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 Government (Federal, State, and Local) is making small and seemingly minor changes to hundreds of programs, rules, and services, but when viewed from a system approach they become broad changes that are often not being coordinated and are causing significant ripples. To sum up role/job of The Alaska Airmen’s Government Affairs in one sentence, it is to be the eyes and ears of the Alaskan Aviator to know and understand all the implications of these uncoordinated issues. So much of the risk of flying has traditionally been on a broad-shouldered system of navaids, weather gathering, ground infrastructure, and support personnel. However, those risk mitigations continue to decline, and the risk is being placed more and more on the individual pilot and mechanic, and the burden is getting too much to bear for some.
However, there is hope! We have a seat at many of the Government’s tables, and the Alaska Airmen Association has the opportunity to show “the right hand what the left hand is doing” and we are making small consistent progress. It is a long game, and sometimes progress seems to stall, but we are gaining ground. The following are some of the areas progress is measurable. We are working many more subjects behind the scenes. Keep a close watch on our website http://www.alaskaairmen.org, read our eBulletins, and visit our social media pages for more timely updates.
Aviation Gubernatorial Candidate Town Hall
On Monday, October 1st The Alaska Airmen Association in cooperation with AOPA, EAA Chapter 42, Women in Aviation, Alaska Aviation Museum, Alaska Air Carriers Association, and the Lake Hood Pilots Association hosted an Aviation Gubernatorial Candidate Town Hall. Governor Walker, Mark Begich, and Mike Dunleavy participated. The event lasted a little over an hour. There was a series of questions asked to the candidates that focused on Aviation topics. You can watch the forum on YouTube and the Alaska Airmen’s Facebook page. https://youtu.be/1-boHf8SVcI
Ballot measure One
No doubt you have heard, read and seen ads supporting and ads opposing Ballot Measure One. This ballot measure is a highly debated topic. The Alaska Airmen Association has extended an invitation to both Stand For Salmon and Stand For Alaska to present their case on Ballot Measure One in this edition of The Transponder. After reading these differing positions, it might be good to read the State of Alaska’s Division of Elections voter information page on Ballot Measure One. https://tinyurl.com/y8ejm59e
The Alaska Airmen’s Association does not endorse any particular candidate or Ballot Measure. Our goal with the Town Hall and publishing information on both sides of Ballot Measure One is to provide information to our membership that will educate you about the issues and to encourage you to participate in our government by voting.
At press time both the US House and Senate recently passed legislation for a long-term FAA reauthorization. These Bills do not have the controversial plan to privatize air traffic control that was in previous versions. It also provides a funding source for the FAA and its programs through 2023. To read a summary of what is included go to https://tinyurl.com/y7wopkon
Anchorage Airspace study
The study is still in the initial stages and should become more involved this winter. The Alaska Airmen Association will continue to be involved in the process. The US Air Force would like to have greater flexibility in traffic flows in and out of the JBER airspace. This change in traffic flow could dramatically change things in the Anchorage Bowl with the Part 93 airspace. Expect there to be a significant public outreach in the coming months.
Once again the Russians have come to Alaska wanting to know how we do General Aviation. The Alaska Airmen had the opportunity to make a presentation to the delegates that were recently in Anchorage for the Russian American Pacific Partnership Conference. There were several representatives of regional governments, airports, and manufacturers. It was a very productive time, and it is encouraging to see how Alaska can help their young civil general aviation industry. They plan to make more visits here to gather more information in the months to come.
Weather Camera Visibility Study
The Alaska Airmen Association continues to participate in a research project with the FAA validating weather camera images and a computer’s estimates on the weather conditions. This study has enormous implications for the lack of weather information in rural Alaska. The possibility of a METAR like report based solely on a weather camera image is exciting and may be a possibility in the future.
General Aviation Security
With aircraft vandalism on the rise and fuel thefts increasing in parts of the state it is good to review your aircraft security. The TSA offers these suggestions for securing your aircraft:
- Ensuring that door locks are consistently used to prevent unauthorized access or tampering with the aircraft
- Using keyed ignitions where appropriate
- Controlling access to the keys
- Storing the aircraft in a hangar, if available, and locking hangar doors
- Using an auxiliary lock to further protect aircraft from unauthorized use
- Using commercially available options, such as locks for propellers, throttle, and tie- downs
- Ensuring that aircraft ignition keys are not stored inside the aircraft
- Discussing transfer of control for before and after maintenance procedures to avoid leaving aircraft open with keys in between the “hand-off”
- Using heat shields and aircraft covers to block the window to prevent easy visibility of the aircraft’s contents
While many GA airplanes in Alaska do not have the option for some of these security measures, there are things you can do to make it difficult for an unauthorized person to operate your aircraft. Some airports in the lower48 require two levels of security for every aircraft. How many do you have? For more information on General Aviation Security visit the TSA’s Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airport Operators and Users. https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/2017_ga_security_guidelines.pdf
NDB’s and the future
Non-Directional Beacons and Automatic Direction Finders are rapidly becoming relics of a lost era. However, there is great comfort and security in knowing that the old stand-by navaids and equipment are there when you need them. A recent NOTAM search revealed that 25% of the NDB’s in the US were NOTAMd out of service, many of those are right here in Alaska. The FAA does not have the funding to sustain NDBs nor do they have an acquisition program for new NDBs. It has been predicted that by the year 2030 there could no longer be any NDB approaches in the US.
Some of us may say “it’s about time” while others are concerned that we are “putting all our eggs in the GPS basket.” In light of the recent GPS interference testing (AKA Jamming) and knowing that the military wants to dramatically increase the “testing,” combined with NDBs slowly slipping into history it begs the question, is the VOR network sufficient to be used as a backup navaid source for low altitude GA navigation?
The Alaska Airmen Association is working with the Alaska Air Carriers Association, AOPA, and NBAA to get the FAA to come up with a plan. The loss of NDBs is a huge issue with many moving parts, and it will take a lot of work by all of us to resolve. The initial plan is to prioritize the RTCA Tactical Operations Committee’s Recommendations for the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Route System, submitted to the FAA August 2017 which the Alaska Airmen was a participant. You can read our recommendations in this report: https://www.rtca.org/sites/default/files/pbn_rs_report_fnl.pdf
Area Forecasts in the L48 have already gone from text-based to all graphics. This change was a cost-saving measure and a way to get better resolution data and more accuracy to the aviation community. It seems that it has been so successful that there are talks of doing the same here in Alaska. The Alaska Airmen have worked with the product for the L48 and have offered some tweaks for if/when this comes to Alaska and the National Weather Service is keen to work with us and our membership to deliver a good product. Look for opportunities coming up shortly to review products and offer opinions.
First Round of AIP Grants Announced
The first round of the $100 Billion Omnibus, zero match, Airport Improvement Grants have been announced. Alaska is a big winner so far. The second round of funding should be announced around the first of the year. These funds are being used for updating Airport Master Plans, to new runway lights, to resurfacing runways, to new terminal buildings. A complete list of the first round of awards is on the FAA’s website: https://www.faa.gov/airports/aip/grantapportion_data/media/FY18-AIP-Grants-Announced-2018-09-12.pdf
Mat-Su Borough Aviation Activity Notice Area
The Mat-Su Borough recently approved a plan that requires potential landowners be notified of aviation activity in the area. For more information visit the Mat-Su borough’s website: https://www.matsugov.us
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.