“Senate panel to reject Trump’s air traffic control plan in aviation bill”

By Melanie Zanona The Hill

A Senate panel has declined to include President Trump’s controversial proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government in a must-pass aviation bill, according to the committee’s chairman.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who leads the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the Senate’s long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not include the spinoff plan, citing the lack of support for the idea on his panel.

Instead, Thune said the House will have to take the lead on efforts to transfer the country’s air navigation system to a private corporation.

“No, we don’t have the votes to pass that in our committee at the moment,” Thune told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ll see what the House is able to do and we’ll proceed accordingly. But if that issue were to get addressed, it would probably have to be on the floor in conference.”

Thune added that final touches are being added to the bill, with a committee markup likely to happen “next week.”

The FAA’s current legal authority expires at the end of September, and lawmakers in both chambers have been crafting separate long-term proposals to reauthorize the agency.

Earlier this year, Trump endorsed a plan that would put a nonprofit entity in charge of air traffic control operations as a way to speed up long-stalled modernization efforts. The FAA would maintain safety oversight, while the corporation would be in charge of operations and have the power to impose user fees.

But the idea received an icy reception from senators earlier this month, when GOP lawmakers raised concern over whether rural airports and general aviation users would be adequately protected and represented under the new model.

The spinoff proposal is generally more preferred by Republicans in the lower chamber, where the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is preparing to unveil a long-term FAA bill soon that will include spinoff language.

A similar proposal was included in the House’s long-term FAA reauthorization last year, but it stalled amid opposition from GOP tax-writers and appropriators, forcing lawmakers to instead enact a short-term patch.

Senators have warned that the same thing could happen again if they pursue the spinoff plan, especially with a packed calendar and few remaining legislative days before the FAA’s legal authority expires.

“With the administration’s support of this concept, the chances of getting a long-term FAA reauthorization in my view have now been diminished,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said earlier this month.

San Antonio Airport extends record streak as travel season approaches

San Antonio International Airport has hit the trifecta. In April, SAT experienced growth in passenger traffic, seat capacity and air cargo activity.
More than 737,000 ticketed travelers flew into or out of the North San Antonio terminals in April. That figure represents a 5.4 percent bump over the same month a year ago.

San Antonio International Airport continues to log a record number of passengers flying into and out of the Alamo City terminals.

Enlarge

San Antonio International Airport continues to log a record number of passengers flying… more
CARLOS JAVIER SANCHEZ | SABJ

More impressive is the fact the airport has continued to attract larger passenger counts despite some of the disruptions caused by ongoing facility improvements, including work on a roughly $160 million consolidated rental car facility that will connect to both terminals.
San Antonio Aviation Director Russ Handy expects the recent addition of nonstop flights to Toronto via Air Canada, coupled with new service to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Cancun, will continue to drive up activity at SAT.
San Antonio Tourism Council President Marco Barros, who is in a runoff for the District 9 City Council seat, said the added international service is critical.
“It opens up and connects us with the rest of the world,” Barros told me.
SAT’s extra busy April follows a first quarter in which the airport attracted more than 2 million passengers. That was the largest first-quarter traffic count on record for the Alamo City facility.
In fact, SAT has now set new passenger records for 10 consecutive months. That could drive more debate about the city’s future airport needs.
A good deal of credit for the new flights and increased passenger activity goes to Brian Pratte, air services administrator for the city. He’s worked to identify airlines open to expanding service to and from San Antonio.
Previously, San Antonio officials relied on assistance from outside consultants to help navigate the pursuit of airlines and flights.
Barros said San Antonio is directly benefiting from having someone in Pratt’s role who can get Handy the timely intel he needs to “analyze the data” as airport officials continue to fine-tune their game plan.

USDOT announces $528M in airport improvement grants

  • AUTHOR Kim Slowey @kimslowey PUBLISHED June 5, 2017
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation will release $527.8 million in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the grants, which will be allocated across 584 airports for infrastructure improvements like runway repairs, lighting, fencing and marking.
  • Also included in the grant is discretionary funding for 38 airports where capital needs have exceeded existing funding amounts, which are determined according to each airport’s passenger traffic.

