The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning aviation and airport development law news during the past week. These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber. This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website on our blog, The Aviation and Airport Development News. For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website: http://taberlaw.com.
Park Service Wants To Extend Jackson Airport Pact. – Associated Press, September 26, 2010
The National Park Service says it wants to extend an agreement with the Jackson Hole Airport that would allow the facility to operate beyond 2013. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that without the proposed extension, the airport within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park would lose eligibility for some federal funding in three years. Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs says that without improvement paid for by that funding, the airport board would likely be unable to maintain certification for scheduled passenger service for more than a few years. Without an extension, the current use agreement will expire April 27, 2033. Under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, an airport must own its land or have more than 20 years remaining on its lease to remain eligible for grants.
LAX passenger traffic increases in August. – Art Marroquin, The Daily Breeze, September 24, 2010
Passenger traffic continued to grow at Los Angeles International Airport in August, while overall summertime travel also saw a slight jump, according to figures released Friday. More than 5.6 million travelers passed through LAX in August, a 3.3 percent increase from the same period last year, airport officials said. More than 4.1 million of those airline passengers boarded domestic flights last month, a 3.4 percent increase from August 2009, officials said. Despite the fact that Mexicana Airlines shut down operations last month, more than 1.5 million travelers boarded international flights, a 3.1 percent jump from August 2009, officials said. Year-over-year figures show more than 39.6 million travelers passed through LAX during the first eight months of 2010, a 4.3 percent increase. “LAX continues to grow slowly but steadily in this calendar year, particularly in international travel,” said Michael Molina, deputy executive director of external affairs for LAX.
Ontario Airport traffic dropped 1.2 percent in August. – Kimberly Pierceall, The Enterprise-Record, September 24, 2010
Ontario International Airport had 1.2 percent fewer passengers in August than a year ago, according to Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that owns and operates it and Los Angeles International Airport. The Inland airport had 426,741 total passengers in August. Domestic traffic was stable but the loss of Aeromexico, the airport’s sole international airline, caused international traffic to drop by several thousand passengers. In the first 8 months of the year, the airport has had 3.2 million passengers, slightly fewer than during the same period a year ago. Traffic at LAX was up 3.3 percent for a total of 5.6 million passengers in August.
City to release JWA air quality report. – Immran Vittachi, The Daily Pilot, September 24, 2010
Newport Beach officials next week will release the results of a long-awaited, city-commissioned study into the emissions of airplanes that fly in and out of John Wayne Airport, the city announced Friday. Newport Beach’s Aviation Committee will review the study, which began in 2009, at its meeting on Monday morning. The study will be posted on the city’s website after 12 p.m. on Sept. 27. Results from the $60,000 study indicate that ambient air particles meet federal air quality standards, but aircraft emissions persist at a significant distance from the airport, according to a city news release.
Airports see funding source in naming rights. – Roger Yu, USA Today, September 26, 2010
Wichita Mid-Continent is the latest airport to consider selling terminal naming rights in an effort to raise money. The airport’s advisory board voted last week to recommend building a new terminal, a project that would cost $160 million. The funding source has already been determined, but selling the naming rights would “be a little extra to help us in these tough economic times,” says Victor White, director of airports for Wichita Airport Authority. It would consider selling the naming rights for the entire terminal or parts of it, including parking and baggage claim. “We’re looking at any option that makes sense,” White says. If the city approves the new terminal, construction could begin next year. Airports have been tossing around the corporate sponsorship idea for years, but it has yet to come into practice. Detroit Metropolitan sought to sell the naming rights of its North Terminal, which opened in 2008, to a corporate sponsor. But finding a sponsor has been difficult amid the tough economic conditions. The airport “is not currently actively seeking naming rights for the North Terminal,” spokesman Michael Conway says.
Airport authority cuts landing fees to encourage airlines to add flights. – David Hatfield, Inside Tucson Business
In the equation airlines use to determine what flights they’ll operate and to which cities, the Tucson Airport Authority is doing its part to make Tucson International Airport more attractive by lowering landing fees nearly 13 percent. On Sept. 14, the authority’s board of directors approved a $42.2 million budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 that includes a reduction in the landing fee to $1.35 per thousand pounds of landed weight from $1.55 per thousand pounds. Another way of looking at it from the airlines’ point of view, is a statistic called cost per enplanement (CPE) — it’s the amount of all airport costs divided by the number of revenue passengers boarded. In the industry, it’s considered a measure of an airport’s efficiency. Tucson’s projected CPE for the new fiscal year is $7.12, down from $7.44 for the fiscal year that ends this month. The projection is based on a forecast that the number of passengers using the airport will remain about the same as the current year. Actual CPE is determined after the fact but in Tucson’s case, the projection represents the first reduction in five years.
