Saturday, January 31, 2009

First Delta A319-114

Delta continues a hectic piant schedule as this ex Northwest A319-114 (1810) is captured on short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday 01/30/09. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sun County returns to Los Angeles

Sun Country has announced it will return to Los Angeles on April 15th with four weekly flights (Mon-Tues-Thur-Sun) between Minneapolis (MSP) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

SY409 MSP-LAX 2145-2340 B738
SY410 LAX-MSP 0025-0550 B738

jetBlue to LAX round two?

JetBlue Airways Corp. was expected to announce today that it would begin flying out of Los Angeles International Airport, with daily nonstop service to Boston and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The service, which is expected to begin in late spring, could help ignite a transcontinental fare war at LAX, especially for flights to Boston. Two carriers -- American and United -- now offer four daily flights from LAX to Boston's Logan International Airport. A third airline, Virgin America, plans to begin Boston service next month, with fares starting at $149 one-way.

Four airlines currently operate 26 nonstop flights a day from LAX to New York. JetBlue, which has drawn a loyal following at Long Beach Airport with lower fares and newer jets than many other airlines, had hoped to start the LAX service last May. But the carrier grounded the idea after fuel costs got so high that it could not operate the flights without incurring losses. Fuel prices are now at less than half of what they were in May.At LAX, JetBlue is expected to use Terminal 6, which just a few months ago was occupied by start-up Virgin America. That airline has moved to larger quarters at Terminal 3.

(Los Angeles Times)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Virgin America Completes Noise Tests at SNA

Virgin America A320-214 (2851) prepares to turn onto Rwy 19R at SNA as it returns to San Francisco following it's noise test flights on Wednesday Jan. 28. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Virgin America announced today it will start service at John Wayne Airport April 30.
The airline will fly five flights a day from JWA to its hub in San Francisco.
Virgin will launch its Orange County service with a special introductory one-way fare of $59 for its main cabin. Other fares will be $145 in the new Main Cabin Select premium service and from $209 in the First Class cabin. For the introductory fares, tickets must be purchased by April 14 and your trip must begin on or after April 30 and be completed by June 10.
“Orange County is an enormously important travel market for us,” said Virgin America chief executive David Cush in a statement released by the airline. “We couldn’t be more pleased to be partnering with John Wayne Airport to bring our unique, award-winning service to the region.”
Virgin said last month it was considering flying out of JWA after some airline slots became available on the airport’s waiting list.
The coveted slot openings, which are restricted due to noise controls, became available after the collapse last April of Aloha Airlines. Aloha flew three daily round trips to and from John Wayne Airport. Alaska Airlines also cut back its JWA service last year.
Midwest Airlines was the last commercial airline to initiate service at John Wayne. It started flying out of Orange County in 2004, but discontinued service in early 2005, said airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge.
Virgin’s chance to come to Orange County shows the major shakeup in the airline industry over the last year.
In June, Virgin was No. 5 on JWA’s waiting list for the airport’s limited slots, behind Air Canada, Hawaiian Airlines, Air Tran and WestJet.
Wedge said today that JWA officials are in negotiations with the airline and anticipate flights will begin by summer.
Hawaiian Air said it had no plans to launch any service if it was offered slots. Air Tran and WestJet were noncommital about flying out of JWA.
The Virgin announcement comes at a hard time for the airport. JWA passenger traffic dropped 9.9% last year as tourists and business people cut back on travel. It is only the second time since the Thomas F. Riley Terminal opened in 1990 that the airport has seen year-over-year passenger traffic decline. The only previous drop was in 1998.
JWA wasn’t alone. LAX traffic fell 4.7% last year.
(Orange County Register)

Air Canada Closer to beginning service at SNA

John Wayne Airport officials say Air Canada is expected to begin Orange County service by summer. It would be the airport’s first international flights.
“Air Canada has been given passenger capacity to begin operations in the new (JWA) plan year, starting April 1,” says JWA spokeswoman Jenny Wedge. “At this point, we continue to work with them on the logistics of customs/immigration, as well as their lease agreement with the Airport.”

She says airport officials are anticipating Air Canada service will start closer to the summer time. Destinations have not been announced.
The airport has been hampered in offering international flights because it doesn’t have customs facilities. Air Canada, however, provides U.S. customs clearance at its airports removing the need for customs at JWA.

