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At the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) annual conference on October 16, Robert Nichols, (FAA Surveillance Services Group Manager) informed the delegates that the FAA is already reflecting on which radars to retire and which to keep as back up to the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast  (ADS–B) – even though progress in equipping aircraft has so far been slow.

ADS–B is an element of the US Next Generation Air Transportation System  (NextGen), the national airspace strategy for upgrading and enhancing aviation infrastructure and operations.

It is an environmentally friendly technology whereby an aircraft transmits its position via satellite signal, which it broadcasts, enabling it to be tracked – with no interrogation signal needed from the ground. This GPS location information is much more accurate than current radar equipment and the FAA believes it will “transform all segments of aviation”, improving safety and efficiency both in the air and on the ground.

With ADS-B, pilots will be able to see traffic, weather and flight information services (such as temporary flight restrictions) on their cockpit displays. This should enhance safety by improving situational awareness, allowing for self separation and reducing the risk of runway incursions.

However, although the FAA require ADS-B transmitters to be fitted by January 1, 2020 (ADS-B Out), there is as yet no mandate for ADS-B In, which receives data and provides it to in-cockpit displays.

Considering there is only just over two years before the mandate comes into force, progress has been slow in equipping aircraft, as currently just 27% of all U.S. aircraft (including military, commercial and general aviation) have been fitted with the necessary avionics. When questioned by an FAA representative though, airline executives stated they were on track to make the deadline.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services. Practical strategies for employing artificial intelligence are available to data and analytics leaders now.

This is according to a report by Gartner Inc. - based in Stamford, Connecticut - which has predicted that within the next four years jobs will be eliminated by artificial intelligence.  However, that will only be in the initial stages, as more jobs will then be created.

According to the Gartner’s ‘Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond....’ employees will turn to chatbots to replace apps to complete their work – forcing HR to adapt how it manages the way its employees’ interact with the new technologies.

The report states that "….today, chatbots are the face of AI and will impact all areas where there is communication between humans. Bots will take over some of the functions of apps and change the way users interact with technology. Bots will also increase employee engagement and automate tasks faster."

Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow, Distinguished Companies, states,

 "Technology-based innovation is arriving faster than most organizations can keep up with. Before one innovation is implemented, two others arrive. Companies will be required to develop a discipline around how pace can be achieved..….Speed of change will require variability of skills and capabilities to address rising challenges."

Gartner report forecasts that by 2020, artificial intelligence will have eliminated 1.8 million - but created 2.3 million jobs.  The report states that in 2019 more jobs will be eliminated than created, but it is believed that the number of jobs created by artificial intelligence in 2020 will overcome the shortfall.  The report carries on to say that the elimination of jobs will vary considerably industry by industry, with some - such as healthcare and education - not being affected.  Of the organizations with artificial intelligence already in operation, 77 percent have reported that they have more job gains than losses.

Gartner forecasts that by 2021, 40 percent of IT staff will hold "multiple roles, most of which will be business, rather than technology-related." They predict that by 2019, IT technical specialist jobs will fall by more than 5 percent as digital business initiatives require increasing numbers of IT employees to be more versatile (in 2017, IT specialists represent about 42 percent of the entire IT workforce).

In future, employees will constantly need to keep their skills upgraded and permanent learning will be vital to keep pace with all the technological changes in the workplace. Regulations will need to change to ensure that companies are keeping data safe and as more devices connect to the Internet, HR professionals will need to make certain that all devices connecting their organizations to the web are safe.

For the second time in only 6 months, an Air Canada flight is being investigated by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding an event at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – this one on Sunday October 22nd.

Flight AC781, an Airbus 320 was arriving at SFO after a six hour flight from Montreal, Canada. According to the FAA, ATC had cleared the flight to land on runway 28R and the crew had acknowledged the instructions whilst some miles away from the airport.

However, during its final approach, a controller in the tower ordered the flight to make a go-around, as they were concerned that the preceding arriving jet might still be on the runway.

When the crew of Flight 781 failed to respond to six calls from the tower, ATC used a flashing red light gun - which is standard protocol when an aircrew is not responding to radio instructions - but the flight did not respond to this either.

Fortunately, the runway was clear of aircraft when the jet touched down safely at 9:26 p.m.

Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for Air Canada said: “Upon landing, the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft, however the message was not received by the crew.”

In light of the first incident, Federal regulators had implemented new policies concerning landing procedures and control tower staffing levels at SFO, however when the crew eventually responded, they apparently told the tower that their radio had malfunctioned. Air Canada is also investigating the circumstances.

During a recent webcast, speakers from Mercer Sirota (a global consultancy focusing on talent, health, retirement and investments) stated that women - more than men - feel that they can't speak with candor in the workplace.

