By Jim Timm
Summer is here. Many of the usual Saturday morning fly in breakfasts have shut down for the duration, many of the aviation activities are slowing down, and you have to get up pretty early to enjoy any comfortable flying. So what’s new! It’s that time of the year again, so just find a cool spot, sit back, and relax. When you do go flying, please watch out for the effects of high density altitude when you go to the higher elevation airports to cool off or vacation. We don’t want to see you as the subject of an NTSB accident report.
I just found out that on December 7, 2017, we will be having another bomb dropped on us. The last one on December 7 was from an adversary, but this one is not from an adversary, but from ICAO. As we mentioned last month, there will be an upcoming change in flight plan format conforming to ICAO standards, and because the U.S. is coming into compliance with ICAO requirements, effective December 7, 2017, the Gateway Airport identifier IWA will be going away. It will be replaced with AZM. Why the change? The airport identifier IWA has been in use by an airport in Russia, and you can’t have two airports in the ICAO system with identical identifiers. If the change wasn’t made, this would really give a new meaning to “Lost My Luggage” if you buy an airline ticket for IWA, and you arrive safely in Mesa Gateway, but your luggage winds up some place in Russia. Only the airport identifier will be changed. The VOR identifier will remain the same, IWA. The ATC system impact will be really significant with all the ATC documents, instrument procedures, automation and charting updates necessary, and the airlines using Gateway will also be similarly impacted. This identifier change was fresh news to just about everybody in the recent Phoenix airspace users meeting where it was announced, but it apparently has been an issue for about ten years, but action had been postponed because of the size of the impact it would have on the National Airspace System. I don’t know how the final implementation date was selected, but it may possibly coincide with regular scheduled ATC changes, or I wonder if it was someone’s weird sense of humor. No matter what the change, to us locally, Gateway will always be known as “Willie.”
The June date for implementation of the FAA requirement to use the International Flight Plan (ICAO) format for all civil domestic flights filed with Flight Service has been postponed until the Fall of 2017. The FAA will provide a 30 day advance notice when the final date has been selected.
With the latest sectional charting up date, there have been three new airports added to the Phoenix Sectional. They are all charted as private, and are as follows:
Sawtooth - AZ04 This one is located south of Arizona City. The airstrip is used by Skydive Arizona for military contract parachute jump training. Skydive Arizona also has an extensive skydive operation at Eloy Municipal Airport. If flying in the area of the Sawtooth airport, be sure to check for NOTAMS and use caution for the extensive parachute operations in the area.
Lakeside - AZ05 This is located just north of Gila Bend Municipal Airport. I have no information on flight activity, access or facilities.
The Arizona Flight Training Workgroup (AFTW) is working with the Scottsdale FSDO to define airspace “Hot Zones,” or areas where there is an unusually high volume of air traffic. The AFTW is developing a chart depicting where these areas are to assist pilots in either avoiding these areas or when flying thru or in the vicinity of them to be aware, and extra vigilant. When ready for publication, we will help to make the information available.
From the Military, a new restricted area, R-2306F, is being added near the Yuma Proving Grounds on June 22nd. Also, a Large Military exercise is being planned in Western Arizona and the California Desert for August 7 thru 26.
A Letter to Airmen (LTA) will be published June 1 advising that IFR Separation will be provided during VFR practice approaches at KPRC. A similar LTA is already in place at CHD, IWA, and FFZ Airports.
It’s a bit hard to believe, but they were still continuing to conduct GPS interference testing in the last reporting period. The locations for the testing have changed a bit. This last period, testing has been at Barstow, CA, Salt Lake City, White Sands, and San Diego. A significant amount of this testing could have impacted GPS navigation in Arizona. As usual, we received information of the testing only a day or so before the test dates thus making it very difficult to provide you an adequate warning. If at any time you encounter an unexplained loss of GPS navigation signal lasting more than a minute or two, notify the nearest FAA Air Traffic Control facility advising them of the time, location, altitude and nature of signal loss. Also please advise APA with the same information.
Flight safety in the last reporting period has been both good and bad. The good news is that there were no fatalities, and the injuries were either minor or none. The bad news is that there were five accidents reported in this past period. One airplane experienced a loss of control landing when encountering a crosswind gust and departed the runway, two airplanes experienced an inflight loss of power, and both made damaging off airport landings. One lost power shortly after takeoff, and the other encountered a loss of power during in-route flight. The other two accidents reported by the NTSB were devoid of details other than date, location, and aircraft identification. See my June Aviation Accident Summary for available accident details.
Please continue to be aware, there are still many major and minor construction projects going on at several airports around the state, particularly in the Phoenix area. Unfortunately, the activity will be continuing well into the summer, 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. If you are flying into the higher altitude airports, be sure to check the density altitude, and review your aircraft performance data.
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 Airport Master Plans. The City of Superior has just started an update of their Municipal Airport master plan. An update of the Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), 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), normally on the first Saturday of the month, is on hiatus until October.
- The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show on the third Saturday of the month had their last Breakfast in May. They will resume in October when it’s cooler again.
- The third Saturday of the month there is still a fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation. (There are special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
- The third Saturday lunch that had been made available by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake is also discontinued until October.
- 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, 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. Because it’s in the air conditioned terminal building, it’s continuing on thru the summer.