(Orange County Register)

Interesting Read about LAX and the A380

Every time Qantas lands one of its giant Airbus A380s at LAX, parts of the nation's fourth-busiest airport come to a halt. Service roads, taxiways and runways must be closed to airfield trucks, cars and other commercial aircraft as the world's largest passenger plane -- with wings almost as long as a football field -- arrives, departs and taxis with an official escort of operations vehicles.

The plane is so immense that air traffic controllers give it priority so it doesn't have to wait for takeoff at the end of the airport's southern runways in cloudy or foggy weather because it can disrupt radio signals from the airport's instrument landing system. More than any other airliner, LAX officials say, the A380 requires special procedures because Los Angeles International Airport was not built to accommodate a plane of its size. Despite occasional griping from airlines, LAX, Qantas, and Federal Aviation Administration officials say that A380 operations have gone fairly well since October, when the Australian carrier began service to Los Angeles from Melbourne and Sydney.

But air traffic controllers and LAX officials caution that as airlines put more A380s into service, they could hamper airport operations and delay other commercial flights if improvements to runways, taxiways and terminals are not made in the next few years. Based on Air Transport Assn. figures, every minute of delay for an airliner carrying 150 people costs the carrier and passengers an average total of $152, including the value of fuel, crew time, lost productivity and other expenses. Air traffic controllers at LAX say the current procedures work because A380s have priority, there are only one or two planes a day and the airport isn't as busy as it once was. Since 2000, the average number of daily takeoffs and landings has dropped from about 2,150 to 1,500 because of declines in air travel after 9/11, high aviation fuel prices last summer and the nation's sagging economy."The whole process is cumbersome and will cause problems down the road," said air traffic controller Mike Foote, a local representative of the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. "If we go back to pre- recession operations levels, the situation would be untenable.

There would be gridlock. "Controllers say the potential for delay could increase dramatically with the addition of four or five A380 flights a day.Airbus officials disagree. Years were spent developing adequate procedures, they say, and operational improvements have occurred as airports have become accustomed to the airplane. If runways, taxiways and service roads have to be closed, it is only for "a very short time," said Dan Cohen-Nir, program manager for Airbus North America Holdings Inc. "The good news is that there's been a long-standing collaboration between Airbus, air traffic control, the FAA and airport officials," Cohen-Nir said. "It is a challenge. LAX was designed before the [Boeing 747 jumbo jet]. In some places, LAX is substandard for even those aircraft."Qantas flies an A380 into LAX on Mondays through Fridays, though there are exceptions to the schedule.

A May 2008 study by Los Angeles World Airports indicated that Qantas and five other international carriers wanted to put at least 10 A380s into service at LAX by 2012, but an unprecedented downturn in the airline industry and a deepening global recession could derail those plans. LAX "has been plain fantastic in this whole thing," said Roger Lindeman, a Qantas vice president in charge of airport operations in the United States, Canada, and South America. "These planes are the future of long-haul aviation. Airports need to be ready for them. "The A380 is a big plane -- a destination in itself, Lindeman says. The wingspan is about 262 feet, and the tail is 80 feet high. The maximum takeoff weight is 1.2 million pounds. The double-deck design can carry 450 to 853 passengers and 50% more cargo than most other commercial aircraft.In contrast, a Boeing 747-400 can seat 416 to 660 people. The wingspan is 211 feet, and the tail is 64 feet high. The maximum takeoff weight is about 875,000 pounds. Next to the bulky Airbus, the 747 looks streamlined.

So far, about a dozen airports in North America have had an interest in the A380, but only two have accepted the plane -- John F. Kennedy International in New York and LAX. San Francisco International Airport, which was the stage for a Qantas demonstration flight last week, is preparing to begin A380 operations. About $100 million has been spent at LAX to accommodate the next generation of large aircraft, including the A380, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8. About $50 million has been spent for taxiway improvements and another $50 million for two A380 gates -- one at each end of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. But unlike at JFK and San Francisco, getting the plane into and out of LAX is governed by a long list of special procedures, such as an entourage of four or five airport vehicles that set up temporary roadblocks as the aircraft taxis."The plane creates issues we have to deal with," said Jeff Cunnyngham, the FAA operations supervisor at LAX. "Whenever an A380 is moving, we put on extra people to watch the process. We make sure the tower is fully staffed."If an A380 flies into or out of the airport, aircraft behind it must maintain a longer distance because of strong wake turbulence, swirling air that can cause a trailing plane to go out of control. Heavy jets like a 747 must stay at least six miles away, while light planes must maintain a distance of 10 miles.

