The following is a sample of some of the issues the Airmen Association is advocating for or against on your behalf. We are working several issues that are behind the scenes and could become public shortly. Look for updates in the next Transponder, in eBulletins and on our FaceBook page. If you have questions, comments or know of new issues please contact Adam White. As always, when you file your public comments please copy the Alaska Airmen Association. This helps us know and understand your needs and opinions.
The Alaska Airmen Association in cooperation with more than 150 other General Aviation organizations has come out in opposition to H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act. This piece of legislation seeks to privatize the air traffic control system and reduce General Aviation access to airports and airspace.
The U.S. has the largest, most diverse, most complex and safest airspace system in the world. Everyone has equal access to airports and airspace, but that could be in jeopardy if this legislation becomes law.
Air Traffic Control is a natural monopoly, and by basic economic principles should NOT be turned over to private interests.
This argument is not about privatization. It is about the fact that this proposal in the US House, H.R. 2997, is not appropriate privatization and it is detrimental to the interests of the General Aviation community and the nation. This Bill would remove Congressional oversight and place it in the hands of a private board where the major airlines will have control. You think it is hard for Alaska to get Congress to understand our needs? Try convincing the major air carriers what General Aviation in rural and bush Alaska needs!
The Alaska Airmen Association is in favor of ATC modernization, but we are staunchly opposed to ATC Privatization. We have been on the bleeding edge of NextGen since the beginning of the Capstone program in 1999.
According to the FAA Administrator, over the past five years, NextGen has delivered, on time and budget, benefits to the aviation industry and traveling public. Significant progress has occurred on modernization programs including ADS-B, a GPS-based surveillance technology that provides direct routings and GPS tracking of aircraft. The FAA also created 4,000 GPS approaches offering precision guidance to the runway without the need for ground-based equipment.
Department of Transportation data shows that our ATC system is not the primary cause of airline flight delays – airline scheduling practices are. Moreover, direct routings are possible with GPS technology, however, as of 2015 (last year data is available), only six percent of the commercial airline fleet was equipped to take advantage of ADS-B technology. Over scheduling by the airlines at hub airports causes delays that have nothing to do with our ATC system.
Privatization will not solve this problem! At press time the floor vote in the House has not been scheduled, mainly due to a lack of votes for it to pass. The Senate has gone on record that they are not interested in ATC Privatization.
Go to http://www.atcnotforsale.com for more information.
State Airport Funding Survey
No one wants to see the cost of flying increase; however, the State of Alaska's financial situation is causing a re-assessment of revenues to support the 240 rural Alaskan airports operated by the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF).
Today, airport leasing, permits, and other fees generate about $5.1 million annually in revenues. State aviation fuel taxes account for an additional $4.7 million, for a total of $9.8 million. In Fiscal Year 2017, it cost DOT&PF about $35.6 million to operate and maintain the system.
DOT&PF has proposed three potential approaches to increase revenues that would supplement the portion of the cost of operations that comes from the General Fund. Landing Fees, Airport User (Registration) Fee, and a Motor Fuel Tax Increase.
As a result, the Alaska Airmen in partnership with AOPA and NBAA commissioned a survey asking which of the three revenue streams (Landing Fees, Aircraft Registration or Fuel Tax Increase) our members like the least and which one they would prefer. At press time we were still sorting through the results, but preliminary indications are that 67% of you find increased Fuel Taxes to be the most acceptable and 59% feel that Landing Fees are least favorable.
Keep an eye on our social media pages and our website for more detailed information and for progress reports on how Juneau will fund the budget shortfall.
Look for an occasional TFR over the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) northeast of the Gulkana Airport (PAGK). This facility is no longer run by the Air Force but is now under the management of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. See Tom George’s article in this edition of the Transponder.