Frederick airport to get control tower. – MIchael Bolden, The Washington Post, September 27, 2010
Federal officials say the Frederick Municipal Airport is getting an air traffic control tower. Maryland Democratic Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski said Monday the Federal Aviation Administration has granted final approval to the project. It will be funded with $4.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal officials said in a statement that construction of the tower “is expected to begin almost immediately,” and should be completed in 18 months. The airport caters mainly to private pilots and has no commercial passenger service. Still, it is the second-busiest airport in Maryland, with more than 130,000 takeoffs and landings annually. Officials say they expect operations to increase to 165,000 takeoffs and landings by 2025.
Virginia Department of Aviation launches economic impact study of Virginia’s airports. – Virginia Aviation News, September 27, 2010
The Commonwealth of Virginia has recently commissioned a study to measure the economic impact and value of Virginia airports to their respective communities and to the Commonwealth. The Statewide Economic Impact Study for the Virginia Air Transportation System is an important step in understanding what the state’s airport system means to Virginia and to plan for future investment in aviation in the Commonwealth. The study, being conducted by the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV), will examine Virginia airports’ wide range of benefits and economic contributions to both residents and visitors. Specifically, the study will survey Virginia’s airport managers, airport tenants, airport-dependent businesses, aircraft owners and airport visitors to determine the impact that the Commonwealth’s airports have on the economy. A thorough analysis of both on-airport and off-airport spending will be conducted.
D/FW Airport working to revamp “antiquated” use deal. – Jeff Bounds, Dallas Business Journal, September 27, 2010
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is in talks with a number of airlines for a new “use” agreement, which sets various fees and rules under which both sides operate and do business with each other. The existing deal expires Sept. 30, according to D/FW officials. Some 19 airlines operate out of D/FW, though a number wasn’t available on how many carriers might sign a new use agreement. American Airlines and its sister company, American Eagle, are parties to the old pact and are part of the group that is talking to D/FW about a new deal, airport officials said.
Proposed shooting range near DIA raises concerns. – Jeffrey Lieb, The Denver Post, September 28, 2010
Officials from DIA and the Federal Aviation Administration are concerned that a planned $7.5 million public shooting range in Adams County could endanger low-flying planes with errant bullets. County officials say they have taken measures to address air-traffic safety and say the facility is needed to meet demand for a public range in the metro area that provides training and supervised shooting opportunities. The Adams County Public Shooting and Sportsman Education Park is slated to be built on 60 acres near the intersection of East 120th Avenue and Gun Club Road. In a recent letter to the county planning department, Denver International Airport planning manager Jeannette Stoufer said that building the range about 2 miles from the north end of a future runway “raises safety concerns for air-traffic overflights.”
Area airports running into some turbulence. – Gary A. Warner, Orange County Register, September 30, 2010
Southern California’s airports are in the midst of several fights, big and small, that will shape the air service and passenger amenities at John Wayne Airport, Los Angeles International and Ontario International for years to come. Here’s a roundup of recent developments: Airport, airlines going in opposite directions: John Wayne and other airports around the country are expanding at a time when the airline industry seems to be in a flurry of contraction and consolidations. The latest move came Monday when Southwest Airlines bought discount carrier AirTran for $1.4 billion. At first glance, the merger doesn’t seem to have much effect on Orange County. AirTran doesn’t fly into Orange County. But AirTran had been No. 1 on the waiting list for openings.
Salt Lake City to layoff 31 airport employees. – Jasen Lee, Deseret News, September 30, 2010
City leaders announced Thursday a 2 percent reductions of the city government’s total work force, with many of the layoffs coming from the airport. Mayor Ralph Becker’s said the layoffs are needed to use taxpayers’ money more efficiently. Most of the estimated 40 layoffs will come from Salt Lake City International Airport. Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said the cuts are “aimed at properly aligning our resources” and creating more efficiencies within the city’s Department of Airports.
