When a Colgan Air Q400 crashed on a winter’s night in February, killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground, airframe icing was an early subject of speculation. Reviving memories of Roselawn in 1994, when an American Airlines ATR fell abruptly from a wintry sky while preparing to land, the Q400 crashed into a house on the approach to Buffalo from an altitude of about 2,000 feet on a cold, damp night.
A conversion of a letter of intent into a firm order for 22 CRJ700s by American Airlines this month failed to save the jobs of more than 600 employees at Bombardier Aerospace, as the company prepares to move ahead with plans to cut CRJ production rates for its 2010 fiscal year.
Pinnacle Airlines CEO Phil Trenary last month placed the responsibility with his pilots for moving forward with contract talks after the ALPA-represented group failed to ratify an agreement to amend their labor contract this fall. The sides had negotiated for some four-and-a-half years before the group’s Master Executive Council (MEC) this summer approved a tentative contract, which the pilots voted down.
Pinnacle Airlines and its pilots must head back to the bargaining table now that the airline’s ALPA-represented crewmembers failed to ratify tentative contract language fashioned after more than four years of bargaining. Pinnacle management offered pay raises, a signing bonus, job-security enhancements and work-rule improvements, incentives deemed insufficient by some 58 percent of the voting pilots.
Pinnacle Airlines has decided to move the headquarters of its Colgan Air subsidiary to Memphis, placing the two operating units in the same location “mainly for operations, planning and communications purposes.” Some 50 Colgan employees plan to make the move to Memphis from Manassas, Va., “in the November-December time frame,” while another 45 chose not to move.
While second-quarter traffic posted by some of the largest publicly traded regional airlines in the U.S. followed the prevailing patterns set by their mainline partners, some carriers reacted to the exercise in “resizing” better than others.
After more than four years of contentious negotiation, Pinnacle Airlines has reached terms with the Air Line Pilots Association on a new tentative contract for its 1,282 pilots. Scheduled for a ratification vote this month, the new deal would give Pinnacle’s pilots their first pay raise in five years. ALPA said it would release details after legal review and finalization of the contract.
Most aviation professionals aren’t fooled by the “one level of safety” myth, the sound- bite mantra that the FAA trots out for the public, Congress and the media when a regional airline accident, like the fatal February 12 Colgan crash near Buffalo, N.Y., lays bare the truth about the disparate levels of safety between regional carriers and the majors.
Bombardier CRJ200, Detroit, Mich., Nov. 18, 2008–In light rain and darkness, the Pinnacle Airlines regional jetliner collided with a ground tractor that was towing a baggage cart and suffered substantial damage after an early morning landing at Detroit’s Metro Wayne County Airport. The aircraft was cleared for taxi to the gate and was moving north to south “at a crawl,” according to the captain, when the tractor struck its left wing.
Something positive might come from the February 12 crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 after all, if a broad FAA effort to revamp rules governing airline pilot records, fatigue and training ultimately bears fruit.