Pilot on world’s shortest scheduled flight retires

A pilot who has completed the world’s shortest scheduled flight more than 12,000 times is to take to the skies over Orkney for the last time.
Stuart Linklater, 59, will retire after making his final trip on the route between Westray and Papa Westray.
It takes just two minutes – including taxiing – to complete the 1.7 mile flight, which is about the same length as the runway at Edinburgh Airport.
Mr Linklater, a pilot with Loganair, has spent 24 years in the job.
During his time on the inter-isle routes – which also includes flights to Stronsay, Sanday, North Ronaldsay and Eday – the Orkney-based pilot has chalked up more than 1.3 million miles in the single-manned, eight-seater Britten-Norman Islander aircraft used on the service.
Flying the Islander in some of the most challenging weather conditions in Scotland means I’ve had my fair share of turbulence over the years”
Mr Linklater, who will continue working part-time for Loganair operating aircraft out of Glasgow, said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Orkney inter-isle service and have worked with and carried so many interesting people over the 24 years I’ve spent piloting the Islander.
“There’s nothing quite like the experience of taking the Islander up and I will look back fondly on my years spent flying between the islands over the years.
“Flying the Islander in some of the most challenging weather conditions in Scotland means I’ve had my fair share of turbulence over the years, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“Although I have other interests I’ll still continue flying, albeit on a part-time basis, on the Glasgow services to Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown.”
Mr Linklater joined Loganair after gaining his private pilot licence in 1982 and his commercial pilot’s licence in 1988, and has worked with the airline for 25 years, 16 of them as part of the company’s then air ambulance service contract.
He has flown enough miles to circumnavigate the globe 50 times.
‘Ambulance missions’
Loganair said he can also lay claim to the record for the number of times he has flown the world’s shortest scheduled flight and holds the record for the time taken to travel between the two islands – 53 seconds.
The pilot, who will turn 60 on Monday, became a grandfather for the first time in December.
His final day of flights will include trips from Kirkwall to Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay. He will also pilot a service from Kirkwall to Westray, then Papa Westray, before returning to Kirkwall.
Loganair president Scott Grier said: “Those of us based at Loganair’s headquarters in Glasgow always had peace of mind knowing that Stuart Linklater was very much in control of the specialist flying operations in Orkney, whether North Isles scheduled services, or the many years of ambulance missions.”
Councillor Steven Heddle, convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: “It’s the end of an era for the North Isles with Stuart’s retirement.
“He has served them fantastically well on countless regular flights, and on ambulance flights in the past, and his skill and relaxed approach always made travelling on the Islanders very enjoyable on all the times I have flown on them.”

Source:  James Shaw reports – BBC News

Air Malta pilot given €573,000 golden handshake

An Air Malta pilot who opted for the early retirement scheme offered to the airline’s employees last year, was granted €4,777 a month up to 2023.

The pilot will be paid a monthly sum up to his retirement age in 2023.  Over a span of 10 years, starting from 2013, this adds up to a grand total of €573,240.

Tourism minister Karmenu Vella said that in total, 12 pilots opted for the early retirement scheme, which was offered to the airline’s employees as part of its restructuring program.

The payments issued to these 12 pilots sums up to around €4.3 million. In his reply to a Parliamentary question, Vella explained that eight pilots received €2,730,698, while another three pilots are in the process of taking the retirement scheme by the end of the year.

These three pilots will be receiving around €988,076, the minister said.

In 2012, Air Malta posted a loss of €30 million, after having received the European Commission’s green light for a restructuring plan in which the airline must become profitable after receiving €130 million in state aid.

Air Malta’s net loss for the financial year ended March 2013 is expected to total €28 million, however up to €10 million is attributable to one-time restructuring costs, such as termination payments to its employees.

The global figure includes operational costs of around €15 million as well as non-operational costs, including the restructuring costs.

The latter was part of the restructuring agreement reached last year with the European Commission, which was harshly criticised by the pilots’ union, ALPA.

In October 2012, following protracted negotiations between the airline and the pilots, a collective agreement was signed, which saw the pilots receive a €4.5 million raise.

The collective agreement for 2012-2015 will see pilots get a raise of over 3% every year, cost-of-living allowance increase, for a total of €17,000 annually.

The revised scale system will see pilots and first officers’ salaries capped at €90,800 for pilots and €58,200 for first officers. The capped salaries is hoped to produce a natural wastage of older and higher-earning pilots taking early retirement, and bring down the staff complement of 130 pilots.

Source:  MaltaToday News


Airline Pilot, Business Pilot or….Bush Pilot?

It was September, 2007. It was dark, I could see only shadows on the street and the particular smell of a place I never been before.  Africa.

