Saturday, November 20, 2021

Police say killing of Southwest Airlines employee at El Paso International Airport (KELP) wasn’t random act

UPDATE, November 21: Investigators on Sunday revealed new details about the killing of a Southwest Airlines employee at El Paso International Airport, saying Friday night's attack wasn't a random act and reassuring travelers that the airport is safe.

Authorities also said they had now determined the 49-year-old victim wasn't killed during robbery, as first thought, and new information indicated his cause of his death wasn't from being shot as originally believed.

Police outlined the latest developments in a statement issued Sunday afternoon...

" The El Paso Police Department has received several calls asking about the safety of the airport. After Friday's incident, where a male was killed in the employee parking lot. The ongoing investigation by the Crimes Against Persons Unit has determined that this case was not a result of a robbery. In addition, no shooting took place. This crime occurred outside in a parking lot and never impacted the airport. The preliminary investigations suggest the victim and involved persons knew each other. Due to the ongoing investigation, the manner of death can not be released at this time. The Police Department does not believe this was a random act, and there is no immediate danger to the public or travelers."

UPDATE, November 20: As of mid-morning Saturday, El Paso police said no arrests had been made and no one had been taken into custody for what they described as Friday's night "murder" at the airport following a robbery.

Investigators remained at the airport parking lot where the killing occurred and said they anticipated being there through the afternoon hours.

"The preliminary investigation indicates this is not a random incident, and there is no threat at the airport," said Officer Adrian Cisneros, an EPPD spokesman, in a statement.

Authorities were asking the community for help and urged anyone with information about the slaying to contact police at (915) 832-4400 or call Crime Stoppers with anonymous tips at (915) 566-8477.

ORIGINAL REPORT, November 19: EL PASO, Texas -- An armed robbery led to a deadly shooting of an airline employee late Friday night in the long-term parking lot at El Paso International Airport during the start of the busy holiday travel season.

An El Paso police spokesman would only identify the “aggravated robbery” victim as a 49-year-old man and declined to discuss the cause of death.

However, Southwest Airlines confirmed later Saturday morning to ABC-7 that the victim was a Southwest Ground Operations employee who was shot to death in the employee portion of the lot while leaving work on Friday night.

"This is a heartbreaking, tragic loss for the Southwest Team, and we extend deepest sympathies to our colleague’s family, loved ones, and their extended Southwest Family. Southwest leadership is focused on supporting our employees while we offer our full support to the active investigation being conducted by local law enforcement," the airline said in a statement to ABC-7.

At least one robber was being sought, police said early Saturday, but added that there may be more suspects; no one was in custody, but authorities maintained there was no threat to the airport.

Police officials described the airport lot where the shooting occurred as a "very active" crime scene that would likely be closed through Saturday afternoon. A mobile command center was deployed at the airport along with numerous Crimes Against Persons detectives. ABC-7 also observed several people consoling each other near the area where the shooting occurred.

The incident unfolded as the airport was busier than usual due to an uptick in holiday travel. While the long term lot was closed, the short term parking lot and the main entrance to the terminal remained open.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Police say a 50-year-old man is dead after being attacked in the El Paso International Airport.

It happened just before 10 p.m. in an area near the employee parking area at El Paso International Airport. A police spokesperson says they were dispatched in reference to an Aggravated Robbery, and upon arrival discovered a 49-year-old man dead. They declined to say whether he’d been shot or if some other weapon was used.

Shortly after midday Saturday, Southwest Airlines issued the following statement:

“It is with heavy hearts that Southwest Airlines confirms a Southwest Ground Operations Employee has passed away after being shot in a parking lot at the El Paso International Airport on Friday night while leaving work. This is a heartbreaking, tragic loss for the Southwest Team, and we extend deepest sympathies to our colleague’s family, loved ones, and their extended Southwest Family. Southwest Leadership is focused on supporting our Employees while we offer our full support to the active investigation being conducted by local law enforcement.”


