Aviation Policy News: FAA change on eVTOL certification, San Juan’s airport transformed by privatization, and more
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Aviation Policy Newsletter

Aviation Policy News: FAA change on eVTOL certification, San Juan’s airport transformed by privatization, and more

Plus: More remote towers coming to the U.S., a state threat to AAM vertiport development, and more.

In this issue:

FAA Upsets the Applecart on eVTOL Certification

Both developers of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs) aircraft and potential operators were shocked at the end of May when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shifted gears on how these new air vehicles are going to be certified. While some eVTOL startups are trying to downplay the implications, the result is likely to be a longer time frame for these new vehicles to gain all the approvals needed for them to be produced and operated.

Two main types of FAA certification are required for any commercial aircraft. One is called a type certificate, under which the agency agrees that manufacturer’s design meets all requisite standards and is expected to be safe and airworthy. The other is an airline operating certificate, which requires the applicant to demonstrate that it has all the procedures and capabilities in hand to carry passengers safely. (There is also production certification, but that is less relevant to the just-announced change.)

Until now, just about everyone in the emerging eVTOL industry assumed that type certificates were to be handled under Part 23, the same regulation used to certify conventional commercial airliners. FAA would have attached special conditions to the Part 23 regs to account for the ability of eVTOLs to take off and land vertically. Instead, FAA has decided to define these new aircraft as “powered lift” vehicles to be certified under Part 21.17(b) special class rules.

As Graham Warwick reported in a detailed Aviation Week article (“FAA’s eVTOL Reset,” May 30-June 12, 2022), FAA’s Flight Standards division has wanted to go with the “powered lift” categorization because of its concerns that typical pilots would need specialized training to fly eVTOLs, all of which will initially have to be certified with onboard pilots, not automation. So one benefit of FAA’s change in category is that the same “powered lift” approach will be used for both aircraft and operational certification.

But industry scuttlebutt suggests mostly negative responses to the change. One of the likely results is that rosy scenarios presented to eVTOL investors about certification taking place over the next year or so and actual operations beginning as early as 2024 now appear to be very wide of the mark. And that has implications for battery developers, vertiport developers, and many other stakeholders. Warwick’s article points out that there are no existing airworthiness standards under Part 21.17(b), so those will have to be created before any powered-lift aircraft can receive a type certificate. Likewise, for operating certificates, FAA plans to carry out a rulemaking to create a Special Federal Aviation Regulation for powered-lift operations, since current operating rules apply only to aircraft and helicopters, not to “powered lift” craft.

Another important impact is that aircraft type certification in the United States will not easily translate to certification in Europe, and vice-versa. FAA’s Part 21.17(b) is not recognized in Europe, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is following a type certification process along the lines that FAA has just rejected—basically that eVTOLs are aircraft with various special conditions, rather than an entirely new category (powered lift).

There are many more details in Warwick’s three-page article, but the implications for Advanced Air Mobility are clear. It will take more years to certify the airworthiness of eVTOLs and to certify operating plans than is envisioned in any of the startups’ business plans. That, added to the sudden rise in interest rates, will lead to significant changes in those business plans, and may well begin a shake-out of the less-viable contenders. The same thing happened in the early days of aviation (and automobiles) when scores of entrepreneurs and investors thought they would get rich pioneering new modes of transportation. Fortunately, this process of creative destruction eventually led to viable companies with sound business models.

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How Privatization Has Transformed San Juan’s Airport

I’ve only been to San Juan, Puerto Rico, once, in 2010. The airport looked like something out of the 1950s: shabby corridors, a generic news outlet, a generic restaurant, and a few tacky souvenir shops. And that was only the superficial view of a traveler. Underlying problems were far more serious. Former New York Times reporter John Tierney researched the situation and learned that “on rainy days the ceiling leaked, the floors of the boarding bridges from the gates to the planes were riddled with holes, and it often took days or weeks to repair a broken toilet.” Even worse, the Instrument Landing System (ILS) was not reliable, due to trees that interfered with its signals. For some reason, FAA had not intervened in this outrageous safety problem, and pilots had been making only visual approaches for years.

