Saturday, December 19, 2020

Chicago Rockford International Airport (KRFD) remains vital to region's economic health

By Mike Dunn

Mike Dunn is executive director of Chicago Rockford International Airport (KRFD).

There’s little doubt 2020 has been a year of challenges. But at the Chicago Rockford International Airport, it also has been a year of tremendous growth.

Operational diversity is at the core of our business plan, and that means we rely on both passenger and cargo service to weather economic fluctuations. This strategy paid off this year: While passenger travel was down in 2020, cargo freight saw another year of significant increases.

Heading into this year, RFD was already internationally recognized as one of the top 20 cargo airports in the country and one of the fastest-growing cargo airports in the world. We’ve always known that air cargo, both domestic and international, was going to be a real growth industry for the airport.   

2020 saw increased cargo loads at RFD, with no slowdown in sight.  It appears that for 2020, more than 1.9 billion pounds of cargo will land and be handled through RFD compared with the 1.6 billion pounds of landed weight in 2019.   

The airport’s goal going forward is to assure that RFD will continue be a go-to cargo airport for major companies. Recently, RFD secured a $16 million grant from the FAA AIP Supplemental Grant Appropriation and an additional $500,000 from the Illinois Department of Transportation for airport infrastructure improvements. We are using that money to upgrade a ramp (airplane parking) used primarily by UPS for cargo operations.

The airport also began work on a new, 90,000-square-foot International Cargo Facility, intended to house air cargo companies from around the world.

Make no mistake, business growth for RFD is good news for the Rockford region. Higher cargo volume means more jobs — a boon for our community during an otherwise tough economy. Our cargo partners have hired thousands of additional workers as they increase operations to meet  cargo demands.

RFD is now known among shipping companies throughout the world as a Midwest American hub, thanks to our ability to add flights and bring in larger aircraft. We handle up to 66 UPS flights every day and are Amazon’s third-busiest air hub. In October, RFD was named the USA Midwest hub for German shipping company SENATOR INTERNATIONAL. Additionally, SENATOR has contracted with locally based Emery Air, a premier aviation company, to oversee its cargo handling operations (loading and unloading of aircraft) on the ground.  

In addition to the growth in cargo activities, RFD has seen a steady return to normal on the passenger side since the beginning of the pandemic. In October, RFD was down year-to-date only 18% in enplanements year-over-year.  We expect to see travel to continue to return during the holidays with the airlines adopting a wide range of policies and procedures and utilizing state-of-the-art cleaning and disinfection products to ensure passengers can fly with confidence.

RFD is a major economic engine for the Rock River Valley, and Northern Illinois, creating skilled jobs in aviation, transportation, logistics and construction. Over the past year, RFD and our partners have created over 1,000 new jobs bringing the total jobs on the airport campus to over 8,000.

Many of those working on the RFD campus are the essential workers we have relied on throughout this year. These workers have sorted orders, loaded packages, built and rehabbed our runways, ramps and buildings, and kept planes in the air, all while working in PPE and with new distancing guidelines. Because of these workers, RFD was able to assist in keeping supply lines moving throughout the world.   

While 2020 has been a tough year for many, all of us affiliated with RFD are proud to contribute to our economic recovery throughout our community and the nation.

Area residents must take advantage of new air service at Fort Dodge Regional Airport (KFOD)

Having lots of passengers will help keep United Express flying here

December 19th, 2020  

United Express is bringing passenger jet service back to the Fort Dodge Regional Airport next March. It is up to the rest of us to make sure that service stays at our local airport.

To do that, local people need to make an effort to use that airline and the airport for all their flight needs. United Express is committed to flying 50-seat jets to and from Fort Dodge. If the community keeps those seats full, the airline will have lots of incentive to keep flying to and from our hometown.

There are some nice incentives for people to take advantage of this new air service. First, it eliminates the need to make long drives, or even worse, overnight stays, in order to catch a flight at a big airport in another town. And the parking at Fort Dodge Regional Airport is free.

Seamless connections to destinations all over the country and the world are another big advantage for travelers. The local flights will take people to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, where they can transfer to United Airlines flights going to more than 175 cities. Upon arriving at the Windy City, Fort Dodge passengers will just have to go to their next departure gate. There will be no need to hassle with checking bags in, because they will be automatically transferred. And all of this will be possible by buying one ticket.