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Dive Insight:

One of the largest discretionary grants, $60 million, will go toward adding a $649 million sixth runway at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Project officials said the new runway will provide the capacity equal to a third airport and create 6,000 jobs along the way. The runway should be ready for use in 2020.
Other major grants include $8 million for taxiway improvements at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in Columbia, SC, and $18 million for a temporary runway, lighting and navigational aids at Asheville Regional Airport in Asheville, NC. Grants will also be used for much smaller items, such as a $350,000 noise monitoring system at Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field in Boise, ID.
This latest FAA funding is sure to be welcome news for airport officials that are struggling to maintain their infrastructure. However, according to a recent Airports Council International—North America report, it would take about $100 billion over five years to make the necessary repairs and upgrades at the country’s airports.
The FAA’s AIP budget is about $3 billion annually, but that doesn’t include the giant terminal replacement and associated commercial expansion projects the industry has seen kick off in the last few years.
For instance, at Tampa International Airport, officials are underway with a $2.3 billion multiphase expansion. The $971 million first phase has started and includes retail, restaurants, a new people mover system and a new rental car facility.
The Hillsborough County (FL) Aviation Authority announced last week that it had approved the second phase of the project, which is projected to cost $543 million and will include 17 acres of commercial development around the airport, part of the authority’s plan to create long-term revenue streams to support airport operations. The third phase is estimated at $798 million and will see the construction of a 16-gate international and domestic terminal.

Recommended Reading:

FAA Awards Flagstaff Airport $7.8 Mil Grant To Restore Runway By Kathy Ritchie

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Flagstaff airport a $7.8 million grant to restore the small hub’s more than 8,000-foot runway.
Allen Kenitzer is a spokesman with the FAA. He says the annual grants are given out based on need.
“In this case its restoring the structural integrity. Runways are thick, they’re generally made of concrete and they have to be built to a certain standard to handle certain aircraft,” Kenitzer said.
Work is scheduled to being this fall and should be completed in early 2018.

Cardiff Airport full emergency causes temporary airport closure

WRITTEN BY: NICK HARDING JUN 4, 2017
A flight inbound to Cardiff Airport with a full emergency this afternoon caused the airport to be closed for around an hour and prompted an armed response from Armed Police.
An Air Seychelles Shorts 360 (Image: File/ACP-Commonswiki) An Air Seychelles Shorts 360 (Image: File/ACP-Commonswiki)

The Shorts 360 aircraft, registration N914GD was en-route from Marrakech when the aircraft developed numerous problems including a suspected fluid leak prompting it to declare an emergency and divert to Cardiff Airport touching down just before 6pm.
Upon landing the aircraft held on the runway observed by a fire engine for around 10 minutes before turning onto the Golf taxiway to park and shut down.
Air Traffic Control was then unable to communicate with the aircraft, possibly due to the fact they had shut down the aircraft, which meant armed officers were sent out to surround the aircraft and get the crew to disembark in a safe manner.
This was carried out promptly by armed Police officers who, after an inspection of the aircraft and crew, declared the area safe.
During this time the runway was closed in order to ensure the runway was safe to use as the crew had reported a fluid leak. This meant 2 Flybe and 1 Eastern Airways flights had to hold above the airport for some time. An Iberia A340 was also due to depart taking Real Madrid fans home.
After about an hour the runway had been checked and the airport resumed normal operations.
The Shorts 360 N914GD was believed to be en-route to the USA from Marrakech and wears full Air Seychelles livery.
A spokesperson for Cardiff Airport said “At 1758 a full emergency was declared by a private aircraft and as per protocol, the Airport Fire and Rescue Service and local emergency services responded.
The aircraft landed safely with no further issues reported. The runway reopened at 1853 with minimal disruption to scheduled flights.
The safety and security of the Airport team and passengers remains the number one priority.”

82-year-old arrested at airport says she was wrong but police overreacted

JUNE 02, 2017 2:34 PM
BY AMY RENEE LEIKER aleiker

Lila Mae Bryan said she always packs a bottle of foaming hand soap in her carry-on suitcase when she flies because she doesn’t like the bar soap hotels usually provide their guests.
Bryan, 82, and her husband, Silas, 85, have flown around the country, she said, and no one checking luggage at the airports has ever told her that she couldn’t take her roughly 8-ounce bottle on the plane.
So she was surprised this week — and admittedly annoyed, she said — when a Transportation Security Administration officer doing a routine check of her carry-on bag at Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita pulled out her beloved bottle of soap and told her it wasn’t allowed on the flight.
What happened next, Bryan said, she now wishes she could undo: She shouted her frustration at the officer then stormed around into his workspace and, authorities say, struck him on the arm.

