By most accounts, the start of reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) standards in North America a little over a month ago was a relatively smooth transition, even for business aircraft operators who had opted not to gain approval before the January 20 implementation date.
Air traffic control
General aviation was heartened somewhat last month when the federal government reopened the “DC-3” airports to limited “transient” traffic.
While Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has promised that the government will not stand in the way of innovative aviation ideas, at a January meeting of the Washington Aero Club he warned that “we need to start thinking creatively about long-term options for financing infrastructure.” He did not specify what those options might be.
Ten days before the January 20 Presidential inauguration, the FAA issued a six-page national security flight advisory describing airspace restrictions surrounding the event.
Although the FAA needs to hire 11,800 new controllers through Fiscal Year 2015 to replace retirees and other vacancies, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) noted the agency’s own FAA Administrator’s Fact Book (a quarterly publication) reports that the overall total number of controllers dropped from 14,227 at the end of FY2005 to 14,206 in FY2006.
The FAA’s Alaska Region this year will assess the suitability of a communications satellite system with an unusual history to supplement its Capstone automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) project.
When the idea was initially being explored a number of years ago, FAA planners saw a use for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) only in Alaska, where the technology would allow aircraft operating beyond the reach of radar to develop their own position data using onboard GPS equipment, and then transmit that data to others in the region through either a microwave satellite uplink and downlink or ground-based VHF network.
Southern Star Avionics has completed required flight testing for Cessna Citation 560 and S550 airframes and expects to receive RVSM group certification for the types early next month. The $95,000 installation kits use IS&S digital altimeters with integrated air-data computers and analog interface units. The company said the upgrade is available for both single and dual flight director aircraft equipped with Sperry SPZ-500 autopilots.
The FAA has certified the CMS-1000 communication management system from Pentar Avionics. The panel-mount unit provides digital and analog input and output, ACARS processing, an optional internal VDL Mode 2 (VHF datalink) radio and optional GPS sensor.
Jeppesen has undertaken an ambitious yearlong effort to survey taxiways and ramp areas at high-use airports throughout the world. Using GPS surveying equipment, Jeppesen engineers plan to establish precise reference points on airports and compare them with digitized satellite imagery.