The speakers cited the fact that women feel they cannot be up front about ethical concerns and are not treated considerately by managers.  They based this on the results of a recent 80 question survey of 3,010 U.S. workers - and on findings from five years of surveys given to about 1.3 million employees. The study related to what drives engagement and satisfaction in the workplace for men and women.

The survey found that 68% of women who responded agreed that they are satisfied with their jobs compared to 73% of men - and although both men and women reported that the type of work they do is the key factor that engages them, they were found to differ on the other factors that motivated them. 

The question of whether pay in the workplace is fair and transparent was put to the respondents of the survey and 41% of women said they believed it was compared to 51% of men.  According to a Mercer webcast speaker, complementing pay to performance keeps men and women satisfied at work - but the absence of fair earnings is especially discouraging to women.  

However, women are more concerned than men about the consequences of being candid at work.  A third of women stated that the do not feel able to express their views or ideas without fear of repercussions.  This compared with 29% of men.  When interviewed, Megan Connolly - a senior consultant at Mercer Sirota - stated that since the results were based in part on Mercer Sirota's ongoing survey of about 1.3 million employees worldwide, even a 4-percentage-point difference is something to pay attention to.      

The webcast speakers pointed out that if employees cannot be candid about new ideas or concerns in the workplace, they are less likely to feel positive about their career advancement and development opportunities.

Sixty-six percent of women believe that employees can get a fair hearing for their complaints, compared with 70% of men and women are also less comfortable than men speaking out about ethical concerns. More than 1 in 4 female employees, 26%, said they do not believe they can report an ethical concern without retaliation, compared with 21% of men.

Fifty-one percent of female employees said they believe that managers consider the impact of their actions on staff before making decisions and 56% of male employees believe the same.

Megan Connolly said, "A common theme in each of these differences is perceived fairness. We know that fairness is a crucial factor when it comes to building engagement."

Mercer Sirota principal, Pete Foley stated, "This research clearly suggests that companies that measure these gaps and focus efforts on closing them can not only improve engagement but help women thrive in the workplace." 

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has found that an investigation into an employee’s misconduct could not be regarded as unfair because the investigation report included details of the employee’s previous acts of misconduct, for which no disciplinary action had been taken.

In the case of NHS 24 v Pillar, Ms Pillar - a nurse - was dismissed for gross misconduct after a third patient safety incident (PSI).

Ms Pillar had previously been responsible for two similar incidents - one of which was two years before her dismissal and the other four years before her dismissal. Neither of those previous incidents had been treated as disciplinary matters at the time. However, the manager who investigated the third patient safety incident included details about the two previous PSIs in his report and this investigation report was used at the disciplinary hearing which resulted in Ms Pillar’s dismissal.

Ms Pillar claimed unfair dismissal and at the Employment Tribunal it was decided that it was reasonable, based on patient safety, for the employer to have treated the latest PSI as gross misconduct.  However, to dismiss was unfair as it was not reasonable to rely on the investigation report from the disciplinary hearing - given that the report relied on the inclusion of details concerning the two previous PSIs which had not led to disciplinary action.

The employer appealed and the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the arguments presented by the employer and decided that dismissal was fair.  Ms Pillar’s argument was that the investigation report included too much information regarding the two previous incidents for which she had not, in fact, been disciplined. 

However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal stated that this was not a case of ‘totting up’ warnings - as none had been given - but an overall lack of clinical competence and it was wrong of the Employment Tribunal to decide that background information relevant to patient safety should have been withheld. A dismissal could be rendered unfair if the investigation is overzealous or unfair, but the role of the investigator is to put together all the relevant information and in this case, the fact that the employee had committed two prior PSIs was relevant information, which was entitled to be taken into account when the decision was made regarding dismissal.

This case could be assumed to give some reassurance to employers but it also reminds them that a fair investigation must be carried out by a separate investigating officer - and that it is possible for dismissal to be unfair if the investigation is not sufficient.  Also, in relation to past misconduct which has not been the subject of disciplinary action, employers should consider carefully its relevance to the case in question.  

American Airlines (AA) are the latest airline to become publicly embroiled in an argument with a passenger.

Tamika Mallory, a New York-based activist and co-founder of Women’s March, was removed from a flight last week after becoming involved in a row over seating.

On arrival at Miami International Airport for a flight to New York, Ms Mallory used a kiosk to change her seat from a middle, to an aisle seat. However, after a disagreement with a gate agent regarding the reassignment, an AA pilot intervened. According to Ms Mallory, the pilot asked her “Can you get on this flight?” and “Are you going to be a problem on this flight?” 

