Never one to shy away from controversy, Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein has announced that his airline will begin training its pilots to carry taser weapons in the cockpit. A Mesa spokesperson said the airline expected to complete training and FAA coordination for the plan within three months. Mesa on October 17 began placing private security personnel on its airplanes based in Albuquerque, N.M.
Hesitant to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” Regional Airline Association president Debby McElroy applauded the Office of Management and Budget’s decision to allow bankrupt carriers, including RAA members Midway Airlines and Shuttle America, access to part of the $10 billion in loan guarantees signed into law as part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act.
By any measure of market share and financial performance, the convalescence of the U.S. regional airline industry looks nearly complete. Since last year’s RAA convention in Phoenix, the nation’s regionals have posted double-digit traffic gains while margins marched toward pre-9/11 levels and RJ fleets grabbed another 5 percent of the air transport network’s market share. Far from issuing a clean bill
The General Aviation Industry Reparations Act (H.R.3347) encountered rough air when the Bush Administration asked lawmakers to put off a vote on the measure because its estimated cost had ballooned from the original $450 million to more than $5.5 billion.
The Lufthansa Technik-led Platinet support program for business aircraft operators is up and running. The German aircraft maintenance and completions firm has assembled an initial group of partners for the service and is now looking to expand the geographical scope of the support network.
Air charter operators have the opportunity to apply for federal relief as a result of September 11. In discussions with the DOT, the National Air Transportation Association learned that Part 135 companies will be allowed to apply for relief by calculating their available seat miles (ASMs) or revenue ton miles (RTMs) for the time that their operations were grounded after September 11.
On October 11 the House small business subcommittee on regulatory reform and oversight considered the financial hit to small aviation business from restrictions on the National Airspace System. The hearing was intended to quantify dollar needs and consider expansion of recipients for aid under H.R.3007, introduced on October 3 by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) with 25 cosponsors.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) was Signature’s busiest base until September 11. Even after all other major airports around the country have reopened to some forms of general aviation operations, DCA remains closed to non-airline traffic. At press time, the normally bustling ramp at Signature DCA, the company’s flagship facility, was barren. The usually chock-a-block hangar was empty.
“Business has been very strong, but for all the wrong reasons,” said aircraft purchase broker Drew Callen, president of Boston JetSearch, which is based at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass. “There has been a surge of new inquiries for fractional shares and wholly owned business aircraft of all types. Also, many buyers who were on the fence have decided it’s time to take action.”
Beyond North America, the global business aviation community has continued to find itself in a state of unsettling flux in the six weeks since September 11’s terrorist attacks. On balance, though, corporate pilots and industry executives gave AIN the strong impression that they preferred their lot to that of their airline counterparts.