August 15, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The FAA has asked for public comment by Sept. 10 on the proposed decommissioning of all direction finder(DF) facilities in Alaska, and 29 associated approaches, citing lack of use and the availability of newer technologies.
“Since 2004, the Alaska Flight Service Information Area Group (AFSIAG) has documented eight flight assists that involved lost or disoriented pilots. Of these, the use of DF equipment was documented three times. Since 2008, there have been no flight assists, nor usage of DF equipment for orientation services,” said a notice the FAA filed Aug. 10 in the Federal Register.
AOPA does not oppose the decommissioning of DF and associated navaids, but the association will encourage the FAA to apply funds that would have been dedicated to the system to expanded automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) coverage in Alaska—especially in the Brooks range and eastern portions of the state. In its filing, the FAA noted that ADS-B and GPS “have reduced the utilization of DF steers” to assist lost or disoriented pilots. Other available tools, including VHF omnidirectional radio range (VOR), automatic direction finder (ADF), and GPS, “meet the needs of our aviation community,” it said.
In 2007, the FAA shut down all DF sites outside of Alaska.
Members are urged to review docket No. FAA–2012–0571 and submit comments on the proposed decommissioning by Sept. 10. Please share your comments with AOPA.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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