ADS-B $500 Rebate
The rebate expires September 19th. We are hearing good reports from members that have participated in this program. It was turbulent at the beginning, but the process has improved, and folks are quickly getting their rebate checks. Remember that the 2020 equipage deadline is not that far away. For more information visit: https://www.faa.gov/NextGen/equipadsb/rebate/faq/
Alaska Aviation System Plan
The FAA and the State of Alaska have been working on a complete system plan for Alaska. This plan sets the vision for the Alaska aviation network by addressing Alaska’s aviation infrastructure, and policy needs The Airmen Association has been active participants in the process especially with the Backcountry Working Group and the Weather Working Group. For more information about the plan, visit: http://www.alaskaasp.com
Wrangell, St. Elias Back Country Management Plan
The National Park Service is reviewing their management strategies. Part of this includes evaluating how people access and use the “back country.” Aviation is a major component of this access. The Alaska Airmen along with the RAF, AOPA and other groups continue to advocate for aviation (recreational and commercial) use in and around our National Parks.
Airspace needs and management is a constantly evolving matrix. From Military training to IFR and SVFR access, to TFRs, or CTAF changes we are continually advocating your needs and trying our best to ensure continued safe access to our great state. Make sure you are briefed on these changes by making keeping your charts and supplement current and that you check NOTAMs before you fly.
The expanded Fox and the new Paxson MOAs could become active this fall. We are in the process of fighting against new restricted areas around Ft. Greely and the north end of Isabell Pass. GPS Testing (AKA Jamming) is becoming more prevalent in Alaska. We are working with the FAA and Military to reduce the impact to civilian aviation and to get more accurate NOTAMs about the real ramifications. There have been changes to the SVFR procedures getting into the Anchorage bowl; we offered some suggestions during the planning stages. Healy (north end of Windy Pass) has new Class E airspace to protect a soon to be published approach. We are always working with BLM and the Fire Service to reduce the impact of fire related TFRs. Hopefully, you are aware of numerous CTAF changes around the state. These changes have been done to reduce confusion and increase safety, look for more CTAF changes to come.
The Alaska Aviation Weather Unit is a stellar source of weather information. Recently there has a national mandate that government website meets certain accessibility and format standards. This order has forced a major redesign of the entire AAWU site. We have been working with the AAWU to help test some of the recent changes before they went live and provided feedback to help improve the site. As it is with any change, it will take awhile to get used to the new format and some of the products we have valued over the years may be hard to find on the new site. Please offer the NWS constructive feedback on the changes via email: email@example.com
PIREP Improvement Working Group
As pilots, we all appreciate Pilot Reports. Having real world information and not just forecasted weather for our flight is a significant benefit to safety. The NWS treasures PIREPs so they can validate or amend forecasts. However, we need more pilot reports, we need better pilot reports, and we need easier ways to submit and receive them. The Alaska Airmen has been participating with the FAA and other industry groups to work on the means to improve the PIREP system. PIREP counts are up over the past year, the quality is improving, and we hope to be able to be more proactive with types and locations of reports in the future. Keep filing those PIREPs!
Monthly Collaboration Meetings
Every second Wednesday different parts of the Federal Agencies, Military, State Government, Aviation Industry groups and Aviation User groups gather in Anchorage for briefings and updates on issues. The FAA hosts the meetings on even months and Industry hosts the meeting on odd months. These meetings have proven to be an excellent way to share information, to update others on needs and or problems in the system, it has also been a tremendous opportunity to learn how the other half operates. This type of cooperation and collaboration is somewhat unique to Alaska, other parts of the US doesn’t always have this partnership mentality.
Much like the monthly meetings previously mentioned there are semi-annual meetings of the Alaska Civil/Military Aviation Council. These sessions focus on the Military and Civilian aviation communities understanding the needs and issues of each other.
3rd Class Medical Reform (Basic Med)
Basic Med went into effect in May, but this has been a long fought for issue that we have been working. For most folks able to keep a 3rd Class Medical, Basic Med isn’t much help but for pilots wanting to continue flying that have waivers and other conditions that require expensive additional test Basic Med could be a great option. Our suggestion is for you to do your homework and talk to you family Doctor about their willingness to help you meet the Basic Med requirements.
Better IFR Access for GA
The Alaska Airmen are members of the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics. Participation in this group allows us to engage in the formation of FAA regulatory requirements formally; The Commission’s policy advice informs the FAA’s prioritization and investment decisions, and our tactical advice helps resolve real-world impediments to air transportation today. The most tangible way we have been doing that is by participating in the Performance Based Navigation Route Structure Task Group. We have finished our recommendations to the FAA for modernizing yet trying to improve access for GA in Alaska. The FAA will start working through those recommendations soon.
