Saturday, April 23, 2022

Stratford, Connecticut officials oppose airport eminent domain bill

STRATFORD, Connecticut - The town’s elected officials are nearly unanimous in their opposition to a bill that could have implications for Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

The bill, titled HB5308, would give the Connecticut Airport Authority the power to use eminent domain to make necessary safety changes without approval from the state Department of Transportation. It would also give the CAA the power to approve a purchase of an airport by a municipality.

“This is precisely what we have been warning about with regard to the interest of the CAA in their effort to obtain the Sikorsky Memorial Airport from Bridgeport through a non-public process,” Mayor Laura Hoydick said in a statement.

Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA, said this bill clarifies existing powers the CAA already has. He said the bill is “essentially clean-up language” with some additions. It also contains requirements for aircraft liability insurance coverage, for example.

“It doesn't grant us any additional authority other than we carry out what the DOT is required to do right now,” Dillon said.

The CAA is a quasi-public body that owns and operates six airports in the state, including Bradley International Airport. Eminent domain is the right of a government to purchase private land for public use. The CAA has submitted a bid to purchase Sikorsky from the City of Bridgeport. Hoydick also has expressed interest in buying the airport.

Right now the eminent domain process requires the CAA to request a “condemnation” of property from the DOT when a need arises, which the DOT will then approve, Dillon said.

Under HB5308, the executive director of the CAA would have to submit a written statement to the municipality explaining why purchasing or taking the land is necessary. The acquisition will then go to a referendum within the locality.

If it does not pass in the referendum, then the CAA would have the right to appeal the vote to the Superior Court, which could then give the CAA power to proceed with the land acquisition.

Dillon said the CAA would not move to use eminent domain to increase the length of the runway at Sikorsky, should the organization purchase it from Bridgeport.

“We have no intention to exercise eminent domain regarding Sikorsky to acquire additional property for airport uses,” Dillon said.

The CAA has only initiated the process once since 2013, and the process was not carried through to conclusion. In that situation, a homeowner near the Danbury Municipal Airport had a tree on their property that was in the way of a runway, Dillon said. The situation was resolved before the process was completed.

Dillon also said the CAA is “perfectly fine” with the current process as it stands since this was a DOT request.

In addition to Hoydick, all three of Stratford’s representatives in the House, Sen. Kevin Kelly, and nine of the 10 Town Council members have come out against the bill.

Hoydick expressed her concern again in a joint statement with nine members of the Town Council Friday. The only member not included was Democrat Greg Cann.

“The effort of the Connecticut Airport Authority to obtain the power of eminent domain regarding airports in their holdings is of deep concern to all of us as they pursue this power while simultaneously attempting to purchase the Sikorsky Memorial Airport from the City of Bridgeport,” the statement said.

The group said they oppose this bill and any other bill with similar contents that could be presented this legislative session.

Hoydick announced the town’s interest in buying Sikorsky from Bridgeport in mid-March. The town cited the ability to have local control of the airport and fear that agreements the town has with Bridgeport would go away under state control.

State Rep. Phil Young, D-Stratford, said he is against the portions of the bill that have to do with eminent domain. He added, “I kind of doubt it is ever going to see the light of day.”

The bill was drafted by Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, but language updates were included when it went through the Transportation Committee, according to the bill’s legislative website. More than 15 pages of language were added between initial submission and filing to the House.

Stowe Aviation no longer part of Morrisville-Stowe State Airport (KMVL)

MORRISTOWN, Vermont (WCAX) - After seven years of operations at the Morrisville-Stowe airport an operator’s lease has ended leaving pilots to wonder what’s next.

While flights can still fly into the airport, the loss of the fixed-base operator (FBO), Stowe Aviation leaves no existing mechanics and no fuel for visiting pilots.

Robert Burley, who is a longtime pilot says, “with no fuel that means you have to plan your flight such that whenever you need fuel you’ll be near enough to another airport to find it.”

