US Air Traffic Controller Shortage Causing Flight Cancellations

Jinen Gada

07 Apr 2023

Air travel has been one of the most affected industries during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is now facing another challenge: air traffic control shortages. The United States is currently facing a shortage of air traffic controllers, causing more airlines to cancel flights. This shortage has been building up for years now. Major U.S. airlines are planning schedule cuts mostly in New York City area airports ahead of peak summer air travel season as air-traffic controller shortages simmer.

Airlines have until the end of the month to make federal aviation regulators aware of any schedule adjustments as a result of a waiver related to closely guarded “slots,” or authorization to use airports in the area, and some have already said they would be cutting down on flights for now. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for managing air traffic control in the United States. According to the FAA, air traffic control staffing levels are at their lowest in 30 years.

The FAA has stated that the current shortage is due to a combination of factors, including retirements, the pandemic, and a decrease in the number of people entering the field. The shortage has been felt by airlines across the United States. This has caused chaos for passengers and airlines, as they struggle to keep up with the demand for air travel.


Airlines have been forced to cancel flights due to the shortage, which has resulted in lost revenue and increased costs. The cost of cancelling flights can be significant for airlines, as they have to pay for things like fuel and crew salaries, even if the flight is cancelled.

In 2022, due to ATC shortages alongside other operational difficulties, led to nearly half of JetBlue’s flights to face disruption. And conditions became worse, in summer, when at least one in five flights across the US were delayed between June and September. The shortage has also raised safety concerns. Air traffic controllers are responsible for ensuring that planes are safely guided through the skies. A shortage of controllers could lead to errors and potentially dangerous situations.

The FAA has acknowledged the shortage and is taking steps to address the issue. The agency has launched a recruitment campaign to attract more people to the field. The FAA is also offering incentives for current controllers to stay in their positions, such as bonuses and flexible scheduling.

The air traffic control shortage in the United States is a significant problem that is causing more airlines to cancel flights. The shortage has had a significant impact on airlines, passengers, and smaller airports. The FAA is taking steps to address the issue, but it will take time for these efforts to have an impact.

Pic credit - ABC News.


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Helicopter Services Between Cities of Tamil Nadu to Begin Under 'TN REACH'

Radhika Bansal

07 Apr 2023

The state government is developing a structure that will permit the use of helicopters for travel between cities and towns inside Tamil Nadu, so using helicopter services to remote areas of the state may soon become a reality. The proposed mechanism, created by the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (Tidco), would take advantage of the Government of India's National Civil Aviation Policy and Helicopter Policy, allowing helicopter operators to use more than 80 unused helipads to provide intercity and town connectivity.

An intra-state network of aerial routes called Tamil Nadu Regional Aerial Connectivity through Helicopters (TN REACH) will allow people to use helicopters for travel between cities and towns, according to an announcement made by the industries minister Thangam Thenarasu in front of the state assembly.

The mechanism would build upon Heli Disha, an administrative guidance manual for helicopter operations, and Heli Sewa, a portal for providing online landing clearance for helicopter operations.

This would involve collaboration between government agencies, helipad operators and helicopter operators to provide reliable and efficient intra-state connectivity. A robust helicopter service would be particularly useful in areas with inadequate road infrastructure or in emergencies where time is of the essence.


More than 80 unused helipads across Tamil Nadu will soon be used with helicopter services planned by the State government. An institution mechanism (Tamil Nadu Regional Aerial Connectivity through Helicopters — TN REACH) will be formulated to use helicopters for travel between cities and towns.

The helicopter connectivity within Tamil Nadu is expected to provide improved accessibility, increased economic growth, and job creation and enhance the overall transportation network. This will help the common man fly at affordable prices and boost the regional economy. This would also provide a fillip to the aerospace industry, monetise the existing unused helipads and provide another mode of reliable and fast transportation in the State.

The helicopter service will help to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce travel time between cities and towns. It will enable increased connectivity for tourism and medical emergencies, generating revenue for the State, sources said in Tidco.

Other sectors which would benefit from this scheme include maintenance of law and order, medical tourism and harvested organ transportation, religious tourism, business travel and aero sports and joyrides. Even though the State has extensive rail/road connectivity, the air connectivity is currently only to five cities — Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai and Thoothukudi.

