Sunday, July 31, 2011

Investigators focus on possible cargo fire on Asiana 747-400F

Investigators are expected to focus on the flammability of cargo carried by an Asiana Airlines Boeing 747-400 freighter that crashed Thursday off the coast of South Korea in the East China Sea, killing both pilots. The aircraft was destroyed.

According to the airline and South Korean government officials, the pilots reported a fire and control problems about 1 hr. into the flight and were diverted to Jeju when contact was lost.

According to Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network, the 747F departed Seoul Incheon at 3:05 a.m. bound for Shanghai Pudong. South Korea Deputy Transport Minister Kim Han-Young told reporters that "the crew told Shanghai traffic controllers that fire had erupted in the hold." He added, "We suspect some flammable material caught fire there."

The CF6-powered freighter was carrying 58 tonnes of cargo, including 0.4 tonnes of materials such as lithium batteries, paint, amino acid solution and synthetic resin. According to The Korea Times, Asiana CEO Yoon Young-Doo said, "We load and manage lithium batteries according to the regulations set by the International Air Transport Assn. The goods on the cargo plane were also managed according to the checklist and double-checked by the captain."

The captain had 14,123 hr. of flight time, of which 6,896 were on the 747. The co-pilot had 5,211 hr. of flight time. The aircraft that crashed had its first flight in February 2006, according to ASN.

While there is discussion about a possible cargo-hold fire, there has been no conclusion reached regarding the crash's cause, authorities stressed. US FAA last year issued a Safety Alert for Operators on carriage of lithium batteries as cargo on aircraft (ATW Daily News, Oct. 11, 2010).

(Geoffrey Thomas - ATWonline News)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Long Beach Airport ranks No. for cheap airfares

When it comes to booking a flight, for many of us, price is what determines our decision. recently released a ranking of 101 U.S. airports based on affordability, and the top two are in Los Angeles County. Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) and Bob Hope Airport (BUR/KBUR) ranked first and second, respectively, on their list. A third SoCal airport, John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) came in fifth.

CheapFlights explains that they "measured the average airfare for the most popular US airports based on the fares users found to top destinations like Orlando, London Heathrow, Las Vegas and Cancun during June 2011," in order to come up with their list.

It's not that Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) didn't make the list, but at spot 88, well, you're not getting the same kind of deal you might be able to score traveling in and out of LGB or BUR. On average, a flight to a popular destination from LAX will run you $474; from LGB it's $223 and BUR $248.

Here's the top 10 list:
1. Long Beach (Daugherty Field), CA (LGB/KLGB) - $223
2. Bob Hope Airport, CA (BUR/KBUR) - $248
3. General Mitchell International, WI (MKE/KMKE) - $274
4. Lehigh Valley, PA (ABE/KABE) - $280
5. John Wayne/Orange County, CA (SNA/KSNA) - $288
6. William P. Hobby, TX (HOU/KHOU) - $294
7. Newport News/Williamsburg International, VA (PHF/KPHF) - $300
8. Bishop International, MI (FNT/KFNT) - $301
9. Metropolitan Oakland International, CA (OAK/KOAK) - $305
10. Bellingham International, WA (BLI/KBLI) - $311

Monday, July 25, 2011

Third United Arab Emirates C-17A takes to the skies

The third United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE) C-17A (F-237/UE-3) N9500N tbr 1225 returns to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 following it's maiden flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

APF Updates

Greetings All, As you probably have noticed I have not been making many updates as of late. I am having tech issues uploding photos and I am waiting to hear from the server why this is. Please be patient and once i am up and running again I have numerous photos to shae with you.

Michael Carter 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Special jetBlue "DirectTV" livery

jetBlue A320-232 (c/n 1280) N510JB "Out of the Blue" now sports a special "DirectTV" livery. The aircraft is captured departing Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on July 20, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways pilots move closer to seniority integration

Southwest Airlines' pilots union has reached an agreement in principle with the pilots union for AirTran Airways, the low-cost airline it bought in May.

Southwest said in a statement released on Saturday that its pilots union and AirTran Airways pilots union had agreed to integrate its seniority lists for pilots and avoid an arbitration process.

The boards of both unions still need to approve the deal before it can go through.

Southwest Airlines completed its acquisition of AirTran Holdings for about USD$1 billion in May, positioning itself to challenge bigger carriers in big US East Coast markets while eliminating a major low-cost rival.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

jetBlue offers $8 dollar RT fares between Long Beach Airport and Burbank Airport

Why fret over the weekend shutdown of the San Diego (405) Freeway known as Carmageddon when you can fly over it for just $4 each way?