Burley keeps his plane at the Morrisville-Stowe airport. For future flights, due to fuel issues, he has to plan things even more carefully.

“The presence of Stowe Aviation was a definite boom to the central Vermont economy and the Vermont economy in terms of just the income and the tax dollars generated” adds Burley.

While the state of Vermont owns the airport, Stowe Aviation was doing day-to-day staffing services and operations at the airport, including organizing fuel trucks after the state had to remove their fuel farm last summer for runway upgrades.

When the group of investors with Stowe Aviation took over the airport they had big dreams for the future, however, they were promised big things with EB5, which turned out to be a fraud scandal. Trying to make it work they kept operations going for 7 years while operating at a loss.

“Although we kept running it and had a tremendous increase in air traffic and people were talking about how the airport became a really well-run airport how we had services provided but we were never able to develop it in the way we were supposed to develop it because of what the state did,” says Mitchel Weiss, an investor with Stowe Aviation.

Stowe Aviation wanted to pass their lease over to one of their investors who could continue running the airport, however, the state declined to allow this and is putting bids forth for a more formal request for proposal process.

Trini Brassard who is an Assistant Director of Policy, Planning, and Intermodal Development says, “hopefully next week we’ll have a new RFP on the street looking for folks willing to submit their version of what they would like to do with the airport and we’ll go through the same process of evaluating them to find something that fits.”

The state tells us they have upwards of 10 interested parties to continue operations at the airport. They hope to have an operator nailed down by the end of June.

They are also hoping to have a fuel farm installed by end of this summer, but issues with supplies could hamper these efforts.

For pilot Bob Burley, he hopes the situation can get worked out because of the importance he says this airport plays in the region.

Robert Burley/Pilot “I’m disappointed for the state of Vermont and for the local economy because there’s a good chunk of business that drives from traffic in and out of this airport.”

Loss of Control on Ground: Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N737UY; accident occurred April 23, 2022 at Union County Airport (35A), South Carolina

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Columbia, South Carolina 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Union, South Carolina 
Accident Number: ERA22LA201
Date and Time: April 23, 2022, 18:54 Local
Registration: N737UY
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground 
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot stated that he was practicing touch and go landings. After landing, during the landing roll, when raised the flaps and added full power, the airplane veered to the right. He applied left rudder to stop the right turn and overcorrected. Then the airplane veered to the left and continued off the runway into a ditch, which resulted in substantial damage to the engine mounts. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll, which resulted in a runway excursion and impact with terrain.


Aircraft Directional control - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-landing roll Loss of control on ground (Defining event)
Landing-landing roll Attempted remediation/recovery
Landing-landing roll Runway excursion
Landing-landing roll Collision during takeoff/land

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 52,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 With waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: April 22, 2021
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: September 14, 2021

Flight Time: 113 hours (Total, all aircraft), 113 hours (Total, this make and model), 48 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N737UY
Model/Series: 172N 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1977 
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17269696
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: March 29, 2022 100 hour 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2650 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 9523.5 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-D2J
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 160 Horsepower
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: LUX,696 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 18:55 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 234°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 170° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 13°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Rock Hill, SC (UZA) 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Union, SC 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 18:00 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Union County Airport 35A
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 610 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 23
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3508 ft / 60 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Touch and go

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 34.684841,-81.641312

Location: Union, South Carolina
Accident Number: ERA22LA201
Date and Time: April 23, 2022, 18:54 Local
Registration: 737UY
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N737UY
Model/Series: 172N 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
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: KLUX, 696 ft msl
Observation Time: 18:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C /13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 170°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Rock Hill, SC (UZA)
Destination: Union, SC

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 34.684841,-81.641312 

Aircraft went into a ditch at the end of the runway. 

Date: 23-APR-22
Time: 22:54:00Z
Regis#: N737UY
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

UNION COUNTY, South Carolina (FOX Carolina) - Two people suffered minor injuries after a plane ran off the runway and hit a grassy area, according to Union County Emergency Management (UCEM).

