All posts tagged 'FAA' - Page 16

FAA lumps Part 121 and Part 135 together in fatigue proposal; NATA criticizes move

The National Air Transportation Association recently spoke out against language in a proposed FAA rule to widen fatigue requirements for commercial pilots, saying the federal agency should not lump together Part 135 and Part 121 operations. The FAA has said changes in rest rules for Part 121 airlines would also apply to Part 135 operations. 

NATA President James K. Coyne issued a statement criticizing the move on the organization’s web site yesterday.

“I wish I could only say that I was shocked at the FAA’s statement that Part 121 and 135 operations are ‘very similar,’” he said. “But anyone who has any inkling of the vast array of operations that take place, and geographic settings common within the Part 135 community, would know better than to make this ridiculous comparison. The fact that the statement came from our aviation regulatory authority, makes me wonder just how familiar the FAA is with the makeup of the Part 135 community and question the agency’s commitment to honoring the letter and spirit of rulemaking guidance that requires the FAA to consider the specific costs, benefits and regulatory alternatives that may be appropriate for different types of operators.”

In a story by Aviation Iinternational News’s Matt Thurber, he quotes an unnamed FAA representative saying the agency sees Part 135 and Part 121 operations “very similar.”

After the jump: Find links to additional coverage of the rules proposal. [more]

Read more about NATA's take on the proposal and the inclusion of possible Part 135 rule changes here.

Also, see what the Wall Street Journal has to say about pilot fatigue and the FAA proposal here and here. We link the AP recap here.

ATC Tower talk: Changing the way to say stay put - FAA switches at the end of this month from 'position and hold' to 'line up and wait'

At the end of this month, some of the chatter you hear from the tower in your headset will change slightly. That is when new FAA “phraseology” will take effect, changing the command of “position and hold” to “line up and wait.”

At face value, the change presents itself as a non-dramatic one. The ICAO already uses the same language, and Canadian airspace regulators made the switch a couple of years ago.

When an aircraft taxis to a runway, and traffic is taking off or landing, a controller will tell the pilot “line up and wait” rather than “position and hold.” In other words, you want to stay safe? Stop short of the line and do not move. Let the other planes take off or land first.

The change came about following a recommendation by the NTSB in 2000 to switch to the international protocol and alleviate confusion. A subsequent FAA safety-risk analysis showed that the words “position” and “hold” show up in many tower commands a pilot can receive on the ground.

(Links to an animated video and info on an online training course after the jump.) [more] 

If a pilot hears only part of an instruction, it can cause confusion.  The NTSB believes the phrase “position and hold” (in many cases along with a busy tower) contributed to accidents and near-collisions on the ground, some resulting in fatalities.

While it obviously will take extra alertness to ensure controllers and aviators use and understand the new language, it likely will not cause a monumental shift in the way tower and aircraft communicate.

Nonetheless, the FAA has a video, complete with an animated Cessna taxing and lining up to a runway set a funky piece of background music, as well as a training course on its web site.

View the FAA “line up and wait” video here.

Check out the safety course by clicking here.

Then join the conversation in the comment section. What difference will the change mean to you? Was it worth the wait of 10 years between the NTSB advice and the FAA resolution? Ever been affected by a position-and-hold situation? Be sure to let us know.

AOPA begins 'special report' on avgas transition

In what the organization called a special report, the AOPA released a series of stories this week on the future of 100LL.

Several stories in a newsletter distributed by the pilots’ association discuss several aspects that anchor the debate of any transition, one that in all likelihood is a matter of when rather than if.

Articles cover subjects such as the role of federal agencies, such as the EPA and FAA in a transition, what steps may need to be taken to convert aircraft, how 30 percent of the GA fleet consumes 70 percent of the 100LL stock for anti-knock protection and a Q&A session.

AOPA President Craig Fuller also weighs in with a statement to group members, saying a “SWAT team” of communications and government-relations specialists from the organization have stepped to the plate as the nation discussion over removing lead from avgas has become more active. [more]

“AOPA has focused on representing the interest of all our members in regulatory proceedings  and keeping you informed,” Fuller wrote.

Here concludes that several principles dominate the landscape of 100LL’s transition. They are:

-       100LL will remain readily available, but there is currently no clear “drop-in” replacement for 100LL;

-       An industry avgas coalition has organized around a Future Avgas Strategy and Transition Plan—that is committed to a process and path that will address the needs of the entire GA fleet;

-       This process toward a single-fuel solution that assures safe operations, meets infrastructure concerns, and affordable economics will take many years.

Register for the “Getting the Lead Out’ Newsletter at this link.

View the Sept. 7 edition the AOPA mailed out by clicking here.

AOPA Online: GA coalition submits first round of avgas comments to EPA

The FAA gives anwers on the King-Santa Barbara ordeal, but questions remain


John and Martha King with their Cessna 172
prior to their fateful trip last weekend to Santa Barbara.

When something goes wrong, we usually can step backward and find multiple events that led to the collective mishap. It appears that happened again this week.

Many in the aviation community displayed outrage after police detained well-known King School owners John and Martha King last weekend, mistakenly believing the aircraft in which they were flying had been stolen. Guns drawn, officers handcuffed the couple and hauled them away in police cruisers.

Looking backward on this incident of mistaken identity, a chain of events can be found to blame. Now several national aviation groups, including the AOPA and NBAA, have urged government agencies to employ more efficient tactics so those who fly legally are not lumped together with the criminals who do not.

