Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The U.S Congress has passed a bill to prevent the FAA's authorization from lapsing until April of 2016. With the need to pass numerous appropriations bills before the new federal fiscal year begins tomorrow, it was clear that Congress was not yet ready to pass more ambitious legislation that would provide the FAA with long-term funding and direction. Though the summer began with talk about using the next FAA reauthorization to make significant changes, such as the possible privatization of air traffic control, the just-passed status quo extension calls to mind the 23 temporary measures passed before agreement was finally reached on the 2012 reauthorization. If there is reason for optimism, it is that by extending the FAA's funding into Spring, Congress has deliberately detached it from the anticipated budget fights over funding for the rest of the federal government, which is only expected to be extended into December.
Monday, September 28, 2015
As part of a series of economic sanctions imposed against Russia in response to its contributions to the hostilities in Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has revoked permission for Russian carriers to exercise third and fourth freedom rights to Ukrainian airports. Overflights, except for the transport of military cargo or troops, will still be permitted and presumably second freedom rights will also continue to be honored. Despite aviation's absence from agreements such as GATS, States have long considered air services a legitimate subject for inclusion in broader economic sanctions. Russia has threatened to retaliate with equivalent restrictions on Ukrainian carriers.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
On Tuesday, September 22, the DePaul University International Aviation Law Institute hosted a morning reception at the Institute’s suite in the College of Law to welcome the incumbent Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael P. Huerta, and the FAA’s Deputy Administrator, Michael G. Whitaker. Also attending were the new Dean of DePaul College of Law, Jennifer Rosato Perea, her predecessor Professor Greg Mark, Institute Directors Professor Brian F. Havel and Professor Bruce L. Ottley, Adjunct Professor Steve Sandler, Institute Executive Director Stephen B. Rudolph, Institute Research Fellow John Q. Mulligan, and several current DePaul aviation law JD and LLM students. As part of the event, the Administrator and Deputy Administrator joined a wide-ranging discussion of FAA regulatory policy moderated by Professor Havel. Among the topics considered were the benefits and drawbacks of the FAA’s extensive rulemaking system, the agency’s expanding reliance on data collection and risk analysis, and the regulatory challenges posed by unmanned aircraft systems. The discussion also examined the FAA’s increasing use of voluntary initiatives and performance-based rules, the agency’s “staged” approach to regulatory issues, the conceptual problems presented by possible regulation of unmanned operations in low-altitude airspace, and the FAA reauthorization bill currently before Congress. Professor Havel concluded the discussion by inviting Administrator Huerta to participate in the Institute’s oral history series, “Conversations with Aviation Leaders,” past installments of which are available for viewing on the Institute’s website.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
In a significant judgment released today, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that airlines cannot avail themselves of the "extraordinary circumstances" defense in the case of cancellations or delays caused by technical problems in order to avoid paying compensation as required under EU Regulation No 261/2004. EU passenger rights law requires airlines to compensate passengers for cancellations or extended delays, but exempts carriers from this duty if "the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken." The CJEU had previously ruled in Wallentin-Hermann that "technical problems" did not rise to the level of "extraordinary circumstances" that would permit a carrier to avoid paying compensation. KLM attempted to distinguish the facts in this most recent case, Corina van der Lans v KLM, from the Wallentin-Hermann judgment on the grounds that the faulty parts responsible for the delay had not exceeded their average life spans and the carrier had no reason to expect they would fail. The court was unsympathetic to this argument, concluding that part failures are inherent in the normal exercise of air carrier activity, and therefore not "extraordinary circumstances." This is yet another loss for airlines before the CJEU, and barring a hidden manufacturing defect, carriers should assume that they will have to compensate for technical delays.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
According to reports, the Communist Party of China has spent the past few months investigating top officials at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) amidst a broader investigation into corruption at state agencies. Two specific officials were identified as under investigation and it is possible that the probe will affect others who have yet to be named.
Monday, September 14, 2015
The Daily Beast is reporting that last week's high-profile incident in which a British Airways' Boeing 777 caught fire shortly before takeoff was caused by an engine flaw already known to the FAA, and for which the FAA had already issued an Airworthiness Directive mandating increased inspections for that engine type. British Airways claims to have been complying with all FAA directives, suggesting that once the full NTSB investigation is concluded, more frequent inspections may be required going forward.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
A German court has stopped a strike by Lufthansa pilots, ending disruptions to the carrier's services. The court ruled against the union because it determined that the strike was at least partially motivated by opposition to aspects of Lufthansa's operation of low cost subsidiary Eurowings, an illegitimate issue over which to strike. The consequences of unifying the European market while allowing labor policy to vary from nation-to-nation has been a persistent concern of airline unions, and is the driving issue behind the ongoing dispute between the EU and the U.S. over Norwegian Air International's proposed transatlantic services.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Over the past two decades the international airline business has been dominated by two trends that can be regarded as either contradictory or complimentary: the privatization of an industry formerly dominated by national carriers, and frequent public bailouts of privatized airlines during times of financial crisis. The latest example comes from Russia, where state-owned Aeroflot will assume a 75% stake and effective control of the country's first and largest private carrier, Transaero. Combined, the two airlines control over 50% of the Russian passenger market.