According to UCEM, the crash happened at 6:54 p.m. at the Union County Airport.

Officials say the person had landed the plane and was trying to bring it to a stop when they ran off the runway into a grassy area.

The two people in the plane were taken to the hospital for treatment for their injuries, according to officials.

UNION COUNTY,  South Carolina (WSPA) – The Union County Dispatch has confirmed two people were injured in a plane crash in Union County Saturday evening.

According to dispatch, the call came in at 6:54 p.m. to the Union County Airport.

Union County Emergency Services said the pilot took off from York County Airport and landed at the Union County Airport when something malfunctioned. The pilot ended up on the side of the runway in the area that is lower than the runway.

The FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, said the pilot was practicing touch and go landings when they veered off the runway.

Dispatch said the two people have minor injures and were taken to the hospital.

Bell 206B JetRanger II, N206BX: Accident occurred April 26, 2022 in Lake Apopka, Orange County, 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 Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Coastal Helicopters Inc

Location: Lake Apopka, Florida
Accident Number: ERA22LA206
Date and Time: April 26, 2022, 07:18 Local
Registration: N206BX
Aircraft: Bell 206
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell 
Registration: N206BX
Model/Series: 206B 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: ORL,112 ft msl
Observation Time: 07:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C /18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 28.562433,-81.66275

Rotorcraft crashed under unknown circumstances into Lake Apopka. 

Date: 26-APR-22
Time: 11:15:00Z
Regis#: N206BX
Aircraft Make: BELL
Aircraft Model: 206
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Operation: 137
Aircraft Operator: COASTAL AIR SERVICE

OAKLAND, Florida – A private company retrieving a helicopter that crashed in Lake Apopka Tuesday found another one Wednesday morning, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said the second helicopter appeared to have fallen in the lake “later in the day (Tuesday) after the first one,” adding that its pilot is safe and that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were notified.

The view from Sky 6 showed both helicopters submerged in the water, both with their skids up, as one was floated away.

A pilot survived after a helicopter went down Tuesday morning in Lake Apopka near Oakland, rescue officials said.

According to the FAA, the first crash occurred as the helicopter’s pilot — the aircraft’s only occupant — was conducting “agriculture operations.” A private boat took the pilot back to shore, where Orange County Fire Rescue officials said they were checked for injuries.

One person was transported to the hospital as a hazmat alert for “brief exposure to pesticides,” OCFR officials said.

Virginia man cited for trying to bring loaded .40 caliber gun on to flight at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Reagan National Airport says they prevented a Stafford, Virginia, man from bringing a loaded handgun onto his flight on Friday.

The .40 caliber gun was loaded with 10 bullets, including one in the chamber. The handgun was detected via the X-ray machine as the man was entering the security checkpoint with his carry-on items. TSA officials notified police, who confiscated the gun and cited the man on a weapons charge.

It was the ninth gun detected by TSA officers at the airport so far this year.

“Everyone who owns a firearm needs to know that they are not permitted to be carried through an airport security checkpoint,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “It doesn’t matter if you have a concealed carry permit or not. I encourage all gun owners to positively confirm where their firearm actually is as part of preparing for travel. Too often, travelers say they forgot the gun was in their bag with them. Ignorance is no excuse and it will result in a federal financial civil penalty.”

Quick thinking leads to award for Dover Air Force Base (KDOV) traffic controller

Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Unkrur, left, 436th Operations Group superintendent; and Lt. Col. Andrew Stein, center, 436th OG deputy commander, present Paul Brassfield, 436th Operations Support Squadron air traffic control tower watch supervisor, with the Lt. Gen. Gordon A. Blake Aircraft Assist Award at Dover Air Force Base March 3. Mr. Brassfield’s quick reaction, exceptional crew resource management and dedication to the tower team concept prevented a potential aircraft mishap and significant loss of life.

