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Teamsters, BTC Call for National Air Transportation PolicyMay 18, 2009 By: George Dooley
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division (IBT) and the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) have published an industry analysis following the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearings last week, which looked into the February 12 Colgan Air crash just outside Buffalo, NY. Fifty were killed in the crash that has raised tough questions on regional airlines safety and pilot training.
“The NTSB hearings are a reminder that we need to continuously review and where appropriate, update the safety and security regulations that underlie our air transportation system,” said David Bourne, IBT Airline Division Director. “In the aftermath of the Buffalo tragedy, it seems appropriate to raise some questions regarding whether our current policies are having an adverse impact on both near- and longer-term aviation competence.”
IBT and BTC said “there is inherent conflict in a system that does not appropriately articulate public policy expectations regarding optimizing safety and minimizing cost. Finding the right balance requires the development of a coherent national air transportation policy that takes into account these and other issues and that provides an opportunity for the creation of a financially viable airline industry.”
BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell said: “Following the tragic crash near Buffalo, travelers, travel agents and corporate travel managers were taken aback by news reports that identified much larger differences in pilot compensation and experience between regional and major airlines than most observers were aware of. Taken in conjunction with revelations regarding pilot training, fatiguing commutes and other safety-related items that arose during the NTSB hearings, these facts have left many in both the public and Congress concerned about the regional airline business model.
“Pilot-related issues are not the only area in which current practice seems incompatible with optimizing safety and assuring the continuing availability of appropriately trained personnel," Mitchell continued. "IBT and BTC have previously urged that Congress take a careful look at the increasingly prevalent practice of outsourcing aircraft maintenance to offshore facilities. U.S. Department of Transportation Inspectors General have repeatedly warned Congress that there is woefully inadequate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of aircraft maintenance outsourcing of both FAA-certificated and non-certificated foreign repair stations.”
The analysis can be downloaded at http://businesstravelcoalition.twi.bz/b.