Advocacy at Work
Adam White, Alaska Airmen’s Association Government Affairs
General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI) was just awarded another STC for their 100LL replacement fuel. Their previous STCs were for limited types of aircraft/engine combinations, primarily low compression or low horsepower. This new STC is what we have been looking for from the FAA for a few years. The approved engine/airframe list is very comprehensive. It covers even the high compression, large displacement engines and is a drop-in fuel that can mix at any ratio with 100LL. Now the hurdle is distribution and supply chain. It will cost between eighty cents to a dollar more per gallon initially. But the hope is that once it becomes widely available and demand increases, the price should drop to near 100LL numbers. While Alaska is a large consumer of 100LL, we are most likely low on the list for market potential. One caveat is that Alaska’s 100LL is blended in California, and there is a good chance that political pressure would make it difficult to continue producing 100LL in that State.
Several other contenders for a 100LL replacement are in the works, but they will now have to demonstrate compatibility with G100UL and 100LL. At press time, we still await the EPA’s endangerment finding on 100LL to be released. It could be any day now.
Kenai CTAF problems
The NTSB has recommended the FAA fix overlapping and conflicting CTAF frequencies on the Kenai Peninsula. This recommendation stems from the fatal mid-air there two summers ago. The FAA has formed a working group, of which the Alaska Airmen is a member, to examine what changes can be made. The process will closely mimic what took place with the Mat-Su CTAF process several years ago. If you have ideas or suggestions for the Kenai CTAF realignment, please email email@example.com.
Canada ADS-B Mandate
The Canadian mandate for ADS-B out has changed from a comprehensive equipage decline of February 2023 to a phased rollout. The change is mainly due to pushback from industry groups, including the Alaska Airmen’s Association. The new timeline is August 10, 2023, for Class A airspace. May 16, 2024, for Class B airspace. C, D, and E airspace no earlier than 2026. Canada will still require dual antennas (one on top and one on the bottom of the fuselage) and will only be 1090ES and not use 978UAT.
Fairbanks East Ramp Reconstruction
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) aims to improve safety, reduce maintenance costs, and address operations logistics on the General Aviation East Ramp Apron and associated taxiways C, D, and W of the Fairbanks International Airport with a redesign and reconstruction project.
The concept was developed during the 2019 Fairbanks Airport Eastside Master Plan and could impact up to 52 acres of paved surface. It would modify the current tie-down layout to maximize the number of pull-through tie-downs and remove any taxi lanes aligned with taxiway U and taxiway V to avoid direct access to the ski strip.
A primary goal of the project is to increase the number of electrified tie-downs, but it is contingent on construction costs.
Construction should start in the Summer of 2023. The Alaska Airmen’s Assoc offered several suggestions during the public meeting held in August. For more information, visit www.faigaapron.com.
Denali International Airport?
You may have read in the media about a proposal from Doyon for a new airport just north of Healy, AK, or east of the Clear Space Force Station. The idea is for an airport that would support several flights a day from the L48 of 737-900 class aircraft during the summer tourist season.
This idea has come up several times, and the results have all been similar. There are significant hurdles. Windy Pass is not suitable for good instrument approaches and missed approach procedures. A large airport in this area would severely restrict VFR traffic in one of the State’s most heavily traversed and essential passes (Windy Pass). The Eva Creek wind turbine farm is adjacent to one of their proposed sites, and the other is right next to the expanded R-2206 protecting the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear.
The Alaska Airmen’s Association is watching this issue closely and will advocate for continued unfettered VFR access through Windy Pass.
The Alaska Airmen’s Association and other industry partners have been working with the FAA since 2016 to increase the number of low-level GPS-based airways. We started this effort because we saw the writing on the wall; NDBs are going away, along with their colored airways. We need a way to still navigate IFR without getting into icing conditions. While most of our members do not fly IFR, we must support and encourage IFR infrastructure improvements. The benefits of these improvements have a trickle-down effect on VFR operations.
Read Tom George’s feature article for more information on these new routes.
New FAA Regional Administrator
After a long series of Acting Regional Administrators, the FAA has announced a permeant placement for the Alaskan Region. Mike O’Hare, formally with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Homeland Security & Emergency Management State of AK, and the FEMA Regional Administrator for the Western Region.
From his previous roles, Mike understands the importance of air safety and Alaska’s challenging weather conditions and geography. The Alaska Airmen’s Association looks forward to continuing our good relationship what the FAA with Mike in his new role.
If you want more information on these topics, have questions, 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.
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