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE — On April 13, 2021, the quick actions by a Dover Air Force Base air traffic control tower watch supervisor prevented an aircraft mishap as a forklift operator started to cross an active runway just as a C-5M Super Galaxy, with 12 aircrew aboard, touched down on the same runway.

At the time of the incident, Paul Brassfield, 436th Operations Support Squadron air, was working in the Dover Air Force Base tower local control position when he overheard the ground controller and watch supervisor frantically trying to contact the forklift operator.

“GO-AROUND, GO AROUND, GO AROUND!” Mr. Brassfield quickly transmitted over his headset to the C-5 pilot.

Mr. Brassfield’s quick thinking and experience averted a potential mishap and significant loss of life by approximately four seconds. For his actions, Mr. Brassfield was presented the Lt. Gen. Gordon A. Blake Aircraft Assist Award, March 3.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized at this level,” he said.

“As air traffic controllers, we often lose sight of our position’s magnitude. We are a team of professionals that consistently operate at a high level to protect vehicles, aircraft and personnel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This award is a humbling reminder that what we do is essential, and I’m overjoyed that after 37 years of service, I still add value to this high-performance team.”

The Air Force Flight Standards Agency award recognizes immediate actions taken by U.S. Air Force, Airfield Operations personnel that result in the safe recovery of an imperiled airborne aircraft, or help given to an endangered aircraft on the ground.

“As an aircrew member, that’s exactly what we are looking for from members of RAPCON [Radar Approach Control] and [Dover AFB] Tower,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Stein, 436th Operations Group deputy commander. “That kind of attention to detail, stepping up and making the right call at the right time to help out to save that airplane and crew.”

Mr. Brassfield recalled the events that transpired that day, stating he heard a commotion from a colleague working ground control as well as from the watch supervisor. While several people work separate positions, tower personnel operate under a team construct. They’re always scanning the airfield to maintain situational awareness ensuring the safety of all aircraft and vehicles operating on the airfield.

This total team concept, as well as a keen attention to details when training, is what Mr. Brassfield attributes to preventing the incident.

“Effective leadership and the career’s no-nonsense focus on training,” he said when highlighting the determining factors of the tower’s successes. “Preparation, combined with the confidence instilled in us by our leadership, endows us with the ability to calmly and competently [handle] situations like these consistently.”

Master Sgt. Lindsay Pace, 436th OSS air traffic control tower chief controller, said Mr. Brassfield is an invaluable resource to the team and his experience makes everyone around him better.

“Mr. Brassfield is a critical part of the 436th OSS and air traffic control,” said Sgt. Pace. “His actions that day highlighted his professionalism, skills and dedication to the mission that he exudes every single day. There is no doubt that his actions averted a potentially catastrophic event.”

Helicopters to East Hampton Cost 30% More After New Airport Rule

  • Blade is increasing price from New York to $1,025 from $795
  • Company is diverting flights to neighboring landing zones

New Yorkers looking to fly into the East Hampton Airport this summer will still be able to -- but there will be fewer flights, and it’ll be costly.  

Blade Air Mobility Inc. expects 60% of its typical volume to be diverted to neighboring towns of Montauk, Southampton and Sag Harbor, according to the New York-based company. That’s because under East Hampton’s new rules, which are meant to address persistent noise complaints, each of Blade’s helicopters can only fly in and out of the airport once per day.

Blade will charge $1,025 to fly into East Hampton from New York, an increase of almost 30% from $795 last summer. Travel to the surrounding towns could cost between $795 and $845. Advance bookings are four times higher now than they were at this time in 2021, according to the company.

“The Town of East Hampton’s limitations on commercial landings at East Hampton Airport has necessitated the expansion of our schedule to neighboring landing zones,” Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal said in an emailed statement. “Over 90% of our current fliers surveyed have indicated they will utilize neighboring landing zones if faced with a sold out schedule to East Hampton.”

