In an effort to deliver operational improvements more quickly, the FAA has made “trade-offs” in establishing performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures that could limit their benefits in the near term, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Air traffic control
Just before Sun ’n Fun Garmin (Booth No. D-034) unveiled a major update to its Garmin Pilot iPad app, dynamic maps drawn from a vector-based mapping database. The new dynamic maps allow for many improvements to Garmin Pilot, chief of which is labels always remaining upright in the new track-up mode as the airplane turns and the maps adjusts to the new direction.
Remember the spate of sleeping controllers and the angst it all caused at 800 Independence Avenue and 1200 New Jersey Avenue?
The FAA has certified four new SafeRoute flight-deck applications on a US Airways A330 designed to provide “enhanced operational safety,” as it integrates with the agency’s NextGen system. The airline partnered with ACSS, an L-3 Communications/Thales joint venture, and Eurocontrol to complete the installation.
Just in time to help prepare pilots for the closure of dozens of control towers across the U.S., the instructors at Pilot Workshop have released a series of videos offering pointers about operational issues at non-towered airports such as mixing various types of aircraft in the traffic pattern or how to fit in the flow with aircraft that may not be radio equipped.
The FAA said on Friday that it will delay the planned closure of 149 contract ATC towers by 10 weeks to June 15.
Standards organization RTCA will establish a new group in the next several weeks to expedite the development of standards that will enable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to fly in unrestricted airspace in the U.S. The new group—Special Committee 228—will further the work of an earlier group that is being discontinued because of concern over its slow progress.
As Europe begins the phased introduction of new datalink standards for aircraft and ATC (above FL285), Arinc Direct continues to play a leading role in future datalink standards (effectively the next-generation Acars).
So-called controller pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) requires aircraft to be able to communicate with ATC using VHF datalink (VDL) Mode 2, akin to text messaging of requests and clearances (although voice communications will still be used as a back-up).
AOPA “vigorously opposes” the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s plan to prohibit the future use of emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) that use a 121.5-MHz signal. The proposal will have a negative effect on aviation safety, according to AOPA, and the association told the FCC it should immediately abandon its proposed rule changes and defer to the FAA on matters of aviation safety. According to AOPA, there are more than 200,000 general aviation aircraft still carrying 121.5-MHz ELTs.
Controller operational errors are on the rise, according to a February 27 audit report from the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General (IG), prompted by requests from the Senate subcommittee on aviation operations, safety and security and, separately, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. According to FAA data, controller operational errors at the Southern California (SoCal) Tracon, jumped from 33 in FY09 to 189 in FY10, an increase of 473 percent.