The City of El Paso confirmed the victim was an employee of Southwest Airlines. They released the following statement Saturday morning:

“We are shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic event. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the victim’s family, Southwest Airlines, and all those impacted by the incident. We are fully cooperating with investigators, and we are grateful to our law enforcement and first responders for their quick response to the emergency. The airport remains open as we work with law enforcement to provide a safe flying experience.”


Police say at least one suspect was outstanding as of Saturday morning. There is no current impact on airport operations, but employees should contact their supervisors for instructions on parking for the remainder of Saturday as investigators work to piece together the scene.

The El Paso Police Department is asking the community if they have any information; please contact the police at (915) 832-4400 or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (915) 566-8477.

Michael Schlachter: Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU): No right to cry Not In My Backyard

I am writing in response to the November 18 letter, “Boulder Municipal Airport – A public health problem.”

Boulder Municipal Airport is home to millions of dollars of economic activity every year, as well as dozens of jobs, from aircraft repair, new experimental aircraft construction, NASA contracts, high-tech companies, and instruction for the next generation of airline pilots. Boulder Municipal Airport also plays a vital role in public safety, serving as the base of operations for lifesaving efforts during the 2013 floods, for fire fighting equipment (especially during the terrible 2020 fire season), and for medevac helicopters during inclement weather. Per the health concerns raised in the headline and letter, the Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of rolling out a new generation of aircraft fuel that burns as clean as auto fuel and a number of manufacturers have begun to produce the first all-electric aircraft.

Airports in Santa Monica, San Rafael, and San Jose are under siege due to the efforts of real estate developers who wish to line their pockets at the expense of vital public interests. Don’t let that happen here. Boulder Municipal Airport was opened in the 1920s, and anyone who has bought or built a house near it in the last 90-plus years knew it was there when they moved in and has no right to cry “Not In My Backyard.”

Michael Schlachter
Boulder, Colorado

Piper PA-32R-301T, N298AT: Incident occurred November 19, 2021 at Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP), Lee County, Mississippi

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Jackson, Mississippi

Aircraft incurred a propeller strike on landing. 


Date: 19-NOV-21
Time: 14:44:00Z
Regis#: N298AT
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA32R
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Southeast Alaska is Full of Big Fish, Float Planes, and Nonstop Adventure

The author spends four action-packed days at Salmon Falls Resort hitting the salt- and freshwater fisheries near Ketchikan, Alaska

Salmon Falls works with Carlin Air to transport guests around the region.

Field & Stream
By Matthew Every
Published November 19, 2021  5:00 PM

Captain Mike Bunker cuts the engine on our 27-foot Riddle Marine fishing boat and cranks up the music. Liz Johnson, Jesse Liebrecht, and I peer over the rail and look out over the ocean. Around us, small charter boats dot the horizon—all without a doubt chasing cohos and kings. But we’ve already boated our share of salmon and a halibut; now we’re after something else. We’ve used just about every one of the rods that line the roof of the boat’s cabin, save three lightweight spinning outfits that would look more at home on my local reservoir than the open water of Southeast Alaska. Bunker distributes the rods, and Johnson can barely contain herself. She’s been waiting for this all day. 

Johnson and her crew invited me up to Ketchikan to check out the Salmon Falls Resort and fish for a few days. A big part of what to do here is right in the resort’s name: salmon. Guests can either hire a captain or try their luck in one of Salmon Falls’ self-guided boats. Either way, they have a good chance of catching something. The waters near Ketchikan are loaded with five different kinds of salmon, as well as halibut, lingcod, and more. There are also whales, porpoises, sea lions, and bald eagles to watch, and they’ve been putting on a show from the moment I got off the plane.

What hardly anyone talks about, though, except for the Salmon Falls staff, is the seabass fishing. Why travel over 3,000 miles to catch a fish I could target in my home waters off of New York and New England? Because, according to Johnson, the bass bite is on fire. I see this firsthand minutes after I cast over the rail. As soon as the bait on my line sinks into the dark water below, I feel a bump. 

