By Jim Timm
Well it certainly looks like summer is here for sure, and you have to get up pretty early to get some fun flying in before it gets so hot that you get cooked to death and beat up with the heat generated turbulence. In your summer travels to get out of here, please be extra wary of the density altitude and be safe. For those headed to the EAA Oshkosh AirVenture, I hope I run into some of you while we are there. Have a fun summer and please fly safe.
Continued funding for the FAA will be coming up before Congress in the very near future, and when it does, Congress could pursue Privatizing ATC. When the FAA’s reauthorization comes before Congress, Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is looking at legislation to move ATC and its employees from the FAA to private, non-profit control. With the FAA’s current reauthorization expiring in five months, both House and Senate staffers are looking at remodeling the entire system, which includes 230 ATC sites and 15,000 controllers. The ideas are based on other countries that have privatized their ATC networks, while keeping safety and regulations under government control. Apparently, most major U.S. airlines support moving ahead with such a restructuring while the controllers unions do not appear to be too sure of the proposal. There is little doubt this privatization of ATC services would result in user fees for all of us. To prevent this from happening you need to contact your Washington Representative and our Senators NOW, and make your voice heard, that we do not want to have our ATC services privatized. What has perhaps worked for other countries with a small general aviation community is not appropriate here in the United States where we have a very large and active G/A community. The present system of funding the FAA isn’t broken and doesn't need to be fixed.
We are having a big enough task now seeing and avoiding each other in our presently relatively crowded airspace, and it doesn't look like it may be getting any better with the coming of drone, or UAS operations. The FAA says they will have the operational rules “on the books” within a year for the commercial UAS operators. Given the speed that the FAA often moves, it remains to be seen whether the pending regulations will meet the timeline and the needs of companies like Amazon, which wants to offer us 30-minute package deliveries with drones. Because of the initial restrictive rules, waivers from the FAA have allowed businesses to test and use drones on a limited basis before the rulemaking process began, thus helping the FAA to explore possible broader final operating rules. Because encounters between manned and unmanned aircraft have increased, so to are efforts by the FAA to educate drone operators, particularly those with little or no aviation experience or expertise, where no-fly areas are located. The FAA is developing a mobile application for drone users that defines the no-fly zones. As you would expect, someone would step into the void, and last April a company came up with AirMap, a free Web-based digital map that simplifies airspace for presentation to UAS operators to confirm they are outside areas where UAS operations are restricted or prohibited.
It appears that GPS Interference testing has been occurring throughout this past reporting period at the following locations; Ridgecrest and Barstow California, Yuma and Alamogordo, New Mexico. There is no doubt that some of this testing was covering a significant part of central and southern Arizona at potentially low altitudes. Please, if you do encounter inflight problems with getting a useable GPS navigation signal for a period of 6 to 7 minutes, it is important that you contact ATC, providing the date, time, location and altitude the problem is noted and also,please advise us at APA! Unfortunately, we still get these notices of testing only days before they occur.
In May, the FAA issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) that advises all pilots of the need to ensure that transponders are in the altitude reporting mode whenever their aircraft is on an airport movement area at all controlled airports. Runway safety systems, such as Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X (ASDE-X), use data from surface movement radar and aircraft transponders to obtain accurate aircraft and vehicle locations, thereby increasing airport surface safety and efficiency.
Pilots should ensure their checklists include transponder use in the appropriate locations and consult their aircraft's flight manual to determine the specific transponder setting to enable altitude reporting. For more information, you can read the full SAFO at: http://go.usa.gov/3XGxA.
The NTSB has issued a Safety Alert advising pilots to be more diligent in looking out for other planes and making their own aircraft presence known during flights by using lights and clearly communicating their intentions. Collisions can easily occur when pilots are distracted by cell phones, tablets and other wireless devices. Technology has introduced challenges to the see-and-avoid concept. Aviation applications on portable electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and handheld GPS units, while useful, can lead to more head-down time." Remember, while flying VFR you are responsible to maintain “see and avoid” vigilance by scanning for traffic throughout a flight! Please keep your head up and looking around and continue to fly safe!
This past reporting period from mid May thru late June has been rather good from a flight safety standpoint in that the NTSB had only reported three accidents occurring in Arizona during this period, all minor in nature. Unfortunately, an accident in this period came to our attention that involved an Arizona pilot that had a serious accident with three fatalities near Laughlin, Nevada. See my July accident summary for the details.
A lot of airport construction going on around the state, especially in the Phoenix area this summer, so be sure to check for NOTAMS before departing so you don’t have a nasty surprise upon your arrival at your destination. And also, don’t forget to check for TFRs! The forrest fire season is here. If you see smoke or something suspicious, report it to ATC or FSS, and avoid flying near any forrest fires.
APA is still working with various airports around the state, providing the pilot and aircraft owner perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. The Deer Valley Airport (DVT) master plan update is still in process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
The first Saturday of the month fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08) has stopped until next October.
The second Saturday of the month, Ryan Field (RYN) fly in buffet breakfast has also stopped for the summer. Breakfast is available at the restaurant however.
The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron Breakfast on the third Saturday of the month has stopped until October.
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). The Airport has a new restaurant, Foxtrot Caf’e, operating in the Terminal Building. They are open 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday thru Saturday, but on the last Saturday of the month they have a “fly in breakfast special” on the menu. Check it out.
Check the APA Calendar for our Getaway Flights program for weekend places to fly.