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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

International News

Global ANSPs join forces to liberalise air traffic management

A new industry think tank has been launched to consider how the efficiency and performance of air traffic management (ATM) could be improved through greater market liberalisation.

The ATM Policy Institute has been founded by the air navigation service providers (ANSPs) of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Czech Republic. It is chaired by former Eurocontrol Director General David McMillan. The Institute will also work in close partnership with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) in a bid to demonstrate the benefits of enabling ANSPs to compete with each other for the provision of ATM services.

The Institute has published a paper titled The case for liberalizing (sic) Air Traffic Control, which sets out the benefits of liberalising the ATM industry as well as outlining a vision of what competition in ATM would look like. It plans to publish more detailed work in the autumn when it will host a workshop to share ideas and research on how greater competition can be introduced for the different activities undertaken by ANSPs, including Oceanic and support services.

The case for liberalising Air Traffic Control >

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US pilot shortage could spell service cuts

US airline SkyWest Inc. President and CEO Chip Childs warned the US Congress of a “growing pilot shortage” that could become significantly more pronounced over the next three years, leading to the grounding of large numbers of aircraft in US regional airlines’ fleets.

Testifying at a House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing, Childs said Utah-based SkyWest—the parent of SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines, and the largest US regional airline operator—has been able to maintain adequate pilot hiring levels so far.

But he said smaller regional airlines are having increasing difficulty finding qualified pilots and the shortage will likely soon begin to seriously affect SkyWest.

“All of us [in the US regional airline industry] see a very significant pilot shortage,” he said. “We’re deeply concerned about the statistics as we move forward over the next three years. There are a lot of retirements at the majors and we simply don’t have the backfill.”

Childs said US major airlines, which primarily hire flight deck crew from US regionals, are expected to hire 18,000 pilots in the next three years – nearly the size of the current regional airline pilot workforce. He warned that the shortfall in pilots could ultimately lead to the parking of as much as two-thirds of the US regional airline fleet in operation today.

The US Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has cast the problem as largely one of compensation levels, but Childs said there has been a “tremendous move and shift [to higher] compensation in the last few years” for pilots at US regional airlines.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) congressionally mandated rule requiring pilots to accumulate 1,500 flight hours before becoming a first officer at a Part 121 US airline has been blamed for escalating the cost of becoming an airline pilot. However Childs did not press Congress to change the law that led to the rule as US regional airlines have in the past. In what may signal a change in lobbying strategy for US regional airlines, Childs instead pushed for Congress to provide guidance to FAA to allow for more “alternate pathways” to meeting the 1,500-hour requirement within existing law.

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Airline fatalities increase but five-year safety trend has improved

The number of fatalities caused by airline accidents totalled 268 people in 2016, nearly double those killed in 2015, but the industry’s five-year safety trend shows the rate of accidents is significantly improved.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2016 Airline Safety Performance report, published March 10,  showed the previous five-year period (2011-2015) had an average of 13.4 fatal accidents and 371 people killed per year.  This is an improvement on 2015’s report, which posted a previous five-year average of 17.6 fatal accidents and 504 killed per year.

Ten fatal accidents were recorded in 2016, IATA reported, resulting in 268 killed. In 2015, four fatal accidents were recorded, resulting in 136 deaths. Both years were down considerably from 2014, when 12 fatal accidents occurred and 641 people were killed.

Of the 10 fatal accidents in 2016, five were jet hull losses and five were turboprop hull losses.

IATA’s Safety Performance report >

Emirates launches Athens to Newark service

Emirates Airline operated the first rotation of its controversial fifth-freedom Dubai-Athens-New York-Newark service on March 13, following protests by US airlines’ staff.

US airlines have asked the Trump administration to block the new service and look again at the Open Skies agreements between the US and Gulf states.

The route, operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, has rekindled 2015’s complaints from US carriers about the growing reach and breadth of the major Gulf carriers, which some US airlines and trade unions argue is the result of hidden subsidies from the United Arab Emirates and Qatari governments to their respective airlines.

The new service makes Newark Emirates’ 12th US gateway; it already serves New York JFK.

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Canada issues new rules for drones

Amidst the ongoing debate of drone regulation in New Zealand, in response to a reported tripling of recreational unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) incidents since 2014, Transport Canada issued new operational rules on March 16, effective immediately.

The new rules affect operations of recreational UAVs weighing between 250g and 35kg, and include the specification that recreational operators cannot fly UAVs within nine kilometres of the centre of any airport, heliport, aerodrome or water aerodrome where aircraft take off and land.

The rules will be in effect for a period of up to one year, until permanent regulations are put in place.

Also included in the measures are prohibitions on flying recreational UAVs at night. Additionally, UAVs cannot be flown higher than 90 metres and nor can they be flown within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles or people.

Finally, all recreational UAVs must be marked with the operator’s contact information. Failure to comply with the new flying restrictions and conditions could lead to fines of up to C$3,000, Transport Canada said.

According to Transport Canada, UAV incidents increased from 41 in 2014 to 148 in 2016.

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US and UK ban large electronic devices from carry-on bags

Air Transport World reported that US and UK authorities have required airlines from eight nations to forbid passengers from carrying any electronic or electrical device larger than a cellphone onboard flights.

The US requirement forbids passengers from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and even cameras larger than mobile phones into the cabin. All such devices must be checked.

The ban is technically related to 10 airports in eight countries:

  • Queen Alia in Jordan
  • Cairo International in Egypt
  • Ataturk International in Turkey
  • King Abdulaziz and King Khalid in Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International in Kuwait
  •  Mohammed V in Morocco
  • Doha International in Qatar
  • Dubai international and Abu Dhabi international in the United Arab Emirates.

The affected airlines are Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad.

The UK government has prohibited large personal devices to be carried into the cabin on flights to the UK from six Middle East and North African countries, with restrictions that apply to all operators on those routes.

In an important difference from the US ban, the UK rules do not apply to flights out of the UAE or Qatar. The UK is also applying its ban to countries and not to specific airports, as the US has done.

Countries affected by the UK ban are:

  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

Dubai-based Emirates, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are not affected by the UK ban, but British Airways, UK low-cost carrier easyJet and other UK carriers that fly direct from the listed countries must comply with the rules.

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IAG introduces Level, its new budget carrier

International Airlines Group’s new long haul, low-cost carrier will be called Level. It will operate four initial routes to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Buenos Aires from Barcelona’s El Prat Airport. Level will become IAG’s fifth airline, together with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

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