Aviation Issues: Recent Developments in Aviation

Aviation Issues: Recent Developments in Aviation

Study Recommends New Go-around Procedures

Anew study, which was commissioned by the Flight Safety Foundation and presented at a recent Flight Safety Foundation/NBAA Business Aviation Safety Seminar, recommends redefining approach criteria for business and commercial aviation operations. Only three percent of commercial pilots comply with SOPs mandating go-arounds if the aircraft is not on a stabilized approach at or below 1,000 feet agl, and corporate pilots are believed to be the same.

According to the study, compliance could eliminate 54 percent of accidents, but most pilots believe the standard is unrealistic and thus have little incentive to observe it. “Understanding the Psychology of Non-compliance in Go-around Decision Making” also finds these pilots score lower on all measures of situational awareness and are less communicative with other crewmembers than compliant pilots.

The study recommends making 300 feet, rather than 1,000 feet agl, the go-around height for unstable approaches; and also recommends enhancing landing go-around criteria. In the interim, recommended measures include installing stable approach and alerting systems on aircraft, as well as ensuring flight crews actively communicate during approach and landing.

FAA Proposes Eliminating Hundreds of Remote Communication Outlets

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice of Proposed Policy to reduce the number of remote communication outlets (RCOs) used by flight service stations (FSSs). Currently there are 1,621 RCOs in the United States, and under the proposal 666 would be decommissioned starting next year. Frequencies especially designated for emergency and military use are not included in the proposal, as well as frequencies in the state of Alaska.

The FAA states that currently RCO coverage includes duplicate, overlapping and seldom used frequencies. Last year, it contracted the MITRE Corporation to study the areas covered by RCO and VOR frequencies for “possible removal without significantly impacting the area of coverage.” The study concluded that the 666 frequencies could be removed and still provide 99-100 percent coverage at 5,000 feet; 98-100 percent coverage at 3,000 feet; and 93-100 percent coverage at 1,000 feet.

By reducing radio coverage, the agency estimates it can save up to $2.5 million annually in maintenance costs alone. More savings will be realized once property leases are terminated and the voice-switch communications infrastructure is reduced.

Comments on the proposed policy are due to the FAA by June 27, 2016.

Proposed Rulemaking Withdrawn for NYC Airports Landing Restrictions

The FAA has withdrawn its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would have imposed new landing restrictions on nonscheduled operations for three major New York City-area airports due to “significant” changes affecting the airports. The NPRM would have limited unscheduled operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport to two slots per hour and one per hour at Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as permanently implementing existing restrictions of three per hour at La Guardia Airport.

Since the FAA initiated this rulemaking early last year, there have been “significant changes in circumstances affecting New York City-area airports, including changes in: competitive effects from ongoing industry consolidation; slot utilization and transfer behavior; and actual operational performance at the three airports.” The agency also recently announced that slot controls are no longer needed at Newark.

“In light of the changes in market conditions and operational performance, and particularly the potential impact of Newark’s change in status, the FAA is withdrawing the NPRM to allow for further evaluation of these changes,” the agency stated.

Doug Carr, National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) vice president of regulatory and international affairs, responded to the withdrawal by stating, “Business aircraft operators flying into and out of the New York/New Jersey region will benefit significantly from retaining historic access to these important aviation resources, particularly when certain weather conditions make these larger airports better options than smaller area airports.”

The NBAA also stated that the FAA’s withdrawal of the NPRM also means LaGuardia Airport’s (LGA) current slot limitation of three unscheduled slots per hour remains in effect, and JFK continues to have no unscheduled slot requirements. And that these conditions will remain in effect until October 27, 2018, when the relevant JFK and LGA orders will expire.

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