Aviation and Airport Development Newsletter, August 2, 2010, vol. 2, no. 8

Vol. 2, No. 8, August 2, 2010

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

Bob Hope Airport getting new noise monitoring systems.L.A. Now, July 25, 2010
The system that monitors noise from Bob Hope Airport is about to get an overhaul for the first time in 30 years. The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday tapped Lochard Corp., an international airport logistics firm, to replace its aging noise-monitoring gear. The cost for the new equipment at 20 sites around the city is $737,000. After a year, the airport will also pay Lochard at least $92,000 a year for maintenance and warranties, according to the agreement. Airport officials said the existing system dates back to 1980 and works well, but the manufacturer has declared it obsolete. “We’ve had great success with it,” said airport environmental programs director Mark Handyment. But with the equipment out of production, “you are down to spare parts to keep your system alive.”
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Atlanta Hartsfield airport puts Aerobahn plane locator to use. – Roger Yu, U.S.A. Today, July 25, 2010
Atlanta Hartsfield wants to know where its planes are at all times. To cut down on long delays and other “irregular operations,” the world’s busiest airport will begin using a new “surface management system” early next month. Using a set of sensors and antennas that can detect transponder codes emitted by aircraft, the system displays a bird’s-eye view of the airport on monitors. The Web-based graphical display shows the location of all planes, including the ones parked at gates and those circling airspace within 10 miles. “We had nothing like this before,” says Paul Meyer, the airport’s operations director. Previously, airport operators “looked out the window” to locate planes, he says.
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Rhode Island Airport Corp. and Contractors Fined for Reporting Violations at TF Green Airport.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 26, 2010
Rhode Island Airport Corporation and its demolition contractors, O.R. Colan Associates of Florida, LLC and The Jones Payne Group, Inc., of Mass., have agreed to pay $25,000 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos. Jones Payne will pay the full amount of the $25,000 penalty for its failure to provide EPA with prior written notification of its intent to demolish 146 residences during a Noise Management Program and voluntary land acquisition at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I. From September 2004 to December 2008, Respondents demolished 146 residences. Although the demolition or renovation of a single-family residence is exempt from Asbestos NESHAP requirements, the exemption does not apply where the demolition is part of a larger commercial project. In accordance with federal regulations, as the owner or operator of a demolition activity, RIAC, Colan and Jones Payne were required to provide the Administrator with written notice of intention to demolish or renovate prior to the commencement of the activity. Respondents failed to provide EPA with the required notice, although the State of Rhode Island was notified.
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Hillsboro and port to appeal airport ruling. – Kurt Eckert, Oregon Live, July 26, 2010
The city of Hillsboro and the Port of Portland said Wednesday they will file an appeal of the recent state Land Use Board of Appeals decision that an airport zoning ordinance oversteps their constitutional authority. Under Ordinance 5926, passed Jan. 19 by the Hillsboro City Council, 7,000 property owners near the airport had to agree to easements to allow the port to subject their property to noise, dirt and emissions. The port also would have had the right to prohibit trees and buildings over a certain height, to enter property to mark structures or to prohibit property owners from installing certain equipment.
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Continental tests ‘self-boarding’ at Houston airport. – Roger Yu, USA Today, July 26, 2010
Boarding a plane without an agent to inspect or take your pass has arrived in the USA. Continental Airlines has confirmed it’s testing the procedure at a gate at its hub in Houston Intercontinental. It’s the first experiment at what’s called “self-boarding” in the U.S. In self-boarding, passengers — much like customers of the New York City subway— swipe their boarding passes at a kiosk reader at the gate. That opens a turnstile or door to the jet-bridge. Although an agent isn’t there to take the pass, one is typically present to handle problems and other customer service tasks.
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FAA Marks the Opening of Recovery Act Funded Airfield Upgrade at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.FAA News Release, July 28, 2010
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration celebrated the opening of an airfield upgrade at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport paid for with $3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funds. “Airports are critical to our nation’s economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Recovery Act dollars are helping to make needed safety enhancements and upgrades at airports all across the country.” Recovery Act money helped Chattanooga Airport complete this project. The new aircraft parking area will help relieve congestion at the airport.
