It’s summer time and the flying isn’t easy. It’s hot and bumpy, and I don’t care what anyone has to say, but there is a ray of hope on the horizon that fall, and good flying weather, can’t be too far away. I’ll keep that in mind and try to not get too crabby while waiting for the cooler weather.
Trying to fly between Phoenix and Tucson and passing generally through the Eloy area with its multitude of parachute jump zones can be a bit problematic and worrisome. Nobody wants to hit an airborne pedestrian, because nobody will win. I’ve been told that flying down the center of the Interstate highway is the safest way to do it, but even that doesn’t seem like the safest way. I would like to share the following thoughts to make your transition as safe as possible.
In preparation for your flight, carefully look over the Phoenix Sectional chart, and identify all the skydive operations along your planned path of flight, taking note of the airports associated with the skydive operations, and their associated CTAF frequencies. In flight, when approaching the area of possible skydive operations, monitor the CTAF frequency of the airport associated with the operations and listen for an announcement of impending skydive operations and specifically a call of Jumpers Away when they have discharged a load of jumpers. Noting wind conditions, and the possible landing zone, use judgement in avoiding what could be an area of possible conflict.
Also, after discharging their load of skydivers, the jump plane will normally make a very rapid direct decent to the airport to pick up another load of skydivers, so also be aware and wary of the returning jump plane as this also could be a potential hazard. Flight Service, and ATC can also advise you of skydive activity if they are in contact with the jump plane, and they should be. Be particularly careful during weekends and holidays when skydive operations are at their peak. Please use caution, be vigilant and be safe!
The FAA has a new leader. The Senate has voted to confirm former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson to be the next head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Dickson is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and served as an F-15 fighter pilot. He has a law degree from Georgia State University, and recently retired as Delta's vice president for flight operations. Fortunately, the new administrator has also taken a position in opposition to privatization of the nation’s air traffic control system. He understands safety first from an industry perspective, and also from the pilot perspective.
For those that wish to, or already do, formation flying, you should be aware that the FAA has published a new rule that allows air traffic control to authorize some aircraft to turn off their Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipment. The rule (available online here), that authorizes the non-lead aircraft in formations to turn off their transponders or ADS-B, was published and took effect July 18th.
Two years after the FAA placed a hold on plans to require all domestic and international flight plan filers to use the international flight plan form, the policy has been revived with a started Aug. 27 of this year for using the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan format. Guidance on using the flight plan form eventually will be published in the Aeronautical Information Manual.
Last month we advised that the Picacho Army National Guard Heliport (PCA), also known as “Stagecoach AAF,” northwest of Picacho Peak, was experiencing a problem with aircraft passing through their airspace unannounced. The problem is aggravated by the fact that the heliport doesn’t have an associated Class Delta Airspace assigned to it to assist in recognizing its location. The Department of Defense (DOD) finally recognized the problem, and the process is underway between the FAA and DOD to establish Class D Airspace for the heliport. Unfortunately, this process will take between 12 to 18 months to accomplish, so in the meantime, stay aware in that area and be safe.
This summer the FAA VOR Minimum Operation Network (VOR MON) group was in the process of eliminating a number of what were thought to be un-necessary VORs in the U.S. Fortunately, none of those eliminated were or will be in Arizona because most are being used for instrument approaches.
As the National Airspace System (NAS) has transitioned to NextGen, the number of flight procedures in the NAS has quadrupled. The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining these procedures is not sustainable, and a National Procedure Assessment (NPA) Program was initiated to eliminate underutilized instrument procedures. In reviewing local procedures, the NPA identified the following instrument procedures for elimination. Both of Glendale’s IAPs, one Falcon Field IAP circling procedure, and the Deer Valley RNAV(GPS)C IAP are being eliminated.
The FAA Charting group is in the process of reviewing the Phoenix Sectional and the PHX TAC charts, reviewing all VFR Waypoints, and is going to be making corrections or additions as necessary. When you buy or download your latest VFR Charts, be aware that there may be some subtle changes in waypoints or new ones.