LAX operates with four parallel runways that are intersected by taxiways leading to the terminals. When an A380 is moving along one taxiway toward the south runway complex, landings and departures on the inner runway must stop briefly because one of the wings intrudes into the runway's safety zone, an area that must remain clear of obstacles. A parallel service road must be closed as well, causing trucks and cars to back up as the aircraft lumbers to the Bradley terminal. Similarly, a service road must be closed if an A380 is operating on the airport's northern runway complex. On the north side, the airport has received FAA permission to land the A380 on its 150-foot-wide runways. Normally, the FAA requires a width of 200 feet for a plane that size.When the A380 taxis from its gate on the south side of the Bradley terminal to its maintenance area for routine servicing on the north side of LAX, it must use one of the airport's two north-south taxiways, which are next to each other. The wings are so wide that aircraft are prohibited from using the other taxiway until the A380 passes.

Cunnyngham estimates that runway closures can last three to five minutes, while road closures last five to 10 minutes.In addition, FAA procedures state than when an A380 is stopped on certain taxiways, nearby runways must be closed to departures and arrivals because its 80-foot tail juts into an area that must remain free of obstacles. Also, air traffic controllers say that when the plane lands or takes off, taxiways between runways must remain clear of other aircraft because the wings jut into safety zones."For the most part, the A380 does not create many problems when it arrives and departs in the off-peak hours, but it could create delays if it starts operating in significant numbers," said Bruce W. Kinsler, a former FAA air traffic control specialist who has studied the effects of A380s and other large commercial aircraft on airports.

Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, says the A380 underscores the need to proceed with key elements of the LAX modernization plan or risk losing flights to other airports. The projects include new gates at the Bradley terminal, a wider cross-field taxiway and a mid-field concourse that would eliminate the need to bus international travelers from remote gates to the main customs and immigration facility. A controversial proposal to reconfigure the north runway complex could increase the distances between taxiways, two runways and service roads. The plan, which is being studied, calls for moving the outboard runway 300 feet to the north to make room for a center taxiway. "If we are delayed on the Bradley gates and the cross-field taxiway, we would have a fairly significant congestion issue," Lindsey said. "We would end up having the A380s at the remote gates -- an awful experience for travelers."

(Los Angeles Times)

Return of the "Slide Monster"

As some of you might remember, 10 years ago I published a local aviation newsletter called Aero Pacific Flightlines. With the help of a couple friends and my wife Judy we published our first eddtion in Sept/Oct 1998 with our last edition May/June 2001. We had lots of fun with our little venture and we learned a lot but due to financial strains and the cost of printing an all color newsletter we unfortunately had to end APL.

This blog is an extension of APL and today I am reviving a favorite from the newsletter "The Continuing Adventures of the Slide Monster" by Matt Cornell. Matt was an original member of the APL staff and during a breakfast meeting yesterday we spoke of APL and the "Slide Monster" and the enjoyment that our readers got from the cartoon. The "Slide Monster" began as a fun poke at one our good friends and developed into fun pokes at all of our friends and some folks that were not. Matt has agreed to do some more adventures as we have a lot to draw from (no pun intended) but until the new adventures begin arriving I will return to the old adventures from Aero Pacific enjoy todays first episode.

Michael Carter

New Service Between SNA and SFO

It's beginning to feel like the 1960's and 1970's here in California with the number of flights between the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay area increasing and with cheap fares. Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines announced it would commence five new daily round trip flights between John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on May 9 and now Virgin America has announced it will do the same beginning on April 30.

Virgin America has been awarded five slots at SNA which include an overnight RON (Remain Overnight) gate. The carrier was to perform it's noise test flights yesterday (Tuesday) but they were posponed due to the cold Santa Ana Winds blowing in SoCal.

The First C-17A flight of 2009 from Long Beach

Short final to Rwy 30. (Photo by Michael Carter)

New C-17A 07-7183 (P-183) made her first pre-delivery test flight at Long Beach on Tuesday. The aircraft destined for Charleston Air Force Base arrived back in Long Beach at 17:05 following an aprroximately 3 hour flight.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Gulfstream 550 arrives in Long Beach

On short final to Rwy 30. (Photo by Doug Kerr)

On January 26, new Gulfstream G550 N828GA (cn 5228) arrived in Long Beach (LGB) from George M. Bryan Airport (STF) locacated in Starkville, MS. It is the latest aircraft to arrive in Long Beach for it's interior and exterior finish.

Monday, January 26, 2009

717-200 (MD-95) to Mexico

It has been reported that Mexican carrier Click has signed a "Letter of Intent" with Boeing for the delivery of ex Midwest 717-200 aircraft to replace it's F100 fleet. The number of aircraft envolved is unclear as the numbers reported are between 6 and 25 aircraft.

