Will Anyone Notice if DF is Shut Down?
The FAA plans to decommission the remaining 29 direction finders (DF) in Alaska unless the aviation industry raises specific objections. DF, first used before World War II, performs one simple function: telling its operator which direction a transmitted radio signal is strongest. A skilled DF operator could pinpoint the location of a lost aircraft. DF steers, as they’re called, have saved thousands of lives over the past 80 years. But now, replaced by more accurate technologies such as GPS and ADS-B, DF is seldom used. Since 2004 there have been eight flight assists, or saves, according to the FAA. Only three, however, were actually credited to the use of a DF steer. Since 2008 there have been none at all. The agency believes DF technology has outlived its useful life and should be shut down. Operators who disagree have until September 12 to voice their opposition on Docket No. FAA–2012–0571.