According to aviation career specialist AIR Inc., six fractional operators this year hired 447 pilots through April. Frax companies hired a total of 1,038 pilots last year, putting this year’s numbers on track for a better outlook. According to AIR Inc., no fractional pilots are on furlough, but 4,515 major airline pilots and 2,451 “national” airline pilots are.
Four pilots suing their former employer, Flight Options, for allegedly firing them for their union-organizing activities following the merger with Raytheon Travel Air last year (AIN, October 2002, page 74) filed a motion on September 22 in the Federal District Court in Cleveland for summary judgment against the fractional operator.
Brazil’s Embraer said it will lay off 1,800 workers, reduce deliveries this year from 185 to 160 and lower its forecast delivery rate from 205 to 135 next year as part of a plan to stem losses expected to result from September 11. Although the company said all firm orders remain in effect, it expects a number of customers to defer option conversions until the global economic outlook improves.
In February 2002 the FAA proposed to make it clear that each person who performs a safety-sensitive function directly or by contract for an employer (“including by subcontract at any tier”) is subject to drug and alcohol testing.
Pilot hiring by the four major fractional aircraft ownership operators is far ahead of last year’s, according to figures compiled by AIR. The employment analyst reported that in the first eight months of this year, fractional operators hired 300 pilots, compared with 198 for all of last year. AIR reports that NetJets, FlightOptions, Flexjet and CitationShares employed 3,649 pilots as of August 31.
In another sign of an economic recovery of some measure within business aviation, Cessna confirmed it plans to add 400 workers to its current Wichita employment level of 8,100. An increase in scheduled bizjet deliveries this year and next, along with the introduction of new Citation models, prompted the hiring, a Cessna official said.
Members of the Air Line Pilots Association will be asked their views on the Age 60 mandatory retirement rule for airline pilots. The union, which has historically opposed any effort to raise the retirement age, is now worried that the current financial crisis in the airline industry could cut pilots’ career earnings. ALPA pilots are concerned they might have to work in other professions or as pilots outside the U.S.
Pilots flying helicopters for the French hospitals’ emergency medical services went on strike twice recently to protest low wages and long hours. In response, the operators’ trade association, SNEH, said that it has already addressed the pilots’ highest-priority grievances. Early last month the pilots expressed confidence that negotiations were nearing completion.
Flight Options pilots are only marginally closer to having a negotiated contract nearly a year-and-a-half after voting in a union. The fractional provider’s more than 600 line pilots are represented by Local 1108, the same group that represents NetJets’ pilots.
A spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Labor said the agency would need until at least the middle of next month to finish its investigation into the July 31 death of an American Eagle fleet service clerk at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). The accident, which occurred on the RDU ramp between 8:30 and 9 p.m., involved a parked Embraer regional jet and a baggage tug driven by the deceased, 43-year-old Lufuluabo Kalonji.