Across the U.S., in all but four states, there are no fewer than 250 airport towers operated by non-FAA controllers employed by three private FAA contractors. The towers provide ATC services to a wide range of users, including general aviation, passenger and cargo airlines and the military.
Avionics and ATC » ATC
News, issues, personnel, equipment and developments about air traffic management.
In a development particularly relevant to oceanic operations, an FAA-sponsored aviation rulemaking committee expects to issue guidance material providing for the use of satellite-based voice communications for long-range contact with ATC by year-end.
Business aviation traffic in Russia will show a slight increase this year as the sector continues to buck the trend seen in the country’s commercial traffic overall, which saw a significant fall in 2011. Official figures also show that the increase represents stagnation compared with more rapid initial growth in the sector. The prognosis for 2012 is that the number of business aviation flights in Russia will increase from 152,500 to 154,000 flights, with just more than half of these being made by foreign operators.
The FAA announced a collaborative public-private NextGen effort at Florida’s major airports late last week that will increase safety and efficiency while reducing aircraft emissions. Dubbed NextGen metroplex, the initiative will improve the flow of air traffic into and out of airports in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa metropolitan areas. Similar metroplex projects are under way or planned in numerous metropolitan areas across the U.S., the FAA added.
Cargo carrier FedEx Express will become the first U.S. airline to begin operational trials of data communications between pilots and air traffic controllers in continental airspace under the FAA’s Data Comm program, a key component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The carrier expects to start operations using data communications on November 12 at its Memphis International Airport hub.
Last week Airbus issued the latest installment of its future vision for aviation in 2050 and beyond, describing new ways of operating across all phases of flight. The company’s “Smarter Skies” vision centers on a “sustainable” aviation system that saves time, conserves fuel and reduces emissions. For the first time, the vision looks beyond smarter aircraft design to the efficiencies potentially derived from airspace optimization, or making the best use of the environment in which an aircraft operates, Airbus said.
The FAA has published a draft study of the effects of cellphone use for voice communications in aircraft used for scheduled transportation and is seeking public comments (due by November 5). While the agency currently doesn’t approve installation of mobile phone base stations on airliners, other countries’ “civil aviation authorities reported no confirmed occurrences of cellphones affecting flight safety on aircraft with onboard cellular telephone base stations,” according to the study.
The FAA is seeking comments (due October 30) on passenger use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) in general aviation and airline operations. Operators are allowed to determine that PEDs don’t interfere with navigation and communication systems but, the FAA wrote, “this notice requests comments about key areas of policy and guidance that are used by aircraft operators when making these determinations.
While the Iranian capture of the Sentinel caught public attention, it also allowed researchers to show that spoofing technology has been, and continues to be, closely investigated by a number of military and civilian facilities in the United States.
Last December an old, rarely used word–spoofing, –meaning to hoax or to fool others–entered worldwide aviation vocabularies virtually overnight. Simultaneously it brought a new and disturbing strategic escalation to military tactics and a potential, albeit probably lesser, threat to civil aircraft operations.