Aviation and Airport Development Law Newsletter, July 12, 2010, vol. 2, no. 5

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning aviation and airport development law news during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website on our blog, The Aviation and Airport Development News.

AIRPORTS

City Airport plans $8.6M in Projects. – Steve Lynn, The Daily Times, June 27th, 2010
The city of Farmington is planning $8.6 million in projects at the Four Corners Regional Airport during the next five years. The airport is planning 18 projects from 2011 through 2016, said Farmington airport manager Ben Trujillo. The projects range from reconstruction of the plane parking area adjacent to runways to installation of a wildlife fence to development of the airport’s 65-acre north side. The Federal Aviation Administration will almost certainly fund the projects as part of the federal agency’s Airport Improvement Program, Trujillo said.
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Airport upgrade intended for all. – Tony Dombrowolski, Berkshire Eagle, July 6, 2010
The $22.5 million expansion of Pittsfield Municipal Airport is intended to benefit all county residents, not a select few, said an engineer who has been involved with the project since its inception 12 years ago. “There’s still a sense out there that pervades a small portion of the community that this is a rich playground for the rich and famous, and that this is an expansion project to allow bigger, faster jet aircraft into the city of Pittsfield,” said project engineer Randall P. Christiansen at a recent meeting of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. “I want to tell you that, first and foremost, this is a safety project,” he said. “We could build a 12,000-, a 15,000-, a 20,000-foot runway, [but] we could not allow larger aircraft to visit this airport because we have never strengthened the pavement that the rest of the airport sits on.
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Appeals court OKs ban against Hare Krishnas, other groups panhandling at LAX. – Dan Weikel, The Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2010
Almost 13 years after it was passed, police can now enforce a municipal ordinance that bans the Hare Krishnas and other groups from panhandling at Los Angeles International Airport, where travelers have complained for years about aggressive solicitors. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday lifted a preliminary injunction imposed in 1997 that stopped Los Angeles from implementing its solicitation ban against groups seeking donations, including the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California. The Krishnas sued in federal court in May 1997, alleging that the ordinance violated state constitutional guarantees of free speech.
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Long Beach moving ahead with airport modernization labor agreement. – Kristopher Hanson, Press-Telegram, July 8, 2010
Despite strong opposition from nonunion contractors, city planners are pressing ahead with a labor agreement covering a $140 million makeover of the Long Beach Airport. The deal, being drafted at the direction of the Long Beach City Council, will include provisions that include a 30 percent “local hiring” clause and an apprenticeship program for Long Beach students. The project labor agreement, or PLA, allows any contractor, union and not, to bid on various phases of airport modernization during the next two years, but requires all of them to follow a set of guidelines favored by unions, including a progressive wage and benefit package, a dispute and arbitration process and funding for health care and workers’ compensation.
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Santa Rosa air terminal now 5,000 sq. ft. bigger. – Steve Hart, Press Democrat, July 8, 2010
Travelers got a pleasant surprise Wednesday when they stepped inside the passenger terminal at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. “It’s huge. It’s like twice the size,” said Karen Lutz of Windsor, checking in for a Horizon Air flight to Los Angeles. The airport opened a 5,000-square-foot expansion of its terminal, providing more room for passengers, Horizon Air check-in and car rental counters. It also has a larger space for pre-flight security screening, an indoor baggage carousel and two new restrooms. The $2.3 million project was funded by the federal economic stimulus program and airport passenger fees.
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Gwinnett seeks firms interested in developing airport. – Patrick Fox, Atlanta Journal Constitution, July 8, 2010
Gwinnett County has taken the next step in its planned study of airport privatization. The county Thursday issued a request for qualifications for firms interested in entering into a public-private partnership to operate Briscoe Field. The measure is the next step in the Federal Aviation Administration’s pilot program that offers governments incentives to explore airport privatization. The county is in the early stages of studying options which may include privatization as a general aviation airport or the addition of scheduled passenger air service. The county has set Aug. 16 as the deadline for submissions. Qualification applications will be publicly opened and only names of submitting firms will be read at 3 p.m. that same day.
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FAA

