Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Directorate General of Civil Aviation looking at delicensing non-scheduled operators having less than three aircraft • As many as 80 of the 120 operational NSOPs may lose permits

To prevent private jet owners from evading customs duty by importing aircraft through the non-scheduled operator (NSOP) route, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is looking at delicensing all NSOP permit holders who have a fleet of less than three aircraft. As many as 80 NSOPs of the 120 NSOPs in service at present stand to be delicensed once the regulator amends the minimum requirements for grant of permits to non-schedule operators.

The change in regulations is also intended to address concerns raised by US-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding safety oversight mechanism for non-scheduled operations.

As per the latest available information, there are 52 NSOPs with one aircraft, 28 NSOPs with two aircraft, 13 NSOPs with three aircraft and only 27 NSOPs have more than three aircraft. Only a third of the total of 120 NSOPs in service may retain their permits once the new regulations come into force.

A senior official in DGCA said, "When we were reviewing regulatory requirements for NSOPs, we found that most NSOPs fall in the general aviation category or perform limited charter operations for company executives. Private jets are often imported through the NSOP route to save on customs duty. We decided that non-scheduled operators with less than three aircraft will not be permitted commercial operations to plug such loopholes."

Currently, an aircraft imported for personal use attracts import duties between 19 percent and 21 percent, while one imported for commercial operations attracts duties of 2.5-3 percent only, as the latter is not subject to countervailing duty and special additional duty. This differential in tax structure has led many private jet owners to import aircraft through NSOP route to save on customs duty.

Consolidation in the business aviation industry would also aid DGCA is strengthening its safety oversight mechanism for the category. "Post the findings of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DGCA had constituted a committee to address concerns raised by the US regulator as relates to the NSOP sector. Once private jet owners are weeded out of the NSOP category, safety oversight would become more effective", added the official.

The FAA is scheduled to conduct a fresh audit of India's safety oversight mechanism later in December this year. The US regulator had downgraded India to category II of safety ranking earlier in January 2014, which had barred Indian carriers from expanding operations in the United States. The DGCA has been working to meet all requirements pointed out by FAA to regain category I status at the earliest.

As per the proposed amendment in CAR, non-scheduled operators' permit holders would now be required to have a minimum fleet of three aircraft or three helicopters either through outright purchase or on lease. The aircraft shall be registered in India and shall hold a certificate of airworthiness in the normal passenger category. To facilitate the start of operations, the operator will be permitted to commence services with one aircraft/helicopter but will have to increase fleet size to three within a year of securing a NSOP permit.

The existing NSOPs will be given an option to either raise their fleet size to three airplane/helicopter as per the revised CAR or get themselves converted into private category.

DGCA issued the notification to amend the minimum requirements for grant of non-scheduled operators' permit on Monday. Stakeholders have to submit their comments by Nov 12, 2014.

At present, DGCA issues permits to carry out commercial operations under scheduled and non-scheduled categories. However, though requirements are different for scheduled, non-scheduled and general aviation aircraft a single certification manual CAP 3100 is used for certification procedures for all commercial operators. The regulator is now in the process of segregating certification requirements and management by tailoring airworthiness requirements specific to each category.

- Source:  http://www.business-standard.com

Freefall Adventures, Inc: Skydiving firm files for bankruptcy • Cross Keys Airport (17N), Williamstown, New Jersey

A Gloucester County skydiving company has filed for bankruptcy, but it says its daredevil fun will continue nonetheless.

Freefall Adventures' petition for Chapter 11 - a designation that allows businesses to reorganize during financial hardship - was recorded in federal bankruptcy court this month.

The company, which operates out of Cross Keys Airport in Monroe Township, is a mainstay in the regional skydiving community, though it has also gained attention over the years for accidents and fatalities, risks commonly associated with the sport.

In August, the company's owners, John and Agnes Eddowes, also filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allows individuals to restructure debt payments.

The personal bankruptcy documents indicate assets totaling about $6.4 million, with total liabilities of approximately $2.4 million. Freefall's Oct. 2 filing lists assets under $50,000 and liabilities of more than $1 million up to $10 million.

John Eddowes refused to discuss the bankruptcy filings when reached Monday afternoon, saying only. "We are open for business."

In its petition, Freefall makes note of $50,000 owed to a Georgia-based aircraft repair firm. An attorney for Freefall confirmed that two planes were taken off-line for a period for repairs, which reduced revenue.

"You have creditors that demand to be paid," said Lewis Adler, based in Woodbury.

A 2011 lawsuit by the Georgia repair company, National Aerotech Aviation, sought outstanding payments from John Eddowes for repairs in excess of $120,000, plus interest. It was settled.

"It was just standard heavy maintenance and upgrades," said Kevin Williams, general manager with National Aerotech Aviation, which had previously worked with Freefall. "There is money still owed."

Recent filings in Georgia show the company is still seeking payment from Eddowes. A federal district judge last week put all matters in that case on hold pending the bankruptcy proceedings.

Freefall's bankruptcy court filing also makes note of a negligence lawsuit.

That suit was filed in April by a customer, Reginald Wood, who broke his legs during a "tandem jump" in May 2012, said Wood's attorney, Salvatore Imbornone Jr.

Imbornone said the accident occurred because the instructor "miscalculated the landing zone," causing the pair to crash into a car upon landing in a parking lot. Imbornone could not say whether the instructor was also injured.

In April, a 49-year-old skydiving enthusiast from New York fell to his death in Washington Township after issues with his parachute.

Last year, there were 24 fatalities out of an estimated 3.2 million jumps in the country, according to the U.S. Parachute Association. It was not immediately clear Monday how Freefall's accident rate compares.

Adler said lawsuits such as Wood's were not a determining factor in the bankruptcy filing. It "has nothing to do with skydiving whatsoever," he said.

- Source:  http://www.philly.com

Etihad Airways Passenger Numbers up 30% in Third Quarter: Code-Share, Equity Partnerships Add 1.1 Million Passengers

The Wall Street Journal
By Rory Jones
Oct. 14, 2014 3:53 a.m. ET

DUBAI—Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways on Tuesday said it carried 30% more passengers in the third quarter of the year, as its strategy of buying into other airlines continued to feed customers on to its network and boost earnings.

The airline said revenue in the third quarter increased 29% to $1.8 billion after it carried 3.9 million passengers, compared with 3 million passengers in the same period a year earlier. The passenger growth far outstripped a 16% increase in capacity.

Code-share and equity partnerships in the third quarter added an estimated 1.1 million passengers onto Etihad flights and contributed revenue of $352 million, representing 27% of the carrier’s passenger revenue, Etihad said.

In August, Alitalia and Etihad agreed a total investment package of €1.758 billion with creditors and shareholders to revive the ailing Italian airline, a deal that hasn’t yet been completed. Etihad aims to build a network of partnerships outside the traditional airline alliances by buying minority stakes in carriers from Australia to Ireland, a strategy that has been met with opposition from some airlines and authorities in Europe.

Etihad said it launched new passenger flights to Yerevan, Perth and Rome in the third quarter and increased frequencies to eight destinations, including Dublin, Athens and Chennai. Cargo revenue was $284 million, up 16% on the same period last year, the airline added.

- Source:  http://online.wsj.com