AOPA is opposing an FAA proposal to stop monitoring instrument approach navigational aids.
FAA flight service stations (FSSs) traditionally have monitored ILS signals at nontowered airports in their area. If an ILS went off the air, the FSS would issue a notam to advise pilots and alert FAA technicians to repair the problem. Now the agency wants to stop monitoring.
That's because the FAA didn't include navaid monitoring in its FSS contract with Lockheed Martin. And reducing the number of FSSs nationwide has put many ILS systems outside of monitoring range.
So the agency just wants to bail out of the monitoring responsibility.
"In order to maintain safety, and adequate levels of reliable service, the FAA should ensure that navaids used for instrument approach access to an airport are monitored," wrote AOPA Senior Director of Strategic Planning Randy Kenagy to the FAA's Technical Operations Services.
AOPA suggested that the FAA look outside the box for a solution. "New telecommunications options may be available that are more affordable than traditional solutions," Kenagy said. "If AWOS and ASOS weather stations can talk to the Internet, why couldn't ILS transmitters?"
It's important for pilots' flight planning that navaids be monitored. The systems do have internal monitors that shut down the equipment if it puts out an unsafe signal.
But without external monitoring, a pilot has no way of knowing that the navaid has shut down until he arrives at the airport and attempts to land.
"That forces the pilot to fly in bad weather to an alternate airport, which just increases the risk," said Kenagy. "With navaid monitoring, he would be able to chose an airport with functioning equipment before taking off.
"That's certainly worth the cost."
January 25, 2007