Mesaba Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) reached a tentative agreement on a new contract last month for the airline’s 844 pilots, averting a threatened strike by a matter of hours. ALPA and Mesaba had engaged in negotiations since June 2001 to no avail, prompting the National Mediation Board to call an impasse and a 30-day “cooling off period,” after which the pilots could have legally walked off the job.
The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) is joining Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla., in a safety study of spin-training experience by flight instructors. The FAA does not require spin training except for flight instructors, but the “quality and depth of that training can vary widely,” said NAFI executive director Rusty Sachs.
Shortly after AIN went to press for last month’s issue, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) made last-minute modifications to its alien flight-training rule, which was scheduled for implementation on October 20. Among other provisions, the interim final rule transferred responsibility for background checks from the Department of Justice to the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA.
The FAA announced today that it intends “later this year” to issue a formal notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to increase the mandatory airline pilot retirement age from 60 to 65. The planned proposal follows several other recent related actions.
Concerned by its findings between 1998 and 2003 involving airline pilots, the FAA late last year proposed to amend airman medical standards so that a refusal to submit to a required drug or alcohol test would result in revocation or disqualification of an airman medical certificate. Only about 20 comments were submitted.
While the national intelligence reform law President Bush signed in December carries a provision for photo IDs for “pilots”, confusion reigns over which airman certificates are included. An FAA spokesman told AIN that the law would include any U.S.-issued license, including that for pilots, A&Ps, air traffic controllers and dispatchers. But the law only refers specifically to improved pilot licenses.
The idea of mixing legal weapons with pilots is not new. Aviators of yore often carried firearms–and with good reason. There are more recent incidents that support the practice. In the mid-1960s, an airliner was taken over by a man wielding a gun who shot both pilots. In another incident a disgruntled PSA employee broke into the cockpit of a BAe 146 in 1987 and shot and killed both pilots.
While the fractional providers said publicly that switching to the more stringent rules of Part 91 Subpart K on February 17 was a nonevent, a look behind the scenes at NetJets reveals a somewhat more chaotic transition. It appears that the duty-time and crew-rest limitations of the new rule threw a proverbial monkey wrench into operations.
The four major fractional aircraft operators hired 482 pilots last year compared with 198 in 2003, bringing the total roster of fractional pilots to 3,649 last year, according to aviation hiring firm AIR in Atlanta.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and former airline pilot Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) have re-introduced legislation to increase the mandatory retirement age of Part 121 airline pilots from 60 to 65. The two men believe the current regulation is outdated and changing it would save jobs and retain experienced pilots.