Boeing : Recruits Insurers to Fill Financing Gap | 4-Traders

Boeing Co. has found a new source of financing for jetliner orders that are expected to approach $200 billion a year by the end of the decade: insurance companies. Airbus SE customers have also been unable to tap export credit funding, with agencies in the U.K., France and Germany closed to large aircraft business because of a probe into alleged corruption. Apple Bank has been regularly involved in export credit deals while poor returns kept co-arranger ING Group NV out of the market for a number of years before being attracted back by the new structure. London-based Greensill is a new entrant to aircraft finance, though is active in the broader aerospace industry, running a supply chain finance network for Airbus. The new partnership could fill a gap in aircraft financing created by the extended closure of export credit agencies in the U.S. and Europe. Export-Import Bank official hired in June by insurance broker Marsh McLennan to develop the product under the banner of the Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium. Only a quarter of new aircraft are paid for in cash, with the balance financed through bank loans and the capital markets. “It’s credit insurance on steroids,” said Jon Byron, senior vice president at Apple Bank Inc, which co-arranged the purchase of a Boeing 747-8 freighter using the structure for lessor Intrepid Aviation, which is renting the plane to Russia-based AirBridgeCargo.

Read More

The problem with US air traffic control isn’t technology, it’s money

In this series, Tnooz delves into the questions surrounding US ATC privatization to learn why anyone would take a stand against a proposal to make the airspace better. ?That?s the equipment they have to have installed to allow them to utilize NextGen ATC technology. JetBlue has the largest percentage of their fleet equipped with ADS-B?about 30 percent?and they are the leaders in the US.? The FAA began the NextGen program� in 2003 in compliance with the National Airspace System (NAS) modernization act. The FAA?s role was to identify the technology upgrades required, and implement them in collaboration with the airline industry. It set up a system for better communications between flights and ATC control towers, including automated interfaces to optimize flight routes, set up new technology for traffic flow decision making, upgraded technology for improved weather visualization and for improved capacity management. The current proposal would be to take control over air traffic management away from the Federal Aviation Administration and hand it to a private non-profit company to manage. But the FAA is only one of three stakeholders in the process. Airports and airlines have to upgrade their systems so that the system as a whole works. It moves beyond airplane to tower radio communications and radar and incorporates GPS satellite for more accurate flight tracking. More accurate flight tracking would allow the ATC infrastructure to manage more aircraft over a narrower corridor, allowing for more frequent departures and landings, and optimized flight paths to reduce fuel burn. Under the NextGen program, airlines are required to have upgraded their planes to support ADS-B communications by January 1, 2020. Airline industry analyst, Robert Mann, who hasworked in executive roles at American Airlines, Pan Am, TWA and Tower Air in his career, advised the Airline Pilots Association Board of Directors, and holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from MIT in Transportation/Management and Aeronautics, also points to airline ADS-B adoption as a critical hurdle for US ATC reform. On the surface, it may sound like a good plan to take something as massive as controlling the thousands of planes overflying the United States and hand-over their burden to a private organization which will not have the same bureaucratic constraints. There is an additional wrinkle, and that is the method airlines use for flight coordination. While there is ?off the shelf? software available for flight schedule optimization, which would help them give the FAA?s ATC system more predictable demand for airspace in each hub at any one time. ?[Airlines?] role is both to time and sequence their flights to best meet their own airline business rules. ?There may be a whole bunch of other airline based rules that they are trying to satisfy by mathematical optimization. ?The FAA can always be more comfortable with a higher rate (of air traffic) but only if airlines stop delivering random demand and make it more deterministic. We tend to associate bureaucracy with inflated costs and slow progress, so the argument that ATC would run more efficiently if it were ?run as a business? sounds good on the surface. Furthermore, even if a private non-profit could pick up the works and somehow manage to persuade airlines to meet the ADS-B adoption deadline and implement more efficient flight coordination technology, leaving the functions of an optimized, semi-automated airspace in the hands of a private company may have negative knock-on effects on the public, Derner suggests. That?s because optimized flight paths, left to computers to calculate with no human intervention to rationalize, might put more planes flying over areas which currently experience limited air traffic. ?If we move to privatization, they wont need to listen to noise complaints and operate the departure at will. ?Congress needs to stop holding the FAA hostage to annual reauthorization bills. They don?t know whether, from month to month, they?ll have the budget to solve problems.? There are other objections to ATC privatization, from the General Aviation and Business Aviation Communities and pilots associations. It ignores the technology that is already in place but not being used, and it is blind to complications of current and future demand for the airspace over the next twenty years. In effect, they argue, it is turning over control of vital infrastructure to a private company which would not have any legal obligation to control the skies with the same due diligence as a federal agency. What is more, without completing the basic requirements still lagging in modernization of ATC, any changes made to administration are merely passing on the ?hot potato? to a new set of players who would face greater challenges in getting things done?

