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In the third landing-related incident in around six months at San Francisco International airport (SFO), on 9th January 2018, pilots of Aeromexico flight 668 lined up to land on the wrong runway.

Air traffic controllers (ATC) had cleared the Aeromexico flight - which had taken off from Mexico City - to land on San Francisco International's Runway 28 Right, an instruction that the pilot acknowledged. However, when the Boeing 737-800 was less than a mile away, controllers noticed it was lined up for the parallel Runway 28 Left, which was already occupied by a Virgin America Airbus A320 awaiting takeoff.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who are investigating the matter, ATC immediately instructed the crew to execute a “go around”. Despite this, the Aeromexico flight was apparently as little as 600 ft off the ground at one point.   A second approach saw the plane land safely on the correct runway.

This is the third close call at SFO – the first was on 7th July 2017 when an Air Canada flight from Toronto came close to crashing into planes lined up to take off. Although cleared to land on Runway 28 Right, the aircraft lined up for Taxiway C, which runs parallel to the runway. On investigating the incident, Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) estimated that the A320-200 overflew the first two aircraft by 100 ft., the third aircraft by 200 ft. and the fourth by 300 ft. The closest lateral distance to one of the aircraft was around 29 ft.

The second incident also involved an Air Canada flight, this time on 22nd October 2017. Flight AC781, an Airbus 320 was arriving at SFO from Montreal, Canada. Again, ATC had cleared the flight to land on Runway 28 Right and the crew had acknowledged the instructions. However, during its final approach, the tower ordered the flight to abort the landing, as they were concerned that the preceding arriving jet might still be on the runway. Even though controllers tried to reach the aeroplane several times and even used a light gun to wave off the aircraft, the crew continued the approach, later maintaining that their radio had malfunctioned.

The FAA implemented several new policies at SFO after the first incident and are now investigating the most recent.

Airbus had previously hinted that they may have to stop making the A380 superjumbo if Emirates, the plane’s main customer, did not place any more orders. However Emirates wanted a guarantee from Airbus that they would keep making the plane, even if no other airlines placed orders.

Therefore, apparently in an effort to keep the A380 in production until the market picks up, Airbus have announced they could eventually reduce output of the type to as few as 6 a year (compared to 15 that were delivered in 2017). This slowing of production will start with 12 being delivered this year and 8 in 2019 and comes after Airbus admitted the market was “challenging” for both them and Boeing.

The superjumbo idea was first mooted by Airbus in the early 1990’s as a competitor to Boeing’s jumbo jet – the 747. It was eventually launched in October 2007, making it’s first commercial flight with Singapore Airlines, flying from Singapore to Sydney. Since then there have been 317 orders for the A380 placed from Air France, Lufthansa and Qantas but Emirates remains their biggest customer.

In stark contrast, Airbus are also celebrating Indigo's huge order for it’s smallest plane, the A320 NEO and at $49.5bn is its biggest ever single deal.

The A320 was launched in 1984 as a rival to the Boeing 737 and has grabbed a huge share of the short haul market. This has helped Airbus beat Boeing for the fifth year in a row when it comes to overall orders, with Airbus taking 1,109 aircraft orders and making 718 deliveries last year, compared to Boeing’s 912 orders and 763 deliveries.

Employers with at least one employee or more are required to conspicuously show Labor Law posters in an area frequented by all employees – for example, locations could include designated bulletin boards in the break room, above time clocks, in the employee lounge or in a cafeteria or a lunch room.

Failure to fulfil the posting requirements can result in a steep fine. Most federal, state and local penalties range from $500 to $10,000 per offense; however, agencies retain discretion about whether to assess or reduce such statutory penalties but penalties may also be escalated after the first offense.

The new year of 2018 brings in new compliance standards – meaning that employers will have to update their posters.  The new information required concerns federal and state minimum wages, safety at work and health regulations.  However, only some employers are required to display some of the posters – for example the Family and Medical Leave Act needs to be shown by employers of over 50 workers and small businesses would not be subject to the Act's posting requirements.

To assist employers, the Department Of Labor can provide electronic copies of the required posters and some of the posters are available in languages other than English.

Franklin Wolf, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Chicago, stated: “Employers should not be shy about conferring with counsel about any updates in the law.”  He added: “Laws applicable to employers may change at a rapid pace and without much mainstream news coverage. This is particularly true for state and local laws."

Aaron Warshaw, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in New York City, said: “Consulting with counsel may lead to a more detailed compliance discussion. For example, you may start a call asking about the poster requirements under New York state law, but the attorney may say, 'Hey, by the way …,' and you end up talking about the recently enacted New York City Fair Workweek Law."

