Tag Archives: Transportation Tech

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Future vision for security mapped out by Airports Council International

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Airports Council International (ACI) recently unveiled its vision for airport security over the next two decades, which sets to map out how this important aspect of travel will adapt both in a post-COVID-19 era and as new technology becomes available.

Published on June 30, Smart Security Vision 2040 “sets the foundation for achieving a seamless airport security screening experience in a post-COVID-19 operational reality.”

So, what does this mean in reality? The Vision explores several long-term trends affecting aviation and airports, such as technology and how it is adapting to provide a safer, more efficient means of tracking threats and keeping passengers and aircraft safe.

Artificial intelligence is an old buzzword now, but it is coming into the fore with new applications surrounding airport security. Other key points to the Vision are stand-off detection, automated threat recognition and global information sharing.

While this work had been in the planning at ACI for some time, the final document has been swayed by, and leans heavily on, the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak and what it means for travelers.

Over the past two decades security has focused heavily on the threat from terrorism and physical attack. This is no less important going forward, but a new factor is the threat to passenger safety posed by the likes of the coronavirus.

As a result, new technology will play a big part in the future of security screening at airports.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “As the aviation industry continues to plan for a sustained recovery from unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, ACI believes that any initiative that utilises improved technology to facilitate touchless and more efficient passenger journeys needs to be accelerated.”

Building on this touchless aspect to screening, security of the future will become much more seamless, according to the Vision. Whether it will ever mean a completely pain-free, automated experience is unlikely. Don’t expect to avoid the long lines waiting to empty their belongings into a plastic tray just yet, but that day might be coming as screening technology improves at pace.

So called “big data” is starting to find its place, endeavoring to make passenger journeys quicker and easier, letting computers take much of the strain. We’ve already heard plenty about biometrics for passenger identification, and automatic tracking of passengers is being trialed at many airports. These measures have the potential to also track who is healthy and who is not.

“We hope Smart Security Vision 2040 will inspire a range of stakeholders, from airports to governments and manufacturers, to engage in thoughtful discussions about how best to achieve a better airport security future especially as we plan our long-term recovery from COVID-19,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

Smart Security Vision 2040 is the first major work released under Luis Felipe de Oliviera, who takes over the helm of ACI from Angela Gittens after 12 years as director. She commented: “We can expect more innovations in the weeks, months and years ahead. Even before the COVID-19 disaster, we have looked ahead to what the airport world could be.”

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Airports face significant drop in revenues through the end of 2020

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Even with bailouts and airlines easing out of lockdown, airports across the globe are facing a significant drop in revenues, which could challenge their futures and put on hold any ambitious growth or redevelopment plans until profits return.

As the dust settles to some degree and airlines start increasing schedules this month, airports and analysts are beginning to assess the damage that has been caused through months of the coronavirus lockdown.

Airports Council International (ACI), which called for urgent relief for the aviation industry last month, has said it expects airport revenues to fall by around 50% this year as a response to passenger numbers falling by a similar amount.

Around $97 billion could be lost from airport revenues globally by the end of 2020.

While larger passenger hub airports will see the most significant share of revenue losses thanks to coronavirus, leading to a daunting road ahead while trying to recover to pre-virus levels, it is the smaller airports which have lost a larger share of passengers and are left in a more precarious position.

So far, all the major carriers in the United States have dropped certain cities from their network, with the Department of Transportation rallying to ensure no city is left without any air service at all.

Airports operating in different sectors, or actively diversifying into them, will likely suffer a softer blow. Air cargo is on the rise, and those airports operating as freight hubs are among the busiest in the world right now.

Others in the aircraft storage, dismantling or maintenance sectors are also seeing more revenue streams to stem losses elsewhere.

Those airports which rely entirely on the passenger journey for income (through car parking, concessions, and passenger airline charges) will have the more difficult time recovering from the crisis.

John Holland-Kaye, London Heathrow’s CEO, said: “Our industry is struggling. It’s hard to imagine that 2019 was our busiest year ever with 81 million passengers. Now only five months into 2020, we are operating from a single runway and consolidating our operations into only two terminals. Daily passenger numbers have also shrunk to the thousands. This is a major crisis for global aviation and no one can be sure of how fast we will recover from it.”