Ms Mallory, who had already assured the pilot that she would be fine, admitted to losing her temper at this point to which the pilot told her “You’re going to get yourself a one-way ticket off this plane.”

Wanting to get home as she was attending a wedding, Ms Mallory then boarded the plane and took her original middle seat. However, her name was called over the loudspeaker and she was asked up to the front of the plane where she was informed she was being removed from the flight, along with her travel companion. Two officers then arrived to remove them.

Ms Mallory took to twitter to vent her anger, saying “He had no business getting involved in a seat dispute” and said of the airline staff 'I was singled out, I was disrespected, and he was trying to intimidate me. I was discriminated against.'  

American Airlines eventually released a statement regarding the incident, calling the event an “error” with the seating assignment. American spokesman Josh Freed stated: “Due to an error with a seat change request, Ms. Mallory was informed her requested seat was not available and she was given her original, pre-reserved seat.” He went on to say “Our team members apologized for the error and attempted to de-escalate the situation” and when asked stated that the company doesn’t “tolerate discrimination of any kind,”

Ms. Mallory was eventually rebooked on the next flight to New York’s LaGuardia airport but maintains she has never been given an explanation as to why she was asked to leave the flight in the first place. 

Investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board have revealed that on September 18th, air traffic controllers (ATC) in India reportedly ignored four Mayday calls from an Air Canada Boeing 787-9.

The Dreamliner, bound for Mumbai from Toronto, had flown for 16 hours with 177 passengers and 14 crew members on board when they arrived at their destination. However, due to a runway overrun by a Boeing 737, the active runway was closed and the flight was ordered into a holding pattern.

According to a bulletin released by Canadian authorities, after an hour of holding, crew members on the flight - which had scheduled duration of around 14 and a half hours - asked for clearance to an (unnamed) alternate. Mumbai controllers informed the crew that they could not be accommodated as it was at maximum capacity.

A second request on the advice of their dispatchers, to divert to Hyderabad around 350 miles away, was also refused on the grounds of capacity.

With fuel running low, the flight issued a Mayday call but was again put into a hold. Investigators were told by Air Canada that ATC “continued trying to divert the flight or attempted to place it in another hold”. After a total of four Mayday calls, ATC were eventually convinced to give the airliner a straight-in approach to runway 09L at Hyderabad.

Although the aircraft landed safely, it had been operating for approximately 17 hours by the time it touched down. Canadian officials say they are “in contact” with their AAIB counterparts in India about the incident.

Research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR has found that female HR managers earn £4.5k less than their male counterparts – which equates to approximately 10% difference.

New analysis carried out by CMI and XpertHR shows that while the average salary of a female manager is £40,177, male managers have an average of £44,646. This vast difference of £4,469 includes salary, bonuses and perks such as car allowance and commission.

The gender pay gap in the HR sector although significant, is considerably lower than it is across other sectors in UK businesses where the average male manager earns 26.8% more than their female colleagues.

This is the first year that research on management pay has been published and the CMI and XpertHR note that only 77 of 7,850 UK companies to which the new regulations apply have published their gender pay gap.

The new research shows that the gender pay gap is particularly high in finance jobs -where male managers earn 33.9% more than their female counterparts, which is equivalent to a salary difference of more than £18,000.  It is lowest in IT, where male managers earn just over 8% - or £3,758 - more than their female colleagues.

The study also found that women are less likely than men to fill junior management positions - 66% of jobs going to men whilst only 34% were given to women. Men were also found to be more likely to occupy senior positions - with only 26% of director roles being filled by women.  What is most discouraging is that even when women do obtain the senior roles, the pay gap widens to £34,144 with men earning an average of £175,673 and women earning just £141,529.

Ann Francke - CMI’s chief executive - comments: “Too many businesses are like ‘glass pyramids’ with women holding the majority of lower-paid junior roles and far fewer reaching the top. We now see those extra perks of senior management roles are creating a gender pay gap wider than previously understood. The picture is worst at the top, with male CEOs cashing-in bonuses six times larger than female counterparts. Our data shows we need the Government’s gender pay gap reporting regulations more than ever before. Yet, less than one percent of companies have reported so far. Time for more companies to step up and put plans in place to fix this issue. It’s essential if UK companies are to survive and thrive in the post-Brexit world.”

This year’s analysis also suggests that whilst salary and bonuses are increasing for both men and women, the benefits are going, to a greater extent, to men. Male directors received a 5.8% increase in pay and bonuses - compared to 3.7% for women.

