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January 29, 2015

Posts in "Aviation"

January 28, 2015

Blizzard Economics Creates Winners And Losers

Snow covers a car in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Snow covers a car in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The blizzard that hit parts of the Northeast Tuesday may have been a bit of bust for New York City (9.8 inches in Central Park) and led to charges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo over-reached by ordering roads and mass transit to be shut down at 11pm Monday.

But the nor’easter dumped a lot of snow on places such as Southampton, N.Y. (29 inches) and Groton, Conn. (24 inches).

And according to the U.S. Travel Association, the cancelled flights cost the economy $230 million in passengers’ lost activity.

Each cancelled domestic flight costs the economy $31,600, according to a formula U.S. Travel researchers developed. The estimate is based on airline traffic and on-time data, air traveler behavior and other data collected through surveys, and U.S. Travel proprietary economic models.

The figure accounts for the passengers on more than 7,000 cancelled flights and the spending they would otherwise inject into the economy, but it does not calculate the impact on the airline industry.

Then again, storms such as Tuesday’s do create value for some people and some sectors of the economy.

In cities and towns from New Jersey to Maine there are tens of thousands of dollars spent on plowing and salting the roads. In one part of Massachusetts, hired contract plowers are paid $75 to $140 an hour. Full story

Boeing: Fuel Savings Not Sole Factor In Aircraft Buys

Crews work on the engine of an Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner last summer in Everett, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Crews work on the engine of an Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner last summer in Everett, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Lower oil prices have not changed airlines’ plans to buy fuel-efficient Boeing airplanes, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said Wednesday.

“We see low fuel prices and positive traffic trends as beneficial to our industry and growth prospects,” McNerney said during a conference call with investment analysts and reporters.

He said fuel efficiency isn’t the sole factor in airlines’ decisions to buy new planes.

McNerney said last October, when oil prices were at about $85 a barrel, that they would need to fall “a long way from where we are now” before “you begin to see even [an] incremental impact” on airlines’ demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The Brent global benchmark is now under $50 a barrel.

Full story

January 27, 2015

Senators Urging Obama To Fill TSA Vacancy

A TSA agent checks a traveler's identification at a TSA Pre-check lane at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A TSA agent checks a traveler’s identification at a TSA Pre-check lane at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, are joining forces to urge President Barack Obama to nominate a head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The bipartisan letter to Obama says that given an “intensified terror threat and the vacancy set into motion when former Administrator [John] Pistole announced his plans to retire over three months ago, it is critical that TSA have strong leadership now to set priorities, make tough decisions, and manage its large workforce.”

Full story

White House Landing Highlights Calls For Drone Rule

A member of the Secret Service's Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The lobbying and advocacy effort to get the Federal Aviation Administration to issue its long-awaited proposed rule on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) got a bit of a dramatic fillip early Monday when a small quad copter landed on the White House grounds.

The Washington Post reported that the Secret Service said a person whom it didn’t identify, called at 9:30 a.m. Monday to “self-report that they had been in control of the quad copter device that crashed on the White House grounds early this morning. The individual has been interviewed by Secret Service agents and been fully cooperative. Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device.”

But Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D- N.Y., said, “With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington; there is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed.”

Full story

January 26, 2015

Bust The Aircraft Duopoly? Not Quite Yet

The new Bombardier C series aircraft is shown in Mirabel, Quebec as it is due to take off for the first time on Sept. 16, 2013. (Photo: Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images)

The new Bombardier C series aircraft is shown in Mirabel, Quebec as it is due to take off for the first time on Sept. 16, 2013. (Photo: Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images)

Two competitors are aiming to break the hold that the Boeing-Airbus duopoly has on the market for long-haul jets, but one, China, is still years away from entering the global market, while the other, the Canadian company Bombardier, has been facing delays with its new midsized passenger jet.

The Financial Times asks Monday whether the difficulties Bombardier has had with its new C series passenger jet “are merely the kind of short-term blip that other aircraft manufacturers have experienced – and overcome – on big new projects, or a long-term risk to the company’s viability.”

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 1:45 p.m.
Airports, Aviation, Travel

Week Ahead: The State Of Freight Rail, Boeing’s Future

An Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

An Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Freight rail efficiency and the resilience of the nation’s infrastructure will be getting attention this week as will the continuing saga of falling oil prices.

