total return on asset-backed securities that use planes as collateral was 4.3% in 2018, compared with 2.2% for the ABS market as a whole, according to Citigroup. Issuance has hit all-time highs for two years running.

Cash-rich lessors have bid up planes so much that monthly rental payments as a share of the price paid for the popular Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320-200 liners fell below 0.7% in 2018, according to aviation advisory firm IBA—a new low. Some deals are even happening at lease rates below 0.5%, people in the industry say.

This implies some lessors are losing money in an attempt to gain market share, no matter how cheaply they can borrow.

A red flag for investors is that some of these safe-looking securities have complex, tranched structures with opaque valuations. Cherry-picking optimistic aircraft appraisals has become common practice.

Also, the $55 billion market of unsecured debt used by lessors to buy planes will need to almost double to finance current order books, JPMorgan estimates.

Aircraft can seem a better way to invest in “real” assets than infrastructure or railways, because repossessing a plane and finding a buyer for it is relatively easy. This explains why lessors’ debt has performed well even during recent market wobbles.

Yet a plane becomes obsolete at a faster rate than a bridge. And at a time when airlines want younger fleets to save on fuel, older craft depreciate even faster.

Lessors have likely disguised some of these problems because they’ve been able to sell some of their planes to new entrants. But a global economic slowdown could leave them stuck with unprofitable aircraft on their books.

Even if a downturn isn’t on the horizon, the sector could be in for a reckoning. What was once the domain of a handful of big players like AerCap and GE Capital Aviation Services, levering insider knowledge of planes and airlines, is now a patchwork of 20 or so smaller lessors trading similar aircraft at ever lower margins. This gives airlines all the negotiating power.

At the Airfinance conference in Dublin a year ago, aviation old timer Adam Pilarski played the song “Everything is awesome”. At the same event this week, he had a different message: “It’s not going to be awesome this year, sorry.” While lease markets continue to play the song, investors should look at the horizon.

Original article can be found here ➤

A study offers close look at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport noise: Fed-up neighbors don't buy the findings

This map reflects the most common flight patterns at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which is when there is an easterly wind. Take-offs are the blue lines and landings are the red lines.

Broward residents complaining about earsplitting airplane traffic are finding little relief in a new airport noise study.

The draft report for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shows where noise is reaching unacceptable levels and — according to the report — it’s not in many of the neighborhoods where complaints have been the loudest.

The noise study is the first in 25 years for the airport, providing a fresh look at sound issues generated by the airport’s increased traffic and its new and expanded runway configurations. Residents under the flight paths have been waiting for the study, hoping it could be used to persuade federal aviation officials to make changes that would keep the noise away from their homes.

But the study didn’t live up to their expectations. Critics say it is flawed for two main reasons:

— It relies on computer modeling using flight track data and projected sound volumes to determine noise levels rather than actual, monitored sound levels around the airport.

— It averages noise levels over an entire year and doesn’t consider seasonal flight patterns that can bring prolonged noise over some neighborhoods for weeks or months at a time.

When the flights are overhead, there’s no getting away from the noise, said Helga Long, of the Royal Palm South neighborhood in Plantation.

“It’s all day long,” Long said. “It starts in the morning before 7 and it can go until midnight.”

This diagram in the Part 150 noise study shows a year's worth of take-offs (blue lines) and landings (red lines) when the prevailing wind is from the west at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Under the flight paths

Long’s community is west of the airport to the north of Interstate 595. Neighborhoods along that stretch are affected more heavily in winter as seasonal westerly winds force planes to take off to the west. Many of the planes bank to the northwest, over the neighborhoods, before heading to destinations up the east coast.

Michael Arnold, senior vice president of the ESA firm doing the study, said all its parameters are established by the Federal Aviation Administration.

So, despite heavy complaints from many communities, FAA rules require noise studies to look at sound levels over an entire year, Arnold said. That’s why the noise maps don’t show Long’s neighborhood as needing attention, he said.

“I think the challenge was nobody really knew what the noise footprint was going to look like,” Arnold said. “I think we were surprised it didn’t show more of a concentration in that direction.”

Westerly takeoffs make up only a fifth of all departures from the airport, the study says, so their noise impact is greatly minimized when averaged over a year’s time span. The annualized noise levels factor in the much larger number of days in the western communities when there was no airplane noise overhead, Arnold said.

South Florida’s prevailing winds are usually from the east, with planes taking off to the east and over the ocean. The normal procedure is for planes to take off facing into the wind.

Plane landings from the west are less of an issue for the communities along I-595, residents said, because they follow a more direct path from the west as they approach the airport, putting them over a largely industrial area.

This map outlines areas with severe noise issues near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The green outline represents annualized sound readings of at least 65 decibels, the maroon outline is at least 70 decibels and the yellow outline at least 75 decibels.

Study enters new phase

Consultants will now take data from the report (called a Part 150 study), have discussions with FAA officials about their reasons for using the current headings for arriving and departing flights and develop recommendations for federal authorities to review. The recommendations can include changes to flight paths, altering land use designations so homes aren’t built in high noise areas and other noise abatement or noise mitigation practices. The process won’t be completed until sometime in 2020, Arnold said.

But Arnold said people with noise complaints outside the high-decibel areas identified in the study won’t likely see any relief.

“Nothing that we can recommend in the study is likely to benefit them,” he said.

The study is looking at all potential noise-affected areas. That includes those to the east — and others to the west south of I-595 that are greatly affected by takeoffs and landings on the airport’s south runway.

“Our windows rattle, our roofs are covered with soot,” said Conrad Taylor, who lives in Dania Beach’s Oakbridge community west of the airport. Taylor said he’s now seeing planes directly over Griffin Road. “I want the flight path changed back to the way it was. I’d really like to have that south runway shut down.”

Broward County isn’t unique with its noise problems. The FAA has changed flight paths for “safety and efficiency” reasons across the country, affecting neighborhoods previously not plagued by noise.

Fort Lauderdale is hoping to use the experience gained from other cities to make sure flight paths steer clear of its heavily residential areas.

On Tuesday, city commissioners hired the Kaplan, Kirsch & Rockwell law firm that successfully challenged FAA policies at Phoenix’s airport in 2017. The city also plans to hire an independent airport noise consultant to help in its dealings with the FAA.

“Through collaboration and engagement we can come up with some great solution sets,” City Commissioner Ben Sorensen said. “Challenging in the courts is not my preferred method, but if that’s needed, we’re ready and able to do that.”

Sorensen said the city needs to keep its eyes on airport flight patterns because the FAA is also doing another study, called Metroplex-Florida, which is assessing the state’s heavily trafficked routes. Any changes from that study are at least several years away.

“What we don’t know is what impact [it will have]. It could be a positive impact, more favorable headings, or it could be the opposite,” Sorensen said.

This diagram shows where complaints were received about airplane noise connected with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for 2017.

How to avoid the noise

Sara Nichols, of Lauderdale Isles, said the solution to the noise affecting her Fort Lauderdale community is simple: Move the westerly departures that have been banking to the northwest back to the more due-west heading that was used more frequently in the past. The planes would go farther west before turning to the north or south.

“We don’t need this,” Nichols said of the current flight patterns. “What happened years ago, somebody arbitrarily decided to change the headings.”

Another Lauderdale Isles homeowner, James Patterson, said consultants should look to a solution used in California at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Planes there rev their engines to achieve quick acceleration, he said, and then take off at a sharp angled ascent so they quickly achieve high altitude to reduce the ground-level noise experienced in nearby neighborhoods.

“With the extreme angle of attack, it allows the noise to get way above the homeowners and allows them to enjoy peace and quiet,” Patterson said.

The rapid ascent proposal is the type of noise abatement that could be considered for recommendation in the Part 150 study, Arnold said. Consultants would have to show the procedure would be beneficial in reducing noise for people in the identified high-noise areas and not just those farther out looking for some relief, he said.

Original article can be found here ➤