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January 18, 2018 | Blog Post| Eighty Years After Earhart: Congress Moves to Motivate and Facilitate Women In Aviation

The aviation industry is in dire need of a future workforce. This industry is already suffering from a shortage of qualified individuals to work in all sectors of aviation. For instance, the Forbes article here states that the gap between supply and demand for aviation mechanics is projected to be at 9 percent by 2027.   

The Government Accountability Office report (linked here) of the future availability of pilots states:

Evidence suggests that the supply pipeline is changing as fewer students enter and complete collegiate pilot-training programs and fewer military pilots are available than in the past. Additional pressure on pilot availability will come from (1) the projected number of mandatory age-related pilot retirements at mainline airlines over the next decade and beyond, (2) the increasing demand for regional airlines to address attrition needs, and (3) the reported lower number of potentially qualified pilots in the applicant pool for filling regional airlines’ first-officer jobs. If the predictions for future demand are realized and shortages continue to develop, airlines may have to make considerable operational adjustments to compensate for having an insufficient number of pilots.

This has not been lost on Congress. A bill was recently introduced in the Senate entitled “Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act.”  The focus of this bill is on women in aviation. Women historically are significantly under-represented in the aviation industry. The bill reports that while “Women make up over 50 percent of the national workforce… Women represent only 2 percent of airline mechanics, 4 percent of flight engineers, 5 percent of repairmen, 26 percent of air traffic controllers, 18 percent of flight dispatchers, and 6 percent of pilots.” The bill also reports that only “Twelve percent of students enrolled in AABI-accredited programs are women.” The AABI is a college accreditation given to non-engineering aviation programs at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels throughout the world, to ensure programs and future students are meeting the needs of the industry.

The bill encourages the aviation industry to explore all opportunities to encourage and support female students and aviators to pursue careers in aviation. The bill would mandate that the FAA establish the Women in Aviation Advisory Board to promote organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women into the industry. The board would be composed of representatives from all major sections of the industry and would be responsible for developing plans for the administration to remove barriers facing women attempting to get into aviation and to coordinate industry stakeholders who support women pursuing careers in aviation. Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois and Senator Susan Collins from Maine, who presented the bill to the Senate, stated that the purpose of the board was to hold the industry accountable for providing training and related program directed at women. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Information on the bill can be found here.

Similarly, a recent bill entitled Women in Aerospace Education Act passed the House on December 19, 2017, by a vote of 409 to 17. The bill was co-sponsored by Representatives Elizabeth Esty, Marcy Kaptur, Barbara Comstock, Lamar Smith, Jacky Rosen, Ed Perlmutter, and Bill Foster. This bill amended the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 to “strengthen the aerospace workforce pipeline by the promotion of Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and National Aeronautics and Space Administration internship and fellowship opportunities to women.”

The bill would require NASA to prioritize the recruitment of qualified candidates who are women or are historically underrepresented “in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and computer science for internships and fellowships at NASA with relevance to the aerospace sector and related fields.” The bill passed the House and has been received by the Senate and referred to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Information on the bill can be found here.

Given the shortage of qualified individuals to work in the aviation industry, it is heartening to see these developments.

Laura Heft

An Associate at Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in Chicago, IL. Laura practices in our First-Party Coverage, Casualty Defense Litigation, Product Recall, and Aviation departments.

January 15, 2019 Blog PostThe Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization Act of 2018 and Its Effect on Drones

The Federal Aviation Authority (“FAA”) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (the “Act”) was signed into law on October 5, 2018, by President Donald Trump. The Act was the first five-year FAA reauthorization since 1982.  Such reauthorizations provide the FAA with guaranteed funding for the next five years. The Act contains a plethora of supplementary provisions in addition to the provisions regarding the authorized funding of the FAA.  The Act can be broken down into five areas: (1) funding authorizations; (2) airline customer service; (3) aviation safety; (4) airports; and (5) unmanned aviation systems (“UAS”), also known as drones.

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December 14, 2018 Blog PostDrone Accident Excluded Under CGL Policy's Aircraft Exclusion

In the most recent edition of our book, Butler on Drones, we reported that ISO has issued specific exclusions for unmanned aircraft for inclusion into CGL policies, but it was an open question whether a CGL policy’s standard aircraft exclusion already excluded coverage for liability arising from the use of a drone. A California federal district court has now weighed in on the question – the first to do so, as far as we are aware. And we like the answer.

