For nearly four years, AOPA has been advocating the establishment of charted area navigation (RNAV) routes to provide additional benefits for general aviation aircraft equipped with IFR-certified GPS receivers. This has finally become a reality in Alaska. Now AOPA is pushing to bring those benefits to the Lower 48 as well.
The FAA has published a final rule establishing Special Federal Aviation Regulation 97 (SFAR 97), which allows the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) and Wide Area Augmentation Systems (GPS/WAAS) for the cruise portion of specified routes in Alaska.
"We are extremely pleased the FAA has established these charted RNAV routes in Alaska, and we strongly encourage the FAA to expedite rulemaking efforts to allow for charted RNAV routes in the rest of the United States as well," said Heidi Williams, AOPA's manager of air traffic, regulatory and certification policy.
AOPA has been requesting the establishment of RNAV routes to allow for lower minimum en route altitudes (MEAs) on airways where ground-based signal coverage limits the current MEA. In addition, charted RNAV routes provide for the benefits of more point-to-point efficiency for terrain-impacted areas and for access through terminal and special-use airspace.
The establishment of the rule also complements the AOPA-supported Capstone Program, which enhances protection from controlled flight into terrain and midair collisions. On Monday, March 31, 2003, the benefits of this new rulemaking became evident when a Capstone-equipped Seneca was able to utilize low-altitude routing resulting from SFAR 97.