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FAA plan puts pilots crossways with Customs and Border PatrolFAA plan puts pilots crossways with Customs and Border Patrol

FAA plan puts pilots crossways with Customs and Border Patrol

AOPA is protesting an FAA plan to turn off four VORs in southern Florida.

"The decommissioning of four VORs within a 200-mile radius is unwise and unacceptable," Randy Kenagy, AOPA senior director of advanced technology, told the FAA in a letter.

"Pilots need these VORs to comply with strict U.S. Customs and Border Patrol requirements and not inadvertently penetrate coastal air defense identification zones," said Kenagy. "Pilots also would lose ground-based instrument approaches at some airports and air-to-ground communication channels to flight service stations."

The FAA is proposing to decommission the Fort Lauderdale (FLL) VOR/DME, the Palm Beach (PBI) Vortac, the Cypress (CYY) VOR/DME, and the Punta Gorda (PGD) VOR.

Kenagy noted that the VORs are critical for VFR and IFR navigation. They define multiple Victor airways and instrument approaches into numerous airports. In some cases, the VORs provide the only instrument approach to an airport for aircraft without an approach-certified GPS.

He pointedly reminded the FAA that its own regulations required ground-based navigation capability on board the aircraft for IFR flight.

"It does seem a little inconsistent for the FAA to require a VOR receiver on board the aircraft, and then propose shutting down the VOR transmitters on the ground," said Kenagy. While the federal government's long-range radio navigation plan does eventually transition to GPS and reduces the number of VOR transmitters, GPS is not currently approved as a sole-source navigation system.

"Department of Transportation policy requires a full network of VOR transmitters at this time," Kenagy reminded the FAA, which is an agency of the DOT.

May 25, 2006

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