Bryan was later booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and given a citation alleging she committed a misdemeanor battery against the 37-year-old officer. As of Friday, Wichita city prosecutors had not decided whether they will pursue the criminal charge.

The scuffle happened at 5:12 a.m. Wednesday. Bryan was jailed three hours after the alleged battery.
“I know I was wrong,” Bryan said, reached by phone at her Mesquite, Texas, home on Friday afternoon.
Exhaustion, she said, and not having taken medication she’s prescribed for bipolar disorder — coupled with what she feels is an inadequate explanation from the officer about why the soap was forbidden — caused her negative reaction.
“I just got so angry that he was treating me this way,” she said.
“If I had to do it over again, I’d just have said, ‘Take it and throw it away.’ … I probably would’ve said something. But it wouldn’t have been nasty.”
Law enforcement and TSA reports say Bryan became upset and verbally abusive after she was told repeatedly she couldn’t take the soap onto the plane in her carry-on bag because it exceeded the 3.4-ounce size limit. Airport police detained her and authorized her arrest.
Bryan hit the officer’s “right arm with a closed fist,” a law enforcement report says. Bryan says she doesn’t remember striking the officer but was told she did so by witnesses.
In a statement e-mailed Friday afternoon, TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the TSA officers at the scene “were professional and courteous in advising the passenger that the item is not allowed through the security checkpoint. The passenger escalated the situation and went behind the x-ray machine where she assaulted our officer.”
“We make every effort to provide a smooth screening experience and do so daily while screening millions of passengers. TSA officers’ primary goal is to keep travelers safe and secure,” Harmon said in the statement. “Threatening, assaulting, intimidating, or interfering with officers while they are performing screening duties is a violation of TSA security regulations, may constitute criminal conduct, and interferes with their ability to effectively protect the public.”
The TSA officer did not have any visible injuries, according to law enforcement reports.
“I wanted to apologize afterward, but they (airport police) wouldn’t let me” after being detained, Bryan said.

She said the airport police officer told her she would be booked into jail instead. This was her first arrest.
“I think it was probably an overreaction,” she said.
Bryan said she was handcuffed while law enforcement transported her from the airport to the jail. After she arrived, she spent nearly two hours in the jail’s booking area and was photographed and fingerprinted before being freed.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Thursday that after the airline Bryan and her husband were set to fly on contacted his office about her arrest, his staff went to the jail and authorized her immediate release. She did not have to post any bond.
Southwest Airlines arranged for Bryan’s husband to be taken to the Sedgwick County Courthouse, where he was reunited with his wife. The airline then returned the couple to the airport, where they boarded a later flight back home.
Wichita City Attorney and Director of Law Jennifer Magana said Friday that her office is still reviewing the allegations against Bryan and could make a decision about whether to pursue prosecution of the battery charge next week.
Bryan said she and her husband were in Kansas to attend her 65-year high school reunion in Beloit and to check on a new tenant that operates a farm she owns in the area. She said when she flew into Wichita from Dallas she had the bottle of soap that caused the stir in her carry-on bag.
Surveillance video of the incident viewed by The Eagle on Friday morning shows Bryan confronting the TSA officer after he removes the bottle from a suitcase and places it on a table. In the video — which does not include audio — she pounds a fist in her palm and points at the officer before grabbing a purse and what appears to be paperwork and walking around an X-ray screening belt into the officer’s work area.
Bryan, in the video, appears to ignore commands directing her to return to the public area. She approaches the officer and appears to make physical contact with him, before another TSA officer intervenes.
After she is separated from the TSA officer and is no longer involved in a physical altercation, an airport police officer steps up, grabs her arm and yanks her away from the work area, the video shows.
A request for comment from the airport police and fire department about the police officer’s interaction with the woman was referred to the city’s law department. Magana could not be reached for comment on that issue late Friday afternoon.
TSA officials had scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon at the airport to release the video of the incident. They later canceled the event and refused to release the video, saying in an e-mail: “We had planned to respect the passenger’s privacy by not releasing her name and blurring her face. But her name and picture have appeared in the media, and we don’t feel it’s appropriate to release the video now that she’s been identified.”

