Each year, the FAA surveys the flying population seeking information on aviation activity and safety. The general aviation and professional flyer community responds but often recreational aviation details are sparse. You can help change that.
GUEST EDITORIAL By PHILIP HANDLEMAN
Sequestration is forcing the Pentagon to slash $41 billion this year on top of the $487 billion reduction in defense spending already mandated over the next 10 years. Resultantly, a cruel triage within the Defense Department has taken hold. Communities across America are waking to the reality that their scheduled airshows will not feature military air demonstration teams or that, in the absence of the teams, the shows themselves are being scrubbed altogether.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Each year the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh attracts more aircraft, pilots, and aviation enthusiasts than any other aviation gathering in the United States, but this year EAA is facing paying the FAA an estimated $500,000 for doing its job.
Payment is necessary, say FAA officials, because sequester has cut off necessary funds.
A safety risk assessment (SRA) has identified potential hazards for aircraft using W.K. Kellogg Airport (BTL) in Battle Creek, Mich., if the airport’s control tower had been closed by the FAA because of sequestration.
As the busy summer flying season approaches, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta recently met with leaders from the general aviation community to agree on actions to enhance safety and reduce accidents.
The general aviation fatal accident rate has remained flat over the past five years and 149 fatal accidents already have occurred so far this fiscal year, killing 262 people, FAA officials note.
“We cannot become complacent about safety,” Huerta said. “Together, we must improve the safety culture to drive the GA fatal accident rate lower.”
Even after the Congress enacted legislation that enabled the FAA to fully fund air traffic services, the agency is asking the Experimental Aircraft Association to cover some of the costs for its AirVenture operations, including air traffic controllers’ travel, per diems, and overtime, which had traditionally been covered by the FAA.
“This issue is significantly bigger than AirVenture,” said EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton. [Read more…]
Fire fighters hoping to use drones to “map a fire’s size and speed, and identify hot spots,” are running up against FAA regulation. A New York Times story notes a drone is precluded, “from operating out of sight of a ground-based pilot. If distance or the smoke of a wildfire obscures a drone from observers on the ground, a piloted aircraft must be sent aloft to keep an eye on it.” Fire fighting is but one of many facets of drone use the FAA, federal government and U.S. citizens are debating.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a hearing that while he is grateful for the law Congress passed to end air traffic controller furloughs and stave off contract tower defunding, it “does not end the sequester. We will not enjoy the benefits or the stability that the FAA reauthorization provides until we find a sensible long-term solution.”
A blog post on the Helicopter Association International‘s website notes that Rick Larsen, the top Democrat on T&I’s Aviation panel, also said if a long-term, comprehensive solution to the sequester is not dealt with, “none of our colleagues should act surprised” when the effects are back in October.
On Friday, the FAA announced it will keep open the 149 contract towers the agency slated for closure on June 15.