AVIATION (PILOT QUALIFICATIONS) / Now a second-in-command pilot (first officer) in domestic, flag, and supplemental operations must hold an airline transport pilot certificate and an airplane type rating for the aircraft to be flown. An airline transport pilot certificate requires that a pilot be 23 years of age and have 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. This is the so-called new “co-pilot” rule.

“Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations.”

Final Rule. July 15, 2013.

This was the “co-pilot” rule the Federal Aviation Administration announced last week, to news stories with titles like “New, Tougher Co-Pilot Rule Aims To Boost Plane Safety.”

“This action creates new certification and qualification requirements for pilots in air carrier operations. As a result of this action, a second in command (first officer) in domestic, flag, and supplemental operations must now hold an airline transport pilot certificate and an airplane type rating for the aircraft to be flown. An airline transport pilot certificate requires that a pilot be 23 years of age and have 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. Pilots with fewer than 1,500 flight hours may qualify for a restricted privileges airline transport pilot certificate beginning at 21 years of age if they are a military-trained pilot, have a bachelor’s degree with an aviation major, or have an associate’s degree with an aviation major. The restricted privileges airline transport pilot certificate will also be available to pilots with 1,500 flight hours who are at least 21 years of age. This restricted privileges airline transport pilot certificate allows a pilot to serve as second in command in domestic, flag, and supplemental operations not requiring more than two pilot flightcrew members. This rule also retains the second-class medical certification requirement for a second in command in part 121 operations. Pilots serving as an air carrier pilot in command (captain) must have, in addition to an airline transport pilot certificate, at least 1,000 flight hours in air carrier operations. This rule also adds to the eligibility requirements for an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane category multiengine class rating or an airline transport pilot certificate obtained concurrently with a type rating. To receive an airline transport pilot certificate with a multiengine class rating a pilot must have 50 hours of multiengine flight experience and must have completed a new FAA-approved Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program. This new training program will include academic coursework and training in a flight simulation training device. These requirements will ensure that a pilot has the proper qualifications, training, and experience before entering an air carrier environment as a pilot flightcrew member.” 

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (& AIRLINE CALL CENTERS) / U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration determines that petitioning reservation call-center workers of Delta Airlines based at SeaTac, Washington and Sioux City, Iowa have in fact met the statutory criteria for Trade Adjustment Assistance under the Trade Act of 1974 due to the impact on their employment of “a shift to foreign countries of a portion of the supply of services like or directly competitive with the call center services supplied by the subject workers”.

“Based on a careful review of previously-submitted information and additional information received during the reconsideration investigation, the Department determines that the petitioning workers have met the statutory criteria for TAA. 

“The Department determines that a significant number or proportion of the workers at the subject firm have been partially or totally separated, or threatened with such separation. 

“The Department also determines that worker separations at the subject firm are related to a shift to foreign countries of a portion of the supply of services like or directly competitive with the call center services supplied by the subject workers, and that the shift in the supply of these services contributed importantly to worker separations at the subject firm.

“For purposes of the Trade Act, as amended, the term contributed importantly means a cause which is important but not necessarily more important than any other cause.” 

April 17, 2013. Notice.

Federal Aviation Administration (Pilot Rest Requirements / International) / FAA seeks public comments on its draft interpretation regarding nonstop international supplemental operations scheduled for longer than 12 hours.

“… Additionally, this draft interpretation discusses the appropriate international flight time limitations that would apply to the operation. As discussed in the draft interpretation, the FAA finds that the operation of such flights would be precluded under the flight time limitations of the “U.S. mainland rules” found in the supplemental flight and duty rules. However, the operation could be conducted under the “international rules” provisions of our regulations.” 

“The FAA publishes draft legal interpretations when the matter in question is likely to be highly controversial or the likely answer has the potential to significantly and adversely affect long-standing practices that regulated parties have been engaged in, reasonably believing that these practices were consistent with FAA regulations. The intent is not to seek input on whether the FAA is correct—the FAA has the responsibility for interpreting its regulations. Rather, the reason for publishing the draft interpretation for comment is to see whether there may be unintended consequences for regulated parties that merit a further examination of how the agency’s regulatory provisions should be applied in conjunction with agency policy and guidance material. 