All that changed after San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) was privatized in 2013. This was the only successful privatization (via long-term public-private partnership lease) under the former FAA Airport Privatization Pilot Program. The winning bidder, Aerostar, immediately chopped down the trees blocking the ILS and proceeded to redesign the concourses, install new jetways, and implement a state-of-the-art baggage-screening system, while also opening the airport to an array of new retail outlets. The first three years’ changes were documented in Tierney’s article in the Winter 2017 issue of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

I have yet to experience the transformed San Juan airport, but I’ve often wondered whether the ongoing investments by Aerostar continue to improve things there. So I was pleased to learn that an update was provided by Jorge Hernandez, CEO of Aerostar Airport Holdings last month at the GAD Americas conference, held in San Juan. What I summarize here is based on an article by Carole Hedden in Aviation Daily on May 30.

In his presentation, Hernandez explained that since 2013 Aerostar has invested $296 million into the airport. Under the terms of the 40-year P3 lease, Aerostar also made an up-front payment of $615 million to the Puerto Rico government and agreed to annual revenue-sharing of 5 to 10% of airport revenue as ongoing lease payments. Its mission, agreed upon with the FAA and the Commonwealth government, was to rehabilitate and modernize the airport to maintain its Part 139 certificate.

The renovations still have a ways to go, thanks in part to the growth in air travel at SJU. Hernandez told conference attendees that Aerostar will spend another $257 million over the next five years to make additional airside improvements, along with further improvements to the terminals and upgrades in security.

The major carriers serving SJU—American, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest—endorsed the privatization since the agreement gave them greater certainty regarding future fees and charges, as well as offering a greatly improved airport. And the results of the improvements are evident in SJU’s strong growth since 2013. Annual enplanements in 2013 were 4.1 million; they had already doubled to 8.3 million by 2016. However, between Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the subsequent pandemic, enplanements plunged to 4.8 million in 2020. But as tourism recovered in 2021, enplanements reached a record high of 9.7 million, with 155 daily flights. International cargo and passenger traffic has increased by 230% since 2013.

I’m not aware of any U.S. airport that’s anywhere near the decrepit condition that SJU was in prior to the P3 lease. But the very positive experience in San Juan offers a counterpoint to knee-jerk assumptions that airport privatization would come at the expense of airlines and/or air travelers. SJU was de-politicized via privatization and thereby freed to operate as a real business, serving its airline and passenger customers. Many relatively well-run U.S. airports are still micromanaged to varying degrees by city or county governments. These airport managements must focus part of their attention on dealing with those political overseers, rather than focusing on how best to serve their customers.

The former Airport Privatization Pilot Program was expanded by Congress to all U.S. air-carrier airports in 2018 and renamed the Airport Investment Partnership Program. How long-term P3 leases might affect other U.S. airports is the subject of a 2021 Reason Foundation policy study.

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More Remote Towers Coming to the United States

For years, this newsletter has been reporting on the United States being an outlier in the global move from conventional airport control towers to what are increasingly called “digital” or “remote” towers. While this transformation has been underway for nearly a decade in Europe, there are only two locally-funded efforts to implement remote towers in the United States—one at Leesburg, VA, and the other at Loveland, CO. After many years in development, neither has achieved FAA certification.

That situation is starting to change, partly as a result of Congress in the 2018 FAA reauthorization measure calling on FAA to begin implementing remote towers where airports are interested. One that I’ve been following is Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, ID. It is a participant in the FAA Contract Tower Program, but its tower does not meet current FAA siting requirements, so needs to be replaced. The airport has applied to FAA to be America’s third remote tower site, under the congressionally authorized program. The airport has recently selected the team of Raytheon and Frequentis as its preferred provider, and I’m told that contract negotiations are underway.

Another interested airport is Craig Field in Selma, AL, a former Air Force base. The old USAF tower remains but is not in operation. The Selma Economic Development Authority has announced plans for a remote tower center to be located at Craig Field (SEM). It has reached agreements with Advanced ATC, Inc. (Valdosta, GA) and Indra Corp., a Spanish defense and aerospace firm that has developed remote/digital towers in Europe. What the two companies plan is not simply a remote tower at SEM. Their aim is to build a remote tower center (like several that are already operational in Germany and Scandinavia) capable of managing traffic at up to 40 airports. They also plan a controller training academy, located at Craig Field.

Dan Cunningham, chief operating officer of Advanced ATC, has been operations manager of FAA towers in Charlotte and Salt Lake City, and has held other ATC positions within FAA and USAF earlier in his career. He told the Associated Press that he understands that the Leesburg and Loveland remote towers are still in the FAA approval process, so he is under no illusions about speedy approvals for the ambitious Advanced ATC/Indra plans in Selma.

