FAA orders more engine inspections after Southwest accident

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday ordered ultrasound inspections of hundreds of jet engines like the one that blew apart at 32,000 feet in a deadly accident aboard a Southwest Airlines plane.

The agency said the directive affects 352 engines on new-generation Boeing 737s, a twin-engine jet that is a workhorse of the aviation industry, used by airlines around the world.

The National Transportation Safety Board believes one of the engine fan blades snapped on the Southwest jet Tuesday, hurling debris that broke a window and led to the death of a passenger who was sucked partway out of the 737.

NTSB investigators said the fan blade was showing signs of metal fatigue — cracks from repeated use that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. The FAA’s directive reflected concerns that more planes could have faulty blades.

At issue are engines made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA. Under the FAA order, all CFM 56-7B engines that have gone through at least 30,000 flights during their lifetime must be inspected within 20 days.

It is not clear how many takeoff-and-landing cycles the engine in Tuesday’s accident had gone through and whether it would have been covered by the FAA directive.

Last June, CFM issued a service bulletin to its customers recommending inspections of some of its engines. Then, on Friday, the manufacturer went further than the FAA, recommending inspections by the end of August of all engines that have gone through at least 20,000 flights.

The FAA said it will consider ordering expanded action “as we learn of additional information from this most recent incident.”

Altogether, CFM 56-7B engines are on about 1,800 of the 737s in service in the U.S. and about 6,400 worldwide.

Jim Hall, NTSB chairman during the Clinton administration, said all CFM engines …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Accountant defends tax returns in solar tax ‘scheme’ trial

SALT LAKE CITY — A tax expert testified Friday he visited the Delta site of a purported solar energy facility, walked into a home and flipped the switch on and off, believing solar lenses were generating the power.

“I did not think it was connected to the grid,” said Richard Jameson, a specialist in federal tax law who filed tax returns to the IRS on behalf of RaPower3 clients.

That company, IAUS, Neldon Johnson and Gregory Shepard are the subject of a federal complaint lodged in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Justice that alleges the business enterprise is nothing more than an “abusive tax scheme” that has cost the U.S. Treasury at least $50 million.

The case is now before U.S. District Judge David Nuffer in a trial expected to last at least two weeks. Federal prosecutors want repayment for the lost revenue due to energy tax credits and depreciation revenue they say was wrongly claimed.

They also seek to stop any further promotion of the lenses, which continues through tours of the Delta site, the company’s online promises of tax credits and weekly local radio shows in which Johnson promotes the technology.

The Department of Justice asserts the lenses have never generated any power and never will.

“Defendants’ solar energy scheme is clearly a complete sham. Defendants knew it was not generating income for customers for more than 10 years. Yet despite their clear knowledge that the system did not produce energy or income for customers, they continue to sell lenses, encourage customers to take purportedly related tax deductions and credits and deplete the U.S. Treasury,” justice attorneys wrote in court filing.

Jameson testified Friday that he believed the home he saw at the Delta site was off grid, observing a nearby solar tower that looked to be powering a turbine producing steam.

“It was making …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Utah agriculture authorities hold hearings on how to implement new cannabis laws

SALT LAKE CITY — State authorities will soon be taking an uncharted path in their approaches to regulating CBD oil, growth of industrial hemp, and state-directed cultivation of full-strength marijuana, thanks to a busy legislative session addressing those issues.

But the details on how that policy makeover will be implemented are still undefined, which is why the Department of Agriculture & Food met Thursday with business owners, farmers and patient advocates to hear their input before the agency’s rule-making process begins in earnest.

Department leaders met for more than four hours total to hear from those groups, hosting three different meetings with several dozen attendees each.

Hemp growing

A law permitting the commercial production and sale of hemp by licensees who agree to a pilot research program, which passed the state legislature easily this year, attracted multiple comments Thursday from those who said they hope the Department of Agriculture doesn’t place minimums on how large a hemp plot must be to qualify for a license.

“Competition is good for all of us,” Cheri Penrose, who is herself interested in getting into the industry, told a panel of Department of Agriculture staff at the state office building on the Capitol campus. “That’s why you want the little guys to be able to grow it.”

David Schenk, who runs a CBD oil extraction company based in Colorado, said he had concerns about whether there could be unsuitably sweeping consequences for any hemp-growing farm found to have any batch of the plant that tests positive for more than 0.3 percent of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.

The new law states that “the department may seize and destroy hemp plants … that contain a concentration of 0.3 percent (THC) or greater by weight.”

“Are you going to wipe out crops?” Schenk asked, saying that large quantities of hemp have sometimes been destroyed …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Utah biotech giant Gary Crocker adds U. research facility to list of accomplishments

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanks in large part to a multimillion dollar seed gift from a titan of Utah biotech, an 80-year-old building on the University of Utah campus that once housed relics from our prehistoric past is now a launch pad for the science innovations of the future.

Gary and Ann Crocker committed $10 million some eight years ago to begin the process of revamping the circa-1935 George Thomas Building on Presidents Circle — the longtime home of the Utah Museum of Natural History — into a gleaming new collaborative science facility.

On Friday morning, the official ribbon cutting will be held for the $55 million Gary and Ann Crocker Science Center. The extensively renovated building features modern and flexible classroom space, laboratories, a unique biotech commercial incubator center and world-class equipment. It was designed to be a platform for advancement in science research, education and commerce across multiple disciplines at the school.

In addition to the Crockers’ donation, $34 million in state funding and additional private donations helped get the project completed.

Research efforts at the center will draw from all four departments of the U.’s College of Science, which include biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and astronomy. College of Science Dean Henry White said the new facility will have a positive, and elevating, impact on students, researchers and science entrepreneurs at the U.

“This modern science hub is ready to serve new generations of students, faculty and staff at the University of Utah,” White said. “We are extremely grateful for Gary and Ann’s pioneering support for this building to become a world-class science education and research center on campus.”

World-class is a term that could also be applied to Crocker’s long list of accomplishments in the world of biotech — going back even before that term was coined — to the ’70s when he …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News