“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

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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.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
600 S Clyde Morris Boulevard
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
USA
(386) 226-6919, ERalumni

FREE Workshop: How to Start Your Business

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When
Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM MST
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The Idea+Space, Joel D Valdez Main Library
101 N. Stone Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701
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Dear Lorena,

Do you dream about starting a business?

Yet hesitate because you don’t know where or how to start?

Then this event is for you.

In this free workshop, we will dive into constructing your core business model and address such topics as:

  • Defining Need
  • Building Your Business Concept Outline
  • Researching Your Target Markets
  • Pricing and much more

You will leave this event with a clear, practical vision of what your business could be and how to make it happen.

Get more information
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Mike Neal, VP Professional Development

SCORE Southern Arizona

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Airport funding confidence high

About $60 million from the state is expected to go toward the $250 million airport relocation. So far, about $19 million of that amount has been already distributed, and local lawmakers, along with city officials involved in the project, say they still believe the remaining $40 million will be allocated for the project.

“I still feel confident that we are going to find a way to get that funding for this next biennium,” State Rep. Gary Sukut, R-Williston, said, adding that the money may not come in a lump sum as originally hoped.

Legislators intended to draw the amount from oil impact grant funds, but those reserves are nearly depleted.

“That bucket was supposed to fill up to $140 million, and it didn’t,” Sukut said. “It’s hard to tell just exactly how (airport money) might get put together; there are so many issues right now that are involved in all of the funding that until some of these budgets that have to be met are stabilized, it’s hard to tell.”

Predicted revenue totals for the remainder of the 2015-2017 biennium, which ends June 30, show $46 million less than expected, and a $103 million shortfall for the general fund for 2017- 2019, Gov. Doug Burgum said on Thursday.

Among the cuts Burgum has suggested is to direct more oil tax revenue into the general fund, diverting it away from oil-producing areas of the state, including Williston.

Burgum proposes allowing $900 million, up from $300 million, in oil production tax into the state’s overall coffers.

A decision on where money for the new Williston airport comes from may lie with appropriations committees in the House and Senate, according to lawmakers.

“There have been discussions among leadership that Senate Bill 2013 will be the vehicle to amend the airport funding into,” Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston, said.

The bill has been approved by the Senate and passed to the House.

Last month, legislators voted down a bill that included money for the airport and outlined the distribution of oil tax revenue to cities and towns in the state’s oil-producing western region.

While local officials acknowledge the unpredictable climate surrounding budget decisions, they say state money is essential for the new airport, which is in turn essential for financial growth in Williston.

“In this climate nothing’s for sure,” Mayor Howard Klug said, before pointing out that although construction has not yet started, the project is well underway, and in a position to take advantage of relatively lower-priced construction materials and services.

“We can’t continue to say that we’re going to have a first-class economy with the airport that we have,” he said. “We’re a long ways down the path toward building this airport. To get the project done and to get it done on time under budget, it has to be what was promised to us. The money needs to come in now so we can get this airport done by 2019.”

Officials have said the project will be paid for by a combination of city, state and federal money, with the FAA covering half of the cost, and the city and state splitting the difference. So far, the FAA has awarded about $54 million in grants, which have yet to be released.

Last fall, the city finalized the purchase of about 1,600 acres northwest of Williston from private landowners as the future site of the new Williston Basin International Airport, which is to take the place of the aging Sloulin Field International Airport.

Construction is scheduled to start this spring.

By Elizabeth Hackenburg ehackenburg@willistonherald.com

Mar 11, 2017

Over and out? Pilot shortage threatens small airports

Others say the problem outstate is economic.

By Janet Moore Star Tribune
MARCH 11, 2017 — 11:17PM

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THIEF RIVER FALLS REGIONAL AIRPORTBoutique Air services Thief River Falls with planes such as this Pilatus PC-12.

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Thief River Falls has enjoyed commercial air service since the early 1950s, and many airlines have come and gone over the years. All fell victim to the harsh economics of the airline business.
Now, a small, federally subsidized airline called Boutique Air, which began service last year, offers 18 round-trip flights every week to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“It’s been excellent,” declared Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer last week. “Our airport has really turned around.”
But another economic headwind is threatening air service at regional airports throughout the state and across the country — a national shortage of airline pilots.
Some 14,200 pilots are expected to retire from the four biggest U.S. airlines by 2022, and fewer young pilots are entering the profession to fill the void, according the Regional Air Service Alliance (RASA).

