Aviation and Airport Development Newsletter, June 21, 2010, Vol. 2, No. 3

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.

AIRPORTS

Adjusting noise plans.The Burbank Leader, June 12, 2010
More than $100 million has been spent trying to minimize the noise impact of Bob Hope Airport flights to surrounding homes, businesses and schools. That’s not counting the millions spent on a groundbreaking federal application to impose nighttime flight curfews — an effort that was ultimately rejected. In the latest attempt at curtailing night flights, airport officials tried to secure written agreements from the airlines to adhere to the voluntary curfew. That effort also failed.
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City plans major water park resort near executive airport. – Scott Wyman, The Sun Sentinel, June 15, 2010
Fort Lauderdale The city’s aging sports stadiums near the executive airport could be turned into a major water park resort within the next two years. The park would consist of giant river systems where visitors can ride inner-tubes or swim between water slides, wave pools, downhill rapids and beaches. Treehouse-style hotel rooms would surround the resort. While one stadium would be partially torn down, the other would remain available for team sports, and new athletic fields would be built nearby.
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City rejects protests filed over LAX food, retail contracts. – Art Marroquin, Daily Breeze, June 15, 2010
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office rejected protests that were filed in the ongoing negotiation for pending food and retail contracts at Los Angeles International Airport, officials announced last week. Delaware North Cos., HMS Host Corp., Hudson Group and HDS Partners filed a total of 11 protests in April after losing bids to operate shops and eateries inside Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8, claiming that the airport’s evaluation process was unfair.  The City Attorney’s Office rejected Host’s request to restart the bidding process due to a potential conflict of interest involving the president of the Board of Airport Commissioners that ultimately prevents the entire seven-member panel from considering any of the eight contracts in which Host submitted a proposal.
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Kennedy named interim airport GM.Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 15, 2010
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tapped Robert W. Kennedy as the city’s acting airport general manager to replace the outgoing Ben DeCosta upon his retirement June 30. Kennedy has been Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s deputy general manager over operations, maintenance and security since September 2006. “I am confident that Robert Kennedy will provide the leadership and stability needed at the Airport during this transition period,” Reed said. “Robert brings extensive experience and knowledge about a range of Airport operations to this position.”
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Federal officials look at operations at Venice airport. – Kim Hackett, Herald Tribune, June 16, 2010
Federal investigators are taking a closer look into how the city has spent money collected from airport operations. Following up an audit last year, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General said in a letter it will begin a more comprehensive investigation later this month. The objective is to determine whether the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight ensures that the city “is using airport revenues only for appropriate purposes,” wrote Matthew E. Hampton, a deputy assistant inspector general, earlier this month. He said that investigators found “many of the same problems with revenue diversions” that it identified during the 1990s. Then, the agency found “$2.4 million in revenues was lost over a 4-year period and that almost 300 acres of federal land was inappropriately used,” according to a 1999 report.
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Airport Rules Prevent Farmers from Installing Wind Turbines in NW Indiana.Environmental Leader , June 16, 2010
Farmers in Kentland, Ind., say a hardly used airport is preventing them from installing wind turbines on their farmland, reports Chicago Tribune. Both the town’s mayor and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) say they are not shutting down the airport. According to the FAA, 77 square miles of Newton County are off limits to wind turbines because of safety rules for the Kentland Municipal Airport. Farmers told the Journal & Courier of Lafayette that hardly anyone uses the airport and it costs the town money, while the wind farms could bring in revenue and jobs to the city and country. Mark Simons, who owns a 400-acre farm next to the airport, told the Journal & Courier that 100 turbines installed at the airport could generate $1 million in tax revenue.
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Other Aritcles on the Same Topic:

Tiny Kentland Indiana Underlines Two Issues With Airports: Difficulty in Closing Airports and Conflicts with Wind Farms. – Steven M. Taber, Aviation and Airport Law News, June 16, 2010
Tucked away in the Northwest corner of the state, tiny Kentland, Indiana, has an airport.  According to AirNav.com, Kentland Municipal Airport is home to 20 airplanes and averages 26 flights per week, although according to FAA records, it only reported 36 flights last month. This area of Indiana is becoming known for its wind farms.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s most recent wind resource assessment finds that Indiana is one of the top 20 windiest states in the nation.  Moreover, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the area northwest of Lafayette near the Indiana-Illinois state line (where Kentland is located) has the greatest average winds in the state.
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Morgantown Municipal Airport Addresses Environmental Concerns. – Lisa Robbins, WBOY News, June 16, 2010
The Morgantown Municipal Airport held a public workshop on Wednesday night to address environmental concerns for its master plan update. The airport is planning to close the 5-23 runway and convert it into a new National Guard facility. It’s also building an access road that will lead to new aviation hangars. The airport says the project has minimal environmental concerns and it does not anticipate that the Federal Aviation Administration will ask for further information when it submits its environmental assessment. Airport Director Glen Kelly said the plans will bring economic growth to the area. “This will hopefully develop better support for our military and better support for industry here in the local area, and hopefully it will justify a longer runway,” Kelly said. The general public has until July 8 to submit any environmental concerns to the airport. The FAA will review the final document and issue a “Finding of No Significant Impact” or will request a further study.