We spoke with several officials with the FAA and FBI about the incident to shed more light on what happened and how they think it could be kept from happening again. Now we will break down the King ordeal in Santa Barbara. Let us try to reconstruct what went wrong in chronological order, while also considering how to redirect efforts to avoid this from happening again. [more]

-          The FAA made a list of tail numbers, including the trouble-making N50545 from this event, available to the Cessna Aircraft Co.  The aircraft maker then attached it to a 2009 Cessna 172S that will be flown by, among others, John and Martha King.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told GlobalAir.com that aircraft manufacturers, including Cessna and others, often receive blocks of available registration numbers from the agency. This allows each company to deliver an aircraft directly to the buyer, simplifying the process of obtaining a new plane.

-          Through Oct. 1, old FAA rules have allowed retired tail numbers to be reissued two years after they are retired. The new rules, which GlobalAir.com writers have written several articles about, increase the timeframe between recycling tail numbers to five years. They take effect next month. The updated law also allows the FAA to better track to whom and to where an aircraft is registered by enforcing registration renewals more tightly.

So some of the work to help fix this has taken place already.

“This new endeavor will probably eliminate, to a huge degree, a 'Santa Barbara' occurrence in the future,” said FAA spokesman Mike Fergus in an email Monday. He served as an acting public affairs official for the west coast this week and normally represents the agency for issues in the northwest and Alaska. “Just how the C-150 number was reissued (the plane stolen in 2002 that sparked the mix-up) is not something I can track down.”

-          Fergus’ last line brings up another aspect in this bureaucratic snowball that involves several federal and local agencies. The Cessna 150 in question originally was reported stolen (and the Kings say the owner still never has recovered it) in 2002, seven years before last weekend’s incident. Thus, even if the new five-year FAA policy of recycling old tail numbers had taken affect years ago, it may have done little to prevent this particular case.

The FAA will now look into further options for handling the registration numbers of stolen planes, Brown said, including considering an AOPA suggestion to retire them outright.

-          The Kings’ filing of an IFR plan alerted law enforcement that a stolen plane may have been flying into Santa Barbara. They in turn argue the absurdity of a criminal filing a path that lets the government know their exact moves ahead of time.

The El Paso Information Center, a joint security force of several branches of federal government that is overseen by the DEA, tracks flight plans against a list of registration numbers from stolen aircraft (and the probably keep tabs on other suspect flights, too). Originally focused in the realm of border patrol, the facility’s roles and staff grew exponentially after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Its employees now investigate many aspects of illegal immigration, terrorism and drug smuggling.

Nobody outside of the agency knows for sure exactly what happened at this point, as DEA public affairs officials told reporters this week they would dig for better answers before commenting, although AOPA reporter Alton K. Marsh talked to the right sources got a home run. (His report on the AOPA web site, perhaps the most thorough on this whole affair, also notes the case of a Cirrus aircraft that shares a tail number with a Piper that was stolen in Florida. The FAA will likely push to have both numbers removed from the stolen aircraft list.)

By calling a spokesman with the McKinney, Texas, police department, from where the Cessna 150 originally was stolen, Marsh’s reporting makes it increasingly clear that officials at EPIC learned somewhere along the line that the registration number did not, in fact, belong to the stolen 150 but to the 172 flown by the Kings. By the time the center tried to relay this to police in Santa Barbara, police already had detained the couple.

-          Though the DEA has not confirmed this, it is reasonable to assume, based on conversations with the FAA and other reports, the data alerting of the stolen aircraft originated from within the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. The FBI oversees the center, which includes data gathered by local, state and federal agencies from throughout the United States.

The center allows agencies to (most of the time quite intelligently) share information on fugitives, terrorists, sex offenders, stolen cars and goods, important tools to support crime fighting. However, according to FBI spokesman Bill Carter, it is up to the reporting agency to remove or change a report so other agencies can avoid the failure of acting on bad information.

The 172 flown by the Kings had been stopped 18 months beforehand with a Cessna employee at the yoke. The situation did not entail drawn guns and news media coverage, as it did in the King case. However, at that point, it gave investigators every reason in the world to remove the registration number in question from the NCIC.

“It’s happened with cars,” said FBI spokesman Bill Carter. “A stolen car is recovered and the police department fails to clear it.”

Imagine that one if you see a dozen officers behind you with guns drawn and all you did was run a red light.

To drive this home further, Carter noted that NCIC data alone is not probable cause for an officer to make an arrest.

Although the King situation exposed several chinks of armor in the registration and tracking of aircraft, along with how law enforcement uses that data to catch criminals, it is a cloud that also comes with a ray of sunshine.

The Kings received an apology from the Santa Barbara police chief and, in turn, they offered to work with the agency to help develop a more effective protocol for approaching suspect aircraft. The Kings hope that other agencies use the result in a nationwide model.

Furthermore, one also can be hopeful that the FAA and other involved federal agencies can modify their policies to ensure the innocent remain innocent so investigators’ time can be more effectively spent catching those who are not. No innocent person wants, or deserves, to be confused with someone else at gunpoint.

AIN says FAA is giving American Airlines and others fair warning with $24M fine

Two years ago, the FAA ordered American Airlines to comply with an airworthiness directive and repair faulty wiring harnesses on its fleet of MD-80s.

Following the federal inspection, on several incidents, where a handful of planes that still did not meet the requirement, the airline shut grounded all of the planes in its fleet, cancelling more than 300 flights.

In all, reports say, more than 90 percent of the 300 aircraft in question did not follow the directive.

The $24.2 million fine levied by the FAA last week will be the largest in the agency’s history if American pays it in full. However, the company challenges the ruling and such fines often are settled for lesser amounts.

 Now AIN’s David Lombardo says the message an aviation company can gain from this is that when the agency says to fix a problem, fix it. Or else.

“Essentially, American kept telling us the problem was fixed when it wasn’t,” an FAA spokesman told the magazine.

Read the entire analysis, including how the fine amount was derived and American’s response, at this link.

End of content

No more pages to load