In commenting on this proposal in JDA Journal (May 16), former FAA Chief Counsel Sandy Murdock noted recent hopeful signs of FAA progress. In 2020 it issued a remote tower system concept of operations, and in Jan. 2022 it released a technical requirements document—but only for single-runway airports in Class D airspace. That’s at least some progress, but Advanced ATC’s timetable strikes me as very over-optimistic.

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A State Threat to AAM Vertiport Development?
By Marc Scribner

Advanced air mobility (AAM), the umbrella term for urban and regional air mobility uses of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, remains in the research and development stage. Despite its technological infancy, lawmakers are increasingly working to prepare the legal and policy landscape for potentially transformative AAM operations. At the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives in June easily passed two bipartisan advanced air mobility bills aimed at strengthening intergovernmental coordination (S. 516) and state, regional, and local long-range infrastructure planning (H.R. 6270). Unfortunately, AAM legislative activity in the states has proven more contentious, with divisive bills threatening to foreclose promising procurement methods and business models for vertiports before AAM vehicles take flight.

In March of this year, FAA released a draft Engineering Brief 105 on vertiport design to provide interim guidance until the formal vertiport design Advisory Circular is published, which is expected in late 2024. It contains chapters on safety-critical design elements; marking, lighting, and visual aids; charging and electric infrastructure; special considerations for on-airport vertiports; and site safety elements such as firefighting and downwash. Many of these are similar to FAA requirements on heliports, and the Engineering Brief explicitly contemplates heliport-to-vertiport conversions. During this interim period, FAA expects to update the Engineering Brief as new data on AAM vehicles emerges. These draft guidelines are to be treated as mandatory for any vertiport project receiving federal funding.

While the ink was still wet on FAA’s draft Engineering Brief, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed H.B. 4827 into law. It includes several provisions, including prohibiting local ordinances granting exclusive franchises to vertiport owners or operators, supporting “public-use vertiport” development, requiring vertiport owner-operators to submit a vertiport layout plan to FAA, and promoting general harmonization with FAA vertiport standards as they develop.

Unfortunately, the West Virginia law reflected the input of a single eVTOL developer, Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary Supernal, and its nebulous language has alarmed Supernal’s AAM competitors Archer and Joby Aviation, as well as conventional aviation interests, according to a May article in The Air Current (“Unlikely West Virginia Is Cautionary Tale for States Seeking eVOTL Investment,” subscription required).

One major source of ambiguity centers on the term “public-use vertiport.” The law’s sponsor, Del. Gary Howell, told The Air Current that he intended that to mean “anything that’s built for public use and may have state money in it, may have FAA money, has to be designed in such a way that it’s universal so that anybody can use it.”

In contrast, Supernal lobbyist Diana Marina Cooper defined “public use” to mean “anytime the general public is invited to a vertiport to take part in operations, so if you want to have passenger-carrying services at a vertiport, then that would be considered public use.”

These dueling interpretations raise numerous practical questions for would-be vertiport investors, owners, and eVTOL operators. Under federal aviation law, a public-use designation comes with numerous strings that limit operations compared to private airfields or heliports. These strings preclude more stringent aircraft noise limits and enhanced aircraft operator liability insurance, which are likely to be desirable given anticipated low-altitude AAM operations within dense urban environments. An FAA “public use” designation would also force expansive open-access requirements on vertiports, introducing potential hazards and nuisances from general aviation eVTOL aircraft that could sour communities on vertiports and AAM more broadly.

Del. Howell’s more narrow definition of “public use” might avoid some of the pitfalls of Cooper’s, but it is vague on what would be considered public vs. private in a way that could inhibit innovative vertiport public-private partnership (P3) procurement methods. For example, would a privately financed and operated vertiport sited on top of a government-owned parking garage under a long-term lease between the vertiport’s owner-operator and the government be considered public or private? If deemed public use and with all the strings attached, it is unlikely that private investors would be willing to assume the financing and construction risk in vertiport development in the first place, thereby constituting a de facto prohibition on vertiport P3s.

