By Jim Timm
In case you haven’t noticed, summer is knocking on our door, and I’m not all that keen on the idea of having to get up so early if I want smooth flying conditions. At least we can get some flying in without encountering all the adverse weather conditions some other pilots have to contend with in other parts of the country. That’s one benefit of living in Arizona, and it’s great.
Do your records say you are fit to fly? For those that are participating in the new BasicMed program, there are a number of dates that must be tracked, not a single event like when you had a class three medical. To ensure uninterrupted compliance with BasicMed, pilots must complete the required comprehensive medical examination and online medical education course within the required and differently calculated time periods. For an airman to act as PIC under BasicMed rules, within the previous 48 months he or she must have received a physical examination by a state-licensed physician who followed and completed the FAA’s comprehensive medical examination checklist, while the airman must have completed the online course within the previous 24 calendar months.
Careful attention must be paid to when the different components of BasicMed lapse and must be completed again. For example, an airman completing the BasicMed checklist and physical exam on May 10, 2017, and the online course on May 20, 2017, would be able to operate under BasicMed through May 31, 2019(24 calendar months after the online course was completed). If the airman then completes the online course again on May 31, 2019, then he or she would be able to continue operating under BasicMed until May 10, 2021 (NOT May 31, 2021) because 48 months have passed since the physical exam. Completing a new checklist and exam on May 11, 2021 would allow the pilot to operate under BasicMed until May 31, 2021, at which time another online course would be required.
To play it safe, it would appear to be advisable to set smartphone or other calendar reminders to help keep the applicable expiration days straight.
Fortunately our congress in Washington is working on preparing much needed legislation for long term funding for the FAA, rather than the usual very short term “stop gap” type of funding as in the past, and without ATC privatization. Well guess what, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-PA., attempted to attach an amendment to the new funding bill calling for the creation of an “advisory council” for ATC and to be controlled by the Department of Transpiration (DOT), a plan much like the earlier privatization plan, only even worse. Washington got inundated with calls in protest and Shuster backed down and removed his amendment, fortunately. This is the same guy who proposed the original privatization plan and after the very significant opposition, canceled his privatization plan and said he would not reintroduce it again. Guess what, there it was, repackaged and tried again. It’s obvious that some politicians absolutely cannot be trusted, and I think they all require careful supervision. I guess the bottom line is that ATC privatization will never be a dead issue and we should be very wary until the final FAA Reauthorization Bill is finally passed by the legislature. (NOTE: a five year FAA funding bill without privatization language passed the House late April on a 393-13 vote).
The flight schools and some pilots are still getting threatening letters from a law firm representing some of the homeowners in the northeast practice area, in the general area north of Dynamite Rd. east of Scottsdale Rd. to the Verde River. Unfortunately, there are some homeowners that are very anti small airplane and refuse to accept an airplane flying over them at any altitude, but APA suspects there are many that are willing to talk and find a reasonable solution. To that end, the APA is planning to hold a BBQ and “town hall” type meeting with some of the residents and flight school safety officers to find a way to mitigate the perceived problem.
The FAA issued a notice on April 24, 2018, outlining a change in policy regarding testing applicants for a commercial pilot or flight instructor certificate. The revised policy no longer requires applicants for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine rating to provide a complex or turbine-powered airplane for the associated practical test, and no longer requires applicants for a flight instructor certificate with an airplane single-engine rating to provide a complex airplane for the practical test.
In case you missed it, the FAA is still planning to discontinue the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS II) Program, effective May 16, 2018. Internet services, including access to weather and aeronautical information, flight plan filing and automated services will remain available at no charge to pilots at www.1800wxbrief.com. To continue to receive free services, users are encouraged to register with www.1800wxbrief.com.
Falcon Field (FFZ) is replacing their runway and taxiway lights with LED lights and upgrading the associated wiring. Between now and the end of June, either the north or south runway may be closed, one at a time, to accomplish the task, and the work is in progress only at night to minimize the impact on flight operations. Normal daylight operations will not be impacted by the project. Check FFZ NOTAMS for hours of runway closure. NOTE, during the month of May, use caution taxing on the ramp areas as there will be trenching crossing some of the ramp taxiways. Check airport notices as this trenching activity IS NOT covered in a NOTAM because the activity is not located in the flight operations area of the airport. Check airport tenant notices, and watch for flagmen and barricades.
Deer Valley Airport (DVT) also has a run up area construction project underway, so check DVT NOTAMS and use caution.
In other words, before taking off, always be sure to check for NOTAMS at your destination airport so you don’t have an unexpected surprise awaiting you. Many of the airports around the state have significant construction projects under way, or possibly an open house. So always fly informed.
Continuing the trend, in the past reporting period there were again several last minute notices received for GPS Interference testing going on, and some of it could have very likely impacted flight operations in Arizona. Again, if you encounter an unexplained interruption in GPS navigation lasting several minutes, inform ATC with the time, date, and location of signal loss.
Flight safety this last reporting period has not been very good with the NTSB reporting eight accidents in Arizona, with one of them resulting in six fatalities. The preliminary reports of the other seven accidents were not released by the NTSB, thus indicating the accidents were most likely minor in nature, and with the injuries, if any, minor in nature also. See my May Aviation Accident Summary for available details of these accidents and others.
As you are aware APA is working with several airports around the state to update their Airport Master Plans. The FAA requires these master plans to be updated on a regular basis if the airport is to continue receiving federal funding for improvements and maintenance. The following is a brief description of how the master plan update occurs. The preparation for the master plan update includes a technical effort to establish the role of the airport, forecast potential aviation demand, establish airside and landside facility needs, and evaluate options for improving the airport to meet those facility needs. The planning process includes the preparation of phase progress reports that are presented to a Planning Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is comprised of stakeholders/constituents with an investment or interest in the Airport and surrounding area. This diverse group provides extremely valuable input into the Master Plan. Additionally, a series of Public Information Workshops are conducted as part of the planning process, thus providing the public an opportunity to be involved and educated about the study. Currently, APA is assisting; Falcon Field (FFZ), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) airports in their Master Plan update process, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
NOTE: This is the last fly-in for the season for many of these fly-ins, summer is fast upon us!
- The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), is on the first Saturday of the month.
- The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday of the month.
- Also on the third Saturday, around noon, a lunch is made available by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake. $8 per person donation encouraged.
- 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 $8 and kids $5.
- The Tucson Airport Authority has completed the renovation of the restaurant at Ryan Field, and it’s now open under the name of Richie’s Cafe. The hours are 6:00 am to 2:00 pm doing breakfast and lunch daily.