ADVOCACY AT WORK . . . . . . our voice for general aviation
October / November 2013
Adam White, Government and Legislative Affairs
The following is a partial list of the issues the Alaska Airmen’s Association is tracking on yourbehalf. Please contact Adam White
(firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-322-1098) with new issues or feedback oncurrent issues. As always, when you file your public comments on issues please copy the Alaska Airmen’s Assoc. This helps us know and understand your needs and opinions.
It was announced Oct 2nd that the Air Force has withdrawn its proposal to move the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base outside Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage. During the process the Alaska Airmen’s Assoc. questioned if the Anchorage bowl could handle that additional air traffic. We also asked if this move was considered during the JPARC EIS. Many other groups outside of aviation questioned the move as well. Our Alaska delegation in Washington D.C. fought hard against this move and is pressuring the military to base the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Eielson in the future.
Galena VOR still off-line
The spring flooding of the Yukon River continues to have lingering affects, especially on the village of Galena. The aviation community also continues to feel results of the catastrophe. The VOR was damaged when silt and mud inundating the building housing the radio equipment during the extended period of time it was under water. The VOR is still out of service and the FAA has determined that any plans to repair it are on hold over the winter. The FAA has assured us that there is no plan to decommission the facility. We have been told that it may take a significant amount of time to find the funding and parts to get the VOR working again; possibly as long as eighteen months. The FAA is also considering moving the VOR to a more secure site to prevent future flooding. Please contact the Alaska Airmen’s Assoc. if this outage has had any impacts in your operations.
What do you mean
wheel-skis are not complex?
As you know in order to qualify for taking your commercial check-ride you need to have time in and do a portion of the check-ride in a complex aircraft. In Alaska the most common types of complex aircraft used for this have been tail-draggers with wheel-skis. The FAA has accepted this for as long as anyone can remember because of the repositionable aspect of the skis. Unfortunately back in the
spring the FAA stopped allowing wheel-skis to be considered complex. The Internet based rating application process, IRACA, would not accept that a Cessna 180 or a Piper Super Cub could be a complex aircraft. With the help of a few key people in the FAA back in Washington DC and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association lending some of their weight, we were able to get this resolved and wheel ski equipped aircraft are once again acceptable to use for complex training.
Joint Pacific Alaska
Range Complex (JPARC)
The Record of Decision for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)has been released (http://www.jber.af.mil/jparc.asp). We have been told by the military that they will not be forwarding the request for the UAS corridors to the FAA at this time. This is very welcomed
news. The proposed corridors were a major concern for the Airmen’s Assoc. and others. Remember however that the military could
decide in the future to submit this request. We understand that the other portions of the Record of Decision are being submitted to the FAA. The FAA will have a public comment period concerning these requests before they make their decisions. We have asked the FA when we could expect to have input and we have been told that the timeline is “very uncertain”; see section on Government Shutdown and Sequestration. Look for more information from the Airmen’s Assoc. as it becomes available.
Field Approval Process
We continue to hear from members about the difficulty of getting field approvals. Recently Flight Standards explained the hierarchy of how they go about determining priorities of field approvals and other actions. They are evaluated in three tiers: Tier 1 – Safety is
compromised in the short term. Tier 2 – Heightened concern that safety is negatively impacted for the short or long term. Tier 3 – Concern that safety is negatively impacted in the long term if the condition persists. Request for approvals and certifications that are for economic gain do not meet the Tier definitions and are done when resources become available. Which leads me to my next topic.
At press time the Government Shutdown has no end in sight and it is unknown as to the extent it will have on the Aviation Industry. The FAA has sent out notices that meetings have been canceled, public outreach activities are put on hold and they will be providing “severely reduced level of stakeholder service.” It appears that the FAA is “limited strictly to the protection of life and property.” When the shutdown is resolved that doesn’t mean the FAA picks up where it left off. In a letter to the stakeholders from Clint Wease, Manage Alaska Region Flight Standards he stated. “We will first have to ramp up operations again and clear the back log of work that will be stacked up which may take some time, we will respond to requests sequentially.” This will have ripple effects for months if not years to come as some projects depending on the FAA will now be out of sync with the Alaska construction and/or flying season. As if that is not enough money woes, the FAA is facing another round of sequestration cuts which include reduced budgets, hiring freezes and other cut backs that automatically go into effect. To the FAA’s credit there have been some things that have benefited from streamlining and some excess that has been trimmed. However, there have been loss of services and infrastructure that has the potential to start a disturbing
trend. As these losses occur more and more risk is put on the individual user of the National Airspace System. When less weather reporting is available and navaids go out of service or whenairport lighting is decommissioned or mechanics can’t get aircraft returned to service it signals a decline in the industry. At some point safety is going to pay the price, some say it already has.
. . . . . . . . I can show you pictures of Lake Hood from the 40s and 50s with the takeoff channel and floatplanes already there and no houses anywhere near. This article was written and published in the April May 2008 Issue of the Transponder.