Mark Crail - XpertHR content director said: “We have always known that the gender pay gap appears to widen with seniority. But the results we are publishing today enable us to quantify the gap using a large volume of reliable, checked and verified pay data, drawn directly from employer payroll systems. Some people have tried to explain the gender pay gap away as being the result of different working hours or individual career choices, but when the analysis is based on the pay of more than 100,000 individuals in well over 400 organisations, it is clear that the pay gap is a very real fact of life for UK managers.”

Airbus Helicopters (the leader in the global civil helicopter market) have confirmed that they are developing a new image processing system that will be able to detect a helipad and perform automatic approaches and landings.

The new system, "Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension", or “Eagle” will be able to perform in challenging conditions, thus improving the safety of aircraft. It is hoped it will reduce pilot workload at a critical stage of flight and in the most demanding environments and conditions, benefitting search and rescue (SAR) operations and in future, unmanned vehicles. 

The system can spot the “H” marking on a helipad then uses three high resolution cameras to create a stabilized high-definition image. Processing units and on-board video analytics are used to compute such parameters as direction, distance and elevation and the “H” is tracked, with the information shown to the crew, at the moment, on a conventional display.

The first flight using the Eagle system is expected to take place this week. The system has been undergoing ground tests since May of this year and could possibly enter the market by the end of the decade.

Three Square Market, a technology company in River Falls Wisconsin, recently became one of the first companies in the world - and the first in the US - to microchip staff.  It was approved by regulators in 2004.

Three Square Market is taking its lead from Sweden, where several companies are pioneering the employee microchip movement.

Although other companies in Sweden, the Czech Republic and Belgium have previously offered similar programmes, fewer than 10 per cent of workers have taken up the idea.  However, at Three Square Market more than 50 out of 80 employees have volunteered so far making this the largest uptake of any scheme yet.  This should now herald the way for other such schemes to be commonly adopted.

The chip costs approximately £230 each and is the size of a grain of rice.  It uses RFID - or radio-frequency identification technology - which is also used by postmen who scan parcels on barcodes and the same technology is used in a contactless credit card.  It is implanted between the thumb and forefinger.

Employees will not be required to have the implants and the chip will not track employees or have GPS positioning. 

Todd Westby, CEO of Three Square Market explained: ‘We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals. It's the next thing that's inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it. Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities."  He added, “We think it's the right thing to do for advancing innovation just like the driverless car basically did in recent months.”

Mr Westby stated that the response among staff ‘exceeded my expectations’.

In the UK, biometric access systems such as facial, eye and fingerprint recognition have grown in use without any legal challenges and as, so far, there are no reported cases concerning the use of implanted microchips in employees in the UK, there has not been a legal challenge. However, if considering implementing this in the workplace, employers should tread very carefully.

Employees would have to give full and free consent to having microchips implanted – and be able to withdraw consent at any time as an employee who was instructed or who felt pressured to accept could potentially resign – claiming constructive dismissal.

Human rights, religious objections, personal injury claims (if the chip was incorrectly implanted) and the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation will also have to be taken into account.  However, just as CCTV grew to be universally accepted, micro-chipping employees may soon be the new ‘norm’.

Last week the US House of Representatives voted to extend FAA funding for another six months, by a vote of 264 to 155.

The extension, which was set to expire on September 30th, allows more time for debating whether air traffic control (ATC) should be privatized - although it should be noted that the bill itself does not include provisions to privatize the running of ATC and remove it from FAA control. This could be voted upon separately in October, as a previous attempt to vote on the extension under suspended rules was blocked over bipartisan opposition to added flood insurance, hurricane relief and health care provisions.

Supporters of ATC privatization believe that it would be a benefit not to have to debate this annual funding, however many of those in opposition feel that privatization would result in the airline industry having too much control over the system.

Mark Baker, President and CEO of AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) who oppose the ATC legislation stated:

 “AOPA will continue mobilizing pilots and working with elected officials to ensure we don’t give away our skies to the airlines and instead focus on continuing efforts to modernize air traffic control.”

AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Coon added:

“A few people in Washington may support this idea but most folks outside of Washington are strongly opposed. It’s not privatization first of all, there’s is no innovation or competitive bidding here. It’s simply a total giveaway to the airlines and special interests and if you think that is good for GA, then we need to talk.”

President of GAMA (The General Aviation Manufacturers Association), Pete Bunce said:

 “GAMA urges Congress to now focus on passing bipartisan, consensus-driven FAA reauthorization legislation that addresses many critical aviation issues, such as aircraft certification reform and continued implementation of on-schedule modernization programs. They should reject air traffic control privatization proposals, including Title II of H.R. 2997, which are divisive, distracting and fraught with risks."

The latest funding will keep the agency afloat until March 31st, 2018 which should avoid a repeat of the situation in 2013 when air traffic controllers were laid off and flights were delayed due to cuts in FAA funding.