Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police Step Up Efforts After Mapuche Attacks

The national police promised special forces, increased intelligence activities and "anti-guerilla" operations in a southern area where indigenous Mapuche groups have used violence to press their demands. The measures followed an August attack on a farm in which armed activists burned structures and assaulted a farmer. In the last 10 years, Mapuche activists have carried out more than 100 attacks on lumber operations, plus some 50 arsons and about 40 land takeovers. A prosecutor in the region says the movement has a diversified network of leadership, ready to step in with replacements if one is captured. It also has support from non-governmental agencies in Chile and abroad. Decades ago, Mapuches were stripped of most of their land and shuffled off to reservations. The movement seeks to reclaim those lands, much of which are now used for lumber harvesting.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Military Pilots Taking Airline Jobs Face Penalty

Chile's armed forces are imposing a new measure to slow the exodus of pilots leaving for lucrative jobs with airlines. Any pilot who leaves the military with less than 10 years of service will need to pay a penalty of 15 million pesos, or about US$28,750. Air Force commander Gen. Ricardo Ortega told El Mercurio that for every 25 pilots that join FACh each year, another 20 make their way to airlines. The average FACh salary for a pilot is US$1,725 a month, while airlines can pay roughly five times that much. Thus, it would take a pilot a couple of months' salary at an airline to pay off the early-exit penalty. Ortega said the military is devising incentives to keep more pilots. Despite sharp reductions in aircraft, FACh is having a hard time staffing its combat fleet with a benchmark of 3.5 pilots per plane. Training costs for warplane and transport pilots run about US$7 million each. A single F-16 course costs US$2 million. The new policy goes into effect next year.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Embraer Confirms Deal for Super Tucanos

Chile's air force is acquiring 12 Super Tucano training aircraft, Brazil's Embraer announced Aug. 15. The contract includes logistical, training and operational support, including a simulator. The cost wasn't disclosed, but news reports have estimated it at $120 million. Deliveries are set for the second half of 2009. The Super Tucano is a turboprop aircraft that can be equipped for ground-attack missions. It is replacing the CASA C-101 Halcon trainer. The deal expands Embraer's partnership with Enaer, the Chilean air force's aerospace company.