With too few pilots to fly the aircraft, and with airlines curtailing use of planes with 50 seats or fewer that typically serve smaller markets, the future of regional air service appears challenged.
William Swelbar, executive director of the Regional Air Service Alliance

REGIONAL AIR SERVICE ALLIANCE
William Swelbar, executive director of the Regional Air Service Alliance

Only nine airports in Minnesota offer airline service, but even that capacity means “the community can access the world,” said Cassandra Isackson, director of aeronautics at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “It’s also a way for the world to access that community.”
While some communities like Thief River Falls are thriving due to niche services like Boutique Air, which flies eight-seat Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, other areas struggle to attract and retain airline service.
“If a community or a region doesn’t have air service, it’s not considered for economic development, a plant relocation or even a plant location,” said William Swelbar, RASA’s executive director and a research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The stakes are high: The U.S. airline industry drives $1.6 trillion in economic activity annually, about 5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Brian Ryks, executive director/CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, says big hubs like MSP benefit from thriving smaller airports because outstate passengers can connect to domestic and international flights. Almost 72,000 airplane seats a week feed into MSP nonstop from small communities, making the airport eighth in the nation by this measure.
Ryks, who ran both the Duluth and St. Cloud airports earlier in his career, is familiar with the challenges facing smaller communities.
“I would lose a lot of sleep just trying to retain air service we had, and expanding it takes a tremendous amount of effort,” he said. “When you have air service, you try to encourage people to use it, because if they don’t, you lose it.”
Shortage or not?
Richard Anderson, retired chief executive of Delta Air Lines, said in a February speech at the Economic Club of Minnesota that airlines are facing an “acute pilot shortage. There’s a big demographic hole in our pilot base.”

After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, airline service was cut back and the Great Recession also hampered pilot recruitment.
“The pilot shortage severely affects smaller regional airlines, where many pilots begin their careers and [where] you’re paid less than the majors,” said Kent Lovelace, a professor and director of aviation industry relations in the University of North Dakota.
Until 2014, annual pay for new first officers was about $25,000 at regional airlines, but Lovelace said compensation at the regionals has improved in recent years to around $60,000 a year with bonuses. “It’s too early to tell whether that will generate more interest” in the profession, he said.
The average cost for a student’s flight training at UND, a nationally known aviation program, is about $64,000 (not including room and board and tuition), which results in serious student loan debt for budding pilots.
For millennials considering aviation as a career, quality-of-life issues resonate, too. Airline pilots live out of a suitcase at work and often have erratic schedules.

Joe Hedrick, manager of the Thief River Falls airport, says he gave up studies to become an airline pilot. “I learned about the starting salary, and having to sleep in dingy hotel rooms and crash pads. None of that seemed attractive to me.”
Structural changes
Brian Ryks and his wife, Tracy, with MAC Commissioner Dixie Hoard, left, listened while visiting with MAC Commissioner Lisa Peilen at the reception in his honor on March 22, 2016.

JEFF WHEELER, STAR TRIBUNE
Brian Ryks and his wife, Tracy, with MAC Commissioner Dixie Hoard, left, listened while visiting with MAC Commissioner Lisa Peilen at the reception in his honor on March 22, 2016.
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But Anderson says the real reason regional airports don’t succeed is because of simple economics.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing pilots, says business decisions by the airlines affect service at regional airports — not a shortage of pilots. “We don’t see a correlation between the two,” said Capt. Paul Ryder, ALPA resource coordinator.
Ryder said regional airlines that offer competitive pay and benefits, work-life balance and “career progression” are hiring pilots. “The pilots are out there,” he said.

Others claim that regulations are choking the pilot pipeline — a charge the pilots’ union rejects.
Beginning in August 2013, the FAA required airline pilots (with some exceptions) to have a minimum of 1,500 flight hours in the cockpit before being hired as a first officer — up from 250 hours. The change followed the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air regional jet near Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people.
The new regulations had “the effect of constricting and elongating the supply ‘pipeline’ of much-needed airline pilots,” according to Flightpath Economics, a Colorado consulting firm.
At the time, Great Lakes Airlines served Thief River Falls, but it “lost a lot of pilots, and became very unreliable for us,” Hedrick said, noting the airline stopped flying there for eight months in 2014. That year, just 734 passengers flew to and from the airport; nearly 10 times that many did so last year. (Figures from 2016 include service provided by both Boutique Air and Great Lakes.)
Last week, Digi-Key Electronics, which now employs about 3,200 people in Thief River Falls, announced that it was considering a $200 million expansion there that would create 1,000 jobs. “Having air service here makes it easier for their vendors, suppliers and employees,” Hedrick said.

