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 military continues to test their systems, tactics, and personnel for dealing with the lack of GPS. These tests are conducted around the US including Alaska. Most of the recent and planned testing has occurred during the Red Flag exercises. These interference test not only affect the military but can cause issues for the public too. Remember that GPS is a military owned and operated system that the public has been granted access. GPS signals are easy to “jam” and even more concerning is that there is technology that can spoof GPS signals. Our military needs to train on how to continue to operate with the loss of GPS. For more information read the “Sky Is Falling” article linked below.
The Senate Apportions Committee has passed their FY19 Transportation Appropriations bill (S. 3023). A lot of good things for general aviation made it into the bill. The following are a few of the highlights.
Summary of FY19 Transportation Appropriations Bill:
The bill includes $26.6 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation for FY2019. Which is $698 million below the FY2018 enacted level.
$17.7 billion in total budgetary resources for FAA, which fully funds all ATC personnel, including more than 14,000 air traffic controllers, and more than 25,000 engineers, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel.
$1 billion for NextGen programs;
$168 million for the Contract Towers program; and
$750 million in additional funding for airport improvements. There was also $1 billion included in the FY18 Omnibus Appropriation’s bill for GA airports.
Air Traffic Control Privatization - Report language stating the Committee does not support the Administration’s request to transfer the FAA’s air traffic functions to a not-for-profit, independent, private corporation.
Aviation Events - Report language that directs FAA to use existing resources to provide ATC and safety support services at major aviation events hosted annually for the GA community.
Surface Weather Observation Policy - Report language that directs FAA to find new or alternative means of providing additional weather data, particularly for improving the safety of low-level aviation. FAA currently excludes hundreds of valid surface weather observation sites that could improve safety for pilots flying under VFR from the Weather Message Switching Center Replacement [WMSCR].
Landing Strips - Report language that directs the FAA to assist Federal Land Managers, including but not limited to the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, and National Park Service, in charting airstrips located on Federal Lands that are and may be useful for administrative, recreational, and emergency purposes.
NextGen Advisory Committee - Report language that states the committee believes the current NAC membership includes an appropriate mix of aviation stakeholders and strongly believes the NAC performs an important role in setting priorities for the FAA’s ATC modernization efforts. Committee expects the FAA to implement NAC recommendations and directs the FAA to provide an update on the status of NAC recommendations to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
Military Operations Areas (MOA) - Committee finds that radar and future NextGen systems capable of controlling airspace down to 500 feet above ground level enhances aviation safety in MOAs that overlay public use airports with more than 5,000 operations per year. Report language that the Committee recommends FAA utilize existing resources to promptly provide radar or NextGen capability in such areas.
Aviation Fuels for General Aviation - Provides $7,000,000 for research that supports alternative fuels for GA to complete the testing and certification activities under the current test program and support the current personnel required for operations and equipment needs of the lab.
AIP Formula - Report language that directs FAA to consider the full range of flight activities (such as flight training, air cargo, emergency response, pilot training, etc.) and associated metrics when considering Airport Improvement Project (AIP) discretionary grants for primary airports. Currently, AIP formula funding for primary airports is allocated based primarily on commercial enplanements which does not capture the full range of airport activities. For example, certain primary airports with more non-commercial flight activities such as pilot training do not factor into the current enplanement calculation.
AVIATION GROUPS SPEAK OUT AGAINST FAA DECISION TO WITHHOLD WEATHER INFORMATION FROM PILOTS
The Alaska Airmen Association and 13 other aviation and state organizations issued a joint statement in response to the FAA’s decision against including numerous surface weather observations sites in the system that provides textual information to pilots through flight planning websites and various aviation apps.
Read the statement below:
DUATS is going away
The FAA will discontinue the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS II) Program, effective May 16, 2018. Internet services, including access to weather and aeronautical information, flight plan filing and automated services will remain available at no charge to pilots at www.1800wxbrief.com run by Leidos (the contractor providing Flight Services to the L48).
With the migration towards portable electronics in the cockpit and the multitude of flight planning apps that are available, the use of DUATS has continued to decline in recent years. The FAA will work with current DUATS II providers on transition activities, including conducting pilot outreach, establishing commercial interfaces, and providing user migration assistance.
Most flight planning apps have already made the switch from DUATS to the Leidos based system for the textual briefing portions of their products and should not be affected. Contact customer service of your app provider for more information.
It is that time of year again for the 40th annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey. A random sample of L48 aircraft and every Alaska aircraft is asked to participate in this survey of equipage and use. This information helps the FAA and groups like the Alaska Airmen Association understand the GA fleet and its needs. https://www.aviationsurvey.org
Western Service Center Annual Visit
Adam once again made his annual visit to Renton, WA to visit with FAA policy makers and planners for Alaska Airspace and Infrastructure a few weeks back. Here are a few updates on several issues:
JPARC, Fox, Paxon, and R2201/2205 Charting
The latest guess is charting will begin with the November 2018 cycle. There might be a chance that the airspaces could go live sooner. Please keep a close eye on NOTAMs and our social media pages for any updates.
The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program outside Glennallen, AK expects to have several times of active transmitter use in the coming months. The FAA will publish TFR’s as usual during the times of activity. There is the talk of a possible Restricted Area eventually being put in place as this type activity does not technically meet the threshold for a TFR. For more information about HAARP visit their website: https://www.gi.alaska.edu/haarp
Here is an updated timeline for getting the Galena VOR back online.