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Chicago still circling Midway Airport lease. – Paul Merrion, Crain’s Chicago Business, July 30, 2010
Chicago continues to study privatizing Midway Airport, but no deal appears imminent. Since a $2.5-billion, 99-year lease of the Southwest Side airfield collapsed in April 2009 during a global credit market crisis, the city has repeatedly told the Federal Aviation Administration it’s still interested in privatization. Doing so preserves the city’s right to lease Midway, the only large hub airport that the FAA would allow to be leased under the agency’s pilot program. In recent months, investors have shown renewed interest in airport deals. In June, the California Public Employees Retirement System agreed to pay $155 million for a 13% stake in London’s Gatwick Airport, and airports in Russia and Albania successfully completed privatizations this year. Deals are under way in South Korea, Brazil and several other countries.
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Bankrupt and Merging Airlines Taking Their Toll on Airport Budgets.Allanwire Blog, July 29, 2010
The $110 plus price per barrel of crude oil has raised diesel fuel over $4.00 per gallon, gasoline over $3.50 and Jet fuel over $3.35; all this is taking a toll on our economy. Some industries are at the breaking point, for instance the Airline Industry. The following airlines have filed bankruptcy since oil broke out past $110 per barrel: Aloha Air; ATA; Skybus. Although all these airlines were having other issues, the high jet fuel costs were the deal breaker or the straw that broke their fuselages. Other larger airlines having issues and challenges have agreed to merge, with FTC, Federal Trade Commission permission, which they should not withhold. The two most recent airlines to agree to merge are Delta and Northwest. Now there is talk of United and Continental Airline merging.
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FAA

New Aircraft Registration Process Set To Begin.Aviation Week, July 27, 2010
FAA last week issued a final rule that will result in a sweeping overhaul of the aircraft registration process in the U.S. beginning Oct. 1. The requirements have raised a number of industry concerns, and a group of title lawyers are slated to meet with the agency Wednesday (July 28) with a lengthy list of questions. The new rule will terminate the registration of all civil aircraft registered before Oct. 1 and will require their re-registration on a staggered schedule over the next three years. Once re-registered, aircraft registrations will be up for renewal every three years. FAA will collect a fee of $5 for each registration and renewal, and the agency will cancel the N numbers of aircraft that are not re-registered or renewed. This rule also eliminates the current Triennial Aircraft Registration Report Program, and provides clear time limits and standards for canceling aircraft with registrations that have ended and for which no new registration application has been made or completed. It also makes several administrative changes to conform the regulation to statute and current registration practices. In enacting the rule, FAA says the new registration system would provide more up-to-date data and better information about the state of the aviation industry, long a goal of government and law enforcement agencies. FAA estimates that about one-third of the 357,000 registered aircraft records are inaccurate, and that many aircraft associated with those records are likely ineligible for registration.
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The FAA is Working to Keep U.S. Runways Safe.Federal Aviation Administration, July 28, 2010
Pilots can fly into Wittman Regional Airport this week for the EAA AirVenture Fly-In knowing that the FAA is working to keep U.S. runways safe. The U.S. aviation system continues to see a decrease in the number and severity of surface incidents and runway incursions. The FAA recorded a 50 percent decrease in the number of serious runway incursions in fiscal year 2009, compared to the previous year. Considering the amount of activity on U.S. runways — the many takeoffs and landings and the movement of vehicles and people across runways — this is great progress. But there is always more we can do. The FAA’s Runway Safety Program continues to work closely with domestic and international aviation stakeholders to keep improving runway safety and to reduce the number of incursions. The Next Generation Air Transportation System or NextGen already is playing a role in runway safety. Technology such as ADS-B, ASDE-X, and Runway Status Lights will continue to make runways even safer. The FAA is also keenly focused on working with general aviation pilots on runway safety issues, because GA pilots are involved in nearly 80 percent of runway incursions. The agency is working with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to reach its more than 400,000 member pilots and flight instructors. It also has launched national runway safety promotional campaigns aimed at pilots and vehicle drivers. One is called “If You Cross the Line, You’ve Crossed the Line,” highlighting the dangers of unsafe taxiing or driving. The FAA and AOPA also have created online courses to educate pilots on runway safety.