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City Hires Consultants for Airport Studies and Website Enhancement. – Jonathan Friedman, The Lookout News, June 17, 2010
While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) analyzes community noise complaints and delay data from its 180-day flight pattern test to determine if the new route for small airplanes taking off from Santa Monica Airport (SMO) should be made permanent, the City has hired two consultants to help with its own analysis. When asked what effect the City’s study would have on the FAA’s analysis, FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said, “None whatsoever. But they’re free to do as they see fit.”
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John Wayne Airport adds free Wi-Fi. – Gary A. Warner, The Orange County Register, June 16, 2010
John Wayne Airport now features free Wi-Fi in the terminals. To use the service, a wireless user should open a browser window on their device and follow instructions. The network will show up as JWAFREEWIFI in the list of available wireless networks. While the service is free, it does come with a small catch. Customers must watch a 30-second advertisement before they are connected to the internet. Airport officials said free Wi-Fi has been a top priority in the airport’s ongoing expansion and modernization program.
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Gas leak contained at John Wayne Airport. – Mike Reicher, Daily Pilot, June 16, 2010
An electrical contractor struck a gas line at John Wayne Airport about 7:30 a.m. today, forcing authorities to block traffic into part of the airport and to evacuate some areas, according to emergency responders. No one was injured by the leaking gas. By 8:30 a.m. workers from the Southern California Gas Co. had capped the 2-inch line and vehicle traffic was allowed to flow again, airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said. No flights were canceled but some may have been delayed as passengers had trouble reaching the terminal, she added. “It all happened so quickly,” Wedge said.
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Massport OK’s Worcester airport sale. – Katie Johnston Chase, The Boston Globe, June 17, 2010
The Massachusetts Port Authority board approved this morning the purchase of Worcester Regional Airport, clearing the way for the agency to take possession of the beleaguered airport on July 1. Massport has been running the airport, which is currently owned by the City of Worcester and is served by just one airline, for a decade.  The $17 million sale, a combination of land transfers and $14.4 million in cash payments, is part of the overhaul of the state’s transportation system. The transaction was approved by the Worcester City Council and the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this month.
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San Jose airport makeover includes lots of high-tech amenities. – John Boudreau, San Jose Mercury News, June 18, 2010
A nearly completed billion-dollar-plus face lift has transformed Mineta San Jose International Airport, infamously known for having a terminal that resembled a bus station, into one of the world’s most tech-hip airports. The upgrades are both obvious and unseen, ranging from an abundance of power and USB ports embedded in specially designed chairs for always-on travelers to cutting-edge baggage X-ray machines below deck. The end result is a gateway that represents the pulse of Silicon Valley. The new Terminal B, which replaces the 1960s-era Terminal C, will be completely open on June 30. Terminal A also received a makeover, giving the airport an entirely new feel.
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Moody’s Maintains Burbank Airport Authority Bond Rating.Aviation News Today, June 18, 2010
Moody’s said it is maintaining the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority’s (BGPAA) underlying Aa3 revenue bond rating. The outlook remains stable. The rating reflects BGPAA’s strong financial track record, strong liquidity position, high debt service coverage, modest debt profile, and very competitive cost structure, which helps to mitigate the threat presented by four other airports serving the greater Los Angeles area, Moody’s said.
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Process begins to change name of Mount Comfort Airport. –  Indianapolis Business Journal, June 18, 2010
The Indianapolis Airport Authority voted Friday morning to pursue changing the name of Mount Comfort Airport to Indianapolis Regional Airport. A name change needs final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and could take as long as two years to become final. The authority thinks a new moniker for the Hancock County airport will signal to out-of-town pilots that Mount Comfort is convenient to the city and offers the level of service that private-jet travelers expect. “Obviously, when we have so many folks who come into the city in 2012 for the Super Bowl, I think Mount Comfort will play a role in some of the airport traffic, and we would want the name to reflect the city,” authority spokeswoman Susan Sullivan said.