State kicks in more money for airport tower. – Michael D. Bates, Hernando Today, September 30, 2010
Spirits were soaring this week when county officials learned the state will kick in another $1.2 million to fund a new control tower at the airport. That reduces the airport’s share of a matching grant by more than a half-million dollars. Airport Manager Don Silvernell said this infusion of state money petty much covers the cost of the tower, estimated to be about $2.6 million, and allows him more cash to possibly spend on other projects. The Florida Department of Transportation is funding 80 percent, or $2.1 million, of the project and the airport’s 20-percent match is $525,000, which will come from the airport’s reserve for capital projects. The money will pay for the siting, design and construction of the tower which airport officials say is needed because of the current and anticipated increase in airplane traffic.
Hailey starts planning Friedman site. – Tony Evans, Idaho Mountain Express and Guide, October 1, 2010
The process of planning for the redevelopment of the Friedman Memorial Airport property in Hailey is set to begin next week. City officials expect a master plan for the 210-acre property, including zoning designations, to be completed by February. “Every component is meshing now,” said City Councilwoman Martha Burke at a council meeting Monday. Burke said she sat down with Federal Aviation Administration officials in Seattle recently, telling them that the zoning of the property would involve a “public process” among Hailey residents.
LaHood: DOT moving aggressively to respond to NTSB proposals. – David Shepardson, The Detroit News, September 26, 2010
The Transportation Department said Friday it is moving aggressively to respond to safety recommendations made by a government watchdog agency. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his department — which includes regulatory agencies overseeing the nation’s vehicles, airplanes, roadways, railroads and pipelines — has worked to respond quickly to safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board. “When we came in and saw the fact that these NTSB recommendations had been languishing for so long, we just said, ‘We’ve got to clear this up. We’ve got to get with it,'” LaHood said in an interview. Data obtained by The Detroit News shows that the Transportation Department has closed 96 recommendations so far this year — compared with 60 in both 2008 and 2009. The department is working to close the remaining 768 recommendations that are open.
The Promise of Collaborative Voluntary Partnerships: Lessons from the Federal Aviation Administration. – Russell W. Mills, IBM Center for the Business of Government, September 27, 2010
Based on his extensive research on the three programs, Mills concludes that although the programs can be improved, they are making a worthwhile contribution to airline safety. Mills argues that collaborative voluntary partnerships should be viewed as a complement to agency regulatory activities rather than as a replacement for the traditional command-and-control approach to regulation. Viewing voluntary activities as complementary to traditional regulatory activities will require a change in an organizational culture which has long considered the command-and-control approach its major regulatory option. The focus of this report is quite timely given recent events prompting closer scrutiny of the relationship between government and industry. The Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico has raised serious questions about the viability of real collaboration between the oil industry and its government regulator, the Minerals Management Service (now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement).
Federal office: Whistleblower was right that FAA ignored violations. – Allan Chernoff, CNN, September 28, 2010
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has substantiated allegations of a Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector who previously charged the FAA ignored safety violations witnessed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the office said Tuesday. The violations occurred at the Pittsburgh Flight Standards District Office. “FSDO managers improperly closed enforcement actions, or failed to take enforcement actions,” concluded the Office of Special Counsel. The safety violations involved mechanical problems with aircraft at Erie Aviation, a repair station operator that services commercial airlines; C.J. Systems, which pilots helicopters for hospitals around the country; and Air Charter Service, an operator of private charter flights.
FAA warns Horry County on funding for Harrelson Boulevard in Myrtle Beach area. – Adva Saldinger, The Sun News, September 29, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration has informed Horry County and others involved in the Myrtle Beach International Airport expansion and the extension of Harrelson Boulevard that they must comply with regulations restricting how airport funds are spent or put the project’s funding at risk. In a letter dated Sept. 20, the FAA wrote that it was the agency’s understanding that the city of Myrtle Beach would be responsible for maintaining the Harrelson Boulevard extension and that its decision to support the project was predicated on that. “Now, after the project is underway we understand that the City of Myrtle Beach has unilaterally changed the agreement relating to the maintenance of the roadway,” the letter said.
FAA says hangar homes won’t fly at public airports. – Joan Lowy, Associated Press, September 28, 2010
Agreements allowing private plane owners with “hangar homes” adjacent to airports to taxi directly from their property onto airport tarmacs risk turning government investments into private perks, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Wednesday. “The fundamental distinctions between public use airports … and private airports have begun to blur,” Catherine Lang, the FAA’s associate administrator for airports, told a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. FAA officials want to cut off federal aid to public airports that sign new so-called “through-the-fence” agreements with real estate developers and homeowners.