With many high, fixed costs, airports are looking to address revenue losses by removing any unavoidable costs, halting any infrastructure works that are not necessary, closing down or consolidating parts of their facilities (such as runways and terminals), and looking to staff job or wage cuts.

San Diego Airport, which has received $54 million in federal funding, is trying to cut expenses by $29 million as it puts together a spending plan. It has seen passengers down around 85% during May and expects around 50% of its normal volume for the remainder of the year. By reducing some of its services, halting professional fees and deferring some refurbishment works it hopes to stem some of the loss.

Across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions it is a similar story, with passenger figures as low as 8% of normal in April and a significant drop in revenues. Airports there are calling for loans, guarantees, tax cuts and government support to see them through.

With international travel most affected, airports are hoping to see some recovery from domestic travel where quarantine and cross-border restrictions are not in place.

Many are working with airline partners to offer solutions which benefit all, relieving them of some contractual obligations and airport fees as an encouragement to keep flying. However, the road to recovery will be long and difficult for many to get through.

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Why new crash response programs are important for law enforcement

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In 2018, the NYPD rolled out its Staten Island pilot program for responding to crashes and drew mixed responses for it. Under this program, police officers in the area only responded to vehicle crashes that involve personal injuries and not property damage.

Deeming it a successful pilot program, the department recently announced plans to expand it to the other four boroughs of New York City. Since the department stopped responding to all crash sites in Staten Island, officers can now opt to focus on priority jobs and tasks. As a result, officers’ response times to serious crash sites have improved.

For years, NYPD officers have used the Directed Accident Response Program (DARP) for vehicles that sustain damage in crashes. Under this program, damaged cars are removed from the scene by private towing companies when summoned by the officers. However, those calls have decreased with no officers responding to vehicular crashes without injuries.

Now, motorists in Staten Island are handling the situations themselves, and not all are calling towing companies. Some choose to drive away in the mangled cars with airbags still deployed, dangling parts and leaking fluid, all of which are dangerous things to do.

Another issue is that motorists who exchange information and drive away are producing conflicting, false, or exaggerated statements. Without a police report, crashes become cases of he said, she said. Insurance agencies are having a hard time settling each case quickly.

While these misgivings are logical, as far as the officers are concerned, the new program has helped them streamline their operations and prioritize human lives. Law enforcement officers have to secure the scene first and foremost. They are also trained to provide emergency medical aid until help arrives, assist disabled motorists, and keep personal property safe. This administration of medical aid can be a lifesaver.

Once paramedics arrive, officers’ focus shifts to accident investigations, directing traffic, and supervising scene clearance. Their planned and coordinated multidisciplinary process is focused on clearing traffic incidents so that traffic flow may be restored as safely and quickly. Timely management of an accident site improves the safety of crash victims and other motorists as well.

Now that Staten Island officers are not inundated with all kinds of emergency calls, they can respond faster to serious accident sites and help victims. Looking at the efficacy of this program, the department feels that it is now time to expand the same to other areas of New York.

Lack of sufficient funding, budget cuts, and a shortage of resources for police departments are not news anymore. For them to work efficiently amid such challenges, innovative measures like the pilot program are essential. Many other departments and agencies are coming up with such unique measures to handle nonemergency calls as well.

The Bakersfield Police Department in California has created a Burglary Response Team to counter its workforce shortage. The newly assembled six-member team, which also has a Police Service Technician, will help reduce response times to nonemergency calls.

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Real ID set to affect who can and cannot fly

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While the concept may be controversial, those who fly in the U.S. still have to get onboard with identification. Identity cards are more consistent with what’s portrayed in films about travelers trying to wend their way through World War II Europe than something we would see making its way to America.

However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to remind travelers that the upcoming Real ID requirement and enforcement will start Oct. 1, 2020. At that time, every air traveler must present a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other acceptable form of identification, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the United States. Individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly.

“This is an important step in enhancing commercial aviation security and we urge travelers to ensure they have compliant documents,” said Acting DHS Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan just before resigning. He stepped down late last year after spending his six-month tenure trying to curb crossings at the southwestern border in the midst of an embattled relationship with White House policy intent on restricting immigration.

In January 2017, only 26 states were Real ID compliant. Through voluntary partnerships with state governments, associations, DMVs, and other stakeholders across all jurisdictions, DHS says that 47 out of 50 states are currently Real ID compliant. However, only 27% of Americans have been issued a Real ID at the current time.

