Ten years into the NextGen ATC modernization effort, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration faces ongoing cost, schedule and technical risks in achieving its objectives of managing increasing air traffic more efficiently, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) inspector general’s office.
Federal Aviation Administration
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects to formulate a standard by 2016 that will permit unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to interoperate with manned aircraft using an “electronic means” to see and avoid potential collisions, according to the executive leading the FAA’s effort to introduce UAS into the airspace system.
The House of Representatives passed the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 on July 16. A companion bill has already been introduced in the Senate.
The FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization program could be stalled by substantially reduced funding. 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.
At a House aviation subcommittee hearing yesterday, it was revealed that the $2.1 billion allocated for the FAA’s facilities and equipment account is 22 percent below the agency’s request and less than Congress provided in the current fiscal year.
The FAA has issued a final policy statement that permits general aviation airports to enter into residential through-the-fence (RTTF) agreements with property owners or associations representing property owners. To gain access, the property owner is required to pay access charges; bear the cost of building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to provide access to the airfield; maintain the property for residential, noncommercial use for the duration of the agreement; prohibit airport access from other adjacent or nearby properties; and prohibit any refueling on the property.
The U.S. Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld the FAA’s right to impose the mandatory overwater North Shore Route on helicopter traffic over New York’s Long Island. Writing for the Court, U.S. circuit judge Richard Roberts rejected a legal challenge (petition for review) to the route filed by the Helicopter Association International to overturn the mandate.
A recently completed audit by the Transportation Department’s inspector general has found that the FAA’s Civil Aviation Registry does not provide all of the information needed for aviation safety and security measures. According to the DOT IG, the FAA lacks the information it needs on the identity of non-citizen aircraft owners and has incomplete information on pilot certifications.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects its new first officer qualification rule for commercial pilots that require, with certain exceptions, 1,500 hours of flight time and an air transport pilot certificate to appear in the government’s Federal Register on Monday.
Former Charlotte, N.C., mayor Anthony Foxx was sworn in last week as the 17th secretary of transportation. He succeeds former Republican congressman Ray LaHood, who announced in January that he would not remain in President Obama’s Cabinet for a second term.
Foxx, who received unanimous Senate confirmation, spent his first full day meeting DOT employees and holding meetings on issues facing the department, including transportation safety and hurricane and severe weather preparedness.
To cut costs and improve efficiency, the FAA is moving to end its direct-to-public retail sales of aeronautical charts and related paper products. Last week the agency stopped accepting or renewing chart subscriptions. While individual charts will be available through the agency’s website through September, on October 1 it will stop selling individual charts.