Hopefully, when my flight arrived to Bamako – Senou airport it was late at night.  First arrival to Africa is always shocking and one thing is to see it on Discovery Channel and another completely different is to see it in real.  I never imagined that this would be the first step on my aviation career to become an African Bush Pilot.

If asked, most of us can create a mental picture of what means being an Airline Pilot, a Business Pilot or a Military Pilot.  But few of us know exactly what a Bush Pilot is.  The image we have of the first one is of a guy with an immaculate uniform with golden or silver stripes, wearing a hat, walking with secure steps at a studied speed on the airport terminal carrying a flight bag with rolling wheels.  Is the same one we see sitting on the cockpit of those amazing big jets that carry lots of people all over the world.  The second one is the one that flies those fancy business jets carrying all type of important people and superstars, not much flight, a lot of five stars hotels and a glamorous life.  The third one is the one all kids dream to be, the top one of the history, all adrenaline, wears a helmet, boots, gloves, an anti-G uniform and flies those incredible fighter jets, remember Top Gun?

But, what about our friend the Bush Pilot?  We know little about him, when we hear about them we make an immediate relationship with Africa or Alaska, but truth is that we can find Bush Pilots anywhere in the world, flying all kind of aircrafts.  But what is exactly a Bush Pilot?  Some of us tend to think that are those kinds of guys that can land small airplanes in a piece of paper, do all kind of crazy things with an airplane, some of them to the edge of a reckless operation.  The fact is that being a Bush Pilot requires a very good knowledge of your aircraft, how it will react to certain control inputs, what to expect under certain conditions of weight, cg position, etc.  And also very good flying skills, good knowledge of the area of operation, terrain, weather, wind conditions, etc.

During my stay in Africa, flying in different countries I have seen all kind of extreme operations done by bush pilots.  For example, land a Boeing 737 in a passenger / cargo configuration in a 5000 ft gravel runway, a turbine DC-3 from Red Cross landing in a curving runway in the middle of the African bush, a Let 410 flown by Russian pilots taking off in a road with the wings barely clearing the sides of the trees.

We were operating our Saab in a mining location which has been compacted with….coffee! Yes, unbelievable, coffee.  And was hard like concrete!

Not to mention, that in most cases there was no Flight Dispatcher, so we had to calculate manually our Weight and Balance, sometimes no baggage handlers.  In some destinations, mostly mining locations, there was no weather report station, so we had to call someone, usually the radio operator to give us an appreciation of the weather conditions over the airfield and I can tell, the guys were very good!

In most runways there was no PAPI, or VOR, or ILS, only a homemade GPS approach, so our glide slope were our eyes.  Remember the trick of the closed hand placed vertically on your glare shield with the runway threshold on top of it? It works perfect!

Bush Pilots are a brotherhood and they have a high reputation among the aviation community.  Today, away from Africa, flying in a modern environment, with radar control, all kind of aids for approach, long runways and modern airports and terminals; I can say that I’ll be always grateful for the wonderful opportunity that Africa gave me; that in fact made me a better pilot.

Author:  Capt. Ivan

A nice video of the “Tankers du Ciel” – Flying Tankers, the remarkable life of the pilots who bring fuel to the remote diamond mines of Angola.

Two held after PIA midair scare over London

LONDON: Two Pakistani men were arrested at the Stansted Airport by the Essex Police on suspicion of endangerment of a PIA aircraft on Friday after a Royal Air Force Typhoon jet was scrambled to escort the Lahore-to-Manchester flight.  –  Source:  The News – Pakistan

Essex Police officers boarded PK709, which had been bound for Manchester, after it landed at Stansted and removed the men from the plane. The PIA pilot had raised the alarm after two men tried to enter the cockpit, unconfirmed reports said.

The RAF jet was scrambled following an incident around 10 minutes before the plane, which departed from Lahore, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft which was due to land at Manchester Airport at 1.30pm today has been diverted to our sister airport London Stansted, where the authorities are investigating.

“The plane — a Boeing 777, flight number PK709 — was travelling from Lahore and had 297 passengers on board. Two men, aged 30 and 41, were removed from the aircraft and taken to a police station for questioning,” Essex Police said. It is thought that the incident might have been sparked by a scuffle or a disagreement among passengers.

The plane remained at a spot on the north side of the airport with flights carrying on as normal.According to a PIA source who spoke to The News, the two men had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit. An airport source said it was thought a fight led to the aircraft being diverted. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “A Typhoon aircraft had been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within the UK airspace.”

He added that the Typhoon was from the RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. The very same plane on the very same flight — from Lahore to Manchester — had been diverted to Stansted on September 7 2011 due to a bomb scare.

