CHICAGO- US start-up regional carrier Connect Airlines faces challenges in meeting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification requirements ahead of its planned flights between the USA and Canada.
The Massachusetts-based carrier has requested an extension from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin flying by 5 October. Further, its FAA-issued operating authorities mandated that flights commence by July and September 2023.
The airline aims to operate De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s on routes connecting Philadelphia and Chicago to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Connect Airlines Failed to Meet FAA Proving Flights
In response to Connect Airlines’ extension request, the DOT has not granted the extension. But has allowed the carrier until 4 August to provide evidence of progress in completing FAA requirements.
The DOT expresses concerns about Connect Airlines’ satisfactory progress in obtaining FAA authority and mentions that the FAA terminated the proving flights.
The DOT letter emphasizes the need for Connect Airlines to demonstrate fitness criteria and satisfactory progress in obtaining the required safety authority from the FAA.
Additionally, Connect Airlines’ foreign capitalization is identified as an obstacle to certification. Subsequently, requiring the carrier to provide evidence of equivalent capital contributions from US citizens.
Connect Airlines’ Director of Public Affairs, Scott Brownrigg, disputes the DOT’s assertions, stating that the certification process is ongoing. Further, the airline will conduct additional proving runs for the FAA.
Brownrigg emphasizes the various phases involved in the certification process. He further assures that Connect Airlines works closely with the FAA to meet safety performance standards. However, he does not address the specific safety and capitalization concerns raised by regulators.
Seeks Extension Based on Certification Complexity
Connect Airlines justifies its extension request by citing the complexity of its certification process. Particularly due to its intention to operate interstate, flag, and supplemental services.
The airline’s attorney asserts that Connect Airlines has diligently pursued its FAA application and presents valid grounds for additional time to make its certificate effective.
Connect Airlines highlights its potential to reduce CO2 emissions with more-efficient turboprops, its commitment to connecting underserved communities, and its aim to increase competition at Billy Bishop Airport as reasons why the extension is in the public interest.
Connect Airlines, operating as a brand under Waltzing Matilda Aviation, intends to use Universal Hydrogen’s propulsion technology for regional passenger service.
The carrier has placed an order to convert 75 ATR 72s with hydrogen propulsion systems and has purchase rights for an additional 25 conversions.
However, before launching trans-border revenue flights, Connect Airlines must also overcome regulatory hurdles with Transport Canada.
Connect Airlines faces challenges in meeting FAA certification requirements for its planned US-Canada flights. The DOT has requested evidence of progress, expressing concerns about the carrier’s satisfactory progress in obtaining FAA authority and its foreign capitalization.
Connect Airlines disputes the DOT’s claims, asserting ongoing certification progress. The airline seeks an extension based on the complexity of the certification process. Further, it highlights environmental benefits and plans for hydrogen propulsion technology.
Regulatory hurdles with Transport Canada await resolution before the carrier can commence trans-border revenue flights.
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