Russia To Allow Airlines To Hire Foreign Pilots

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows Russian airlines to hire foreign pilots, a move the Kremlin said was needed to end a shortage of pilots on civilian flights as passenger numbers grow.

The law comes five months after 50 people were killed in the crash of a Tatarstan Airlines jet, blamed on pilot error, which highlighted concerns that Russia does not have enough pilots to meet growing demand.

"The (new) federal law is designed to liquidate the deficit of commanders to civilian aircraft," the Kremlin said in a statement.

It said the law would allow airlines to hire foreign pilots over the next five years, indicating that no new foreign pilots could be hired after April 2019 but those already employed in Russia could remain.

Full Story - Air Wise

Pilot Shortage a Myth, Says ALPA

While the Regional Airline Association and regional airline management point to new rules governing flight time experience for first officers as the primary reason for a pilot shortage that has resulted in a loss of service to several U.S. communities, pilots contend the airlines have made their own mess by creating a business model predicated on breadline wages for cockpit crew. The Air Line Pilots Association, for one, argues that there's no shortage of pilots, only a shortage of pilots willing to fly for substandard wages and inadequate benefits.

ALPA points to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to support its position. In it, the GAO references data to indicate that a large pool of qualified pilots exists relative to the projected demand. However, the report also found that it remains unclear whether or not those pilots would be willing to work for the wages now on offer.

Historical labor market data from 2000 through 2012 provide mixed evidence as to whether there really is an airline pilot shortage, according to the GAO. The unemployment rate for the pilot occupation–a key indicator for a shortage–averaged lower than for the economy as a whole, said the report. However, wage earnings and employment didn't correlate with the existence of a shortage, as data for both indicators showed decreases over the period, it added.

Full Story - AIN online

Textron Completes Acquisition of Beechcraft

Textron announced it has closed its acquisition of Beech Holdings, LLC, the parent of Beechcraft Corporation, and that it will bring together its Cessna business and Beechcraft to form a new segment called Textron Aviation. Cessna and Beechcraft together produced about $4.6 billion in revenues during 2013.

The acquisition brings together three iconic brands, each pioneering many of general aviation's most notable advances in the past century. Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker bring 200-plus years of combined aviation experience to the market and an installed customer base of more than 250,000 airplanes worldwide. Going forward, Textron Aviation intends to share and leverage best practices across all operations to further its position as an aviation authority. Scott Ernest, who has served as Cessna's President and CEO since 2011, will lead the Textron Aviation segment as CEO.

Full Story - Business Wire

NTSB to Offer Accident Investigation Courses

During March, the NTSB will offer two courses related to accident investigation and one on accident response and victim family support at its training center in Auburn, Virginia. The Aircraft Accident Investigation course will run from March 31 through April 11 and is designed to provide participants with a comprehensive overview of the procedures and methods used and the skills required to investigate an aircraft accident. Examples from recent NTSB investigations will be used to demonstrate particular aspects of the investigative process.

A related course, on cognitive interviewing, which is geared to providing the foundational knowledge and skills needed to conduct interviews of participants in, and witnesses to, transportation incidents or accidents will be held on March 19 and 20.

Full Story - AVweb

Pilot Shortage Is an Airline Fairy Tale

Airlines sell a commodity and buy from monopolies, i.e., the airports that provide landing rights. So it isn't surprising they have such a tough time making money. Now they have another problem: There aren't enough pilots and co-pilots willing to work for the low pay offered by regional carriers.

Airlines call this a "shortage" and blame a recent rule from the Federal Aviation Administration that mandates co-pilots have at least 1,500 hours of flying experience, up from 250. At the margin, the rule does reduce the number of people qualified to serve as a first officer on a plane, but that doesn't mean there is a shortage.

According to the Airline Pilots Association, there are thousands of U.S. pilots who are either furloughed or unemployed, while thousands more have switched to foreign carriers that offer higher pay. According to the FAA, both the number of active certificates for airline pilots and the number of U.S. airline passengers have been little changed during the past five years -- not exactly what you would expect if there were a real shortage of workers. The situation is similar to the "shortage" of farm workers that vanished as soon as pay went up.

Full Story - Bloomberg News

FAA Lowers India Aviation Safety Ranking

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cut India's safety ranking for the first time citing a failure to meet requirements, a move that could thwart local carriers' expansion to the world's biggest aviation market.

The FAA lowered the rating to Category 2 from Category 1, Ajit Singh, India's civil aviation minister, said in New Delhi today. Singh said he was disappointed with the downgrade and added there was no reason to think of any retaliatory action.

The downgrade -- bringing India equal with Zimbabwe, Paraguay and Indonesia -- means the country's carriers can't start new services to the U.S., and their planes are subjected to additional inspections at airports there. The move is also a blow to the South Asian nation's efforts to boost the aviation industry after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government eased investment rules and spent billions of dollars to upgrade more than a dozen airports.

Full Story - Bloomberg News

Bombardier To Cut 1700 Jobs After Jet Delays

Bombardier said on Tuesday it will cut 1,700 aerospace jobs, or more than 4 percent of the unit's staff, as it pushes to preserve cash after costly setbacks in the development of two new aircraft.

Montreal-based Bombardier, which plans to eliminate 1,100 jobs in Canada and 600 in the United States, said it needs to reduce expenses while making major investments in its new CSeries commercial and Learjet 85 business jets.

Full Story - AIRwise

American Eagle Airlines To Change Name To Envoy

American Eagle Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group Inc., announced today that the company will be changing its name to Envoy in spring 2014. This change is being made to give the company its own distinct identity and eliminate the confusion between the company's current name and American Eagle, the regional flying brand of American Airlines, Inc. With the formation of American Airlines Group, the 10 carriers currently providing regional service for the legacy American and US Airways networks will all eventually fly under the American Eagle brand.

Full Story - PR Newswire

American Eagle Pilots Reach Agreement For New Embraer Aircraft

American Eagle's pilots union reached an agreement with the regional carrier's management that guarantees 60 of the new Embraer 175 aircraft that American Airlines ordered in December to be used with Eagle.

There are also options for 90 other aircraft to be operated by the regional carrier, the Air Line Pilots Association and the carrier said in a news release Friday evening.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Bombardier To Furlough Workers

Bombardier will furlough about 300 of its Learjet workers in Wichita, Kan., for six weeks during the first half of this year, according to the Wichita Eagle. Bombardier cited challenges in the jet market as the impetus for the change. A memo sent to workers last week said the layoffs would affect Learjet 70 and 75 production, but not the Learjet 85.

Full Story - AvWeb

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