GA left out of DOT five-year plan. – Janice Wood, General Aviation News, July 6, 2010
There is a hole in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) draft five-year plan, says the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). The plan, which covers the period from 2010 to 2015, almost completely ignores general aviation and its economic importance to the nation. “In its current form the plan places more emphasis on travel by bicycle than on general aviation,” wrote AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller in comments on the draft plan sent to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Furthermore, the plan seems to reintroduce user fees as the preferred way to fund the FAA. The draft contains six broad goals that cut across all modes of transportation: Safety; State of Good Repair (Airports); Economic Competitiveness; Livable Communities; Environmental Sustainability; and U.S. DOT Organizational Excellence.
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FAA: Not liable in Medevac crash. – Mary Pat Flaherty, The Washington Post, July 8, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration has denied liability for injuries to a Waldorf teenager who survived the 2008 crash of a Maryland State Police medical helicopter during a flight in which federal controllers provided hours-old weather reports and “inadequate” handling of the flight. The controller errors contributed to the crash that was caused by pilot mistakes, the National Transportation Safety Board had previously determined. The pilot and three others died in the crash. An attorney for sole survivor Jordan Wells, 18 at the time of accident, had sought damages from the FAA, which on June 16 replied that “our review has not disclosed facts upon which a finding of liability on the part of this agency could be based.”
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FAA Investigates Incident Involving Careflight.WHIO Dayton, July 6th, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating an incident that happened early Sunday morning involving Miami Valley Hospital’s Careflight. Officials said the incident happened around 3:30 a.m. when a piece of plexiglass bubble next to the aircraft door fell off during flight. The pilot was able to land the aircraft without incident. The FAA said the plexiglass has to be replaced and the helicopter repaired. Officials said this is somewhat of a rare occurrence. There are no indications that a patient was on board the helicopter at the time.
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AVIATION & AIRPORT LITIGATION

FAA Proposes $168,000 Civil Penalty Against D&M Plastics.FlightSource, July 6th, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a $168,000 civil penalty against D & M Custom Injection Molding Corp. of Burlington, Ill., doing business as D & M Plastics, for alleged violations of Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations. D & M offered a five-piece shipment of approximately 2,000 Runyan Rapp E-Mysticks smokeless cigarettes to Federal Express for transportation by air from Indianapolis to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Aug. 14, 2009. Each smokeless cigarette contained alcohol, a flammable liquid, and a lithium battery, a hazardous material. Each box contained 400 E-Mysticks, including 7.6 kilograms of lithium batteries, exceeding the five-kilogram limit for shipment aboard passenger aircraft. Because the shipment was not packaged in accordance with regulations it was forbidden on all aircraft, including all-cargo flights.
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AVIATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATION

Plane crash victims push W.Va. senator for bill. – John Raby, The Associated Press, July 7, 2010
Several relatives of those who died in a plane that crashed into an upstate New York home urged a key West Virginia senator on Wednesday to push for passage of a Federal Aviation Administration bill that addresses their safety concerns. One by one, 13 relatives of victims of the regional airliner that crashed into home that killed 50 near Buffalo in February 2009, directed comments at U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who did not attend a news conference but sent a representative. Kevin Kuwik, an assistant basketball coach at Ohio State University whose girlfriend, Lorin Maurer, died in the crash, said Congress needs to act on a compromise version of the funding bill before its August recess. After that, fall midterm elections threaten to unravel the progress made so far.
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AVIATION/AIRPORT SAFETY

