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  • The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is warning companies not to enter into arrangements that turn pension obligations into equity instruments in their accounts.
    The Financial Reporting Review Panel (FRRP) of the FRC, said it found several company accounts which have put in place arrangements to provide additional collateral to schemes, in exchange for reduced annual contributions.
    Whilst acknowledging they are doing this for “commercial reasons”, the FRC said that these arrangements have a favourable impact on financial solvency and reported comprehensive income notwithstanding that the company has retained the obligation to fund the pension deficit.
    Following the release of the Review Panel’s finding, each of the companies engaged in this kind have revised their arrangements.
    The FRC’s Conduct Committee Chairman said companies must understand that if pension liabilities are classified instead as equity, an enquiry will most likely be opened.

  • The aviation industry’s supply of pilots at local airports might be in jeopardy after new safety rules hit.
    A few weeks ago, an FAA policy went into effect requiring more rest for pilots. Aviation experts explain that the rules will mean an increased number of flight cancellations in bad weather situations. This is because these situations cause delays that will eat up at the fixed number of hours that pilots are allowed to be on duty.
    Fortunately, most major airliners aren’t affected by the rules because of their union contracts. These already require similar rest periods for pilots. Airlines like Jet Blue, however, that are not in the union will have to make adjustments.
    Regional carriers may also have to make adjustments. These airlines operate under contracts with major carriers under names like Delta Connection. Although many of them are unionized, their pilots do not have the same kind of contracts that the major airliners have. These carriers serve about 70% of United States cities.
    The new rules come as a result of the FAA trying to combat the problem of pilot fatigue. Aviation experts are predicting that airlines as a whole will have to hire an estimated 8%-10% more pilots.
    It is definitely too soon to tell which cities are at risk for losing flights and possibly service altogether due to the new rule. Experts, however, agree that the aviation industry will acclimate and accommodate the amount of pilots they have on hand, just like they’ve done in other situations. This is not the first major change for the industry and it certainly will not be the last.

  • The US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to modernize the nation’s ATC systems have been slowed down due to a “status quo bias”. This is according to a report by the Hudson Institute who describe themselves as a nonpartisan independent policy research organization.
    The report is recommending that the FAA separates from the air traffic organization and shift ATC funding from its dependence on aviation user taxes to direct charges customers would pay to an independent ATO.
    The conclusion of the report is that “organizational reform” is the key to the FAA achieving ATC system modernization. This belief is adding to the increasing amount of pressure that is on the inside and outside of Congress, which has the task of restructuring the United States aviation system.
    The Hudson Institute made its opinions from three decades of reports by government watchdog agencies and case studies. At the forefront of their opinions are topics like communication between pilots and controllers, performance based navigation and real-time aviation weather data.
    In countries outside of the States, ATC providers have already started embracing new technology and procedures. In countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, providers have been reorganized as self-supporting corporate entities that charge aviation customers directly for their ATC services.
    The status quo has worked for so long, but time is ticking and the industry cannot afford to stay stagnant any longer. Issues need to get resolved, technology needs to be updated and organization needs to be addressed.

  • News of the commercial aviation industry hiring droves of pilots has graced headlines and front pages since the end of 2013 and it is predicted that within the next year, commercial airlines will begin hiring thousands of new pilots with the anticipation of aging flyers entering retirement. It is estimated that as many as 50,000 pilots will be hired over the next 10 years alone.
    However, this hiring spree is going to make it harder for the Air Force to persuade pilots to stay in service, as many military aviators are struggling with low morale due to cutbacks and idle jets.
    Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning, recently said that he’s afraid that if pilots aren’t flying because of the Force’s lack of readiness, those aviation experts will be more prone to “flying somewhere else”.
    This will cause a huge storm of retention issues for the Air Force even though current rates are better than the historical averages the Air Force has seen. Even more reason for concern is the Air Force’s loud voice when it comes to publicly declaring its lower readiness due to sequestration and budget setbacks.
    Aside from retiring pilots, the Air Force also has other reasons to be concerned about pilot shortages. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) increased the minimum number of flying hours pilots must have. This includes added crew rest regulations that would require commercial airlines to have more pilots on staff.
    Air Force representatives are stressing that this is not just an immediate fear but a fear for the future. The Air Force is “uniquely vulnerable” to threats that the commercial industry poses. Many pilots are very willing, for example, to leave the Air Force Service in order to provide more stable lifestyles for their families.
    Already, the Air Force is starting to see a shortage in its combat air force where there hasn’t been enough pilots trained as needed. To retain pilots, the service does offer bonuses of $25,000 per year for pilots in years when shortages are predicted. Nonetheless, if it’s flying time that is going to make them stay then the Air Force is in some deep trouble.

  • Leading economists and HR professionalsare under the impression that job growth will continue to strive well into 2014 due to recent job gains and record highs in the United States stock market.