State Fuel Tax (and other state funding issues)
The State’s budget problem has been tedious to try and resolve to say the least. We have been advocating for a fair, balanced, and non-draconian way to help. Of all the options put out there, a moderate increase in the fuel tax was the best choice. An increase (HB 60 and SB 25) was not approved this session, but the Bills are still alive for next year’s session.
Fuel Access and Availability
Fuel in bush Alaska has always been a difficult situation. We have advocated for new fueling locations around the state and have tried to keep fuel from going away at other places with mixed success. We are also involved with the 100LL replacement issue on a national level and are curious how some of the top contenders will perform in an Arctic environment.
Incompatible Land Use
This problem has been a bigger issue in the Lower 48 but is starting to surface more and more here in Alaska. Problems have ranged from building encroachments to right of way issues, and neighbors uncomfortable about the level of activities. The Airmen will continue to be a staunch supporter of landing sites and push for a proactive approach to solving incompatible land use issues.
eSRS Working Group
The Alaska Airmen were part of the Alaska Flight Services pioneering work of including satellite tracking devices (Spot, Spidertracks, InReach, etc…) into flight plans. This program has the benefit of dramatically reducing search times for overdue/missing aircraft. We continue to work towards improving the system and increasing its capabilities. For more information talk to your Alaska Flight Service Briefer.
Towers seem to be popping up all over the state, all along the river systems, in remote sections of Rural Alaska, in villages and cities, and even on Point Mackenzie. The Alaska Airmen is raising the safety issue that some of these towers pose great hazards to VFR navigation. We deal with the FAA, Municipalities, the State, Tribal Corporations and other land owners. Your voice is essential to getting the word out on these threats.
Rural Airport Safety
AK DOT&PF is trying to raise awareness about rural airport safety and is encouraging everyone to help spread the word that runways are for airplanes, not four wheels or snow machines. The Airmen have been partnering with the State and Commercial Operators around the state in this public information campaign.
Airport Vehicle/Pedestrian Deviations
Along the same line as rural airport safety, there has been an effort at towered airports around the US to reduce the occurrences of people and vehicles operating where they shouldn’t. Some of the efforts to curb these dangers have been reactionary and would likely cause more problem than they would solve. Other efforts have been very successful. The Airmen has been participating in these processes and voicing your concerns. We all want a safe environment, and none of us want an accident. Look for changes in traffic flow on controlled ramps around the state and if unsure of routing or instructions ask gourd control for clarification. A big way to help solve these problems is to educate nonaviators about where and how to get around your airport.
Elodea and the invasive species in Alaska’s waters
Elodea is an aquatic weed that is not native to Alaska and is choking off some of our waterways. The Airmen in conjunction with other industry group and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Alaska have been trying to educate floatplane pilots about the dangers and mitigations of this hazard. http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag/ag_Elodea.htm
Weather Camera Program Test Group
Have you used the new Weather Camera Site yet? http://avcamsplus.faa.gov It is still under development, and new features are coming online as you read this. It is becoming the “one stop shop” for your planning needs. Some of the future improvements are better refresh rates, optimization for mobile devices, and better satellite data. The Airmen have been a significant contributor to the beta test program, and we are excited to see the improvements that have been implemented and are anxious about the upcoming features. Please offer feedback on the new site via the blue “Pilot Feedback” button on the site.
If you want more information on these topics or have questions, comments or if you know of new issues, please contact Adam White (firstname.lastname@example.org 907-322-1098). As always, when you file your public comments, please copy the Alaska Airmen Association. Keep a close watch on the Airmen’s Facebook page for the latest information on how we are advocating for Aviation in Alaska on your behalf. https://www.facebook.com/alaska.airmen/
If you have questions, comments or know of new issues please contact Adam White at email@example.com or call our office at 907-245-1251. As always, when you file your public comments please copy the Alaska Airmen Association. This helps us know and understand your needs and opinions. Keep a close watch on the Airmen’s Facebook page for the latest information on how we are advocating for Aviation in Alaska on your behalf.