He added, “Whenever a client asks me to handle an onsite inspection by a government agency, one of the first steps I take is examine the site's workplace posters". He continued "If a government investigator sees that the employer has not updated its EEO and wage and hour posters since the Bush administration, then he or she may reasonably conclude that the employer's general employment practices have not been updated either."

In a survey of 2,187 CEOs and business leaders, the leadership consulting firm of Zenger Folkman identified "establishing stretch goals" as the No.1 competency gap among HR leaders.  These leaders are spread across hundreds of different organizations with 68% located in the US, 11% in Asia, 8% in Europe, 7% in Latin America, 4% in Canada, and 1% in Africa.

Steve Rice, CHRO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, said:

“HR leaders can be overly risk averse to their own detriment. Fear drives mediocrity. It's necessary to take risks to move forward.”

After comparing an appraisal of leaders in the HR function with those of leaders in other functions, the data suggests that the typical HR leader is seen as six percentile points below average. HR seems to have become every manager and employee’s favorite corporate punch bag, competing with IT for the title of the most-irritating function.  

The data was analyzed in two different ways. The results for the 2,187 HR leaders in the dataset was compared with those of 29,026 leaders in other functions. A few key skills that were common strengths of those in HR and also some that appeared as weaknesses were identified.

Generally speaking, one of the most positive areas for HR leaders was that they were very concerned about developing other staff. This separated them from leaders in other functions, who did not score highly on this skill. They also rated positively on providing coaching, acting as a mentor and giving feedback in a helpful way.  The persons taking the survey were also asked to indicate the importance of each competency measured - they rated this skill eleventh of 16 for HR leaders. Therefore it could be that developing others is not taken as seriously as other competencies that are highly valued by the other functional leaders.

Areas where HR leaders scored higher than leaders in other functions were in building positive relationships, role modelling and having functional knowledge and expertise.

When comparing HR leaders to all other leaders they were not rated positively on their ability to understand the needs and concerns of customers. The function of HR appears to focus on internal problems - and the apparent lack of understanding of the external environment causes others to view some HR leaders as not in touch with the issues facing the organization.

Other weaknesses pinpointed were their inability to view the larger picture, focusing instead on the day-to-day issues and a general lack of speed and urgency to respond and react quickly to problems.

The survey did show, however, that HR leaders were among some of the best leaders in the world.

Reported occurrences of suspected hypoxia increased in the Navy and Air Force in 2017 - grounding flights at several points over the year - with the latest incidents happening during the last week in November.

Twenty eight of the 85 A-10s assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base were grounded after three pilots reported physiological incidents, two while flying and a third on the ground. Apparently the pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms, which is where an oxygen deficiency can cause impairment and ultimately, loss of consciousness.

In both incidences where the A-10’s were in flight, the back-up oxygen system worked and the pilots landed safely. However, the two aircraft involved were using different oxygen systems: one was equipped with Onboard Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), the other with an older type called Liquid Oxygen System (LOX) and to date, it is only the issue with older system that has been successfully resolved, hence why only 28 of the A-10’s were grounded.

Capt. Josh Benedetti, spokesperson for Davis-Monthan said:

“We quickly determined the issue with the LOX-equipped aircraft was related to a malfunction with the cabin pressure and oxygen regulator,” ....“Those issues were fixed immediately.”

The third occurrence happened before take-off, when the pilot noticed and reported an error with the OBOGS system. Although Capt. Benedetti admitted “we have not determined a root cause” he stated that because of the further inspections, they have at least ascertained a better way of maintaining the system.

These groundings were the third time Air Force aircraft flights were suspended in a year, because of pilots reporting physiological episodes. Flight operations in the F-35A at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona were cancelled for eleven days in June after five reported incidents of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation and in November, four instructor pilots and one student pilot in four different flights experienced hypoxia-like symptoms. This lead to the grounding of the T-6A Texas training flights of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

Capt. Benedetti stated:

“The Air Force takes these physiological incidents seriously, and our focus is on the safety and well-being of our pilots.”

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that employers must consult unions when changing employees’ terms and conditions when they are signed up to collective bargaining.

The EAT upheld a decision made by the Sheffield Employment Tribunal to compensate employees of Kostal UK – an electronics manufacturer – for the breaching of collective bargaining rules. The employees were members of the trade union Unite.  It was found that the company had made unlawful inducements to the employees to sign a new contract without consulting with the union and ruled that it must pay its employees compensation of £3,800 for each unlawful inducement made.

