Jim Timm, Executive DirectorJimTimm.png

The flying weather has been excellent and I hope everyone has been able to get out there and take advantage of it and go flying. If you haven’t, let’s go Flying!

There is a good possibility that Arizona could be the home for a national test range for unmanned aircraft. The federal government is planning to set aside airspace dedicated for the development of new drone technologies for commercial and nonmilitary security uses. The Benson Airport area is being considered as one of the prime locations for one of the test ranges. The

U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca, home to perhaps the worlds busiest drone airport, also figures prominently in the plans.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act passed in December, The FAA must move to integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. The FAA has until mid-2012 to establish a program to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace at six test sites.

In the last quarterly airspace user’s meeting, it was reported that there have been serious intrusions into the Goldwater Range restricted areas by general aviation aircraft. These intrusions have resulted in the interruption of live bomb and weapons training. The Air Force is taking these intrusions very seriously and are tracking and identifying intruders and referring the cases to the FAA for prosecution. I was informed civil penalties are being imposed in one of the cases that are rather significant. Be extra vigilant when flying in the area of the Goldwater Range restricted areas and as a suggestion, use Interstate Highway 8 as a boundary and if you fly south of it, be very positive of your position relative to the restricted areas.

Also, the restricted areas R 2310 between Florence and Florence Junction are also experiencing general aviation aircraft intrusions. This restricted area is not only used for artillery firing, it is also in use almost daily for military UAV testing and training. Avoid flying thru it because the UAV’s are using the entire volume of the restricted area.

A Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB), SAIB-11-47R1, dated 1/30/12, has been issued on Goodyear butyl rubber inner tubes. Apparently the problem has not been significant enough to issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD), but there is a concern. Initially it was believed that only during low temperature operations the tubes had been failing after a short flight or even ground operations. Per the latest SAIB, Goodyear inner tube failures are not limited to only cold weather operations, additional failures have been reported. An improved compound has been successfully field tested and as of August 15, 2011, the modified compound has been used in the production of 5.00-5 inner tubes. The SAIB also makes the following recommendations:

“The FAA recommends you provide special attention during pre-flight to airplane tires with Goodyear butyl rubber inner tubes by:

  • Checking to ensure that all tires are properly inflated and are holding pressure;
  • Being prepared to compensate for a flat tire during landing as this might pull the aircraft to the affected side; and
  • Provide extra awareness during cross wind landing conditions on narrow and on short runways.”

Off hand I’d say the recommendations are good for almost every time we fly. At least they are for me with a tail dragger.

The FAA has finally published a notice that later this year they will be canceling the TSO for 121.5 MHz ELTs. What this means is that no new models of 121.5 MHz ELTs could be manufactured. All existing units and normally functioning yellow tagged units and new units manufactured to current ELT TSO standards can continue to be used. While there have been discussions about setting a date for the transition to the new 406MHz ELTs, no date has yet been set. With the canceling of the 121.5 MHz TSO, there is a thought that the FAA may possibly allow attrition to slowly eliminate the 121.5 MHz ELTs over time.

In the way of miscellaneous notes;

Prescott tower now has a clearance delivery frequency in operation and the frequency is 119.25. Clearance delivery will reduce frequency congestion on the ground control frequency and allow the ground controller to focus on the movement of aircraft and vehicles, thereby increasing safety and reducing delays. After getting the ATIS information, be prepared to contact clearance delivery before calling for taxi.

Mesa Falcon Field (FFZ) still has the south runway closed for reconfiguration of the mid-field taxiway.

Phase I of the project includes replacement of the present mid-field Bravo taxiway with angled taxiway exits and installation of elevated runway guard lights. Construction may take eight weeks, which started January 9 and should be completed by March 2, 2012. Construction is progressing on schedule and when the south runway work is completed Phase 2 will begin which means the north runway will be closed for completion of a similar taxiway reconstruction project on the north side. The entire program should be wrapped up by very early May. Be extra alert when flying into or out of Falcon Field during this construction period because of the traffic density using a single runway.

Falcon Field is going to have their annual open house on March 31.

There are numerous airport construction projects that are taking place at Prescott Municipal Airport (PRC). Be sure to check NOTAMS before flying in to avoid surprises.

To celebrate the state’s centennial, the Arizona Airports Association is planning an Arizona Centennial Fly In at Ryan Field (RYN) on May 19. Plans include a pancake breakfast for early arrivals, a Military fly over, a wings safety seminar, manufacturer’s displays and various aviation organizations will have displays. Tentatively, the event is planned to run from about 7:00 AM to noon.

APA Director, Fred Gibbs and his steering committee are finalizing the plans for the General Aviation Accident Reduction and Mitigation Symposium (GAARMS). The program is on March 14 & 15 at the Mesa Public Safety Facility near Falcon field. Get the date on your calendar and plan on attending.

Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08) has an AWOS operating in test mode at the present time on a frequency of 119.35 . It is also available by phone at 520-723-4920. It is functioning accurately and should be “officially on line” soon.

At Williams Gateway Airport (IWA), PAPI lights are now in service on runways 12R and 30L and also later this year they will have a compass rose available on the airport.

Gateway Airport is also having an open house on March 10. In addition to the other usual displays, it is anticipated they will have a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on display.

The ADOT Aviation Department has announced they plan to have an updated State Aeronautical Chart available late this spring or early summer.

We are continuing to work with airports around the state by providing the general aviation user input in the planning process of updating their Airport Master Plans.

Since my last report to you, the NTSB has reported five aviation accidents in Arizona. There were two accidents resulting in both fatalities and serious injuries. Some of these accidents really should not have happened. The accident summaries are contained in my March Accident Report for your review.

For places to fly for breakfast on the weekend.

The breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport is once again being held on the last Saturday of the month. Worth noting, the breakfast is served inside the airport terminal.

The first Saturday of the month is the Coolidge Airport Fly In Breakfast.

Both events are put on by Community Service Groups to raise funds.

Please fly safe.

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