The policy has come under scrutiny by civil rights groups and even the U.S. Travel Association’s (USTA) Brand USA, the official inbound department of tourism for the U.S. It is not something all members of the public can easily manage and reflects shades of national identity cards that are so important to militaristic societies.

The USTA launched a campaign last month to improve public awareness of the ramifications of this requirement after a study found an estimated 182 million Americans are unlikely to have a Real ID by the deadline.

“In fact, if Real ID standards were enforced today, 99 million Americans would not have an acceptable alternative ID, and almost 80,000 American travelers would be denied boarding on the first day. If that trend were to continue for a week, over half a million travelers would be turned away, which would cost as much as $300 million in lost travel,” said Tori Barnes, U.S. Travel EVP of Public Affairs and Policy, in a media call.

The USTA has promoted its position to the media and testified in Congress, in efforts to mitigate negative effects of Real ID and other policies, such as not turning away travelers at security checkpoints and moving away from aggressive pat downs.

Meanwhile, the DHS has been working to increase public focus on the upcoming deadline. The department is displaying signs at airports notifying the public of changing requirement.

In August, TSA began verbally advising travelers who present non-compliant licenses of the upcoming Real ID requirement and enforcement date. TSA has also co-hosted Real ID events with motor vehicle administration officials in numerous locations around the country throughout the spring and summer, with more to come.

Real ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue both Real ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only. These documents will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when the Real ID enforcement goes into effect.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the Real ID Act implements the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes, such as at airport security checkpoints. The regulations established the deadline of October 1, 2020, to ensure full enforcement of the Real ID Act.

Real IDs carry the same information current driver’s license, along with a variety of safeguards to make them more difficult to counterfeit. To receive one, however, applicants must meet a new federal standards proving they are who they say they are and live where they say they live.

That means face-to-face applications, an identity document, such as a passport or a certified birth certificate; verification like a Social Security card or an income tax return; and proof of state residence in, perhaps, a utility bill, with name and address. Passports will work most of the time but might not be convenient to carry around. Those without Real ID might also be banned from entering federal buildings and courthouses.

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FAA seeks to take back the skies from rogue drones

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For the past few years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had a growing problem with unidentified flying objects. Not the kind with little green men, but rather unmanned (and unregistered) aerial vehicles (UAVs) — “drones” for short.

Originally designed for military applications, drones are now used widely for a variety of jobs, including aerial surveillance, bridge inspections, wedding photography, package delivery, and any other situation in which eyes in the sky or quick transport are required.

Beyond that, the FAA estimates there are approximately 1.5 million registered drones flying around the United States, and that number will only grow as the technology becomes more sophisticated and less expensive for consumers.

For all the good that drones can do, they also bring some dangers with them, especially when piloted by ignorant or irresponsible owners. In 2018, firefighting crews in Colorado (not for the first time) were forced to suspend aerial operations after a civilian flew an unauthorized craft into the airspace to get a closer look at an ongoing wildfire. And airports around the world have been forced on multiple occasions to delay or divert flights due to unexpected drone activity nearby. (If you think that’s an overreaction, consider US Airways Flight 1549, which was forced to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after a flock of geese struck the plane in flight.)

So how does the government keep track of more than a million remote-controlled flying machines? The answer, at least until recently, is “not very well.”

While drones have been available for civilians to purchase for more than a decade, it wasn’t until 2015 that the FAA made drone registration a requirement, also stipulating that any drone must have a unique identifying number marked somewhere on it that can be traced back to its pilot. While many commercial and hobbyist users have complied with this rule, it’s done relatively little to stop certain users from engaging in disruptive flights.

Now, the FAA is stepping up its efforts. Late last year, the administration rolled out a long-awaited proposal that would allow it to track drones in real time through a remote ID system. According to the proposal, all drones that fall under the rule — which would be most commercial and hobbyist models — would be required to broadcast their information over the internet to the FAA and directly from the machine itself. Registered drones would have three years to comply with the rule from the time it goes into effect.

While the FAA calls the remote ID rule “a critical element for building unmanned traffic management capabilities,” the industry is not as optimistic, particularly when it comes to privacy concerns and costs. In a response published on its website, popular drone manufacturer DJI said that while it supports remote ID, the current proposal misses the mark.

