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Plane with Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team crashes in Colombia, 75 dead

LA UNION (Colombia), Nov 29: Brazil A charter plane carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its history crashed in the Colombian mountains after an electrical fault, killing 75 people on board, authorities said on Tuesday.

Colombia's worst air disaster in two decades came as the team from Brazil's top soccer league flew to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America's equivalent of the Europa League.

The plane, en route from Bolivia where the team had a stopover, went down about 10:15 p.m. on Monday night with 72 passengers and a crew of nine on board. It had reported electrical problems and declared an emergency minutes earlier as it neared its destination, Medellin airport officials said.

At the crash scene near the town of La Union in wooded highlands outside Medellin, dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage of the BAe 146. The plane was shattered against a mountainside with the tail end virtually disintegrated. Rain hampered dozens of rescuers as they combed the muddy and forested area.

Colombia's civil aviation head, Alfredo Bocanegra, said there were 75 confirmed fatalities, with six injured survivors. They were listed as three players, a journalist and two members of the flight crew. Two of the six were in grave condition.

It was the first time Chapecoense, a small club from the southern Brazilian town of Chapeco, had reached the final of a major South American club competition.Brazilian news organizations said 21 journalists had been on board the plane to cover the match.

Global soccer was stunned, matches were cancelled around South America, and Brazil declared three days of mourning."I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families," President Michel Temer said.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted his condolences. "Solidarity with the families of the victims and Brazil," he said.

Colombia's civil aviation authority named the survivors as players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Hélio Neto; journalist Rafael Valmorbida; air stewardess Ximena Suarez and flight technician Erwin Tumiri.

Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last signal from flight 2933 was received when it was at 15,500 feet (4,724 m), about 30 km (18.64 miles) from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2133 m).

The BAe 146 was produced by a company that is now part of the UK's BAE Systems The team flew Brazilian airline Gol to Santa Cruz in Bolivia and then took a flight from there to Medellin on the plane run by a Bolivian-based, Venezuelan-owned company called LaMia.
The crash evoked memories of a series of soccer air disasters in the 20th century, including the Munich crash in 1958 that killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, journalists and travelling officials.

World governing body FIFA said on Twitter its "thoughts were with the victims, their families, fans of Chapecoense and media organisations in Brazil on this tragic day.

"Chapecoense qualified for the biggest game in its history after overcoming the Argentine club San Lorenzo in the semi-final on away goals following a 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires and 0-0 draw at home.They were underdogs for the match against a club going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July.

Chapecoense was the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue in 2015, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million), according to a list by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.The club has built its success on a frugal spending policy that eschewed big money signings and concentrated on blending young talent and experienced journeymen.

"They were the hope of our city," said Jean Panegalli, 17, a student in Chapeco. "They played for love of the shirt and not for money. They played with the commitment that only those who have lived here know.

"They were ferocious."Several hundred dejected fans gathered around the team's Conda stadium in Chapeco, many of them wearing Chapecoense's green strip. At least one young fan burst into tears

"It is still hard to believe what has happened to the Chapecoense team just when it was on the rise," said Agenor Danieli, a 64-year-old pensioner in the agricultural town of around 200,000 people in Santa Catarina state.

"We are in crisis. The town has come to a stop. Companies are giving people the day off so they can come here to the stadium. We need to pray. It still doesn't feel real."
Chapecoense's best-known player was Cleber Santana, a midfielder whose best years were spent in Spain with Atletico Madrid and Mallorca. Coach Caio Junior also was experienced, having managed at some of Brazil's biggest clubs, Botafogo, Flamengo and Palmeiras among them.The crash prompted an outpouring of solidarity and grief on social media from the soccer community, with Brazilian top flight teams Flamengo and Santos tweeting messages of support.

Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas tweeted: "My condolences for the plane accident that carried @ChapecoenseReal. Tough moment for football. Good luck and stay strong!"The South American football federation suspended all games and other activities following the crash.

It was Colombia's worst air accident since more than 160 people on an American Airlines plane died in 1995 in a mountainous zone near Cali.

M28 Turboprop Aircraft To Help Connect Tier II, III cities in India

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Nov 17: Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is participating in Aero Expo India 2016 A Civil Aviation Convention & Exhibition for the Aviation; Aerospace and Air Cargo Industry being organized in New Delhi under the patronage of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India on November 18 and 19. The company is showcasing the M28® at the event.

The M28® short take-off and landing turboprop airplane is known for safe and reliable flight in extreme environmental conditions. As a strong candidate to connect Tier II and III cities across India, the aircraft also demonstratesbest-in-class performance, high maneuverability and multi mission flexibility. The aircraft is built in Poland by PZL Mielec, which is owned by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company.

The M28 Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) has two type-certificates recognized in the Aviation Industry — from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The aircraft also is certified by Indonesia, Nepal, Taiwan and Brazil.

In September 2016, India’s Civil Aviation Authority DGCA (the Director General of Civil Aviation) approved the PZL M28 aircraft for commercial operations.

“The twin turboprop aircraftoffers a host of excellent characteristics best suited to connect regional cities, particularly in the north-east,” says Arvind Walia, Sikorsky regional executive for India and South Asia.

“The aircraft’s capability to land safely and easily on grass and gravel airstrips is inherent to the design. Also ideal is its easy conversion from passenger seating to carrying cargo, and of course as a VIP transport vehicle.”

He said the two M28 aircraft operated by Nepal were effectively used for disaster relief following the 2015 earthquake.

