NextGen Santa Cleared by FAA for Around the World Flight

On 24/12/2014, in ATC world, by steve

SantaTHE NORTH POLE – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspectors, who are working closely with elves on-site, cleared the Santa One sleigh and Candy Cane One to deliver toys to boys and girls throughout the world who’ve been good for goodness sake.

“Because so many boys and girls were nice – not naughty – this year, Santa needs Candy Cane One, a jumbo cargo jet, to resupply him tonight,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “He made a list and, after checking it twice, realized Santa One wasn’t going to be big enough.”

Santa One and Candy Cane One are both equipped with state-of-the-art, satellite-based NextGen avionics that will enable them to fly more directly from the North Pole to the homes of those who don’t pout or cry. The time saved through more efficient flight paths will ensure that everyone who’s sleeping will get their presents. Both Santa One, powered by Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer, and Candy Cane One will, as a result, burn fewer carrots and less fuel, reducing emissions and lessening aviation’s hoof print on the environment.

“Santa told me he’s really looking forward to making the Optimized Profile Descents from cruising altitude to the rooftops, which is just like sliding down a banister instead of making the traditional staircase descent required by ground-based navigational aids,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “He’s had a lot of practice over the years sliding down banisters as he delivers gifts around the world.”

Due to the steep pitch of some roofs, Santa occasionally jumps from Santa One directly into a chimney while Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen hover nearby. At those moments, Santa One becomes an Unmanned Aircraft System, but the FAA has granted authority for Santa to conduct these operations, confident that he will abide by agency regulations. Rudolph will simply wait for Santa to emerge from the chimney since it’s illegal to call him on a cellphone or text while flying. The other reindeer, however, will pass the time by watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on their portable electronic devices.

If you’ve been good – but only if you’ve been good – you may click here to see how Santa is relying on NextGen.


FAA Issues Final Rule to Improve Helicopter Safety

On 20/02/2014, in Safety is no accident, by steve

foxnewshelicopterThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that requires helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional on-board safety equipment. The rule represents the most significant improvements to helicopter safety in decades and responds to government’s and industry’s concern over continued risk in helicopter operations.

“This is a landmark rule for helicopter safety,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These improvements will better prepare pilots and better equip helicopters, ensuring a higher level of safety for passengers and crew.”

All U.S. helicopter operators, including air ambulances, are required to use stricter flying procedures in bad weather. This will provide a greater margin of safety by reducing the probability of collisions with terrain, obstacles or other aircraft.

Within 60 days, all operators will be required to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. Within three years, helicopter air ambulances must use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles, and within four years, they must be equipped with flight data monitoring systems.

“This rule is a significant advancement in helicopter safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This rule will help reduce risk and help pilots make good safety decisions through the use of better training, procedures, and equipment.”

Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators are required to:

Click here to read the full article


Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems

On 17/12/2013, in Safety is no accident, by steve

wgThe report of the FAA’s Flight Deck Automation Working Group, originally submitted to them in September, has been released to the public on 21 November. The Working Group found that the use of modern, highly automated flight path management systems can lead to degradation of piloting skills as well as other new risks not sufficiently recognized. They formulated 18 recommendations aimed at mitigating this worrying tendency.

The FAA will establish a new government-industry group early next year charged with developing measures to reduce identified risk areas via encouraging voluntary changes in pilot, flight attendant and dispatcher training. The group will review 25 safety recommendations from the NTSB and the FAA itself and decide the top 5 focus areas that will have to be addressed with priority. Some of the 25 recommendations stem from the 18 recommendations referred to above.

You can read the full report here.


New Recommendations Seek to Improve Safety And Reduce General Aviation Certification Costs

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

gaAn Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), convened by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), today recommended a broad range of policy and regulatory changes that it believes could significantly improve the safety of general aviation aircraft while simultaneously reducing certification and modification costs for those aircraft.

The committee, made up of international industry and government experts, was tasked with examining the existing standards for the design and certification of aircraft ranging from small piston-powered airplanes to high-performance business jets, that are contained in Part 23 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

“Streamlining the design and certification process could provide a cost-efficient way to build simple airplanes that still incorporate the latest in safety innovations,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These changes have the potential to save money and maintain our safety standing – a win-win situation for manufacturers, pilots and the general aviation community as a whole.”

The committee’s recommendations cover the areas of design, production, maintenance and safety. The ARC’s goal was to identify ways to streamline the certification process, making it cheaper and easier for manufacturers to incorporate safety improvements into their products, allow for upgrades to the existing fleet, and provide greater flexibility to incorporate future technological advancements.

“The committee’s goal was to increase safety while simultaneously decreasing the cost of certification” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The FAA’s goal is to embrace innovation and create a regulation that will stand the test of time.”