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FAA Updates ‘Navigable Airspace’ Rules.Radio World, July 28, 2010
Those who own or plan towers, take note: The Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation have updated federal rules concerning the “Safe, Efficient Use and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace.”  The change has been published in the Federal Register, amending regulations governing objects that may affect areas where aircraft may be. It takes effect in January. “These rules have not been revised in several decades, and the FAA has determined it is necessary to update the regulations, incorporate case law and legislative action, and simplify the rule language,” it wrote. “These changes will improve safety and promote the efficient use of the National Airspace System.”
The tweaks were based on a notice of proposed rulemaking issued in 2006 in which the FAA proposed to establish notification requirements and obstruction standards for transmitting on certain frequencies and to require proponents to file a notice of planned construction or changes in structures near certain private airports.
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FAA didn’t oversee Northwest Airlines as it should have, report says. – Terry Maxon, Dallas Morning News, July 23, 2010
In 2008, a Federal Aviation Administration inspector alleged that the FAA wasn’t overseeing Northwest Airlines properly, and wasn’t making Northwest comply with airworthiness directives. On Thursday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent President Obama a letter saying that the whistleblower was right. In its announcement, the OCS said: The investigation revealed that, despite Northwest’s history of AD non-compliance for more than a decade and current trends reflecting an increase in incidents of non-compliance, FAA inspectors continued to work collaboratively with Northwest to resolve deficiencies, allowing the carrier to submit numerous voluntary disclosures of non-compliance, and closing enforcement cases primarily by issuing letters of correction rather than seeking civil penalties. The report found that these actions were “not adequate,” and in many instances were contrary to FAA guidance. The report further concluded that, given that AD non-compliance issues were continuing, the status of Northwest’s compliance with more than 1,000 ADs was unknown.
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AVIATION & AIRPORT LITIGATION

FAA Proposes $230,000 Civil Penalty against Continental Airlines.Federal Aviation Administration, July 27, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a civil penalty of $230,000 against Continental Airlines Inc., of Houston for allegedly operating a Boeing 767 on 22 revenue flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations. The FAA alleges that on Aug. 12, 2008, Continental replaced the nose landing gear wheel and tire assembly on a B-767, but failed to install the required axle washer despite warnings in the maintenance manual and on the tire assembly itself. The warning said failing to install the washer could lead to failure of the wheel bearing. FAA inspectors discovered the violation during a records check and noted three identical earlier violations. Continental has 30 days from receipt of the civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.
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Northwest Airlines LLC Agrees to Plead Guilty for Fixing Prices on Air Cargo Shipments.Department of Justice News Release, July 30, 2010
Northwest Airlines LLC has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $38 million criminal fine for its role, through Northwest Airlines Cargo, in a conspiracy to fix prices in the air transportation industry, the Department of Justice announced today. According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Northwest Airlines Cargo, which is no longer in operation, engaged in a conspiracy to fix the cargo rates charged to customers in the United States and elsewhere for international air cargo shipments from at least July 2004 until at least February 2006.   Under the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Northwest Airlines LLC has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation.
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AVIATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATION

On plane crash anniversary, mayor says France must improve air safety. – Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN World, July 25, 2010
Ten years after 113 people died when a Concorde jet crashed into a hotel outside Paris, local officials say the country’s government has not done enough to protect people living near the airport. “Seventy-five percent of air accidents have happened in taking off or landing in densely populated areas,” Gonesse Mayor Jean-Pierre Blazy said in a statement. The town of Gonesse, located north of Paris, was scheduled to hold a memorial service Sunday to honor the 113 victims who died when the Concorde jet crashed there on July 25, 2000.
