Aviation Issues: ATC Privatization, Safety of Flight Concerns, Ops in Volcanic Ash and Runway Closure at DFW

Aviation Issues: ATC Privatization, Safety of Flight Concerns, Ops in Volcanic Ash and Runway Closure at DFW

Aviation Issues: ATC Privatization, Safety of Flight Concerns, Ops in Volcanic Ash and Runway Closure at DFW

ATC Privatization Still an Issue

On June 22, six associations representing the general aviation industry – General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) – issued a statement strongly opposing the Trump Administration for including in its government reorganization proposal a failed idea to privatize the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) services.

Included in the statement was a listing of those that oppose privatizing the ATC system including, “congressional leaders from both political parties, more than 100 aviation organizations, over 100 business leaders, 100 U.S. mayors, consumer and agricultural groups, conservative think tanks and the majority of Americans.” Also included was the point that “this concept has been fully considered in the U.S. Congress and rejected despite years of repeated attempts.”

As well as strong contention that stated, “Instead of focusing precious time and resources on what amounts to nothing more than a distraction to the aviation community, the Administration needs to support a long-term FAA bill, like those passed by the House of Representatives and now pending in the Senate. These bills will take practical and significant steps to address many critical issues like aviation safety, modernization, which includes accelerated advancement of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and needed aircraft certification and regulatory reform. Additionally, the Department of Transportation needs to continue with its commitment to the NextGen Advisory Committee, which fosters collaboration in an open and transparent manner and helps advance air traffic control modernization priorities and investments.

We are disappointed that the Administration continues to reintroduce a failed proposal. Instead, it should put its weight behind FAA legislation pending in Congress that will advance the aviation industry, including general aviation, which contributes $219 billion to the U.S. economy and creates over 1 million jobs in the U.S.”

Aviation Industry Expresses Safety of Flight Concerns to FAA

Several aviation groups also recently sent a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell expressing their concern of GPS interference in reference to the Ligado Networks Proposal.

Ligado Networks (previously “LightSquared”) wishes to establish a terrestrial cellular network within what is a satellite frequency band. Their first proposal in 2011 caused grave concern from the aviation industry and in Ligado’s latest proposal, they believe the aviation industry concerns have been addressed due to the interference to GPS navigation and GPS-dependent systems being limited to a 500-foot diameter around their transmission towers. The letter to Elwell states, “The concerns and safety issues of the industry have NOT been addressed, particularly when considering the lack of testing in key areas,” and indicates it is highlighted in the “United States Department of Transportation Global Positioning (GPS) Adjacent Band Compatibility Assessment” published in April 2018.

In closing, the aviation groups “urge the FAA to support the testing and evaluation” of the Ligado network system by “an impartial third-party organization that we may fully understand the impacts to GPS-dependent systems and to ensure no degradation of safety within the NAS.”

As of press time, no response/updates had been provided.

Flying in Areas of Volcanic Activity

Due to several volcanoes that are currently active, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) suggests operators brush up on flying in areas of volcanic ash and offer some tips:

Avoid Volcanic Ash: The first rule of thumb when flying in an area of volcanic ash is … don’t. NBAA suggests to, “Plan a route of flight to ensure a wide clearance from volcanic ash clouds. Abrasive volcanic ash can cause substantial damage to engines, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, as well as windscreens, contaminate oxygen systems and block pitot/static systems.”

Stay Informed: Pilots have several resources to receive current volcanic ash activity – nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAAC), SIGMETs and NOTAMs.

Be Prepared: If planning to fly near areas of volcanic activity, NBAA says to “refresh your knowledge of operations in volcanic ash before you go and develop and document operating procedures.” An example provided – if you inadvertently encounter volcanic ash, be prepared to respond appropriately by reducing thrust to idle (altitude permitting) and reversing course out of the ash cloud. Do not attempt to fly through or climb out of the ash cloud, as they can extend for hundreds of miles.

If volcanic ash is encountered outside of areas previously reported, be sure to advise ATC as soon as possible – you may be the first to encounter volcanic ash in that area. PIREPs are an operator’s opportunity to share new information, confirm current information or alert ATC and other pilots that the area is clear of ash.

Operators may stay clear of volcanic ash during flight but find ash has impacted their destination or departure airport. When landing at an airport with volcanic ash deposits on the runway, breaking action might be degraded. Pilots taking off from airports with volcanic ash deposits on the runway should wait for ash to settle before departing and might find it appropriate to delay flap extension.

DFW Main Runway Closed

Airport officials at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) announced the first major step in its $135 million ten-year plan to modernize the airport infrastructure has begun on 13,400-foot Runway 17C/35C. There will be a partial closure at first, and then starting in August the runway will be closed entirely until December.

When completed, a 6,000-foot section in the center of the runway will have been replaced to a depth of more than 3 feet and resurfaced with polymer-modified, high-performance black asphalt designed for strength, flexibility and weather resistance. Other improvements include enhanced pavement lighting and a pavement sensor system that measures weather impact and a perimeter taxiway on the northeast side of the airport.

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