FAA wants to shut down Alaska direction finders

February 21, 2008

FAA wants to shut down Alaska direction finders

By AOPA ePublishing staff

An FAA proposal to decommission the remaining 22 direction finders (DF) in Alaska has AOPA urging the agency to conduct a safety risk management analysis before taking action.

“The FAA must follow its own procedures and understand the risk before getting rid of this potentially valuable safety system,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs.

In 2007, the FAA shut down all U.S. DF sites outside of Alaska after taking comments from users and conducting a safety risk management analysis. AOPA was part of the panel that conducted the analysis. Now the association is asking the FAA to use the same procedure and include Alaska users in the process.

DF is used to help lost pilots get back on course by homing in on the aircraft’s radio transmissions and providing a bearing to the aircraft’s radio. One station can pinpoint the pilot’s position by having the aircraft make turns and assessing the bearing change. If two DF stations are in range, the bearings can be plotted on a chart. But newer technology, like GPS and ADS-B, could make DF obsolete.

The FAA wants to hear from pilots about the impact of decommissioning the DF equipment. AOPA members who would be affected are encouraged to review the proposal and comment by March 31. Comments can be sent to the FAA Alaska Flight Service Information Area Group, Aeronautical Study 08-AAL-06NR, 222 W. Seventh Avenue, #14, Anchorage, AK 99513-7587. Please send a copy of your comments to AOPA.

February 21, 2008