While motorists are flocking to public transit for relief, JetBlue is offering flights to and from Long Beach and Burbank airports over the weekend to get around the potential 40-mile-long "car-tastrophe" caused by the closure of one of America's busiest freeways - the 405 freeway between the Santa Monica (10) and the Hollywood (101) freeways. Workers this weekend are demolishing the Mulholland Drive Bridge overpass to widen the carpool lane.

About two flights each way will be offered on Saturday with costs ranging from $4 to $5 for roomier seats, airline officials announced today. The price includes all taxes and fees.

"It's our shortest flight ever," said Allison Steinberg, JetBlue Airways Media Analyst, adding that the expected flight time between the two cities is 20 minutes.

The schedule for flights from Burbank to Long Beach:

•Flight 405: 12:20 to 1:05 p.m.

•Flight 1405: 6:35 to 7:10 p.m.

The flight schedule for Long Beach to Burbank:

•Flight 406: 1:50 to 2:34 p.m.

•Flight 1406: 7:55 to 8:30 p.m.

"We're helping Angelenos get over the gridlock altogether and enjoy the Valley or the beach, their favorite soccer match or a food festival, without having to brave the traffic jams to get there," said Mark Rogers, JetBlue's L.A. marketing manager. "Plus, you'll receive some of the best customer service in the industry, you can check a bag free, have the benefit of ample legroom while you tune to one of more than 100 live channels of free TV or radio stations, and snack freely, all while having a birds-eye view of the road congestion you've given up."

The announcement received praised from Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster.

"I congratulate JetBlue on taking their customer service to new heights by providing alternatives for travelers in the L.A. Basin during 'Carmageddon' weekend," Foster said in a written statement. "JetBlue's solution to Carmageddon will allow everyone in the L.A. Basin to visit Long Beach this weekend and enjoy a weekend of fun on the beach just a quick flight from Burbank."

(Karen Robes Meeks - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Plane spotting in Australia

A friend just forwarded this story to me which appeared in the Brisbane Times on July 2, 2011. I found it to be very interesting and familiar at the same time.......enjoy Michael. 

If you can't comprehend why a group of men spend much of their spare time obsessing over planes, Beau Chenery recommends you stand under the flight path of a 400 tonne jet as it takes off. "I silence the nay-sayers by taking them down to Gold Coast Airport and make them stand underneath the runway," he said. "They don't have much of a comeback to that one."

It's this visceral thrill of an aircraft take-off which has drawn the 23-year-old to the world of planespotting.

Having taken on the hobby as a 15-year-old, Chenery has spent hundreds of days at Brisbane Airport photographing different models and makes of planes.

This devotion to a hobby has seen him develop the uncanny ability of correctly identifying the model and flight route of any plane he spots with the naked eye.

It all has to do with the size and shape of the plane, and an insider's knowledge of flight schedules. "I don't have to be close at all by any means," he said.

"I see planes flying overhead that track to Auckland to Bangkok that will cross over Brisbane, that's 40,000 feet, 13 kilometres or so, and I can tell what that is."

Chenery is one of the administrators of Jetspotter, an Australian planespotting community that boasts more than 200 Brisbane members.

Along with discussing the latest models and airlines set to pass through Brisbane Airport and share photos of the planes they've seen, the community organises to meet at the facility's plane-spotting cul-de-sac.

Brisbane Airport Corporation's Jim Carden said the spot has been a huge hit with planespotters and travellers alike.

It has been enough of an drawcard that when BAC revealed the cul-de-sac would need to be removed to make way for the airport's second runway, Carden took Chenery and a group of other planespotters for a ride around the airport to find a suitable replacement location.

Carden says the group are a valuable addition to the airport community with their photography being used in corporate and reports

While their insiders' knowledge has also helped tip the airport off about special arrivals such as John Travolta's Qantas 707.

"When the recent ash cloud diverted planes to Brisbane from Sydney to Melbourne lot of spotters raced to the cul-de-sac," he said.

"We had an A380 parked at the international terminal and the buzz went around.

"In fact, Beau contacted me before the authorities contacted me that there was those diversions coming in."

Carden jokingly refers to the planespotters group as 'jetrosexuals' for the devotion to their hobby, but that isn't to say he's mystified by the past-time's appeal.

He knows all-too-well the effect planes can have.

"If I take people out to the runway, the most cynical, hardened, cool politicians or VIPs get a buzz out of seeing 400 tonnes of metal taking off," he said.

Planespotters range in age from their early teens to retirees and, although the hobby is male dominated, there are female members of Chenery's site.

