The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is preparing to reduce its staff by 20 percent in the face of government budget cuts. Safety inspectors, mostly based in Canberra, make up just over half of the 110 personnel who might be let go. The union representing the safety inspectors is fighting the planned cuts.
Lawmakers finally received a response to questions about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searches of general aviation aircraft on domestic flights, but they remain unsatisfied. The response came from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the umbrella federal agency that includes CBP. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) received a letter and a table reporting more details about some of the incidents, but Roberts and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) were not fully satisfied and sent a letter on February 12 requesting a briefing and more written responses from the DHS.
As the search for the presumed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 entered its fourth day Tuesday, questions mounted about why security or immigration officials did not intercept the two Iranians who boarded with stolen Austrian and Italian passports.
The FAA wants to fine Whirlybird Helicopters $55,125 for allegedly violating DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. The agency said Whirlybird failed to conduct pre-employment drug tests on eight employees before hiring them to perform safety-sensitive functions on the company’s helicopters. The agency also alleges three of these employees were not in Whirlybird’s random testing pool as required by DOT regulations. The company has 30 days to appeal the penalty.
Switzerland-based global aviation services provider Execujet will be moving from a 3,200-sq-ft temporary FBO structure at Bali International Airport, to a permanent facility next month. The new 34,229-sq-ft facility, currently undergoing completion, will offer 10 times more space than the temporary location next door. A 700,000-sq-ft ramp built next to the new terminal is designed to handle all business aircraft up to single-aisle jetliners.
The Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan plans to launch a domestic airline, Air Kazakhstan, in early 2015 with a fleet of 10 new Bombardier Q400 twin turboprops.
The Pentagon proposes retiring the U-2 Dragon Lady and A-10 Warthog in the Fiscal Year 2015 defense budget it will present to the Congress next week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previewed the budget for reporters on February 24.
The FAA should allow non-military drones access to fly in rural areas now, rather than wait for the agency to complete its broader integration into civil airspace following the rulemaking process, according to the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Drones are too valuable to be kept on the ground and the agency is moving too slowly in creating applicable safety regulations, said AUVSI president Michael Toscano.
The FAA kept its oft-repeated promise to designate six unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test sites by the end of last year. On December 30, the agency announced that it had selected universities and other public entities in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia to operate test sites at their own expense, fulfilling a requirement of Congress in the 2012 FAA reauthorization act.
Business aircraft financing and leasing has continued to be a “much more challenged marketplace,” according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch managing director and head of global corporate aircraft finance Michael Amalfitano, who will be moderating a panel on this topic at the upcoming NBAA Aircraft Registration, Finance and Legal Conference. The event will be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., on February 6 and 7.