Earlier aviation plans

This March, the government’s ambitious project to build an airport at the fast-growing industrial hub of Hosur stumbled on the prevailing policy of not allowing new airports within a 150­km radius of an existing airport. Citing the distance, the Centre deleted Hosur from the UDAN document for future bidding rounds. It did not award the Chennai-Hosur-Chennai route under the Regional Connectivity Scheme — Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) route.

In August last year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced an investment of INR 20,000 crore to develop a greenfield airport at Parandur, 60 km from Chennai airport.

(With Inputs from The New Indian Express and The Hindu BusinessLine)

Cover Image - Kevin Woblick (Unsplash)

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Air India Enters Second Phase of Vihaan.AI: 'Take Off'

Radhika Bansal

07 Apr 2023

Air India on Thursday said it onboarded more than 3,800 staff across crew and other functions and rolled out more than 29 new policies for employees in the last six months as part of the initiatives under its five-year transformation plan.

Loss-making Air India, which has been piloted by the Tata Group since January last year, is putting in USD 200 million in information technology systems and is also committed to investing USD 400 million to completely refurbish existing aircraft. It has also placed orders for 470 planes. After the acquisition, Tata Group, on September 15, 2022, unveiled the transformation plan ‘Vihaan.AI’, which set time-bound transformation milestones to establish Air India as a world-class airline. As part of the plan, Air India, over the next 5 years, will strive to increase its market share to at least 30% in the domestic market while significantly growing the international routes from the present market share. Vihaan.AI focuses on five key pillars, exceptional customer experience, robust operations, industry-best talent, industry leadership, and commercial efficiency and profitability.

First Phase

'Taxi', the first phase of the transformation plan Vihaan.AI, which focussed on "addressing legacy issues of the airline at scale and laying the foundation for future growth," has concluded, the airline said and added that now the second phase 'Take Off', -- that will focus on developing the platforms, processes, and systems needed to build toward excellence -- has commenced. In this phase, Air India is expected to complete the consolidation of its airline business, develop a world-class institute for training and build on the momentum seen in the first phase. Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson said the first six months of the transformation journey had made great strides in tackling many issues that had built up over the years, and the airline has come a long way in establishing foundations for growth. He further stated that - 

"The first six months of our transformation journey have engaged and united Air Indians behind a common cause, and made great strides in tackling many issues that had built up over the years. Our record-setting aircraft order, the commitment of USD 400 million to completely refurbish existing aircraft, the investment of USD 200 million in new IT, and the recruitment of literally thousands of staff are but a few of the significant investments being made to restore Air India to the upper echelons of global aviation. As we move into our Take Off phase, we will start seeing these investments bear fruit." 

Second Phase

The second phase will also witness the consolidation of AirAsia India and Air India Express; the Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) entity has already merged their core reservations platforms, websites, and customer-facing systems. "Vistara will also be merged with Air India following the grant of regulatory approval. The release said that developing a world-class training academy will also take shape as the future direction and configuration of the airline's line and base maintenance," the release said. Apart from launching premium economy seats for the first time on select long-haul flights, Air India has revamped its menus on international and domestic routes. The airline also rolled out over 29 new policies across employees to improve welfare, designed new remuneration programs for legacy staff, and "onboarded more than 3,800+ employees across crew and other functions to support capability and growth," the release said.

The airline rolled out a new organizational structure and revamped roles across levels with a conscious effort to address the disparities between permanent and full-term contract employees. It also introduced over 29 new employee policies to improve welfare and two new training programs, Saksham and ACE, to upskill staff and improve service. Not only that, the airline onboarded more than 3800+ employees across crew and other functions to support capability and growth.

Air India enters the second phase of Vihaan.AI - 'Take Off'

Making Progress

Besides, the airline expedited fleet expansion with 36 leased aircraft, including 11 wide-body planes being delivered in 2022-23, as well as "restored to service, or decommissioned pending sale, all long grounded aircraft". This helped the airline to add 6 new international routes while increasing the frequency of another 24. Air India attained the highest-ever single-day passenger revenue, highest-ever cargo revenue, highest-ever ancillary revenue, and highest-ever load factor, the release said. Comprehensive spares and support agreements have been reached to improve worldwide reliability, and a performance improvement program is underway with Boeing to improve the reliability of 787 planes. In-flight Entertainment (IFE) systems have been restored to working order on nearly all first and business-class seats, with economy seats being up to nearly 90%. The airline has also reactivated more than 10 codeshare agreements and is in active alliance discussions with other airlines.