Read More

Japan’s space, tech companies seek new business in Orlando

About 30 Japanese manufacturers plan a trip to Orlando in October to check out the new commercial space race and other business opportunities in Florida. Japanese money came to Florida in a big way last year with the announcement that Japan?s SoftBank would invest $1 billion in OneWeb, which plans to crank out hundreds of small satellites from a new facility at Kennedy Space Center?s Exploration Park. 25 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport for morning of networking and speakers. Some of the Japanese companies coming include Kyocera, UNO Corporation, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research Institute, and Samtech Corp. Japan?s version of NASA will there ? the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and so will the Japan Aerospace Corporation. It?s billed as the Florida-Japan Aerospace & Aviation Summit, and it?s organized by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), with help from Japan?s Consul General in Miami, Ken Okaniwa. ?They want to see the opportunities in Florida, and it can be mutually beneficial,?

Read More

Professional Education Courses Announced for This Fall at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Department of Professional Education at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University , the world?s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace offers industry-focused courses designed for professionals involved in the operation, management and supervision of aerospace organizations. Pro-Ed courses and seminars include Aviation Safety, Accident Investigation, Aircraft Appraisal, Avionics, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Media Relations in Accident Investigation and a degree program in U.S. Located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a successi… Following our popular articles about the new hotel openings in Los Angeles , this time we bring you the new hotel openings in Miami, Florida. If you want to have a relaxing trip to Istanbul, you should consider city’s hotels on the Bosphorus. Home to some of the most sought-after attractions and destinations in the world, Los Angeles continues to add several lodging�[�…�] The staff at Embry-Riddle?s Professional Programs can also create specialized programs and customized education to offer on campus or on site. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University uniquely combines expertise and technology to address the most pressing challenges facing today?s aviation industry.�The continuing education curriculum at Embry-Riddle covers the operation, marketing and management of modern aircraft and the systems that support them. With a team of leading industry experts and top academics, these short courses provide the participants with global perspectives into the air transport industry, with an intensive summary of the current issues and key factors that influence success.

Read More

The Flight That Saved Commercial Aviation

But Lindbergh chose to go the more northerly route in order to shorten the flight time. To mitigate headwinds and the possibility of being blown hundreds of miles off course, Lindbergh loaded his single-engine aircraft with 450 gallons of California gasoline in five tanks that, in turn, was filtered through a wire mesh screen. Although at the time air mail was still growing, prospects for commercial aviation as a whole were given new life when, in 1919, hotelier Raymond Orteig offered $25,000 in prize money for the first successful non-stop New York to Paris airplane flight. It was Orteig?s hope that such a flight would give new impetus to both the development of aviation and aviation technology. But one of the requirements was that the aircraft have a barograph to record the flight, which as Hampton writes was personally installed into Spirit by the National Aeronautic Association. Because a barograph precisely records atmospheric pressure over time, it could verify that an aircraft had stayed aloft for the whole duration of a putative ?non-stop? flight. Hampton, a decorated Top Gun fighter pilot turned author, told me. In 1927, he says, there was no way to monitor aircraft in flight, so without the barograph, there would be no way to tell a pilot had secretly landed to refuel somewhere. ?Wright Aeronautical made the best engines at the time, and this one would have to fire perfectly over 14 million times during his flight,? said Hampton. ?It was so well-made that its average was 9000 flight hours between failures — more than a year of continuous operation.? ?This first non-stop New York to Paris flight would not have been possible without successful instrument flying,? said Hampton. ?Without visual references, a decade earlier it would not have been possible to fly at night in bad weather or during the day.? But as Hampton notes in the book, a truss gave strength to the craft and was designed to evenly distribute aerodynamic stress. A decade away from the 100th anniversary of Lindbergh?s non-stop transatlantic flight, it?s hard not to enjoy the view from this left bank Paris caf� and marvel at how far we?ve come. And although the 1920s were filled with aviation firsts, Hampton says much like our own time, people of the era were a bit jaded. ?The Great War (World War I), loss of values, prohibition, government corruption, the flu epidemic all left scars,? said Hampton. ?People were disillusioned and needed a hero — Lindbergh was it.? Aerospace represented an exciting frontier that was still being conquered and the fact that Lindbergh was seen as conquering it gave people hope, says Hampton. Today, Le Bourget is home to the Paris Air Show, where every two years, the latest in commercial and military aviation sits side by side with mockups of the European Space Agency?s Ariane launchers. Today?s commercial aviation industry arguably owes it all to Charles Lindbergh?s tenacity during his thirty-three and a half hour nonstop May 20, 1927 flight from Long Island, New York to Le Bourget field in Paris. A visitor looks at the Spirit of St. Louis monoplane, used by US aviator Charles Lindbergh during the first cross-Atlantic flight from New-York to Paris, where it landed at Le Bourget aerodrome, at an air show celebrating Le Bourget aerodrome centenary, in Le Bourget, near Paris, on July 13, 2014. Dan Hampton?s compelling and well-researched new chronicle of the historic crossing, makes clear, Lindbergh wisely chose an aircraft engine that was arguably the most reliable of its day. The plane, which Lindbergh had dubbed the Spirit of St. Louis, also had state of the art cockpit instruments, including a new earth-inductor compass; as well as an airframe design that ensured the kind of rugged structural integrity that would be mandatory for the 3600-mile challenge. Yet perhaps most of all, Lindbergh chose a risky Great Circle route, dangerously out of the way of shipping lanes.