If the deal materializes it would be the first time that the 717 would see active service in Mexico. Several years ago start-up carrier VuelaMex planned to use the 717 on it's routes and in fact had four aircraft sporting full liveries at Long Beach but they were never delivered with the carrier fading into history before it got off the ground.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Government of Bahrain gets 767-4SF(ER)

Boeing 767-4SFER A9C-HMH (34205/965) is caught as it departs a sunny KBFI yesterday afternoon back to KPAE.
(Photos by Joe G. Walker)

In anticipation of funding for an new electronic warfare aircraft, the E-10, Boeing went ahead with construction of a 767-400 to be used as the platform for this program. The E-10 was slated to be the replacement for the E-8 Joint Stars, which is based on the 707-300.

Due to budget cuts, program was cancelled but the aircraft had already been built. The airframe sat on the KPAE ramp for several months with a registration of N526BA. It made a few test flights to keep the aircraft in an airworthy condition. Aircraft has now been sold to the Gov't of Bahrain as the replacement of their VIP 747SP and has been re-registred as A9C-HMH, which was the same as the SP.

Within the past couple of weeks, several test flights have been conducted out of KPAE getting the aircraft & crew primed for delivery. Due to fog within the past couple of days at KPAE, with RVR of zero or at best minimums, several Boeing heavies diverted to KBFI, including this aircraft.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Allegiant Air MD-83 sports Blue Man Group livery

Allegiant Air added McDonnell Douglas MD-83 N405NV (49623/1499) to it's fleet on December 1st, 2008 and applied special "Blue Man Group" titles. The aircraft was originally delivered to Finnair as OH-LPH later serving with Transwede Airways as SE-DHN and most recently with Flynordic as SE-RFA. In the above photo, the aircraft is seen taxing at Ft. Lauderdale (FLL).
(Photo by Mark Abbott)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Centurion Cargo MD-11(F)

The aircraft sports a very striking livery and is seen arriving in Miami (MIA) on January 16th. (Photo by Mark Abbott)

Centurion Cargo is now operating it's first MD-11(F) N701GC (48434/476) late of Gemini Air Cargo which ceased operations last year. Originally delivered on 11/12/1991 to Varig as PP-VOP it served with the carrier for 9 years until being returned to the lessor and converted to a freighter for onward lease to Gemini Air Cargo as "Emilie" later changed to "Michael DiSaha".

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ugandan Government G550

New G550 N908GA (cn 5208) to be 5X-UGF has been doing flight test at Long Beach the past couple days. It is a lovely aircraft and bears the Ugandan National emblem on the tail.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Long Beach Action, January 12th

G550 N888HK (cn 5213) under to to mid field run-up.

BAE Jetstream 3101 N127UM (cn 777) operated by EAL Leasing, pays a visit to Long Beach.
(Photos by Doug Kerr)

Boeing 727-243 visits Long Beach

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Boeing 727-243 N615PA (21266/1227) which operates for the New Jersey Devils arrived in Long Beach on January 9th at 13:42. In the above photo, the aircraft is caught on short final to Rwy 30.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Zest Air A320-232 passes through Long Beach

Zest Air A320-232 (2147) RP-C8898 turns onto Rwy 30 as it prepares to depart for Hilo, Hawaii. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Zest Air A320-232 (2147) RP-C8898 arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB) this morning from Marana, Arizona for some fuel before making it's way to Hilo, Hawaii on it's delivery flight to the Philippines. Zest Air is a new Philippine carrier which with this new delivery have two ex jetBlue machines N582JB (pictured) and N581JB which was delivered this past December.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

US Airways Retires 757-225 N915AW

N915AW pushes from gate 7 at SNA for the last time.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

US Airways 757-225 N915AW (22209/40) operated it's last revenue flight 01/06/2008 as AWE653 SNA-PHX. Originally delivered to Eastern Airlines on 11/21/1984 as N519EA the aircraft has been in service with America West Airlines now US Airways since 12/1994.

Decision on Long Beach Airport Sale to be held in open session

A City Council discussion on leasing or possibly selling the Long Beach Airport will be heard in open session, not in closed session as had been planned Tuesday. Pressured by community advocates, the council voted unanimously Tuesday to publicly discuss the matter that City Manager Pat West has said called "leasing opportunities" that have been presented to the city by several large finance companies.