Many planespotters work in the aviation industry, while others wish they did.

Michael Dawson is a planespotter and an airline worker in Brisbane who gathers with other members of the community every weekend to observe the action on the runway.

Having grown up with a father who was an aircraft controller, the hobby has taken 38-year-old overseas.

"We all go on trips around the world, I've been to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Phuket and most of Australia and New Zealand," he said.

Other planespotters can go to greater extremes.

Carden often sees members of the community file in at the airport as soon as the cul-de-sac opens in the morning and others leave as it closes at night.

"Some guys I've known are so obsessive with this hobby, they like it so much they've had marriage break-ups over it," Chenery says.

Advances in technology have made it easier and easier for planespotters to stay informed about the movements of aircraft.

Beau admits the need to be at the airport in order to avoid missing a plane is gradually diminishing through the use of flight tracking sites.

He regularly monitors the flight path of aircraft entering Brisbane air space through sites such as Flight Radar 24.

The site picks up planes within 600 kilometres of Brisbane airport, allowing Chenery to drive out to the facility in time to grab a pic of the aircraft.

But that's not to say the hobby is dying out, just evolving.

"There is always a current flock of newbies coming through," he said.

(Dan Nancarrow - Brisbane Times)

Very Strange Seattle Weather!

(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

USAF takes delivery of new C-17A

USAF C-17A (P-211) 09-9211 was delivered this morning (July 7, 2011) to McChord Air Force Base. The aircraft departed Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at 0813 PST and performed the traditional fly-by in a salute to Douglas (Boeing) employees who built her.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hawaiian Airlines to increase MD-95 (717-200) fleet

Hawaiian Airlines said it leased three additional Boeing 717-200 aircraft to meet increasing passenger demand, and has also purchased its existing fleet of 15 leased 717-200s from Boeing Capital Corp. in a refinancing transaction aimed at reducing its long-term fleet costs. Terms of the transactions were not released.

The three leased 717s will allow the carrier to expand its interisland service between Honolulu, Kahului, Lihue, Hilo and Kona during peak travel periods, said HA, which expects to take delivery of the three additional aircraft in September, October and November.

Starting in October, HA said it will add approximately 20 flights per day between Honolulu and its other airports in Hawaii. It expects to hire an additional 40-50 pilots, flight attendants and ground staff to support the increased flight operations.

"With our increasing service to Hawaii from Asia, demand for our interisland flights during peak hours of the day and during popular travel periods has never been higher," said HA President and CEO Mark Dunkerley. "Adding these aircraft will give us the ability to serve more customers during these periods. At the same time, we are restructuring the ownership of our existing fleet to reduce our aircraft costs. With other costs rising quickly, this will help us keep fares affordable."

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

San Bernardino International Airport - Were's the passengers?

San Bernardino International Airport (SBD/KSBD) officials have spent the past five years planning for a deluge of air travelers. The fact that there hasn't been a trickle, or even a single passenger, hasn't stopped them from building ever-costlier terminals and other buildings.

A civil grand jury report issued Thursday faults Scot Spencer, the airport's developer, and Don Rogers, its executive director, for inadequately justifying the increase in cost and scope based on estimates of air travel headed to San Bernardino.

The report recommends the airport hire an auditor to examine $142.5 million in taxpayer money paid so far to contractor Spencer's companies for work on the terminal, the Million Air general aviation complex and a U.S. Customs building "to determine if the developer purposely inflated costs."

Among the concerns raised by the grand jury are decisions to increase the size and scope of a passenger terminal, the use of an auditing firm founded by the airport's executive director, and the potentially unnecessary purchase and repair of 11 jet bridges that are sitting idle.

Rogers said Friday that he expected to craft a detailed response in about 10 days to dispute what he called "erroneous" statements.

For example, Spencer's management agreement is for five years, not 25 as mentioned in the report, he said. He also disagreed with the report's implication that he purposely misled the board. "That simply didn't happen," he said.

The grand jury contracted auditing firm Harvey M. Rose Associates to prepare a performance audit of the airport and development authority. Stephen Foti, a principal with the firm, said they stand by the audit.

The report says the Inland Valley Development Agency and San Bernardino International Airport Authority -- made up of officials from San Bernardino County's East Valley to oversee the conversion of Norton Air Force Base into an airport and industrial park -- have ceded considerable power to Rogers, and should do more to reclaim oversight.

Spencer served several years in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud for his role with Braniff Airlines and was later banned from the aviation industry by the Department of Transportation after he operated an unlicensed charter airline at San Bernardino airport. Public records show two of his companies that have done business at the airport owe more than $680,000 in taxes.