Click here to read the full article


FAA Proposes $2.75 Million Civil Penalty Against Boeing Co. for Quality Control Violations

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

penaltyThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $2.75 million civil penalty against Boeing Co.’s commercial airplanes unit for allegedly failing to maintain its quality control system in accordance with approved FAA procedures.

“Safety is our top priority and a robust quality control system is a vital part of maintaining the world’s safest air transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Airplane manufacturers must take prompt and thorough steps to correct safety and compliance problems once they become aware of them.”

In September 2008, Boeing discovered that it had been installing nonconforming fasteners on its model 777 airplanes. On October 2008, the FAA sent Boeing a letter of investigation that requested a response within 20 working days. The FAA alleges that Boeing repeatedly submitted action plans that set deadlines for the accomplishment of certain corrective actions, but subsequently failed to implement those plans. The company implemented a plan to address the fastener issue on Nov. 10, 2010, more than two years after Boeing first learned of the problem

“Manufacturers must make it a priority to identify and correct quality problems in a timely manner,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Boeing stopped using the nonconforming fasteners after officials discovered the problem. However, some of the underlying manufacturing issues continued to exist until after the corrective action plan was in place.

Boeing has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.


When money runs out… expect delays!

On 23/04/2013, in ATC world, by steve

FAA Statement
Date: April 23, 2013

Contact: Laura J. Brown

Phone: (202) 267-3883

faaAs a result of employee furloughs due to sequestration, the FAA is implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country. Travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather related issues. For example, the FAA is experiencing staffing challenges at the New York and Los Angeles En Route Centers and at the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas TRACONs. Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including DFW, Las Vegas and LAX. The FAA also expects delays at Newark and LaGuardia because of weather and winds.

The FAA will continue to work with the airlines throughout the day to try and minimize delays for travelers. We encourage all travelers to check their flight status and also to visit for the latest airport delay information.

Yesterday more than 1,200 delays in the system were attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough. There were more than 1,400 additional delays as a result of weather and other factors.


FAA Makes Tower Closing Decision

On 23/03/2013, in Life around runways, by steve

rThe Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reached the decision that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The agency has made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.

An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration but the required 5 percent cut will not result in tower closures.

“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”

“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Click here to read the full article


FAA Approves Boeing 787 Certification Plan

On 13/03/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system, after thoroughly reviewing Boeing’s proposed modifications and the company’s plan to demonstrate that the system will meet FAA requirements. The certification plan is the first step in the process to evaluate the 787’s return to flight and requires Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions.


“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We won’t allow the plane to return to service unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

The battery system improvements include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize initiation of a short circuit within the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system. Click here to read the full article


The pain of retrofit

On 05/02/2013, in Airline corner, by steve

Airspace users and the air traffic management network interact every day and the operation is usually pretty smooth. Of course nobody is happy when there are delays caused by air traffic control capacity constraints, but this is also part of the game. Increasing demand and competition for the same scarce resources, like runways, makes it almost inevitable that not everyone can fly as they have planned.

As a general rule, aircraft coming out of the factories of Airbus, Boeing and the other airframers have all the equipment on board to operate in any airspace of the world. There are occasions though when the ATM network introduces new requirements aimed at reducing delays, enhancing safety or some similar, recognized and accepted purpose. They have two options: either go for voluntary equipage or issue a mandate.

In theory, voluntary equipage should work when there is a compelling business case for the new feature and airlines will go for it on this basis. In theory. In practice even the best business case tends to bring differing results to different companies and even in sight of clear benefits, some outfits will still have different priorities and they decide not to equip… it is voluntary, after all. The problem here is that most ATM enhancements work only if a fairly large percentage of the affected aircraft population is equipped. If this threshold is not reached, the benefits fail to materialize and those who had taken the voluntary path end up having wasted their money.

A mandate is a different matter altogether. Here a date is set for new aircraft to have the required equipment on board ex-factory and another date, usually a little later, is set for older aircraft to comply with the mandate. The mandate has the force of law and it is generally hated by the airspace users. They much prefer voluntary equipage… But we know it does not work, so back to the mandates.

Click here to read the full article


FAA Will Review Boeing 787 Design and Production

On 11/01/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

In light of a series of recent events, the FAA will conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 critical systems, including the design, manufacture and assembly. The purpose of the review is to validate the work conducted during the certification process and further ensure that the aircraft meets the FAA’s high level of safety.

“The safety of the traveling public is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This review will help us look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future.”

A team of FAA and Boeing engineers and inspectors will conduct this joint review, with an emphasis on the aircraft’s electrical power and distribution system. The review will also examine how the electrical and mechanical systems interact with each other.

“We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “We are conducting the review to further ensure that the aircraft meets our high safety standards.”

Click here to read the full article


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