The two companies that run ATC in Britain and Spain have launched a joint-venture company to develop a new air traffic management system for both countries. The new company, Sacta, will be owned jointly by the UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Spanish counterpart Aena. Sacta ATC areas will be phased in starting with Canary Islands Center in 2007.
Air traffic control
The FAA has published two general notices revising procedures for airports conducting taxi into position and hold (TIPH) operations. Both notices, which go into effect March 20, result from continued “operational errors” (read actual or potential runway incursions).
A new FAA program is intended to improve the use of comprehensible English as the international language of aviation and support new English language proficiency standards that are scheduled to go into effect in two years. The agency recently signed a five-year cooperative agreement with Ordinate of Menlo Park, Calif., to create a standard aviation English test.
While ILS Cat I equivalency has been on FAA’s wide-area augmentation system agenda for many years, the agency’s recent announcement that it is lowering WAAS minimums was actually the starting gun for several activities required before private aircraft can execute 200-foot approaches beginning in mid-2007.
The FAA today published an order extending through October 28 a flight-reduction program at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, including slot reservations for general aviation operations. The current limitations were scheduled to end April 1, which was an extension from an original termination date of October 29 last year.
The first trial of the FAA’s new airspace flow programs (AFP) begins shortly, likely during the next occurrence of severe thunderstorm-related weather in the Northeast U.S. The AFP allows ATC to impose delays on traffic scheduled to fly through areas constrained by severe weather. Delays are designed to affect en route traffic only, not traffic for destination airports unaffected by weather.
In FY 2005, there were 327 runway incursions, of which 29 were serious Category A and B incidents, according to the FAA’s regional administrator for the Western-Pacific region. Testifying before Congress earlier this week, Bill Withycombe said that in terms of error types, there were 169 pilot deviations, 105 ATC operational deviations and 53 vehicle/pedestrian deviations.
Air Security International reported yesterday that at least three “explosive devices” detonated at approximately 4:30 a.m. local time on March 24 and bomb disposal technicians disarmed two others in Grand Junction, Colo. According to ASI, the devices were found outside the homes of employees of Serco Group, a company that operates the control tower at Grand Junction Walker Field Airport. No injuries were reported in the explosions.
The National Association of State Aviation Officials is asking Congress to “say no” to the FAA’s 2007 budget proposals. According to NASAO, “All of the states and thousands of airports across the nation will suffer if the administration is allowed to slash nearly a billion dollars out of the already authorized $3.7 billion Airport Improvement Program.” The FAA is requesting $2.75 billion for airport improvements.
Commercial pilots and air traffic controllers who have English as a second language, as well as native speakers of English, are needed to participate in a test designed to measure spoken-English ability common in ATC/pilot radio communications internationally.