The Week in brief
- During The International Air Cargo Association’s Executive Summit meeting in Bangkok, Neel Shah, who heads the organization’s security committee, sounded a warning about the impending 100 percent screening deadline set by the Transport Security Administration (TSA). The TSA had originally called for a 100-percent screening requirement by the end of 2013, but early this year pushed the deadline up to Dec. 31, 2011. Shah said that the process of accrediting foreign screening programs is moving too slowly. “Unless TSA and, more broadly speaking, the entire U.S. government focuses the necessary resources on reviewing the process and timeline by which foreign security programs are validated and placed into the TSA’s National Cargo Security Program (NCSP), we will face some significant disruptions to the global supply chain," he said during the meeting. "It’s critical that we get more foreign programs under review and certified into the NCSP in the next few months — especially if TSA is considering an accelerated deadline for 100 percent inbound screening.
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repositioned three veteran employees as part of its review of air traffic control. “The FAA’s focus is safety," the FAA's Randy Babbitt said in a statement. Chris Metts is now in charge of the organization's En Route and Oceanic operations; Walt Cochran will oversee terminal operations; and Glen Martin is the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center's new air traffic manager. "These changes ensure that we have the right people in the right places to help us carry out our mission. I am confident our top-to-bottom review is making our air traffic system even safer.”
- Gulf Technics has signed a five-year agreement to provide supply-chain and repair support to Bahrain-based Gulf Air. According to a press release, "the partnership will combine parts supply, component repair, distribution, information technology, and logistics capabilities to help Gulf Air cost-effectively and safely operate its Airbus fleet." The carrier's fleet includes 14 A320s, 10 A330s and four A340s.
- Air China will launch a new route to Athens using Airbus A330 aircraft starting May 15. The service, which takes off from Beijing and has a stopover in Munich, will be offered twice a week. The carrier also recently signed a strategic agreement with China Telecom, which will allow the two companies to cooperate in product development, IT, air-ground communications, marketing and customer service.
- On April 26, a Boeing 737-700 operated by Southwest carrying 134 passengers and five crewmembers from Denver International Airport overshot the runway during its departure into Chicago Midway International Airport. No injuries were reported. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating why Southwest Airlines Flight 1919 exited the runway and skidded to a grassy area at the edge of Runway 13. According to local media reports, the Boeing 737-700 narrowly missed careening into a busy street, stopping 50 yards short of Midway’s fenced in wall. The NTSB described the weather at the time of the incident as “rainy with southerly winds." Southwest said all passengers were safely deplaned from the aircraft using air stairs and were bused to the terminal. The airline also said each passenger received a full refund for their flight and two free round-trip tickets as retribution. Southwest previously had an incident at Midway Airport in 2005. Faced with poor weather, a Southwest jet skidded off the runway and through a fence, killing a 6-year-old boy.