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State education leaders clashed Monday with the chairman of the Senate Education Committee on how to reduce the backlog of teachers and other educators awaiting certification from the state Department of Education — a list that has grown from about 6,500 to 7,400 in the past five weeks.
"We have a teacher shortage and we have teachers wanting to go into the classroom and they are being bottlenecked at the department," said Senate Education Committee Chair Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge. "The Legislature would have given you anything you needed to make sure you are certifying teachers.
"There has not been any more important Topic in this past legislative session than teachers," he said.
But state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley blamed the backlog on a surge of applications for certifications and fewer state workers to do the processing.
Brumley said about a decade ago the department had 16 workers to handle around 20,000 applications per year.
The agency now has eight employees to work through an expected 37,000 requests for certification in 2022.
"It is not like I can say 'Work harder' or 'Work faster,'" Brumley told the committee.
A few hours after the hearing, the department released figures that show the backlog applies to a wide range of educators, not just those trying to enter the classroom for the first time amid a statewide shortage.
Aspiring teachers from Louisiana seeking first-time certification account for 12% of the backlog, according to state figures.
Others from out of state, or who fall into other categories, could add to the total in a way that complicates the teacher shortage.
Fields called the hearing after news of the backlog surfaced last month.
Officials said at the time that they had a backlog of about 6,500 teachers seeking first-time certification and others wanting changes to their work status, such as educators who are becoming principals or teacher mentors.
"I would say it is a little over 7,000 today," Brumley told the committee.
Veteran educators say the teacher shortage, which is common nationwide, is unlike anything they have seen in half a century.
What used to be a problem limited to hard-to-fill jobs like math and science now extends to most every subject.
The department reviews requests, usually from school systems, to ensure that aspiring teachers have met all the requirements to enter the classroom.
Certified teachers have to earn a college degree, finish with at least a 2.5 grade point average and pass a national teacher exam.
Fields said he was puzzled on why the the state Department of Education did not move employees around to ease the backlog, or ask the Legislature for money to address the problem.
Brumley said the headcount at the department is down from about 1,000 employees a decade ago to around 550 today.
He said that leaves about 300 workers on K-12 education and the rest on early child care, a relatively new duty for the agency.
The superintendent said he did not think it made sense to ask the Legislature for additional money at a time when other education services were undergoing cutbacks.
Brumley said the department is in the process of adding four part-time workers to sort through certification requests but it can take new hires up to a year to master the highly technical process.
"It is difficult to hire someone and assume on Day One they are ready," he said.
Figures provided by the department to the committee show those who handle the work now would have to process nearly 300 applications and questions per week to finish the workload in a reasonable amount of time.
"That is quite a lot of applications and questions for a very small team to handle," said Jenna Chiasson, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning at the department.
Fields, who sponsored a law this year aimed at easing Louisiana's teacher shortage, urged the agency to find answers.
"It is just something we need to adjust and adjust right now," he said.
State officials say they are working with a third-party vendor to find ways to make the review process more efficient.
Brumley said a less complex review system and more workers are among the keys to solving the problem.
"It is 37,000 requests and eight people," he said.
Boeing-backed air taxi developer Wisk Aero has revealed an updated prototype that it calls a candidate for type certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
California-based Wisk said on 3 October that its “Generation 6” vehicle is a “self-flying, all-electric, four-passenger vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi”.
”Our sixth generation aircraft is the culmination of years of hard work from our industry-leading team, learnings from our previous generations of aircraft, commitment from our investors, and the evolution and advancement of technology,” says chief executive Gary Gysin.
The new design is similar to its predecessor – a small aircraft with 12 wing-mounted propellers, six forward of the wing that tilt and and six fixed rotors aft. Wisk optimised the design “for range, improved aircraft control and performance, and efficient energy management”, it says.
The vehicle’s cruise speed is 120kt (222km/h), with range of 78nm (144km). Wisk says the prototype’s wingspan is less than 15.2m (50ft) and that it will fly autonomously, “with human oversight”, at altitudes ranging from 2,500-4,000ft.
With the Generation 6, Wisk has moved to a high-wing aircraft that has larger, four-blade propellers, whereas the previous iteration had lower wings and smaller propellers each with two blades. The changes improve safety and stability and reduce cabin noise, making it a more comfortable, the company says.
The cabin is also larger than the previous test aircraft, and it has storage for luggage and carry-on items.
“As Wisk’s go-to-market aircraft, Generation 6 represents the first-ever candidate for type certification by the FAA of an autonomous eVTOL,” Wisk says. The company has not disclosed a certification timeline, however.
Earlier this month, Boeing and Wisk released a 64-page report predicting how a future air taxi system – also known as urban air mobility – would actually work.
Called “Concept of Operation for Uncrewed Urban Air Mobility”, the report makes technical recommendations about how air taxis can be safely integrated into airspace.
It outlines required systems and infrastructure, including landing zones – dubbed vertiports – ground management providers and fleet operations centres, which will monitor flights, ensure aircraft separation and issue air traffic control (ATC) instructions. ATC functions will need to be automated, necessitating significant upgrades to existing systems, the report says.
Additionally, air taxis will require advanced satellite navigation and communication systems, and sense-and-avoid technology to prevent midair collisions, it adds.
