Online flight planning service Fltplan.com now offers interactive IFR en route and sectional charts. Users can print the charts and overlay various layers onto charts, such as weather radar, airspace and TFRs, state outlines, grid fixes, airports and victor and jet airways. The airways view also displays SID and Star symbols on the charts, but only those associated with the planned flight.
Now that we’ve all gotten accustomed to acronyms like Rnav, RNP, LPV and all the others, the next big game changer will be TBO, for trajectory-based operations, sometimes loosely thought of as user-preferred trajectories. Oddly enough, trajectory flying was the fundamental technique used way back by pilots flying the mail in their biplanes and in early passenger operations.
The FAA has released a “roadmap” for performance-based navigation that would enable pilots to use Rnav and RNP (required navigation performance) procedures in all phases of flight in the National Airspace System (NAS) by 2020, leaving only a minimal network of ground-based navaids in place.
After nearly a year of studying air routes in Anchorage airspace, the FAA will soon finalize several proposed changes affecting general aviation operations departing and entering the airspace of local airports. Pilots who use Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Merrill Field, Lake Hood Seaplane Base and other area airports, as well as pilots who transit the Anchorage area without landing, would be affected by the changes.
Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is stepping up operating trials aimed at making greater use of both en route and terminal area airspace. New procedures being evaluated include the use of parallel offset tracks in place of radar headings alone; closer spacing of parallel routes with autonomous operations; and the use of precision area navigation (PRnav) procedures for terminal area control.
The FAA has begun redesigning high-altitude airspace above FL390, and among the first beneficiaries will be Rnav- and RNP-equipped business jets that routinely operate at those altitudes.
The FAA is proposing numerous revisions to instrument flight rules and procedures to reflect technological advances intended to “facilitate the transition from ground-based navigation to new reference sources,” principally GPS and enhanced vision systems. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) cuts a 60-page swath through the Federal Register, affecting Parts 1, 71, 91, 95, 97, 121, 125, 129 and 135.
In her final speech before the Washington Aero Club last month, former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey chided the airlines for causing most of their own delay problems with flight schedules that “are at times out of line with reality.”
The pilot’s decision to rapidly maneuver the helicopter at a high density altitude near steeply sloping terrain was the cause of a fatal air-tour helicopter crash on Aug. 10, 2001, according to the NTSB’s final report. The pilot and five passengers were killed and one passenger was seriously injured when the Papillon Airways AS 350 hit terrain during an uncontrolled descent near Meadview, Ariz.
At the FAA’s two-day New Technology Workshop last month, the focus was sharply on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The key enablers to get there, according to Nick Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, will be “performance-based” navigation and Internet-like access to critical information such as near real-time weather.