According to FAA’s Airport Data and Information Portal, of the 5,965 civilian heliports in the U.S., 5,330—89%—are private. Perhaps the urban nature of some AAM operations will lend itself to public-use heliports, but the similarities between eVTOL and legacy helicopters suggest the majority of vertiports will be private. At this early stage of AAM development, it is important for policymakers to not foreclose potentially viable business models and infrastructure procurement methods. As states consider their first steps on AAM policy, West Virginia’s misguided vertiport law illustrates what not to do.

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Schiphol Airport Introduces “Sustainable Taxiing”

As reported in the latest issue of International Airport Review, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) is the first large airport to deploy Taxibots to tow airliners between terminals and runways. Because the plane does not have to start its engines until it nears the runway, or leave them running to get from the runway exit to the terminal, the plane produces fewer emissions during those short periods of time. The taxibot of course requires energy, but Schiphol says it uses only one-third as much as having the plane taxi out or in under its own power.

Wilma Van Dijk, Director of Safety, Security & Environment at Schiphol Group, envisions this 2022 trial as a precursor to a big improvement in the airport’s sustainability. Let’s take a closer look at this claim. First, the pilot is very limited, employing just two Taxibots. They almost certainly cost more than conventional tugs, and they still require a human driver, so there is likely an increased cost since each Taxibot driver will spend more hours of driving time compared with the limited distances traversed by ordinary tugs in the terminal area.

Second, current Taxibots can handle single-aisle A320 and B737 series airliners, but not heavier planes. As a major international hub, much of AMS’s traffic is heavy wide-body aircraft. So even a much larger fleet of Taxibots would be handling only a fraction of all departures and arrivals. Van Djik admits as much, in writing that if the initial trial is successful, this new procedure will become standard “for certain types of aircraft”—and taxiing only to the Polderbaa runway—the one most distant from the terminal. And she follows up by saying that if all goes well, “about a fifth of all flights are expected to taxi sustainably.”

But the longer-term aim, she says, is “to introduce sustainable taxiing on other runways from 2025 onwards to that it will be standard procedure across Schiphol by 2030.” It’s hard to imagine how that could come about. First, there would need to be a large fleet of super-heavy-duty Taxibots to handle all the wide-body aircraft that serve Schiphol. Unlike most other airports, Schiphol does not permit long lines of planes on taxiways waiting for permission to advance to the take-off position on the runway. But at nearly all other airports, planes in those conga lines will need their engines running during those sometimes-long waits and periodic moves forward, so the reduction in emissions will be only from the initial taxi-out to each plane’s place at the end of the conga line. At Schiphol and other airports, there will also have to be a return-to-terminal pathway for all the Taxibots to get back to the terminal after delivering their planes to the runway, so there will be construction and maintenance costs for that additional infrastructure for each of those taxiways.

I doubt if anyone has estimated the cost per ton of CO2 saved by this ambitious project, after factoring in the cost of buying the large fleet of Taxibots, the increased labor cost of their drivers, and the capital and operating costs of the taxiway additions. My guess is that the cost per ton would come out quite high, compared with other aviation CO2-reduction efforts.

In a rational world, sustainability should not extend to measures that cost thousands of dollars per ton of CO2 saved, when there are numerous measures that cost only tens or hundreds of dollars per ton (i.e., low-hanging fruit). Sustainability at all costs may sound good to some non-economists, but it is not sound public policy.

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The Airport Parking Turnaround

In early 2020, both aviation media and general media featured articles about how Lyft and Uber were cutting severely into airport parking revenues. For example, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that these ride-hail companies had “captured 70% of the commercial ground transportation business at SLC. And The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney pointed to declining parking transactions at LAX and the emerging decline in car rentals.

Then the pandemic hit, and aviation media started writing about where to put all the rental cars that were not being rented. Pre-pandemic, about 70% of LAX’s rental cars were rented at any given time, but in April 2020 only 10% were. Where were they going to put all those cars? Of course, the rental car companies sold off significant portions of their fleets, some of them to Lyft and Uber. During this period, I wondered about the risk LAX was assuming in agreeing to long-term availability payments to finance its forthcoming consolidated rental car center—and the risk that investors were taking on in financing a similar facility at EWR.

But that was then, and this is now. In the June 13, 2022, Wall Street Journal, Allison Pohle reports on the new problem of full airport parking structures. In response, some airports are increasing parking rates to encourage travelers to use other means of getting to and from the airport. Others are launching or expanding parking reservation systems so that people can be assured of a space when they arrive at the airport.

