A report issued last week by Eurocontrol projects that over the next 10 years Europe’s fleet of turbine business aircraft will grow by about 4 percent annually, from some 2,000 today to approximately 3,000 by 2015.
Air traffic control
While pilots agree that ADS-B is the next big thing for the National Airspace System, with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey describing it as the “FAA’s moon shot,” its implementation process has puzzled many. When Blakey last week launched the program with $80 million in FY 2007 funds, agency bureaucrats were still seeking go-ahead approval from the FAA’s top-level Joint Resources Council.
Operators using the new Rnav SID procedures at Dallas/Fort Worth and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airports can expect a visit from their principal operations inspectors (POIs). The FAA said implementation has been a “general success,” with benefits such as greater efficiency and reduced communications.
The International Council of AOPA (IAOPA) submitted a petition to the International Civil Aviation Organization to modify language proficiency requirements scheduled to go into effect in two years. All ICAO member states must “adopt, and controllers and aircrews must conform to and achieve, new English language proficiency standards” by March 2008.
With the latest deadline in the contract dispute between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) fast approaching, it seems increasingly unlikely that Congress will step into the fray. Both sides walked away from the bargaining table on April 5, with the FAA declaring an impasse. The agency submitted its final proposal along with Natca’s objections to Congress, which has 60 days to review the proposals.
Eurocontrol, the Flight Safety Foundation, the European Regions Airline Association and other pilot and ATC organizations are implementing a new action plan to address air-to-ground communications safety issues in Europe. These include callsign confusion, altitude busts, runway incursions, undetected simultaneous transmissions, radio interference, use of nonstandard phraseology and prolonged loss of communication.
With the failure of Congress to take any action in the contract dispute between the FAA and the air traffic controllers union, the agency arbitrarily put its last contract proposal into effect as yesterday’s deadline expired. The FAA declared an impasse on April 5 after nine months of negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association that the agency claimed cost taxpayers $2.3 million.
ADS-B-equipped aircraft will be back on ATC radar screens in Alaska after an absence of several weeks. On March 24, following “misapplication” of separation standards by the Anchorage ARTCC, FAA officials in Washington ordered ADS-B aircraft returns removed from ATC displays.
As the user-fee battle rages, rhetoric from Air Transport Association member airlines is reaching vast audiences. Lost in the debate, however, is a reference made by ATA v-p of operations and safety Basil Barimo late last year, in which he coined the term “commercial airspace” and attempted to connect the user-fee issue with safety in relation to less experienced pilots flying very light jets in so-called commercial airspace.
The DOT inspector general’s office will audit the FAA’s progress in implementing its controller workforce plan for hiring approximately 12,500 new controllers to replace those expected to leave over the next 10 years. The agency watchdog will evaluate the FAA’s progress and assess the effectiveness of other initiatives designed to increase controller productivity.