Read More

What the Tech Industry can learn from the Aircraft Industry

The recent discrimination lawsuits against Google point to not just an issue at Google, but an issue with the tech industry. The race to space in the sixties was a powerful fever that gripped the public?s imaginations. Children (girls and boys) grew up influenced by technology and there was an increase in enrollment in engineering and computer science. Since then however due to many different factors ( increase in economic prosperity , persistent cultural stereotypes and the lack of an inspiring rallying call to action) the number of people going into engineering and technology declined, and the most dramatic decline was seen in the number of women going into computer science. The issue is a complex one and it has to be dealt on many different levels, on different time scales, but I wanted to draw attention to one particularly successful example of building a diverse community of enthusiasts. And the community is not small – it is hundreds of thousands of people strong. Google was the very first large company (not just in the tech industry) to openly publish the percentage of women employees to the public . This was in 2014. If you want to inspire the broader public with the coolest innovations, then you need to invite the broader public – and what better way to do that than to invite the families of your most ardent devotees. As far as I know EAA is the only organization that has succeeded in making a technical conference a warm and inspiring gathering at a phenomenal scale – a scale that no tech company can even dream of currently. The lesson here is to come together to create an inclusive family celebration of technology (old and new). Engage your Vanguard – The other powerful lesson to be learned from EAA is to involve the pioneers in the story telling. That layer of richness and humanity is completely missing in the tech world. EAA does a great job of honoring veterans and pioneers and connecting them to the next generation through carefully designed hands-on activities. The tech industry does not lack giants, but it needs to work much harder to bring them together and give them an opportunity to pass on the lore and the love to the new generation. It is almost impossible to authentically explain how a phone or computer works to a child in a short amount of time. EAA brings in aviation industry experts to use old engines, electronic systems, radios etc to explain their fundamental operating principles to young children. Only when the children demonstrate their understanding do they go onto the more abstract concepts and principles at play in modern aviation. The closest equivalent in the tech world to this is Paul Allen?s Living Computers Museum . That museum is beginning to get at the right idea. However, the next level of work still needs to be done to create open-ended activities that help children actually understand some of the mechanisms behind the computing. But we can draw inspiration from what is working well and adapt the principles to a technology family gathering. It will take time – This is probably the hardest to think about in a world of instantaneous feedback. It will take time to change mindsets and open up a community that has long prided itself in being an exclusive club. EAA started 64 years and this year there were 600,000 attendees from all over the world celebrating the spirit of aviation. It was the only company to support the first girls? technology entrepreneurship program, Technovation in 2010. But consistent implementation of what the leadership believes and wants in a company as large as Google, is a separate challenge.

