Slowly but surely, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are entering the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) despite a regulatory regime that was previously considered prohibitive to all but government agencies and research institutions. Unmanned aircraft have flown for the first time commercially in remote Arctic airspace, and companies are considering or have already begun the process of obtaining FAA airworthiness certification of their UAS designs.
Federal Aviation Administration
While the U.S. Congress passed legislation on October 16 that put an end to the 16-day government shutdown, getting agencies such as the FAA fully back up to speed will likely take weeks–adding to the adverse impact widely felt within the general aviation community and beyond.
“While the agreement reached does reopen the government, it may be some time before services at the FAA and other agencies are fully restored to pre-shutdown effectiveness,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.
The U.S. Congress passed legislation to end the 16-day government shutdown late last night, but getting agencies such as the FAA fully back up to speed is likely to take several days or possibly even weeks. “While the agreement reached does reopen the government, it may be some time before services at the FAA and other agencies are fully restored to pre-shutdown effectiveness,” NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said.
The FAA has upgraded Ukraine’s safety rating from Category 2 to Category 1 following an international aviation safety assessment of the country’s civil aviation authority in July. A Category 1 rating means Ukraine now complies with the highest level of ICAO safety standards and its air carriers can add flights and service to the U.S.. With the Category 2 rating, Ukrainian airlines were allowed to maintain existing service to the U.S. but could not establish new services.
In fact, no Ukrainian carrier currently provides service to the U.S.
Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta asking him to deem the FAA’s aircraft registry an essential service. The closure of this office during the government shutdown has all but halted aircraft sales transactions.
While the U.S. government is on a Congress-created enforced shutdown, the aviation industry might be tempted to wonder what the FAA actually accomplishes. What we are learning is that a lot of what the FAA does is process paperwork. And when the paperwork stops flowing, we can be forced to stop flying.
As the U.S. government shutdown enters its eighth day, the FAA announced this morning that it is recalling 800 employees from its office of aviation safety this week to provide oversight across the country. These recalls are part of a contingency plan that would see up to 2,500 employees recalled over a two-week period, but only if their positions provide for “the protection of life and property.”
While the two “voluntary” groundings over the past year at Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair eventually led to its recent downfall, the fractional provider had a long history of maintenance-related issues, according to FAA files obtained this week by AIN under a Freedom of Information Act request. In fact, one such action from June 4, 2008, involves a $500,000 civil penalty, according to the FAA documents. This particular action remains pending.
Every decade or so, sometimes more often, someone or some organization proposes “privatizing” the U.S. air traffic control system. In 1985 it was the Air Transport Association (ATA), now renamed Airlines for America, which released a study calling for a self-supporting federal ATC corporation.
The Friends and Partners of Aviation Weather (FPAW) is looking for feedback from business aviation pilots about the quality of the information delivered through the Aviation Digital Data Service (Adds). The group, founded in 1997, represents a collaborative effort trying to resolve how the aviation weather community can provide pilots the best possible information on conditions, such as adverse wind, low ceilings and visibility and thunderstorms.