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Senate Mounts Effort to Pass FAA Bill Before Recess.CQ Politics, July 26, 2010
With the clock ticking toward an end-of-month expiration date, the Senate’s Democratic leadership is still holding out hope that an FAA reauthorization bill can be completed this week. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., said the Senate “could still try” to complete the bill this week. And a senior Senate Republican aide said negotiations are still ongoing. “Everything that everyone’s telling me is they think they can wrap it up, possibly,” the GOP aide said. “People are still talking.” But the House has already started preparing an extension — something even the most optimistic say may be necessary, especially since the House plans to leave for the August recess next week, a week ahead of the Senate. A spokesman for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, confirmed that the panel is preparing an FAA extension. He could not give any further details, such as how long the extension might run.
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Labor Spat Stalls Bill To Improve Air Safety. – Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2010
In the 17 months since a commuter plane crashed into a suburban house outside Buffalo, N.Y., killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground, Kevin Kuwik has visited Washington 32 times to push for more-stringent training and rest time for pilots. Mr. Kuwik, whose 30-year-old girlfriend, Lorin Maurer, died in the crash, has buttonholed lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in district offices as far away as Minnesota, passing out a business card emblazoned with Ms. Maurer’s photo. But though his cause has won sympathy and support, the proposals he backs have become just one of many air-safety initiatives stymied by a struggle over union organizing. The union struggle has stalled action on a wide-ranging bill whose main purpose is to fund the Federal Aviation Administration through 2012, but which also includes pilot-safety provisions and money to modernize air-traffic control.
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FAA reauthorization stalled, extension likely. – Vicki Needham, The Hill, July 27, 2010
Lawmakers will probably need to pass another extension to fund the Federal Aviation Administration as negotiations on a final bill stall out.  Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told The Hill on Tuesday that an extension appeared inevitable because of disagreements over adding long-distance slots at Reagan National Airport. The latest extension on the measure runs through Aug. 1.  House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) is expected to offer an extension on Wednesday but details weren’t available on Tuesday night.  Virginia Sens. Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D) are opposed to adding any additional long-distance slots at the airport because of concerns that larger planes needed to fly coast-to-coast would create more noise.  Western lawmakers have pushed for expansion of the airport’s so-called perimeter rule of 1,250 miles. If eased, the airport could see for the first time nonstop flights to cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Rockefeller said last week he had hoped to have a bill ready before the August recess but a final has yet to emerge.
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Lawmakers Might Move Aviation Safety Provisions Separately.CQ Politics, July 27, 2010
Negotiators on a broad overhaul of federal aviation policy are discussing breaking out aviation safety language and adding it to a short-term extension, as chances for moving the full bill this week dwindle. Such a move would placate families of those who died when a Colgan Air regional jet crashed on approach to the Buffalo, N.Y., airport Feb. 12, 2009, killing 50 people. The families have exerted enormous pressure on lawmakers to finish the broader bill (HR 1586) that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and modernize the air traffic control system. But House-Senate negotiations on that larger measure have stalled over unrelated policy issues, primarily whether to change the labor laws that govern Tennessee-based FedEx Corp., and whether to expand long-distance flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Congress must act this week to keep the aviation system operating; the latest in a number of short-term extensions of FAA authority expires Aug. 1, and the House is leaving at week’s end for a six-week summer recess.
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Congressmen Pursuing Airport Curfew Legislation.San Fernando Valley Business Journal, July 28, 2010
A last-minute addition to pending legislation to fund the Federal Aviation Administration would impose a mandatory curfew on Bob Hope and Van Nuys airports. Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-Glendale), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Howard Berman (D-North Hollywood) are attempting to get the add on with the support of the cities of Los Angeles. The trio wrote a letter to chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure seeking support for the legislation. “We deeply appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Schiff, Sherman and Berman,” said Burbank City Manager Michael Flad. “We know that securing federal legislation is not a sprint. It will be a long and strenuous marathon and we are pleased they will be our partners in this important work.” In November, the FAA turned down an application for a mandatory 10 p.m. and 6:59 a.m. curfew (except for emergency and medical flights) at Bob Hope, saying the airport had failed to meet four of the six criteria.