Read More

Can the supersonic Boom jet beat the Concorde’s economics? – Australian Business Traveller

Ask a harried air traveler about the basics of modern flight, and you?ll probably elicit surprise when they discover commercial airplanes fly only as fast as they did in the 1950s. Given the range of aerospace advances in the past half-century, plus the technological leaps in almost every other area of human endeavour, it seems reasonable to ask: Why can?t we fly faster? In response to skeptics, Boom touts its design as a radical update of the troubled Concorde, which was operated by only two airlines over 27 years. First, the plane had ferociously high operating costs, driven primarily by its voracious appetite for jet fuel. ?Grossly uneconomic,? in the words of a 1978 New York Times article summarizing critiques of the aircraft. Second, the Concorde?s load factors were generally lean because of the steep fares Air France and British Airways were forced to charge, typically around US$15,000 to US$20,000 in current dollars. The startup?s signature city pairing is New York to London, which would take a little more than three hours to fly and give a corporate traveler the opportunity to make a day trip across the pond and back. ?Leave New York at 6 am, make afternoon and dinner meetings in London, and be home to tuck your kids into bed,? the suburban company says on its website. ?It?s about making the economics work and then delivering the aircraft we say we can deliver,? says Boom?s co-founder and c hief executive officer, Blake Scholl, a pilot and former app developer. Boom has struck a deal with the Spaceship Company, the manufacturing division of Richard Branson?s Virgin Galactic, to use that company?s engineering, design, and flight-test support services. That?s the question driving a startup called Boom Technology, which says it?s time to bring supersonic jet travel into the mainstream ? in a modern way. Virgin Group spokeswoman Christine Choi said in an e-mail. ?It is still early days and just the start of what you?ll hear about our shared ambitions and efforts.? Boom?s aircraft would target such global business centers as Hong Kong, London, New York, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo, where corporate travelers would likely pay for the time savings a supersonic jet could afford. ?With the operational costs they are expecting for this airplane ? current business-class fares could make this airplane profitable,? says consultant Michael Boyd in a telephone interview. ?It passed the smell test on this end. The company will be forced to demonstrate that whatever positive performance data its models yield in computer simulations, the planes will hold up in the real and very brutal world of airline economics. That will require extensive flight testing so that Boom can move beyond the ?paper airplane? stage, according to St. George. ?You can do a lot of modeling with software these days before the thing flies ? but until you actually see it, you never really know,? he says. The company is pursuing speed with an audacious idea: a 45-seat aircraft that cruises at Mach 2.2 (1,451 miles per hour), faster than the defunct Concorde and certainly faster than the standard 550 mph, with fares no more expensive than a current business-class round trip, which ranges between US$5,000 and US$10,000. Boom plans to fly a one-third-size demonstrator version of its airplane called the XB-1 in late 2017, working with General Electric. It?s aiming to initially fly GE?s J85 engines, a model that dates to the 1950s, on the XB-1. The biggest technical challenge, however, will probably be the engine, as noted in a recent analysis by Bjorn Fehrm, an aerospace consultant and a former fighter pilot in the Swedish air force. The company plans to use a proven commercial engine core ? the GEnx and Rolls Royce Trent 1000 power plants on Boeing?s 787 are among ?multiple good options? ? and then modify that engine?s turbofan and composite blades, he says. ?In essence, you?re taking an engine that has a big fan and putting a medium-size fan on it that?s more appropriate? for the Boom design, Scholl says. Scholl declined to say how much research work an engine manufacturer would have to invest in this project, but the market is almost 4,000 engines, based on the Boyd analysis. Beyond the engine performance, another issue for airlines would be how to market an upscale supersonic service alongside the premium cabins on existing jets, according to Alex Wilcox, CEO of JetSuite, a California-based charter service and scheduled airline. Yet long before travelers can marvel at a quick hop across the Atlantic, Boom will need to sell the airlines not just on a technically disruptive aircraft, but also on one that can accomplish such feats of velocity cost-effectively. Being up in the air is fast becoming the same as being in the office, with robust internet communication a priority for carriers, thus reducing the biggest attraction of supersonic flight – speed. Mix that with the flat beds and premium dining, and the business-class cabin can become a comfortable den in which to be productive, rested, and well-fed on the kind of 15- to 20-hour flights that are quickly becoming routine. ?You used to be stuck in a tube,? says Teal Group?s Aboulafia. ?Now it?s an office in the sky. Boom is likely to encounter deep skepticism in a conservative industry that still relies heavily on a fundamental airplane design devised 70 years ago. ?I have no problem seeing the demand for this airplane,? says Marty St. George, a JetBlue Airways executive and industry veteran. ?The issue is can you do it and make the numbers work?? Boom will face a numerical gauntlet as it seeks to sell airlines on the advantages of a small, supersonic craft, with airlines posing tough questions about weight, range, fuel burn, maintenance, dispatch reliability, and dozens of other issues. The company also plans for its aircraft to fly on three engines, a departure from the industry trend of using two engines as the most efficient configuration.