I reel in, but I don’t feel any resistance—just a bump here and there. Then I see them: four sea bass each about the size of a wine bottle hitting the banana weight on my line. I nudge Liebrecht, Salmon Falls’ Marina Manager, and I point to the hungry pack. Liebrecht drifts the lime-green Senko worm on his line closer, and it’s like watching a group of bluegills mouth a lure. 

The first goes for the worm and bites the end off of it. Then the second comes up and slams it. Liebrecht sets the hook, and the fish peels off from the group shaking its head. I watch the slinky rod bend and hear the drag on Liebrecht’s reel buzz. I pull my bait into the remaining bass, and it doesn’t take long. The same one that took the end off of the worm engulfs the bait and now Liebrecht and I are both reeling in. Behind me, I hear Johnson on the port side say, “I’ve got one.” Ten minutes later, we’re one bass shy of a limit. 

Early the next morning, a 1959 de Havilland Beaver floatplane buzzes the dock at Salmon Falls then banks into a steep turn for a landing. I’m standing with a bag full of fly fishing gear. The plane taxis to the dock, and Timber Pesterfield, the pilot, opens the hatch and hops down on a pontoon. I toss my gear to Dave Smiley, my fishing guide for the day, who’s sitting in the back seat, then climb into the fuselage. 

Inside, the plane feels like an old car. It’s upholstered in velour and brown leather and has mechanical art-deco-style gauges. Pesterfield climbs into the cockpit next to me. He pushes on the throttle, and the nine-cylinder rotary engine roars to life. We move from the dock, and I hear the engine’s supercharger inhale deeply as we glide into a takeoff. Once we’re airborne, Pesterfield banks hard and points us east towards the Misty Fjords. 

Pesterfield’s voice crackles through my headphones. “They fjords are just beyond those mountains,” he says pointing to a snow-capped range dead ahead of us. “All of them were gouged and cracked from millennia of ice.” Then he pulls back on the sticks and we climb, threading between the snowy, rocky peaks. 

As we cruise over the mountains, the coastal rainforest we just came from turns into a completely different landscape. Sheer cliffs rise from the fjords with deep fissures running down into glassy inlets of water below. Pesterfield catches me out of the corner of his eye. I’m awestruck gazing out the window. “I’ve been up here thousands of times,” he says. “It still overwhelms me—just the sheer energy of it. It’s spiritual.” 

As we get closer to our destination, I look down at small lakes dotting the landscape—some seem small enough to paddle across in a pool float. I ask Pesterfield which one of them he could land on. “All of them,” he says. Then he eyes a patch of water the size of a farm pond. “But I might have trouble getting back off of that one.” 

We cross over a small lake, bank, and come down for a landing. The water is still, and I can’t even feel the pontoons hit when we touch down. When we reach the middle of the lake, Pesterfield turns the plane to face a small cabin with a jon boat next to it. It’s like watching someone parallel-park a Mini Cooper. 

Boeing Dreamliner Defects Bog Down Production

Plane maker further slows production as door-area issue proves difficult to address, delaying deliveries and complicating airlines’ plans

The Wall Street Journal 
By Andrew Tangel
Updated November 19, 2021 1:01 pm ET

Boeing Co. has further slowed production of 787 Dreamliners as it addresses defects that are delaying deliveries of new jets and complicating airlines’ plans, people familiar with the matter said.

The plane maker is holding off completing the new wide-body jets at its North Charleston, South Carolina, factory as workers and engineers address problems related to areas surrounding passenger and cargo doors on aircraft already under construction, these people said.

The latest production slowdown began in recent days and could last a few weeks as Boeing seeks expertise from other aerospace manufacturers in addressing the door issue, some of these people said. In late October, Boeing disclosed it was producing about two Dreamliners a month, down from a planned monthly rate of five, to resolve production issues.

A string of production snafus has hampered Boeing’s ability to deliver new Dreamliners for much of the last year, fueling the manufacturer’s financial losses and making it difficult for airlines to build schedules for jets often used in international travel. The plane maker has faced increased scrutiny internally, by air-safety regulators and lawmakers after two of its 737 MAX jets crashed in 2018 and 2019, claiming 346 lives.