Expanded tarmac-delay rules: Regulation all over again? – Rob Lovitt, MSNBC, September 30, 2010
Think the tarmac-delay issue has been settled? Think again. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering expanding last spring’s rule, which would fine airlines when passengers are stuck on the ground aboard a plane for three hours or more, to include small airports and international flights. “The situation is much worse than the [official] statistics indicate,” said George Hobica of AirfareWatchdog.com. “We have to include every airport, every type of plane and every type of flight.” That’s the wrong approach, countered Steve Lott, spokesman for the International Air Transport Association: “If DOT goes ahead with this, they’re going to cause a much larger problem than the one they think they’re trying to solve.”
FAA Issues First-Ever Spaceport Grants to Strengthen Commercial Space Activities. – FAA Press Release, September 30, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new grant program designed to fund projects that develop and expand commercial space transportation infrastructure. The Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grants will be awarded to four separate projects located in Alaska, California, Florida, and New Mexico. “The Obama administration is committed to making sure the United States remains the world leader in space development and exploration,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “This new grant program underscores that commitment, and will help ensure that the commercial space industry can meet our current and future space transportation needs.” In June of this year the Obama administration unveiled a new National Space Policy that recognizes opportunities and advancements in commercial space capabilities. The 2010 policy lays out more specific ways for the government to make use of commercial capabilities.
Space Grants Approved, FAA Funding Temporarily Extended. – Glenn Pew, Aviation Today, September 30, 2010
The FAA will provide four projects with grants as part of the NASA reauthorization bill and a federal effort to ensure the U.S. “remains the world leader in space development and exploration,” according to FAA administrator Randy Babbitt. The projects will direct funding to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority for automated weather observation; the Alaska Aerospace Corporation for a rocket motor storage facility; the East Kern Disctict in Mojave, Calif., for an emergency response vehicle; and the Hacksonville Airport Authority in Florida, to devise a master plan for a spaceport at Cecil Field. The grants range from about $40,000 to nearly $105,000 and are part of the NASA reauthorization bill, which backs commercial crew and cargo programs with $1.6 billion. The FAA’s own reauthorization bill on September 24 was substituted with another three-month extension (the 16th, we think … if you’re still counting). The extension means that a full FAA reauthorization bill will not be up for a vote until December at the earliest, and the House and Senate have yet to reach agreement on particulars of the bill. The last time the House and Senate passed an extension, it was the end of July. At that time, sticking points included passenger facility charge increases and certain handling of airspace near Washington National Airport. New pilot safety requirements were proposed separately in September. That action may remove some public urgency and attention from the full reauthorization bill.
AVIATION & AIRPORT LITIGATION
Martinair Airline Executive Indicted in Conspiracy to Fix Surcharge Rates on Air Cargo Shipments. – Department of Justice Press Release, September 21, 2010
An Atlanta grand jury returned an indictment today against an executive of Martinair Holland N.V. for participating in a conspiracy to fix and coordinate certain surcharges on air cargo shipments to and from the United States, the Department of Justice announced today. The indictment, returned today in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, charges Maria Christina “Meta” Ullings, senior vice president of Cargo Sales and Marketing of Martinair based in Amsterdam, with conspiring with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and coordinating certain surcharges, including fuel surcharges, charged to customers located in the United States and elsewhere for international air shipments to and from the United States from at least as early as January 2001 until at least February 2006. Air cargo carriers transport a variety of cargo shipments, such as heavy equipment, perishable commodities and consumer goods, on scheduled international flights.
China Airlines Ltd. Agrees to Plead Guilty to Price Fixing on Air Cargo Shipments. – Department of Justice Press Release, September 27, 2010
China Airlines Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $40 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices in the air transportation industry, the Department of Justice announced today. According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Taiwan-based China Airlines engaged in a conspiracy to fix the cargo rates charged to customers for international air cargo shipments to and from the United States from at least as early as January 2001, until at least Feb. 14, 2006. The department said that China Airlines joined an ongoing conspiracy among cargo carriers that began at least as early as Jan. 1, 2000. Under the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, China Airlines has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. Air cargo carriers transport a variety of cargo shipments, such as heavy equipment, perishable commodities and consumer goods, on scheduled international flights.
Charter jet pilot pleads guilty to fraud. – Associated Press, September 27, 2010
A pilot for a charter jet company whose plane crashed at Teterboro Airport while overloaded with fuel in 2005 became the third person connected to the company Monday to plead guilty to federal charges. Francis Vieira of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., admitted in court that he flew commercial charters for Florida-based Platinum Jet Management even though the company wasn’t licensed for that type of flying. He also admitted falsifying Federal Aviation Administration paperwork. Vieira, who wasn’t involved in the crash, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to defraud the United States. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in January.