Read More

Prayer Request for 30 SEALs Killed in Afghanistan

A request for prayers for the families of 30 U.S. military personnel who died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan is several years old. Social media post requests prayers for the families of 30 U.S. military personnel killed when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan, apparently by a Taliban-fired rocket-propelled grenade. The helicopter had been part of a mission targeting a Taliban leader. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and they could hardly have found a more valuable target: American officials said that 22 of the dead were Navy Seal commandos, including members of Seal Team 6. Other commandos from that team conducted the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Bin Laden in May [2011]. The officials said that those who were killed were not involved in the Pakistan mission. Those killed in the crash include 22 sailors �?? 17 of them Navy SEALs �?? assigned to East Coast and West Coat-based Naval Special Warfare units. Two soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, three soldiers assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment and three airmen assigned to 24th Special Tactics Squadron of Pope Field, N.C., also died. US forces later killed the insurgents responsible for the crash in an F-16 air strike. I ask everyone to say a prayer for the United States Navy Seal Team and their families. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan. Their helicopter was shot down yesterday in Afghanistan and they lost 30 members of the team. You will have to copy and paste by holding your finger on the post till it turns grey, then touch the copy and then post on your page. Although this request is ?true? in the sense that the tragic event it describes did occur, its continued inclusion of the word ?yesterday? is nonetheless misleading �?? it references a U.S. In the deadliest day for American forces in the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans, including some Navy Seal commandos from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as 8 Afghans, American and Afghan officials said.

Read More

Young women get sneak peek at a career in aviation at O’Hare Airport

?I still remember just starting at United and being able to go out to the ramp and meet a plane, or going inside a plane?inside a cockpit.�So having these girls, some as young as eight up to high schoolers, it?s really special,? About 45 girls from ages nine to 18 were at O?Hare for the day getting a behind-the-scenes look at the world of aviation. ?I think it?s awesome we can get the kids out here and look at the airplanes and get them more interested in�a career in the airline field,? The girls saw every aspect of what it takes to run an airline–flight and tech operations, ramp services, security and customer service. ?I think it would be good to have more females to inspire other ones, and whenever I see a female pilot I get so excited because people are like, ?Yeah, you can?t do that,? but I know I can,? ?Seeing their energy, their enthusiasm, all the questions that they ask, it gives me a lot of satisfaction at working at United and being able to explain to them what we do and show them the different parts of the airport that they may have never seen,?

