At press time a French-operated Falcon 50 was grounded in the Dominican Republic, according to a TV report by France’s TF1, after it was involved in a major drug bust in Punta Cana in March. The Dominican counter-drug police discovered about 1,500 pounds of cocaine (with a street value of approximately $26 million) packed in 26 suitcases placed in the hold and the cabin. The three French pilots and one French passenger were arrested just before takeoff, with the engines already running for a departure to Saint-Tropez Airport, France, according to TF1. All four people were jailed.
Aviation industry groups in the U.S. and Europe oppose a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to establish a customs pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport that would spare passengers the inconvenience of waiting at a customs checkpoint upon arrival in the U.S. A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers also questions the plan and has requested more information from the DHS.
A Beechcraft 1900 on an April 7 ferry flight from Namibia is missing and assumed lost in the South Atlantic Ocean near Sao Tome off the southwest corner of Africa. Neither the pilot, the sole occupant of the aircraft, nor any portions of the airframe have been recovered. Weather at the time of the accident was reported as heavy rain, with lightning and high winds.
Private aviation support provider Universal Weather & Aviation has augmented its network in Asia with a Hong Kong trip support office, now open 24/7 to meet growing demand in the region. Universal has assembled a team with local and cultural knowledge to assist its customers. According to the company, which has operated in the region for more than three decades, its Asia-based clients are using their aircraft more and taking more trips outside the region.
UK-based Gama Aviation (Booth P912) has been expanding rapidly in recent years, branching out from its home at the London-area TAG Farnborough Airport to set up bases in the U.S., Dubai, Sharjah and Switzerland, as well as establishing a presence at Glasgow in Scotland. And now China is firmly in its sights for growth.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) holds 57 percent of the 336-strong business jet fleet of the Greater China area, while Hong Kong holds 33 percent; Macau is in third place, with 5 percent; and the Republic of China (Taiwan) has 3 percent of the fleet, according to a report released by Asian Sky Group (ASG), a Hong Kong-based business aviation consulting group. The company announced its formal launch at ABACE last year.
Flying to the Bahamas from the U.S. should not be daunting, if you ask Dennis Dames, assistant superintendent of police for the Royal Bahamas Police Force and officer-in-charge of air support service for the force. Dames was on hand to answer attendee questions at the Bahamas Booth in the Federal Pavilion, located in the Florida Air Museum at Sun ’n Fun 2013.
Bell Helicopter has named Sameer Rehman director of international trade support for commercial sales and marketing. He was previously managing director for the Textron subsidiary’s commercial business in Asia Pacific. To succeed him, Bell promoted C.M. Hwang, formerly commercial business development manager for Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Singapore.
Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority is expected to issue new regulations governing business and private aviation that, for the first time, are separate from those covering commercial air transport. Pending introduction of the new policy, which could be issued within two or three months, the government has temporarily suspended the importation of business aircraft.
Paraguay UNACE party leader and presidential candidate Lino Oviedo died February 2 when the Robinson R44 he was a passenger in crashed on a night flight from Concepcion to Asuncion. Adverse weather was reported in the area at the time of the accident, and the local press reported that the pilot, who was also killed along with Oviedo’s bodyguard, had objected to making the flight.