A Pakistan high commission spokesman said that the crew of the flight reported to the British authorities about the threats to the safety of the plane made by the two passengers.“The High Commission is keeping the authorities informed back in Pakistan and is also in touch with the PIA office in London. The facts are being ascertained,” said a spokesman.

In Lahore, the PIA issued the following statement: “PIA flight PK 709 for the sector Lahore-Manchester was diverted to Stansted, as a safety measure. The flight PK 709 operated by Boeing 777 aircraft carrying 297 passengers and 11 crew members landed safely at Stansted airport,” the PIA spokesman said here on Friday evening.

The PIA spokesman said that the flight PK 709 in the UK airspace was diverted to the Stansted airport on receiving a threat to the aircraft from two passengers on board the aircraft to a PIA crew member who informed the captain.

The captain of the aircraft immediately contacted the air traffic control, UK, and on the instructions received, the captain landed the aircraft at the Stansted Airport. The two passengers have been taken into custody by the UK authorities and are being questioned.

All passengers, crew and aircraft are safe. The flight will land back at Manchester after security clearance by the UK authorities, the PIA spokesman concluded.

Pakistan International Airlines - PIA - PK708

Pakistan International Airlines – PIA – PK708

















British Airways makes an emergency landing at Heathrow – Video

(Reuters) – British Airways said on Friday a plane travelling from London to Oslo was forced to make an emergency landing after a fault in one of the engines.

Video footage on Sky News showed the plane at London’s Heathrow’s airport with smoke bellowing out of its right engine.

“It’s right engine was on fire. This plane was coming over and suddenly the tone of the engine changed dramatically. I’d almost say it was like a blowout or an explosion,” witness Clive Cook told Sky News.

The airport, Europe’s busiest, closed both its runways to deal with the incident, but one has since been re-opened.

A spokesman for the London fire brigade, which attended the incident, said they believed the fire was now out.

“There has been an incident involving a BA aircraft at Heathrow airport this morning and both runways have been closed as a result,” a spokeswoman for the airport said. “All passengers have been safely evacuated from the plane in question.”

Solar Impulse plane sets new distance record on Dallas flight

The Solar Impulse aircraft has set a new distance record for solar-powered flight on the second leg of its trans-American journey on Wednesday evening.

The aircraft landed in Dallas, Texas, after an 18-hour flight from Phoenix, Arizona, a journey of 1,541km (958mi).

In the coming weeks, it will also stop over in St Louis, Missouri, and Washington DC before heading to New York in early July.

The “Across America” bid is billed as the first cross-continental, solar-powered flight.

It is the last showpiece with the prototype aircraft before the Solar Impulse co-founders and pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, attempt a trans-oceanic flight and an eventual around-the-world flight in 2015.

Pilatus PC-24 – The Off-Road Jet

Pilatus PC-24A world première at the “European Business Aviation Conference and Exposition” (EBACE) in Geneva today: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd unveiled the PC‑24, the world’s first “Super Versatile Jet”.

The entirely newly developed PC-24 sees traditional Pilatus values of versatility, efficiency and Swiss precision brought together in a business jet for the very first time. This innovative development by the Swiss aircraft manufacturer marks the creation of a new segment in the business aviation market: the PC-24 is the first business jet worldwide with the ability to use very short runways, paved or unpaved, and a cargo door as standard. The jet also boasts an enviably spacious cabin which can be configured to individual requirements. Thanks to these features, this aircraft is truly a “Super Versatile Jet”.

Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus, remembers: “Over ten years ago, we started asking our PC-12 customers what they would like to see in the next Pilatus aircraft. The answers were always the same: Further and faster – whilst retaining the much appreciated strengths of the PC-12, such as the ability to use very short runways. It was a huge challenge for our development team! We are all the more proud to be able to unveil an aircraft with exactly those qualities today: the PC-24.”

The PC-24 will offer its future owners a combination of performance and versatility unrivalled by any other business jet. The cabin interior will be available in a wide choice of different configurations ranging from an executive layout with 6-8 passenger seats to a commuter setup with room for up to 10 passengers, or even combi-versions with ample space for passengers and cargo, right through to special installations for emergency medical flights.

The PC-24 reaches a maximum speed of ~425 knots (787 km/h). The maximum range with 4 passengers is 3,610 km. The PC-24 is powered by two Williams FJ44-4A turbines, each of which produces 15,124 kN of thrust.

The avionics system draws on a completely new Pilatus concept: the “Advanced Cockpit Environment” (ACE™) system, developed especially to reduce cockpit workloads. Even in the basic version, the “Pilatus ACE” offers four 12-inch screens, the SmartView™ synthetic vision system, TCAS II, IRS, LVP and the option to complete flight planning procedures on the screen itself, in graphical form.