Read More

Flight plan for Failure

Bornholm, Denmark Just two minutes after the private jet was cleared for landing, the pilot realized his error and declared an emergency. He had miscalculated the fuel needs for the one-hour journey from Germany, and now his engines were flaming out. When his name came across the desk of federal investigator Robert Mancuso in late 2008, Haghighi had already racked up a significant criminal record for stealing a plane, had had his pilot�??s license revoked, and had even been deported from the United States in 2006, according to federal investigative reports and court records. Mancuso, a special agent for the US Department of Transportation Inspector General�??s Computer Crimes Unit, began investigating a report that Haghighi had tried to illegally obtain a pilot�??s license online using Daniel George�??s name. Mancuso quickly discovered that George was just one more victim of a con man who used at least a dozen aliases and falsely claimed to have a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a job at Lockheed Martin. Daniel George was interviewed by a local television station in Bornholm, Denmark, during the 2013 trial of Nader Ali Sabouri Haghighi, who stole his identity. But when Haghighi entered the stolen information online to get a copy of George�??s license, Haghighi neglected to change the e-mail address on the account, so George received notification about the new license and contacted the FAA. First responders found the pilot, an Iranian with a criminal record, unconscious in the cockpit. Then, when Haghighi crashed with George�??s license in his possession a few years later, Mancuso made a stunning discovery: Haghighi had found yet another way to get a license. He called the FAA directly, posing as George and complaining that he had never received the certificate he had requested weeks earlier. �??I was shocked,�?? said Mancuso, who traveled to Denmark to testify against Haghighi. �??I assumed that some type of fraud alert would be placed on Mr. George�??s record to prohibit this from happening, especially when it was sent to the same bad address.�?? During his trial in Denmark, Haghighi tried yet another scam, insisting that his real name wasn�??t Haghighi or George but the one on another passport recovered from the crashed plane. But the judge didn�??t believe him and sentenced Haghighi to 10 months in prison for endangering passengers, including children, flying without a valid license or a required co-pilot on multiple occasions. A year after his release from prison, in February 2014, he contacted the agency to secure another medical certificate, which is needed for pilots to fly. According to a US Department of Transportation investigative report, Haghighi lied repeatedly on the form, claiming that he had not visited a medical professional in three years, even though emergency responders had found him unconscious inside a crashed plane just two years earlier. His word was good enough for the FAA, which gave Haghighi a new certificate that he promptly used to land a job with Susi Air, an Indonesian airline. At least one other pilot on the FAA registry, Re Tabib, won his license back after he went to prison for attempting to smuggle aircraft parts to Iran and was formally declared a security threat by the TSA. In 2006, federal officers seized thousands of aircraft parts, some packed in suitcases, and �??shopping lists�?? from the California home of Tabib, an Iranian-born FAA certified pilot. Tabib, a veteran airman who at one time piloted private flights for the designer Gianni Versace, pleaded guilty and served time in federal prison from July 2007 until January 2009. Yet, according to court records, the FAA issued him an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, the highest-level license for pilots, just three months after his release, allowing him to fly large jets. Unlike other pilots with a criminal record, Tabib made no attempt to hide his past, alerting the agency about his felony conviction on an application form that calls on candidates to disclose any previous arrests or convictions. It ought to have been difficult for the black-haired, brown-eyed Iranian to use a pilot�??s license belonging to a fair-skinned, gray-haired American nearly 20 years his senior, except for one factor: FAA pilot licenses do not include photographs of the pilot. But the FAA �?? which can suspend flying privileges for anyone with an ATP license it judges not of �??good moral character�?? �?? did not revoke or suspend his license. The agency declined to comment further on Tabib�??s case but said it examines possible violations of the �??good moral character�?? standard on a case by case basis. In June 2009, just months after Tabib received his new certificates from the FAA, Safe Banking Systems, the New York fraud detection company, matched Tabib�??s name to public watch lists and passed it along with others to The New York Times. The TSA responded to the story by advising the FAA to revoke Tabib�??s certificate. Tabib�??s airman certificates gave him �??insider access�?? that, combined with his connections to Iran, could render him a security threat, according to a 2010 decision by an administrative law judge. Tabib fought the decision for years and finally reached a settlement with the TSA in 2012. Haghighi was able to pull off his ruse for nearly four years until Danish police found the license in the rubble of the crash. Tabib was a professional pilot who was denied the right to earn a living for years based on mere suspicion,�?? This time, Tabib�??s name was kept out of the FAA database of active airmen that the public can download to review the full list of pilots and mechanics. A photo from this spring shows him wearing an aviation headset in the cockpit of a plane at the Azadi airport in Iran. Almost a decade after Haghighi�??s brazen identify theft, the FAA still does not include pilot photos on its licenses, and the agency does not fully vet pilot information before issuing them credentials. Mario Jose Donadi-Gafaro, a US-licensed pilot, died along with six others in a horrific plane crash in Venezuela in 2008 when his plane plummeted into a bustling neighborhood a few minutes after takeoff. He never made a distress call, and questions still remain nine years later about the cause of the accident. But even after the pilot was convicted a second time �?? this time in Venezuela �?? in 2006 for attempting to transport cocaine on an aircraft, the FAA did not revoke Donadi-Gafaro�??s license. Almost a decade after the crash in Venezuela that killed him, the FAA still listed Donadi-Gafaro as an �??active�?? pilot, including him in its database as recently as March 2016. Last year, a leading congressional overseer of the FAA, then-Representative John Mica, called US pilot licenses �??a joke�?? and said that a day pass to Disney World in his native Florida contains more sophisticated security measures. A frustrated John Mica held up a plastic card as he addressed a 2016 hearing of his House subcommittee on the topic of �??securing our skies.