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FAA

FAA Experiments With Integrating Drones in Civil Airspace. – Jason Paur, Autopia, June 14, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration is studying how to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into U.S. airspace alongside conventional aircraft. Although UAVs have been flying in the United States for several years, they are limited to restricted airspace as well as portions of the borders with Canada and Mexico. The problem of operating unmanned aircraft within the same airspace as conventional aircraft has been a contentious issue for pilots and carriers. Under an agreement the FAA signed last week with Boeing subsidiary Insitu, the feds will begin flying an unmanned aircraft as part of continuing research using air-traffic-control simulations. Insitu will provide the FAA with a ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system for the research, which will be conducted at the William J. Hughes Technical Training Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
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US warned over FAA offshore interventions.Aviation Business, June 15, 2010
In the US the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) has told the Obama administration that legislation pending on Capitol Hill threatens to undermine the global competitiveness of the US aerospace industry. In a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ARSA Executive Vice President Christian A Klein warned that proposed language in the FAA reauthorization bill will obstruct aviation maintenance exports and hinder the ability of US companies to compete internationally.
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Statement from the FAA in Response to the Associated Press Story about Temporary Flight Restrictions over the Gulf of Mexico.FAA News Release, June 16, 2010
Today’s story by the Associated Press contains a number of inaccuracies with regard to the government’s oversight of flyovers in and around the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since May 28th, the FAA has approved every request to fly over the area–more than 176 requests. While the temporary flight restriction requires pilots to stay above 3,000 feet, the FAA is working with news organizations and granting exceptions so that pilots can fly at lower altitudes throughout the day. The reason for these requirements is safety, pure and simple. So far, there have been a number of reported near misses over the Gulf due to heavy traffic and pilots flying above the oil spill to give their passengers a closer look.
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AVIATION & AIRPORT LITIGATION

Barnstable, opposition group appeal FAA ruling on Cape Wind. – Erin Ailworth, The Boston Globe, June 18, 2010
The town of Barnstable and an opposition group are appealing the Federal Aviation Administration’s determination that the 130 offshore turbines of the proposed Cape Wind energy project would not significantly interfere with planes or radar. Citing “severe safety concerns,” the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a longtime opponent of the proposed wind farm, and the town, which operates the municipal airport, filed the appeal to request that the FAA reverse its decision, according to a statement.
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AVIATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATION

ATA questions ‘punitive’ approach of proposed climate change legislation. – Geoffrey Thomas, Air Transport World, June 15, 2010
Air Transport Assn. President and CEO James May called into question the discussion draft of the American Power Act, climate change legislation proposed by US Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), saying that while “the nation’s airlines are committed to promoting energy independence and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we have strong concerns about the punitive approach this draft legislation proposes for jet fuel and other refined products.” May expressed disappointment that the senators did not incorporate the airlines’ proposal for extensive aviation-specific targets and measures to flow from an international agreement at ICAO. While including a Sense of the Senate section that notes the importance of addressing aviation GHGs through an international framework under ICAO, the draft legislation still imposes a tax on aviation fuels.
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IATA Seals Strategic Partnership with Ukraine.Airline News Resource, June 16, 2010
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) formalized a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine and the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine with the signing of a Memorandum of Intention (MoI). The MoI was signed in Kiev by IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani, and UkraineTransport Deputy Minister and Chairman of the State Aviation Administration Anatolii Kolisnyk. The MoI outlines seven specific areas of cooperation: safety, security, technology, airport infrastructure, air navigation, ground handling and training.  While in Kiev, Bisignani also met with the CEOs of Ukraine International Airlines and Aerosvit Airlines.
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Congressmen may bring back airline regulation. – Joan Lowy,The Associated Press, June 16, 2010
Restoring financial regulation of the airline industry will be put before Congress if the Justice Department approves a proposed merger of United and Continental airlines, two key House members said Wednesday. At a hearing on the merger, Reps. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chairman of the panel’s aviation subcommittee, expressed concern about the impact the proposed deal could have on consumers and airline workers. Deregulation has been credited with making airline travel affordable for the average American. But Oberstar pointed to the $2.7 billion the airlines earned in baggage fees in 2009 as evidence that consumers are no longer benefiting from the system. He said he believes there’s support in the House for re-regulation.
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U.S., EU Officials to Sign Deal to Boost Cooperation on Air Traffic. – Andy Pasztor and Daniel Michaels, The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2010
The U.S. and the European Union expect to sign as soon as Friday an agreement that will increase cooperation on their new-generation systems for highly efficient air-traffic management, people close to the talks say. Authorities from both sides of the Atlantic have been working for years to develop satellite-based navigation equipment that will enable pilots to fly more direct routes and provide controllers with advanced tools to safely handle many more planes in the same airspace. Until now, the formal U.S. and EU efforts have been separate, though companies and government officials from both sides of the Atlantic have shared concepts. Industry officials around the globe have worried that the world’s two biggest aviation markets could end up developing incompatible solutions. Airline executives have warned that they can’t afford to install multiple systems to fly in different parts of the world.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

U.S., EU to Cooperate on Aviation R&D. – David Tidmarsh, The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2010
The European Union and the U.S. have sealed a preliminary agreement to cooperate on civil aviation research and development, the EU said Friday. Under the deal, the EU and the U.S. will communicate on safety, security, performance, aircraft design and alternative fuels. They will also work together to modernize their air traffic management systems, with a view toward eventual standardization of these systems in both airspaces. The preliminary deal must be approved by Europe’s national governments and the European Parliament. Commission officials hope the agreement could come into force early next year.