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Congress Set to Pass Aviation Safety Bill. – Chris Caya, WNED Buffalo, July 28, 2010
The Families of Flight 3407 appear to be headed to victory after more than a year of pushing for new aviation safety standards. The Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. James Oberstar, says he will introduce a bill with the safety improvements later today. Passage in the House and Senate is expected by the end of the week. Republican Congressman Chris Lee says the bill includes all the measures the families of the victims have been fighting for. Lee says the Families have been working tirelessly since the February 2009 crash that killed 50 people in Clarence Center. “This would really be a feather in the cap of the families who have been trying to find something positive out of this tragedy,” Lee told WNED News.
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Congress ready to pass aviation safety measures. – Joan Lowy, Associated Press, July 28, 2010
Congress is getting ready to pass tough new aviation safety measures that were developed in response to a deadly commuter plane crash in western New York in early 2009, a key lawmaker said Wednesday. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said in an interview that he was introducing a bill with the safety improvements on Wednesday. He said he expects House passage on Thursday and Senate passage soon afterward. Besides the safety measures, the bill extends authority for Federal Aviation Administration programs through Sept. 30, the end of the current budget year. Without that extension, the FAA would have to shutdown on Sunday when current program authority expires.
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Senate appropriators want to cut FAA NextGen funding. – David Perera, Fierce Government, July 28, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic modernization effort known as NextGen is set for a budget reduction in the coming fiscal year if the Senate Appropriations Committee gets its way. Mark ups from both the House and Senate appropriations committees on a bill to fund the Transportation Department in fiscal 2011, which starts Oct. 1, both make reductions in some areas of the FAA request, with the Senate committee giving the FAA request a considerable trim. The House committee made reductions of $7.2 million, but more than made up for it by adding $21.3 million for ADS-B implementation.
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FAA Reauthorization To Be Extended Again. – Adrian Schofield, Aviation Week, July 29, 2010
The FAA reauthorization bill has been delayed yet again, with the House proposing a one-month extension for the agency’s operating authority, and the Senate is expected to follow. The extension provision was filed yesterday and will probably be voted on by the House today. The deadline to pass a long-term reauthorization bill is Aug. 1, but it has become increasingly obvious that disagreements between the House and Senate—and within the Senate—make this target unrealistic (DAILY, July 27). If approved, this will be the 15th extension of the FAA’s operating authority since the last full authorization expired more than two years ago. By setting a one-month duration, lawmakers are signaling they will make one more attempt to finish the long-term bill before the November elections.
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FAA Reauthorization: Extension to Clear House with Safety Measures Added.Rotor News, July 29, 2010
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to clear a bill today, Thursday July 30, extending the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for two months. The extension will include language strengthening aviation safety. The safety measures contained therein would require that every commercial passenger airline pilot hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, thereby increasing the minimum training from 250 flight hours to 1,500 flight hours to fly a commercial passenger plane. It would be required of the FAA to update the minimum standards to earn an ATP. In addition, the extension would require the FAA to implement National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations dealing with pilot training skills, including that pilots are trained on stall and upset recovery and that airlines offer remedial training to pilots if necessary. The two-month extension will also contain a mandate that the FAA create a database of each pilot’s comprehensive training record that includes licenses held, aircraft ratings, check rides and other proficiency tests. New pilot flight time and duty rules would have to be updated by the FAA within one year.
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House passes bill to boost commuter airline safety. – Joan Lowy, Associated Press, July 29, 2010
The House has passed far-reaching aviation safety legislation developed in response to a deadly commuter airline crash in western New York last year. The safety measures were approved without opposition late Thursday, with Senate action expected on Friday. The bill is an attempt to force airlines to hire more experienced pilots, investigate their previous employment more thoroughly and train them better. It also would require the Federal Aviation Administration to overhaul regulations governing pilot work schedules. The bill’s impetus was the crash of a Continental Connection flight near Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009. All 49 people aboard and one man in a house were killed. An investigation faulted actions by the flight’s pilots.