Residents across Long Island have complained about air traffic noise for years. The East Hampton town board has been working with consultants, residents and others to figure out its options.

After the board voted unanimously in January to deactivate its airport, the Federal Aviation Administration warned of obstacles that might slow the process down. It has since dropped its objections. The airport will close on May 17 and reopen as a more limited-use facility on May 19.

The changes come just ahead of the U.S. summer months. The weeks between Memorial Day, at the end of May, and Labor Day, at the beginning of September, are usually the town’s busiest.

Dana and Robbie Wills open aircraft repair business at Conway Regional Airport (KCXW)

Robbie and Dana Wills.

Dana Wills and her husband, former Arkansas Speaker of the House Robbie Wills, have started Conway Aircraft, a repair business based at the Conway Regional Airport.

The couple partnered with the city of Conway to build the 10,000-square-foot hangar to fill a need in the market as there were no shop offerings at the airport.

Conway Aircraft provides full-service jet, turbine and piston aircraft engine maintenance as well as avionics installation and repair.

The couple is investing $520,000 to construct the hangar, while the city obtained $400,000 through two government grants. The city will own the hangar and lease it to Conway Aircraft. The $520,000 will be applied to the lease on a monthly basis. Equipping the hangar and hiring additional staff will be an additional cost borne by the couple.

“I believe it’s approaching 18 years of rent that we have prepaid to the city of Conway to make this happen,” Robbie said.

Conway Aircraft currently employs three mechanics and an operations manager at an existing location at the North Little Rock Municipal Airport. The company will continue to maintain that shop as a satellite location.

While 80 aircraft call the Conway airport home, the couple says it’s a regional market that will attract pilots from across Arkansas. Dana said there are about 800 planes in central Arkansas and 3,000 across the state.

Dana is a certified public accountant and is serving as chief financial officer. Robbie has a general contractor’s license and has been in charge of construction. He’s also the one who talks to prospective customers.

The couple’s interest in starting an aircraft maintenance shop stemmed from their own experiences. Robbie has been a pilot since 2014 and flies the family’s Beechcraft Bonanza. With no shop in Conway since the airport opened, the planes based there must go elsewhere for maintenance, repairs and inspections.

Efforts to recruit a repair shop to Conway haven’t succeeded. The couple considered building a hangar and renting it out. Finally, Dana suggested they start the business. They had to go through a public bidding process in order to form the public-private partnership with the city of Conway.

“What we kind of joke around here, it’s like there’s something that pilots and teenagers have in common, and that’s basically that they hate to be grounded,” Dana said.

The two approached two mechanics they had used for years at the North Little Rock Municipal Airport who had worked for a company whose owner had passed away. The director of maintenance, Walt English, will work in Conway, while the assistant director, Aaron Bulmanski, will head the North Little Rock satellite office. The mechanics will travel back and forth.

Meanwhile, Conway Aircraft has formed a 50-50 partnership with Fort Smith-based ABS Avionics to open an avionics shop that will create at least two jobs. Industry veteran Rodney Paul has been hired as director of avionics.

Robbie and Dana are two of the four partners in a lobbying firm, WSG Consulting. Their firm includes three other former legislators, including former Speaker of the House Bill Stovall, Rick Green, and Kelley Linck.

Airbus A320: April 22, 2022 at Kansas City International Airport (KMCI), Missouri

A Delta Airlines Flight 9966 made an emergency landing in Kansas City Friday night after experiencing failures while in the air. (Flight Aware)

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Delta Airlines Flight 9966 landed safely just before 11 p.m. after circling the Kansas City International Airport due to 'multiple failures,' according to a KCI spokesperson.

Flight Aware indicates the plane departed for Atlanta, Georgia, around 9:30 p.m, but the Airbus A320 was forced to turn back not long after takeoff.

The plane was worked on while in Kansas City, according to a KCI spokesperson.

