Friday’s market chatter that Textron is set to acquire Beechcraft had still drawn no official comment either party as of press time. A December 20 report in the Financial Times citing only “people familiar with the matter” was enough to drive Textron’s share price up on Wall Street by almost 15 percent at one point to close at $37.29 by the end of the day.
When the FAA was looking for ways to slash expenditures by more than $600 million in Fiscal Year 2013 as part of “sequestration” cuts mandated by the U.S. Congress last spring, part of the plans was a shutdown of 149 low-activity contract control towers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) last week lists two aviation issues as top priorities for 2014 in the latest audit released by the office of its inspector general (IG). The DOT will focus on improving the FAA’s industry oversight and operations within the national airspace system (NAS), while also identifying and addressing what it views as root problems in the decade-old NextGen program.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is partly shifting responsibility for compliance with its operational safety audits (IOSA) to airlines themselves under the new enhanced version of the program (E-IOSA). According to Giancarlo Buono, IATA’s regional director for safety and flight operations in Europe, the E-IOSA process will require operators to continuously monitor their own compliance with the IOSA standards, but IATA itself will still conduct the current biennial “snapshot” audits.
The Russian parliament was presented with legislation last week to allow Russian airlines to begin hiring foreign pilots to meet an expected shortfall in experienced crews. Currently only Russian citizens may fly Russian airliners. The move comes just a month after the crash of a Boeing 737 at Kazan Airport, 450 miles southeast of Moscow, in which it appears the pilots lost control of the aircraft, killing all 50 people on board. Shortcomings in crew qualifications have already been cited as possible factors in that accident.
IATA says air carriers that participate in its operational safety audits (IOSA) had a 62 percent better accident rate than non-IOSA airlines through November 2013. Worldwide, about 65 percent of all commercial flights operate under the IOSA umbrella, including those of 149 airlines that are not IATA members, representing nearly 84 percent of the world’s air traffic. In Africa, which has the highest accident rate by region, only 14 percent of accidents involved IOSA-compliant operators.
A December 15 Air France flight was held on the ground in Venezuela after French intelligence officials received a credible tip that a bomb would be detonated when the flight was over the Atlantic between Caracas and Paris. An extensive search of the Airbus A340 found no explosive devices and the flight was allowed to proceed.
After strong opposition from AOPA, EAA and NBAA, the FAA announced last week that it is reconsidering its decision to move forward with mandatory sleep apnea testing for pilots and air traffic controllers without seeking stakeholder participation. Opponents of the move have criticized what they view as arbitrary medical standards for the proposed testing.
The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress appear headed to a confrontation over the administration’s plan to open a customs pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport that many lawmakers and airline industry groups oppose. An opponent said the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency plans to begin operating the facility on January 5.
Amsterdam-based AerCap’s planned acquisition of International Lease Finance Corp. from American International Group stands to return a sense of stability to a business in which the disposition of one of two dominant players hung in doubt for more than a year. It also promises to result in what AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly characterized as “the most attractive order book in the industry,” valued at $25 billion.