The major U.S. fractional providers appear to be poised for growth this year, if estimates of pilot hiring and aircraft delivery intake are accurate. NetJets recently said it plans to hire 450 pilots this year, and New York-based analyst UBS Investment Research predicts that the New Jersey-based fractional provider will take delivery of 76 business jets by year-end.
Gulfstream Aerospace, which experienced a 12-percent increase in aircraft production last year compared with 2004 and expects that growth to continue, revealed plans yesterday for a $300 million expansion of manufacturing and service facilities at its Savannah, Ga. headquarters. This project, to unfold over the next seven years, includes a new 570,000-sq-ft service center–more than twice the size of the existing center.
Last Thursday’s union victory for the Flight Options pilots has received mixed reactions.
Aspen Avionics, the maker of the AT300 hazard awareness display, has asked a New Mexico court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Eclipse Aviation in October claiming “intellectual ownership” of the device. Former Eclipse employees Peter Lyons and Jeff Bethel say they developed the AT300 before ever coming to work for the VLJ maker and that Eclipse decided to sue them only after the pair left the company to form their own company.
Pilots of large-cabin jets who work as independent contractors complain that former airline pilots and young pilots willing to work for much less are undercutting their normal daily rates.
NetJets Europe (NJE) has offered its flight crew new onshore contracts and improved pay. Proposed raises for pilots and flight attendants range from 4.6 percent to 26.7 percent, and new roster arrangements will limit maximum duty days to 50 days per quarter. AIN obtained a copy of the contract offer, which was sent to NetJets staff on December 1. (See box on page 30 for details.)
Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) pilots on December 15 picketed the company’s newest flight crew base, at Los Angeles International Airport, to protest the lack of progress in their contract talks with management.
In one of its last acts before the 109th Congress ended last month, the Senate approved a House-passed bill that creates a federal Interagency Aerospace Revitalization Task Force. It directs 11 federal agencies, led by the Department of Labor, to form a task force to develop strategies to expand public and private aerospace job-training programs.
In the late 1970s, Continental Airlines president Frank Lorenzo used a court of law to confront his pilots with an existing, although seldom used, negotiating technique, abrogating their contract when he was unable to secure an agreement through traditional collective bargaining. He quickly replaced his then striking workers with a non-union workforce willing to accept his management style and pay scale.
Citing a serious near collision of two widebodies in Chicago last July, the NTSB at a public meeting Tuesday called again for “effective action” by the FAA to counter the danger posed by potentially catastrophic runway collisions.