    This news is welcomed with open arms by millions of Americans that are still unemployed and underemployed, i.e. part-time workers. Many of these underemployed are believed to possess the skills necessary to have higher-quality jobs and want to work full-time. They just haven’t had the right opportunity.
    A report released last November revealed the US economy added 2.1 million jobs in 2013. Unfortunately, not all jobs are considered quality. About half of those jobs were offered in low-wage sectors like retail and hospitality. Exerts are optimistic that 2014 will not only see an uptick in jobs offered but an increase in the amount of higher quality and better paying jobs.
    Unfortunately, it is going to take more than an availability of jobs to fix the United States workforce. Since many Americans have become disheartened due to the inability to find a job, some have stopped searching altogether, removing them from the labor force.
    Going into 2014, companies are sitting on hills of cash giving them the ability to offer good quality jobs to qualified Americans. Unlocking this capital will be crucial to this growing job market.

     

     

     

  • Eurocopter said that fuel system checks of their worldwide EC135 helicopter fleet returned some additional faulty sensors.
    The Alert Service Bulletin was issued by the discovery of supply-tank fuel gauging errors in EC135 helicopters flown by Bond Air Services, in addition to two other European operators. The bulletin confirmed that contamination is possible if left broken.
    The contamination that can occur causes an incorrect frequency to be transmitted to the indicating system, which could ultimately lead to a higher than actual indication of fuel quantities. This would prevent the amber fuel caution light from operating. However, this contamination wouldn’t affect the red low fuel warning light system.
    On December 19 2013, an Alert Service Bulletin required one-time fuel tanks system checks. As of December 31, about 20% of the global fleet of 1,050 helicopters were checked. Eurocopter said of the 410 sensors that were tested on 205 aircrafts, 19 of them needed to be cleaned. After the cleaning, Eurocopter said these sensors were considered “fully functional”. Aside from those 19, Eurocopter also said that only 3 sensors actually failed and needed replacing. The rest of the 388 sensors tested passed the test with flying colours and the red low fuel warning light system was functional on all 205 aircrafts tested thus far.

               

     

  • A committee report has slammed the government’s impact assessment on capping pension charges for auto-enrolment schemes as “not fit for purpose”.
    According to the Regulatory Policy Committee, or RPC, a consultation looking at the could-be effects on the pensions market of introducing a percentage cap, was flawed from the beginning. The 0.75% - 1% proposed cap was flagged as not providing enough evidence to prove that enforcing such a cap would have “zero net impact” on the pensions industry.
    Pensions Minister Steve Webb had high hopes that this cap would have been pushed through in time for April 2014 but due to the latest RPC report the entire process is now “in doubt” and under a lot of scrutiny.
    Ultimately, if the impact of the initial figures were wrong, then everyone involved in the consultation will have to reconsider their conclusions. This includes employers, pension providers and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This will definitely cause a delay in the introduction of any charge cap on pensions. Even if things were on track, many human resource departments do not believe this would be ready and implemented fully by April because human resources would need training on what to deliver and explain to employees.
    The DWP is insisting that receiving a “not fit for purpose” red rating from the RPC is not a major setback, though. The final decision, according to the DWP, will be based on evidence that has been received and not on initial impact assessments.

  • Federal contractor Cream-O-Land Dairy Inc. has resolved claims of sex and race discrimination that affected 227 workers who applied for jobs at the Florence, New Jersey dairy plant.
    The US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) reviewed the facility and determined that the dairy company had been violating Executive Order 11246 in its hiring process. Apparently it became quite obvious early on in the investigation that the company discriminated against women, African Americans and Asian Americans who applied for warehouse positions in 2010.
    Cream-O-Land will now pay $324,288 in back wages, interest and benefits to the rejected applicants. Additionally, the company will make 24 job offers to the affected class members as positions do become available, as stated in the conciliation agreement.
    The company also agreed to undertake self-monitoring measures that include a minimum of $10,000 for training. This will ensure that the hiring processes comply with the law.

  • After a 3-2 recent vote, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is going to move forward with the consideration of allowing cellular telephone calls in-flight. The practice of making phone calls during flight is currently banned in the United States, although it is currently allowed in other countries.
    This decision, of course, does not come without opposition. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, is strongly against relaxing the bans on cell phone calls during flight. The Association is afraid that this will quickly become a nuisance and compromise the ability of cabin crew to maintain order in an emergency situation. Interestingly enough, a recent poll suggests that most Americans also share this belief.
    The US Transportation Secretary said his department would begin its own rulemaking process to ban in-flight cell calls, as well. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman also introduced legislation called, “Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013” which was referred to the US Transportation Secretary.
    FCC members mostly voted in favor of cell phone use during flight, arguing that the technology now makes phone calls feasible without causing interference and should at least be considered.