Since the plane had been fueled to fly to Atlanta, it was circling the airport to burn fuel in order to lighten the load for runway length.

When problems were reported, the KCMO Aviation Department said the plane had 2-1/2 hours of fuel left.

Two people were on board, and it was unknown if there was any hazardous cargo on board.

Straight from the slaughterhouse to aviation, Colorado is pumping beef fat into a fancy jet near you

In fact you may be riding on the sustainable aviation fuel using tallow to reduce the carbon footprint of flying, now in tankers and plane wings at the Vail Valley Jet Center.

Nick Oliveira, on the aviation service team with Vail Valley Jet Center, fuels a Cirrus Vision SF50 jet with SAF, a biofuel alternative to conventional jet fuel. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) used at the Vail Valley Jet Center, Eagle County Regional Airport, in Gympsum, Colorado, on April 15, 2022. 

GYPSUM, Colorado — It’s incongruous to attach a hose to the gleaming wing of the futuristic, $2 million Cirrus Vision Jet, under the fast-clearing skies of another gorgeous high-plateau day at Eagle County Regional Airport, and then stuff the aircraft with the liquid byproducts of McRibs and flank steak. 

But the modern era sometimes arrives to the sound of strange hoofbeats. 

Dr. Joel Matta’s beloved seven-seater Cirrus is an early adopter of “sustainable aviation fuel,” which in Eagle County’s case includes a high percentage of beef tallow and arrived in March to begin cutting the busy airport’s carbon footprint. 

The tallow-based fuel employed by the Vail Valley Jet Center here is advertised to cut the carbon output of private or commercial jet flights by 25%, burning cleaner than non-bovine fuel sources. The mix is 30% of the fat-derived biofuel and 70% traditional jet kerosene. And it’s now being marketed by the jet service center from a tanker blaring sustainability ads, parked near the tarmac for Vail flyers to see. 

Increasing use of sustainable aviation fuels, whether made from tallow or other renewable feedstocks, is key to reducing greenhouse gases from an industry that makes up 3% to 9% of global emissions, according to experts at RMI and other analysts. Aviation is considered a stubborn carbon industry — to date, no other energy source has the necessary power-to-weight ratio of jet fuel to get heavy aircraft off the ground. Battery-powered electric aircraft are under development, but widespread adoption is at least a decade away, experts estimate. 

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a biofuel alternative to conventional jet fuel, is carried by a refueler truck operated by Vail Valley Jet Center, right, which was recently acquired by Signature Aviation. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) used at the Vail Valley Jet Center, Eagle County Regional Airport, in Gympsum, Colorado, on  April 15, 2022.

Meanwhile, big companies like United Airlines and the owners of corporate private jets are under heavy pressure to do more about the environment. When they hear a fuel is available that can reduce the lifetime carbon footprint by 25% — a conservative estimate, according to RMI — they want it straight in their aircrafts’ veins, Vail Valley Jet Center General Manager Paul Gordon said.

They contact flight support centers and say, “Look, we want to buy sustainable aviation fuel every time we go flying. How do we accomplish this?” Gordon said, watching his tarmac crew load the Cirrus with the sustainable fuel. 

Aviation and decarbonization experts have heard every Big Mac joke about the tallow fuel, but are adamant that innovative fuel technology is crucial for greenhouse gas reduction as the demand for world travel bounces back above pre-pandemic levels. 

Nick Oliveira, on the aviation service team with Vail Valley Jet Center, gets ready to refuel a plane. 

“We think that sustainable aviation fuel will play a really major role in starting to decarbonize the aviation sector, and is basically the only tool we have in our arsenal” before electrification becomes commercially viable in about 2030 to 2035, said RMI’s Laura Hutchinson, an aviation expert and manager in the nonprofit institute’s Climate-Aligned Industries section.