�?? �??An airline pilot has access to the controls, flying the plane,�?? said Mica, but a US pilot�??s license lacks basic security features and includes only a decorative picture. �??The only photo on this license are the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. FAA officials defend their licensing practices, noting that pilots are also required to carry a government-issued ID such as a driver�??s license to prove their identity. �??Fifteen years later, we see a system that has not complied with the laws that we have passed multiple times,�?? said Mica. �??We have pilots that are flying planes. In 2003, the agency switched from paper licenses to new �??security-enhanced airman certificates,�?? the FAA said. The plastic documents include an FAA seal and, according to the FAA, are resistant to tampering, alteration, and counterfeiting. But lawmakers have repeatedly challenged the agency on why the FAA has not followed congressional mandates regarding the licenses. Mica, in particular, voiced his concern publicly about the licenses in letters and hearings in 2010, 2011, 2013, and most recently, last year. The pilot certificate, they say, is more an indicator of the pilot�??s level of training than a security tool, and commercial airports and airlines generally issue their own IDs for access to tarmacs, planes, and other secure areas. Many pilots and flight instructors opposed the photo IDs, some complaining that it could add to the cost of licensing without improving national security. �??What is most critical in the issuance of an FAA pilot certificate from a security standpoint is the accurate establishment of the pilot�??s identity, background descriptors, and qualifications,�?? wrote Robb Powers, chairman of the national security committee at the Air Line Pilots Association, International. �??Presently, FAA does not verify the identity of the person requesting a pilot certificate other than through visual inspection of the individual�??s driver�??s license or passport.�?? As of last month, the agency said it, along with the Department of Transportation, is �??still evaluating options for including a photo,�?? a project expected to cost about $1 billion. While the FAA has pondered additional security requirements for more than a decade, special interest groups have worked to quietly relax regulation for pilots. In a victory for advocates of general aviation, Congress eased the medical requirements for pilots seeking a basic license, requiring only a visit to the family doctor and participation in an online course provided by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Robert Mancuso, the Department of Transportation investigator who tracked Haghighi for years as the con man fooled authorities while using many aliases, including Nader Schruder, learned about the latest escapade and sent an e-mail to FAA officials. But the flawed airman licenses are part of a troubling pattern of lax oversight of more than 1 million FAA-approved airmen �?? including pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, and other aviation personnel �?? that has made the agency vulnerable to fraud, and the public vulnerable to those who mean to do harm, a Spotlight Team review has found. He seems to have popped back up in Indonesia with his revoked FAA certificate . . . Can you also run a search for any pilots with the name �??Nader Ali Saboori�?? to make sure he doesn�??t have another certificate.�?? The FAA responded the next day: �??I do show a record for SABOORI; Nader Ali with a First Class Medical certificate issued 2/27/14 . . . It�??s probably the same airman.�?? The Learjet plummeted toward the ground that day in September 2012, then carved its way through a field, coming to rest amid cornstalks and mud, the passenger onboard seriously hurt. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress called on the FAA to overhaul its licensing for more than 600,000 US-certified pilots. He was putting the public�??s life in danger,�?? said Mancuso, now a special agent at another federal office of the inspector general. Haghighi, in Facebook messages to a Globe reporter, expressed no remorse for his behavior and described the FAA in bluntly critical terms: �??know the right person, pay the right amount in a right way and then the sky turns green.�?? The Globe could find no evidence that Haghighi has a US pilot�??s license today, but a Facebook photo update in March suggests he hasn�??t given up hope: He was smiling from the cockpit of a plane with his hand inches away from the controls. Haghighi does not appear to have a pilot�??s license any longer, but a picture he posted on Facebook in March shows he still has flying on his mind. Today, FAA security procedures remain geared more toward the convenience of pilots than the needs of a nation engaged in a �??war on terror,�?? often failing to challenge airmen�??s claims on their applications and seemingly unaware of deceptions. Haghighi, for example, continued to finagle help from the FAA even after he went to jail in Denmark for flying without a valid license and endangering his passenger. After his release, the FAA issued him a medical certificate that helped him land a job at an airline in Indonesia in 2014. All he had to do was change one letter in the spelling of Sabouri and alter his birth year. Beginning in 1994, he purchased homes, registered a plane, obtained a pilot license, and even got married under the name Terry Symansky, according to court records. First responders found the pilot, an Iranian with a criminal record, unconscious in the cockpit. The FAA never caught on that the real Terry Symansky had been dead since 1991, issuing Hoagland a new private pilot certificate in Symansky�??s name as recently as 2010. FAA procedures also make it easy for pilots to hide damaging information, by