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Serbian firm Engine Development and Production (EDePro), is developing a lightweight rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the X-01 Strsljen (Hornet), which is designed to carry a variety of equipment for use in military and civilian operations.

The development of the aircraft began back in 2012 and was driven by customer requirements and market demands. The X-01 Hornet drone will be fully customisable, with a modified air-launched Spider anti-armour missile as one option, and a 12.7 mm machine gun, another. Further options include radar guidance and jamming systems, surveillance apparatus and the means to detect dangerous levels of radiation. 

Constructed from carbon fibre, lightweight steel and aluminium, the projected performance is a top speed of 180 km/h and a cruising speed of 160 km/h, as well as an endurance of up to four hours and a ceiling of 13,000 ft.

The aircraft will have an empty weight of 400 kg with a payload capacity (a mix of fuel and mission systems) of up to 350 kg.

EDePro hope to begin tests on the vehicle in the next few months, with transmission system and gearbox testing planned for mid-2017 and hovering tests scheduled for the autumn.

On March 2nd 2017, The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved long awaited rules permitting the use of single-engine turbine aircraft (SET) airplanes at night or in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), for commercial operations in Europe.

Formerly, neither cargo or charter commercial operators were allowed to operate any single-engine aircraft in these conditions but the new rules now lifts those restrictions for turbine-powered aircraft.

The publication of these new rules in the EU’s Official Journal is the result of industry and regulators pushing for two decades for Europe to be aligned with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) standards for commercial turbine aircraft operations.

General aviation groups feel these new rule will contribute commercially and economically to the general aviation industry, by opening up markets across Europe. 

It depends upon which decade they were born as to how much they should aspire to save, to enable them to have the benefit of a similar standard of living in retirement to that enjoyed during their working life.

According to estimates made by experts and through studies undertaken, those born in the 1980’s will need to salt away about $1.8 million.  The younger millennials – those born in the 1990’s - are worse off as they will need upwards of $2.5 million. 

These equations have been arrived at on the assumption that, from their savings, the millennials could generate $30,000 - $40,000 and that the rate of inflation will be a modest 2%.

However, the math changes if more than $40,000 dollars is required or if inflation runs at 3%, which is the long term historical average.  It has been estimated by a financial adviser that in those circumstances, $3 million would be required in savings.

Doubtless, 20 and 30-somethings will find it very difficult to put aside a chunk of money each month, as young adults in America are faced with two major financial hurdles that prevent them from having a lot of extra wealth to invest for retirement i.e. high housing costs and student-loan debt. Data from the Pew Research Center states that for the first time in over a century, more Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 are having to live in their parents' home than with a spouse or partner and in addition, college graduates under the age of 35 years with student loans are paying one-fifth of their salaries on repayments.

According to a survey from Franklin Templeton Investment, despite 70 percent of the younger employees feeling anxious when thinking about retirement savings and investments, 40 percent of them have no strategy in place. This highlights the importance of financial education for younger generations who are in the early stages of their careers and have the most to gain from thinking about retirement now.

Employers should encourage their younger workers to contribute into company-sponsored retirement plans. Despite the fact that the younger millennials need to save approximately $1,000 dollars a month for 48 years and also need to get a 5% growth on their investments to hit the $2.5 million dollar target, if they increase their savings only slightly the employers will have done their jobs responsibly. Every dollar counts.

he market for American Internships was rather sluggish in 2016 and the challenges for potential interns are increasing.  The total number of internships posted was actually lower than in the last two years, presenting an 8.3% decrease compared to the openings in 2015 and 2% below those of 2014.  

However, the concentration of postings in March has risen steadily over the past 5 years, showing that there is a narrow season for internship recruitment. This peak happens ahead of when many students are beginning to think about summer opportunities and if a prospective intern waits until the end of the semester to apply for an internship, they have waited too long.  After March, demand diminishes until a second, rather smaller, opportunity occurs for term-time internships as the school year begins in September.