“Spokane Airport CEO sees problems with push for private air traffic control”

By Mike Prager The Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review

Spokane International Airport CEO Larry Krauter said a proposal to turn air traffic control over to the private sector would expose regional airports to reduced tower staffing and higher fees.

A proposal to turn air traffic control over to the private sector would put Spokane International Airport at risk of reduced staffing and higher fees, airport CEO Larry Krauter said Wednesday.

A House Republican committee chairman called on lawmakers Wednesday to turn the nation’s air traffic control operations over to a new, nonprofit corporation, saying no other infrastructure change has as much potential to improve travel for the average American flyer.

But Krauter said such a move would bring major changes “to the most complex aviation system in the world.”

Any changes should be the result of careful study by all of the players in the industry, he added. The process leading up to the bill so far has not been thorough, Krauter said.

“We try not to a have a ‘throw the switch moment’ in aviation safety,” he said.

President Donald Trump has also called for privatizing air traffic control operations, suggesting placing them under an “independent, non-governmental organization” to make the system more efficient while maintaining safety.

Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told colleagues his top priority this year is to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration along those lines. He said the effort he’ll pursue will fund the new corporation through fees assessed for air traffic services and will free the operations from government dysfunction and the uncertainty of the annual appropriations process.

Shuster said the FAA has been trying to put in place a high-tech system for air traffic controllers for nearly three decades, but progress has been incremental. Ultimately, he said, it makes sense to remove the FAA as a transportation service provider and maintain its role as a regulator of air safety. He said that would lead to a decrease in flight delays and ease congestion.

“The true risk lies in doing nothing,” Shuster said.

Shuster faces opposition from the committee’s Democratic members and the union representing the technicians who install, maintain and support air traffic control systems.

They fear that turning financing decisions over to a corporation would subject the system to economic hardships and particularly could hurt flight operations at smaller airports.

Medium-sized airports such as Spokane could be vulnerable to cuts, Krauter said. The Airport Board has come out against the legislation and has shared its position with Washington’s congressional delegation.

Krauter said that aviation would lose congressional oversight of the air traffic control system. A private corporation focusing on its return on investment might decided to cut off-peak shifts in the control tower or choose to eliminate the FAA’s contracted weather observers at the tower, he said.

In addition, a corporate operator might find ways to charge travelers more fees, Krauter said. Airlines are under increasing criticism for dragging passengers off planes, overbooking and adding fees to travel costs, he said.

Airlines have been lobbying vigorously for the changes Shuster seeks. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., pointed out they were not invited to testify Wednesday, alluding to recent controversies such as the dragging of a passenger off a United flight. He said their absence shows that supporters of privatization know Americans aren’t interested in giving more control over to the airlines.

DeFazio said the biggest obstacle to updating air traffic systems has been the broken budget process in Congress and unstable funding from lawmakers.

The privatization debate has been going on for decades. The Clinton administration proposed moving air traffic control operations out of FAA to a corporation owned by the government in 1995. Dorothy Robyn, a special assistant to the president on economic policy, told lawmakers that only four nations at that time had moved traffic control operations outside of traditional government operations, and Clinton’s proposal was “dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.” Now, some 60 countries have transferred their air traffic control operations, she said.

“I think it is a mistake to view this proposal as ideological,” Robyn said.

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said the association will consider supporting a new entity to run air traffic control operations, but it cannot be a for-profit corporation.

He said the new system would also have to ensure that air traffic control workers’ pay and benefits are protected, and that it continue to serve rural communities, which are worried that privatization would lead to less money for their airports. Rinaldi’s group backed Shuster’s privatization bill last year.

“The last thing we want to do is create a system that’s unfair to different users,” Shuster told reporters after the hearing.

The congressman said he expects the committee to hold one or two more hearings before voting on a bill. A similar effort stalled last year, but Shuster is counting on an “engaged” White House to enhance prospects this year.