Mayor Bob Foster tried to allay concerns before the council voted to hold the open session at a future meeting. A date to discuss the airport has not yet been set. "There is no deal, there is no offer, there is no proposal, there is not anything on selling or leasing the airport," Foster said.
"There are a lot of questions. It may or may not be a good idea. I have my own doubts, I have a lot of questions about it, and this is only to talk about some things as we do with all real estate transactions because you have prices involved and economic data involved that you would not want to be public to give someone an upper hand in negotiations."

Community advocates pointed to the lack of an actual deal being on the table as the reason the matter shouldn't be heard in closed session.
"City management can't simply attach a real property address to some agenda item to keep a policy discussion secret," local blogger Bill Pearl told the council. "That's a pretext to evade the openness of the Brown Act." Community advocate Jack Smith said: "Policymaking needs to be done in public meetings."

Councilwoman Rae Gabelich compared discussing the airport's future in private to the process that had brought in JetBlue as the airport's major airline. "There was a time when it was a fight, when they wanted to create the line of operation outside of what our noise ordinance was allowing," Gabelich said. "The turmoil and the division that happened because of the way that JetBlue's contract was negotiated, the way it was brought out to the community after it was all sealed behind closed doors, is something that I would not want to see happen in this city again."
Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske had first publicly voiced concern about the closed session and opposed any sale of the airport in a statement Friday.

About 30 percent of the airport is leased by airlines, aircraft storage companies, rental car companies, restaurants and other businesses, West has said. The remaining runways and other facilities aren't leased, he said. If investors were interested in buying the airport, it could be done through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Privatization Pilot Program.
Several cities have shown an interest in that program, submitting applications in recent years. However, most were withdrawn or rejected. Only Chicago's application to privatize Chicago Midway International Airport remains, leaving four slots available only for non-large hub and general aviation airports such as Long Beach's.

The council decided to postpone the open session Tuesday to discuss the airport proposals on the advice of City Attorney Robert Shannon. He said some members of the public who would be interested in the matter may not have gone to the meeting, knowing that they wouldn't be able to listen in on the closed session. The council could have legally discussed the matter Tuesday, but Shannon said he wasn't sure "that it's consistent with the spirit of the law."

(Long Beach Press Telegram)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

C-17A damaged in Afghanistan

No crew members or passengers were injured when a C-17 ran off a runway after landing at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan on Dec. 23, Air Force reports said.

The C-17, flown by the Air Force Reserve’s 315th Airlift Wing from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., left the runway at 6:20 a.m., reports said.

An accident investigation board will look into what led to the crash, indicating Air Force officials believe damage to the transport could top $1 million. The C-17, tail number 89-1191 (P-5), is among the oldest of the transports.

There have been at least three other C-17 landing accidents in Afghanistan.

In August 2005 at Bagram Airfield, a pilot mistakenly thought the runway lights were 180 feet apart. In fact, the lights were 100 feet apart. When the jet came down, the right main landing gear was 10 feet off the runway, causing the plane to roll off the right side of the runway.

In April 2003 at an undisclosed airfield in Afghanistan, pilots landing a C-17 did not realize the left half of the 180-foot-wide runway was under construction. The plane’s left landing gear rolled through the construction site before the jet came to a stop.

And in January 2002, a C-17 attempting to land at Kandahar came down in a minefield 2,000 feet shy of the runway. The pilot was able to get the plane airborne and safely land at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

(Air Force Times)

Notable visitors at SNA the past couple weeks

US Airways A319-132 (1534) N826AW "Arizona" taxies for a
Rwy 1L departure. (Photo by Michael Carter)
Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (29843/2572)
N918WN "Illinios One."
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Delta MD-90-30 (53382/2094) rolls for takeoff on Rwy 19R sporting the carriers new livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
American Airlines 757-223 (25298/433) N664AA sports special markings in support of the fight against Breast Cancer.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
American Airlines 737-223 (29507/231) N905AA wears special Flag Ship Liberty "In Support of all who Serve" markings.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

More Controllers for LAX?

Reiterating her call for more air traffic controllers, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday warned President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for Transportation secretary that chronic staff shortages at Los Angeles International Airport and the main radar facility that guides aircraft between airports pose an "alarming risk" to aviation safety in Southern California.

In a two-page letter to Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), Feinstein recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration take immediate steps to hire more controllers at LAX and the Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control in San Diego. "For years, the controller staffing situation has only become more severe," Feinstein wrote."Retirements have outpaced projections, training goals have not been met, trainees have dropped out of the program at alarming rates and the supply of available military-trained controllers has dried up," she said.