“We are issuing this draft interpretation because it has come to our attention that supplemental air carriers might be misinterpreting and misapplying the regulations governing flight time limitations for supplemental operations to operate international flight segments longer than 12 hours by reading § 121.509 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations in isolation, without also complying with § 121.503(a) or, in the alternative, without adequate sleeping facilities for the flight crew as required under § 121.523(b). As discussed below, such a reading fails to consider the full meaning of the FAA’s regulations.” 

“Interpretation of the Rest Requirements of Nonstop International Supplemental Operations” 

April 2, 2013. Notice of draft interpretation.

Case Study: U.S. DOT Inspector General Report – What Safety Role of Major Airline for Affiliated Regional or Commuter Carrier?

Last week’s “New Rules & Decisions” referenced a report by the U.S. DOT Inspector General pertaining to code sharing and sharing of safety-related information between large airlines and their often-smaller regional affiliates with the key conclusion: 

“FAA does not have procedures to advance the Agency’s commitment to ensure the same level of safety between mainline air carriers and their code share partners. As part of the Call to Action, FAA officials stated that mainline air carriers should find specific ways to ensure that their partner carriers implement the most effective safety practices.” 

Following the 2009 Colgan crash the general question of commuter or regional airline safety in comparison with legacy or trunk airlines has been acute.

Following the release of the Inspector General Report earlier in February, Mike Rioux of the JDA Aviation Technology Solutions blog provides extensive explanation on the background of the relationship between larger major carrier and their regional affiliates.

Legal take-away:

As the JDA blog post makes clear: “There are no regulations mandating that major air carriers audit or perform safety oversight of their US code share partners – that is the FAA’s responsibility.”

Practical take-away: 

Based on my own discussions with people who are airline pilots or a member of the plaintiff’s tort bar – this question of commuter airline safety is by no means diminished 4 years after the Colgan accident.

U.S. DOT (AVIATION & AIRLINES) / U.S. Department of Transportation fines United Airlines for violating tarmac delay rule.

February 14, 2013 press release available here.

“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today said United Air Lines violated federal rules last May by not informing passengers on an aircraft delayed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport that they had an opportunity to leave the plane as it sat at the gate with the door open.  DOT fined United $130,000 and ordered the airline to cease and desist from further violations. Continue reading

AVIATION / Pilots – Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements; Technical Correction

“The FAA is correcting the final flightcrew member duty and rest rule published on January 4, 2012. In that rule, the FAA amended its existing flight, duty and rest regulations applicable to certificate holders and their flightcrew members operating certain domestic, flag, and supplemental operations. This document corrects several issues requiring a technical correction in the codified text of the final flightcrew member duty and rest rule.” 

February 6, 2013, Final rule, Technical correctionContinue reading

AVIATION / “Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the Flight Deck”.

January 14, 2013, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

“The proposed rule would prohibit flightcrew members in operations under part 121 from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated. This rule, which conforms FAA regulations with recent legislation, is intended to ensure that certain non-essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck or a loss of situational awareness due to attention to non-essential tasks.” 

AVIATION / Under the Railway Labor Act pilot’s claims under his collective bargaining agreement were subject to mandatory arbitration and the federal district court had lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear them.

The gist of the opinion is that the Railway Labor Act sets up a comprehensive framework of labor relations for the purpose of avoiding disruption to railroads and airlines due to labor disputes. What this plaintiff claims – relating to his termination – amounts to a “minor dispute” under the Railway Labor Act. 

Stewart v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., Slip copy, 2013 WL 135114 (U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, January 10, 2013). Free copy available hereContinue reading

AVIATION / Passenger claims against airline for negligence and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing preempted by Airline Deregulation Act of 1978; contract claim not preempted.

Airline passenger plaintiff unsuccessfully seeks recovery against airline for negligence and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing because federal preemption bars those claims in these circumstances.

Benedetto v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., Slip copy, 2013 WL 100055 (U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, January 7, 2013). Free copy available here.

On federal preemption of negligence and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, two key points in the court’s holdings: Continue reading

UPCOMING DEVELOPMENTS – AVIATION / Challenge by U.S. airlines in court to Export-Import Bank concessionary financing to non-U.S. purchasers of airliners continues to the D.C. Circuit.

Practically speaking there are high stakes dollar amounts on both sides of this appeal (petition).

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

Air Transport Association of America v. Export-Import Bank of the U.S. Continue reading