FY18 Design of new installation
FY19 Implementation of design and permitting
FY20 Installation and Flight Check
November 2020 VOR charted
The FAA is struggling to maintain these expensive and outdated systems, some of which are only able to continue working due to cannibalization. As a result, the FAA is looking for possible NDBs to decommission. Most associated route structures of the affected NDBs will be pretty easy to transfer to T-Routes (GPS based). Minimum altitudes should be close to current colored airways.
The Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) office has had a significant budget cut, and they are not sure how things will be affected yet, but new routes will take them some time to implement. The PBN office continues to seek information on what life would look like for users without the colored airways. There is a significant effort underway right now looking at South East AK to see how things could be redesigned. Let the Alaska Airmen know if your operations could be impacted by the loss of the colored airways.
GA in AK talk at the Northwest Aviation Trade Show and Conference
Adam gave two talks about the differences of flying GA aircraft in Alaska versus the L48. The Saturday morning session had over 100 attendees while the Sunday evening session had a little over 50. There were a lot of great questions as most of the folks were planning to fly their aircraft to Alaska within the next five years. The Airmen Association got significant exposure, and we are continuing to gain a foothold in the Northwest as the go-to group for all things Alaska. You can watch his Sunday evening presentation on the Alaska Airmen’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alaska.airmen/videos/1576234905747192/
Joint letter with AOPA supporting Alaska Flight Services Modernization
The Alaska Airmen and AOPA wrote a joint letter supporting Alaska Flight Services modernization. The FAA is starting the process of revamping systems and integrating new technologies into the capabilities of Alaska’s Flight Service Specialists. Our support will help planners and program managers prioritize the FAA’s efforts. Read the letter in this edition of the Transponder.
ATC Privatization has been set aside for the foreseeable future.
The US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has removed his push to have ATC Privatization included with the FAA reauthorization (H.R. 2997). The Alaska Airmen Association in cooperation with hundreds of other GA groups across the US banded together to educate those on Capitol Hill about the pitfalls of handing over the safest ATC system in the world to a private corporation with a controlling interest from the airlines. You can read our latest letter to the committee here: http://www.atcnotforsale.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/20180226-Industry-Letter-No-ATC-privatization.pdf
We will continue to support the modernization efforts of the FAA and will work with our congressional delegation towards a long-term funding solution for the FAA.
Follow this link to read the press release from Chairman Shuster. https://transportation.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=402213
DOT&PF Aircraft Registration
A statewide aircraft registration program proposed by Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) was pulled off the table a couple of months back due to the public comments being critical of the proposal. DOT&PF has gone back and reevaluated their plan and are in the process of clearing a new version with the State’s Attorney General’s Office. While we await a new proposal to be released for public comment, DOT&PF has assured us that our voice has been heard and that many of the objections have been addressed. Stay connected with the Alaska Airmen for updates.
DOT & PF Aircraft Registration Hearing
Aviation Advisory Board Statement - Our Voices Were Heard!
Look for another comment period soon!
The Alaska Airmen in cooperation with AOPA, the Alaska Aviation Safety Foundation, and the National Weather Service held an Aviation Weather Workshop on February 5-6, 2018. The purpose was to bring the aviation industry and forecasters together to share our needs and goals to bring about greater collaboration and innovation. Over 60 people attended the two-day event from all over Alaska, Washington DC, Denver, Kansas City, and representatives from Environment Canada. The Airmen hosted a social event one evening at the office that was an excellent chance to network and talk about issues in an informal/unofficial environment. Significant headway was made by providing feedback on current weather products and outlining the needs of the pilot community as well as introducing some new research projects and products that could revolutionize the way we plan and get our weather information. The following link is to the presentation slides. https://www.weather.gov/zan/2018AviationWorkshop
We collaborated with AOPA and the Alaska Air Carriers to publish a joint article dispelling some commonly held myths about PIREPs. Read the article in this edition of the Transponder.
We need information from our membership about their experience with Basic Med. More than 20,000 pilots nationwide are using this new program to continue flying without a third class medical. But, it is not always easy to work through the Basic Med process. Finding a Doctor willing to sign off the documents has been a problem for many. We need data and stories from members that we can use that will help us better advocate for you on this issue.
Canada and ADS-B
As the 2020 deadline for ADS-B equipage in the US gets closer remember if you fly in Canadian airspace that Canada will not accept a 978-out solution to comply with their rules. Canada will be a 1090-es space based system only when they go live with their system this year. We are working with other national GA groups to see if there will be exemptions for US registered aircraft but for now it seems that Canada is not considering any.
Reports keep coming in of fuel, and other items are continuing to be stolen from aircraft around the state. Many folks blame the increase on the lack of prosecution of crimes as a result of the recent SB91. Keep a close watch on your local airport and report suspicious activity to law enforcement. Vandalism and theft from aircraft poses a serious threat to the safety of aviation and has far-reaching impacts. Some have said that aircraft vandalism/theft borders on terrorism due to the mental doubt/stress about the condition and safety of the aircraft and whether or not all the damage was found and repaired.
If you have questions, comments or know of new issues please contact Adam White at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.