Container ports from coast to coast are inundated with empty cargo containers. The Federal Maritime Commission has commenced an investigation into America’s import and export flows, as many ports are overcrowded with empty containers that have yet to be collected or transported back to their point of origin. Carriers that fail to remove empty containers from the port run the risk of incurring fines or penalties, but there is widespread inconsistency with regard to port authorities and their enforcement practices. In addition, the global pandemic has exacerbated container congestion, as shipping flows reached an all-time high in 2020 and citizens around the world have become increasingly reliant on online retailers to deliver household goods.
A new President and a changing administration mean new priorities across some, if not all of the major executive agencies. One of the more heavily impacted industries will be transportation—specifically the automotive sector. From re-instating stricter emissions standards to moving forward with automated vehicle regulations, the automotive industry in the early 2020s should see innovation and progress at the forefront of the country’s new federal regulatory scheme.
Most everyone knows how painful a rush hour commute in Chicago can be –– from cramming into packed buses and train cars to navigating construction and busy streets. Now, imagine navigating that same commute without access to your nearest L stop or waiting fifteen minutes for a bus only to find you’ll have to wait for another because there’s a crowd of people standing in the area designated for wheelchair users. This is a reality that many Chicago residents with disabilities must overcome to go about their day-to-day lives. According to a 2018 community survey, over 520,000 Chicagoland residents, about 10.1 percent of the City’s total population, have a disability. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago’s transit system is not adequately accessible for this community.
The implications arising from fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) in the early 2010s spelled out a cautionary tale for automotive manufacturers wondering how to comply with increasingly strict regulations.
Boeing’s fleet of 737 Max jets remain grounded in the wake of two crashes that occurred shortly after takeoff and within five months of each other. Both crashes killed all passengers on board, a total of 346 people, and the jets’ black box data recorders have revealed many similarities between the two incidents. Both jets were equipped with Boeing’s newly implemented stall-prevention software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The system automatically adjusts the pitch of the aircraft, but it malfunctioned in both crashes when MCAS seized control from the pilots and plunged the jets into the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet announced when these jets will be allowed to fly again, although test flights have recently been conducted.
In this day and age, virtually anything can be shipped anywhere. No matter the destination, an item arrives at our door with only a few clicks. Rarely do we stop to think about how it gets to our door. We often overlook the regulations surrounding each package on its journey. The shipping of simple, everyday items, is fairly straight-forward and regulations more relaxed. However, the shipment of complex items, like hazardous materials, carries additional challenges.
On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 en route to Nairobi, Kenya crashed shortly after take-off leaving no survivors. It became the carrier’s most deadly crash and its first fatal crash since January 2010. Most notably, however, it was the second fatal crash involving Boeing’s new 737 MAX jet in less than five months after the Lion Air Flight 610 accident in October 2018. The day following the tragedy, Ethiopian Airlines grounded all of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice. Many other airlines suspended operations of the aircraft as well and countless countries banned the 737 MAX from airspace.
Aviation accidents, though rare, occur all over the world. However, the relatively high frequency of airplane disappearances and fatal incidents in Southeast Asia has been a primary cause of concern within the industry. Most recently, on October 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea off the coast of Jakarta. Just thirteen minutes into a scheduled hour-long flight, all 189 passengers and crewmembers aboard the aircraft lost their lives. Almost immediately,speculation arose regarding the cause of the accident as well as questions regarding the common occurrence of Indonesian aviation disasters.
Flying home from a baseball game is much more of a reality than we think. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Uber released a white paper detailing a roadmap of their proposed adventure into the air taxi business—the autonomous air taxi business and in doing so, they headlined conceptual aircraft ideas using vertical takeoff and landing (“VTOL”) technology. The paper outlines Uber’s plans for the next 10 years, including the compliance milestones and hurdles involved in achieving what seems like science fiction. Living like the Jetsons requires a deep dive into the various compliance issues that surround such a life.
Technological advances in aviation have turned what was once a matter of science fiction into reality. With that increase in technology comes a need for regulation of those technologies and their integration into daily lives. In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) finalized its first iteration of the rules that would begin to mold how drones are used.