AVIATION LEGISLATION & REGULATION
Airlines don’t like federal proposal for baggage fee refunds. – Hugo Martin, The Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2010
In the 12-month period ended in June, the nation’s top 10 airlines collected more than $3.1 billion in baggage fees. So it’s no surprise the airline industry opposes a move by the U.S. Department of Transportation to mandate that all airlines offer refunds of the fees when your bags are lost or delayed. What’s interesting are the objections raised by the Air Transport Assn., the trade group that represents most of the nation’s largest airlines. In comments filed with the federal agency last week, the association said each airline should have the choice of offering a refund, depending on competition in the marketplace.
Airlines warn on customer-service rules. – Christopher Hinton, Market Watch, September 24, 2010
The Air Transport Association, a lobbying group for U.S. airlines, said some of consumer-protection rules proposed by the Department of Transportation could make carriers more vulnerable to lawsuits. The proposed changes submitted by the DOT in June would require airlines to adopt, follow and audit customer-service plans and establish minimum standards for travelers. If airlines are forced to adopt such plans, the ATA claimed in a government filing late Thursday, then customers suing airlines on breach of contract claims would likely rise by 250 a year. Related litigation could tack on an additional $500,000 to annual costs. In total, ATA domestic members could face $5.5 million in new litigation costs if the rules are implemented. “Even conservatively assuming that including smaller and foreign carriers adds 50% in incremental litigation costs to previous ATA estimates, the incremental litigation costs would be $17.5 million per year,” the group said in a Thursday document.
Uproar over flight delays may be paying off. – Christopher Elliott, The Washington Post, September 26, 2010
If you’re afraid of being trapped in a parked plane on your next trip, stop worrying. Only three flights were delayed more than three hours in July, the latest month reported by the Transportation Department. All the incidents happened on the evening of July 23, when a line of “very nasty” thunderstorms swept through Chicago, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely. “Unfortunately, the way the weather pattern was that day, we couldn’t park [the planes] on a gate,” she added. “The ramp was closed. Our passengers were given a snack and water, and our crew tried to keep them as comfortable as possible while waiting.” The three American Eagle regional jets bound for Knoxville, Tenn., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Baltimore were on “hold” while waiting for the weather to clear. The government is investigating the circumstances of those delays but hasn’t issued any fines.
What Next For FAA Reauthorization? – Tom Madigan, National Journal, September 27, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration is headed for its 16th temporary extension in three years. While the House and Senate have each passed a comprehensive reauthorization bill this year, getting a final package to the president’s desk has been arduous. The process is currently held up over a number of issues, including a labor dispute involving FedEx, an increase in the passenger facility charge and the question of how many long-distance flights should be allowed at Reagan National Airport. What are the most pressing needs in a comprehensive reauthorization bill? If prospects continue to look dim, would it be better for Congress to break out provisions dealing with airport infrastructure, a NextGen air traffic control system, or others?
Business aviation group spent $460K on 2Q lobbying. – Associated Press, September 27, 2010
The National Business Aviation Association, which represents companies that use private aircraft, spent $460,000 lobbying federal officials in the second quarter on issues including modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system. The spending compared with $490,000 in the previous quarter and $530,000 in the second quarter of last year. According to a report filed July 20 with Congress, the aviation group lobbied on issues including Federal Aviation Administration funding, security, air traffic control, support for recreational aviation, tax provisions for selling aircraft, pilot training and airport access. Besides Congress, the group lobbied the White House, the budget office, the Internal Revenue Service, the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation, Treasury, Homeland Security and Commerce departments, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Aircraft owner group spent $700,000 lobbying in 2Q. – Associated Press, September 27, 2010
The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association spent $700,000 in the second quarter lobbying federal officials on issues including airport access, pilot training and backcountry landing strips, according to a disclosure report. That was less than the $780,000 that the Frederick, Md.-based group spent in the first quarter, but an increase from $640,000 in lobbying expenses in the second quarter of last year. The group, which represents private pilots, said in a July 20 filing with the House clerk’s office that it also lobbied on issues such as user fees, airspace use, airports and navigation technology. Besides Congress, the group lobbied the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation and Homeland Security departments, the Federal Communications Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.
