Effective October 3, the Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) will become a permanent component of Part 121 and 135 airline training regulations. Currently, AQP requirements are in a Special FAR that expires on October 2. The AQP provides an alternative method for large airlines and regional airlines seeking more flexibility in meeting training requirements.
The first 25 years of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has been a story of “bold creativity, progressive thinking and community service,” according to ERA president and Aegean Airlines COO Antonis Simigdalas.
Northwest Airlines has presented its pilot union leaders with a plan to start a new subsidiary specifically to replace the airline’s aged Douglas DC-9s with 70- to 100-seat regional jets. Employee compensation would fall to levels common among regional airlines flying 50- and 70-seat RJs, meaning Northwest’s DC-9 pilots would earn about half what they earn now and lose pension and 401(k) benefits.
New rules will require transport aircraft manufactured after Oct. 27, 2009, and used in Part 121 major carrier and regional airline operations to meet more stringent crashworthiness standards for passenger and flight attendant seats.
American Eagle president and RAA chairman Peter Bowler posited a proposal to ease the airlines’ burden for funding FAA and ATC services: get business aviation to pay its fair share. “Airlines fund 90 percent of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund but account for only 60 percent of the activity,” Bowler said during an RAA press gathering. “Business jets in particular are getting a free ride.”
It seems hard to reconcile the rather dark and anxious tone of this year’s Regional Airline Association convention with double-digit margins and record revenues. Listening to airline delegates speak at this year’s get-together, one got the distinct impression they knew something the rest of us didn’t. In fact, regional airlines have been waiting for the day the gravy train of guaranteed RJ profits derailed.
While many European companies still view business jets as “corporate barges” rather than genuine business tools, statistics show they are more likely to warm to corporate/executive shuttles. Perhaps this is because of a shuttle’s more utilitarian purpose as a transporter of a company’s employees rather than just the company’s executives.
With very light jets (VLJs) expected to enter service by this time next year, turboprop singles are now meeting the contender face-to-face in the marketplace. It was bound to happen, given that the two different classes of airplane have similar range capabilities, cabin volume and acquisition costs.
Embraer, a recent but aggressive entrant in business aviation, predicts that manufacturers will sell 9,680 new business jets during the next 10 years, representing an annual growth rate of 4.4 percent over current sales.
The recent buying frenzy for FBOs has reached at least one airline. ExpressJet Holdings, whose operations include a fleet of 255 Embraer regional jets operated as Continental Express, has purchased a non-controlling interest in Wing Aviation, an FBO, charter and refurbishment firm based in Conroe, Texas.