ATC Proposal May be Headed to a Vote Soon
The latest hearsay regarding the ATC Proposal is that a vote may soon be on the Senate floor – the “first few weeks of October,” but we’ve heard many predictions before. Not only are the general aviation groups still voicing their opposition, but now there are videos with well-known astronauts and famed military pilots (former Blue Angels and Thunderbirds pilots) who have come forward to voice their disapproval of privatizing the ATC.
Business and general aviation groups have recently asked House and Senate leaders to strip the ATC measure out of the bill and adopt at least a six-month extension of the FAA’s current authorization which would provide continuity for NextGen and airports projects and allow a longer-term FAA reauthorization to be hashed out.
FAA Aligns North Atlantic Nav Ops with ICAO Specs
On September 29, 2016, the FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) which proposed to “harmonize the FAA’s regulations regarding the North Atlantic Track (NAT) Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications (MNPS) with those of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)” whose NAT Region had transitioned from a decades-old MNPS navigation specification to a more modern, Performance-Based Naviation (PBN). This included requiring PBN specifications to operate in NAT high level airspace by January 2020. Accordingly, the FAA proposed to remove all mention of MNPS in Part 91. The proposed rule would also correct and update the incorporation by reference of ICAO Annex 2 in the FAA’s regulations.
The FAA did not receive any comments on the NPRM, therefore all of the amendments as proposed were adopted. The new rules go into effect on October 23, 2017.
NPRM for Removal of RVSM Authorization
The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to revise its requirements for application to operate in RVSM airspace. Requirement for operators to apply for an RVSM authorization would be eliminated if their aircraft are equipped with qualified ADS-B Out systems and meet specific altitude keeping equipment requirements for operations in RVSM airspace.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) supports the proposed rule stating, “Operations in RVSM airspace are now commonplace, and technology allows the FAA to monitor the height-keeping performance of aircraft in real time.” The association also feels the change will provide significant savings to operators by both reducing the time and cost in putting together separate application packages for each operator, as well as the extra fuel expense the operators face while waiting for their applications to be processed.
Appendix G of Part 91 outlines the requirements for operators seeking an LOA or OpSpec to operate in RVSM airspace. Because this is the only place in the FARs that references RVSM, the change will affect commercial and non-commercial operators alike.
The proposed new Section 9 to Appendix G would permit aircraft equipped with an ADS-B Out system that meets the equipment performance requirements of Part 91.227 to operate in RVSM airspace without the LOA or OpSpec outlined in Section 3. Pilots will still be required to go through RVSM training, and operators will have the option to seek an approval under Section 3, as they do today, to comply with foreign airspace requirements.
The NPRM says that once the rule is final, the FAA will mail a letter to inform operators that their approval will automatically transition from a Section 3 authorization to a Section 9 authorization. However, operators that conduct international operations will have the option to maintain their current Section 3 approval.
The NBAA emphasizes that “it will be important for operators that conduct international operations to maintain the LOA or OpSpec to comply with requirements of foreign regulators while traveling abroad.”