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FAA looks at decommissioning direction findersFAA looks at decommissioning direction finders

FAA looks at decommissioning direction finders

Ever heard of DF (direction finder) steer? It's one of those mostly outmoded services that flight service stations can provide to get pilots back on course.

Now, thanks to radar, GPS, and other technologies, the FAA is considering decommissioning the remaining 54 direction finders (excluding Alaska) at flight service stations as well as the associated DF approaches.

The FAA wants to cut costs considering the fact that the service is rarely used. It also ties in with the FAA's plan to consolidate the FSS network.

AOPA had asked the FAA to allow members to comment before decommissioning the service.

The agency agreed and set the comment deadline for July 28.

DF steer works with decidedly low technology: All you need is a communications radio. An FSS asks the pilot to key the mike for 10 to 15 seconds, then announce the N number. The DF equipment homes in on the transmission and provides 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.

For more information as well as the address for filing comments, see the Web site.

July 7, 2006

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