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Pilot union Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents pilots at American Airlines, opposes an equipment certification exemption for Boeing’s 737 Max 7 and Max 10 aircraft.
The certification deadline for those two models is the end of this year, but according to a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a federal government committee, first reported by Reuters on 4 October, Boeing does not anticipate it will receive that regulatory approval in time. As a result, the US airframer would be required to make changes to crew alerting systems in the cockpit.
“We oppose any extension of the exemption and don’t agree with Boeing’s claim that pilots could become confused when moving from an airplane without the modern alert system to one that is equipped with it. Nothing could be further from our flight deck reality,” APA president Edward Sicher says.
“Boeing needs to proceed with installing modern crew alerting systems on these aircraft to mitigate pilot startle-effect and confusion during complex, compound system malfunctions,” he adds. “Once these systems are installed and pilots have been properly trained on them, our crews will be better able to identify system failures and prioritize corrective actions that could save lives.”
According to Cirium fleets data, Fort Worth-based American Airlines has no pending orders for either the Max 7 or the Max 10 aircraft. It currently operates 42 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, and has a further 87 on order. It also operates 279 examples of the previous-generation 737NG series.
American’s major airline competitors, however, have almost 500 of the two jet models on order with Boeing. United Airlines has 237 and Delta Air Lines has 100 of the Max 10 on order, and Southwest Airlines has 160 Max 7s on order.
The cockpit alert requirement comes from a law signed by President Donald Trump on 27 December 2020. Starting two years after its enactment, the FAA cannot certificate transport aircraft lacking a “flight crew alerting system” - which the already-certificated Max versions, the Max 8 and the Max 9, lack. That requirement stemmed from two 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019, which killed almost 350 people.
The US airfamer has been working to get the aircraft certificated before the December 2022 deadline but had been late in providing some 737 Max 7 assessments to the FAA, cutting the agency’s available time to certificate the jet. The FAA brought the timeline crunch to Boeing’s attention in a 19 September letter to Mike Fleming, Boeing’s senior vice-president of the 737 Max’s return to service.
As recently as 21 September, Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said he thought the Max 7 would make the December deadline, but was less optimistic that the Max 10 would be ready.
At the time, Calhoun said Boeing would seek an “extension” if the Max 7 or 10 certifications extend beyond the deadline.
In accurate months Qatar Airways and Canada’s WestJet have also placed substantial orders for the 737 Max 10.
New data from the Marine Stewardship Council has revealed that fisheries certified as sustainable are now responsible for catching more than two million tonnes of tuna per year.
MSC-certified fisheries now make up close to half (47%) of the global wild commercial tuna harvest while more than 430 brands sell certified tuna, up from 126 in 2015.
The data included in the MSC’s updated Sustainable Tuna Handbook showed a “growing momentum” behind sustainable tuna certification and sales.
In the three years to March 2022, MSC-certified tuna fisheries delivered on 38 conditions of certification “helping to further safeguard the oceans and fish stocks”, said the NGO.
It comes as the MSC plans to continue to Excellerate its standard for tuna fisheries in its new MSC Fisheries Standard to be launched in late October.
“The new MSC Fisheries Standard will ensure that certified fisheries remain world leaders in sustainable fishing,” said Rohan Curry, MSC’s chief science and standards officer. “Certified tuna fisheries will now be required to deliver a set of defined milestones aimed at securing agreement between multiple national governments to implement state-of-the-art harvest strategies derived through open and fair negotiations.”
The improvements of relevance to tuna fisheries include stronger requirements on fish aggregating devices, shark finning, endangered, threatened, and protected species and effective monitoring, control and surveillance.
“These requirements represent a significant increase in expectations of fisheries managed by RFMOs and will create a unified and powerful push towards ensuring vital protections are agreed that ensure sustainable management of tuna stocks in perpetuity,” said Curry.
Already-certified fisheries will be given the opportunity to apply the requirements for harvest strategies early, provided there is majority agreement between fisheries targeting the same stock.
In recognition of the increased expectations, these fisheries will be given five years in which to secure robust harvest strategies which provide the best protection possible for tuna stocks.
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Volvo Trucks North America announced it designated Expressway Trucks as a Volvo Trucks certified electric vehicle dealer.
The dealership’s Waterloo location is the first to be certified in Ontario and is located near Highway 401, one of the busiest traffic corridors in Canada.
“We have had great success running Volvo VNR Electrics in the cold Canadian winters in the Quebec region, providing a proof point to other Canadian fleets that battery-electric trucks perform well in extreme temperatures,” VTNA President Peter Voorhoeve said in a release.
In July, Canada’s Transport Ministry announced a nearly C$550 million purchase or lease incentive program for new medium- and heavy-duty zero-tailpipe emission vehicles. Up to C$200,000 may be awarded for the purchase or lease of an eligible new zero-tailpipe emission vehicle.
“With the accurate announcement of substantial rebates for Ontario-based buyers, we expect potential Volvo VNR Electric buyers to become more serious during the next 12 months,” said Barry Peters, Volvo’s new truck sales manager at Expressway.
Two Expressway Trucks technicians, working on different shifts, have completed the training to safely perform battery-electric truck maintenance and repairs for trucks in operations, according to the company. The dealership noted it maintains a stock of key parts and components for the VNR Electric model and has installed 50-kilowatt Heliox chargers to support battery-electric trucks. — Transport Topics
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