Near misses on rise at U.S. airports, air traffic controllers under fire. – Rebecca Heslin, USA Today, July 5th, 2010
The number of close calls and near-collisions at U.S. airports is steadily rising, leading some to point fingers at air traffic controllers. “As many as one in four air traffic controllers at any given control center are novices, barely out of training, and some of the recent problems in the air provide a frightening picture of the near-accidents in the air that have been avoided,” ABC News reports. “Many controllers are reaching retirement bringing in an abundance of new blood.” In March of this year, the National Transportation Safety Board began to require that such incidents be reported. Since then, there are nearly a dozen cases that NTSB is investigating, according to The Washington Post.
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Recent near-collisions raise air safety alarms. – Joan Lowy, The Associated Press, July 8, 2010
Alarmed by a spate of near-collisions involving airliners, the government is trying to find out why air traffic controllers and pilots are making so many dangerous errors. In recent months, there have been at least a half-dozen incidents in which airliners came close to colliding with other planes or helicopters — including in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Burbank, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska. In some cases, pilots made last-second changes in direction after cockpit alarms went off warning of an impending crash. “This spring we had several close calls that got everybody’s attention, and I think that’s the thing that really keyed us into taking at look at some of the risks, try to identify what we’re missing,” Robert Tarter, vice president of Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Safety-Air Traffic Organization, told employees in a conference call kicking off the new safety effort.
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FAA sends experts to review safety rules at air traffic center. – Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, July 8, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday sent a team of experts to review procedures at the air traffic control center that directs all flights in the Washington region after the facility recorded its 22nd potentially dangerous mistake last week. With another federal agency — the National Transportation Safety Board — already investigating mistakes made by air traffic controllers nationwide, the FAA told its employees in a conference call this week that it was launching a new effort to make air travel more safe.
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Small door from Alitalia jet falls near Nassau Courthouse. – Keith Herbert, Newsday, July 8, 2010
A 4-pound metal door fell from an Alitalia Boeing 767 on final approach to Kennedy Airport last week and landed near the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. There were no injuries, according to the FAA. The door provided access to hydraulic controls on plane’s underbelly.
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Near-collision at SFO prompts safety summit. – Will Reisman, San Francisco Examiner, July 8, 2010
A United Airlines Boeing jet traveling to Beijing in March had just taken off when its pilots noticed it was dangerously close to a small, single-engine Cessna already in the air. The United flight, which was carrying 268 passengers, steered clear of the Cessna, but only by 300 vertical feet — a distance close enough to trigger midair collision alarms and prompt the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate. Under NTSB protocol, planes are not supposed be within 500 vertical feet of each other while in the air. The March incident at San Francisco International Airport was one of at least a half-dozen close encounters recorded this year, with the near-collisions occurring in airports in Burbank; Chicago; Houston; and Anchorage, Alaska.
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AVIATION SECURITY

Search continues for missing guns from Netanyahu’s luggage. – Phillip Messing and Dan Mangan, New York Post, July 7, 2010
Four guns belonging to the personal bodyguards of Israel’s prime minister have gone missing after arriving in New York in “an incredible comedy of errors” spanning four days and deeply embarrassing US officials. The search for those four 9mm semi-automatic Glock 17 pistols now “is priority No. 1 in American law-enforcement,” a Port Authority police official told The Post today. “They [the Port Authority] have opened up the check books on this one,” said the official about the massive security screw-up. The FBI and Secret Service have joined the probe, which is being led by the PA.
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Aerotech News: Wind Energy Turbine disrupt aging US Radar systems. – Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Services, July 7, 2010
Defense Department officials are reaching out to academia and the energy industry to strike a balance between its support for alternative energy sources and its need to protect national security. Dorothy Robyn, the department’s deputy undersecretary for installations and environment, outlined the dilemma at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee June 29. The department strongly supports the development of renewable energies – leaders have called America’s dependence on foreign oil a national security issue — and it is a recognized leader in the use of solar, geothermal and wind to produce energy, Robyn said. However, she added, military leaders also have found that the increasing use of wind turbines is taking a toll on the aging radar systems the military uses to, among other things, track threatening aircraft over the United States.
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Daniel Rubin: Two views of what’s wrong with U.S. airport security. – Daniel Rubin, The Philadelphia Enquirer, July 8, 2010
Did a little flying over vacation with the bionic woman, and I’m happy to report that our TSA experience at the airport in Philadelphia was an uneventful drive-through. My wife’s titanium hip set off alarms. They wanded and patted her down. She had no complaints. It wasn’t Mimi’s favorite screening. That happened in London, at Heathrow, where a soft-spoken, polite woman asked my wife if she could search her, then explained everything she was about to do. Only afterward did Mimi realize that during their easy banter, the screener had been sizing her up like a seasoned sleuth. I was more partial to the experience in Marseille, France, a sweaty, chaotic crossroads where line-jumping seemed to be the local sport.
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AIRCRAFT