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NextGen Research Agreement Moves Forward.FAA News Release, June 18, 2010
The FAA and the European Commission concluded negotiations today on an agreement that will allow the U.S. and Europe to work together on research aimed at providing seamless air traffic services for aircraft flying between the two continents. “Harmonization is the key to the future of air travel over the North Atlantic,” said FAA Chief Operating Officer Hank Krakowski, who signed a Memorandum of Consultations with Daniel Calleja, European Commission Director for Air Transport in Madrid. “This agreement allows us to work together to give the airlines a seamless transition between our airspaces.”
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AVIATION/AIRPORT SAFETY

Flight attendant helps pilot land plane. – Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, June 15, 2010
A flight attendant who has a pilot’s license replaced an ill first officer during a landing at O’Hare International Airport, officials said today. The co-pilot of an American Airlines plane that departed San Francisco on Monday fell sick en route to Chicago, said American spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan. “He was unable to continue his duties and he moved to the passenger cabin,” Fagan said, adding that the flight’s captain checked to see whether any off-duty airline pilots were on board the flight. A female flight attendant advised the captain that she is a commercial pilot and the captain asked her to sit in the right-hand seat in the cockpit, Fagan said. “The flight attendant became the first officer on landing,” she said. “The cockpit crew did an outstanding job handling the situation.”
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Flight attendant turned co-pilot: ‘I don’t feel like a hero’. – Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, June 16, 2010
Patti DeLuna  hadn’t piloted a plane in about 20 years until this week. Back then, it was a small Cessna. On Monday, she quickly stepped up to a Boeing 767 airliner. DeLuna, 61, an American Airlines flight attendant, helped her captain land the jumbo jet at O’Hare International Airport after the flight’s first officer fell ill with stomach flu. “I was the best available (back-up pilot) they had on the plane,” DeLuna said Tuesday from her California home. “I spent a lot of time in the cockpit looking at the flight deck panel and asking questions. My first question to the captain was, ‘Where are the brakes?’ ”
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Business Aviation by the Numbers. – Jeremy R.C. Cox, Forbes, June 17, 2010
Since I was approached to participate in this new informational site at Forbes, I was immediately struck with how should I lead-off with a first posting, just like one always attempts to lead-off on the right foot after leaning against a wall. After some pondering I felt it suitable to start at the beginning, i.e. where the Business Aviation Industry is right this moment in time today. So here goes… Worldwide, there are 31,108 Turbine-Powered, Fixed-Wing Business Aircraft in existence and operation today (19,276 domestic U.S.A, and 11,832 abroad.) When I quote this number, it applies specifically to only ‘purpose-built business aircraft’ that are powered by at least one turbine engine. With the first of them being the Gulfstream G-159 “Gee One-Business-liner” which first rolled out of its production hanger on Long Island back in 1959. Since then, 3,768 subsequent aircraft makes and models have since been written-off, scrapped and taken out of service due to normal attrition. If I add in Helicopters and also the smaller Piston-powered aircraft that are also used for business, then this number increases by 25%, effectively bringing the total business aviation fleet to have ever existed to a number below 50,000 craft.
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AVIATION SECURITY

Registered traveler program relaunches with Clear, iQueue. – Roger Yu, USA Today, June 14, 2010
The business of getting travelers to pay for the front-of-the-line privilege at airport security checkpoints is attempting a comeback. The so-called registered traveler program shut down last year when the most dominant service provider, Clear, folded up shop after running out of money in June. Two companies — a reincarnation of Clear and iQueue, partly backed by Flo Corp. of Chantilly, Va. — are set to launch later this year. They say they’re more viable this time because they have more reliable investors. But winning back customers such as David Katz may hold the key to their success.
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Feds: Woman took 506 pounds of pot to Ohio on jet. – Jeannie Nuss, The Associated Press, June 17, 2010
A California woman traveling with a bodyguard on a private jet was arrested at an Ohio airport with 506 pounds of marijuana stashed in 13 suitcases, federal authorities said. Lisette Lee, the bodyguard and two personal assistants were arrested Monday night after the Drug Enforcement Administration got a tip that the 28-year-old woman was traveling with a suspicious amount of luggage. After the chartered plane landed in Columbus, one of Lee’s assistants and her bodyguard helped baggage workers unload some of the luggage, authorities said. It took two men to carry some of the large suitcases, which were packed with bricks of pot, and three vehicles to carry all the luggage, authorities said.