AVIATION & AIRPORT SAFETY
NTSB Cites Pilot Fatigue in 2009 Delta Landing. – Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2010
Federal accident investigators have released a report indicating that cockpit fatigue, highlighted by a captain who had been awake for roughly 23 hours, likely was a big factor in a Delta Air Lines Inc. jet that mistakenly landed on an Atlanta taxiway last fall. Released on Thursday, The National Transportation Safety Board’s report provides fresh evidence about the insidious dangers of pilot fatigue—an issue that remains at the forefront of the debate over how to enhance the safety of commercial aviation in the U.S. and overseas. The board’s summary provides new information about the sequence of events before dawn on Oct. 19, when a Delta Boeing 767 widebody jet touched down on a 75-foot taxiway instead of a 150-foot wide parallel runway at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. The details underscore how long-range flights can lead to sleepy and distracted pilots during the critical, final phases before touchdown. The unusual incident involving Delta Flight 60, en route from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, prompted widespread news coverage at the time. None of the 182 passengers aboard the Boeing 767-300 was injured, and the pilots continue to work for the airline.
Plane Fires Prompt Battery Safeguards. – Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal
U.S. regulators are devising various ways to crack down on air-cargo shipments of computers, cellphones and other electronic devices that contain lithium ion batteries, despite stiff opposition from some of the biggest makers of those products. Prompted by the recent fiery crash of a UPS Boeing 747 cargo jet filled with electronic goods, officials at the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration have been working on enhanced protections against the flammability of rechargeable batteries, said people familiar with the matter.
AVIATION & AIRPORT SECURITY
Napolitano pitches plan for air security to 190 nations. – Thomas Frank, USA Today, September 28, 2010
The U.S. Homeland Security chief will urge 190 nations today to improve aviation security with body scanners and other innovations to stop terrorists from carrying plastic and powdered explosives onto airplanes. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the push aims to counter terrorists who might use international flights for attacks by smuggling explosives through overseas metal detectors. Such devices can’t stop suicide bombers from hiding unconventional weapons under their clothes. A Nigerian man is under federal indictment for trying to blow up an international flight headed for Detroit in December by igniting powdered explosives in his underwear. “We need to move to the next stage of screening,” Napolitano told USA TODAY. Terrorists “have kind of figured out the magnetometer business.”
ACI-NA conference opens with call for airport security overhaul. – Aaron Karp, ATW Online, September 28, 2010
Airports are urging governments around the world to take a second look at their aviation security regimes and to work cooperatively to develop a global, standardized approach, officials said Monday at the opening of the Airports Council International-North America Conference and Exhibition in Pittsburgh. Sydney Airport Corp. Chairman and CEO Max Moore-Wilton, chair of the ACI World Governing Board, told delegates that while “there is no doubt that we face a threat…I have no doubt in my mind that the present [security] system is unsustainable in the long term.” In order for the air transport industry to reach its projected growth potential (ATW Daily News, July 16), “we can’t have a situation where every time you travel, you’re treated [by airport security] as if it’s the first time you’ve ever travelled by air.”
Southwest Looks Likely to Gain Sway Over Boeing. – Peter Sanders, The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2010
The proposed acquisition of discount carrier AirTran Holdings Inc. by larger rival Southwest Airlines Co. would combine two all-Boeing fleets, creating an airline likely to have more clout in dealings with aircraft maker Boeing Co. Southwest flies nothing but 737s, making it Boeing’s most important customer for the best-selling narrow-body plane, and it already has considerable influence over Boeing’s plans for that model in the years ahead. If the merger goes through as planned, the combined airline’s fleet would include 685 737s and 86 Boeing 717s, a 100-seat twin-engine jet that the company no longer produces.
3 other landing gear problems before NYC emergency. – Frank Eltman, Associated Press, September 30, 2010
Aircraft from a Canadian company that built the jetliner involved in an emergency landing in New York City last weekend have experienced at least three other landing gear problems in the past two years, Federal Aviation Administration documents show. But a Bombardier Inc. spokesman insisted Tuesday that its aircraft are safe, noting they have been involved in tens of millions of landings and takeoffs for dozens of airlines worldwide. Several aviation experts said Tuesday that while a plane landing without its full gear can be harrowing for those on board, usually such landings result in few injuries or fatalities. “It creates a lot of sparks and damages the airliner to some extent,” said Doug Moss, a pilot who runs AeroPacific Consulting in Torrance, Calif. “The general rule is no one gets hurt and they are fairly infrequent.”