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Etihad launches Boeing 787 MPL Program

Abhishek Nayar

07 Apr 2023

Etihad Airways was among the first airlines in the world and the first in the Middle East to begin a Multi-Crew Pilot License Program (MPL) on the Boeing 787 fleet for the UAE's national cadet pilot program. The MPL program, which was introduced by Boeing in 2006, is a comprehensive training program that emphasizes the development of non-technical skills such as communication, teamwork, decision-making, and leadership, in addition to technical skills. The program is designed to produce pilots who are well-equipped to handle the challenges of modern aviation, including the increasingly complex and sophisticated aircraft used today. Etihad Airways began its MPL program in 2019, in partnership with Boeing and CAE, a leading provider of aviation training services. The program includes a combination of classroom instruction, simulator training, and on-the-job training and is designed to provide aspiring pilots with a holistic understanding of the aviation industry.

Under the guidance of a certified instructor, cadet pilots are trained in take-offs and landings during 'Base Training' flights. After this, the cadet pilots will continue their training on the market's most efficient and innovative wide-body aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner MPL program, which was launched in October 2020 in partnership with IATA and the GCAA, was created to fulfill the industry's expanding demand for highly qualified pilots. To attain the greatest competency levels, the program teaches cadets to become fully certified Boeing 787 Dreamliner pilots using an expedited and highly sophisticated curriculum that leverages top industry learning methodologies and technologies. The program provides organized training to pilots that is suited to the needs of the airline, its aircraft, and its operating environment. It comprises academic knowledge and simulator training, as well as on-the-job flying training with some of the aircraft type's most experienced instructors.

"Etihad's UAE national cadet pilots are the first to accomplish this critical milestone on one of the world's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner MPL programs," stated Mohammed Al Bulooki, Chief Operational Officer of Etihad Airlines. "This success demonstrates Etihad's dedication to consistently invest in and nurture our UAE national talent via the use of cutting-edge training approaches." Etihad's cadet pilots will acquire the most advanced commercial aviation training through this program as we prepare for continuous development in 2023 and beyond." 


Second Officers Aya Saleh Alaudhli and Abdulla Rasheed Alsheebani flew the base training flight under the direction of Captain Suraj Weerasekera. “Due to our leadership and their trust in Emirati women, I am happy and blessed to be in the first batch of Boeing 787 Dreamliner MPL Program that Etihad has successfully pioneered,” stated Second Officer Aya Saleh Alaudhli.


In addition to the MPL program, Etihad Airways has also implemented a number of other innovative programs to enhance its operations and services. The airline has invested heavily in the latest technology and infrastructure, such as state-of-the-art aircraft, advanced navigation systems, and sophisticated communication networks. The success of the MPL program at Etihad Airways is a significant achievement for the airline and the aviation industry as a whole. The program represents a major step forward in the training of pilots, and is expected to become the norm in the aviation industry in the coming years. The MPL program has been widely adopted by leading airlines around the world, and is rapidly gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional pilot training methods. The program offers a more efficient and effective way of training pilots, and provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to operate modern aircraft in a safe and efficient manner.

The completion of the MPL program is a significant achievement for Etihad Airways, as it demonstrates the airline's commitment to providing its pilots with world-class training and development opportunities. The Dreamliner is a state-of-the-art aircraft that requires highly skilled pilots to operate it effectively, and the MPL program has helped Etihad Airways develop a team of pilots who are capable of doing just that. Moreover, the successful completion of the MPL program is expected to have a positive impact on the aviation industry in the Middle East. It is expected that other airlines in the region will follow Etihad Airways' lead and adopt the MPL program, which will help raise the overall standard of pilot training in the region.

With inputs from Etihadaviationgroup

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Aviation Leasing Watchdog Issues Warning on Vietnam after Lease Disagreement

Abhishek Nayar

07 Apr 2023

The aviation industry has always been an essential mode of transportation, connecting people and businesses across the globe. One of the key players in this industry is the aviation leasing market, which provides aircraft on lease to airlines worldwide. However, recent disagreements between airlines and aviation leasing companies have led to warnings from industry watchdogs. The latest warning has come from the Aviation Working Group (AWG), a leading industry body that oversees the global aviation leasing market. The AWG has issued a warning to Vietnam, stating that the country needs to improve its compliance with international leasing standards.