The senator's letter informed LaHood that the U.S. Department of Transportation, at her request, began an audit in June to evaluate air traffic control staffing and its effect on safety at LAX as well as the Southern California and Northern California radar control facilities.

The inspector general's report is expected to be released in the months ahead.FAA officials said the LAX control tower and the Southern California radar control facility are staffed within the authorized ranges and that the agency is continually hiring new air traffic controllers to replace those who are retiring. According to the FAA, controller errors are down this year at LAX compared with 2007, though the level is higher than several years ago. Although FAA officials continue to assert that the system is safe, Feinstein said that all parties, including the FAA, have acknowledged that high turnover rates are straining the region's air traffic control system.

Feinstein cited the staffing levels at the Southern California radar control facility, which have fallen from 236 fully certified controllers in April 2004 to 162 in October, the lowest level in the facility's recent history. The installation, which has a staff of 220, is responsible for guiding aircraft to six commercial airports and several dozen general aviation airports. Its authorized staffing level is 194 to 237 controllers, including trainees.LAX, one of the busiest airports in the nation, has 44 air traffic controllers, a number within the authorized staffing range of 39 to 47. Thirty-six are fully certified for the airport. Five are partially certified controllers and three are trainees with no certifications yet.

Feinstein noted that the number of trainees at the South California radar control facility has reached almost 29% of the total staff. Experts, she said, believe that the FAA's apprentice-based program breaks down when more than 20% of the controllers are still in training. Next year, Feinstein added, the facility could have up to 100 trainees." I appreciate the senator's efforts to keep pressure on the FAA to do something," said Mel Davis, a representative of the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. and a controller at the Southern California radar control facility. "If you look at the results, the FAA's actions have not been effective. In the past few months, we have seen 40 people come and go."

In her letter, Feinstein suggested to LaHood that training be revamped to handle a large influx of recruits and that incentives be created to retain veteran controllers and attract qualified people from other parts of the country. Air traffic controllers say, for example, that the high cost of living in Southern California hampers recruiting efforts here.

(Los Angeles Times)

Possible sale of Long Beach Airport

City Manager Pat West has called for a closed session of the City Council next week that one councilwoman fears could lead to the sale of Long Beach Airport. The council is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to discuss "terms of lease or acquisition" of the airport, according to the meeting agenda.

West said Friday that the city had been contacted by a slew of financial companies interested in an airport deal, including notable potential investors such as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, according to the meeting agenda.

When asked whether the airport's sale is on the table, West said only that the meeting is about "leasing opportunities," but wouldn't explicitly say that it isn't about selling the airport. City officials aren't allowed to discuss the details of closed session items.

"We have an opportunity to investigate some lease opportunities at the airport," West said. "We want to gauge the City Council's interest before we spend any time looking at these opportunities."

Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske released a statement Friday questioning whether West should be discussing an airport deal with investors without receiving council direction to do so and indicating she wouldn't support privatizing the airport. Any such discussion, she said, should
be made in open council session. "With budget deficits looming, the idea to sell city assets ... is focusing on the wrong solution," Schipske said in a statement. "The only discussion this City Council should be having right now is how we plan to live within our means and what steps we will take to reduce spending."

After making cuts to eliminate a $16.9 million budget deficit coming into the current fiscal year, city officials are expecting an additional $15.7 million revenue shortfall. West said leasing parts of the airport to be operated by private companies is nothing new. About 30 percent of the airport is leased by airlines, aircraft storage companies, rental car companies, restaurants and other businesses, he said. The remaining runways and other facilities aren't leased, West said.

If investors were interested in buying the airport, it could be done through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Privatization Pilot Program.
Several cities have shown an interest in that program, submitting applications in recent years. However, most were withdrawn or rejected. Only Chicago's application to privatize Chicago Midway International Airport remains, leaving four slots available only for nonlarge hub and general aviation airports such as Long Beach's.

Becki Ames, chief of staff for Mayor Bob Foster, said she didn't know the details of what is to be discussed Tuesday and that it is too early to criticize whatever may be presented to the council.
Ames said Schipske "must know something that all the rest of us don't."

(Long Beach Press Telegram)

Happy New Year

I would like to wish those of you who follow this blog a very Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and hope that 2009 brings good things you.

As most of you know I work for Southwest Airlines and it was a very busy last two weeks which did not allow much free time to do any updates. Now that the new year is here all my co-workers are back to work and I will again have more time to devote to this blog and my other two blogs which I desperately need to update.

So again Happy New Year,

Michael Carter