The Phoenix TRACON recently offered a program called Operation Rain Check (a Tour of Phoenix TRACON) and the 24 slots available were filled within fifteen minutes of the initial announcement. As a result, the TRACON is going to plan on making the program available on a quarterly basis to meet the demand.
For many years APA has been attempting to encourage the PHX TRACON to obtain control of the airspace between Flagstaff and Tucson to permit seamless tower to tower instrument and flight following operations between the two points. They have secured the northern half of the objective between Flagstaff and Phoenix, but the southern half between Phoenix and Tucson has been elusive. For a time there was hope that the repositioning of the ATC RADAR antenna at IWA would permit this to happen; however, no one will come up with the money necessary to relocate the tower. Recently, the Albuquerque Center has advised the PHX TRACON that they would like to relinquish control of the airspace up to 15,000 feet between Tucson and Phoenix to the PHX TRACON. With the use of ADS-B, the IWA RADAR antenna relocation may not be needed, and a study is under way to see how this transition can be accomplished. Those of us in APA that have been working on this can’t believe it may finally happen! Time will tell if we will finally have tower to tower operations between Phoenix and Tucson.
Prescott Airport is undertaking the task of building a new terminal, and the ground breaking is planned for September 26, 2019, with the construction planned for one year, with a grand opening in October of 2020. In the meantime, there will be a lot of disruption. During construction, transient parking will no longer be available on the West Ramp but will be available on the ramp north of the existing terminal, or at the FBO, Legend Aviation. Use care and check NOTAMS.
Prescott has removed some trees and other obstacles preventing Instrument Landings on PRC RWY3R at night. Night landing “NA” remarks for RWY3R have been deleted from all PRC IAPs. However, Runways 3L, 12, and 30 are still NA at night.
To meet demand, Falcon Field (FFZ) has just approved a 23-acre development of large aircraft hangars with office and manufacturing space. Hangars will range from 5,000 to 60,000 square feet floor space with high ceilings and wide doors. The development will be in the northwest corner of the airport property bounded by McDowell Road and Greenfield Roads. Access to the development will be off Greenfield Road.
We are aware that many of the airports around the state, and especially in the Phoenix area, are planning and starting various construction projects. So, we want to remind you to always check for NOTAMS for your destination airport, fly informed, and have a safe flight.
The last month has again been very good from a flight safety standpoint. In the past reporting period, there were only three accidents reported by the NTSB, and none of them involved fatalities. I hope this current trend continues for the rest of the year. Pilots apparently are being more careful in what they are doing and are keeping their airplanes airworthy. See my September Accident Summary for details.
As you are aware, APA is working with several airports around the state to update their Airport Master Plans, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process. Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII) currently has a phase report out for re-view and comment by the PAC Committee. Page Municipal Airport (PGA), Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) are also currently in their Master Plan update process. Chandler Municipal Airport has recently joined the list and is starting the planning process also.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO FLY FOR BREAKFAST:
- The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), normally on the first Saturday of the month, is on summer hiatus. They will resume in October.
- The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast, and car show on the third Saturday of the month is also on summer hiatus. They are planning on restarting on Saturday October 19.
- On the third Saturday, the fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation is now on a quarterly basis. Check the Calendar for the next fly-in date. (There will still be special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
- The Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake is open to fly into any time, and the BBQ lunch hosted by APA on the third Saturday of each month resumes this month, September 20-22.
- The last Saturday of the month there is still a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). The Airport’s restaurant, Foxtrot Cafe, is operating in the cool air conditioned Terminal Building. It’s open 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday through Saturday. On the last Saturday of the month they have a “Fly in Breakfast Special” available on the menu; the price for adults is $8 and kids $5.
- At Tucson’s Ryan Field Airport, Richie’s Cafe, is serving breakfast and lunch daily. The hours are 6:00 am to 2:00 pm
Check with the APA Getaway Flights program
and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.