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Congress Passes Slimmed-Down FAA Reauthorization Bill. – Andy Pasztor and Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2010
U.S. House and Senate leaders, deadlocked over a comprehensive FAA bill including plans for air-traffic control improvements, have compromised on a slimmed-down measure to enhance airliner safety. The legislation raises minimum experience and training requirements for new airline pilots. It also requires that before purchasing tickets on the Internet, passengers must be specifically informed when a flight will be operated by a commuter carrier operating on behalf of a larger airline. The bill was passed by the House shortly late Thursday night and the Senate on Friday.
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New Air Safety Bill Passes Senate; 3407 Families Celebrate.WHAM TV, July 30, 2010
Friday morning, The U.S. Senate announced final passage of the new Aviation Safety Bill which represents a major victory for the families of the victims of Flight 3407. The bill was approved late Thursday night by the U.S. House of Representatives, and will now go to President Obama for his signature. It includes new safety provisions, including recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as well as requirements to increase training hours for commercial pilots. Air travelers will notice some of the changes, while others are designed to make sure crews have the training, salary, and rest schedules necessary to ensure safety.
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Senate Extends FAA Programs.Senatus, July 30, 2010
Senators today approved the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act (H.R. 5900) by unanimous consent. According to a press release, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) “said Friday he’s disappointed Congress is not yet ready to give final approval to a comprehensive, long term reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but welcomes the temporary extension, approved by the Senate Friday.” Dorgan is Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. A press release from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who is Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, notes the major provisions in this bill:
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GA Groups Take Aim At EPA Lead Crackdown. – Fred George, Aviation Weekly, July 29, 2010
The Experimental Aircraft Association and four other general aviation trade associations Wednesday laid out their strategy to deal with the Environmental Protection Agency’s April 28 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which collects information that eventually could lead to a ban on leaded avgas. The ANPR signaled that an “endangerment finding process” associated with lead emissions from general aviation aircraft has begun. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Business Aviation Association and EAA, along with the National Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, have formed the GA Avgas Coalition to coordinate their efforts to work on a process by which an unleaded fuel solution may be developed. Of key importance, the alternative fuel must be both “technically feasible” and “economically reasonable.”
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AIRCRAFT

SpaceShipTwo may make 1st glide test this year. – John Antczak, The Washington Post, July 23, 2010
Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo may fly free in its first glide test later this year, a company official said Friday. The six-passenger spaceship has been carried aloft three times attached to the wing of its special jet-powered mothership, including a July 15 flight with two pilots aboard for the first time. That flight, conducted by spaceship-builder Scaled Composites LLC over California’s Mojave Desert, allowed the crew to evaluate all systems and functions in the air, said Stephen Attenborough, an executive with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic in London. “Scaled are now evaluating the data from this recent captive-carry flight before we know when the first SS2 independent glide flight will be but there’s a reasonable possibility that we could see it happen in the Fall,” Attenborough said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
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Plane Makers Move Toward Eco-Friendly Initiatives.Green Packs, July 27, 2010
Airplane maker Boeing has unveiled an ‘ecoDemonstrator program’ – which aims at speeding up technological advances that will serve to heighten fuel efficiency, operational efficiency and noise reduction. The commercial aviation industry has been seeking to achieve carbon neutral growth by the year 2020.  It is anticipated that all the big strides to achieving this will be through technology advancements. Boeing recently received a $25 million matching cost contract from the Federal Aviation Administration, for technology development in its Continuous Lower Energy Emissions Noise (CLEEN) program. According to the contract, Boeing will be delivering the flight test part of the program and allied targeted technologies. Meanwhile other reports from the aviation industry say that as part of a new biofuel test program, Porter Airlines’ Q400 aircraft will, by 2012, fly a craft powered by fuel from an oilseed crop.