Evergreen sells unmanned aircraft unit. – Erik Siemers, Portland Business Journal, September 28, 2010
Evergreen International Aviation Inc. has sold its unmanned aircraft division to Washington, D.C.-based VT Group Inc., a division of multi-billion dollar British support services firm Babcock International Group PLC. Terms of the acquisition, announced Tuesday, were not disclosed, though the division will continue to operate from Evergreen’s McMinnville campus. The division’s approximately 30 employees will become part of VT Group’s Technical Services Division. VT Group provides the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies with maintenance, training, logistics and program analysis services for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft missions.
Experts planning to increase use of unmanned airplanes in domestic skies. – Brenda McGregor, French Tribune, September 28, 2010
Aviation experts are planning to increase the use of unmanned airplanes in domestic skies to work as airborne traffic cops, patrolling the border and maybe even for shuttling cargo between cities. Unmanned airplanes are generally used by he military for monitoring terrorist camps, drop bombs and even threaten enemy aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration is now looking into how to induct these planes in the busy commercial airspace in the country. Wesley Randall, professor at Auburn University’s department of supply chain management said, “The success in the military has started to bleed over to the civilian environment. People are saying this isn’t a niche, gee-whiz technology. These are things you need to think about.”
ANA swaps Dreamliner order to 15 787-9s. – Michelle Dunlop, The Herald, September 30, 2010
All Nippon Airways has swapped out 15 of the 787-8s it has on order with Boeing for the slightly larger version of the Dreamliner. The Japanese carrier will receive 15 787-9s, on which ANA will seat 400 passengers on domestic routes, according to an ANA statement today. ANA will receive the first 787-8 that Boeing delivers. Boeing is more than two years behind schedule on that delivery. ANA said it will configure its 787-8s to seat 300 passengers. Boeing lists the 787-8’s seating capacity at 210 to 250 and the 787-9’s seating capacity at 250 to 290.
Boeing pushes 747-8F delivery back to mid-2011. – Stephen Trimble, Flight Global, September 30, 2010
Boeing will delay delivery of the 747-8 freighter by several months and add a fifth aircraft to the flight test fleet to correct a series of problems. First delivery to 747-8F launch customer Cargolux is reset from late 2010 to mid-2011, Boeing says. The company has not disclosed any schedule changes for the 787-8 Intercontinental, the passenger-carrying variant expected to be delivered in late 2011. The delay follows a series of “discoveries” that disrupted the schedule for completing certification testing on time: a low-frequency vibration that appears in “certain flight conditions” must be resolved, Boeing says.
Continental Airlines brand destined for the dustbin. – Richard Newman, The Record, September 26, 2010
The Continental Airlines brand, which former Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bethune famously took “from worst to first,” will soon follow Pan Am and TWA into the pages of aviation history. For more than 10 years Continental has been flying more trans-Atlantic flights from the New York area than any other airline and has earned the respect of high-paying business travelers around the world. The Houston-based carrier’s “Work Hard, Fly Right” slogan is ubiquitous on New York-area billboards. But within a year the name that dates from 1937 — when aviator Robert F. Six changed it from regional carrier Varney Speed Lines — will be removed from such ads and from the airline’s fleet of more than 500 aircraft, replaced by the United Airlines brand name.
Southwest Airlines To Buy Discount Rival AirTran. – Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2010
Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) on Monday announced plans to buy discount rival AirTran Holdings Inc. (AAI) in a move that would revive its stalled international expansion and intensify pressure on network carriers on the U.S. East Coast. The definitive agreement marks the first combination between major U.S. low-cost carriers and marks only the second large acquisition by Southwest, the country’s largest carrier of domestic passengers. In recent premarket
American Airlines closes the doors on KC overhaul base today. – Randolph Heaster, The Kansas City Star, September 23, 2010
Soaring in the early 1970s, the aircraft overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport employed nearly 6,000 people. But like a plane losing altitude, that job figure fell through the decades: 4,900 … 3,500 … 2,600 … 1,000 … 450. Today that number hits zero for American Airlines, ending five decades of commercial aviation maintenance that provided good-paying jobs for generations of workers. There will be no ceremonial goodbyes, just cleaning up and removing belongings for the 50 salaried employees and 400 union workers left. Many workers remain bitter about the circumstances that led to the shutdown and the transfer of work to other bases.
Some airline fees up by more than 50%. – Gary Stoller, USA Today, September 26, 2010
Airline fees are steadily increasing — some by more than 50% since a year ago, a USA TODAY analysis shows. The analysis, which compared 13 U.S. airlines’ fees today with those in effect in June 2009, also reveals that passengers are encountering new types of fees. Six big U.S. carriers now have priority boarding fees, and Spirit Airlines has begun charging for carry-on bags. The numerous fees are a sore subject for many fliers, but their dissatisfaction hasn’t deterred airlines from bringing in record revenue from additional fees. U.S. airlines brought in $2.1 billion in ancillary revenue during this year’s second quarter, including nearly $893 million from checked-bag fees and about $600 million from reservations changes, government statistics released Sept. 20 show.