Thief River Falls, Bemidji, Brainerd, Chisholm/Hibbing and International Falls are eligible for subsidies under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, which was enacted following deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 to preserve service to smaller communities.
But there’s talk that the Trump administration will eliminate most federal airport subsidies, including the Essential Air Service program.
The fate of the program is “political fodder,” Swelbar said. “Everyone knows you’re just one tweet away from a change. I’m hearing mixed messages from Washington about the program going forward.”

Prescott man sees ‘on demand’ air service in Northern Arizona

It’s just a matter of finding investors, leasing the planes, making connections with the airports and developing an iPhone application for customers to schedule their flights.

Gellerman wants to fly a nine-passenger Cessna 208 Grand Caravan from Prescott to the North Las Vegas airport with a stop in Kingman to pick up passengers “on demand.”

He’s not looking for the government to subsidize flights through the Essential Air Service program that was a complete flop when Great Lakes Airlines operated twice-weekly flights from Kingman to Denver and Los Angeles.

“(President) Trump wants to eliminate waste. Well, there’s a lot of waste in Essential Air Service,” Gellerman said.

The program started in the 1970s and ballooned from $50 million in subsidies in 1997 to more than $300 million in 2017, he pointed out.

Gellerman has a Washington attorney and economist on board for the startup airline, as well as a Boeing 737 pilot. He would fly FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) 135, which regulates charter private aircraft.

They’re planning on starting an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $2 million to $5 million for the airline business. They’re also building an informational campaign website.

Gellerman said he will lease the aircraft to preserve operations capital and derive tax benefits.

The Cessna 208 Grand Caravan is the most comfortable, economical aircraft appropriate for operating at an hourly cost range where fares would be attractive to “regular folks,” Gellerman said.

He will not be wholly reliant on EAS subsidies, which he believes have a “questionable future.”

Bob Riley, economic development director at Kingman Airport Authority, isn’t sure Gellerman’s plan will fly, but said he’d certainly be interested in meeting with him to discuss needs for terminal counter area, baggage handling and secured areas.

“Even though it sounds like the Uber of the skies, I would be interested in learning what FAA certificate he will be operating under, what his insurance capabilities are and, based on his certificate, what additional services we need to provide,” Riley said.

North Las Vegas is not preferred by air travelers looking to connect to other airlines through McCarran International Airport, so Riley would also like to know how Gellerman is going to transport people from one airport to the other.

Essential Air Service was specifically intended to get passengers into the national transportation network, Riley noted. Great Lake’s EAS program in Kingman was eliminated by the U.S. Department of Transportation due to lack of enplanements, he said.

Flying out of Northern Arizona and picking up passengers in Kingman sounds expensive, said John Dougherty, Kingman city manager. But it’s another option and worth a shot.

“I hope this works out well for them and it ends up being dependable,” Dougherty said. “My one and only experience flying out of Kingman was a disaster. Hopefully, this private on-demand service will stick to schedules and be at a reasonable price.”

​Airports are a tricky — but promising — business for Leidos

Airports are a tricky business, but they represent a golden opportunity for Leidos Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LDOS). Especially now that the Reston-based government services and technology firm is six months into its merger with Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Information Systems & Global Solutions business.

CEO Roger Krone told investors Thursday at Cowen and Co.’s 38th Annual Aerospace/Defense & Industrials Conference in New York City that the Leidos-IS&GS combination is well-positioned to expand on both companies’ history of performing airport modernization services. The only barrier now to dominating the market is the fact that it’s fragmented and there’s no one central authority governing every airport.

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In December 2015, Leidos won a contract to provide runway management technologies and… more

XSIGHT SYSTEMS

"Airports are complicated entities,” Krone said. "Each airport’s governance process is different. Some are owned by cities. Some are owned by counties. Some are independent organizations.”

It’s impossible right now to take on a traditional "systems integrator" role at an airport, which would entail taking charge of the systems and processes that make up the air travel experience from, as Krone describes it, “curb to takeoff.” That’s where Krone wants to see a change.