This new travel opportunity was created because the Fort Dodge Regional Airport qualifies for the federal Essential Air Service program, which provides money to keep airlines flying to smaller communities. With the current Essential Air Service contract due to expire Feb. 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation sought proposals from airlines interested in serving Fort Dodge. United Express submitted a proposal, which was endorsed by the Fort Dodge Regional Airport Commission. The Department of Transportation recently picked that airline, and will give it about $3 million a year to serve our city.

If we as a community want to keep that level of air service, we have to use it. So the next time you want to fly, pick Fort Dodge Regional Airport and United Express.

Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, Florida: Low-flying military aircraft

The Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge intermittently receives reports of low-flying military aircraft in the area. Refuge staff wish to track and attempt to quantify the frequency to better protect the area. Your assistance may well help.


Your help is needed in assessing how often military aircraft are observed flying low-level in the area.


So that the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges can better work with the controlling military installations in managing this air traffic.


Such flights portend potential disturbance to area wildlife.  It would also be helpful to know whether these flights are observed during daylight or night hours.


The information that is needed involves ONLY military aircraft flying over the Refuges and NOT aircraft using or in the vicinity of Cedar Key Airport, whether they are civilian or military.


Recently, at least two sorties of military fixed-wing aircraft were observed flying low-level over the Cedar Keys and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges.  One occurrence involved a flight of two Boeing 737s (presumably Navy P-8s) and the other a flight of two A-10 Warthogs.

There are several low-level military visual training routes that cross over the Lower Suwanee and Cedar Keys NWR.  These are corridors designated for flight operations below 1500' agl (above ground level) in visual conditions, and speeds can range up to 400 knots.  These corridors can be considered up to 10 nautical miles wide in some cases, and are controlled, "owned," by individual military installations who can either assign them or deem them off-limits. 

Civil air regulations request that pilots remain above 2000’ above a national wildlife refuge or national park.  This height avoidance is considered a “voluntary practice” by civilian pilots and is encouraged due to noise sensitivity in these areas, but also bird-strike avoidance.

While the birds on Cedar Keys Refuge are somewhat acclimated to overflying aircraft due to a long-standing presence of a public airport at the City of Cedar Key, these larger, faster moving aircraft still cause a disturbance.  However, any disturbances by these fast-moving aircraft are transient when compared to the larger rotorcraft ops (UH-60s and the V and MV-22 Ospreys) particularly at night.  These aircraft are large, slow moving, and can hover in the area for extended periods with or without lots of bright lights.  Because this portion of the coastline is particularly devoid of artificial surface lights, it can be an attractive night-vision practice area for some of these ops.


If you can identify the type of aircraft and/or note the number or markings on it, that information would be helpful. 
Note the time of day or night and the location where you saw it.

Refuge Manager, Andrew G. Gude, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System,

on his cell,  703.622.3896
or email

One Pierre Regional Airport (KPIR) project completed, another begins

The Pierre City Commission has awarded a $200,000 contract to R&W Construction to build an additional 40 parking spots at the Pierre Regional Airport. The project, originally planned for 2020, was put on hold because of the pandemic.

According to a city news release, the project will ramp back up in 2021.

“We fully anticipate a traffic rebound once the pandemic is controlled,” City Engineer John Childs said. “We had a shortage of parking before COVID hit. This investment should alleviate that problem and improve the passenger experience.”

The new parking spots will be northwest of the terminal, and north of the existing passenger parking lot.

Earlier this month, Morris Inc. completed its airport taxiway work. Morris was hired by the city to rebuild the taxiways to align with new Federal Aviation Administration requirements. Approximately 27,000 cubic yards of dirt had to be moved, affecting about 4,500 square feet of the airfield.

“Although impact to the traveling public was minimal, this was a sizable project,” Childs added. “I’m pleased the work is wrapped up and that the area shouldn’t require any major attention for many years.”

A federal grant paid for 90 percent of the $3.9 million project. The remainder of the project cost was split between the State of South Dakota and the city of Pierre.

Two companies looking for extended hangar leases at Muscatine Municipal Airport (KMUT)

MUSCATINE, Iowa — No comments were made Thursday when the last Muscatine City Council meeting of the year included a public hearing regarding the rental of three hangars at the Muscatine Municipal Airport.

During the meeting, held virtually due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the council learned two groups planning to lease hangars, Carver Pump and Jim Mott, are requesting longer leases than 12 months. Mayor Diana Broderson said the reason they are asking for the longer leases is they are planning to invest to install heating systems in the hangars. The proposed leases are for five years with an option to renew for up to three years.

