Just as in the U.S. there is considerable interest in Europe in developing a solution to the sense-and-avoid problem for unmanned aircraft. A number of different programs are running concurrently under different national, international and industrial consortia, and while several have clocked up significant hours of flight test in surrogate or testbed aircraft, none have as yet flown on board an unmanned platform.
By the end of this year, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects to release a long-delayed draft rule that will begin to establish the conditions under which individuals and companies can fly small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for commercial purposes. But concerns over potential privacy infringements could postpone the release of a final “small UAS” regulation until well into 2016. Routine flights by larger UAS will follow when standards become available to properly equip them for collision avoidance and command and control from the ground.
This has got to stop. We all know that FAA inspectors at the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) level are overworked and that FAA regulations, policies, procedures and programs impose impossible requirements on agency personnel. But when a drop-dead simple piece of paperwork that needs an approval signature hits the desk and gets delayed for some obscure confounded reason, causing the grounding of a multimillion-dollar jet, well, this simply has got to stop.
The Air Charter Association of North America (Acana) and Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) have teamed to raise standards for the air charter industry, to include Part 135 and 121 operators and air charter brokers. The two associations are collaborating on the development and implementation of best practices “that will lead the air charter industry,” said Acana chairman and co-founder Scott Bickford.
The FAA last month released Safety Info for Operators document 14009 to explain a new data-gathering system on implementation of safety enhancements to Part 121 air carriers. The informational notice says all data gathered is only for the evaluation of industry-wide safety-related issues and is not intended to reflect regulatory compliance.
The FAA published the document as part of its support for the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (Cast), of which the agency is a participant along with air carriers, manufacturers and aviation labor organizations.
The FAA used International Civil Aviation Organization standards during a recent inspection to determine that Serbia’s aviation safety rating should be upgraded to Category 1 from Category 2. Serbia’s safety rating had been at Category 2 since 2006, indicating the country either lacked laws or regulations to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority was deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.
The FAA’s Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) have a backlog of applications for certificates that concerns the Department of Transportation Inspector General’s Office. As of last October, 1,029 new air operator, flight school and repair station applicants awaited certificates from FSDOs across all eight FAA regions, with 138 applications delayed longer than three years, the IG reported to Congress on June 12.
In the four months since the March 8 disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, the consensus on what happened appears to have boiled down to one basic view, simply stated by International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general Tony Taylor at the association’s annual meeting in Doha, Qatar, on June 2. “The loss of MH370 continues to be on everybody’s mind. I have no idea what happened to that aircraft,” he said. “I don’t think anyone else has, either.”
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has released a draft of a new Pilot’s Bill of Rights. “The goal of Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 is to continue addressing unfair practices and regulations toward the aviation industry,” Inhofe said.
A June 11 Congressional House hearing on the FAA’s “2020 NextGen Mandate: Benefits and Challenges for General Aviation” reviewed the agency’s requirement that all U.S. civil aircraft carry ADS-B out units by Jan. 1, 2020, along with the vexing–to the FAA, at least–issue that aircraft owners are not rushing out to install them.