Growing numbers of smaller aircraft are compounding the problems air navigation service providers face, senior officials told the Jane’s conference at last month’s ATC Maastricht 2005.
Federal Aviation Administration
Arinc Direct is now providing business aircraft flight crews full access to the collaborative decision-making (CDM) program, an FAA and industry partnership to improve traffic flows and cut delays.
While Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has promised that the government will not stand in the way of innovative aviation ideas, at a January meeting of the Washington Aero Club he warned that “we need to start thinking creatively about long-term options for financing infrastructure.” He did not specify what those options might be.
Ten days before the January 20 Presidential inauguration, the FAA issued a six-page national security flight advisory describing airspace restrictions surrounding the event.
Although the FAA needs to hire 11,800 new controllers through Fiscal Year 2015 to replace retirees and other vacancies, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) noted the agency’s own FAA Administrator’s Fact Book (a quarterly publication) reports that the overall total number of controllers dropped from 14,227 at the end of FY2005 to 14,206 in FY2006.
When the idea was initially being explored a number of years ago, FAA planners saw a use for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) only in Alaska, where the technology would allow aircraft operating beyond the reach of radar to develop their own position data using onboard GPS equipment, and then transmit that data to others in the region through either a microwave satellite uplink and downlink or ground-based VHF network.
“The job of a controller is no longer just separating airplanes,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association president John Carr told attendees at a symposium on “Post 9/11 Security Impacts on Air Traffic Control and Aviation” in Washington, D.C., in late January. “They have to be aware of possibilities that we did not even contemplate on the morning of September 10.”
NBAA’s prophecy is coming true. The FAA published a “show cause” notice to extend the flight-reduction program through October 31 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The program went into effect on November 1, originally with an expiration date of April 30.
The NTSB has asked the FAA to limit the number of times a pilot can fail a checkride and questioned whether the existing requirements of providing additional training after multiple failures is adequate. Additionally, the Safety Board wants the FAA to require Part 121 and 135 operators to improve their safety background checks of pilot applicants by obtaining all notices of failed checkrides before making a hiring decision.
Last month, FAA COO Russell Chew told a standing-room-only audience at the annual conference of the U.S. Air Traffic Control Association that a widening gap between the falling income and rising expenses of the agency’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) could reach a cumulative $8.2 billion over the next five years and he said the FAA must take positive actions to close this gap.