International trip support group United Aviation Services (UAS) is significantly boosting its ability to serve clients in the Americas with the opening next month of a new headquarters for the region in Houston, Texas. Like its world headquarters in Dubai, the new UAS facility will operate 24/7 and it is set to have more than 50 staff by the end of this year.
Air traffic control
A number of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have called attention to instances of pilots’ apparently not understanding the procedures for deviating around weather, prompting Eurocontrol to remind flight crew that they must seek approval from controllers before returning to their previously assigned route once they have resolved the weather conflict. The agency issued an updated version of that safety reminder early this month to explain to crews that they must also request permission to deviate around weather before they begin maneuvering.
Bristow is retrofitting a fleet of 44 Sikorsky S-76C++s and Sikorsky S-92As with Rockwell Collins’s traffic alert and collision avoidance (Tcas II) system. Installations are in progress. A new-generation system, the TTR-4100, will be fitted to 20 of the helicopters. It adds traffic computer capability and enables automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) in.
The FAA’s newest runway safety enhancement tool, runway status lights (RWSLs), became operational on July 25 at Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). The new system uses a series of colored lights embedded in the runway and taxiway pavement to help prevent runway incursions by offering pilots and vehicle operators a simple visual system to determine whether it is safe to cross or enter a runway.
Vehicle movement area transmitters (Vmats) have been installed at both Denver (DEN) and St. Louis-Lambert (STL) international airports to help improve runway safety.
The prospect of an ATC facility without human air traffic controllers is progressing well, according to Dr. Dave Byers, a pioneer in the technology that would enable this development.
Horizon Air has received FAA approval to fly instrument approaches to required navigation performance (RNP) 0.1 standards in its Bombardier Q400s equipped with Universal Avionics UNS-1Ew flight management systems. The UNS-1Ew Waas/SBAS FMS enables Horizon pilots to fly stable 3-D flight paths to touchdown at airports in the Northwest U.S. that have published RNP approaches, but now to lower RNP 0.1 minimums. Compared to traditional but non-RNP approaches, the RNP approaches have been shown to save time and fuel.
No one who flies has ever questioned the safety benefits of a stabilized final approach, whether it’s in VFR or IFR weather. Most airline and business aviation operators define a stabilized approach as one in which the aircraft is properly configured–on airspeed and on altitude–no closer to the ground on final than 500 feet. Anything else essentially demands a missed approach–a go-around in pilot vernacular–or at least it should.
The FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization program faces long-term technical risks and still uncertain acceptance by airspace users. But after a decade in development, NextGen could be stalled by a nearer-term threat: substantially reduced funding from Congress. In June, the House appropriations committee released transportation funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2014 that would reduce the FAA’s capital funding account, which supports NextGen programs, to its lowest level since 2000.
The FAA claims the NextGen Air Transportation System initiative is progressing, according to its recently issued NextGen Implementation Plan report, which projects a reduction in delays of 41 percent by the end of the mid-term implementation period in 2020.