Other forms of sustainable aviation fuel are refined from wood mill waste, waste cooking oils, algae, municipal and farming sewage, and more. Promising future technology, Hutchinson said, includes capturing carbon to refine into hydrocarbons using clean energy. That will cut down on the supersize fries cracks, though tallow is a perfectly legitimate, highly engineered solution, she said. 

It can be tough, she acknowledged, explaining to jet pilots or environmental groups or reporters how something like beef tallow reduces carbon by the time it’s shot out the back of a jet engine at 500 miles per hour. 

“One of the most challenging things about it from a narrative standpoint is that all of the environmental benefit of it is on a lifecycle logic,” she said. 

That means: When it burns, the carbon output is the same as kerosene.

Nick Oliveira fuels a Cirrus Vision SF50 jet with SAF, a biofuel alternative to conventional jet fuel. 

But everything it took up to that point — well to wake in their parlance — produced less carbon than conventional fossil fuel extraction and refining. The beef fat, for example, would have otherwise gone to waste. By replacing 30% or more of the fossil fuel with a waste product, the carbon footprint is deemed measurably smaller by the UN and other international bodies charged with the calculations.

The hamburger helper isn’t cheap, though. Gordon estimates the sustainable fuel adds about $1.10 to the current $6 to $7 a gallon price of traditional aviation fuel. While commercial airlines like United are moving quickly to lock down as much of the sustainable alternative supply as they can find, uptake in a new area like Eagle County Airport starts slowly. 

The jet center sold about 1,000 gallons of the sustainable fuel in its first month, Gordon estimates, out of a million gallons a month of overall fuel use in the busy ski season months. 

Paul Gordon, President and General Manager of Vail Valley Jet Center, is helping to promote use of sustainable aviation fuel at Eagle County Regional Airport. Private jets were catching the last of the ski season in Gypsum, Colorado, on April 15, 2022.

In mid to late April, the commercial flight schedule from United, American and others from cities like Dallas or New York has slowed a bit. But the Eagle County tarmac is littered with private jets from South America, with about 80% of the flights from Mexican vacationers on Easter break, Gordon said. 

Jet center owner Signature Aviation pumps 1,000 gallons at a time when refueling big commercial flights. The private jets may take only 50 to a few hundred gallons at a stop, for tanks of a few thousand gallons. 

Matta’s Cirrus needed only about 20 gallons. An orthopedic surgeon and pilot, Matta flies the sleek jet himself to conferences and surgical consultations. The Cirrus not only has a 1,200-mile range, it comes with its own rescue parachute and “safe return” autopilot programming should Matta have a health issue. 

The compact Cirrus is a favorite among the ground crews, full of interesting technology and with easy access to the wing fuel ports. Line service technician Nicola Oliveira and line operations manager Dwayne Noriega are happy to chat up the various pilots and passengers who see the decorated sustainable fuel truck and have questions. 

“It’s going to take a long time to match the jet fuel actually sold,” Oliveira said. “But it’s a good thing.”

Leadership of Vail Valley Jet Center include Aviation Service Manager Greg Mestas, left, Customer Service Manager Jessica Davis, and President and General Manager Paul Gordon.

The jet center and parent Signature Aviation, which bought the servicer in December, have other plans to green up the airport. Gordon is scouting empty areas on the plateau between Gypsum and Eagle that could fit a solar panel farm for on-airport electrical needs. The Cirrus was moved around on the tarmac by one of a handful of clean electric tugs the jet center has added. 

Matta is willing to give the tallow fuel a try, as long as the engine manufacturer accepts the renderings as the real thing. (They do, according to RMI.)

“I don’t want to void my warranty,” Matta said. 

As for the environmental benefits, Matta does not claim a megaphone on climate change. He sees the prime benefit of alternative aviation fuels as preserving a finite supply of fossil fuels for other uses. 

Matta said he is among those who need more convincing that shortening has a carbon lifecycle advantage over kerosene.

“I kind of don’t get it,” Matta said. 

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Lake LA-4-200, N717HQ: Curiosity on the Kanawha

Arwen Evenstar LLC

CHARLESTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) – A bizarre scene played out Friday afternoon in Charleston where a amphibious plane landed on the Kanawha River and floated through town.

People lined up along with side of the river to take photos, while boaters approached the plane to make sure everything was OK.

The amphibious aircraft landed around 2 p.m. near Haddad Riverfront Park, floated all the way through town and, according to flight records, took off past the turnpike bridge around an hour later.

The slow float down the river is what everyone is talking about, though. The plane had its propeller rotating and doors open -- and even did a loop near the University of Charleston and the Capitol.

According to Kanawha County Emergency Management, it was a planned landing that had the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval.

No one was hurt. The pilot had his door open as people stopped to take photos.

Flight records show the amphibious plane landed in Beckley after a short flight. Officials at West Virginia International Yeager Airport say there’s no record of the plane stopping there.

Lawsuit emails indicate county worked on Alpena County Regional Airport (KAPN) deal, Huron Aviation says

ALPENA, Michigan — Emails and text messages filed in 26th District Court as evidence in a lawsuit against Alpena County and the Alpena County Regional Airport show an effort to recruit a fuel supplier and another contractor to potentially replace current fuel provider Huron Aviation Services.

Huron Aviation has sued the county, seeking at least $25,000 and claiming airport staff and the county attempted to break up Huron Aviation’s business relationship with SkyWest Airlines and seize control of a fuel farm Huron Aviation claims to have invested in to build.

In a court filing, the county denied all of the allegations against it. County officials have refused to comment to The News.

Huron Aviation has provided fuel services at the airport since the county amended its contract with the company in 2019. The service agreement states Huron Aviation must have a contract to sell fuel to SkyWest or any other airline service provider at the Alpena airport. If Huron Aviation fails to have a deal in place, the county could terminate its contract with Huron Aviation.

Huron Aviation claims in its court filing that Airport Manager Steve Smigelski and Assistant Manager Ed Higgins tried to sabotage Huron Aviation’s relationship with SkyWest by seeking service quotes from fuel supplier AvFuel and Alpena Ground Services, hoping to get a lower fuel rate than Huron Aviation and pitch it to the airline in hopes the airline would abandon its business.

Higgins is also employed by Alpena Ground Services.

If SkyWest broke ties with Huron Aviation, Huron Aviation would then have breached its contract with the county and opened the door for the county to take ownership of the fuel farm and hire another company to run it.

An email dated April 7, 2021 and included with Huron Aviation’s court filing shows Smigelski inquiring to an unspecified service provider who already provides service at the airport if it would be “willing to offer expanded services” at the airport. Alpena Ground Services contracts with the county for some work, such as snow removal.

In a separate email on April 14, Smigelski reached out to Mike Kormos, the district manager at Avfuel Corp., seeking input on utilizing the company to provide fuel and to work with a separate company who would sell the gas at the airport. In the email, Smigelski told Kormos that he spoke with Randy Bricker, the president of Alpena Ground Services, who said he was keen on the idea of expanding services at the airport to include fueling duties and modifying its contract with the county to include the added responsibility.

As a deal seemed to be coming together between the airport, Avfuel, and Alpena Ground Services, Smigelski learned that SkyWest had agreed to continue to utilize Huron Aviation for its fuel, which forced any potential deal to replace Huron Aviation to be put on the backburner.

In the recipient list on Smigeski’s emails, he includes several county commissioners who served on the county Airport Committee at the time. In several emails, Smigelski notes the county is considering using the Exclusive Rights At Federally-Obligated Airports policy established by the Federal Aviation Administration, which allows airport owners who receive federal subsidies to basically terminate contracts and take over control of services if they so choose.

The airport in Alpena receives federal money because it is considered an essential air service rural airport.

As of Thursday, the county has not elected to implement the escape clause.