The European Parliament’s approval of controversial new harmonized flight and duty time limitation (FTL) for pilots last Wednesday came only a week after its own Transport and Tourism (Tran) committee voted against its adoption. The development concludes more than five years of work led by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
While the U.S. government is on a Congress-created enforced shutdown, the aviation industry might be tempted to wonder what the FAA actually accomplishes. What we are learning is that a lot of what the FAA does is process paperwork. And when the paperwork stops flowing, we can be forced to stop flying.
While the two “voluntary” groundings over the past year at Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair eventually led to its recent downfall, the fractional provider had a long history of maintenance-related issues, according to FAA files obtained this week by AIN under a Freedom of Information Act request. In fact, one such action from June 4, 2008, involves a $500,000 civil penalty, according to the FAA documents. This particular action remains pending.
Every decade or so, sometimes more often, someone or some organization proposes “privatizing” the U.S. air traffic control system. In 1985 it was the Air Transport Association (ATA), now renamed Airlines for America, which released a study calling for a self-supporting federal ATC corporation.
Spatial disorientation is the likely reason the pilot of a privately owned Robinson R44 helicopter lost control of the aircraft and crashed near southern Quebec’s Saint-Ferdinand Aerodrome in August 2011, according to the accident report issued by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). The private pilot and the three passengers aboard, all members of the pilot’s family, were killed in the nighttime accident.
The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC), representing some 14,000 controllers in the region, said it has called off a planned October 10 strike over safety issues tied to the Single European Sky program. The group said it had received assurances that the European Union is willing to discuss those safety issues before implementation.
European controllers have scrapped plans for a strike on October 10 to protest draft amendments to Single European Sky (SES) regulations that would expedite the restructuring of the continent’s ATC network.
During day two of the U.S. government shutdown, 15,000 FAA employees were still off the job on furlough and the business aviation community appears to have found the early impact of the closure to be greater than anticipated with disruption to several important FAA functions that were not impacted by previous Federal government shutdowns.
Aircraft departing from two U.S. airports have a quicker and more environmentally friendly option for de-icing than traditional glycol. At New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and Wisconsin’s Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (RHI), departing aircraft that require de-icing can roll into an open-ended hangar where targeted infrared (IR) waves remove frost, snow and ice with a minimum of glycol usage, increasing aircraft throughput and decreasing de-icing time and cost.
Longtime FAA watchers will remember the FAA’s advanced automation system (AAS), which was contracted in 1990 to replace the agency’s venerable Host ATC system, which had entered service 20 years earlier. AAS was to be the answer to the controllers’ every prayer, until it started to run into technical trouble. In fact, it encountered so much trouble that the FAA cancelled its development in 1994–reportedly at the strong urging of Congress–after expenditures had reached $2.6 billion, without clear indications of when it would achieve operational readiness or its final cost.