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AIRLINES

United delays moving operations center to Willis Tower. – Julie Johnsson, Chicago Tribune, July 23, 2010
United Airlines is delaying moving its operations control center to Willis Tower until early 2012, the carrier told employees Friday, after determining that combining its critical nerve center with that of Continental Airlines would be more complex than anticipated. The decision comes as Chicago-based United and Houston-based Continental begin working in earnest on combining their airlines and work forces to form the world’s largest carrier, which will be based in Chicago and retain the United brand. Pete McDonald, United’s chief administrative officer, said in a memo to employees Friday that Continental CEO Jeff Smisek, who will head the merged airline, “soon” will name his senior management team. The merging airlines expect to name all officers of the new airline before the deal’s legal close, slated for late this year, McDonald added.
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Business travel groups bristle at Obama’s anti-pollution idea. – Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2010
President Obama’s call for government workers to cut back on driving and travel to reduce air pollution has angered business travel leaders who say he is once again hurting the travel industry. Obama issued a directive last week ordering government workers to commute and travel less to reduce greenhouse emissions 13% by 2020. The move, he said, would eliminate 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. But the National Business Travel Assn., a trade group for business travel managers, called the plan a “misguided swing at the travel industry” that could “undermine the slight recovery the travel industry is just now starting to experience.”
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Alaska Airlines Test Flight of RNP Approach Lowered Emissions By 35% Compared to Conventional Landing. Eco Friendly Mag, July 24, 2010
Alaska Airlines demonstrated  next-generation flight procedures this week during a test flight over Puget Sound that burned less fuel and reduced emissions by 35% compared to a conventional landing. The flight was part of Alaska Air Group’s “Greener Skies” project at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) focused on using satellite-based guidance technology pioneered by Alaska Airlines to fly more efficient landing procedures that will reduce environmental impacts in the Puget Sound region. The test flight used satellite guidance technology called Required Navigation Performance (RNP) to fly more direct, continuous descent approaches. Alaska Airlines estimates the new procedures at Sea-Tac will cut fuel consumption by 2.1 million gallons annually and reduce carbon emissions by 22,000 metric tons. They will also reduce overflight noise for an estimated 750,000 people living below the affected flight corridor.
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Regional air service boosted with expansion. – Brad Swenson, The Bemidji Pioneer, July 25, 2010
“Regional airports are such an important part of our aviation system in that they provide a very essential level of air service for communities just like Bemidji, and we need to support that,” the FAA’s second-ranking official said Saturday. As groundbreaking ceremonies were held Saturday for the Bemidji Regional Airport’s $8.9 million terminal expansion and renovation project, Deputy Federal Aviation Administration Administer Michael Huerta was joined by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in making remarks. Oberstar used the occasion to announce that this fall Delta Airlines will not cut back its flights to Bemidji from four to two, but rather from four to three and it may even keep four daily flights.
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Delta carrier fined for bumping. – Dr. Gridlock, The Washington Post, July 26, 2010
Delta Air Lines’s Comair commuter carrier was fined $275,000 for violating federal rules on bumping passengers from oversold flights, the U.S. Transportation Department said. Comair in “numerous cases” failed to seek volunteers to give up their seats or provide passengers with appropriate payments for being bumped, the Transportation Department said today in a statement. “Our bumping rules are designed to protect passengers when airlines overbook a flight,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We expect carriers to comply with these rules and will take enforcement action when they do not. DOT said its Aviation Enforcement Office also found “that Comair had filed inaccurate reports with DOT on the number of passengers involuntarily denied boarding.”
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Airlines posting profits so fare sales may wane. – David Koenig and Joshua Freed, Associated Press, July 26, 2010
Good times are finally back for the nation’s airlines. For travelers, that means it’s getting harder to find bargains. The summer travel season got off to a roaring start, fares are up, and money is rolling in from fees on things like checked baggage. The six biggest U.S. airlines earned about $1.3 billion in the second quarter, and more profits are expected for the rest of the year. Even so, airlines are still woozy from the one-two punch of record-high fuel prices followed by a recession. Those six big carriers lost $22.7 billion in 2008 and 2009. There were plenty of fare sales when the airlines were struggling to fill seats. Now those seats are in demand, so deals are less common. And travelers are paying for “extras” such as an aisle seat, checking bags and buying a ticket over the phone — things that used to be part of the fare.