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Heads Found in 3 Boxes Set for Flight. – Dan Frosch, The New York Times, June 16, 2010
A Southwest Airlines cargo worker last week opened three suspicious boxes at Little Rock National Airport and found 45 human heads, bound for a medical laboratory in Fort Worth. The heads were to be used to help train neurosurgeons. “As you might imagine, this is not something our cargo employees see on an everyday basis,” said Whitney Eichinger, a Southwest spokeswoman. Body parts used for medical purposes are commonly shipped by air. But because the boxes on the Southwest flight were not properly labeled or packaged, the airline alerted the local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration. An aviation agency investigator determined that the Arkansas company that shipped the boxes, JLS Consulting Group LLC, had not broken any federal laws involving the transportation of hazardous materials. But the Pulaski County coroner’s office in Little Rock, which seized the shipment, was investigating whether the company was operating legally.
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AIRCRAFT

FAA grants expanded type inspection authorisation to 747-8F. – Jon Ostrower, FlightGlobal, June 15, 2010
The US FAA has granted Boeing expanded type inspection authorisation (TIA) for its 747-8F flight test programme, clearing the way for regulatory personnel to join flight test activities. The expanded TIA, which was granted on 11 June, represents a significant milestone for the new jumbo freighter’s certification campaign as it moves toward a year-end delivery to Cargolux. The authorisation was granted following the presentation of a conforming article to the FAA, representing the configuration Boeing seeks to certify with regulatory authorities.
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Boeing 747-8 gets initial flight-worthiness OK from FAA.Seattle Times, June 14, 2010
Boeing announced Monday that its newest 747 jumbo jet has successfully completed the initial flight-worthiness phase of flight testing. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Boeing expanded type inspection authorization, a formal milestone that allows FAA personnel to fly on board future test flights along with Boeing technicians who will collect required data. After the new 747-8 model’s first flight in February, Boeing test pilots flew test flights of this largest version of the iconic humped wide-body airplane out of Moses Lake in central Washington. In April, Boeing began shifting the base of operations for 747-8 flight tests to Palmdale, Calif. Two of the three test planes are now in California.
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Boeing to boost 737 production.Associated Press, June 15, 2010
Boeing Co said Tuesday it would increase the production rate on its narrow-body 737 model to 35 planes per month in early 2012. The production rate increase is the second announced for the hot-selling, single-aisle plane this year. Boeing said in May that it would boost production to 34 per month from 31.5 per month, citing strong demand. Boeing, the world’s second-largest plane maker, said the second production rate increase “acknowledges the anticipated long-term growth in this market segment.” “We’ve managed our current backlog efficiently, and increasing rate is the product of our comprehensive planning and preparation,” said Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will continue to monitor demand as we go forward.”
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Planes can control the weather, say scientists.Alternative News , June 16, 2010
“A few years ago scientists were surprised by the sight of two planes carving a hole through a cloud—which then began spewing snow. A new study spawned by the accidental discovery solves the mystery behind so-called hole-punch clouds and explains how airplanes can change the weather, at least on an extremely local level. Scientists have studied hole-punch clouds since the 1940s and have long suspected that planes play a role in their formation. (See pictures of a potentially new type of cloud.) Now, ice microphysicist Andrew Heymsfield and colleagues have found that aircraft really can create the odd clouds. Their research also uncovered something totally new: that aircraft can unleash precipitation by carving the cloud tunnels, which had never before been observed.
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Hot Ticket for the World’s Biggest Passenger Jet. – Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2010
Before they ever leave New York’s Kennedy Airport for Paris, tourists pose to take pictures in front of it, as though it were the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. But this is not a monument, just a monumental airplane. Though it has been a slow-seller with airlines, the $300 million Airbus A380 has been a hit with travelers. Jason Digby and his wife Susanne came to New York a day early from Mississippi just to connect to the double-deck jet that is the largest passenger airplane in the sky. Even after 32 months, enthusiasts still seek out the airplane with the giant forehead, and airlines say it draws stronger bookings and higher prices than other wide-body jets.
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Will Consolidation Bring the A380 to U.S. Airlines? – Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2010
Conventional wisdom in the airline industry is that the Airbus A380 super-jumbo is a couple of hundred passengers too big for any U.S. airline. Many of the biggest international airlines have ordered the A380, and a few are already flying it to New York and Los Angeles. The giant plane, typically outfitted with about 500 seats including spacious business-class and first-class cabins, has been a hit with travelers, as this week’s Middle Seat shows. But it’s been a slow-seller for Airbus. And a no-seller among U.S. airlines. (A $300 million price tag is another big hurdle for financially strapped U.S. airlines.)
