on't tell Stan Bernstein
that short-haul expedited air cargo is doomed to go to the ground.He's
heard that before and says the movement of air goods to the surface transport is about far more than competitive trucking services and a lack of shipper commitment to air cargo service. Bernstein
, in fact, is completely committed to air cargo and especially to the regional delivery that is supposedly an endangered industry.The president of the Regional Air Cargo Carrier Association, Bernstein recently celebrated the first anniversary of the group's founding and he says the association is working to open new possibilities for short-haul air services. RACCA
is working with the Federal Aviation Administration
to rewrite rules regulating the operations and aircraft used in feeder flights and other regional air cargo services that depend on single-engine and turboprop planes.The idea, he
says, is to make all-cargo turboprop operations more economical, changing the financial equation that leaves so much air cargo traffic traveling 500 to 700 miles open to truck diversion.
We can operate so many routes so much more efficiently and cost-effectively," says Bernstein
represents carriers who put more than 1,000 aircraft in the air every night. Bernstein
himself is president of Heritage Turbines
, a Massachusetts-based repair facility for Pratt & Whitney engines.He's a former executive vice president of Air New England.RACCA's foundation
is the airlines such as AirNow that are sub-service fliers for the larger, well-known carriers, operating regional feeder flights from smaller communities into secondary hubs.
"We have operators who have as few as five aircraft.They aren't really represented by the Cargo Airline Association and the Regional Airline Association
is really focused on passenger airlines," Bernstein
"We want to modernize Part 135," said Bernstein
The costs of meeting Part 121 specifications simply make operating the larger prop economically infeasible for the revenue traffic they would carry, he
.Part 135 rules, for instance, allow air carriers to operate without licensed dispatchers.Training on a simulator is not counted under Part 135 rules and RACCA
believes the requirement of 1,200 hours of training required for commercial pilots of single-engine aircraft is too high.
The result, says Bernstein
, is that regional operators may use three Cessna Caravans because the cost of putting in a single ATR is prohibitive.The bar also works against the regional sub-service fliers at the other end: cargo carriers that may operate small jets such as 737s on thinner routes can't really downsize without creating a new regional jet operation and can't outsource the flying to Part 135-covered operators.
"Raising the weight limit for Part 135 would give carriers more flexibility," Bernstein
"Later-generation aircraft are sitting idle in the desert," Bernstein
said."It's a real paradox."
has seen some of its ATR aircraft converted to regional freighters in Europe but the oversight regulations put the used aircraft out of reach of the smaller operators in the United States."There are very active conversion programs out there for these aircraft," said Bernstein
"We are very much keeping our eyes on the TSA requirements," said Bernstein
has some special concerns about security from a regional perspective.For instance, regional operators are especially concerned with uniform security across the country.Bernstein
cites one case in which an airline mechanic was detained at an airport after flying in on a company flight to repair an aircraft.The identification at the mechanic's base airport was not recognized by the other facility, however.
"Many of our members can't afford to keep separate repair crews at all their stops," he