More private planes are being repossessed. – Charisse Jones, USA Today, July 8, 2010
The recession isn’t just stripping the middle class of their prize possessions. The wealthy are losing out, too. In the past few weeks, Ken Cage, who specializes in repossessing private planes, says he’s recovered two jets worth a combined $7.1 million. And while business has ebbed a bit compared with last year, it remains four times what Cage saw before the recession. “I think we picked up 15 (planes) that were $1 million or more, including one $20 million jet,” says Cage, president of International Recovery & Remarketing Group in Orlando, reflecting on the past 12 months. “We’d never picked up anything close to that before.”
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Boeing 2Q commercial deliveries fall 9%.Reuters, July 8, 2010
Boeing Co. said on Thursday it delivered 114 commercial airplanes in the second quarter compared with 125 in the same quarter a year earlier. The company said 95 of those deliveries were of its 737 Next Generation, compared with 99 a year ago. Boeing said last month that it would boost production of its narrowbody 737 plane to 35 per month in 2012 to meet expected long-term demand in that market. Shares of Boeing, a Dow component, finished up 2.2 percent at $64.73 on Thursday.
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AIRLINES

Viking Air Breathes New Life Into Old Plane. – Susan Carey, The Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2010
The Twin Otter turboprop plane, a symbol of Canada’s aerospace prowess, seemed destined to fly into history when production ceased in 1988. But the utilitarian Twin Otter is back thanks to an investment by a wealthy Canadian heiress and the ambitions of an aviation-parts supplier in British Columbia. The first of a new batch of the boxy planes made its test flight earlier this year. A production facility has sprouted in Calgary where a dozen planes are being assembled. The new owner, Viking Air Ltd., has garnered orders for 50 aircraft, mostly from diehard operators of the nearly 600 Twin Otters still flying.
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Southwest Airlines filled more seats in June but fell short of record. – Terry Maxon, The Dallas Morning News, July 8, 2010
Southwest Airlines Co. packed a lot of people into its airplanes last month. However, for the first time in a year, Southwest didn’t set a monthly record for loads. The Dallas-based carrier said Wednesday that it filled 81.9 percent of its seats in June, up 2.4 points from June 2009. That number fell a little short of its June record of 82.1 percent, set in 2007. Since last July, each month established a new monthly record for load factors. In fact, July 2009 recorded Southwest’s highest loads for any month, with 83.2 percent of seats filled.
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Allegiant Airlines traffic up 7.8 percent in June.The Associated Press, July 8, 2010
Allegiant Travel Co., which operates an airline marketed to leisure travelers in small cities, said Wednesday its traffic rose 7.8 percent in June on a similar increase in the number of available seats. The airline added flights last month, including a new route between Los Angeles and Eugene, Ore. Allegiant flew paying passengers 479.9 million miles last month, compared with 445.1 million miles a year earlier. The airline’s number of available seats, or capacity, rose 6.2 percent to 516.7 million available seat miles. Planes were also slightly more full. The carrier’s load factor, or occupancy rate, rose 1.4 percentage points to 92.9 percent.
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