Two Bush Intercontinental Airport employees were arrested October 19 for attempting to smuggle heroin at the airport. The men, one an Express Jet employee and the other a DAL Global Services worker, are accused of using both their airport knowledge and their security credentials to bring nearly 15 kilos of the narcotic (13 of which was a sham heroin substance) onto the field and attempt to sell it to an undercover DHS special agent. The pair is also accused of smuggling $100,000 in U.S. currency and numerous fraudulent documents. Each man faces up to 10 years in prison.
A U.S. District court in Rome, Ga., on October 11 sentenced Andrew Anderson to 37 months in prison after finding him guilty of conspiracy to forge a supplemental type certificate (STC). Anderson was initially contracted by SIA Engineering Company to obtain STCs for interior modifications on Boeing aircraft owned by a branch of the Dubai government. He subsequently forged the necessary documents. The court demanded Anderson also pay $1.1 million in restitution to his victims.
Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Bank (SMBC) beat more than 30 other bidders to complete the acquisition of RBS Aviation Capital on October 15, demonstrating the growing importance of leasing in new-airliner acquisitions. The bank’s new SMBC Aviation division intends to merge two other leasing companies owned by its shareholders to challenge for the number-three position in the leasing sector, controlling some 331 aircraft.
The arrest of 11 members of an alleged Russian military procurement ring in Houston earlier this month was an exceptional but not isolated example of foreign interests attempting to acquire advanced technologies by skirting U.S. export control laws. “This is exceptional in the sense of the scale and scope. But these types of procurement networks are very common,” said Douglas Jacobson, an international trade attorney who specializes in export controls. “Efforts to procure a variety of U.S.[products] are common from Iran, from China, from other countries,” he added.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner announced a federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment charging William Hugh Weygandt, 63, of Granite Bay, Calif., for conspiracy to commit fraud involving aircraft parts. Weygandt is the former owner and president of Weco Aerospace Systems, an FAA-certified repair station based in Lincoln, Calif., that was purchased in 2007 by Gulfstream Aerospace.
Yesterday, Brazil’s Regional Federal Tribunal shortened the sentences of U.S. pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, who survived the midair of their Embraer Legacy 600 with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 over the Amazon in September 2006. In May last year they were acquitted in absentia on all but one of six charges.
During the appeals hearing, the Legacy pilots’ sentences were reduced from four years and four months to three years, one month and 10 days. The judges also struck down the suspension of Lepore’s and Paladino’s pilot certificates.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to know how a male U.S. citizen boarded and flew aboard an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, all the way to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with a smoke grenade in his checked baggage.
The man, whose journey originated in Japan, was arrested at LAX wearing a bulletproof vest and flame-retardant pants as he tried to check in for a domestic flight to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).
In another example of the government’s pushback against laser threats to aviation, a federal grand jury in Jacksonville, Fla., indicted John Tyler Pennywitt on October 5. He was accused of shining a handheld laser pointer at a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helicopter on the night of June 3, 2012. Pennywitt was indicted under a section of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that makes it a federal crime to aim a laser at an aircraft, or even into the path of an aircraft.
On Monday, a Brazilian court will hear the appeal of U.S. pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, who survived the midair of their Embraer Legacy 600 with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 over the Amazon in September 2006. After being detained in Brazil for more than two months after the accident, they returned home and, in May 2011, were acquitted in absentia on all but one of six charges.
Judging by the positive press from AOPA and EAA, one would think the pilot’s bill of rights is going to do wonders for pilots fighting FAA enforcement actions, especially the unfair kinds of action that many of us have criticized.