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Leslie: Culture Shock

Respect must be earned and must also be returned. In this, perhaps, we can once again rebuild our airline industry.


October 1, 2007
By Steve Leslie

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For the past several months, I have been living an adventure of a
lifetime. Since May, I have been based in Argentina flying a Boeing
767- 300 on contract to Southern Winds Lineas Aereas. The eight-month
contract has provided me with a unique opportunity to fly in a part of
the world that most of us take for granted. The opportunity has also
presented me with a fascinating glimpse into the Argentine aviation
community, as well as providing me with a chance to learn the true
meaning of respect within the pilot fraternity.

Fortunately
for myself and several other Canadians, in February 2003 Reykjavik based
Air Atlanta Icelandic provided a glimmer of hope for the future. The
crux of its business is aircrew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI). In
effect, Air Atlanta provides ACMI on a wet- or dry-lease basis to
airlines that require extra capacity. One reason for Air Atlanta’s
success has been the FAA International Aviation Safety Program (IASA).
Essentially, the IASA program determines whether or not foreign civil
aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards.

The FAA
has established two ratings for the status of a CAA at the time of the
assessment: Category 1 – complies with ICAO standards; Category 2 –
does not comply with ICAO standards. On July 15 2002, the FAA announced
that Argentina does not comply with ICAO international safety
standards. Although Argentina was previously assessed as Category 1,
this time it was given a Category 2 rating, which prevents Argentine
carriers from operating new services to the US with their own aircraft.

The
carriers are allowed to continue with existing services, but under
increased FAA surveillance. In selected cases, new services are
permitted to the US, but only if operated using aircraft wet-leased
from an air carrier based in a Category 1 country. This was good news
for Air Atlanta, as Iceland has been assessed as a Category 1 country.
In July 2002, Air Atlanta wet-leased two B767-300s to Southern Winds.
Currently, the wet-lease agreement extends to January 2004 and will
likely continue until the FAA lifts the Category 2 rating for Argentina.

It was through this twist of fate that I came to fly for Southern Winds in Argentina.

Buenos
Aires is the main base of operations for Southern Winds. International
flights depart from Ezieza Aeropuerto Internacional, west of the city.
For me, flying for Southern Winds has been a time of discovery and
reflection.


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