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AIRLINES

Airline passenger satisfaction up, survey says. – Charisse Jones, USA Today, June 15, 2010
Passenger satisfaction with the nation’s airlines is up compared with last year, but the gains may start to slip away as soon as this summer, a survey of the industry out today says. Customer satisfaction rose 3.1% over last year, according to the American Customer Satisfaction index survey. It was the U.S. airline industry’s highest score on the index’s scale in five years. “Airline passenger satisfaction has gone up, and the airlines are doing a better job in creating better customer service,” says Claes Fornell, head of the index and a professor at the University of Michigan‘s Ross Business School. “A good deal of that is actually due to the fact that there’s fewer passengers, prices have been reasonably stable, and, I think above all, travelers have become much more competent in shopping for deals online.”
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How should airlines accommodate obese passengers? – George Hobica, USA Today, June 15, 2010
Now that the federally-mandated three-hour tarmac delay rule is in place, and hasn’t brought down the airline industry, maybe Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood needs to have his Department of Transportation address a far more common aviation crisis: the growing number of people who are too fat to fit into tiny airplane seats and the discomfort they cause their seat mates. Without a doubt, Marsha St. Clair, a Los Angeles-based retiree, would agree. St. Clair flew recently with her busband and sat next to a woman who was so obese that she “spilled over” into a third of St. Clair’s middle seat on a Boeing 757, forcing her to remain in full body contact for the duration of the five-hour flight. “I paid for an entire seat, but only got less than two thirds of it,” she says. “Please tell me that there is an FAA regulation regarding this situation.”
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United/Continental ‘Integration Management Office’ has first meeting.Air Transport World, June 15, 2010
United Airlines said in a message to its employees that the UA/Continental Airlines Integration Management Office met formally Friday in Chicago with “leaders from both companies to begin outlining the process for integration planning for our proposed merger.” UA and CO announced last month that they had reached agreement on a merger to create the world’s largest airline by RPKs, serving 370 destinations in 59 countries with 692 mainline aircraft. UA Executive VP and CAO Pete McDonald and Lori Gobillot, CO staff VP and assistant general counsel, were put in charge of an Integration Management Office responsible for day-to-day planning for the merger (ATW Daily News, May 20).
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United Airlines expects higher Q2 unit revenue. – Karen Jacobs, Reuters, June 15, 2010
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, UAL said it expects consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile to rise 26 percent to 27 percent year over year in the second quarter. This measure was up 19 percent at UAL in the first quarter. The airline said second-quarter capacity, as measured in available seat miles, is expected to be up 0.9 percent on a consolidated basis from a year earlier. In late April, the company had forecast that second-period capacity could rise as much as 1.3 percent. The company also said it expected to end the second quarter with an unrestricted cash balance of about $4.8 billion.
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Asia airlines’ recovery stronger than peers elsewhere. – Myra P. Saefong, Market Watch, June 14, 2010
Asian airlines will likely continue to see a stronger recovery than their global peers, as passenger and cargo volumes grow, unabated by concerns over economic slowdowns in Europe and the United States. Earnings recovery for Asian airlines started in September 2009, but “hiccups in the forms of volcanic-ash-cloud disruptions in Iceland and over much of Europe, concerns about a renewed economic downturn in Europe, and a stronger U.S. dollar have revived doubts over the sustainability of the recovery,” analysts led by Jim Wong at Nomura said in a research note. That could present a “buying opportunity” for investors in the Asian airlines sector, given that “the major earnings driver of most of [those carriers] is Asia-based demand,” they said.
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Alaska Air Shakes Up Management. – Susan Carey, The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2010
Alaska Air Group Inc., parent of Alaska Airlines and the Horizon Air commuter carrier, said it is shuffling its top management in a bid to position Horizon for new opportunities and help it reach its goal of producing a 10% return on invested capital. The Seattle-based company said Glenn Johnson, formerly the group’s chief financial officer, was elected as president of Horizon. Mr. Johnson, age 51 and a 28-year veteran of
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Spirit Airlines, striking pilots to resume talks Tuesday. – Julie Patel and Mike Clary, The Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2010
The head of the Air Line Pilots Assn. at Spirit Airlines said Monday that new negotiations had been scheduled in a bid to settle a strike that began Saturday. Talks will resume Tuesday, said Capt. Sean Creed, who represents about 500 pilots at the discount airline. Pilots struck at 5 a.m. Saturday after three years of negotiations and help from federal mediators failed to narrow differences over how much pilots should be paid to reach parity with pilots at competing airlines. It was the first significant strike in the airline industry in five years. Spirit Airlines Inc. said it would cancel its flights scheduled for Wednesday, the fifth consecutive day in which the carrier will not fly.
