The RTCA NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) has recommended a list of priorities for the Federal Aviation Administration as it rolls out the NextGen ATC modernization in the U.S. against increasing budgetary pressure.
Federal Aviation Administration
Stop-gap legislation enacted in late May enabled the FAA to abandon its budget-trimming plan–prompted by sequestration cuts imposed by Congress–to close the 149 contract air traffic control towers starting on June 15. However, the agency left open the possibility that the towers could be closed when the new fiscal year starts on October 1, which is now just two weeks away.
An August 27 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General (IG) concludes that none of the 49 suggestions related to the hiring and training of new air traffic controllers outlined in the FAA’s independent review panel two years ago have been implemented.
The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General has identified the agency’s seven biggest challenges for the 12-month period beginning October 1, two of which apply to aviation. The IG said it will focus on improving FAA oversight of the aviation industry and the operations of the national airspace system, as well as on identifying and addressing root causes of problems with NextGen and setting program priorities.
American Airlines has spent some $400 million in the past few years to retrofit its existing fleet for the planned NextGen flight environment in the U.S. But at this stage it has not seen the operational benefits it had hoped for, according to the airline’s director of airspace modernization and advanced technologies.
New work rules governing occupational safety and health conditions for cabin crew will become effective September 26. The new rules will apply to anyone working aboard any aircraft that legally requires a cabin crewmember, whether operating under Part 121, 135 or 91 rules.
General Dynamics C4 Systems’ next-gen UHF and VHF air traffic control radios completed the first phase of the FAA’s factory acceptance testing program. According to the company, the new radios improve sound clarity, making it easier for air traffic controllers and pilots to hear one another. The second phase of testing, scheduled for this fall, will place with 90 of the next-gen radios in FAA facilities in Florida, Oklahoma and New Jersey to validate how the radios perform in the operational environment.
Part-specific training is not required for work performed under a repair station certificate, the FAA confirmed in response to an Aeronautical Repair Station Association (Arsa) request for clarification.
Helicopter Association International president Matt Zuccaro said HAI is evaluating its legal and political options in the wake of a federal court decision upholding the authority of the FAA to mandate the “North Shore Route” for helicopters transiting New York’s Long Island.
Two years from the September 2015 deadline the U.S. Congress established to introduce unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) into the nation’s airspace system, airline pilots are engaged in the process of developing standards and practices that UAS operators will follow.