Another Extension on the FAA Bill?
It looks like it. Congress has yet to come to an agreement on a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. The agency is operating under it’s fifth short-term extension set to expire Sept. 30 and will likely see its sixth.
The Airlines for America (A4A) president and CEO Nicholas Calio stressed last month that all stakeholders need to collaborate to get a long-term FAA reauthorization passed. “This is critical for FAA to maintain and advance the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world,” he said. “There have been far too many extensions over the years, and we simply can’t have stop-and-start funding.”
Many see action possible in the days following the November elections. But if Congress fails to act by the end of the year, a new Congress begins and all bills must start from scratch.
Late Breaking News: A new FAA Reauthorization bill was released on Saturday, Sept. 22, which could be voted on by the House and Senate and approved by President Trump by the Sept. 30 deadline. The bill eliminated one of the most contentious clauses, but still has a few that may take some further compromising. The question is, can it be done in a week?
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) commended the bill as having five years of reliable funding would be very helpful in dealing with controller shortages throughout the system. As mentioned, the reliable funding is also critical in order to advance the airspace system to where it needs to be.
McCarran Airport Introduces Tool to Help Reduce Departure Delays
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) reported that a new tool has been unveiled at McCarran International Airport (LAS) to help business aviation operators significantly reduce potential departure delays when they take off from Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Departure Delay Mitigation Tool (DDMT) was developed by the Las Vegas Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility and collects and presents departure demand information for an entire day in an easy-to-view format, allowing crews to decide whether to reschedule a departure for a lower-demand window. The tool is expected to be especially useful during the many high-traffic special events that Las Vegas hosts.
NBAA’s Director for Air Traffic Services and Infrastructure, Heidi Williams, said the association supports the DDMT as an alternative to previously used tools like the FAA-managed Electronic Special Traffic Management Program, which was widely regarded as ineffective due to timing and compliance issues.
“With the DDMT, the Las Vegas TRACON has created what we believe will be a valuable tool for the business aviation community,” Williams said. “We appreciate that they are hearing and acting on the needs of our industry.”
The DDMT is available on kiosks at Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation and went into
service Sept. 10.
The FAA plans to eventually make the DDMT available on a smartphone and tablet app, and potentially institute the program at other airports.
Customs Ends Landing Rights at Michigan’s Drummond Island Airport
Effective Sept. 30, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will withdraw the “landing rights” designation for Michigan’s Drummond Island Airport (DRM) and will no longer service the airport for private international arrivals.
CBP inspected approximately 55 arriving aircraft a year at DRM and continuing the services was “cost prohibitive and adversely affected CBP operations in the area.”
The agency plans to continue servicing private aircraft at Sault Ste. Marie (CIU) or Sanderson Field (ANJ); both located about 60 miles west of Drummond Island, where CBP assets are already in place. CBP had previously assigned seasonal staff to DRM to conduct small boat inspections, but the boating community can now report arrivals to Drummond Island and surrounding communities electronically.
Under CBP regulations, private aircraft entering the United States from a foreign area must first land at a landing-rights facility, user-fee airport, or international airport designated in their advance passenger information system (APIS) transmission.
ASI Releases Latest Nall Report
The AOPA Air Safety Institute (ASI) released the 27th Joseph T. Nall Report in early September. The Nall Report provides an in-depth look at general aviation accidents from the most complete year that information is available and also includes trends. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requires substantial time and resources to investigate accidents, so ASI uses the latest year where 80 percent of its accidents have a probable cause determined by the NTSB, which is 2015 for this latest report.
Per the report, general aviation (GA) is defined as all flight activity except that done by the uniformed armed services and the scheduled airlines. In addition to personal and recreational flying, it includes public-benefit missions such as law enforcement and fire suppression, flight instruction, freight hauling, passenger charters, crop-dusting, and other types of aerial work that range from news reporting to helicopter sling loads. The report covers airplanes with maximum rated gross takeoff weights of 12,500 pounds or less and helicopters of all sizes. Collectively, these types of aircraft account for 99 percent of GA flight activity.
In all, general aviation aircraft were involved in 1,173 total accidents, 221 of which were fatal resulting in 375 fatalities. The number of fatal accidents was down 4 percent over the 229 in 2014. This decline occurred during a year when flight hours increased by 3.6 percent, reaching 23.98 million. The more detailed look at the Nall Report did highlight the continued need to focus on training, with pilot-related accidents accounting for 74 percent of the non-commercial accident total during 2015.
Breaking it down further, there were 967 total fixed-wing, non-commercial aircraft accidents; nine were multiengine turbine aircraft. Statistics show that fixed-wing commercial operations are among some of the safest in GA operations. Of the Part 135 charter or cargo operations accidents, a total of 26, the majority of the aircraft were single-engine; only three were multiengine turbine.