By Jim Timm
The summer doldrums are definitely here and the local flying activity has really slowed down. Many are heading for the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, I hope some of our paths cross while we are there. In the mean time, fly safely, watch the density altitude in your travels, and be sure to check for TFRs’ and check NOTAMS before taking off. There is a lot of airport/runway construction going on this summer.
How many of you have used the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) , known to many of us as the “NASA report”? I think many have thought of it as a report to be filed as a result of an airspace operating problem. In reality the ASRS allows the pilot to identify safety issues ranging from hazardous operating practices, airspace design, chart terminology, weather briefings, medical issues, problems with instruments, or any other problematic issue encountered in flying. In filing a NASA report, your personal identity is removed and you make your concerns known in an anonymous way, thus removing the concern of embarrassment or concern about FAA enforcement action. The information is collected and analyzed by NASA to create valuable data that would be useful in making appropriate modifications to the system to avoid future mishaps. NASA, as an impartial third party, collects and analyzes the aviation safety reports and provides the data to the FAA, or other appropriate authorities, so that the circumstances that might compromise aviation safety may be remedied. NASA shares only the information, but not the source of the information. Once the report is received and NASA enters the objective data into its system, the report and any personally identifying information is destroyed, preserving your anonymity. There are two very important exceptions that prevent NASA from keeping your information confidential; that is, if the report involves an accident or a criminal act. Then, the report will not be de-identified but will be sent in its entirety to the proper authorities such as the FAA, the NTSB, or the Department of Justice.
The other thing that the ASRS enables pilots to do is to possibly avoid the imposition of a sanction. In FAA Advisory Circular 00-46E, the FAA says that it will waive the penalty in an enforcement action if the pilot can show that he or she filed a timely NASA report and has satisfied the criteria for a waiver. To qualify for the waiver, the pilot must be able to show that the report was filed within 10 days of the flight event. The identification strip that you receive back in the mail or the confirmation page that you get on the Internet can demonstrate the timely filing. Also, to qualify for the waiver, the conduct must have been inadvertent and not deliberate, and it must not involve a lack of qualifications or competency. Finally, the pilot must not have been found in a prior FAA enforcement action to have committed a violation within the preceding five years. A very common misunderstanding about the NASA reports is the belief that a pilot can only file a report once in five years. A pilot can file as many reports as he or she wants to, for as many concerns that he or she may have about the system. The only restriction that applies, is that a pilot may not take advantage of the program to waive the penalty if the pilot has had another enforcement action and has been found to have violated the regulations within the preceding five years.
We would encourage pilots to file NASA reports for any safety issues encountered, not just airspace/operational issues. The results of these reports can help all of us to fly safer. The reports can be filed electronically at; http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/report/electronic.html
In our quest to improve flight safety and reduce the severity of accidents thru the use of shoulder restraints, we were advised the FAA has issued the following policy statement, ACE-00-23.561-01, regarding the installation of shoulder restraints. The purpose of this statement is to provide information related to acceptable methods of approval for retrofit shoulder harness installations in small airplanes. This policy in it’s entirety can be viewed on the APA Website here.
Mesa Falcon Field (FFZ), Phoenix Gateway Airport (IWA) and other airports around the state will be having numerous construction projects underway this summer, so be sure to check NOTAMS before your departure for possible destination airport operational restrictions. Construction work at Phoenix Gateway Airport is also expected to continue on into the fall.
We still get notices that GPS Interference testing is occurring. Unfortunately, we continue to receive these notices only a few days before the testing is to take place, making it impossible to provide you with a timely notification. If you do encounter inflight problems with getting a useable GPS navigation signal, it is important that you contact ATC, and advise APA of it also, providing the date, time, location and altitude the problem is noted.
We all need to be concerned about aviation safety, and this last reporting period was not a good one. From the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) records, there were seven accidents that occurred in Arizona in this last reporting period. Of the seven accidents reported, one of them involved two fatalities. Unfortunately, five of the seven reported accidents did not have accident details issued. An effort is continuing, to determine if an alternate, and more current, source of information is available. The information presently available is contained in my August Accident Report. When this report was prepared, there were two additional fatal accidents that were reported in the media and had not yet had accident reports issued by the NTSB. These will be covered in next month’s accident report.
Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that what has been happening in other parts of the country may now now be beginning to happen here. I have become aware of a couple of Arizona accidents where serious injuries were involved, and a Public Prosecutor has gotten an indictment against the pilot for assault while using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. The weapon being defined as the airplane. It now appears that an accident could result in much more than a civil lawsuit, it could also result in criminal charges.
APA continues to work with airports around the state providing the general aviation user perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
The third Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation. (Often there have been very special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
The last Saturday of the month there is still a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ) that runs from 7:00 am until 10:00 The breakfast is inside the air conditioned terminal building and it is anticipated to continue through the summer.
(The Casa Grande fly in breakfast is put on by a service group to raise funds for community service projects.)
Check the APA Calendar for our Getaway Flights program for weekend places to fly.