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January 05, 2018 Blog PostFAA Releases Drone Identification and Tracking Report that the FAA Will Consider in Drafting its Final Rule on In-Flight Drone Accountability

Law enforcement agencies want accountability when it comes to drone flights, especially when those flights are over people. Enabling a drone and its owner/operator to be quickly identified by law enforcement is necessary toward the expansion of the authorized use of drones to include flights over people and beyond the line of sight as well as the safe integration of drones in the national Airspace System. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) chartered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) submitted its report and recommendations to the FAA on technologies available to identify and track drones in flight and other associated issues.

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January 05, 2018 Blog PostRecreational Drone Registration Requirement Has Returned

Back on December 21, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required drone owners to register their drones if their drones weighed more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds (small drones). The registration was valid for three years.  Basically, anyone who possessed a drone for recreational use had to pay $5.00 to register their drone online with the FAA.  Following that requirement, over 820,000 drone owners had registered their drones. However, in May 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down that requirement, finding that the FAA violated its own rule found in the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act that prohibits the FAA from promulgating any rules or regulations regarding model aircraft in Taylor v. Huerta, 856 F.2d 1089, 1090 (D.C. Cir. 2017). After the Taylor decision, the FAA created a form through which registrants could remove themselves from the registry list and request a refund of their $5.00 registration fee they had paid.

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s (“FAA’s”) authority to institute airspace restrictions derives from 14 CFR § 99.7, “Special Security Instructions,” which is intended to address national security concerns from the Department of Defense and U.S. Federal security and intelligence agencies. 

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August 23, 2017 Blog Post"It's Not Old, It's A Classic!": Risk in Aging Aircraft with GARA Protecting Manufacturers

The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 (“GARA”) was a byproduct of aging aircraft, rising costs, and tort liability in the United States.  Congress was concerned that aircraft manufacturers were being devastated by liability costs for accidents occurring long after the planes left the manufacturer.  These liability costs drove up the price for aircraft beyond what the market would bear, and general aviation experienced a sharp decline.  The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reports the total U.S.-manufactured general aviation airplane shipments went from a high of 17,811 in 1978 to a low of 929 in 1994.  As a result many manufacturers stopped making certain model aircraft, including Cessna which ceased production of all piston aircraft in 1986. 

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July 14, 2017 Blog PostNew Laws passed in Florida and Oregon add to Varying State Drone Regulations

More and more states are adopting individual rules for UAS operations within their borders. These rules vary from state to state.  Congress wanted to take up the issue and regulate UAS federally, but stakeholders including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Drone Manufacturers Alliance, the National Business Aviation Association, and the Commercial Drone Alliance, among others, are encouraging Congress to defer regulation of UAS pending the report and recommendations of the Drone Advisory Committee, the “DAC”.

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May 24, 2017 Blog PostThe D.C. Court of Appeals Just Scrapped the Drone Registry and May Have Also Turned Homeowners Insurers into Aviation Insurers

Model-aircraft hobbyist John Taylor didn’t want to register his model aircraft with the FAA pursuant to the newly created drone registry. So he took on the FAA, challenging new regulations aimed at unmanned aircraft registration and flight restrictions.

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April 13, 2017 Blog PostThe Answers to Some of Your Questions About What Airlines Can Do When a Flight is Overbooked and Someone Is Going to Have to Get Off of the Plane

Suddenly, the entire world is interested in learning about the laws governing airlines’ actions when a flight is overbooked. It isn’t every day that the entire world suddenly wants to learn all about something that you’ve spent years studying, so this post is for our clients who insure aviation risks, our clients who are frequent air travelers, and perhaps a few curious strangers who have no business with our law firm but have nonetheless been led here by their quest for answers. 

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April 05, 2017 Blog PostA Federal Court in Kentucky Shoots Down Drone Airspace Case

The Western District of Kentucky recently granted a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, determining that there is no federal question jurisdiction when a claim is brought for trespass to chattels and declaratory judgment where a drone is flown above an individual’s property. 

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