Monday

Norfolk Southern, which serves 22 states mostly east of the Mississippi, announces its quarterly earnings. The railroad is a big carrier of coal and serves 24 automobile assembly plants, 14 of which belong to Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, according to Standard & Poor’s.

Tuesday

January is far away on the calendar from hurricane season but catastrophic storms like Super Storm Sandy in 2012 do have a lasting cost for federal and state governments by wrecking expensive infrastructure.

Case in point: the South Ferry subway station in Lower Manhattan was underwater for a week and was severely damaged by Sandy, which arrived just three years after a $500 million project to modernize that station had been completed.

A House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee panel holds a hearing on how to reduce the impact of catastrophe storms and accelerate recovery from them. On the witness list: current Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate and former FEMA head David Paulison.

Wednesday

Aircraft maker Boeing announces its earnings for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said last October that oil prices would need to fall “a long way from where we are now” before “you begin to see even [an] incremental impact” on airlines’ demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft.

But the price of crude has fallen from about $85 a barrel in October to less than $50 a barrel today.

Boeing delivered a record 723 commercial aircraft to airlines in 2014. One Boeing executive recently said annual deliveries “will grow easily to over 900 over the next few years.”

One reason Boeing can meet the booming demand is its non-union plant in North Charleston, S.C.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is trying to dissuade Boeing workers in her state from joining the union which represents Boeing workers in Washington state.

Also Wednesday morning, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee holds a hearing on safety and efficiency on freight railroads.

Among the witnesses are Frank Lonero of CSX Transportation and Chris Jahn, president of The Fertilizer Institute.

January 23, 2015

A Look Back At The Week: Drone Delays, Smoky Subway

A consultant holds a drone made by HiTec during the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on December 13, 2014.  (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

A consultant holds a drone made by HiTec during the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on December 13, 2014. (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

We spent a lot of time this week reporting on something that’s up in the air: the yet-to-be-issued notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) for small remotely piloted aircraft, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles.

That NPRM will be a big step as the Federal Aviation Administration moves toward a final rule allowing commercial use of drones.

But the FAA may not issue a final rule until 2017 – which drone industry ally Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D- Ore. says is “unacceptable.”

Michael Drobac, head of the Small UAV Coalition, said “technology is being stifled in the U.S., but only in the U.S.”

At a House hearing Wednesday the FAA’s man in charge of UAV integration James Williams said the rule must “go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we’re working our way through that.” He added, “You’ve got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking.”

Meanwhile airports were one part of the nation’s infrastructure that did not get explicit mention by President Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night – but Congress is going to pass or at least try to pas, an FAA reauthorization bill this year and it could embody significant policy changes.

On the ground or below it, travelers are at risk in our nation’s capital as a fatal Jan. 12 smoke incident on the Metro made dramatically apparent.

D.C.-area members of Congress are pledging to keep a wary watch over Metro managers as they work to fix the safety problems.

Veasey Joins Graves At General Aviation Caucus Helm

 Rep. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Democrat Rep. Marc Veasey will be the new co-chairman of the House General Aviation Caucus, joining Rep. Sam Graves, R- Mo.

First elected to the House in 2012, Veasey represents a district that includes parts of Fort Worth and Dallas. He said he’d work to increase “awareness about how important general aviation is to our economy and industrial base, totaling a more than $14 billion impact in Texas and over $150 billion nationally.”

Full story

NTSB Wants Devices To Prevent Flight Disappearances

Origami cranes hang on a board offering prayers and condolences to the Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 victims and their families at a bereavement centre in Kuala Lumpur last September (Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

Origami cranes hang on a board offering prayers and condolences to the Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 victims and their families at a bereavement centre in Kuala Lumpur last September (Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending to the Federal Aviation Administration that it require aircraft on trans-oceanic routes be equipped with devices that will allow searchers to find them if they crash.

The recommendations come more than 10 months after the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 passengers and crew on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The NTSB noted in letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta that the searchers for the plane “have analyzed and mapped more than 41,000 square kilometers of ocean floor” without finding the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder, or wreckage.

The NTSB is also responding to the nearly two-year search for the recorders from an Air France flight which crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009, killing all 228 people on board. The NTSB said it cost about $40 million to find the flight recorders in that case.

