In response to an RFP issued last year, the city council of Livermore, Calif., has signed an agreement with Hayward, Calif.-based Five Rivers Aviation to establish a new FBO at the San Francisco airport and take over fueling operations from the municipality. The proposed plan calls initially for a 25,000-sq-ft facility that would include the terminal and hangar space for transient aircraft, as well as for tenant businesses such as aircraft maintenance (which is not currently available). Two subsequent construction phases would each add another 25,000 sq ft of hangar space.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says he wants the FAA to apply noise rules to all helicopters transiting the Los Angeles basin, including those flown by emergency services. “Not all law-enforcement flights are emergencies,” Schiff said during an interview with SoCal public radio station KCRW.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is stepping up efforts to improve helicopter operational safety after adding this to its Most Wanted list of goals for increased awareness and advocacy.
In a January 14 statement, the NTSB said that between January 2003 and May 2013 there were 1,470 helicopter accidents, resulting in 477 fatalities and 274 serious injuries. The Board is concerned that helicopter accidents will continue to happen unless a concerted effort is made to improve the safety of rotary-wing operations.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker believes the only way to solve the growing ATC congestion problems in the Middle East is to develop a single air traffic management system similar to Eurocontrol’s Single European Sky concept. Qatar is among several countries in the region searching for a congestion solution to support regional airline expansion plans.
Despite an apparent historic consensus at the ICAO Triennial Assembly in Montreal in early October to develop a global market-based mechanism for managing aircraft emissions, the European Commission (EC) has pressed ahead with plans to implement its emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the meantime.
The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) is voicing concerns about national rule harmonization with international standards–changes that the AHIA warns could bring major additional costs but little safety improvement. Among the changes is a proposed fatigue management philosophy that could call for hiring an extra crew at an IFR/NVIS helicopter base, and thus increase a Bell 412’s hourly rate by an estimated 25 percent. Another worry has been proposed legislation that bans piston-powered helicopters from populous areas.
In his address to symposium attendees, EASA executive director Patrick Ky reiterated his agency’s commitment to “less but better” regulation in future. A paper written along these lines was to be presented at a management meeting last month. However, the rethink will have to strike a balance between calls for lower-level (more detailed) rules and demands for higher-level rules that leave room for interpretation, he said.
A recent New York Times article described a Russian request to the State Department to approve U.S. locations for one or more terrestrial signal monitors for Russia’s Glonass satellite navigation system, similar to America’s GPS, suggesting the request could have worrisome consequences.
According to the article, “The CIA and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon, suspect that the monitor stations would give the Russians a foothold on American territory that would sharpen the accuracy of Moscow’s satellite-steered weapons.”
Eurocopter is currently developing a production version of the electric backup motor it tested on an AS350 Ecureuil single in 2011, company CEO Guillaume Faury revealed last week, noting that improvements in motors and electric energy storage have made a sound business case for such hybrid power. While not powerful enough to act as a second engine, the system would make autorotation safer by avoiding any rpm drop and then providing some power in the flare.
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center last week introduced a system to dynamically manage upper airspace to suit traffic flow. The new variable division flight level (VDFL) enables a flexible distribution of traffic between upper and lower sectors (from 24,500 feet to unlimited), by altering the division flight level to match changing traffic patterns. The division flight level between the upper and lower sectors was previously fixed at 33,500 feet.