The Galena VOR is an anchor and critical part of the low and high-altitude IFR route structure for Interior Alaska and the international routes. It also is a great “ace in the hole” for VFR pilots. A spring flood ten years ago wiped it out. The FAA has had difficulty getting the VOR back online due to a lack of funds and equipment. After extensive testing and flight checks, the Galena VOR is officially available for navigation.
Dynamic Regulatory System
The FAA has changed the way we access its publications library. Previously, there were multiple FAA websites to search for information depending on who within the FAA was responsible. https://drs.faa.gov/ is the new site where you can search for any FAA publication.
NASA and other international partners have been working on a new generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites. These new satellites have already improved our weather forecasts and brought new resources to the aviation community, like the Cloud Cross Section Tool. https://aviation.cira.colostate.edu/define-custom-cross-section NASA launched the latest satellite in November of 2022, which has significantly improved Alaska coverage and data.
PIREP Artificial Intelligence
The Civil Aeronautical Medical Institute is conducting a research project and technology demonstration. The study uses Google’s Natural Language Processor to explore filing and retrieving Pilot Reports (PIREPs) over VHF radio without talking to ATC or Flight Service. There are two test sites, Oklahoma City and Nenana, Alaska. If you are interested in participating (the FAA will pay you $50 per PIREP submitted), go to CAMI’s website and sign up. https://cbtopsatcami.faa.gov/
The FAA has not been unable to keep up with the workload of registration renewals and has been consistently running about six months behind since the start of COVID.
In a rare move, the FAA published a “Direct to Final Rule” proposal in the Federal Register in late November of 2022. The proposal would change the duration of aircraft registration from three years to seven and increase the 90 grace period for the FAA to process renewals to 12 months. This change will likely go into effect on January 23rd, 2023. Look for more details after that date. The FAA can short-cut the normal public process if no substantive negative comments were received during the brief 30-day comment period that ended December 23rd.
The TFR at the north end of Windy Pass that has been in place for two years went away on December 29th, 2022. The FAA replaced the TFR with an expanded Restricted Area (R-2206) matching the exact boundaries of the TFR. Expanding the Restricted Area was necessary to protect aircraft from the new high-power radar at the Clear Space Force Station. This project is the culmination of several years of the Alaska Airmen’s Association working closely with the FAA, Air Force, Space Force, Missile Defense Agency, and Alaska DOT. Your input influenced the airspace’s final design during the public process. It is a good compromise that allows aviators access through Windy Pass and allows the military to use the radar as designed. Please update your navigation charts so you can have the latest depiction of R-2206. Look for specific information about the Restricted Area and the Transition Warning System (radio and light beacon) in the next update of the Alaska Supplement. To read the FAA’s Letter to Airmen on the expansion, visit: https://tinyurl.com/3ek5x4m9
IMPORTANT UPDATE: As we were going to press, it came to light that there may have been a miscalculation of the radar’s high-intensity radiated field (HIRF). It is unknown at this time what this new information might mean for the dimensions of the newly expanded Restricted Area. This is a rapidly developing issue, and we are in frequent conversations with the FAA and Missile Defense. Look for updates on our social media outlets and the Alaska Airmen’s website.
If you want more information on these topics, have questions or comments, or know of new issues, please contact Adam White (firstname.lastname@example.org 907-245-1251). Watch Adam’s monthly live updates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Please copy the Alaska Airmen’s Association when you file your public comments.
Caption: R-2206 at the north end of Windy Pass has expanded. Now is a good time to update your charts.