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Stranded Spirit customers tell their tales of woe. – Ben Mutzabuagh, USA Today, June 14, 2010
Thousands of Spirit Airlines passengers remain stranded as a pilot strike at the carrier heads into its third day. With the schedule grounded at least through Tuesday, many customers say they now must either wait out the strike or pay hundreds for a last-minute ticket on another carrier. The Associated Press writes Spirit “said it is refunding fares for flights Saturday through Tuesday … as it tries to get its passengers booked onto other airlines. But people who needed to replace their Spirit tickets found the cost of same-day fares on other airlines was two- to three times more than their tickets.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Spirit Airlines makes a deal to end pilots’ strike. – Joshua Freed, The Associated Press, June 16, 2010
Spirit Airlines made a deal with its pilots on Wednesday that will end their five-day-old walkout, the union said. The airline said it will resume flights on Friday. Pilots were working out a back-to-work agreement and technically remain on strike until that is done, said Andy Nelson, the vice chairman of the council for the Spirit branch of the Air Line Pilots Association. “Our intention is to help get the airline back up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said. Spirit had already canceled its Thursday flights before the agreement was reached.
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Spirit Airlines reports scattered cancellations, delays. – Jorge Valens, Sun Sentinel, June 17, 2010
Spirit Airlines resumed its full flying schedule Friday, but is seeing some delays and cancellations as it recovers from a six-day pilots strike. As of 11:55 a.m., all arriving Spirit flights at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are on time. However, the airline’s departure schedule lists eight delayed flights and three canceled flights, to New York; Nassau, Bahamas; and San José, Costa Rica. Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said passengers on canceled flights will be accommodated on other flights.
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U.S. Airlines See ‘Dramatic’ Business Travel Recovery. – Mary Schlangenstein, Bloomberg Business Week, June 15, 2010
Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines, the largest U.S. carriers, forecast second-quarter gains of at least 17 percent on a benchmark for industry revenue as rising demand buoys fares. Passenger revenue for each seat flown a mile will climb about 20 percent, Atlanta-based Delta said today at a Bank of America-Merrill Lynch conference in New York. American parent AMR Corp. said revenue on the same basis from its main jet operations would increase at least 17 percent. Analysts watch so-called unit revenue because it measures what airlines earn on each available seat. After cutting fares and capacity when business fliers dwindled in the recession, Delta, American and other big carriers are flying fuller planes and charging more for tickets.
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Nothing Simple: American Unbundles Boarding. – George Dooley, Travel Agent Central, June 15, 2010
Flying may have become simpler— or more complex— with American Airlines‘ newly announced Your Choice service option that impacts boarding, flight changes and standby status. Your Choice provides key services intended to make the customer travel experience even more personalized, convenient, cost-effective and flexible than ever before, American says. But it comes at a price. As part of the initial Your Choice offering, American is introducing a Boarding and Flexibility Package. More Your Choice services will be offered in the future. Customers can purchase the Boarding and Flexibility Package for travel within the continental United States when they purchase tickets at American’s web site, AA.com.
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Virgin America considers Mexico route. – Eric Young, San Francisco Business Times, June 15, 2010
As it prepares to begin service to Canada, Virgin America Inc. is starting to think about adding flights to Mexico. Virgin America executives have not said which city in Mexico they want to serve, but hope to have more details in coming months. Burlingame-based Virgin America tried to enter Mexico before. In 2008 the airline applied to fly to San Jose del Cabo from Los Angeles. The route was up for grabs after Frontier Airlines said it would stop flying there.
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Delta to Improve its New York Presence. – Ted Reed, The Street, June 15, 2010
Delta CEO Ed Bastian acknowledged Tuesday that the world’s biggest airline is at a disadvantage in the world’s biggest travel market, but he said change is coming. Speaking at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch investor conference, Bastian said, “We have a facility issue at [Kennedy Airport]. It is the worst facility that we operate system-wide. We are working on a solution.”
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American Frowns on US Air Merger. – Ted Reed, The Street, June 15, 2010
Airline industry buzz has it that American(AMR) and US Airways(LCC) ought to merge, but American CEO Gerard Arpey is apparently not buying it. “At a certain point, [you] have enough scale,” Arpey said Tuesday at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch investor conference. “[Then] you’re just creating more scale over and over again. That’s not something we see as being shareholder-friendly.”
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Airline cards bag the baggage fee. – Brian J. O’Connor, The Detroit News, June 15, 2010
The ever-changing world of airline fares and fees is getting a little more confusing — but maybe a lot cheaper — thanks to the newest travel perk: free baggage check with an airline’s credit card. Continental Airlines introduced the benefit last fall on its Chase credit card, followed by Delta with its premium Skymiles American Express card. Both — a $50 charge on a cards waive the fee for a flier’s first checked bag round trip — for up to nine people traveling together on the cardmember’s reservation. It sounds like a good deal, but there’s a catch: another fee. In the case of Continental, it’s the $85 annual fee for the OnePass Plus card, and for Delta it’s $95 for the Gold Skymiles card.