“House passes bill to enhance airport employee screening”

By Melanie Zanona – The Hill

The House easily passed legislation on Tuesday to beef up the screening of airport employees and target other insider threats in the aviation sector.

Every single lawmaker voted to approve the bill, which would enhance vetting requirements for workers, overhaul how airports issue security credentials and improve the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) screening operations.

The measure, backed by Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), would also require a study on the cost and feasibility of conducting full employee screening at domestic airports.

Earlier this year, a House Homeland Security Committee report identified a number of potential security gaps in the employee screening process at airports around the country.

“There remain serious vulnerabilities and gaps in employee screening at airports nationwide,” said Katko, who chairs the Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security.

“We cannot allow these lapses in security to continue placing the traveling public at risk. After a number of insider threat-related attacks at airport overseas, along with plots here in the United States, it is essential that we act on this legislation.”

The bill’s passage comes after a dozen airport and TSA employees were arrested for their alleged involvement in a massive cocaine smuggling operation in Puerto Rico earlier this year.

The defendants are accused of helping smuggle approximately 20 tons of cocaine through Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport over the course of 18 years, from 1998 to 2016.

The operation allegedly involved employees smuggling suitcases through TSA checkpoints and other secure areas at the airport and onto flights.

“Frighteningly, we have seen multiple examples of aviation workers with access to secure areas of airports being involved in serious criminal activities, including terror plotting, after being radicalized,” Katko said.

“Honolulu airport renamed after late Sen. Daniel Inouye”

KHON TV Ch 2 (CW), Honolulu (HI)

The state’s busiest airport has been renamed after one of our late senior senators.

Honolulu’s airport has gone through name changes over the years. It started in 1927 as John Rodgers Airport. It was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947, then Honolulu International Airport in 1951.

Now it’s been renamed Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, and that’s the name you’ll find if you go to the airport’s official website.

A resolution was passed last year to rename the airport in honor of the late senator, who recognized the importance of a fully functional state airport system.

Sen. Inouye helped secure federal funds every year to maintain and develop the airport.

“We had to find a landmark that maybe had the importance, so for a long time, people thought of various buildings and public structures, but it seems that the airport really maintains that level of authority,” said Rep. Tom Brower, D, Waikiki, Ala Moana.

This comes as the main airport for Oahu undergoes a massive modernization project that includes a consolidated rental car facility, improvements to the mauka concourse, and widening of some of the taxi lanes.

KHON2 reached out to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, and a spokesperson told us the FAA officially made the change, renaming the airport Thursday. We noticed the Honolulu International Airport sign has already been removed from the old airport tower.

While the name has changed, the airport’s three-letter designation (IATA code) HNL is still the same.

There are other cases where airports have changed names and their three-letter designations no longer match. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Orlando International Airport (MCO), and John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) are examples. However, the IATA code may change in the future as was the case with John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) that was Idlewild Airport (IDL) before being renamed after President Kennedy.

On January 1, 2017, Kona International Airport (KOA) was renamed Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole to honor fallen astronaut Ellison Onizuka who was born and raised in Kona.

We’re still trying to get answers from the DOT on what other changes could come with the new name.

The Pilot Shortage Is Real: Interactive Panel Discussion

Experience L

lift-off-page-header600.jpg

The Pilot Shortage Is Real. What Are We Going To Do About It?

lift-cover-200.jpgJoin us Monday, April 3, 2017

What

  • Panel discussion with Q&A, on the implications of the ongoing pilot shortage.
  • 7 – 8:30 p.m. EST | 4 – 5:30 p.m. MST
  • Moderator: Marc Bernier, ERAU Speaker Series director

Where

  • Lemerand Auditorium, Capt. Willie Miller Instructional Center, Daytona Beach Campus
  • Student Union Lower Hangar, Prescott Campus
  • Streaming live online
Register Now

Our Alumni and Faculty Expert Panel

mcdermott-sq-75.jpg Noel McDermott (’06, PC), First Officer at Compass Airlines.
groh-sq-75.jpg Dawn Groh, Helicopter Program Chair and Assistant Professor, Prescott Campus, Arizona.
byrnes-sq-75.jpg Ken Byrnes (’01, ’05, DB), Assistant Dean for the College of Aviation, Flight Training Department Chair and Associate Professor, Daytona Beach Campus, Florida.

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