Atlas Air’s internal investigation into how its crew landed a Boeing 747 Dreamlifter at the wrong airport last November has uncovered important factors explaining how the freighter, headed to Wichita’s McConnell Air Force Base, mistakenly landed at the smaller Jabara Airport, nine miles to the northeast of the air base.
Air traffic control
Operators flying Bombardier Global 5000 and 6000 jets can now take advantage of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) capabilities such as required navigation performance authorization required (RNP AR) 0.3. Rockwell Collins also added to Pro Line Fusion its vertical situation display so pilots can see a profile view of their aircraft relative to obstacles and terrain; FMS automated speed selection and takeoff and landing calculations; and an interactive feature that allows users to create their own electronic checklists.
Humans’ attempts to interact with cockpit automation have provided fodder for pilot anecdotes for years, and the recently released Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems offers a precise roadmap for where the industry needs to focus. The 34-member research team responsible for compiling the report comprises members of the Performance-based Aviation Rulemaking Committee’s (PARC) flight-deck automation working group, which evolved not long after the 1995 American Airlines accident in Cali, Colombia.
House Transportation Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) set the table for the next round of FAA reauthorization and federal aviation programs when he told the International Aviation Club of Washington, D.C., last month that “we have to begin laying the groundwork now.” The current FAA reauthorization became law in 2012 and expires in September 2015.
When the FAA was looking for ways to slash expenditures by more than $600 million in Fiscal Year 2013 as part of “sequestration” cuts mandated by the U.S. Congress last spring, part of the plans was a shutdown of 149 low-activity contract control towers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) last week lists two aviation issues as top priorities for 2014 in the latest audit released by the office of its inspector general (IG). The DOT will focus on improving the FAA’s industry oversight and operations within the national airspace system (NAS), while also identifying and addressing what it views as root problems in the decade-old NextGen program.
After strong opposition from AOPA, EAA and NBAA, the FAA announced last week that it is reconsidering its decision to move forward with mandatory sleep apnea testing for pilots and air traffic controllers without seeking stakeholder participation. Opponents of the move have criticized what they view as arbitrary medical standards for the proposed testing.
Australia’s aviation authorities are allowing temporary exemptions from its ADS-B mandate, which became effective last Thursday, in certain airspace. The mandate requires all domestic and foreign aircraft to be ADS-B equipped and compliant for both private and commercial operations when flying at or above FL290 within the Australian continent. Because of the complexity of obtaining certificates and installing the required equipment on aircraft, it is permitting exemptions from Dec. 12, 2013, through Dec.
NBAA has criticized the FAA’s proposed action on sleep apnea among pilots. Doug Carr, the group’s vice president for safety, security and regulation, last week condemned as “unacceptable” FAA flight surgeon Dr Fred Tilton’s plan to require some pilots and air traffic controllers to undergo screening for obstructive sleep apnea. Opponents of the policy claim it is not supported by research.
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center last week introduced a system to dynamically manage upper airspace to suit traffic flow. The new variable division flight level (VDFL) enables a flexible distribution of traffic between upper and lower sectors (from 24,500 feet to unlimited), by altering the division flight level to match changing traffic patterns. The division flight level between the upper and lower sectors was previously fixed at 33,500 feet.