“[W]hat if instead of just a license plate, your car was also legally required to be connected via the internet to a privately run car-tracking service that charged you an annual fee of about 20% of your car’s value, and stored six months of your driving data for government scrutiny? Would you think the government had gone too far?” Brendan Schulman, VP of policy and legal affairs at DJI, wrote.

Even those who support the proposal’s aim have complaints.

“Our main concern is the implementation period, which is needlessly up to 3 years. Until remote ID is implemented, the American public will be deprived of many of the vast safety, humanitarian and efficiency benefits of commercial drones,” said Lisa Ellman, executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, in an interview with CNBC. “We need implementation yesterday, not 3 years from now.”

The comment period for the proposal closes on March 2.

Regardless of the specifics, everyone seems to agree on one point: Increased accountability is necessary to keep our skies safe, especially as drones become a bigger part of American life.

“Drones are the fastest growing segment of transportation in our nation and it is vitally important that they are safely integrated into the national airspace,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

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How Tokyo’s Narita Airport is battling the growth of Haneda

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Narita International Airport in Tokyo has seen a shift of traffic in recent years to Haneda Airport, which is closer to the city and regarded as more convenient. In order to recapture some of the market, Narita has unveiled a number of incentives and growth plans to attract airlines and passengers back to its runways.

Opened in 1978, New Tokyo International Airport (as Narita was then known) was a controversial solution to overcrowding at Haneda. It quickly became the main gateway for international flights into Japan’s capital.

In recent years, however, the opening of more slots for international carriers at Haneda – which by now has more runways and terminals – has meant airlines leaving Narita, which is 37 miles from Tokyo, for the convenience of Haneda, which is less than nine miles away.

Recent moves by Narita have seen proposals submitted to build a third runway at the airport, increasing its aircraft movement capacity to 500,000 per year when it opens in 2030. It will also extend the length of its current second runway to be able to handle larger airliners.

The airport has also reduced its night time movement restrictions, opening up its runways from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. This has added an additional 78 daily slots.

In a recent blow, both of Japan’s national carriers, ANA All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, have announced many key international routes will be transferred from Narita to Haneda Airport from March this year.

As a result, Narita has introduced an incentive program to attract new routes. The program offers free landing fees for any new route of greater than 7,000 km distance to a destination not yet served from Narita. Any new route must commence between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2020, and incentives will reduce over successive years to 70% discount in year two, and 40% discount in year three.

For airlines already operating at Narita, an incentive offering a 50% discount on incremental landing charges for introducing larger aircraft on the route will be introduced.

So far one new airline has announced a new long-haul route to Narita. Israel’s El Al will begin a Boeing 787 service from Tel Aviv from March 11, while other carriers are reportedly in discussion with the airport.

However, Japan Airlines has not abandoned its Narita hub completely. It will reintroduce flights to San Francisco in 2020, as well as launching its new low-cost, long-haul product named ZIPAIR Tokyo, which will base its aircraft at the airport, flying initially to Bangkok and Seoul.

After welcoming a record 42 million passengers in 2018, Narita remains Japan’s second-busiest airport. The loss of key international routes to Haneda will undoubtedly see a blip in growth in 2020, potentially offset by the introduction of ZIPAIR as well as extra flights anticipated for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Moves to make the airport more attractive to passengers and open to new business are key to maintaining Narita’s competitiveness. Work on the new runway is expected to begin next year. Expect more route announcements as airlines take advantage of the incentive being offered.

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Struggling Atlantic City Airport is subject of future ownership study

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Steps to throw New Jersey’s struggling Atlantic City Airport a lifeline have taken a step forward with the appointment of a consultancy firm to further study whether the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) should take over the facility.

Situated inland of the Atlantic coast gambling resort and its famous Boardwalk, Atlantic City Airport was founded as a Naval Air Station in 1942 and at present is served by only one carrier — Spirit Airlines, which flies to leisure destinations in Florida on a few daily flights.

Attempts by other carriers to introduce airline service to the airport have all failed, with United Airlines the most recent to abandon proposed routes before the first plane even took off (to Houston and Chicago), citing low demand.

AirTran, Continental, Delta and Air Canada have all tried service to Atlantic City and ultimately pulled out.