Eat judge Mrs Justice Simler stated that section 145b of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 seeks to prevent employers “going over the heads of the union with direct offers in order to achieve the result that one or more terms will not be determined by collective agreement with the union if the offers are accepted”.

The claims resulted from a failed agreement between Kostal and Unite, following a proposal for a 2% increase in basic pay, plus an additional 2% for those earning less than £20,000 – together with a Christmas bonus payable during the 2015 festive season.  In addition, Kostal sought a sick pay and Sunday overtime reduction for new employees and consolidation of the two 15-minute breaks currently in operation, into one 30-minute break.

In December 2015, Kostal wrote to employees asking that they sign a new contract containing the new terms and conditions or risk losing their Christmas bonus.  Those who did not accept the offer were again urged to do so in January 2016.  The union was not aware of this contact and subsequently – on behalf of the employees – sued Kostal for compensation, which they won.

Kostal appealed and argued that it had not intended to encourage employees out of collective bargaining but to inform them that there was a time limit on the offer of the Christmas bonus.  Agreement was eventually reached on pay and amended terms and conditions, but by then the offer of the Christmas bonus was no longer applicable.

In her judgement, Mrs Justice Simler said that the law prohibited offers made to workers who are members of a recognised trade union – or one seeking recognition by their employer – if acceptance of the offer would have a prohibited result and the sole or main purpose in making the offers is to achieve that result. The prohibited result is that the workers’ terms of employment, or any of those terms, “will not, or will no longer, be determined by collective agreement negotiated by or on behalf of the union”.  She also quoted a government review of the law that confirmed the law should explicitly prohibit inducements or bribes being made to trade union members to forego union rights.

Ranjit Dhindsa, Partner and head of the employment, pensions and immigration team at Fieldfisher stated:

“That means employers or unions cannot go behind the veil of collective terms by going directly to employees when it suits them. A lot of employers get frustrated with collective bargaining, as seen here when Kostal couldn’t come to a pay agreement with its union.”

She added:

“….a lot of employers may have tried this tactic and got away with it, but they can’t now assume that they will”.  

Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary for legal services at Unite, said:

“The decision confirmed employers cannot dip in and out of collective bargaining when it suits their purposes and this is key to protecting workers and trade unions from underhand employer tactics.”

 

It is a well known fact that the US Air Force is facing huge staff shortages across all grades and skills. Various incentives have been offered to help stem the mass exodus of pilots to the commercial sector, however the latest initiatives involve retaining field-grade officers (who mainly command troops) as just under 1 in 10 of these jobs are vacant (1 in 4 for nonrated field-grade officers).

To keep airmen in service and to deal with the shortages, the US Air Force recently announced several measures – last month any Captain who was recommended for promotion and had an unblemished conduct record was advanced to the rank of Major.

In an additional measure, it has now been announced that some Colonels will be eligible to remain on active duty for three years past their retirement date.

Normally, Colonels not selected for promotion to one star must retire after 30 years of service. However in the attempt to retain personnel, an Air Force Board will look at the records of 50 line officer Colonels who will be required to retire between Feb. 1, 2018, and Feb. 1, 2019. Those eligible will then have the choice whether to remain for an additional three years.  

Col. Jeff O’Donnell, Air Force Colonels Group Director, said:

“It can take 21 years to develop a line officer to become a Colonel who may then serve up to 30 years.” He continued: “And as the Air Force is growing end strength, we need experienced leaders to serve and lead across the Department of Defense.”

A spokesperson for the Air Force said any eligible officers should have been notified by Dec. 31

A forecast issued during December 2017 by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry shows that salaries are to rise by only 1.5% globally, when adjusted for inflation. This is considerably down on 2017’s prediction of 2.3% and 2016’s prediction of 2.5%.

The figures were calculated using Korn Ferry’s pay database and according to their website, contains data from more than 20 million job holders in 25,000 organizations, across more than 110 countries. Using predicted salary increases for 2018 as forecasted by global HR departments and comparing them to predictions made at this time last year regarding 2017, it also takes into account 2018 inflation data from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In the US, an average increase of 2.8% is predicted – this is about the same as last year. However, when adjusted for inflation (expected to be 2% in 2018) the real wage increase is only around 0.9% - which is down from 1.9% last year.

Western Europe, which incorporates the UK, fairs less well with an average increase of 2.3% predicted and the inflation-adjusted real wage giving an increase of only 0.9%.