Work on the prototype in Stans is in full swing. The roll-out is scheduled for the third quarter of 2014. The PC-24 will take off on its maiden flight towards the end of 2014. Certification by the European (EASA) and American (FAA) authorities is planned for early 2017 and the first aircraft will be delivered immediately thereafter. The PC-24 programme was approved by the Board of Directors of Pilatus Aircraft Ltd in summer 2012 and is financed entirely from company funds.

Schwenk has no doubt that the PC-24 will be just as successful as the PC-12, of which over 1200 models have been sold to date: “Very importantly, the PC-24 is a completely new development – not a ‘me too product’. Specifically, there is no other business jet on the market with the same credentials and qualities as our new jet. Once again, we aim to fill a market niche and I am confident we will do so successfully.

Pilatus PC-24 CockpitI am proud that we are able to develop such complex aircraft for the worldwide market here in Switzerland. I am sure our future customers will be every bit as enthusiastic as I am about the PC-24 ­– the world’s first ‘Super Versatile Jet‘!”

The list price (price basis 2017) is approx. USD 8.9 million. First orders will be taken at EBACE 2014.

Source:  Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


IFR Fix: Rotate, or the river?

The pilot had taken pains to hedge his inexperience in the newly acquired complex single before launching on the 200-nautical-mile out-and-back flight. In the right seat sat an old friend, an instructor. The destination airport, home base to both, was comfortable as an old shoe.

That was key; with a high hill south of the airport and a rocky river wrapping around its northern boundary, arrival demands a nice touch. No extra knots allowed.

Especially on a moonless night with the wind blowing.

The hill isn’t much to look at on a chart, but oh, how it fills a windscreen. And now there are wind turbines under construction on top.

Once you’ve passed the hill, slow up. The 2,800-foot runway isn’t roomy.

The aircraft owner had toyed with starting his instrument rating, but had not yet proceeded beyond bouncing the idea off his airline pilot son.

Even a comfortable home airport can turn unforgiving if you arrive before you’re ready, uncertain that you can reconfigure with your customary prompt precision. Now it wasn’t the hill the pilot was concerned about, but the river as the runway slid beneath the undecelerated airplane.

If this were a movie, one of the pilots would deadpan, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

The pilot did. He began a go-around. You could say that his instrument training began at that moment.

Pitching up into the black hole was an awful sensation. He sought refuge on the flight instruments, but the panel’s pre-six-pack layout defied rapid cross-check. Torn between too much rotation and too much river, the pilot struggled against himself for control.

Go ahead and exhale. A safe return and landing followed. Later the pilot briefed his son on the flight. His son, a former general aviation instructor, passed the story along.

You’ll recall a brief discussion from primary training about how “dark nights tend to eliminate reference to a visual horizon. As a result, pilots need to rely less on outside references at night and more on flight and navigation instruments.”

Then we turned the page. But as this account and others of different outcome affirm, a pilot can put off earning an instrument rating, or recovering proficiency, indefinitely, but needing the skills may not be subject to postponement.

Source:  AOPA – Flight Training

Newark Gear-Up Landing Raises Same Old Question: What Airline Are You Really Flying?

News reports immediately identified the aircraft that made a belly landing at Newark International Airport this past Saturday morning as a US Airways airplane.  The flight was referred to as a US Airways flight.  But buried somewhere in the news reports the next day, was the information that the aircraft was in fact operated by Piedmont Airlines, not USAirways.

What’s In A Name?

But Piedmont and US Airways are not the same airline.  Not at all.  While Piedmont is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Airways’ holding company, the two airlines each have their own, separate FAA licenses to operate.  One airline does not control the other and, in fact, any attempt at such control would be illegal under FAA rules.  Each airline has its own manuals for operations, training and maintenance.  The airlines fly completely different types of aircraft with US Airways, headquartered in Tempe, AZ, flying only jets, mostly large passenger jets, such as Airbus 319 and Boeing737 aircraft, and Piedmont, located in Salisbury, MD, flying exclusively DeHaviland DHC-8 turboprops.

The emergency landing in Newark, albeit without injuries, is a chilling reminder of the” Continental” Airlines flight that took off from Newark on February 9, 2009, and crashed just outside Buffalo, NY, killing 50 people, including one person of the ground.  That flight ended up being a Continental flight in name only.  In fact, that aircraft was operated by Colgan Airlines (which, coincidentally, was also a USAirways Express carrier).  An NTSB investigation attributed the crash to pilot error but an investigative report by PBS Frontline, Flying Cheap, found many disturbing safety trends in the growth of regional airlines, such as Colgan.  And the equally disturbing fact that most passengers are unaware that the major airline they think they’re flying is in reality not responsible for a single aspect of the operation or maintenance of that flight.

Source:  Forbes


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