Jim Timm, Executive DirectorJimTimm

There is a lot of discussion going on regarding the introduction of UAV’s into the National Airspace system, including the question, “what to call these things”. The term RPV for remotely pilot vehicle hung around for years. More recently the term UAV for unmanned aerial vehicle became common. More recently the FAA seems to favor the term UAS for unmanned aircraft systems. The UAS has been around for many years in various forms.

The latest military versions are impressive in the missions they can accomplish. The UAS has evolved to the point that there are systems that range in size of a baseball to very large aircraft. Initially they most likely will be used by police or public safety organizations, Homeland Security and ultimately evolve into use for commercial purposes such as traffic watch, pipeline patrol, mapping, photography and various observation tasks. Apparently, dozens of universities and law-enforcement agencies have been given approval by federal aviation regulators to use unmanned aircraft.

I think we all share the concern of collision with one of these UAS. The waivers the FAA is proposing to issue in the shorter term will restrict UAS flights to altitudes below 400 feet agl, away from airports, and the UAS must remain within sight of the operator on the ground. Initially the UAS weight will be limited to 4.4 pounds. The waivers the FAA is talking about issuing now, in the short term, are really not much different from radio controlled model airplanes. Under a law President Obama signed in February, the FAA was required to write rules by May 14 on how it will license police, fire department and other public safety agencies eager to fly lightweight UAS at low altitudes. The FAA is supposed to develop plans by the end of this year to integrate UAS operated by individuals or corporations into U.S. airspace by 2015.

I hope you got your comments in before the May 8 deadline. It will be interesting to see how this UAS issue develops. Frankly, I’m already having enough of a problem seeing and avoiding other airplanes my own size without worrying about something even smaller.

I hope everyone has submitted their comments in support of the AOPA / EAA Medical Exemption. The exemption request proposes to expand the driver’s license medical beyond the sport pilot to those pilots flying recreationally. Flying recreationally would be defined as flight in an aircraft with an engine of 180-horsepower or less, four seats or fewer, and fixed landing gear, limitation of a maximum of one passenger and flight during day-VFR conditions. The request would also seek to boost safety by having an educational online course that pilots would be required to complete that would address medical self-assessment.

From time to time the subject of the legality of using a cellphone in a general aviation airplane in flight comes up. FAA Advisory Circular 91-21.1B provides the answer. “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently prohibits the use of cell phones while airborne. Its primary concern is that a cell phone, used while airborne, would have a much greater transmitting range than a land mobile unit. Their use could result in unwanted interference to transmissions at other cell locations since the system uses the same frequency several times within a market or given operating area. Since a cell phone is capable of operating on various cellular frequencies, unwanted interference may also affect cellular systems in adjacent markets or operating areas. The FAA supports this airborne restriction for other reasons of potential interference to aircraft systems and equipment. Currently, the FAA does not prohibit the use of certain cell phones in aircraft while on the ground."


There continues to be a serious problem with intrusions into the Goldwater Restricted areas R-2301W, R-2301E, R-2304 and R-2305. We once again suggest, if you fly south of Interstate Highway 8 be very aware of your position. You will most likely be very close to the restricted airspace boundary. The military is extremely concerned that there is a significant potential for a serious incident occurring with the current rate of intrusions. You have to remember, the fighters using these restricted areas are firing live ammunition and simulating air to air combat and cannot be looking for G/A airplanes. The Air Force is tracking intruders and filing pilot deviations on restricted area violators. Unfortunately, the number of intrusions have been increasing. Please pass this concern to other pilots you know, we do need to get the word out. It is believed that some of these intrusions may have been the result of confusion in entering the identifier for the Gila Bend VORTAC (GBN) and entering the Air Force Auxiliary Field (KGBN) identifier in error. As a result, consideration is being given to changing the identifier for the GBN VORTAC.

Luke AFB reported the LAFB TRACON has recorded over 90,000 operations since the Luke SATR has been in effect with only one NMAC reported. Prior to implementation, there were several NMAC reports each quarter reporting period.

In the way of miscellaneous notes:

Good News! During the last legislative session budget fights, the Aviation Fund escaped having funds swept from it. With an intact aviation fund, ADOT Aviation Department is undertaking numerous airport improvement projects around the state.

I can’t believe it, but GPS testing is still continuing. I wish they would hang it up. Now they were conducting GPS testing at Las Cruces, New Mexico during most of May. According to the notice, the eastern portion of Arizona would have been impacted. Also during the same time frame, testing at Nellis AFB, Nevada was being undertaken that could have impacted northern and central Arizona. Once again, we would like to request, when you are flying, if you note a problem with your GPS navigation signal during the test period, pilots are strongly encouraged to report anomalies to the appropriate ARTCC to assist in the determination of the extent of GPS degradation during the tests. Also, please advise us, noting the time, location and altitude.

Expansion of approach control services to northern Arizona is still on track. The Phoenix TRACON has nearly completed the work necessary to assume the airspace. With an automation update at Albuquerque ARTCC in progress, the projected completion date is March of 2013.

Mesa Falcon Field (FFZ) has completed it’s mid-field taxiway reconstruction project. Sometime this summer they are planning on doing an overlay on the south runway, thus closing it for a short time. We’ll keep you posted on the dates.

Beginning May 20th, Falcon tower expanded operating hours from 0530 to 2100 local time. It was also mentioned that CAE will be adding flights with the signing of another training contract.

The ILS at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ) has been going off the air from 7 PM to 7 AM for maintenance and is scheduled, at this time to go down for 5 to 6 weeks in August for an upgrade. This date may be amended to minimize the impact on the flight training community.

We are continuing to work with airports around the state, presently Gila Bend and Wickenburg, 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 seven aviation accidents in Arizona. Five of the accidents did not result in injuries, one accident resulted in a serious and minor injury the other resulted in a minor injury. See my June Accident Report for a summary of the details.

For places to fly for breakfast on the weekend:

The Coolidge Airport Fly In Breakfast has been suspended for the summer as usual. The breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport is still being held on the last Saturday of the month. Worth noting, the breakfast is served inside the comfortable airport terminal. The event is put on by a Community Service Group to raise funds.

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