"We would like to see some consolidation in airport management and ownership to where you could walk in as a systems integrator — and walk in holistically — and solve some of the issues,” Krone said. "Maybe we will get there.”

There are early signals from the White House that change could be coming.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump hosted a breakfast at the White House with representatives from the airline industry, telling the high-profile audience he would work to help them in “developing our aviation infrastructure.” In the course of that roundtable discussion, Gary Kelly, chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), suggested reforming the Federal Aviation Administration — changing it from a government agency to a not-for-profit corporation with a board representing all industry stakeholders, including those in government and the private sector.

"Until that time the airport business development model is: you go in at four or five different entry points,” Krone said. To secure a hold on any one airport, Leidos has to bid on contracts with the Transportation Security Administration, the FAA, as well as various airlines and airport authorities. It’s a scramble to piece together work, as opposed to grabbing one contract that governs it all.

James Bach Staff ReporterWashington Business Journal

Ford landed one of his planes on a taxiway

FAA investigating Harrison Ford for incident at California airport

Ford landed one of his plane on a taxiway

By: News Staff Posted: Feb 14, 2017 04:06 PM EST

NBC News has learned that actor Harrison Ford was involved in a potentially serious incident on Monday as he was piloting his private plane, a single engine Husky.

Ford, an experienced pilot who collects vintage planes, had been instructed to land on runway 20-L at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California but mistakenly aimed for a taxiway instead. His plane passed over the top of an American Airlines 737 loaded with 110 passengers and a six-person crew.

The passenger plane, AA flight 1546, managed to depart safely for Dallas just minutes after the incident.

Ford, 74, was captured on air traffic control recordings asking, "Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?"

Air traffic controllers then informed Ford that he had landed on a taxiway rather than the runway.

Landing on a taxiway is a violation of Federal Aviation Administration safety rules.

The FAA told NBC News that controllers gave Ford the proper landing instructions and that he read them back.

The incident has prompted an FAA investigation — which could result in anything from a simple warning letter to a suspension of Ford’s pilot’s license.

Ford has been involved in a series of crashes and near-misses while flying aircraft.

In 2015 he crash-landed a World War II-era airplane on a Santa Monica golf course after the engine failed, suffering a broken arm and minor head injuries.

He also crash-landed a helicopter in 1999 during a flight lesson in Ventura County, California. And in 2000, Ford’s six-seater Beechcraft Bonanza scraped the runway during an emergency landing at Nebraska’s Lincoln Municipal Airport.

But Ford is revered as an excellent pilot in aviation circles. He was inducted as a Living Legend of Aviation.

A witness to Ford’s 2015 Santa Monica crash told NBC News that Ford "saved several lives" by rerouting his crash landing to the Penmar Golf Course to avoid a tract of suburban homes.

NBC News reached out to Ford’s representatives for comment, but did not immediately receive a reply.

Port of Seattle Police to review procedures after airport protests”

SEATTLE – Saturday night turned many of the world’s airports into large protest forums following an executive order issued by President Donald Trump temporarily blocking refugees and some others from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States.

Sea-Tac Airport, part of the Port of Seattle, was no different. Over the course of the day and into the early hours of Sunday morning, the situation went from peaceful to pepper-spray.

“We feel like we did a good job, but we have lessons learned, and we’re looking at that right now,” said Port of Seattle Director of Security Wendy Reiter.

Port Police are part of a mutual aid agreement of about 10 jurisdictions. Other departments include Kent, Federal Way, and Seattle.

Some protesters formed human chains trying to keep passengers and crews from getting to their flights. Then police started moving in, eventually using bikes to push the crowd out of the terminal. Some officers used pepper spray in at attempt to control the crowd.

The airport protests have already led to changes at the region’s two largest transit agencies, Sound Transit and King County Metro.

At 6:30 p.m. that night, with more protesters heading to the airport, Port of Seattle Police asked Sound Transit to stop dropping off protestors at the airport ‘s light rail station. The agency says three southbound and three northbound trains kept going. Trains began serving the airport again 33 minutes later, and now the transit agencies chief executives will be alerted immediately.

“We can’t have transit used as a tool to suppress participation,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said. “I’m not saying that’s what the Port of Seattle did, but that’s one reason why we restarted service right away, because we did not see a threat to safety or security.”
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