Roiled by the accusations, but undeterred, elected officials that sit on the two agencies overseeing the airport said they will take a hard look at the airport's operations.

"I don't think there are people more disappointed than ourselves," said San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales, chairwoman of the development agency and an airport authority member. "But it means we have to work even harder."

Slow to take Flight

Spencer's companies have earned $7.4 million since 2007 in fees and reimbursements to build the passenger terminal and general aviation facility, according to the report. Public records obtained last month by The Press-Enterprise showed the amount was $6.4 million.

The report contends that little effort was made to award the lucrative development contracts to anyone else, and that "in every instance" the contracts appeared to be given to Spencer after direct negotiations between just him and Rogers.

Under his agreement with the airport, Spencer earns 1.35 percent of the value of each construction contract to build the passenger terminal and 2 percent for each contract to build the general aviation facility.

The report said that one of Spencer's agreements dictated that San Bernardino would have had a passenger airline offering scheduled flights by June 22, 2008. And by Spencer's estimation, the airport would have been on its way to having 945,498 departing travelers by 2009.

By comparison, Bob Hope Airport had 2.29 million departing passengers in 2010, Long Beach Airport had 2.97 million and Palm Springs International Airport had 749,657. Ontario International Airport had 2.25 million departing passengers. The report implied that Spencer overestimated the airport's potential traffic in order to expand the scope of the airport construction -- and thus his development contracts.

Rogers said he had asked certain board members before the agreement was approved, " 'If Spencer's projections are wrong, do you still want to proceed with this level of airport?' And the answer was always yes." Nearly three years after flights were supposed to start at the airport, not a single airline has landed.

As the scope of the airport expanded, so did the cost, from an original estimate of $38 million just to renovate the terminal, to $142.5 million spent to date on the terminal and other projects.

San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, who is IVDA co-chairman and SBIAA president, defended the staff and board Friday afternoon and attributed the increased cost to the challenge of renovating a World War II-era structure.

"I think we've built a modern airport that will attract scheduled airline service for a price that is remarkably modest," Morris said.

When asked if $142.5 million is a modest price to be build an airport, Morris was emphatic. "Yes, we built a quality airport at a bargain price," he said.

The report also criticized officials for ordering 11 jet bridges, which link terminal gates to plane doors. A 2006 report, more than a year before Spencer was awarded the contract to develop the airport, found that no jet bridges were necessary.

Nonetheless, officials awarded Spencer a $4.2 million equipment contract, part of which went to repairing the jet bridges. The report suggested the airport could save $134,689 if it refused to pay for the 11th bridge, which is still under construction, and that it should stop paying Spencer for any more used aviation equipment. Rogers said the airport would buy the last jet bridge despite the report's suggestion.

"We wouldn't have bought 11 if we didn't need 11," he said, explaining that the airport has plans to expand from four gates to 10 when airline traffic demands it. The last jet bridge would be used at the U.S. Customs building.

Popular public project

Local officials have poured tens of millions of dollars into the airport, ranging from on-site improvements to widening nearby roads and encouraging development along key corridors to and from the airport in northeastern San Bernardino.

Federal money also has flowed to the airport, which is part of a larger effort to redevelop Norton after the base was closed in 1994, costing the area 10,000 jobs.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, has steered federal dollars to the project, including $4.8 million in December 2009 for airport renovations.

"The bulk of the federal funding has gone toward the kind of improvements that had to be made to make Norton usable for any purpose," Lewis spokesman Jim Specht said in an email. "The largest expenditures -- for runway improvements -- were strongly endorsed by the (Federal Aviation Administration) without regard to whether the airport would host commercial flights."

Specht said Lewis would wait to comment on the grand jury's findings until after reading the report and conferring with local officials.

The grand jury report alleged that Rogers didn't always provide full or accurate information to the airport board. For example, it said Rogers received approval from the board for purchasing aviation equipment, but the terms of those deals changed and the board was never informed.

Another concern raised was that in 2007, a design firm put the total cost to renovate the terminal at $51 million before Rogers told the board it would cost $38 million. Since then, the terminal cost has exceeded $100 million. The report found fault with how those increases were justified to the airport authority.

"If I find out that I am being told one thing and staff has a different agenda, then there is going to be a problem," Gonzales said.

But so far, even without flights coming into the airport and millions more dollars spent than first expected, Gonzales said she still has confidence that Spencer and the airport's management are the right people to build the airport. "They better be, because if they are not, they need to go," she said.

(Kimberly Pierceall & Dug Begley - The Press-Enterprise)