Having previously been ordered to take over the airport in 2013, PANYNJ — which operates Newark, JFK, Teterboro and Stewart airports, but doesn’t own any of them — is once again in the running to come to the rescue of the ailing airport and provide a boost to the dwindling local economy.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority are the current owners of Atlantic City Airport, with PANYNJ jointly managing it with private firm VINCI Airports, who are contracted to handle the general and commercial aviation side until 2021.

With only 1.1 million passengers using the airport in 2018 (a figure which has remained fairly static since 2007, with a high of 1.4 million in 2010), the takeover is not just about padding out the airline offerings and route network.

Naturally, locals want more choice and connectivity, and the region would benefit from more inbound visitors if the demand exists. PANYNJ would naturally try to position Atlantic City as an alternative New York gateway as well as an alternative airport for residents of Philadelphia. Yet the aim of a takeover would also be about taking advantage of the potential in the whole airport site.

Blessed with a 10,000-foot runway, there’s little Atlantic City (which is also used by the Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing) cannot handle in terms of aircraft. An application was even submitted earlier this year to consider the airport as a future spaceport.

Members of the board have already met to discuss their hope that the development of an aviation maintenance facility be considered, as well as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Smart Airport Test Bed Facility.

At a meeting in July, Atlantic City freeholder Frank Formica said, “Instead of looking at this as just the PANYNJ coming in to take over another airport, it can be seen as a big opportunity to do something with an area that is diversifying its economy with the tremendous opportunity through the jobs that we created through the training at Stockton University and Embry Riddle (Aeronautical University).”

Atlantic City and PANYNJ are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the feasibility study, which could pave the way for a full takeover, but would depend on the future of the existing VINCI Airports contract and consensus on the future direction of the airport.

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California rewards climate-friendly automakers amid NHTSA lawsuit

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Ford and General Motors (GM) workers have new UAW labor contracts with some reported positive takeaways. But they part ways on a lawsuit contesting national emissions enforcement authority.

GM and Fiat side with nationally enforced emissions standards, while Ford supports states adopting their own standards. These decisions affect manufacturing orders, and therefore work conditions.

For decades, California has enjoyed a Clean Air Act waiver to set its own standards. Suffering under pollution from transportation, industry, and wildfires, California is seeking to reduce pollution to 66 million metric tons per year by 2030. The state has joined 23 others as lawsuit plaintiffs against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The background here is about states’ rights to set standards.

When the Trump administration revoked this waiver, 23 states joined California’s lawsuit. This fight will influence states’ rights and pollutant-heavy industries in the climate change era, writes The New York Times: “The legal fight between the Trump administration and California over auto pollution rules has swelled into a battle over states’ rights and climate change that is likely to only be resolved once it reaches the Supreme Court.”

On the manufacturing side, GM and Fiat lose California state vehicle purchases in the battle. Between 2016 and 2018, the state: “…purchased $58.6 million in vehicles from General Motors Corp, $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, $10.6 million from Toyota Motor Corp and $9 million from Nissan Motor Co.”

That’s $134 million in auto sales losses because companies side with the Trump administration’s climate agenda. Conversely, Ford has already enjoyed the heftiest recent sales to the Golden State at $69.2 million.

Now the state has announced it won’t be renewing GM, Fiat, Toyota, and Nissan orders. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is investigating a potential antitrust violation against the four companies — BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, and Ford — that have a manufacturing agreement with California.

The argument in favor of national emission standards without state waivers believes this that is the path to broader manufacturing reach and more flexible markets. A national standard might theoretically even support efficient manufacturing and lower prices, because new engine models will be more uniform. But does it benefit the demand side that wants to purchase green autos?

Consumers also pay for climate-friendly emissions standards; hybrid and electric vehicle tax credits are intended to offset this nuisance. Some car owners complain that tighter restrictions punish individuals instead of corporate polluters. This class warfare view argues that older car models face difficulty meeting standards, meaning lower-income people are punished by California-style standards.

The Association of Global Automakers (AGA), supports a national standards program because it allows more manufacturing efficiency that keeps costs down.

The AGA argues for a national program involving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board: “A unified program provides benefits for the widest range of customers, while also continuing annual improvements in fuel efficiency. It reduces unnecessary redundancies and helps sustain manufacturers’ ongoing product investment, which in turn supports jobs, helps manufacturer production facilities, strengthens the U.S. economy, and makes fuel savings available to every American.”

