Congress shows support for federal contract towers

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate recently sent letters to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta reiterating congressional support for the preservation of 252 federal contract towers.

Fifty-five senators signed a July 31 letter imploring Huerta to consider “all perspectives” in what appears to be an effort to streamline tower operations as the agency continues to deal with budget pressures, according to a report on the National Business Aviation Association website.

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Why hasn’t FAA acted on ADS-B loan guarantee for GA?

Graves

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Why has the FAA not taken action on implementing a loan guarantee program for general aviation to prepare for the mandate for ADS-B equipment three years after Congress passed a law approving it? That is a question Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who chairs the Committee on Small Business, asked in a recent letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

During a hearing in June before the committee, Huerta said lack of appropriations was a reason for the failure.

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FAA receives unleaded fuels proposals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FAA reports it has received 10 replacement fuel proposals from producers Afton Chemical Company, Avgas LLC, Shell, Swift Fuels and a consortium of BP, TOTAL and Hjelmco, for further evaluation in the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), an industry-government initiative designed to help the general aviation industry transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline.

The FAA will now assess the viability of the candidate fuels to determine which fuels may be part of the first phase of laboratory testing at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center. The goal is for government and industry to work together to have a new unleaded fuel by 2018, according to FAA officials.

“We’re committed to getting harmful lead out of general aviation fuel,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community.”

There are approximately 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States that rely on 100LL aviation gasoline for safe operation. It is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains the addition of lead, a toxic substance, to create the very high octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft.

PAFI was established to facilitate the development and deployment of a new unleaded aviation gasoline with the least impact on the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet. PAFI will play a key role in the testing and deployment of an unleaded fuel across the existing general aviation fleet, FAA officials note.

Congress authorized $6 million for the fiscal year 2014 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA Technical Center.

“The FAA, the general aviation community and the Environmental Protection Agency are focused on this issue, and we look forward to collaborating with fuel producers to make an unleaded aviation gasoline available for the general aviation fleet,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

On June 10, 2013, the FAA asked fuel producers to submit proposals for replacement fuels by July 1, 2014. The goal is to identify, select, and provide fleetwide certification for fuels determined to have the lowest impact on the general aviation fleet.

The FAA will analyze the candidate fuels in terms of their impact on the existing fleet, the production and distribution infrastructure, their impact on the environment, their toxicology and the cost of aircraft operations.

By Sept. 1, 2014, the FAA will select several of the fuels for phase-one laboratory and rig testing. Based on the results of the phase one testing, the FAA anticipates that two or three fuels will be selected for phase-two engine and aircraft testing. That testing will generate standardized qualification and certification data for candidate fuels, along with property and performance data.

For more information:  FAA.gov 

Report: Air traffic controller staffing should consider fatigue

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report notes the FAA’s models for determining air traffic controller staffing needs are suitable for developing initial estimates of the number of controllers required at terminal areas and airport towers, but the models used to staff the centers that control air traffic between airports can be improved.

The congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council also notes that the FAA should collaborate with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to develop an enhanced tool capable of creating efficient controller work schedules that incorporate fatigue mitigation strategies.

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