Increases in Airline Capacity Stir Worries That Turnaround Will Stall. – Susan Carey, The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2010
U.S. airlines battled through some recent tough years by dramatically contracting to put a floor under prices and steer their way out of money-losing routes. Now that a turnaround is underway, they are growing again. Airlines are taking deliveries of some new planes, flying their existing aircraft more hours per day and even some, like Delta Air Lines Inc., are bringing a few planes out of desert storage. This has led some investors and rival carriers to worry that the industry could drift back toward the problem that brought bankruptcies and massive losses earlier this decade: too many seats in
EU Transport Commissioner Backs Looser Airline Rules. – Daniel Michaels, The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2010
European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas concluded his first official visit to Washington facing an unusual diplomatic situation: The EU and the U.S. are increasingly at odds over the future of regulations governing airline ownership, and it is the EU that is pushing to loosen rules while a key congressman is pushing to tighten them. Mr. Kallas, in office since February, met recently with top U.S. transportation officials as world aviation regulators prepared for a major United Nations meeting in Montreal starting Tuesday. A central issue at the triennial general assembly of the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization is European
Southwest-AirTran merger would be bad news for rivals. – Dan Reed, USA Today, September 28, 2010
The creation of an even bigger Southwest that reaches into every major and secondary air travel market in the U.S. is not good news for its competitors. Not only will the nation’s leading discount carrier grow by about 25% overnight with its acquisition of fellow discounter AirTran Airways, it will gain access — or broaden the access it has — at a number of airports, including New York’s LaGuardia and Washington’s Reagan National airports, where carriers traditionally charge premium fares. “Now those premium prices will be in jeopardy for all the other airlines,” says George Hoffer, a veteran aviation economist and visiting lecturer at the University of Richmond in Virginia. “The most powerful discount carrier ever is coming in to both of those airports with lots and lots of slots.”
Will airline mergers raise airfares? – Gary Stoller, USA Today, September 28, 2010
Despite two more airlines on the verge of disappearing and fewer airline seats available for sale throughout the industry, airfares are not expected to rise significantly, fare experts say. “We’re not at the tipping point,” says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “I don’t think fares will be impacted much until we have three legacy carriers and one discount carrier remaining.” Concerns about airfares rose Monday when Dallas-based discount airline Southwest said it would acquire another discounter, Orlando-based AirTran. That follows last week’s shareholder approval of the United-Continental merger and the 2008 marriage of Delta and Northwest.
Taiwan seeks international aviation engagement. – Shih HSu-chuan, Taipei Times, September 27, 2010
In 2006, the international body that oversees cooperation among countries on regulations, standards and procedures governing civil aviation drew up two new most-direct routes that would pass through Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR), with instructions to have them established as soon as possible. One path, “B591,” crosses the center line in the Taiwan Strait linking Shanghai with Taipei and then passes along the Central Mountain Range, with its end at Hengchun (??), Pingtung County, while the other, “B587,” connects Australia’s St George with Papua in Indonesia before ending at Hualien. The two flight routes deemed “unfeasible” by Taipei haven’t been established after all because of several complex technical issues, including the fact that the two proposed paths would affect airspace used by Taiwanese military aircraft.
Waiting to take off. – Nigeria Compass, September 27, 2010
Nigeria, as a nation though under colonial rule, had her first aviation experience with the touch down of an aircraft in a polo ground in Kano in November 1935. While the nation became an independent entity 25 years later, the aviation industry which was 10 years ahead of South Africa’s is yet to realise its full potential. Stakeholders who spoke to the Nigerian Compass on the state of the industry as the nation celebrates her 50 years of nationhood, said it had seen the best and worst of situations, but is now being repositioned to take its proper place in the community of nations where aviation industry has taken the front burners as the driver of the social and economic well-being. Comrade Abdul Rasaq Seidu, Secretary General of Nigeria Aviation Professionals Association (NAPA), though expressed happiness as Nigeria attained the category one status of the US- FAA, however noted that the inability of government to fight corruption, maintain consistence policies and allow professionals to hold sensitive positions in the industry had resulted in the parlour situation where the nation found her aviation industry which was ranked as one of the most promising in the 70s and early 80s.