The only catch here is that the national fuel efficiency standards are environmentally weaker, but somehow fuel efficiency standards will (magically?) improve.

GM and Ford auto workers may have ratified new contracts, but confusion around what kind of engines they will be building on factory floors continues. Also, Fiat Chrysler’s UAW-represented workers have not yet ratified their contract. FCA executives reportedly intend to maintain their steep profit margins, even in the context of losing California’s previous order and low wages for workers.

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UAW strike ends with ratified agreement, but 3 GM plants close

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It had been more than a decade since unionized General Motors (GM) workers joined forces to strike for higher pay, protected benefits, temp worker opportunities, and improved schedule and advancement conditions.

This latest strike produced mixed results that were highly dependent on workers’ locations. While outsourcing and plant downsizing keep manufacturing jobs below optimal national levels, GM workers will largely enjoy improvements in labor conditions.

On Oct. 25, the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) achieved a new, four-year contract with General Motors (GM) in a vote of 57% to 43 %. During this time, UAW also ratified an Aramark janitorial contract at five GM Ohio and Michigan locations.

The new GM contract keeps Detroit’s Hamtramck plant open, with 2,225 jobs and a $3 billion investment for electric vehicle production. Billions will be invested in a Tennessee location and another Michigan plant.

However, three plant closures and Mexico manufacturing are bad news for U.S. manufacturing. September saw a 1.1% durable goods orders production downturn. This is the largest decline in four months.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” suggests the somber tone of GM-UAW contract finalization, as workers return to jobs in a clearly downsized company. Lordstown, Ohio; Warren, Michigan; and Baltimore jobs were traded for higher wages and salaries, better temp hire opportunities and schedules, improved profit sharing, and status quo health benefits at other GM plant locations.

Workers at closed facilities formed a large bulk of those voting down the current contract. Such is the bargaining climate these days, as wealth-gaining companies force workers to sacrifice in some areas to gain in others — an injury to all in the long run.

The new contract may be a template for a “pattern bargaining” arrangement with the other two of Detroit’s big three automakers — Fiat Chrysler and Ford, where UAW bargaining has now commenced. Since the GM strike cost the company $45 million per day, losing 300,000 vehicles, it’s possible other UAW negotiations will move faster.

What have GM workers gained in numbers? There’s two different summaries for salaried and hourly workers. Hourly workers have endured unequal conditions since many are temporary workers. One victory here is the eradication of the two-tiered employment system. Under the new contract, temp workers can achieve full-time, permanent seniority positions with increased time off. This had been a major sticking point in negotiations.

There’s an $11,000 ratification bonus for hourly senior employees and $4,500 for temp workers. Regarding profit-sharing, “All profits the company earns in North America will generate payments to members, based on the current $1,000 per $1 billion formula, with no limits.”

Also, by 2023, all permanent full-time hourly workers will make a guaranteed $32.32 an hour. While this is a significant wage increase, it’s a $62,000 annual income — a small fraction of what GM CEO Mary Barra banks annually.

Hourly and salaried contracts share similar provisions: stabilized healthcare costs, an $11,000 per member signing bonus, performance bonuses, two 3% annual raises and two 4% lump-sum payments.

Job security remains dubious as Mexico outsourcing — which produced 834,414 GM vehicles last year — will still occur, as if three U.S. plant closures weren’t enough.

Elsewhere in the national labor picture, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) began striking on Oct. 17. Better pay, benefits and optimized classroom conditions for improved teacher and student performance top the list here.

For 25,000 Chicago teachers and 300,000 students, this means demanding more support staff and smaller class sizes. The CTU culture also impressively promotes a broad-based progressive social justice focus that connects life inside and outside classrooms.

The CTU knows schools need empowered staff, like nurses and counselors. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73, representing special education assistants, security guards, bus aides, and other staff, have joined the CTU strike due to their own stalled contract.

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The blame game surrounding Boeing’s 737 Max debacle

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Oct. 29, 2019, marked one year since the Lion Air crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 that killed 189 people in Indonesia. We can directly blame a company’s financial priorities, company employees who decided to leave information out of training manuals, an agency that watched its inspection autonomy wither over decades, or investors pressuring Boeing to compete with France’s Airbus.