“As required under Iowa law, a public hearing is being held regarding the proposal to lease the property for more than 12 months before Council considers approval of the leases,” Broderson said.

The city and the Airport Advisory Commission has been working for several years to increase the hangar space at the airport. Previously the airport had 20 hangars that were about 50 years old. In November 2017 the council began a project with two grants from the Iowa Department of Transportation to create the new hangars. In February 2019 the project changed to create box hangars instead of the traditional T-hangars. Currently all three hangars have tenants.

With no comments on the proposal, the council is expected to review the lease proposals during the January 7th, 2021, meeting.

Piper PA-46-310P Malibu, N662TC: Accident occurred December 19, 2020 in Naples, Florida

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida
Piper Aircraft Corporation; Vero Beach, Florida 
Continental Aerospace Technologies; Mobile, Alabama 

Location: Naples, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21LA087
Date & Time: December 19, 2020, 12:16 Local
Registration: N662TC
Aircraft: Piper PA-46-310P 
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 19, 2020, about 1216 eastern standard time, a piper PA-46-310 airplane; N662TC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Naples, Florida. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The flight originated at Sarasota / Bradenton international Airport (SRQ), Sarasota, Florida destined for Key West International Airport (EYW), Key West, Florida.

According to the pilot, on the morning of the day of the accident, the pilot and his passenger went to SRQ. The pilot filed an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan for the flight to EYW, and had the airplane towed to the fixed base operator’s ramp, then conducted a preflight including draining both tanks to check for water. No water was visible, and both fuel tanks contained about 50 gallons each (100 gallons total).

The fuel selector was on the right tank, and the engine started without any delay. The pilot then received his IFR clearance and took off at 1139.

After takeoff the pilot was cleared by air traffic control to climb to 7,000 feet above mean sea level (msl) and the flight continued until it was near Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), Fort Myers, Florida and then was cleared direct to EYW. Until this point, the engine was running smooth and was leaned to 50° lean of peak. About 1213, the pilot switched the fuel selector to the left fuel tank.

Immediately after switching fuel tanks, the engine started to sputter and lost power. The pilot switched back to the right fuel tank but there was no change. He then tried different power settings, Set the mixture to full rich, and switched tanks again without result.

The pilot then advised ATC that he was having an engine problem and needed to land at the nearest airport. ATC then had him contact the control tower at Naples municipal Airport (APF), Naples, Florida. APF tower then cleared him to land on runway 5 but, the pilot realized that he was already well below 5,000 feet msl, so he advised the tower that he could not make it to the airport and that he was heading for the beach and would land in the water.

The pilot now focused on his attitude, the best glide, and airspeed and touched down on the water. The airplane came to a sudden stop and was floating. Apart from the propeller, he could see no visible damage. He then unlatched his seatbelt and opened the upper part of the airstair door and egressed. He then helped his passenger to egress and they both started swimming towards the beach. The airplane continued to float.

The pilot saw a helicopter circling overhead, and then after 10 to 15 minutes of swimming they were picked up by a boat. They were later transported to the hospital.

The airplane eventually sank and came to rest in 6 feet of water. It was later recovered, and cursory examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, revealed that the propeller, wings, and aft fuselage, had been substantially damaged.

The airplane was retained by the NTSB for examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N662TC
Model/Series: PA-46-310P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KAPF,9 ft msl
Observation Time: 11:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C /12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 70°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.21 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Sarasota, FL (SRQ) 
Destination: Key West, FL (EYW)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 26.130762,-81.817956 (est)  


NAPLES, Florida – Two people were injured after a plane crashed into the water south of Naples Pier on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane declared an emergency and made a water landing one-quarter mile offshore on approach to Naples Airport at 12:16 p.m.

The airplane took off in Sarasota and was headed to Key West before it crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Naples police said the plane went down near 21st Avenue South. Two people were on board, and they both have minor injuries, according to Naples police.

The flight started around 11:39 a.m. on Saturday morning, according to flight data. About 35 minutes into the flight, the pilot declared an emergency. 

“Naples tower. Malibu 2TC with an engine problem. We are inbound, runway five,” the pilot said.

An engine problem off the coast of Naples forced the pilot to try and land at the Naples Airport, but the plane did not make it that far. 

“We’re not making it to the airport,” said the pilot. “I think we have to land on the beach or on the water.”