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Baggage services now catering to budget travelers. – Sarah Pascarella, USA Today, June 17, 2010
Nowadays, baggage is a hot commodity. Long gone are the days when you could show up for a vacation with two suitcases in tow and check them for free. Last year, the airlines made $7.8 billion in fees, a good portion of that revenue coming from checked bags. In short, they’re here to stay. The big secret? Believe it or not, you now may be able to get a better deal by shipping your bags ahead of you. Just as the days of free checked bags are consigned to the past (with the exception of Southwest and JetBlue, of course), so too are the days of expensive ship-ahead options. Best yet, by avoiding the baggage fees at the airport, you can also enjoy the freedom of traveling unencumbered. For travelers who have small children, have mobility issues, or just travel frequently, these new services can have immeasurable value.
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Alaska/Horizon change baggage fees. – Carol Pucci, The Seattle Times, June 17, 2010
Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will begin charging most passengers $20 to check a first bag, up from $15. The airlines will reduce the prices they had been charging to check a second and third bag. Passengers checking one, two or three bags will pay $20 per bag. That’s $5 less than previously charged for the second bag and a $30 decrease for the third. The changes go into effect today. Charges for the first two checked bags are waived for first-class passengers and certain mileage plan members as well as passengers traveling within Alaska and to or from Mexico City and Guadalajara.
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Horizon drops Redmond-LA flight Central Oregon passengers losing So. Cal. connection on Aug. 22.The Bulletin, June 16, 2010
Horizon Air announced Wednesday that it’s canceling its daily flight between Redmond and Los Angeles, effective Aug. 22. The direct flight was popular in the summer, said Horizon Air spokesman Dan Russo, but there wasn’t enough year-round demand to be profitable. The flight leaves Redmond Airport at 7:05 a.m. and arrives at Los Angeles International Airport at 9:30 a.m., and serves a mix of business and leisure travelers, Russo said. The return flight leaves Los Angeles at 7:40 p.m. and arrives in Redmond at 9:59 p.m. Customers who already bought tickets on flights after Aug. 21 will be accommodated on other flights or offered a full refund, according to a Horizon Air news release. Passengers flying to Los Angeles after the change can fly through Portland, which would add about an hour or more to the trip depending on the time of day. Horizon Air started service to Los Angeles in August 2006, Russo said.
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LA to NO Nonstop Planned by Southwest.ABC News, June 16, 2010
Southwest Airlines Co. is starting nonstop service between Los Angeles and New Orleans. The airline also is adding another daily nonstop flight between Dallas Love Field and New Orleans. The Los Angeles service begins Nov. 7, while the Dallas service begins Nov. 8. At that time, there will be seven Dallas-to-New Orleans nonstop flights. Southwest says it will also use the Los Angeles flight to allow passengers to connect to the San Francisco Bay area and the Pacific Northwest.
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Continental Airlines CEO Criticized for Airline Safety Remark. – Athan Kompos, WGRZ News, June 17, 2010
Continental Airlines CEO, Jeffery Smisek is being criticized for comments he made before the House Aviation subcommittee on Wednesday. Smisek, told the committee, he was not aware Colgan Airlines had not fully trained the pilots of flight 3407 and that it was the responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration to check.  Colgan flew the plane under the Continental name. It crashed in Clarence Center in February of 2009, killing 49 people on board and one person on the ground.
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United merger executives cite foreign, low-cost threats. – Deepa Seetharaman, Reuters, June 18, 2010
United Airlines and Continental Airlines (CAL.N) need to merge to be profitable in competing with low-cost and foreign carriers, executives of the two U.S. major airlines said on Thursday.  “Today, international competitors have emerged and powerful new entrants have continued to gain ground,” Glenn Tilton, chief executive of UAL Corp’s (UAUA.O) United, said during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. “The merged Continental/United will allow us, as a U.S. carrier, to compete effectively,” Continental CEO Jeffery Smisek said, adding that the merger would make the combined airline more “financially viable” than either carrier alone.
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JAL May Need $1.1 Billion More in Aid. – Yoshio Takahashi, Wall Street journal, June 18, 2010
Japan Airlines Corp. will likely need another 100 billion yen, or roughly $1.1 billion, in financial aid as it now expects larger write-down losses from asset valuations, a person familiar with the matter said Friday. The airline, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, is preparing to submit a restructuring plan to the Tokyo District Court. But JAL and the state-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan are “reassessing the value of assets such as fleets,” the person said.  The Tokyo-based carrier last month postponed by two months the submission.
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Airlines look to increase capacity in the second half of 2010. – Michael Fabey, Travel Weekly, June 18, 2010
Watching the recesion slowly vanish in their rear window, airline executives said this week that they expected to restore capacity, break into new markets and expand existing frequencies in the latter half of the year, providing that fuel prices remain in check. Both low-cost carriers and network airlines cut capacity significantly from the last half of 2008 through all of 2009 and even into the first months of this year. It started as a reaction to fuel-price hikes and then continued as the recession dampened demand. But now, carrier executives said their bookings are returning to the levels of two years ago, and they expect to put more seats in the air in the second half of 2010.
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