Advocacy At Work 

Adam White, Alaska Airmen’s Association Government Affairs 

We continue to work with Federal, State, and local officials on behalf of our members, ensuring Alaska Aviation remains accessible and a viable means of transportation and recreation. The following issues are limited examples of how we work towards those goals. 

Trent Palmer 

The Alaska Airmen’s Association joined with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in a “Friends of the Court” brief in the Tent Palmer appeal. You may remember that Trent Palmer, a YouTube personality, has been fighting enforcement action by the FAA. The FAA claims that Trent flew too close to persons or property when he did a low-pass inspection of a potential landing site. His inspection pass resulted in him deciding not to land, and the FAA has claimed that the inspection pass was not in the act of landing and, therefore, Trent was reckless and flew too close to persons and property. Trent appealed the case to an NTSB Administrative Law Judge. The Alaska Airmen’s Association, AOPA, and EAA believe that the NTSB failed to appropriately consider Congress’ mandate to apply the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence to air safety proceedings when practicable as required by the Pilot’s Bill of Rights. 

Our interest in this case is ensuring that the NTSB follows Congressional mandates regarding how those proceedings will be conducted. These mandates include the obligation to apply the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence and make an independent conclusion regarding the facts and sanctions in FAA enforcement actions. 

Our principal concern in this case is ensuring that what Congress legislated about how the NTSB is supposed to work is honored. Citizens and their elected representatives go through a burdensome process of passing legislation that directs agencies on how to conduct their proceedings. Our brief to the Court claims that the NTSB has chosen to 

ignore the directives and responsibility Congress gave it. 

InReach texting with Flight Service 

Two-way texting with Alaska Flight Service became more available to pilots flying in Alaska. For more than a year, we have been able to text with Alaska Flight Service with limited platforms. Now, the Garmin InReach family of devices is eligible. The program allows pilots to open, close, or amend a flight plan. More capabilities are planned for the future. If you want to know more or add your device to the program, call the Fairbanks, Kenai, or Juneau Flight Service Station and ask for more details. 

Proposed Piper Rudder AD 

There is a proposed Airworthiness Directive (AD) for most fabric-covered Piper rudders. The original comment period was set to close on Nov. 20, 2023. After receiving requests from numerous industry groups, including the Alaska Airmen’s Association, to extend the comment period, agency officials agreed to extend it to Feb. 20, 2024. 

There have been two documented cases of inflight failures (both in Alaska) of rudders. The AD would cover up to 31,000 aircraft, and there is concern that the reported failures were only on aircraft with beacons, on floats with seaplane props, and no dorsal fins. We are concerned with the FAA’s lack of sufficient inspection protocols and alternate means of compliance rather than just replacing the rudder if found defective. 

ANC Airspace Redesign 

Elmendorf needs an ILS approach to the lengthened runway 16, which has spurred a redesign of the Anchorage Airspace. This project is starting to pick up speed but still has a long time before completion. The FAA expects the process to be complete in November of 2027. Part 93 airspace revisions could be part of the redesign, but Class C changes are almost inevitable. The good news is that changing the Anchorage Bowl to a Class B airspace is no longer being considered. 

There will be ample opportunities for public comment at various stages in the next few years. 

Met Towers 

There are new, uncharted, and unlit towers in the Susitna Valley and Fairbanks area. These towers are painted with balls on the guy wires but could still be a navigation hazard. A start-up company is gathering data for potential wind farms on Little Mt. Susitna and in the Murphy Dome area. 

For more information on this issue, read Tom George’s article in this edition of the Transponder. 

EPA 100LL Endangerment Finding 

As expected, the EPA has officially said that lead in aviation fuel is bad for humans and the environment. According to the EPA’s press release- “This final endangerment finding does not ban or impose restrictions on the use, sale, distribution, dispensing, and general availability of leaded fuel, nor does it establish any new control measures regarding aircraft lead emissions.” 

What this finding does is that it officially starts processes within the FAA and allows funding sources to be released for more research and implementation. The goal set by the FAA is to switch to alternative fuels by 2030, but it is not a deadline. 

Adam recently did a deep dive into this issue and how it might affect us here in Alaska. You can watch it now on our YouTube channel. 

If you want more information on these topics or have questions or comments, contact Adam White (adam.white@alaskaairmen.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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