The pilot ditched the airplane in the water, about a quarter-mile off the shores of Naples Beach.  Nearby, a boater saw the wreckage and jumped into action to help save the two people on board. 

The Piper Malibu airplane still remains about a quarter mile off the shore hidden under the water.

Plane Fun Inc., a trust company out of Georgia, is listed as the aircraft’s owner. 

Kenneth Schumacher, the president of the company, said the business has hundreds of planes registered in its name. Schumacher also said he didn’t hear about the accident prior to the call. 

When asked about who was at the controls on Saturday, he said he would get back to NBC-2 with more information. 

In the meantime, the small plane remains in the Gulf of Mexico as salvage operations were put on hold Monday due to rough sea conditions. 

The good news: Seatow, the salvage company, says there has been no fuel leakage as of yet. 

They are planning to start work on Tuesday if sea conditions permit. 

FAA confirmed the agency and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.


A small plane crashed into the water south of the Naples Pier, and north of Gordon’s Pass, Saturday afternoon.

The plane went into the water about 1,000 yards offshore, according to Naples Police. The site is west of the 2100 block of Gordon Drive, which is not far from the Naples Pier.

Naples Fire said two occupants of the plane were rescued and suffered minor injuries. Fire-Rescue transported them from the crash site to Bay Road for transport by Collier County EMS.

Those out on the beach Saturday say they while they see planes take off all the time, they never expected one to crash in front of them.

Carin Von Ins was out near Naples Pier today. “All the sudden, we heard kind of a loud noise. It sounded like a boat hitting waves. Kind of a boom and we quick looked out into the ocean and saw that the plane we had seen coming in had gone down,” said Von Ins.

Carin and her husband Jim were just two of the people who sat anxiously watching as the plane sank into the water. Everyone was wondering what would happen to the two people on board.

“It was floating on the water for several minutes,” Jim said.

Good Samaritans were able to help save those two people on the plane. A boater saw people treading water so he helped them get onto his boat until law enforcement arrived.

Chris Sereno is the man who helped rescue the two people. “I didn’t believe it at first, you know, a plane really crashed and you hear about it but when it’s in front of you and you don’t expect it, especially boating,” said Sereno.

He says, it’s kind of a wild situation to be in. “It was kind of crazy. I wasn’t ready for anything like that,” Sereno said.

But he says people in distress so he helped. “Looked like there was some sort of distress and I pulled up to a sinking plane with two people in the water looking for help,” said Sereno.

“You’re not thinking about helping somebody. But you just take over and you do it,” he said.

Chris says he’s grateful he was at the right place at the right time to help.

Investigators still haven’t said what caused the crash.

Cirrus SF-50 Vision, N217GB: Corporate Hangar Collapsed on Upper Fuselage and Wing


AIRCRAFT:  2019 Cirrus SF-50 N217GB, s/n: 0137, TT 72 hours 

ENGINE: Williams  FJ33-5A s/m: 361046, TT 72 hours     

EQUIPMENT: Garmin G3000 Flight Deck Avionics Suite

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  On March 03, 2020, N217GB was in a corporate hangar that collapsed on upper fuselage and wing. 


Aircraft was NDT inspected by Cirrus structural engineers.  

Damage includes but may not be limited to:
Upper fuselage has carbon fiber damage through fuselage seam just forward of engine nacelle;
Right wing has damage in upper carbon skin and leading edge;
Structural damage to nose section of aircraft on left side;
Engine inlet ring bent;
Front windshield damaged;
Left wing tip damage, left wing tip, and upper leading edge damage;
Interior and avionics pulled to access structure for NDT testing by Cirrus;
Numerous scratches on aircraft, wings, and controls;
Nose radome damaged;
Left aileron and aileron trim tab damaged;
Engine nacelle damaged;
Ruddervators and trim tabs have some damage/

WARRANTY: There is no warranty, express or implied for the information provided herein or the condition, useability, workability, operability or marketability of the aircraft salvage. All times are approximate and the logbooks and aircraft should be inspected by each bidder BEFORE BIDDING. Failure of the bidder to view the salvage or wreckage, or confirm any information provided is NOT grounds for a claim or withdrawal of bid after bid closing date.)

HOURS estimated from logbooks or other information - not guaranteed or warranted.

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT: John C. Tune Airport, Nashville, Tennessee 

Insurer reserves the right to reject any and all bids;
Salvage is as is/where is;
The posting information is the best to our knowledge;
An inspection of the salvage is highly recommended; 


Read more here: