Friday, November 29, 2013

Ohio company awarded $423K in Oxford Aviation suit: Cessna 441 Conquest II, N383SS

OXFORD — A U.S. District Court judge has awarded more than $423,000 in damages to an Ohio company in its lawsuit against Oxford Aviation.

Collecting the money is complicated by the possible bankruptcy of Oxford Aviation owner and President James Horowitz. Earlier this month, Horowitz transferred the company to himself and promptly filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Joseph Skilken and Co. filed its complaint against Oxford Aviation in August, alleging it failed to properly put a company-owned Cessna together after painting it, resulting in a harrowing emergency landing in May when a tail piece broke off in mid-flight near Colorado Springs, Colo.

At the time, the plane was piloted by Steven Skilken, the company's president,with his wife, Karen Skilken, her parents and the Skilken's two daughters as passengers. Karen Skilken also filed a lawsuit against the company.

Oxford Aviation and its President, James Horowitz, never responded to the complaint and the court entered a default against the defendant in September.

An attempt to reach Horowitz at the Oxford Aviation offices off Number Six Road in Oxford on Friday was unsuccessful.

 In a Nov. 18 judgement, Judge John A. Woodcock ruled in favor of the plaintiff and ordered Oxford Aviation to pay $423,295.77 in damages, plus interests and costs, less than the amount requested by the company in October.

Skilken and Co. asked for more than $518,000 to cover repairs to Cessna, a complete refund for the "unacceptable"  work Oxford Aviation did on the plane and diminution of the aircraft's value.

Almost $94,750 of the requested damages were for expenses Skliken and Co. said it was owed because it was unable to use the Cessna for business trips and was forced to buy airline tickets and rent other planes and vehicles.

Skilken and Co. rents property in West Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to its website.

Woodcock, in a Nov. 15 judgement, expressed concern with the damages, noting that Skilken and Co. did not give enough detail to convincingly prove it was owed the money because it was unable to use the Cessna.

The judge ordered Skilken and Co. to further explain its claims, but in a notice filed Nov. 15, Daniel Nuzzi, the Lewiston attorney representing Skilken and Co., waived the claims and requested the court issue the remaining damages.

 It is unclear, however, when and how Skilken and Co. will collect the damages now that Oxford Aviation's assets have been transferred to Horowitz and he has filed for bankruptcy.

On Friday, Steven Skilken said he was unsure what course the case would take moving forward. The damages awarded to his company might be caught up in the bankruptcy proceedings or Skilken and Co. may need to sue Horowitz personally, he said.

Skilken's attorneys are also trying to determine if Horowitz was insured at the time of the emergency landing and if so, which insurance company he might direct a claim to, Skilken said. 

Despite the complications brought by the bankruptcy and rising legal costs, Skilken is committed to pursuing his case against Horowitz and Oxford Aviation.

"Justice needs to be served here," he said.

According to court records, no judgement has been ordered in Karen Skilken's lawsuit, although Oxford Aviation is also in default in that case. Karen Skilken is asking for $156,065 to cover medical expenses and emotional distress caused by the emergency landing.

Oxford Aviation is also facing forcible entry and detainer complaints from Oxford County and Community Concepts Finance Corp.

Oxford County is attempting to evict Oxford Aviation from the buildings it leases from the county at the Oxford County Regional Airport. Community Concepts is looking for $62,500 in company assets Horowitz put up as collateral to secure a loan back in 1996. 



Oxford Aviation defaults on lawsuit, court rules 

Ohio couple sues Oxford Aviation

Plaintiffs ask for more than $674,000 in Oxford Aviation suit

FAA restores Oxford Aviation’s repair license

According to lawsuits filed against Oxford Aviation, the tail section of the Cessna 441 aircraft piloted by Steven Skilken, 63, of Columbus, Ohio, came off as he, his wife, Karen, their two daughters and Karen Skilken’s parents were flying to Las Vegas for Karen’s 50th birthday, causing the family to make an emergency landing in Colorado Springs, Colo., on May 31.

 Steven and Karen Skilken of Columbus, Ohio, stand in front of the Cessna 441 aircraft owned by his real estate business, Joseph Skilken & Co.

Southwest Airlines jet forced to make unexpected landing in Manchester, New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A Southwest Airlines passenger jet was forced to make an unexpected landing in Manchester, N.H., Friday after it struck a flock of birds during takeoff, according to the airport’s spokesman. 

Flight 4055, a Boeing 737, departed Manchester-Boston Regional Airport for Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 8:46 a.m. when in came into contact with the birds in mid-air, spokesman Thomas Malafronte said. 

As a precautionary measure, Southwest elected to cancel the flight and return to the airport until a thorough inspection could be completed. 

The 142 passengers on flight 4055 were taken off the plane and then moved to another aircraft which took them to BWI, according to Malafronte. “It is rare for an aircraft to land because of a bird strike, but as always, safety is the first priority,” the spokesman said. 


Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority adopts $46 million capital plan - Most big-ticket projects are delayed until after the airport repays its current debt

Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority has adopted a 5-year, $46 million capital projects plan that pushes most of the expensive projects beyond 2016 so it first can repay its debt.

That means for the next three years, the airport will be focused on necessary minor maintenance like runway repairs and vehicle purchases, while more than $35 million of big ticket items like main terminal renovations are put off until 2017 and 2018.

It is the reality for a struggling airport that must spend the next three years focused on paying off the remaining $14 million of a $26 million court judgment against it for taking a developers land in the mid-1990s.

"We really had no choice but to back-load the capital plan," authority Executive Director Charles Everett Jr. said. "You can see that most of the spending is delayed until after we've paid the judgment."

The airport is scheduled to make a $3 million payment this week to WBF Associates, the development group that won a $26 million judgment against the airport when a Lehigh County judge determined that the airport effectively condemned 632 acres of development land around the airport in the mid-1990s.

That payment must be followed by payments of $5 million in 2015 and $6 million in 2016. It's caused the airport to begin selling unneeded assets, including all that WBF land, and has limited how much it can spend on capital projects.

As a result, only $1.5 million of the $46 million capital spending plan will be spent in 2014 for such things as computer upgrades, vehicle purchases and roadway repairs. The biggest chunk — more than $200,000 — is the airport's match for a federally-funded project underway to install a collapsible section of roadway at the end of the main runway. The runway extension, called an Engineering Materials Arresting System, is designed to safely stop a plane that has run off the end of the runway.

Another $2.8 million is scheduled to be spent in 2015 for such things as completing that EMAS project, security system upgrades and nearly $300,000 in improvements at Queen City Airport, the small-plane airfield in a south Allentown.

Roughly $6.3 million slated to be spent in 2016 for projects includes more upgrades at Queen City and the replacement of the terminal building at Braden Airpark, the small-plane airfield in Forks Township. The authority is trying to sell Braden, which means that work may not need to be done.

But the bulk of the money is scheduled to be spent in years four and five, and Everett admits some of that may never happen. Included in that is $15 million in main terminal renovations designed to improve the baggage-handling system, and to expand the security area for arrivals and departures.

Both changes were expected to be necessary to improve security and relieve congestion, but unless the airport's passenger traffic doesn't rebound, it may not be justified. After hitting the 1 million passenger mark several years ago, airline mergers and a difficult economy have caused passenger counts to fall. The total number of passengers is projected to drop to just more than 600,000 this year — the lowest mark since the mid-1980s.

A second project slated for 2018 is a $10 million parking garage, a parking expansion that is currently unnecessary because the airport's existing surface lots aren't close to capacity. Everett explained that those projects have been on the airport's capital plan list for years, and will again be pushed back if the airport's passenger traffic doesn't improve. Everett said he is still hopeful that can still happen, particularly if the facility can attract new airlines.

For example, though its parking lots are not currently full, expansion would have been necessary if the airport had been successful in attracting the popular Southwest Airlines into the main terminal last year. At it turned out, after months of consideration, Southwest declined.

"Obviously we'll be reassessing this plan annually," Everett said. "The only projects set in stone for now are those in 2014."


China: General aviation 'set for takeoff'

The general aviation industry in China is poised for a boom, with the authorities encouraging its development, but the money pouring into the sector may lead to a bubble, industry experts said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China and the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army jointly released regulations on Nov 18 concerning general aviation, a move that's giving a lift to these flights.

General aviation consists of non-scheduled civilian flights.

Under the regulations, general aviation flights that don't affect national security will be subject to approval by the CAAC, not the military. In some cases, operators will only need to file a flight plan rather than seek specific approval.

"The regulation will improve the development of general aviation, but we are still waiting for the real opening of low-altitude airspace, which means more space for general aviation aircraft based only on filing flight plans, no approvals," said Gao Yuanyang, director of the general aviation industry research center at the Beihang University.

Contracts worth 22.9 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) were signed during the China International General Aviation Convention 2013, which was held from Oct 17-20 in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg, as China's general aviation industry is expected to exceed 1 trillion yuan per year eventually.

Some local governments are already seeking a piece of the action by building general aviation industrial parks.

Statistics from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China show that as of July 30, there were 116 cities above the county level that were building or planning general aviation industrial parks.

That's in addition to the 10 State-level aviation high-tech industrial bases approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner.

However, some experts warn that investment is already overheated, and some general aviation parks without any advantage in technology, facilities or staff will end up being just more real estate projects.

"The industry has a critical shortage of general aviation airports, but it's not necessary to develop airports into industrial parks," said Gao. "Reckless construction of the parks will have an adverse effect on the industry."

He Liang, director of the Xi'an Yanliang National Aviation Hi-tech Industrial Base's administration committee in Shaanxi province, also expressed concern.

"Like the booming in the vehicle industry in the early 1990s in China, overheated construction of general aviation parks will also lead to a downturn, and some facilities without the necessary technological and industrial conditions will fall into disuse," He told China Daily.

He's base, established in 2004, aims to create an entire industry chain, including the major industry of aircraft manufacturing, production of aircraft engines and aviation activities, He said.

More than 500 aviation enterprises and supporting companies have been established at the base.

Private capital is surging into the industry, with 178 general aviation enterprises around the country as of June, 32 more than at the end of 2012.

But some general aviation aircraft manufacturers said that their business isn't yet improving.

"Our sales have even gone down recently, since new operators only need one or two planes for appearances," said the marketing director of a helicopter builder, who declined to be identified.

It's quite possible that some companies are only trying to gain something from various governments' preferential policies for the general aviation industry, he said. Some companies are even just trying to get land in the industrial parks, he added.

"We'll need to wait for a long time before the industry really booms," he said, adding that he remains optimistic about the outlook for the sector.

As of June 30, there were 1,610 registered general aviation aircraft in China. The total flight time of general aviation will be more than 600,000 hours in 2013, 80,000 hours more than last year, according to the CAAC.

Compared with some 230,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States, there's huge market potential in China, said Gao.

The State Council, China cabinet, issued a document on promoting the development of civil aviation industry in July 2012, which said that emerging general aviation services such as private and business flights should be greatly developed.

"The total number of general aviation aircraft is expected to be more than 10,000 within five to 10 years," Gao said.

Some experts suggested that more general aviation airports should be built, while controlling the number of industrial parks.

China only has some 100 general aviation airports at present, and 70 of these are registered with the CAAC, said Wang Xia, deputy dean of the general aviation college of the Civil Aviation University of China.

These airports can't meet the huge market demand, Wang said. The small number of general aviation airports is a major constraint on the industry, she said.

"China now has no national standard for the construction and management of general aviation airports, and it urgently needs to develop uniform standards for the industry's management," Wang added.

He Liang, the director of the industrial base in Shaanxi, said that his base will work jointly with other government departments to build five or six general aviation airports in the province. The base also aims to establish a low-altitude network with more than 10 airports for general aviation in the province in the coming decade.

"We plan to open a general aviation air route from Neifu airport in Pucheng county in eastern Shaanxi to Hengshan airport in northern Shaanxi in 2015, which could be a commuter route or tourism route," He said.


Forgotten aircraft reborn at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (KSTS), Santa Rosa, California

This may be closest that the Sonoma County aviation buffs come to unearthing buried treasure.

A letter from out of the blue advised Christina Olds of the Pacific Coast Air Museum that a woman in Marin County wished to donate her airplane.

The other day, Olds and several members of the private airplane museum at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport received a set of keys from the donor, 85-year-old Marcia Dunn.

One key unlocked a hangar at the airport that no one in PCAM had ever seen open. They rolled the door away to spy Marcia's plane.

Shrouded in more than 40 years of dust was a nearly like-new silver and blue, four-seat, 1954 Cessna 170B. Marcia told Olds, PCAM's Director of Museum Operations, that she'd bought it in 1955 and flown it all over the country before she wheeled it into the hangar in 1971 and locked the door.

For 42 years, there it sat.

Olds has been wanting to add more civilian aircraft to the PCAM collection, long heavy with warbirds. She's eager to get this sweet little bird cleaned up and its few blemishes repaired, then put it out on display.

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LAM Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique Embraer ERJ-190, C9-EMC, Flight TM 470: Accident occurred November 29, 2013 in Bwabwata National Park, Namibia



Out of the 34 passengers of the doomed flight, TM470, that crashed into the Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi Region enroute to Angola, only one body has been recovered intact.

The rest were either dismembered or strewn into pieces of flesh. They were recovered by the Namibia Police (Nampol) at the scene of the accident on Saturday.

This was revealed by the deputy director of aircraft accident investigations, Theo Shilongo, who is also leading the investigation.

The body bags arrived yesterday from 11:20 at Eros Airport where a stench of rottenness engulfed the area.

Some of the bags were still dripping blood, which spilt onto the ground as journalists, diplomats and police looked on.

Present at the airport was the Portuguese representative to Namibia. A local journalist vomited as the stench of the decomposing bodies spread across the small airport.

A group of 50 heavily armed Special Field Force members located the plane in the jungles of Bwabwata, at 9am on Saturday, exactly 24 hours after it had departed from Mozambique.

The search teams were armed because of the marauding lions in the national park.

The flight was reported missing on Friday when it took off from Maputo, at 09h26 GMT on Friday and had been due to land in Luanda, Angola at 13h10.

The plane encountered problems mid-air while still in Botswana’s air-space when the pilot notified authorities on the ground.

However, it disappeared while entering the Namibian airspace and it took Mozambican authorities more than three hours to inform Namibian authorities that the plane was off the radar and missing.

“We were only informed around 15H00 that a plane was missing and assumed to be in our airspace,” Shilongo said.

Emergency search helicopter and patrol troops on the ground were dispatched with focus on finding the survivors and saving them from the wild animals, he said.

The initial search and rescue operation was called off on Friday afternoon due to bad weather but was resumed early Saturday morning after villagers near the national park alerted authorities of the plane debris they had woken up to.

The Brazilian made Embraer A190 was said to have been experiencing poor visibility because of the heavy rain in the region and experts believe the pilot could have resorted to flying low.

Preliminary assumptions reveal the weather (lightning) might have damaged the plane before it even landed, hence Botswana and Mozambican air controllers’ delay in searching for it before sounding a code red to Namibia.

“All that will be discovered from the black box, which is now in the hands of the investigators,” The Villager was informed.

The wreckage will be transported to Rundu airport to be quarantined in a hangar for a complete and detailed investigation, while the remains of the deceased will be transport to their countries from Windhoek.

“There is no plane. There are just pieces of metal scattered around,” said director of aircraft accident investigation in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Ericson Nengola.

According to Nengola, Brazilian investigators are expected at the sight on Wednesday upon-which the black box will be opened.

In 2011, the European Union (EU) banned the Mozambican airliner, LAM, from flying in its airspace.

Top Angolan artist misses Flight TM470

One of Angola’s most celebrated artists, JD, whose songs are a hit in southern Africa, should have been aboard Flight TM470.

JD travelled to Mozambique accompanying fellow artist and rapper, Action Nigga real name, Jose Pascoal Luvuala, who had gone to shoot a music video.

“Instead of boarding the flight, JD decided to attend the Channel O music awards in South Africa. He cancelled his ticket and re-routed it via Johannesburg,” said Angolan journalist, Pedro Teca.

Luvuala proceeded with the Luanda flight and is among the 34 who perished.

The Mozambican Airline (LAM) yesterday listed the nationalities of 27 passengers as ten Mozambicans, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, one French, one Brazilian and one Chinese.

Among the dead is the Angola Inspector General in the Ministry of Finance, Manuel John Landa, who had travelled to Maputo for an Annual Conference of the General Inspections of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. He was accompanied by two other colleagues from the same ministry.

Embraer A190 questioned

This investigation, which according to Nengola will take months if not years, will open up fresh debates about the A190’s ability to withstand harsh weather.

The Embraer has been known to be economically viable for low income-making air operators but a suspect in turbulence.

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 The plane went down in remote terrain in the Bwabwata National Park
 [Namibia News Agency]

The Namibi
an Police on Saturday found the burned wreckage of a missing Mozambican Airlines plane in a remote area in the northeastern part of the country, saying none of the 33 people from several countries aboard had survived the crash.  

“My team on the ground have found the wreckage. No survivors. The plane is totally burned,” said Willie Bampton, a regional police coordinator in the Kavango region.

The plane, en route from Mozambique to Angola, went down in remote terrain in the Bwabwata National Park, where Namibia turns into a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Botswana and Angola.

In Maputo, Mozambican Airlines, LAM, had issued a statement revising the passenger list down to 27, rather than the 28 earlier reported, along with the six crew members.

The statement said the 33 included 10 Mozambicans, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, one French national, one Brazilian and one Chinese.

LAM flight TM470 took off from Maputo at 09H26 GMT Friday and had been due to land in the capital Luanda at 13H10 GMT, but never arrived.

Last contact with the place came around 1130 GMT when it was over north Namibia.

Namibia police sent a search team to the area after Botswana officials alerted them of a plane crash in the area.

“Botswana officials informed us that they saw smoke in the air and they thought the crash happened in their country, but when they came to the border they realised that it was in Namibia,” Bampton said.

Villagers in the area told police they had heard explosions.

Namibian authorities have not yet said as to the possible cause of the crash and the country’s cabinet was on Saturday holding an emergency meeting over the accident.

The search for the plane was hampered both by the rough terrain and torrential rains pounding the area where the plane, a Brazilian-made Embraer 190, went missing Friday, Bampton told AFP.

“There are no proper roads, you have to go through the bush, slowly and its making our job difficult,” he said.

Before confirmation of the crash, people close to those on board gathered at Maputo airport, many frustrated at what they said was the lack of information.

“They told us it was a forced landing. I know it’s a crash,” said Luis Paolo, a friend of one of what were said to be two Portuguese businessmen on board the flight.

The Bwabwata National Park, a 6,100-square-kilometre (2,355 square mile) reserve, is a sparsely-populated area covered by wetlands and dense forests.

The European Union banned the Mozambican airline, known by the acronym LAM, from flying in its airspace in 2011.

“Significant safety deficiencies” led to the blacklisting of all air carriers certified in Mozambique, the EU said at the time.

The concern was about Mozambique’s civil aviation authority, rather than the track record of the various airlines.


Comunicado: TM470 Maputo - Luanda (Actualização: 10:30h)  

 A LAM  - Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique, S. A. informa que no voo TM 470 do qual ainda estão em curso acções de busca seguiam 27 passageiros, dos quais:

    10 Moçambicanos;
    09 Angolanos;
    05 Portugueses;
    01 Francês;
    01 Brasileiro;
    01 Chinês.

A LAM continua empenhada na coordenação com as autoridades aeroportuárias e aeronáuticas da Namíbia, Botsuana e Angola com vista a localizar o avião e
inteirar-se da situação.

Maputo, aos 30 de Novembro de 2013


LAM - Mozambique Airlines, S. A. informs that its flight TM 470 departed from Maputo International Airport at 11:26 hours today, November 29, 2013, to Luanda, the Angolan capital, scheduled to arrive at 14: 10H, local Angola time has not arrived at its destination as scheduled.

Information obtained indicates that the flight has landed in a location in Northern Namibia, bordering Angola and Botswana near a place called Rundu. On board flight TM470 were 28 passengers and 6 crew members.

Currently LAM, Aeronautical and Airports authorities are establishing contacts with the authorities close to the location in order to confirm this information. LAM will provide updates as more information is obtained

For more information contact LAM Corporate Communications, Mr. Norberto Mucopa: 82 7846815 and Mrs. Irina Matos: 825777946

Maputo, 29th of Novembro 2013

LAM Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique Embraer ERJ-190,  C9-EMC, Flight TM 470


Aviation: Too Regulated, Too Expensive - Capt. Daniel Omale

By: Capt. Daniel Omale on November 30, 2013 - 1:48am

Without the intervention of the Senate Committee on Aviation, non- schedule operators would have been paying the most exorbitant levy in the history of aviation. The reason for such hefty levy is unknown, but one thing is certain: it can only happen in Nigeria, irrespective of the negative effect it will have on the industry.

A few years ago, the United States government proposed a $50 levy for corporate jet, and it was quashed by the Congress because, according to the lawmakers, such a levy would have impeded the freedom associated with air transportation.

Corporate jet owners, including heavyweights like Dangote and TY Danjuma woke up one day, without forewarning, and got bombarded with extortion of $3000 per trip. The danger posed by the government's action is that any of the agencies, at will, can increase charges without due process of the law governing the aviation industry in this country. It also shows that an investor is constantly at the mercy of the agencies.

Those who risk their body and soul to borrow funds and invest in the industry do so at extreme perils. It's becoming overly expensive to engage in airline business in Nigeria because it is 1000% more costly than anywhere else.

Just two weeks ago, a friend and I were lamenting at the associated costs to Dana Air, the prolonged grounding of its operation. If there is a justifiable cause for suspending the airline's operating permit, there wouldn't have been a cause for alarm, but, out of the blue, a suspension letter came from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). This undefined action of the government has, appropriately, plunged the airline and its financiers (some local banks) in a huge financial mess.

Chanchangi and IRS airlines, two enterprises of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), will forever remain huge liabilities to AMCON, if they are forced to stay on the ground because of a single aircraft operation dilemma.

The future of aviation industry in Nigeria is precarious; it is also disturbing for those who have no other choice but to hang in there. This fear is genuine as the majority of investors borrowed at exorbitant interest rate.

Airline business, generally, is unprofitable with uncertain return on investment. But it is even harder to maintain focus if an investor is unprotected from arbitrary, draconian, and selfish misuse of the guiding rules/legislation.

Aviation remains the most regulated of all our economic sectors. It is appropriate if safety is the surrounding issue of this intense over-regulation but when economic effects are added, aircraft operation in either private or commercial category becomes unbearable.

It's practically unjustifiable to exclude stakeholders (investors and workers) from the scheme of how aviation development/underdevelopment should be shaped.

Without the stakeholders, there will be no industry for the agencies to heavily feed on. This is the reason why a country like the United States recognizes the absolute importance of those who operate aircraft in all categories. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives ample time for stakeholders' input in all intended policies.         

Rule-making by the FAA

It comes as no surprise to anyone that the primary function of the FAA is to regulate civil aviation. In so doing, it proposes, promulgates, and enforces certain titles of the Code of Federal Regulations. A Federal Aviation Regulation is changed or originated when the FAA issues a document known as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making.

Everyone has had high school civics lessons regarding how the government is organized. The function of the legislative branch, namely Congress, is to pass laws; the job of the executive branch and its many agencies and administrations is to enforce those laws; and the function of the courts is to interpret and apply those mandates. The entire body of administrative law is a special area unto itself.

Administrative agencies often act as rule makers, rule enforcers, and, to a great degree, arbiters of conflicts that come about as a result of persons operating in spheres of activity controlled by those rules. The FAA is not an exception.

The law requires that when the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) is issued, the administrative agency must allow a particular period of time for comment upon that rule, unless certain emergency conditions exist. Therefore, when the FAA wants to either originate a new regulation or change an existing one, it issues the NPRM and allows the industry a reasonable period of time in which to comment.

Quite often, the comment period appears short, and various industry sources petition the FAA to extend that comment period, which is frequently accomplished. After the comment period closes, the agency is then supposed to consider the comments of the public and those to be affected by the rules proposed and deliberate and consider the same in its process of rule making. Quite frequently, a large outpouring of comment does in fact influence the FAA. Several proposed rules over the past few years have been abandoned or significantly modified after the consideration of public comments. When this process has run its course, the agency then issues its Final Notice of Rule Making, which sets forth the rule as it will be adopted, and gives an effective date for it.

There is absolutely no doubt that public comment is a most important stage of the rule-making process and is, frankly, the only one in which the average person to be affected by the rule has any real voice.

Although trade associations and other relevant groups frequently meet with representatives of the FAA to discuss upcoming rules, average people on the street have an opportunity to make their feelings known through the public comment process.

Nigeria must embrace this rational system or aviation industry will remain under developed, no matter how much lipstick we put on the pig.


Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II, G-BOHA: Accident occurred July 17, 2013 at Lee-on-Solent Airfield, Hampshire (UK)

A light aircraft  veered off a runway after a student pilot made an attempt to land on only his second solo flight.

The 1970s propeller plane left the landing strip “with significant power applied” amid 10 knot crosswinds at Lee-on-the-Solent airfield.

The 37-year-old pilot was eventually able to bring the Piper Cherokee Warrior to a rest after the nose leg collapsed.

A report into the incident, on July 17, says that despite the pilot applying the right rudder pedal, the aircraft travelled 80metres to the east before it came to a stop.

A probe by the Air Accident Investigation Branch said he student “acknowledged that his inexperience was a probable factor” – but could not account for the aircraft’s failure to respond to his use of the rudder pedal. 

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Full Report - See Page 31:

The student pilot was making a second attempt at landing in a 10 kt crosswind on his second solo flight. He had rejected the first landing after having directional control difficulties on touchdown. He experienced similar difficulties on his second landing, and was not able to correct the situation with full rudder pedal. An attempt at a further go-around was not successful and the aircraft left the hard runway with significant power applied. The pilot eventually brought the aircraft to rest after the nose leg collapsed.

Cafe business hours, flight times changing at Riverton Regional Airport (KRIW), Wyoming

The board says new Federal Aviation Administration rules have resulted in a pilot shortage in Riverton.

Passengers flying in and out of Riverton soon will see a few changes in flight schedules and business hours at the Airport Cafe, reported Riverton Regional Airport division manager Paul Griffin during a board meeting Friday.

Flight schedule changes will begin Sunday.

A majority of the changes are for Riverton departure flights. Most Saturday and Sunday flights will remain the same, and the airport will continue to conduct three incoming and outgoing flights per day. Most flight times will only change by a few minutes.

The Airport Cafe hours also are changing to 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday. The changes were made to reflect the business's busiest hours.

Fewer pilots

During the meeting, the airport board directed Griffin to draft a letter to Chuck Howell, the chief executive officer of Great Lakes Airlines, which operates at Riverton Regional Airport. The board said it wanted to address the pilot shortage in Riverton, which has been attributed to new Federal Aviation Administration pilot qualification standards.

"It's not just a Great Lakes issue, it's statewide, and there's no quick fix on the thing," Griffin said. "It's frustrating in our part, because they're calling us telling us their flights are canceled."

The new rule requires first officers or co-pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight time. Co-pilots previously were required to have only 250 hours. Great Lakes lost many of its pilots to bigger airlines after implementation of the new rule. Griffin said Great Lakes would hire pilots right out of flight school and train them, and when those pilots reached 1,500 hours, they usually moved on to other airlines.

"We have seen other carriers aggressively recruiting our qualified pilots, and attrition has been more than double the normal rate," Howell wrote in a letter to Great Lakes employees. "To further aggravate the situation, there are limited pilots looking for work that meet the new qualifications."

Howell said the board will inform the FAA of the effects the rule has on small communities and request an exemption.

Peranteaux said lawmakers may not have been fully aware of how the changes in flight hours would affect small communities and airlines.

"Fundamentally it needs to be dealt with on the legislative level," he said.

Board member Cindy Olson suggested that instead of re-stating that there's a problem, the letter should ask how the airport can assist Great Lakes to better the situation and provide other solutions.

"You know it is the industry, the industry is in a state that it's never been in before," she said.

Cancellation notices

Board member Dean Peranteaux said the lack of communication might be more of a problem than the canceled flights. If there's a delayed or canceled flight, he said the information is slow to reach passengers. By the time they find out, the remaining options -- such as renting a vehicle, rebooking a flight or making other arrangements -- costs much more. If notifications were more immediate, a lot of trouble and frustration could be avoided, Peranteaux said. He added that he has experienced that scenario and suggested adding that concern to the letter.

"You'd think that in this age of technology with fairly instant communication, a system can be implemented that can address that fairly easily, inexpensively," he said. "That's truly the mismanagement portion and it's truly detrimental to the smaller communities."

Landing log

Griffin also provided the board with a report showing the types of aircraft that land at the Riverton Regional Airport. Under the general aviation category were local aircraft, in-transit aircraft passing through the region, multi-engine aircraft or twin engine aircraft (which can include life flight and local aircraft), small corporate jets, and life flight and search and rescue helicopters.

From January to October, roughly 3,100 of those aircraft landed at the airport. Under the military category, only five military aircraft had been counted, all in January 2013.

Around the state

The Wyoming Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division also presented its set of statistics for commercial air service for the state.

As of September, roughly 858,000 passengers had passed through Wyoming's airports, roughly 43,000, or 5.3 percent, more than the same time in the previous year.

Laramie Regional Airport saw the greatest increase. Riverton Regional Airport had a 3 percent growth while airports in Worland, Rock Springs, Gillette and Cheyenne showed no gain. The Jackson Hole Airport had the most passengers, with a 6 percent increase in enplanements.


Portage Municipal (C47), Wisconsin: Santa's arrival at airport marks start of holiday season

After landing at the Portage Municipal Airport, Santa Claus holds onto his hat as he makes his way to the throng of children waiting to greet him at the Santa Fly-In Friday. The fly-in is the traditional start of Portage's array of holiday festivities. 

Brayden Fisher started to cry when he saw the plane carrying Santa Claus fly over his head, then disappear briefly from his sight.

In minutes, however, the 3-year-old’s tears were replaced with smiles, as the small plane landed at the Portage Municipal Airport, and out stepped the red-suited, white-bearded man for whom he’d been waiting.

In Portage, the Christmas holiday season officially starts on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when Santa Claus lands at the airport.

This year, Santa had a particularly large crowd on hand to welcome him -- at least 150 people -- because the weather, although a bit overcast and about 20 degrees, lacked the blustery winds that had given Santa some bumpy landings in years past.

But when Fire Chief Clayton Simonson reached out a hand to Santa to help him off the plane, it was just a matter of Santa undoing his seat belt, ducking under the wing and walking toward the waiting throng.

Dane Overland, 4, saw Santa’s plane land, yet still wanted to know, “Where are your reindeer?”

“My reindeer are coming on Christmas Eve,” Santa replied. “You watch for them.”

As youngsters took their turns on Santa’s lap, he pointed out that, unlike Santas at other places, he gives full-size candy canes instead of dinky ones.

Adin Kearney, 4, wearing a crocheted hat shaped like a reindeer, got so excited, he dropped his candy cane.

His mom, Cathy Trepanier, said Adin was so excited about seeing Santa on Friday morning, he barely slept on Thursday night.

Not all youngsters felt the same way. Brooklyn Bindl, 2, had a case of stranger anxiety, and burst into tears on Santa’s lap.

Some youngsters brought things for Santa -- such as a paper lei and a hand-printed wish list.

For her recent seventh birthday, Josie Cross got a kit for weaving bracelets out of rubber bands. The one she made for Santa was red and white, like a candy cane.

Friday morning at the airport marked Santa’s first appearance in Portage for this holiday season, but not the last.

Other scheduled Santa appearances include Commerce Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, at Santa’s Living Reindeer; the annual Kiddie Christmas from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Historic Indian Agency House; the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train at 1:15 p.m. Thursday at Portage’s Amtrak station; and at Breakfast with Santa Dec. 14 at Culver’s.

And, of course, Santa will visit the homes of good girls and good boys.

That’s why, after Dane Overland thanked Santa for the candy cane, his dad, Eric Overland waved at Santa and said, “We’ll see you in a couple weeks."

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Insurance company tries to recoup $1 million from Macon in jet crash

Beechcraft 400 Beechjet, Dewberry Air LLC, N428JD: Accident occurred September 18, 2012 in Macon, Georgia  

An insurance company contends that a bad runway built by the city of Macon caused a corporate jet to crash after it skidded at Macon Downtown Airport, then rolled across Ocmulgee East Industrial Boulevard.

Old Republic Insurance Company sued the city this week, hoping to recoup the $1 million it paid to the owners of the 1986 Beech 400 jet. The aircraft reportedly hydroplaned when it was landing on Sept. 18, 2012.

The lawsuit claims the city rebuilt the runway improperly, letting rainwater build up on the runway because the sides didn’t slope away enough.

The insurance company maintains that Macon narrowed Runway 10-28 in 2008, but it didn’t tell pilots about that work. Though the runway was actually narrowed to 100 feet, it was advertised as 150 feet.

The lawsuit also said the runway is actually 4,506 feet long, but was listed as 4,696 feet, nearly 200 feet longer.

The Federal Aviation Administration lists the runway as 4,694 feet long and 150 feet wide in its Airport/Facility Directory and in other locations.

The city has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit. Interim City Attorney Judd T. Drake said the city would respond in due course to protect the city’s interests.

The insurance company said the city failed to warn pilots about how dangerous the runway got when it rained, and it also didn’t have a big enough runway safety area, which is designed for airplanes that overshoot the runway.

All of those problems “proximately caused the hydroplaning and crash” of the airplane, the insurance company claimed in the suit.

The company is seeking all damages, including legal fees, from a jury. Attorneys Edward C. Bresee Jr. and Arthur J. Park of Atlanta are pursuing the case.

The National Transportation Safety Board reported last year that it talked to the pilots, who said they saw water in the runway. They touched down within 1,000 feet of the near end and applied maximum reverse thrust, brakes and spoilers, but felt a pulsation in the braking system.

“The airplane departed the end of the runway, traveled into the grass, went down an embankment, across the road, and into the trees. They further added that the airplane ‘hit hard’ at the bottom of the embankment,” the agency reported.

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NTSB Identification: ERA12FA567
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 18, 2012 in Macon, GA
Aircraft: BEECH 400, registration: N428JD
Injuries: 2 Minor,1 Uninjured.

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. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 18, 2012, about 1003 eastern daylight time, a Beech 400, N428JD, was substantially damaged when it overran runway 28 during landing at Macon Downtown Airport (MAC), Macon, Georgia. The airplane had departed from Charleston Air Force Base/International Airport (CHS), Charleston, South Carolina about 0930. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. Both Airline Transport Pilots and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The corporate flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to an interview with the pilots, during the approach the calculated speed was 108 knots. They reported the airport in sight to Macon Air Traffic Control (ATC) Approach Radar Control and canceled the IFR flight plan. The landing was within the first 1,000 feet of the runway and there was water visible on the runway. Maximum reverse thrust, braking, and ground spoilers were deployed; however, both pilots reported a "pulsation" in the brake system. The airplane departed the end of the runway, traveled into the grass, went down an embankment, across the road, and into the trees. They further added that the airplane "hit hard" at the bottom of the embankment.

Examination of the paved portion of the landing runway revealed that beginning approximately 1,000 feet from the departure end of the runway, evidence of tire tracks were visible. The tire tracks were observed veering to the left of the centerline and then veering to the right of centerline. Subsequently, the tracks exited the end of the runway into the grass, traveled to the crest of, and subsequently down an approximate 25-foot embankment, traveled across a two-lane paved highway, through some brush prior to coming to a rest. The airplane came to rest upright and at the base of a tree 283 feet from the paved portion of the runway and on a heading of 292 degrees.

The cockpit voice recorder, Garmin 500 global positioning unit, Power Brake Valve, Antiskid unit, both wheel speed transducers, brake units, and hydraulic valve package, were retained by the NTSB for further examination.

Clearwater High to get aerospace academy in January

With the opening of a new aviation academy, students at Clearwater High School soon will be able to graduate with a pilot’s license – and a jump into the growing field of aviation and aerospace.

The Clearwater Aeronautical Space Academy, or CASA, will have a soft launch in January, with one class available to interested students. The first course will be on unmanned aircraft. A full schedule of classes will be available in the 2014/15 school year.

“We’re really excited,” said Principal Keith Mastorides.

The new academy fits into Clearwater High’s wall-to-wall academy concept, which began last year. Mastorides describes the idea as a “new way of thinking” in which all students at the school take classes in career-themed areas, such as business and international studies, science and echnology, fine arts, and sports and hospitality.

Students are able to earn industry certifications, potentially giving them an edge in college or a path directly to work.

With the aviation and aerospace academy, students can take classes in engineering, space flight, piloting, aviation maintenance, and aeronautical science. Students, through dual-enrollment, can earn up to 30 college credits.

See more about the program here. And look for a story about it in the Times this weekend.


Mountain air service comes at an expense

By  Lauren Glendenning - Vail Daily

This is the first part in a series about the challenges mountain resort airports face.

Read Saturday’s paper for the second part of this series which examines the physical restrictions at mountain resort airports. 

EAGLE COUNTY — Mike Berland has nearly 9 million frequent flyer miles between United and American Airlines. When you fly that often, convenience is key.

Berland, of Westchester County, New York, has a condo in Vail and typically flies a winter nonstop flight to the Eagle County Regional Airport from either Newark, N.J., or John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York. The Eagle airport is only convenient, however, when there’s a nonstop service option, he said.

“You can’t count on a connection to Eagle,” Berland said. “When you’re a frequent flyer, you first think about what kind of airplane it is. Big planes are more reliable.”

Berland is one of countless mountain flyers with specific criteria for choosing when and where to fly. Criteria considered ranges from nonstop service to costs to weather concerns to the size of the aircraft. For some, a two-plus-hour drive to Denver over high mountain passes during a snowstorm is worth it if hundreds of dollars in fare savings are at stake.

Mountain resort airports with commercial air service have to fight hard for flight service so second-home owners like Berland and thousands of skiers can enjoy easy access each winter — they’re the flyers whose money supports local economies the most.

Most airports have to offer airlines what’s called a minimum revenue guarantee before the airlines will consider adding service to the market, making the negotiating process tricky when compared to major markets where airlines naturally want to be. Mountain airports also have limitations in terms of the type of aircraft that can land or take off, as well as wind concerns, high altitude air density, terrain obstacles and weight restrictions. It all equates to a variety of challenges that mountain airports constantly face. Throw in massive consolidation within the airline industry — American Airlines and U.S. Airways got the green light to merge from the Department of Justice this month, which means an industry that had 10 major U.S. airlines 12 years ago now has four that dominate the market — and a loss in available seats becomes another major concern as airports look to the future.

Minimum revenue guarantees

The EGE Air Alliance, a nonprofit group that raises money to support air service into the Eagle County Regional Airport, raised $400,000 earlier this year in order to bring in a summer flight from Houston. The amount was negotiated between United Airlines and the alliance, but if the flight would have made more than $400,000, the alliance would have paid nothing.

Given it was a new flight and the alliance got a late start with its fundraising and marketing efforts, the entire $400,000 was necessary, said Chris Romer, president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, which oversees the alliance.

The negotiated minimum revenue guarantee takes into account everything from flight crew costs to landing fees, overhead and fuel. If United Airlines would have made $200,000 on the Houston flight, the alliance would have only had to cover the difference in order to meet the guarantee. The flight filled 62 percent of seats, however, and the industry standard is upwards of 80 percent. The alliance is optimistic next summer’s flights will sell more seats.

Nearly every mountain resort airport relies on minimum revenue guarantees in order to maintain or grow air service. In recent years, a trend seen across the region is a loss in available seats on commercial flights, with a few exceptions.

When flights turn out to be wildly successful, the guarantees are phased out. The EGE Air Alliance once subsidized a summer American Airlines flight from Dallas, for example, that is now thriving on its own.

Jackson, Wyo., has a mountain resort airport with broad-based community support. The Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources board, or JH Air, which more or less operates like the EGE Air Alliance does in Eagle County, has been able to build a successful flight service program over the years to a point where less than 20 percent of the flights this coming winter are subsidized, said JH Air Chairman Mike Gierau. It took a lot of work to get to that point, though.

When Jackson Hole businesses started pledging money for flight service more than a decade ago — before JH Air’s existence — Gierau remembers hearing that business owners who contributed to the revenue guarantees would get their money back if the flights made enough money.

“We never got our money back,” Gierau, a restaurant owner, said.

He thinks he may have gotten roughly $5 back for every $100 contributed one year, but that was it. Gierau and a few other business owners would later get together with the Jackson Hole ski resort owners to organize a more formalized funding structure — they knew that minimum revenue guarantees were and always will be a crucial part of the air service equation there.

At the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which services Steamboat Springs, the only flights that don’t have minimum revenue guarantees this winter are the commuter flights that connect in Denver, said Airport Manager David Ruppel, adding that one other United flight from Chicago is the only non-commuter route without a guarantee.

He remembers a time not so long ago — pre-economic downturn — when the airport and community weren’t paying the full amount of the guarantees because flights were more successful. The community paid the full revenue guarantees throughout the downturn, though, but Ruppel is optimistic about the future.

“We expect — as we see the economy improve and people come back to resorts, and as load factors improve — we won’t be paying full caps and we’ll probably have more money to put toward other flights,” he said.

Complex economics

Regional airports can’t always buy air service, though. Southwest Airlines doesn’t traditionally offer seasonal service, so the economics come down to a lot more than a simple revenue guarantee for that airline.

“We are courted and in conversation literally with dozens and dozens of communities every year. And in a world now where we’re combining with (AirTran Airways), we’re now getting hit up from all over the world,” said Brad Hawkins, spokesman for Southwest Airlines. “In order to have the economics work for a 737 — or several of them — to come in daily, year-round, the community has to be of a certain size.”

The seasonality of resort towns makes it impossible under that strategy to gain Southwest service. It’s a sad fact for the local residents in resort communities who would like more access to their local airports through lower fares. Local residents who commented on a Facebook poll about which airports they use collectively complained about the high fares at both the Eagle County Regional Airport and the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

“We’d love to see fares come down,” said Greg Phillips, aviation director at the Eagle County Airport. “Competition is one way to do that. ... One thing we have to be careful about is if you bring in a low cost carrier and all of a sudden they push down the price of flights, our good legacy carriers who stuck by us and have been with us all this time here — if you push the prices down to the point they’re not profitable anymore, then you win the battle, but you lose the war.”

If an airport brings in a competing flight and the market can’t support both flights, eventually one of the carriers will drop out, said Gabe Shalley, an EGE Air Alliance board member and the airline marketing manager for Vail Resorts. She spoke on behalf of her Air Alliance role for this story and not Vail Resorts.

Mountain airports are extremely vulnerable to air service decreases. When Frontier Airlines pulled out of Steamboat Springs in the 2011-12 winter it caused a 9 percent decrease in available seats. Frontier also pulled out of Aspen at the end of the 2011-12 ski season because the airline phased out the only airplanes in its fleet — the Bombardier Q400 — that were physically capable of flying into the Aspen airport, which delivered a big hit to Aspen’s available seats that year — a loss of more than 20 percent of available seats.

“That created some market forces that had some undesirable outcomes,” said Bill Tomcich, the president of Stay Aspen Snowmass and the community representative who builds relationships with the airlines alongside Aspen Airport Director Jim Elwood. “One of the reasons Delta decided to pull out in 2010 was because of stiff competition from Frontier and they weren’t happy with it.”

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport does things a little differently with its airline relationships. They try to avoid revenue guarantee deals whenever possible, Tomcich said.

“We’ve always allowed the free market to determine the appropriate level of service here,” he said.

The free market in Aspen also works a little differently. The posh resort town attracts guests with high discretionary incomes that support higher fares, which equals revenue for airlines. But that doesn’t mean Aspen can just sit back and let the market determine everything.

“No airline will come into any resort destination without some sort of economic incentive package — that’s just the reality of working with airlines today,” Tomcich said. “Our job is to come up with a fair incentive package (such as marketing or waiving airport fees) that helps saw the needle in favor of launching aircraft into our airport versus somewhere else, but also create a foundation for them to succeed here.”

Read Saturday’s paper for the second part of this series which examines the physical restrictions at mountain resort airports.

Story and Photos:

Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO), California: Airspace To Expand Slightly On December 12

The regulated airspace surrounding Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is set to expand Dec. 12 in order to accommodate aircraft arriving at and departing from the facility, according to the Office of the Federal Register. 

 Referred to as “Class D airspace,” the federal authorities amended Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations to expand the regulated area above and around SMO from a four-mile radius to 4.6 miles northeast of the airport.

According to the Federal Register, “Expanding the current Santa Monica Municipal Airport Class D airspace reduces those areas that pose a high collision risk to low level commercial, general aviation, military and helicopter operations.”

A search of the Instrument Flight Procedures (IFR) Production Plan for SMO on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website shows seven actions are in the works for the airport through July 2014, including the Dec. 13 airspace expansion.

The amendment was discussed at Monday’s Airport Commission meeting after a Sunset Park resident anonymously sent an email to the council members and the city manager alleging the FAA action would result in a “huge increate of jet traffic” at SMO.

“The current Class D is fine for small planes but is being expanded to handle many more jets, and possibly larger ones,” the anonymous email stated. “This will make Sunset Park utterly unlivable and completely destroy the value of our homes. This is not a rumor.”

In the email, the anonymous writer claims if all seven actions listed on the FAA’s IFR Production Plan are executed, it would result in a “deluge” of large jets at SMO.

“These changes are so major that it appears that the FAA is planning to accommodate hundreds of jets per day,” the email stated.

However, the FAA said expanding the Class D airspace radius has no relation to the level of traffic at SMO or any other airport.

“Increasing the size of the Class D airspace has no bearing whatsoever on the type of aircraft they can use the airport,” Allen Kenitzer, the FAA’s manager of communications and media relations, told The Mirror. “Expanding the Class D will better protect all aircraft arriving at and departing from SMO and transiting through the airspace around it.”

According to the FAA, however, the airspace amendment was necessary for SMO to remain “operationally current.”

The Federal Register noted: “This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.”

Class D airspace, which is cylindrical in shape, ranges from the airport surface to 2,500 feet above ground. The standard radius for Class D airspace is generally four nautical miles. Transponders are not required for Class D airspace, though the aircraft must still have some communication capability on board.

According to the FAA, Class D airspace must be sized to “allow for safe and efficient handling of operations.”

A Class D airspace designation is generally reserved for small airports with an operating air traffic control tower, such as SMO.

Beyond requiring pilots to remain in communication with the air traffic control tower, airports with Class D airspace do not face strict flight regulations as those required for airports with Class B or C airspace.

Most commercial airports are either Class B or Class C airspace. LAX, for example, is Class B while Sacramento International Airport is Class C.

Detailed information of the Class D amendment can be found at


South Surrey, British Columbia: Parents of plane crash victims call on federal government to increase safety rules following 2012 tragedy

SOUTH SURREY - The parents of Lauren Sewell and Dallas Smith - a young couple that died in a small plane crash outside Peachland last August - are pushing for reform to numerous private airplane regulations in hopes that they will prevent similar accidents in the future.

Greg and Fran Sewell, along with Pamela Smith, hosted a press conference at the Hazelmere Golf & Tennis Club on Thursday to express their concerns following the release of an investigative report by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada that outlined the circumstances of the accident. They were joined by Debora and Al Nortman, a Vancouver couple whose 24-year-old son Joel died in a similar plane crash near Harrison Lake on July 5, 2011.

"When you read the TSB report, it really brings home how a few simple adjustments could have saved their lives," said Fran Sewell.

The parents of Lauren, Dallas and Joel are calling on Transport Canada - the federal authority that oversees pilot and airplane licensing across the country - to make shoulder restraints mandatory on all private aircraft, create a graduated licensing program for new pilots before they are allowed to carry passengers, and develop certification for flying in mountainous terrain conditions.

Numerous factors attributed to the crash - including reduced engine performance, uneven weight distribution, low altitude and pilot inexperience - but the Sewell's believe that Lauren, 24, and Dallas, 30, could have survived the crash if the 48-year-old PA-30 Twin Comanche was fitted with shoulder restraints, rather than the bare minimum of lap-belts.

The TSB report notes that Piper Aircraft Corp., the plane's manufacturer, issued a service bulletin on Jan. 18, 1995, advising plane owners of various models of retro-fit shoulder harness kits.

"In their bulletin, Piper clearly stated that they considered such retrofitting to be compliance mandatory," said Greg, adding that the owners of the plane relied on a grandfathering provision that allows aircraft manufactured before Dec. 12, 1986, to be flown with only lap-belts.

"We find the allowance of grandfathering clauses pertaining to the waiving of should restraints unacceptable."

Greg added that in the event that installing shoulder restraints is impractical, Transport Canada should require occupants of aircraft with only lap-belts to wear approved safety helmets, and that adequate signage be placed on the plane's doors to notify passengers.

The five parents are also asking B.C.'s Ministry of Justice to amend the province's Family Compensation Act, which oversees monetary compensation in cases of wrongful death.

"Under this law, grief is not an allowable basis on which to claim recovery for the loss of a family member, and compensation is limited to the reimbursement of 'reasonable funeral expenses,'" said Greg. "In order to potentially recover funeral costs, a grieving parent must take legal action against the wrongdoer, which normally would involve engaging the services of a lawyer."

Greg said he has sought legal counsel on the matter and learned that most lawsuits of this nature rarely go to trial as insurance companies typically propose a settlement based on reasonable funeral costs. He went on to say that if the plaintiff refuses settlement, pursues trial and wins, the judge is limited by the Family Compensation Act to award only enough money to cover funeral expenses.

At that point, the defendant's lawyers can argue that the plaintiff was offered the same amount as a settlement and that trial and associated defence costs could have been avoided, leaving the judge to rule that the plaintiff is responsible for covering the defence's legal costs.

"These efforts to achieve reformation to this Act would not benefit us as legislation would not be retroactive, but they will help others in the future," said Greg.

"Our life is forever changed," added Fran. "We have two older daughters who miss their sister. We miss Lauren every single day."

- See more at:

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, C-GLGJ

Blue Angels scout out appearance at Vero Beach Municipal Airport (KVRB), Florida

VERO BEACH — Local officials and friends of the aviation community were on hand to welcome US Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Cheng, Blue Angel #8, and Lieutenant Ryan Chamberlain, Blue Angel #7, when they landed their F/A-18 Hornet at Vero Beach Municipal Airport recently.

The two Angels, members of the advance team, were here to conduct a pre-show briefing for the appearance of the Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, at the Second Annual Vero Beach Air Show, May 10-11, 2014. Vero Beach is one of only 34 sites where they will perform next year.

In addition to the show, the Angels will visit schools, participate in community outreach, sign autographs, and meet with special needs children while they are here. The team will be accompanied by “Fat Albert,” the team’s C-130 Hercules. Complete information about the Blue Angels can be found at

Details about the show and all its performers will be available at the show’s website,, in the months ahead. Proceeds from the show benefit the Exchange Clubs of Indian River, Treasure Coast, and Vero Beach for the prevention of child abuse and the Veterans Council of Indian River County.


Federal Aviation Administration wants no more crops at Madison Municipal Airport (KMDS), South Dakota

If federal officials have their way, Madison's airport could lose a significant amount of its annual revenue and have additional operating expenses.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration want to reduce the risk to aircraft caused by wildlife by eliminating the city's practice of renting out land to agricultural producers to grow grain crops.

According to Morris Riggin, manager at Madison Municipal Airport, FAA officials have developed greater concerns about the threat from wildlife to aircraft landing and taking off from airstrips since the Flight 1549 accident in 2009.

Flight 1549, a passenger flight from New York City to Seattle, Wash., had its airliner damaged by multiple Canada geese minutes after the jet lifted off from LaGuardia Airport. The Airbus A320 airliner landed in the Hudson River and the passengers and crew were saved without fatalities and five reported injuries.

"The FAA doesn't want us to farm the land at the airport because it could be a waterfowl attractant," Riggin said.

The airport property currently includes about 155 crop acres located southwest, east and northwest of its paved runway. The fields were typically rented to local farmers and planted in recent years with corn and soybeans.

A post-accident investigation performed on Flight 1549 determined that bird remains were found in both turbine engines of the aircraft, causing engine failure. To reduce the threat from wildlife, the FAA proposed that the Madison airport should convert the cropland to grassland.

FAA officials also want Madison to eliminate the wetlands located within the airport's boundaries.

Madison officials received the latest communication from the FAA in early November.

"(The USDA's Fish & Wildlife Service) recommended that to reduce wildlife attractants on the airport, certain wetlands be removed, along with a change from crop production to warm seasonal grasses," said the letter from Laurie J. Suttmeier, an FAA manager in Bismarck, N.D.

Madison officials have pointed out to the FAA that the ag land rentals provided 91 percent of the rental revenue gained through the land rentals and hangar leases. The city airport currently takes in about $39,000 in ag land rent and $3,700 in hangar land rents annually.

The overall annual budget for the Madison airport totals about $103,000. Riggin said that the FAA could make exceptions for economic hardship.

"You take away 38 percent of anybody's budget and that's a hardship," he said.

In addition to losing revenue, if the city converts to grass, FAA rules state that the grass must remain between 6 to 12 inches in height. Riggin estimated that if the city needs to mow that amount of grass about three times each summer, the expense will amount to about $48,000.

By converting to grass, Riggin estimates that the city will need to increase its funding from the current $60,400 to about $147,500.

According to Riggin, city officials will propose that the FAA allow Madison to rent out the land for growing alfalfa, allowing the city to continue to receive ag revenue from the property. Riggin estimated that in converting to alfalfa, the city's revenue would probably decrease by about $3,000.

"I'd say that's a fairly good compromise," Riggin said.

The FAA letter also stated, "Please understand if the City continues to farm crops as intended, there will be a delay in completing the (environmental assessment) and thus in implementing your airport improvement project."

City officials want to construct a new parallel taxiway and enlarge the airport's apron during the next several years. The FAA currently provides 90 percent of the funding for that type of construction work. The Madison construction projects would receive about $3.6 million in federal funding.

The FAA's proposal to eliminate the wetlands in and around the city airport will need the approval of the USFWS.

The current budget sequester under way in the federal government further complicates FAA funding. The sequester's funding cuts have interrupted the FAA's financial support, and even larger budget cuts are threatened in the coming months.


Glasgow helicopter crash: Sky Sports apologize after golf commentator Helen Alfredsson makes 'joke' about tragedy

VIEWERS rang to complain after the former professional golfer made an unpleasant remark while commentating on the Dubai Ladies Masters.

SKY Sports have issued an apology after golf commentator Helen Alfredsson made a joke about the Clutha crash. 

 Her insensitive comment - which was made as a helicopter flew overhead and referenced the pilot involved in the Glasgow tragedy - was swiftly picked up online by disgusted viewers who immediately complained to the broadcasting channel.

One said: “Helen Alfredsson has said she hopes the Helicopter Pilot at their Golf tournament is better than the one in Glasgow. Creep.”

Another added: “SACK HELEN ALFREDSSON... disgusting insensitive comments” and another said: “@policescotland @SkySportsNews @Police  can you investigate the ex Golfer Helen Alfredsson, shocking #clutha comments regarding the pilot.”

Sky later issued this apology: “Statement regarding Dubai Ladies Masters - Helen Alfredsson Sky Sports offered coverage of the Dubai Ladies Masters tournament on Thursday with live pictures and commentary provided by a world feed broadcaster, supported by presentation from our own studios in London.

"Sky has no control over the commentary from the event, which is shared by a number of international broadcasters, and we were shocked at the unacceptable comments made by one of the analysts.

"As soon as coverage switched back to our studio in London, our presenter David Livingstone apologized and we reiterate our apology for the offense caused by these comments.

"We have also expressed our strong concerns to the world feed broadcaster.”

Alfredsson is not employed by Sky Sports directly who take a feed of golfing broadcasts from the Ladies' European Tour.

Swede Alfredsson, 48, who won 11 tournaments on golf’s Ladies European Tour before retiring in September,  made reference to the helicopter crash which occurred in Glasgow last Friday, killing nine people.

Her comments follow just days after TV pundit and This Morning guest Katie Hopkins was vilified for commenting on Twitter about the average life expectancy of Scots just hours after the helicopter disaster.

ITV said they have no plans for the  former Apprentice  to appear on This Morning following a petition  signed by over 85,000 people.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Specialist rescue teams remove the police helicopter from the Clutha bar
Glasgow helicopter crash: Tributes paid to victims - 'a beautiful friend' and a 'highly professional' pilot 

Pilot David Traill died in the crash (Facebook)

Tributes were paid today to victims of the Glasgow police helicopter crash, including the “very pleasant” and “highly professional” pilot, “a smashing lad” who helped his daughter to become a Scottish international footballer, and “a beautiful friend”. 

Police formally identified the three crew members of the helicopter who died when it plunged through the roof of The Clutha bar on Friday night as pilot Captain David Traill, 51, and police officers Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 41, who had both been previously commended for bravery.

Gary Arthur, 48, from the Paisley area, has also been named by police as one of at least five people in the bar who died, but others including poet John McGarrigle were identified by friends and relatives.

Jeanette Retson, a friend of Captain Traill, said he was “a lovely person”.

“I knew David was working with the police force and all day yesterday I was just hoping it wasn’t him that was in it [the helicopter],” she said.

“But I found out this morning, I’m so sorry, so sad … He loved his work. I am proud to know David Traill.”

Captain Traill served in the RAF and was a flying instructor at RAF Odiham in Hampshire before he became a civilian pilot. He had worked with the police for about four years.

Speaking to journalists outside a memorial service held at Glasgow Cathedral, Pat O’Meara, of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said he had flown with Captain Traill and described him as “a very pleasant person, a decent man, highly professional”.

The pilot’s cousin Heather Lawson wrote on her Facebook page: “RIP David Traill my lovely big cousin away far too soon xxx”

PC Nelis reportedly received a bravery award in 2003 after tackling a man with a hammer while trapped in a lift with him in Greenock.

Some of her friends changed their Facebook profile pictures to a black square crossed by a thin blue line in her memory.

One, Andrina Romano, wrote: “For my beautiful friend Kirsty and all others involved. You will never be forgotten and I will miss you every day. Rip”

Speaking about all three on the helicopter, Sir Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, said: “I'd like to pay tribute to all of them and the work that they did over the years keeping people safe across Scotland.

“Both the officers involved had previously been commended by the police by bravery in different acts.”

Chloe Arthur, 18, who plays for Celtic’s women’s football team and has been capped for Scotland at under-19 level, wrote on Twitter: “RIP dad, you'll always mean the world to me, I promise to do you proud, I love you with all my heart.”

John Lyon, a friend of Mr Arthur, described him as a “smashing lad” who was “a really talented footballer” when he was younger and had helped his daughter’s career, the Daily Record reported.

In a statement, Celtic sent its condolences to the families of all of those who were killed. “The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic, including all of Chloe’s team-mates and friends at the club, are with Chloe and her family at this desperately sad time,” the club added.

Mark O’Prey, 44, a window cleaner from East Kilbride, is also thought to have been killed.

John McGarrigle, 38, said on Saturday that an eyewitness had told him his father, John McGarrigle, 59, had been killed while sitting at his favourite spot in the bar.

Mr McGarrigle senior was a published poet, who went to poetry nights at The Scotia pub, which is not far from The Clutha.

The blogger Ann Arky of the Radical Glasgow website wrote: “John didn't have an easy life, but he lived it with energy.

“I always thought that in his poetry, he could capture the full spectrum of human emotions, he could come up with the witty, ridiculously funny, stupidly funny and the profoundly moving.”

In one poem, Refuge, he wrote about finding beauty among the litter in hills near Glasgow.

“And when the snow comes to hide the sins of man, you'll find in this winter wonderland a refuge,” he said.


 The crash involving a police helicopter in Glasgow city centre is the latest in a series of incidents in recent years involving Eurocopter aircraft.

Police Scotland said the helicopter was a Eurocopter EC135 Type 2, registration G-SPAO. It was built in 2007 and was operated by Bond Air Services, originally for the Strathclyde Police Air Support Unit.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch will carry out an inquiry into what caused the aircraft to drop out of the sky. Eyewitnesses described hearing a loud bang, but the helicopter does not appear to have caught fire.

Investigators will examine whether mechanical failure, pilot error or other factors were responsible for the sudden loss of power.

Two other Eurocopter models have been involved in five incidents in the last four years involving offshore workers being transported to and from North Sea installations.

In the most recent crash four people died when a Super Puma AS332 ditched in the sea off the southern tip of Shetland in August.

In April 2009 all 16 people on board an AS332 helicopter died when it crashed into the sea off Peterhead.

An AAIB investigation found that the aircraft had suffered a catastrophic gearbox failure.

Helicopter operators grounded a different Super Puma model, the EC225, following two ditching incidents in the North Sea in the space of six months last year. All 33 people on board the two aircraft were rescued safely.

Eurocopter called in a specialist engineering firm to identify the source of the problem and flights were suspended for several weeks.

The EC225 fleet returned to service in mid-August after a review of safety procedures and the introduction of extra checks.

Friday’s crash will inevitably raise fresh questions about the reliability of the Eurocopter models.

In pictures: Glasgow pub helicopter crash  

A helicopter, thought to be a police aircraft, has crashed into a pub on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow.

The crash happened at the Clutha Vaults in Stockwell Street.

Jim Murphy, shadow development secretary, said there had been multiple injuries and reported a "pile of people" clambering out of a pub.

Images of the crash on social media sites showed the dark blue helicopter on the roof with yellow "POLICE" insignia on part of the wreckage.

The Police Roll of Honour Trust tweeted "Our thoughts are with the crew of @policescotland SP99 helicopter that has crashed in Glasgow - hoping everyone is alright."

Eyewitness Fraser Gibson, 34, was inside the Clutha pub with his brother to see his former band, Esperanza.

"Midway through their set it sounded like a giant explosion," he told BBC Scotland.

"Part of the room was covered in dust. We didn't know what had happened. We froze for a second; there was panic and then people trying to get out the door."

Mr Gibson said that immediately following the incident there was a suggestion that a helicopter had crashed into the roof of the pub.

"There was no obvious sign of that," he said. "I couldn't hear of any rotors or anything like that before the event happened or any sign when we came out of the pub."

"I would say there was maybe 120 people inside the pub. A lot of people managed to get out straight away, but it was hard to tell how many were actually trapped in the other half of the bar.

"We wanted to get out of the way and let the emergency services get in there to help.

"I spoke to one of my former band members and he's as much in the dark over the situation as me.

"We checked that each other was safe and the rest of the band were safe. The immediate group I was with are all safe.

"We're obviously very concerned about what casualties have been sustained in the incident.

"There were no signs (of a helicopter) at all. The roof had just totally collapsed, there were shards of wood sticking out the top but nothing that said there had been a helicopter crash."

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: "I can confirm that we have people at the scene.

"It is obviously a major incident. There are numerous fire engines there; 15 fire engines at the moment along with specialist services.

"I cannot confirm if there have been any injuries."

Claire Morris, who lives near the Clutha bar, told BBC News: "We heard this bang. We didn't really know what had happened and then we heard people coming out and screaming.

"I wasn't sure whether there had been an explosion. My daughter said to me it was a helicopter that had hit the roof.

"Police are everywhere. We are just very shaken."

She added the pub was very popular and would have been busy on a Friday night.

Mr Murphy said there were about 40 fire brigade staff at the scene and said passers-by had helped at the scene.

Mr Murphy told the BBC: "It's a well established Glasgow pub. It's a horrible, horrible scene, but well done to the folk who were here. Everyone formed a chain of people from inside the pub to outside, and the fire brigade and everyone were here very quickly."

First Minister Alex Salmond tweeted: "The emergency services are in full operation. Our thoughts are with everyone involved. Scottish resilience operation now mobilised."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was "absolutely awful news"

"My thoughts are with everyone involved and the emergency services," she tweeted. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted:

"My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow - and the emergency services working tonight." Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said it was "shocking news from Glasgow. 

All my thoughts are with those who have been injured."

Story and Photos:


Gordon Smart, editor the Scottish Sun, told the BBC:

I can't really believe what's happened. I was on the phone at the time and I heard a misfiring engine. Looked above me, couldn't work out where it was coming from, it got louder and louder and I just spotted a helicopter falling from the sky.

It was falling at great speed. It looked like the rotors weren't spinning but the helicopter was sort of turning in a strange position and dropping at great speed. Oddly enough here was no explosion no fire ball.

It's a busy Friday night, a lot of people have been out in the pubs, there are a lot of pubs in that area. I do fear… I would be staggered if there weren't fatalities from the area it's landed.

 Eurocopter EC135 T2+,    G-SPAO,  Bond Air Services Ltd. for Police Scotland:   Accident occurred November 29, 2013 at  The Clutha Pub, Stockwell Street, Glasgow - United Kingdom