In mid-March, Congress passed legislation to extend current FAA programs and funding through July 15, which is needed to give both the House and Senate time to reach an agreement on a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. Currently the House and Senate have two different directions in their bill recommendations.
In early February, a House Committee passed controversial legislation for privatizing the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system. The bill, H.R. 4441, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, authorizes programs and funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The measure calls for the creation of a new, private ATC entity, removed from congressional oversight and governed by a board, in which the airlines have the greatest number of seats, which many in the business community, including the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), fear that decisions won’t be made in the interest of the entire public, but in the airlines’ best interest. There were, however, other provisions included in the bill that were welcomed by the NBAA, but the organization states that “while there are good elements to be found in the bill, the privatization plan represents such a significant threat for the future ability of business aviation to fly when and where it needs to, NBAA is left with no alternative but to oppose the legislation.”
In early March, the Senate Commerce Committee introduced S.2658, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016, for full Senate consideration which they hope to see on the floor in April. The bill rejects a call for privatizing the nation’s aviation system which would be funded by new user fees and overseen, according to the NBAA, “by an airline-dominated board of directors.”
An amendment introduced ensures the real-time location of general aviation aircraft is not disseminated or displayed, protecting the privacy and security of flight information. The bill also calls for measures to streamline the certification process for aviation technologies, raising the bar on aviation safety, integrating unmanned aircraft systems, accelerating implementation of a NextGen aviation system and provides a plan for the U.S. Department of Transportation to modernize third-class medical requirements for small aircraft pilots.
Obviously, there is much more to be worked out on this matter and it will be reported as it becomes available.
New CO2 Standard Set by ICAO Group
A new United Nations standard for aircraft carbon dioxide emissions was recommended in early February by the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). Business aviation groups welcomed the ICAO’s agreement, which also had the endorsement of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The recommendation would cover all but the smallest of new-production business jets and most new-production large turboprops with an applicability date for affected aircraft with fewer than 19 seats beginning in 2023. The CAEP also recommended a phase-out of producing aircraft that do not comply by 2028.
GAMA, one of the business aviation groups in support of the recommendation, explained that the standard considers an aircraft’s performance in cruise, along with size and weight, and recognizes that CO2 reductions can be achieved through new technologies affecting structural, aerodynamic or propulsion systems. It has been designed with the idea that periodic reviews will allow the stringency of its standards to be tightened for alignment with the development of new technologies.
The FAA cited its own Continuous Lower Energy Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program, through which the administration works with industry on accelerating the maturation of new aircraft and engine technologies to reduce fuel burn. It also pointed to its broader modernization efforts, including the installation of more than 7,000 GPS-based NextGen procedures, the majority of which it says result in more efficient routing, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
The CO2 standard recommendation will move on to the ICAO Governing Council and the General Assembly later this year for final adoption.
NBAA Offering Guide on Runway Excursion Prevention
The NBAA Safety Committee has produced a new 16-page guide to help reduce the risks of runway excursions, the most common type of accident in business aviation, according to the International Business Aviation Council’s (IBAC’s) 2013 Business Aviation Safety Brief.
The guide – Reducing Business Aviation Runway Excursions – explains how to identify potential causes of runway excursions and how to lessen those risks, beginning with an assessment of a flight department’s risk exposure. It provides real-life examples of runway excursions and offers suggestions for learning from them. It also outlines a set of protocols to enable operators to benchmark their runway excursion prevention efforts.
The guide states that “it is written primarily to facilitate thought and discussion surrounding runway excursions, and therefore is a useful tool for flight department leadership; however, anyone can gain a better understanding of the latest runway excursion prevention methods by reading this guide.”
According to Ben Kohler, head of the NBAA Safety Committee’s Technical Excellence Working Group, “This new resource can help overcome misconceptions about runway excursions. For instance, some pilots may believe that using a stabilized approach while landing will always prevent an excursion, but that is not the case, as problems can surface after the approach is established. Also, some pilots may be unaware of all the hazards that can lead to an excursion.”
To access the guide, go to: www.nbaa.org/ops/safety/in-flight-safety/runway/runway-excursions/Reducing-Runway-Excursions.pdf