Bob Wesselkamper, who is Global Head of Rewards and Benefits Solutions at Korn Ferry stated:

"With inflation rising in most parts of the world, we're seeing a cut in real wage increases across the globe."

He added:

"On average, employees are not seeing the same real pay growth they did even one year ago."

According to the Dutch consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network (ASN, a group that tracks crashes), 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial airlines.

Despite more flights being made than ever, with around 36.8 million passenger flights taking off last year, there were no passenger jet crashes anywhere in the world. This takes the fatal accident rate for large commercial passenger flights to around 0.06 per million flights, or one fatal accident for every 16 million flights, according to To70. The Aviation Safety Network stated:

“2017 was the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities”. With ASN president Harro Ranter saying: "Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry."

Adrian Young of To70 added:

"2017 was the safest year for aviation ever."

Despite this, Adrian Young cautioned that civil aviation still carried "very large risks", citing several risk factors (such as lithium-ion batteries catching fire) that still apply - and even though the number of deaths due to aviation have fallen during the last twenty years (for example there were more than 1,000 deaths on commercial passenger flights in 2005) To70 highlighted there had been "several quite serious non-fatal accidents" and warned that the figures could be seen as "good fortune".

Although there were no deaths attributable to commercial passenger flights in 2017 - the figures are based on incidents involving civil aircraft certified to carry at least 14 people - there were 10 fatal airliner accidents (which include cargo planes and commercial passenger turbo prop aircraft) which resulted in 79 deaths - 44 fatalities onboard and 35 persons on the ground. This compares with 16 accidents and 303 deaths in 2016.

Additionally, neither military nor helicopter accidents were considered, so the deaths of 122 people on a Burmese Y-8 military transporter plane did not appear in the reports

People who shine laser pens at vehicles could be jailed for up to five years under new laws.

The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill was introduced by Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg, with the first reading taking place on 20th December 2017. This stage is a formality that signals the start of the Bill's journey through the Lords.

The Bill expands the list of vehicles beyond just planes (which it is currently an offence to target with lasers), to incorporate vehicles and vessels as well, and is intended to make it easier to prosecute those who threaten their safety. Baroness Sugg stated that she was "determined to protect pilots, captains, drivers and their passengers".

The Bill will make it an offence to deliberately shine or direct a laser towards a vehicle to dazzle or distract the operator, if done deliberately or if reasonable precautions to avoid doing so have not been taken. The legislation will therefore remove the need to prove intent to danger, which historically has been a difficult burden and has slowed the prosecution of offenders.

Under this new law laser operators could be jailed for up to 5 years and/or fined, with the cap on the amount offenders can be fined (currently limited to £2,500) being removed.

As events involving laser pens have become a growing concern within the transport industry, with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) receiving reports of 1,258 laser incidents last year, news of the Bill has been well received. General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), Brian Strutton said the measures were "very welcome".

Commander Simon Bray, who is the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) lead for lasers, stated "Laser attacks can lead to catastrophic incidents. These new and robust measures send a clear message to perpetrators: laser attacks are a crime and serious consequences will follow from committing this offence."

The second reading - the general debate on all aspects of the Bill – will take place on 9th January 2018.

According to Government data, in the 3 months since Tribunal fees were abolished in July, the number of claims have risen by 66 percent – one of the strongest indicators that introducing fees for Employment Tribunals was discouraging employees from making claims.

Following a Supreme Court ruling that said the Government was acting unlawfully to introduce them, the Ministry of Justice “took immediate steps” to stop charging fees for tribunals and also rolled out a fee refund scheme for claimants who had paid fees between 2013 and 2017. Individuals who paid tribunal fees between these dates can apply to be reimbursed and it is estimated that 100,000 claims are eligible for a refund, which could cost up to £27m.

The newly released statistics show that the number of single claims for individual grievances such as unfair or wrongful dismissal increased dramatically, with claims for unlawful deductions from wages, for example, now re-emerging from a low of 549 in July 2017 to a high of 2926 claims in August 2017. It is thought that many workers found the cost of bringing a claim for something such as underpaid holiday often exceeded the amount being disputed and therefore did not proceed.

However, whilst single claims appear to be on the increase, multiple tribunal claims fell to 23,297 which is a decrease of 15 per cent over the same period as last year. Experts have reasoned that this could be because during the period when fees were charged, it was cheaper to work as a group, rather than bring a single claim, which would seem to be borne out by the recent rise in single claims.

Obviously these figures only reflect the very recent trend and experts have said that more figures would be needed before they could tell whether this is the new norm.