Or, we can blame all of the above.

Amidst much attention, Boeing has shaken its leadership up while establishing a controversial manufacturing partnership in Brazil. The international public and crash victims’ families have initiated investigations, released a report, and are pursuing legal action. But will safety concerns trickle down to real-world changes?

The U.S. economy can scarcely afford more transportation manufacturing challenges after General Motors (GM) finalized a new United Auto Workers (UAW) contract that includes shutting down three plants. With a 1.1% durable goods drop in September, no doubt related to transportation industry manufacturing troubles, GM has resolved imminent financial disaster. What about Boeing?

The economic impact here is widely felt, affecting “everything from capital-goods investment to exports to industrial production.” In fact, Barron’s most recent summary of Boeing’s economic impacts states “domestic business investment in aircraft in April-June was 24% lower than the average rate in 2018. That probably took about 0.2 [of a] percentage point or so off of GDP growth.”

With such far-reaching impact, it’s wise to look busy. Newly appointed Commercial Airlines division CEO Stan Deal was replaced in the Global Services division by Ted Colbert. Deal takes over Kevin McAllister’s position. In this shuffle, Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg lost his status as board chairman to David Calhoun, who will serve as non-executive chairman.

Will leadership changes launch the 737 Max back to the skies? The Justice Department is investigating the crashes.

Indonesian investigators recently released an independent 353-page report, citing “nine reasons” the crash occurred. They included a cockpit issue; an untested sensor; pilot training deficiencies; operator switch-ups mid-flight; maintenance log missing pages; and earlier employee failure to report malfunctions. All of these issues are mentioned in the report, which also honed in on the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software failures.

Boeing pilots were not trained to understand software changes or did not properly ensure adequate information was available to all pilots. The Indonesia report ultimately blames Boeing for the crash.

When Ethiopia endured a 737 Max crash that killed 157 last March, the alarm went off again. Attorneys representing crash victims’ families have been hired, and sensitive materials have been subpoenaed from American and Southwest Airlines.

Boeing turned over this kind of sensitive material to Congress this week, as Muilenburg testifies about MCAS failures. There are rumors a pilot removed info from a training manual, which would be a pivotal issue as culpability is established.

The New York Times’ reporting highlighted a chain of command malfeasance.

Who’s in charge of airline safety? Boeing’s company philosophy emphasized sovereignty over design and approval processes. It aggressively lobbied to pass designs swiftly through the FAA. This cozy relationship between the company and a government agency, via the Transport Airline Directorate, was reported as far back as 2012.

A more independent inspection/certification process requires more staff, which translates to congressional dollars. Boeing moved in the opposite direction, wiggling out from under remaining governmental protocols via the Reauthorization Act of 2018. It was able to secure majority control over future aircraft certification processes, although the 737 Max was certified prior to this Act.

Current airline certification culture prioritizes Boeing’s market dominance, requiring rapid product release. Simply stated: careful inspections stall sales and growth.

If you thought the blame game ends with Washington, consider how one lawmaker blames Boeing investors. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, emphasized how Wall Street created “a pattern at Boeing of extraordinary production pressures.”

How many fall guys can there be in a deadly debacle with so many decision-making layers?

Perhaps Congress should also inquire after Boeing’s “Brazil strategy:” the recent 80% purchase of commercial airline manufacturer Embraer, in a deal worth $4.2 billion that still awaits antitrust clearances.

Public scrutiny, litigation, settlement expenses, and increased regulatory authority threaten Boeing’s bottom line. Moving some 737 Max manufacturing abroad conveniently skirts safety issues.

This move rewards President Jair Bolsonaro with a financial windfall at a time when the Brazilian government’s role has many countries calling for product boycotts and economic sanctions. The EU is considering sanctions on Brazil and is investigating Boeing’s Embraer acquisition as a single-aisle airline market antitrust violation.

As Muilenburg’s testimony in Congress winds down this week, the focus is mainly on honoring crash victims and acknowledging mistakes, as MCAS failures were concealed from pilots and the public with documented proof. One senator referred to the 737 Max as “flying coffins” while others acknowledge Boeing is rectifying software mishaps by offering Southwest rebates and pilot training now.

Boeing’s unions, which acknowledge quality control and automation problems, have another story to tell about recent company union-busting and workplace conditions.

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