Integrating pilot seniority, one of the thorniest issues created when fractional-operator Flight Options acquired Raytheon Travel Air earlier this year, has apparently been resolved. In a mandatory vote this past summer, pilots adopted a seniority program called modified date-of-hire.
Eclipse Aviation introduced an in-house mandatory training program for customers of its Eclipse 500 very light twinjet that includes pilot qualification and supplemental training by the University of North Dakota aerospace department. Jet-transition and type-rating courses will be provided free of charge with each Eclipse 500 purchased. A mandatory type-training admission evaluation will cost between $500 and $750.
Pilots visiting the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kill Devil Hills, N.C., near Kitty Hawk will soon have more than a minimalist line shack in which to prepare for their outbound flight.
On behalf of the approximately 575 Flight Options pilots, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1108 last week filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB), saying that contract negotiations between the pilot group and the fractional provider’s management team have “broken down.” Negotiations on the initial work contract between the parties began in June 2006, not long after the Flight Options pilots voted for union r
Claiming already to represent some 1,100 professional helicopter pilots and maintenance personnel, the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association (PHPA) has officially opened its doors. Beginning life as part of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), the new union got its start with the organized employees of Gulf of Mexico operators Air Logistics and Petroleum Helicopters Inc.
Legislation has been introduced that would exempt foreign-national commercial pilots from the current 45-day background check requirement to obtain flight training in the U.S. The bill, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), would also require all foreign initial student pilots to comply with the background checks before starting training in the U.S., regardless of the size of aircraft involved.
The rate of pilot hiring this year by five major fractional aircraft ownership providers–CitationShares, Flexjet, Flight Options, NetJets and Corporate Aircraft Partners–is up 19 percent from last year, according to AIR Inc., an Atlanta-based aviation personnel career tracking and placement service. AIR reported that in July the fractionals hired 107 pilots, bringing this year’s seven-month hiring total to 723.
The FAA has criticized the airlines for failing to equip their aircraft with the latest on-board weather technology, thereby limiting the amount of relevant data pilots receive. The agency commended general aviation, however, for embracing new technologies that will be an integral part of the NextGen air transportation system.
Even under ideal circumstances, hiring pilots for a corporate operation is arduous. But when there’s a shortage of qualified pilots, the situation becomes even more difficult. Add in a slumping economy and stir in a liberal measure of the September 11 turmoil that has planted hordes of airline pilots on the street looking for work, and the decision about whom to hire can be overwhelming to even diehard aviation department managers.
A union leader has accused American Eagle of declaring war on its pilots after the company announced it was transferring 14 regional jets to another airline.