U.S. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on Tuesday made his second appearance in three years at the annual Regional Airline Association Convention.
News and issues relating specifically to regional airlines, including aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training; and coverage of annual conventions of the U.S. Regional Airline Association (RAA) and European Regions Airline Association (ERA).
The European Regions Airline Association and the Regional Airline Association formalized a “long-standing working relationship” during a signing ceremony on Tuesday during the RAA’s annual convention in St. Louis.
Speaking to a gathering of reporters Tuesday at the Regional Airline Association Convention in St. Louis, Mitsubishi Aircraft head of marketing Hideyuki Kamiya reported “good progress” on the now six-year-old Mitsubishi Regional Jet program. Now scheduled for first flight in 2015 and first delivery to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in the second quarter of 2017, the MRJ has progressed to the point where managers expect delivery of the first test aircraft’s initial Pratt & Whitney PW1217G by the end of this month, said Kamiya.
Embraer and SkyWest Airlines announced at the Regional Airline Association convention on Tuesday that they have reached a 12-year component management service agreement by which Embraer will provide support for the carrier’s entire fleet of E175s. The agreement includes more than 160 repairable part numbers, covering 21 ATA (Air Transport Association) chapters of the SkyWest Airlines E175 fleet. Embraer also signed a 10-year contract with the airline to provide the Ahead-Pro system.
On April 1 Switzerland’s Etihad Regional took delivery of the first of four 68-seat ATR 72-500s recently acquired under a new lease agreement with Nordic Aviation Capital. The deal, which calls for final delivery next month, will see Etihad Regional boost its fleet to 12 airplanes, including eight 50-seat Saab 2000s operated by Darwin Airline before Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways took a 33-percent stake in the Lugano-based carrier in January.
American Eagle’s pilots rejected a concessionary contract proposal from management by a wide margin in late March, thereby ending any chance at flying any of the Embraer E175s American Airlines has ordered. Management promised the pilots the right to fly 60 of the 76-seat jets in return for a pay cap on first officers of $38,000 a year after four years, cuts to per diems and higher health-care premiums.
Mesa Air Group closed its Hawaii-based go! operation on April 1 following some eight years of financial struggles. According to Mesa, the decision stemmed from a desire to concentrate its resources on its now growing mainland operations and minimize its exposure to “at risk” flying. Before the cessation of Hawaiian operations, capacity purchase code-share agreements accounted for 98 percent of the group’s business.
The shortage of qualified entry-level pilots at the regional airlines hasn’t come as some unexpected phenomenon to the Regional Airline Association. The group has warned for years now that the change in first-officer pilot requirements that mandates an ATP certificate and what it terms an “arbitrary” 1,500 hours of flying time would result in loss of air service to small communities in particular.
With many of Europe’s regional airlines feeling unloved and forgotten by the central powers, ERA director general Simon McNamara has spent much of his first year visiting as many airline members as possible to understand how they tick, and what challenges they face. “We’ve put a lot more focus on the membership,” he told AIN. “And we are trying harder to let our members know what we’re doing and why.”
The debt crisis in Italy has certainly taken its toll on a wide cross section of the country’s economy, and Verona-based regional airline Air Dolomiti hasn’t enjoyed special immunity from the effects. What CEO Michael Kraus called a brilliant period of expansion from 2005 to 2010 has not only ended, but passenger counts have actually fallen over the past two years in the Italian air transport market.