Airport vans and mass transit are still less popular than before the pandemic. And Lyft and Uber prices are now mostly higher than taxi fares, so more people are shifting to cabs (nearly all of which have shifted to credit card charging with emailed receipts). Off-airport parking lots are also doing booming business.

It’s a good thing airports did not take hasty actions to re-purpose parking capacity or give up on consolidated rental car centers. As aviation reverts to largely pre-pandemic passenger demand, passengers are reverting to pre-pandemic airport access.

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News Notes

FAA and 5G Firms Reach One-Year Compromise
In an agreement between FAA and 5G wireless companies AT&T and Verizon released on June 17, the parties have agreed to a one-year extension of restrictions on 5G signal strength at certain airports. FAA is requiring that 1,700 Airbus and Embraer aircraft used mostly in regional air service be equipped with interference filters by the end of this year. FAA also announced that it expects filters and replacement radar altimeters to be available on a schedule that would be “largely completed” by July 2023. Both Airlines for America (A4A) and the Regional Airline Association (RAA) issued statements critical of the deal.

JFK New Terminal One P3 Reaches Financial Close
On June 10, the consortium that will design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the $9.2 billion New Terminal One project at JFK International reached financial close. The consortium consists of Ferrovial’s airport division, JLC Infrastructure, Ullico, and Carlyle Group. Earlier this year Ferrovial acquired 96% of Carlyle’s 51% stake in the concession company, making it the largest member. Ferrovial’s biggest airport investment is 25% of London Heathrow Airport.

Brazil Plans 7th Round of Airport Concessions
After privatizing most of its larger airports over the past decade, Brazil’s Ministry of Infrastructure plans to initiate a 7th round this summer, consisting of three groups of airports. Financial commitments to airport improvements total $1.5 billion. The largest airport, Congonhas in Sao Paulo, is in the four-airport block designated SP/MS/PA/MG, which requires $1.2 billion of the $1.5 billion investment. The ministry’s overall 2022 program also includes concessions of some highways and the Port of Santos, according to a report in Inframation News.

Startup Lilium Gets New CEO
Aviation Daily reported earlier this month that German eVTOL developer Lilium has appointed an Airbus executive as its CEO, replacing co-founder Daniel Weigand. Klaus Rowe will join Lilium on August 1, while Weigand will remain as Lilium’s chief engineer for innovation and future programs. At Airbus, Rowe led both the A320neo program and the A320 family program from 2015 to 2019. Lilium’s chairman is former Airbus CEO Tom Enders.

Fraport Refinances Its 14 Greek Regional Airports
Fraport Greece, which won the bidding in 2017 to upgrade and manage 14 regional airports in Greece, has launched a nearly €1 billion refinancing of its debt, to take advantage of lower long-term interest rates. The original acquisition debt came from multilateral development banks, but Greek banks are considered more competitive at this point for domestic projects. Fraport’s Greek airports traffic in 2021 increased by 102% over the pandemic-reduced passenger traffic of 2020.

Japan’s Komatsu Airport Privatization Back on the Agenda
Ishikawa prefecture in central Japan has resumed planning the privatization of its Komatsu airport after a two-year gap due to the pandemic. In April, Japan’s transport ministry provided the prefecture with current specifics about the airport and feedback from private operators on how to run both the Komatsu and Oita procurements as P3 concessions.

San Jose Airport Seeks Airport Transit P3 Team
The City of San Jose has issued an RFP for its planned rail link between the airport and the downtown Diridon Station, a transit hub. Proposals are due in August. It plans a “progressive P3” approach, under which one (or possibly two) contractors would be selected for a predevelopment agreement to validate the business case and then develop the design and address environmental clearance. If the project moves forward at that point, the city would negotiate a long-term DBFOM P3 agreement with the winning predevelopment partner.

Inmarsat Testing U.K. GPS Enhancement System
Since the U.K. withdrew from the European Union, it no longer has access to the latter’s Galileo satellite navigation system, which provides error-correction signals for GPS. Aerospace communications firm Inmarsat is therefore testing a new overlay system that can increase civil GPS accuracy from meters to centimeters. The overlay signals would be available to all the myriad GPS users in the United Kingdom.

