Mitsubishi Aircraft received a huge dose of credibility at the Farnborough International airshow yesterday by announcing a 100-aircraft commitment for MRJ90s from the largest regional airline holding company in the world–SkyWest Airlines. The agreement in principle, signed just this week, potentially raises the MRJ regional jet family backlog to 170 airplanes and gives Mitsubishi its second major U.S. customer.
China’s first private regional airline, China Express, based in Guiyang, has finalized a $264 million deal for six Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen regional jets. The value could rise to $491 million if the carrier, which will become the first to operate NextGen models in the country, exercises options for five more of the jets. Its current fleet consists of five Bombardier 50-seat CRJ200s.
Few doubt that the new rules governing pilot duty time and first officer qualifications will challenge human resource departments at regional airlines throughout the U.S. But to a nation that depends on regional airlines for some 50 percent of its flights, the extent to which the new regulations will affect the supply of pilots and service to small communities remains largely underappreciated, much to the frustration of the Regional Airline Association and its members.
After asking for a show of hands from air charter operators who are experiencing difficulties filling pilot vacancies, FAA deputy director of flight standards John Duncan told attendees at this week’s NATA Air Charter Summit that he gets involved in discussions about pilot shortages in a lot of different venues. “From an academic standpoint, it’s going to be interesting,” he said. “But from a community standpoint, it’s probably going to be a little painful. This is an interesting dilemma for the aviation community.”
The scope clause language in the tentative settlement reached between the Air Line Pilots Association and Delta Air Lines in May at first looked like a positive development for all involved.
A looming pilot shortage, stubbornly high fuel prices, industry consolidation and new regulations that will require, among other items, first officers to carry an Air Transport Pilots certificate by August 2013 all made their mark on the 37th annual Regional Airline Association convention, held May 21 to 24 in Minneapolis.
Europe’s regional airlines continue to struggle against European Commission (EC) bureaucrats who do not appreciate their value or the problems poor legislation and punitive taxation cause, or that they enable European economic prosperity. This was the central message from the “Regions at Risk” conference held by the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) in Porto, Portugal on April 18 and 19.
Notwithstanding consistent losses through which the regional airline industry’s publicly traded carriers have suffered lately, the last three years have proved a period of considerable progress on several fronts. Perhaps most notably, the industry has not registered a fatal accident since the Feb. 12, 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, in which 50 people died primarily due to pilot error.
Jonathan Ornstein began his career in 1987, working at Los Angeles-based Air LA, a small commuter carrier where he did everything from finance to aircraft cleaning. He moved over to Mesa Air in 1989, where he served as assistant to founder, president and CEO Larry Risley. He worked his way up to executive vice president, and then became president and CEO of Continental Express and senior vice president of airport operations for Continental. He then moved to Brussels, Belgium, to work with Sir Richard Branson to create Virgin Express.
By the time American Eagle president Dan Garton spoke with AIN in late March, he had just presented his labor groups with a restructuring plan that called for a 5-percent reduction in the number of employees to achieve the cost savings the company would need to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.