Meeting Set to Confront LOC-I
On April 24, in Washington, D.C., the NTSB will meet with government and industry leaders as part of the government-industry collaborative effort to undertake loss of control in flight (LOC-I) in general aviation. The meeting will include representatives from the FAA, industry associations, flight schools and technology manufacturers who will be part of three roundtable discussions on pilot training, cockpit technology and next steps needed to address problem areas.
LOC-I continues to be the leading cause for general aviation fatalities and is the only aviation-specific recommendation on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List.
NTSB member Earl Weener said that so far, collaboration appears to be happening effectively; and that while it is too soon to say progress has been made, the number of LOC-I and fatal LOC-I accidents trended down in 2016, the latest full year of complete data.
The meeting is open to the public and also will be webcast live online at http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.
New DC Airspace Flight Plan Requirements Effective March 29
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) wants pilots to be aware of a NOTAM effective March 29, 2018 that will affect pilots operating in the DC airspace, including DCA Access Standard Security Program (DASSP) operators. On that date, pilots operating in the Washington DC Flight Restricted Zone (DC FRZ) must file flight plans through the FAA’s Washington Center Flight Data Unit (FDU), instead of filing a flight plan with the Washington Hub Automated Flight Service Station (Leidos AFSS), by calling 703-771-3476.
The new requirement applies to flights to, from and between all airports in the FRZ, including Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA), as well as College Park (CGS), Potomac Airfield (VKX) and Washington Executive/Hyde Field (W3Z) in Maryland. DASSP operators must now file their flight plans to or from DCA through the Washington Center FDU.
Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure said, “The FAA is changing the flight plan filing process in an effort to offload services from a contract Flight Service Station to FAA employees. Although the FAA conducted a risk analysis on the new procedure, the DASSP operations were not part of that analysis.”
The new requirement was published in FDC NOTAM 6/7196. Williams points out that this creates a compliance challenge as the existing procedure is currently codified in 14 CFR 93.343 and also 49 CFR 1562.3. The FAA is working to revise the regulations that require pilots to call Leidos AFSS to file DC FRZ flight plans.
Pilots operating VFR departing the FRZ who wish to request search and rescue services will have to file a flight plan separately with Leidos AFSS, in addition to filing with the Washington Center FDU.
“The existing flight plan filing procedures have been engrained in pilots flying in the DC FRZ for over a decade,” said Williams. “Since DCA operations were not fully considered as part of the change, NBAA is watching the transition very closely because of the security ramifications and possible operational impact on DASSP operators.”
The FAA has indicated subject matter experts who understand DC FRZ procedures will be onsite with Washington Center staff to ensure a smooth transition.
The NBAA asks any member who experiences challenges with the new procedure to advise NBAA’s Air Traffic Services of the concern by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. NBAA will use the information to work with the FAA to ensure proper handling of flight plans in the DC FRZ.
Removal of ATC Privatization Provision from House FAA Bill Gains Appreciation from Aviation Organizations
On February 27, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) announced the provision for privatization of the U.S. air traffic control (ATC) system had been removed from the FAA Reauthorization Bill. He said that the proposed reform of ATC in H.R.2997 “did not reach the obvious level of support needed to pass Congress,” and he will now work with his colleagues on a reauthorization bill “to provide long-term stability for the FAA.”
The response from the various aviation organizations – AOPA, EAA, GAMA, HAI, NATA and NBAA – who worked together to voice opposition, as well as encouraged their members to contact their congress members, was appreciative.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) president and CEO Mark Baker commented, “There’s now a chance to do something that all segments of aviation have been asking for – a long-term [FAA] reauthorization bill. This is what advocacy is all about.”
“This is a tribute to all of you in general aviation who took the time to make yourself heard,” said Experimental Aircraft Association CEO and chairman Jack Pelton. “Thanks to the unified fight by the GA community, this bill was not going to pass with ATC privatization as part of it. We can now move ahead with what we have maintained all along – modernization, not privatization. We can fund the FAA long-term and let the agency continue with its already progressing modernization efforts.
“The voice of the entire general aviation community was heard today,” expressed HAI president and CEO Matt Zuccaro. “I want to thank our members for their commitment and passion to engage their elected officials. I also want to express our community’s gratitude to our representatives for listening. This is a great example of what can happen when people unite and speak with one voice.”
“This win for the general aviation community shows what can be achieved when we all pull together toward a common goal, ensuring our airspace system remains for the benefit of all users,” said National Air Transportation Association president Martin Hiller.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen stated, “We are profoundly grateful for everyone who has made their voice heard on this critical issue. Now, it is time to focus our full attention on a long-term FAA bill that ensures the U.S. has the world’s best air transportation system for decades to come.”
With the air traffic control reform settled, House and Senate leaders are now looking toward a short-term extension of FAA authorization while they settle on a long-term comprehensive aviation bill. The FAA’s authorization currently is set to expire March 31 under a stop-gap bill Congress approved in late September. The length of an extension is unclear, but a four-month period has been raised as a possibility, providing time to pass a long-term reauthorization bill before the August break.