  • A federal court in New York has dismissed an unpaid intern’s claims of sexual harassment by a supervisor, garnering attention in the media, New York political scene and with a large amount of human resource professionals.
    The story goes something like this…Lihuan Wang was an unpaid intern in the news bureau of Phoenix Satellite Television. She did everything from assisting reporters with news footage to drafting scripts. She alleged that she was sexually harassed in a hotel room by the company’s news bureau chief that included sexual advances and unwanted physical contact.
    Wang claimed that she rebuffed the advances but was then ignored at her work. Her attempts to discuss future employment were also, coincidentally, ignored after the incident.
    She then filed a lawsuit asserting sexual harassment and failure to hire claims. Phoenix requested that the court dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that Wang was not an actual employee under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) or the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCRL).
    After going over the facts and analyzing the situation, it was concluded that Wang was not entitled to the protection of the statutes because she was an unpaid intern. Due to this, the court dismissed Wang’s NYSHRL and NYCHRL claims but did not dismiss the failure to hire claim.
    Wang’s failure to hire claim survived and will proceed to discovery and litigation.
    Ultimately, the court’s decision raises multiple human resource and legal issues. The first was an HR issue due to the fact that the allegation against the bureau chief is not the first allegation against this person. This is a red flag among HR experts who said the work culture and environment should be assessed.
    Secondly, the decision has created a movement to amend both the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. Amendments to both statutes appear to have strong support. Thus, this case may not withstand legislative amendments for very long.
    Also, sexual harassment is only one issue where internships have come under heavy scrutiny. Human resource expertshave been faced with a number of challenges when faced with potential interns and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    The bottom line is that there has been an increase in lawsuits involving interns in recent years. Therefore some experts claim that the best human resource practice is to treat interns the same way as a paid employee is treated regarding conduct, harassment and discrimination policies.

  • An employment tribunal has upheld claims of unfair dismissal for approximately 1200 rail workers who were made redundant.
    This large group of workers lost their jobs in March 2010 when rail maintenance company Jarvis Rail and its Fastline divisions, went into administration.
    Lawyers from the TSSA and RMT unions argued that Jarvis should have given at least a 90-day notice of compulsory redundancy to the affected staff. This is a practice long upheld by human resources in most sectors.
    The rail workers said that due to the quick dismissal, they were owed £380 per week. Unfortunately, the company was folding and had debts of more than £17 million so the company was unable to pay.
    This week an employment tribunal in Leeds decided that their dismissal was unfair and that liability for redundancy payments to the workers will fall to engineering company Babcock, which took over Jarvis’s contracts.
    At the time of the layoffs, the redundancies caused a major outcry because many workers ended up being hired by agencies to work on the same projects with lower wages.
    Human resource experts explain that the collapse of Jarvis is partially due to mismanagement, which had very little to do with the workforce that was affected.
    There will be another hearing in March next year to decide the exact value of the unfair dismissal claims.

  • Boeing has officially been cleared to start certification flight testing after obtaining type inspection authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for their stretched 787-9.
    Obtaining this TIA is key in the test program because it marks the transition from establishing basic airworthiness of the 787-9 to more comprehensive testing that will certify the plane for actual airline use.
    The 787-9 is 20 feet longer overall than the baseline 787-8 and is powered by the newly-certified ‘Package C’ version of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000.   The TIA award keeps Boeing’s flight test schedule on track.
    So far the two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered variants have been approved and Boeing passed 100 flights on December 10. When grouped together with the third 787-9 and a General Electric GEnx-1B powered aircraft, which has not obtained TIA, the fleet has accumulated more than 285 flight test hours. In total, five aircrafts are slated for this program.
    Boeing plans on delivering the first of the 787-9 to Air New Zealand in mid 2014.

  • Following a helicopter rescue from a North Sea ferry fire, one passenger was arrested on suspicion of causing the emergency situation. The fire broke out on a North Sea ferry about 30 miles from Flamborough Head last Saturday night.
    The fire originated in an accommodation area of the MS King Seaways ferry.
    Inspector Andrew Dixon said that it was unclear about whether the fire was started deliberately but whether it was accidental or deliberate, authorities decided to detain the suspect.
    In total 23 people suffered smoke-related injuries, of which four crewmembers and two passengers had to be taken to hospital after breathing in smoke.
    The injured parties were winched aboard RAF helicopters from Leconfield near Hull and Boulmer, Northumberland and airlifted to Scarborough hospital but are not believed to be in any critical condition.
    Police vehicles were photographed arriving at the port after the ship was docked and during the emergency process a second helicopter arrived in the event that more people needed to be airlifted away.
    The ferry was en route from Newcastle to Amsterdam with 946 passengers and 127 crew members on board. All passengers and crew affected by the incident have been offered psychological assistance as well as any other assistance that may be needed in their recovery process.
    Human resources and public relations assured the public that crews were fully prepared for this type of situation as they train for this every day. The statement called crewmember reactions “second nature”.