August 28, 2008
AOPA ePublishing staff
The FAA has confirmed to AOPA that it is making plans to reduce the network of VORs across the country, beginning in 2010.
However, AOPA members are not quite convinced that a widespread VOR reduction is acceptable. Survey information shows that only about half of AOPA members believe a significant number of VORs can be eliminated without affecting their flight operations.
“Clearly this marks a big step forward in pilot acceptance of GPS and reduced reliance on VORs, but members are still saying ‘not yet,’” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs.
Despite high levels of GPS use, FAA regulations require pilots who use GPS to also carry a primary navigation system, and for general aviation the primary system available for regulatory compliance is VOR. Second-generation GPS systems that incorporate the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) do not require VOR as a backup, but the current state of equipage in the GA fleet is about 15 percent.
In a letter to the FAA, AOPA cautioned the FAA against making plans to reduce VORs because there are several key issues currently preventing the dismantling of the VOR infrastructure. Barriers include pilot confidence in relying solely on GPS signals and the lack of systematic implementation of area navigation. AOPA pointed out that the FAA should broaden its focus to ensure that all IFR flights can be conducted from takeoff to touchdown with an IFR GPS, regardless of the airports involved. Ultimately, the FAA needs to change its policies to reduce GA’s reliance on VORs.
FAA Systems and Airspace,
Aircraft and Avionics,
Advocacy and Legislation
AOPA is asking the FAA to withdraw a proposed airworthiness directive that could affect thousands of ECi cylinders.
AOPA is looking to the Michigan Senate for “refinement” of proposals amended unfavorably in last-minute House action.
The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act would allow pilots to use the driver’s license medical standard for noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats, as long as they carry fewer than five passengers, fly below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.