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Delta ends Hartford-Los Angeles route. – Brad Kane, Hartford Business Journal, July 26, 2010
Less than two months after resuming a direct Hartford-to-Los Angeles flight, Delta Air Lines will shut down the high-profile service by the year’s end. The last flight will be Sept. 30, a Delta official said Monday. Although the direct flight performed well in the summer, the bookings weren’t as strong for the fall and winter seasons. “The Hartford-Los Angeles service started as a summer service with consideration for year-round service. At this time, its performance has proven only as a summer seasonal route,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said. Bradley officials had touted the non-stop service, giving the airport a direct West Coast connection. Many airlines flying out to Bradley offer service to Los Angeles, but Delta’s was the only direct flight. That direct flight resumed on June 10 after Delta previously discontinued the route in September 2008. In June, Delta vice president Neel Shah, who is the airline’s executive representative for Hartford, said the BDL-LAX flight typically was 80 percent full from out of Bradley and was 100 percent full from out of Los Angeles. The flight resumed, in part, Shah said because corporate air travel is making a comeback after falling off in recent years. Since the bookings were strong over the summer and not for the fall, Delta will look at the types of travelers that flew direct from Hartford to Los Angeles when deciding the route’s fate in the future, Black said.
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Singapore Air Profit Tops Estimates on Travel Rebound. – Chan Sue Ling, Bloomberg, July 26, 2010
Singapore Airlines Ltd., the world’s second-largest carrier by market value, posted a better-than- estimated quarterly profit as a rebound in air-travel demand helped it to fill more seats. Net income totaled S$252.5 million ($185 million) compared with a loss of S$307.1 million a year earlier, the carrier said in a statement today. That beat the S$162.4 million average of four analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. First-quarter sales increased 21 percent to S$3.5 billion.
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Virgin America sets Chicago debut for 2011. – Julie Johnsson, Chicago Tribune, July 22, 2010
Virgin America plans to wing its way into Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport next year, part of an aggressive expansion that could triple the low-cost carrier’s size by 2016. The discounter, affiliated with Richard Branson, intends to challenge the duopoly held by American and United airlines on direct service from O’Hare to Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports, flights popular with business travelers and, on occasion, movie stars. San Francisco-based Virgin, founded in 2007, has quickly won a fan base for its mood lighting and edgy customer amenities. Passengers on all 28 of its Airbus aircraft can tap high-speed Internet connections or use touch-screen menus to order untraditional airline fare, such as tapas.
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JetBlue CEO sees silver lining in big airline mergers. – Julie Johnsson, Chicago Tribune, July 24, 2010
JetBlue Airways is the kind of well-run niche airline that is supposed to get wiped out by the deal-making frenzy sweeping large network carriers like United and Continental airlines. Instead, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, 52, is on the prowl for opportunities to expand his low-cost carrier amid the market tumult. Barger thinks JetBlue will gain customers because of the service lapses that tend to accompany colossal airline mergers. After all, the 10-year-old airline just survived one of the worst decades in aviation history by connecting with travelers through its friendly workers, brand-new planes and perks like free satellite television, greater leg room and unlimited snacks.
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Most Continental jobs safe for now. – Jenalia Moreno, The Houston Chronicle, July 24, 2010
The merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines won’t result in clerical or management layoffs, except for corporate officers, until at least next March, Continental said Friday. The two airlines hope to complete a merger by the end of this quarter. The airline would be called United, headquartered in United’s home of Chicago and led by Continental’s chief executive, Jeff Smisek. In a memo filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Committee, Smisek said he plans to name the officers of the merged company soon. Subsequent clerical and management job cuts will depend on the integration plan developed by the merging airlines. Continental has about 3,000 clerical and management workers in its downtown Houston headquarters.
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