Employers are expecting interns to arrive on their first day already expert in critical skills in software and business, together with specialized knowledge of particular fields.  Internships offer experience, not training.  Analysis has shown that there is a more complicated relationship between broad business skills and industry specific skills, which sheds new light on what interns are required to know to succeed. There are a number of skill groups in postings for internships and there is a slight interaction between them, with some skills overlapping. 

The main internships requiring industry specific skills are Marketing, Engineering and Sales.   Social media and marketing research skills are required for a Marketing internship, whilst Sales will require business development and sales management skills. 

General skills are required in 27% of internships, whilst 73% require industry related skills. 

As a rule, internships are for undergraduates as 71% of the posts require a bachelor’s degree or less, whilst 29% look for graduate enrolment.  However, there are exceptions such as in the fast-growing area of Data Analytics - and again, in Economics and Policy - where more than four in ten internships call for a graduate degree.

Analysis shows that geographically, Engineering is the most sought after specialized internship.  There are noticeable areas where there is most demand for different internships;  Marketing is required in California and New York, IT Development in Massachusetts and Science and the Environment in Alaska and Maine.  Business has been excluded from this analysis as it is so widespread and applies to so many areas.

According to data recently released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) increasing numbers of possible sightings of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) or drones, have been reported to air traffic control facilities. Between February and September 2016, 1,274 sightings were reported, which is up by 45% (874 sightings) over the same period in 2015.

One of the FAA’s top priorities is to safely integrate drones into the national airspace system but to do this, operators must know where it’s legal for them to fly. To this end, the FAA offers a free app and details of operation rules can be found on their website, as the operators of illegal flights can be fined and/or face criminal charges.

While the reports of sightings may have increased and have even included claims by pilots of drone strikes, up to now the FAA have not been able to conclusively confirm any incident of a civil aircraft colliding with a civil drone. All reports to date have been found to be impacts with other objects, or bird strikes and have not involved a drone. 

  • FAA operating rules can be found here.
  • Details of the App can be found here.

United States President Donald Trump was among those who attended the Boeing ceremony on February 17 in South Carolina, where the first 787-10 widebody airliner was rolled out.  Next step for the 787-10 is the flight-test phase in advance of planned first deliveries for 2018.

Trump was introduced by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and delivered a speech emphasizing his “America first” philosophy.  Trump also made references to the Boeing 747-8 that will serve as the new Air Force One, around 2023.

The roll-out ceremony was strategically planned two days after production workers in South Carolina voted against joining the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.  This means, South Carolina production workers will remain a non-union shop. 

The 787-10 widebody seats up to 330 passengers and is 18 feet longer than the 787-9 Dreamliner.  Boeing currently has 149 orders from nine different airline customers for this particular aircraft.

The Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act (H.R. 795), re-introduced by Republican Rodney Davis on February 1st, 2017, is seeking to allow tax-free student loan repayments to be made by employers.  This bipartisan bill would amend Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code, which presently allows an employee $5,250 exclusion from tax to cover such essentials as books, tuition, equipment and fees.  Currently, student loan repayment benefits are not included and the $5,250 tax-free allowance has not been raised since inception. 

The bill, which has been introduced to the House and referred to the Ways and Means committee, has support from both Republicans and Democrats in addition to prominent HR organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  It would allow for employers to reimburse student loan repayments but it would fail to increase the amount the employer could offer the employee, which some employers wish to do as education costs are becoming more expensive. 

Students of 2016 were reported to have graduated with the highest student loan debt in history, more than $35,000.  Although they were able to borrow at historically low interest rates, more needs to be done to help pay down their debts as it is affecting the economy.  Fewer people are managing to start their own businesses, make property purchases and especially for millennial employees, make retirement savings. 

A small number of employers have already decided to begin offering student loan repayment assistance.  This will help graduates pay down their loans more quickly and help businesses attract and retain young talent in their employment.   Although the administration of this is an arduous and time-consuming labor for most companies, one California based company has begun offering loan repayment contributions of up to $6,000 a year for up to 5 years, as a benefit.  Employees have to apply for this benefit within three years of their graduation.  Millennials account for about 20 per cent of this company’s employees and so they are hoping to boost those figures by offering a benefit especially attractive to people of that generation.