During a disagreement over the repossession of four planes, an aviation industry association issued a warning regarding Vietnam's compliance with international aircraft leasing regulations, raising concerns about the expense of financing future deliveries. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Vietnam is one of the world's fastest-growing air travel economies, with hundreds of aircraft on order and air transport accounting for 5% of GDP. The Aviation Working Group, a UK-based organisation that monitors finance rules on behalf of aircraft manufacturers and lessors, said it had added Vietnam to its radar after a Hanoi court halted an effort to confiscate planes due to an alleged rental payment default. 

It did not identify the airline, but an updated version of the warning was uploaded on its website along with a link to a file titled "Update No. 1 re: VietJet." .VietJet, one of Asia's top low-cost carriers, did not reply to a request for comment. Other Vietnamese carriers declined to comment or did not react. VietJet operates Airbus jets and has purchased a total of 186 aircraft from the European manufacturer, including 114 A320neo models that have yet to be delivered. It has also purchased 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, none of which have yet been delivered.

Airlines are able to achieve cheaper financing rates under the Cape Town Convention (CTC), of which Vietnam is a part, in exchange for their countries making it simpler for lessors to seize planes in the event of missed payments. In the case of a valid request from the lessor, the treaty permits jets to be de-registered, or withdrawn from the host country's aircraft registration, and placed on an international register, allowing the owner to fly the aircraft away. 

According to the AWG, the anonymous lessor sought this action between November and January, which was supported by a court order in England, where courts have authority over the lease deal. Vietnam's regulator decided to de-register the planes, but a Hanoi court overturned that decision in February following a lawsuit filed by one of the airline's shareholders, according to the report. The lessor's request and the unfavourable Hanoi court verdict "are major events that impact CTC compliance in Vietnam," according to the AWG bulletin. Vietnam's aviation regulator and foreign ministry did not reply to demands for comment. Airbus declined to comment, while Boeing could not be reached for comment.

The warning from the AWG is a reminder of the importance of maintaining high standards in the aviation industry. The industry relies on trust and transparency, and any breaches of these principles can have serious consequences. It is important for all parties involved in aircraft leasing to adhere to international standards and to work together to resolve any disputes that may arise. As the aviation industry continues to grow and evolve, it is essential that industry bodies such as the AWG continue to monitor and regulate the market to ensure that it operates in a safe, efficient, and transparent manner. The warning to Vietnam is a timely reminder of this responsibility and the need for all stakeholders to work together to uphold the highest standards of aviation leasing.

With inputs from Reuters

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Boeing Scraps CEO's Bonus over 777X Delays

Jinen Gada

06 Apr 2023

Boeing, recently made headlines for scrapping CEO David Calhoun's performance bonus for the 777X project. Saying that CEO will not receive a USD 7 million bonus due to the company's failure to enter the 777X into service by the end of 2023.

The 777X is a long-range, wide-body aircraft that was first announced in 2013, with a projected entry into service date of 2020. However, the program has faced several delays, including issues with the plane's engines and the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the aviation industry. As a result, the plane has yet to enter commercial service.

Calhoun was appointed CEO of Boeing in January 2020, at a time when the company was reeling from the fallout of two fatal crashes of its 737 Max aircraft. Calhoun was tasked with overseeing the company's efforts to regain public trust and restore its reputation. As part of his compensation package, Calhoun was eligible for a bonus tied to the 777X program's performance. However, in February 2021, Boeing's board of directors announced that they had decided to withhold the bonus due to the program's continued delays.

Boeing's board of directors said Calhoun "substantially achieved, or is on track to substantially achieve" most of the award's performance goals, which include the return to service of the 737 MAX in 2020. The board also praised Calhoun's leadership in the filing, saying the CEO made several decisions on the 777X program that were in the company's long-term interests but came at the expense of the goal being met.

Boeing's actions demonstrate that it takes its responsibilities as a leading aerospace company seriously. The company's leadership understands that its decisions and actions have a significant impact on the aviation industry and the millions of people who rely on it every day. The decision to withhold Calhoun's bonus is not the first time that Boeing has taken steps to hold its leadership accountable. Moving forward, Boeing will need to continue to focus on meeting its commitments to customers and shareholders while also addressing the challenges it faces in the aviation industry.

Boeing's decision to withhold CEO David Calhoun's bonus for the 777X program's performance reflects the company's commitment to holding its leadership accountable for delivering results. This decision sends a clear message that Boeing is serious about meeting its commitments to customers and shareholders and that it takes its responsibilities as a leading aerospace company seriously. As the company moves forward, it will need to continue to focus on meeting its commitments and addressing the challenges it faces in the aviation industry.