Gulf Helo Operators Frustrated and Impatient
The Helicopter Association International (HAI) has sent an urgent congressional alert to its members to contact their legislators about resolving continued delays in the FAA’s longstanding commitment to provide National Airspace System-quality communications and weather services in the Gulf of Mexico. According to HAI, more than 35,000 people live and work offshore, supported by nearly 650 helicopters. In many areas with 1,500-foot MEAs, pilots lose ATC radio contact below 5,000 feet, while lack of weather reports prevents IFR operations to major platforms. HAI’s appeal is timely–the FAA is reported to be leaning toward directing the initial phase of its nationwide automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) program in 2007 to airline traffic. As planned, low-altitude helicopter and general aviation usage of ADS-B would commence later in the program’s six-year implementation period.