simply not reporting it. That�??s because the agency relies on them to self-report felony convictions and other crimes that could lead to license revocation. Among the licensed pilots currently listed in the airman registry are Carlos Licona and Paul Grebenc, United Airlines pilots who were sentenced to jail in Scotland earlier this year for attempting to fly a commercial airliner with alcohol in their blood. Under FAA rules, an alcohol-related offense, especially related to flying, can be grounds for license revocation or suspension, though the FAA decides on a case by case basis. Agency records showed that as of January, four months after the men were arrested, there were no reported incidents or enforcement actions related to the pilots. FAA officials stress that they are not the police officers of the skies, leaving that job to an alphabet soup of agencies including the Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security, and the FBI. The FAA merely issues the airman certificates and keeps the database that helps these investigators do their work. And, while FAA officials admit they don�??t routinely investigate information that pilots, mechanics, and others list on license applications, the TSA says it continuously reviews the FAA database against the Terrorist Screening Database, additional terrorism-related information, and other government watch lists. Outside reviewers have repeatedly found that the FAA�??s Airman Registry is riddled with errors and gaps, making it difficult for law enforcement officials to rely on. More than 43,000 pilots received licenses even though they did not provide the FAA with a permanent address, according to a 2013 audit by the Department of Transportation inspector general. Two years earlier, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general found that 8,000 of the Social Security numbers on file belonged to dead people, in part because the FAA doesn�??t purge its files of dated information. Agency officials also said that, when pilots apply for medical certificates �?? a crucial document needed to fly �?? they conduct a one-time check against the national drivers�?? database for drug- or alcohol-related convictions. Last October, when a student pilot from Jordan intentionally crashed a twin-engine plane near a major defense contractor in East Hartford, Conn., law enforcement officials initially feared terrorism and converged on the Illinois address he had given the FAA. But the student, Feras M. Freitekh, had listed the address of a family friend, a place where he had never lived, so law enforcement descended on a house nearly 900 miles from his actual home. Investigators looked at the remains of a small plane in East Hartford, Conn., after a crash that killed a Jordanian student pilot and injured his instructor. Schiffer, the chief scientist for a company that helps banks detect fraud, was simply testing an algorithm to check names against publicly available watch lists that included suspected terrorists and other bad actors. In April 2009, he was using data from the FAA Airman Registry for his test because the list was large and readily available. There was Fawzi Mustapha Assi, who was on the FBI�??s most-wanted list for five years before being convicted of providing material support to Hezbollah in 2008. Also on the list was Myron Tereshchuk, an FAA-certified mechanic and student pilot, who was convicted in federal court in 2005 for possession of biological agents or toxins that could be used as weapons. And there was Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Safe Banking Systems said in a June 2009 report distributed to nearly 40 lawmakers and top government officials, including the FAA administrator and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But no one responded until a New York Times reporter asked the Transportation Security Administration about the certified airmen with terror ties listed in the Safe Banking Systems report. The following day, in June 2009, the TSA advised the FAA to revoke airman certificates for six of the eight names that SBS gave to the reporter. The Department of Homeland Security�??s inspector general, in an 18-month investigation released in July 2011, found that the TSA�??s ability to screen airmen for national security threats is hampered by the quality of information the FAA provides. The TSA could not properly vet thousands of airmen because of missing or inaccurate data within the FAA�??s registry, according to the report. From 2007 to 2010, the TSA recommended the revocation of 27 licenses, but that number would likely have been larger had all of the information been complete. Since then, the TSA and FAA have stepped up their screening for national security threats, reviewing the FAA database four times a year to ensure accuracy. The Spotlight Team wanted to check whether the heightened scrutiny has improved the FAA�??s record in preventing bad actors from having pilot�??s licenses. At the request of the Globe, Safe Banking Systems tested the public part of the airman registry and again found problems. Running the same name-matching program in January 2017, SBS found five active airmen on watch lists with possible ties to terrorism or international crime, including Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, a former Air Force mechanic who bought a one-way ticket to Turkey in 2015. In May, Pugh was sentenced to 35 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, though he is appealing. FAA officials now say that Pugh�??s license was actually revoked in 2015, though on Friday, they could not explain why his name continued to be on the active list for another two years. Haghighi had called the FAA hot line claiming to be a professional pilot named Daniel George who had lost his license. In addition, SBS turned up a long-time American Airlines mechanic who attempted to broker a deal that would have moved seven Airbus A300s to Iran, which the United States has identified as a state sponsor of terrorism; a Florida businessman who was planning on illegally shipping navigation systems used for steering planes, ships, and missiles to Turkey; and an Irish pilot sanctioned by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control for his connections to a company and plane that were also sanctioned. David Schiffer is president of Safe Banking Systems, the company that discovered airmen with ties to terror in 2009 and 2017.

Read More
1 2 3 22