Air Transport Association president and CEO James May suggested yesterday that if the Next Generation Air Transportation System is fast-tracked like the Interstate Highway System was a half century ago, many of the promised benefits could be operational within five years.
Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast
The NTSB wants the FAA to monitor the communication contingency plans of all Gulf of Mexico operators. The recommendation follows the Board’s probe of a 2005 Houston Helicopters S-76A accident in the Gulf, in which the pilots did not report their positions via satphone to the company, via radio to other aircraft, or by filing a flight plan with FSS. As a result, their rescue was delayed by nearly eight hours.
Questions about the future of ADS-B have cropped up following Acting FAA Administrator Lynne Osmus’s February 11 testimony on FAA appropriations to the House aviation subcommittee.
Taking a major step ahead of the U.S., the European Commission (EC) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) announcing its intent to mandate carriage of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) transponders by 2015, versus the FAA’s planned 2020 deadline.
A trio of helicopter trade associations are recommending that the FAA mandate night-vision goggles, enhanced-vision systems or IFR-only operations for all night flights of EMS helicopters. The recommendations overlap many key advisories made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2006.
On Tuesday, the NTSB issued a recommendation urging the FAA to monitor more closely the communication contingency plans of all Gulf operators following natural disasters. The move was prompted by the crash of a Houston Helicopters (HHI) Sikorsky S-76A in the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 6, 2005. The helicopter crashed 24 miles offshore a week after Hurricane Katrina knocked out most cell towers in the area and HHI’s communications network.
Europe’s regulatory body, the European Commission, has issued a Eurocontrol notice of proposed rulemaking (ENPRM) mandating ADS-B after Feb. 5, 2015. At that time, all aircraft operating in European airspace must transmit ADS-B Out signals and meet Eurocontrol’s enhanced mode-S surveillance standards. Currently in the public comment stage until April 8, the final rule is expected in late 2010.
Eurocontrol might ask the European Commission to use some of the money expected to be saved by the planned decommissioning of VOR and NDB beacons to sponsor the development of avionics that would enable general aviation aircraft to operate in the sort of controlled airspace envisioned by the single European sky air traffic management (ATM) research (Sesar) program.
The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) is recommending the FAA mandate night vision goggles, enhanced vision systems or IFR-only operations for all night flights of EMS helicopters. The recommendations come on the heels of nine fatal helicopter EMS (HEMS) accidents since December 2007 and one week before the NTSB is scheduled to hold what promises to be highly charged public hearings related to those accidents and overall HEMS safety.
In a rare show of unanimity, the Air Transport Association has joined with general aviation and others in lobbying Congress for a $4 billion stimulus package that could jumpstart NextGen and provide many of its benefits during President Barack Obama’s first term.