By Jim Timm
In spite of some occasional rain we have had, the flying weather has been great, and I hope everyone has been taking advantage of it. With all the flying events that have been going on, it’s sometimes difficult fitting in as many as we would like. There’s a lot to see, so let’s go flying, but do it safely.
With the President’s new budget out, we are again facing the ATC Privatization threat with the claim it “would benefit the flying public and taxpayers overall.” Since Trump’s election, the airline industry has been lobbying nonstop for the formation of a nonprofit corporation controlled by a board of directors dominated by airline representatives to run the national airspace system. General aviation groups have been opposing privatization, pointing out it would amount to handing the nation’s airspace over to the airlines, which the airlines themselves have suggested is accurate. The budget calls for a “multi-year reauthorization proposal to shift the air traffic control function of the FAA to an independent, non-governmental organization, making the system more efficient and innovative while still maintaining safety.” The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee proposed similar legislation last year, but it was stalled by Senate opposition. The committee chairman is Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., a longtime privatization supporter, who has close ties to Aviation 4 America, the national group representing U.S. airlines.
The Trump administration is apparently ready to go through the due diligence part of implementing the program. Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, is apparently planning to travel to Ottawa, Canada, to meet with leaders of NavCanada, the nonprofit corporation that has run the airspace north of the border and over the North Atlantic for 20 years. NavCanada charges most light aircraft operators in Canada a flat fee of $68 a year for access to all but the country’s 10 busiest airports. Commercial operators pay for access on a fee-for-service basis and are billed for air traffic control services.
We will have to support all our national general aviation groups and contact our legislators in opposing the privatization of the present ATC system.
Last month we discussed participation in the BasicMed program that goes into effect May 1st. If you do elect to participate in the BasicMed program, you should be aware that the three countries whose airspace borders the U.S. (Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas) , which do not have parallel regulations, so that means pilots flying with BasicMed will not be able to fly in these countries. All three countries require an ICAO-recognized third class medical, and BasicMed will not be approved by ICAO. Pilots wishing to fly into Mexico take note!
March 1, Gateway Airport restarted their parking fee of $20 for parking at the General Aviation Terminal. The fee will be waived with the purchase of 10 gallons of fuel. Because of the very diverse size and type of airplanes using the terminal facilities, ranging from large military to smaller general aviation, be sure to follow the lineman's directions as to where to safely park. In the interest of promoting aviation safety, they have agreed that parking fees at the General Aviation Terminal would be waived for pilots attending the FAA Wings Safety Seminars if they could give the terminal a few days prior notification or upon arrival that they will be attending the Wings Seminar and also provide evidence upon departure that they had attended the seminar.
From a flight safety standpoint, the past month’s reporting period has been outstanding, because from late February to very late March the NTSB has not issued any reports on accidents. They did issue two delayed reports of accidents that had occurred in late January and mid-February, neither of which involved any injuries. I would like to think this was not just luck, but that everyone is being more cautious and I hope the trend continues. See my April Aviation Accident Summary for the details in the two delayed reports.
Once again please be aware, there are still a lot of major and minor construction projects going on at many airports around the state, particularly in the Phoenix area. Unfortunately, the activity will be continuing for several months, so before you take off, make sure you check for NOTAMS at your destination airport so you don’t have a surprise awaiting you when you arrive.
APA is still continuing to work with various airports around the state, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. The City of Superior has just started an update of their Municipal Airport master plans. An update of the Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff, and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) master plans are currently in process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
- The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08) is on the first Saturday of the month.
- The second Saturday of the month, Ryan Field has been the fly in breakfast destination until the Tucson Airport Authority closed the restaurant down in January. The Airport Authority is undertaking a major renovation of the building inside and out, and they a seeking a restaurant operator that will expand the hours of operation from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm when renovations are complete. We have not heard of an opening date yet.
- The Mesa Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday.
- The third Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation. (There are special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
- Also on the third Saturday, around noon, a donation lunch is served by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip next to Roosevelt Lake, and the airstrip is open for camping that Friday through Sunday.
- The last Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). The Airport’s restaurant, Foxtrot Cafe, operating in the Terminal Building, is open 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday thru Saturday. On the last Saturday of the month they have a “Fly in Breakfast Special” available on the menu; the price for adults is $7 and kids $5.