Groups Partner to Advance AAM in Brazil
Aviation Daily reported (June 6) that a new partnership will develop design requirements and potential locations for vertiports, as it seeks to speed the implementation of advanced air mobility (AAM) in that country. Included in the new partnership is Corporacion America Airports, the world’s largest operator (by number of airports) of privatized airports, Gol Airlines, and ground transportation company Grupo Comporte, which plans to lease Vertical Aerospace eVTOLs from lessor Avolon. The group has conducted workshops with civil aviation authority ANAC.

Amazon to Launch Drone Deliveries
On June 13, Amazon announced that it will begin drone delivery service to customers in Lockeford, CA later this year. The drones will be part of Amazon’s Prime Air service. Prime Air holds a Part 135 FAA certificate for drones, and has demonstrated flights over people, at night, and beyond visual operation, as well as see-and-avoid capability, controlling multiple vehicles from a single point, and remote pilot qualification. It has also received a type certificate (MK27-2) for its drones, awarded on Jan. 27, 2022. Amazon has 71 of its drones registered. (“Bezos’ Drones May Be Flying Soon,” Sandy Murdock, JDA Journal, June 14, 2022.)

$1.5 Billion Airport Concession in French Guiana
The main airport of French Guiana—Cayenne-Felix Eboue—will be offered as a 30-year P3 concession. The first notice appeared in January, followed by a Request for Qualifications, responses to which are due by June 27th. The concessionaire will be required to expand and modernize the airport terminal, surrounding infrastructure, and other technical installations and then operate and maintain the airport for 30 years. Prior to the pandemic, the airport served 560,000 passengers in 2019.

LAX People Mover Guideway Completed
Public Works Financing reported (May 2022) that the 2.25-mile elevated guideway for the LAX people mover project was completed in May. The overall project is being developed under a 30-year DBFOM P3 concession valued at $4.9 billion. The concession is held by a joint venture of Fluor, Balfour Beatty, Flatiron, and Dragados. The project includes six stations, four at various passenger terminals, one at an LA Metro transit station, and the last at the under-development consolidated rental car center.

GAO Surveys AAM Stakeholders
At the request of Congress, the Government Accountability Office surveyed aviation stakeholders about issues that will need to be addressed to bring about Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Among the key topics are FAA approval of novel aircraft designs, gaining public acceptance of new aircraft such as eVTOLs, and developing needed infrastructure on the ground. The report, GAO-22-105020, is available here.

Airports Council International Report on AAM and Airports
ACI-World last month released a new policy brief: “Advanced Air Mobility: Integration Into the Airport Environment.” It sets forth ACI’s current positions and policy statement on what it hopes will be a “seamless integration” of these new entrants into existing airports. It is available for download here.

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Quotable Quotes

“If U.S. legislators continue to ignore the commercial pilot shortage and do not support common-sense solutions to fill an empty pipeline, they will have no one to blame for the consequences . . . Failure to act helps organized labor protect the significant wage and benefit gains won before the pandemic. Dampened competition will do that. As the only stakeholder not accepting that there is a shortage, pilot labor is unabashedly leveraging a very real pilot demand/supply imbalance for its benefit. . , . As an institution, the union’s dues are based on pay rates at the carriers they represent. The pilot salaries ALPA has negotiated at Spirit and three other ULCCs, as well as at the eight regional carriers they represent, are less than those at the Big Three U.S. airlines.”
—William Swelbar, “Why Unions Do Not Want to Tackle the Pilot Shortage,” Aviation Daily, June 20, 2022

“[Regarding FAA’s proposed requirement for more fuel-efficient airliners], there is lots of new technology out there waiting to be certificated. What are its plans to accomplish that? The peril is that FAA will commence ill-conceived rule-making to develop fuel-efficiency standards, thereby hobbling engine and perhaps airframe development until the standards are released, then further hobbling certification projects because FAA doesn’t and won’t have the wherewithal to do all the new work in a timely fashion. All for what? Fuel efficiency is absolutely top-of-mind for engine manufacturers and airframers now and will stay so for the foreseeable future, as far as the eye can see. (My eye sees as far as global transportation relies on fossil fuels; until a practical alternative to fossil fuel emerges. I’m not sure how far down the road that is, but until it happens, engine manufacturers and airframers will be laser-focused on fuel efficiency.) FAA rule-making will only interfere. It will hot help; it will harm those efforts.”
—Joseph Corrao, civil aviation regulation expert, posted on Mifnet.com, June 16, 2022 (used by permission)

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