While legislation that would direct the Transportation Security Administration to study the vulnerability of general aviation airports to terrorist acts is dragging through Congress, there is talk in the GA community about possible changes to the widely reviled Washington, D.C., air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The ADIZ now covers 3,700 sq mi that closely follow the Washington-Baltimore Class B airspace.
Terminal Control Center
The FAA selected a preferred alternative in late March for the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia airspace redesign project after 10 years of studies, meetings, legal wrangling and a bit of mud slinging. The Integrated Airspace Alternative (IAA) calls for entirely new concepts in airspace management and routing that the agency feels will greatly reduce delays in the busy northeast corridor.
Stephen Hickok of Hickok & Associates, Orange Beach, Ala., announced on Thursday that the FAA performed a successful flight inspection on February 23 of the company’s design for the first helicopter simultaneous noninterfering (SNI) instrument approach in a complex airspace system.
At about the same time Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta was announcing plans for a “next-generation air transportation system” to the Washington Aero Club in late January, word was filtering out of the White House that the Bush Administration wanted to cut the FAA’s facilities and equipment (F&E) budget for fiscal year 2005 by almost half a billion dollars.
The FAA last month chose Lockheed Martin from a field of five bidders to provide the services now offered by the agency’s 58 automated flight service stations in the continental U.S., Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Under a five-year contract that includes five additional option years, the agency expects to save $2.2 billion if it exercises all of the option years.
Shortly after midnight on October 24, a Learjet 35A, a Med Flight air ambulance flight, crashed in mountainous terrain eight miles east of San Diego Brown Field Municipal Airport (SDM). All five aboard–the ATP-rated captain, copilot and three medical crew–were killed and the jet was destroyed.
“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.”
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.
Why, when the safety record of professionally flown turbine twins is so impressive, did four business aircraft experience fatal accidents during a five-week period late last year? Three were fan-powered–a Learjet 35A, a Gulfstream III and a Challenger 601–and one was a King Air 200. There was a highly qualified two-person crew at the controls of each aircraft. Three of the four airplanes were operating in accordance with Part 91.
Mitsubishi MU-2B-60, Parker, Colo., Aug. 4, 2005–The NTSB blamed the accident on the commercial pilot’s failure to fly a stabilized instrument approach at night. Contributing factors were the dark night and low clouds, the inadequate design and function of the airport facility’s minimum safe altitude warning system (MSAW), and the FAA’s inadequate procedure for updating information to air traffic controllers.