T. Rowe Price Group, a global investment management firm, has been sued by a 401(k) participant who is saying the company’s plan offered only T. Rowe Price investment options, without considering less expensive ones.

David G. Feinberg vs T. Rowe Price Group Inc. et al. was filed on February 14 in US District Court in Baltimore. The participant claimed the plan “favored the economic interests of T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and its affiliates over the interests of their employees.” 

The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants frequently offered the higher cost retail class versions of their mutual funds in the 401(k) plan, despite the fact that significantly cheaper versions of the funds were available. Thisfavored the economic interests of the company over the interests of its employees.

Feinberg is seeking class-action status in challenging the management of the retirement program.  According to the lawsuit, the T. Rowe Price U.S. Retirement Program had more than $1.7 billion in assets in 2015 alone.

In a recent email, a T. Rowe Price spokeswoman said that the group believes the suit is without merit and intends to defend itself.

This case follows on from several similar 401(k) self dealing lawsuits filed within the last year against financial services firms.

According to a recent poll the majority of Americans, regardless of gender, political affiliation and age group, strongly oppose privatization of the United States air traffic control system. 

The survey was conducted between January 30 and February 5, taking into account 800 randomly selected, likely voters.  Global Strategy Group conducted the survey and the Alliance for Aviation Across America paid for it. 

Voters surveyed were evenly split on the merits of privatizing government services generally but the ratio of those who oppose air traffic control system privatization to those who do not was more than 2:1.  Overall, almost 90% of the surveyed respondents said they had a positive view of the job done by the Federal Aviation Administration in operating the air traffic control system.

This poll should encourage ‘Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization’, who are a coalition of liberal advocacy groups that oppose a move to ATC privatization and who apparently have an online petition signed by 130,000 people that it will deliver to Congress.

Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) a principal of the coalition, who sits on the Republican-controlled House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.stated:

“Americans know that the only so-called innovations that the airlines have made in recent years are corporate consolidations that have resulted in fare increases and the introduction of hidden fees for everything from aisle seats to checked bags to stale coffee. Americans already dread the experience of air travel, and giving the airlines yet more power over the aviation system will not make flying any better or easier.”

The United States Helicopter Safety Team’s (USHST) 2016 accident rate findings show accident rates for the U.S. civil helicopter industry decreased, as aviation safety messages took center stage. 

Preliminary data shows that the 2016 accident rate was a little over 3 per 100,000 flight hours.  In 2015, this number was closer to 4 per 100,000 flight hours.  Overall, the helicopter industry has seen decreases in helicopter accidents for years now, beginning in 2013.  Although the fatal accident rate has remained pretty stagnant year-over-year, it was far lower than the goal set by USHST for 2016.

From 2016 through 2019, the USHST will focus on reducing fatal accidents in the civil helicopter community.  This is an industry and government initiative aiming to significantly reduce fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours by 2019. 

The data for 2016 is only preliminary and two more adjustments will probably be made to the annual rates.  Next month, the FAA’s next Aerospace Forecast will be released and the numbers could be adjusted if they differ from previous numbers.  Additionally, a final adjustment can be made after September 2017 when the FAA’s 2016 General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey is published.  

Facebook is making headlines yet again in the human resources space.  Earlier this month Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, announced employees will now receive up to 20 days of bereavement leave in the event a family member passes.

Sandberg lost her husband in 2015 and said that “amid the nightmare of Dave’s death when my kids needed me more than ever, I was grateful every day to work for a company that provides bereavement leave and flexibility. I needed both to start my recovery. I know how rare that is, and I believe strongly that it shouldn’t be.”

The Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Employee Benefits Survey Report revealed that just over 80% of companies provided any paid days for bereavement leave last year.  On average, four days of bereavement leave were awarded following the passing of a spouse or child.  In the event of a domestic partner, foster child, grandchild, sibling or grandparent passing, only three days were typically awarded.

Facebook has historically been known for granting generous amounts of paid time off.  Paid leave for new parents includes 100% weekly earnings for four months.

HR experts explain that this is an extremely significant move for Facebook since it is paving the way for employee appreciation, employee satisfaction and employee benefits.