Headline News

Airline Division News, Week Ending March 9, 2013

Piedmont Negotiations Continue

Contract negotiations commenced on Monday, March 4th and continued through Thursday, March 7th.

Proposals were passed on Article 5 (Filling of Vacancies), Article 16 (Leaves of Absence), Article 6 (Furlough and Recall) and Article 17 (Sick Leave).

Progress was reported in discussions on these contract articles and tentative agreement was reached on the very complex topics in Article 6 (Furlough and Recall).

Negotiations will resume on April 2nd.

NetJets Distributes Profit Sharing, “Forgets” the Dispatchers Who Made It Possible

Proving again the adage, “no good deed goes unpunished,” the dispatchers of NetJets have witnessed yet again the impact of their hard work for a company that is only interested in people who are afraid to stand up for their rights and bargain for a contract.

Recently after yet another year where the flight dispatchers helped save the company between $6-7 million dollars by scheduling flights to carry extra fuel purchased in locations where it was less expensive and not paying higher fuel costs in certain cities, the company distributed profit sharing checks to non contractual employees. The dispatchers, as well as other unionized employees who made it possible for the company to be profitable were denied profit sharing.

Just as pilots and flight attendants are a critical part of the passenger’s experience and provide a professional operation and impression; the flight dispatcher is key as well. Working with the pilots to ensure a safe route of flight, efficiency and cost containment are all things that passengers remember when they or their company pays the bill.

Which should leave NetJets passengers to wonder why the very people entrusted to provide for their safety and for shareholders, the very people helping to protect their investment, are being considered second class citizens by the very company that both are counting on.

This Week in Air Safety

This week, the NTSB released a 499 page interim report on the JAL 787 lithium battery fire in Boston. They will be holding a forum in mid-April to review the incident in detail. Public interest in this accident has reignited debate on lithium batteries, and whether they pose an unacceptable safety risk to aviation.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has long been a strong voice in calling for strict regulations in association with carriage of these batteries and other dangerous goods. While IBT safety strongly believes that transporting of lithium batteries should be tightly regulated, we also have proposed a number of related solutions to this problem. Even if lithium batteries were banned altogether, that doesn’t mean that they won’t still end up on an aircraft, undeclared by a shipper who is unaware or disregards the law. Therefore we have specifically called for other regulations to protect aircraft from such occurrences. The IBT has advocated for smoke/fire detection and suppression in all areas of cargo and passenger aircraft. We have also strongly lobbied for EVAS systems to be mandatory on aircraft. EVAS (Emergency Vision Assurance System) hoods provide flight crews the ability to see cockpit instruments, see the runway, and be able to breathe smoke-free air, for an extended period of time, allowing them to safely land the airplane in a continuous smoke event. The IBT safety committee strongly believes that implementation of these two common sense approaches could drastically reduce the number of onboard fires, and would also give the crew a fighting chance to get the airplane on the ground when a fire does occur.

We will continue to stay engaged in this topic by making our voices heard on Capitol Hill, as well as maintaining a dialogue with the NTSB, FAA, DOT and PHMSA. IBT safety will be attending the NTSB forum in April, and we’ll have further updates following that conference.

…Submitted by Russ Leighton, Safety Coordinator-Local 1224

Airline Industry News

Governmental and Regulatory

The Federal Aviation Administration is sending letters to airports that have fewer than 10,000 commercial operations a year and could be closed. The FAA will allow those airports to appeal if their closing would have an effect on the national interest.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he still has some questions for Boeing before he will approve a fix for the 787 battery issues.

The Federal Aviation Administration revised its forecast downward to a 2.8% average annual rate of growth for airline traffic over the next 20 years.

Airlines and Industry

US Airways and America West merged in 2005, but seniority concerns remain unresolved.

Meggitt, the company that manufactures the 787 battery charger, says the charger passed testing from the National Transportation Safety Board. "The battery charging unit passed all significant tests and no anomalies were detected," the NTSB said.