Full story

January 22, 2015

FAA Urged To Move Faster On Technology Certification

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Just as the Federal Aviation Administration is under pressure from Congress to move more quickly on writing rules for commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles, so too with an older industry: passenger airplanes.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster opened a hearing Wednesday on the FAA’s methods of certifying aircraft equipment by complaining that some of what the agency does “seems to be process simply for the sake of process.” Products and technology that can make aircraft safer “are often caught in a bureaucratic maze,” he said.

FAA is slower that agencies in other countries, Shuster said, which puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage to foreign competitors.

Full story

FAA Official Refuses To Give Date For UAV Rule

A small remote controlled aircraft is demonstrated during a press conference by the Small UAV Coalition in Washington on Tuesday. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A small remote controlled aircraft is demonstrated during a press conference by the Small UAV Coalition in Washington on Tuesday. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith tried hard at a hearing Wednesday to get the Federal Aviation Administration to say when it will issue its rule on commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle.

But James Williams, the FAA official in charge of integrating UAVs into the nation’s airspace, repeatedly refused to commit to a date.

“Mr. Williams, when might we expect the FAA to propose some rules?” Smith asked at a hearing of the committee on the UAV industry.

Williams said the FAA is working with its partners in the Obama administration, such as the Office of Management and Budget, and the agency is “doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out, but our main focus is to get it right.”

Full story

January 21, 2015

Airports Missing From Obama SOTU Infrastructure List

President Obama greets House Speaker John Boehner, as Vice President Biden looks on, in the House chamber before Obama delivered his State of the Union address. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Obama greets House Speaker John Boehner, as Vice President Biden looks on, in the House chamber before Obama delivered his State of the Union address. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The term “infrastructure” got five mentions from President Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday night and he cited three transportation modes in particular: shipping (ports), highways (“stronger bridges”), and “faster trains.”

One infrastructure word not in Obama’s speech Tuesday was “airports.”

Full story

January 20, 2015

Drone Industry Leaders Urge Regulatory Speed-Up

An attendee handles an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES consumer technology trade show on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

An attendee handles an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES consumer technology trade show on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Leaders of the unmanned aerial vehicle industry are out in force in Washington this week, hoping to convince members of Congress to take a hand in speeding up a regulatory process that’s holding back U.S.-based commercial drone makers and software providers.

At the National Press Club Tuesday, companies did indoor test flights of their drones and industry activists listened to pre-lobbying coaching from their leaders and allies.

Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition and a policy adviser at Washington’s Akin Gump law firm, told his members that they face big regulatory hurdles and that “it’s incumbent upon us to go to those regulatory officials and to lawmakers to present the pathway to safe and responsible integration of UAVs into the airspace.”

Full story

January 19, 2015

Week Ahead: Obama Agenda Setter And New Governors

Maryland Governor-elect Larry Hogan, at the microphone, flanked by other newly elected governors outside the White House after meeting with President Obama on Dec. 5, 2014.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Maryland Governor-elect Larry Hogan, at the microphone, flanked by other newly elected governors outside the White House after meeting with President Obama on Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This week features the president’s attempt to steer the agenda with his State of the Union address, as well as a focus in Washington on unmanned aerial vehicles. That industry and members of Congress impatiently await a proposed rule on commercial drone use from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tuesday

At the National Press Club in Washington, the Small UAV Coalition holds a discussion and drone demonstration with industry representatives including Jesse Kallman, head of business development and regulatory affairs at the flight control software maker Airware and Lucas van Oostrum, co-founder and chief technology officer at Dutch drone manufacturer Aerialtronics.

Full story

January 15, 2015

Putin Is Aviation Week’s Pick As Person Of The Year

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 18, 2014. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 18, 2014. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

The venerable aviation industry trade publication Aviation Week & Space Technology has chosen Russian President Vladimir Putin as its 2014 Person of the Year.

The magazine said in its issue dated Jan. 15 that the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 people on board last July, “changed civil aviation in a way that could hardly have been imagined one year earlier.”

It didn’t much matter “whether the attack on Flight 17 was a cruel mishap from a missile actually intended to hit Ukrainian military aircraft. Civil aviation has been, if not a target, then certainly a victim of a war fueled and directly supported by Putin’s Russia,” the magazine said.

Full story

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