A Boeing spokeswoman said work continues at its Dreamliner factory and production “rates will continue to be dynamic” as the manufacturer focuses on resuming normal assembly, performs inspections and repairs finished aircraft awaiting delivery.

Boeing is increasingly likely to restart handing over new Dreamliners to its customers in February or March at the earliest, longer than previously anticipated, people familiar with the matter said.

Boeing’s shares declined 4.8% in midday trading.

The company has been seeking Federal Aviation Administration approval for its proposed pre-delivery inspections to ensure new aircraft meet federal rules and match Boeing’s regulator-approved designs. An FAA spokesman said the agency won’t sign off on inspections until its safety experts are satisfied.

“This is a case of us looking at every single aspect of design and manufacturing with the airplane, making sure that we’re complying, we’re conforming to the design and we will bring that airplane back as soon as that makes sense,” Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s commercial sales chief, said November 13 at an air show in Dubai.

In an October 27 call with analysts, Chief Executive David Calhoun said defective titanium parts were the “long pole in the tent” among remaining production problems to address.

The door issue has since emerged as the most vexing among Boeing’s 787 problems, people familiar with the matter said. Other defects being addressed are related to items such as certain aluminum parts and windows, some of these people said. Boeing has largely been dealing with tiny gaps where sections of the aircraft join together. Such gaps could lead to premature fatigue that may require repairs sooner than anticipated.

The Boeing spokeswoman said the company is confident its approach would lead to stability in its 787 production. “We are taking the time needed to ensure the highest levels of quality,” she said.

None of the defects being addressed pose immediate safety concerns with Dreamliners currently flying, the Boeing spokeswoman said.

With deliveries largely halted since October 2020, the Chicago-based aerospace giant said it had built up an inventory of 105 Dreamliners as of the end of the third quarter this year, according to securities filings. The undelivered jets are worth more than $25 billion.

The delivery halt has choked off an important source of cash flow for Boeing as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic’s blow to aircraft demand. It is also complicating airlines’ plans as international travel rebounds. Dreamliners are Boeing’s flagship wide-body jets and are often used on long-haul flights.

American Airlines Group Inc. said it had trimmed its flying plans due to the delayed arrival of its new 787s.

“Due to the continued uncertainty in the delivery schedule, we have proactively removed these aircraft from our winter schedule to minimize potential passenger disruption,” Derek Kerr, the airline’s finance chief, said on an October 21 earnings call.

The FAA launched a broad review of Boeing’s Dreamliner production in late 2020.

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S. House Transportation Committee and its aviation subcommittee requested that the Department of Transportation’s inspector general review the FAA’s manufacturing oversight and “the effectiveness of the FAA’s actions to resolve 787 production issues,” according to a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The DOT inspector general will evaluate any such request to determine the scope and timing of a possible review, an agency official said.

—Benjamin Katz contributed to this article.

Abraham Fandrich: Chief Pilot of the United States Forest Service retires

HELENA, Montana  — Abraham Fandrich took his final flight for the federal government Friday, flying from Boise Idaho to the regional airport in Helena. The Chief Pilot for the US Forest Service is retiring at the age of 63.

Fandrich made his grand entrance into the Helena Regional Airport by flying low with a stream of white smoke trailing behind him.

His wife Cathy and brother-in-law were waiting on the tarmac to greet him when he landed.

“It’s a little bit surreal. You know, I kinda would like it to continue forever but we all have to retire I guess some point in time,” says Fandrich.

Fandrich was born just south of Helena in Townsend and joined the National Guard in 1976 as a mechanic. He soon became a certified helicopter pilot in 1980, eventually transitioning to planes two and half decades later.

Fandrich’s career was varied, serving as a pilot trainer, test flight pilot, working air rescues to save people out of floods, fighting fires, and eventually becoming the chief pilot for the United States Forest Service.

Fandrich says that it’s the right period in his life for him to retire in order to free up his schedule for more time with his grandchildren, to fly on his own time, and hunt and fish.

While Fandrich’s days of flying for the National Guard or Forest Service might be over, he still plans on flying for fun with his own personal plane.