The latest figures from the International Air Transport Association show that international traffic growth and passenger demand in the Middle East is still outpacing the rest of the world. With competition among operators getting tougher every day, the need for proper flight planning is more important than ever.
Flight service station
The FAA lowered the boom on airports serving mainly GA, business and regional airline traffic, announcing on March 22 that it will close 149 ATC contract towers as part of its effort to slash spending by more than $600 million in the current fiscal year under the federal government’s “sequester” mandate. The action could spell the end of the agency’s 30-year-old contract tower program.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) sent a letter today to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, urging him to stop cuts from sequestration that will “disproportionately” affect the safety of general aviation operations. “The recommended cuts will have unacceptable consequences for the nation and the flying community,” AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller wrote to Huerta.
On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood laid out the likely consequences to his department and the FAA of possible automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that are scheduled to start March 1. In the absence of a revised budget deal between the Obama Administration and Congress, he said the FAA is planning $600 million in cuts through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
The FAA has extended for another three years until 2013 the contract it has with Lockheed Martin to run the automated flight service stations that disseminate weather information to pilots in the U.S. The original contract was awarded to the company in 2005. "It doesn't really matter how we feel [about the service]," said Dennis Roberts, the FAA's director of flight service program operations, "it's how you, the customer, feels.
Hawker Beechcraft King Air B100, Corpus Christi, Texas, Oct. 26, 2009–N729MS, registered to Mazak Properties, was destroyed and the private pilot and three passengers killed when the airplane crashed after encountering severe weather. Before departure, the pilot, who was operating under Part 91, received three weather briefings from an automated flight service station.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) has officially added 150 ATC specialists assigned to the flight service option at Automated Flight Service Stations, Flight Service Stations and Flight Service Data Processing Systems sites located in Alaska and at the “weather unit” of the Air Traffic Control System Command Center near Dulles International Airport.
In addition to Flight Service Stations and some private providers of flight-planning services, notams are also available online from NBAA and the FAA. Domestic, international and special notams, as well as temporary flight restriction (TFR) airspace, can be found at www.faa.gov/NTAP/index.htm.
Now halfway into its fifth year of operation as the world’s first fully privatized provider of air navigation services, Nav Canada today finds itself lauded by its clients and castigated by some of its employees.
As the crow flies, the distance between Baltimore and Newark is only about 160 mi. But during the height of thunderstorm season, when lines of towering cumulus march eastward–often erupting into wide, impenetrable walls of rain, turbulence and lightning–the distance can easily double, while travel times can triple.
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