The 485 cu ft. (148m3) cabin has a full-width aft door to para drop cargo. The cabin can be outfitted with a removable roller floor, optional cargo hoist, and heavy cargo restraints to speed loading and unloading.

PZL Mielec has a proud heritage of 78 years of aviation production in Mielec, Poland. The facility has produced over 18,000 aircraft including civil turbo-prop products to jet powered military products. In 2015, Sikorsky and PZL Mielec were acquired by Lockheed Martin.

India to cap flight fares at Rs 2,500 under UDAN

NEW DELHI, Oct 21: Fliers on major domestic routes will soon have to shell out more for flights to fund the government’s regional connectivity scheme announced on Friday under which fares will be capped at Rs 2,500 for half of the seats in one-hour flights.

The cap on fares would be reviewed periodically based on Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers and would also vary in tune with duration of a flight under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), which has been named ‘UDAN’.

However, the government’s move to impose a “very small” levy on every departure on major routes to fund the scheme seems to have not gone down well with many of the existing airlines as they feel that such a move could push the airfares higher and are of the view that there are other ways for funding the scheme.

The exact quantum of levy to be imposed would be decided in the coming days.

A “first of its kind” in the world, UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) will be based on market mechanism as well as bidding for a minimum of 50 per cent seats in the participating airline’s flight and the rest would be market-based pricing. Helicopter services too can be part of the scheme.

The government expects the first flight under this scheme to take off in January.

Charging a levy on profitable routes is likely to push the airfare for fliers.
“We are cautiously optimistic about it (UDAN),” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said at a media briefing, adding that the first flight under the scheme is expected to take off in January 2017.

Under the scheme, mainly aimed at connecting unserved and under-served airports, airfares would be capped at Rs 2,500 for half of the seats in flights travelling a distance of 476 -500 kilometre. This translates to around a one-hour journey.

As per the government, a participating carrier -- which would be extended Viability Gap Funding (VGF) -- has to bid for at least 9 seats and a maximum of 40 seats. In the case of a helicopter, the operator has to bid for a minimum of 5 seats and a maximum of 13 seats.

The limit of RCS airfare would vary from Rs 1,420 to Rs 3,500 for fixed-wing aircraft.
For helicopters, half-an-hour ride under the scheme would cost Rs 2,500 and for over one- hour duration, the cap would be Rs 5,000.

On each RCS route, the minimum frequency of flights would be 3 and a maximum of 7 in a week.

“This is first of its kind globally... We are doing something not done anywhere else,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said.

The fares will be capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights on unserved and under-served routes.

Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said the rules related to the levy will be “printed in the gazette in two days” while the executive order in this regard will be ready by month-end.

The levy would be “very small”, he added.

Opposing the levy, no-frills airline SpiceJet’s Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said that perhaps the government should fund the scheme from its own budget.

“When you build a railway station it is not that you start penalising passengers for that railway station. So when you launch a scheme of this sort, perhaps the government needs to fund it from its budget instead of imposing more of a tax on consumers.

“So, we oppose it from the perspective that surely there could be other ways to fund the scheme which is nationally so important,” Singh said soon after announcement of the final version of the RCS.

The airfare cap for every RCS route in a network proposal shall be based on the respective stage length/ flight duration of such RCS route and airfare caps specified under this scheme, the Civil Aviation Ministry said.

“Further, VGF per RCS seat for each RCS route in a network proposal shall be based on the respective stage length /flight duration of such RCS route and corresponding VGF caps specified under this scheme and the VGF per RCS seat bid/ quoted by the selected airline operator,” it added.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) would be the implementing agency for the scheme which would be in place for 10 years and the provisions would be reviewed at least once in three years.

Choubey said that interested entities can submit their proposals to be part of the scheme from Friday.

Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for the scheme would be shared by the Centre and the states concerned, for a limited period.

The civil aviation ministry will create a Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF), which will be funded by a “levy or fee per departure on all domestic flights other than the ones on Category II/Category IIA routes under Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG), RCS routes and flights using small aircraft below 80 passenger seats”.

Apart from VGF, the select airlines participating in the scheme will be extended various concessions, including 2 per cent excise duty on jet fuel drawn at RCS airports as well as lower VAT on the fuel.

“Airfare for all passengers seats on an RCS flight will not be subject to any levies or charges imposed by the airport operators... Service tax will be levied on 10 per cent of the taxable value (abatement of 90 per cent) of tickets for all passengers seats on RCS flight, without any input credit, for an initial period of one year from the date of notification of the scheme,” the ministry said.

Various states, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, have already inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry for RCS.

The government plans to upgrade 50 unserved and underserved airports in the country, which would further boost air connectivity pan-India.

There are 394 unserved and 16 under-served airports.

BA passengers stranded as glitch hits worldwide check-ins

LONDON, Sept 6: British Airways warned today that customers could face further delays after a computer glitch in its global check-in system held up some flights, particularly in the United States, for hours.

"Our IT team are working hard to fix this issue," BA wrote on its Twitter page in response to one customer's tweet.

A BA spokeswoman said passengers gathered at London's main airports would face delays to outbound flights.

"We are checking in customers at Heathrow and Gatwick Airport this morning, although it is taking longer than usual," she said.

"We would encourage customers to check in online before they reach the airport."

At Phoenix airport in the United States, Karen Reyburn tweeted: "After six hours I am actually sitting on a plane! Excitement!"

 

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