From airspace and security to regulations and weather services, the aviation system gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) changes with the times. Often aviation’s regulators open the door to AOPA to reach out and discover general aviation pilots’ point of view on the changes it proposes. Sometimes, we have to knock loudly on that door to open it. Here are a few of the matters we are working on for you.
The FAA has dropped several airports in 12 states from its annual list of Cold Temperature Restricted Airports, the airports where pilots flying instrument approaches are responsible for applying altitude corrections when the temperature falls to designated temperatures. The list is published in the Notices to Airmen Publication (NTAP).
There are two methods for making the calculation. AOPA advocates use of the “all segments method,” and it is the one pilots clearly prefer over the “NTAP segments method,” according to a survey. The "all segments method" is closely related to methods used in Canada and by the International Civil Aviation Organization, said Rune Duke, AOPA senior director of airspace, air traffic, and aviation security. For more information, see AOPA’s fact sheet and this FAA Information for Operators publication.
As the FAA upgrades the National Airspace System to satellite-based navigation under its NextGen project, many navaids that form the backbone of the existing airway structure are being shut down, including more than 300 VORs.
Which VORs go and which stay? That depends on several factors, including whether the navaid will become part of the Minimum Operational Network, the system that will remain to provide navigation signals in case GPS navigation ever goes down. About 150 nondirectional beacons (NDBs) including locator outer markers are also being phased out.
In response to pilots’ many questions about decommissioning, AOPA has provided this updated fact sheet explaining the FAA’s strategy and how pilots can keep track of the changes.
The FAA is asking pilots with 406-MHz emergency locator transmitter-equipped aircraft to help reduce false alerts transmitted by the devices, each of which triggers a search-and-rescue response. In 2017, ELTs were activated 8,786 times in the United States when the aircraft was not in distress. Most false alerts “occur during testing and maintenance,” the FAA said in an Information for Operators publication issued to address the problem.
A false alert of a 406-MHz beacon can involve an ELT, a personal locator beacon, or a maritime position-indicating beacon, and can occur “during testing, mishandling, improper installation, or unfamiliarity with beacon operation,” the FAA said. Search-and-rescue personnel “respond immediately” and only discontinue their response “when it has been proven that the activation was a false alert.” The agency urged pilots to conduct ELT self-tests and annual tests according to manufacturer’s instructions; register the ELT, and cancel any false alert by calling the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (800-851-3051) or the nearest FAA air traffic facility and providing the beacon’s hex ID.
AOPA collaborates with the FAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, and government and industry groups to educate pilots, mechanics, and others on testing and operating ELTs. AOPA also publishes this ELT fact sheet.