The latest on NAVAIDS, user fees and fuel rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Should the NAVAIDS at airports go unmonitored when the tower is closed?

That’s a question the FAA is asking as it proposes leaving certain Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), Localizer Type Directional Aids (LDA), Microwave Landing Systems (MLS), and Non-Directional Beacons (NDB) unmonitored at times when the control tower is not operating. Some are named because of low activity during hours of no tower operations, others because approaches are not authorized or not authorized for alternate filing.

The NAVAID would continue to be operational but there would be no continuing checking to make certain the facility is functioning properly.

Locations include: Florence, S.C., Joplin, Mo., Huron, S.D., Macon, Ga., Manhattan, Kan., Mobile, Ala., Missoula, Mont., North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Savanna, Ga., Tallahassee, Fla., Walla Walla, Wash., Hoquiam, Wash., International Falls, Minn., Liberal, Kan., Muscle Shoals, Ala., Norfolk, Neb., Charles City, Iowa, Conrad, Mont., Elkins, W. Va., Elko, Nev., Miles City, Mont., Mountain Home, Idaho, Ontario, Ore., Pullman/Moscow, Idaho, Rawlins, Wyo., and Wenatchee, Wash.

Comments about the proposal may be submitted until Jan. 19. 2007. They may be submitted by mail or electronically. The Docket Number is: FAA-2006-26519. To submit comments electronically, go to: DMS.dot.gov and follow the instructions.

USER FEES

On another front, the airlines’ primary public reason for pushing for user fees was dealt a blow when one of their own declared Very Light Jets will not have an impact on scheduled carriers. Robert Crandall, former chairman and CEO of American Airlines, said the introduction of VLJs will be “”irrelevant”" to the airlines both on the air traffic control system and the numbers of passengers.

Although others have been saying this for some time, it has more significance when coming from a former executive of one of the largest airline companies. Some shine is taken off Crandall’s remarks, however, by the fact that he is now chairman and CEO of one of the start-up companies hoping to introduce the new services.

FUEL RULES

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a prepublication copy of new rules amending the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements that give airports and fuel handlers a break that the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been pushing for. The change is a marked departure from how the EPA interpreted the SPCC rule, originally setting Oct. 1, 2007, as the compliance date. Original interpretations would have required that, among other things, fuel trucks be placed in special containment or “”bermed”" areas when not in use. NATA argued that the requirements were not necessary for aviation fuel, would cost fuel providers tens of thousands of dollars, and constrict runway space, creating safety and security hazards.

Under the new interpretation, fuel trucks will be exempted from “”sized secondary containment”" requirements but will still be subject to certain containment requirements. Also, facilities that store less than 10,000 gallons of oil may self-certify their facilities instead of hiring expensive professional engineering services. The compliance date has been advanced to July 1, 2009. James Coyne, president of NATA, was quick to thank the EPA for the changes and to express appreciation to President Bush’s administration and the Congress, especially Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for their efforts to keep “”unnecessary burdens”" off the aviation industry.

Charles Spence is GAN’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.Five legends of the aviation world will be enshrined as the “”Class of 2007″” in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, including: Walter J. Boyne, former director of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum; Steve Fossett, a globetrotting adventurer who holds numerous world records in balloons, gliders and powered aircraft; Evelyn Bryan Johnson, a flight instructor who has logged more flight hours, trained more pilots, and given more FAA exams than any other pilot; Sally K. Ride, America’s first woman in space; and Frederick W. Smith, founder of FedEx.

For more information: 937-256-0944 or NationalAviation.org.

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