January 30, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
The FAA has announced the decommissioning of direction finder (DF) service in Alaska effective Feb. 15.
With newer navigation technology available, and use of DF to assist lost or disoriented pilots “all but obsolete,” the FAA will move ahead with plans announced last year to shut down DF in Alaska. Since 2004, the Alaska Flight Service Information Area Group had documented only three cases of using DF to aid pilots, the FAA said when proposing the shutdown.
Since 2007, the service has continued to be available in Alaska after being discontinued elsewhere .But DF equipment is no longer manufactured, and can no longer be maintained, the FAA said in a letter to airmen announcing the decommissioning,
AOPA did not oppose decommissioning DF, but has urged the FAA to apply funding that the service would have received to expanded Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) coverage, especially in the Brooks Range and in eastern portions of Alaska.
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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