The Federal Aviation Administration, whichhas come under fire in the U.S. for its slow-moving effort to regulate drones, now leads an international committee whose task is to develop recommended drone standards for the world community.
The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Panel of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) held its first meeting in late November in Montreal. Representatives of ICAO member states and international organizations elected Randy Willis, air traffic manager with the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, to serve as chairman, and Mike Gadd, manager of continued airworthiness with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, as vice chairman. Leslie Cary, ICAO's RPAS program manager and formerly an FAA air traffic controller and executive, is secretary.
At the first meeting, the panel established five working groups focused on requirements for unmanned aircraft airworthiness, command and control, detect-and-avoid systems, pilot licensing, operations and air traffic management system integration.
In the U.S., the FAA planned to release a proposed regulation governing the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in 2011. Its parent agency, the Department of Transportation, now lists December 22 as the expected date of publication of the "small UAS" notice of proposed rulemaking, although even that date is in doubt. Meanwhile, an industry and government group assembled by standards organization RTCA-Special Committee 228-is working on standards that will facilitate flights of larger machines. Its goal is to produce standards for detect-and-avoid and command and control systems by July 2016.
The RPAS Panel replaces a lower-lower level study group ICAO formed in 2007, and represents the organization's increased emphasis on RPAS. ICAO, an entity of the United Nations with 191 member states, will also hold an RPAS Symposium from March 23 to 25 at its Montreal headquarters.
The RPAS Panel's task is to undertake specific studies and to then "develop provisions to facilitate the safe, secure and efficient integration of RPA into non-segregated airspace and aerodromes, while ensuring existing or improved levels of safety for manned aviation," according to ICAO.
Aer Lingus has rejected a takeover bid by British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG), the Irish flag carrier confirmed on Thursday. In a statement, Aer Lingus said it received a "preliminary, highly conditional and nonbinding approach from IAG" on December 14, and that it rejected the bid on December 16.
"The board has reviewed the proposal and believes it fundamentally undervalues Aer Lingus and its attractive prospects," the statement read.
Aer Lingus said it issued the statement in reaction to "media speculation" and an confirmation by IAG on Thursday that it considered a possible offer for the Irish airline.
Shares in Aer Lingus rose by more than 20 percent on Thursday after the Financial Times first reported on the possible takeover effort.
"International Consolidated Airlines Group notes the recent movement in the share price of Aer Lingus and confirms it submitted a proposal to make an offer for the company, which has been rejected by the board of Aer Lingus," said IAG in its own statement.
Long considered a potential takeover target of IAG, Aer Lingus controls a substantial number of coveted slots at congested London Heathrow Airport. It also has seen its financial fortunes improve lately, to the point where last month it increased its profit forecast for the year amid a recovery in the Irish economy and increases in long-haul traffic. Last year, the European Commission obliged rival carrier Ryanair to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus from 29.8 percent to 5 percent, arguing that the holding was anti-competitive.
Daher-Socata has signed a contract with Airbus Group's VoltAir subsidiary for the design, development and certification of the E-Fan 2.0 electric two-seater. Airbus aims to produce the E-Fan 2.0 as the world's first such aircraft, after having flown a single-seater earlier this year. Socata's remit includes the electric engine and batteries, as well as defining operational rules for ab-initio training with the French civil aviation authority.
Pilots will welcome a new rule, effective January 20, allowing increased use of aviation training devices (ATDs) for VFR and IFR aeronautical experience, visual and instrument training, and certification. The FAA, which had issued hundreds of letters of authorization permitting greater use of ATDs, said they are an "effective, safe, and affordable means of obtaining pilot experience." One key change: pilots will be able to apply up to 20 hours of instrument time in an approved ATD toward an instrument rating or instrument currency.The current maximum is 10 hours.